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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!

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

A Sampling of the World’s Best Disc Golf Courses

We all have the stereotype, retire and play golf every day. That is not me, although I have made no secret that I enjoy playing disc golf. My kids all know that on road trips we often would “find” a disc golf course near the highway that we could stop at and stretch our legs and play a few baskets. In college, way back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I played with friends as a diversion–the object being to hit, with a frisbee, pre-selected landmarks like dorm walls and trees on campus.

I read an article this summer attesting to the best disc golf courses not just in America but in the world. Well, I wondered if I had ever played any of them. In a recent drive up to Rhode Island I was able to tackle the top course in the world with one of my kids; I also found out that I live near the #9 course in the world.

Here are the article’s current top 10 that I played in 2021:

1. Maple Hill in Leicester, Massachusetts 

My favorite course has to be the number one course, Maple Hill. My son paid for the round and we played the old glory course following the red, white and blue tee pads. It was challenging; I did lose one disc on the course, not in the many water opportunities to lose it but in the pine trees.

I was able to play Maple hill twice this year on two separate trips, one with my son, and one with my wife where I played just the red (or easiest course layout) tees. Both were great experiences and I can see, based on my travels, why this is the number one course. It has water, hills, clear direction between holes and is well maintained. I have not felt rushed or pushed to play on this course due to their reservation system. The pro shop was great and they were able to quickly retrieve my disc that I lost in August.

If you play disc golf and are in Massachusetts, it is well worth taking the trip over to play. Playing in mid-October, we were able to experience all of the colors. We had a perfect day to see the reflections off of the ponds and just enjoy the hike through the woods.

7. The Diavolo Disc Golf Course at New Hope Park in Cary, North Carolina

It was pouring rain on me when I ended my round in Cary, NC. This course is free and open to the public to play. Some of the holes were bunched up, but since I was alone, I was able to play quickly and go around any groups.

This is a beautifully maintained course and it was also diverse and challenging. Although I lost a disc here to the water, the course was well marked. It was easy to find the holes, always a good sign for me of the quality of the course.

9. Idlewild in Burlington, Kentucky

I have played this course several times over the years, and it is challenging for someone with my talent (or lack of talent…). The opening tee shot is over 600 feet, which is long, as I can throw about 200 feet on a good day. With Idlewild it is hard not to play all 24 baskets and spend about 3 hours playing this course.

Now that I have read the article and played the courses, I agree with the ranking I have seen. My criteria for the best courses include:

  • Fun and challenging.
  • Hills so I can have a beautiful long downhill shot.
  • Trees for shade, and generally I like wooded areas.
  • Open sections so I can find my discs.
  • Options for experienced and beginners on the same course.
  • I prefer a free course but will pay for a well-maintained challenging course.

All told I have played this year in seven states (MA, RI, NC, KY, IN, AR, MI). A good year. I only lost a few discs and have come away with uniformly good impressions not just of the ratings supplied on the courses but how friendly everyone is on the disc golf course. 

Lessons learned:

Disc golf is better with someone. A friend of mine plays the local courses with me near where I live and I have played with two of my kids this summer and all of them in the past. My wife has joined me for a round or two even though it is not as enjoyable for her as it is for me. My future son-in-law enjoys playing and recently received new discs that should improve his game and make it so I cannot beat any of my kids and their spouses.

Take a look at the listing of courses on the way and stop and enjoy a new course. I have a few more stops to make along the way for my next adventure thanks to the article, and I will look forward to playing at some of the best disc golf courses in North American.

Other fun:

The only ace I have ever made was that course in Michigan, and that was only because the basket was 4 feet from the tee pad and no directions were given.

I was able to play rounds with my wife, my friends, two of my kids and my future son-in-law and his grandfather as well as with my father-in-law and my wife’s siblings. My mom joined me on one of the courses in Arkansas, so it has been a family fun experience.

I made it a point to stop at the BC3 Disc golf course (#47 on the top 100 listing) and was not disappointed. They even had a large tool that could be used to pull discs out of the water. I did not need it, but it was nice to see the tool. The course itself was hard to find on some back roads. I had the course to myself and enjoyed the layout.

I have played some really good tee shots, including one that landed next to the basket in Nashville, IN. It would have sailed past, except I hit a tree and it landed within a foot of the basket.

