LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Each year, I fall more and more in love with Kentucky. This fall, I’ve already had three wonderful experiences that made me re-appreciate this place I call home.
HANEY’S APPLE ORCHARD
We love to go to this apple farm each fall with my stepdaughter Gabrielle, who is always excited to spend an hour or so under the wisened apple trees. If you’ve never been, it’s really worth a trip to Nancy.
When you walk inside, you’re greeted with the comforting smell of cinnamon and sugar, and in the front counter await some of the best fried apple pies in the county. Beyond the eatery, there is the big barn, which is packed with bushels of beautiful apples and interesting canned goods like green tomato pickles and pickled okra.
For the past few years, we’ve hit the apple farm in late September or early October, which we discovered this year is probably a little late in the season to go. In those years, most of the prized apples had already been pickled, so it resulted in us throwing the old, fallen apples up high into the trees to help dislodge the pretty ones that still resided there. This, of course, was a pretty fun way to spend an afternoon, but we came home with apples that were, admittedly, a little bruised.
This year, we went at the beginning of September and the trees were still so tightly packed with apples each branch looked like it was an inflated version of a bunch of grapes. We went this year with my father- and mother-in-law and I think they were a little confused over why we were so excited about our apple-picking excursion when it took a scant 10 minutes to fill up our bushel. But they seemed more pleased when we got fresh apple cider and sat at a picnic table under a shade tree. There, Gabrielle delighted in watching an inchworm walk across the table, while we discussed sweet gum trees, apple juice and the orchard that spread behind us.
WINE TASTING AT CEDAR CREEK
Last Friday, I met two of my best girlfriends, Sarah and Candice, at Cedar Creek Vineyards. It was a day trip we’d been hoping to go on for several weeks, but something always kept getting in the way. Friday was Sarah’s last day of maternity leave though so we decided we should end her eight weeks with a celebration.
We packed a little picnic of Brie, crackers, hummus and apples from Haney’s, and set out. I was expecting at least a 30-minute drive, but 10 minutes later, we were seeing signs propped up against vintage bicycles directing us to this little place.
The roads, littered with yellow leaves, kept getting more and more narrow, and finally we came upon this beautiful wooden home flanked by a field of grape vines.
Vintner Jeff Wiles greeted us and we were soon seated on a patio trying samples of wine Jeff brought us.
It happened to be a perfect day out — sunny but not too hot — and the view from our perch was perfect: horses grazed in the distance, the trees waved in the breeze. You know when you have one of those perfect days, made all the more perfect because it’s unexpected? That’s the kind of afternoon we had. We talked about work and kids, husbands and friends, the conversation floating from topic to topic effortlessly. It felt like we were on vacation, miles away from home, until we got in the car and, 10 minutes later, found ourselves pulling into our driveways. What a treat.
THE ULTIMATE BACHELORETTE
One of the topics that we touched on at the vineyard was this party, which I attended this past weekend. Last year, I became acquainted with a group of girls with whom I immediately fell in love. Young, fun, funny and drama free, these girls are the kind you meet and immediately feel like you’ve known for years. So when they invited me to this bachelorette party in Louisville, I was pretty honored. For years, I had heard of these famed parties that last all weekend, where stamina is key, where the itinerary had been in the planning for months.
When we got to Louisville at 11:30, I knew it was going to be a serious party when I was greeted with a nametag and a bottle of beer. Soon, we were riding through downtown on a trolley-type contraption that all of us had to pedal to keep it moving forward. Every 20 minutes or so, we would stop at a pub, run in to get a drink and then resume our ride.
Needless to say the day and night, which didn’t end for me until 2:30 a.m., was filled with lots of hijinks, dancing and laughing, and by the end of it, I felt like I was a huge step closer to knowing what it would have been like to go to American college and pledge for a sorority. It’s definitely a night I’ll never forget.
So, as this month comes to a close, I’m reminded of how lucky I’ve been in this unlucky year of 2013. And as October approaches, I’m already looking forward to new discoveries and more celebrations.