Yesterday we returned from a road trip through the south. As we have done in previous years, last Thursday we took a short vacation to attend the annual Dingler Family reunion. The reunion was held in Rome, Georgia this year.
We drove to Nashville on Thursday, staying there for the night. We spent the afternoon at Opry Mills, a Mills outlet mall at the Opryland complex. We ate dinner at Aquarium, a unique restaurant by Landry’s. The restaurant focuses on seafood and dining room is themed as if you were underwater. On the center of the restaurant is a 200,00 gallon aquarium with sharks, eels, rays, and more. The tables are arranged around the aquarium so everyone has a great view of the tank. It isn’t a great place to go if you want to talk with your dinner companions as everyone spends most of the evening watching the fish in the tank! The food was great and the atmosphere one-of-a-kind. Well, two-of-a-kind anyway. They have another location in Houston.
On Friday, we drove from Nashville to Rome, with a stop for lunch in Chattanooga. We spent the early evening hanging out in the hospitality room, chatting with the other Dingler family attendees, familiar faces from previous reunions. Kristin’s great uncle and aunt, Dick and Annette Bates from Crossett, Arkansas, were there again this year. That evening we ate dinner at Johnny Carino’s, a fantastic Italian restaurant. They don’t have any locations in Missouri or Illinois, but that will change soon hopefully.
On Saturday, we went on a bus tour of Rome, Georgia. Afterwards we grabbed lunch, then headed back to the hotel for the reunion meeting. Afterwards we all headed to dinner together at Western Sizzlin.
We left early Sunday morning and headed north through Knoxville up to Lexington. We spent the afternoon at the Kentucky Horse Park, a unique state park which is actually a 1,200 acre working horse farm. While there we saw Cigar, the all-time leading money winner, with lifetime winnings of $9,999,815! John Henry was also there at the ripe old age of 29. We learned that to calculate a horse’s age in horse years, you multiply by three and add eight, which would make John Henry 95 in horse years!
On Monday we drove to Louisville to visit Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum. Being able to stand next to the track was an awesome experience. As quiet and empty as it was, it was hard to imagine what it must be like for the derby with tens of thousands of people in the stands and in the infield.
We have a lot of photos, but I need to go through and catalog them before I put them online. I hope to have them up in a few days.