Friday, August 12, 2022

Pickleball Beech Mountain Style

Beech Mountain
We recently returned from a pickleball clinic in Beech Mountain, North Carolina. We stayed at the Pinnacle Inn because back in January when we signed up, this is where most of the more advanced play was supposed to take place. Unfortunately they had problems with their courts, so everything was moved to a recreation center. That was okay as we had both indoor and outdoor courts available to us, though they were not dedicated courts.

It was a relief to be in the mountains, where the temperature was 20 cooler than back in the Charlotte area. It was unusually rainy (and foggy) though, and a local told us they were experiencing more fall-like weather than summer. The clinic ended up to be just okay, but the chance to play lots of pickleball and meet up with friends (both old and new) made the trip worthwhile. 

We stayed an extra day so that we could do some hiking in the area. It was not crowded, and we found some waterfalls. Overall, it was a nice getaway for a few days.



Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Floating Away

We have just returned from a road trip to St. Louis. Because it takes more than 12 hours to get there, we decided to spend the night in Frankfurt, Kentucky on July 8th. There are a number of whisky distilleries in the area, and we wanted to check out a couple of them. I don't like whisky or bourbon myself, but several of the distilleries have historic buildings and/or beautiful grounds and I'm always up for a photo adventure. This would be our third attempt at doing this as each previous try resulted in a rainout. As (bad) luck would have it, we were rained out this trip as well. 

Trying to make the best of the situation, there was enough of a break that we were able to check out the Josephine Sculpture Park on the night of arrival. The tagline for the park is "where art meets the earth", and you can view nearly 70 sculptures on their 30 acres of land. The park is free and open to the public, and we enjoyed the wildflowers as much as the pieces of art.

Josephine Sculpture Park

On Saturday we finished our drive to St. Louis. We spent the first two nights in a hotel so that we could have the flexibility to come and go as we pleased. We had dinner that night with our good friend Diane, and it was great to catch up with her. Sunday morning we went to the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is one of my favorite spots in all of the United States. They are in the middle of a large construction project, adding a new entrance, events space and enlarged gift shop. That was followed by a stop at the ever-beautiful Forest Park, and lunch at Imo's Pizza. We were blessed with a beautiful morning, with lower temperatures and humidity. Later in the day we visited with my late sister's family, whom we had not seen since her funeral. It was nice to see them under happier circumstances.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Forest Park and the City Foundry

Monday we picked up a friend of ours and went to check out some new developments (at least new to us) in St. Louis. One of the areas was the City Foundry, Once housing the Century Electric Company, the 15-acre site is now home to businesses, a large food court, and an entertainment hall. From there we went to Union Station to see the St. Louis Wheel (a large ferris wheel) and take a peak at the St. Louis Aquarium. It's always fun for me to go to Union Station as my dad took the train in and out of St. Louis when he was stationed at Jefferson Barracks during WWII. It was nice to see the station bustling even though it was a Monday afternoon.
City Foundry & Union Station

The rest of the week was filled with playing pickleball with some of my lady friends, visiting my long-time hair stylist for a cut and lunch, and a Cardinals baseball game followed by a stop at Ted Drews for some frozen custard Friday we drove 3 hours south to a campground to join the SWT team for their annual float trip. This year it took place on the Gasconade River, which I had not floated on before. Despite the high temperatures (98 degrees on Saturday), we had a fun time and it was great to see everyone again.

rain delay
On Monday we left St. Louis at 6:45 a.m. to drive home. We decided to drive straight through, and it was a challenge. The day began with fog in Illinois, then we had heavy rains in Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. A stalled car on eastbound I-40 and a bad accident on westbound I-40 led to numerous delays. It took us over 13 1/2 hours to get home. I'm ready to stay put for awhile.


Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The United States of Mind

For 246 years our country has been observing its independence from Great Britain. July 4th is celebrated with parades, picnics and fireworks. This year was no exception, but the tone might have sounded a little different. The U.S., and indeed the world, is still reeling from the lingering effects of Covid. Just when it seemed we were recovering, the war on Ukraine began. Gas prices have soared, followed by drastic increases in food, airline tickets and interest rates. Continued mass shootings and the overturning of Roe v.  Wade have also contributed to a general feeling of anger and distrust in America.

All of these things have overshadowed the fact that the coronavirus is still a major problem in this country. People seem numb to the fact that we are losing 295 citizens each day to the virus. Most have adopted the attitude that it is no longer if they will get the virus, but when. As Covid continues to mutate, people who appeared to be immune from earlier variants are succumbing to the new strains. Only time will tell if the current shots and boosters will continue to protect us. Ive said this before, but I think the real story that will come out of this pandemic is a study regarding why certain people never got the virus.

Here are the latest Covid statistics: North Carolina has had 2.87 million cases and 25,219 deaths. In the United States there have been 87.7 million cases and 1.02 million deaths. Worldwide there have been over 550 million cases and 6.3 million deaths. The United States is at a 67.5% full vaccination rate. Worldwide that number is a discouraging 61.8%.

Tension, like the air here in North Carolina, is thick enough to cut with a knife.

Mountain Island Lake