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June 4, 2014

Summer Guide 2014: The Summer 6-Pack

Six ways to enjoy the outdoors

Kayak @ The Parklands
The beauty of being a late adopter is you get to maintain a lofty, wait-and-see kind of an attitude, while others do the dirty work of getting the latest new thing perfected — like the kayak. Skipping from seal-skinned Aleutian models to today’s resin skimmers, wait long enough and somebody thinks of putting in a comfortable seat and a dry box, and then — like color TVs and TV dinners — the price finally plummets to a point where you can pick up a nice kayak, with paddle and life vest, for maybe $450. Add an old pair of “creek shoes” and a water bottle, and you’re set to go.

And, nicely for Louisvillians, the Parklands of Floyds Fork has invented a close-by creek in eastern Jefferson County so the happy kayaker can be out of his or her office and on the water in under an hour.

Of course, Floyds Fork wasn’t actually invented by The Parklands. It’s been running along for a couple million years. But the founders of the new, privately funded public park realized the stream’s potential. The Fork flows 27 miles within the park.

The Parklands offers kayak and canoe rentals through Green Earth Outdoors, including shuttle service between put-in and take-out points. The shuttle is also available if you BYO kayak. One nice stretch is to put in at the Fisherville Paddling Access for a run down to Cane Run — with sycamore canopies, gravel bars and a couple of rushing chutes. The Fork’s most wildernessy section will be its southern end, with put-in points opening in the next year.

Floyds Fork is an easy-paced creek. In spring there’s plenty of current, but the flow will slow in late summer. One thing to watch out for is sudden flooding after big storms. The ride can be a high-speed thrill, but easy to lose a paddle, or even become separated from your kayak — and awwaaaay they’ll go, down the creek and around the bend. More info: theparklands.org. —Bill Doolittle

 

Bats Baseball @ Slugger Field
Isn’t that most of what we really need in the summer? Our hometown Louisville Bats, the AAA minor league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, are playing their 15th season at the beautiful Slugger Field, downtown across from Waterfront Park. For a decent price, you can check out some future major-league stars in action, stuff your face full of hot dogs, and partake in $1 Buds on Thursdays. And lots and lots of mascot dancing and racing, if that’s your thing.

The Bats have lost speedster Billy Hamilton to the Reds this season, but they currently are led by slugging third baseman Ruben Gotay and flame-throwing closer Jumbo Diaz, who also have two of the greatest baseball names you’ll ever see. But in my humble opinion, the star of the Bats remains veteran catcher Corky Miller, who looks like the doppelganger of “Eastbound and Down”’s Kenny Powers, minus the drug habit or Sea Doo’ing up and down the Ohio River. Miller is sharing time behind the plate this season with Tucker Barnhart, one of the Reds’ top young prospects, who looks like a promising player despite the absence of Miller’s mullet-goatee double threat.

If you’re interested in more than Budweiser and hot dogs, Slugger Field also has a fairly wide variety of beer options, as well as veggie dogs, pork chops and bologna sandwiches. There’s also the Against the Grain Brewery in the front of the stadium, for a wider variety of pre- and post-game snacking and dranking. And, as always, post-game drinks with Corky at Texas Roadhouse. More info: batsbaseball.com. —Joe Sonka

 

Swimming @ Falling Rock Park Quarry
Hidden away off of I-71 and through downtown La Grange is a swimming hole quite unlike your standard public pool or country club. Falling Rock Park, or “The Quarry,” as it is often called, is a repurposed scuba training facility open to sunbathers and liquid loungers for $10. The scenic rock walls and handmade signs make for a day hanging out in the water dissimilar to one involving more lap lanes or chlorine.

The folks up in Oldham County take the safety of their guests seriously; patrons must bring floatation devices like rafts with which to stay in contact in the water, and alcohol is vehemently prohibited. Visitors must bring proof of being 18 years of age or older as well, and there’s a waiver you have to sign if you wish to float across the makeshift pool. Upon arrival, workers will search your car, as per the signage on the drive in, to make sure no one is sneaking in booze or weaponry, so prepare to have your doors and trunk opened.

