Exercise Your Whimsy

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My bucket list seems more like a sand pail. A friend sent a broadcast e-mail of his summer in a wisteria-draped villetta he rented in Tuscany from which he pedals out for two-day bike rides in the countryside. That's a bucket. Bill and I satisfied a three-year yearning. We finally visited the "Colossus of Rhodes" of Bowling Green, Ky. - Dinosaur World. That's a sand pail.

Having a gas of a time doesn't need to cost a bundle. One, you craft an adult outing that satisfies at least three soul-satisfying needs. Two, you need to have flexible expectations. Three, suspend disbelief. Four, have a ditty bag filled with whimsy.

Bill's and my trip was based on my decision to make an appearance at a charity trail ride in a jog off the road called Campbellsville, Ky. Besides doing the work of the angels, it was an opportunity to market my book. Bill signed on when the map revealed that we would be near Bardstown which was the beginning of the Bourbon Trail. Ever since a dear friend (and Presbyterian minister!) rocked our world with Angels Envy bourbon and Bill used that as a springboard to crafting heavenly Manhattans out of AE rye, he has wanted to indulge in a bourbon and rye tasting in Kentucky. We both slathered at the realization that this was the opportunity to pull off the road at the tiger-striped T-Rex and visit Dinosaur World. Yay! "Daddy, Daddy can't we stop?" Finally, "Yes."

This is not the fantasy farm where humans and dinos perform dressage. Take Exit 53 off I-65 in Kentucky. Drive past all the pokey billboards enticing you with a journey into 1950s kitsch. Angle left into the driveway and storm the "welcome" arch guarded by the screaming pterodactyl. I was fizzing with accumulated anticipation as we emerged into the courtyard that was the crossroads into the dino experience. We meandered through the informative mini-museum, poked our heads into the "dig for bones" sandbox for kids and ignored the Mesozoic Era Jungle Gym to wander down a cool, tree-tunnel path. Voila! - a plethora of dinosaurs - all frozen in their "natural habitat" looking as though they were about to burst to life and eat each other.

OK, so the color choices on a few were a bit cheesy, but they were crafted to scale. It was easy to suspend disbelief because of the way the velociraptors poked out from the underbrush. We craned to spy a Sauropod towering over the trees eyeing a family of triceratops. Pterodactyls soared, frozen in the canopy. Ankylosaurs, Ceratopsians and Ornithomimids, oh my. Having ladled a scoop of the whimsy from our ditty bag, we moved on.

My patient husband never sighed or paced while I communed with the horse people at the charity trail ride. He found a way to get a beer in a dry county and communed with the gal behind the cowboy bar. We moved on to a clean, yet bland motel in the next town.

We enjoyed a C+ cocktail at a local bar that looked better in the pictures than in reality. Trying to engage our fellow barstool borrowers, we were unable to find out what made the town historic. We did get a unanimous recommendation for dinner. We swallowed a D+ meal at the "best restaurant in town."

While lying awake listening to the window A/C grind away, I decided that Bill deserved to move on to his leg of the sand pail. We jaunted over to Bardstown. The breakfast stop availed us the company of an Army colonel who was headed to tour Barton 1792 Distillery.

Thorough, educational, smelled wonderful, the Barton tour satisfied, (1) my fascination of mysterious, cobwebbed places (the aging warehouse), and (2) Bill's scientific curiosity on how the different flavors get into the whiskey. Bill gave the whiskey we tasted a nod, so he bought a bottle to drink and one to share. We were unable to drop in on the next distillery because the Bourbon Tour vans had beaten us to the parking lot. Being flexible, we drove on to our next stop, Louisville.

The hotel reservation was Bill's responsibility. He "done good." Yes, you can find adequate lodging for less money, but we both enjoy the gracious experience of boutique hotels. What the heck, neither Dino World nor the evening in the pokey, "historic" town had cost much. We checked into the chic, mind-expanding world of the 21 c Museum Hotel. This Disneyland for adults is located in the historic downtown district, a short walk from the Ohio River. The "Fallen Fruit: The Practices of Everyday Life" exhibit, was, well, quite a puckish wink for the South.

Our room was an "I'm home" combo of edgy and comfort. The bar ambiance captured me. My eyes kept discovering some new and jarring art piece that I had missed, and the music ferried me back to my 1970s, 80s youth. Bill was drawn to the extensive liquor knowledge of the bartenders. We grazed through the small plates recommended by our bar buddies. Soul-satisfying - check. Whimsy - check. Suspension of disbelief - the cubbies of mind-shattering art did the trick. Flexible expectations? We agreed to avoid the vans on the Bourbon Trail and perform our tasting and education at the 21 c bar. We nested at the hotel, savored our luxurious room, nibbled through the rest of the menu at the bar and lingered over and discussed the art.

Bill and I agreed to come home a day early. We were utterly happy. The sand pail was full. Our bucket list isn't exactly Dorothy's quote from "The Wizard of Oz," "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard." We do have a few more exotic plans, but one doesn't need to rent a villeta and ride 60 miles a day through vineyards to have a great adventure. You can save your quads and exercise your whimsy in your own backyard.

Candace Wade wrote the book "Horse Sluts - The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw." She has contributed to Horse Nation, Mature Lifestyles, Riding and Writing, The Tennessean and is a member of American Horse Publications. Candace writes political diatribe, wrote "Hillary's View" pet column and four unpublished film scripts. She learned to ride at age 46 and still rides at 59+.

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Candace Wade
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