Best Tee Shot of the year for me

I won’t talk about my poorly thrown shots. I need some more practice sessions.

I played on one island, Martha’s Vineyard, and could have played on Mackinac Island except they had bad reviews. Besides, we had other fun activities planned for that adventure. 

I enjoyed playing Martha’s Vineyard’s disc golf course. Yes—I placed a couple of discs in my back pack before leaving for the island so I could play during my day on Martha’s Vineyard.

I turned a wedding dress shopping day into a disc golf day with my future son-in-law and his grandfather.

In addition to the courses above, this summer found me playing out of state at:

Slater Park in Rhode Island

Eager Beaver at Elon Park, North Carolina

  • A few former golf courses:
    • North Cove Disc Golf, Marion, NC — a really nice course in the mountains on a former ball golf course. It was misting and the course was wet, but it was a fun course to play. I did have the course to myself as the weather did not encourage the locals to come out to play. Fortunately, the course was well marked and I only got turned around once looking for the tee box. The last hole (#18) was memorable as you throw to the roaring creek and then across the creek to the basket. I was fortunate that I cannot throw in one shot all the way to the creek, so laying up was not an issue.

Branch wood DGC, Arkansas, is near my mom’s house and is on a former 9-hole ball golf course that I have played with others in the past. I lost a disc in the woods here, and was able to turn in someone else’s disc that I found in looking for mine. It is a long course; the people playing appeared to really like the course.

No bike rides in this posting. I have been riding, just not while playing disc golf!

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.

Walking into the Past at Shaker Village

A fun get away for us, not involving a plane, train or even a bike, was a visit to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.

Main Street

Each day we walked along the main street from our East Family dwelling to the Trustees’ office. As we walked the former highway, we looked back at what life was like for the inhabitants at the time and what life is like now in the Shaker Village.

Each building was equal reflecting one of the primary values of the society that all, male and female, regardless of race, are equal with each other. All of the main buildings had two doors and sets of stairs for the separation of the sexes even though they were living in the same house. One side of the buildings were designated for the males and the other for the females. Both were under the same roof, equal and not together. Anything one had, the other did, down to the square feet of each room and the furnishings.  

Our group of friends decided that the Shaker Village would be the place to gather and celebrate life.

One of our highlights was the Hard Cider Bash put on by the Village. It was a lively time in the old barn on the property. We enjoyed the band and the food. Some of the offerings were local dishes and most of the food was from the area. I had never heard of or seen Kentucky Burgoo prior to the bash. Many of my friends really enjoyed it. The hard cider was not all that great for my tastes. My friends did find several beverages they liked.

We walked the grounds of the village. When it was thriving, and the village was thriving at one time, it was hard work farming and keeping men and women apart all while making the village profitable. The grounds are very attractive; we enjoyed our hikes around the grounds.

Walking in the village we learned about how the Shakers lived and worked. It was a fascinating tour. Unfortunately for us, no crafts or displays were in operation due to Covid-19. We still had a great time exploring. I would like to have learned how they made the stone walls.

Our hike on the morning of the hard cider bash led us to the barn for our evening activity. We had fun walking with friends and taking a pleasant walking tour for several miles along the property.

We did manage to have good food and we got into the music on the lawn near the restaurant. We ate at the trustee’s Office. All of the settings were well done and the meals were locally sourced. The spiral staircase in the main dining area was really well done and an example of the skill their craftsmen employed.

We stayed at the East Family Dwelling. That building was over 200 years old and very well built. I liked the craftsmanship.

Lessons learned

The Shakers were a group committed to their ideals and had several things going for them. They did not survive because their utopian society was an idea humans can never put into practice. All utopian societies have succumbed to similar fates as we are all human.

The Shakers were unable to adapt their strict belief system as society changed and opportunities for work grew.  How different will we look 20 years from now looking back on the things we do, like wearing masks while walking on a main street and other odd Covid practices? No bike riding on this trip. We had plenty of hiking and exploring as well as learning some history.

Touring Louisville, Kentucky

I enjoyed our travels last year to Bardstown so much that I suggested that we all travel to Louisville as a group. Like at the office, when you make a suggestion, you often have to carry out the implementation. At first I thought just the guys would want to go.

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Making good decisions as a group.

