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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!

Walking with Kids

For my wife and me, walking is something we look to do consistently for the benefit of our health and the health of our relationships. Our daily goal is to get out and walk two miles each day. We do not always make our goal, but we have found that when we do go for a walk, we feel good about it and we miss it when we do not go out for a walk.

We also enjoy walking with our adult kids, and this year we took a few fun walks with them where they live.

Walking in Charlotte, NC: 7 miles, about 1 mile per walk

We were able to walk the Charlotte Greenway, which is near where the kids live in Charlotte. The greenway is a great option as the paths are wide and easy to follow. We also took walks around their neighborhood.

Walking the Charlotte Greenway

Newport, Rhode Island: 5.5 miles of walking (one day tour)

We were excited to visit Newport, taking in the sights by walking around and going on a 90-minute boat ride. While we were in Newport, the weather was perfect and the walking was good.

In Newport we took advantage of the nearby Cliff Walk after our boat tour. The Cliff Walk is a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District. It was a good hike and one that should be on a list to take from start to finish.

Along the walk we saw several mansions and beautiful ocean views. I was wondering what kind of wealth it took to build and maintain one of these mansions. Even today, some are still are offered for sale. We found that some belong to a local university. Another option to pay for the upkeep is to open to the public for tours.

Providence, Rhode Island: 13 miles of walking in and around the city. The city is vibrant and easy to walk. We enjoyed the people bridge and viewing the gondola boats on the water.

Colorado Springs, Colorado: 45 miles walking. The first time this year we came to Colorado Springs was to celebrate the birth of our newest grandchild. We spent about a month in total in Colorado over two trips. Baby, mom and dad are all doing well. We took several walks with and without our children and grandchild.    

Other walks:

St Louis Walking:

It is not just with kids, but parents as well as our kids. I was able to take a walk with my in-laws and one of my kids in St. Louis, visiting for a few days. It was great to have the family walking time in the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Boston walking:

I also enjoyed a long walk to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox with family. Always a good walk from the train station.

Lessons learned
Always be flexible. Find a path that works, and if you can find it on a nice warm day, an ice cream shop.

Take a detour or get off of the planned route. In Newport, we meandered and still saw most of the sites and had a great relaxing day of walking with our family.

Other Fun

Going to a baseball game with our grandchild at the beginning of the baseball season in Colorado.

First baseball game

Earlier this summer when I was in Providence, RI, they had the weekend Al Fresco outside dining on Federal Hill, which was very enjoyable. The next time we were in Providence, we caught the Columbus Day festival and enjoyed walking around with live music and terrific food from the local restaurants.

On the way to the Cliff Walk we stopped at an enormous rocking chair. Kids, will be kids.

As a follow-up to an earlier blog, he did ask and she said yes.

In addition to walking, I went running with two of my kids (and my wife). Three of us were able to run on the Charlotte Greenway and enjoy some family running time together.

My son and I ran in Providence and my wife and I also ran in Providence. Just not all three of us at the same time.

I was able to run the FCC Cincinnati 5k with my son and his friends.

No biking, just walking and running.

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.

Happy Holiday from Shawnee State Park

The weather outside was not too frightful. We decided we would spend a few days at the end of December hiking in Shawnee State Park. The park is next to Shawnee State Forest located at the eastern edge of Ohio at the beginning of the Appalachian Mountains.

During Covid-19 as our traveling has been limited. A close by state park with over 60 miles of hiking trails sounded to us like just what we needed. So we packed up the car and headed to the hills.

I have long defined vacation as doing something different. This was a wonderful getaway. Hiking out in the woods is not our normal walk around the block.

The drive to the park was pleasant and it had snowed in Ohio right before Christmas. No snow where we live, but as we got closer to the Appalachian Mountains, more snow and colder weather were evident. We were only at over 600 feet above sea level at the start of our hikes and did make it over 1,000 feet above sea level on occasion. Ohio’s highest point is 1,550 feet above sea level so we were not at the peak in Ohio hiking on this trip.

We had several pleasant hikes in the State Forest and the State Park. All of the trails were well marked and the paths easy to follow. The weather was close to freezing. At times we wished it was below freezing because the paths were muddy, especially dangerous when you are not paying attention to the fallen leaves on downhill trails. We did fall once and it was no big deal. We were careful.

I think our favorite hike was the hike around the lake. We had great views and yes, part of the lake was frozen. This was a good all day hike. We even stopped for lunch (that we carried in) and enjoyed the scenery.

We started our adventure with the simple lookout trail that is near the lodge. It was an easy mile or so hike.

The hiking trails and the entrance to both the State Park and Forest were free. We hiked several miles in the park. The long hike was too long for our visit in December and will have to wait for another time. We did hike several trails and see the disk golf course, which looks very challenging. The trails benefited from the CCC workers and they did good work in this park. It is amazing to me that after so much time the work that was done is still in use and serviceable.

