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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

Prelude to a Proposal

We went out to see our daughter in North Carolina. We were supposed to get together with her and her boyfriend earlier but COVID got in the way. This was the next best opportunity for all of us.

One of the reasons for the visit was so her boyfriend could ask my permission to ask her for her hand in marriage. My job, knowing what was coming, was to find out if he will take care of my daughter and that he is the man to do it. Spoiler alert—I gave my blessing and I trust the proposal will have occurred by the time this is published. We did manage a 9-mile hike in the South Mountain State Park in North Carolina. We began hiking together on the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail and really enjoyed the 80 foot high waterfall. The weather was perfect and we had a good view of the falls from the trail.

Other fun On our hike with my prospective son-in-law, we were talking and having fun and not paying attention to a map. As a result we went on the Saddleback equestrian trail.

When we had to take off our shoes and socks to wade across the river as no bridge could be found up and down the river bank, we should have turned around, except we were already 6 miles into our hike. No bridge, no big deal in August. But when the river is running in the spring it is a bigger deal. Here is the trail description from the website—wish I had read it prior to setting off: “The trail crosses the Jacob Fork River and ascends to Raven Rock Trail. This narrow trail is single track for horseback riders.”

We were able to visit some friends of ours in South Carolina, just south of the boarder. The visit was fun, and as he is a bee keeper we were able to enjoy local honey. They raise bees on their property and it is quite the operation. Check out his site: https://bigbeedaddy.blog/blog-feed/

Lessons learned:

Next time, read the guide prior to setting off on the hike! Review and follow a planned hiking route.

Staying at a hotel for the first time in a while was a good experience. We had contactless check in and out and my smartphone served as our key. It was simple. Even breakfast was a go bag and it was easy for us to move about. People were enjoying the pool and the lobby as well.

Being ready to answer a question makes you a poor conversationalist. A 9-mile hike with getting to know a prospective son-in-law makes me a worse communicator. I appreciate his respect for me and my daughter that he wanted to ask, and I am excited to welcome him to our family.

No bike rides on this trip. The bike is all tuned up and ready to go once the weather cooperates.

December in Cincinnati & Christmas in California

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.

 

Lessons learned:

Just being together is enough. Listening and respect is also good. I love all our kids!

Other activity:

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.

SFO ending shot bike

 

 

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.

Back to Visit

Part of retirement travel is being able to pick up and spend a week with family. I went back to visit with my mom in Arkansas in September.

Enjoying a meal with Mom

Enjoying a meal with mom

I missed the square to square ride this year again as I was on one of the century rides that same weekend. I did manage a few bike rides with my sister on the Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway Trail. Some of the low lying trail access was wet but passable. When it rains it pours.

One of the highlights of the trip is finishing the ride that we began in the spring when it hailed on us. The neighborhoods were nice to ride though, and we did not have any rain.

We did encounter a motorcycle gathering at the turn around point. They had fun saying to us that we brought the wrong bikes to the event.

I was able to stop by the microbrewery I had seen earlier in the year when the weather was too cold to be outside. We enjoyed a beer while eating dinner from the restaurant we ate at in January. It was good to be outside and enjoy the beautiful Arkansas sunshine in Bentonville. We did see bikers (on pedal bicycles) stop in from the trail and enjoy a beverage on their bike ride.

My mom and I were able to complete a few puzzles and take a daily walk.

She is going strong and I am happy to be able to spend time with her.

 

Lessons learned:

Look up a new route and challenge yourself to explore. On the drive to Arkansas I met fellow Michigan State University alum who suggested I stop and see the National Forests along the route. I will have to check out a more scenic route for my next trip down to Arkansas though the heart of Kentucky and Missouri.

 

Activity statistics:

I was able to get out for three bike rides with a total distance of over 52 miles. Longest ride was 19 miles reliving the hail storm ride. I also had to keep running as we are doing a family turkey trot. So, I managed to get in over 8 miles of “running” at just over 2 miles per time going out to run.

End of the bike ride story picture

Competing in a Triathlon

Watching an event is different than participating in one. We were able to watch our son run in the Flying Pig Marathon weekend and complete a Spartan race. This weekend was different for me because I was participating in the race. My son challenged me to run a Triathlon at the end of July. At a moment of weakness, I said yes. Then the challenge began with him suggesting that I needed to try and beat him.

 

Getting ready to race

Arriving at the race and ready to get started

Our triathlon was a sprint, meaning it was a shorter distance (thankfully for me). A 400-meter swim, a 20K bike ride (about 12 ½ miles) and a 5k run.

I have to confess that I have not run in years—maybe the last time I ran was with the Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band in college. I had to learn to run. The challenge for me was starting my running and working up to the 5k distance.

The training was good for me; I am already trying to keep in good health. My running training started and ended by listening whilst running to the NHS (British Health Care, National Health Services) couch to 5k audio podcasts. I ended up running over 60 miles prior to the triathlon. I felt good about running, although I am definitely not a runner. My best time, of course in practice, was still a generally slow time of over 10-minute miles.

