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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!

Colorado Road Trip

We decided to skip the airlines and take a Christmas Road trip at the end of the year so we could enjoy being grandparents in Colorado for Christmas and New Year’s.  This trip was the longest driving vacation we have taken in a while, almost 3,000 miles by the time the trip was over.

With a grandson in Colorado, Christmas and New Year’s together sounded fun. One of my goals in retirement is to spend time with family and friends. With an event like a baby’s first Christmas and New Year’s, we could not resist taking a road trip. We monitored the driving weather and thought we could make it without issue, so we set out to drive.

We were also able to make a few stops along the way; it is important to have small stops to break up a long road trip. Our stops included seeing my in-laws, my mom, and friends.

Proud Grandparents!

Christmas is best enjoyed with little kids. Our grandson made it special for us and we were so happy to be there with him.

Initially, we were worried about Colorado snow. We did not have any driving issues with snow on our way to or from Colorado. It did snow when we were in Colorado, and it made it fun to play outside.

The Colorado Springs snow did not last long, and we managed several walks and hikes in the sunshine and cooler temperatures.

Playing inside when the weather was cold outside was enjoyable, since as grandparents we are obligated to spoil our grandson.

Other Fun

On the return journey we spent the night in Wichita, Kansas. As you drive through it, most of Kansas is empty fields and straight highways. We found our night in Wichita to be fun and the walk around downtown was neat to see. We saw most of the sights in the Veterans Memorial Park and appreciated the rich history on display there.

We did not know about the Keeper of the Plains prior to our stumbling onto it on our hike in Wichita. You can see the Keeper of the Plains where the big and little Arkansas river join near downtown. We enjoyed our hike around the town, and this was one of the main attractions.

Driving in a January, we expected some weather-related issues. We were chased by a snow storm making its way to the east while driving at the end of our trip near Nashville. Our final stop was a visit with a college buddy who called us as we were a few hours away and warned us about pending snow fall. We enjoyed a few hours at his house, went for a walk and visited and decided to drive home rather than stick around for the almost half foot of snow that fell later that evening.

Playing disc golf in Colorado with the family was a good time and we all had fun on the 9-hole course. Our grandson got to swing which made him happy!

I was able to take my mom out to dinner for her birthday, okay, a few days early. It was great to see family and friends along the way to and from our house. I need to remember to get out and see the world, connect with others and be present.

No bike rides in Colorado on this trip.

Charlotte Greenway–on a warm fall day

Virtual Runs Made Real

I began training in 2022 for all of the runs (“races”) that I did virtually in 2020. I wrote about my training for the Cincinnati Flying Pig half-marathon in 2020 and then, due to COVID, running virtually (but still running) in my neighborhood. I am thankful that it was an option. However, running loops in my neighborhood does not compare to running an in-person race, so I was determined to run the formerly virtual events in person.

I ran a test in-person Flying Pig 5k in October of 2021. After participating in that event, I thought it was a safe bet that all runs in 2022 would be in-person. I knew that with training, I could run all of the events that were virtual in 2020 as in-person runs. So, I signed up for the training program I began in 2020.

2022 Training:

The winter of 2022 was cold as I prepared for my in-person half marathon, and I was again thankful for the support of a training group.

Doing any activity with others is motivating and rewarding. As Shawn Achor wrote in the book Big Potential: “If you look at a hill alone, your brain perceives it at 20% steeper than if you are standing three feet from a friend. Our perception of challenge literally transforms when we include others in our pursuit of happiness and success.”

A big thank you to my training buddies, my coach Karen and the Tri-State Running Company Shoe stores for getting me ready to run the half marathon. We spent quality time running in the dark and on cold mornings preparing for all of my upcoming events.

The virtual runs that I wanted to complete were the Heart Mini (a 15k run), the half marathon (a 13.1-mile run) and the Big Ten Network 10k run. My training group was dedicated to training for the Cincinnati Flying Pig half marathon on May 1.   

The training surprise for me was that the only event from the 2020 training plan I did in-person was postponed 3 weeks in 2022 as the weather was too cold and “frozen” on the planned race day in early February. The Frozen 5k put on by the Cincinnati Cyclones  originally fit in nicely to our training program. The revised event pushed onto the training program created “the need” for a 9-mile run that weekend. My coach, and most of the others in our training group, weaved in a 9-mile run with the 5k event. We finished the last mile running back to our starting point in Kentucky. I had never done a “race” with a 5-mile warm-up run prior to the start.

