Walking and exploring the Great Smoky Mountains (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)

My adventure in the Smoky Mountains!

Smokey Mountains hue

“Live a life of quiet inspiration.”

(William Britten)

Why Gatlinburg?

There’s an old saying The mountains are calling, and I must go” attributed to John Muir who spent his life advocating for wilderness preservation.  I would like to think John Muir’s words were instrumental to my trek back up to the Smoky mountains and Gatlinburg in particular.

My true inspiration to get back in the mountains came from an August 2019 NBC Nightly News special on a new Gatlinburg attraction, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America:  https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/take-a-trip-to-the-longest-pedestrian-suspension-bridge-in-north-america-67497029583

  • Requested my 2019 Gatlinburg Vacation Guide when the news went off

I’ve been in the Smokey mountains and Gatlinburg years ago but seeing the suspension bridge on TV got me excited to go back to the mountains and explore.  Finally, just decided to head up in mid-November before the weather got too cold and snow covered the mountain roads.  I’m good driving in the mountains but didn’t want to fight ice and snow as I made my way through the winding roads.  Got lucky with sunny weather and high temps in the low 50s.  Turned out to be ideal hiking weather and didn’t have to wear too many layers of clothes to stay warm.  Started peeling off layers about an hour into my first hike.

Hiking the Smokey Mountains

So, this is where I apologize to all my friends who have been avid hikers over the years.  I didn’t fully get the concept of hiking because I’m always looking for my next training run.  Texted a few of them to admit my error while I was out on my first hike of the day.  I fully get hiking now—it was an amazing experience and can’t wait to do it again!

Started the hiking adventure on the Trails in the Sugarland Area which is the first Smokey mountain hiking area leaving Gatlinburg.  Decided this would be a nice warm up trail to get me out and exploring.  Got a map and quick briefing at the Welcome Center and then I was off on the trails.  Didn’t know what I would see on this trail but was excited to begin the adventure.

Well, to my surprise almost got run over by a deer and while trying to take a picture of the buck, saw a flock of turkeys coming up behind me—this was the first 5 minutes of my hike! LOL.  Believe this episode is where I decided hiking is the greatest thing ever—this flurry of wildlife activity got me ready to see more.  Didn’t get a picture of the deer since I was trying to keep the turkeys in range to take a picture of them.

Continued the trails to see what else was ahead and came to the John Ownby cabin.  The structure was in decent shape and highlights how early mountain folks lived.  This was also a good place to take a break and take in everything I had experienced in a short period of time.  This is also the spot I texted my friends to say I get hiking now! 😊  Left the cabin and got on the next trail head and made it over to Cataract Falls.  Thought this was going to be a larger area but was happy with the scenic beauty I saw hiking over to the falls.  Only saw a few hikers out but everyone was friendly.  Got a chance to take pictures at the falls and sit awhile to admire the surroundings.  Very peaceful, quiet and refreshing time sitting at the falls.  Covered about 3 miles on this hiking segment.  Wanted to explore a bit more in this area but decided to move on after the tour buses started dropping groups off—the trail heads got crowded quickly!

Moved further into the Smokey mountains and made my way to the Sugarland Parks Trail.  Similar name as the first adventure but this was a .5-mile paved trail.  Not much wildlife to see on this trail but had great water views and river scenery.  Didn’t spend a lot of time here because it was a short, one loop trail.

Decided to venture further up the mountain to see what other adventures were waiting.  Saw several stop points on the way and pulled over at the Carlos C. Campbell Overlook. No trails here but the view of the mountains was tremendous!  Had this area to myself so took advantage of the photo opportunity while it lasted.

 Campbell Overlook

Next stop was the Gatlinburg trail which had a little bit of everything.  Trails, rivers, bridges, climbs, drops and wildlife.  Spent quite a bit of time exploring on this trail just enjoying the experience and nature.  Covered 10 miles total hiking on the different trails during my Smoky mountain adventures.

