Tennessee – Kentucky – Ohio

Well, down time has been elusive. 😉 There are state parks and adjoining countryside to be explored, trails to be biked or hiked (I got my first pair of hiking boots!), waterfalls to be marveled at, museums to be toured, sunsets to be photographed, and family to be visited! And then there is laundry to be done, grocery shopping, cooking, and bill paying…you know, the non-vacation day-to-day stuff of life. We feel like we are finding a good mix of being on vacation and doing daily life, but it is a process!

Cumberland Falls State ParkOur time in Renfro Valley was wonderful! The campsite was generic but the venue was just steps away from the New Barn, an intimate 1400 seat concert hall where the headliners of country music come at least twice a week. We saw LeAnn Rimes; she was lovely and delightful in her interaction with the audience. And what a voice! You can’t really appreciate an artist’s gift and vocal range until you hear them sing live for more than one song. She sang for an hour and a half straight and we loved her! We also explored Cumberland Falls State Park; the falls are called the Niagara of the South because at 145 feet, they are second only to Niagara, east of the Mississippi. We marveled! Who doesn’t love a waterfall?! We missed the famous moonbow at the full moon by 11 days, so we’ve kept it on our list for a future visit. 🙂

Makers Mark DistilleryOn our last day in Kentucky, Tom said, “Let’s see what Kentucky is famous for…horse country and bourbon!”   We drove through the beautiful, green and rolling countryside full of farms and stables, making our first stop at Kentucky Cooperage. Cooperage? I had to tap my grade school memory…something to do with wood, right? Indeed, it is the craft of making barrels and casks. We took a fascinating tour of their impressive facility and experienced the process from beginning to end via video and live demonstrations. It is an art form to be sure, not a single nail, just measuring, cutting, strapping and firing. They char the barrel interiors according to specs from each distillery. Naturally, our next stop was the Maker’s Mark Distillery. 🙂 We aren’t bourbon drinkers, but when in Kentucky… 🙂 The distillery is a beautiful property with immaculate grounds and facilities. Again, we had a terrific tour and of course, taste-testing at the end…so fun!

We left Kentucky, bound for Columbus, Ohio. This was our home base for a week but, again, not much down time…by choice! We have long planned to do a service project for Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, the former church of our pastor at Center Point Church in Tallahassee. Walnut Creek sent two teams of folks on separate weeks to build alongside us at Center Point, creating a lovely new worship space for us. What a blessing they were and are to our church family; we wanted to return a blessing. So we took a couple mornings and painted a two-story feature wall in their worship room. The center of the wall will be filled with stained wood pallets. Tom did the high ladder painting with me stabilizing the ladder and I did the low trim work. We had fun and hope to do more such projects along our route. 🙂 Let us know if you have one!  Assistant Pastor, Justin, is a foodie with the best recs! He steered us in the absolute right direction for Flip Side gourmet burgers (and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale) and Buckeye Donuts at the OSU campus–yum, yum, and yum! Pastor Steve also steered us to North Star Café and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream—more yum!

Buckeye Lake SunsetWe spent an afternoon hiking in and marveling at the beautiful Hocking Hills State Park with its spectacular cavernous gorges, cliffs, hemlock-shaded trails, and waterfalls. Wow! Then we took a scenic route to Buckeye Lake State Park in search of sunset pictures. As you can see, we (Tom) found them!

At the end of our week, we took a day-trip to Cincinnati to visit our niece, Laura, and her family. We ate lunch at the amazing Senate Pub (another Pastor Justin rec; we had the lobster BLT!) and toured the William Howard Taft National Historic Site (impressive legacy and preservation of the home), and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (extensive collection of exhibits and information—sobering and moving). We capped our day with a fabulous home-cooked meal around the family table…no restaurant can top that. 🙂

We have now made our way to Decatur, Indiana. Decatur, IN? Yep, it’s the home of Fleetwood RV, manufacturers of our Bounder. We’re going to tour the facility and maybe get a few little things worked on while we’re here. Then, we’re on to Michigan to see family and enjoy Tom’s home state!

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