Day 60 - Mammoth Cave to Henderson, KY

This is a trip focusing on Americana, and what could be more American than fast cars and alcohol, right?  We hit 'em both as we spent the day winding our way around the back roads of Northern Kentucky.

First stop, the GM Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, better known as the home of the Chevrolet Corvette.  My earliest memory as a kid was helping my Dad set the timing in our '67 Corvette as we got ready to go drag racing, so the car and the brand is sort of genetically hard wired in me.  It was a great hour-ish tour around the plant, nice small group and lots of very up-close time right along the assembly line.  90+% of the folks were complete car nerds, so we stuck out a little from the crowd, but I don't think anyone could help but be impressed with this kind of facility.  Great compare/contrast with the Boeing Factory tour in Washington, too.  Cameras, phones or anything else electronic were strictly banned, however, so no pics from the inside :-(

BONUS - at the end of the tour, the guy driving the completed cars off the end of the assembly line asked MK if she wanted to start a car coming off the line for the very first time.  She stepped right up into the drivers seat and fired it up, making her the first person ever to start that particular car.  Got a little certificate and everything.  Very cool.  It's in the genes, man!  If the dude getting the red 2016 convertible with the five-spoke wheels is reading this, a freckled little kid from Stoughton started your car first.  We made a quick stop at the nearby Museum as well, checked out a few cars and hit the gift shop before heading out.

Stop #2 - Loretto, Kentucky and tour at the Makers Mark Distillery.  Lord knows that I don't need any encouragement when it comes to Bourbon consumption, but I got it anyways.  Nothing like a tour of a historic and charming facility to build some additional brand loyalty.

Like the GM plant, this tour was a little over an hour and took you from start to finish. This was about as low-tech as you could get, however.  It's a decent capacity distiller with about 250,000 barrels working, but there is a TON of hand work in their processes - 100+ year-old vats for fermenting, hand printed labels, hand-dipping for the signature wax capping, etc.  Super cool to see so many manual processes still in full swing in 2015.  Cool Chiluly installation in one of the aging rooms (he's a fan), nice tasting after the tour, super gift shop and Kim and I even got to hand-dip a few bottles that we took home with us.  And finally, the grounds and buildings could not have been more beautiful.  I don't have anything else on the Bourbon Trail to compare it to, but it was a great stop that I would recommend in a second.

We wound our way to Henderson where we are in for the night and where we will take in one more 'sin' before heading to our last night's stay.  Everywhere we look it is appearing more and more like home.

Have a good weekend.

- Jim

The signature red wax cap in process.  Every bottle done by hand.

The girls learning about distilling by the 100+ year-old vats.  I will be checking their room for stills...

Bourbon tasting?  Yes, please.  Mag and MK watched patiently.

Great details everywhere on the buildings and grounds.

Where Corvettes are born.

Where Corvettes are born.

Crossed flags and bowties everywhere.

Crossed flags and bowties everywhere.