We soon found out that the entire group was interested in traveling to Louisville. Some in our group, including me, had been before and even had kids attend the University. This was a first-time visit for some of the group. I had not put together a travel itinerary for a group of friends before, so I went to some blog posts and pulled out a few ideas. It turned out wonderful. It was not as hard as I thought, and my friends all helped with some suggestions of their own.

We began our tour of Louisville by getting one of the rare treats, a bourbon milk shake from Royal’s Hot Chicken. The place was packed near noon and we could see why; the chicken delicious and so were the milkshakes. I had a smooth tasting, cold milk shake that hit the spot with my hot chicken tenders. I was interested that they put a test tube filled with bourbon in the glass along with a spoon and a big straw. This allowed me and the others with the bourbon shooter to add the bourbon as we went. The bourbon in the milkshake was a good combination and one I will look for again.

After a satisfying lunch we had tickets to Angel’s Envy Distillery, a few short blocks away from Royal’s.

 

We were impressed with Angel’s Envy and the tour. They have their own unique take on emptying the bourbon into other spirit containers, including port wine barrels. The distillery was clean and, for an old factory, amazingly modern. The distillery has done a good job in laying out their process.

Taking risks and being bold was a good combination for the taste in my opinion and the opinion of others. We did enjoy the tour guide, the general tour and the product. I found the flavor enhanced by the re-barreling process that is unique for them.

After a wonderful dinner out at Jack Fry’s, where the service was great for our party of 8 and we enjoyed very good cooking and a piano player setting the mood, we went to our B&B to dream about our next day’s tour.  We enjoyed the charm and warmth provided at the DuPont Mansion B&B in Louisville. We were able to sit in the parlor and chat or play games. The breakfasts were very tasty as were the cookies when we got back at night.

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The DuPont Mansion B&B

 

Since we had a large group, I was interested in allowing us to explore the city as well as see the sights together and on our own, depending on what we liked to do.  Some of us purchased the Museum Center (six in one) tickets. I thought it was a great value. Our group made it to these sites: Frazier History Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Muhammad Ali Center, and Peerless Distilling Co.

I spent the most time in the Frazier History Museum; they were showing a bourbon exhibit with the history and shaping of bourbon in America, especially Kentucky.

Being a baseball fan, we noticed several improvements at the Louisville Slugger museum over our last visit about 5 years earlier. The tour was on point and ran us through their bat making facility, starting with the forest and the trees and how they work on growing and identifying trees.

The Slugger Museum did a good job of explaining the process of bat making and letting us feel the product in various stages. I am still in awe of holding a major league bat that could be used in a game (I hope so!) later this year.

Several in our group went to the Muhammad Ali Center and were impressed by the presentation in the museum and the life story and values of this great fighter. This is a stop we will need to go back to and experience. We foolishly thought that we could do a museum in about 30 minutes and then we were drawn into the stories setup inside and spent longer at each stop.

The surprising stop for me was the Peerless Distilling Company. It does not look like much from the outside and is in an old building.

The product was very good and we came away from our tour with a favorable impression of their product and the way this craft maker distills their bourbon. We enjoyed the tour and our tour guide. Peerless uses a sweet mash and they would not share the mash percentages, the corn, rye or wheat, unlike other tours we have been on before.

 

Peerless takes pride in their heritage as an old line (placed in barrels beginning in 1889) Kentucky distilling company. They have modeled their bottle and the re-start of this distillery on the original distilling company. The history was a good story and made the tour worthwhile to hear.

The distilling process and the inside of the building is clean and new in appearance. We did not find a rundown bottler but an up to date modern facility with a good product to sell.

 

We were unable to tour the Even Williams shop, although we stopped in for a visit to the gift shop. Several in our group knew what they liked and found it in the shop.

Our second dinner out at RYEs  was a bigger party for us, with 10 at the table we had the best waitress and service. The food was delicious and I would say you should try it out for yourself. A long time ago, I waited on tables and discovered that big parties like a group of 10 friends, was a big pain to wait on. No one is ready and then everyone is ready. This restaurant must do a great job training their staff because we had no hassles and excellent service.IMG-0583

On our way out of town, the day after Leap Day, we visited the historic Brown Hotel, a landmark in Louisville.

The hotel is known for their grand style and inventing a unique Kentucky dish called the Hot Brown. I thought I had had hot brown before that day, and I now know that it was a poor imitation of the real thing.

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Brown hotel Hot Brown

Everyone at the table ordered the hot brown and we all loved it!

