Monday, May 12, 2014

Spring Break: Louisville, KY

Day one of our 12 day spring break journey had our family driving from Charlotte to Louisville. An eight hour drive that took nine because of necessary stops with little ones. And maybe because of me. Truth be told: I hate riding in the car. That's a strong statement, I know, but it's true. I think my kids actually ride better than I do. They are content to watch endless hours of DVDs, listed to audio books on CD, and eat a bountiful supply of Goldfish crackers, grapes, and lollipops. Except for Jax. He likes to cry - loud and often.
After a full day of driving we checked into our hotel rooms and Grady took the older three kids swimming. Too much sitting in the car meant lots of energy to burn. Jax, however, was done. Despite our best attempts to help him nap during the drive, he refused to do so. A quick bath and he was out for the night - and my goodness did he sleep well that night!
The next morning we visited the Louisville Slugger Museum and had a great time. We viewed and held bats used by some of the greats. In particular, Grady grabbed hold of a 2005 David Ortiz bat, and a Micky Mantle bat from sometime between 1961-1964. To me this doesn't mean a whole lot, but to him this was pretty exciting.
We took a 30 minute factory tour to see how bats are made. It was fascinating! We saw how bats used to be made by hand - a skilled trade that machines have long since replaced. Each day the Louisville Slugger Museum turns 2,000-5,000 wooden bats for professional and recreational players - plus an additional 4,000-5,000 mini bats. I think the highlight of the factory tour was the souvenir mini bat we each received at the end.
After watching movies, hitting balls in the batting cage, and seeing 90 mph fastballs whiz by, it was time for lunch. Downtown Louisville has a small, but nice, strip of restaurants and we enjoyed quick sandwiches. It's always interesting to navigate our small crowd into an all-adult and all-business environment. Heads turn when four little people enter, Grady moves tables together, and I attempt to navigate the stroller in close quarters. On the one hand, it's nerve wracking because my kids don't seem to have an indoor voice or remember what personal space is; on the other hand it's quite amusing because Grady and I watch young 20-somethings in their spiffy career clothes and think, "Just wait - your day is coming!"
When lunch was over we loaded up for a short hour and a half drive south to the Mammoth Cave. My boys were excited and hoping to see bats and crawl through tight spaces; Annalyse was concerned that it would be dark and there would be "no potty's for me to use;" and Jax did his usual scream and cry routine because sleeping and his car seat don't go together.
We arrived with just over 30 minutes before our scheduled tour. Perfect! Enough time to use the bathroom and explore the visitor center. But then we saw a sign hanging about the entrance that said, in bold, capital letters: CENTRAL TIME. What?! We now had an hour and a half until our tour. Sigh. Grady talked with a park ranger and discovered that the same tour we were scheduled for had several open slots and it was departing in a half hour. Perfect!
Jax rode on me in the Baby Bjorn and did great - he slept almost the entire two hours and didn't make a peep. Annalyse clung to Grady's hand for the first hour and then decided she was "going to be brave and walk by myself because the cave is starting to be fun." Grady Lee and Micah were timid at first - unsure of their footing in the dim light - but were quick to acclimate and required several reminders and warnings about rules and protocol in the cave. Micah listened intently each time the group stopped and the guide explained something. He was even quick to raise his hand and ask if there were "any civilizations still living in the cave?" To his dismay, the answer was no.

Our two hour cave tour involved lots of stairs up and down, some tight and narrow passages that required some creative bending to make it through, a pitch-black-can't-see-my-hand-in-front-of-my-face experience, and one small bat sighting. We had a great time, and my boys are wondering if we "can go back soon, but without Jaxton and Annalyse so that we can do some adventurous things where we have to wear helmets and we get wet."

As day two drew to a close, we anticipated our two hour drive north to Cincinnati for a day at the Creation Museum the next day. More on that soon...

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