Tuesday, September 30, 2014

my first visitor

I've only been here a handful of days, and already I have a visitor.  My sister had a work trip that brought her to town, so I was able to spend three days with her....well, minus the time she was working.  Her first day was a travel day, so we were able to go up to Rocky Mountain National Park where I was able to show her the majestic mountains, one of the things I fell in love with four years ago.

The second night we had drinks and dinner with her boss at the hotel, and I walked away with the number of our server, a man 18 years older than me.

Night three I brought her to the mile above sea level marker at the capital building.  And I found a vegetarian restaurant nearby.  City, oh City that had a nice atmosphere and some tables outside.  I am not a vegetarian, she is, but I thought my food was OK, I got a quinoa and bean burger with cheese and a side of hominy chili soup.  She ordered the BBQ tofu ribs with vegan mac & cheese and hated it....but then again, she knows that she doesn't like food that replicates the food she gave up (ribs).  I felt so bad...I picked the restaurant and I pushed her to "try something new" that she doesn't eat back home.  Then we had the scout cookie, their take on a girl scout somoa cookie, which was delicious!  We got one to go!

And day four was back to the airport and saying goodbye.  As I left the airport, there were massive dark clouds, strong winds and quite a lightning storm.  I couldn't help but think that my friends and family in heaven were also crying that my sister left...and now I am all alone...to start to figure things out.

Monday, September 29, 2014

August Supermoon

We hiked North Table Mountain in hopes for a supermoon over Denver.  The weather was tricky, it sprinkled a little during the day and thick clouds in the evening...as we were hiking up, I was not sure if we were going to have luck or not.

The hike itself wasn't too bad, considering I've been here only 10 days, people on the walk warned me that I probably won't acclimate for a few more weeks...but I did well.  This was the most elevation gain I walked since I've been here, and even still it wasn't that much.  I kept up with the group nicely, but at one point, I started to sweat profusely and it wouldn't stop....then it did. Once I reached a certain point, the sweat stopped and I just felt better.  It probably didn't help that we had dinner before doing this.

Supermoon from North Table Mountain - looking towards Denver
So we find a place along the trail that looked out over the city and set up.  Then we waited and waited.  Finally, the moon made an appearance, but with the thick clouds, I was not able to get a better shot of the moon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

pleading flashback

I was in a booth alone having dinner.  The couple at the table behind me was talking quietly but not enough that I couldn't hear everything.  I kept trying to read my book, one I have been enjoying, but I kept reading the same paragraph over and over again.  Finally I gave up and just ate my dinner and if I heard them, so be it.  They broke up.  He is dating someone else, flaunting this new girl around.  She is in love with the guy still.  She cried most of the dinner.

It brought back memories I could have done without.  My heart went out to the gal pleading and begging the guy to love her back.  He told her she'd get over it and she said she would't.  He sounded like an ass with his responses, but he was done with her.  Aside from being heartbroken, she didn't sound too smart...so I struggled with feeling bad for her when she kept saying nonsense.

I wanted to go over there and tell her to stop - if he wants you, he'd let you know. stop making a fool out of yourself.  I hoped he was going to get up and leave her there alone - and then I could have went over, but they ended up walking out together.

And you wonder, who am I to judge and tell her to stop? What do I know?  Because that was me 8 years ago.  And she is right, I didn't get over it...and she might not either depending on the circumstances of their breakup.  Years went by that I waited and he got on with his life.  I went into another relationship expecting a heartache and that no one would love me.  My communication skills failed. I pulled away, I was emotionally stubborn.  The lasting effects of that breakup can still be seen, but thankfully, not initially anymore.

Breakups are usually not easy, most of the time it is not mutual; the person who gets their way is the one that probably won't be depressed or sad for too long.

But please, don't plead.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

doubting myself

I keep wondering if I was insane to move without a job.  I've spent hours doing research looking for jobs, applying to some I would actually want to work at. writing customized cover letters and then researching more jobs.  Hours and hours and hours.

And then I get the 'we selected a candidate better suited for this position' email.  How is that possible? The deadline for submission is still a few days away...when did you interview them?  Or selected a 'more qualified' individual....maybe...but that job was below what I did...I was overqualified for that position.

