My wife, Tammy, & I woke up to a beautiful sunrise, hopped out of bed and went for our morning stroll with Tiger, our 2-year-old mini Golden Doodle. These walks have become something we treasure, to get the blood moving and to spend time together talking about the day to come, the previous day that was and everything in between.
For the early birds in the park, outside enjoying the morning sun and having that first cup of coffee, Tiger has become somewhat of a celebrity. He is a small, calm dog who loves to walk and explore, and he’s great around people, never barking or getting too excited. Little kids often run out to greet him, although rarely does that happen at 6:30am in the morning.
However, Tiger loves his friends, and anytime he sees another dog, he gets excited and wants to go play. We’re working on training him to not react with so much energy, but as an extrovert, part of me feels bad holding him back from play time with his friends, and every dog is his friend.
Today we made plans to take the girls to the Kentucky Derby Museum. Both of our girls have been riding horses since last Fall, and loving them since they were born. Taking them to a place where horses are regarded as heroes was something we couldn’t pass up on this trip. As we arrived, we were all amazed at how big the facilities were. I knew it was a one-mile oval track, but I didn’t expect the grandstands and the promenade to be so vast. It was easy to imagine the energy and passion that must exist on Derby Day.
We were greeted in the large museum hall by the tour guide, a short, funny lady who I could tell would be able to keep us entertained throughout the tour. This gal knew her Derby history, all the way back to the very first races to the beginning of what would become known as the Triple Crown – winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.
She really grabbed everyone’s attention when we arrived at the 1973 winner, a horse some may know called Secretariat, who is one of only 13 thoroughbreds to win the coveted triple. Naomi & Hannah lit up when the tour guide told of how Secretariat won the longest and most challenging race, the Belmont Stakes, by a record 31 lengths, and I was most impressed by the fact that Secretariat ran reverse splits, meaning he ran faster as the race went on, unlike every other horse who slowed as the distance wore on. As it turns out, according to the tour guide, Secretariat’s heart was 2.5-3 times larger than a normal thoroughbred’s heart, giving it more blood flow and oxygen to the muscles to last longer and speed up throughout the race.
There were a few horses training, so we were able to watch that, but mostly it was a history lesson and an exercise in imagination of what race day must be like. We all agreed that, at some point in the future, we had to attend the Kentucky Derby to experience it first hand.
At the end of the tour, they mentioned the Disney movie, Secretariat, which – shockingly – we had never watched, so we all decided that Secretariat would be the movie of the night. We perused around the gift shop, picked up a couple of souvenirs, and then headed home to pack up camp and head out.
That day’s travels would take us 6 hours to Beckley, West Virginia, where we parked at a Cracker Barrel restaurant for the night. Most Cracker Barrel restaurants, especially in rural areas, have RV parking spots (50′ long) and allow RV travelers to park overnight for free, most likely to get them to come in for breakfast in the morning, so that was our plan. We made it in time to pop some popcorn and enjoy the incredible story of Secretariat told through Disney’s eyes, and the girls officially became fans of the Kentucky Derby and, specifically, Secretariat.