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If you had to guess…which city has the World Chess Hall of Fame?
b. New York City (USA)
c. St. Louis, Missouri (USA)
d. Oslo (Norway)
e. Brussels (Belgium)
Okay—I could go on with cities, such as London or Tokyo but the correct answer is St. Louis, Missouri. I was in St. Louis because my brother-in-law called and invited us to dinner. Not unusual, except he lives 350 miles away from us. We decided to go, leaving on a Thursday (I do not have to ask for time off!) so we could be ready for a dinner on Friday night with the family. Christmas time with family is great and we always are doing things, staying busy.
Even if you do not play chess, a visit to the World Chess Hall of Fame is worthwhile. I enjoyed walking around the exhibits and taking advantage of their gift shop. A chess club is across the street and, unfortunately, I did not have a chance to visit. I am not very good, so it is probably just as well.
We were able to stay at the Soulard Little School & Gym Airbnb. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the area of St. Louis. The location is perfect, with several local St. Louis attractions nearby.
We enjoy going out to dinner and it was a nice night out enjoying our dinner on “the Hill” in St. Louis after we arrived on Thursday. We surprised the family on Friday night when everyone else arrived at the Christmas party. Unfortunately, the Christmas party turned into a tornado watch party in the lower level due to the changing weather. We are from Kentucky and that Friday evening Kentucky was devastated by a tornado from the same storm. We are fortunate to have avoided any issues and our hearts go out to those hurt by the tragedy.
On Friday, prior to the party, we had the chance to play some disc golf at the local Willmore Park in St. Louis and visit the World Chess Hall of Fame.
Call up someone you know and invite them over. When my kids were here for Thanksgiving, their favorite question was how to meet people. You have to go out to events and put on a brave face. My brother-in law now has me thinking, who should we be inviting over to spend time with us?
We were able to run in the Soulard neighborhood and discovered several well-maintained homes and one with a restored car in front.
We hosted the family for Thanksgiving and did a family turkey run on a cold, wet Thursday morning The together time was fun and the run was a challenge because of the changing weather.
No family get together is complete without a disc golf outing. One of my sons had the best score.
We also had four generations of family together. That is a fun experience for all. Although I am not sure the youngest will remember the experience except with a picture like this one.
When my kids were little, I made up a character to be an example in stories. His name was Fred McGurk. When running and walking in St. Louis we were happy to see the sign for McGurks. I am sure his brother is Fred. My sister-in-law tells me it is a good place and has great music.
No bike rides on this short trip to town for a Christmas party.
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.
Last year I participated in the virtual Big Ten, 10K run. This year we planned a trip to Michigan that coincided with the week for the same virtual run and one of my kids suggested I run on the campus of Michigan State. It was a great idea and allowed me to celebrate my 40th anniversary of graduating from Michigan State University.
The focus of the travel was spending time with family, at a family cabin we were at last in 2004 with our kids. It was very relaxing to be on the water and go kayaking on the lake before or after the speed boat time.
We did get into town and visited Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery and did some bike riding on the trails near Traverse City. The weather was summer perfect and we enjoyed the time with family.
After the family time we took a few days for ourselves in Ludington riding bikes on the local bike trail and playing some disc golf as well as walking along the beach. We really enjoyed our bike ride on the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail State Park. Quite a mouthful of a name and a very pretty ride. This is a linear state park, meaning it is just the 22-mile trail and no camping or other items that may be associated with state parks.
Ludington was a town I went to as a kid to celebrate my birthday over Memorial Day for several years. I remember they always had a parade and the sand dunes were fun to climb. We enjoyed walking around the town and the free concert in town the Saturday we arrived.
I met up with some of my college friends and their wives in Michigan at the location where my grandparents had their 50th wedding anniversary. The place has changed ownership and is now a restaurant, but it was on the same “ball” golf course.
We were able to join in with my friends and see Chicago in concert at what we called Pine Knob as kids. The outdoor music concert in the DTE Energy Music Center was fun and the first concert I had been to since COVID started.
