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Confessions of a Retirement Traveling Disc Golfer
Retirement for some means moving to a year-round location that caters to hitting a white round ball for fun and enjoyment playing, as some in the disc golf community call it, “ball golf.” I took traditional ball golf lessons when I worked for a bank and I enjoyed playing on country club courses with clients. I know people who love ball golf and have made the move to be able to play year around, and they are quite happy doing it.
For me, disc golf is a happy sideline to the other things I am doing while retired. Finding courses on my travels is good enough. I find it enjoyable to get out on a walk and throw a disc for a few hours. I do not have to live on or near a course or join a prestigious club to play disc golf. The entry fee at most courses is free; the discs cost about $25 or, when purchased used, even less. My joy comes from playing with my friends and family, as well as finding new courses to play.
Last year I wrote about sampling some of the best courses for disc golf in the world. I have been playing disc golf off and on for years. On a road trip about 20 years ago, a co-worker suggested we play a course near the DFW airport as we finished up and had several hours prior to our flight. I still have the disc I purchased that day and used for the entire round. I have been looking for courses to play ever since.
I am not a professional player, or even very good. I enjoy smaller, “easier” courses to the high-power technical courses. I had the opportunity to play over 100 times in 2022, here are my highlights:
- My first Ace, a one throw into the basket from the tee pad in North Carolina at the Haywood Community College Disc Golf Course.
- I played rounds in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, Kansas, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Missouri.
- Played rounds in every month in 2022, and my longest streak of rounds was unexpected, playing the first eleven days of November due to the beautiful weather.
- Played a glow in the dark tournament at my “home” disc golf course.
- Played rounds with all of my family (okay—not the 18-month-old) and friends. As a special treat for me, I also played with my new son-in-law as well as his groomsmen prior to the wedding.
I use the UDisc app on my phone to keep track of the score, as well as to track the location of the next pin when I am playing on a new course. My best round was at the Haywood Community College Course and Briar Creek Park with a score of one under par for 9 holes. My worst round was at Idlewild DGC, a 31 over par for 24 holes.
Disc Golfing in Kentucky:
I live near one of the top disc golf courses in the world, Idlewild DGC, and rarely play it due to its difficulty for my (lack of) ability. My “home” course, the one with the most rounds recorded, is Boone Woods, a friendly mid-level course with some technical shots. Since I cannot throw more than 200 feet (225 downhill!) the course is a good challenge for me.
I have now convinced two of my bike riding buddies to join me in playing disc golf. More time on the course has improved all of our results, and we get time together learning, practicing and playing rounds.
This year in October my disc golfing buddies and I played in the 2022 Disc ‘n Dat Day Glow event. We had a lot of fun. I had never played “glow” disc golf before. We played a random draw tournament, meaning, I was paired with a good player, or he was paired with me…
The night “glow” round was better than I could have hoped for. I purchased a glow in the dark disc and we had stickers that glowed to place on the discs we owned. The flights of the discs in the dark were cool to view and, in some ways, the glowing discs were easier to find. My team (my partner) ended the night way under par; “we” ended up in third place overall. We all had fun at the event and may do this event again next year.
I have played a few other Kentucky courses, including Lincoln Ridge Park which is one of the Northern Kentucky favorite courses (currently ranked #4 course in the state). As I was planning on driving past the Wendell Moore Disc Golf Course in La Grange, KY ranked #5 in the state, I stopped and played.
Disc Golfing at E-Town was a good find at the Freeman Lake DGC. We were able to play this course while waiting for our oldest to arrive in Kentucky prior to attending training at Fort Knox. The course has 3 challenging water holes that I do not like, as I do not like to lose discs. Overall, it is a good and challenging course. I managed to play this course a few times.
On the way back home from the Smoky Mountains, we stopped at Briar Creek Park and played a round of disc golf. This is a short course, perfect for a short thrower like me. This course was a good spot for a picnic as well as stretching the legs after driving for a while.
Disc Golfing in North Carolina
One of my typical ideas on a road trip is to take a break from driving by taking a walk. What better than to take that walking break and combine it with disc golf? We needed a break while driving from Kentucky to North Carolina; I found the Haywood Community College Disc Golf course near the North Carolina border with Tennessee. This is the course that I threw my first Ace (or “hole in one”). Everyone who plays disc golf wants to get an ace.
It was good to have a witness to vouch for me that I did throw an ace shot on this round. My wife will confirm my ace shot, and I am so happy to have had her there to share in the moment. We could not see the basket from the tee pad, but we did hear the metal clang as the disc landed (we hoped) in the basket.
Eager Beaver at Elon Park is a course in Charlotte. I used this venue to play disc golf with the groomsmen and the groom prior to the wedding.
