Our Kentucky Road Trip
Family Adventure Days began when my husband and I realized that while we were all together at home on the weekends, we weren’t actually tuning into each other as a family. With the temptations of video games, tv, and the internet at home, we decided to set aside one day each weekend (or sometimes a few days as in this case) that we are able to leave the house and get out and have some fun together as a family. This began in September 2009 and has been the best thing that ever happened to the Jordans!
It all began with my husband and myself agonizing over what to do for a family vacation and my son chiming in with “I know! Why don’t we go to Kentucky?”. We ended up heading out in that general direction with no particular destination in mind and came home having spent four of the most wonderful days together as a family.
A lot of folks have asked where we went and what we did so I’m going to share some of that with you today. To start with, if you’ve never been to Kentucky but have looked into it, you may be surprised to find that we spent four days there and at no point did we drink bourbon while riding horseback. I say you may be surprised because it seems like every sign on the side of the road and every billboard is about a distillery or something to do with horses. That is wonderful if it interests you but there is so much more to Kentucky! It is a beautiful landscape, very much like Alabama in the green rolling hills, and there are tons of things for a family to do there. We could have easily spent an entire week and had a new adventure each day.
This post will serve as more of a what and when scrapbook of our trip. If you’d like to read more about the experience itself, check out this post.
Here is a portion of our journey.
We headed out early on a Friday morning with an intent to arrive at our first destination by lunchtime. In just a couple of hours we were at the Kentucky Welcome Center and picked up the brochures and maps we needed to plan our trip on the fly.
Our first stop was Mammoth Cave and we made it by lunchtime as hoped. As the name implies, this is a HUGE cave. For those of you sweltering in the summer heat and wanting to get out and do something, I cannot think of a better destination than a natural cave. (Click here to read my post about the one we visited last summer).
The tour into Mammoth Cave lasts about two hours so we didn’t go on the actual tour but we did walk down to the mouth and have some fun hanging out in the blast of naturally cool air. We went on a rather lenghty cave tour last year and Katy Rose and I did not relish the thought of a few more hours beneath several tons of rock in a hole in the ground, even though it was awfully cool (Bring a jacket).
Besides, we had decided that we were going to try to reach Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace that same day so we spent about an hour at Mammoth and then headed on out, eager for our next destination.
Isn’t this just gorgeous? Could someone please just grant me like, fifty acres of farmland in Kentucky? ~clicks her heels together three times~
But seriously, look how beautiful this place is!
Okay, these two people are pretty cute, too .
By the way, you see that mini-ricky standing next to her daddy? Don’t tell her she looks like him.
She wants to look like me so we are just going along with her denial.
We’re all wearing our Family Adventure Day shirts in these photos and we wore them the entire time we were gone.
The front says “Jordan Family Adventure Day” and the back says…
“Unplug to Connect Proverbs 22:6″
I ordered these shirts from the link below, a website called Blue Cotton. They were VERY nice and when I had a question about the design I called and a sweet lady immediately picked up. I needed to know if they could scale my design for the kid’s shirts since they are so much smaller than the adults. She put me on hold for just a minute and checked with their art guy, then came back and said “That won’t be a problem at all!”. To make it an even better experience, the shirts arrived a full four days before they were even scheduled to ship!
We got a lot of comments on them and had several great opportunities to talk to folks about what a difference family adventure days have made in our lives.
If you’re interested in designing your own shirts, you can click the link below and it will take you to your site and also give me a little commission off of your order so I can get more shirts for us! Every little bit helps, right?
Heading on out…watch for buggies
After we left Mammoth Cave we went to the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, or so we thought. A left turn instead of a right had us ending up at the Lincoln Historical Society Museum first instead, but that was alright. We had a good time there, too!
I saw this series of books at the museum and am still wondering what they’re about.
Apparently, I’m named after a Chipmunk who had a close working relationship with our Nation’s 16th President. It’s good to know these things.
This is Brady and Katy Rose, or Abe and Mary Todd
They thought that was pretty awesome. The museum itself was really neat with a great gift shop (VERY reasonable prices!).
So reasonable that I spent $3.99 each on an Abe Lincoln beard for the kids ~giggle~
Note the price tag on the hat. Mama was too cheap to buy that but hey, they got a beard and the lady in the gift shop insisted they pose with the hat on for a photo!
My kids know a great deal about Abraham Lincoln because we’ve studied him several times as a family so this was a particularly cool experience for them.
Hello thar, Mr Lincoln!
So when we finally got headed in the right direction we ended up a few minutes down the road at the National Park to the birthplace of Abraham and the official (and first) Lincoln Monument. Turns out, National Parks have a neat Jr Ranger program for kids that is free. They give each child a workbook and you go around the site looking for answers to questions about the park and in our case, Abraham Lincoln. It took us a good bit to find all of the answers but the kids really enjoyed doing it and afterwards were awarded a certificate and a Jr Park Ranger badge.
And this very nice Park Ranger posed with them for a photo. They were thrilled!
Katy took her junior ranger badge very seriously!
