Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Sad End.................Day 10, Spring Break

We are home, and arrived about 4:00 PM.  We left White Sulphur Springs in sunshine and a high of about 74 degrees as we travelled along 64W to 77N.

As we drove along, I kept asking Randy what the temperature was, and each time I asked him, it was colder. (I think there was a black cloud over our car.............) and then it started to rain this hideous cold rain as soon as we had crossed over the Ohio state kidding.          Welcome home!!!

However.....................due to an electrical outage while we were gone, we were welcomed by our alarm system beeping at us, then screaming at us when we tried to turn it off............but the worst is that our furnace seems to be on the blink due to the same outage.  It just won't turn on the heat, and it is about 54 degrees here.

It was an uneventful day on the road.  We've unloaded the car already, put lots of stuff away and thrown the laundry down the chute.  I am cooking pasta and a jar of sauce for lack of much else worth eating in the house right now.

My bookbag has that woeful look as it sits by the door, and I know I am back to the grind in the morning.  I will be off on Friday, however, as I had to make a dentist appointment in Poland for that morning.  The next day, April 30th,  I will be marking the fifth year without Philip here, also, so I will be spending part of the day on Friday at Riverside Cemetery, then have lunch with a dear friend.

The best day of spring break is the first..............and the worst is the last.  Alas: This is the last.

We will let you know when we're off again for parts unknown!  Thanks for following along with us!

 I write my journal because it's something I just do.  I am glad to share it with those of you who travel "virtually" with us.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

On The Road Again................Day 9, Spring Break

We were out of Petersburg by 8:30, and on the road headed north. You know us by now.  We did not take the road MOST travelled by, but took some odd road that took us around Richmond and north (I think it was labelled 288?) to Rt 60W which took us through some small towns and through some gorgeous scenery.

 It was a rather uneventful morning until we got to Amherst, Virginia, where Randy's family actually had some roots. There we stopped at the town hall for a few minutes, and realizing that information was not going to just leap out at us, we drove down to the Amherst County Public Library where we asked for guidance.

A lovely lady librarian assisted Randy in locating the records of some ancestral wills which were filed in Amherst in 1779 or so.  We kept looking through the "rare" books that were locked in a case in the library for Gillenwaters until we found some. Since Randy has done some ancestral research, he knew he had the right folks!  We followed this up with the purchase of some goodies from the Friends of the Library book sale shelf, then had our picnic lunch on the table beside the library.  We certainly made this "one stop shopping!" We also did some traispsing around in a very old cemetery there in Amherst, looking for Randy's ancestors, but no markers were Gillenwaters.

On we went, over some rather hair-raising mountainous roads, frankly,  (white knuckles for me, the driver),   until we connected with 64W, and continued the trek homeward until we arrived at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. This is home to The Greenbriar Resort.  We've been here before, enjoyed the tour, but also knew that the evening was approaching and chose to just STOP.  If it ain't broke, don't fix we are staying once again at the Old White Inn on Rt 60 in White Sulphur Springs.  It was built in 1953, and is as clean and neat as the day they opened it.  Their sign reads, "...with an air of gracious hospitality," and that could not be more true.

This little town is one of those that they say "rolls up the sidewalk when the sun goes down," but that is OK.  We actually had a choice between two eateries, The Mason Jar, and East 50, which is named for its own address.  We had eaten at the first on our last visit, so chose East 50 this time, since we could eat al fresco. (It is 77 degrees and sunny here right now.)  Our margherita pizza had far too much cheese on it, but still was tasty. The appetizer wings were wonderful, and the wine was fine.(Have we ever complained about the wine?)  The service was efficient and friendly, and here we are, back at The Old White Inn, about to sit on the front porch to watch the local traffic go by and enjoy the mountains and the fresh spring air.

Home tomorrow.  I am trying not to think about going back to w--k.

copyright:  KP  Gillenwater

Friday, April 22, 2011

Homeward Bound...................Day 8, Spring Break

Spring Break breaks my heart.............because it has to come to a close.  We'd packed and were ready to leave by 10 AM.  Most of the packing was done before we'd fallen asleep, and we skipped the sunrise this morning, entirely. That must mean we were tired. Or resting.  Or forgot that alarm clocks exist.

