Last week, Alex and I decided to take a longer road trip to Kentucky, the next big target on my “Visit Every State Once” list. Just short of seven days, we got to see lots of cool stuff, ending our trip in Cape Cod, MA for a special visit with my best friend for his 30th birthday. Here’s what went down:
I worked for most of the day, but as soon as I got out, I picked up two salads, Alex and I scarfed them down in the car, and then headed towards Gettysburg, PA–our first stop. On the way we got to see this incredible sunset that started pretty typical
We booked a campsite in Gettysburg for the night, pitched the tent, and decided to leave the rain fly off (something that didn’t really work out the last time I was in Gettysburg). It was a beautiful, cool night with lots of stars–perfect for a first night away.
We woke up to a beautiful sky thanks to no-rain-fly
This was a big driving day–we headed from Gettysburg to Kentucky, but first we stopped in an AMAZING tiny diner. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was amazing, and from the table, we could see the older couple that owned the place cooking all the food in the kitchen.
On the way to the car, we were stopped by an older vet who had grown up in Brooklyn, right were I used to live. We had a nice chat about the good ol’ days at the Coney Island boardwalk.
We drove through beautiful stretches of highway, and when we got to Kentucky, it was so green and smelled like grass. We stopped at a really beautiful rest stop for car-made sandwiches on bread we made at home before the trip. They were really delicious and the view was incredible.
We called a campsite early in the afternoon–we wanted to camp in the Daniel Boone National Forest, and wanted to make sure we got a spot. The man on the phone insisted that we were the only ones in the whole campground–and the whole area for that matter, and didn’t have to worry about claiming a spot.
We had to drive through a winding, totally deserted road for about 35 minutes before we got to the campsite. I swear, it was totally out of a horror movie. We parked, and there was a tiny cabin with the lights on, and then nothing. The sun was going down and everything beyond the cabin was just darkness. There was a sign on the door that said the office was closed, even though the guy on the phone said he would stick around until we got there. The only living creature around us was a cute little dog sitting on a wicker chair on the cabin’s porch.
I decided to call the office again, only for me to realize I had no service. I walked back towards the car and managed to get one bar, and called the number. A phone on a table on the porch rang, breaking the utter silence and stillness of where we were. No answer.
We hopped back in the car and sped away from Murder Camp, and grabbed a night at a Red Roof instead. The guy ended up calling me back, but I told him we arrived, saw no one and left. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to camp that night, but maybe the road trip Gods were trying to tell us something.
We woke up in our comfy hotel, and hopped in the car after a quick energy bar breakfast, and headed to Lexington. I’ve been to many popular places in many different states, and I was surprised to find a very short list of interesting things to see and do around Lexington. Though short, the list is still cool.
We started at the Mary Todd Lincoln house, which looks unimpressive from the outside, but is really awesome on the inside. A lot of the house was auctioned off and sold when her father died, but they were able to find similar pieces to what was described to be in each room at the time. Everything in the home is from that time, so though she didn’t own all of it, it’s still accurate and great to see.
Lincoln’s grandson ended up donating a ton of items to the house when he died, so there are several things in the collection that belonged to the Lincoln family.
The coolest thing to see was Mary’s bed, which was definitely swanky
The house did a really good job painting her as a human, and giving a context to the many rumors and bad feelings associated with her memory. I appreciated that about the tour, since I’ve never really been a big fan of the Civil War or any of the history around that time.
After, we went to the Town Branch distillery,
which was my first time seeing the inside scoop on how any form of alcohol is made. They showed us the process,
and we got to take a tour of the facility–very good. The best part was the tasting, and getting our passports signed by the first stop of the Bourbon Trail!
I started my relationship with running in 2012, when I decided I wanted to run a 5k. Previous to this, the longest I had ever run was to the bus or subway when I was late. I had lost just under one hundred pounds, and I needed something new to work towards.
Unfortunately, I had come into running with the idea that since I had been fat and mostly lazy my whole life, now it was time to pay for it. I treated running the way I treated food: as a punishment. I trained really hard. As a result, I did two things. First, I ran my first 5k. Second, I ended up with two fractured metatarsals.
