K is for Kentucky – #atozchallenge

One word: Staycation

My family moved to Kentucky with in 1993. We moved from the western United States and had not lived in a humid, green environment since our time in Japan in the late 1980s.

Kentucky the Beautiful
Kentucky Backroads

Like many others, when we heard the word Kentucky, we thought about the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Kentucky bourbon. There was not much else to really understand or know about Kentucky.

Honestly, looking back I can say that our move to Kentucky was one of the best things we ever did. Kentucky is a beautiful and diverse state. Living in Lexington, which is the Horse Capital of the World, we are surrounded by beautiful horse farms. In fact, I can leave my driveway and be driving through horse farm country within five minutes. The black plank fences, the nicely mown fields, immaculately expensive barns and the horses out grazing in the field… always uplift our souls.

Kentucky Capitol Building in Frankfort
Black Plank Fences are all over Kentucky…this is Horse Country
Lebanon, KY

There are so many things to see and do in Kentucky. The worlds largest cave, Mammoth Cave is here. Beautiful waterfalls, streams, rivers and lakes. The hills of eastern Kentucky are lovely.

The drive across the state takes about six hours if you’re driving east to west from the furthest points. The diversity that you will see on a drive like that is amazing.

Mail Pouch Barn in Central Kentucky
Rabbit Hash General Store in Kentucky
Louisville, KY as seen from across the Ohio River in Indiana
Lexington at Sunset
Wisdom, Kentucky
Mare and foal jaunt
Oddville, Kentucky
Sumoflam at Cumberland Falls
Flippin, Kentucky Post Office
Ice Storms leave lovely art

Kentucky is one of those states that has true four seasons. The wintertime typically has snow and sometimes we even get some pretty impressive ice storms.  Not fun in and of themselves, the ice storms leave beauty hanging around.

After winter comes springtime and the abundance of colorful flowers and flowering trees. One of Lexington’s favorite places for visiting and viewing flowering trees is the Lexington Cemetery. It is a lovely place when everything is in bloom.

Cherry Blossoms in Lexington Cemetery
Yes, it can snow in the spring and cover the flowers.
Kentucky is famous for its lovely Redbud Trees
Thoroughbred Park

April is the start of the horse racing season in Kentucky. Keeneland Race Track is one of the premier race tracks in the United States and then after the Kingman meet horses move onto Louisville and Churchill Downs and eventually the Kentucky Derby. In the past I’ve had the opportunity to attend those events and they are a lot of fun.

But there are many other horse activities in Kentucky such as show jumping and even Polocrosse — a mix between polo and lacrosse done on horses.

 

Polocrosse at the Kentucky Horse Park
Show Jumping at Kentucky Horse Park
Horses frolic
A horse relaxes against a tree in late winter
The grandeur of nature with sunbeams shining over a lake in Kentucky

Throughout the year, I make my way to a local reservoir/lake on the outskirts of Lexington. It is called Jacobson Lake and is part of the huge Jacobson Park. It is a beautiful place to come early in the morning and watch a sunrise or come in the evening and catch a sunset. I also thoroughly enjoy spending time at the lake and listening to the birds and watching and photographing birds. There are a variety of them from the great blue heron in the beautiful bald eagle and Osprey, to many smaller birds such a seagulls, Killdeer, blackbirds and bluebirds and Cardinals.

Blue Heron taking flight at Jacobson Lake
We call this Bald Eagle “Jake”. The local eagle at Jacobson Lake
Sunset at Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY
Blue Heron grabbing some breakfast
Fall at Jacobson Park

Summer in Kentucky is generally mild but can be warm and sometimes very hot and humid. Those are the times to stay indoors or to go to the lake and sit out on the lake. The family has made a few visits to Cave Run Lake in eastern Kentucky to enjoy the nice environment.

Sanders Cafe in Corbin, KY. Birthplace of the KFC Special Recipe
Wigwam Cafe in Ravenna, KY

Also, during the summer I often take back road drives around Kentucky. There are so many lovely little two lane back roads that one can take and see the landscape, lifestyle and many other unique things. On these trips I’ve discovered old churches, beautiful old farm houses and buildings. I’ve come across fields of sunflowers. I even came across “Kentucky Stonehenge.”

Sumoflam at Kentucky Stonehenge
An old bourbon plant in Woodford County
Turkey Vultures guard their meal near McKee, KY
Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville
Sandhill Cranes

Traveling south of Louisville I took a back road during the spring in hopes of catching the migration of the beautiful Sandhill Cranes. And I was fortunate enough to be there when they were there in the small little town of Cecelia, Kentucky.

 

Sandhill Cranes near Cecilia, KY
Cave Land Motel – Cave City, Kentucky

On other trips we have visited Cave City, a kind of National Park resort town that supports Mammoth Cave. Cave City offers one of only three remaining historic Wigwam Motel complexes, the other two being in Arizona and California. Further south on the same interstate or taking a back road, is the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. This is the only factory in the world that builds the Corvette. Kentucky is also home to the largest Toyota plant in the United States, a huge Ford production facility in Louisville that makes F150 pick up trucks.