I am struggling with the what do I want to do?  Where do I want to live and work?  I have debt, so I can't take a job paying 30,000...I need a way better paying position.

It took me a while to find my last job, granted I was employed at the time and couldn't spend hours and hours researching...but I did it.  Now I have the time, but not the financial resources to be unemployed for more than so long.

I had hoped to find a job and then an apartment, because I don't want to commute long...but not having a place is tough too....I may have to go the roommate way (YIKES) for a while.

I am so confused and so stressed.  But I have to continue to believe that timing is important and that things happen for a reason.  I haven't gotten to do to much fun stuff yet....but I like it here already and I am looking forward to doing/seeing so much more.

Friday, September 26, 2014

invitation to BBQ

Since I've been attending evening photography things, I needed a tripod.  I head over to a local chain and tell the guy I need a tripod, but I don't want to spend a lot of money (because I don't have a job) but want something decent.

He showed me a couple, but I wasn't loving them, even in the $80 range.  So I asked what he would recommend that was under $200, and he pointed me to this small, compact tripod with a ball head.  The legs spread out nicely and had more movement than the cheaper models.  I really liked this tripod but didn't love the price tag.  Since I needed it for an event tonight, I couldn't even go home and review the product and find it cheaper elsewhere.  I sucked it up and purchased it, knowing I would be using it quite a bit.

As the sales guy is ringing me up, he invited me to a BBQ at his place the following day (he learned I was new in town and that we lived just a few streets away).  I asked if other people would be there, he said his children. He talked about a few other things and said, 'so how about it?'.  I had no other plans so I said yes.  He wrote down his telephone number and address.  As I was leaving, he said "I can't believe I just asked a woman out".

Oh, was that what that was?  Crap.  He man was nice enough, but also appeared to be 55 - 60.  I know I am getting older, but I still struggle with dating a guy that is more than 45.  The whole car way home I kept thinking about if I should go or not.  What would I bring over?  If this was a date, I'd already be meeting his two teenage daughters.  That seemed too much for me.  Add in that I am from NY and am a bit skeptical of people and their interests...but, I moved out here, to meet friendlier people.  But I still couldn't shake that he knew that I didn't really know anyone and that he invited me to his house, alone.  Did I want to become a statistic and die a prisoner in his basement?  Ok, so the odds of that happening are really low.

I looked to see if his number was a house or cell, it was a cell.  So I blocked my number and called him, hoping he would not answer if he saw "private number" and the fact he was at work.  So I left a nice message saying that upon further thinking, I was not ready to go to a strange man's house but I really appreciate the neighborly gesture in the invitation and that I hoped he enjoyed his day off.

So, after 10 days here (or really in 4 years), I was finally hit on...but not quite what I was expecting.  I hope other guys here are secure enough to chat with me and I'll eventually start dating again.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

finding an address

Today, I realized I probably needed a temporary address.  As I am applying for jobs, many ask for an address. I don't want to put my NY address because then it won't seem like I am right here.  I don't want to use the temporary address I've been staying at for the last 2 weeks because that isn't right, it isn't mine.  My host suggested to get a PO Box, I have one at home and thought that would be good.

But it isn't good because to open a PO Box, the worker reminded me I needed to have a valid Colorado driver's license/ID...which I don't have because I don't have a home.  Too bad too because they were doing 3 month boxes for only $18! The worker suggested I try one of their competitors, like UPS store.

So I plug that into my GPS and go to the one a mile away.  I inquire about their policy for obtaining a mail box and indeed they were less stringent about my license, I just needed two forms of ID.  The thee month box however was $60 plus $20 set up fee.  $80 for a mailbox that won't get a lot of mail and is really just so I look local.  But that is a small fee for if I land a job!  The only problem with this is that I might not be staying where I am for 3 months....so getting to it might be tough, but the guy said that they can always forward my mail.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

didn't take into account....bank

One of the things I did not take into account before I left was my bank.  I've been banking with them for almost 9 years and since they are so huge back in NYC, I figured every major city would have branches...but when it came time for me to take money out, there was no bank.  So, I looked to see what banks were around and picked one that is back home too.  I went there and opened up an account, which was easier than I thought considering I don't really have a home/address yet.  The bank will receive my debit card and when it arrives, I'll just go there to pick it up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

getting out there

Since I got to Colorado, I've spent so much time on the computer researching apartment complexes, looking for jobs, seeing the apartments.  There was so much to do in a short period of time...important things that would allow me to stay out here.  Things that will decide where I will live.

