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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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Everyone at the table ordered the hot brown and we all loved it!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
The other century ride we did was two weeks before the Limestone Challenge out of West Lafayette, IN , the Wabash River Ride.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
No bike riding this trip. Just hiking and dancing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Visit to an abbey—the fudge was great. They even had bourbon balls.
- 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.
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.
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?”
- 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.
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 Arkansas. Fayetteville 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Keep having fun!
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.
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.
Many assumptions are made about life after retirement. I know that I had a few assumptions on what people did or do in retirement. Many think of endless golf games and outside entertainment in Florida. In retirement I have played two golf games, admittedly, not very well. In comparison, I just played trumpet at my third wedding this year. I am excited to have played at more weddings than golf courses.
I love the thoughts from Roger Whitney, “Go, go years, slow go years and no go years.” In my retirement we are in the go, go years. Here is a recap of what we have been up in the last week—from a travel perspective.
Last week I was able to help out a friend who had received a retirement gift of baseball tickets and he and two others joined in at the Reds game. We even got to see a dramatic finish in the 10th inning (for the other team L). What a fun opportunity to stay out late and not worry about being late for the office the next day.
Kim and I went out to the local playhouse for a production of Shakespeare in Love. We really enjoyed the acting and the escape. We also did not worry about when we left or came back home.
Last weekend, we hopped on a plane for Rochester, Minnesota, to be a part of the wedding for Karen and Phil. I was pleased to play trumpet for their wedding. Our hosts for the weekend, Chris and Cindy, were also part of the music for the wedding. I really enjoyed our time with Karen and Phil as well as Chris and Cindy.
We did a tour of Rochester, including a visit to the Mayo properties in downtown Rochester as well as a quick visit to the Plummer house.
The area around Rochester (in the summer!) is really nice. Of course they have these things called “sky bridges” that connect the buildings downtown so the residents do not have to go outside in the winter.
We enjoyed the walking as well as the bike ride we did near Silver Lake. Minnesota is the “land of 10,000 lakes” and the county we were in is one of three counties that does not have a natural lake. Interesting trivia for the day.
Geese by the hundreds dwell on the Zumbro’s shoreline where it widens into Silver Lake. The geese are a scenic addition and responsible for the local restaurant’s name where we ate breakfast, the “Canadian Honker.” The food was good and the location was nice. The local story is that the power plant keeps the water in the Rochester part of the Zumbro River warm all year long and the geese never leave.
For fun, Kim and I rode a tandum bike. It was an interesting experience as we bike ride a lot at the same time, just not together on the same bike. I think we are, for now, keeping our individual road bikes.
A few lessons learned.
- Be helpful. The history of the Mayo Clinic is that it was founded by people that helped out.
- Be intentional about friends. Our friends Chris and Cindy “Friday with friends” event where they are intentional about getting together with friends each week.
- Always be yourself, unless you are Batman… We saw this sign at a men’s clothing store in downtown Rochester.
We also spent the prior Friday exploring the bike trails in Aurora, Indiana. We were pleased to find the trails. They are close to the house and provide a nice ride along the Ohio River. It is good to see the scenery from the other side of the river, looking into Kentucky.
There is a new person retiring all the time. Are you next? The gate agent on our flight to Rochester was retiring. As our incoming flight was delayed we had a few minutes to chat. She is off to Peru and then will be looking for some volunteer work.
We went to a local farm and enjoyed their fall festival, including a hayride and picking a pumpkin. The spiced cider was not yet ready for us, maybe next week! Happy fall to everyone.
Trip by the numbers:
States visited: Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio. Does a stopover at the airport count as a visit? We did two stopovers in Chicago, so did we visit Illinois? I say, yes we did…Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. We were several nights in Minnesota, had a bike ride in Indiana and a play and a baseball game in Ohio.
- Biking miles: 26, with the addition of Minnesota to our list of states for a bike ride.
- Hiking/Walking: 7 miles.
- Trumpet playing at Holy Cross Lutheran Church.
Our first path took us to the Boston Metro area for Gary and Jackie’s wedding in Worchester.
- The wedding and reception were held at Tuckerman Hall in Worchester.