After our bike ride, we were able to play disc golf on the Hart Hydro course in Heart, Michigan. We did not find all of the holes correctly but had a good time playing this pretty well marked course. My wife and I both threw an Ace on a hole playing disc golf in a poorly marked, but entertaining course in Ludington, Michigan.
Enjoy the ride; you never know what will happen. We went on the Heart trail, and after over 30 miles of riding we were told a tree was down on the path. We were fortunate the winds did not pick a time when anyone was walking or riding by at the time it fell. It was odd to have to lift our bikes to get back on the path. We are always thankful to return safely.
Know what you want and pursue that path. I was able to go disc golfing after playing “ball” golf with my relatives. I asked if they would play disc golf with me and to my surprise they agreed. We had a fun time on a challenging course for all of us playing disc golf in Michigan. I plan to play disc golf much more than I ever plan to play “ball” golf.
Enjoy the time, be friendly and check the store hours. We biked on the Heart trail; prior to our visit we read about being sure to stop for ice cream at the Country Dairy about ½ way along the trail. They are not open on Sundays. As we happened along, we met a person who could only be an owner or a manager. She let us in to purchase some delicious ice cream as they were planning for a private party that Sunday. When getting back home and looking at the website, it was clear they are not open on Sundays.
Last year one of our sons ran the flying pig marathon and I thought based on running a triathlon with him that I could run the half-marathon as well with him (okay—he could wait for me at the finish line). I joined a running group and began a training program in January 2020, in part so I could finish my planned 5k triathlon actually running the whole time.
The group I joined was motivational for me. I met several runners who ran at my pace; although they had more experience, we were all training for the same goals. Part of the training program was to run the frozen 5k in February and in March we were scheduled to run the Heart mini marathon (a 15k).
The global pandemic had some other ideas for group events and all of the events scheduled for me became virtual as did my running group. Without the training program I would not have contemplated or finished the now virtual runs that I have completed.
As much as I am happy to have completed these runs, I know that it would have been much more fun with the crowd. I ran all of these events in my neighborhood with limited running area; running the same loop can get challenging. Fortunately for me, my wife came out and cheered me on and provided water about every 20-30 minutes as I made another loop. She even wrote with sidewalk chalk some congratulatory notes.
My times are nothing to brag about, but I am pleased with my results. Each week in the training program I would say, this is the farthest I have ever run. Now that I have completed a half-marathon, I think a 10K is a good distance for me.
You still have to run to participate in a virtual running event.
Heart Mini: 15k
Flying Pig half Marathon
Big 10, 10k for Michigan State University
I have been enjoying running. As the gyms were closed, this was a great way to stay in shape and meet some of my neighbors. Running with others is so much easier the running solo. I will look forward to being in a group if we can figure out how to do it safely.
Walk and warm up. Who cares how fast? My goal was to finish the half marathon.
No bike riding discussed in this blog. I am now able to bike one day and run another day. This has been a good mix as the weather has warmed up and it is better on a bike in the heat, at least for me, than running. I am sure running will pick up in the fall again.
We never know where the next turn will take us. A week after my travel to California, the entire country was shut down due to Covid-19. On the plane ride home, a lady sat next to me with a mask on and said she did not want to catch anything prior to visiting her relatives. Now we are all wearing masks to go out in public. Who would have thought the bank would want to have customers wear a mask to enter the building?
I received an email from BetterUp! the coaching service that my company employed as I was transitioning from working to retirement. I have previously written about my photo shoot and that fun experience. This time, I was asked to speak on a panel to discuss my experiences with coaching for one of their conferences.
Of course I went. It was a chance to visit with family and connect with some old friends, including my coach Rob, and I was excited to make several new friends including my fellow panelists.
I knew this conference would be different from other I attended. The head of the company began on Monday night by insisting we refrain from shaking hands and just bumping elbows.
Monday, I was able to go to lunch with my youngest and spend some time prior to the conference kick off.
At the conference, I met the other speakers in the morning to go over our parts. What a great group of people. I was pleased to be included in the group. Our BetterUp! representative was Damian Vaughn, a former NFL player. What a supper nice guy to have as a moderator and facilitator for our part of the program.
The Claremont Club and Spa Berkeley we were staying at for the conference was really a treat. I loved the view from the room overlooking the bay.
