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Water and Water Falls
After our travels to the Biltmore, we needed to get some fresh air. We hiked, or walked, up the stairs to the top, and them some more at Chimney Rock. We walked the 500 steps up to the top. We also took the additional 330 steps from Chimney Rock to Exclamation Point, the highest point in the park. Of course we had to hike to see the Hickory Nut Falls as well, since it is in the same park.
Since we biked through the Biltmore Estate, Kim thought it would be fun to kayak the French Broad River. It was a great time kayaking for over 2 hours on a bright sunny day. We saw the Biltmore (hard to miss that house!) and the path we had biked on the day before. It was a great day for a float, and I believe the tops of our feet are still sunburnt.
Finishing our travels in North Carolina and on advice from a former coworker, we made plans the next day to hike in DuPont National Forest to see three separate waterfalls better than the one we saw at Chimney Rock, which was pretty cool at over 400 feet up! The Forest trails were well-marked. Several mountain bikers rode nearby. This is a little known gem with over 80 miles of hiking available. We could have hiked another mile to see another falls as well. This is a park to check out. Of course we laughed at the way they prevent climbing on the rocks—check out the sign on the yellow post.
Next stop South Carolina.
Our first stop in South Carolina was the fun city of Greenville. We enjoyed riding Greenville’s Swamp Rabbit River trail. We would have ridden longer if it had been cooler. The temperature for the ride was over 95 degrees. We did meet a local store owner in downtown Greenville at the Pedal Chic bike store. The staff was helpful and we found a great parking spot and starting location for our ride.
We also rode on the Ft. Jackson Army base. It was interesting riding on a road that encircles live firing. The range was in full use as we went around it. The roads and hills were good and the path well marked.
It was also hot when we rode, so we did only one loop. The sign says share the road and the brown side says restricted access—this is how you get to the firing ranges. Follow the rules!
We visited the University of South Carolina as well as Clemson University. Yes, I got to play a few rounds of disc golf in South Carolina as well. I am glad my son knew the course layout in Columbia near his house.
The course near Clemson in Central called Grand Central Station; it was well marked and fun to play.
As a child my family often drove from Michigan to Florida on I-75 to visit grandparents. We always saw signs on the road for “See Rock City” and Ruby Falls. We made a stop at Lookout Mountain and visited Rock City in Georgia. The tour was good and cool walking through the rocks. Quite an enjoyable place to visit and worth the stop. We are not sure we saw all seven states from lover’s leap although we sure tried. We did visit all of them except for Virginia.
Ruby Falls in Tennessee is on Lookout Mountain near Rock City. Two fun attractions near each other. We did not make the time to see the military park on Lookout Mountain and it would make a good stop for our next time through. The cave tour was fun and the falls were grand. We also enjoyed the cool cave and were surprised to see that we were about the only ones that dressed for the travels.
A few lessons learned.
While visiting Rock City we met a lady who lived her whole life near Rock City. She was working in the fudge shop (yes, it was good!). She enjoyed Rock City as a child, with her children and her grandchildren. She loves Rock City and encourages all to come. She has been a retired nurse for several years and enjoys hearing other people’s stories, especially first time visitors. She was sharp and loved to share her story with others. I learned that if you have a special place, it is fun in retirement to work (part time) at that special place.
The military retirement must be good, and it should be for those who serve. We ran into several military retirees who live in and around Ft. Jackson. We thank all who serve or who have served for their service.
Too many touristy adventures can be too much. We needed a few days’ rest. Next stop, Alabama.
Other highlights: Walking around downtown Columbia and a big rainstorm! We enjoyed dinner and were happy to be inside. Downtown Columbia, SC, was a happening place.
Trip by the numbers:
States visited: North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.
- Biking miles: 33 miles, 2 rides, longest 21 miles.
- Hiking/Walking 14.7 miles, 7 separate walks, longest 4.1 miles in DuPont.
- Kayak, 7 miles on the French Broad River.
Celebration, Certification and Caves
It is true; I am now retired and have begun traveling.
My first travel begins with celebrations.
- Although not a far drive…Thursday night June 29th, after “work” saw many of us “pre-retirees” gathered at 300 Magellan. It was a great get together and I was unable to buy myself a drink.
- A fun time was had by all, what a great send off!
- Some, who retired earlier in the year, and others, who retired a few years before, came out to wish us well.
