Lexington KY | Keeneland, the Barn, and Foreign Food

I took a pillow to the face, repeatedly. My sister thought this would be a good way to wake me up. I was kind of glad; it was time to get up. After all, we are in Lexington KY! She had a riding lesson at 11am. The barn is 1 hour away and it was already 9:30am. It’s amazing how disorienting just a 3 hour time change can be. 9:30am in Lexington KY is 6:30am in San Francisco CA.

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Lexington KY’s Weather

Apparently this is not typical for Lexington KY, but it’s been really freaking cold. Like bone-chilling cold. Like when you step outside, you just wanna get somewhere warm cold. Like 4 layers on and you’re still cold cold. I am really cold.

Even the horses are cold! (pc: @just.me_cathy)

Despite being forced to take regular heat-up breaks in cars, building, and patches of sun, I much prefer this kind of weather to something hot and sticky. Each breath is refreshing; it breathes life into you rather than extracting energy like the warmth does.

The Horse Capital of the World

Lexington KY brands itself as “the horse capital of the world,” and I think it’s somewhat uncontested, but the place is serious about its equine brethren. My sister rides in horse shows, which is why we’re out here, so we got to explore the barn, which is beautiful.

photo taken by @aaron_yih

Something that you notice flying into and driving through Lexington KY is that all the houses are like barns. They have a medium to large house surrounded by a large plot of land enclosed by a white fence. It’s really different from the bay area. There’s just so much space. It’s common to see these long driveways, sandwiched between two lines of trees, leading right up to the front of a house.

photo taken by @aaron_yih

Somewhat of an iconic site in Lexington KY is Keeneland, a thoroughbred racing facility similar to the Churchill Downs, which hosts the Kentucky Derby, just an hour west of here. Keeneland has been around since 1936, and it was ranked the #1 racetrack in North America by the Horseplayers Association of North America. It’s also a National Historic Landmark!

Keeneland Race Track in Lexington KY (pc: @just.me_cathy)

Photo taken by @just.me_cathy

It was pretty cool exploring the track, which was almost entirely open to roam. It felt like we were characters in a zombie apocalypse. This feeling is especially true right now since it is not racing season, so there was barely anyone else there, and all of the concession stands and betting booths were in disarray.

Something totally unexpected was that they play really loud artificial bird sounds from the speakers when there’s no one there. At first we thought they were real bird sounds, and we were scared because the sounds were super loud and unidentifiable. When we followed where the sound was coming from, we realized that they are from a speaker! We suspect that they do this to keep real birds away from the seating area.

Lunch — La Fonda — Harrodsburg KY

We decided to check out a nearby town called Harrodsburg, which is a small town near my sister’s barn. There were a decent amount of cars parked on the street all over the town, but there seemed to be no one around. As I mentioned before, it was freezing cold, and furthermore, almost all of the shops and restaurants were closed at 12:30pm on a weekday!

We found one of the only places open, a Mexican place called “La Fonda.” It reminds us of the classic character from Napoleon Dynamite. The restaurant was insanely cheap, and pretty tasty!

While exploring Harrodsburg, we stumbled upon a little public park complete with a staged holiday scene. Very cute.

Country Christmas! (pc: @just.me_cathy)

Shaker Village

Next we stopped by a historic town called Shaker Village, which had a nice property with a small lake. They offer tours, but we didn’t quite have enough time to get on one!

Winter Landscape, Shaker Village, Rural Kentucky! (pc: @just.me_cathy)

Shakers are an interesting group of people and somewhat important to American History. This village, Pleasant Hill, is a branch of the larger settlement that was first formed just outside of Albany, New York. Although there are very few Shakers left now, at their time in the early to mid 19th century, they were the most well-known communal society in America.

Their values were ahead of their time as they believed and lived with celibacy, race and sex equality, and freedom from prejudice. Being in a border state during the Civil War, this viewpoint later caused tension for the group as they supported the emancipation of slaves but also refused to bear arms.

It’s crazy to think that they were so far ahead of the rest of society and that they were able to create a community around it.

Dinner — Zen Sushi & Sake — Lexington KY

We found a sushi place that looked really good on yelp, so we had to try it! Not only did the food taste great, but there were also a few really pleasant surprises! There was this one dish called campfire salmon, which came out as salmon sashimi over flaming coffee beans.

Inventive, Impressive, and Incredibly delicious!

Campfire Salmon from Zen Sushi & Sake (pc: @just.me_cathy)

photo taken by @aaron_yih

I don’t know why we like trying asian restaurants in places like Oklahoma City OK and Lexington KY, but a lot of the time, I’m really glad that we do. I am also however looking forward to more southern style food. I need some original Kentucky Fried Chicken!

Bourbon #2 and 3

It was hard to choose something to follow up yesterday’s Pappy Van Winkle, but life must go on, so I opted for 2 local whiskies. The first was produced just down the street, so I had to give it a try. It had a unique characteristic that there were 2 unique throat burns. First immediately when it goes down and then there’s a 1-2 second break before it comes back again and it comes back strong.

The second bourbon was the 21c’s selection of Wild Turkey. This one was my favorite of the two, and it made me realize that tasting bourbon is more of a sensation or a feeling rather than a taste. Don’t get me wrong, bourbons obviously have taste, but there’s also a lot in the way the bourbon feels going down.

The Pappy Van Winkle went all the way down to your stomach and it felt like a glowing warm. It was very even and cozy. The local Town Branch had that double throat burn and the Wild Turkey had a bit of a tingle on the tongue in addition to a warm glow at the top of the throat. Not sure if this is jut me or not, but I expect that tomorrow we’ll be going on a bourbon distillery tour, so I’ll let you know how I feel after those tastings too!

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