Good day at the event!

Ready to go out to celebrate after the event

It was great to have my son spend the night prior to the race and join us for dinner and answer my many questions on the race that he competed in last year. We rode up together and were at the event in plenty of time for a little warm up and to get some of the nerves out of our system.

At the Finish line with the UM hat bowing

Right after my finish. Notice how my son looks rested!

I was over 13 minutes slower than my son for the event. He started on the swim after I entered the pool so that if he passed me, he knew his time was better. I had a good experience at the event and was happy to finish.

I learned that the start is critical in a sprint; I went too hard on the first few hundred meters of the swim. Next time, he goes first. Although I passed a few participants in the pool, I was passed by a few more as I walked from the pool to the first transition location and then spent too long getting ready for the bike ride. I did manage to beat my son on the bike; that was the only event I had an advantage.

My run was poor and I cannot blame anyone but me. My son passed me on the run portion as I was tired from biking and you know already that I am not a runner. I was walking (catching my breath) when he passed me during the running portion. That was all the encouragement I needed to get back running. I heard my son’s finish, so I was not too far behind (okay, 13 minutes…).

I had fun and I would do it again. Next year, I will find the time to practice more.

After the race

Finishers!

A few lessons learned.

Run after getting out of the pool…even if you are tired

Carry a bucket for your clothes and then you can use it to sit on before the race and during transition. The two competitors I saw with the 5-gallon buckets looked like they knew what they were doing.

Consider training to unbuckle shoes on the bike to go into the run transition without the clip-on shoes slowing me down.

Run more, swim more and start practicing earlier. If I am to do the event again, I will have to maintain a running regimen during the winter to get ready for a July event. If I can run in April, then I can work on time and not just getting ready to run the distance.

The warm-up is helpful; I need to determine the pool warm-up for the event.

There is no substitute for experience. I read a lot about the event, watched YouTube videos and learned more by doing.

Training for a triathlon is different than my normal bike riding for distance. It was a different mindset on the course.

 

Activity Statistics:

Swim: 9:16

Bike: 42:11

Run: 34:50

Overall finish time: 1:31:41, place = 68 out of 92 men in the race (I was 30 finishers behind my son). He did better than his time the year before and I am happy to have been part of his motivation.

Bike ride over with Medal

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.

Hike in the Snowy Mountains

We spent our time after Christmas in Colorado.  It was exciting for us to spend time with our kids in Colorado Springs.

Hike 1 CS 2018 Glen Winter

At the trailhead to Mr. Cutler near Colorado Springs. Ready for a cold hike!

We did get out for a few hikes and planned more, but the weather became too cold to hike for more than a few minutes in the mountains. The next time we visit in the winter, we will plan on snowshoeing or skiing or both.

Hike 1 CS Springs 2018 Winter--Ice on path

One of the early lessons we learned was that an investment in micro spikes makes a big difference on icy trails. We did not have any on this hike, but the kids did. After hiking 2 ½ miles up over 700 feet in snowy 16-degree weather, we decided we should get some as well. We did enjoy our first hike in the mountains and the trail, although with ice patches, was manageable.

Hike 1 CS 2018 GSPBK on the way to the top

Getting near the top of Cutler with our hiking group. Kids have the spikes and we do not!

Our elevation started at 6500 feet above sea level, much higher than normal for us and went up from there to the top of Mt. Cutler (over 7,200feet). And yes, it was cold!

Our second hike was colder than the first from the start as we climbed up Raspberry Mountain.

Hike 2 CS 2018 Getting ready to go

All bundled up and getting ready to go for a hike–just over the bridge and up the mountain.

We started the hike at 9,500 feet above sea level and went for over 5 miles reaching the peak at over 10,500 feet above sea level.

The hike started at 30 degrees and grew colder; the hike ended over three hours later at 9 degrees as the sun was setting.

Hike 2 CS 2018 Getting back near sunset

I was happy to be the owner of new micro spikes, as my footing was secure on the assent and decent. Hike 2 CS 2018 Glen likes the micro spikes

We chose to get this hike in early in the visit before the anticipated cold front came into the mountains; it worked. Although at times our warm clothes were sometimes too warm, we were better off with the many layers we had on the hike.Hike 2 CS 2018 GK on the hike

It was good that we went when we did, as we spend a few days indoors playing cards and enjoying our new years celebration.

CS Bridge hand--what would you bid

Bridge hand–what would you bid?

Other highlights:

Enjoy what nature has to offer—make snow angels Hike 2 CS 2018 Snow angels

Trip by the numbers:  We hiked over 8 miles and had an elevation gain of almost 2,000 feet. Not too bad for a couple who live at almost 900 feet above sea level visiting Colorado.

Hike 2 CS 2018 View of Pikes peak from the trail

No bike rides in the cold and snow.

Bike End No Ride