My Travel Journal
(and isn't life a glorious journey?)

About Me

My Photo
West Virginia
I started this blog as a way to write about my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009. However, as my daughter pointed out, travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, my almost nightly trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my overseas trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

July 06, 2014

Sophia pays a visit...


This post is most likely of interest mainly to Sophia, me, and my family so bear with me.

I'm sure I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to be bringing Sophia back to Huntington with me after my visit sister and kids.  So Sunday afternoon (June 22) I went up to Heather's and had a nice but very brief visit with her, Alex, Johnny and a variety of animals.  Her property is really beautiful this summer.

Monday morning, Sophia and I piled into the car and made the trip over to Huntington, getting here early evening so we got the car unloaded, set up the air mattress and just kind of crashed.  Tuesday we did the unpacking and a big grocery shopping trip and I got told about various problems, going-ons, etc., with the association while I was gone and thought "why did I come back here?"  I ended up spending most of each morning that week working down in the office on condo stuff which wasn't too pleasant for Sophia but being the trouper she is, she didn't complain.

I think it was Wednesday (or Thursday?) that we had lunch with my friend Peggy and her granddaughter, Julianne and then the girls went swimming in the pool where Peggy lives and had a great time.  And this year, instead of Hillbilly Hotdogs (where Sophia and I had eaten on Tuesday) we ate at Steak 'n Shake.  Here's the two cuties...


Friday we had lunch with Jamie at our "world's finest pancakes" place which I've taken Johnny and now Sophia to each time they come to eat.  Sadly, this year, for the first time ever, they were not the world's finest.  But we moved on from that and after lunch, I took her to The Pottery Place where you paint your own which she loves doing.  They've changed how it works so that we were actually able to pick up her fired piece before she went home the following week.  Also, Friday we walked through the riverfront park and discovered that the American Queen "steamboat" was docked.  I know I took pictures with my phone but today when I edited the pictures, I had so many that I deleted a bunch and I must have deleted those which is a shame.  The weather that day and most days was way, way too hot and we about melted walking back home.  We got a lot of iced drinks at Starbucks during her visit, that's for sure.

And I have to admit, we did little bits and pieces of stuff the whole time she was here, but I'm of course, not remembering them.  However, when her second week started I decided we needed an actual plan so I spent some time on-line checking opening times etc., and set us up for a visit to Carter Caves (we went last year too) and for a day in Charleston.

On Tuesday, we toured a different cave than we did last year - they have a number of different ones.  Overall, we liked last year's cave best (Cascade Cave) but this year's cave the X-Cave was more like what I think of when I think of going into a cave - much narrower passages and some stooping over required, and such. So it was interesting to have the comparison.  Then to the main reason Sophia wanted to visit again which was to sluice for "stuff" again.  This time we bought a bag of sand that had "gemstones" in it rather than fossils and sharks' teeth and she got a lot of pretty stones.  I told her I was going to have to get her a rock polisher for Christmas but I wouldn't be too surprised if she'd be unable to find the bag of rocks by then. :)
I only have two halfway decent pictures from inside the cave and a couple of the sluicing set-up which is nice, sloppy fun.























Enter through one gate, exit through the other.  It's called the X-Cave because it was two parallel caves and erosion slowly took place so that they connect near the center.  At that point, you can look up and down both sides.

On Wednesday, we visited the Clay Center which is Charleston's concert hall/museum/kids' "discovery" type museum/IMAX theater place.  I had our schedule all planned to eat lunch in Huntington, then make the drive to Chas,. getting there in time to visit "Milton's Marvels", a science-slanted presentation where they do neat experiments, etc.  Then we would have about an hour for her to play in the hands-on exhibit area where there were all sorts of neat things to fool with, then we'd see the 4:00 IMAX film (which was "Beavers") and then we'd have to kill a couple of hours waiting until it was time to go to Charleston's minor league ballpark and watch a baseball game!!  How exciting is that?  It all went pretty well really except for the fact that the fun exhibit area was closed down completely while they installed a new exhibit.  Would have been nice if that had been posted on their website. We both really enjoyed the film - partly the "IMAX-ness" of it (very dizzyifying and incredible and also the documentary which showed a pair of beavers building a dam and establishing a home in a beautiful mountain lake setting.  What they accomplish is truly amazing!