Disc Golfing in Tennessee
What do you want to do for your birthday? How about a round of disc golf in Tennessee. We played the Cedar Hill Park DGC outside of Nashville on our way to our niece’s wedding.
Winds of Westover—I played this course in Jackson, TN, on the road between Memphis and the Andrew Jackson home, the Hermitage. It is a fun course, but unfortunately it did not have cement tee pads. Dirt works, as it was dry. The layout was tricky for a guy new to the course; I made a few mistakes and had to go back and start again for the correct basket. The map was good but I failed to consult the map as I should have.
Disc Golfing in Mississippi
Our niece got married near Ole Miss. We had fun exploring the area. And we played some disc golf since we were in Oxford. The first course we played, The Ole Miss Rebel DGC, has a strange layout; it was hard for us to find the start of the course. We did find the course from where we parked and were, unfortunately, near the halfway point; we eventually found the first tee box way across the field.
After playing a technical course on our first day, we switched to the family friendly 9-hole course that we played twice, the oldest or first disc golf course in Mississippi, T.E. Avent Park. My sister and brother-in law as well as one of our kids joined us to play. Mr. Joe, as we like to call our brother-in-law, had fun playing some of the holes. Disc golf is a friendly game and all are welcome to play.
Disc Golfing in Arkansas
I have played courses in Arkansas. On the road to see my mom, I stopped to play Cline Park, Clarksville, AR. The course has a lot of water. I should not have played right after it rained nearby. I did find all of my discs, although I had to rescue one from the water.
Disc Golfing in Gorgia Gascoigne Bluff DGC was a fun excursion on our bike ride travels in the Golden Isles. The Bluff is a historically significant spot and we enjoyed playing under the live oak trees.
Forrest Hills DGC Savannah was a short, 9-hole course we played in-between rain storms. We had timed the play well and did not get wet while playing.
Disc Golfing in Illinois
I played The Oaks DGC in Mokena, Illinois, the #5 course in the state and the closest one to the Big Ten 10k location. This was a well-designed course. My oldest and I only played the first 18 holes. It has more. It was interesting hearing some of the players on the course discussing the Idlewild Open Disc Golf Tournament going on while we were playing in Illinois, having driven by that course on our way out of town.
Disc Golfing in Missouri
On the way back from visiting my mom, I stopped in Springfield and played the Oak Grove Park 9-hole course. I ended up playing this course twice as it did not take too much time to play once.
Disc Golfing in Indiana
I really liked the course in Ferdinand (18th Street Park). It was just off highway 64, on my route home and was a fun, hilly 9-hole course. It was easy to find my way around this course, on exit 63.
Disc Golfing in Massachusetts
I did play Maple Hill, the number one world course, again in 2022. It is such a super course and even the easy (red) layout is challenging as well fun to play. I also played at Borderland State Park, a technical course, using the state park discs to play after we had spent a morning running.
Disc Golfing in Rhode Island
My two oldest joined me for a fun day at Slater Park playing disc golf.
Disc Golfing in New York
We stopped to stretch our legs in Chittenango, New York, and play disc golf in Sullivan Park. This was a good course. We did get confused on the layout, which I am sure is easy to do for us out of town disc golfers.
Disc Golfing in Kansas
I stopped on our recent travels from Colorado for a break to play a round of disc golf at Rice Park in Topeka, KS. I do not think the locals at the senior center know that a disc golf course is nearby based on the reactions I got when asking where the start of the course was located. It was a good course to play in the middle of a road trip.
I am following the advice of the pros and taking note of several YouTube videos to improve my play. I am currently following Scott Stokely on YouTube and have learned a lot by the way he is able to explain several simple concepts.
I enjoy looking at the rankings of the top courses by state and have played some of these courses. I have also enjoyed finding shorter, 9-hole courses, and will look for more of them as I travel in 2023.
The benefit of playing in public parks is that a lot of disc golf is free. Sometimes the holes or the courses are closed due to tournaments and other events going on in the park. You have to take the good and the bad.
In 2022, I was able to enjoy a round or two with all of my kids. This is something special for us retired guys!
Having convinced one of my friends to play, we were able to team up on another friend and now the three of us play frequently. It is great to have others share in the experience, and of course we can witness great shots being made.
No bike rides; this is disc golf.
On the Move, Helping Kids Move
Last year I assisted in moving one of my kids up to New England. This year again found me assisting a move to New England, for our oldest and his family. I am happy to say that in both cases a professional moving company did the actual move. My involvement was only driving a car and a moving a few boxes once the movers left.
After my oldest asked if I could help out on their move, I looked up the total one-way driving time from Colorado to Massachusetts. It is over 32 hours and about 2,100 miles. Some of the travel was just me in the car, following my oldest across the country, and part was driving from Kentucky with our grandson and my wife to the new home. And of course, the 14-hour, 900-mile drive back home and any driving along the way to see friends and family.