We drove out of the Outer Banks around 11 o'clock, stopped at the Weeping Radish Brewery on Rt 158 for a box of good beer to take home,  lunch at Mel's Diner a few feet from the Radish, and then chose NOT to drive home the way the map told us to go.

Instead, we drove across northern North Carolina by way of Rt. 158,  skipped the hideous traffic of Norfolk, Virginia and the frantic race past Williamsburg, and opted instead for the slow-go traffic of two lanes through small towns, snail-pace speed limits from 35 MPH to 55 MPH, traffic lights with ordinary people going ordinary places,  doing ordinary things, in ordinary villages.  In other words, it was ALL GOOD.

Several hours later, in cold rain, we arrived at I-95 North, crossed into Virginia, and decided to end the day in Petersburg, Virginia.  We'd spent a day or two here two years ago, visiting Civil War landmarks.  (My own great-grandfather marched through here with his Confederate comrades, we know.) Nice city. Huge history.

We are in a lovely newly-renovated Comfort Inn right off exit 45.  Dinner was exactly what we wanted: greasy fried chicken at a fast-food chain. (Enough shrimp, already.)

It was hard to leave the ocean.   Here's hoping for that lottery ticket....................

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rainy Daze...........Day 7, Spring Break

You knew it was too good to be true: We'd dodged every possible "bullet" with the weather so far.  Well, today we got rain.  Not a tornado, mind you. Just rain, but it was a cold rain and the wind kept us from being on the beach.

We started out with a trip north to Oregon Inlet to our favorite breakfast restaurant, Sam 'n Omies, which has been there since 1937, and has catered to early-morning fishermen for years.  We've been there once or twice each visit we've made to the OBX, and had to go out of tradition.  We weren't disappointed:  eggs, bacon, toast, coffee. (How could they go wrong, you say?)  That's probably the key.  They can't.  Friendly service, clean atmosphere.

After that we did a bit of shopping. In truth, we had planned to drive to Manteo to visit our favorite privately-owned book store (Manteo Book Store), but we got hung up at our favorite souvenir shop, Souvenir City, and that took awhile.  Once we came out of there the winds had started, the temperature was obviously going to be Ohio-ish, and we decided not to go to Manteo.  Instead, we did some shopping in little stores in Kill Devils Hills and Nags Head, then retreated to our motel.

After finishing up my leftover shrimp from last night, we literally bundled up in jeans, sweatshirts, hats and blankets, and sat on the beach all by ourselves for awhile, with "beach books" in hand.  A Bloody Mary accompanied this venture, and we fell asleep due to the heavy clothing and fresh air within a short time.

Afraid that we'd miss something, we decided to rally and go to Duck, which is in the northern part of the OBX. We've stayed there a couple of times, too, and always like a place called Scarborough Faire to do some tourist shopping.

Randy wanted to go to dinner, later,  at Elizabeth's, a lovely upscale place run by Leonard Logan.  We had a marvelous dinner there years ago which we fondly remember as being romantic and lush.  Today we were there at about 2:00, and since dinner wasn't going to start being served until 6:00, we decided to forego that plan. (

However, they did let us into their attached "gallery" where we could enjoy a glass of good wine while we talked with the artist-in-residence, one Brad Price, who also serves as the chef for Elizabeth's.  Brad has done some lovely work, and one landscape of his was truly awesome.  Brad is a self-proclaimed "self-taught" artist, who has found some good teachers along the way to help him find his artistic path.  We bought a small print of his which portrays a fishing boat, done in bright may see this one in our kitchen in a few weeks. ( ( I cannot get his website up, but this is the one on his card. Keep trying.)

We finished up our Scarborough Faire shopping and drove on back to our motel.  Along the way we went by "Sawyer" several times..........Sawyer is the old Nags Head house we rented back in 2002 when we spent a week there, introducing our children to each other, including Randy's mother and also his first grandchild, Abby.  There's a little piece of my heart (Thanks, Janis) left behind there............we had a good time that summer.

