Let’s Go to Kentucky

Why, Kentucky, why?

 When my wife and I spend money on ourselves other than for basic needs, it’s pretty much on one thing.  Not cable, not Internet, not sports events, not fancy clothes, not electronics.  What’s left?  Trips.  And what determines where we go?  B&B’s.  Bed and Breakfast’s.

A near cliché phrase is “life is a journey, not a destination”.  And that’s the basic concept of why we go to B&B’s.  Though we love going to Louisville for an easy weekend trip, we knew the Kentucky Derby would be going on, so thanks to some Internet research, my wife found a B&B in a place called Burnside, KY. 

The only reason I recognized the name of the town was because I knew that sideburns derived from General Ambrose Burnside, a Scottish-American who had some of the worst sideburns in the history of the world.  And Burnside, KY was named after the man.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrose_Burnside

We were asked, “But what’s in Burnside, KY?  What’s there to do or see there?”

Our answer: “The B&B.”  That is THE reason.

I have written before about how some go on vacations or mini-vacations to be busy somewhere surrounded by other people, and the rest of us go off somewhere to be left alone, enjoying the quiet and peace (The Opposite of a Beach Bum).  The whole point of going to a B&B is because there is indeed, for the most part, nothing to do. 

Of course I did a Wikipedia search on Burnside, KY before we left (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burnside,_Kentucky).  I ended up finding out that right outside of Burnside, in Stearns, there is a 3 hour passenger train ride.  So that ending up being our only adventurous activity.

And for only $18 per person, we didn’t have our standards set as high as the Monorail at Epcot Center.  Instead, it reminded me more of the kind of train ride a person would expect that takes them through a zoo.  A cross between trolley bus and a boat designed for the chute ride at a local amusement park.

Halfway through the 16 mile train ride, we were dropped off for a while at an extinct coal mining town.  We sort of hiked and explored the area, in the pouring rain, for a while.  Checked out the hilarious gift shop.  And passed on getting chili dogs at the concession stand.  Like a standard weird dream.

Back at the Bed and Breakfast (http://eaglesviewbnb.com/breakfast.htm), as it continued to pour and flood outside, we took advantage of the cozy Gatlinburg-esque cabin and cable TV, which to us, was a luxury.  Especially while watching House Hunters on HDTV and Dogs 101 on Animal Planet.

Demographically, most B&B connoisseurs are over the age of 50.  We realize that being under the age of 30 means that we must be middle-aged at heart.  Even our honeymoon two years ago was a series of B&B’s from Maine to Connecticut.  But for us, this is the best way we can spend money on ourselves. Because the way we see it, nothing lasts longer than good memories. 

And even though our memories will eventually begin to fade, that’s why we take plenty of pictures.

This picture has been made anatomically correct, made noticeable when examined closely.

A bridge going over the river that the train travelled along side, and that our B&B overlooked.

I'm gonna throw a hissy fit if I don't get one of these...

Gettin' lucky in Kentucky.

I don't care how much this costs, I'm buying it! Nothing could possibly go wrong...

Hey, how did that bird dress shirt I gave to Grandma end up in this gift shop?

Birthday Status Update: I’m Super Famous for 24 Hours Just for Surviving Another Year

Birthdays are sort of a funny thing.  And they’re also pretty dang awesome.

After a flood of friends and family telling me to enjoy my 29th birthday via facebook wall comments and mailed birthday cards, I decided to do what they said.  Since last October, I have been wanting a mountain bike.  So when a generous check came in the mail from my parents, I went out the next day to Dick’s Sporting Goods with a “$10 off” coupon and bought myself the mountain bike of my dreams, which conveniently had just went on sale, saving me an additional $70.

Owning a bike takes me back to the days of being a kid.  Because the backseats of my Honda Element fold individually into the sides of the car, I just fold up one seat and my bike easily stays put there.  And I keep my helmet and air pump with me as well.  That means that wherever I am, I can take out my mountain bike for a spin.

I am just too cool these days.

On Monday I explored some areas around my work place, which is outside of Nashville.  There’s this gated apartment community that is only accessible by car and by punching in the correct password on the gate.  Unless you’re on a bike.

It’s interesting how much I blend in like a wallflower when I’m wearing my helmet, dressed professionally, riding my 10 speed mountain bike.  No one questions me at all.  I rode throughout the neighborhood as people said hello to me, not realizing I wasn’t one of their own.

Then I found what I didn’t know I was looking for.  In the back of the neighborhood, situated on a hill, yet just hundreds of feet away from the living quarters, was a Civil War Era graveyard.  Buried inside are the first two original “white settlers” (as the sign explained to me) who stepped foot in Franklin, TN.  They came straight from Scotland.

With my awesome mountain bike, now I can go on more adventures like that during my lunch break.  Or at my house.  I don’t go anywhere now without my new manly accessory.

