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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

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!

Altitude is Real

You already know that I am not a runner. Happy Thanksgiving and let’s run a 5K race in Colorado Springs almost a mile higher in elevation than where I live. I can see why the Olympic athletes train here, once they are acclimated.CS Mountains from Condo

This was not our first family visit to Colorado Springs, just the first time visiting when it snowed in the city. We were fortunate to have a day without snow and had a nice time in Acacia Park and walking downtown Colorado Springs.

Here are a few before and after views from our condo (Airbnb) before and after the snow:

 

I have stayed at my home for many years now, avoiding traveling at Thanksgiving. When my kids were younger, I sometimes took the family to the in-laws or my parents. They have also come to join the six of us at our home. More often, we stayed at home for Thanksgiving. We have several years of Thanksgiving memories where we hosted local “orphans” or were hosted by other “orphans” who did not have other family in the area.

CS Thanksgiving shot

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year we traveled to Colorado Springs to visit and celebrate Thanksgiving. As I am older, so are the kids. They are now in the position that I was when I stayed at home. Thanksgiving happens over a few short days. My excuse for not traveling at Thanksgiving the limited time and because of the limited time frame many travel during the few days of this holiday.  We stepped up as mature adults and enjoyed the travels to the kids, including bringing one with us.

The retirement benefit is leaving the weekend prior and leaving after the holiday rush. Even on Sunday traveling by airplane was already busy. We were prepared for the lines and the hassle of Thanksgiving holiday fun. It was an easy experience traveling and the airlines and airports were well staffed and handled the crowds with ease. We also made it into Colorado before a big snowstorm and left after the next high wind and snow could hit. We had an enjoyable week of travel to and from Colorado.

 

We were happy that our kids invited one of their friends to join our holiday meal. It is good to welcome the “orphans” to the Thanksgiving dinner and keep the tradition and we hope someone did the same for our one kid who couldn’t make it to Colorado.

We had the pleasure of taking one of our kids who flew in for Thanksgiving to the Garden of the Gods. It was beautiful all covered in snow.

If you have not been to the Garden of the Gods, you are really missing out.

This was my first time seeing it in the snow; I appreciated the snow and the red rock combination.

GG G K

One of my kids suggested, in August, that we all sign up for a family 5k run. I believe her words were “No one listens to me, so why now?” So, we all signed up as (much to their dismay) a team for the Colorado Springs 5k Turkey Trot.

 

We received a message the night prior to the run advising us that the road conditions were less than ideal and we should be prepared for cold weather and ice on the road.

CS Walk to the starting line

Our two oldest walking to the starting line

We did have cold weather (about 21 degrees Fahrenheit when we began) and ice, slush and snow was on the ground. It was also a little foggy when we began.

 

The crowd was just about half of the runners who signed up for the event, or about 2400. I am happy to say that I did finish and stayed upright on the ice and snow the whole time.

My time to finish was less than 36 minutes, about 10 minutes slower than the two oldest kids who ran.

 

Lessons learned:

Altitude is real and takes your breath away when you are participating in the family 5k. Okay, I only managed to “run” a quarter mile before walking, much sooner than my normal 1 mile before I have to walk. I did manage to finish 1077 of 2409. The training I did was okay, but I was unable to train for altitude. The reward is the same; I was not going to win, even my own age group, so finishing the event was the key. No matter what place, I completed the race.

 

Traveling is good to do when you visit with family. We did sit and enjoy the company of our kids. Spending the holiday with family was all it was supposed to be, including snowball fights on a walk around the neighborhood and a wishbone pull after Thanksgiving dinner. I am so happy to have spent the time with the kids.

Other fun

Our day trip to Denver was cancelled when they received over a foot of snow. We had planned a fun adventure but were able to spend the day preparing for Thanksgiving and playing games. I learned how to play Catan. We also managed to get in a Euchre tournament and play some bridge.

Bring Kentucky holiday cheer; it is great for an unexpected snow day.

CS Kentucky Fun

 

Looking at the Garden on the Gods through the eyes of a first time visitor enhanced the hike in the snow. A first time visitor brings wonder and a lot of appreciation when this magnificent garden is first viewed.

 

Everyone thinks of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. We enjoyed a tour of Ft. Carson Army Base. We were surprised how large the base actually is. It does make sense for tank training. We heard the bugle call reveille each morning from the fort at 6:30 AM from our place; it was a good reminder of some other things that are going on in the world.

 

No bike riding; too much snow, and we did not have easy access to bikes.

 

Bike End No Ride

Before leaving for our Thanksgiving feast, we walked a few miles in our local Arboretum. The trees even after the leaves have fallen present themselves with a beauty and wonder. We liked the Larch and did not recall seeing the yellow needles on our prior visit.

Bike Rides and Happy Mother’s Day

Part of being retired is being able to pick up and visit. I was able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom for the first time in several years. One thing I am working on is visiting with family.

