Sunday, October 31, 2010

Whatever Floats Your Boat--An Evening on the River

We had hoped to be in Georgia this weekend celebrating our son’s birthday on Friday and watching Geri Ann in the state high school softball tournament. It was not to be as Oconee lost the championship game in the previous tournament. I think Geri Ann may have taken it better than us adults did because she wrote on Facebook: “Focus on giants-you stumble. Focus on God- your giants tumble.” Nevertheless, we were doubly sad since we were disappointed for her in addition to our own disappointment.

Perhaps as an attempted antidote for our missed trip to Columbus, Gerald wanted to take a fall outing to the Garden of the Gods. This was definitely the right weather for it, and there was a break in the baseball series that Gerald watches hoping Texas will continue to make history. We hurried through tasks after lunch Friday to take off on the spur of the moment for the beautiful Shawnee National Forest. After a most pleasant drive through hills and vales and finally along a road parallel to tall cliffs seen behind the still leafed trees there, we arrived at one of our favorite parks. There were numerous cars, both instate and out-of-state, for others also wanted to view the fall leaves and enjoy the chill in the air.

We took a brief hike along one of the trails leading up to giant rocks, which we used to climb without thinking. It was always exhilarating to view the scenery from that high vantage point. Gerald is still steady on his feet, but I am much less balanced than I was the last time we visited the park even a year ago. I could hear the concern in his voice as he pointed out that one of the rock stairways going down (before it went up again) with neither rails or rocks on the side to balance with would be much harder coming back. I hated to quit, but I did not want to ruin our fun by creating a problem, so I turned back and sat down on the very comfortable bench that some kind employees had created for seeing that lovely vista without climbing the rocks to the very top. We met numerous other hikers on the path, and without exception, they all greeted us with great friendliness and camaraderie.

Our ultimate destination was the Ohio River, where we like to eat fish on a small floating restaurant there at Elizabethtown. We deliberately chose a road we were uncertain of to explore, and enjoyed the lovely drive and eventually did end up as desired at E-town. We had probably not been there for three years. We started once, but heavy rains made us abort that trip and eat elsewhere.

Before we went on down the hill to the floating fish eatery, I wanted to run into the gift shop at the Rose Hotel to see if Sandy Vineyard could use any more of my books. I had autographed some before I left home and was glad I had because she was out of those I left three years ago.

The Rose Hotel was built in 1812 and is now a beautiful bed and breakfast on the banks of the river. We spent our fiftieth wedding anniversary there in 2006. The rooms are lovely and the breakfast delicious in the dignified dining room. Sandy said the rooms were all taken that night, and she assured a tourist, who dropped in worrying whether the boat restaurant was open, that it served until 8 each evening.

I was grateful to know we could eat an unhurried dinner as we drove down to the boat’s parking lot and lingered a minute to enjoy the sunset dancing pastel colors on the river. We appreciated the new firmer wooden walkway out over the water leading to the boat where people were on the deck waiting for their turn at the crowded tables inside. Our wait was very short, and we enjoyed sharing a table with another couple and two bright youngsters. Their cuteness enlivened our meal. We were separated by a set of chairs, so we weren’t bothered by their conversations nor they by ours, but I did hear the young teen laughingly exclaim when we first sat down, “We went to a health fair today, and every booth gave us candy!” She was well aware of the irony of that, but evidently the adults who planned the health fair were not.

Although there were choices of farm-raised catfish and other entrees, we both wanted river catfish in that environment. The menu proclaimed they would serve all we could eat, and that was true. The original plates were generous and were all we could eat. We didn’t have to ask for the extra servings that they gladly brought to those who were still young enough to need more. I had a moment of panic in the middle of the meal when I frantically thought I might be getting sick—for a second I felt dizzy as though I were swaying although I had felt fine all day. Then I remembered that we were on a boat, and a barge had just gone by outside. Finally feeling pleasantly full and refreshed, we climbed the slight hill leading up to the parking lot for a night ride back to Woodsong and a good night’s sleep.

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