KATY Trail 2020 – Phil and Kai’s Most Excellent Adventure

My son Kai and I finally rode the Katy Trail. Perhaps COVID and the change in “normal” activities finally pushed us into action, but after at least five years of saying “we should ride the entire Katy Trail someday,” we completed the 225-mile bike ride from Clinton to St. Charles, Missouri. We thought we’d share some of the highlights as well a few “pro tips” (haha) if any of you are thinking about taking on this most excellent adventure!

Highlight #1:  Great bonding time. I mean, what else can a parent ask for than four days of focused, quality time with one of your adult children. The posterior pain and sore quads have gone away, but the great memories will last forever.

Pro Tip #1: If you are thinking about riding sections of the Katy Trail, or perhaps the entire route, a great resource is bikekatytrail.com. This is a very utilitarian site that allows you to plan and stay current on all things Katy Trail. The “forum” section is very helpful for gaining up-to-date information on any trail detours (including the Salt Creek detour pictured below), lodging options, bike gear and many other topics.

Detour #1 – Bridge out just west of Rocheport. This is not the trail. A side detour down the levee and across the creek which was dry due to lack of rain.

Highlight #2: I know some of our followers have been to this restaurant, but for the weekend/Rocheport Katy Trail riders, Abigail’s in Rocheport is a must. Small and quaint, the food is absolutely amazing. Lailan and I had been here before for brunch (amazing quiche). Kai and I enjoyed a fantastic dinner – Kai devoured a pork chop marinated in jalapeno sauce with a peach glaze. I had the lobster ravioli. Oh, wait, did we share a slice of the chocolate peanut butter pie?

Pro Tip #2:  3.5 days was a bit aggressive (see our route/mileage below). Mostly due to the scarcity of lodging options between Rocheport and Hermann, we decided to ride the 77 miles between these two towns on day 3. That was a long day in the saddle, but I’d probably do it the same way again.

Highlight #3  Long live the small town dive bar. Not entirely by choice, but much to our relief and satisfaction, we experienced three pretty amazing dive bars along the way. The first was Chez When in downtown Sedalia.

One of Kai’s fraternity brothers is from Sedalia and lives there now. As our tour guide, he advised that a stop at Chez When was a must. Great conversation, an actual Miller High Life, and a strong collection of Elvis dolls made this a pretty special place. We left saying, “Chez What?” 

Day 2 took us through Pilot Grove, MO where we found a package store/bar & grill open for lunch.  Deon’s serves a mean cheeseburger and tots for the hungry cyclist. These guys clearly cater to a local crowd and the Katy Trail cyclist.

Deon’s in Pilot Grove, MO

The highlight of the dive bar tour, however, was the Mokane Bar and Grill in Mokane, MO on Day 3. Once we left Rocheport, the towns we passed were very small and nothing was open. We knew we’d be passing through Jeff City close to noon and we assumed there would at least be a Casey’s General Store or something within a visual sighting from the trail. But no.  It was another two miles into town and then two back to the trail. We decided to move on and “surely find something in the next town or two.” Little did we know we were in no man’s land as it relates to food. Around 2:00 PM we rolled into Mokane, MO. Much to our delight, the Mokane Bar & Grill appeared like an oasis in the desert. Another cheeseburger and tots later, we were fortified and back on the trail!

Maybe it’s because we were on a long bike ride, but Kai and I decided we would easily return to Deon’s and/or the Mokane B&G if we were ever back in the area.

Highlight #4: Even though it was our longest mileage day, the payoff was ending in Hermann, MO. We had all heard about Hermann for many years, but none of us had ever been there. Despite COVID, Hermann, settled by German immigrants in the mid 19th century, was in full swing with Oktoberfest. Lailan, and Kai’s wife Molly, met us there and we had a great evening together. We enjoyed a post-ride beer at the Tin Mill Brewery (where we ran into some good KC/church small group friends as well as some biking friends we had met back in Sedalia) and then we enjoyed a great dinner at the Fernweh Distilling Company. This was our first glimpse of Hermann and we hope to return soon (maybe by car or Amtrak!).

