Thursday, September 30, 2010

Maker's Mark Bourbon production complex

Posted by Picasa

The Distillery entrance along with the Maker's Mark window shutters on their buildings

Posted by Picasa

Entering the distillery building for more info on the production of the bourbon

Posted by Picasa

The bottling, waxing, and packaging process

Posted by Picasa

Loading the barrels for storage in town, and loading the cases of great bourbon for sales

Posted by Picasa

Inside the storage buildings, our tour guide explains the way the barrels are charred before the aging process beings

Posted by Picasa

Time to taste the product!!!!! Yep.....quite good, if I do say so myself!!!!

Posted by Picasa

Thur, Sept 30, 2010: Yesterday....and, Today!!!

Yesterday morning we were up, re-packed, and after a quick breakfast of pastries and hot coffee/tea, we loaded the car and were on our way BACK.....going southeast to the tiny town of Loretto, KY. WHY??? To visit the distillery of Maker's Mark Bourbon!! It was only about 37 miles to the rear of our planned travels, but well worth every mile extra!!!!

The drive was spectacular in the early morning with the heavy misty air still at ground level.....and those beautiful little farms were landscaped, well painted, and each and every field was either harvested or was still arranged in neat rows, ready for the harvesting of the crops. We arrived in Loretto about 9:30am.....and followed the brown signs to the distillery......

WOW......what a complex!!!! Large semi's moving in and out, unloading grains, loading cases of Maker's Mark into their trailers, some filled with barrels full of bourbon that were being taken into town to another complex of buildings where they are aged, then rolled, then aged, then rolled, and so forth for 5-6 years to get just the "right" taste from the bourbon!! They have their own formula for the exact taste they wish to achieve....and then the bourbon is bottled, and the traditional red wax seal is applied and then dried.

However, all of this is done after the making of the bourbon. But, first......when we arrived we went to the main building, a farm house that was just like new inside, with sofas and chairs, a lovely kitchen, etc., etc........all for the use of the guests on their daily tours. 10AM, fresh and hot chocolate chip cookies were being passed around to all those waiting for a tour, accompanied with some bourbon infused coffee!!!! Just GREAT!!!!

And from there....we toured several buildings, watched the bubbling brew as it aged for three days in the huge vats, the bottling process, and the packing of the cases full of new Maker's Mark bourbon!!

Following the tour, we were taken to the tasting room/gift shop.....and there we each were given two small glasses of was the traditional recipe and the other one was the new Maker's Mark 46 Bourbon. After being instructed as to how to taste the beautiful elixir, we all sampled and drank from the glasses we had been given so as to compare the two products.

A fabulous morning........this being one of the very, very BEST tours of this kind that I have ever experienced......such friendliness, such cleanliness, such beautiful buildings and decor.....and such a great product!!! DO NOT MISS DRIVING THE EXTRA MILES TO SEE THIS DISTILLERY!!!!! You will be treated royally!!!! (for free!)

Returning to the Western Kentucky Parkway, we drove most of the afternoon and arrived at Paducah for an early supper/late, late lunch. Nothing special.......ate at a chain restaurant and that was a mistake. Not good food........yuk!!!

We then drove on back to the sticknbrick and unloaded the car, unpacked the luggage, and enjoyed the evening here at TheHowserHouse.

Today.....well, nothing special.....some yard work, some seeding of grass seeds in the front yard, and just relaxing at home for a change. I did put together the new end table which we purchased and brought back with us from the West Elm store in Philadelphia. looks really great beside one of our living room chairs!!

And soooo, two days worth of "news" of our activities on here. We'll see what tomorrow brings forth, always.......

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Looking over the OLD picture albums of our families: 1st Lady, my cousin Gayle, and Uncle Norman

Posted by Picasa

At dinner, Uncle Norman and his friend, Susan

Posted by Picasa

Ge...with my cousin, Gayle!!!

Posted by Picasa

A few pics of my cousin, Gayle....and her Dutch friend, Ge!!!!

Posted by Picasa

Uncle Norman....and the sagging hulk of Me....his nephew!!

Posted by Picasa

Monday, Sept 27, 2010: Bye Philly.....Hello Harrisonburg, VA!!!

Hmmmm.......a rainy morning as I opened the curtains on our hotel window....looking down from the top floor....the 10th....where our room is located. Gray, wet parking lot/cars below....and the I-95 next to the hotel was really being splashed by the morning commuters. After packing and getting ready for the day.........we went down to the breakfast room, had some great pastries, and then loaded our luggage onto a cart, and took it out to the car, loading it into the car and having to put quite a bit inside the car as the trunk was really tight with the new table in a box.

And, by about 9:30am, we were off and heading south on I-95. Traffic was really not bad at all for a Monday morning.....and soon we were going around Wilmington, Delaware.....and then going around Baltimore, we head out across Maryland.

We went into W. Virginia for a few miles as the highway went through just a corner of the state, however......we went through Harper's Ferry. We got off the highway and went through the National Historic Park with our senior lifetime pass......and then back on the highway we went. Soon we were in Virginia.....and by mid-afternoon we were in Harrisonburg and driving into the driveway of my only remaining uncle.

As he now is 92 and requires a "walker" to get around, we went inside and it was such a wonderful moment to see him again. He is sooooo alert, so sharp, and so.....just, "Uncle Norman" he always has been!!!! Neither one of us ever came to a period......just talking about our pasts, our lives, our families, our experiences. Over the years with his business, he has lived in India and in Venezuela President of the company....and he had lots to remember and discuss!!!!

Soon, his daughter, cousin, and her friend, Ge from the Netherlands came into the house.....and lots more hugs and kisses and laughter!!!! Sooooo good to be with them again....and, for the 1st Lady, it was the first time she had met Gayle. We just chatted and laughed drank some red wine, and laughed more and more.