The following months were spent healing, moving apartments, and secretly wishing I could run. It was a secret because I felt foolish wanting to run, almost the same way I felt foolish openly wishing for love. I wasn’t good at either one, and wanting to do it anyway was surely a sign of denial. Running and love were not made for fat people.
And then it all changed.
I was preparing to go running in a nearby park when another runner asked me how much I was running. I laughed, like we were sharing a joke, and said, “I have to run five miles today.”
He didn’t react with a chuckle like I thought he would. He shook his head and replied, “You don’t have to do anything. You GET to run five miles today.”
Whoa. What. Get to run? What do you mean “get” to run? As in, a gift?
From that point on, everything changed. If moving my legs for a long time (even though I was tired), was a gift—what else was a gift? I stopped planning “smaller” goals like what I would do when I lost enough weight, or how small I could get my rear through running. I started planning bigger goals, like when I could realistically run a marathon.
Shortly after the New York Marathon, I read an article written by one of the finishers as she explained that slow runners made her medal mean less. She claimed the point of the marathon wasn’t to just finish the race, but to run it well. She said that any time over five hours was a completely unacceptable finish. I calculated my finished marathon time based on my 5k times. Six hours and three minutes. I was crushed.
I spent the next three races extremely self-conscious of my racing speed. Forget about the fact that I had managed to increase my pace from over 15 minutes per mile down to 12 minutes a mile—I was still too slow. I even started to apologize for my lack of speed.
Another runner set me straight. As we waited for a race to begin, she nudged me and wished me good luck in the race. I laughed, and rolled my eyes. Yeah, luck would be not finishing last. Luck would be people not seeing me huffing and puffing my way to the finish line. Luck would be the photographer catching a shot of me that didn’t make me look like a running Bassett hound.
She slapped my arm and corrected me. “Hey, there’s no shame in being a heavy breather—back of the pack is where it’s at! Someone’s got to finish last!” I later found out she won a gift card once for finishing a race last.
Since then, I’ve surpassed every goal I’ve set myself. I’ve run farther than ever before, faster than I’ve ever run, and even managed to grab some pretty sweet awards—who cares if there were only two people, I still got second place in my age category!
Running has taught me six very important things about life, running, and racing:
- Listen to your body – Something hurts? Stop running. Have more energy? Push forward. Take rest days when you need them and when you don’t. Always honor what your body is telling you, even when you are forced to take off during a vital running time. Injury is a runner’s worst nightmare—it’s always better to be slow, well-rested, annoyed, or last.
- Enjoy every step – Take a moment during your next run to really be mindful and enjoy it. Let your mind feel your legs moving, your muscles working, and maybe even burning. Feel your lungs pulling in air, and feel your heart beating. I remember the first time I felt my heart when I was running. I have never been so rudely reminded that I am alive and I needed to practice gratitude.
- You’re braver than you feel – I’m serious. Size two and the fastest runner in the group? You make me want to be the best I can be. You have no idea how cool I think you are. Super-sized and trailing the back of the race? You amaze me with your courage to keep running. You may think we’re all laughing while we pass you, but I really just want to give you a high-five and tell you to never stop being awesome. Every runner I see inspires me to be better.
- Forgive often – Forgive yourself, forgive other runners, forgive those who don’t quite understand what it is you’re doing, forgive the couple taking up the entire running lane with their stroller, and forgive that guy with the perfect He-Man abs that made you run right into the back of the runner in front of you. More important than anything else, forgive your body for not being the best all the time. Starting a run as light as possible is important for success. This includes the weight you’re carrying in your heart. Leave it all behind.
- Understand that you GET to run – Running is a gift. It’s a gift when it feels horrible. It’s a gift when it’s raining. And snowing. And doing that weird snow/ice thing everyone hates. It’s a gift when you’re winning awards, and when you’re at the back of the bunch, staring at everyone’s chiseled bum while you move on. Talk to a runner who’s injured and you’ll realize that even at its worst possible moment—it’s a gift.
- Pay it forward – Share knowledge, acceptance, and love with other runners, especially the new ones. I’m always amazed at the kindness and care that comes out during races. Runners, spectators, and volunteers will cheer for you, even though they don’t know you. It’s a force powerful enough to fill every crack in your soul with light and warmth.
