Archive for the ‘travel’ category

Elizabethtown

April 4, 2012

When I was living in Louisville, Kirsten Dunst and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) were filming a movie called Elizabethtown on location in Elizabethtown, KY. A couple of years ago, I finally got [around] to watch[ing] the movie. It was a cute but very dark romantic comedy. The film centers around a suicidally depressed New Yorker, whose family hails from central Kentucky. He learns that a family member dies and he must go back to the Commonwealth for the funeral. Through the course of the film, Legolas meets and begins a relationship with a flight attendant, Kirsten Dunst, who challenges him to both grieve and find himself. The line from the movie that I always remember is “If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else,” meaning no matter what circumstances under which it happens, things are going to happen. In this case, it meant the family would gather together again. In all, it wasn’t a terribly great movie, but it wasn’t bad either.

On Monday, I was returning home from the 150th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Shiloh and visiting Fort Donelson. My journey took me on the freeway along the outskirts of Elizabethtown, KY, and I considered stopping. It was about 2 in the afternoon, and I knew a stop would give me a delay of about 3 hours. You see, my grandmother lives in E-town. She’s in an assisted living facility there. I decided to press on to try to get home early, and I’d plan a longer visit later this month. As I made my decision, that line popped into my head. If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else. I made it home relatively early and finished unpacking my truck before the basketball game started. (WAY TO GO CATS!)

I found out yesterday at lunch that my grandmother had fallen on Friday and was taken to the hospital. She wasn’t seriously hurt, but they took her as a precaution. She was recovering very well, but mentally, she was in an age 10 or more years ago. She was talking about seeing long-dead family over the past few days and the coming days. She would never have recognized me if I had stopped to see her. As much as I would have liked to spend time with her, I felt a little less bad about not stopping.

Late last night, we got a call from my mother’s aunt. My grandmother had just passed away. Now I’m trying to find out how much work can be put off for another week and preparing to travel back to Elizabethtown tomorrow or Friday. I don’t know the funeral details yet, but it will likely be Friday morning or Saturday. Once again, that line is going through my mind: If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else.

Stopping wouldn’t have made a difference that she’d know, and to be completely honest, stopping wouldn’t have made much of a difference to me. Seeing her one last time in her mental state, would not have left me with a better memory of her life and the time we got to spend together.

I used to spend a week visiting when I was younger. My parents would meet my grandparents at either King Fish in Louisville or Frisch’s in Winchester, KY, and leave one of us with them and take the other two back home. For three weeks, my grandparents had one or another of us. We used to take walks on the trail to Freeman Lake. She always got after me whenever I ran ahead and got out of view, and I’d have to come back to her. We golfed at Fort Knox. Whenever we’d go on base, we’d stop at the PX, and I’d get Pringles. We stopped by the Coca-Cola bottling plant in E-town. We never went on the tour. We would just go in to look at the koi pond and get free drinks from the fountain. Nearly every time I was there, it was Shark Week. I don’t know if my parent’s planned it that way or not, but I’d watch all the shows on Discovery Channel in the evenings. My grandmother never understood why I’d want to watch shows about shark attacks every night for several hours, but she’d sit down in her chair and watch them with me.

When I was in college, I would call my grandmother from time to time. When she asked who was calling, I’d always announce, “It’s your favorite grandson!” She actually seemed to enjoy hearing me declare that. Those are the memories that I will keep with me of my grandmother.

Now, I find myself getting ready to go back to Elizabethtown a few weeks before I had initially planned to see my grandmother again. This time, it will be for one last time. The troubles my grandmother has had for the last seven or eight years are finally over. I’ll again make the journey to where my grandfather was laid to rest twelve years ago. I know that they’re together again. If it hadn’t been this, it’d be something else. Family together again.

Beware the Deer

January 30, 2012

This past weekend was the annual Youth ski trip. This year, we went to Winterplace in Ghent, WV. For lodging, we stayed at Pipestem State Resort Park in cottages. Pipestem is about ten or fifteen miles from Winterplace as the crow flies. It’s a forty-five minute trip as the Big Blue Bible Buggy drives, though. Still, once the sleeping accommodations were worked out, there was no complaining.

Out the back door of the boys’ cabin was a small deck about a foot and a half off the ground. Beyond the deck was a ten foot clearing, then trees. The trees only went for about 40 feet to the left half of the cabin before there was another clearing for the golf course. To the right half was the beginning of a deep, wooded ravine. Saturday morning, one of the boys went out on the deck and said there were deer. I went out to take a look, and over the next couple of minutes, a group of twelve deer started appearing from the golf course in pairs. They rummaged through the leaves looking for food and paying no mind to the fact that they were being watched. One of the boys who had come outside went back in, then came out again with a cinnamon roll. He tossed it out into the leaves. Two of the deer moved closer to the deck and started digging through the leaves to see what was dropped. We all went inside before seeing if it was found.

The next morning, I walked out onto the deck as the sun was coming up. There were three deer just past the tree line. They started moving to the right as more deer came into the trees from the golf course. When there were seven deer present, they started moving up to the edge of the clearing around the deck. They stood there staring at me. They didn’t move. They didn’t look for food through the leaves as they had the morning before. They just stared. Eventually, four more deer came off the golf course and within a few minutes, all eleven deer were standing in the trees at the very edge of the clearing, doing nothing but staring at me. After a few minutes, it got to be too much for me to handle. I went back in and shut the curtains.

I learned a very valuable lesson this weekend. Never feed the deer. You’ll just end up feeling like you’re living in a Stephen King novel.

So you thought you might like to go to the show.

August 13, 2010

I went out to see a play at a local state park last night.  I should have realized that Thursday the Twelfth was not a good night to go out, but I did anyway.  I managed to get lost on the way – on a road I’ve driven many, many, many times.  After driving a distance that should have gotten me there, I found myself on a major highway halfway to my destination.  At least I knew where I was, and I also knew a shortcut to the park.  I got on a limited access highway and sped – in reference to speed, not speed laws, of course – to the exit I wanted, got off and had another car come flying up behind me.  I floored the gas pedal to try to keep him off my bumper.  Flying through the woods on a windy, two-lane road with ditches on both sides is not fun, at least for me.  The jerk about a foot behind me seemed to love it.  He finally passed me in a no-passing zone and got stuck behind a utility truck less than a quarter-mile ahead, allowing me to catch back up to him.  I finally got to the park and found a great spot in front of the stage.

A friend of mine in the show told me a few days before that I needed to come see it because it was actually good, unlike the last show – which she had also said was good.  When I questioned her about it further, she said this one was much better.  The last show was very entertaining, but no masterpiece.  The acting was good.  The production was quite good, given the limitations of the venue.  The script itself didn’t give much to produce greatness though.  It was quite humourous and the cast fully brought out that aspect of it.  Unfortunately it was not a really good show. – I made a point after the show of telling my friend that she didn’t have to lie about how good it was because I was going to come out to see her in it anyway, after which she insisted that she did need to say that and that it is “the greatest show EVER!” in a completely “I’m bulls*^@%ing you” tone of voice. – It was still well-worth the trip out to the park to see it though.

They say that teachers are awful students and doctors make the worst patients.  I’m starting to think that actors are not the best people to go see plays with.  There was commentary through large parts of the show, ranging from the this-ground-is-hard/I-need-to-move variety to the our-friend-totally-lied-to-us kind.  I still think the latter was a bit of an exaggeration – although the ground was quite hard in reference to the former.  I’ve noticed the same thing with other thespians as well though.  Come to think of it, it’s pretty common among the general population these days, so nevermind.

After the play, I stayed for a bit and talked.  Someone recognized me from Copa, despite my having a beard for disguise. – She actually said that she didn’t recognize me until someone pointed out that it was me. – I eventually began my trek back home, and that turned out to be even more exciting than the way to the park.

There was a heavy fog at the intersection where I needed to turn to take the fast way home, but I managed to get the turn anyway.  The fog was so thick though that I could barely see the road, and the next thing I knew – literally only about 45 seconds – I was back on the road I had just gotten off of and headed back towards the park.  I’m still not sure how I managed to do that.  I turned around, took my turn again and headed off in the right direction.  Everything looked normal, aside from the fog.  There was the hill on my left side, a creek on my right, lots of woods and occasionally a house.  I finally crossed over the overpass.  I looked down at all the lights passing under me and realized something.  I wasn’t supposed to cross the interstate.  I actually wasn’t even supposed to get NEAR the interstate.  At least I knew that if I kept going on that road, I’d run into a major highway and take that east to get home.  Eventually, I came across that highway and had an incredible urge to turn west and just drive for a couple of days.  That sort of thing happens with me.  After sitting at the stop sign for a minute or so, fighting that urge, I turned east and headed home.  An hour and three counties after leaving the park – which is half an hour from home and in the same county – I got back home and went to bed.

This morning, I find myself exhausted after only five hours of sleep.  It’s for mornings like this that Starbucks was founded.  You also know you’re tired when your venti bold-roast coffee looks like it’s only a grande.  It wasn’t until about halfway through it that it started to look like the right size.  One thing I discovered last night that never would have if I hadn’t gotten lost is that Billy Joel’s For the Longest Time has to be the perfect song to warm up my tenor register to.  If I hadn’t spent that long driving home, I never would have come to that song on my iTouch playlist.

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April 30, 2010

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The happenstance that almost was

March 29, 2010

This past weekend was the reenactment of the battles of Scary Creek and Hurricane Bridge.  Although the temperature went into the 20s Friday night, it warmed up into the 70s and was sunny.  Sunday the weather was not so nice.  It was overcast all morning.  Late in the morning, it started to rain.  It rained… and rained… and rained.  Still, it was the best that I’ve ever seen the weather at that event.

Friday night when I was unloading my stuff, I discovered that the driver’s side door to the truck would not close.  I would slam it and it would bounce right back open.  I ended up tying it shut for the night and Saturday.  I drove it back home like that Saturday afternoon, parked it at the office and got cleaned up to see Randy Travis in concert.  The concert was great.  He’s a breath of fresh air in an age of autotune.  I borrowed Dad’s Trailblazer and went back to Hurricane to camp out and finish the reenactment.

In the morning, we were sitting around talking, and I mentioned the trouble I had with the truck.  One of the guys said that it had happened to his daughter and told me what they had done to fix it.  As soon as I got back home Sunday night, I did it, and viola (sp?) it was fixed.

Also on Sunday, I was sitting around during the officer’s meeting waiting for the decision on whether or not to fight in the rain.  A family came into the shelter where we were meeting and sat down.  Several of us started talking to them.  One of them looked familiar.  She was tall and blonde.  I was sure I had talked to her the year before.  After a couple of minutes, she asked me if I was the she had talked to last year.  I said yes.  We talked for a little longer, and it turns out we’re the same age.  When I had to go for the fight, I asked her, “I’ll talk to you after the battle?”  She said sure.

After the battle, I excused myself as quickly as possible and went to the shelter she had watched from.  I got there and saw her walking with her family back to their car.  They got in and started it up and started moving, so I dejectedly walked back to camp to pack up my gear.  They drove by as I was walking and stopped.  They rolled down one of the windows and said by.  She even leaned into the front seat to wave goodbye as they drove off.  I didn’t get a chance to get her phone number or email address.  I was bummed when I didn’t get it last year.  This year I’m just pissed at myself.  Maybe there’s next year though.

skiing

March 2, 2010

This past weekend was the annual church ski trip.  While the original plan was to ski West Virginia, we had to make a slight change Friday night when I called the hotel and they informed me that we would not be able to get there.  Instead we left about three hours later than we had intended and in the opposite direction.  “What can possibly be in the opposite direction of West Virginia for skiing?  Surely you didn’t go all the way to Aspen, did you?”  Yeah.  I know that’s what you’re thinking, but that wouldn’t be at all close.  Instead we went to Paoli Peaks in Indiana.  Okay, so it wasn’t really a “mountain” that we were skiing on so much as a steep hill.  Nevertheless, it was fun:  Arriving at our hotel at 3:30 in the morning.  Hitting the slopes around 10:30 or 11.  Going back for night skiing until 3 in the morning.  Going skiing again the next day at noon.  Taking off back home in the afternoon and having to make multiple potty breaks.

Actually, those were pretty much the only negative things from the trip, which is surprising considering how fast Plan B was developed and put into action.  It was the first trip to Indiana for most of the kids, and they were amazed at how flat it was.  I never broke it to them that we were actually in one of the hillier regions of the state.  Everybody had a blast skiing and snowboarding.  In fact, I was even talked into giving snowboarding a try on Sunday instead of running the black diamonds on skis.  As I like to say after a trip, “We came back with everybody.  No broken bones or hospital visits.  The trip was a success!”

Here are some pictures from the trip.

Our motley crew of skiers and snowboarders.

Saturday while skiing.

My first time snowboarding.

Okay.  I admit.  The last two aren’t actually me.  I don’t actually like to leave the ground when I’m playing in the snow.

Rivers Bridge

February 1, 2010

I was at the reenactment of Rivers Bridge over the weekend.  Instead of boring you with stories of camping in the rain in a freezing swamp, I’ll tell you about the trip there and back.

Since I was passing through Charlotte to get to southern South Carolina, I arranged to visit with my little brother for a little bit.  It was a nice drive down, and I got to his exit from the interstate with very little trouble.  Unfortunately, I wrote right when I should have written left.  I ended up in what turned out to be a very sketchy neighborhood.  I found out later that it was where a gun fight between two cars started before going to the other side of the city.  Eventually I found his apartment.  I made arrangements for one last stop on the way down then we ate dinner and visited. In the morning we went out to REI to do some shopping.  I wanted boots.  He wanted to see the new REI store.  I’m pretty sure that REI could be a dangerous place for me to visit, but I managed to just get out with the new boots I wanted and my wallet still intact.  Then it was time for me to go on my way.

I made one last shopping stop in Columbia to get a pair of leather gloves for reenacting and hit the interstate again figuring I would stop in the last town before the reenactment site to get a bite to eat.  Little did I know that once I was 10 miles from the interstate, there would be no more eateries.  The last little town went by with nary a place to eat.

reenactment…. reenactment… skip skip skip…

It turns out that it was probably a good idea that I left early on Sunday.  The trees along the highway north of Columbia were covered in ice.  The roads in North Carolina were still wet, but they hadn’t refrozen yet.  Virginia had patches of very visible ice under every bridge.  West Virginia was smooth sailing though.  I made two stops for gas and two stops for coffee, and I was still home before the end of the Pro Bowl.  I didn’t watch it, but I was home before it ended.

I got a good night’s sleep.  I took the morning off (I was supposed to be out all day today.) and a long hot shower and shave later, I felt almost human again.