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The Dark Horse

As I posted about last week, I finally made it the Kentucky Derby , a bucket list activity that was somehow not on my radar for my trip to Lexington. My stay also coincided with other big horse events, like the Spring Meet at Keeneland and the  Kentucky Horse Park Three-Day Event . So of course I went to them all.  But the title of this post is referring to a metaphorical dark horse, defined as "a previously lesser-known person or thing that emerges to prominence in a situation." And that is Lexington. What I mean is - I had no idea I would love it here so much...possibly more than I love Northwest Arkansas. The caving and hiking has been amazing as advertised, but - totally unexpectedly - the city itself has everything I'm looking for in a (semi) permanent home. First, there's a great writers community. Shut Up and Write has an active branch with welcoming people and the brewery they meet at on Wednesdays is my favorite in town. They have all kinds of cool events t

Thanksgiving in May

I mostly plan my travel around outdoors things that I want to do: mountains to climb, races to run, trails to hike, canyons and caves to squeeze through...which is what brought me to Kentucky . I was so fixated on the caving here that I didn't even think about all the horse-related events, including what should have been obvious - that my stay here would take place during the  Kentucky Derby .  Back in January when my cousin (and fellow nomad) was visiting me in Santa Fe, she asked about my travel plans and she's the one who pointed out I'd be less than 90 minutes from Churchill Downs on Derby day. And so, obviously, we had to go. She made plans to drive in from Salt Lake City and we got our other cousin to fly in from Lynchburg, Virginia, so we made a Swallow Gal weekend of it.  Infield tickets were pretty cheap, surprisingly. Even on the secondary market they were basically the same price as direct sale, which we were about three months too late to purchase. But keep in m

Lexing - Tonky

Government websites for Lexington are, and while it is logical, I can't help but read it as Lexing Tonky. It's weird. And there's a lot of weird stuff about Lexington, and Kentucky, as a whole. The Kentucky Bend This is a small bubble of Kentucky - about 26 square miles - that is disconnected from the rest of the state. It is mostly surrounded by Missouri, with the southern border being Tennessee. There is a road, a few houses, and wetlands. Yes, I drove an hour and a half out of my way to go here and do nothing except squat in the forest to pee and get a tick crawling up my leg. Stonehenge Without an HOA, I guess you can do whatever you want on your property and this guy wanted to build a replica of Stonehenge . They have signs up, welcoming you to pull into their private driveway and walk around to enjoy the sculpture.  Transylvania University Lexington has a university that I'm sure you've never heard of, yet it was founded in

The Underground

In my nomading over the last few years, I've crawled through a number of caves in West Virginia, Arizona, Oregon, and California. And in the Dominican Republic in March and my huge caving trip to Vietnam  four months ago, but those international ones weren't crawling-type caving adventures. Like kayaking, caving has become an activity I seek out, though I don't actually do it that often. But getting underground was the number one reason I planned my current stay in Kentucky. Many caves I've gone through were unguided and some were privately owned, but Mammoth Cave National Park was the first time I've done a caving tour run by the US government. I wasn't even sure the Wild Cave Tour was going to be an option. They started running them at the end of this past March for the first time since COVID started, and at the time I booked mine, they were only releasing tickets for one weekend in advance at a time. It was pure luck that I checked the site and saw tickets a

Running and Reading

Buenos Aires is the ultimate reading and running city, but northwest Arkansas (NWA) is a close second. This is a large reason that I love the area so much. These are my favorite activities and great ways to meet people.  If you look at only the Fayetteville Public Library , they run six adult book clubs each month. There's bound to be a book you like up for discussion, and for me, on my last visit, that was Klara and the Sun . I love Ishiguro but hadn't read this book yet, so it was great to see it on the list. And if none of the six options at that library in a given month at the library are your taste, check out Pearl's book club and events, or head up to the Bentonville Library, Two Friend Books, the Rogers Library, or Brick Lane Books because they all have book clubs too.  It's not just book clubs and book talks. It's book-ish events. Ozark Beer, which hosts one of the library's book clubs, hosted an NWA Book festival while I was there. Unfortunately, or

Everyone Welcome!

In a country of Westboro Baptist Churches and a state governed by the despicable Sarah Huckabee Sanders, this past Easter weekend in Northwest Arkansas proved to be one of the most delightfully multicultural weekends I've had in the United States in a long time.  The fabulous Momentary Art Museum was hosting a Holi party . Yes, they are aware the holiday was actually earlier in the year. I'd thought about going but I really wanted to make it out to Eureka Springs this trip since I didn't in the fall and Saturday was the best day for my schedule. So I skipped it and went into the mountains instead. Well, turns out that it was the Eureka Springs not annual but quarterly Diversity Weekend , which meant public concerts and family-friend drag queen bingo, which I'm sure Scummy Huckabee Sanders does not think is possible.  The "debauchery" was amusingly counterbalanced by a pickup truck driving around town covered in pink balloons like a high school homecoming float

Will I Get Eaten By A Tiger?

Although middle America is far from the jungles of southeast Asia, the odds of encountering a tiger on a hike some day are not zero. There could be as many as 5,000 tigers living in backyards and basements in the United States, mostly in deplorable and inhumane conditions. And because people are assholes, sometimes these animals are just released into the wild when the owner realizes how in over their heads they are trying to care for such a beast. I wasn't thinking about this as I went for a pleasant evening trail run in Fayetteville, Arkansas last week and got off trail so many times that I ended up stumbling around with only the moonlight to guide me for well over an hour. Mostly, I was thinking about how cold I was since I was wearing only a t-shirt and shorts and the temperature quickly dropped to below 50 without the sun. (By the way, defrosting yourself is really painful ) But I was also thinking how glad I was to not be in Colorado where there are bears and mountain lions