This adventure started with me landing at the Colorado Springs airport as my grandson and daughter-in-law were getting ready to fly to Kentucky. Good parents that they are, they do not want to have their child sitting in a car for the entire drive from Colorado to Massachusetts.
I feel like I just made this drive back in January 2022. When you think you know your plans for the next month, I was unexpectantly was looking forward to driving across Kansas again this year. In any case, I was happy to find myself flying to Colorado so that I could drive back to the east coast and spend time with family.
The timing of the airplanes was wonderful; too bad the movers were not finished with the packing in Colorado. Our original plan was for me to fly in, load the car and begin driving. I was able to take advantage of time in Colorado as the movers were delayed in finishing their packing.
On the weekend, instead of waiting for the movers to show up on Monday, my son and I were excited to hike Brown’s Creek Trail in the San Isabel National Forest. The views from Brown Lake at the top were wonderful. It was a 12-mile hike with over 2,400 feet in elevation gain. The waterfall is a picturesque spot to stop and take some refreshment, which is just what we did.
In Colorado, you just never know when it might rain or thunderstorm. On the way down from Brown Lake we did get rained on a little bit; we ran down some of the trail in case in the higher elevations it became bad. I am so glad to get another big hike in on the mountains in Colorado. Thank you to Anna for finding this terrific hike and driving us to the mountain and back.
The three of us hikers stopped at Buena Vista, Colorado, for dinner on our way back to Colorado Springs. This is a charming town on the Arkansas River with all the surrounding mountains making for great views while enjoying dining outdoors.
The move was again delayed; my son and I did not leave until Tuesday when I was originally expecting to leave on the prior Saturday. With an extra day in the Colorado Springs area, I was able to visit one of my favorite attractions, the Garden of the Gods. Even in the rain, I enjoyed walking along the peaks and the colorful rocks.
The other thing I did while waiting for the movers to finish up was playing disc golf at Cumberland Green, in Colorado Springs, a good beginner course. I managed to play three rounds while visiting for four days.
We finally got on the road, in the rain, late on Tuesday afternoon. We spent one night in Hayes, Kansas, and the next day I stopped in Topeka, Kansas, to play some disc golf and stretch my legs allowing my son to sleep in and catch up with me in his car when I finished my round.
My son and I arrived in Kentucky and had a few days together with our grandson and our daughter-in-law. It was fun to relax and make plans for the next leg of the journey. Our son and his wife needed to begin work (glad to be retired!) and prepare to receive the movers, which is best done without an 18-month-old in tow. Grandma and Grandpa enjoyed our alone time with our grandson prior to driving out to meet the parents now settled and working in Massachusetts.
While the family from Colorado was here, our recently married daughter came up to work from our home and spend time with all of us. We had a fun family challenge of running while everyone was here. Most of us are not too fast, but we all enjoy being active.
After about a week alone with our grandson, it was time for us to leave Kentucky and drive up to Massachusetts. Driving with a young child, we needed to take advantage of his time asleep and get him moving to sleep again in the car. Our grandson responded well to the car ride and stops we made.
Our first stop, about 4 hours from the house, was the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We had driven by this park several times without noticing it. It was a fun stop and picnic. Just the right amount of walking around and energy release for an 18-month-old to explore. The rangers even indulged us by making him a junior ranger. When I was younger, the Cuyahoga River was best known for catching on fire. It has now been cleaned up and the biking path here looks like a fun path for us to take in the future.
When we arrived at the new place in Massachusetts, we were not surprised that the moving trucks were not coming as soon as planned. We took advantage of our three weeks waiting to explore the area and catch up with family and friends.
Some of our highlights from exploring New England include biking, running, hiking and playing disc golf. We were able to enjoy several state parks in Massachusetts that we had not visited when we lived there.
Our oldest was nice enough to give us some running tips. I know he has collected several since running on the high school cross country team and being in the Army. We learned a lot and hope to improve our running as a result of the private lessons.
Our Massachusetts park stops included:
Borderland where we ran and hiked trails as well as sampled the disc golf course.
Massasoit State Park where our grandson loved to play on the playground and we were able to get in a lot of hiking.
Boyden Wildlife Refuge where we took a few of our hikes. We enjoyed exploring here as it was near where the kids now live.
Dighton Rock State Park where we enjoyed biking to and from the park. We did the tour and saw the rock, which was exciting for us but not too much to look at.
We took a few different roads to go to Dighton Rock. Our favorite was a less traveled road that has a sign for the Pan Mass challenge; we have friends who rode in that event.
