Thursday, January 29, 2009

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland at McConnell Springs


Finally got out of the house today. I cracked the ice off the cars this morning and was successful in getting Noelle's car out of the skating rink, I mean parking lot. We drove down Richmond Road and past the snapped limbs of large trees scattered all over the sides of the road. It was a pretty drive. We made it to McConnell Springs by 10:30 and went for a hike in the park.
There was a lot of damage to many of the trees. Luckily, the large bur oak survived the added weight of an inch layer of ice coating all its branches. The walk was a pretty one though. I learned that I will have off tomorrow as well. That makes nine straight days off. I'm really not used to having this kind of time to myself. I almost don't know what to do with it when the weather is like this.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ice Storm of 2009

Well today was the third straight day off for Fayette County Public Schools. While calling school on Monday was questionable, it was definitely a prudent decision to cancel it today and yesterday. The ice coating all the trees, cars, buildings, etc. is quite amazing. Since I just looked at the Fayette County Schools website and noticed that schools are closed tomorrow, I may take the opportunity to use the day to explore the icy landscape a little bit more. I've left my readers with a view of the ice coated Lakepointe Apartment Homes.
Icy Subaru
Ice Storm

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill


Today Noelle, Mom T., and I decided to head over to Shaker Village to check things out a bit and get some lunch as well. Noelle and I had been there before hiking and biking the trails, but we'd never explored the village itself. Well touring the buildings was certainly interesting. We walked the grounds
and went into all the buildings that were open for the winter. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch in the Winter Kitchen. The country ham, mashed potatoes, and corn pudding were delicious. However, the pies we got, chess and lemon were the best part of all.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Birding Frankfort


Noelle's Mom drove down to Kentucky from the frigid, frozen tundra of Wisconsin last yesterday. Since the weather here in central Kentucky was a balmy 33 degrees today (balmy when compared to Wisconsin) we decided we had to get out of the house and enjoy the nice weather. We headed north towards Frankfort where we visited the Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary, a National Audubon Society site. There we spied on some birds in the bird blind, then hiked the trails there.
Birding Buckley Sanctuary
Frozen Lake Buckley
The scenery was interesting, lots of karst sinkholes, but nothing really spectacular. From Buckley we headed into Frankfort and Cove Springs Park. There we hiked the Overlook Trail and a short boardwalk into a wetland area.
We hadn't even realized before that this separate section of the park existed.  

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Updates!!!


In the previous few posts you may have noticed an obvious lack of accompanying photographs. This omission was due to the fact that the special Kodak USB cord for our camera was left at Eric's parent's house. Well the cord has finally been mailed to Lexington, so we have now attached some photos to the aforementioned blog entries. In addition to that news, Eric has officially registered for the Kentucky Derby Marathon on April 25th in Louisville. He now has some extra motivation for training. Just today he embarked on his longest run of his training regimen so far: five and 1/2 miles. Obviously he's got a lot more training to do over the course of the next three months. In addition to the previous news, Eric wants it to be known that he is predicting an Eagles Superbowl win on February 1st. A bold move!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Red River Gorge Geologic Area: Cloudsplitter Arch

Today was supposed to have been my third day of student teaching. However, due to the unusually cold temperatures (it was -3F here in Lexington this morning) school was canceled.
Crazy Ice
I hadn't planned on doing anything today but then decided that it would be a perfect day for a hike in the Red River Gorge. Since it was a weekday and very cold outside I figured there would be few hikers there today. I was right. I hiked from the Sheltowee Trace suspension bridge parking lot along the Sheltowee Trace Trail. I explored some unknown off-trail ridge then headed over to Cloudsplitter.
It was my first time up Cloudsplitter which is pretty amazing since it I a very cool place and fairly easy to get to. The highlight of the hike was a squeeze through a long, narrow crack in the sandstone to get to Cloudsplitter Arch.
Cloudsplitter Arch
The squeeze was as close as we get to a slot canyon here in Kentucky. Once at the arch I spent quite a bit of time checking out the view and relaxing. I was surprised at how I really didn't feel cold the whole time I was outside. Luckily, it wasn't windy which would have made the cold far worse.

