Monday, August 20, 2018

Aboard the Nina and Pinta

As I stepped aboard, the planks of Brazilian ironwood creaked beneath my feet.  Above me, the masts reached for the sky and the sails, although not raised, moved ever so slightly in the breeze.  The vessel gently bobbed and swayed in the water's current. 

Feeling as if I had stepped back into time to a completely different era, I momentarily forgot where I was. Only when the sound of a jet flying overhead broke me from my spell did I remember that I wasn't in the fifteenth or sixteenth century crossing the Atlantic on an epic voyage to discover new worlds.  Instead, I was on a ship that was moored on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Louisville, KY in the year 2018.  

Never in a million years would I have ever thought that I'd stand on a replica of one of the most famous and historically significant ships of all time and stand on it in Louisville - which is, after all, in a land-locked state. But, thanks to the Ohio River, I did.

Last week, the Niña and the Pinta, replicas of the caravels that brought Christopher Columbus to the new world in 1492, arrived in the Derby City.  These floating museums will be on exhibit until August 28.  

The Niña is a full size replica of Columbus' original ship and is said to be the most historically accurate Columbus ship ever built.  It is 65 feet long, 18 feet wide at it's widest point, and has a displacement of 80 tons.

The Niña
The Pinta is larger than the original as it was designed to accommodate more passengers so it can be used for chartered events and such.  It is 85 feet long, 24 feet wide at its widest point, and has a displacement of 101 tons.

The Pinta

Both ships were built in Brazil using native hardwoods and were constructed by eighth generation Portuguese shipwrights.  The Niña was built using only adzes, axes, hand saws, and chisels, in addition to naturally shaped timbers from the local forest.  It took 20 men 32 months to build.  The Pinta took 36 months.

As a kid, when I learned about Columbus in school, I remember wondering what life was like as an early explorer.  More specifically, I wondered how Columbus and members of his crew felt as they sailed into uncharted waters, were at sea for months at a time, lived in cramped quarters, and had no idea of what awaited them when they reached their destination, if they reached their destination at all.

Although I can never know how those early explorers felt, after touring the replica caravels, I think I have a better idea of what life was like on board.  One of the staff members explained that most of the time, the members of Columbus' crew slept on deck, which I can't imagine at all, especially as the boat rocked and rolled.  Even Columbus, the main man himself, didn't have much in terms of accommodations (see placard above).  

After seeing how small the ships were and the limited space available on the ships, I have a new found appreciation and respect for what those early explorers endured in the name of discovery and exploration.

A windlass.  This provides the mechanical advantage needed to hoist the anchor aboard.
A wooden handle is inserted into the square holes to provide leverage and are moved as the drum turns.

If you go, remember that the ships will only be in Louisville until August 28.  They are open daily from 9:00am to 6:00pm.  Admission is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors (60 years and older), and $6.50 for children ages 5-16.  Children 4 and under are free.

If you can't visit these floating museums while they're in the Derby City, don't dismay.  For the next 3 months the Niña and Pinta will make port in various towns and cities up and down the Ohio Valley.  Here are the ports they will visit on their "Ohio Valley Tour":

  • Cincinatti, OH/Newport, KY: August 30 - September 16, 2018
  • Parkersburg, WV: September 20 - 25, 2018
  • Wheeling, WV: September 28 - October 2, 2018
  • Pittsburgh, PA: October 4 - 16, 2018
  • Marietta, OH: October 19 - 23, 2018
  • Charleston, WV: October 26 - 31, 2018
  • Gallipolis, OH: November 2 - 7, 2018
  • Ashland, KY: November 9 - 18, 2018
  • Maysville, KY: November 20 - 22, 2018

For more information, please check out their website.

Overall, I thought the experience was very cool.  I honestly had no idea that the ships were that small and that the crew had no real quarters.  Although the ships are replicas, they provided a great glimpse into the past.

Linking up with:


Wednesday Around the World

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Recently Read - Vol. 30 (July '18)

It's Tuesday and it's the second Tuesday of the month, so you know what that means - it's time to talk books with Steph, Jana, and a slew of other book nerds like myself.  Here's what I read (listened to) last month:

Read July 11-19 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 3.5/5

Think:  A former college football star turned repo man starts hearing a voice in his head.  The voice turns out to be that of a homicide victim who needs Ruddy's help.

