Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Autumn

My friend Scott and I left Tuesday Morning on a road trip to the Smoky Mountains National Park. I had booked an Airbnb for two nights above Gatlinburg. It was more room than we needed, with three bedrooms and two baths. The highlight of our lodging was the view from the balcony on the third floor.

The following day we did a 2 1/2 mile hike at Laurel Falls.

Autumn is my favorite season, I love the colors!

We stopped to check out Mannish Branch Falls, but weren’t able to cross the creek to see it up close.

Our next stop was “the Sinks”.

Our second hike was 5.5 miles at Rainbow Falls. The elevation change was 1,500 ft.

The mountains were dusted with snow.

Since it hadn’t rained much for a while, the falls were smaller than usual but still beautiful.

We saw two bears from the car.

All together we walked over 10 miles yesterday, and my body knew it. After a hot shower, some pizza, and a couple of Tylenol, I was almost good as new.

Eden Park to Mt. Adams Hike in Cincinnati, Ohio

I had a date Saturday morning to take an urban hike. I suggested meeting at Eden Park Overlook and hiking to Mt. Adams…approximately 3 miles round trip.

Eden Park

Eden Park Overlook

We took a break at The Bow Tie Cafe and had some water. The view was gorgeous!

View from the Holy Cross Immaculata Church

He wasn’t a match, but it was a beautiful day!

Meetup.com Hike in Ludlow, Kentucky

Yesterday, I led 11 hikers on a wooded 3.6 mile loop trail at Devou Park in Ludlow, Kentucky. The trails are seven minutes from my home. I’ve been a member of Meetup.com for 15 years and am an Assistant Organizer for the Tri-State Hiking Group, one of the meetups. Recently, I’ve been making more of an effort to get out to meet people and do more activities. In the past three years since the death of my husband and son, I’ve tended to isolate and lost my passion for most things in life, except travel, which I’ve used as a form of therapy. It was a great 1 ½ hr. hike with wonderful weather.

The leaves are finally beginning to change color.

Afterwards, a couple of the hikers and I went to The Standard Covington Restaurant in Covington, Kentucky for dinner/drinks. This morning I scheduled the same hike for an upcoming Saturday.

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 6

We started our first full day in Marquette driving to Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park, where we had a short hike to a waterfall.

Next, we drove to Sugarloaf Mountain and walked up 304 steps to the viewing platforms. Wow!!

Lake Superior is large enough to fit five states in it.

Our last stop was Presque Isle Park. We drove around the one way loop and stopped a couple of times to view the lovely scenery.

After stopping at our Airbnb to freshen up and have a drink, we walked to The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Restaurant.

We shared a smoked whitefish appetizer and had a delicious Whitefish entree (it looked so good I forgot to take a photo 🙂

Another wonderful day!

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 4

I left my Airbnb in Traverse City and drove a scenic route along the Michigan Lake shoreline on my way to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula. I stopped in Harbor Springs for a restroom break and took a few photos. It was still early morning.

It was exciting crossing the Mackinac Bridge.

I wanted to capture a photo of the entire Bridge so after I paid my $4 toll fee I took the first exit and went to a state park to take this photo.

My itinerary included Tahquamenon Falls State Park. I stopped for lunch at Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub, located next to the Upper Falls of the Park and then walked a half mile to the main viewing platform.

The falls were impressive. They reminded me of Cumberland falls, Kentucky. The rusty color was surprising. I read that Tannins cause the rust color.

There are numerous vantage points to take photos from.

I drove four miles to the Lower Falls which weren’t as impressive but still beautiful. You only have to walk 400 ft. to the first viewing platform.

On my way to Marquette I stopped at a scenic lookout to take a few photos and stretch my legs. Lake Superior is beautiful, the water is so clear and a beautiful shade of blue.

Once in Marquette, I stopped at a grocery store for supplies and finally arrived at my Airbnb nine hours after my departure from Traverse City.

I unloaded the car, made a sandwich for dinner and watched a Netflix.

Pure Michigan road trip – Day 3

The only outing I did on Day 3 of my Michigan road trip was hiking a few miles at Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve. The trails are along the Boardman River. It was only a 20 minute drive from my Airbnb.

It’s always fun to hike somewhere you haven’t been. Afterwards I packed for my departure the following day to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, aka the UP.

Pure Michigan Road Trip and Sleeping Bear Dunes

The morning of August 31, 2022, I left home (Northern Kentucky) and drove 7 and 1/2 hours to an Airbnb in Traverse City. I had three days to explore Traverse City and the surrounding areas. I stayed with a couple who have a beautiful view of Michigan Lake from their deck. They were very helpful giving me tips to tweak my itinerary. One of my followers Phil (and I follow his beautiful blog https://philperkins.photography/ ) was very helpful with ideas of where to visit on my Michigan trip.

The following day I left early, drove to Suttons Bay, and took a few photos.

The weather was perfect.

Then I drove to Good Harbor Bay Beach.

My next stop was Glen Arbor, where I had breakfast before driving to Empire Bluff Trail.

The trail is two miles round-trip and there’s a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes.

My next stop was Mission Point Lighthouse.