We finally did eat dinner at The Jolly Roger, a small little place we'd been to years ago.  The wait-staff dresses like pirates, and the ceiling is covered with Christmas balls in the room we chose to eat. (I know that I've mentioned those hanging globes in my other blog, as our back porch has the same decor, but I believe I gave credit to the wrong restaurant when I mentioned it.) Randy had a steak, and I had a flounder dish which left some taste bud still wanting, but the atmosphere was fun, the servers were helpful, and the colors of the ceiling were cheerful.

We are back in our motel, and now we have the heater on instead of the air conditioning. Our beach books are calling our names, and we still want to sit outside even though it's quite cold, because tomorrow we head back to Ohio...............where there is no ocean, hot OR we'd better enjoy it while we can and take it in, no matter what the weather.

I told you I'd tell you about the Beach People today, but since they, apparently, are NOT from Ohio, they had better sense than to try to sit out there on that freezing cold beach today, and I have nearly forgotten all their foibles and eccentricities by now...........except for the lady with her entire back totally tattooed..........that image is imprinted in my memory, and I can tell you about that later.  Today I was telling you about GOOD art.  :)

It's been a relaxing day........................but the "sharks are swimming around my feet," as we head home in the morning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beach Daze.................Day 6, Spring Break

1. Got up
2. Drank coffee on the beach
3. Sat on the beach
4. Read my "beach book"
5. Had small breakfast
6. Made a salad for lunch
7. Sat on the beach
8. Fell asleep on my "beach book"
9. Read some more
10. Sat on the beach
11. Read some more
12. Went to Tortuga's Lie again for yet another pound of shrimp
13. Drank some wine while we sat on the beach and read our "beach books"
14. Came inside to watch American Idol
15. Will go back outside to sit on the beach, drink some wine, and then come in to read the "beach books"

The end of Day 6
Stick around for tomorrow, though............I've been doing a study on the Beach People..........I have to look up from the book occasionally.................
The weather has been wonderful. It was in the low 80's today, sunny all afternoon. No rain. No tornadoes.  Life is good.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunny Days................Day 5, Spring Break

Randy woke me up with all his rattling. He was making coffee at 6:30 AM, was fully dressed, camera in hand, and ready to hit the porch for the sunrise.  I had to get up out of guilt and joined him, dressed in my bathrobe and wrapped up in a quilt.  We sat on the beach in our chairs and watched the sun come up and the dolphins play in the water.

Breakfast and lunch were served on the tomato sandwiches and also turkey sandwiches.

No wonder I kept falling asleep in my beach chair.

We didn't leave our chairs until 5 PM when it was time to drive a mile down to the Kill Devils Grille (milepost 9) for another pound of shrimp,( this time steamed in beer), and an appetizer, then back to resume relaxing.

I started a really good book titled Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger, and have had my nose stuck into the pages of it most of the day with a few breaks to use the binoculars to watch dolphins pass by. The binoculars made it so I could see their smiling faces as they leapt up into the air. 

Aside from moving around from sun to shade and back, that is just about the extent of the goings on of the Roamers today.

Ho hum.   Sorry so short, but that's all folks!

Monday, April 18, 2011

To the Sea, To the Sea.......................Day 4

Randy pointed out to me late last night that I had failed to mention what he considered to be a "highlight" of yesterday's drive to the Natural Bridge non-visit.  Remember when I mentioned all the sideshows that the neighbors had created along the way to the "main event?" 

I forgot to tell you about FOAMHENGE!