After standing on top of Cloudsplitter itself. I retraced my route back to my car, then drove to Broke Leg Falls, a small county park. I wanted to see the falls with lots of ice and I was not disappointed!
Broke Leg Falls
What a cool site to see the frozen falls and icicles decorating the sandstone. it was well worth the trip.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Let the student teaching adventure begin!

Well, tomorrow is the day that I start my student teaching experience at Yates Elementary School. The school is one of the closest elementary schools to where Noelle and I live, so the commute will be short. Unfortunately, the roads that lead to it are not good for bicycling so I probably will not be riding to school very often. It is also supposed to be very cold the next few days (lows below 0 degrees F). It's pretty hard to get motivated to ride the bike in that kind of cold and the dark. Anyway, I'm excited and nervous about my experience. I look forward to meeting my cooperating teacher and all the students also!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stones River National Battlefield

This morning Noelle and I awoke in our hotel in Nashville. We showered, ate breakfast (leftover biscuits from Loveless Cafe), then checked out. We headed south on Interstate 24 to the city of Murfeesboro, Tennessee. We were headed there to check out the Stones River National Battlefield and the Geographical Center of the State of Tennessee.
Geographic Center of Tennessee
The Geographic Center of Tennessee
Murfreesboro, turned out to be a much larger city than I had anticipated. While I knew that it was home to Middle Tennessee State University, I was not prepared for the type of sprawl that we witnessed there. New homes and retail stores were everywhere surrounding the National Battlefield. It was kind of depressing really, to see such development encroaching on hallowed ground. Stones River is, by the way, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War.

While the city of Murfreesboro was quite sprawling, it is not an all bad city. As a matter of fact, the city offers what has to be one of the greatest trail systems for a city of its size. While we did not get to see much of this extensive trail system, it was encouraging to see that many of the battlefield sites were connected by it.

Our visit to Stones River National Battlefield was a great one as well.
Artillery Monument
The site is well interpreted, and we got to visit all the major units of the battlefield including two sections of what was once Fortress Rosecrans.
Fort Rosencrans
Fort Rosencrans Trail
Our hike of the main battlefield unit gave us a great glimpse not only of the sites of Federal and Rebel maneuvers,
Cotton Picker
Hazen Brigade Monument
Hazen's Brigade Monument
but also of some interesting karst topography and cedar glade scenery.
Canon in Pieces
The stop at the geo-center, while anti-climatic, was fun. How many people can say that they've been to the geographic center of Tennessee? I would bet that there aren't even many Tennesseeans who can say that.     

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Nashville and the Natchez Trace Parkway

Today being my birthday, Noelle and I drove down to Nashville for a weekend of fun and adventure. We drove down here last night in a steady rain and checked into our hotel, a Comfort Inn, by around 9 o'clock. It doesn't hurt that we've driven into Central Time Zone which gave us an "extra hour"! This morning we headed into downtown Nashville to Centennial Park and the Parthenon of Nashville.
We enjoyed a brisk stroll around the park before touring the Parthenon. While the Parthenon, a replica of the one in Greece, is interesting looking, the museum was not all that spectacular.
Parthenon Statue
Still, I felt our visit was worthwhile. After the Parthenon we headed into the Hillsborough Village neighborhood where we got some lunch at Boscos Brewery. The food was good and my IPA was delicious.

After we had eaten at the brewery we headed southwest to the Natchez Trace Parkway. It was a really beautiful and relaxing drive. Traffic was nearly non-existent, which made for a really peaceful drive. Along the way we stopped several times to get out and go for a stroll.
Noelle and the Parkway
Double-Arched Bridge
Among the highlights of our walks was a visit to Jackson Falls, a really interesting and unexpected waterfall.
Jackson Falls
We drove as far south as "The Tobacco Farm",
Tobacco Farm
Eric and Tobacco
then headed north along a section of the Original Trace, before making our way back to Nashville.

At the northern end of the trace is a well-known restaurant called the "Loveless Cafe."
Loveless Cafe
The southern cooking there was really good. In fact, the biscuits are the best I've ever had. I enjoyed the Pork Barbeque while Noelle had the fried catfish. We both think that some day it would be fun to drive or bicycle the entire length of the Trace to Natchez, Mississippi.