I've spent hours at the library researching and applying for select jobs (I should be applying for more, but right now it is to the few that really sound like what I want to do...and have the potential to pay me on my low-end minimum).  Once I get more desperate, I'll expand and apply for additional (temporary) jobs.

Flatirons at 11:00 PM....side streak is flashlights from hikers
I needed to start getting outside and meeting people.  I signed up for about 10 meetup groups and had my first outing to photograph the flatirons using the moonlight.  I never shot in manual mode, so I learned quite a bit not only of where controls were but also the techniques (which I still barely understand).  I look forward to doing this again, probably by myself to start to understand ISO, aperture and shutter times a little better.

I had a few cool pictures where the shutter speed was less and you were able to see the stars - which is neat too.

I hope that other meets will let me talk to people a little more.  This group was small and everyone was focused on the work - taking pictures - that there was some talk, but not enough for me to get friendly enough with anyone...yet.

Monday, September 22, 2014

face to face almost

I've been having some phone conversations with my family, but I miss them. I want to see them.  I finally dug out my iPad and called my sister via FaceTime.  My nephew answered almost immediately (good thing kids are addicted to electronics) and I learned how to use FaceTime, this was the first time for me and it was fun.  The picture got blurry at times, but the camera on my end seemed to show every single bump, line, wrinkle and dark spot I had. I was shocked how horrible I looked...and wondered if that really is what I look like...the mirror, thankfully, tells a slightly different picture.  Anyway, we talk for about an hour, I gave them a tour of where I was staying and they gave me a tour of my niece's bedroom that they are redoing now that she is getting older.  It was so great that I still felt like part of the everyday action.

I will have to learn Skype for my other sister.

I think this will be a great tool to use where I feel like I am not going to miss out too much on some everyday things and will still be able to see the kids grow up.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

the meltdown

I was not prepared for the traffic in Denver.  Sure Colorado is booming, more people are looking to appreciate the mountains, the lifestyle, and the marijuana.  Apartments and houses are going up all over the place, yet to find a vacancy is quite difficult, especially when you are looking for something ASAP and don't want a full year lease - that is another post.

So with all the building, and more people living here...the roads are congested, even if they are 4 or 5 lanes at times.  It took me 40 - 50 minutes to get from downtown Denver to Englewood, a 6.6 mile ride.  I was so frustrated by the time I got to the area, I didn't even want to look at the places...so I turned around and sat in traffic for over an hour to get back north of Denver.  I burst out in sobs, I left New York to get away from traffic...I don't want a long commute, I don't want traffic, I want a happy life near the mountains.  I wanted affordable housing...but with the housing boom...things are not so affordable.  I started to doubt that I made the right decision.  Was I crazy to be doing this?  But I thought, once I find a job then I will intentionally pick a place to live where I don't have to worry about this horrible traffic on an everyday basis.  

When my car beeped at the 2 hour mark - I was shocked that I spent over two hours in the car to go nowhere.  I was so frustrated.  I stupidly answered my phone when my parents called, and sobbed to them about how frustrated I was with the traffic, and the horrible extended stay hotels.  They assured me after such a stressful period in my life, it is completely normal to have this breakdown, now that I am here...the reality is setting in and it is flooding my emotions.  Did I want to go back home they asked?  After 2 days here, no way!  I need to give it at least 6 months.  So, I need to be prepared for a very difficult time for the next few weeks/months until I get adjusted.  I really didn't think this far through back home, as a planner it is so hard to not know what is coming, where I'll be staying, where the job will be; with so many unknowns I think it is normal for a meltdown.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

an imaginary friend, sort of

Towards the beginning of my trip, there was a ladybug in the car with me.  At that time, I was in the passenger seat and the ladybug was on the window.  I opened the window to let the bug out, but it stuck to the window.  I couldn't help thinking if it was ManFriend with me, giving me the courage to keep going.  After a few hours of hanging out on the slightly open window, the ladybug flew out of the car.