On the other side of the Taunton River from Dighton Rock is Sweets Knoll State Park. This place from the outside looks like a private residence. This is an interesting park, pretty and not too developed. One of the trails ends at the railroad bridge from where we think we can see Dighton Rock State Park. It has the promise of future funding to make connections with other state parks.
During our three-week stay, we also biked on the nearby trails.
We rode on the Assabet River Rail Trail starting in Marlborough. Years ago, I played in a band during the dedication of the trail. It is always fun to come back and ride on this trail, although it is not yet connected the way the organizers dream it will connect sometime in the future. We did enjoy riding over 11 miles total from Marlborough through to the adjoining town of Hudson and back again.
We took a ride on the Blackstone River Valley bike path, starting in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. This is another partially finished trail, with plans in the future to connect bike paths. We enjoyed the 11 completed miles and rode for over 21 miles. The parts that are completed are scenic and fun to ride.
We completed the East Bay Bike Path, Rhode Island, that we started last year. This year we rode from near the end to Bristol, riding roundtrip over 20 miles compared to the ride last year of about 24 miles.
We were able to get together in Rhode Island for some disc golf with family. It is always good to see the oldest two get competitive.
Eventually the movers made it to the new place. We took a few days to help the kids unload their possessions, enjoyed having a table to eat at and use plates and utensils, the small stuff that makes the house a home.
We were excited to be back home, although we miss being with our grandson, and our kids.
We learned long ago that when our kids want us to be involved, it is good to say yes. So, we went on this journey moving across country for almost a month.
Happiness is found where we are. It does not come when some date or event occurs. It is what we do all the time. Maintaining a happy state is easy for us, being retired and hanging out with our kids and grandchild. Imagine that the movers are late coming to your new house as they were in packing up the former place. Also, imagine that the new place is being renovated and you do not have many toys for the grandchild and only a couple of dishes and an air mattress or two. We can; this was our life for a few weeks as we waited for the moving van to show up so we could help unpack prior to going back home. It was fun, and we kept reminding ourselves that we were having fun being with the people we wanted to be with.
We had a fun stop for ice cream after the Blackstone River Trail. We managed to find Wright’s Dairy in Rhode Island. As the sign says “RI’s only cow to cone ice cream.” It was delicious!
We went with the family to Newport Beach, Rhode Island, and after we were tired of the water, we took the cliff walk.
A friend from Marlborough drove out to give us a bridge clinic, have some dinner and caught up on things. We had seen him at our daughter’s wedding and it was good to have a less formal setting (borrowed chairs and a card table) to get together.
I had a visit from a former co-worker, making his way to Boston for business, who stopped by to visit and see the house prior to furniture. The East Coast is a good place to reconnect with friends and family.
We rode for about 140 miles while visiting in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Re-discovering General Butler
We visited General Butler State Resort Park at the end of 2016. The lodge was beautifully decorated for the season and we took a few days to catch our breath from the year about to end and set our sights on what 2017 might bring. At the time we did not know that I would be retiring in 2017. Our two youngest kids had already moved out of the house and we needed to decide what we were doing with our house that was now bigger than we needed for just the two of us. At the end of hiking all of the park trails and enjoying the grounds we decided to sell our house and “right size” into a new place to live.
All of the decisions we made at the end of 2016 set us up for success in 2017, the year I retired, and we moved into our new home. The kids have come to visit and we have found places for them to stay in the new house. It was the correct call for us; we have been blessed with the decision to right size our living arrangements.
We recently decided to go back to General Butler State Resort Park and see what it is like in the summer. It was nice to see the lodge all decked out for the Fourth of July celebrations. We stayed in the lodge and set about hiking the trails.
One of the park amenities is a small lake. We spent an afternoon having a picnic lunch near the lake, playing some miniature golf, hiking around the lake and then taking a boat ride on the lake—which was for us like riding a bike as it was a paddle boat.
We noticed that a lot of geese and ducks also enjoy being around the lake. The boat attendant told us no swimming is allowed in the lake because the lake is “fowl.” Which is not as good of a joke in print. We likely saw over 40 ducks and geese near the shore during our short hike from the picnic area to the boat dock.
My only disappointment with the park is that the disc golf course was not yet completed. It looks like it must be close, and it looks like a good course is planned. I will have to come back after the course opens and give a report.
The General is William O. Butler, who was a major General in the US-Mexico war. He was also a vice presidential candidate (his ticket lost in 1848). He made war and politics a study after serving as an aide to General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans.
The lodge was not open for dining during the week days (when we enjoy traveling). They did provide a bag breakfast which was nice, and we discovered that the local town had plenty of tasty options. We also swam in the municipal pool as the resort’s pool was being repaired. That was a fun adventure with a few diving boards and it was a short 3-minute drive from the lodge. The swim felt good after a hot day of hiking.