Pro Tip #3: – A common question is “what kind of bike do you need to ride the Katy Trail?” Well, we didn’t ride these bikes, but the Halloween spirit was sure “alive” and well just southwest of “Boo”nville:

Kai rode his Cannondale Quick hybrid bike. Yeah, it’s quick! I rode my Trek Checkpoint AL3 gravel bike (basically part road bike/part hybrid). We saw all types of bikes on the trail, but I’d say the main thing is to have slightly wider tires than most road bikes. While the trail is pretty smooth/packed limestone, there are short sections of looser gravel that are just easier to navigate with wider tires. We both have rear racks on our backs to carry our overnight gear. We also both have handlebar bags to carry tools/tubes/snacks/wallet. OK, now for our non-skeletal, real bikes:

Highlight #5:  Finish line with family at the end of the ride. As much fun as it was to spend four days on the trail with Kai, it was also pretty great riding into St. Charles and seeing the rest of our family there to greet us with big smiles and loud cheers. In the pouring rain nevertheless.

Pro Tip #4: Just do it. Whatever your adventure, quit talking about it and just do it! Would we do the Katy Trail again? Hell ya!  Feel free to reach out if you decide to ride the Katy Trail and we’ll be more than happy to help in any way we can!  

Route/Mileage:

Day 1 (half-day): Clinton to Sedalia (35.5 miles)

Day 2: Sedalia to Rocheport (50.5 miles)

Day 3: Rocheport to Hermann (77.5 miles)

Day 4: Hermann to St. Charles (61.5 miles)

Opening Up On the Anxiety Conversation – I Know I’m Not Alone

Anxiety Image for TBTNWow! August is over, and I made it through! I have to admit that all year long I have been secretly dreading the month of August not just because of the heat here in Kansas City, but because of what I experienced at this time a year ago. I’ve always been a pretty easy-going, happy, and optimistic person. My faith in God is strong and I’ve always been grounded spiritually. But something really strange, and frankly quite scary, snuck up and literally bit me last August.

After visiting with my doctor about it and opening up to friends, I have learned that there are many of us empty-nester, 50-something gals experiencing some form of anxiety. I felt compelled to share my experience with anxiety and what I have learned from it in the hopes it may help you or someone you know. Here’s my story:

Phil and I had returned home from a wonderful trip to Park City, UT for a wedding. After a few days home, I started feeling like I was coming down with a cold. I just didn’t feel right. I actually spent some time in bed and forfeited attending a few social events with Phil thinking that I would start feeling better soon. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any better and my symptoms worsened. I struggled with focus, memory, irritability, and fogginess. I felt as though I was in a tube or in another world all by myself and couldn’t get out. I was dizzy and my vision was blurry which really scared me.

Phil finally suggested I see my doctor. I could tell he was really worried. So, I made the appointment, and Phil drove me there the next morning. I sat hunched over in the exam room holding a piece of paper where I had jotted down notes about what I was experiencing. When my doctor walked in, she calmly asked, “So, what’s going on?” I started rehashing my symptoms and then the floodgates opened. Tears started streaming down my face, and I couldn’t control them. As she calmly guided me through a conversation, I found myself telling her about everything that was going on in my life at the time. One thing that was really weighing heavy on my heart was my 92 year-old mother who was (and still is) in a skilled nursing facility in Hawaii in the final stage of Alzheimer’s. She has been on hospice care for almost two years. I shared with my doctor the guilt I felt at not being able to be with my mom every day to check on her. I also confessed that at the same time I actually dreaded visiting my mom and witnessing her in the bed-ridden, constricted, and mute state that she is in. Along with my mom’s situation, it seemed like I had no control over my life and everything just wasn’t going right!  My favorite yoga instructor was leaving the yoga studio I attended, my eye doctor who I loved was leaving, and my favorite nurse at my mom’s facility was leaving. Everything at once seemed to be going wrong!

I continued sharing my symptoms with my doctor. I told her about my inability to focus and think straight. I felt as though people were looking and staring at me all the time. I was pretty paranoid. I remember playing Bridge with my friends, holding my cards and not knowing what to do and thinking “everybody” was watching me and wondering what was wrong with me. I felt totally out of control in my thoughts! I had trouble getting a good deep breath. As my doctor guided me through a bunch of standard mental health questions, it finally occurred to me that what I was experiencing was anxiety – my inability to focus, dizziness, vision issues, not feeling well, sensitivity to light and sound. It all started making sense to me. When I told my doctor I hadn’t been to yoga in a while because I had been too busy trying to catch up on work since getting home from our trip and then also not feeling well, she immediately exclaimed, “Get back to yoga!” She ordered blood work to check certain blood functions including hormone levels and then she asked me if I needed to talk to a counselor. She also asked if I needed medication. I told her I didn’t think I needed either of those two things just yet. I had this overwhelming feeling of, “Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening to me.” Yet, at the same time, I felt a huge wave of relief in the realization that I wasn’t losing my mind and going crazy! My doctor helped me see how much I had going on emotionally in my life right then. I couldn’t see it myself until I was able to talk through it with someone.