 If you are familiar at all with Stonehenge, then you can imagine the same thing, except this one is made entirely out of large pieces of Styrofoam, like packing material.  No kidding.  We were driving along, looked up, and there it was...............Stonehenge........only there were funny signs telling us it wasn't really Stonehenge, it was Foamhenge.........made of huge blocks of foam stuff.  One sign said it was made in a week by "4-5 Mexicans and 1 crazy white guy working non-stop." There were some signs threatening to arrest us if we write on the foam or deface it, but I saw that some others had already done that.  In short, it is like being at the real Stonehenge, only it's NOT.  We did walk through some red clay mud to get up the hill to see this fun thing, though. Google it. It's been on the Discovery channel and some other TV networks,  apparently.

Today we drove from our motel to Historic Williamsburg, parked our car in a one-hour lot, and walked up and down the Duke of Gloucester Street, a good two miles at a brisk pace, taking in the ambiance of the history of Williamsburg.  We've been there before, have seen the main events, bought the gingerbread, eaten the stew, and all the wonderful things that make Williamsburg Williamsburg.  We were happy today to be able to do the Reader's Digest version of Historic Williamsburg. It was still lovely and delightful. We enjoyed watching the families with the tri-cornered hats on their little boys, locking their chilidren into the stockades, and bringing back some lovely memories.  One hour later, we were back into the car and headed southeast for the beach.

I will not give you the details of the stops for groceries and gas, but we arrived at the Cavalier Motel around 3 PM. It is in Kill Devils Hills, very close to the Wright Brothers Monument.........and in the middle of the Outer Banks. Let me say Mile Marker 8.5 and that should tell you where we are, if you are familiar with the OBX.  We've stayed north and south of here over the years, but this is one of the best kept secrets on the OBX, we think, so this is our third stay here.  We're in unit 40, oceanfront, with a mini-kitchen.  That means no stove.  Just a microwave, and we also had to run out and buy a coffee maker this evening. Bare bones, but still a winner.

There seems to be Biker Week going on in the OBX, but that is not bothering the survivors of two Sturgis events in South Dakota, and we are just going with the flow.............

We've already done some "beach time," and got some sunshine. We unloaded our "stuff" within half an hour, and were sitting on our beach chairs with a glass of wine by 4:00.  We've watched some surfers, fed old bread to hungry gulls, got the TV control working and found out how to connect to the Internet.

If you don't hear from my tomorrow it means we are becoming Beach People for a day...............but since this is also my journal of the vacation, I probably will feel the need to at least write down what we've done.

Once off the beach, we drove to Tortuga's Lie, a shellfish bar and grill in Nags Head, (milepost 11) and shared a pound of steamed shrimp and a salad. We're sitting on the front porch listening to the ocean waves and staring at the moon that just rose up over the beach grasses and dunes.

It just doesn't get any better than this.....................................

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Unseen..............Day 3

April 17, 2011

This morning we both were awake at 6 again. Darn!  We apparently need "sleep in" lessons.  After our motel breakfast we packed up and went to see Lexington, Virginia.

Lexington is the home of Virginia Military Institute, the "West Point of the South," which opened in 1839.  It is awesome looking.  Having been to West Point once, I could see that VMI is quite similar in its appearance. The buildings have tops that reminded me of a castle fortress.  Stonewall Jackson is in statue form in front of one of the main buildings.  Uniformed students walk solemnly around the campus.

We had dinner last night at Applebee's and the place was full of students, as Washington and Lee University, founded in 1749, is actually right next door to VMI and we found out that they share some of  classes.  Washington and Lee is absolutely gorgeous, many buildings of red brick with white pillared buildings. (Robert E. Lee served as its president at one time, and George Washington donated money to begin this school.) Since all the blossoming trees are blooming, tulips and daffodils abound, and all the trees and grass are bright green, it is an incredible sight for two Ohioans, fresh from the unrelenting winter of 2011.

This morning we visited the grave of Stonewall Jackson at one end of Main Street, in an ancient cemetery filled with CSA markers on old stones,  and the grave of Robert E. Lee and his horse, Traveller, at the other end of town.  Lee and Traveller are buried at Washington and Lee, one in the chapel, and one just outside the door.  It was a fairly nice walk through old streets lined with antique shops and bistros.  The uniformed and un-uniformed students walked to and fro, mingling.