On the way back to my lodging I stopped at Mari Vineyards for a glass of wine. There are lots of wineries to choose from. I drove a little over three hours total. There wasn’t much traffic and the scenery was beautiful.

I was surprised by how pretty Michigan is and how Caribbean blue the water is.

Hike from Lauterbrunnen to Murren and Gimelwald

I took a cable car (there’s one every 30 minutes beginning at 4:08 a.m.)(normally 9 francs..less for me with a Eurail pass) from the Grütschalp station in Lauterbrunnen (next to the Coop grocery)(takes 3 minutes to go up) and then hiked 7 km to the very quaint town of Mürren. There’s also a train if you don’t want to hike. That’s what most people did. The hike from Grütschalp to Mürren was scenic. It took me about an hour and a half but I did stop and have my breakfast/lunch on the way

Murren reminds one of The Sound of Music!

Lovely place to take a break…

People like to have their photo taken here…

Upon arrival in Mürren, there were no signs pointing the way to Gimmelwald, which is where I wanted to go next, so I asked a local and he gave me directions. Mürren is a quaint pedestrian-only Village so it’s quiet. It’s a gradual 1.7 km paved downhill hike to Gimmelwald and it’s more scenic than the first hike although everywhere is scenic.

Gimmelwald is smaller and has more of a local country feel to it.

From Gimmelwald I took a cable car down where there’s a bus every 30 minutes to take you back to Lauterbrunnen. View from the cable car.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Schynige Platte Hike

On one of my three days in Lauterbrunnen, I walked five minutes to take the train from Lauterbrunnen at 8:02 a.m. (there’s one every 40 mins. & takes 15 mins.) to Wilderswil where you take a 50 minute cog train ride to Schynige Platte (76 francs r/t, but with Eurail pass 57 francs). There are four hikes that you can do ranging from 1 hour and 15 minutes to 6 hours, so I chose one that is two and a half hours (#3).

This was my favorite hike of all…the scenery reminded me of a combination of Olympic National Park, Glacier National Park, Alaska, Colorado, Canyonlands, Utah and the Sea to Sky highway on the way to Whistler, Canada. The views of both Lake Thun and Brienz were delightful.

It almost looked mythical…

Wildflowers were abundant…

The hike is a little over six km (6,463 ft. high elevation) and took me two hours.

Taking the cog train…

Views from the cog train were stunning!

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Matterhorn up close

On my second day in Zermatt, which was my birthday, I was at the Gornergrat railroad station by 7:30 am when they opened to purchase a cog train ticket for a 33 minute ride to see the Matterhorn and Gorner Glacier (the 2nd largest in the Alps) and hike to Riffelberg, via the Riffelseeweg trail #21, passing Riffelsee.

I captured this view of the Matterhorn and it’s reflection after hiking 1 ½ hrs. to Riffelsee.

This is Europe’s highest outdoor cog railway at 10,132 ft. My ticket was 103 francs. I think it’s 67 francs each way but since I was walking down part of the way it was less.

Beautiful view of the Matterhorn on the way up…

At the top you have a great view of the Gorner Glacier…

This lady gives a perspective as to how massive the mountains are…

I began the hike up at the top left…

There were two bees hovering by me for most of the hike. I like to think that it was a message from my deceased husband and child that they were with me in spirit.

You can see Riffelsee Lake in this photo and the cog train…

closer to the lake and the Matterhorn…

I was very lucky to have such a beautiful day on my birthday to see the Matterhorn! It got down into the 20s at night, warming up to 39 degrees when I started the hike, and eventually reached the 50s.

I hiked another hour to Riffelberg, where I took the cog train the remainder of the way back down.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Muottas Muragl Panorama Trail to Alp Languard

On my second and final day in Saint Moritz, I took a 10 minute bus ride to Punt Muragl and purchased a ticket for 39 francs for the funicular, which dates back to 1907, rises to an elevation of 8057 feet (2456 meters) above sea level and covers a distance of 7221 feet (2201 meters) at a gradient of 56% to Muottas Muragl. I then hiked 7 km on the Panorama Trail to Alp Languard. The views were incredible! There were only a handful of people on it and one lady I briefly spoke to said it was the perfect day for it weather wise and also that the crowds hadn’t arrived yet. I had an egg sandwich for breakfast and took a sandwich with me.

At one point in the trail you walk thru a short metal structure, pictured below. There was a hole in it which made a perfect picture frame.

The funicular ride to Muottas Muragi…

Down in the valley the five Engadin lakes were sparkling. The Bernina Massif mountain peaks and glaciers are beautiful!

The trail was mostly flat and well maintained. I had the trail to myself for two of the three hours it took to hike.

There were a few benches on the trail to take a break.

This man was calling for his dog, down on the left, but he came running towards me and then ran to him.

Here’s the chair lift to go back down.

I’ve been on plenty of chair lifts snow skiing, but it’s entirely different hopping on a fast moving one at the top to ride down! Yes, those are La Sportiva hiking boots…love them!

