This post is long past overdue, and if you are here just for art stuff than you may want to skip it. I’m actually going to post date it so it shows up closer to when it actually happened in my archives.
At the end of October (2014) Matt and I took one of our VERY RARELY occurring vacations. We drove to Kentucky from Northern Illinois. I’m just going to share a selection of mostly shaky handed, passenger side, unedited pictures and make notes here and there where I am so inspired to do so.
We left Northern Illinois and headed down to Kentucky through Indiana via the road.
We road trip well. He likes driving and I like riding, which means keeping my eyes peeled out the windows. I’ve probably said this before here, but my family only ever drove places, so I spent a lot of time looking out of car windows while I grew up. I felt like it definitely had an influence on my aesthetic. One time I read, heard or saw an interview with Annie Leibovitz and she said she also had similar experiences and she felt that the car window was a perfect frame shape to view the world through.
In Indiana I saw these cool cloud formations, nature is cool
Before going we did a bit of “research” to find out where to go in Louisville. I googled some and always enjoy the Design Sponge city guides (and NEVER miss the comments section because readers will chime in great places that might have been omitted in the article) and fortunately I also have a friend that is from Kentucky and could give me some good tips.
This picture was of us in front of the Ohio River which borders Indiana and Kentucky in Lousisville. We parked downtown Louisville and felt like we were sure to get towed because we couldn’t find a price or way to pay. There was tons of available parking everywhere. What?! In the Chicagoland area it’s not unusual to pay $30 bucks to park, and and then even if you are willing and able to throw money toward parking it can still mean circling and circling and parking a distance away from where you want to be.
I’m no expert on the city, but from the maps we were looking at we were able to walk from one side of the downtown to the other. I got tons of steps in, but it was a small enough big city that you can easily hoof it all over the place. We found some really great art gallery/handmade gift shops. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, I wish DeKalb could have places like that.
We got shirts from the visitor’s center with this logo showing the different pronunciation of Louisville. Side note, I have relatives that live in Louisville, IL and it is pronounced Louis vil, with the s and all. For the record, I think the correct way to say it is probably the first one on the list above, at least that’s how I say it and Kirsten Dunst too (another side note: we also stayed in Elizabethtown on this trip).
Do people in Louisville love it? With signs like this and plenty of other public art pieces ALL OVER the place, I’d like to think so.
At Ann’s suggestion we checked out 21c Museum hotel. It’s a hotel and a gallery all in one. The gallery spaces are all open and free to the public so Matt and I spent some time there and really enjoyed it. Walking down a hallway we passed this (above picture) installation by the elevators, I think most people passed it right up and didn’t notice it was interactive. The red penguin is the hotel “mascot”.
There was an impressive show by fiber artist Gina Phillips in the lobby space, which was a great start to the whole experience. Please visit her website to see better examples of her detailed work, this picture is just a tiny thumbnail of a larger piece. Downstairs there were more gallery spaces and shows going on that we were able to enjoy and I was thrilled that we went, even though I knew we wouldn’t be able to afford to stay at the hotel itself.
While still at the hotel I had to use the restroom and noticed that a mirror right outside the door was actually a two sided mirror once inside the bathroom, so you could see people looking at themselves unknowingly. When I told Matt about it, he informed me that was nothing compared to what was going on in the men’s bathroom. Outside of the men’s bathroom there was another double sided mirror where you could tell there was a “fountain” of water running down the wall on the other side. Little did I know when I passed it, that was the men’s urinal! I didn’t believe Matt until he opened the door when I “just happened” to walk by at the right time and could see inside. If you suffered from shy bladder syndrome one might have major performance anxiety using that restroom that appears as if you are peeing on a window for all to see. Here’s a video I found that a guy made that shows exactly what I’m talking about.
