Monday, October 31, 2011

Good Ol' Kentucky

Unlike many school districts, my school district still had Teachers' Convention this year.  That meant that I was able to join Brian and a number of our  friends - Chris, Dawn, Scott, Steph, Shawn and Amanda and David - in Kentucky for an extended weekend.  

Brian and I left for Kentucky right after work on Wednesday.  We made it through Chicago, our travel nemesis, without much of an issue, but we found ourselves in a  virtual parking lot on the interstate in Indiana, and being that it was getting late, we decided to stop for the night and got a hotel instead of driving straight through.  The next morning brought poor weather, so we were in no rush and stopped for breakfast before heading to Slade, KY and the Red River Gorge.   We arrived at Shawn and Amanda's cabin around 11:30 and had a leisurely morning - both Brian and I got some work done before the rest of the crew rolled in.   After hanging out a bit and carving pumpkins with Logan and Anikka, we headed to Miguel's for dinner and all had our share of pizza and rice dishes.  Then it was back to the cabin so the boys could perfect their electronic helicopter flight skills.  

The next morning was quite cold and dreary, so a few of us opted to make a slow start of it.  The rest went out to begin their day of climbing.  It seems that our two group experienced entirely different weather that day.  Brian, Scott and David climbed all day and were quite warm.  The rest of us were in multiple layers and were freezing our tooshies off.  We weren't too excited when it began to rain, and that became reason enough for the already frigid group to pack up and head back to the cabin.  Before making it back, we noticed that the rain was changing.  We weren't very excited to see that it was now snowing, and our visions of zip-lining, the activity we had planned this entire trip around, were fading quickly.  We weren't able to make it out to zip-line (though the operation suggested it would be fun if we did so in our ski gear - too bad we didn't pack that for our trip to Kentucky, ha?!), but we did have another great afternoon at the cabin.  We hung out, did some shooting and relaxed before it was time for our big spaghetti dinner.  Our friends Sarah and Emily joined us for dinner, and Emily brought her beautiful daughter, Cedar.  I remember looking around the room a few times that night thinking how lucky I am to have such great people in my life.  It was like a big, happy family, and I loved it!

Saturday was an earlier morning than Friday was, and we were very excited to see that there were no snowflakes in the sky and the sun was shining.  Unfortunately, the sun didn't quite make it to our climbing area and we were very cold for the second day in a row.  Dawn, wise woman that she is, decided to leave the shade and seek out some sun. For claiming to be a slow hiker, Dawn moved very quickly and I was never able to catch her when I left our group and went to join her in her quest for the sun.  The rest of our group soon packed up and hiked across the valley to find Brian, David, Scott and Steph.  When we got to them, Dawn was not there, so Chris went in search of her.  Luckily, he found her, and the group was soon all together.  Both days I had climbed in a new area, so I was very excited about that.  I was equally excited to be warm and really liked climbing when I could actually feel my fingers, which I couldn't the day before or earlier that morning.  After a long day out, we returned to the cabin for some more shooting and relaxing.  We enjoyed another big, 'family' dinner; this time we had chili - Chris and Steph were excellent cooks!

Sunday, we were up and at it bright and early.  We had to pack up and get the cabin situated before we could go climbing.  We were able to find another great spot to climb that was in the sun and warm and we enjoyed a great morning of climbing before heading back to Miguel's for lunch.  After lunch, it was time to hit the road.  And just that quickly...well, eight hours later...we were home again.   

As always, fun-filled weekends are so great and they go by way too quickly.  I would have loved to  spend a few more days in Kentucky.  Maybe we'll be able to squeeze in one more trip this fall.  If not, I certainly look forward to a trip back to the Red in the spring.  Maybe we'll be able to get our zip-lining in that time?!

Dawn preparing for the hike back to the car - keeping the ankles dry and warm
our weekend in a nutshell - pumpkins, popcorn, tequila and hand warmers 
Shawn and Mark working on the stove
stove repair 
helping Anikka carve her pumpkin 
pumpkin carving 
Chris dicing up the onions - or was it Chris making the Evil Chris face?
Chris and Logan making dressing
Snugglin' up with baby Cedar 
Brian and baby Cedar
Jam session 
Shawn playing the washboard
David on guitar and Logan on the harmonica 
Red River Gorge
Anikka and Brian hiking like champs
storage unit in Muir Valley - no drugs in the hut apparently 
river crossing
Dawny preparing to stay dry on her walk across the river
Logan and Anikka - somehow I kept them both out of the water :)
Brian hanging out
Dawny getting her belay on and Chris supervising
dueling climbers - Brian and Scott 

keep going'

Brian and Scott hanging out 50 feet off the ground
Scott in the lead
Belayer Brian - nice shades 
Chris and Jeff having a nice chat on the wall
say cheese!
Muir Valley
Logan helping out the big boys - Shawn, Jeff and Brian 
Getting my shootin' on
Miguel's Pizza - delicious!


The Gang - me, Chris, Scott, Steph, Dawn and Brian
 (Shawn and Amanda were with us in spirit)

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