At 6:30 a.m. an alarm goes off. Actually, it is the Old Kentucky Home Dinner-Train, named for a song by Bardstown’s favorite son, song writer Stephen Foster. In pajamas and slippers, Doug dashes out to take pictures.
Polly insists on the Maker’s Mark side trip. After all, she says, you are more consumed by this whiskey than this whiskey is consumed by you (the car pint is down to about a quarter) and when, ever, will you get this close? He vows “I’ll make it up to you” (“yeah, sure”) and up they go to commune with its casks, yeasts and unique waxy bottling process. He gets to “dip” his own bottle and they acquire a personalized label, although obtaining the bottle to match it will take $20 in phone calls and $50 in cash.
Doug “makes it up” by backtracking to Kurtz’s for lunch. Over lemon meringue, he spins the whole yarn for this waitress, an older woman, no less charming than the previous night’s redhead, whom he glowingly describes.
The waitress almost blushes: “That’s my daughter,” she says.
So again it is almost 2 p.m. before we move on The Other Road, here called the Blue Moon of Kentucky Highway. We see tobacco fields in Big Cliffy and a huge bulls-eye on a storefront in Clarkson (“The original Target store,” Doug wise-cracks.) Though Central City, Route 62 is Everly Brothers Boulevard and near Rockport, some Keeneland cash finds its way to the registers of two friendly “junctique” stores. One is a three-story warehouse defying full exploration: at the other, the proprietress offers us a kitten and cautions, “You don’t want to go to El Paso.”
The Central Time Zone sneaks in under our wheels. Princeton has a fading movie palace and an old filling station converted to living quarters, a hallmark of Other Road architecture. This one is unique in its shape, triangular, at an obtuse intersection.
The popular Kentucky Lakes are almost deserted on an autumn Thursday. A room at the Eddyville Regency costs but $25 and a tour guide ad tells us of a nearby breakfast spot called Doug’s.