Kentucky has certainly been a wild experience. I’ll save the wildest of my wild stories for the end. Let’s start with the reason we went to Kentucky, which was to tour the Wild Turkey Bourbon factory. Mike’s favorite cold weather drink is Wild Turkey Bourbon. While we know that he will drink almost anything (except weak beer or white wine), he does have his favorites and they are tied to the weather. Like I said, the cold weather favorite is Wild Turkey. In very hot weather, he loves Bombay Sapphire Gin with tonic and a squeeze of lime. Oh, and I mustn’t forget his other hot weather favorite Dark and Stormy which is made of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Old Jamaican Fiery ginger beer. And then, of course, there’s his regular year round drink which is a good strong dark beer. Well, now that I think about, he also enjoys a nice red wine with Italian food. And he certainly wasn’t saying no to all those mojitos or pitchers of sangria or margaritas. Hmmmm. Should we be concerned? I have to admit the tour was fascinating. Wild Turkey Bourbon has high standards and learning about everything that goes into making Mike’s beloved bourbon was interesting and fun.
Another destination on our must-see list for Kentucky was Mammoth Caves, with over 400 miles of surveyed passages, it is the longest cave system known in the world. Mike loves caves and if it were up to him we’d be seriously spelunking caves. I’m good with doing the regular tours which did involve hundreds of stairsteps and miles of walking, but I’m too claustrophobic to crawl through little spaces with only headlamps. Minutes before our tour started, a thunderstorm blew in, the sky opened up and we all got totally soaked as we ran from the bus to the Mammoth Caves entrance. That wouldn’t be so bad if we were doing something outdoors because it was pretty hot and humid. But the temperature in the cave is about 56 degrees which feels pretty cold when your clothes are soaking wet! We enjoyed the tour anyway even though it was not as breathtaking as Carlsbad Caverns. The next day we toured the privately owned Diamond Caverns, touted to be the prettiest cave. The tour cost 3 times as much and lasted half as long, but it really was pretty and we were glad we saw it. My pictures can’t do it justice.
I love it when we spot wild animals. We saw wild turkeys on the side of the road and many times we saw deer. At one of our campsights, we found a nest on the ground, dug into the gravel, with 4 black speckled eggs. It was a nest of the killdeer plover, a bird that frantically squeals and flaps around on the ground to divert your attention from the nest if you get too near. We watched it each day, but departed before the eggs hatched. I would have enjoyed seeing that.
Speaking of wild animals, we loved the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. It is 170,000 acres of land between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley that crosses from Kentucky to Tennessee and has a host of fun things to see and do. We attended a show at the planetarium. We drove through the wildlife prairie and spotted a herd of bison. We toured the Homeplace 1850 which is a living, working historical farm featuring real people in period clothing working on the farm doing various activities. At the Nature Center, which is a refuge for wildlife which cannot be released back into the wild, we were able to attend a special presentation on the eagle and another presentation on the red wolf. We were so excited to see and learn more about these personal favorites.
And that brings me to my ultimate “wild” experience. I was feeling so good about the hiking and biking we’ve done this month. The trails we’ve completed have been the steepest and most rugged of any we’ve attempted so far. I was feeling strong and good.
On our final day in Kentucky, we went out for an easy bike ride on a paved flat trail along the waterfront. On flat trails, I sometimes use my videocamera to capture our riding experience. Mike and Lucy were leading the way and I was riding behind holding up the videocam with my right hand, narrating about the trail. Mike slowed down, called out to me and pointed to a log on the water covered in large turtles. Reactively, without thinking, I squeezed hard on my hand brake to stop for the turtle picture. The only hand I was using was my left (because the camera was in my right hand) and the left hand controls the front brake. My front tire brake apparently works very well, or my strength in my left hand is incredible, or both. But, in any event, my front tire stopped abruptly while my body and the rest of the bike shot over the handlebars. It happened so fast. My first point of contact with the asphalt was my right elbow. Then I remember hearing a loud crack as my chin bounced off the ground, before the rest of my body skidded to a halt. As I lay sprawled on the pavement, tangled with my bicycle, I was afraid to move. My right arm was under me twisting up at an odd angle and it was hurting. I could feel the stinging of the road rash on my face, arms and knees, and wondered how badly I had hurt myself. I was deathly afraid to move at all. After waiting a few minutes, we slowly got me to my feet, but had to ease me back down as I started to black out and also felt like I would throw up. I was eventually able to hobble back to the car, holding my right arm, and we went to the ER. My road rash was cleaned up, the gash on my elbow was bandaged, and I got a tetanus shot while we waited for the x-rays to confirm that I had broken a bone in my shoulder. I did NOT want to hear that! They put my arm in a sling and referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. On my way out the door, the ER nurse said “By the way, you are very fit!” That did make me feel better.
So, how am I doing? It’s now one week later, and my face has healed, the elbow and knee are just scabs and the black and purple bruise wrapping around my arm and covering my entire bicep and underarm is starting to fade to a bluish yellow with red spots. The ortho doctor told me that the colorful arm is from the shoulder break. The internal bleeding pooled up in the tissue in my arm. I’m eating a lot of pineapple to help eat up those spilled blood cells. Thankfully, surgery is not required. I just need to let it heal. In the meantime, I’m not allowed to raise my right arm or make shoulder rotating motions. I’m getting pretty good at doing most things left handed. My biggest challenge is my hair. It takes two raised hands!! Mike’s been styling my hair this week and OMG! I don’t want to go into the details because Mike might think I’m not grateful for his efforts. But, again, OMG! I’m pretty sure I’ll be wearing headbands and hats for the next month.
We are now in Branson, Missouri. My sister Valarie and my Aunt Nola are driving up from Texas tomorrow to be our tour guides and take us to a few of their favorite shows. We are looking forward to spending a few days together. Can’t wait for tomorrow!