The chair lift ends in Pontresina. I then took the train back to Saint Moritz.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Hiking Monoa Falls

When researching things to do during my month long stay on Oahu, hiking to Monoa Falls was near the top. Getting there was an adventure. I rented a Biki Bike and biked three miles to a local bus that drops you a mile from the trailhead. Once inside the park, it’s less than a 2 mile hike roundtrip, but then everything in reverse. It was well worth it!

Walking through the park, I had visions of Jurassic Park.

I definitely recommend hiking to Monoa Falls!

Hiking Diamond Head at Sunrise

Hiking is one of my favorite activities and having gorgeous scenery when you’re doing it is amazing! Since I didn’t have a car for my month-long stay in Honolulu, I rented a Biki Bike before sunrise, biked 1.5 miles to the closest Biki Bike station near the trail head, hiked 2 miles to the summit and then back to the Biki Bike station. There were a few people on the trail. It began raining as I approached the summit, which made it difficult to take photos, but the views were beautiful!

As I climbed these stairs, I turned around for the view…

At the summit….Wow!

Hiking back…

The trail began filling up…

Hiking Diamond Head was one of the highlights of my visit to Oahu!

Bachelor Number Two

As I said in my last post, since I was spending a month in Oahu, Hawaii in January/February of this year, I thought it would be nice to meet some people, so I had tentative dates set up with three men. Bachelor Number Two had lived on the island for over 30 years and was originally from Germany. I ended up going out with him three times. For our first date, he took me on a 2-3 mile round-trip hike to this spot that hang gliders use. The view is amazing! Obama’s compound is down below. #localsknow

Our view as we approached the scenic overlook.

For our second date, we went out for dinner. I paid for his as a way to say thank you for showing me around.

We drove to the North shore for our third date and I met a small group of his friends at a barbecue. It was fun, but I didn’t have chemistry with him.

This was our secluded bbq site, except for the rooster 🙂

2021 in Review

As usual, to escape the cold in Ohio/No. Kentucky, I traveled to Cape Coral, Florida for 5 weeks in late January/early February.  Because I didn’t qualify for the vaccine yet, I again stayed away from people, except for a short trip to see a friend in Clearwater.  It was quite lonely, but I bicycled, walked, and even jogged some.  Went to the beach a couple of days per week to walk, jog, and read.

In March I received both of my vaccines.  So in April I visited Austin and San Antonio, Texas with a friend.  This is the San Antonio Riverwalk.  I spent my honeymoon here with my late husband back in 1994.

I began renting out my spare bedroom/bath to as an Airbnb.  I met some wonderful people – it was like the United Nations – People with roots from the Philippines, Africa, Poland, Mexico, and Jordan.  Amazon employees, traveling nurses, a med student, etc.

I planned a road trip to North and South Carolina to hike and check out waterfalls and some of the towns I’d never been to, like Greenville, S.C. (which I loved), Hendersonville, N.C., (quaint), Bryson City, N.C., Highland, N.C., and Ashville, N.C. (which I had been to).

Lake Janaluska, N.C.

I planned a trip to Alaska for 10 days in July – 2 nights Glacier Bay, 1 night Fairbanks (didn’t see it – just wanted to take the scenic train starting from there heading South), 4 nights Mt. Denali Nat’l Park, 3 nights Anchorage.  This is the view flying into Juneau.

I took a small boat cruise to see a glacier in Glacier Bay National Park

I took the scenic panoramic train all the way to Seward, stopping for 4 nights in Denali Nat’l Park.  I stayed at a lodge located 92 miles (the farthest you can travel) into the park.  And 3 nights in Anchorage.

On the 7 hr. bus ride back to the lodge, we saw some wildlife (I’m not posting all of it).

The guide told us we were so lucky because for the 4 days I was there, Mt. Denali was either in full view or mostly full.

I went hiking with a small group of people…

I went kayaking as a day trip in Seward from Anchorage on the train. 

In September I went to Ft. Lauderdale for 5 days with a guy I dated for a couple of months.  He made me laugh so much, but I found out he was an addict.  I truly had feelings for him after years of looking, and went through some emotional pain.  But, nothing could ever come close to the pain I experience since losing my son.

In October I went to the Covered Bridge Festival in Indiana with a friend…

A couple of weeks after that overnight trip, I had hip surgery.  I’ve been walking and doing exercises and it’s healing.  I also got my booster shot in November.

In December, I drove 1 ½ hrs. to Richmond, Indiana to see a friend and spend the night.  We went to the Warm Glow Candle Factory.

I took a solo day trip (2 hrs.) to Columbus to the Franklin Park Conservatory.  It was lovely.  They had Chihuly glass art mixed in with flowers and the architecture.

While I was in Columbus, I went to a place called Otherworld.  It has over 40 rooms filled with lights and interesting displays.

I also spent two nights in the Ozarks in Missouri with a friend.  It was a long drive – 8 ½ hrs. each way. We hiked at Ha Ha Tonka State Park (odd name) and had lunch at J.B. Hooks Restaurant, which had a fantastic view and the food was pretty good.

I celebrated Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law, as usual.  New Year’s Eve was spent alone, grieving for my son.  That’s his birthday.  I’m hoping this coming year will be less lonely for me.  I’ve planned a month long trip to Oahu in late January/February and a 3 month trip to 5 European countries in the Spring.