Skybridge

Got a quick lunch after my hiking adventures and headed to the main reason for my visit, the Gatlinburg Skybridge.  Gatlinburg has always had a Sky Lift Park to haul people up the mountain to get a higher view of the area.

The Skybridge is a new addition to Sky Lift Park and has become the main attraction for most people to see when visiting Gatlinburg.  It did not disappoint!  It’s a suspension bridge so it moves while walking on it—it really moves with a lot of people walking on it!  There were several folks on the bridge who didn’t look so happy with their decision to make the walk across.  The Skybridge is an excellent way to view Gatlinburg, see the surrounding mountains tops and people watch.  The pass for Sky Lift Park is good for the entire day so I was able to come back once it got dark to experience the ride up and the bridge at night.  Didn’t stay as long the second time up because it started getting cold when the sun went down.

https://www.gatlinburgskylift.com/skybridge

Moonshine tasting

The Gatlinburg Vacation guide was an excellent resource to help plan out my activities.  Discovered Gatlinburg has several distilleries and wineries right downtown.  I’ve toured rum and whiskey distilleries in the past but never a moonshine tour.  Researched the moonshine distilleries and decided to visit multiple since they were so close to each other and walkable.  My first stop was the Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery because of the variety of flavors they make.  $5 gets you a taste of every moonshine flavor/proof in the store.

These range from 128 proof down to 40 proof with different flavors:  https://olesmoky.com/collections/moonshine.

Made sure I ate before touring the moonshine distilleries—good thing because moonshine has a kick to it. 😊

Next, made my way down the street to visit Sugarlands Distilling Company to see what they had:  https://www.sugarlands.com/moonshine/.

They had some unique moonshine flavors and names but gave several of them a try during my tasting tour.  FYI, moonshine really warms you up, didn’t feel the cold after my sipping tour of moonshine distilleries.

Decided to head back to Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery and went right to the top of the moonshine proof levels—got the Blue Flame (128 proof).  Will probably be sipping on this jar of moonshine for months—not for heavy consumption.

Freedom to travel

2019 has been an adventurous year for me to explore.  I’ve been blessed to have the ability to pick places to visit and then make my way there.  I’ve explored places I’ve always wanted to visit and some of my favorite places again.  Looking forward to seeing where 2020 takes me!  I plan to keep Walking into the Future with no return date! 😊

Lessons learned

  • Never drive in the Smoky mountains at night— (1) it’s scary and (2) you miss the scenic beauty of the mountains
  • North Carolina / East Tennessee BBQ sauce is vinegar based; I don’t like vinegar in my BBQ sauce
  • Hiking is a fantastic pastime! Will find other areas to explore this new hobby! 😊
  • I like moonshine! It mixes great with fruit punch
  • Gatlinburg has a walkable downtown area—find a place to park and walk around to enjoy the attractions

Thanks for walking with me!

Where have you always wanted to visit?  How much hiking do you plan to do in 2020?

 

 

2019 Boston (GA) mini marathon (Recap)

Boston mini

“How do you know someone ran a marathon?  Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”

(Jimmy Fallon)

My Walk into the Future continues to provide me with adventures and challenges to chase.  The latest challenge came during the Boston (GA) mini marathon (13.1 miles) on 10/26/19.  This race was on my 2019 schedule because I ran it last year and had really good results.  Set my first of many personal records (PR) at the race last year.

Fast forward to this year’s race and there’s not a PR to discuss.  My race time and finish position regressed this year.  Was a bit disappointed with my results because I know I can run faster and have done so multiple times this year on tougher courses.

So, why did I regress during this race?  Great question and I spent a day reflecting on why this race didn’t go as I planned.  Turns out I simply took running fast times for granted.  Not saying I didn’t train and put in the miles to run another good half marathon time.

  • September miles: 44 (includes Philly Rock N Roll Half marathon)
  • October miles: 29 (includes Boston mini marathon)

I did assume my Boston mini marathon race results from 2018 would automatically translate to the 2019 race.  The course was the same, but the weather was significantly different this year–mid-50s in 2018 and mid-70s with high humidity this year.  Also, needed a better hydration plan since the temperatures and humidity were higher than normal for an October morning.

