There’s a first time for everything.
I’ve never been to Kentucky. The husband has mentioned that we should take a trip one day to the state where he spent the majority of his childhood.
I, on the other hand, wouldn’t put Kentucky on the top of my list—unless it was to visit my sister in-law and her family. Both the husband, and my brother in-law teased me for years that I should live there. My brother in-law mentioned that there was more to Kentucky than chewing tobacco and walking around barefoot. He was, of course, joking around and teasing this gal who lived only in the Philippines, Europe, and the west coast.
The short trip to Louisville was work related, and the conference was focused on all things data processes. And, while Jess (my uber phenom admin support who makes sure that I am not a hot mess on a daily basis) and I would have preferred the location to be some place closer—say Seattle, or even Portland—Louisville, it was.
There we were: Jess, her service dog (also our office comforter) Khaleesi Marie Skipper (the Queen), and I making our way to the south. The flight totaled to 16 hours. Yes, 16 hours—one-way. Our flight went from Fairbanks to Seattle, Seattle to Chicago, and finally Chicago to Louisville.
The first impression when we landed off the plane? I couldn’t remember because all I felt was this ridiculous heat emanating from the air. It clung to my skin and stayed there. I felt beads of sweat bubbling on my scalp and I felt it drip down to the back of my neck making its way down my back. Those beads of sweat kept producing as if there was a short supply of water for the world and humanity was now required to produce its own water (think Kevin Costner in Waterworld). What’s worse was our shuttle to the hotel was a bit late, and we waited underneath that unforgiving heat for several minutes.
It wasn’t until we reached our hotel where upon entering the doors, a wave of cool air slapped me in the face, and I finally felt relief.
The Seelbach Hotel
I always wondered what life might have smelled like in the 1900s, and I’m sure glad that I finally had the opportunity to have a whiff. The Seelbach Hotel is an ancient beauty. No one builds hotels like the Seelbach anymore, and Louisville somehow found a determination to preserve this historical hotel.
After the cold air hit my face with its welcome, I finally had the opportunity too not only breathed in the 40’s era, but to also take in the lobby. It was magnificent a la Rose Dewitt Bukater in the Titanic kind of way. I felt that my attire (leggings, sneakers, etc.) was inept, and quite frankly disrespectful. But, I looked around and saw that folks were in their travel attire as well. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t a woman in Rose’s time, and sighed in relief that I live in a time where a woman was not required to wear a corset. I can only imagine how those women during that time suffering from the Louisville heat while they were sweating underneath their corset. No thanks.
Before we left for Louisville, Jess sent me a link about the ghost of the Seelbach hotel. My first reaction was “awww hell naww!!! Why though?!?”—and that reaction did not waver the entire time we were down there.
When I finally checked into my room, I was amazed at how tiny it was and the furniture really stayed with that early 1900s vibe. It was hauntingly gorgeous, and even more so when I turned the lights on in the bathroom, and one of the lights above the sink flickered in a Morse code kind of way.
Yes, it was flickering.
I slept with all the lights on, and left the lights on when I’d leave the room. I just didn’t want to risk catching a glimpse of an unknown shadow sitting on my bed welcoming my arrival back to the room.
If you don’t believe me—read more about her on this site.
What’s completely fascinating about the Seelbach is that it had secret rooms behind the regular rooms. I’m sure that all old and historical hotels built in the 1900s were built this way for a purpose, and since this was first time staying in one, I found it unique. Apparently Al Capone loved the Seelbach’s The Oak Room because there were secret passageways where he can escape whenever he was informed that the cops were coming. Our conference was situated right by the Oak Room, and as I passed it along the way, I can almost picture Capone and his group of gangsters surrounding him as they play poker while discussing their next plan of bootlegging illegal alcohol.
Perhaps what is most profound is the fact that F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed in the hotel as well, and I can see now where he may have been inspired to write the classic “The Great Gatsby.” By the way, the top floor of the hotel features a grand ballroom where the wedding of Daisy and Tom Buchanan may have been set.
Jess and I decided to take a good walk around 4th street—which is basically across the street from the Seelbach. It was a section in downtown Louisville where I speculate a great deal of partying occurs during the nights and the weekend. It’s a section filled with restaurant and bars.
But, for our second night in Louisville, we decided to take it easy and make it a Mexican dinner night.
Mi Cocina is right next door to the Seelbach. The restaurant offers a cool respite from the heat. I decided to be bold and ordered a sangria, and fajitas (two items that I have not eaten in a long while), and Jess decided to tackle on some taquitos, and also her own glass of sangria.
I was coward and couldn’t finish mine, and just like what I do to my eldest child (who is over 21 by the way), I handed it off to Jess to tackle that as well. By the way, the service was amazing. I say this because we had Khaleesi with us and we were greeted warmly. One of the waitresses actually hung around to take extra care of us—all because she was fawning over the cuteness that is Khaleesi.
Proof on Main Street and 21c Art Gallery
First of all, the conference group had to walk a few blocks for dinner. Second of all, I was grateful that I didn’t melt on my way there. Third of all, the theory has been proven true that living in Alaska makes your blood cold that when you so happen to be exposed into a blistering humid heat–you just want to just hide in the shade with the AC on full blast.