When I say the hotel was top notch, the California primary election was on Tuesday and Michael Bloomberg who was a candidate (and is a billionaire) was staying at our hotel.
As part of my running program, I was out of town and missed the group run, so I took the opportunity to run into the campus at UC Berkley. The campus was full of students , but I was not the only older man running through campus. I assume the others were local residents or professors. The hotel had a running route that you can listen to while it gives directions and points out some of the features on campus which was a fun way to run around town.
I got to have Leslie Odom, Jr. sign a copy of his book “Failing Up” back stage after hearing him speak and sing for us. He is super guy and easy to speak with. I was happy BetterUp had him at the end of the program. It was well worth sticking around to hear him speak and sing. I recently had the chance (thank you Disney + and the Berns) to see Hamilton with Leslie playing Burr. It put it all together for me. The book was good; one of my kids also read it and enjoyed it. Take a chance and read it too.
Rob (my BetterUp! coach) took me for a hike to the Siesta Valley Recreation Area near the hotel and near where he grew up. We had a great view of San Francisco and walk around the area.
Take opportunities when you can. I did not know that a week after my return home, St. Patrick ’s Day, would be the day we would go into what I would call seclusion and the travel industry would be shutting down for a while.
I enjoy speaking with others about my experiences, like all of us; it is nice to have others care.
Hiring a coach to assist you in life is a good deal; it really makes a difference. A coach will get you to where you are going faster and on target. My journey in retirement is richer because I was coachable. I hope you are coachable as well.
No bike riding on this trip. I will get the bike out of the basement in the spring.
I enjoyed our travels last year to Bardstown so much that I suggested that we all travel to Louisville as a group. Like at the office, when you make a suggestion, you often have to carry out the implementation. At first I thought just the guys would want to go.
We soon found out that the entire group was interested in traveling to Louisville. Some in our group, including me, had been before and even had kids attend the University. This was a first-time visit for some of the group. I had not put together a travel itinerary for a group of friends before, so I went to some blog posts and pulled out a few ideas. It turned out wonderful. It was not as hard as I thought, and my friends all helped with some suggestions of their own.
We began our tour of Louisville by getting one of the rare treats, a bourbon milk shake from Royal’s Hot Chicken. The place was packed near noon and we could see why; the chicken delicious and so were the milkshakes. I had a smooth tasting, cold milk shake that hit the spot with my hot chicken tenders. I was interested that they put a test tube filled with bourbon in the glass along with a spoon and a big straw. This allowed me and the others with the bourbon shooter to add the bourbon as we went. The bourbon in the milkshake was a good combination and one I will look for again.
After a satisfying lunch we had tickets to Angel’s Envy Distillery, a few short blocks away from Royal’s.
We were impressed with Angel’s Envy and the tour. They have their own unique take on emptying the bourbon into other spirit containers, including port wine barrels. The distillery was clean and, for an old factory, amazingly modern. The distillery has done a good job in laying out their process.
Taking risks and being bold was a good combination for the taste in my opinion and the opinion of others. We did enjoy the tour guide, the general tour and the product. I found the flavor enhanced by the re-barreling process that is unique for them.
After a wonderful dinner out at Jack Fry’s, where the service was great for our party of 8 and we enjoyed very good cooking and a piano player setting the mood, we went to our B&B to dream about our next day’s tour. We enjoyed the charm and warmth provided at the DuPont Mansion B&B in Louisville. We were able to sit in the parlor and chat or play games. The breakfasts were very tasty as were the cookies when we got back at night.
Since we had a large group, I was interested in allowing us to explore the city as well as see the sights together and on our own, depending on what we liked to do. Some of us purchased the Museum Center (six in one) tickets. I thought it was a great value. Our group made it to these sites: Frazier History Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Muhammad Ali Center, and Peerless Distilling Co.
I spent the most time in the Frazier History Museum; they were showing a bourbon exhibit with the history and shaping of bourbon in America, especially Kentucky.
Being a baseball fan, we noticed several improvements at the Louisville Slugger museum over our last visit about 5 years earlier. The tour was on point and ran us through their bat making facility, starting with the forest and the trees and how they work on growing and identifying trees.