The lodge inside the park was richly decorated for the season and the rooms were pleasant. We enjoyed the more than 50 Christmas trees on display inside the lodge. The local garden clubs assist with the decorating and it either took a lot of people or a lot of time.

Other Fun We managed to have a wonderful shake at the Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio. We drove by on the way to the park and could not resist the building on the way back.

I will be excited when the sign on the door no longer requires a mask inside. It was not an issue, just saying, like the rest of America is saying, let’s get this COVID-19 behind us and move on with life.

Lessons learned

Go out and do something different. People were at the parks. Not too many on the trails with us as it was cold. We were happy to see others out enjoying the Lodge, and I am sure the employees were as well. We felt like we were away and yet we had not gone too far.

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.

Smoky Mountain Retreat

Now that the long bike rides and triathlon are over, relaxing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sounded like a good time.GSMNP Sign

When we booked our cabin and planned the trip we were unaware that October is one of the busiest times for the park. We also did not know that this was the busiest National Park. One of the benefits of retirement travel is going during the week. We were surprised at all of the people gathered in the park and Gatlinburg. I guess Columbus Day is a popular time for schools to take a break; we visiting the week prior to the break. We thought traffic and the number of tourist picked up as we got closer to the holiday weekend.

View of Gatlenburg

One of the downsides was that parking to hike was at a premium. However, like a good restaurant that is always full, we found that the experience and scenery were worth the hassle.  Traffic in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge was also heavy as we went through town. We have been to the park before. This time we were happy not to see any bears as we were hiking

We had a cabin away from town and up a hill so we could enjoy breakfast and linger a little out the front porch. The cabin had large windows and offered a great view of the mountains. We did see the “smoke” in the mountains in the morning that looked inviting.

View of the smokeSM View from Cabin 3

Our afternoon hikes were good. We had spent most of our previous time in the southern part of the park (Cades Cove), so we hiked in the middle of the park this time.

Hiking in the SM Alumn Cave trail

We noticed that the signage on the hiking trails in the park was lacking or had been removed though too much use, but it was easy to find our way as several other hikers were on the trails with us.Hiking in the SM--view from the trail Kim

We enjoyed the hikes and the views. It was great to have some hand holds as we went up and down near the edge on the hikes.

The National Park Service has done a good job keeping the trails in good condition given all of the traffic on them we encountered except for the signs while on the trail. Hiking in the SM--view from the trail-4

There are plenty of hikes we have not yet taken in the park. We will have to come back and enjoy some of them on our next visit. Now we know to schedule the visit outside of October.

The colors had not yet come out to the park. We did see some of the trees turning early here and there. The week after our visit was probably a peak time for fall colors. We enjoyed the lush green views and left the pretty colors for the visitors for the following week.

We purposely went back home on the back roads from the Smoky Mountains National Park (which is in parts of Tennessee and North Carolina) so we could stop at the three state Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

CG Sign Glen

The weather on the Saturday when we arrived in Kentucky was cooler than it was in Tennessee as we were leaving. Our first stop in Cumberland Gap was at the only visitor center. This is a large park and it was important to know that there is only one visitor center.

We were happy talk with a couple making apple butter over an open fire and dressed in period costumes. It looked like hard work. They assured us that the taste was worth the work on the open fire. We liked the warmth of the open fire.

Making apple butter

We were immediately stuck by how few visitors were at this park, just a few miles (85 or so) up the road from the Smoky Mountains. The ranger we spoke to at Cumberland Gap indicated that over 11 million visitors go to the Smoky Mountains and about 1 million visit Cumberland Gap. We really enjoyed hiking in Cumberland Gap with well-marked trails and easy parking.

We took the tri-state trail and hiked up and stood in the three separate states at the same time (Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia). It was interesting to see the contour of the land and to know that many western settlers had journeyed across the mountains where we were hiking.

When looking at the road into the gap we wondered how much harder the mountain pass must be, as this was not an easy climb. We do not have wagons with all of our possessions and have no real idea of the hardship.

CG Tri state trail 2--all 3 states

The Civil War had a lot going on in Cumberland; we enjoyed the side spots where we could see evidence of the forts and the places where some of the troops moved through. It did make sense that the troops came by and through the gap in the struggle to move across the country.

CG Tri state trail 4 Civil war cave

Spot where union troops blew up ammunition

I recommend driving up the road to the pinnacle overlook, although it twists a whole lot. At one point you can see the road next to you as the road almost doubles back on itself.

CG NP MapThe paved paths along the viewing area made the walk out to the view easily assessable. Unfortunately, the view was one where we could see the clouds as the weather was not in our favor. We caught glimpses of the surrounding area and will look forward to coming back for a better view in the future.

