The Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby

After Lexington, we headed west to Louisville with the goal of attending the 143rd Kentucky Derby. Luckily the Derby was great because the rest of our visit was kind of a disaster.

A Perfect Start

During special events like the Derby, the Louisville Expo Center offers RV parking complete with full hook-ups for $50 per night. While there are no amenities, the lots are a great base from which to explore Louisville if you are visiting during an event. Even better, on the day of the Kentucky Derby there are shuttles going directly to and from Churchill Downs for $15 per person, round trip.

With the race being on Saturday, we arrived Wednesday and got our choice of spots. Within minutes we were set up and chatting with our incredibly lovely neighbor, Kathy. Kathy is a complete badass. I know this because every year she leaves her husband at home and drives this monster rig to Louisville, by herself, to party with her girlfriends at the Derby.

Large RV parked behind smaller RV
Kathy’s RV parked behind ours

You can see bullshit-sized Barney in front of Kathy’s enormous RV. Kathy was one cool, independent lady.

And she obviously took a liking to us because when we mentioned that we were thinking of going to the racing events on Thursday (there are events Thursday through Saturday of Derby week), she said “Oh, wait a second,” ran inside, and handed us a set of tickets. Because she bought some sort of package deal, she received tickets for the Thursday events, but wasn’t planning on going because that was the day her friends were getting into town. So she handed them to us. This is the kind of stuff that’s happened to us a lot over the past year. We’ve met people and within minutes, they’ve helped us out one way or another.

Pair of tickets to Churchill Downs

Unfortunately, after our lovely meeting with Kathy, everything took a massive nosedive.

Wednesday night, we headed out to a local brewery that specializes in beers that have been aged in Bourbon barrels, which was super cool…

8 beer samples at Goodwood Brewery

…until about halfway through the tasting when I suddenly felt very, very nauseous. Within minutes, I started getting chills and my muscles started to ache. Not good…

We headed home and the rest of the night was all downhill. To make matters worse, the temperature had dropped into the 50’s, the rain had started falling, and the weather would be completely miserable for the next two and a half days.

Thursday was cold, rainy, and dreary, and I felt awful. There was no way we could use the tickets Kathy had given us; I could barely get off the sofa.

By Friday I was feeling a lot better and we were both tired of being stuck inside, so we headed to the Louisville Slugger factory to take a tour.

Bat vault at Louisville Slugger
This vault contains over 3,000 unique models of baseball bats the company has produced during its history.
Baseball bat with notches carved in it
Babe Ruth carved a notch in this bat for every home run he hit in the 1927 season.

Halfway through the tour, Kevin leaned over and said “Uh oh… I don’t feel so good.” Turns out, when you live with someone 24/7 in 300 square feet, it’s hard to avoid getting each other sick. So home we went and Kevin was down for the count for the next 24 hours.

The Neighbors From Hell

In the midst of all this misery, I looked out and noticed that we had new neighbors. And they were not the kind of neighbors you want in an RV park.

We’ve gotten pretty good at reading our fellow campers and we’ve definitely figured out who our favorites are. At the very top of the list? “Super Old People.” The older the better. God, they’re great. So nice and quiet, neat and friendly.

After “Super Old People,” we like “Really Old People,” followed closely by “Pretty Old People” and finally “Kinda Old People.” Farther down the list, but much less favorable are the “Sorda Old People.” You never can tell with them. They could be great neighbors who shut the hell up and go to sleep at 8:00 p.m. or they could party us under the table. It’s hard to know.

Anyway, when I saw a rental RV pull in, my ears perked up. These were not “regulars.” They might not know the rules, customs, and etiquette involved in RVing. I grew more concerned when I saw this particular RV completely overshoot the parking spot and park on the grass rather than the pavement.

Rental RV parked on grassy area
Parked on the grass, on a slope. You can see Kathy’s RV in the picture.

When I saw the driver jump out of the truck and observed that he was approximately 22 years old and wearing an official “I’m a college bro” uniform, I thought: “Oh no….”

But it wasn’t until I watched not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 (FIVE!!!) 20-something dudes pile out of this clown car of an RV, that I truly appreciated what it feels like to lose all hope.

This was me:


I knew six twenty-something college guys in town for the Derby were gonna go to the bars, get shitfaced, stumble home in the middle of the night, and wake us up.

Of course I said all this to Kevin and he, in typical Kevin fashion, was all: “They’re just having fun. Don’t worry about it.” Because that’s Kevin. Mr. Laid-Back-Go-With-the-Flow-Assume-The-Best-It’ll-All-Be-Fine Kevin.

