It was up and out of bed at 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 29. Destination: Tyner Elementary in Tyner, Kentucky - a nearly three hour drive through the darkness and fog - eventually arriving as the sun was coming up over the foothills of the Appalachain Mountains. Mapquest steered me wrong (again! gotta stop trusting Mapquest!) but I made it on time and jumped right in to "Odds in Everyday Life" for 60 5th graders. One of my favorite parts of that program is we run a mock Derby, and the students have to come up with horse names. Usually I get names like "Lightning", "Sponge Bob" or "Lucky Charm". Which all seem pretty normal when you consider we''ve had "Little Beans", "Snuzzle" and "Bombay Duck" run in the real Derby. And speaking of names, I found out on this road trip how this year's Derby winner got his name. Stay tuned....
After teaching all day in Tyner, it was down State Road 11 to the next county over - Beattyville, in Lee County. When I checked into the Travelwise Hotel, the gentleman at the desk told me if I needed something to do, I could go downtown and watch the red light blink. Which I did. And while walking downtown, stumbled across the only (I'm guessing).... Wolly Worm Racetrack in the world. I''ve got a picture to prove it. Southside Elementary in Lee County visited us at the Derby Museum last spring, and there were pictures of the trip on the wall upon entering the school. Very nice!
After school, it was a two hour drive through the mountains to Bell County, which is on the Virginia-Kentucky border next to the famed Cumberland Gap. I stayed at Pine Mountain State Park and had time to hike the mile-and-a-half Honeymoon Falls Trail. The trail was great, but unfortunately, because of the drought, Honeymoon Falls was more like Honeymoon Drip. To finish my trip, I visited Lone Jack School. I led off with the brand-new "Superhorse, The Shoe and You" program and enjoyed the enthusiastic feedback from the 4th graders. I need to work on the timing - I talked about Secretariat for 30 minutes, and only had time for 10 minutes for Bill Shoemaker. Sorry Bill! I'll get the timing better next time.
And back to horse names - if you're wondering how Derby winner Super Saver got his name. The owners must have stayed at the Travelwise Hotel in Beattyville, KY, looked up at the shower head and were somehow inspired. I was.