We enjoyed touring the General’s house which was closed the last time we visited. It is opened on the weekends and as we were leaving Friday, we were able to tour the house prior to our departure.
The hour plus tour was informative and entertaining and worthwhile to take. No pictures allowed during the tour. It does look really good inside. If you go, you should plan to take the house tour. We also stopped by the graveyard near the house while waiting for the tour. We found that looking at the family tree, as it were, was a good introduction to the family members mentioned on the tour.
The hiking is not too strenuous; we enjoyed re-discovering some of the hikes we had been on in 2016. We did a twilight hike after dinner and enjoyed the cooler temperature as well as seeing many lightning bugs. All of the trails were well marked and easy to follow.
No biking on this trip. Although a paddle boat is a lot like riding a bike, it is not the same.
Seeing Smoky Mountain Smoke
When I think about Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the “smoke” or fog that rolls in is always a pretty sight. We have been to the mountains before, and every time is special.
We were able to stay in a condo on top of a mountain on the top floor. This view afforded us a scenic look at the surrounding mountains as well as being up high when the bears came out to forage for food; we were well away from the ground. We were able to enjoy the evening and morning view from our porch.
We did hike trails and met up with our daughter and son-in-law with their dog. Dogs are not allowed, for the most part, in Smoky Mountain National Park, and so we went hiking with them in the Cherokee National Forest. Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the busiest parks and by contrast, the National Forest appeared deserted. We had not previously spent time in the National Forest; we enjoyed the differences in locations.
In fairness, the Forest Service does not provide many services, cell phone reception is spotty and the trails are not as well marked as in the National Park. The area of the Cherokee National Forest is about 650,000 acres (the National Park is 522,000 acres). It is huge! We only explored a small portion of the forest. We have a child who lives in Rhode Island, it is 776,900 acres.
If you are looking to get away, go primitive camping or hiking and get away from civilization, the National Forest has a lot to offer. I think most retirees are in for the National Park and the “younger” adventurers are in for a real treat in the Forest.
We enjoyed our brief exploration of the Paint Creek area, with the pretty scenery and the creek that runs through it.
Hiking in the National Park:
We think the popular trek up to see Rainbow Falls is well worth the effort. In contrast to the National Forest, we saw evidence of a lot of travelers along the pathway.
This was the best hike we took. A well-marked trail, easy parking (we were early in the day) and beautiful scenery along the way. While we were hiking, our kids in Colorado were telling us they were on top of one of the 14,000-foot mountains. We made it to an elevation of 3,970. This is a pretty good elevation in the land east of the Mississippi.
Laurel Falls Trail
We noticed the mountain laurel in bloom near Memorial Day as we climbed this trail. This is a very accessible trail, and we saw several strollers being pushed up and down the mostly paved path. The asphalt could use some repair; however, it made it easy for everyone who could to climb up to see the falls. The falls were pretty and the hike was a good workout.
Other Fun: We were staying above Gatlinburg and did stroll into town to see the sights and purchase milkshakes at The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar. A fun treat after a warm day hiking. We find that stopping for an ice cream cone or a milkshake is part of the fun and reward for hiking all day.
In addition to the bears near our condo, we had 3 other bear sightings. Bears are not as scarce as I had thought. I guess all of the people in the area lead to easy pickings for the bears.
No biking in the mountains. I am not a mountain biker and these would be hard places to start. We did see mountain bikers in the National Forest.
A Mountain Wedding
A father thinks a lot about walking a daughter down the aisle, knowing all eyes are on her. The main thought I had while walking her down the aisle was what her new life will be like. I was proud to walk my daughter down the aisle. Yes, the acceptance of the engagement last year led to my daughter getting married this year at Springmaid Mountain resort. It was the best of times for all of us present.
Family and friends came to celebrate and we enjoyed the time spent with them all. I was happy to whisper a word of advice to my soon to be son-in-law.
The ceremony was planned as an outdoor wedding and as sometimes happens in life, it rained on the wedding day and was moved inside. It rained on our wedding day as well, and we have been married for 37 years. I imagine the weather on one day has no determination on the future longevity of a relationship. We enjoyed the inside event and were able to take some pictures outside as the rain came and went all day.
We enjoyed the Springmaid Mountain weekend, plus as we were able to hike and walk around the beautiful setting that the couple picked out for their wedding.
I have not previously been part of the chaos that occurs when the bridal party is getting ready. All of the hair and makeup occurred in our cabin. My role was to keep everyone happy, get anything required (sometimes after it was explained to me what it was) and to provide drinks to the bridal party and the moms.
We had a fun cookout on the porch; thank you to our son who cooked lunch for the bridal party. During any event with a one-year-old present, it is normal that he will steal the show, outside of the main wedding event.