In addition to my parents’ gift, my sister and brother-in-law gave me a gift card for Barnes & Noble, so I was finally able to buy the two non-fiction books (Maps & Legends, and Manhood for Amateurs) by my favorite author, Michael Chabon, who of course is Jewish.  No other writer has influenced my writing style more than he has.

I could have bought those books a long time ago but it’s so hard for me to spend my own money on stuff I want, but don’t need.  That’s what birthday money is for.

As for my wife, she couldn’t have read my mind any better.  I honestly hadn’t thought much about what she would get me for my birthday, with me being so preoccupied about Baby Bean.  But she got me four things that we’re just perfect:

1)     A ceramic wedding ring.  In our almost two years of marriage, I haven’t been able to consistently wear my actual ring because I am allergic to the metal in it.  So I’ve settled for hemp rings hand-made by people up in hippy stores in Louisville who basically made them for me for free after hearing the sad story of me being so much in love with my wife but not being able to wear my wedding ring.  But now I wear an exact replica of my original ring.  It feels great to look like a married man.

2)     Three years ago for my birthday while my wife was living in Australia, she bought me a Fossil watch and mailed it to me.  About a year ago, the watch battery died and we never got around to replacing it.  But my wife took the effort and time to get the battery replaced so now I can wear my watch again, which matches my wedding ring- a metallic slate color.

3)     The newest CD from the half-Indian, half-American living legend, Norah Jones.  It’s always the right time for Norah Jones.  She’s this generation’s Bonnie Raitt, whom I also love.  Maybe I’m supposed to want a CD from someone manly, like the soundtrack to Iron Man 2 featuring ACDC.  But I am unashamedly a Norah Jones fan, just as much as I am a fan of Michael Buble, who put on one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.

4)     Lastly, speaking of gifts that arguably I should want if I was 20 years older than I actually am, my wife set up a weekend trip for us to stay in a Bed & Breakfast in northern Kentucky.

We don’t really do hotels.  Because I can only imagine how seldom the blankets get washed on hotel beds.  But with Bed & Breakfasts, you just know everything’s clean and classy.  Some of my friends have commented, “But isn’t that awkward?  Getting up in the morning and eating breakfast with people you don’t know?”   Not for us.  It’s fun.

Yes, they’re always my parents’ age or older and have kids our age, but it’s always interesting to meet other married couples traveling from different parts of the country for different romantic reasons.  We took our honeymoon up in New England and there was no one up there where we stayed who was our age.  We didn’t mind at all.

So there it is.  For all those who wished me a happy birthday this year, not knowing exactly what that would entail for me, now you know how it all went down.  Thanks for caring about my birthday.  It really does mean a lot.

Bottom image: Clover handcrafted signs (Oak Cottage)

The Opposite of a Beach Bum

Along with “Check, please!”, “I think it’s time for Plan B”, “That’ll leave a mark!” and “Smooth move, Ex-Lax”, one of my favorite overused quotes from ‘80’s sitcoms is the sigh-infused “I need a vacation…” When my wife and I were planning our honeymoon last year, many people assumed we were flying out to somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. Because that’s the normal American thing to do, understandably. Though we have never been to a sunny beach coast together before, we both were aware that sitting on the sandy shores all day doing nothing would drive us both stir crazy.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Vacationers who relax and vacationers who explore.

And while it’s possible to do both, ultimately a person’s instincts causes them to plan their vacation according to one over the other. The observation is this: People who like to sit and relax while on vacation (often known as “beach bums”) generally go to warmer, sunny locations and stay in hotels. People who like to explore go to less sought after places often with colder temperatures and higher elevations and stay in lodges, cabins, and bed-and-breakfast’s.

In the last two years, my wife and I have traveled to the foggy, cold, rocky coasts of New Zealand, Maine, and Northern California. We are drawn instinctively to places where there are not a lot of other people around and where there is exploring to be done. Always in search of the next perfect, quaint local coffee shop. Or that beautiful scenic drive we can only take in a rental car in a city we’ve never been in before.

And when we can’t go on a week long vacation to a place we can really only get to by plane, we enjoy hanging out in The Highlands of Louisville, KY (an artsy hippy neighborhood with lots of cool, weird ethnic restaurants including Moroccan, Turkish, and Argentine, to name a few), Sevierville, TN (equipped with black bears), and Fort Payne, AL (my hometown that somehow became cool again when I wasn’t looking).

Most people take their vacations in the summer, when it’s hot. As I do. And most people travel to places that are even hotter than where they live. As I don’t. I loathe the depressing England-like climate of American winters, except in the summer when I want to escape to it. I escape to a more isolated city with less people around with no need for AC.

If people go on a summer vacation to escape all the chaos around them, why do they go to a really busy beach where it’s honkin’ hot? Shouldn’t they do the opposite? Shouldn’t they cool off in a quiet, peaceful place? I am the self proclaimed opposite of a beach bum.

New_Zealand_cause_Old_Zealand_sucks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHL3tBnzWP8