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Louisville, KY

We traveled Louisville Kentucky to be part of Julie’s cousin Sarah’s wedding. Julie’s entire family was attending, and I had the honor of being asked to perform the ceremony for Sarah and Chris.

The flight was an easy hop from California. We were greeted at the airport by Colonel Sanders (yes that one). Marcus had to take a picture him, and by him “having to take a picture” I mean dad told him to go take the picture. We settled in to the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in the heart of downtown and just a block from the Louisville Slugger Factory. This hotel was great, budget friendly, modern and the staff was amazing. I’m not sure if was natural Southern hospitality or awesome training, but I would put this staff up against some of the best hotels we’ve stayed at around the world. They were friendly, engaging and didn’t miss a step. It was a fresh surprise for a budget hotel. Well done.

We enjoyed an evening with family for the rehearsal dinner. Nana, Julie’s 90-year old grandmother was there, and was the life of the party, as usual. You’ll hear more about Nana in our Mediterranean adventure. I received the coolest gift as a thank you for performing the ceremony – a bourbon baking box. I love to cook, so this was perfect. It included Bourbon Smoked everything – Seas Salt, Sugar, Cacao Nibs, and Pepper. Cooking with these ingredients when we got home did not suck.

Wedding Day

We started the day taking the tasting tour at Even Williams Bourbon. This place was great and included a tasting in the Speak-Easy, safe door entrance, password and all. If you can find it you have to try the Even Williams Fire, it’s like Fireball, but awesome. I squirreled away for a few hours to put the finishing touches on the ceremony.

This was my second ceremony I’ve performed, and this one meant more than I can express. Sarah was the flower girl in our wedding 18 years prior to this. Julie has 2 sisters, and 2 cousins. Both sisters are married and this was the first of her cousins. Julie’s grandfather, PawPaw had been at our wedding and each of her sisters weddings. He purchased a tied for our wedding that was a huge splurge for him, and was just timeless. He worn that for each of Julie’s sisters weddings. This WWII POW was the heart of the family but passed on a few years before Sarah’s wedding. Nana asked if I would wear the tie to carry on the tradition. I was honored and told that story as part of the ceremony. The ceremony was on the Roof of the Frazier History Museum overlooking the Ohio River.  It was a perfect moment and a great experience.

Time to Experience Louisville, KY

The next couple of days we played tourist. We toured the Louisville Slugger factory in the morning. I’m not a baseball guy, but the history here and the continued success of American manufacturing was awesome to see. We then Ubered over to the famous Churchill Downs – home of the Kentucky Derby. We bought tickets to the Millionaires Row (we weren’t dressed to go up to the nicer spaces) to watch some races, eat and try a Mint Julip. We lost at the races, had ok food and tried our one and only Mint Julip. Not sure why those are so popular.

The following day we headed to Butchertown. This is the former meatpacking district and is seeing a revival to the neighborhood with shops, homes and the coolest distillery – Copper & Kings. Built in the remains of a collapsed warehouse with shipping containers in the front to create their greeting area and retail shop. The property opens into a big courtyard that is perfect for events. The Distillery is in the back and has a shallow pool fronting its big glass doors. The pools are not just decorative. They bring in humidity into the building to help with the distilling process. During the tour we got a chance to bottle our choice. I chose to bottle 124 Proof Bandy that was aged in Sierra Nevada beer barrels. That was a cool connection to home because the Sierra Nevada brewery is only about 2-hours north from our home in California.  I’ve never been a brandy fan, but I bought a few different bottles because they were really unique and surprisingly good.

From here we headed to the really unique experience of the trip – Underground Zip Lining a the Louisville Mega Cavern. Yep, that’s a thing and is the world’s only underground zipline adventure featuring 6 ziplines nearly 100 feet off the cavern floor and is the largest building in Kentucky . This is a former Limestone mine originally built in the middle of the 20th century. The place is huge and over 2-hours of ziplining was epic. If you’re ever in Louisville, you’re gonna want to do this.

Tomorrow we’re off to the Bourbon Trail on our way to Nashville for CMA Fest 2017.

Jim Beam Distillery

Today we transition from Louisville to Nashville. We started the day at the Jim Beam Distillery. Got a great tour of the property, bottling facility and rick house where they age the bottles. Being that this was a big corporate brand we weren’t expecting much, but the property was immaculate, and they really delivered an amazing experience. We took a tour of the property and got the behind the scenes view of the manufacturing process. It’s fascinating to see how meticulous the process and how much they combine science and art to create the right blend. At the halfway point we got to pour out a barrel to prepare it for bottling. Sipping straight from an aged barrel, unfiltered, was really cool. From there we headed inside to the bottling. Here is where we got to do something truly unique – we bottled our own single barrel bottles. One for my company, NEXT, and Marcus got to bottle his own bottle to open on his 21st birthday. After bottling they add the signature wax top. Being able to have a bottle with all our fingerprints in it to be able to mark his 21st birthday is what creating unique experiences is all about. We finished the tour with a tasting of all their unique blends.

Corvette Assembly Plant & Museum

After this we continued south and took a tour through the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green and then through the Corvette museum. Very cool to see the facility and how they put the cars together.  You may have heard, several year ago the museum had a major sinkhole that swallowed several historic cars. They decided, after retrieving the cars and rebuilding the section of the facility, to turn it in to a unique display. All the damaged cars are there, mud and all to tell the story.

Nashville Arrival

After a day of driving and experiences, we arrived in our final destination, Nashville for CMA Fest 2017. CMA Fest doesn’t start for a couple days, but our first night walking around we watched Florida Georgia Line film a spot for tomorrow’s CMA’s award show at their new restaurant just off Broadway. Then we walked up the street to watch CMT Crossover, where Earth Wind and Fire played with Darius Rucker, Sara Evans, Dan & Shay, and a couple others. The music adventure is just about to kick in full throttle over the next 5 nights. Check out the CMA Fest Story to hear more.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Kathy Harlan says:

    What a great tribute to the wedding and Louisville. I didn’t realize how much you packed into that trip. And of course there couldn’t have been a better person to officiate the wedding. I know Chris and Sarah are missing Louisville. Love you guys. Wish we were all closer.

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