I didn't take pictures inside but they have two very different and both very attractive sculptures outside:


We managed to get Sophia up into the circular part of the sculpture with some very acrobatic moves:
And this is the other much smaller but delightful sculpture outside the Clay Center:





















Sophia had told me several times when we heard a helicopter that she had never seen one so when we were parking the car, I caught a quick picture of this one getting ready to land at the local hospital.
And, after finding and then losing and then finding again the ballpark we sat back and watched our team, the Appalachian Power, get soundly trounced.  But it was fun, we had hotdogs, and....wait for it....Sophia got invited to open the game!!  A girl came and asked if she could yell "Play Ball" really loud and would she like to open the game and Sophia, being game for pretty much anything, said sure.  So here she is with the team mascot Chuck (we wondered why that was his name...) and the guy with the microphone.
Looks like she means business, doesn't it?

Thursday was at home again although we did go back to The Pottery Place because on our first visit we learned that they were going to have an instructional event where shaving cream would be involved.  Well, of course, we had to go see what that was all about and learned that you cover a piece of waxed paper with shaving cream!!, then use the ceramic paints to make whatever kind of design you want in the shaving cream, then press an unfired tile down into the shaving cream, and take it to the sink where the instructor rinses the shaving cream off(!) and there's your design on the tile!  It's really pretty astounding and what was also astounding is that there were probably about 30 people there for the event.  Some of the tiles were really quite attractive after they were rinsed off.  Mine was not one of them. :(  Sophia's will be mailed to her this week sometime and I'll be anxious to see how it turns out.

At some point we walked to the river to feed the ducks and had to run for it when we ran out of bread.  Those ducks wanted BREAD!!!  Then Sophia discovered the flagpoles and showed me her expertise:


Friday we laundered, packed, and wound things down.  Thursday had been the "official" night for fireworks (cause why have them on July 4th if you can have them on July 3rd, right?) but Friday night once it got dark fireworks were going off everywhere.  Not downtown, but out in the surrounding hills and it was like our own private fireworks show which was fun.

And Saturday came and I took sweet Sophia back to her Mama.  We meet halfway and have lunch together.  They sure were happy to see each other again.  It makes for a fairly full day of driving for both of us and when I got back home I was pretty much beat and a little bit blue.  Sophia is a perpetual motion machine and full of the joie de' vivre, so kind of tiring but fun and a real sweetie.    


June 15, 2014

A lot of flora - no fauna that I recall...

Yesterday, Saturday, we were off to the nearby Saturday morning farmers' market on what was forecasted to be a nice day but seemed kind of threatening while at the market.  But we didn't get rained on and that was all that mattered.  Lots and lots of good looking produce and plants, 2 bakery stalls, a local winery vendor, etc.  And the produce was what was really in season - lettuces, strawberries, and such.  I sometimes wonder about my farmers' market at home because they seem to have tomatoes and later summer items at the beginning of summer...


We brought our purchases back home and headed out to the Friends of the Forbes Library in Northampton.  The day stayed nice but changeable - brilliant sun and blue sky, clouding over, sun again and a nice breeze all day.  Lots of lovely old homes where we parked and this was my particular favorite and if it was Chris's photo, the wires wouldn't be there. :)

Once parked, we walked to all but two of the 7 gardens so we got some nice exercise.  I'm just going to post what pictures I have because what can you say about plants especially when you don't know their names?!  But the gardens were lovely - each in their own way and the last one we visited (which was the first one on the list) was truly beautiful - very much how you think a garden in a garden tour will be. I'll post the "scenes" first and then close-ups of some of the plants.

I think the occupants of the little playhouse below must have moved when the new tree house appeared on the scene.  But it still serves as a delightful little surprise tucked back in the trees.



All the gardens were very lush - the foliage plants were all amazingly big and full.  Most of the gardens were predominantly shade gardens so lots of greenery and variegated foliage.




The next two are of what I think my sister said was a mountain laurel bush.  The first shows a profusion of tiny pink buds and the second shows a spray of the fully opened flowers.  


So that was our day.  We stopped at some point in our travels for lunch at a little diner we tried for the first time on my last visit and decided it was a favorite spot for hot dogs (which we both love) and it was good and very diner-ish again.  And then for a light dinner, we had a fresh baguette with three different cheeses and a delicious salad that Virginia made - her salads are always really tasty and interesting.  This one had, along with the various greens, little bits of strawberries and coarsely chopped pistachio nuts and she said the dressing had olive oil with a smidge of sesame oil, white wine vinegar, fig jam (which she uses a lot in her cooking and dressings), a little apricot jam, pepper, and I think maybe she said a bit of mustard.  She can correct all this in her comment if I'm seriously mistaken.  Anyway, whatever was in it, it was delicious!


Italian Word Word of the Day

My Trusty Followers

Blog Archive