The city had an ecumenical Palm Sunday event going on, also, which was upliftingly nice to see.  As our walk began, we encountered a throng of people gathering in a park midtown.  Clerics in black robes led a group of parishioners carrying palms, led by a bagpiper playing "Oh, Shenandoah," through the streets of Lexington.  As our walk intertwined with the parade, we realized that this group of mixed-Christians was going from one church to another, stopping for prayer for unity on the front steps of each church.  This involved many churches, as we noticed nearly every denomination within the boundaries of the historic district. We got the gist of this parade: Christians should stop berating other denominations of Christians, and follow Christ's lessons.

Now, I know that you are waiting breathlessly for my report about the Natural Bridge of Virginia.  It is about 12 miles out of Lexington, and the drive there was so lovely with the sun out, flowers abloom, a wild animal zoo on the right, a pink Cadillac luncheonette on the left. Every home entrepreneur between Lexington and the Natural Bridge had put out a sign and was in some kind of business.  The drive was truly beautiful in spite of the blight.  Then, voila!  We arrived at the Natural Bridge Entrance where we could buy tickets, go to the huge souvenir store, use the restroom, buy ice cream, have our photos taken with some wax museum people, and then go out the back door to actually SEE the Natural Bridge of Virginia!

Now, if you have not read my yesterday's entry, telling of the mishaps we have had trying to SEE this thing, you need to do that. Suffice it to say that at least 3 attempts have been made to get me there, not counting the several other trips by where, "Did we miss it or what?" was uttered too late to go back.

Today was the day, and I marched myself right up to the ticket counter to buy the tickets.

"Two adults for the bridge, please,"  I said, pulling out Valerie, my Visa card. "Are there any discounts for AAA or seniors?" I added.

"No," replied the sweet young thing at the counter, "but the Bridge is not open just now, due to the heavy rains we had here yesterday."

I gasped.

She went on, "But it might open at noon, if you want to buy your tickets anyway."

"What if it doesn't open at noon?"  I asked, nearly wheezing. "Would I get a refund?"

"No refunds.................but we can give you a rain check," the sweet young thing said, politely.

I slid Valerie back into her case, whispered, "We can't use a rain check. We are travelling, but thanks, anyway,"  and moved away from the counter, too dazed to speak.

I did take a picture of a post card of the Natural Bridge, right there in the souvenir shop, however, and then bought a post card for my journal.  I have "seen" the 7th wonder of the natural world, apparently, as closely as I am going to see it anytime soon.  We decided, as we drove on, that there is some reason in the plan of the Universe, that Kim is not supposed to go there.   Yet. 

We drove to the foot of the Blue Ridge Parkway for our picnic lunch.  There's a lookout place that has a huge rock right at that location, where we have been before. In 2002, we took all four of our children there for a view of the mountains before we continued to the Outer Banks for our "Beach Buddy" week vacation.  It brought back tender memories while we ate our sandwiches at a picnic table there, freezing, in the very cold and windy noontime weather.

From then until 5 PM we just drove, following Rt. 64 east through the mountains of Virginia, to Williamsburg, where we had an ulterior motive:  dinner at Pierce's Barbecue Pit.  I don't know how many times we've been there, but sometimes it has been going AND coming that we've stopped for the world's best barbecue sandwich.  Tonight it was chicken BBQ, and on the way home it may be the pork.  The place is a gold mine for the owner. It's open every day of the year but Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving, 10-9.............and there is standing room only every time we've been there. (No, I don't believe that I am related to these Pierces, but if I were, I'd be sure to ask for the sauce recipe!) Tonight we sat at a picnic table, outside.  Spring is here in Virginia!

We checked into a Windham Motel here in Williamsburg. It has wicker rockers on the front and side porches, where we enjoyed a glass of wine before hitting Pierce's BBQ.  We did one short trip through the business district of Williamsburg, "just to see it," and are tucked into our room for the night.