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This is a hotel that properly prides itself on service and satisfaction. We were happy with the meal, our service and the ambiance.  We were visiting on a Sunday and the place was packed. We had the feeling that we were special, just because we showed up and enjoyed a hearty meal.

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After the hot brown at the Brown Hotel, we needed a walk. We had planned a walk to Indiana on the Big 4 Bridge over the Ohio River. We picked the perfect day, the sun was out and the weather was a hint of early spring.

Other Fun

On the first of February I ran the “Frozen 5k” and my son and his friends ran the “Frozen 10k.” This event is put on by our local minor league ice hockey team, the Cincinnati Cyclones. They were kind enough to open their arena prior to the race for us to stay warm and get ready for the event.

 

It was cold (about 36 degrees when we started) in the morning, not as cold as it could be with the historic average of 23 on February 1 in Cincinnati.  My running group suggested that we sign up for several races or running events to get use to running in large events. The run was sold out with about 2,200 runners.

This was my best run (I finished in 32 minutes and 2 seconds), as I ran the whole 5k instead of my unusual running and walking and then running some more. I managed to finish faster than my son and his friends and was able to see them cross the finish line. Yes—they ran twice as far as I did and I am twice their age.

 

Lessons learned:

Always plan ahead. A plan can change, but as we saw with Evan Williams, we do not always get to visit a place without planning ahead for a limited tour. IMG-0580

Take advantage of the local opportunities. We could have gone almost anywhere with our group. A quick ride down the road was like being a world away.

No bike riding on this trip.  I will get the bike out of the basement in the spring.Glen and Kim at Louisville walking bridge

Wabash bike

 

Ride to Rabbit Hash

I have found out that when I do not have a goal, I am not motivated to ride or walk or do any other activity. I was encouraged to spend more time locally this summer to participate in a few local bike rides. Training to participate in organized rides takes practice on the local roads. Where I live we have a lot of hills, and since I was going to participate in Kentucky rides, I needed to practice on our local roads. As a result, I have enjoyed rediscovering some of the local rides that I ignored for the last few years.

The local challenge:

This year, a buddy of mine, David, who retired when I did, purchased a bike; together we went on several rides. It was great fun riding with him on the local roads.

Another friend of mine was looking for a riding partner for a few century rides. Mike took the Kentucky Century challenge and wanted a riding buddy. I looked at joining the Kentucky Challenge and decided against four century rides. Much to my surprise, I ended up riding three of the four century rides with Mike as well as training on some of the local roads. I also managed a few 50 mile rides on my own and with friends. I think I should have signed up for all four.

Additional encouragement to stay local was received when one of my sons challenged me to compete in a local triathlon.

As a result of my goals for riding this summer, I spent more time around the area than I did outside of our local area.

Favorite local rides:

Have you ever been to Rabbit Hash, Kentucky? I used to go about once a week in the summer a few years ago. It makes for a great stop when you are on a local bike ride. We have seen the original general store, the burned down general store, and now the re-built general store.

Local Rides--G-K Rabbit Hash General Store

Rabbit Hash Kentucky

Big Bone Lick State Park to Rabbit Hash. This is a favorite ride for me and my wife. Many of the Boone County rides end up or begin at or ride by Big Bone Lick State Park.

We often  ride from Big Bone to Rabbit Hash (about 10 miles out) with the variations open to go up the evil twins (both category 4 climbs) or a single category 4 climb or just to ride along the river without climbing to get to Rabbit Hash. We like to go early in the morning as motorcycles come to Rabbit Hash as a destination in the afternoon and evening.

 

As a side note, Strava recognizes the size of the climb in the results. A category 4 is a big climb (okay—it is hard on a bike!) with category 1 being a harder, steeper climb. This categorization of hill climbs started with the Tour De France; the category 4 climb is the lowest level they count. I am not sure I have been on a category 3 climb. Probably just as well.

The “no brainer.” This is a sponsored ride on Monday evenings along the Ohio River on KY Route 8. It is a no brainer in that as you leave the parking lot, turn right. When the road ends, you turn around and head back. This is a great beginning ride, and David and I did a few “short” 10 out and back rides to get a feel for road riding. The ride is fairly flat and does not have too much traffic. The views of the Ohio River are wonderful.