Lessons learned:

We can get to the Smoky Mountain National park in about 5 hours. We should plan to go before or after the peak times for the park, staying away from October (Columbus Day for example) and school vacation week in the spring.

Both Cumberland Gap and Smoky Mountain National Parks do not require admission fees.

Cumberland Gap has hundreds of miles of hikes available. We are thinking about spending more time visiting this park in the future.

Other fun

We enjoyed two dinner shows and would have liked to have gone for another. We were amazed at the horse handling skills demonstrated during the show at the Dolly Parton’s stampede  and the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud. The dinners out were fun and since it gets dark in October so early we had to leave the trails earlier than we would have during the summer. DP Stampeed

Our preference was the Dinner Feud. It was a little smaller theater and we had a lively and interactive server. We found that we liked the food better at the Hatfield’s than the Stampede. The musicians for the Stampede put on a great show prior to the dinner and gave an amazing performance. Of course, the horse-riding feats were exciting to watch and they were well executed. We appreciated the good clean family entertainment at both shows.

We did not come for the town, so Gatlinburg was lost on us. A sea of people walking up and down the main street near the Park was interesting to see. I believe we would have enjoyed the walking in town had we been staying in Gatlinburg.

No bike riding in the mountains where the roads are narrow and winding. From the Cades Cove camp grounds areas you can go biking a few times per week. As we have seen bears in this area, we did not think we should tempt fate by riding bikes near the bears. It might be fun…with a group.

bike in garage

Bikes left in the garage

On the Road to Perryville

I was able to convince a few friends into visiting the well preserved Civil War battlefield in Perryville, Kentucky. This is a Kentucky state historical site. The battle was a dramatic and short (less than 6 hours) fight for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. As a border state between the North and South, Kentucky declared neutrality. So of course both the North and South invaded with the desire to use Kentucky as a base to defeat the other side.

Perryville and the cemetary

Perryville battlefield at the cemetery–Ready for a hike

The North and South forces met in Perryville with the resulting battle costly for both sides. The information provided by the state park was that more soldiers died in the short hours of this battle than at Gettysburg. They are speaking of the death rate per hour of battle and not of the overall number who died in the battle.

Perryville Battlefield Museum and visitor center

The Perryville site does a good job of presenting how the Confederate Army pushed the Union Army and, if they had stayed, would have been able to claim a victory. At the end of the day, the Confederates left the field and moved out of the state to Tennessee. So, this was a technical Union victory. When you are on site and see the movement of troops, you can better understand the results.

We appreciated the site and how we were able to visualize the battle during our almost 2-mile hike around the battle grounds. It was hard to put ourselves in the place of the soldiers on either side going up and down hills. This is the type of place that a map and knowledge of the battle is a good idea. A healthy imagination is also a good benefit.

Perryville line of battle

Line of battle in Perryville KY Civil War site

 

Before we made it to Perryville, the group of guys I was traveling with decided we could go to Buffalo Trace Distillery. This is a 200 year old continually operating distillery; of course continually operating for 200 years takes some talent as most distilleries were shut down for prohibition. Buffalo Trace was open as it was able to supply medicinal bourbon during prohibition. This is a stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and on the way to the battlefield (kind of).

BT Visitors Center

We arrived early in the morning and were able to take one of the free tours. You need to plan a few months in advance for the scheduled longer tours and, being guys, we planned a few days in advance to go and did not have the longer tour. The free tour was a very good tour. The tour had us walking the beautiful grounds. We were able to see a short film, ask questions and go into a rick house complete with a secret entrance. We were able to see the bottle filling and labeling as well. At the end of the free tour, we were able to taste test the product. As a result, or it could have been planned, our group purchased a few bottles of Buffalo Trace products at the gift shop.

After a lunch in Frankfort, near the Old State Capital, we went on a tour of the State Capital. This is a wonderful building with interesting statues in the rotunda of both Abraham Lincoln (dominating the center) and Jefferson Davis (much smaller and off to one side). Both were born in Kentucky, about 100 miles away from each other. If you know history, we were heading to a Civil War battlefield, and these two were in charge during the battle.

 

Lessons learned.

Everything is better with bourbon here in Kentucky. We visited the Kentucky Knows Coffee Shop in Frankfort. We had a good time talking with Tony, the owner of the store. And yes, we also purchased coffee beans.

Burbon Coffee

You can read about history and then walk the fields to see the hills and sweeping fields of fire. Even reading the markers and then walking the grounds sharpened how we took in the scope of that effort by both sides. I am a proponent of being on site. Thank you for the preservation of this historical battlefield.

 

Travel with friends and explore what they want to explore. One in our group had heard of the bourbon coffee shop. It was a fun place to explore.

 

Support the local businesses, helping them and yourself. I am so happy we made a stop at the distillery and visited the capital building. We are not alone and need to continue to explore.

 

No biking was done on this trip.

bike in garage

Bikes left in the garage

 

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