Thursday 4 November 2010

Day 69 – An Extra Furlong For Dinner

Although our time in Tennessee was only short, leaving it wasn’t easy. Sure it was a straightforward drive, but we had quickly grown fond of its unusual southern appeal. Even though we couldn’t put our finger on what it was exactly, there was definitely something about the state. Sadly it was time to move on to greener pastures and there’s no bigger ‘pasture’ in America than state number 48: Kentucky. Known the world over for its links to horse racing, Kentucky was a good-looking place right out the gate.
Our first stop was Hodgenville, the town where Abe Lincoln was born back in 1809. Honest Abe appeared to have very humble beginnings and is famed for going from a log cabin to the White House – proving that any person, no matter what their upbringing was, could become president. But it turns out that even living in a tiny wood cabin could still make you middle class in his day as his father was a well-liked farmer/man-about-town, running Sinking Spring Farm (named after the rare, in-ground spring which still exists).
Since the original log cabin was dismantled long ago it was decided that a reconstruction be created and housed in an extremely large memorial on the exact spot of its predecessor. The building has 56 steps leading up to it; each one representing a year of his life. And the building itself has many architectural features relating to the number sixteen (like 16 windows) because he was the 16th president.
It seems we have officially reached the end of the tourist season as today was the first day where we have been all alone in our adventures. Entering the building it was just us and the Park Ranger. As the cabin inside is just a reconstruction we did feel it wasn’t that impressive to behold, but seeing as we had the place all to ourselves we asked the ranger some questions and found out it was actually made in 1865. That’s still pretty old--so I guess we could live with the fact that it wasn’t the original.
Our GPS told us that a little further down the road (back in the main part of Hodgenville) there was a Lincoln Museum. It wasn’t on our to-do list, but we figured we’d pop in anyway. Turns out it’s more of a wax museum with wax models portraying major moments in Abe’s life. It was cute enough, but as we could probably write a biography on Lincoln ourselves by now, this place didn’t teach or show us anything new.
In fact the best part of town was the tasty sweet shop across the road where we indulged in a chocolate pecan turtle (these things are my new addiction!) and also a cup of Spiced Pumpkin Pecan ice cream…despite the threat of rain.

Our last Hodgenville ‘attraction’ was Knob Creek; the boyhood home of Abe (his family moved down the road when he was three), but there wasn’t much more than a field there (left un-touched from Lincoln’s time)--and by then looking at reconstructed cabins was way less interesting than munching on my pecan turtle. Plus it was just us until two odd guys turned up, so we quickly scampered away to find something more our scene.
We found just that a few miles away in Elizabethtown where there is an extensive, independently owned Coca-Cola collection. The Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia is a must-see for anyone into vintage cola merchandise or just someone looking to walk down memory lane. For the bargain price of $5 you can see some awesome swag from the world’s most recognizable brand.
Again we had the run of the place, being the only visitors. It certainly made for a nice peaceful time as apparently the small space gets packed during the summer months. Good thing they have their own soda fountain to keep people hydrated, offering a cup for just a nickel. Well, who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing chug of The Real Thing? Even Joe and I couldn’t resist and we gave up carbonated drinks years ago (unless they are mixed with alcohol of course!).
To cap off the day we made a trek over to Lexington, KY – A little off our schedule, but we had good reason for going: its home to our friends, Oli and Rebecca! Much like us, they too are an Atlantically-challenged couple. Oli and Joe worked together back in London at a TV channel dedicated to Horse Racing and, while doing some work over in Kentucky, Brit Oli fell for Yank Rebecca. Suffice it to say, they had a decision to make on where to set up base camp and Lexington won the race!
We enjoyed a fabulous dinner at the aptly named Furlongs Restaurant and they were a really fun couple to hang out with. Oli managed to make me feel more positive about adapting to American life, as it was great to hear that he loves it and has no regrets about leaving London behind. And Rebecca made me beyond envious of her life as a professional photographer; she can’t help but be inspiring when talking about actually having passion for going to work!

Thanks again for dinner, guys! We’ll return the favour when you make it to Minnesota…and we promise we’ll keep Lexington in mind!!

So, until tomorrow…

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