Harrison’s Tomb. William Henry Harrison’s tomb is in Cincinnati. He migrated to Ohio and became a senator prior to being elected president.  He has an impressive tomb and has a regular procession of visitors to the tomb. The ride is a great route along the Ohio River, heading west toward the power plant and ending (if you ride the hill!) with a great view from the bluffs overlooking Kentucky and Southwestern Ohio. I appreciated learning about the ride from my bike mentor Chuck.

My triathlon-challenging son and I rode this ride—had a great day and enjoyed the scenery. Unfortunately, he rode just as fast as I did, so I was determined to train a little harder on the bike ride for the triathlon.

Ride from the Boone County Arboretum.  Our ride from the Arboretum avoids the big climbs and starts with a big downhill.  The first time I went in 2019 with Mike and David it poured rain on us the entire second half of the ride, all the way up the hill on Big Bone Road (a category 4 climb). Even in the pouring rain, we had a good time.  My bike riding mentors took me on the easier ride several times. I returned the favor for David and took the path away from the evil twins (two back to back category 4 climbs), riding on Riddles Run Road, taking a left on 338 or Beaver Road and then up Big Bone Road where we can climb just one category 4 hill before heading back to the Arboretum. This 17-mile loop is a great challenge for any rider. I know that to see if I am ready for the upcoming challenges, once a year I need to ride over the evil twins.  I managed to get in a solo ride and accomplished riding up all three of the category 4 hills in one ride. Fun but exhausting.

Rev war grave on 338

Revolutionary war marker on 338, Union KY “John Hawkins Craig, VA-TRP, Revolutionary War, March 14, 1763-April 8, 1852.”

On 338--property for sale

House for sale on the way to Big Bone—farm on the Ohio River.

View up 338 toward Big Bone

View from the road from an early morning ride along 338, on the way to Big Bone Lick

 

Loveland Bike tail—Ohio & Erie. This is the rail bike trail in Cincinnati with a paved rail trail all the way to Cleveland. My wife and I have spent many fun rides on this trail with a stop in Loveland to enjoy a meal or ice cream. David and I spent our retirement anniversary (2 years) doing a 50-mile ride on this trail to celebrate.

 

Lessons Learned:

  • Enjoy the local rides
  • Go out and exercise and have some fun with friends while you are out
  • Join others or use their knowledge to explore some good routes.

Activity statistics:

Century Rides

I did participate in three century rides with my friends this season. I previously wrote about the Horsey Hundred ride over Memorial weekend.

My friend Mike signed up for the Kentucky Century Challenge and I joined him for three of the four required rides. I could have signed up and received a jersey for completing the challenge as well. Maybe next year. I enjoyed our time outside on the century rides.

The best one of the seasons was the last; likely I was in the best shape for that ride. The Limestone Challenge was a beautiful ride and very well supported. It made a difference that it was cool and overcast all day. One of my favorite segments was a switchback climb where we could see the riders ahead of us climbing up as we were climbing into the valley preparing to climb.

This was a big climbing ride and featured two category 4 climbs. This is why I practice on our local category 4 climbs, including the evil twins. The distance rode was 100.27 miles (had to get to the start) and elevation of over 6,100.

Limestone finish line

Mike, David and Glen after the ride.

The other century ride we did was two weeks before the Limestone Challenge out of West Lafayette, IN , the Wabash River Ride.

Wabash River--Glen and Mike

Mike at the Wabash River–Cool 68 degrees to begin

We had another perfect day for a century ride in the summer. It was great weather for a long day on the bike. This ride was well supported and much smaller than the other two century rides we participated with.  We rode 101.3 miles and climbed over 3,650 feet.

At the end of the ride we were looking for the hills that the organizers said were coming up. The day was cool to start, which is always great. We did cross a covered bridge and enjoyed the views of the river from the banks.

Wabash and Glen 2

Glen at the Wabash River

I am not a fan of pickles, and Mike and I both thought it was funny that at the Wabash and Limestone rides they offered riders pickle juice.  Maybe I will try it some other time.

Local Rides--Rabbit Hash General Store--End

Looking forward to our next ride to Rabbit Hash

Dancing at Natural Bridge

Early in July we took a trip to Natural Bridge state park. We went with two other couples and had a good time hiking the park and dancing on Hoedown Island.  The summer weather was hot, so we sweated as we enjoyed the hiking trails.