But when we got to our destination…
Amazing. Inspiring. Jaw dropping. Eclectic. Quirky. Beautiful.
Those were the words running through my mind when I took in Proof on Main Street, and 21c Art Gallery next door.
Perhaps, another statement: suspension of disbelief. I haven’t used that statement since I’ve sat in an English grad class where the professor just downright did not like me.
What could be better way to end a day of discussing data extraction than by having dinner at Proof, and while looking for the bathroom, one is welcome with the most beautiful pieces of art work?
The theme for that timeframe was “Dress Up, Speak Up: Costume and Confrontation”—and there I was, a woman who’ve always appreciated a deep fascination for fashion, and culture all her life—stumbled into pure luck—or maybe it was kismet.
The artists featured were all from different walks of life and rich in culture—their artwork was an extension of this magnificent beauty. These artists included “Ebony G. Patterson, Yinka Shonibare, Titus Kaphar, Firelei Baez, Berni Saearle, Vivek Vilasini, Fahamou Pecou, Stephanie Syjuco and others” (from the 21c brochure). On a side note, Ebony G. Patterson is a Jamaican artist, while Stephanie Syjuco was born in the Philippines (mabuhay girl!).
The artwork combined the beauty and harshness of lives filled with diversity and culture. The brochure from 21c writes that one of Baez’s piece titled Josephine Judas Goat, Baez states “it does not disturb me to accept that there are places where my identity is obscure to me, and the fact that it amazes you does not mean I relinquish it,” and upon describing the piece “her skin color is many-hued mixture that suggests a hybrid, global ethnicity; Baez intentionally invokes the identity and experiences of the African diaspora, referencing Latin American folklore, resistance in 18th century Louisiana, 1960s Civil Rights struggles, and more.”
I was blown away.
I have written about such diaspora, and displacement all throughout my life—granted a great deal of them were hidden in between those thesis papers in undergrad and graduate school. But, while those papers have been tucked away—they are part of my DNA forever latched on to my identity.
Whether it was pure luck or kismet, I was profoundly moved by such fate. I wish I had more time (being with a conference group doesn’t allow much for that) to soak in what the universe served me that night, but I was extremely grateful for the time I was given.
I thanked the universe that night as we walked back to the hotel–pausing for a brief moment to take in the buildings that made up downtown Louisville.
It was during lunch on the second day of the conference that one of the ladies from Texas A&M informed Jess and I how she had a wonderful time eating dinner at Porch. She spoke highly of their famous bourbon cake.
The minute she said cake, and described how it tasted—she didn’t need to convince me any further.
Jess, Khalee, and I decided to skip out on the planned boat cruise on the Belle of Louisville that night. I know, I know—it would have been a great opportunity to see some of Louisville. But, we were leaving the next morning, and had to prioritize our time. Plus, my sister in-law and nieces and I finally found a sliver of time to meet up, and seeing them trumped a boat cruise any day.
Off to Porch we went on our last night in Louisville, and we were very happy that we did. The first sign that the restaurant is welcoming to all? They smiled at Jess and I and completely understood that Khalee was working. Although, I observed how the hostess wanted so badly to say out loud “awwww, she’s so cute!”—she whispered it instead as she showed us to our table, which was right by the corner and by the window. This way, incoming crowds did not distract Khalee and we had some privacy to chat. Our waiter was just as kind—and reminded me of my second born. He was probably working in his summer job, and he felt bad that our drinks didn’t get to us soon enough—so, he took it off our tab. I’m serious—talk about phenomenal service, right?
Jess ordered her mac and cheese with some beer, while I ordered us their truffle potato chips with onion dip aioli for starters. I decided on the fried chicken with a drizzle of bourbon (damn, Kentucky loves their bourbon!) honey, coleslaw, and mash potatoes. Instead of ordering something that will lead to me being sloshed—I decided on the basil lime lemonade. The husband would have been jealous. In fact, he was—after I texted him a photo of the meal.
Madame from Texas A&M did not lie about that bourbon cake. I am still dreaming about it. The sponge (as Mary Berry from the Great British Baking Show calls it) was the fluffiest, and had the perfect amount of bourbon flavor. The supporting actress that was the vanilla ice cream sprinkled with candied walnuts gave the sponge texture that as it melted in your mouth, the flavors continued to evolve. I know—I’m having a tough time describing this as well. It was just that scrumptious.
After dinner, the three of us made it back to the hotel where we explored an area where people can host parties. It looked as though it may have been the wine cellar at one point or another. To me, it reminded me of the home of the Volturi from Twilight. I was actually expecting a very pale, red-eyed Michael Sheen as Aro in his black robe to come walking out with a wine glass in hand to welcome us. We took a few photos, and when Jess noticed a secret passageway that had rickety and creepy stairs, we got the eff out of there.
While Jess and Khaleesi decided to pack, I ended my night with my sister in-law Kim, and nieces (Kailey, and Kendall) who were both fresh from a day of volleyball tournaments. The last time we all saw each other was during the holidays when we spent it in Oahu, and of course, I can’t think of anything else to end a trip than to spend it with family.
Blissful moment, that was.
And… of course, Louisville would not have been as fun without this little one:
Trekking back to AK.. Till next time Louisvile!