So once we got everything wrapped up from our visit in Danville, it turned out the next stop on our journey was just a hop, skip and jump down the road to a little town called Bardstown, Kentucky.
We were excited to be visiting Bardstown for a couple of reasons. Namely, because Bardstown is widely known as the bourbon capital of the world, and lies at the heart of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Granted, we enjoyed lots of good bourbon in Danville – but even many of the folks there told us that Bardstown is the place when you’re really in search of Kentucky’s signature spirit.
(Oh – and by the way – just a side note here… Naturally, all the folks in Danville knew that we’d be visiting Bardstown as the next stop on our trip. And being so close in size and so close together, it’s safe to assume the two towns share a friendly rivalry. Yet EVERYONE we talked to in Danville had nothing but great things to say about their neighbors to the west. Can’t count the number of times we heard, “you’re gonna love Bardstown.” Very classy we thought.)
So Bardstown’s the place for bourbon. There’s that. And the other reason we were excited about visiting Bardstown is the fact that we’d been hearing for a few days about some big event that the townsfolk were preparing in our honor. BIG. So big that even the folks on the Best of the Road RV crew had gotten wind of it. But nobody was sharing any details. So to say we were curious, excited and even a bit anxious would be an understatement. All we knew is that for some reason the folks there really, really, really wanted us to roll into town at 6:00 sharp on Friday night. Hmmmmm….
Six o’clock came, and we met on the edge of town with a lady named Kim, who had been our primary contact in Bardstown and the person in charge of coordinating our visit. We shared handshakes and hugs and Kim told us to follow her around to the north side of town where someone… or something… was waiting on us.
So we play along and follow her a few miles, until we pull into a parking lot and finally get wind of what’s about to take place. There sat a brand new Bardstown police cruiser, shiny red fire truck, brand spankin’ new town ambulance and a bevy of drop-dead gorgeous classic cars. All the makings of a small-town parade. And sure enough – we were gonna be the stars of the show.
We were stunned. Filled with equal parts excitement and disbelief. A parade? For little ol’ us? Far out.
Kim tells us where to fall into the line of cars and trucks and within minutes we’re smack dab in the middle of it all, sirens all a-flashing and a-blaring, driving
caravan-style through the tree-lined streets of town headed toward something exciting. They even had police officers stopping traffic in every intersection along the way, clearing the way for our arrival. Crazy.
Then it went from crazy to downright awesome. Bardstown’s distinctive downtown courthouse came into view ahead of us, and as we got closer we started seeing crowds of people lining the streets, cheering and waving American flags and smiling and shouting greetings at us along the way.
Our hearts were in our throats. The feeling was just amazing. What a high.
The parade came to a stop there in the shadow of the big, beautiful old courthouse where a crowd of what looked to be several hundred people went wild for us as we parked the Honda up on the courthouse sidewalk and stepped out in shock, disbelief and gratitude. Posters and signs were everywhere among the crowd: Welcome Best of the Road! Welcome Nikki and Dusty! Welcome Rand McNally! And a huge banner hung from above the courthouse door, declaring “Welcome to Bardstown! Beautiful Inside and Out!”
It was surreal.
Kim took to the podium above the crowd and officially welcomed us to town. She then introduced a who’s-who lineup of local dignitaries, from the mayor to the county judge to the state representative and senator, all of whom greeted us with smiles and wonderful words as the crowd continued cheer with contagious enthusiasm.
We stood there, looking out at everybody, soaking it all in. The faces. The smiles. The flags. The signs. The banners. The whole scene. Wow.
We each took to the podium and tried our best (the right words were tough to find) to thank everybody and to let the crowd know how special they’d made us feel. To
the right, cameras from the local TV station. To the left, the local radio station, broadcasting our arrival LIVE to the masses.
The officials presented us with a few special items, including a classic old American Tourister suitcase (in which to put all our memories of town), and a tall – yes TALL – glass of bourbon! A special drink they call a Doo-Dah, which was delicious, refreshing and just too too cool. We spent another few minutes up there on the podium, trying to stretch time as best we could so as to savor every second. And as the festivities finally began to wrap up, a group of local girls swarmed the stage in front of the podium to perform a special flash-mob style dance they had prepared especially for us. Way to go girls. Very nice job! Andthank you so much.
We spent the next half hour or so meeting everybody, exchanging more hugs and handshakes, taking photos with the locals and chatting it up with the fellas on the local radio station. All in all, it was clearly quite the
welcome, and certainly one we’ll never, ever forget.
From there we were escorted around to the other side of the courthouse, where across the street at a great little restaurant called Circa a couple of tables were waiting out on the patio, calling to us and inviting us to sit and relax and drink and eat some great food. All of which, of course, we did happily.
It was just another one of those perfect nights.The weather was perfect. The setting was perfect. The food was fantastic. The fireflies buzzed around the tables as dusk set in and darkness slowly took over. An amazing local musician belted out some of our favorite songs as he strummed away on the guitar. We shared lots of laughs and stories and smiles with our new friends. And once again, we felt very suddenly and very naturally right at home.
We capped off our first night in Bardstown with a great night’s sleep at a beautiful little bed and breakfast there, aptly called the “Beautiful Dreamer.”
And we knew right away that our stay in Bardstown was going to be a treat.