This book partially reminded me of books in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, but it wasn't as funny.  It was clever and entertaining and had some laugh out loud moments, but it wasn't monumental or earth shattering.  The main character was quite likable as were the list of supporting, nutty townsfolk who made the book feel more complete.

FINAL VERDICT:  Passed the time just fine.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Read July 23 - August 8 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 4/5

Think: Celeste, an attractive, but sociopathic middle school teacher with a singular sexual obsession, preys on young male students.

I'll be honest, this was a hard book for me.  I found myself, due to the explicit nature of the story, only being able to stomach it for short periods of time.  That's why it took me so long to finish.  Also, I want to say that I liked the book, but whenever I hear myself say that, I start to cringe because this is not the kind of book I'm supposed to like.  But, I did.  It was well written and painted some very vivid images in my head, maybe too vivid considering the content.  Celeste is a quite possibly one of the most vile characters I've ever read and she evoked very strong emotions in me.  I really just wanted to punch her in the throat!  Kudos to the author, for she kept me wondering what was going to happen next, because in my opinion, the story could have gone in several directions.

FINAL VERDICT:  I would cautiously recommend.  Just keep in mind the explicit and unsettling content.

Have you read either of these books?  Where were your thoughts?

Until next month, happy reading!

Linking up with Steph and Jana

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Lessons Learned While Hiking to Delicate Arch

One afternoon earlier this summer, I, along with my aunt, uncle, and my uncle's brother, set out to hike to the most iconic formation in Arches National Park - Delicate Arch.  

After leaving our rental at the parking lot at the mouth of the trailhead, we gathered our gear and set out on the dusty path. It was 4:30pm, 100℉, and Delicate Arch was 1.5 miles away.  The first sign we passed stated, 
"Heat Kills!  Avoid the heat - hike early or late.  Drink water - 2 liters per person."  
We had enough water, but unfortunately, due to time constraints, we couldn't hike early or late.  We only had a certain window of time to hike to Delicate Arch and it was basically then or not at all.  So we hiked.

The trek to Delicate Arch is mostly uphill with a 480 ft. change in elevation.  The fact that the trail is in direct sunlight and offers very little shade made the hike more difficult.   Much of the trail is on a steep slickrock, which at that time of day, felt like a stovetop beneath our shoes.  With the sun beating down on our backs and the slickrock radiating the sun's heat back up at us, we were basically being cooked from above and below.   

I kid you not when I say that by the time I rounded the bend and my eyes finally fell upon Delicate Arch that I might've been a bit delirious.  I'm pretty certain by the time we finished our descent and made it back to the car that I was suffering from heat exhaustion.  But, despite the heat exhaustion, the dehydration, and how miserable the first half of the hike was, I'm so very glad I did it.  

You see, Delicate Arch was not only the one thing that I wanted to see most in Arches NP, but it was also the one thing I wanted to see most during our entire trip out to the Four Corner region.  We ended up nicknaming these things, the things each one of us wanted to see/do most, as our "THE."  My uncle's THE was Angel's Landing in Zion National Park; my aunt's THE were the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park.  My THE was Delicate Arch.  To gaze upon that majestic sandstone formation and to actually see how big it was in person was such an incredible experience and one that I will never forget. 

Ok, I kind of lied when I created the title, because the hike to Delicate Arch didn't really teach me any new lessons.  It did, however, reinforce four lessons that are very important and applicable to many aspects of life.

1) Don't Settle

Here's the thing - there are easier ways to see Delicate Arch than the 3 mile roundtrip hike that I took.  It can be viewed from two different viewpoints.  All you have to do is park your car and walk about the length of a football field to view the arch from the Lower Viewpoint, which allows visitors to see the arch from approximately one mile away.  A closer option, relatively speaking, is to see it from Upper Viewpoint, which requires a half mile walk that includes some stairs and gets visitors within a half mile of the arch.  But, both views from these viewpoints are from across a canyon and neither one gives you an up close and personal experience with Delicate Arch.