On this trip we were really good about talking to people and asking folks for suggestions on where to go and visit. On my list of places was Cave Hill Cemetery, but the first time we wanted to go we got turned around at the entrance and in the few minutes it took us to circle back around, the entrance gate was closed. When we went back a few days later and got inside, we realized why it closes so early. Much like House on the Rock, it closes so early because there is SO MUCH inside that they need to allow enough time for people to get through it before it closes-closes. Since we didn’t make it in time the first day we took the suggestion of a stranger to check out the rest of the Bardstown rd./Baxter Ave. area.
There is tons of great shopping there and we also spent a good amount of time also walking the surrounding residential areas of the neighborhood and just admiring all of the HUGE southern homes. We were there a few days before Halloween and we noticed that other than one house that had a couple carved pumpkins out front and another that had some cobweb displays, no one decorated for the holiday, at least not like they do in Northern Illinois where it is not unusual to see a Griswold Family Vacation style home here and there, only instead of Christmas it’s Halloween decorations. Then when we got to the shopping area they were actually doing a trick or treat event where kids could go in and get candy from all the stores. I overheard one shop owner say something about so many houses being decorated for Halloween this year. Hmph. Maybe it was just the neighborhood we were in, but even driving around other areas and cities we just didn’t see it. Also of note: in this neighborhood we stopped for a bite to eat at the Falafel House on Bardstown rd. and it was the worst Mediterranean food we’d ever eaten. Just really bad, don’t go there.
We scheduled this trip for what we figured would be prime fall colors. I actually didn’t take TONS of pictures, and tried to focus on being in the moment and enjoying living it rather than documenting everything. Despite that I’d say half of my pictures are probably shots similar to this, showing the beautiful roadside view of the colors.
Or little videos like this, through the windshield.
We went to Mammoth Caves and took a tour
A funny thing that happened on the tour – at one point they get you pretty far and deep in the cave and tell everyone to turn off all of their lights, hide their cell phones, stand still if you have light up shoes, etc., and then they turn off all the lights and it is pitch black. Without a solitary bit of light for your eyes to bounce off of, you can’t see a thing in front of you. Matt and I were holding hands and when they did this he held me with his other hand and leaned in for a kiss and just then I felt a third arm caress my back. EEEEEP! It was all I could do not to laugh. I think there had been a mother standing behind me and I think she might have been feeling around trying to make sure each of her kids were nearby. I can only imagine how embarrassed she must have been when the lights went on and realized she was petting a stranger.
Cave City, the Mammoth Caves area, is surrounded by TONS of roadside attractions, things like Dinosaur World and the Wigwam Village – the kind of thing that if I had been on the trip with my best friend, we would have stopped at every single one of them, but Matt, not so much. I got him to pull over at Dinosaur World where we took this picture and we went into the gift shop, but he was more interested in getting to the caves. Next time.
Back in Louisville, we finally got to go to Cave Hill Cemetery.
I think this picture might have been a failed attempt to show exactly how expansive this cemetery is, with the foreground, middle ground, and background, with the ground rolling up and down all in between. We climbed up the highest hill we could find and still, there was further cemetery in every direction as far as we could see. Cave Hill Cemetery is so big (how big is it, you say?) It’s SOOO BIG it has its very own app, tours, and also acts as an arboretum with well marked plants and trees throughout and their website has a section called “if you get lost”. Yep, it’s that big.
The tree that had these cones and seeds falling from it fascinated me. Apparently it is a Magnolia and through this experience I learned that the trees up here that I thought were magnolias are actually just tulip trees. To this day it seems kind of magical that cones and seeds like these exist.
Another million things happened on this trip as well, but I’ve been working on this post forever and I didn’t document everything in photos. Other things of note include: the friendly people, Matt proposing to me, witnessing the half marathon running through Louisville, a truck stop diner, Homespun Indy, Spice Nation, the purchases we made, like the painting by Damon Thompson and our new winter coats, that continue to remind us of the great trip we had. We both loved it so much we look forward to going again. Maybe next time we will continue on and see the Smokey Mountains.