NB-G-K on top of NB

On top of Natural Bridge

Hoedown Island

One of the benefits of coming over the July 4th week was that we got to see and participate in two nights of dancing. The first night we experienced Kentucky Clog dancing; the next night was the regular Hoedown Island dancing. Clogging is the official state dance of Kentucky. We were fascinated watching the many people clogging. We did manage to learn a few steps, even though we did not have the fancy shoes.

The second night of dancing was more line dancing and some clogging. We were happy to dance until after nightfall. A long day of hiking and dancing led us to appreciate having a room at the lodge just up some steps rather than having to drive home after such an enjoyable day.

Hiking

One of the reasons to come to Natural Bridge is to hike up to the Natural Bridge. Being adventuresome, we took the long way around, just to have fun.  We went out toward the Rock Garden (trail 4) and around the back side of the bridge. We also hiked on top of the bridge and relished the skinny passageways up to the top of the natural bridge. It is big and wide.

We went on several other trails during our stay at the lodge. We liked the view from Lookout point and had a fun time walking down the steep Needle’s Eye and Devil’s Gulch on our way back to the lodge.

Travel with friends

NB Fiends on the hike

We have been to Natural Bridge in the past and appreciated sharing the park with our friends who had not been to the park. The hiking is a better experience when you have others with you on the hike. You get to know some about them as well as getting another point of view on the trail.

Staying at Natural Bridge

The Hemlock Lodge was recently renovated. We like the balcony and the views from the porch. We have stayed at the lodge before and the room renovation was nice. The Hoedown Island fun ends around 10 PM and all was quiet in the lodge. One thing we like about the lodge is that it has several great places to just sit and watch nature, including the restaurant and a balcony overlooking the Middle Fork of the Red River, from the one side of the whole lodge. We took advantage of swimming in the pool, along with a lot of other guests. It was nice to have the pool available to cool off during the day after hiking.

 

Red River Gorge

The state park is near the Red River Gorge. It is part of the Daniel Boone National Forest.  According to their web site: “The Red River Gorge is a uniquely scenic area in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The area is known for its abundant natural stone arches, unusual rock formations, and spectacular sandstone cliffs. The Red River Gorge is designated as a national geological area by the U.S. Forest Service.” The visitor center for the area is the Gladie visitor center. We have visited in the past so we skipped it this trip in favor of going directly on the hike.

NB--RRG Double Arch

Double Arch

We took an enjoyable hike to the double arch (trail #201) in the Red River Gorge.  We had a sunny warm day for our hike up to the double arch. After exploring the double arch, climbing up on it and eating lunch, we continued on the trail and saw Courthouse Rock and Haystack Rock. The area is really beautiful and not well known. The hikes in Natural Bridge were full of people, but the Red River Gorge, even on a big holiday week, was far less crowded.

Some of my friends from the area will tell you that after a long day of hiking and before dancing you need to stop at the best pizza place in Kentucky. So, we stopped at Miguel’s Pizza about 3 minutes from the park. The pizza hit the spot and was very tasty.  We also went to the Daniel Boone Coffee Shop nearby and enjoyed a great cup or two of coffee and breakfast the next morning after dancing.

 

A few lessons learned:

Take a chance and go dancing. We had not tried clog dancing before and found it enjoyable, although we could not say we actually were clogging.

Sit on a rock and enjoy the view. The hiking is fun; spending time with your wife and friends is priceless, especially with a great view of the countryside.NB--View of NB

No bike riding this trip. Just hiking and dancing.

bike in garage

Bikes left in the garage

On The Bourbon Trail

On the road again! A trip on the Kentucky Bourbon trail showed us that sampling the product is enjoyable. We began our tour at Maker’s Mark Distillery and then went to Bardstown, Kentucky, where we stayed at the Bourbon Manor. The Bourbon Manor is a well decorated Bed and Breakfast and our hosts treated us very well. This was the first time I had traveled with a group of adults. It was a blast! Thank you Lisa and Eric! You did a great job planning and setting the group up for fun.

The food at the Bourbon manor was delicious, and their apple desert for breakfast was as good as advertised. Sitting around in the evening with friends was wonderful. Another favorite place to eat was the Rickhouse Restaurant in Bardstown. Although finding it was tricky in the dark, the steaks were worth the visit.