Bottom line - Some people are happy seeing Delicate Arch from the observation points, but if you're not one of those people don't settle - do the hike.

2) Don't Pass Up Opportunities

Nature is a funny thing - it gives and it takes away.  Delicate Arch was formed over countless years through the power of erosion.  The same forces that created this breathtaking formation will continue to weather it until one day it finally collapses.  It's easy to overlook the fact that Delicate Arch, as well as the 2000+ other arches in the park, are not permanent.  We just take it for granted that they will always be there.  

Bottom line - There's no guarantee that Delicate Arch will be there during a "next visit," be it in five years, one year, or even the next day.  If you want to see it and you get the chance, take it.

3) Hike Your Hike/Go at Your Pace

That afternoon, as my group and I trekked onward to Delicate Arch, we were passed by numerous people. It was very discouraging and on several occasions I was tempted to try to match the other hikers' pace. But, I knew that if I tried to walk faster than I was already going, that I would be absolutely miserable. Alright, for the record, I admit that I was already pretty miserable given the heat.  But, had I attempted to match the pace of those people, I would've been even more miserable.

Bottom line - It's not a race and there are no medals or trophies at the end for the people who get there first.  Hike in a manner that best suits you so that you can enjoy the experience the best you can. 

4) Preparation is Key

Benjamin Franklin once said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail' and we saw a lot of people hiking out to Delicate Arch who looked really unprepared.  Many were wearing flip flops and carried little to no water with them.  I can't help but wonder if those people made it all the way to Delicate Arch or if they had to stop somewhere along the and head back to the trailhead.  While hiking boots/shoes are not mandatory, for most sensible shoes would suffice,  water, especially during the summer months when the temperate skyrockets above 100, is absolutely, 100% necessary.  The park service puts out signs that use the word kill for a reason and that advice needs to be heeded.

Bottom line - Heed warnings, heed advice, and practice some common sense.  You may only get one chance to see this magnificent sight, be sure you're prepared.

The trek to Delicate Arch was incredible, exhausting, challenging, emotional (I kind of teared up when I first saw it), and awesome.  I'm so thankful that I got the opportunity to see it up close and personal and I strongly encourage anyone who has the desire to see Delicate Arch to be like NIKE and JUST DO IT!  

Have you ever hiked to Delicate Arch?  What was your experience like?  Did the hike provided you with any lessons?

Linking up with:


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Lights - Wordless Wednesday (Vol. 35)

Journey @ the KFC Yum! Center, 7.11.18

When the lights go down in the city
And the sun shines on the bay
Oh, I wanna be there in my city, oh
Oh, oh, oh

"Lights" - Journey

Linking up with:

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Currently... (Vol. 30)

Reflecting...  on the progress I've made in two years during my weight loss quest. I've yet to break through the 40 pound mark, but I'm holding my own and simply maintaining.  This is probably the longest I've ever been able to maintain my weight and that in itself is a huge accomplishment for me.

Starting...  my 19th school year as a school-based speech pathologist.

Sitting...  with an entirely different staff for the first time in 18 years during the district's opening day teacher pep rally.

Wearing...  a green and white staff t-shirt instead of a gray and navy blue one.

Still annoyed...  by the persistent phone scammers I mentioned last month who are still calling me, but now they are calling from Texas numbers.  I block them one day and then the next day they call from a different number, which is usually one digit different from the number I just blocked.  Guess this is just the game I'm going to have to play.  

Enjoying...  all the Lip-sync Challenge videos posted by various law enforcement agencies from all over the country.  Here are some of my favorites in no particular order:

Listening...  to the audiobook Native Tongue by Carl Hiaasen.

Progressing...  slowly in Erin's latest book challenge.  (See end of post for details.)

Surprised...  that an author whose books I love "liked" one of my tweets.

Remodeling...  one of the bedrooms in my house that has been recently vacated by one of the dependents who is now independent.

Reminding...  myself that in order to make an omelet, one must break a few eggs. (I'm speaking metaphorically in reference to the mess that's in my house right now as we work on this remodeling project.)

Looking forward to... The Mayans, a spinoff of Sons of Anarchy, which will premier on September 4 on FX.