After my halfway point and it was just me in the car, it seemed like I always had a fly in the car with me for the rest of the trip.  The flies were annoying - was that ManFriend too?  ManFriend was annoying at times with our communication issues.  I talked to the flies telling them how much they were pissing me off and to stop biting me...but then I thought maybe it was ManFriend kissing me.  haha.  Jabbing at my skin reminding me they were there.

I know it is silly to talk to insects or to no one...but I get comfort talking to a person even if they aren't there to listen.  Almost like an imaginary friend - but based on a person I knew. It is like talking to myself, I realize that, but it is a little different.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

to a new beginning

And so, that is it.  I arrived in the state I am hoping to call home soon.  I clocked 4,139 miles getting here and had an amazing trip.  The route changed a little bit along the way.
Before - Planned Route
After - Actual Route
I was lucky enough to have great company for the first half, and the second half was filled with a lot of internal reflection and learning even more about myself.  I am proud of myself for doing it...taking the risk.  I hope it pays off, only time will tell.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 16

Enjoying my overpriced hotel room, I took advantage of getting a later start in the morning.  Scotts Bluff was not on my original itinerary, but as I came into the town the evening before, I saw there was a monument.  So I looked it up, thought it sounded good and headed over there.  Scotts Bluff National Monument has both a trail and a road up to the top.  I decided to walk/hike the 1.6 mile trail gaining 435 feet in elevation to the top and then take their car down (although that was before I realized it was a paved trail! but it saved me time).  After I got back to the visitor center, I quickly walked through the exhibit area and then left.

I decided to drive 40 miles out of my way north to see Carhenge.  It was a tough decision, I forgot that was on my list, and I probably should have done it the night before...if there was a road that would have taken me there without having to go through Scotts Bluff area.  But, it was early enough in the day and I didn't have much left of my trip.  I figured this part of Nebraska is not someplace I'd be going back to anytime soon, if at all...so I might as well just check it out.  Carhenge replicates Stonehenge.  What I was a little surprised to see was all the graffiti on the cars....was that done intentionally or not?  Either way, most cars had it, so at least if it was unintentional, it tied it all together.

Back in the car, double backed the way I came, and eventually crossed the border for Colorado, which welcomed me with the most amazingly blue sky and puffy white clouds.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 15

Day 15 started with another early morning cave tour.  The road leading up to the Wind Cave National Park had major construction, so even though I got there early, it wasn't as early as I thought...but that was OK, because everyone else going there was behind me in traffic.  I get a great tour time, starting within 10 minutes of my arrival, had a group size of about 50 and a great tour guide.  Jewel cave and wind cave are fairly close together (and may even connect) but the insides were quite different, and a reassurance that seeing different caves is a good thing.  When my tour got out, the line to purchase tickets was so long...with tours in the late afternoon available, it was only about 10am.  Get there early!

I thought about going to Crazy Horse.  It was in my itinerary, but I decided not to.  It gives me a reason to go back to South Dakota another time - as there are other things I want to see...I don't need to do and see them all this trip.

Next up was the Mammoth Site.  Really quite incredible to see so many mammoths being uncovered here.  I thought it was wonderful they have children, student and adult volunteer opportunities.  The tour was fairly short, and afterwards you could walk around at your leisure.

Not too far away was the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.  I stopped her for my niece, she loves horses.  It wasn't quite what I was expecting, I pull in and you see a few horses eating.  Went into the gift shop/information area.  It was free, but I donated $10.  Then I realized that was kinda it.  They have tours there...but a tour was not in my budget, although I am sure it is a fun tour.  As I was leaving, my GPS wanted me to go a different way, so I follow it down this dirt road...and I saw so many wild horses.  It was great.  I continued and then the road had a sign that the road was closed. So I turn around and double back the way I came.