My race mistakes are all easily correctable and I was back in the gym the next morning correcting them.  My physical race prep will still resemble what I’ve been doing but working on the mental aspects, so I never enter a race with assumptions again.  I improved my half marathon times this year by entering every race with a chip on my shoulder—got ahead of myself for this race but the corrections are being made.

Lesson learned—never take a race or finish time for granted.

Boston mini marathon weekend

Boston (GA) is a nice little town 40 miles northeast of Tallahassee (FL).  The people are friendly and have a blast for the entire race weekend. The half marathon is just one of the events they host for the weekend. It’s the kickoff event but most of the weekend action happens once the runners get out of the way.

Vendors setup before the sun comes out to get ready for visitors.  The Boston butt BBQ competition is fierce with BBQ outfits from multiple states vying to win the first-place prize money.  Most of these folks provide samples of their competition level BBQ after the race.  There are other vendors with additional items for purchase (cakes, pies, fish, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.).  Almost has a carnival feel to the day once the race is over.

The parade starts right after the race awards are presented.  I normally hit the road right before the parade kicks off since most intersections are blocked to accommodate the parade route.  Great little town and event if you’re ever in the area.

https://bostonga.com/boston-mini-marathon/

 

Next race

Will venture down to Orlando for the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) half marathon on 12/7/19.  I ran my first ever half marathon at the OUC event back in 2013.  Hard to believe but I’ve been chasing people at half marathons for 6 years now.  Never thought I would run another half marathon after the first one but now I’m traveling the country making memories with my friends.  Pretty cool transformation for me as I continue to Walk into the Future.

Looking forward to my training as I prepare for the OUC race.  Also excited to catch up with family and friends while in the Orlando area.  Already got my post-race lunch location picked and can’t wait to eat shrimp and grits! 😊 Plan to visit my favorite reggae spot, Bob Marley’s at City Walk too.  Will be another fun adventure for me!

 OUC Half

“Running won’t solve all your problems.  But then again, neither will housework.”

(Unknown)

How do you bounce back from a set back?  What lessons have you learned when things don’t turn out as planned?  Thanks!

Running, rocking out, and enjoying Philadelphia

Philly LOVE sign

“To travel is to live”.

(Hans Christian Andersen)

My Walk into the Future continues to expand my running tourist experiences.  Made a trek to the 2019 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon in September.  This was race #5 for my 2019 running goals.

The training and additional miles logged over the summer were evident during my race.  I was able to post another personal record (PR) time of 2:07:55 (official time) but was happier with how I felt mentally and physically during the race.  Past races my legs started to hurt at the 8-mile marker and really screamed at me miles 10 through 13.  Fighting the pain and the urge to stop running was always there in previous races but my new training program allowed me to enjoy every mile of the race.  Helped the Philly course was mostly flat until the end.  I never frown at a PR but will evaluate my training process to see where I can find additional speed to get me closer to my goal time of under 2 hours.

Note:  The 2-hour goal does not stop me from enjoying these races.  It’s my way to push myself to improve daily.

“The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday”.

(Haruki Murakami)

(After race and Rocky statue)

Philadelphia

Selected this race because I’ve never been to Philadelphia.  Also, I have a tree branch (Lauren Apgar) in Philly, and it gave us a chance to catch up.  Again, I take the concept of running tourist seriously so let me know if I should visit your city for a run. 😊

We left the airport and headed straight to the Philadelphia Convention Center for the Rock N Roll EXPO.  Seeing the thousands of running tourists who trek to a Rock N Roll destination to run the city and enjoy the culture is always a highlight of race weekend.

The positive energy in the EXPO hall always provides extra inspiration to run my best race.  People from all over the world converging on a location with the same goal in mind to run their best race ever.

The Philly EXPO was smaller than previous EXPOs (New Orleans and Nashville) because there was not a full marathon scheduled.  The Philly races were the half marathon, a 7.6k and a 5k.