Missing...  morning weekday walks in the park.

Commemorating my...

I honestly didn't expect that I'd ever blog long enough to reach this blogging milestone.  If you've been reading my posts from early on, thank you for hanging with me as I figured out what I was doing and found a niche.  If you are new to my blog, thanks for taking the time to stop and peruse. 

Laughing and agreeing...  with this meme:

July in a Snapshot:

1) An old friend, hiking Long Point Trail in the New River Gorge, Bridge Walk
2) Def Leppard, evidence of a hailstorm, paint swatches
3) an IKEA lamp, sweat equity, first day of school.

What have you been up to lately?  Anything new with you?

Linking up with: 

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0 Progress to Date

  • 5 points: Freebie (A book that is at least 200 pages) - The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron.
  • 10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “N” - Native Tongue by Carl Hiaasen
  • 10 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) orange cover - The Sentry by Robert Crais
  • 15 points: Read a book with an unlikeable character - Tampa by Alissa Nutting
  • 20 points: Read a book from the list of 100 books that PBS calls “The Great American Read” - TBD
  • 20 points: Read a book with something related to water in the title; i.e. ocean, sea, lake, river, waves, etc. - The Flood Girls by Richard Fitfield
  • 25 points: Read a book you’ve owned the longest but haven’t read yet - The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
  • 30 points: Read a book with an emotion word in the title; i.e. joy, sadness, grief, love, anger, etc. - Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau
  • 30 points: Read a book (must be at least 2 words in the title) where each word in the title of the book begins with the same letter - Finding Frasier by KC Dyer
  • 35 points: Read a book featuring a character who shares your profession or similar one (Speech Pathologist) - The King’s Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Summer Break By the Numbers

Although summer still has about nine weeks left, summer, for me, is drawing to a close as I go back to work today.  In the spirit of CBS Sunday Morning's "By the Numbers" segments, allow me to present my Summer Break By the Numbers:

Mornings I Awoke With No Alarm Clock - 50
Total States Visited - 8
States I Crossed Off My "To Visit" List - 2 
National Parks Visited - 6
Flights Taken - 2
Pictures Taken During Trip Out West - 848
Movies Watched in Theaters - 1
Days Spent in West Virginia - 12
Items Sold on eBay - 0
Amount Spent on Back-to-School Items For My Room - $32.48
Number of Items Purchased Bearing Superman Logo - 2
Audiobooks Listened To - 4
Bags of "Stuff" Removed From My Stepson's Room (after he moved out) - 6
Miles Walked - 168
Hours Spent Sanding the Wainscot in the Remodeled Bedroom - 3
Number of Paint Sample Swatches Picked Up From Lowe's - 15
Pounds Lost - 2
Blog Entries Published - 20 (including this one)
Hours Spent Outside - countless

What are some of your Summer and/or Summer Break numbers?

Linking up with:

Friday, July 27, 2018

Bridge Walk - Take A Walk on the Wild Side

In October 1977,  in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, a marvel of modern engineering was completed.  The completion of the New River Gorge Bridge, the 3,030' four lane bridge that spans the New River Gorge, not only solved a decades-long transportation problem by reducing the time it took to cross the gorge from 45 minutes to 45 seconds, but it also opened up the southern part of the state to the outside world.


With an arch 1,700' long, the NRGB was for many years the longest single-span arch bridge in the world. This was, and still is, a huge source of pride for West Virginians, a people who, unfortunately, are used to the state ranking towards the bottom of many lists (education, unemployment, obesity, etc.). The NRGB held this title for 26 years until it was eventually dethroned in 2003 by the Lupu Bridge in Shanghai, China. Since 2003, two more bridges in China have surpassed the New River Gorge Bridge, making it the fourth longest single-span bridge in the world at the time of this writing.  This is still quite impressive if you ask me. The NRGB remains the longest single-span bridge in the western hemisphere and is the third highest bridge in the United States (876 feet).  


Pedestrians are only allowed on the bridge one day out of the year.  On Bridge Day, the annual one-day festival held every third Saturday of October that celebrates the completion of this iconic landmark, the bridge is shut down to vehicular traffic and pedestrians can walk freely from one side of the gorge to the other.  Many spectators remain in the center of the bridge and watch BASE jumpers leap from the bridge, which is also only legal on Bridge Day.   