Any time for me is a beautiful time to be in the mountains. No matter what happened on that wonderful day, rain or shine, they are married and all who celebrated with them were happy to be at the event.
Running with our oldest in Charlotte. We did leave at the same time, he went farther and finished before we did. It was still a good family run.
Hiking with family (not the bride and groom) prior to leaving the mountain after the wedding. We hiked to the falls. Not too far away from the parking area.
No bike rides here; we were here to celebrate a wedding!
Walking with Kids
For my wife and me, walking is something we look to do consistently for the benefit of our health and the health of our relationships. Our daily goal is to get out and walk two miles each day. We do not always make our goal, but we have found that when we do go for a walk, we feel good about it and we miss it when we do not go out for a walk.
We also enjoy walking with our adult kids, and this year we took a few fun walks with them where they live.
Walking in Charlotte, NC: 7 miles, about 1 mile per walk
We were able to walk the Charlotte Greenway, which is near where the kids live in Charlotte. The greenway is a great option as the paths are wide and easy to follow. We also took walks around their neighborhood.
Newport, Rhode Island: 5.5 miles of walking (one day tour)
We were excited to visit Newport, taking in the sights by walking around and going on a 90-minute boat ride. While we were in Newport, the weather was perfect and the walking was good.
In Newport we took advantage of the nearby Cliff Walk after our boat tour. The Cliff Walk is a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District. It was a good hike and one that should be on a list to take from start to finish.
Along the walk we saw several mansions and beautiful ocean views. I was wondering what kind of wealth it took to build and maintain one of these mansions. Even today, some are still are offered for sale. We found that some belong to a local university. Another option to pay for the upkeep is to open to the public for tours.
Providence, Rhode Island: 13 miles of walking in and around the city. The city is vibrant and easy to walk. We enjoyed the people bridge and viewing the gondola boats on the water.
Colorado Springs, Colorado: 45 miles walking. The first time this year we came to Colorado Springs was to celebrate the birth of our newest grandchild. We spent about a month in total in Colorado over two trips. Baby, mom and dad are all doing well. We took several walks with and without our children and grandchild.
St Louis Walking:
It is not just with kids, but parents as well as our kids. I was able to take a walk with my in-laws and one of my kids in St. Louis, visiting for a few days. It was great to have the family walking time in the Missouri Botanical Garden.
I also enjoyed a long walk to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox with family. Always a good walk from the train station.
Always be flexible. Find a path that works, and if you can find it on a nice warm day, an ice cream shop.
Take a detour or get off of the planned route. In Newport, we meandered and still saw most of the sites and had a great relaxing day of walking with our family.
Going to a baseball game with our grandchild at the beginning of the baseball season in Colorado.
Earlier this summer when I was in Providence, RI, they had the weekend Al Fresco outside dining on Federal Hill, which was very enjoyable. The next time we were in Providence, we caught the Columbus Day festival and enjoyed walking around with live music and terrific food from the local restaurants.
On the way to the Cliff Walk we stopped at an enormous rocking chair. Kids, will be kids.
As a follow-up to an earlier blog, he did ask and she said yes.
In addition to walking, I went running with two of my kids (and my wife). Three of us were able to run on the Charlotte Greenway and enjoy some family running time together.
My son and I ran in Providence and my wife and I also ran in Providence. Just not all three of us at the same time.
I was able to run the FCC Cincinnati 5k with my son and his friends.
No biking, just walking and running.
A Sampling of the World’s Best Disc Golf Courses
We all have the stereotype, retire and play golf every day. That is not me, although I have made no secret that I enjoy playing disc golf. My kids all know that on road trips we often would “find” a disc golf course near the highway that we could stop at and stretch our legs and play a few baskets. In college, way back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I played with friends as a diversion–the object being to hit, with a frisbee, pre-selected landmarks like dorm walls and trees on campus.
I read an article this summer attesting to the best disc golf courses not just in America but in the world. Well, I wondered if I had ever played any of them. In a recent drive up to Rhode Island I was able to tackle the top course in the world with one of my kids; I also found out that I live near the #9 course in the world.
Here are the article’s current top 10 that I played in 2021:
1. Maple Hill in Leicester, Massachusetts
My favorite course has to be the number one course, Maple Hill. My son paid for the round and we played the old glory course following the red, white and blue tee pads. It was challenging; I did lose one disc on the course, not in the many water opportunities to lose it but in the pine trees.
I was able to play Maple hill twice this year on two separate trips, one with my son, and one with my wife where I played just the red (or easiest course layout) tees. Both were great experiences and I can see, based on my travels, why this is the number one course. It has water, hills, clear direction between holes and is well maintained. I have not felt rushed or pushed to play on this course due to their reservation system. The pro shop was great and they were able to quickly retrieve my disc that I lost in August.
