2023: Life Throws Us Loops But We Move On

Here goes a new year!

The first 3 months of 2023 were pretty wild for me.  If you, my readers, have wondered about the relative drought of blog posts and book reveals, then read on.

I started off the new year with a quick trip to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.  My wife, my daughter Marissa and my wife’s sister Laura did some hiking and camping.  It was a cold, but fun adventure for them.  They stayed in tents while I stayed in a hotel in nearby Logan, Ohio.  Nothing like starting off the new year with a trip.  While they hiked, I drove around and did my usual sightseeing. Fun for all of us.

Hocking Hills is a beautiful place.  It has some nice waterfalls and lots of lovely nature.  They enjoyed that while I saw interesting buildings and artwork in Logan and Hallsville.

Upon our return, my wife and I visited a new local Ramen place called Zundo.  It was cold out and Ramen is always good.   We had a big surprise as we experienced our first ever ROBOT waiter!! What a fun experience that was!!

Welcome to Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, Ohio
Log Cabin picnic area in Hocking Hills
Historic sign about the Rock House Hotel in Hocking Hills
Main entrance to Hocking Hills
The Rockbridge, Ohio Post Office
Welcome to Logan, Ohio
OH 664 north of Logan, OH
OH 664 sign
My wife Julianne shows off her tent skills
The Logan Theater Marquis in Downtown Logan, OH
The Happy Campers at Hocking Hills
Old church in Hallsville, OH

I am always on the lookout for unique murals and came across this one in Kingston, Ohio.  It is titled “Freedom is Not Free” and was painted by Cheryl White Mitchell in 2003.  The soldiers actually look a bit spooky.

“Freedom is Not Free” mural by Cheryl White Mitchell, in Kingston, OH
A closeup of the mural

And then the Zundo fun…

My first experience being served by a robot!! This was at Zundo in Lexington
Yes.. I got a selfie with it. You pet its head and it purrs and moves its eyes and mouth

With January came a new year of Sheltowee Trace hiking for Julianne. She missed the challenge in 2022 and longed to get back on the trail.  So, on January 20 she was off to hike with Marissa. And, as always, while they hiked I enjoyed driving the backwoods and back roads.

Sheltowee Trace hikers get ready to begin the 2023 hiking season.
As always, I love to support the hikers when I can. Love the Sheltowee Trace

While they hiked, I took a little side trip north to Lake Linville to see if I could get any shots of Bald Eagles.

Lake Linville near Mt. Vernon, KY
A Bald Eagle in flight at Lake Linville
Lots of Rock Houses can be found near the Sheltowee Trace in the London, KY area
Rock outcrops are not rare to see along the back roads near the Sheltowee Trace
Wildlife are being threatened more and more…

At the end of January we took a day trip to Shelbyville, KY for a visit to another park with hiking trails.  We took the grandkids.  Lake Shelby is nice little park and on this particular morning offered us some interesting skies and a great interaction with a belted kingfisher that really wanted some camera time.

Lake Shelby Park in Shelbyville, KY
Waterfall at Lake Shelby
Unique Clouds at Lake Shelby
Mrs. Belted Kingfisher posed nicely for us
Another look at the very patient belted kingfisher
Squire Boone Hiking Trail at Lake Shelby
Sun shines through the clouds at Lake Shelby
A couple of swans wanted in on the action.

So, January turned out pretty good.  But February was not so.  For the first part of the month I did my usual local visits to Jacobson Park.  Then, as mid-February approached, we took Julianne out with her bike so she could knock off some of the Sheltowee Trace road walk areas.  We also made a trip to the small communities of New Haven and New Hope for Julianne to join another hike in the beautiful hills of the Abbey of Gethsemani which was founded in 1848.  I also had my opportunity to see some interesting things in the are while they hiked.  There is a farm with camels and emus, so I was able to get some closeups.  I also drove through the Log Still Distillery.  New Haven is the home to the Kentucky Railway Museum.  After my drive through New Haven, I decided to take a spin out to Cecilia to see if there were any Sandhill Cranes still hanging around.  I lucked out!!

Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky
Historic sign about Gethsemani
Lone statue on a hill in Gethsemani…
The Log Still Distillery in New Haven, KY
Log Still is known for Monk’s Road Bourbon, obviously due to the Monastery just down the road
Don’t get to see a Speed Limit 7 very often!!
The New Hope, KY Post Office is unique. You don’t see crosses on post offices very often
Welcome to New Haven, KY
Kentucky Railway Museum Sign in New Haven, KY
The Kentucky Railway Museum is great place for train enthusiasts of all ages
I got really lucky! There were still a few Sandhill Cranes hanging around in Cecilia.
Then there were the camels in New Hope, KY Hey You!!
You like my smile?
There were also emus on the property with the camels
The camels were on the side of the road at Boone Farms, a two minute drive from the Abbey
I even saw some deer off on a side road

Then came February 18…devastation…  Julianne was on the month two hike of the Sheltowee Trace and I had joined to be a support driver.  All of the hikers met in Livingston, KY.  Many had spent the night in the STA Headquarters building located there.  We loaded up a couple of vehicles with hikers, including our Honda Pilot.  Since the cars were facing south, the two of us drivers made a u-turn on the wide and relatively untraveled US 25 to head north.  The first driver made her turn and I could see her in the mirror and nothing else.  I then made my U-turn (a very common thing done in this small quiet town).  As I got mid way into the turn, a pickup truck came out of nowhere heading south barreling down the road at 50-60 miles per hour in a 25 mile zone.  He couldn’t stop and I couldn’t move fast enough.  With seven passengers in the car, I watched with horror in my rear view mirror as he slammed into my driver side door and front axle.  All of the airbags on the driver side of the car deployed.  I was hurt…thinking I had a separated shoulder.  By the grace of God, none of the other passengers were hurt or injured.  I took the brunt of it.  And, I later found out that I was cited for making an illegal U-Turn, which I expected.  But, the other driver was not cited for anything despite numerous witnesses that saw him speeding down the road.  Oh well….

I got a nice selfie with a Daniel Boone carving…just about ten minutes before the accident
The Old Wilderness Road runs through the area near Livingston, KY
So, here is the damaged Honda Pilot. It was totaled. A sad day
And here is the replacement car, a 2018 Lexus GX 460 with 4WD
And here is the Slingon Klingon

Soon thereafter an ambulance arrived and they had to cut the airbags to get to me.  I was taken to Mount Vernon and X-rayed only to find that I had a fractured clavicle.  I was put in a sling and had to stay uncomfortable for two days before I could get to a doctor in Lexington the following Monday. I was told that I would be in a sling for at least six weeks.  No driving. No visiting Jacobson Park. Lots of pain.  It was the first broken bone for me in my 66+ years of life.

Since the accident, I spent almost the full six weeks recuperating.  But, we also had other things that had to be taken care of.  As a result of the accident, we ended up with a really good deal on a 2018 Lexus GX 460 SUV with four-wheel drive and a V8 engine.  But I didn’t get to drive this new car for over four weeks until the end of March.

The recovery has been a challenge.  But, I am oh so very grateful that I only sustained a shoulder fracture.  Had I not worn my seat belt, I would have been in much worse shape. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SEAT BELTS FOLKS!!

I will be writing plenty this year and plan on some fun travel, including a couple of quick trips to the Southeast U.S.  I haven’t set foot in Florida since 1990 and I look forward to driving along the Gulf Coast.  I have been in the midst of two books for almost 16 months.  The accident really put a hit on those, but I hope to get back to those as well.  April – December 2023 looks promising and hopeful for me.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, please check out my five current books.

My books cover so much more!

Enjoy the Ride With Sumoflam

You can get my books online!  The series now has five books and I am working on books six and seven. Book Six will be all about murals from all over the country!! Watch for them later in 2023 as I get time from my recovery.