This was Lauren’s first Rock N Roll EXPO, so it was great introducing her to the process (check-in, bib pickup, bag pickup, etc.) and attending the EXPO with vendors and products.  We got as many freebies as we could and tested out products on display.  This is a great way to get a free massage before the race since vendors want to test their products on runners.  I’m always down for the free massage!  Got a lot of cool photo ops while at the EXPO:

Food, food and more food

We left the convention center and made our way to Iron Hill Brewery (Center City) for lunch to help with my carb loading process.  Great location with a huge menu and beer options.  I don’t experiment with food prior to a race so ordered the grilled chicken sandwich, fries and the Iron Hill Light Lager.  Lots of great food on the menu if you get a chance to dine at one of their locations:

What’s a trip to Philly without visiting the Reading Terminal Market?  It’s labeled as “one of America’s largest and oldest public markets” and lived up to the reputation.  Row after row of unique foods, fare and products.  Several vendors had wrap around lines waiting to explore new tastes.  We didn’t eat at Reading Terminal Market, but it will be a regular stop when I’m back in Philly:

Dinner carb loading was done at Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria.  Stuck with the tried and true chicken parmesan because it came with a huge plate of spaghetti and sauce.  Portions were so large at Pietro’s I almost couldn’t finish it all but since I had 13.1 miles to run the next morning, I powered through.

Pietros Pizza

We ventured further out after the race to get cheese steaks.  Lauren introduced me to the Philly subway system and the proper way to get around the city.  We got an impromptu dance show from a family entertaining everyone on the subway.  Great seeing people smile and enjoy themselves as they traveled to their respective destinations.  Full disclosure, I assumed Philly was going to be all hustle and bustle like New York.  Pleasantly surprised how slow the pace was in Philly and how people interacted with each other.

Cheese steaks on every corner

We decided to take part in the great Philly cheese steak debate:  Geno’s or Pat’s.  Agreed we would do a taste test to decide which cheese steak was better.

Started at Geno’s and dived right into a large cheese steak.  Very good flavor, texture and presentation.  Made our way across the street to try Pat’s cheese steak next.  Again, very good flavor, texture and presentation.  The onions on the Pat’s cheese steak were sautéed more and the steak had more moisture than Geno’s.  We agreed both were worth a visit if you’re in Philly—can’t go wrong with either selection.

Seating is limited at Geno’s and Pat’s, so we grabbed seats at Garage Philly and enjoyed the cheese steaks, beer and people watching.  They have a DJ playing on the sidewalk, so it was a block party and a great place to relax with good food:

History

Made our way over to Independence Hall to experience some American history. Got a chance to explore multiple buildings on the property to include Congress Hall and Senate Chambers.  The Liberty Bell was another historical site we were able to experience.  Great being in a place with this much historical contexts—recommend visiting if you’re in the Philadelphia area.

Trekked over to Penn’s Landing to see the waterway and the Ben Franklin Bridge.  Great place to people watch and get photos of New Jersey across the river.  Lots of boats in the water and people enjoying the great September weather.

Philadelphia is a great place—recommend you get there for a visit if you haven’t been.  Also, recommend experiencing the great food, history and culture available.

FYI—enjoyed it so much I’ve already signed up for the 2020 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon!  Will get a chance to test out the Pat’s and Geno’s cheese steak debate again.  Can’t wait!

What city have you always wanted to visit?  When are you going?

 “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”.

(Helen Keller)

Thanks Lauren for being a great host and tour guide—well done! 😊

Running to Philly

person wearing grey nike sneakers
Photo by Karl Solano on Pexels.com

“I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days”.

(Ronald Rook)

Decided early to make my Walk into the Future about setting goals and then putting in the work to meet those goals.  Very proud of my efforts so far in 2019 as I continue to cross things off my list daily.  One of my ongoing 2019 goals is to run a half marathon under 2 hours.  I’ve improved my best time twice this year for a total of 5 minutes faster than I ran in 2018.  My best time of 2:08:21 (2 hours, 8 minutes, 21 seconds) was run at the 2019 Nashville Rock n Roll Half Marathon back in April.  Very proud of this time and training used to get ready for Nashville.  Again, my 2019 goal is to run under two hours, so still have work to do.

