Thursday, December 24, 2015


Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had occasion to go the Lone Oak K-Mart on several occasions. I’ve actually bought several nice UK clothing items on sale there. It led me to start reminiscing about K-Mart. It’s kinda sad to see how few people shop there. Even though it was a few days before Christmas, the parking lot was no different than any other day I’ve been there lately. They do have a few things (like the UK stuff I bought) but really, they just aren’t that great a store any more.

I remember in what I believe was 1971, when that K-Mart opened. It was a huge deal to have that chain locate in this area. Kentucky Oaks Mall was an orchard. I don’t even think the old Paducah Mall on the Southside was open yet. If it was, it wasn’t fully operational. I-24 was just a dream so getting to Nashville to shop wasn’t anywhere as easy as it is now. I remember visiting there right after it opened with my friend Steve Vick. I couldn’t believe what all they had in there. I remember the 45s being locked in a cabinet – you had to have an employee come with a key to open up the case when you wanted to buy one. I have a lot of other memories of that place.

Back in the day, the six of us that hung out together on Houser Road thought we were filmmakers. We could buy a roll of Super 8 film there for a few dollars and make our own movies. The neat thing was they included a mailer inside and you simply sent the film in when you were done and within a few weeks, it appeared in our mailbox. It was like the premiere of a big movie when we would load that up on my parents Super 8 projector and watch it.

You could buy real food there. They had a deli in the front that sold a pretty decent ham and cheese sandwich. They also had the best summer drink of all – an Icee. In the back, they had a grill that you could order a pretty decent meal from.

My cousin JoAnn worked there for years as well as my friend Brent Starkey’s mom. I honestly think they beat Wal-Mart to the idea of a greeter since they always had someone in the front of the store to say Hi when you came in. They had an auto center where you could actually leave your car with a description of what needed to be fixed and drop your keys in a box. I also remember it was the place to park your car when you went to a Lone Oak High School football game. They also would have someone (one of the local volunteer fire departments) set up a trailer with a haunted maze kind of thing in it. I remember taking Donna through and somebody pinching her and him ending up with a poke in the eye somehow :-)

The thing K-Mart is probably most famous for were the blue light specials. You’d be shopping there and a voice would come over the loudspeaker to let you know an item was on sale for the next several minutes. You would look for the flashing blue light to find it. The flashing blue light was on wheels and would be moved from sale to sale. I remember my sister Melissa telling me the story about laughing watching packs of women in the store following the blue light around for the next sale and then being totally embarrassed to see mom right in the middle of the pack.

I am not sure what exactly happened to cause K-Mart’s fall. I imagine it was between the appearance of Kentucky Oaks Mall, Wal-Mart and some corporate issues. They also took away all the neat stuff (the deli, Icee’s, the grill, garage and especially the blue light specials). They do have some things I like including a pretty good rewards program and the ability to get your receipts emailed to you. But, I just wonder how much longer that store will be around.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Several months ago I’d seen stories about something called an escape room. The way I understood it worked is you are placed in a room with some sort of theme that you have 60 minutes to get out of. You solve puzzles and use your brain to get out. You have to work as a team to figure it out. This sounded to me like something that would be really be fun to do. There were several of these in the area we’d be staying at in Fort Lauderdale, so we thought we’d give it a shot. We signed up for the Crime Scene Quest at “Escape the Quest”.

We (minus Donna who didn’t want to go) got there and were told how it would work. We would have to get through three rooms in the hour and figure out the actual killer of a woman. We had three lifelines – a hint, a clue, and a time check. We were not allowed to bring in our phones or any timepiece. You are given a walkie talkie to communicate with the staff. With a certain level of excitement, we entered the first room. I don’t want to give away too much, but there were a lot of things to examine and a lot of visual distractions. We burned our hint and clue just to get out of the first room. We got to the second room and never could figure our way out of it. I was totally dejected. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t smart enough to help us figure this out. We ended up going to hamburger place called Circus Freak – it had circus posters and burgers with circus type names. I had the “Two Headed Man” which was a hamburger with a hot dog on top. The burgers were excellent. I slowly started to cheer up. We picked up Donna and went to Wednesday night services at 6th Street church of Christ again. Being with fellow Christians helped me too, but it was just ridiculous to get that upset over something like I did.