Until 2010, the sole purpose of Falling Rock Park was for scuba instruction. There’s even an old police cruiser at the bed of the lake for testing divers. Though for patrons, making an attempt at the vehicle will most likely result in a promptly shortened stay at the quarry. For anyone looking for a relaxing day in the sun and on the water, there are worse places to have such an afternoon. More info: 502-939-5049. —Ian Ording

 

Thrills @ Kentucky Kingdom
The Big Kahuna, Tornado, Deluge — Mitch McConnell’s nicknames for his penis, or rides at Kentucky Kingdom? (Or both?) After years of waitin’ and speculatin’, the no-longer-Six-Flags-affiliated Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay is back in action, just in time for summer fun (when kids should, more productively, be on a year-round schedule of academia to keep their impressionable minds focused and further prepare them for the realities of the adult working world they will inherit sooner than they realize — but I digress).

So if you need a vacation like some of us, or just want a fun Saturday of thrills ’n’ spills, enjoying dozens of newly built or refurbished rides, head toward the airport, but don’t go quite that far. Business tycoon Ed Hart (allegedly an inspiration for the classic TV series “Hart to Hart”) has stepped back in again as head of the formerly most-popular place in the land to make our Kingdom wet, safe and profitable once more.

Whatever happens, at least it’s not in the hands of those stinky Koch brothers. There’s now a bunch of new rides (in addition to old favorites), 5-D cinema (because, obviously, 3-D still is not what it should be), rescued sea lions, flying scooters, a Mega Wedgie … if there’s anything you wanted that they don’t already have, you’ll never be happy, so why don’t you stop being such a cry baby already, you big baby? More info: kentuckykingdom.com. —Peter Berkowitz

 

Bike @ Waterfront Park
Did you know May was Bike Everywhere Month? Indeed, the local bicycle advocacy organization Bicycling for Louisville, along with Metro’s Bike Louisville, designated it so and celebrated by hosting a variety of themed meet-ups and rides throughout the month, all culminating with the annual Bike to Work Day held last Friday. If you missed all this, it’s probably because your mind is a car driving too fast and not paying attention to all of the amazing things around you. Lucky for you, there is nothing stopping you from slowing down and making June Bike At Least One Place Once Month.

One great place to start is Waterfront Park, where you can inexpensively and easily rent a set of wheels by the hour, day or half-day at Wheel Fun Rentals. Here, those uninitiated into the wonderful world of bicycling don’t have to worry about riding alongside car traffic or not having enough stamina to make it up any hills. Carouse along the riverfront or cross the Big Four Bridge. (Their stand is located right off the finally completed bridge to somewhere.) They offer several types of bikes, including tandem bikes for you lovers and low-rider choppers and surreys for people who can’t be bothered to balance themselves.

If all that makes you feel too much like a tourist, head instead to locally owned Scheller’s Fitness & Cycling. They’ll rent out road and hybrid bikes, as well as bike transport add-ons for your car, so you can take the rental wherever you please. More info: wheelfunrentals.com and schellers.com. —April Corbin

 

Movies @ Georgetown Drive-In Theatre
Ah, the drive-in movie theater. A place where you can watch a first-run movie from your car, protecting yourself from the human interaction required at a typical movie theater. Also a place that tends to remind people of the classic “Grease” scene featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John watching “The Blob.” But, as the first drive-in celebrates its 81st birthday this summer, they are increasingly difficult to find and experience. Thankfully, the Georgetown Drive-In Theatre lies only 20 minutes from Louisville.

The Indiana theater has two screens, each showing two flicks a night. Showings are weekends only until June 13, when nightly showings begin for the summer.

Of course, there is a concession stand, because what would a movie be without tons of snacks? The theater sells the normal movie foods like popcorn, candy and hot dogs (are hot dogs considered a “normal movie food”?), and while sneaking snacks in via your car is probably easy, the prices at the drive-in are much lower than their movie theater counterparts.

The Georgetown Drive-In has been around since 1951 (that’s 63 years!). Originally starting as a single screen, they have added a second screen and kept up with changes in technology by changing the audio to stereo FM radio. On June 27, they will make another jump: digital projection.

For drive-in virgins, their website has some FAQs to help out along the way. Upcoming films and times are also featured. An important thing to note: The majority of the theater is cash only. More info: georgetowndrivein.com. —Olivia Krauth

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