Miles, miles and more miles

Determined the best way to run faster was to increase my training program with additional miles.  I had to put some thought into how this would happen considering I would be running during the summer in Florida.  The heat and humidity can be unbearable just walking around so running would be an additional challenge.  Set my running schedule to avoid the hottest times during the day—early morning runs allowed me to get out and back before the full heat and humidity of the day kicked in.  Weekend runs started a bit earlier since I leveraged this time for my long runs.  Learned quickly getting out and back before 9:30 am was ideal—anything past 9:30 am and the heat beats you up.

Logged 50+ miles in June using this training method.  June also provided me with the blueprint on times to run, times to avoid and how to hydrate properly to pull this process off successfully.  Increased my training miles in July to 70+ by running two weekday runs of 5 – 6 miles each and then having a long run of 8 – 10 miles on the weekends.  Also, started carrying a hydration belt with Gatorade and water so I could replenish fluids while out for my run.  Hydration belts are not the coolest looking accessory, but it is very functional when you need something to drink miles away from water.

I extended my training program and physical capabilities in August with a 100+ mile month.  My two weekday runs were extended up to 8 miles each and my weekend runs extended up to 11 – 12 miles.  My longest August training run was 12.65 miles.  Long runs were done to get the miles in, didn’t try to hit race pace since I wanted to build up my running base without trying to hit a specific time.  Ironically, my long run times were still better than some half marathons I ran a few years ago.  Looks like I’m getting faster just by adding long runs to my training program.

Note:  I still made it to the gym for my normal workouts and extra cardio.  Running was the priority for run days, but I didn’t eliminate weight training, yoga or stretching sessions.

Run Day view

September is my taper month as I refresh my legs for the Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon on 9/15/19.  I logged 20 running miles in September to complete my training program prior to heading off to Philly.  This allowed me to mentally and physically get ready to run my best in Philly.

The best part of being this close to a race is I get to carb load—all the pasta and bread I want! 😊  This will help my energy levels during the race and keep me moving fast.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrate-loading/art-20048518

Cross Training View2

(Leg day on the Pit Shark)

Lessons learned

Mixed in hills, intervals and long runs into my training program prior to Philly.  Felt I needed to incorporate more hills and intervals after my Nashville race.  Believe these added programs will give me the endurance, speed and mental toughness needed to get under two hours in Philly.  We will see!  If not, the next race is 10/26/19 in Boston, Georgia.

You can follow my Philly progress using the Rock N Roll app:

https://rtrt.me/app/rnra

Off to Philly and looking forward to my cheese steaks after the race and sightseeing in a new city!

How are you doing with your 2019 goals?  What adjustments are needed to ensure you meet your written goals?  Thanks!

 “A goal is just an awesome way to force growth on yourself”.

(Deena Kastor)

The happy spot: Negril, Jamaica

Curry Goats

Made my annual pilgrimage back down to Negril, Jamaica in May.  Decided a few years back I would travel yearly to Jamaica to enjoy the sun, rum and reggae.  I’ve missed a year here and there but have been consistent getting my Jamaica passport stamp.

The Jamaican Tourist Board (JTB) created the ‘Once you go, you know’ slogan in 2003 to generate tourism interest and get more people to visit the island.  I always thought about the slogan because I wanted to ‘know’ what Jamaica was about but thought it was beyond my price point.  A simple check on Expedia highlighted how affordable a trip to Jamaica can be—prices vary based on brand names (Sandals, Beaches, Palladium) to more economic options (Samsara, Legends, Rock House).  You can spend as much or little as you want based on resort brand, location and all-inclusive food/drink options.

Samsara

My preferred resort is Samsara which is situated on the west end of the island.  The unique feature for Samsara is the resort is located on a cliff.  The cliffs provide unique experiences for guest to ‘cliff dive’ while enjoying the water.  I don’t cliff dive but use the access to put my snorkel gear to good use.  I spend about 3 hours daily exploring underwater caves, following fish and watching Jamaican spear fishermen catch barracuda.

