I woke up this morning, in pain and continuing to feel nervous about what I was hearing about the availability of gas (or lack thereof) in North Carolina. But instead of fretting about it, I decided that the best thing to do would be to call my contacts for Saturday’s event in Winston-Salem, ask for the REAL story on the ground (versus any sensationalized media coverage) and to ask: “If it were you, what would you do?!”

I had to laugh, as one of my contacts, who has become a friend over the past couple years, said: “If it were me in your situation? I would turn around and head for home.” But then she said she would have her husband contact me a little later in the morning, weighing in on the situation. And when he called me, he said: “If it were me? I would still come, as I don’t think the situation is nearly as bad as the media is making it out to be.” Faced with those two opinions, and thinking more about the pressures of being a man and some of the “man up” comments I referred to in yesterday’s post? I decided that I would continue pushing forward for North Carolina. Only I would never allow my car to get below a half a tank of gas (I usually let it get down to a quarter-tank before I will refill it). That, and assurances from my local contacts that if “the worst” happened and I was stranded on the side of I-77 with an empty gas tank, they would come to my rescue. 🙂

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 4 tee at Grassy Creek DGC in New Whiteland, Indiana.

My first course on the day was Grassy Creek DGC in New Whiteland, Indiana. A fun, shorter eighteen hole course, I found myself playing well after the pressure of deciding: “am I heading to North Carolina, or should I head home” …was off. And my score showed it, shooting a -13 (47) with an estimated round rating of 1011. After that, it was on my way back to Cincinnati, to cross two more older courses off my To Play List.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 12 tee at Woodland Mound Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.

My first stop in Cincinnati was Highland Hills Park in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. Not a great round, shooting a -4 (26) for an estimated round rating of 893, but I was in a good mood after knowing I was pressing onward to North Carolina. Then my next stop on the day, Woodland Mound Park, was a chance to connect with a bit of history. Opened in 1980, Woodland Mound is one of the ever-shrinking number of course designs made by “Steady” Ed Headrick that remains playable to the public. I thought it was SO cool! Walking the same ground that Ed had walked…trying to imagine being in his head when walking that land for the first time… “unlocking” what eventually became an eighteen-hole disc golf course on those acres. I managed a 47, for a modest estimated round rating of 912. But I could have shot a 147 and still had fun on that course. Adding another one of Ed’s designs to my collection of courses played.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 1 tee at Earl Thomas Conley Park in West Portsmouth, Ohio.

After leaving “the Nati,” I headed Southeast, to check and see how some of the older tee signs we had designed for DGA are holding up at Earl Thomas Conley Riverside Park! 🙂 The signs still look great! But wow is that course LONG! 4,415 feet over nine holes, on a bad back/hip/leg, made me feel like I was in the middle of a Bataan Death March (LOL). I did okay, shooting a 32, for an estimating round rating of 969 (needing to play Holes 7-8 as object holes, since I could not find those baskets). But it hurt. That, and I got a good scare back around Holes 6-7…when I encountered two pit bulls, not on a leash, who weren’t happy to see me in the vicinity of their owner(s) who were out fishing. Fortunately, the dogs did not take a hunk out of my leg…but they sure looked like they wanted to.

After leaving that park, my nightmare scenario on these road trips happened. As I was leaving the park, a string of small gibberish appeared on my phone, and then my phone went dead. The black screen of death. I couldn’t get it to start, much less load any programs. So there I was, ~25 miles from anywhere I knew, without a smartphone or maps/directions. Gulp.

I knew I needed to keep pushing Southeast, and I knew if I headed East/West, I would eventually find a bridge that would allow me to cross the Ohio River, into Kentucky. So I kept a cool head, headed East, then eventually found Highway 23 that took me down to Catlettsburg, Kentucky. And just South of that town? I found Interstate 64, which I knew would get me to my destination for the evening (Charleston, West Virginia). Whew! Once I made it into Huntington, West Virginia, I pulled over to try and troubleshoot my phone. And thankfully, I was able to get it working again. But that feeling of being alone, having no idea where I am, with no map/phone, with no idea how to get where I need to go? Is not something I would recommend to anyone. 🙂

With my phone mostly working again, I decided to be brave and use it to find a few more courses not too far off of I-64. I ended up stopping at Valley View Park in Hurricane, West Virginia, and hooked up with a local for about fourteen of those holes. I ended up shooting a -4, for an estimated rating of 961. Then after leaving Hurricane, I headed to a church near Scary, WV (what great town names) to play a quick nine at Connection Point before calling it a night near Charleston.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 9 tee at Connection Point in Teays Valley, West Virginia.

That church course was a super short course (1,721 feet over nine holes), but my tank was on “E.” I limped to the finish line (my car) carding a terrible -4 (23), for an estimated round rating of 863. Hole 1 had some teeth, being a hard right-to-left uphill shot! But a good player would shoot at LEAST a 21 on that course…so I left feeling a little demoralized, albeit relieved that I wasn’t still wandering North of the Ohio River looking for a way to find I-64 as the sun was getting low in the Western sky.

So today has been a day! Good, bad and ugly. But I am safe, I am comfortable in my hotel room, I have food in my stomach, and I’ve got a working internet connection. We’ll call it a win.

Magic Number = 282 (1,718 Courses Played)

How it All Got Started: Tonn’s Travels >>
A main purpose of this blog will be to share information, helpful tips and tricks (everything from health and fitness to methods for saving money while you’re out “bagging courses” of your own), and ideas for better, safer course design. But I am also hoping to inspire others with my passion for the sport, via the stories I can share about all of the interesting experiences I have. All of the interesting people I meet. All of the amazing courses I am blessed to have the opportunity to play. If I can inspire even a handful of individuals to get off the couch, get “out of their bubble” or “security blanket” and explore more of this big, beautiful planet we all call home? Then I will consider this effort a success.

About Derek

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - Tonn's Travels

Derek Tonn is a member of the DGA’s Ambassador Team. His company, Mapformation, LLC, has been DGA’s partner in the development of disc golf tee signage since 2012. The longer our two companies have worked together, and the more Derek has gotten to know all the great folks at DGA, the more he has wanted to formally sing the company’s praises. The more he has realized that “Steady” Ed the father of disc golf and the modern-day Frisbee vision for the sport and his company perfectly describes his own interests and priorities related to disc golf, and the more Derek has recently been encouraged to share his story.