The next day, Donna and I went over to Sixth Street again. They have a program on Thursday to help feed and provide clothes for the homeless. Being a warm weather area, there are a number of homeless there. The preacher there did a devotional talking of love with the 15 or so there. I really enjoyed doing this. I talked with several of the people that showed up. They were all really appreciative. Donna and I talked and I convinced her to go with us so we could give the Escape Room another shot. I hoped with the six of us that we could do better.

We went back and attempted the one called “House of Pain”. We used our hint/clue much more effectively this time. I don’t want to give anything away, but once I opened that last door and we got out with plenty of time to spare, I was ecstatic. I wasn’t totally stupid after all. We were so excited that we went ahead and did the final Escape Room there called “Stay of Execution”. Almost immediately though, we had some trepidation. The young lady pulled out five pair of handcuffs and cuffed five of us together. Donna started to look really nervous so I had her get on the end so that she’d have a free hand. Then the young lady took Jonathan and led him away by himself. After a few minutes, she let us in. We looked around the room and found a couple of useful items (I don’t want to give anything away). I have to tell about one part though. There was what appeared to be a light switch in the first room with a question mark over it. I had to press it of course which immediately produced a scream that I recognized as Jonathan. Turned out, we had to get him out of the Electric Chair and get ourselves out (of the handcuffs and the rooms) before the hour ended. Josh of course, used any excuse to press that button and make Jonathan scream even convincing Donna to do it once. Again, we managed (using the hint and clue) to get out well before the time allotted. We celebrated with a trip to Longhorn Steakhouse.

We spent the evening packing. Kentucky was to play UCLA at 9:00 Eastern. We thought they’d win, but they played terribly. Marcus Lee was knocked out early and UCLA took the lead. Kentucky could never quite catch up and were saddled with their first loss of the year. We all went to bed a bit disappointed.

We got up the next morning to leave. I’d hope to make one last walk on the beach, but it was pouring rain so we couldn’t. We said goodbye to Josh and Shelby as they headed to the airport to fly back. We got to Macon that night and then finished an uneventful drive back home on Saturday.

The trip had been a lot of fun. I’m not sure when we’ll go back since UK doesn’t appear to being the HoopHall classic next year. They play in Las Vegas next year, but I’m not so sure I want to do that.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


I had gone ahead and done a reverse phone number lookup on the phone number we’d seen for parasailing after we got back from our Jungle Queen excursion. It pointed me to a web site with a form submission. I submitted a question to see if they would take us parasailing. The next morning I woke up to a reply saying they would. I went for a run then called them. We got our parasailing trip set up for noon. All of us were going to go except Donna (she’s scared of heights).

We got there about noon. The skies looked ominous so they suggested we wait an hour. We drove around and went under the Waterway on the highway (that we’d been told about yesterday). It wasn’t as impressive as we would have expected. We found a mall and looked around there a bit and went back. They were ready to take us out. We went out the same path we’d been on the Jungle Queen and we headed out for the open ocean. We got geared up, but alas it started to rain. I began to think we’d never get to do this. The two guys running the boat went ahead to gas up the boat to wait this one out. They went to what was pretty much a convenience store that you pulled up to with a boat. They gassed up their boat while we hung outside. The rain stopped and we went to take another shot at it.

We got out to the open water again and geared up. The sun was out and so Cheyenne and Jonathan took the first ride. They were up in the air for over 10 minutes and were very close to 500 feet in the air. One of the guys on the boat told us that this was as high as we allowed to go. Turns out over 500 feet actually gets into flight airspace and we’d show up on their radar. Jonathan and Cheyenne landed telling us how much they loved it. Josh, Shelby and I went next. Josh and I had parasailed in Myrtle Beach years ago. We went much higher and longer this time. It was really enjoyable and worth the wait (we all felt). We got back to the dock and went back to the resort.

We were really tired so we just ordered food out. I got Chick-Fil-A and brought it back. I was a bit upset to find that we were missing a sandwich when we got back so I had to drive back and get it. The really odd thing was they didn’t seem too apologetic about it. Later that evening, we decided to go out for ice cream. There was a very good ice cream shop we’d found called Razzleberrys. The ice cream was homemade and they gave us huge portions. We sat outside in the really nice warm evening and ate our ice cream.