We then went out to have dinner, as Uncle Norman had made reservations for all of us, including his lady friend, Susan. Soooo, it was a great dinner with so many topics of discussion and lots of humor from all of us!!! And......more wine for everyone!!!!

Returning to his home, we all sat and laughed and told stories from our family's past.....and before long it was going on, the evening ended with good-bye embraces all around. Uncle Norman told us to just sneak out in the morning(Tue) as he normally slept until mid-morning..........

And, so we did!!! TODAY, we were out and on the way out of town by 8am......driving further south on I-81, turning westward on I-64 and going through, around, and over the cloud covered mountains of the beautiful state of West Virginia!!! A few coffee stops were definitely needed, or the "stops" were just long enough to replenish my coffee habits of each morning!

We just kept driving, stopping only briefly when needed, and this afternoon about 4pm, we arrived in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where we found a nice little hotel and checked into it. A small cafe next door was utilized by ourselves......and we are now just watching a bit of tv.

Tomorrow, we intend to visit the Makers Mark Bourbon distillery south of Bardstown, KY, before we get back on the Western Kentucky Parkway and continue the drive on to the sticknbrick....about 330 miles. I need a good bottle of bourbon....and I do believe this will be JUST the place to find what my habits require!!!!! Ummmmm........sounds sooo great already!!!

And.....soooo, as we relax this always......

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sun, Sep 26, 2010: Another day in Philly......

This morning after working through the crowds down in the breakfast room, we waited until about 11am to leave the hotel, as the store we needed to visit did not open until 12noon on Sunday. Soooo, off we went on the hotel shuttle......a nice free perk from the the city center. We wandered about into a couple of other shops....and then, finally.....the West Elm home store opened their doors. We once again checked out the table which we had looked at yesterday......and definitely decided to purchase it. It was only $200 and the way it is boxed, it would fit right into the trunk of the car.....saving us some shipping costs had we ordered it online.

Soooo, after making the purchase and re-confirming that I could pick it up in back of the store at the loading dock.....the 1st Lady decided to walk the few blocks to Jeremy's apartment.....and, I went below ground and took the swift subway back to within about six short blocks to the hotel. Then......I gathered up the 1st Lady's sweater and a sweatshirt for myself.....and jumped into the car and headed back to the store. Well,.....a few of the streets that I was going to drive on were closed for one reason or another, thereby altering my route!!!! And.....with the various one-way streets, it took me quite a while to figure out just how to get to the small street behind the store to pick up my table.

However, I did get there OK.......waited on the loading dock guy to get me my table and to put it into the trunk. That he did.......and I went on my way to Jeremy's apt. at the Parc Riddenhouse beautiful building. The 1st Lady met me there, took her sweater, and then I told her I was going to take the car back to our hotel to park it, as the costs of the parking for each day was already added to my hotel bill.....$23 a day to park....which is a REALLY great price for secure parking here in the city. Soooo, back to the hotel I went.......parked the car.....and then grabbing my backpack, I walked back to the subway entrance, took the next subway train and was soon only three blocks from Jeremy's place. Cost of the subway is only $2.00.....a really terrific bargain!

Walking back to his apt., it began to rain....and I was glad I had an umbrella with me. Being stopped by the doorman at the hotel, I explained who I was, and soon I was in Jeremy's apt. We chatted for a while.....Anne-marie's train from NYC had only arrived at 12 noon, so we got hear of her 24 hours trip to the Big Apple. Later in the afternoon, I went across the park to Barnes & Noble and spent a couple of hours in there reading and looking.....and enjoying. It was extremely packed and busy with lots of people.......and so, I didn't get get to do some of the looking for items I had wanted to do. I did check out a highway map of Jeremy and Anne-marie are planning to spend six months there, beginning in December. They will rent an island house....on an island just off of the coast, reachable only by boat.......and are wanting us to come down to visit them during the winter. However......our plans are becoming more complete to spend 6 weeks in New Zealand in the late winter/early, I doubt we will go down to Panama this time.

Jeremy made reservations for tonight's dinner at La Viola.....a small, intimate Italian restuarant which boasts some great reviews and ratings by Zagat's......and, it was only about 3 blocks from his apt. Soooo, we ambled over there.....the rains had stopped.....and were seated quickly. It was a terrific meal......I had some very tender veal and artichoke hearts with a marvelous white wine and lemon sauce over several thin slices of veal.....along with broccoli and three slices of potatoes. The bread, the salad, and the cappuccino after dinner were all really well prepared. The 1st Lady's pasta with shrimp, scallops, and lobster looked really great.....and, she said that it was incredibly good. Both Jeremy and Anne-marie's dinners were very good......and, as is most Italian restaurants......the prices were quite reasonable!!! The best thing of this dining experience?????? The incredible service which we had from the waiters!!!!!!! Absolutely the most outstanding service and attention we have had in a restaurant in several years of dining out here in the states and in Mexico, Canada, Egypt, and Jordan!!!!!!! A pleasant surprise......and a grand experience along with the wonderful dinner!!!!!

We walked them back to their apartment, gathered our things that we had left there, and said our "good-byes". Then we walked a couple of blocks and decided to call the hotel shuttle to come pick us up.....that great "perk" from the Comfort Inn!!!!

And soooo, tomorrow we leave for Harrisonburg, VA for the evening.........spending some time with my relatives which I am very, very excited about!!!!! more short days drive....and we will back in the sticknbrick for a few days before we leave for 8 days in Disney World, as well as some more time wandering around in Florida.

And, as always.............

LIFE IS JUST INCREDIBLY GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!