 

Samsara is close to other west end resorts, so I have made a point to visit some of them while on the island.  This allows me to experience additional waterfront views, menu options and drink specials.  My favorite lunch spot on the island is the Rock House.  The Rock House has an expanded menu with a lot of traditional Jamaican food options.  Steamed snapper, peas and rice and callaloo is my go-to meal ‘every’ time I’m there.  Callaloo has a look and feel of collard greens but I will warn you, the Scotch bonnet peppers are smoking hot.  I spend more time pulling them out, but they do add flavor to the dish.

Rock House

I got a bit adventurous and decided to stop at a new spot on this trip.  I pass the Kool Vybes Bar and Jerk Centre every time I’m in Negril but never stopped.  Just assumed everything on the menu would be smothered in Jamaican jerk sauce but they provide the option to have the sauce on the side.  The food at the Jerk Centre was great and may be the best food bargain in Negril.  I will ensure to make it back to the Jerk Centre—recommend getting the jerk sauce on the side if you’re not into spicy food—Jamaicans like food with a kick!

http://realnegril.com/koolvybes/

Jerk Centre

Samsara has a sister resort (Legends) on Seven Mile beach.  Guests have full privileges at both resorts which provides additional options while in Negril.  I can spend time snorkeling off the cliffs at Samsara and then trade for beach activities to include jet skis, catamaran excursions, shopping and dining.  This 2 for 1 resort option is a ‘hidden’ gem to enhance the overall enjoyment while in Negril.

7 mile beach

Reggae

My go to spots to listen to live reggae in Negril are Alfred’s and Bourbon Beach.  I always ask the locals for places to visit and they all agree Alfred’s Ocean Place and Bourbon Beach are the best places to hear live music and catch the Irie vibe.  I’ve never been disappointed with the music or the vibes while at either place.  Both locations are right on 7 Mile beach so you can kick back with a cold drink, listen to the bands and hear waves crashing at the same time.  Very enjoyable experience!

A new place I added to the rotation this trip was Roots Bamboo Beach resort.  Large stage with an impressive sound system with live reggae on Monday and Wednesday nights.  Roots Bamboo Beach is extremely close to Alfred’s and Bourbon Beach—went back and forth between venues when a band had to take a break.

Negril’s uniqueness with cliff and beach access keeps people like me coming back year after year.  It’s always great to meet someone from Europe or Canada and hear they are on their eight trip to Negril—most are like me and stay at the same place every time.  They are in the ‘know’ about Negril.

So, now you know—Negril is my happy spot and I plan to visit as often as possible.  Already looking forward to my next trip down.

What is your happy spot to visit?  When’s the last time you were there?

Sunset 1

Nashville & the Wildhorse Saloon

 

 

Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Made my way back to Nashville, TN for the 2019 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in April.  This race has become a favorite of mine because it allows me to run Nashville neighborhoods and catch amazing musicians at multiple music venues.

My training approach for this half marathon and all others moving forward has improved tremendously.  The Walk into the Future approach has allowed me to increase my training efforts and logging ‘true’ long runs.  Long runs for me now routinely cover 10 miles or longer.  The longest training run I put in for this race was 15 miles—didn’t run this distance for speed but used it to build mental and physical toughness.  Turns out I needed all the mental and physical toughness I could display because somewhere in my love for Nashville I forgot about the HILLS there! 😊

The first 6 miles seemed to go uphill with multiple degrees of incline.  My training runs incorporated hills, so I was better prepared than I initially thought.  Decided to just put trust in my training and have fun as I made my way up each incline.  Slowly found myself enjoying each step with a smile on my face—guess I finally got that runner’s high people always talk about.

Fast forward a bit and I was able to finish in 2:08:21 (two hours, eight minutes and 21 seconds) which is my personal best.  Improved on my time from the 2019 New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.  I’m still a bit off from my goal of running under 2 hours but I’m making incremental progress towards the goal.  I will continue to take small bites from the elephant.  Next scheduled half marathon will be in Philly in September.

