Albany Art Park

Albany GA Art Park 05-15-2014All of my Road Warriorettes – Jan, Shari, Anne and Curator Jessica – have different sleep patterns than I do. I’m up until the wee hours of the morning doing blog posts after driving all day. They’re snug in their beds snoring the night away, then they get up early and traipse down to the motel’s free breakfast. I sleep until 9:32, check my email and get rolling just before check-out time. Actually, Shari was the strangest of the batch: she doesn’t come to life until she fills her tank with Starbucks coffee. I’d set the GPS for the nearest Starbucks and leave her a set of keys, hoping she wouldn’t leave me stranded in some backwater town.

Because Anne and Jessica had the early breakfast this morning, they weren’t overly hungry. My hunger alarm was clanging loudly by the time we got to the first town of any size, Albany, Georgia. We had set a goal of avoiding chain joints and had been doing well so far. The first candidate looked a little tea roomy for my taste, so Curator Jessica was dispatched to see if it had tablecloths and/or candles.

I don’t remember if she said it had hanging ferns or not, but we elected to drive around the block to see what else was downtown. When we made the turn, the Albany Artpark on Pine jumped out at us.

At first glance, it was hard to tell if the front windows were painted, if we were looking at reflections or if the colorful images were inside. I put my hunger alarm on snooze.

Fascinating urban art

Albany GA Art Park 05-15-2014What we discovered was one of the most innovative uses of an old building I had ever seen. A local organization bought a neglected building, razed the upper floor to make it open to the sky, and beefed up the exterior walls. It became a huge open-air art gallery.

There was such a 3-dimensional feeling to the graffiti art and the surrounding walls that it was hard to tell what was art and what was reality.

We were a day early

Albany GA Art Park 05-15-2014The stuff we saw was, for the most part, the equivalent of finger exercises. A formal paint-off was held the day after we were there. News accounts I saw online showed some remarkable work. It’s sort of like the annual chalk street paintings held in Lake Worth, Florida.

Opportunities for other towns

Albany GA Art Park 05-15-2014Every place I’ve lived has more than its share of decaying buildings in its downtown areas. I’d love to see art parks like this pop up all over. It’s a great outlet for artists, and the images are fun to look at.

While we were walking around, we visited Ray Charles Plaza, the subject of yesterday’s blog post. We found a great local restaurant on the way of town. It had great food at a reasonable price, served without table cloths, candles or hanging ferns.

Art Park photo gallery

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A Change of Seasons

Old Man's Cave 05-11-2014Friend Anne, who flew into Columbus Sunday to roadtrip to Florida with Curator Jessica got a completely different view of Old Man’s Cave than Foodie Jan did in February 2013.

February vs May

Old Man's Cave 01-24-2013I told both Jan and Anne that one of the nice things about the park was that the gorge has enough twists and turns that you feel like you are alone even when other people are in the park. That statement certainly was true when the temperature was about 24 degrees.

That doesn’t apply to Mother’s Day Sunday after a cold winter, we found. The park hosted the biggest crowd I had ever seen there, and the noise levels were proportional to its size. There was lots of kid hollering and squealing going on all around us.

Still, I don’t begrudge them their fun. From what I saw, it was Mother’s Day they’ll remembered.

No crowds at Pencil Sharpener Museum

Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum 01-24-2013We didn’t have to fight with the crowds at the Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum. I think Anne was impressed.

Glenn Yarbrough 1968

Glenn Yarbrough concert Ohio University 03-02-1968You may have noticed I had a varied group of road warriors traveling with me last year. One of the things that makes for a successful trip (meaning that the same number of people arrive at the destination as left) is working out the Rules of the Road before you take off.

Friends Jan and Anne were bike riding partners, so we had plenty of time to work out the kinks of our relationships while pedaling down the road. Friend Shari was my first high school girlfriend (which didn’t end well), and we hadn’t spoken in close to four decades, so I had to learn that she doesn’t become close to human until after her first cup of Starbucks coffee, she needs frequent smoke breaks and she gets up about the time I’m normally going to bed. We were stopping often for her to check out antique shops, so the smoke breaks weren’t an issue, and I’d leave her my car keys so she could get her Starbucks fix before I even thought about waking up.

Curator Jessica from Athens, Ohio, was a going to be a challenge. She was half my age (OK, more than half my age, but who is counting) to start off, so I was afraid we would have generational issues. We managed to compromise on a waking and sleeping schedule, types of eating establishments (she wasn’t picky) and where we would stay (no place that rented by the hour or where bodies had been found in a room recently). The only place where we hit a speed bump was when we got to talking about music play lists.

“No Glenn Yarbrough,” she insisted

Glenn Yarbrough concert Ohio University 03-02-1968I’m not really a Yarbrough fan – in fact, I get Glenn Yarbrough and Gordon Lightfoot mixed up, probably because of the G-names – but I wasn’t going to concede all that easy. “Miz Jessica, Ma’am, you’ve read my blog. You know that Baby the Rain Must Fall, Glenn’s biggest hit, was how I met Wife Lila. Surely you wouldn’t make me cut that from the playlist, would you?”