The Slugger Museum did a good job of explaining the process of bat making and letting us feel the product in various stages. I am still in awe of holding a major league bat that could be used in a game (I hope so!) later this year.
Several in our group went to the Muhammad Ali Center and were impressed by the presentation in the museum and the life story and values of this great fighter. This is a stop we will need to go back to and experience. We foolishly thought that we could do a museum in about 30 minutes and then we were drawn into the stories setup inside and spent longer at each stop.
The surprising stop for me was the Peerless Distilling Company. It does not look like much from the outside and is in an old building.
The product was very good and we came away from our tour with a favorable impression of their product and the way this craft maker distills their bourbon. We enjoyed the tour and our tour guide. Peerless uses a sweet mash and they would not share the mash percentages, the corn, rye or wheat, unlike other tours we have been on before.
Peerless takes pride in their heritage as an old line (placed in barrels beginning in 1889) Kentucky distilling company. They have modeled their bottle and the re-start of this distillery on the original distilling company. The history was a good story and made the tour worthwhile to hear.
The distilling process and the inside of the building is clean and new in appearance. We did not find a rundown bottler but an up to date modern facility with a good product to sell.
We were unable to tour the Even Williams shop, although we stopped in for a visit to the gift shop. Several in our group knew what they liked and found it in the shop.
Our second dinner out at RYEs was a bigger party for us, with 10 at the table we had the best waitress and service. The food was delicious and I would say you should try it out for yourself. A long time ago, I waited on tables and discovered that big parties like a group of 10 friends, was a big pain to wait on. No one is ready and then everyone is ready. This restaurant must do a great job training their staff because we had no hassles and excellent service.
On our way out of town, the day after Leap Day, we visited the historic Brown Hotel, a landmark in Louisville.
The hotel is known for their grand style and inventing a unique Kentucky dish called the Hot Brown. I thought I had had hot brown before that day, and I now know that it was a poor imitation of the real thing.
Everyone at the table ordered the hot brown and we all loved it!
This is a hotel that properly prides itself on service and satisfaction. We were happy with the meal, our service and the ambiance. We were visiting on a Sunday and the place was packed. We had the feeling that we were special, just because we showed up and enjoyed a hearty meal.
After the hot brown at the Brown Hotel, we needed a walk. We had planned a walk to Indiana on the Big 4 Bridge over the Ohio River. We picked the perfect day, the sun was out and the weather was a hint of early spring.
On the first of February I ran the “Frozen 5k” and my son and his friends ran the “Frozen 10k.” This event is put on by our local minor league ice hockey team, the Cincinnati Cyclones. They were kind enough to open their arena prior to the race for us to stay warm and get ready for the event.
It was cold (about 36 degrees when we started) in the morning, not as cold as it could be with the historic average of 23 on February 1 in Cincinnati. My running group suggested that we sign up for several races or running events to get use to running in large events. The run was sold out with about 2,200 runners.
This was my best run (I finished in 32 minutes and 2 seconds), as I ran the whole 5k instead of my unusual running and walking and then running some more. I managed to finish faster than my son and his friends and was able to see them cross the finish line. Yes—they ran twice as far as I did and I am twice their age.
Always plan ahead. A plan can change, but as we saw with Evan Williams, we do not always get to visit a place without planning ahead for a limited tour.
Take advantage of the local opportunities. We could have gone almost anywhere with our group. A quick ride down the road was like being a world away.
No bike riding on this trip. I will get the bike out of the basement in the spring.
Before Christmas, I was able to watch the New England Patriots with Tom Brady as quarterback playing the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati. I shared that I thought it may be the last time we see Tom Brady in person in a Patriots uniform and as events unfolded, we were correct. I thought he would retire.
My son joined me for a “fun run” in Northern Kentucky put on by the Arthritis Foundation. The Jingle Bell 5k Run was fun and a challenge (for me). My son ran with me the whole time giving me moral support and slowing down his pace for mine. One of the pictures he took while running backwards.
After a Christmas Eve church service we had a lovely Christmas day dinner in downtown Cincinnati, complete with a walk around town with wonderful December weather.
