kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Rikenjaks Brewing Company

Rikenjaks Brewing Company in Lake Charles is open for business! This much anticipated brew pub had beer enthusiasts on the edge of their bar stool for several months. But their home brews Old Hard Head and Contraband Brown Ale were worth the wait.

Supposedly they are still in their "soft opening" stage. But the place has been packed most every night for weeks; both inside the cozy bar and outside on the patio by the outdoor bar.

Because they're so busy, the wait for food requires some patience. But on a recent visit, my family and I didn't mind because there's this crazy fun outdoor game area. And there's live music to listen to.

We've only been there once so far to eat, but I think the food is good. The kids had burgers and Bob and I had fish tacos.

And here's my new favorite beer, Old Hard Head.

Out of town friends and family, come visit me and I'll take you to this fun place for good food and beer. (Locals, I know you've all already been there.)

Located at 3716 Ryan St., Lake Charles, and online at rikenjaks.com

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Swallow Falls State Park, Maryland

Everyone has places they consider favorites. We say things like, "It's one of my favorite places in the whole world," even though we've only seen a small fraction of the whole world. But if we define "the whole world" as our own personal limited experience of the world, well, then the expression works.

Swallow Falls State Park is one of my "favorite places in the whole world."

Muddy Creek Falls

Rock formation at the base of Swallow Falls

I grew up in these woods; knew the rocks, the trails, the water intimately. My family camped there frequently, often with another family we were great friends with, the Flanders. In my youthful imagination, colorful mushrooms became umbrellas for fairy folk and hidden rock formations served as enclaves for elves.

Me and my friend Chris Flanders hiking the trails, no doubt looking for fossils. I was maybe 14 years old. Or so?

As I grew older, I sensed God in the majesty; the rush of the river, the scent of pine and primordial decay, the glisten of dewdrops on pink rhododendron petals, the texture of cool green moss. The place became sacred to me.

Tulliver Falls

In my 20s, I took any friend who would go with me to this park. I wanted to share its beauty and serenity. I hadn't been there in too many years, and though I'm sure they were there at some point when they were very young, I had the pleasure of taking my sons to this favorite place last week when we traveled to Pennsylvania and Maryland to visit family and friends. My dad and step-mom Mary came with us.

My Happy Place

Where's your favorite place in the whole world?