A few weeks later I had a follow-up visit with my doctor. Gratefully, I was able to report to her that I was doing so much better. I had started back to yoga! I did not miss a day! I played golf and just walking the course really helped clear my mind. I had always heard exercise is so good for one’s mental health and I believe it now! I think the biggest comforting and reassuring aspect for me in this whole experience was talking to other empty-nester women my age that had surprisingly experienced the same thing that I had! I can’t help but wonder if hormones and menopause play a part in all this. From what I have learned, they very well could.

All I know for sure after what I experienced last summer is that I simply have a whole new outlook and healthy appreciation for mental health issues because it certainly snuck up and caught me by surprise! Anxiety is real and I am so grateful to my doctor who was able to talk with me and help me understand what I was experiencing. I am also so grateful to my friends who were able to open up and share their experiences with me. It’s always comforting and reassuring to know you’re not alone.

Benefits of Simply Taking the Stairs

 

You land in Chicago. After hitting the first available bathroom, you walk through the concourse on your way to baggage claim. As you near the end of the concourse the signage directs you down a level to baggage claim. There’s an escalator. Usually full of other travelers headed to the same baggage claim. There are stairs right next to the escalator. Usually only a handful of people are on the stairs. And in this case, the stairs are going DOWN! So which option do you normally take?

You have a doctor’s appointment at the five-story medical office building. Your health is clearly already on your mind. Perhaps you’re not feeling well, but let’s assume you are there for your annual physical. You go through the main entrance, check the directory for the doctor’s office remembering that it’s still on the third floor. Right in front of you is the bank of elevators. Perhaps a bit harder to find is the sign around the corner that says “STAIRS.” You’re only going up to the third floor. So which option do you normally take?

As empty nesters, most of us are still active, but probably not quite as athletic as we were in our younger years. Given all of the health benefits a simple thing like taking the stairs offers, we’re up for the climb (or even the descent!) here at Think Beyond The Nest. Check out the visual below for a few stair climbing benefits or check this short article for even more info! And next time – let’s all take the stairs!

stepjockey-a-team-on-a-mission-to-label-the-world-for-calorie-burn-10-638

Pickleball Craze Hits the Empty Nest

IMG_3484The sport of pickleball has officially been in existence since 1965. But like many things that originated on the west coast, it took over fifty years for pickleball to find Phil and me. Now that we’ve given it a try, we have yet another activity to pursue in our empty nest years. 

Continue reading

Real Men Practice Yoga – My 2018 Resolution to Keep At It

yoga tin man

When I reluctantly gave yoga a try several years ago at Lailan’s insistence, I absolutely felt like the Tin Man. I’m pretty sure I muttered “This is bullshit” out loud more than once. I easily violated every written and unwritten rule of yoga ever published. My fellow practitioners had valid reasons for slapping a lifetime ban on my practice. Then a funny thing happened. As I found my shoes and packed up my stuff, I was swarmed with encouragement ranging from, “You did great!” to “Keep it up, you’ll love it.” On top of the positive feedback, I was surprised at how great I felt mentally and physically. I could tell I got a complete body workout. I didn’t expect that. Continue reading

Be Creative and Have Fun! Yoga Mantra for Halloween!

Sue Park Halloween Yoga

Yes, everyone was smiling this morning as we walked into our yoga class and there greeting us at the door was no one other than a blonde Yoko Ono…. aka Sue Park!   As the class started, and in the spirit of Halloween, Sue encouraged us adults to listen more to our inner child and seek ways to add more creativity and fun to our lives. Yoga, she said, just as in life, does not have to be serious all the time and needs to be balanced with light-heartedness and laughter. And so our practice was filled with the sounds of Thriller, Spooky, Ghost Busters, Phantom of the Opera, and The Adams Family to name just a few. I’m still smiling as I think back on what Sue said and the fun we had as a creative, joy-filled class this morning.

Also, Phil and I are so excited to be sitting down with Sue over the next few weeks and having her share with us the many benefits of yoga particularly for our 50+ age group. We will then compile all that we learn and share it with you in a Think Beyond the Nest blog post. Sue is one of the leading yoga instructors here in KC and has truly inspired many of us, and I am looking forward to sharing more of her insight into the positive role yoga can play in each of our lives. Namaste and Happy Halloween!