Thursday, June 16, 2011

In search of Americana (Pt.1)

It's been an interesting few weeks. I recently went on a short road trip, for my own personal reasons, which I will not discuss here. It's rather interesting that the more I take these trips, the longer it seems to process what the journeys actually mean. In this case, I was disturbed to find out just how far commercialism is an essential part of the American dream.

Heading west, I went through the Eastern part of the Midwest, also known as the back roads of Ohio. The interesting thing about the back roads is the sense of navigation that occurs. It takes forever to actually get anywhere. Basically, you travel a good five or six hours at a steady clip, only to find my to your surprise and a little bit of your chagrin, you find you have travelled about 600 miles less than you were expecting. As a result, at the end of Day 1, I found myself in the Middle of Nowhere, Ohio.

Now, the thing about this, I was much surprised to find how...utterly commercial the Amish country has become. It surprised me greatly how much that upset me, and it took me a while to figure out why.

Commercialism is more or less destroying the regionalism of America. This is even more unfortunate considering how the "melting pot" culture which founded the country, is now becoming homogenized through the Interstate, and through rampant commercialism.

When you travel through the open country at 80 miles an hour, everything kind of looks the same. Regionalism is slowly dying, and there isn't much that can be done. We just need to savor what little flavor is left.

From Mansfield, Ohio, I next journeyed to Louisville, Kentucky. After having been shocked at the commercial Amish, I then decided to embrace the idea of the search for American symbols, and what could be more American that Mom, Apple Pie, and of course, Baseball.

Louisville is of course home of the Louisville Slugger, the baseball bat of the MLB. Standing outside, with the world's largest baseball bat, I then plotted a journey that would lead to the heart of several American Icons, including, aside from the Slugger, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Jack Daniels, and the Civil War. This sojourn would take me through a large chunk of the South.

Moving South through Kentucky, we hooked into the Bourbon Trail, which led right to front doors of the Jim Beam and Maker's Mark distilleries, manufacturers of fine Bourbons.

And I must say, the tours, while interesting, kind of pale in comparison to the highlights, the tastings. After trying several (read as too many) bourbons, I think my favorite has to be Maker's Mark 46, and extra smoky bourbon made by adding extra burned barrel staves to the aging barrels. I recommend it straight, on the rocks. Of course, that was only half the journey.

Until next time,

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