In my next post, I’ll finally get to us doing that entertainment trend sweeping the nation.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Jungle Queen

I started Tuesday by calling a few parasailing outfits to see if we could do one day while we at Fort Lauderdale. I couldn’t get through to anyone. No one would return my calls or emails for some reason. We finally decided to take the Jungle Queen tour. It goes on a tour through the Intercoastal Waterway and ends up at an island with animals and a alligator show. We headed over there Tuesday afternoon.

The parking was a bit confusing (you actually park at the resort next door) but we finally managed it. I had bought our tickets online so we had no problems when we got there. The Jungle Queen is a large two decked craft. We grabbed seats where we could see. Our guide told us about all the large yachts and homes as we passed them. All of the yachts were multi-millon dollar, some of them as much as 50 million EACH. The homes were beautiful and equally expensive. Many of them are owned by big name business types (such as the owners of Sunglass Hut and Alka Seltzer). We passed under several drawbridges and even OVER a highway. We saw where the yachts are moored and where they are repaired. We finally arrived at their island. Their were several cages of birds and other animals to see. The highlight though was the alligator show. A young man actually dragged a 300 lb alligator around and sat on it! He also opened its mouth and put his face in it! This was especially risky given it was drizzling at the time. When the show was over, he brought out a much smaller alligator (with it’s mouth taped shut) that we could pose for pictures with. I could of course not resist doing that. We took the Jungle Queen back and passed a huge cruise ship. It looked like someone had grabbed up a big hotel and put it out on the water. I didn’t realize how huge they were. When we got off, I noticed a sign advertising parasailing so I noted the phone number to call later.

We decided to then go to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner since it was relatively close to where we were. It was hard to find and didn’t even have it’s own parking lot. We ended up paying to park and walking. I was immediately disappointed to find out they were out of my favoriate appetized – mini corn dogs. The service was barely passible – for example they took Donna’s tea glass midway through the meal to refille it and never brought it back. Finally when we left, we decided to order cheesecake to go. The young lady at the counter was not very nice at all – she acted as if we were bothering her. It was easily the worst Cheesecake Factory experience we’d ever had.

We got back to the restort in time to watch Kentucky play. Tyler Ullis was still suffering from the hyperextended elbow he’d suffered again South Florida while we were there Friday so he didn’t play. It really showed. UK started off very sluggishly against Illinois State. The game was tied at 31 at the end of the first half. UK played better in the 2nd half and eventually won by 12 but it was obviously Tyler Ullis was severely missed.

That’s enough for this post. For my next post, I’ll let you know if we ever got to parasail plus how we tried out one of the new entertainment trends sweeping the nation.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The HoopHall Invitational

We got to Miami several hours before the game. I had been able to park in the closest parking lot (available on ParkWhiz) to American Airlines Arena by using a 50.00 gift code ParkWhiz had given me to be used on the Thanksgiving holiday. Josh and Shelby had already arrived from the Fort Lauderdale Airport. We walked over to the Biscayne Shopping area next to the Stadium. They had a Five Guys so we headed for that to eat. It was a madhouse, but we finally got our food and ate. We walked around the shopping center and then went and saw the harbor. We then walked to the arena. We had to go through metal detectors which were not too bad except for the fact that they impounded Jonathan's nail clippers. We got to our seats and they were as good as I'd hoped. We were only a few rows from the court. Kentucky would be playing South Florida coached by former UK assistant Orlando Antigua. One of their players was the brother of former UK player Darmarcus Cousins. UK was expected to win easily. The Arena was roughly half full and most of them were UK fans. The Miami Heat mascot Burnie entertained everyone and seemed to have a special rapport with Josh.

The game was somewhat close throughout the first part of the game. Kentucky ended the half on a 15-0 run to take a 42-21 lead at the half. However, there was a scary incident in the first half. In a scrum for a loose ball, Tyler Ullis came up holding his arm. He left the court not to return until the second half (with his arm in a sling). Tyler is the player UK can least afford to lose. It turned out he had a hyperextended elbow. Uk ended up getting as much as a 31 point lead before winning by 21. We stayed and watched a little of the Memphis/Ohio State game and then left.