Happy mothers day mom 2

Mom with son and daughter on Mother’s Day

I enjoyed my visit and even got in a few bike rides with my sister; unfortunately, it hailed on one of our bike rides, not quite the experience we were looking for when we went out. Okay, you may have gone bike riding in the rain, so have we. Yes, it was supposed to be cloudy and yes, it did rain (hard). I hope to avoid riding in a hailstorm in the future. We called the ride short on that day. I think my shoes are still a little wet.

I did get turned back on a few of my bike rides because of the flooded road ways.  The local area suffered the same rain and flooding as the rest of the country. The local bike trail was well marked and the signs saying closed were posted for a good reason. A few days later and the tunnels and underpasses were cleared out and the “trail closed” signs were gone as well.

 

My travels on took me to my mom, my mother-in-law, and finely to my house where I had a trifecta on Mother’s Day seeing all three in one day.

A few lessons learned.

Spending a week in a retirement community makes you think about people getting old and retiring somewhere else. My mom had stories of former neighbors who moved to the community and then as age and life happens had to sell and move back to their former home or where kids are located. Our decision is to stay where we have established friends, ties to the community, and family. This strategy is working out well so far.

It is good to help pull weeds and clean out the yard. Just watch out for the poison oak and sumac. My rash lasted a few weeks as a reminder that I was able to help out at my mom’s house.

Enjoy every bike ride. I went solo a few times, and despite having to find alternative places to bike I had a fun ride. The attitude starting the ride often determines the outcome. My sister took me on her triathlon course for the ride that ended in hail. It was still a fun ride and we found a tunnel that we had not biked to previously.

I was able to bike over 70 miles during the week and got out to ride 5 times. Several of the rides early in the week were cut short. Mom does not go biking with me so it is good to have my sister nearby who will join me for the rides.

Arkansas trail end

A fun time biking on the (partially) opened Razorback trail.

No One Parties Like a 90 Year Old!

We all want to see our 90th birthday and celebrating with family makes it fun.  I asked my Mom about lessons learned as I wanted to know the secrets so I too can make it to 90. My Mom is happy and friendly and generally does what she wants with who she wants to do it with. That being said, she still claims not to have any secrets to tell so I have none to share.

So, how does a newly minted 90-year-old party? We played some cards, went for walks and played shuffleboard. And just who do you think one most of the card games? You guessed it, the lady of the day!

We went to a fun restaurant in Bentonville called the Holler, where they allowed us to bring in our own birthday cake. We used two shuffleboard courts and had a fun time playing. Mom did well on the courts.

Other highlights:

We did enjoy the Walton Arts Center and saw a very good performance by the symphony of Northwest Arkansas. We really appreciated the talented pianist Andrew Tyson playing Chopin with the symphony. One benefit to living in a retirement area is that they arranged a bus to transport us down to the symphony and back. That made the travel very nice for all of us.

Lessons learned:

Be nice to everyone. Take care of others and keep the house clean. The lake looks inviting, but it is cold in the winter!Mom 90 at the lake

We did not go bike riding on this trip. I flew through the Atlanta airport on the way home. It was great to see the city getting ready for the super bowl. I did enjoy the festive atmosphere and was sorry I could not stay for the game.

A Birthday Celebration

As I get older, I have been less thrilled with each passing birthday. Milestones like 50 were fun and a little embarrassing in the office, as you want to think of yourself as younger.

St louis in bloom

Spring day in St. Louis

Time marches on for all of us. I was happy to get a road trip into St. Louis to celebrate my father-in-law’s 80th birthday.

 

A birthday is always a good reason to travel. Visiting with family can be great fun and fulfilling. If I was working, we would have had to get approval for a day off or several to make a trip during the week. Of course, only a few at the dinner celebration for my father-in-law were gainfully employed. Being retired and “never having a day off” is no excuse for missing a celebration.

A few lessons learned:

This mug summed up the wisdom from the evening, all in good fun!

birthday mugMy  father-in-law’s mantra: Every day is a good day.

He means it too!

birthday chalk in st louis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other highlights:

We were able to borrow bikes and take a ride on grant’s trail. We have now ridden outside (also in January) on the in-law’s bikes more than on ours. I enjoyed getting close and personal with several of the Budweiser Clydesdales horses as we passed Grant’s Farm. The Anheuser-Busch Grant’s Farm is across the street from the National Park Service Grant’s Farm House. I did a little of the ride on the BMX bike trail at near the end of Grant’s trail.

 

 

Trip by the numbers:

Our bike ride was just over 16 miles and we walked for several miles around the area. It was rainy and we walked in-between the rain storms.

st louis bike for bmx course challange

Spring—Road Trip with a Graduation

One of the things I enjoy about retirement travel is being able to see family and friends without having to ask for time off. Of course, I shared with my wife more than 30 years ago that you cannot just take trips to visit family. We do have other travel planned.

I recently took two separate road trips to Columbia, South Carolina, one to get things some things moved and one to celebrate my daughter-in-law’s graduation with a Master of Arts in teaching from the University of South Carolina.  My daughter accompanied me on the first trip and my wife on the second.