- On Friday, our official last day at work, I grabbed my last free cup of coffee and turned in my badge and work computer. It was official; I was retired.
- After going home briefly, I left town for St. Louis for additional celebrations with my in-laws.
- Yes, I spent my first night of retirement celebrating with my in-laws who took me out to a great dinner in St. Louis.
Webster Groves had the start of their local 4th of July celebration on Saturday near the in-laws and we saw a few good bands at the bandstand on Saturday. A good celebration.
- On Monday, after traveling to Arkansas on Sunday, I went
out to eat and celebrate retirement with my mom and sister at the Marketplace Grill. It was fun and tasty. Especially the desert we shared with my mom!
- Happy July 4th America!
- It rained too much on Tuesday to go for a bike ride or to enjoy the planned outdoor band concert with fireworks.
- I did get to celebrate with my mom, sister and brother-In Law.
- On July 8th I played my trumpet at the wedding for Abby and Andrew in Louisville.
- I did forget my shirt and purchased (less than $5) a white dress shirt from Goodwill. Of course, Kim had to sew on a button for my newly purchased shirt.
- Dancing at the reception was fun and we were home prior to midnight on Saturday. The Frazier museum across from the Louisville Slugger factory is a great spot to visit.
The point of my travels back to St. Louis was to complete the Spinning® Instructor Certification class that was cancelled the month before on the biking, shooting and drinking trip.
- This month the class ran as scheduled from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM Saturday with 30 minutes for lunch and 2 one hour Spins® included. A great day.
- After the class, I did manage a swim in their Olympic pool.
- Received my certificate after passing the on-line exam once I got back in town.
- I guess I have to apply for a job now…
Since I was in St. Louis, I thought I would continue the celebration tour and visit my mom who is in Arkansas. She turned double snowmen this year and is doing great. On the way I stopped at Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri.
- I enjoyed seeing the Jesse James hideout and walking and exploring the caverns.
- The entire area was flooded earlier this year and water shut down the entire cavern for a week. Wow! Water is crazy.
The caverns are a great sight to see if you are driving along highway 44 near St. Louis—year around it is 58 degrees in the caverns. I wore a sweatshirt to keep warm. The tour moved us along and we walked for about 90 minutes underground.
I returned on Thursday night (July 6) in time to close on our long time residence in Kentucky and move to a new (right size) home nearby. All went well on Friday and we moved into our new home on Tuesday of the following week.
While on the road, I listened to a fun book on my drive: The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax .
- The unexpected part for me is that it had a great retirement question at the beginning of the story. A doctor asks Mrs. Pollifax: Isn’t there something you have always longed to do? Something you have never had the time or the freedom for until now?
- The doctor adds that it is terribly important for everyone at any age to live to his full potential, otherwise a kind of dry rot sets in. I thought that was great retirement advice.
- Spoiler alert, Mrs. Pollifax does have something she has always wanted to do, instead of living the sensible life she has created. Her response: when growing up she planned to become a spy!
- I recommend reading the book and pondering the questions she answered. I am still working on my answers.
As a part of the visit, I asked “How do you do this retirement thing?”
- My mom said she stays active. My sister, who lives within 2 miles of my mom, says she can never find her at home, so I know she takes the advice. She does a lot of volunteering and recommended that course of action for me.
- My brother-in law, who has been retired for a few years, said to find something to do that you love. He also noted that it changes. He began a business and is now making plans to give up the part time vocation in favor of other ventures.
- My sister works for a bike trail organization; she said she needed to work once her husband retired to stay active. The key for her is finding the balance of time at home and at work.
I did go for a 42.5 mile bike ride with my sister on Monday (July 3) on the Razorback Greenway and went for a mile swim on Tuesday as it was raining all day on the fourth of July. I left Wednesday and I think she was pleased to take a day off of the activity.
Trip by the numbers:
Travel days: Friday, June 30, through Thursday, July 6, and Saturday, July 8, all by car (1700 miles all in).
First sinkhole, noticed by me, on the way to St. Louis in Indiana at the Nancy Hanks Rest Area on highway 64.
- Biking miles: 95.8 miles, 4 rides, longest 42.5 miles.
- Swimming: 1.5 miles
- Trumpet playing at Webster Gardens with their brass group at the 8 AM service and at Abby and Andrew’s wedding.
- Disc Golf in Kentucky while moving. Too much rain on the trip to make it work while on the road.
States visited: Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas.