Looking Forward

Two months since my last post here.  I seem to remember making a promise to post more often, but life has got into the way.  I am deeply immersed into my bachelors program studies now and work has been hectic as of lately.

Spring is finally here!  Louisville experienced a week of warm (80s!) weather, but the temperatures have nose dived since then.  We woke up on Sunday morning to find snow on the ground.  Seeing a layer on snow on freshly sprouted flowers is an odd site that I hope to not see again.

This Spring and Summer are already shaping up to be great.  Some of the highlights:

  • Louisville Bats partial season tickets!  Jon and I went to the Open House at Slugger Field to pick up our tickets and tour the facility.  It was really neat to be able to see where everything takes place behind the scenes, walk the field, and hang out in the dug-outs.  Louisville is lucky to have such a great stadium and team in its city.
  • Thunder Over Louisville!  Who doesn’t love a fireworks display?  Especially when its one of the largest presentations in the country.  I’m not a fan of the Kentucky Derby in general, but I love that it gives us events like this one.  This will be the second year in a row that we will be seeing the fireworks from seats at Slugger Field.  Can’t wait!
  • VACATION!  Jon and I take mini-vacations every now and then, but haven’t taken a large extended vacation since our trip to Washington two years ago.  Its a few months away, but we are already planning an agenda and have booked some aspects of our trip.  More on this to come in future posts.
  • A short trip to Chicago with family.  I’m going to stuff my face with Gino’s East and watch Cubs baseball!  Yeah!

Favorite Photos of 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by Johanna’s post over at Whirly Bird, these were a few of my favorite photos taken during 2010.  All photos were taken by either Jon or I with the exception of the first one.  Johanna took that one on New Years Day of 2010 at Red River Gorge.  2010 started off in Red River Gorge and ended there as well.  Perfect way to start and end a year.

2010 is now in the books and what a year it was for me.  My biggest accomplishment of the year was graduating college in December.  I now have an associates degree in Health Information Technology.  The celebration was short lived as I immediately started classes at University of Cincinnati.  I’m proud of myself for being able to juggle a full-time work schedule with school and still be able to maintain a decent level of sanity.  A loving relationship and good friends definitely help in that department.

2011 has started off kind of bumpy, but I know it is going to be another great year.  Life is great and I relish every moment of it.

Labor Day Adventures

When asked what I wanted to do on Labor Day, a day off from work for both Jon and I, I responded simply with, “I want to go to a park.”  I could offer no specifics.  I just wanted to spend the day outside!  Fortunately for us, we live in a city and state that prides itself on its park systems.  We have a lot of options.  Jon looked at a map and decided that we would try hit up three state parks in one day.  So, off we went.

Our first stop was Taylorsville Lake State Park.  This was my first time visiting the park.  Every time that I had previously mentioned it as a destination, Jon had never seem too enthused.  Now I know why.  Unless you are going with the intent of either boating or horse back riding, the park does not seem to offer some of the activities we enjoy at other parks.  Yes, there are trails.  However, they are mixed use trails that are utilized by those with horses.  Great for them, but not so ideal for hikers.

We drove down to the boat ramp.  The lake is beautiful!  We would love to go back sometime and rent a boat for the afternoon.

After leaving Taylorsville Lake State Park, we headed towards the Lincoln Homestead State Park.  The park features the cabin that Nancy Hank’s, Abraham Lincoln’s mother, lived in when she was courted by Thomas Lincoln.  This is an original cabin, not a reproduction.  It was originally on a piece of property that is about a mile away from the site of the park.

Also located on the park property are reproductions of a home that Thomas Lincoln lived in and also a blacksmith shop.

Roughly a half mile down the road from the park, towards Springfield, is the home of Mordecai Lincoln.  Mordecai was Thomas’ brother.  The home was built in 1797 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  According to an employee of the park, Mordecai’s home was completely renovated about ten years ago.  For a nominal fee of $2, you can tour all the buildings featured within the park.

Earlier this year, Jon and I purchased a Kentucky State Parks Passport book.  If you frequent the state parks, pick one of the books up.  It makes it easy to log your trips and have something to look back on later.  It has also turned into a sort of scavenger hunt for us.  We are trying to visit every state park and have it stamped in our book.  The national park system also has the same sort of book available.

We picked up a stamp for our book at the Lincoln Homestead State Park.  However, because it was a holiday afterall, no one was available to stamp our book at Taylorsville Lake State Park.  With this realization, we elected not to head to our planned 3rd destination of the day.  We are going to go there on a day that we know we can get our passport book stamped.  So, our day ended a bit shorter than we had anticipated, but it was of no concern to us.  It was a beautiful day to just be out driving around with the sunroof out and the windows down.  Fall is right around the corner and soon winter will be here as well.   Get out and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts!

Wild Cave Tour

After several months of anticipation and anxiety, I did it.  I survived the Wild Cave Tour at Mammoth Cave National Park!

The Wild Cave Tour consists of over six miles of cave exploration in six hours.  Jon and I decided to do the tour with our friend Jenni, her husband, her sister, and her sister’s boyfriend.  Jenni and her husband had to back out nearly last minute because they found they are expecting a baby!  So excited for them!  They decided to still make the drive to Mammoth to do some exploring and hang out.

Before the tour started, the group was brought together to be informed about White Nose Syndrome.  White Nose is known to cause death to bats.  Apparently, not a lot is known about it.   In order to protect the cave, all Wild Cave Tour participants were required to wear Mammoth Cave provided jumpsuits and our boots had to be scrubbed down before and after the tour.   Our group was bused over to a cabin where we were suited up and prepared for the tour.  We then boarded the bus again and made the short trip over to the cave entrance.