If you play disc golf and are in Massachusetts, it is well worth taking the trip over to play. Playing in mid-October, we were able to experience all of the colors. We had a perfect day to see the reflections off of the ponds and just enjoy the hike through the woods.
7. The Diavolo Disc Golf Course at New Hope Park in Cary, North Carolina
It was pouring rain on me when I ended my round in Cary, NC. This course is free and open to the public to play. Some of the holes were bunched up, but since I was alone, I was able to play quickly and go around any groups.
This is a beautifully maintained course and it was also diverse and challenging. Although I lost a disc here to the water, the course was well marked. It was easy to find the holes, always a good sign for me of the quality of the course.
9. Idlewild in Burlington, Kentucky
I have played this course several times over the years, and it is challenging for someone with my talent (or lack of talent…). The opening tee shot is over 600 feet, which is long, as I can throw about 200 feet on a good day. With Idlewild it is hard not to play all 24 baskets and spend about 3 hours playing this course.
Now that I have read the article and played the courses, I agree with the ranking I have seen. My criteria for the best courses include:
- Fun and challenging.
- Hills so I can have a beautiful long downhill shot.
- Trees for shade, and generally I like wooded areas.
- Open sections so I can find my discs.
- Options for experienced and beginners on the same course.
- I prefer a free course but will pay for a well-maintained challenging course.
All told I have played this year in seven states (MA, RI, NC, KY, IN, AR, MI). A good year. I only lost a few discs and have come away with uniformly good impressions not just of the ratings supplied on the courses but how friendly everyone is on the disc golf course.
Disc golf is better with someone. A friend of mine plays the local courses with me near where I live and I have played with two of my kids this summer and all of them in the past. My wife has joined me for a round or two even though it is not as enjoyable for her as it is for me. My future son-in-law enjoys playing and recently received new discs that should improve his game and make it so I cannot beat any of my kids and their spouses.
Take a look at the listing of courses on the way and stop and enjoy a new course. I have a few more stops to make along the way for my next adventure thanks to the article, and I will look forward to playing at some of the best disc golf courses in North American.
The only ace I have ever made was that course in Michigan, and that was only because the basket was 4 feet from the tee pad and no directions were given.
I was able to play rounds with my wife, my friends, two of my kids and my future son-in-law and his grandfather as well as with my father-in-law and my wife’s siblings. My mom joined me on one of the courses in Arkansas, so it has been a family fun experience.
I made it a point to stop at the BC3 Disc golf course (#47 on the top 100 listing) and was not disappointed. They even had a large tool that could be used to pull discs out of the water. I did not need it, but it was nice to see the tool. The course itself was hard to find on some back roads. I had the course to myself and enjoyed the layout.
I have played some really good tee shots, including one that landed next to the basket in Nashville, IN. It would have sailed past, except I hit a tree and it landed within a foot of the basket.
I won’t talk about my poorly thrown shots. I need some more practice sessions.
I played on one island, Martha’s Vineyard, and could have played on Mackinac Island except they had bad reviews. Besides, we had other fun activities planned for that adventure.
I enjoyed playing Martha’s Vineyard’s disc golf course. Yes—I placed a couple of discs in my back pack before leaving for the island so I could play during my day on Martha’s Vineyard.
I turned a wedding dress shopping day into a disc golf day with my future son-in-law and his grandfather.
In addition to the courses above, this summer found me playing out of state at:
Slater Park in Rhode Island
Eager Beaver at Elon Park, North Carolina
- A few former golf courses:
- North Cove Disc Golf, Marion, NC — a really nice course in the mountains on a former ball golf course. It was misting and the course was wet, but it was a fun course to play. I did have the course to myself as the weather did not encourage the locals to come out to play. Fortunately, the course was well marked and I only got turned around once looking for the tee box. The last hole (#18) was memorable as you throw to the roaring creek and then across the creek to the basket. I was fortunate that I cannot throw in one shot all the way to the creek, so laying up was not an issue.
Branch wood DGC, Arkansas, is near my mom’s house and is on a former 9-hole ball golf course that I have played with others in the past. I lost a disc in the woods here, and was able to turn in someone else’s disc that I found in looking for mine. It is a long course; the people playing appeared to really like the course.
No bike rides in this posting. I have been riding, just not while playing disc golf!
Day Tripping Mackinac Island
A few years ago, my wife and I biked on Washington Island in Wisconsin. This year, we biked Mackinac Island. If you have not biked on an Island, even better an island without any cars, it is a fun treat. We did not take our bikes to Mackinac Island as we thought we would have a better time with rental bikes for just a half day of riding. It was a good choice for us.