And then it was more driving.  I crossed into Nebraska and stopped at the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.  Many mammoth sites are in this area...but they are not uncovering them anymore.  They have two trails, one trail leading to the two mounds (University and Carnegie Hills), I started on this trail, made it about 3/4 of the way and turned around.  The flies were really bad, and I didn't have any bug spray or anything.  The sky was also getting really dark and I worried it was going to downpour when I was again, not prepared for the rain.  I hop in the car and go towards the entrance where there is another trail, the daemonelix trail that I completed and was rewarded by seeing a massive daemonelix.

This part of the state was pretty deserted, I continued driving because I was getting tired and needed to find a place to sleep for the night and ended up in Scotts Bluff where I spend the most amount of money on a hotel room...after I was lucky enough to snatch a room that someone vacated early after being told repeatedly that there were either no rooms left or they only had smoking rooms, which I can't handle. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 14

After a restful sleep, I woke early so I can get to the Jewel Cave National Monument before it got too crowded.  I took a fascinating tour with a great tour guide.  They have lots of tours to pick from...but many tours are offered only a few times a day.  They sell out...so you have to get there on the earlier side.

From Jewel Cave, I drove through Custer State Park.  The park was fantastic with great views...much better than taking the main road to Mt. Rushmore!  And if you are driving north, you'll go through a tunnel bridge and catch Mt. Rushmore from there. A pleasant surprise for me.  The scenic route had a series of tunnels and bridges.

Then you exit the park, drive a few miles, and BAM...the presidents are looking at you.  There is a nice pull off on both sides of the road where you can get a great shot of the faces.  While Mount Rushmore National Monument is free, you do have to pay to park, which was I think $10, but they said my pass was valid through the end of the calendar year.  

Of course as I get there, it starts to rain...so I walk the loop trail, take lots of pictures from lots of angles and then I leave.  I didn't stay around after it started to rain really hard.  But they do have fireworks at night, which would have been nice to see.

It was early, but I called it a night.  Being on the road so long has been tough, so I took a few hours to do some research, catch up on emails, eat dinner at a reasonable hour, etc.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 13

The morning of Day 13, I woke early because I heard that the free tickets to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site go quick.  They open at 8, I was there at 7:20, and I was probably #35 in line.  The good news was that since I was solo, I was able to get a ticket to the 9:30 tour.  The tour was interesting, it was from the Cold War and how we fought from so far away. The ticket was only for the launch control facility anyone can get to the site of the missile, which was a few miles away, I stopped there hours later.  The missile site has an audio tour that you can use your telephone to access.

I then headed to Badlands National Park and drove through the park from East to West.  The Eastern end seemed to have more hiking trails and was very busy with tourists.  I started on a trail or two...but I didn't hike it so long, people were everywhere.  I am not too big on crowds so I didn't spend as much time here as I probably should have...I thought there would be other areas of the park that had trails, if there were, I missed them.  The park did have a good number of turnouts and viewing areas, I stopped at all of them.  Near the end, I took the dirt road in hopes of seeing some animals, and it paid off...I saw a bunch of bison and mountain sheep.

From Badlands, I went to the Missile Site (from above) and then went to Wall Drug...I wasn't going to stop there, there was nothing I needed, but it was early and well, I saw about 200 billboards along the way that I figured, why not.

After a little ice cream, I headed towards the Black Hills.  My first stop in this area was the Cosmos Mystery Area for a fun, unforgettable tour.  

 Since it was still 'early', I had time to do one more activity, I decided to take a tour of the Big Thunder Gold Mine.  The tour was OK.  It was not a successful gold mine and my tour guide was trying to be funny...but just wasn't, I found it more distracting than anything.  I could have panned for gold...but didn't because I'd rather not do it at a site like that and if I ever have children, it would be something fun to do with them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 12

Day 12 was a big decision making day.  Where do I go from Kansas City?  North?  West?   Straight to my destination or do more sightseeing?

I decided to go North and do more sightseeing, which meant Day 12 was the longest driving day.  I drove up through Iowa and stopped at the Squirrel Cage Jail, quite an interesting design for a jail, not too many left in the US.  