I was happy to arrive at the starting line for the 2022 Cincinnati Heart Mini-Marathon on a cold day at dawn in March. About 1,500 runners were present at the start of the 15k run. I ran mostly with my coach and the running group, only getting separated on the one big hill during the run. This event gave me the confidence that after this run that I could keep my tempo (11-minute miles) on longer runs in the Cincinnati area. The training was paying off.  

Spring eventually came and warmer temperatures replaced the cold temperatures during the training. I was impressed with the training group practicing the “big hill” from the half-marathon course as well as running a lot of the course as part of our training prior to the event. Since it was training, we could spend all of the time we wanted looking at the river, enjoying the sights downtown, so we could concentrate when we were running the event.

The in-person Cincinnati Flying Pig was more exciting than I had anticipated. The buildup began with the Expo that was a few days prior to the run. Yes, you can pick up your bib and shirt. It was so much more than that with running accessories for sale, goodies from vendors available and a lot of people having a good time together because we are all runners and walkers.

The expo had a fan friendly Photo booth that allowed us all to see ourselves crossing the finish line. The expo was well worth the time to visit and see the sights. I was psyched up for a great run after leaving the expo.

The day I had been waiting to experience for about 2 years was here on May 1. I did enjoy the training runs, getting to know my fellow runners and more about myself. The event with all of the people everywhere and all of the excitement just radiated energy. It was so good to experience.

The half marathon is on the first Sunday of May. Running the event was an experience that I was totally prepared for physically, although I did not anticipate the crowd and all of the people running the event with me.

In preparing for the run, I realized that one of my running problems is starting too quickly. I really enjoyed the large crowd at the start of the Heart Mini because the crowd of runners and some walkers forced me to slow down at the beginning. The same thing happened on the marathon day as we started 11 minutes after the official start due to the large number of people running faster than I can. Others behind us took even longer to get to the starting line. We were so far away from the start that we did not hear the announcements. I think there were about 10,000 runners between the half and full marathon participants.

We are all looking good and ready to run. The sign helped keep us together for the first 2 miles.

For the first 8 miles the full and half marathon runners were together. The crowds were all along the route, even after the half group split off. The encouragement was contagious. I was so happy with my pacing and run management that I actually ended up exactly at my goal time of 11-minute per mile pace. I was tired, happy and sore at the end of the run and somehow sad it was over. Because of all of the other runners and the presence of the training group, I had the confidence in my training and was able to finish the half marathon.

I called my friend Bill from college (Michigan State University) who marched with me in the MSU Marching Band and asked him to join me in running the Big Ten Network 10k. I was thrilled when he agreed to join me to train.

Wearing the school colors, just no E flat Cornet and music to play and no plume on our hats!

In 2021, I ran this run virtually on the campus of Michigan State University in celebration of my graduation 40 years prior. That was the second year I had run this 10k virtually. 2022 was the year to return to in-person running, so we needed to go to Chicago and run the event. Bill was in, and we joined together for the Big Ten Network 10k run in downtown Chicago.

Hard to believe this is the first time we have been together in over a year. And only a few years from graduation!

The 10k excitement began with the packet pick-up. Chicago had positive messages for us even during the packet pick-up.  I was happy that my oldest could join me for the run, and I got to spend some quality time with him on the ride up and back. He ran much faster than us older guys, so we saw him prior to and after the run, and once we glimpsed him on mile 4 as we were completing mile 2.

The day began walking from the hotel; we stayed on Michigan Avenue so we were close to the start of the run. We liked the look of Grant Park and followed several other runners to the start of the run.

Not quite sure how many runners were involved. Some reports say 6,000 runners participated in this year’s event. No matter what the number, it looked to us like there was a lot of Big Ten supporters running on Sunday morning in Chicago. We were at the back of the run, and two waves of runners began prior to our start. MSU was the second most represented school behind Illinois. We were happy to be well ahead of Michigan and all other big ten schools. Bill joked during the run that next year we can run a 10 miler and have a 16.1k run due to the Big ten expansion to 16 teams.

The course wound along the shores of Lake Michigan, and it was a clear, sunny day. A perfect day in July for a run along the Lake.  All told, we did well during the run ending about half-way timewise for our age group. Bill and I finished together, and we were happy to have run the event and shared some more in life together. I was inspired by him as he pushed me to run this event during the event. He was in great shape for the run and I am sure that I held him back from running a faster race.

