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Boating and bourbon beer

Bourbon is the mainstay of Kentucky. It goes into everything. I’m travelling onwards laden with recipes that call for a drop or two or seven of this elixir and cannot wait to try to duplicate RB’s gobsmackingly gorgeous bourbon baked beans. But perhaps the best of all so far has been the bourbon beer – and I’m not one for the beer usually. It’s simply ale aged in old bourbon barrels. Someone was thinking outside the box.

IMG_4801 (800x600)IMG_4795 (800x600)On a Sunday morning on Nolin (pronounced as two words No/Lin) Lake, we had the place to ourselves as Saturday night’s partiers slept off their hangovers. If the music the night before was any indication, they’d be sleeping till noon. Apart from a few water-skiiers, a family of ducks, and the occasional heron, it was just the four of us. Good company indeed.

IMG_4780 (800x600)Situated inside Nolin Lake State Park, the lake itself was created as a flo0d-control back in the early 1960s. Its 5795 acres are well-suited to fishing bass, catfish, crappie, and walleye and its  shores are littered with campgrounds both serviced and primitive.It’s a feat of engineering that has  paid for itself in flood damage savings: – $82 million – versus an original cost of $14.5 million. Would that all public works were so profitable.

Right next door, sits Mammoth Cave, the largest explored cave system in the world. Discovered way back in the 1700s, its 340 miles of known passageways have fascinated millions of visitors for years.

To those who asked why were were stopping off in Kentucky, this is why! Few things come close to spending a few hours boating on a lake with some blues playing the background and some (illegal) bourbon beer on side.

Illegal? Yes. Alcohol is forbidden on all Kentucky water. And this is a state where you can’t dye a duck and sell it unless you’re selling six of them (I kid you not!). And one in which dogs are forbidden to molest passing cars. You gotta love America.

 

 

2013 Grateful 29

Thursday, after an unexpected stopover in Washington DC, I called a mate in Ireland in an attempt to track down another mate in DC. I found both. The conversation was simple. ‘Hi, it’s Mary. Am in DC. Need to cadge a couch for two.’ The reply was simpler. ‘Sure. Here’s the address.’ That it had been five years since we’d last hooked up was irrelevant. That it had been more than a year since we’d spoken didn’t matter. It was as if it had been yesterday and we were simply picking up from where we’d left off. That night I met some of NQ’s mates, he met mine, and new friendships were forged.

Fast forward a few hours and we’re in Kentucky enjoying the hospitality of another mate whom I’ve not seen since 2001. We’re in pretty regular e-mail contact so inviting myself to stay wasn’t an issue. When the airports contrived to keep us away, RB said that he’d wondered whether the universe was trying to tell us to stick to e-mail or whether it was deliberately creating a difficult path to paradise. Suffice to say that we’ve arrived – in paradise. Tired, cranky, but otherwise unscathed.

IMG_4662 (800x600)RB’s house sits on 32 acres and overlooks Nolin Lake in Kentucky. He designed it himself, under the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright, and has unpacked his bottom drawer to great effect. The place is stunning. More than 300 square metres of light, air, views and a fantastic array of Alaskana are replete with the good taste, style, and elegance that so epitomise the man himself.

IMG_4664 (600x800)With columns painted to look like marble, and floors that actually are, the place is a work of love and attention to detail that encapsulates a lifetime of memories. It’s one of the most comfortable spaces I’ve ever been in and were it not for the slow Internet connection and the fact that opinionated women don’t do well in Kentucky, I’d move in tomorrow 🙂

There are houses and there are homes. There is interior design that looks like it has been designed and then there’s that wonderful piecing together of single items that just connect, each one working towards creating a feeling of togetherness. A little like life, methinks, and the variety of friendships that make up a circle of friends and reflect a life well lived.

IMG_4667 (596x800)The place is a joy of discovery, a veritable treasure hunt of perspective and taste. My favourite? The powder room. I can see a whole new use for statues now. I could even get attached to the bears.

IMG_4670 (800x592)Our homes reflect so much of who we are and what we like; how we live, and how we have lived. Opening them to others to enjoy, too, is a pleasure I know well. I never give much thought to how friends abroad might live until I get there. I never try to imagine what their places look like until I arrive. And then, it somehow all seems to fit. No two are ever the same. They might share elements that reflect a common past – in my case, both RB and I share Alaska and our respective collections reflects our length of residence. We both have a fondness for chobi carpets, too. And we even have a thing about hall space and galleries. But his space is very much his, as mine is very much mine.

IMG_4669 (800x591)This week was often difficult, trying, and downright annoying. It had ups and downs that were poles apart and the ensuing highs and lows kept the adrenaline running. As it draws to a close and I finally get to sip a mint julep on a rocker on the porch overlooking an expanse of water, in the company of good friends, I am truly grateful for the friendships I have made in my travels; for those people who have come into my life for whatever reason … and stayed. I am truly blessed.

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Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out Grateful 52