We all strolled around Bardstown and were entertained by the lively arts and small businesses along the main street. The snowmen outside of the art show led us to spend some time inside experiencing the local art. It was very interesting to see the spinning wheel display and see how good several of the area artists are at painting.

Bardstown fun

Glen and Kim snowman fun in Bardstown

We even ran into Smith’s CPA firm, which was funny as one of our friends is a retired CPA named Smith. Of course we had to get a photo of Smith & Company CPA at the shop. It is great to be retired and see a thriving town of hard working people.

Bardstown CPA

Smith CPA at Smith & Company CPA’s

Oh, the weather outside is frightful! We were happy to be taking a distillery tour as the weather turned colder. It snowed while we were touring the Maker’s Mark Distillery. This was an agreeable, light and fluffy snow that only stuck to the grass and did not come down when we were driving.

At Maker’s Mark we had a delightful tour of the facility—the grounds are very pretty. We liked the bridge over Whisky Creek. In addition to the tour, our group signed up to learn how to make mixed drinks, of course with Maker’s Mark. We are not going to make a bourbon bottle chandelier but we liked the one at the restaurant at Maker’s Mark.

After the tour and the snow, the highlight for many of us was dipping our own bottle of Maker’s Mark in the red wax. This is the symbol of Maker’s Mark; we were happy to try to get the most drips on our bottle of bourbon.  I think Julie from our group managed the most drips on her bottle.

We learned a lot about distilling and storing the bourbon.  For example, the US Congress recognized the popularity of bourbon when, in 1964, when they designated bourbon as a “distinctive product” of the United States. Both chambers passed the Senate’s version of the concurrent resolution, which ensured that bourbon was made exclusively in the United States. The act indicated that bourbon must be at least 51% corn, distilled no more than 160 proof, aged in new white oak barrels that have been charred inside and age for no less than two years, although more than four is better. Bourbon must be stored at no more than 125 proof and bottled no less than 80 proof.  Most bourbon (95%) is made in Kentucky, although it does not have to be made in Kentucky, just the United States.

In addition to the Maker’s Mark tour, we visited Heaven Hill, Willett and Woodford Reserve distilleries on our trip. Each one was different and they all had a good story to tell. The bourbon trail in Kentucky is an excellent tour. We could have seen several more distilleries, but even retired travelers have limited time.

One of the fun facts we learned on the trail is that there are today in Kentucky two barrels of bourbon for every person living in Kentucky. That is a lot of bourbon!

My Old Kentucky Home, you know the state song of Kentucky? Well, we had a terrific tour of the historic home located in Bardstown. Yes, this is the historic house that Stephen Foster wrote the song about. The house was all decorated for Christmas and our lively guide even sang the state song for us all. Some of us (not me) joined in for some of the words.  No photography was allowed inside, but it was a fun tour!

 

A few lessons learned.

The story of bourbon is one of reinvention. After prohibition, many entrepreneurs took a gamble on bourbon. With the slow aging process it does not produce revenue for several years. It does produce for the state of Kentucky and the federal government tax revenue every year.

haven hill rickhouse inside

Look at all that bourbon! And this is the first of six floors!

Traveling in a group is entertaining. We will do another trip with friends in the future. We are so thankful for our friends. We had more fun than we could have imagined on the trip.

We all enjoyed the experience of mixing drinks. We are looking forward to our next get together to see if we remember what we learned in our mixing class at Maker’s Mark.

Makers mark frinds mule drink

Maker’s Mark Friends and our mule mixed drink.

Other highlights:

  • Visit to an abbey—the fudge was great. They even had bourbon balls.
Abby of Gethsemani

Abby of Gethsemani in KY

  • Viewing the historic Kentucky distilleries was fascinating. We learned something new in each one and the bourbon tasted different as well. My favorite distilleries were the Maker’s Mark and Woodford Reserve.
  • The press was at the Heaven Hill location as they announced the expansion of their visitor’s center to three times the current size. Of course the tour talked about their rick house fire although it was not prominent at the visitor’s center.
  • We were very impressed with the current center and will look forward to the expansion when we visit the next time.
    Heaven Hill visitor shop

    Heaven Hill visitor shop

    The bourbon trail was not a biking trip. I am sure we will get a biking trip in again in 2019. Even the bike at the Bourbon Manor had some snow. It was cold during our visit in November.

    Bike at Bourbon manor end shot

    Bike at Bourbon manor