Sleep in a Wigwam – Wigwam Motel in Cave City, Kentucky
Wigwam Motel in Cave City, KY
Giant T-Rex statue in Cave City, KY
Old Corvette on pedestal at Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
Lincoln by Eduardo Kobra, part of the 2013 PRHBTN Festival in Lexington, Kentucky

 

Both Lexington and Louisville feature amazing murals and wall art.  Lexington even has an organization called PRHBTN that invites famed street artists from all over the world to come to Lexington and paint on buildings around the city.  There are some amazing pieces.

 

Louis Armstrong Mural by Sergio Odeith from Portugal, for PRHBTN 2015
Another large mural on the side of an old warehouse in Lexington’s Distillery District

I love Kentucky. I am so glad that we had the blessing to move here to this beautiful state. If you have not visited Kentucky, you need to add it as a “must see” to your list.

Ranada Riley, owner of the Lexington Diner in Lexington has been on television Food Network Competitions such as Guy’s Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen
One of many horse barns
Sunrise in Eastern Kentucky as we approached West Virginia
Mist covered farmland as seen from Kentucky Highway 79
Paducah, Kentucky
Mural Tribute to Kentucky Bourbon by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Jac’s Coffee Shop – Harlan, Kentucky
Past Time Cafe storefront – Crab Orchard, Kentucky
Visiting Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in November
Humongous field of sunflowers in Central Kentucky. This too offers a feeling of grandeur

And, if you live in Kentucky…go take a “staycation” and see this great state.

 

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Living in Horse Country – The Scenery and the Art

Horse Country - Lexington, Kentucky
Horse Country – Lexington, Kentucky

We have lived in Central Kentucky for just over 20 years.  The Lexington area is known as the Horse Capital of the World, and for good reason, the area is noted for its limestone enriched fertile soil, its excellent pastureland and the perfect place for bluegrass to grow.  The area is known for its scenic beauty and  manicured landscapes.  Sometimes one needs only go into their own backyard to enjoy the ride..  Following are a few “Horse Photos” that I have taken around Central Kentucky, some scenic, but mainly horse art that I come across.

HORSE FARMS AND HORSES OF CENTRAL KENTUCKY

Horse Racing at Keeneland
Horse Racing at Keeneland in Lexington, one of the premier tracks in the U.S.

With hundreds of horse farms in the area supporting it, Thoroughbred Racing is a huge industry in Central Kentucky.  But there are many other events that occur here as well, especially with the world famous Kentucky Horse Park.

Show Jumping at Kentucky Horse Park
Show Jumping at Kentucky Horse Park
Polocross at the Kentucky horse Park
Polocross at the Kentucky horse Park

Along with the horse activities are the expansive horse farms with their signature black plank fences and their massive horse barns.

Typical scene in Horse Country
Typical scene in Horse Country
Winter scene in horse country
Winter scene in horse country
Fall in Horse Country
Fall in Horse Country
Large Horse barn on Yarnelton Rd. near Lexington
Large Horse barn on Yarnelton Rd. near Lexington
Grazing horse on a farm south of Lexington
Grazing horse on a farm south of Lexington
A road near Lexington KY with the shadows of the famed plank fences
A road near Lexington KY with the shadows of the famed plank fences
Thoroughbreds frolicking in the snow in Woodford County, KY
Thoroughbreds frolicking in the snow in Woodford County, KY
A playful horse gives me the eye
A playful horse gives me the eye

HORSE ART IN CENTRAL KENTUCKY

Part of a mural in Lexington, Kentucky
Part of a mural in Lexington, Kentucky

With so much involved around horses in Central Kentucky, it is no wonder that there is an abundance of horse art to be found in the area.  There are numerous paintings and murals and dozens of horse statues dotting the region.  Here is just a smattering of what I have come across in my travels around Lexington and the surrounding area.

