August 26, 2011

creeper trail tails...

when jenn talton has visitors, she doesn't mess around. she is the hostess with the mostess. there is never a dull moment in the a-jenn-da o' fun...plus the food is amazing.

jacob, nickie and i got off to a bit of a rough start, airline wise, but we finally made it to north carolina. the first order of business was some time at the lake house. always a crowd pleaser. we played cards, kayaked in the rain, water skied (i slalomed successfully for the first time!), jumped off a rock and ate low country boil. it was a splendid time.

the slalom and the boil
then we got really serious. sunday's adventure was a thirty four mile bike ride on the virginia creeper trail. and an adventure it was. here's what we were looking at going into the day: you park your car at a bike shop at the end of the trail. the bike shop shuttles you to the top (about a one hour drive) and off you go. we knew the first half would involve a lot of coasting, with the second half becoming a bit more strenuous as the trail flattens out.

the first seventeen miles were indeed delightful. since we were riding down the mountain there was a gentle slope the whole way. i think i used the pedals about five times in that first half. the scenery was beautiful and we were loving life. we even happened upon an all male a cappella group practicing in a nearby house, which was a fun surprise. at the halfway point, we found a little cafe to have lunch in and relaxed for a short bit. then back to the trail we went.

that's when the real adventure began. less than a mile into our second seventeen, the heavens opened and the rain came down. and i mean it came. down. i couldn't see due to the waterfalls coming off of my eyelashes and my shoes quickly became individual swimming pools for my feet. at one point jenn said, "i could get off my bike and go jump in the river and i would not be as wet as i am right now"...and she was right. it was hilarious. we pressed on, not knowing how long the rain would last, but knowing we had no other options since our car was at the end of the trail. the incessant rainfall ended up lasting for about the next three miles, though at the time it felt a little bit like eternity. while grateful for the clear skies, we were now pedaling one hundred percent of the time, and my muscles (which were already sore from water skiing) began to protest. but we persevered and made it out alive. all in all it was a great day of memories, and i was able to check something off my list. our end of the trail pictures don't really do justice to the wet, the sweat and the mud we encountered, but if you look closely you can spot the creeper trail tail on the back of my shirt...

August 11, 2011

it's all about the water, eh...


if this most recent mother/daughter road trip had a theme, it would be...water. i know. our destination was niagara falls. just call me captain obvious. but i'm not just referring to the thirty five million gallons of water that flow over the falls every minute of the day. we encountered water at many of our stops...spraying in our faces, falling on our heads, and as part of a delicious treat.

stop one: as previously mentioned, our first stop was in louisville to visit pauline. (okay, technically our first stop was at my aunt and uncle's house to pick up a rubix cube) these stops were water free.

stop two: the creation museum just outside of cincinnati. i can't remember where i originally heard about this place, but i'd wanted to visit for years. it was a good stop on the journey, with interesting and well done exhibits and films. especially the one where you're watching a movie with two guys explaining science and the bible and you suddenly get sprayed in the face with water. (it was an opportune time in the story line, but definitely took us by surprise)

stop three: after an overnight in erie, pa and a lunch of buffalo wings in buffalo, ny we crossed the border into canada where, sadly, i did not receive a stamp in my passport. i hate that. we grabbed an adventure pass, like all good tourists do, and started visiting attractions. we were presented with complimentary ponchos in three different locations. the most amusing was the time we thought we were going to a nice, calm movie about the formation of the falls, but instead we stood on a floor shaking like we were having an earthquake while being rained and snowed upon. good times.

at this same stop we also spent some time exploring the town of niagara-on-the-lake, where our bed and breakfast was located. we strolled the streets, spent an afternoon in the park and i rode a borrowed bike around town.

before heading out we spent a morning on the american side of the falls, for a different perspective. the actual falls area is a bit less commercialized and more nature-ish than its canadian counterpart, but still boasts similar up close and personal attractions. plus i got to see the hotel from jim and pam's wedding.

stop four: following a quick detour to the house from 'a christmas story' in cleveland, we were onto our final scheduled stop...rita's. what delightful treat does dear rita sell? water ice. it's delicious. and a fine way to end our water themed road trip.

for photos, complete with commentary, click here.

August 5, 2011

my bolivar grandma...

i didn't get the pleasure of having grandparents around for a lot of my life. my grandpa harry (who was quite a hoot) was my last living grandparent, and he passed away when i was eight. needless to say, by the time i went to college, i had been in a grandparent drought for quite some time.

when i arrived at sbu i heard about an organization with an adopt-a-grandparent program. and since i was in the market for one or two of those, i signed right up. the actual process of pairing up with someone was kind of sketchy. basically i was given an index card with the name and phone number of an oblivious senior citizen in town. i would then call and ask the unsuspecting person(s) if it would be alright if i came to their home for an hour a week to visit. calling strangers and inviting ourselves over...that's how we roll in small towns in the midwest. the first woman i called was a widow. she, understandably, was not interested in having an unknown person in her home. so onto the next index card i went, where i discovered some delightful new friends.

lee and pauline must have decided i did not sound like a robber or an axe murderer and said to come on over. we started with weekly one hour visits, but that didn't last long. soon we were playing hand and foot all afternoon and even taking off on a few adventures.

since i left bolivar we've kept in touch and i visited often. lee passed away in 2005 and a few years later pauline moved to louisville to be near her daughter. we haven't been able to see each other since the move so when my mom and i were planning our road trip to canada i lobbied for a detour. pauline had a plate of cookies waiting for me, like any good grandma would, and we spent an afternoon playing games and chatting...just like old times.