I crossed the boarder into South Dakota and really, it was just driving.  Over the past few years, I haven't needed to drive much, I lived so close to everything and took the train to work.  Driving or being in the car for the last 11 days is sort of like riding a bike...you remember that it isn't so bad.  And at some point, you come to appreciate it again.  Even though I spent a good 10 hours driving, I appreciated the time to myself. I thought. I sang.  I talked to my sister on the phone.  I talked to myself.
I made a stop in a small town in South Dakota, which was very much out of my way...but by the time I got there, it was late and most of the town was shut down already.  Oh well.  I continued on to find a hotel near where tomorrow's activities would begin.

After a few tries, I found a room at this motel, the room had two queen beds and a twin...great for traveling families.  Of course I didn't need so much space, but it was all they had.  It felt like a room scary enough that you'd see it in the movies...but the next morning I realized it wasn't that bad.  Could have been worse.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Days 9 - 11

I dropped my friend off at the airport.  It was so nice having her along for the ride, it really delayed my thoughts about me moving...until this point, it was a fun road trip...but I was only about half way done.

I headed up to Tall Grass Prairie Preserve in northern Oklahoma, it was out of my way, but I figured I should see this area as there are not many untouched tall grass areas left.  However, I got lost (my GPS and private dirt roads and not finding county roads don't get along).  I drove 40 minutes the wrong way, thought about skipping it...but what else did I have planned? So I turned around and stopped for directions and finally made it.  It was a very peaceful area, aside from the trucks traveling these dirt roads.

From here I went to Independence KS to see the Little House on the Prairie Museum.  For $3 you can't go wrong.  I walked around all of 15-20 minutes, read the signs, used the bathroom and headed out.

I arrived in Kansas City and spent the next 2 1/2 days hanging out with my friend and her family.  These days were much needed rest days. I didn't have to drive very much and it was nice just hanging out being 'normal' again for a few days...eating real food, sitting on a couch, going shopping and doing laundry.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 8

Unfortunately after breakfast, the sky wasn't too happy.  It was going to rain.  But just because I was in a park doesn't mean I wasn't going to see some of why I selected Petit Jean State Park.  OK, so we only did one short hike, but it was nice, and we drove the loop road with the overlooks (not too exciting when it was foggy and rainy)...but we still got to see a cave, 'turtle' rocks and a waterfall overlook.  If there was more time, I would have loved to do the kayaking or some other activities.  If I was in Arkansas again, I would go back to this park, seemed nice enough.
Website:  http://www.petitjeanstatepark.com/

By lunchtime we were done and headed over to Fort Smith National Historic Site.  We were in the process of a very thorough tour by a volunteer guide, and after being the the one room for about 30 minutes we had a massive storm come by.  The wind, lightening, heavy rain...the building lost electricity.  The volunteer continued to tell us stories but then we were sent to the lobby with everyone else who was there.  We waited about 45 minutes but when the electricity didn't come on we decided we'd just leave. So we didn't get to see the second and third floors even though they sounded really interesting...but coming from an area that lost power a bit growing up, it would have been hours for it to come back on...and there were places we still needed to go (or really I just needed to get us to the airport for my friend's departure the following morning).
Website:  http://www.nps.gov/fosm/index.htm

Very close to Fort Smith was the Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma.  We made a stop there since it was so close...but it wasn't quite like I expected.  Although if I thought about it...it should have been exactly what I expected....mounds of grass covered dirt.  They had an exhibit and a trial by the mounds with a reading guide.
Website:  http://www.okhistory.org/sites/spiromounds.php

Back in the car for a few more hours and the end of the day.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 7

Woohooo....Day 7 was Graceland.  I've been looking forward to seeing Graceland for a while.  There was a parking fee in addition to the admission fee, I don't know if it was me who missed that on the website or what..but be prepared to shell out an additional 10-20 per car (I can't remember what it was).  We selected the platinum tour which included admission to the airplanes, the car museum, the Hawaii exhibit and something else ($37).

The tour was crowded, but well organized.  It was very informative and we spent a lot more time there than I thought we would.  So far, this was my favorite spot.

