Last Friday, on the eve of the Kentucky Derby, four of us dove into a car and headed south (south! The land of warmth and sunlight!), blasting one-hit-wonders from the 90s and 00s. Six hours later we were giggling in bed at my friend Lauren’s childhood home in Louisville (pronunciation: lou-vull. The more you slur, the better. I’m still working on it). Who knew girls-only sleepovers could be so fun in your mid-twenties? Well. I suspected. But anyway.
The next morning we were all dolled up and ready to channel our best southern belle. Lauren didn’t have to pretend, she’s a native Louisvillian (a definite plus for Derbying).
After a big brunch, we parked and started walking toward Churchill Downs. The crowd kept getting bigger as we grew closer; in fact, we later found out that this Derby had the highest attendance of any Derby, ever. So. Lots of people, everywhere.
We had infield tickets, which means we had standing-room only, and no access to anyplace you could actually see the track. So we spent most of our time milling around the outer courtyard, people-watching and conversing. We also hit up all the Derby traditions.
1. Big hats. Obviously.
2. The Mint Julep
A mint julep sounds fancy and delicious. I knew we were supposed to drink one, but had no idea what was in it. After my first sip, though, I could tell you: BOURBON. And not much else. (Actually, bourbon, simple syrup, muddled mint leaves, and ice.) It’s a good thing I like bourbon, but I won’t be ordering mint juleps on the regular.
3. Singing “My Old Kentucky Home.”
Lauren played this for us on the way down, but I was totally fudging the lyrics. Also I kind of felt like a traitor to Minnesota.
4. Betting. (Sorry, Mom)
Michael happens to be really good at picking winners, so I asked him for advice.
#18 was Michael’s pick (the first seed, BORING), and #2 was mine– Carpe Diem. Because I liked the name.
Well, you could easily look up who won so this isn’t exactly a spoiler, but as usual– MICHAEL WAS RIGHT.
It was fun. I wasn’t expecting to win, but having a couple specific horses to cheer did make the race more fun to watch.
There are actually races all day long, but the big one (the Derby) happens around dinnertime. So we were just hanging out for the majority of the day, soaking it all in and killing our feet with all the walking and standing. The walk back to the car felt approximately seven times farther than it had that morning.
The next day, we had another delicious brunch with Lauren’s family (thank you, Blakemores, for having us!) and then got to see some more of Louisville before heading home.
65 degrees in Louisville feels completely different from 65 degrees in Cleveland. We all felt it, but none of us could explain. It was a beautiful, warm weekend.
Having traveled together now, we know we can do it again! Here’s to more adventures, Medwives. Love you.