it all started in 2006-ish, back in the high school days of band practice, flip phones, and blockbuster video stores.
Actually, it was around this time that Blockbuster started to see the end of their glory days, and stores were closing one by one. It was at one of their closing sales that my mom picked up a few $5 movies from a clearance bin, forever changing the lives of my sister Amy and me by bringing Elizabethtown into our lives.
Elizabethtown is a 2005 romantic-drama-comedy by Cameron Crowe, the guy who directed Jerry McGuire and Almost Famous. Admittedly, Elizabethtown has not generally received great reviews. IMDB gave it 6.4/10 stars, Rotten Tomatoes scored it a whopping 28%, and on the rare chance that I meet someone who has seen it, they usually end up confessing that they fell asleep halfway through. You have to be a certain type of person to appreciate the magic, and I’d say Elizabethtown feels more like Garden State than Jerry McGuire.
ALAS, my sister Amy and I worship this movie. Since first watching it about ten years ago, we’ve probably seen it more than 30 times each, and have said that if we were to ever form our own religion, it’d somehow be based off of the themes and feelings and quirks of Elizabethtown.
For years, we’ve been talking about making the trek to Kentucky to follow in the footsteps of our beloved Drew and Claire (Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst) – our own sort of pilgrimage to an unsuccessful (in the typical box-office/critical review kind of way) yet whimiscally lovable indie flick with a great soundtrack, great script, and great characters that no one seems to appreciate just enough.
Before we headed down to Elizabethtown itself, we stopped and camped and explored in Louisville. Some of the movie was filmed in Louisville (just 45 minutes north of Elizabethtown) at significant locations such as the esteemed Cave Hill Cemetery and the distinguished Brown Hotel, but we also just spent some time checking out non-Elizabethtown-esque must-sees around town.
Cave Hill Cemetery
Our first stop once entering Louisville was Cave Hill National Cemetery, located just northeast of downtown. Cave Hill is a 300-acre cemetery chartered in 1848 and is the final resting place to a few famous peeps – notably Muhammad Ali (as of a few days ago) and Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of the KFC fast food restaurants and something of a beloved legend in Kentucky.
In Elizabethtown, the two main characters wander through the cemetery in a blur of a montage that highlights a few eccentricities of 1) Louisville and 2) Claire Colburn. I just attempted to write out a few examples of what I mean… but really you just have to watch the movie.
I actually don’t know who this is… Amy, do you know who this is? People of the world, does anyone know?
Colonel Sanders himself
We only spent one full night in Louisville, but we definitely realized how much FUN the little city could be if we would have had more time to thoroughly explore. We wandered up and down Main Street, marveled at the quaintness of the brick – so much brick – and the tree-lined sidewalks and the music that seemed to be wafting from the river, and took a zillion photos. Louisville was so damn picturesque.
This building is called 400 West Market – and has been the tallest building in Kentucky since 1993
The Louisville Slugger Museum! We were there too late to go inside, but it’s never too late for a photoshoot up against the largest baseball bat in the world!!!! Amirite, Aim???
(I actually would have loved to go inside. Sigh. Next time, Louisville.)
Fourth Street Live is a big indoor/outdoor complex with bars and shopping and restaurants. It appeared to be THE place to have a crazy night out in Louisville – you could drink in the street here and we saw a handful of bachelorette parties.
Big Four Bridge
Before we headed to dinner with Amy’s friend from Penn State who now lives in Louisville, we spent some time by the Big Four Bridge. This half-mile long bridge used to be a railroad truss bridge, but now it’s just a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Ohio River. It took its name from the “Big Four Railroad” that connected Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis back in the day.
After looking through my photos, though, I realized that I actually only took about 2 photos of the Big Four Bridge and about 8 zillion of other bridges that were right next to it. Oops.
Here is the actual Big Four Bridge…
See those trees and buildings on the other side of the river? That’s Indiana. WHAT.
…and pictured below are actually two bridges! The taller one in the front with thin cables is the Abraham Lincoln Bridge, and the shorter one behind is the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge. #presidents
They sure love Lincoln in Kentucky.
Camping at Jefferson Memorial Forest
That night (and the next night), we camped at Jefferson Memorial Forest on the southern outskirts of Louisville – our first camping trip all by ourselves!!! We were proud as heck of ourselves for starting a fire, cooking dinner & breakfasts over the fire, and peeing in a porta-potty in the dark for 2 days. The first of many Aim & Kris camping trips to come.
Overall, our trip to Louisville was a RAGING success. A clean little city with a fun vibe and kind of funky flavor + camping in a beautiful, green forest + proud reminders of significant parts of America’s history + a perfect sunset over a peaceful river ….what’s not to love about Louisville?
Next up: our visit to Churchill Downs, exploring Elizabethtown (FINALLY), and a trip to Mammoth Cave National Park.
Have you been to Louisville? What did we miss?