Nashville after race

Wildhorse Saloon

The Wildhorse Saloon is a place I visit every time I’m in Nashville.  It’s a great place to hear live music, dance and get some of the best food in Nashville.  Made two visits to the Wild Horse on this trip and heard some great new musicians.

Line dancing lessons take place when the musicians take a break and the dance floor was crowded with folks having a great time learning the steps.  The line dance instructor breaks each dance down with step counts and practice for the dancers before turning them loose.  It’s great watching people learn the dance and then actually perform what they learned—yes, I include myself since I first tried line dancing at the Wildhorse.  Believe this place is a must visit if you decide to head to Nashville.

 

 

NFL Draft

The 2019 NFL Draft was also in Nashville for race weekend.  This was an extra event to experience while in town.  There were over 600,000 NFL fans in attendance for the 3-day draft event.  Made my way down to draft central two days to soak in the excitement of the draft and enjoy the crowds.   Didn’t realize how many professional football fans were this invested in their team’s draft process.  The passion, excitement and team pride displayed was impressive and Nashville put on an excellent show for everyone in attendance.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were the most represented team at the draft.  Their fans travel all over the country to show their support.

 

 

My current Walk into the Future seems to keep bringing me back to Nashville and I love that fact!

I plan to return to Nashville next April to enjoy the race weekend and live music again—great place to visit if you’ve never been!

What’s your favorite place to visit?  How often do you get a chance to visit?  Thanks!

Running and enjoying the Big Easy (New Orleans)

‘Everything in New Orleans is a good idea’.

(Anonymous)

New Orleans Canal Street Trolley

Made another trek over to New Orleans for the 2019 Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  This was race #2 in my 2019 goals for my running program.

Happy to report my training program has gained me additional time off my personal best for the half marathon distance.  Was able to clock 2:10:39 (official time) which took three minutes off my previous best time.  I’m learning more about training, lactic acid thresh holds and pain management.  Slowing but positively heading towards my goal of running a half marathon under 2 hours—it’s coming!

Was excited to get back over to New Orleans this year.  It’s a great place to visit—lots of food, drink and culture options available.

Decided to stay a little more central this year on Canal Street.  The hotel was far enough away from the hustle and noise of Bourbon Street but close enough to walk there for entertainment options.  Made it down to Bourbon Street to watch the street performers (singers, drummers, dancers, etc.) and experience the crowds who flock there to experience this New Orleans tradition.

What’s a trip to New Orleans without eating at The Original Cajun Restaurant, Mulate’s?  It has become a staple on the New Orleans trip because the food and atmosphere are that good.  Generous portions, plenty food options and cold beer are major draws for this restaurant.  Normally get there during the day so have never experienced the bands that play the main stage at night.  Will make it a point to get there for the bands on my next journey over.

A pleasant surprise and ‘new’ favorite place to eat in New Orleans is the Creole House Restaurant & Oyster Bar.  The Creole House is right on Canal Street and was next door to my hotel.  The convenience was great since I was doing a lot of running and walking while in New Orleans but beyond that the food was fantastic.  Got a chance to experience multiple meals at the Creole House and the menu selection was great.  I will warn you, the ‘house mayo’ they use on the Po Boys (sandwich) is good BUT spicy.  They don’t tell you that up front, so it was a surprise to me—I don’t do spicy. 😊

I would recommend the chicken and waffles they have on the breakfast menu.  Every meal I had at the Creole House was great, but the chicken and waffles took it to another level.  Best chicken I’ve had in a long time and the waffle was large and fluffy.  Wish they would have this all day long, but it is a great way to start the day.  Will get the chicken and waffles every time I’m back in New Orleans—it’s that good!

New Orleans is a great place—recommend you get there for a visit if you haven’t been yet.  Also, recommend experiencing the great food and culture available.  It’s more than a place to collect beads on Bourbon Street.

Creole House