Road Trip Day 1 – Racetracks and Santa Claus

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Road Trip 2011 started off with a bang! Day One took us across multiple state borders (5 states in all — Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri), down many highways, and on only a few wrong turns.

We began the day in Findlay, Ohio, and headed south down to Louisville, Kentucky, where we visited Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum. I've been a fan of horses since I was very young, and I was mildly obsessed with horse racing for a few years in middle school. So, for me, a visit to Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby has been run for 137 years, was really exciting.

Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

We took a behind-the-scenes tour of the racetrack, and then had time to explore the Kentucky Derby Museum, which, considering its compact size, is actually pretty great. It's colorful, informative, and interactive — all good traits for a museum to have. Even if you don't like horses or racing very much, I think this museum would still be fun.

Here are a few photos from Churchill Downs:

Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

From Louisville, it was on to St. Louis, Missouri, via quite a few states. But, along the way, we couldn't ignore the signs for Santa Claus, Indiana. Yes, you've got it — a Christmas-themed town in the Midwest! We obviously had to stop and drive around this odd little town, posing with a few Santa statues and giggling like mad at the absurdity of all the Santa-themed shops and the twinkle lights strung up in August. My favorite part though? The police cruisers announcing the “Santa Claus Police.”

Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa Claus, Indiana

After a long day of driving, we finally arrived in St. Louis to see the city all lit up at night. Hopefully fun adventures await us here tomorrow!

Each day, I'll be cutting together a quick video to show you what we've been up to. Here's Day 1:

What do you think? Did we use our first day well?

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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17 Comments on “Road Trip Day 1 – Racetracks and Santa Claus

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  1. Hello Amanda, great video, it kinnda depresses me a little, I desperately need a vacation or at least a road trip or something!!!
    I’m not a big fan of seeing other people traveling and such but I gotta tell you I really like your blog, keep it up.

      Thanks so much, Cristian. Hopefully I’m not making you TOO envious!

    This is part of the US that I know nothing about. Such interesting places. Great job with the video!

      I don’t know much about this part of the US, either, so it’s fun to get the chance to explore it a bit! And thanks for the compliment on my video. It’s definitely a learned process, trying to do one of these each day!

    Great article and great start to this series. I had no idea that Churchill Downs built a statue to honor the late Barbaro. Very touching. Great photos!

      Thanks, Bob! And yes, Barbaro is actually buried there, in front of the racetrack. I didn’t know they had built that statue, either, but it was definitely a nice touch.

    You covered a lot of ground on Day 1. And it is always a successful day when you run across something bazaar in small town America.

      Yes, we did a lot of driving on our first day! But it actually wasn’t bad at all. Then we took a break on Day 2. 🙂 And yes, small town America certainly does lend itself to some weird discoveries!

    The derby museum looked like fun. I love interactive museums. Your first day was definitely successful if you stumbled upon a town called Santa Claus! How funny is that. 🙂

      Yes it was really interactive and fun, yet still interesting at the same time. I think kids would even love it.

      And stumbling upon Santa Claus, IN, was awesome.

    Looks like a great start! I am completely unsurprised there is a santa claus, indiana. If anything, I am surprised it is not in Kansas, where towns really try to rope people in from the highway. I wonder what santa claus, IN is like during Christmas?? If you like BBQ, check out in st. louis. It was the best barbeque I’ve ever had.

      My sister and I were wondering what Santa Claus, IN, would be like at Christmas, too. We’re pretty sure it’s probably really over-the-top.

    Great Day One! I’ve gone out west so many times, my usual day one is all driving- making that long one day jump across the Great Plains. Looking forward to following the rest of the journey!

      We purposefully stretched out our trip so that, on average, we’ll only be doing about 6 hours of driving per day. We did about 9 hours on Day 1, but broke it up into two big chunks, so it really didn’t seem too bad at all!

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