This is my bearded children standing in front of the Lincoln Monument.
Inside the monument is an actual cabin like the one Abraham Lincoln was born in, from the same era.
We wound down that day (and every other day while we were gone) with the kids giving a thorough inspection of the hotel swimming pool. This time I think we were in Lexington, Kentucky. If not Lexington, some other city in Kentucky that begins with L but does not manufacture baseball bats (Ricky gave me a choice between two cities for the night, I chose the one furthest from the baseball bats for fear I’d have to learn something about baseball).
Of course, part of the thrill for the kids was the hotel itself so we tried to allow time each evening to enjoy it and goof off.
We’re very good at goofing off.
Do you remember what a thrill it was to push the elevator buttons?
My kids sure do!
With two big historic sites under our belt for the first day alone, we decided to head up north to the Creation Museum for our second day. This is the area where I tried Cincinati Chili since it is just a hair away from Ohio and they have Skyline Chili restaurants all over the place. We also tried Lee’s Famous Chicken and that was pretty good, too!
We ended up having such a good time at the Creation Museum that we went back for a second day.
This is us and some very outgoing ducks. They’d flat take your finger off if you weren’t quick enough with the food! lol
Karo loved the petting zoo, especially when she found out the chickens were tame enough to pet!
These are Zonkeys, a cross between a Zebra and a Donkey! ~giggle~ I love Zonkeys.
This is my brood, headed out of the gardens.
Here is a cute story. There were a lot of Mennonite families visiting the museum. Well not a lot, really, but certainly more Mennonites than Katy has ever seen. All of the ladies were wearing similar style dresses and bonnets and many of them were pushing strollers with babies. At the end of our tour on the second day Katy turned around to find a young Mennonite lady standing behind us and she grinned real big and said “I’ve just seen you all over the place in here for two days! Every time I turn around I see you! That is just amazing, how do you do that?” The lady was very sweet and she laughed with Katy. I’m sure she knew what was going on but Katy never did catch on!
Back on the road again…
This is some kind of race-car-track-thingy in Kentucky that is apparently quite the deal because Ricky and both kids got really excited when they saw it so we had to stop and take this photo
For our last night we decided to spring a huge surprise on the kids and it was actually a surprise for us, too! The kids had been talking on the way up as we drove through Nashville about how we never stay at the Opryland Hotel. We visit it often but never actually stay there. You see, the Opryland hotel is pretty expensive, and by “pretty” I mean “insanely”. I’m not saying it isn’t worth it and I can certainly see how they would have to charge so much with all of the operating costs, but it just isn’t something most families can wake up and decide to do.
So Ricky and I decided that since we didn’t have anything planned for our last night we’d head on to Nashville and spend our last night and morning exploring the hotel and fulfilling a dream of the kids in staying there. Fanfare was taking place in Nashville, which is a huge meet and greet for country music singers and their fans, but there were a few rooms left at the Opryland hotel so we lucked out!
We arrived at the Opryland Hotel about three thirty in the afternoon and everyone was so excited that we quickly deposited everything in our room and went to explore the hotel. Now we’ve been here several times to explore, but have never actually stayed here so it was a double treat.
We went through the gardens and had some ice cream, then the kids decided they really needed to see the swimming pool .
It’s a wonder they didn’t grow scales and fins on this trip!
After swimming and grabbing some supper, we spent some time sitting in the gardens watching the fountain and listening to the strains of music from a wedding reception taking place.
The next morning we got up early and had breakfast by one of the fountains.
Which it just so happens my kids controlled by their hand movements!
(they really didn’t but don’t tell them that)
We also goofed off a little more at the hotel.
We stayed until around lunchtime and then gathered up our things and headed out towards home.
We travel with a lot of pillows…
But for lunch, one more stop was in order. Most of you know how I feel about Cracker Barrel (check out what Jyl said about me in her post yesterday). Well we’ve always wanted to go to the original Cracker Barrel in Lebanon, Tennessee. As it turns out, the original one is now a gas station and no longer a restaurant but the second one ever built is still there. It isn’t any different from any other Cracker Barrel really, but it was just something we wanted to do just to be able to say we did it.
And we did!
With our sole intent to connect with each other and just enjoy our family, and no agenda whatsoever, we ended up having a trip of a lifetime. We talked, we played little question games in the car, took turns deciding where we were going to eat and stay, stopped off at a few national parks, and laughed – a lot.
It was like a four day decompression retreat from the stresses of the world around us. Four days where nothing mattered beyond the most important people in our lives.
I hope you’ll take time to read the rest of what I wrote about our trip here. We set out to connect and we came back closer than ever. Ricky and I are secretly hoping for another road trip before school starts back but we’ll have to see if that is in the cards for us!
I also brought back a recipe with me from the area, well an Alabamatized version of it. Click here to see my takeaway on Cincinnati Style Chili.
If you’d like to browse through some of my favorite Classic Southern Dishes, click here.
The car trip can draw the family together, as it was in the days before television when parents and children actually talked to each other.