Renee Back


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Not Good at Surprises

Surprises? What surprises? I knew I loved Kevin from the first week I dated him. Kind, cute, funny, generous, and did I mention cute? Haha. He had used the “L” word pretty quickly as well. Kept telling me how much he wanted to see me in person. He said in an email “Renee when you laugh…oh when you laugh it makes me smile. I would love to entertain you with my little voices and jokes that I think will make you laugh even more in person.”

We had even talked about marriage pretty early on and in that same email he used the words “When we are married…” So I knew I wasn’t taking that big of a risk when I wanted to come down and surprise him. I knew he would be glad to see me. But I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t going to be out of town or have company or anything like that. Since my grandma and aunt, besides several friends, lived in the same town, I knew I always had a place to stay when I visited.

The Surprises I Was Planning

That weekend he was planning on doing London, KY’s Redbud Ride. 100 miles. Up hills. In just a few hours. Almost unfathomable to me. I would possibly quite literally die if I did something like that. But he had trained for it and was looking forward to it. This would be his second time in that race. I tried to cheer him on from afar but decided that would be the perfect weekend to come.

I wanted to be there at the finish line to surprise him. Even bought a t-shirt that I had made with “Kevin’s girl” on the front. It had “BRB” on the back. Get ready to think I’m crazy again… Those initials usually stand for “Be Right Back” but to me, they meant “Be Renee Back”. I thought it was clever… I mean, we HAD talked about marriage. Again, SO glad he could put up with my straightforwardness.

I needed to know what time he would be at that finish line. It wasn’t in his hometown, so it wasn’t like I could just hang out with friends if I got there too early. And speaking of friends, I was getting a ride down to KY with some of my friends. They were going to drop me off and continue on their journey, so I had to get the timing just right. I tried to be sneaky with my questions. “How long does it usually take you? How many people are there? Do you take any breaks? What happens if you are too tired to finish the ride?” But I forgot one thing. One of the things I loved so much about Kevin was his brilliant mind.

He Figured Out All My Surprises

He said “I know you are coming down to visit me.” What?! How did he know? Who told him?! He said that I just asked so many questions, so he said to his mom “When Renee comes down next month, we should take her to Cumberland Falls.” When she said that was a good idea, he knew for sure that I was coming. Me and my big mouth! Trying to make everything “perfect”, I had ruined any surprises I had planned! But he said it would be even better this way because he wouldn’t do the Redbud Ride and that way he could spend more time with me. I felt so bad that he was going to miss that ride that he had looked forward to all year. And now that custom t-shirt was pointless! But spending the entire weekend with him did sound nice.

So April 10th rolls around and we make the drive down to KY once again. One of the highlights of that trip was passing King’s Island theme park in Ohio. My six year old travel companion saw a ride (basically a lookout tower) and could tell from miles away it looked like the Eiffel Tower. (You can see a picture of it here.) He shouted with glee “Wait! Are we in France?!” Oh kids and their imaginations! Eight hours down, two to go!

Getting to Meet Memaw

Our group met up with Kevin and his best friend (who went on our first date with us. If you didn’t read that part of the story, you can here) in Louisville. Since we were close to where his Memaw was, he wanted me to meet her. Such a sweet lady. And where Kevin got his red hair (both grandmas had it) and blue eyes from. She felt like family right away. It didn’t take long to see that her side of the family was where Kevin got his sense of humor as well. What a hoot! Memaw had already been diagnosed with Alzheimers, but she was just in the early stages. I’m so glad I got to know her while I still could. She was feisty too! I loved her right away.

with Kevin's memaw in Louisville, Kentucky

After our little visit with Memaw, we headed towards our cabins for the weekend. Kevin would be staying with his best friends. I would be staying with his parents and his sister’s family. I had never stayed in a cabin for a weekend up til that point, so I was really looking forward to it. Besides getting to hang out with Kevin all weekend. I had been anticipating this trip, all the planning, for what seemed like forever!

Not Your Ideal First Kiss

On the way there, we stopped at Walmart to buy some water for the weekend. While we were in the parking lot, Kevin asked if he could kiss me. As much as I wanted to kiss him, we were in a parking lot. At Walmart. Walmart!!! I had made a vow to myself when I was younger that I only wanted to kiss one man my entire life. I’d waited a long time and refused many advances up to this point.

I knew Kevin was the one I had waited for. But here I was, 28 years old, and my first kiss, the story I would tell future generations…and the setting would be the parking lot of Somerset Walmart? But no matter how stubborn I was, I had met my match. So there I had the first real kiss I had ever received in my entire life. And it was at Walmart. Have you ever seen the movie Never Been Kissed? Yeah, this was nothing like that. It was not enjoyable in the least for me. More like those awkward teenager movies that make you want to look away. But even at that, I still loved him. We traveled the rest of the way to the cabins for our wonderful weekend of surprises Kevin’s family had planned for us.

kevin and renee together again

The Beginning of a Great Weekend

The next morning, I woke up to Kevin and his dad making bacon, pancakes and eggs. He inherited cooking abilities from his dad. Soooooo good! Add that to the increasingly growing list of the things that impressed me about him. Then, instead of heading off to the Redbud Ride, we all took the drive over to Stearns, KY to take a ride on the Big South Fork Scenic Railway.

It was the start of spring in Kentucky. The redbuds and dogwoods hadn’t quite got the memo yet, but you could see they were about ready to pop. It was a beautiful ride. And every time we would go through a tunnel, Kevin’s dad would yell “Hey you two, stop that kissing!” Yep, that’s where Kevin gets his joking from. Kevin said he wanted to get the “awkward kiss” out of the way the night before so the romantic one could be on the train. Nice cover, Kevin. But he was right, the awkwardness had faded away.

train ride at stearns, kentucky

On to Cumberland Falls

After our enjoyable scenic train ride, we headed over to Cumberland Falls. It is known as the Niagara Falls of the South. I grew up near Niagara Falls, and though very impressive in its beauty, it was more comparable to Letchworth State Park than Niagara Falls. This is not criticism in the least. I like Letchworth WAY more than Niagara. It’s more for nature lovers, not tourists. I love hikes in the woods and discovering new plants and insects. Getting right up close to the waterfalls. I like photos without thousands of people in the way. I’d taken my brother’s senior photos there nine years before.

I was so glad to get to go to another Park just as beautiful as Letchworth. Cumberland Falls has all the charm of a state park, and though it has its thousands of tourists per year, it still feels like nature. I WAS able to get a peek at a few redbuds here. As a northerner, this tree fascinated me with it’s delicate purple buds that open up into the prettiest pinkish lavender flowers.

family time at cumberland falls

So glad I got to spend an entire weekend with what would be my new family soon. Also grateful to Sally and Dan for taking so many photos so we could look back later and enjoy. Photographers are usually behind the camera, so this was nice to have my memories captured too.

Well there were two more days to this weekend, but this post has already been long enough. I hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned next week for the rest of the weekend. (Read the next part here)

Love, (Kevin and) Reneé


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