My son cheering us on at the end

Other Fun

My two oldest also ran half marathons on the same day as I did. I finished first, having started first. Their times were faster than mine. What great support they provided to me by running a half marathon on the same day as I did. Next year I am hoping we can all run the same event.

I participated in a virtual 5k with my daughter. I was at home and she was out in North Carolina. So, she did the run live, and I did another virtual run.

I was able to walk around downtown Chicago and explore the area with my son and Bill. We had fun in the windy city. I reminded my oldest that I took him and his brother here by train when they were 6 and 3. He did not remember. We had a blast visiting the city from a new perspective.

While in Chicago at Grant’s Park, named after US Grant, I was surprised to see the statue dedicated to General John A Logan. He was impressive, but I did not see a statue for Grant in the park.

General John A Logan

One of my kids joined me for a practice run (just about 1,000 runners) over the July 4th weekend getting ready for the 10k run. I set a PR for a 5k. Although I started too quickly, I did feel good running with the crowd and some of my running buddies from the half marathon training.

No bike rides but one more actual (bike) event coming soon.

No bike riding for the running blog

Golden Isles of Georgia

As a kid I went to summer camps. I think a bike tour is a lot like summer camp for adults. Fun and adventure in a new place with new experiences and new friends along the way.

I am not sure I knew that Georgia had islands. Not that I had really thought about Georgia and islands prior to this bike trip. I did know that Georgia has a coast line on the Atlantic. Now I know that Georgia has “barrier islands” on that coast line and some of them are called the Golden Isles. We discovered that the Golden Isles are almost due south of Buffalo, NY. I did not realize, before my visit, just how far inland the Georgia coast is located.

We took the Golden Isles of Georgia Charleston Bicycle tour this year. It is fun to let someone else do all the planning and just go along for the ride. This is our third tour with the Charleston Bicycle group and we really appreciate their first-rate rides, hospitality and dining selections.

Live Oaks entryway to the Lodge at Sea Island

Our travels started in Savanah; we drove south from there onto St. Simons Island where we stayed at a “base camp” (hotel) the rest of the week. We rode around all of the beautiful barrier islandsSt. Simons IslandSea Island, and Jekyll Island. We were enchanted seeing the stretches of marshland that create the appearance of a continuous stretch of land.

St. Simons Island, GA St. Simons is the largest island; we devoted two days to exploring this isle on our bicycles, including seeing the Bloody Marsh Battle Site, where, in July 1742, British and Scottish soldiers protecting colonial Georgia defeated a larger Spanish force in a battle that helped end Spanish incursions outside Florida.

Ride to the Bloody Marsh Battle Site on Old Demere Rd.

We were struck with the beauty of the tree lined entryway into The Inn at Sea Island. We had a good time exploring the hotel and grounds as well as biking around and exploring St. Simons Island.

Since I had not heard of the islands prior to the trip, I did not remember a battle from 1742 or the National Park Service Fort Frederica National Monument, which preserves archeological remnants of a  British colony and its defense against Spain. The purpose of the fort reminds me of cold war deterrence by strategically placing (weapons, missiles…forts) military installations away from population areas and near the perceived threat to protect possible invasion by that potential enemy. We enjoyed the tour and were happy to be inside during a rainstorm. The bicycle tour was timed just right for an inside visit of the fort, and then the rain passed for an outside tour and ride back to our hotel.

On St. Simons Island, we played disc golf at Gascoigne Bluff. This was not part of the official tour. We played well on the course as liked learning the history of the area. The bluff was one of the first possible landing areas for a ship entering the harbor in Georgia. Gascoigne Bluff was the headquarters for a military invasion (if you were paying attention in July 1742), a Sea Island cotton plantation, the site of a lumber mill and a shipping point for timber. We played under a forest of live oak trees. It is interesting to think that live oak timbers from this area were used to build “Old Ironsides,” the U.S.S. Constitution

Jekyll Island, GA

Welcome to Jekyll Island State Park

Home to the formerly wealthy and famous group of 50 or so industrialists, this island is now owned by the state of Georgia.

View on the bike path around the Island

We had a good time circling the island on a paved path. One of the highlights for us was seeing Driftwood Beach on the north end of the island.

After the ride around the island, we stopped at the museum and enjoyed reading about the history of all that we had seen on the ride.