The scenery we've seen today has been breathtakingly beautiful.  We are in love with the mountains, the sun, the flowers, the green grass, the leaves on trees, the smell of mown grass.  The good news is that we know it's only a short time until we get all of these wonderful things in Ohio....................except for the mountains.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The March to the Sea............Days 1 and 2.........Spring Break 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I am writing this from the Comfort Inn in Lexington, Virginia.  We've spent two days on the road and have travelled fewer than 350 miles.  You might want to say we're moving at a senior pace.  It's OK......we're on the road, out of town, away from obligations.

I pulled into the garage after school on Friday to find that Randy, alias "Mr. Packer," had staged all the bags and cases on the garage floor and was ready, sleeves rolled up, to pack my Rendezvous to the gills.  He did. We started the car, pulled out of the driveway, pulled back into the driveway, pulled out, pulled in, drove two houses up the street, turned around, pulled back in, out.............and then I had my glasses, and we were ready to roll.

It was a very quiet drive.  My nerves were shot from school....(Governor Kasich should come and try to keep 93 eighth graders under control on the day before spring break starts............he might revise his SB5.)

After an hour or so, we talked.................and haven't stopped talking since.  That's the best thing about our road trips:  There's no distraction, nobody else to converse with, and since we're in the car together we TALK about everything and anything. It's good for our marriage, and good for us as individuals.

We only drove 150 miles to Marietta, Ohio, where we stopped at the Comfort Inn there and pulled in for the night.  Not far, but definitely far ENOUGH to feel the "vacation" starting.

We'd had a stop at McDonald's en route, and had an "extra meal" at the hotel restaurant before working on a blog entry for my Shoestrings blog and then sleeping deeply until 6 AM this morning.  My internal clock is still set for 6 AM...............and by the time it resets itself, it will be time for it to go back to 6 AM.

Today we woke to pouring rain. I mean POURING RAIN.  We had our motel breakfast overlooking the pool, with a group of insurance people from the Woodsman Group.  They didn't look very happy, frankly.  Probably because THEY were going to spend the day in a big ol' meeting at that hotel.............and WE, on the other hand, were ON THE ROAD............and away we went, rain or not!

What did we see today?  Not far south of Parkersburg, WV, we stopped at the Coldwater Creek Outlet Store, a place I've wanted to visit for awhile but never drove by at the right time.  It's nice, but I wouldn't make a special trip to go there, frankly.  I bought a couple of tee tops and a piece of jewelry, looked at everything else, and was back into the car within 45 minutes.

In Charleston, WV, we stopped at Central Market, which is located right underneath the freeway in the center of town. We'd been there last spring on the way home, and liked it.  We bought some spices at the Purple Onion, tasted some cheese at the wine shop, and bought some sliced turkey to take along for lunch.

An hour or so later we had a picnic lunch at a West Virginia roadside park.  By then we had outrun the rain, and the sun was shining............and THERE ARE DAFFODILS, TULIPS, AND LEAVES ON THE TREES DOWN HERE.  I emphasize that to be sure that my Ohio friends are jealous.

We began an audio book which we are still "iffy" about............after disk one we audibly voted to try to make it through disk two.  IF we go forward with this NINETEEN disk story, I will tell you the title.  Right now we're not enamoured with it, however.

Remember that crazy book, 1,000 Things to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die??? Well, it was thrown into the car at the last minute, and THAT is why we are in Lexington, Virginia for the night.  There's this place called "Natural Bridge," that I have personally ridden by or driven by at least fifteen times.  On three of those occasions, I have actually PLANNED to see this scenic wonder.  On two of those trips, I've gotten lost or missed the exit ramp, and the other time I was plainly and stupidly lost.  WE ARE GOING TO SEE THE NATURAL BRIDGE tomorrow, or else!

We also read in our book about some historic things to see in Lexington, and if you remember our trip two years ago when we spent nearly ten days in Virginia seeing Civil War locations up the wazoo, then you can figure out what's here that we're going to visit tomorrow!

Right now we are going to comb our hair, remove the coffee-stained shirts, and head out for dinner and a short drive through Lexington, Virginia to be sure we have the lay of the land for tomorrow's excitement.