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Just Exploring (Getting Lost in) Rock Creek Park

When we were preparing to leave Louisville last year, I wrote about the things I would miss most. The first thing on that list was Cherokee Park

Last weekend, we returned to Louisville to pack up our apartment for D.C. I planned to pack running shoes for a final trail run in Cherokee, then left them out, realizing that 1) I probably wouldn’t have time to run and 2) if I did, I would be tired and achey, making packing more difficult. 

I was right, there was no time for running or walking in the park, so I settled for a quick drive through with a stop at the top of Baringer Hill. As soon as we drove underneath the green archway leading into the park, my eyes started leaking. That park gave me so much solace in my time in Louisville, and I missed it and will continue to miss it. I needed this one final visit and view. 

No dogs on Dog Hill today.

No dogs on Dog Hill today.

If you read last year’s post, you’ll recall that the first time I ran in Cherokee Park, I got so lost I had to call home for a ride. Going on these exploratory runs is becoming a habit. I did it once in St. Louis and kept running until I found my way home. The most extreme was Louisville. It never happened in Cambridge because I try to run on unpaved paths, and the most convenient one I found was along the Charles. Can’t get confused going up and down a river. 

Smartphones make getting truly lost nearly impossible, but I managed to confuse myself on my inaugural Washington, D.C. run. We’re staying near Rock Creek Park, so yesterday I walked to the Melvin C. Hazen trail and started running. When I got tired, I looked at my phone to find my way out of the park. I went the wrong way before I decided to stop running and start using the map to get home.  It took me about 45 minutes of walking through Chevy Chase and Forest Hills before I got home again. 

Crossing creeks makes a run more interesting. 

Crossing creeks makes a run more interesting. 

After the first time I got really confused running in St. Louis, I decided this was a great way to learn a new neighborhood. I fully plan to confuse myself in Rock Creek Park again. Our new home will about a five minute walk from the park, on the other side of the creek. I’m happy to be close to a park again and look forward to learning it as well as I did Cherokee. 

31 Days of Louisville Love: You!

Today is the 31st and last day of this Louisville Love series. Today's topic is what I will miss most about Louisville, and that's you. 

My first visit to Louisville in 2008. 

My first visit to Louisville in 2008. 

You, who were my first friends here, mainly because you knew Gabe (even though you thought I was an imaginary Peace Corps girlfriend). Once we established that I was real, you helped me settle in here and love this city. You invited me to plays, to basketball games, to join your kickball team. And that's only the beginning.

Before I had a car, you gave me rides. You helped us move. You planned a bridal/bachelorette party I didn't intend to have (with some help from St. Louis friends). You helped plan our wedding, gave us the event space for the ceremony, saved your empty bourbon bottles for the table decorations, married us, took our wedding photographs, played music at our reception, and retrieved our marriage certificate when we left it at the apartment. You kept an eye on our apartment while we were away. You podcasted with me. You jump-started my car. You planned and showed up for my surprise 30th birthday party. You exercised with me, hired me when I was unemployed, and helped find me part-time jobs until I found a full-time position. You filled our apartment for house-warmings, New Year's Eve parties, and art fair brunches, and you welcomed us to your homes and parties. You explored this city and a few others with us. 

Basically, you've been really good friends and neighbors (most of you, anyway. Whoever stole my bike pump, I could do without you).  Thank you. I love you, Louisvillagers. Ten months really isn't that long, so we'll see you soon. But I'm going to miss you like crazy. 

31 Days of Louisville Love: The Moth

I heard about The Moth before I moved to Louisville, but it wasn't until Louisville started hosting monthly storySLAMs at Headliners that I really got hooked. 

Because Gabe is a regular Moth host at the live event, I have been to most of the story nights. We were at the very first one, we've been to both the GrandSLAMs, and tonight, we'll go to our last Louisville Moth for a while.

After almost three years of the Moth, I know the rules, and I know the faces and names of the regular storytellers. You can always count on a good story (usually on topic) from them, and I love learning a little more about the regulars. But it's exciting when the host pulls a new storyteller's name out of the tote bag. And when a new person tells a really, really good story (and maybe even wins on their first night)? I love that.

I love the anonymous mini-stories the hosts read between the real stories. I love seeing someone I know at their first Moth and hearing about how much they loved it on their way out. I love hearing how far people drove, just to come to this one event, and telling them all the places in town they should go before they leave the next day. I love trying to think of my own story to share, but prefer to sell you t-shirts, mugs, and answer your questions as volunteer.

I did get up there once to tell a story. There are some things I feel like I need to try a few more times to really know whether I like them or not (like paragliding off a mountain). I do not have to ever tell another story at the Moth. Yikes (you CAN see people in the audience, despite the lights. No features, but you can tell there are people out there. That's enough to make me shake). 

Boston has three monthly Moth events (Boston, Cambridge, Somerset), so if I need to hear some live stories, I'm set. But I will not know all those storytellers. I will not know the volunteers, the hosts, and the producer. For me, the Moth has meant the Louisville StorySLAM, and I will miss knowing what I'm doing the last Tuesday night of the month. 

31 Days of Louisville Love: Proximity to Hot Chicken

This is another post that's kind of a cheat. Loving a city for its proximity to another city? Yeah, I know. Then again, one of the things I loved about living in Houston was its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. So perhaps it's not so ridiculous that one of the reasons I love Louisville is that I can get to Nashville, eat some hot chicken, and get back home in a day. 