She would. Yarbrough was a non-negotiable with her. She also wasn’t big on C.W. McCall, but she WOULD let me play the home brew Cars & Trucks mix tape that was a Steinhoff family trip staple.

So, when I was editing some of my Ohio film, I was surprised to run into Glenn Yarbrough in concert at Ohio University on March 2, 1968.

Jessica, this are for you.

He is as bland as his music

Glenn Yarbrough concert Ohio University 03-02-1968While I was editing the film, I cranked up some Yarbrough music. Sorry, Glenn, I had to dump you after about the third song. You make Gordon Lightfoot sound exciting. On top of that, the photos are dull, too. I’m only including a bunch of them in case some reader was one of the folks who bought some of his nearly four dozen solo albums. He also sang on almost two dozen albums with the Limeliters. SOMEBODY must have liked him.

I’m sticking in some shots of the guys in his band just in case they became famous on their own later.

Glenn Yarbrough photo gallery

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Riverbend Park Bike Ride

Anne Rodgers Riverbend Park 02-25-2014_6555I see SE Missouri may be looking at another wave of ice and snow, so I ALMOST hate to post this. Friends Jan Norris and George Primm have been talking up riding their bikes on the trails in Palm Beach County’s Riverbend Park near Jupiter, Florida.

When Anne Rodgers sent me a message saying she had an afternoon free for a ride, I set aside stuff I was supposed to be doing and decided to see if I could still ride a bike. For the record, the trail, is beautiful. It’s not long, but there are lots of loops and it is very peaceful. (At least on a weekday when very few people were around.) Click on the photos to make them larger.

I USED to ride a lot

Anne Rodgers Riverbend Park 02-25-2014_6558Before I started this blog, I did one on I was riding as much as 3,000 miles a year, with metric centuries (62 miles) a couple times or more a month and a century (100-miles in a day) a couple times a year.

Interestingly enough, I rode a lot more when I was working than after I retired.

  • This blog takes a lot of time and travel.
  • My long-distance partner, Mary, crashed while not wearing a helmet, fractured her skull in five places and hasn’t been able to get on a bike since.
  • Riding partners Osa and Anne have real lives, so scheduling rides is a lot more complicated and we never rode enough together to do long distances.
  • I don’t deal with heat as well as I once did, so I switched a lot of my riding to nights. Don’t worry: I’m more visible at night than in the daytime.
  • I have a feeling like a pebble in my sock when I ride more than about 35 miles. The foot doc gave it a fancy name, but it boiled down to I don’t have the padding around my toes I once did.

Trail is mostly packed shell rock

Anne Rodgers Riverbend Park 02-25-2014_6559My Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike has relatively wide tires that rode very well on the hard-packed shell rock trail.

Here’s part of the account I sent to Curator Jessica when she asked how my ride went: I am severely diminished.

The first loop was a beautiful shaded trail with abundant wildlife. Then Anne, bless her heart, (an old Southern expression) suggested we ride another trail. She, being young and eager, led the way. THAT trail led under a bridge and then into single track mountain bike country that took us to a part of trail with water and ruts that could have been called the Grand Canyon had that name not already been taken.

Shell rock turns to grass to sand

That trail changed from packed shell rock to grass. Fortunately, that didn’t last long. Unfortunately, the next segment was patches of sugar sand with stretches of mud and water. We had strayed onto an equestrian trail.

Anne is a twig. I looked at Anne’s tire tracks. She was sinking in about half an inch. I’m two Annes and was plowing a rut. I was operating at  wobble speed or less and my heart rate monitor was approaching the line marked “Red Fountain.”

I told Anne that I was on the verge of bonking and needed to fuel the furnace to tide me over until we could find a nice place to dive into the sub sandwich she had brought along. We each had an energy gel that is about like a gummy worm in consistency.

We hadn’t gone very far when I got impatient and bit down on the gel. On my second bite, there was a very un-gel-like crunch. I told Anne to hold up a minute while I fished around in my mouth. Just as I had suspected, I had pulled a dental crown loose.

I ended up pushing my bike about half a mile because it was too soft to ride.

Deer were a nice surprise

Riverbend Park_02-25-2014_6588Once we got back on the main loop again, we made much better time more comfortably. We weren’t going so fast, though, that we missed this herd of deer chowing down on grasses. They showed interest, but not fear, even when I got to within about 50 feet of them.

Another rider spots the deer

Riverbend Park 02-25-2014_6594Two guys on mountain bikes rode up while I was shooting the deer. They were nice enough to stand back to keep from spooking them, but I motioned the one guy forward so he’d have a better chance at getting a shot. The deer drifted away slowly, but they must be used to seeing people in the park.

The parking lot we started from is also where there is a canoe concession to float the Loxahatchee River. If you are in Florida and want to have a taste of what the region used to be like, Riverbend Park is the place to go. Just stay out of the sugar sand and don’t crunch down on a sticky energy gel.

Oh, by the way, right after the dentist got me all numbed up, he told me he wasn’t going to be able to reuse the old crown and asked if I wanted to discuss payment options. NOW would be a good time for you to click that big red button at the top left of the page to order something from Amazon to help me pay for my new crown.