Angry Horse statue in Hamburg shopping area in Lexington.
Angry Horse statue in Hamburg shopping area in Lexington.
Girl with a foal, also in Hamburg shopping area
Girl with a foal, also in Hamburg shopping area
Horse and rider outside of Rebecca Ruth Candy Shop in Frankfort, Kentucky
Horse and jockey outside of Rebecca Ruth Candy Shop in Frankfort, Kentucky
Foal Statue on a Gate Post on Cleveland Road near Lexington, KY
Foal Statue on a Gate Post on Cleveland Road near Lexington, KY
Scrap Metal Horse at Woodford Reserve near Versailles, Kentucky
Scrap Metal Horse at Woodford Reserve near Versailles, Kentucky
Horse Statue at an upscale apartment complex in Lexington, Kentucky
Horse Statue at an upscale apartment complex in Lexington, Kentucky
This is a large horse mural on a water tower off of I-75 north of Lexington
This is a large horse mural on a water tower off of I-75 north of Lexington
A giant horse made out of wire that stands in front of the courthouse in Lexington
A giant horse made out of wire that stands in front of the courthouse in Lexington
Another view of the horse through a fountain with the courthouse in the background
Another view of the horse through a fountain with the courthouse in the background
A Chinese Horse statue in front of a bank in downtown Lexington
A Chinese Horse statue in front of a bank in downtown Lexington
Show Jumpers at shopping center in Lexington
Show Jumpers at shopping center in Lexington
Another set of jumpers in the same shopping center
Another set of jumpers in the same shopping center
Part of a mural on a wall on a building in downtown Lexington
Part of a mural on a wall on a building in downtown Lexington
A mural on a water tower in Versailles, Kentucky
A mural on a water tower in Versailles, Kentucky
A rustic horse head on a building in downtown Lexington
A rustic horse head on a building in downtown Lexington
Horse and Rider in downtown Lexington
John Hunt Morgan statue in downtown Lexington
John B. Castleman Statue in Cherokee Triangle in Louisville
John B. Castleman Statue in Cherokee Triangle in Louisville

As a side note on the above two photos of Morgan and Castleman.  These are both on the National Register of Historic Places and are the only two Civil War Monuments in Kentucky with equestrians.

THOROUGHBRED PARK – LEXINGTON

Thoroughbred Park in Downtown Lexington
Thoroughbred Park in Downtown Lexington

Perhaps the shining monument of horse art in Lexington (and Central Kentucky) is Thoroughbred Park. This 2.5 acre park, with its fountains and benches and walking paths offers a splendid retreat.  It also provides a unique history of the thoroughbred. The park contains 42 plaques honoring historic figures in the thoroughbred industry, and has 13 life-sized horse sculptures, including the seven horses storming down a track towards the finish line of a race.  All of the horse art in this park was done by Lexington artist Gwen Reardon. Following are a few scenes from the park.

Horse and rider racing down the track. Perhaps my favorite photo of all from Thoroughbred Park
Horse and jockey racing down the track. Perhaps my favorite photo of all from Thoroughbred Park
Top view of the horses racing
Top view of the horses racing
Jockey pushing his horse at Thoroughbred Park
Jockey pushing his horse at Thoroughbred Park
Frolicking Foals in Thoroughbred Park
Frolicking Foals in Thoroughbred Park
Grazing mare on a hill in Thoroughbred Park
Grazing mare on a hill in Thoroughbred Park
Monument of a 1800s race horse and sire named "Lexington" at Thoroughbred Park
Monument of a 1800s race horse and sire named “Lexington” at Thoroughbred Park
New foal promises the future of the industry
New foal promises the future of the industry
A final view - front view of the horses...you can almost hear and feel them
A final view – front view of the horses…you can almost hear and feel them

ARTSY HORSES – HORSE MANIA 2010 AND MORE

Lady's Godiva's Horse - created by Jean Isaacs Bramlette and Audwin Price
Lady’s Godiva’s Horse – created by Jean Isaacs Bramlette and Audwin Price

In July 2010, LexArts, a community organization dedicated to the promotion of art in Lexington, created a fund raising project called Horse Mania 2010, which featured 82  painted fiberglass horses that dotted the streets of Lexington. Since that time, many of these were purchased and added to private collections in Kentucky and elsewhere, but some are still visible on the streets of the city. The complete set can be seen HERE and all are clickable to see the whole story behind each one.  Following are a few that I have captured over the past three years.

Madame Ivory by Kelly Rice Welker
Madame Ivory by Kelly Rice Welker
Running Around in Circles by Blake Eames
Running Around in Circles by Blake Eames
Color Bars by Martha Chute and Jamie Pyles
Color Bars by Martha Chute and Jamie Pyles
Fionghan by Megan Gilvin
Fionghan by Megan Gilvin
Cloisonneigh by Priscilla Roberts Fallon & Family
Cloisonneigh by Priscilla Roberts Fallon & Family
It's Rocking Lexington by Lloyd Hughes
It’s Rocking Lexington by Lloyd Hughes
Lexington Landmarks by Jennifer Conrad-Barber
Lexington Landmarks by Jennifer Conrad-Barber
This one is in Chevy Chase, but can't find the name
This one is in Chevy Chase, but can’t find the name
This colorful Zebra is in Hamburg Shopping area, but is not on the list
This colorful Zebra is in Hamburg Shopping area, but is not on the list
This horse was in downtown Lexington during Horse Mania, but is not on the list either
This horse was in downtown Lexington during Horse Mania, but is not on the list either
Then there is the unusual Toaster Horse at Lynn's Paradise Cafe in Louisville
Then there is the unusual Toaster Horse at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville

Obviously, there is much more art to be found.  The Kentucky Horse Park has a dozen or more outdoor sculptures, photos of which can be seen here.  There are also more to be found in surrounding towns such as Paris, Versailles, Cynthiana, Richmond, Danville and more.  Its a great place to visit and an even better place to live!!

 

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