We walked back to the car to head to Fort Lauderdale. I had the bright idea of stopping by a Krispy Kreme on the way back. One, I wanted doughnuts and two, I thought it'd be something for us to eat for breakfast the next day. I got off an exit on the north side of Miami and we finally found it. Unfortunately, it was in a area that can be best described as "sketchy". Donna and Cheyenne didn't want to get out of the car so Jonathan and I went in to get doughnuts and milk. We got back and could tell they were really uncomfortable. They had seen several scary looking people wandering around so we hurriedly made our way back to I-95. We made it the rest of the way with no problem. We checked into to our resort and the room was as nice as I hoped. We were right on the beach. Josh had gotten food from Wendy's so we ate and crashed out.

We got up the next morning and I headed out to see the ocean and to run on the beach. I ended up ditching that plan after running about a mile on the sand and ended up going to the sidewalk for the rest of my run. Donna and We then went to a Wal-mart neighborhood Market for food for the week. We found out that we had to watch for drawbridges when we crossed back over the Intercoastal Waterway. When a tall boat/yacht went over, we had to wait just like one does for a train. We finally got our groceries and came back. We spent most of the day going back and forth to the beach and enjoying getting out in the surf. The only bad part of the day was keeping up with the UK Louisville football game. UK jumped out to a 21-0 lead only to have Louisville come back and win 38-24. So much for our hopes of going to a bowl game. I ended up ordering pizza out from a recommended place called Heavenly Pizza. The pizza was excellent. We watched a little TV and then went to bed.

We got up the next morning and headed for the worship services at Sixth Street church of Christ. We found the building with no problem. The brethren there were very welcoming and hospitable. One of the elders preached the a lesson about grace and it was one of the best ones about that topic I'd ever heard. Afterwards, we went back to the resort. It turned out the Jets game would be on early and the Cardinals game late. So, we watched football. The Jets won easily over the Dolphins. We kept up with the Giants who dug a deep hole against the Redskins and almost came back to win. We watched the first half of the Cardinal game. They struggled to a 6-3 lead at halftime. We headed for evening worship services at Sixth Street again. Afterwards, I found out the Cardinals had pulled out a 19-13 win. We went and got chicken from Popeyes. It was good but unfortunately, we were shorted a couple of pieces of chicken. We had enough though. We watched a little of the New England Denver Sunday night game and then went to bed.

In my next post, I'll let you know about what we did during the week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Welcome to Florida!

While last year’s UK season was going on, plans were announced for UK to play in Miami in November. They would be playing former UK assistant Orlando Antiqua’s South Florida team at American Airline Arena – the home of the Miami Heat. The game would be played the day after Thanksgiving. It sounded like a great opportunity to go somewhere warm and see UK play. I also thought we could spend a week in Fort Lauderdale – which is about 30 minutes north of Miami. I talked with Jonathan and Josh and we were even able to arrange it so they and Cheyenne and Shelby could come too. It’d be our first family vacation in several years. This sounded great to me, so I went ahead and bought the tickets in January and arranged for us to have a suite at Wyndham Royal Vista on the beach.

Jonathan changed jobs in October and I was a little concerned that he’d be able to go. But his company graciously gave him that week off in November as part of their offer. The day finally came to leave. Cheyenne was already in Orlando with her family at the Disney Complex so we’d pick her up on the way. We left on the Wednesday before. We got to Nashville and ate at one our favorite hamburger places – Fat Mo’s. We then went to Lebanon Road church of Christ and enjoyed their Wednesday night service. We drove on to Murfreesboro after that and checked in at the Embassy Suites there. I’d forgotten how nice those hotels are. They also offer a cooked to order breakfast which you might well guess we took full advantage of the next morning.

The next day was of course Thanksgiving. I figured that was the first Thanksgiving of my life I hadn’t had a full Thanksgiving dinner with family somewhere. We had the aim to stop at a Cracker Barrel on the way to have their Thanksgiving dinner. We finally stopped in Macon. The restaurant looked crowded but Jonathan somehow finagled us a table for three when we got inside. The food was excellent and it also kept me from overeating like I usually do. We headed out after that and eventually got to the Florida border. We stopped at the Welcome Center there to go to the restroom, but mainly to get a transponder for use at toll booths in Florida. We then pressed on to Lake City Florida to spend the night. I’d booked at suite at Country Inn and Suites there. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. Getting dinner proved to be difficult since it was of course Thanksgiving. I eventually ended up just getting McDonalds.

