Big Chill Weekend in Kentucky

When I married Tim, I gained a whole new set of friends, who are like family, from his days at Northern Illinois University – the Mighty Huskies!! I met them all about 28 years ago at an NIU football game 🙂 In the ensuing years people have moved around the state and country, and when we found out the Mighty Huskies were playing at the University of Kentucky, it just made sense for us to go.

Our friend Peggy (married to John, Tim’s college roommate) found an awesome house for us to rent in Paris, Kentucky, about 20 miles outside of Lexington. The home, known as Mt. Lebanon, was built by the second governor of of Kentucky, James Garrard, in 1785. The house is like a museum – lots of antiques to explore! And even though the furnishings were old, the bathrooms and kitchen were all updated with modern appliances.

The beds were also of that period, and in fact I needed a step stool to get in and out of bed!

This home even has a cemetery in the yard – talk about spooky! We joked about ghosts in the house, but I didn’t see or hear anything. This would be a great place to be for Halloween!

View of the cemetery from our room on the second floor

Tim and I arrived Friday early evening, and we were the last to get into town. The festivities had already started! Friday night we planned to stay in and grill steaks provided by John and Peggy – everybody else provided the appetizers and side dishes. John brought so much meat that we cut one of the beef tenderloins into steaks for grilling, and the other one was roasted for sandwiches the next day. It definitely reminded me of the movie The Big Chill while we were getting ready for dinner that night!

The next day was game day, and we knew traffic was going to be bad. Lucky for us we did find a parking lot for us to tailgate pretty close to the stadium. And the University of Kentucky fans could not have been nicer!

Kentucky was ranked No. 8 in the country, and our starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi was out with an injury. We weren’t really expecting much, but NIU hung in there and we were actually tied at halftime, and ended up only losing by eight points. I think that was pretty respectable, all things considered.

We checked out of Mt. Lebanon on Sunday and headed to Bardstown. It was a beautiful day, so we headed about 15 miles outside of Bardstown to the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. You could definitely spend a whole day here!

We headed back to Bardstown and checked into the Talbott Inn, adjacent to the Old Talbott Tavern, the oldest western stagecoach stop in America. The place was just really cool! There are rooms to rent in the old part, and some of the rooms have historical significance (like the Jesse James Room), but we opted for the newer inn next door.

Jesse James Room – with bullet holes

We had dinner that night at the Scout & Scholar Brewing Company, and I highly recommend this place. I went for the smoked bologna sandwich – how many times are you going to see that on a menu? It was really good, and the beer was top notch!

John and Peggy left for home the next day, but Tim and I stayed for one more day to do some exploring. If you are planning on visiting Kentucky Bourbon Country I would recommend that you make reservations at least a month in advance before your trip. That being said, we were able to get a tasting at both Willett and Heaven Hills Distillery that day. Both were excellent, and really close to Bardstown. On our way back to the inn, we stopped at My Old Kentucky Home State Park and toured the mansion that inspired Stephen Foster’s song.

Willett Distillery
Heaven Hill Distillery
Heaven Hill Distillery
My Old Kentucky Home

We ate dinner that night at the Old Talbott Tavern, and I decided to go full-on Kentucky by ordering the Hot Brown and the Talbott Tavern Pie (same as Derby Pie). I’m probably a little biased, but Springfield’s Horseshoe beats Kentucky’s Hot Brown by a mile!

We drove back home the next day, full of bourbon balls, whiskey, and memories of a great time with great friends.

Published by dtyrrell12014

Recently retired amateur cook, aspiring wino, and novice world traveler.

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