Website:  http://www.graceland.com/

After that we got back in the car and headed for Arkansas.  We stopped at the Old Mill, famous for being in the opening credits of Gone with the Wind.  We spent and hour or less walking around and admiring how beautiful the park was.
Website:  http://www.northlr.org/visitor/old-mill.asp

There was not much daylight left, a few hours and we still had to make it to where we were staying that night.  On the way there, we found a lookout

and continued to Petit Jean State Park where we rented a cute, cozy cabin in the woods.
Website:  http://www.petitjeanstatepark.com/

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 6

The morning of Day 6 we took the tour of the Grand Ole Opry.  The tour was very interesting...and unfortunately they did not have a show going on when we were in town - and I wasn't going to delay the trip by 2 days to wait for one.  Bad planning on my part.
After the tour of the Grand Ole Opry we headed into town for lunch then hit the road for Memphis.  The first stop in Memphis was Elvis' home before Graceland.  Of course that is a private house, so we were only able to drive by and take pictures.

Then it was time for something a little different.  The Crystal Shine Grotto, located in Memorial Park Cemetery. When I think of cemeteries, I think of gravestone after gravestone...but the Memorial Park Cemetery was beautiful, designed very nicely.  And within this area was the Crystal Shine Grotto, a man made cave that was built in the 1930s. Inside are scenes depicting Christ's journey from birth to resurrection.
website:  http://www.memorialparkfuneralandcemetery.com/who-we-are/crystal-shrine-grotto
We saw the Elvis statue and the skyline of the city from a park.  We walked around a bit and had dinner at a BBQ place, I had the ribs, and they were delicious.  Overall I liked Memphis more than Nashville

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 5

Day 5 began by arriving at Mammoth Cave National Park nice and early.  I read reviews that the tours tend to sell out quickly, and since I didn't want to wait around for hours and was not too picky about which tour I went on, I got there about 8:15 am.  At one point I did consider the longer more challenging tour when you are splunking through the crevasses, I figured that would be a fun way to explore a cave - like so many people many years ago.  Those tours however are only given a few times a day and sell out well in advance.  I opted for the Domes and Dripstones tour.  My friend didn't want so many stairs so she went on another tour that started 15 minutes later but was shorter.  We took a short bus ride to the entrance and the tour started.  Flash photography is not permitted.  What was really cool about this cave/tour are that the passageways are narrow - it felt a bit more like exploring than it did just walking, even though the route was paved and lit.  What was not cool about this cave was the massive spiders and towards the end the amount of cave crickets (i think that is what they were).  I wore my hood of my shirt over my head for the tour because the spiders were just so...big.  and I noticed them from the moment we descended, making me extra cautious for the duration.
website:  http://www.nps.gov/maca/index.htm

From there we drove to Nashville, TN.  I didn't have a set itinerary of things to do/see, so as we were driving and we saw the sign for the Grand Ole Opry we got off the highway.  First we came to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and we walked around this magnificent place.  Not only is this place huge, but the common area was essentially a greenhouse with amazing flowers, trees and plants.  Beautiful walkways, many restaurants...so relaxing.  We walked all around and had an adult beverage before leaving.  Maybe next time I am around I'll stay here for a night.

The Grand Ole Opry was closed, but we managed to get tour tickets for the following morning.  So we headed downtown, I think it was Broadway or that area for dinner.  The streets were lined with restaurants with live music, tourist shots, boot stores.  The nightlife was there - and so where the people.

All in all, I can't say, for me, that Nashville was a favorite place or a place I'd want to go back to again. I am not sure what the appeal is for visitors, aside from country music...but I am glad I was able to see it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 4

Day four, we were off to an early start to drive a bit and make it to where we wanted to go by opening time.