On Boxing Day I flew to California to enjoy the continued nice weather and live out my desire to spend time with family and friends. Our youngest lives in San Jose and we had a great visit. Besides spending time together, watching the MSU Spartans win a bowl game on TV and seeing the latest Star Wars movie, just spending time together was the highlight. We also had a day in San Francisco where we toured Golden Gate Park, visiting the California Academy of Sciences and enjoying the wonderful late December day. We ended up at Ghiradelli Square for some ice cream and good memories.
Just being together is enough. Listening and respect is also good. I love all our kids!
I did get in my running preparation while visiting prior to joining the running club for the Flying Pig half marathon I plan to run virtually in May of 2020. No bike riding on this adventure.
With Covid-19 disrupting everything, I am home for a while and need to catch up on my blog posts starting with Christmas in San Francisco. I thought I would start out of order and share that I got back from my last travel adventure in early March and just like all of you, all of my activities have been cancelled.
One of the things I learned was the phrase “too much husband and not enough income” describing the now retired husband. I am now at home and my wife is working part time outside of the home. It is a balancing act. One each has to make adjustments for and with each other. My habits changed as full time employment ended at the office and part time travel and teaching began. I was fortunate to have a coach work with me on this transition, more on that at another time.
Many of us are now faced with no travel and life socially distanced even from their neighbors. I am looking forward to getting back into my routine and meeting in person with my friends.
Here are the things I had to start doing to keep going when I stopped going into the office daily:
- Walking daily for at least a mile with my wife. This habit, which we enjoy even in the winter, keeps us together and active.
- Intentionally calling, emailing and setting up meetings with friends and family.
- We started a group we call First Friday Friends. We have traveled with this group, and the consistent monthly interactions have been great.
- A life lesson I heard about and then experienced was that my work friends said, as I did when others left, that they would keep in touch. The reality is they are busy and the demands or bonds that previously brought us together are not present any longer.
- I needed reach out to maintain friendships and connections and you will as well.
- Find a routine: Prior to the staying at home notices we now are all under, I had a set routine on when to go to bed, get up and what I was planning to do daily. I went so far as to schedule out a day, week and month so I knew what was coming and had events to look forward to each day. All plans change as events happen. I was fortunate to have a plan to change. My lesson learned was having a plan to change was better than no plan to begin with.
- I chose to get up and go out most days—playing racquetball with friends, teaching indoor biking, working out and swimming at my local gym, now closed until at least the first of April, 2020. The consistency of a group I was accountable to and for kept me active and engaged in life. It was the same thing until a week ago with my running group.
- Challenge yourself and live your values. One of the coaching benefits was the exploration of values and how to live those out. My frequent visits to family, friends and travels are a part of me living my values of family and friendship. I have also taken on some new challenges, starting running at the age of 60 and participating in running races for the first time in my life.
Here is an example: I joined a running group in January (first run on January 2) and enjoyed running with the group from Tri-State Running Company, a local shoe store in Kentucky. My inspiration for joining this group came from reading the book by Peter Sagal, “The Incomplete Book of Running” where he advises readers to not run alone. I also want to improve my weakest link in the triathlon, running, in hopes to compete in the event again with my son this July. Last year, I walked much more than I ran, so I thought I should keep up the running, at least until July.
So, I joined the running group and have enjoyed the comradery. In fact, the group is so large, I could join the 11:15 pace group for the half marathon.
If you do not know (and I did not a year ago) this is a slow pace, and we have more than a dozen dedicated runners who are self-selecting to train at this pace. I picked the half marathon because they did not offer a 10K training program. Now I have done several runs more than a 10k so I think it was the right call.
I just completed, as a virtual run, the Heart Mini Marathon Cincinnati. I did the 15k run that was scheduled for this weekend and was cancelled. It was fun as I had the support from my wife while I ran the 2.25 mile loop in the neighborhood. The 15k I found out is 9.321 miles.
Keep safe and healthy. I will have more coming soon on my recent travel adventures. Happy to assist with tips on working from home or places to visit. My only bike riding has been at the gym or in my basement. Warmer weather soon and I will be out riding again.