The northbound lane of the NRGB filled with spectators on Bridge Day back in 2016.

Unbeknownst to many, people can walk on a 2-foot wide catwalk that is 25 feet underneath the surface of the bridge.  I know what you're thinking, "Whoa, whoa, whoa...  wait a minute.  How is that possible?" Well, not only is it possible but also it's also legal when you take a Bridge Walk Tour.

Bridge Walk beckons the curious and the adventurous to explore underneath the entire length of the New River Gorge Bridge from a maintenance  catwalk located under U.S. 19.  The leisurely 2-3 hour walking tour allows visitors to see both the beauty of the New River Gorge and the bridge itself from a unique vantage point that not many people ever see.

After years of talking about it, my mom and I decided to finally take a Bridge Walk tour in order to see the incredible views for ourselves.  Trust me when I say that we were not disappointed.

After arriving at the Bridge Walk office, checking in, signing liability release forms, and getting outfitted in some lovely harnesses, our tour guide lead our group outside to a waiting bus that took us to the Canyon Rim Visitor's Center.  From there, we walked along a short path to the entry point that took us underneath the bridge.

Once underneath the bridge and properly tethered, the expansive view of seemingly endless steel beams opened up before me.

Of all the things I noticed, there were three things that stand out in my memory that had nothing to do with the view:  

First, it was substantially cooler underneath the bridge as the updraft from the gorge below provided an continuous flow of air.  The region was experiencing somewhat of a heatwave on the day of our visit, so the "breeze" was well received.  Second, the bridge continuously vibrated and the vibrations varied from barely detectable to very noticeable.  At first, I will admit, this unnerved me a little bit.  After a while, however, I got used to it and only noticed it when semis passed overhead.  And third, when the traffic was light and no big trucks were on the bridge, the only things I heard were the wind and the rapids of the New River flowing below.  I was surprised by how tranquil it was.

View of the Fayette Station Bridge

The view straight down

Behind me is the view of the New River down stream (to the northwest).  P.S. It's hard 
to take a selfie when your phone is tethered to a lanyard around your neck.

An expansion joint

The arch as viewed underneath my mom's feet.

I didn't choose the best color shoes for a picture such as this.

Looking down at the New River as it snaked its way between the steep, lush green banks of the gorge was quite a surreal experience.  As a white water rafter, I've had several up close and personal views of the New River; its rapids have smacked me across the face numerous times.  The ancient river looked so small that it resembled a painted river one might find on a topographical relief model or even that of a miniature railroad.  There were several rafting companies on the river that day.  However, if you weren't paying attention, you'd completely overlook the colorful rafts because they appeared so little.

Look closely and you might see the red raft as it entered the top of
the rapids.

Mom and I above the apex of the arch

View of the arch as we passed over the midway point

Looking back though the beams that we just walked between

When we reached the other side of the bridge, our guide untethered us and we walked up a short incline to spot where a company bus picked us up and took us back across the bridge to the Bridge Walk office. The tour, from the time we departed the office to the time we returned, was approximately 3 hours. 

The New River Gorge area has numerous outdoor activities, from white water rafting to hiking to ziplining, for visitors to choose from.  Bridge Walk is a great option to add to this list.  It's an activity that requires no skills what-so-ever and can be enjoyed by both old and young alike.  The only caveat is that it's a little bit pricey - $72.00 per person.  


As of May 31, 2018:
6,017 Tours
40,641 Guests
1,987 Tour Days
Guests from 50 States, DC, & 64 Countries
Age Range 8-95
16 Catwalk engagements
2 Catwalk weddings
Countless honeymoon, anniversary, birthday tours
Bridge Walk has the longest continuous safety system in the world.

Have you ever completed a Bridge Walk (in WV or elsewhere)?  What did you think of it?

Linking up with:

*Yes, I know that Bridge Walk is not located in the city where I currently reside, but it is located about an hour and fifteen minutes from my hometown in WV.  So, I took some liberty with this post.

The Weekly Postcard
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