Every journey to the Island involves a boat ride. We had an enjoyable ride and were dressed for the cool weather on the lake. In the past we have had to purchase sweatshirts after arriving on the island, so we knew what to expect and were prepared for the winds on a cool northern Michigan day in the middle of summer.
Our first stop in town was renting some bikes and getting them set for the exploration. It was cool when we arrived, but the day warmed up and was enjoyable. We were happy they included water bottles and helmets with the bike rentals along with a good map of the island for biking.
We would have circumnavigated the island, except a part was closed for repairs. We did get as far both ways as we could. We also rode on the interior of the island, more akin to hiking or mountain bike trails that made us happier to have rented the island bikes.
Our first ride was to Arch Rock as the road was closed after this point. We decided to get off the bikes and climb to the top of the rock up several stairs.
When we got back to the bikes, we noted that from the road we also had a great view up to the Arch Rock formation.
After viewing Arch Rock from above and below, we biked over to the British Landing, an easy ride on Lake Shore Boulevard, State Highway M-185, that wraps around the entire island. This was the other road closure point, preventing us from the 8-mile loop on M-185.
With the road construction and after exploring the British Landing, we needed to find out where we wanted to go. We decided to bike the interior of the island. We headed to the interior of the Island from the center of town as the Landing Road posted no bikes (my guess is the hill is too steep for most bikers). From the center of town, we biked past the Grand Hotel and the Fort ending on Arch Rock trail. We followed the Arch Rock trail toward the airport where we saw the crack in the Island and then back to town for lunch and a change of pace to walking.
Our walking tour was after lunch. The whole town was in full bloom and it was good seeing how many other people were out enjoying the island.
All in all, we saw a lot on the island. I had not recalled seeing the miniature Statue of Liberty on the island. It has been there since before I was born, so it must have been present. We had all been to the island before and were amazed at how full the shops were in summer.
We have spent the night on the island and it is worth the experience. The island has a different feeling once the last ferry boat leaves. A one-day visit was all we needed to get refreshed and enjoy the beautiful island between Michigan’s two peninsulas. After a perfect day exploring the island, we got back on the boat for the lake crossing.
A family bike ride on a vacation island is not a race; the pace is designed to take in all of the scenery that I would not normally see on some of my rides. As I look back to my normal routes, this was by far the prettiest of the summer, being surrounded by the Great Lakes and the view of the Mackinaw Bridge.
We brought back fudge, still the best I have tasted since I remember going to the island to eat fudge as a kid.
We sent a picture of the fort to our oldest as the memory of “shooting” off a cannon at the fort would still be a pleasant memory. They now offer, for a fee, the ability to load and fire the cannon. We did not visit inside the fort as we had done so many times before.
Prelude to a Proposal
We went out to see our daughter in North Carolina. We were supposed to get together with her and her boyfriend earlier but COVID got in the way. This was the next best opportunity for all of us.
One of the reasons for the visit was so her boyfriend could ask my permission to ask her for her hand in marriage. My job, knowing what was coming, was to find out if he will take care of my daughter and that he is the man to do it. Spoiler alert—I gave my blessing and I trust the proposal will have occurred by the time this is published. We did manage a 9-mile hike in the South Mountain State Park in North Carolina. We began hiking together on the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail and really enjoyed the 80 foot high waterfall. The weather was perfect and we had a good view of the falls from the trail.
Other fun On our hike with my prospective son-in-law, we were talking and having fun and not paying attention to a map. As a result we went on the Saddleback equestrian trail.
When we had to take off our shoes and socks to wade across the river as no bridge could be found up and down the river bank, we should have turned around, except we were already 6 miles into our hike. No bridge, no big deal in August. But when the river is running in the spring it is a bigger deal. Here is the trail description from the website—wish I had read it prior to setting off: “The trail crosses the Jacob Fork River and ascends to Raven Rock Trail. This narrow trail is single track for horseback riders.”
We were able to visit some friends of ours in South Carolina, just south of the boarder. The visit was fun, and as he is a bee keeper we were able to enjoy local honey. They raise bees on their property and it is quite the operation. Check out his site: https://bigbeedaddy.blog/blog-feed/
Next time, read the guide prior to setting off on the hike! Review and follow a planned hiking route.
Staying at a hotel for the first time in a while was a good experience. We had contactless check in and out and my smartphone served as our key. It was simple. Even breakfast was a go bag and it was easy for us to move about. People were enjoying the pool and the lobby as well.
Being ready to answer a question makes you a poor conversationalist. A 9-mile hike with getting to know a prospective son-in-law makes me a worse communicator. I appreciate his respect for me and my daughter that he wanted to ask, and I am excited to welcome him to our family.
No bike rides on this trip. The bike is all tuned up and ready to go once the weather cooperates.