To say that I was nervous is an understatement.  I am an active person, but I am not comfortable in small places.  I get kind of claustrophobic.   While Jon had been on the tour before, he could not really prepare me for it.  Every Wild Cave Tour is different.  It never follows the same path.

The tour started off fairly easy enough.   A lot of crawling and trying to lift yourself up through tight openings, but it was manageable.  Within minutes though, I was already profusely sweating just from the physical work.  Before I knew it, we had made our way to the Snowball Room.  There is actually a cafeteria style lunch available in this room.  This is the only point during the Wild Cave Tour where you have the option of turning around.  If the first section proved to be too much for you, you could bail at this point.  One person in our group decided to leave.

After the lunch break, we started off on the next leg of the tour.  Very quickly, the tone of the tour started to change.  Our trip just happened to be right after the massive flooding that hit Nashville this year.  Many sections of the Wild Cave Tour were flooded.  Our tour guides did not know which sections were flooded.  They would try to avoid the sections they assumed were flooded only to find more flooding.  They said that it appeared to them that this flood had caused water to be in sections of the cave for the first time in hundreds of years.  They also said that in all probability the water will remain there for years to come.  The water started off ankle deep, but quickly progressed to the point where it was up to my stomach.  For reference, I am 5’4″ tall.  We also had to crawl through sections with standing water.  No pictures as I didn’t take my camera with me.  After discovering the water, it was probably a wise decision.

It was rough!  You couldn’t see the ground below you because of the water.  With each step, you had to be careful as you did not exactly what was below.  I hit my shin really hard on a rock that was under the water.  The jumpsuits were also not very helpful in this situation.  My jumpsuit was rather large on me, so it proved to be difficult when I would try to climb.  It was soaked with water and weighing me down.  I pushed through it though and made it to the end.

Jon and I camped at Mammoth Cave that night.  We had just purchased a new tent, so we were pretty stoked to get back to camp and set it up for the first time.

Worse than the tour itself was the pain I experienced the next morning.  When I woke up in the morning, I felt like I couldn’t move.  Jon had to literally help me sit up.  I was covered in bruises, especially on my arms and legs.  We got ready and headed over to the hotel at Mammoth Cave National Park for breakfast with our group.  Just sitting was painful.

Souvenir Bruises.

If you had asked me then if I would do the Wild Cave Tour again, I would have emphatically said no.  Now though, I would do it again in a heartbeat.  It was the hardest physical thing I have ever done.  It feels good to know that I survived it.

Cave Country Canoe

Jon, Sarah, Joe and I all purchased coupons for a 1/2 day of canoeing on the Blue River through Cave Country Canoes.  We woke up Saturday morning to a downpour.  Despite the weather, we decided to go ahead and do the one hour drive to Milltown, Indiana.  Right as we were about to arrive, the clouds started to disappear and blue skies were peeking through.  We pulled up at Cave Country Canoes to see  way more people than we had expected.   The weather certainly had not kept anyone from enjoying the day.

We signed the paperwork and were informed that the water levels were low.  We selected our vests and paddles and went outside to wait for the bus.  A total of 53 people took the bus trip down to the starting point for the day.

The trip started out nice, but as we progressed further, the water level decreased to the point where it was only a few inches deep.  We had to use our paddles to push our way through at certain spots.  Jon had to get out and physically push or pull our canoe through several times.  It was exhausting, especially for him!

We stopped a little over half way through the trip for lunch.  Sandwiches, hummus, home made bread and rice krispie treats.

The rest of the trip was more of the same.  The water level was never constant.  We still managed to have a great time.  I think we are all looking forward to going back on a day when the water levels are a bit more conducive for canoeing.

All photos from this day were taken by Sarah!

Return to Red River Gorge

For the Perseid meteor shower, a group of friends and I decided to rent a cabin in Red River Gorge for the weekend.  Just over a year ago, our same little group stayed in this same cabin.  So, it was nice to get us all back together and relive it in a sense.

Kentucky was still experiencing record high temperatures.  That combined with the fact that my left foot was still hurting like crazy meant that we pretty much stuck around the cabin area and did not do any hiking this time.  I would find out just a few days later that I actually still had glass in my foot.

I didn’t want to spend the whole weekend cooped up, so after a Saturday lunch at Miguel’s Pizza, Jon and I decided to head over to Natural Bridge State Park.  Since my foot was still in pain, we paid the $9 each (!) to take the sky lift up to the top of the bridge.  It was worth the $9.   The website for the sky lift states its an 11 minute ride up and an 11 minute return trip.  I’d say that is close to being accurate.

Skylift to the Top

The scenery to the top was beautiful.  I have a tendency to become a bit nauseous when it comes to heights.  The last ascent had my stomach turning a bit.  Steep!

At the top, we hiked just a short distance over to the top of the park’s namesake.  This was my second time visiting the park and the views were just as amazing to me as the first trip.

After spending some time there, we hiked over to the other overlook point.  This point can actually be seen in the second to last picture posted.   I love this area because it is always so windy!  It makes me feel even more rumbly in my chest when I peek out over the edge!

It was then time to make our way back to the parking lot.  We got back on the sky lift and started the 11 minute trip down.

We made our way back to the cabin to prepare and enjoy a delicious dinner with our friends and settle in for the night.  I love going to Red River Gorge.  Its so peaceful and laid back that the weekend seems to go on forever.  I can’t wait until we get the chance to go back again.

Our Group at the Cabin