We've actually only done this once, and the purpose of the trip was not hot chicken. In fact, no visit to Nashville has been solely hot chicken-driven. It's always an added bonus (or, in the case of our last trip, in which I stayed inside our rental and worked and Gabe went to a meeting, the best part). But if we wanted to drive down for the Hot Chicken Festival, we could be there in two and a half hours. 

I'll look for hot chicken in Boston (it looks like there's some close to us in Cambridge). I tried some in New York, and it was good, but it wasn't hot. Nashville-style hot chicken seems to be best in Nashville, and I will miss having an easy drive there.  

31 Days of Louisville Love: Waterfront Park

Although I don't get there much, I love Waterfront Park. I've lived in a few river cities (St. Louis, New Orleans), and for me, Louisville has the best outdoor space along a river.


It's easily accessible -- you can have brunch at Garage Bar and stroll down to the park. There's lots walking (running/biking) paths. I love the Great Lawn and those bird statues (currently on vacation while they're restored). I love the Lincoln Statue, the swinging benches, and I really love biking through the park, always with the river in view. I love going to concerts at Waterfront Park and watching the sun set over the Ohio. 

When the Big Four Bridge opened, I had a whole new reason to get excited about Waterfront Park. I love that looping approach. I always want to see more when we drive over bridges, and walking the Big Four lets me take my time and see all the river I want. I haven't been since the Indiana side opened, but I'm looking forward to exploring. 

The Charles Rivers is also lovely, and I'm really excited about living close to an ocean. But I will miss Waterfront Park, and I will have to go to all the 2015 Watefront Wednesdays to make up for our time away. 

31 Days of Louisville Love: Big Things on Main Street

As a Texan, I'm supposed to love big stuff. Between 7th and 9th Street on Main, there are a few big things, and I do love them. 

When I moved here, there was the big Slugger at the Louisville Slugger factory. According to their site, at 120 feet tall, it's the world's biggest bat (unsurprising, who would have reason to build a bigger one?) The Kentucky Science Center had that big, concave mirror-mosaic. And then, not to be outdone by the neighbors, in 2012, 21c got a big, golden replica of the David. 


I love this collection of enormous objects. I love looking for the David as we head to Indiana on 1-64 (you can definitely see him in winter, when there are no leaves to block your view). You can see both him and the Slugger from above if you fly over downtown in the right spot. If only the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft would get some huge, permanent installation, we could continue this trend. The Frazier Museum has a cannon out front, but it's normal-sized.

We are moving in two weeks and I haven't even peeked at that Boston guidebook. Do they have any big things?  

31 Days of Louisville Love: Louisville Public Media

I grew up on public media. The only TV watching my parents easily approved of was PBS (Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, Shining Time Station). We listened to classical music and NPR on the 20-30 minute ride to school. I remember Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me on Saturday morning rides to the library and Prairie Home Companion on any Saturday nights spent at home. 

Gabe joined WFPL and Louisville Public Media in 2008, which is why I moved to Louisville (thanks, LPM!). Since then, my appreciation for public radio, and particularly Louisville's public radio, has grown, maybe a bit excessively.

If you have the reindeer, you get the next pledge drive call. This used to be a penguin, but the penguin disappeared.

If you have the reindeer, you get the next pledge drive call. This used to be a penguin, but the penguin disappeared.

I can tell time by WFPL programs. Is that the BBC promo? I'm about to be late to work. Only the first hour of Diane Rehm? This day is dragging, it's not even eleven yet.  And when pledge drive rolls around, I just listen to the people who I know as they ask for support. I try to volunteer at least once during the drive. If that's something you're interested in, I recommend the last shift of the week. That's when all the procrastinators call, and it's exciting to be at the station when the goal is reached. 

Louisville public radio kicks ass, and we are lucky to have not only one, but three stations. I get most of my news from WFPL (and random Twitter links), where they keep expanding the news team. When I need a break from all the information, there's WFPK for sing-a-longs. And when I need to focus at work, WUOL gives me classical (also very good for preventing road rage). Plus, all three stations host great community events like the Moth and Waterfront Wednesday. 

Beyond the programming and events, I love the LPM people. They were the first people I met in Louisville, during that brief Peace Corps vacation. I was convinced we were all going to be best friends. That didn't exactly happen, but many of them have become part of our Louisville family, attending our parties, inviting me to theirs, helping me find not one, but two jobs.  

Thanks to the internet, I could stream any of the three stations while we're in Boston. I think it's better to acquaint myself with a new Morning Edition host, but I may tune in to WFPL if I get homesick. But there's no way to stream all of LPM, and I will miss you. 

31 Days of Louisville Love: Local Barbecue

We have already established that, despite being vegetarian for seven years, I really like meat. There are many places in Louisville that serve tasty slow-cooked meat, but I will miss these three most (I don’t frequent each of them to merit their own blog post): 

-Hammerheads - beer and meat in a basement. What I love here are the beef brisket or pulled pork sandwiches, the ribs, and if I’m feeling really indulgent, the mac and cheese balls. They also have TVP tacos, so I could eat here before I went completely carnivore. 

-Smoketown, U.S.A - I’ve only eaten at the actual restaurant once, but we’ve ordered Smoketown to go a few times. Most recently, Gabe brought home their ribs, which came with two sides and  perfect cornbread muffins. Take-out means you miss a chance to shop — everything in the restaurant’s dining room is for sale.

-Feast BBQ - Feast is across the river in New Albany, but it counts as the Louisville Metro area. I like the silver trays, and I like that part of their menu is president-themed. Best of all, they have bourbon slushies. 

I see Boston has some barbecue places. They even have a BBQ food truck. We will probably have to take a break from eating lobster rolls and clam chowder to check out some of these places. I hope they have mac and cheese balls.