Sea Island, GA

We were delighted to ride our bikes from the hotel on St. Simons Island onto Sea Island. We rode across the causeway to the island. I always think that you have to go across a “big body” of water to have an island. However, that is not the case. I found out that many of the Golden Isles are close to each other and only separated by small inlets and rivers.

View from St. Simons Island Looking at The Cloister on Sea Island

As we were biking along on Sea Island, our tour stopped to gawk at the island’s biggest home, called Entelechy II, which was undergoing some renovation. The home is not opened to the public; we just stopped by to look and wonder at this interesting house on this exclusive island.

We rode to the end of the island and then onto the sand beach.

Beach on Sea Island

From the beach we went on a tour of the Cloister hotel. This hotel once hosted the G-8 summit, and the hotel and grounds were very impressive. 

View from inside the main lobby

After riding around the island, we took advantage of the Sea Island club and enjoyed swimming and walking along the beach. We made it down the beach far enough to see the back of the Entelechy II. This was the perfect spot to break up a day of bike riding. Lunch on the grounds was delicious.

Another island bike tour: We took a short boat ride as part of the tour to Sapalo Island, GA. This island was really different from the other islands.  The Georgia Department of Natural Resources manages the island and runs the ferry service. Imagine having to take all of your groceries to your home on a ferry. A small population lives on the island full time; the lighthouse, R.J. Reynolds mansion and the Georgia research facility are the main areas on the island. Georgia research facility are the main areas on this mostly undeveloped island.

We arrived on the island and found the bikes we would be using for the day. Our bike trip on this island was on asphalt, sand and gravel roads. It was a good ride for the bikes that were provided as a part of the tour, as our road bikes would not have worked too well.

We managed to see a small portion of the island on the tour and were taken by the beauty of the island, largely unspoiled by development.

We did manage to see a few alligators; fortunately, we left each other alone.

Sighting Alligators

We had lunch at the lighthouse grounds and enjoyed the view from the top of the lighthouse.

We finished our tour with a stroll through the R.J. Reynolds mansion. We really liked the circus room and all of the modern devices in the mansion. It was similar (although much smaller) to the Biltmore with the bowling ally in the basement.

Other Fun

Running on St. Simon’s Island and seeing some of the wildlife.

Walking near Columbia, SC. On our way to Savannah, we spent the night near Columbia, SC. On our evening walk we saw some turtles swimming. A Fun sight. We tried to go to the Harbison State Forest and ended up walking on the Harbison Place walking trail. Maybe next time we will go all the way to the State Forest.

Walking and running in historic downtown Savanah.

Dinning with the tour group. We ate at several fancy restaurants as a part of the tour. We dinned in our bike clothes as well as dressing up on the last night out with our group. We shared several meals together as well as a bottle of Kentucky bourbon. Some of our favorite restaurants were Halyards and Delaney’s Bistro and Bar where I had buffalo and others had elk and duck. We enjoyed spending days biking and dining out with our new group of friends.

Walking around St Simons Island (over 10 miles on our own) and finding fun places to shop and dine out.

On our own, we found places we enjoyed (we did not have a bad meal the whole time). The Golden Isles have several great restaurants and shopping areas.  We like to have ice cream when biking or after biking…well you get the picture. We indulged our need for ice cream at both the Moo Cow Ice Cream shop and Certified Burgers and Beverages on St. Simons Island. We liked the shakes at Certified and my wife raved about the “Dixie,” a grilled pimento cheese and bacon sandwich, as well as the tots. Some in our group made fun of us for having dessert first on a few occasions. I am sure they were just jealous that they had missed the opportunity.

We biked about 100 miles in the five day biking adventure. We had a fun tour with each day being a good combination of riding, sightseeing and delicious meals.

See you on the road on our next adventure.

The World Chess Hall of Fame

If you had to guess…which city has the World Chess Hall of Fame?

a.            Moscow

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.

Out for dinner with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law

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.

Lessons learned:

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?

Other Fun:

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.

McGurk’s

No bike rides on this short trip to town for a Christmas party.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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.

Biking on the East Coast

A vacation when I was younger almost always involved driving in a car somewhere. With a big family, it was the affordable option. Now, with kids in two separate cities on the east coast, we decided to drive (I have the time) and take our bikes so we could enjoy seeing our kids and riding bikes as well.  

