Louisville Road Trip Memories

Last February, my friend Dan and I ventured out to Louisville for one of our frequent road trip weekends. While there, we explored the city, experienced the Saddle Ridge at Fourth Street Live and got to see a Louisville Cardinals basketball game inside the KFC Yum Center. While the downtown is somewhat small, I really liked the overall vibe and have since wanted to go back.

One of my favorite memories of that trip was from the night we got there. As I wrote last September, both Dan and I love Waffle House. We don’t have them in Chicago, so when we venture to an area where they are around, we tend to get excited.

On our way to Louisville, we made an impromptu stop in downtown Indianapolis to explore the city on foot. By the time we left Indy, it was around 7’ish, so now we were in more of a hurry to get to Louisville. Even though we would pass several Waffle House restaurants on the way, we decided to keep going. We would get to Louisville, check into our hotel, and then find a Waffle House in the city.

After settling in, we asked the front desk where the nearest Waffle House was. She told us the closest one was just on the other side of the Ohio River and across the Kentucky/Indiana boarder in Jeffersonville. She recommended we take a taxi since it would be a long walk. She also informed us that Louisville taxis don’t patrol the other side of the river, so we’d have to call a taxi to pick us up from Waffle House.

We departed the hotel and quickly found a taxi. On our way to Waffle House, the driver told us that Kid Rock was in town and the concert would be getting out soon. He warned that calling a taxi and expecting it to come across the river in Jeffersonville would be next to impossible.

As the cab drove us across the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge over the Ohio River and back into Indiana, I begin to feel angst at the prospect of not knowing how we might make it back across the river. It’s late, it’s cold, and we don’t know the area. Surely, walking is not an option. As apprehensive as I was, Dan wasn’t bothered one bit. As we got closer to Waffle House, I bought into his false reassurance that we’ll find a cab and that all will be OK.

We arrived, we dined and we enjoyed. We finished our meal, went outside and walked a few feet in silence. Dan broke the silence with a laugh followed by “did you honestly believe we’d find a cab at this time? We’re walking back!” As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I knew he was right. Despite every instinct telling me that walking back was not the best idea, neither of us made an attempt to try calling a cab, nor did I offer any alternate idea. We could either stand there and wait with no promise of a resolution or we could start walking. And so we did.

The one-and-a-half mile journey across the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge was brutal. It was cold. I wish I knew what the temperature was that night was. All I remember is that even though I was fairly bundled up, the wind was so strong since the bridge was so high above the water. I’m cold and worried some hobo hiding behind a bridge pillar might jump out at us. In real time, I complained nearly the entire walk while Dan took his sweet time and took pictures of the river and the approaching skyline. He was loving it!

Despite the cold, it truly was a beautiful night. While I may or may not have appreciated it in real time, it didn’t take long for me afterwards, with the benefit of hindsight, to realize how neat of an experience that was. There we were, night one of a weekend road trip and doing something completely outside my own comfort zone – high above a monumental river with the moon shining above while looking ahead towards the Louisville skyline brightly lit in all its glory.

We finally did make it to the other side, probably after about a half hour. When we got to solid ground, there stood the KFC Yum Center, surrounded by droves of people who had just exited the Kid Rock concert. As we walked around Louisville, we made our way onto 4th Street where were surprised and intrigued to find a bright lit sign that read “Fourth Street Live.”

Yesterday, Dan stopped over to watch the Blackhawks and Red Wings game. Somehow, we got on the subject of last year’s trip – discussing the bridge walk, Fourth Street Live and how we should have toured the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. One thing led to another, and before not too long, we had booked a return trip for later next month.

Not lost on me is the fact that this trip falls at the same time of year as last year’s.

I wonder if we will find our way back on that bridge. Either way, at least this time, I have more than a month to mentally prepare.

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