We got up the next morning and heading to Orlando. We arranged to meet Cheyenne at a Home Depot and picked her up there. We took the Florida Turnpike most of the way there. It’s very different from your usual Interstate. There are few exits with any restaurants, etc, on them. They have Travel Plazas every 45 miles or so. It’s pretty similar to the Beaver Dam Plaza on the Western KY Parkway. We finally stopped at one and it was a madhouse. They did have an Auntie Ann’s Pretzel place in it, so we got pretzels there. We left out to finish our trip to Mami.

That’s enough for now – I’ll continue in my next post and let you know how the ballgame and Miami in general were.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Champions Classic 2015

When UK’s 2015-2016 basketball schedule game out, I noted that the Champions Classic would be played at the United Center in Chicago. Josh, Jonathan and I had seen UK play UCLA there last year. With the game in Chicago, Josh could meet me pretty easily by driving down. So, I waited anxiously for the ticket presale. Imagine my disappointment when I tried to buy them immediately only to be told they were already sold out! I mean, why even bother if you don’t have any tickets to sell? So, I played the waiting game with Stubhub and finally got us two lower level baseline seats.

We’d just spent the weekend in Lexington watching UK play two games, but this one was going to be a lot tougher. I thought UK looked OK but with all the new players (as is the norm now), they looked a bit disjointed. This game would a good test for them. UK hadn’t beaten Duke since the 1998 NCAA tournament, so I hoped they break that streak. I left out for Chicago that morning. It rained almost the whole trip. I stopped at Culvers in Champaign for lunch. I felt a bit guilty eating there without Donna. It really started to rain when I got on i-294 in Chicago which made the trip on it even more of an adventure than usual but I finally made it. I had decided to stay in Lombard this time at Towneplace Suites. I got a good deal on a two bedroom suite. I checked in and the room was nice. I confirmed Josh was on the way and went out to get dinner.

I headed for Portillos. I had gone there several times while at training classes in Chicago. Their specialty is Italian Beef. You can get the sandwich all sort of different ways (different kinds of peppers or wet/dry). I got us sandwiches without peppers and the juice on the side. I also grabbed fries plus the Portillo’s chocolate cake milkshake. I ate in the room and waited for Josh. He hit traffic about an hour out from Chicago. So, he was later than he expected. When he got to the hotel, I brought his food to eat on the way and we headed for the United Center.

The traffic was terrible on the way there. Google maps kept telling us to take a side street that paralleled I-290. I had reserved close parking with Park Whiz so we only had to walk about a block to the arena. When we got there, we found long lines to get in. Everyone had to go through a metal detector to get in. A lot of people acted like they’d never been through one. A guy in front of me kept setting off the alarm and couldn’t figure out why. Security told him he had something in his pants pocket. He was adamant he didn’t have anything until he finally pulled out a set of keys! We finally got in and to our seats just as the player introductions had started.

The game was close in the first half. Duke stayed in it at the start because of the offensive rebounding of the latest Plumlee they’ve cultivated. Kentucky finally managed a six point lead by the half. They had completely shut down Grayson Allen. Five minutes into the second half, Kentucky opened a double digit lead. Josh and I were still nervous knowing a young team could cough up a lead quickly. The Cats continued to hang on. Once they opened a sixteen point lead with four minutes to do, we relaxed a bit. We were sitting in a large group of Dukies who seemed in utter disbelief in what was happening. Coach K ranted and railed at the referees in the first half. In the 2nd half, he finally just sat down on the bench and watched. Kentucky ended up winning 74-63. Josh and I celebrated by buying Champions Classic t-shirts. We watched a little of the Kansas Michigan State game then went back to the hotel. We had the chocolate cake milkshake I’d bought and it was great.

The next morning Josh got up early and headed for home. I did the same to avoid the usual maniacal Chicago traffic (which I did). I had an uneventful trip, but I did have to stop in Marion for Krispy Kreme.

We had a great time. UK looked good. if they can play that well ,they will definitely be a Final Four contender.