On our east coast journey, we went biking on:

  • Parts of the Erie Canal Trail in New York
  • The East Bay Trail near Providence, RI
  • Parts of the Charlotte Greenway bike trail in Charlotte, NC

Biking along parts of the Erie Canal: 25 miles of riding split over two days, 6 miles in Medina, NY, and 18 near Rome, NY. The Erie Canal bike trail is 400 miles of trails around the canal.

Prior to COVID, we had been discussing biking all or parts of the Erie Canal. My wife learned the Erie Canal song as a child and sings it whenever we pass the Erie Canal in our car driving through New York state.

October is a great month to travel to New York state and into New England as the trees are colorful. The beauty of the area was not diminished by a little rain that fell on us before and sometimes during our bike ride. Wet leaves on wet trails makes the trail slippery for us—although we did enjoy our biking adventure.

We began our journey on the Erie Canal in Rome, NY. The trail that picks up in Rome is not as well marked as we would have liked. As a result, we also biked the Mohawk Trail that runs in Rome; it was easy to follow. We found out that the Mohawk Trail and the Erie Canal Trail merge, but we did not discover that on our first day of riding in New York.

We were directed on where to find the Erie Canal Trail. With the help of our host at the B&B, we found the start of the trail. We did not bike far enough toward the canal, but on the next day we found the trailhead for the ride from Rome toward Utica.

The lead up to the trail in Rome was a nice paved trail. Once we left Rome on the bike trail on the way toward Utica, we noticed that it did not look as well used with grass growing in the center of a wider path; it was better suited for gravel or mountain bikes and not our road bikes. We did ride a few miles on it anyway to see if it changed, but after a few miles of riding we determined it would not change soon enough for us. We knew up front that the trail was crushed gravel. We learned that not all parts of the trail are maintained well enough for a smooth road bike experience.  

We also biked on the Erie Canal Trail in Medina, NY. This trail was easier to find and the gravel was better maintained. We did not have any trouble riding out from Medina on the gravel trails and only turned back as we were driving home that day. We did not ride through the “Medina Culvert” the only tunnel that goes under the Canal, which was nearby. Our focus was on riding on the trail next to the Canal.

The views along the Erie Canal Trail were pretty. We especially enjoyed the views on the trail heading from Medina going toward Buffalo. The trail was one that stopped and ran on the road and then began again. We did not want to explore too much, so we stopped when the trail did and turned and went several miles the other direction.

Biking in Providence on the East Bay Path: 24 miles total, including a few finding the start of the trail. The trail length is 28 miles total (14 miles one way) and we stopped about 5 miles short of the end of the line for the bike path.

East Bay Trail

We followed the Bay Trail that starts at India Point Park in Providence, a really pretty section of Providence. The trail map we picked up from the local bike shop had us cross the Washington Bridge and then bike on 1st Street for a few blocks where the East Bay Bike Path began.

View on the East Bay Trail

The East Bay Bike path was well maintained and is asphalt all of the way that we went (about 9 miles one way on the trail). We had the perfect October day for a ride along the path.

The East Bay path was designed for our road bikes, it was well-marked and a pleasure to ride on. We met several other walkers and riders out enjoying the trail along the bay.

Biking in Charlotte on the Charlotte Greenway: 15 miles including a few side streets to see where they would go. The Greenway has about 50 miles of trails in various spots in and around the city. Prior to visiting Charlotte, we reviewed several maps of the Greenway. From the website it appeared they will be (someday) connected, although today they are several little bike trails.

I was able to bike the Greenway in Charlotte. The trails were well marked and had helpful maps. It was not until I got to visit one of the trails that I understood they really were not connected, and I was able to see the construction in progress.

I began the Greenway bike ride at the James Polk House, as I had seen the bike riders when I was last visiting the house. Too bad the museum and parking close at 5 PM leaving me to park outside of the gate to ensure I could get out and back to Charlotte.

The ride I took was only 7 miles one way. In my experience I have seen bikers being cavalier with construction. This was a hard stop at the end of this portion of the Greenway. I was encouraged that they are working on the Greenway and hope to come back and ride a longer stretch someday. 

Lessons Learned:

I have been a fan of trying the new trail and finding the path. Stopping at the local bike shop in Providence we found a great day trip bike ride, the East Bay Bike Trail with directions from the store. Thank you, Dash Bike Store.

