Old Friends Become New Friends in Louisville

Visiting places that turn out to be nothing short of wonderful after mostly negative comments attached to them seems to be a theme with this adventure. That theme continued with Louisville, Kentucky, where I spent three days with my mom. For her, the road trip was two-fold, first she wanted a little ‘mom and me’ mini-vacation before I flew back to England, and also she had reconnected with a friend from high school that she hadn’t seen in over forty years. Louisville, Kentucky was never a place I thought I’d visit, but she couldn’t drive the 7 hours each way herself, so I agreed to be her chauffeur go with her.

The company at which I spent the last seven years of my life working, before leaving on a year-long hiatus, had a distribution center in Louisville. Anyone I worked with who went there for one reason or another, went or came back from Kentucky with the sentiment “why would anyone want to go to Louisville?” Couple that with the thought of going to a new place with your mom to meet up with someone she hasn’t seen in a long time, and I may very well have rudely declined the offer if I’d had any more time to really think about it.

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Luckily I agreed to go, because I was completely taken by surprise at the pure beauty of Louisville and the Kentucky countryside. From the numerous horse and cattle farms; in bloom cherry blossom and crepe myrtle trees; to bright green healthy grasses. It was all perfectly on display for our arrival.

My mom and I stayed at the simple & charming Breckinridge Inn, which was conveniently nearby to where Jeanne and her family live, in St. Matthews. We spent a nice first evening meeting and chatting with Jeanne and her two daughters, Victoria and Sarah. Immediately, it felt like we had known them forever. Jeanne was so warm and welcoming. Victoria had recently studied abroad in London and loved it, so there was lots to talk about there. They even got out the old 1970s Mount Markham yearbooks, which my sisters and I used to browse through frequently when we were younger to look at familiar names and faces as high school teenagers just about to graduate.

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Jeanne was a fantastic tour guide, and showed us around the lush parks and hip neighborhoods surrounding the St. Matthews area, like Seneca Park and The Highlands. We spent a morning at Churchill Downs, as you do when you visit Louisville. There you can wander the Kentucky Derby Museum, and take a brief guided tour around the entrance gates and into the seating area next to the race track. Of course my mom and I are now planning our return trip in the near future for a Derby weekend.

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We enjoyed a delicious and filling Mediterranean lunch at Addis Grill downtown on Fourth Street, while airplanes practiced noisily over the nearby Ohio River for the big Thunder show that was occurring that weekend. We took in a Louisville Bats minor league baseball game at Slugger Field on a picturesque Friday evening. It was all the perfect amount of activity that has made me want to return to Louisville to experience more. And even better was getting to know Jeanne and her family.

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This visit also found me reflecting on my hometown in upstate New York, since that is where Jeanne and my mom met their senior year of high school. Jeanne had moved there with her parents and siblings, and my mom lived their her entire life before moving to North Carolina last year ((apart from a short stint when she and my dad lived in Buffalo, NY)). It was truly an enjoyable childhood in little, one stoplight West Winfield for me and I would imagine for so many others who grew up there. So many people have stuck around to continue calling the area home, but there are almost just as many who have moved on, scattered around the US and doing well for themselves. I, as well as my parents, know so many people in various parts of the country, and it makes me smile to think about people in a small little town dreaming big dreams and making them a reality. We all know our roots, and know we can return home to upstate New York at any time to visit loved ones and familiar places. We all have that West Winfield connection, but those of us who have left also have that shared spirit for new adventures.

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^^ The Heigold Facade

The memorable weekend in Louisville was just what I needed. Meeting new friends, seeing my mom rekindle a beautiful old friendship, me time ((I had a great haircut & color by Brynn at Lebliss Salon)), basking in the warm April Kentucky sunshine, and exploring a new city & state. I am glad I was a small part of the reunion between Jeanne and my mom, and hope their friendship only continues to blossom after all this time. Many many thanks to Jeanne for being an outstanding tour guide, and gracious host to us!

Since my husband/photographer had already returned to England with the Sony camera, all I traveled with to capture the best Kentucky moments was my good ole trusty iPhone 4. Usually I suck at photographing even the simplest image, but I was really happy with how the photos from Louisville turned out. These photos, along with many more, are on my Instagram feed. You can follow me by clicking the link and subsequent follow button, or by searching @marydarbyshire in the search users field.

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Next on the blog, I will tell you more about my visit to Churchill Downs!

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