Lincoln's Boyhood Home in Lincoln City, IN was the first stop for day 4.  We didn't spend much time here, but wandered through the exhibit area and reflected on the importance of Abraham Lincoln.
website:  http://www.nps.gov/libo/index.htm

Ellis Park Race Track was our main attraction today.  This was my first time at a horse race and betting on a horse.  I won the first race, to bad I only bet the minimum, $3.  We stayed for all 9 races.  I won about 4 of them, but again, only betting the minimum.  I'd say the day at the races cost me about $14 plus lunch. Not bad!  The races were conducted on both dirt and turf.
Website:  http://www.ellisparkracing.com/ 

Day 4:  374 miles

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 3

Day 3 started with a quick stop at the Little Red School House in Indian Hill.  This was not originally on my planned route, but the next stop didn't open until 11 AM so it filled the time.  The neighborhood getting to this place was filled with beautiful houses.  The house itself is being renovated so we couldn't go in but is currently the historical society's office.

The Loveland Castle Museum/Chateau Laroche was built by Harry D. Andrews.  He spent 50+ years working on it until his death at age 92 (I think).  The inside was decorated in 'typical' castle appropriate furnishings with shining armor.  The castle wasn't huge, we were there probably an hour.  It got quite busy as we left with families with children running all over the place (although the castle isn't for running around in).  Very reasonable entrance fee, not a lot in terms of 'gift shop' items. I would have loved to get my nephew something - he is very into knights/castles/etc...but there was nothing.  I bought a postcard to send him, which he loved.
website:  http://www.lovelandcastle.com/

Shawnee Lookout.  I expected more.  There was an entrance fee I didn't know about, not that it was huge, $3 for the day. We proceed through the gate and drive.  The park was big and offered different areas of play areas, picnicking, trails, etc.  We drive to the end...and well, where was the lookout?  So we took a trail, it was an easy trail to the lookout and I was like....really?  This was a little out of the way and the view wasn't what I was expecting.  We get back in the car, start chatting about the next day....and change our itinerary as we decided if we are going to be in Kentucky we should see some horse racing...so we spend a good two hours in the Shawnee Lookout Park figuring out where we can go and how we can modify our plans (good thing for not getting a room in advance!).  Since it changed our course quite a bit, we were looking for something to do this evening.  My sister was doing research on the new route and told us of the a vineyard...and guess what, they just happen to have evening entertainment tonight....off we go.

Elk Creek Vineyards was the final stop this evening.  Wine tasting and live music...what could be better? My friend did the regular wine samples and I did the sweet wine samples.  I went different because I don't drink sweet...and there is a reason! They were sweet indeed.  My friend and I tasted each others so I got to try 12 wines.  After the wine tasting we ordered some dinner and a bottle that we both liked and listed to teh music.  Unfortunately it was a bit rainy, but that didn't stop us!  We headed down to to pavilion area and danced (swayed) the rest of the night.  The Headstones (band) was amazing, such great voices.
website:  http://www.elkcreekvineyards.com/

After the concert, about 11pm we drive back towards the highway to look for a hotel.  All the hotels were booked.  We drive to the next exit, same thing.  The next exit, still no luck.  We drive around until 2:00 am when we finally find a hotel.  Who would have thought it would be so hard?  But they had a massive horse show/race/kids thing/conference in the area and the whole area was sold out.

Day 3 - 201 miles

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Big Move Road Trip - Day 2

After a restful night, day 2 of the trip included a trip to:

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Peninsula OH.  This is not your typical national park, but it was quiet and peaceful and most importantly there weren't many people.  There are some hiking trails, waterfalls, etc. A road in the park was closed for construction, so navigating was a bit more 'complicated' that we had to go the long way to see things...but it was fine.  I'd say we spent a good 3 hours here, including the short hikes to Bridal Veil Fall and Brandywine Falls.
website:  http://www.nps.gov/cuva/index.htm

The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield OH.  What a beautiful prison from the outside.  Do you recognize it?  The Shawshank Redemption and Air Force Once filmed here.  The self guided tour was really good - covered a lot of the building and history.  We were probably here for 2 hours.  We took our time and listened to almost all the recordings.  If you are a Shawshank Redemption freak, Mansfield OH has a Shawshank Trail - that will bring you to other locations the movie was filmed at.  

Scioto Park in Dublin OH.  This was just a quick stop/photo op along the way.  The monument is of Chief Leatherlips (because he always kept his word), which was crafted from slabs of limestone.

Day 2 - 288 miles