We were able to find out about the Erie Canal Trail, advertised as crushed gravel and can now see for ourselves that if we take a bike tour in the future along the Erie Canal Trail, we will take a guided tour with their bikes and not ours as our road bikes are not the best on crushed gravel.

Other Fun

We stopped at the Dari Bee on the East Bay Bike Path for ice cream on a beautiful fall day. The Dairy Bee looks like it had been in place for a long time and the ice cream tasted really good. We were happy they were open during the week in October.

We ate several great meals in Providence, RI; every restaurant we went to was a good one. In Rome, NY, we ate one meal out and it was a wonderful dinner at DeSalvo’s Restaurant on James Street. I would stop in again to eat here. Biking builds a healthy appetite.

Martha’s Vineyard Bike Ride

What better adventure could you take than to wake up in Rhode Island on a beautiful summer day and decide to head over to Martha’s Vineyard for a day of bike riding. Staying with one of my kids in Rhode Island, I drove to the Rhode Island Fast Ferry to begin my journey of traveling to Martha’s Vineyard, starting with a cruise on the water and an all-day bike ride.  

All went smoothly, including the parking and bringing my bike on the boat. The boat left on time both ways and they appropriately encouraged us to be early as the boat was not hanging around. On the boat I sat on the exposed deck, which was a good choice for me. The benefit to sitting outside was the view, the sun and only having to wear a mask for part of the journey.

Just sitting down for the journey

The views from the deck on the sunny summer day were enjoyable during the 95-minute ride to Martha’s Vineyard. The ride was smooth and the temperature was pleasant. I rode outside and met several nice people on both legs of the journey.

I received a few hints on how and where to bike ride on Martha’s Vineyard from others who had ridden on the island. I was winging my route and appreciated the assist as I was in uncharted territory having never been to the island before this trip.

My “kit” for the day consisted of a back pack with my essential biking gear. I dressed in my biking shirt for the ride over, bringing along some water and snacks. I also know that despite the beautiful warm day, the open water can get cool, so I had a light weight jacket for the journey as well. The backpack, with a bike lock and a few discs for disc golf, worked and was easy to carry on my bike. I did receive several fun comments from Michigan State fans and those that do not necessarily care for my school.

A day to wear the school colors

One of my destinations was the lighthouse in Edgartown. I had already stopped for coffee and orientation after finding the bike path suggested by a few locals. From the ferry landing in Oak Bluffs, I went south along the beach road and bike path into Edgartown. Unlike Mackinac Island, this island has a lot of traffic. The bike path took me most of the way, although I did alternate between the road and the path.

I enjoyed the views from the lighthouse and walking on the beach. It was a great day to hang out at the beach. I am glad to have packed the bike lock and a pair of tennis shoes in the backpack as I ride with special shoes for my road bike pedals. Walking is so much easier without the special bike shoes.

The host at the lighthouse was helpful by providing me with a tourist map and showing on that map the location of the course. I was happy to have run into someone at the lighthouse who knew where the island’s disc golf course was located. The disc golf course is near the airport; I was able to take a bike path from West Tisbury to Barnes Road. These paths were well maintained and easy to follow.

All told I rode about 25 miles during the day and only got turned around a few times trying to make it back to the ferry on time from the airport.  My travel was a triangle from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown and up to the center of the island to play disc golf and back to the ferry landing.

The day spent riding on Martha’s Vineyard was fun.  On the ride back, thinking about the island made me wonder who lives in these magnificent homes along the water and how do they get along in the winter? I can see why, at least for the summer, people flock to Martha’s Vineyard.

Lessons Learned

Be friendly and everyone will be friendly to you. I had to stop and ask for directions back to the ferry in Oak Bluffs and found I was heading, as I suspected, the wrong direction. It was really great to have a trail to follow. Too bad I was unfamiliar with the landmarks and names along the routes on the interior of the island. Good for me people were so helpful.

Final ride for a perfect day on Martha’s Vineyard

This is the kind of place I should bring my wife and plan to spend a few days exploring. We can ride bikes together and relax on the beach. It would be fun to do, next summer.

Other Fun

I was able to send postcards from the island back home. It was easy to find the cards and the shop assistant directed me to the post office next door.

Ice cream always tastes good on a summer day, even better on an island after biking.

Bikes getting ready for the Ferry ride home

Michigan State Travels

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.

Other fun:

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.

Hard to believe it has been 40 years since graduation with these guys.

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.

Lessons learned:

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.

Country Dairy–The ice cream was great