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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.  

Yes–We did the whole hike to Rainbow Falls and then a little more. We did not hike to Mt. LeConte

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.

Momma Bear and Cubs

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

Springmaid Mountain the morning of the 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.

Other fun:

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.

Walking the Charlotte Greenway

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.    

Other walks:

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.

Boston walking:

I also enjoyed a long walk to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox with family. Always a good walk from the train station.

Lessons learned
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.

Other Fun

Going to a baseball game with our grandchild at the beginning of the baseball season in Colorado.

First baseball game

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. 

Lessons learned:

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.

Other fun:

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.

Best Tee Shot of the year for me

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.

Ride to Arch Rock

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.  

On the boat ride back from the Island

Lessons learned:

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.

Other fun:

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.

No cars and a lot of fun biking the Island

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/

Lessons learned:

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.

Happy Holiday from Shawnee State Park

The weather outside was not too frightful. We decided we would spend a few days at the end of December hiking in Shawnee State Park. The park is next to Shawnee State Forest located at the eastern edge of Ohio at the beginning of the Appalachian Mountains.

During Covid-19 as our traveling has been limited. A close by state park with over 60 miles of hiking trails sounded to us like just what we needed. So we packed up the car and headed to the hills.

I have long defined vacation as doing something different. This was a wonderful getaway. Hiking out in the woods is not our normal walk around the block.

The drive to the park was pleasant and it had snowed in Ohio right before Christmas. No snow where we live, but as we got closer to the Appalachian Mountains, more snow and colder weather were evident. We were only at over 600 feet above sea level at the start of our hikes and did make it over 1,000 feet above sea level on occasion. Ohio’s highest point is 1,550 feet above sea level so we were not at the peak in Ohio hiking on this trip.

We had several pleasant hikes in the State Forest and the State Park. All of the trails were well marked and the paths easy to follow. The weather was close to freezing. At times we wished it was below freezing because the paths were muddy, especially dangerous when you are not paying attention to the fallen leaves on downhill trails. We did fall once and it was no big deal. We were careful.

I think our favorite hike was the hike around the lake. We had great views and yes, part of the lake was frozen. This was a good all day hike. We even stopped for lunch (that we carried in) and enjoyed the scenery.

We started our adventure with the simple lookout trail that is near the lodge. It was an easy mile or so hike.

The hiking trails and the entrance to both the State Park and Forest were free. We hiked several miles in the park. The long hike was too long for our visit in December and will have to wait for another time. We did hike several trails and see the disk golf course, which looks very challenging. The trails benefited from the CCC workers and they did good work in this park. It is amazing to me that after so much time the work that was done is still in use and serviceable.

The lodge inside the park was richly decorated for the season and the rooms were pleasant. We enjoyed the more than 50 Christmas trees on display inside the lodge. The local garden clubs assist with the decorating and it either took a lot of people or a lot of time.

Other Fun We managed to have a wonderful shake at the Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio. We drove by on the way to the park and could not resist the building on the way back.

I will be excited when the sign on the door no longer requires a mask inside. It was not an issue, just saying, like the rest of America is saying, let’s get this COVID-19 behind us and move on with life.

Lessons learned

Go out and do something different. People were at the parks. Not too many on the trails with us as it was cold. We were happy to see others out enjoying the Lodge, and I am sure the employees were as well. We felt like we were away and yet we had not gone too far.

Walking into the Past at Shaker Village

A fun get away for us, not involving a plane, train or even a bike, was a visit to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.

Main Street

Each day we walked along the main street from our East Family dwelling to the Trustees’ office. As we walked the former highway, we looked back at what life was like for the inhabitants at the time and what life is like now in the Shaker Village.

Each building was equal reflecting one of the primary values of the society that all, male and female, regardless of race, are equal with each other. All of the main buildings had two doors and sets of stairs for the separation of the sexes even though they were living in the same house. One side of the buildings were designated for the males and the other for the females. Both were under the same roof, equal and not together. Anything one had, the other did, down to the square feet of each room and the furnishings.  

Our group of friends decided that the Shaker Village would be the place to gather and celebrate life.

One of our highlights was the Hard Cider Bash put on by the Village. It was a lively time in the old barn on the property. We enjoyed the band and the food. Some of the offerings were local dishes and most of the food was from the area. I had never heard of or seen Kentucky Burgoo prior to the bash. Many of my friends really enjoyed it. The hard cider was not all that great for my tastes. My friends did find several beverages they liked.

We walked the grounds of the village. When it was thriving, and the village was thriving at one time, it was hard work farming and keeping men and women apart all while making the village profitable. The grounds are very attractive; we enjoyed our hikes around the grounds.

Walking in the village we learned about how the Shakers lived and worked. It was a fascinating tour. Unfortunately for us, no crafts or displays were in operation due to Covid-19. We still had a great time exploring. I would like to have learned how they made the stone walls.

Our hike on the morning of the hard cider bash led us to the barn for our evening activity. We had fun walking with friends and taking a pleasant walking tour for several miles along the property.

We did manage to have good food and we got into the music on the lawn near the restaurant. We ate at the trustee’s Office. All of the settings were well done and the meals were locally sourced. The spiral staircase in the main dining area was really well done and an example of the skill their craftsmen employed.

We stayed at the East Family Dwelling. That building was over 200 years old and very well built. I liked the craftsmanship.

Lessons learned

The Shakers were a group committed to their ideals and had several things going for them. They did not survive because their utopian society was an idea humans can never put into practice. All utopian societies have succumbed to similar fates as we are all human.

The Shakers were unable to adapt their strict belief system as society changed and opportunities for work grew.  How different will we look 20 years from now looking back on the things we do, like wearing masks while walking on a main street and other odd Covid practices? No bike riding on this trip. We had plenty of hiking and exploring as well as learning some history.