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Alexander Bolesta is a twenty-something museum wonk and sometimes gamer. He reads high fantasy and enjoys photography and tech. Check out his personal website at alexanderbolesta.com and drop him a line!
Sometimes as a straight female, I am surprised by violence in safe spaces like Pulse because I am used to having at least one place that’s untouchable. I start to assume that everyone has at least one place that is untouchable. And maybe Pulse was untouchable for people–maybe that’s why they went there. Maybe that’s why the shooter went there. I say shooter because he deserves to remain anonymous and fade from everyone’s memory.
I feel the upsetness of a young person watching other young people die. Most of the victims were my age. They were doing things I do. They were loving the way I love, and living good, beautiful lives. And now they’re all gone. I have a really hard time with this because it scares me and fills me with this sorrow that cannot be described.
I know two things for certain though: First, I refuse to be a bystander any longer. I’ve offered up enough prayers and enough well-wishes. I’m done. From now on, each upset will be met with the suggested meditation from the Dalai Lama: Critical thinking followed by action.
And second, I’m done waiting for a better time to be more loving, compassionate, and brave. Those people were good people and now they don’t get to laugh anymore, cry anymore, or even do things like have ice cream or pet a dog. They don’t get anything anymore. I have everything, and you better fucking believe I’m going to change some shit around.
The librarian who’s thinking critically and acting
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Sit down. We need to talk.
In this upcoming election, I will be voting for Jill Stein.
Let me tell you why.
I have been a huge Jill Stein fan for years. I’ve voted for her before in the presidential election, and I’m happy to do it again. I think she’s awesome–she embodies many of the things I hold dear to my heart, and her fire cannot be quenched by two-party politics. She makes me feel hopeful for what change could look like, and she makes me feel like someone actually thinks I’m a real person worthy of personhood. I genuinely respect her, and I love hearing the things she has to say.
Now, you may be looking at my Twitter account and wondering how the nuts I could possibly say that I’ll be voting for Stein when I’ve been living, breathing, and shouting about Bernie Sanders all year. You’re correct. Bernie Sanders is a potential Democratic nominee that sounds so close to Stein, I nearly lost myself. There’s very little that could destroy the hope I felt to have an almost-Stein in a major party with the platform and ability to publicly and nationally tell people that they are worth the government’s attention and that the games need to stop. How could I not cover myself in Bernie Sanders stickers?
But now we’re at a point where the primaries are coming to a close and I’m getting closer to admitting that Hillary Clinton will probably take the nomination. Most people are really excited about this, and they have every right to be. They’re Clinton fans or apathetic or neutral or terrified of Trump. This is all fine with me–I’m still voting for Jill Stein.
I’m tired of people telling me that I’m being selfish because I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton. These people see my protesting as immature foot stomping because I didn’t get my way. Listen carefully: I will not be bullied into voting for someone I don’t support. No one listened to me when I worried about Trump last summer. Everyone said there was no way he could possibly win the nomination. No one listened to me when I said Clinton might lose the election if she was up against Trump. Now everyone is worried about a split vote. Want me to vote Democratic? Make Bernie Sanders the nominee. My vote is not for sale.
The usual response I get is that I am one of the following: Ignorant, stubborn, naive, selfish, or stupid. I’m reminded it’s time to unite the party and all come together to support Clinton. I’m not a member of the Democratic party. I don’t have to unite your party. My vote was swayed by a Democratic Socialist with awesome hair. If he’s not who I can vote for, then I’m voting for who I came out here to support: Jill Stein.
Scared of Trump winning? Let’s unite and vote for Jill Stein. Want a woman to be the first president? Vote for Jill Stein. If you feel like you have a right to pass judgement on my vote because I refuse to support the corporate candidate, then you need to reassess your understanding of how this political process works.
We’re all here to vote for what we believe in and what will help the most people. Instead of pulling the ladder up behind us, let’s turn around and share the resources that make this country incredible. We’re so close.
And for those who are already getting their engines ready to tell me the error of my ways, I’m sorry to tell you like this, but I’m seeing someone else.
I pause this week’s regular postcard post to wish someone very special a happy birthday!
I love you!