- Kim and I enjoyed lunch prior to the afternoon wedding on Grove Street at the Fix Burger Bar. They had a great selection on the menu, and I had the Bison burger—very tasty. The resturants in the area were converted manufacturing centers. It appeared to be a happening place.
- The Bride and Groom own a part interest in a horse and asked me to
- I performed on the trumpet the call to post prior to the bride entering. The assembled all laughed, which was a good thing! It was fun and of course it was listed in the program and no one knew what it meant.
- On Sunday I also played trumpet at our church home in Massachusetts with the praise band. It was fun, and the musicians are very talented.
After the wedding weekend, it was time to visit with some of the people we missed seeing at the wedding. We would like to have seen more of the good people we know in New England but time was against us visiting everyone. We plan to come back and hope to see you on our next trip if we missed you this time around!
Our second path involved food and friends:
- My goal was to eat seafood and this party had lobster, clams and mussels. Labor Day clam bake—great food!
- I enjoyed the eating at the party.
- We even took home a home-grown pumpkin from our friend’s pumpkin patch!
Enjoying a clam bake with friends on a beautiful sunny day, fresh lobster is really a good time!
Dinner near Boston Harbor—again great seafood and more friends. Having dinner on Boston Harbor in the summer is a good time.
- Dinner in Marlborough, MA, our former home town in the Boston area. Good friends and good food.
- Lunches with friends around the metro Boston area as well!
Our third path in the Boston area was some local adventures.
When we lived near Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, we hiked this mountain each Father’s Day. We went up on Labor Day and were surprised at the number of bike riders going up the mountain.
Having lived in Marlborough, MA, and played in a band for the Assabet River Rail Trail opening, we just had to hike along the Assabet River Rail Trail. The City provides bike rentals on the trail but we just hiked along.
- We visited the Lowell National Historic Park and enjoyed our visit. This is the only National Park that I am aware of that gives out ear plugs as you go in to visit the exhibit. Yes, the textile machinery was loud and fascinating. Key hint to the visit—parking in Lowell (and Boston…) is tricky, we were told, and I am passing on to you that you can park for free behind the visitor’s center (see map) and have your parking validated.
To obtain a real sense of American history, a trip to Boston is a must. Having lived in the Boston area for several years and abiding by the philosophy to always be a tourist in your home town, we have seen many of the attractions in Boston and surrounding areas. We have walked the Freedom Trail more than once, taken the duck tour and have been to Fenway Park and other local sporting venues. We recommend all of these.
We were planning a bike ride downtown, but unfortunately it was raining on the day we had planned to ride so we traveled home, stopping at Cooperstown on the way. The Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) was our last path on the way back home.
- We were able to spend four hours (not enough time) to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. My first idea was to see the Basketball, Baseball, Football and Rock & Roll Halls, but we settled on one for several hours. We had a great time and do not regret the choice.
- Mid-September is the start of the off-season for visits, so we had no issues parking.
- This was our first time at the Baseball HOF in almost 20 years. We were impressed with the use of video and interaction with the staff and the visitors.
- We relived several exciting moments of baseball history and will plan to come back sooner than 20 years.
A few lessons learned.
- People wanted to kidnap Kim to ensure we would move back to the area. We know that we need to visit more often—my last visit was a few years ago and Kim had not been back for over 9 years.
- One couple we ate dinner with shared that as they visit areas with friends and family, they spend the night in their friends’ and family’s houses. Sharing a meal is not enough time to get past general “Facebook” updates, but it is a great place to start.
- We need intentionality around visiting and catching up with friends and family. Local retired friends shared that going out is one way to keep active and to continue encouraging others.
The trees are already turning colors and the colors look good. We missed all of the trees!
We drove to Worchester (near Boston) around Lake Erie and through New York on Route 90, or as we say, the Mass Pike.
- All new this year is the absence of toll boths on the Pike; they use the New York EZ pass, or will bill your licence plate.
- You do receive a discount by signing up in advance in Massachuttes.
- New York still has the EZ pass lanes as well as cash lanes.
Trip by the numbers:
- Driving: 2,233 miles.
- Hiking/Walking 10.2 miles.