In Columbia, we all enjoyed walking along the Congaree River. The trails are part of the Three Rivers Greenway Trail. We have walked on these trails many times. The flooding in Columbia in October of 2015 did shut down the Cayce / West Columbia Riverwalk that we enjoy so much. On our most recent walk, a portion of the trail still remains closed. We saw several art carvings along the path that were fun to find, including a group of turtles carved from a tree stump with a live salamander resting on top of them.

A fun side trip for us in South Carolina was a visit to a Revolutionary War battle site at Musgrove Mill.  The historic site was hosting a reenactment weekend. It was cool for us to see the costumes and interact with history. Several revolutionary sites are available off of highway 26. This one was easy and accessible.

My daughter, who traveled with me on trip one to Columbia, enjoyed a visit to the Biltmore Estate. The azaleas were in full bloom and the whole area was breathtaking. Visiting the house gave me the opportunity to share that buying too much house is an issue, as evidenced by the current owners needing to open the house to the public to keep it going.

We enjoyed live music inside the Biltmore house and the salute to the Titanic movie. In several rooms they had the clothing worn in the movie, from the same time period as this historic house on display in the rooms. It was like seeing the past come alive.

biltmore-touring.jpeg

Fun with Biltmore Hats

biltmore-library.jpeg

Other highlights:

Tennessee is having fun with its rest areas. We noticed musical notes and a theme as we stopped in at a few stops on our journeys through the state. On the sidewalk, to emphasize their musical contributions, are musical notes.

Lessons learned:

  • Graduation and moving are all times to pause and reflect. Graduation and retirement have a lot in common. The message for graduates is you accomplished a lot here, now go somewhere and make a difference. A similar message applies when we retire. We made a difference in our work, now we need to go make a difference in our communities and with our relationships.
  • I read an interesting article about an NFL player retiring and living in a van. Joe Hawley’s story was a fascinating reminder about how you can create your own experience. His message is to live with less and experience more. You can follow his blog here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH-fGbXb-BCZ2d7c1LIXjdg

Activity statistics:

We did not ride bikes during the two trips to South Carolina. We did hike along the Congaree River as well as walk in the state park and around the Biltmore estate.

Ft Jax Bike Enter restricted area

Picture from one of my favorite Columbia bike rides–around the live ammunition firing range!

 

A Fun Visit to NW Arkansas

North West Arkansas is home to Wal-Mart and my mom, who recently turned 89. It was a pleasure to visit her in Arkansas for that special occasion. My mom was thrilled that my daughter joined me on the trip.

In Bentonville, we visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. My daughter was fascinated with the two-story spider sculpture at the entrance. I appreciated the models we saw that had productive use of sea shells, answering one of my questions from Florida, “What do we do with the shells?”

AR What to do with shells

One option for shells from the beach and assorted items

  • The museum has a fun collection of American art including some sculptures like the man waiting for his wife and the spider that my daughter liked so much.
  • The Frank Lloyd Wright house was great to see as we have limited opportunities to be in one of his creations. The museum took this house apart in New Jersey and reassembled it in Arkansas.

AR Frank Lloyd wright house

Thank you to Wal-Mart for sponsoring general admission to Crystal Bridges—it was free!

North of Bentonville is the retirement community of Bella Vista. We took a walk to visit the VFW memorial where we have a brick for my grandfather and my dad’s military service. While walking around Lake Bella Vista, we saw a rare site:  a black swan. I was reminded of the book about improbable events. Our improbable event was a 2 mile hike with my 89 year old mom.

We managed a trip to the Walton Art Center, south of Bentonville, near the home of the University of ArkansasFayetteville is a nice place to visit. We enjoyed the pedestrian street traffic on Friday night as several of the U of Arkansas students were wearing realistic Star Wars outfits, including light sabers. Too bad we were not quick enough to get a picture.

Other highlights:

It was cold in North West Arkansas. Next year (for 90) we will plan to go to Disney as my brother lives near Orlando.

Here are my Mom’s tips looking back on 89 years:

  1. Have things to look forward to doing. We went to the symphony. Like many of us when we get older, she does not like driving in the dark. She had tickets for all of us on a bus that a group regularly takes to the symphony. It adds to the social, as well as the cultural, experience. AR Symphony program day 1
  2. Be a blessing to others. Several people told me about the wonderful things my mom had done in their life. It was great to hear and made me proud of my mom. She was not resting; she went out to take care of a friend who is much older and cannot do too much.
  3. Keep moving. We went to Crystal Bridges, and although we did not walk fast, we went through the museum and grounds. We walked her neighborhood several times, seeing an armadillo and several neighbors doing the same thing we were–getting out and being active.
  4. Keep having fun!

AR happy birthday Mom

Peer pressure is alive and well after high school and follows even 89 year olds. When asked about living in the same house for the last 30 years and when she might move to a smaller place, her response was all about her friends—fellow  widows living by themselves and doing well. I am happy to report she is doing well in her large house and she is hiring out for some of the things she can no longer do.

AR Monday day from deck

View from the porch

Trip by the numbers: We went on several walks/hikes with Mom, a total of more than 4 miles. No bike rides, even though we had a few nice days.

AR lake bella visita bikes

Too cool for a bike ride. We like the sculpture!