Until 3:30 in the morning that is, when the six junior league terrorists came back from the bars, hammered, and decided to hang out 15 feet from our bedroom window having a pow wow.

THEN they decided they were hungry so they should break out the grill and start cooking some burgers and hot dogs.

THEN they decided it was all just TOO quiet and they should fire up their stereo and rock out to some Springsteen. Air guitars and all.

The scene outside our bedroom window at 4:00 a.m.

By 4:15, I was going through our kitchen cabinets trying to find a suitable glass bottle to make a Molotov Cocktail to chuck at their heads. In the meantime, Kevin came up with the more rational (yet less satisfying) idea of going out and having a chat.

Let’s be clear: If you are annoying enough that you can get Kevin Greene out of bed at 4:30 in the morning to come tell you to shut it, you are a special kind of annoying. Kevin pretty much never gets irritated. It’s why we’re still married. If he wasn’t so patient, he would have dumped my ass years ago. So junior league terrorists, listen to me: You’re the worst.

Anyway, apparently the sight of “unamused Kevin” was enough to make them recognize the error of their ways and call it a night. And, humorously, the next night when we got home, they immediately packed up their party and went inside. Apparently “unamused Kevin” leaves a lasting impression on young minds.

The Derby Saves The Day

Our fortunes finally turned around on Saturday, not a moment too soon. The skies cleared throughout the day, we were both feeling much better, and things were looking up.

Along our travels, we’d met several people who’d been to the Kentucky Derby, and we’d picked up some great intel about how to make the most of our General Admission tickets. After grabbing drinks and food, we headed to the paddock area, which is basically where all the horses are brought out, the jockeys mount up, and they are led out to the track.  Here, we were able to get up close and get a good look at the horses. They are spectacular.

A horse walking with a trainer at Churchill Downs
The horses walk a lap with their trainer before their jockey arrives….
Eight jockeys walking down a staircase at Churchill Downs
The jockeys all arrive at once and head to their horses
A horse with his jockey being led to the track
Once the jockeys are on their horses, they are all led from the paddock to the track

As we were getting closer to the actual Kentucky Derby race (There are 14 races across the day…), we headed out to the infield.  It was interesting to see how different the crowds were for the main seating area vs the infield. The main seating area was full of fancy outfits, high heels, and big hats.

Woman wearing a very large ornate hat at the Kentucky Derby
The hats did not disappoint….

Woman wearing large, ornate hat at the Kentucky Derby

Several men in colorful suits and shirts at the Kentucky Derby

The infield was much more casual, with galoshes being the most important accessory.

People standing in the infield at the Kentucky Derby

People who tried to walk across the fields without proper boots probably regretted the move.
Women walking through a muddy area at the Kentucky Derby We made our way toward the edge of the track, but most of our view was blocked. In order to make the luxury boxes in the middle of the field worthy of their high price, the management makes sure people with General Admission seats don’t have as good a view, or any view at all really. So folks in the infield just watch the race on the big screen. Weird, but true.

Anyway, once the Derby race was over, lots of people headed for the exits, while Kevin and I headed for the fancy seats. It didn’t take long to find an entrance where the attendant had momentarily disappeared and we were able to wander in to watch the late day races. (If it seems like Kevin and I do an awful lot of trespassing these days, it’s because we do.)

The grandstand at the Kentucky Derby

Anyway, we made our way to the front of the grandstand area and when the next race started, we walked right up to the fence line:

A horse race at Churchill Downs

Just think: had this race been the actual Kentucky Derby an hour before, we would have had to spend thousands of dollars for this view. Instead, in exchange for committing a minor criminal infraction, we got to see it for the price of General Admission!!!

All in all, we had a GREAT time at the Derby.  It was a bucket list item that actually lived up to its billing and it really saved the week for us.

Next up: Eastbound for home…..


    • The hats were INCREDIBLE. There were times we’d be walking along and you could see the crowd just part in the middle – because some woman was walking through with a hat that was three feet wide. It was crazy! You would love it.

  1. Sounds pretty miserable for a few days there. Haha, we love elderly RV neighbors too. Unless they have annoying barking little dogs. OMG I’m so happy that you do things like sneak into the expensive seats when the opportunity arises….I do the same kind of stuff and it drives Eric crazy. He always thinks we’re going to get arrested. (But I can call you for legal advice, right?:-)))

    • Kevin used to do stuff like that all the time and I would lose my mind, but I am very much enjoying the freedom I now have to be a little tiny bit irresponsible. Life is short, right?? And you’re right: The presence of a yippy dog negates all goodwill I would typically have toward my super old RV friends. 🙂


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