Random photo #2 - I'm always taking pictures of the sky out my windows and especially when a storm is moving in. None of them are anywhere near to what it really looks like when you've got about a 180 degree view but I kind of liked this one.
So, Chris's visit...we ate a lot. We had to eat at LaFamiglia, Backyard Pizza, and The Bistro, my current favorites (lunch and two dinners) all of which were pretty wonderful. The Bistro, especially, was fun because we sat at the small bar there and were the only two sitting there, so we pretty much had the undivided attention of the man behind the bar. It was his first night there and we really enjoyed chatting with him. Later, the owner joined us and we started getting all kinds of sips of various wines - even a port which I had never had. They also let us sample a chocolate wine that was very tasty. I tried one a year or two ago that everyone was raving about at the time and it was, for me, at least, so awful, I poured it down the sink. Looked awful too - like chocolate milk. The one we sampled was one I wouldn't mind having for a little dessert-type wine.
We drove to Charleston one day so Chris could take pictures of the Capitol Building with his newer and better camera gear and that was a nice outing. Interesting fact - the dome on our capitol is higher than US Capitol dome and was designed by the architect who also designed the US Supreme Court building and based its chamber on the East Chamber of the WV Capitol Building. I found this picture on line which shows the front and the statue of Abraham Lincoln. I could swear I posted photos I took of the statue a year or two ago cause I really liked it...
We had decided that on our drive to Virginia, we would stop at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. I've thought "I want to stop there some time" every time I drive past the exit on my way to and from Virginia and it turns out Chris has always wanted to stop there too so I said "I'm in!"
This is kind of unbelievable to see in person - HUGE!!! I will maybe bore you with some details, but maybe not - I found it very impressive. From their brochure: This is the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and it is 485 ft tall - taller than the Statue of Liberty and just short of the Washington Monument. It weighs 17 million pounds, yet can be pointed to within an accuracy of one arcsecond which they explain is equivalent to the width of a human hair seen from 66 feet away-in other words, I guess, basically an infinitesimal amount. The surface of the dish is almost 2.3 acres and is designed to handle (receive) wave-lengths from 9 feet long down to 1/8th inch. Oh, and it is the world's largest full-steerable telescope and it's in West Virginia, durn it! They have a fun, hands-on type exhibit center, and a little tour bus that takes you out past all the dishes (there are 8 or 9 I believe) and then through the gates to drive up quite close to the GBT and when we got there and got out of the bus, it began turning to a new setting which was kind of mind-blowing. Totally silent as that massive dish turned probably about a quarter way around and also tilted upward a bit more. The reason the photo is from so far away is because nothing digital is allowed any closer - no phones, digital cameras, etc. In fact, the whole site is situated in "The National Radio Quiet Zone" established by the Federal government in 1958 to protect these radio dishes. It covers 13,000 square miles and if unusual interference is noticed on any of the dishes, the Observatory is permitted to determine where it's coming from and visit that residence (usually) and let them know they will have to do whatever is necessary to lower the interference. On site, everything that could interfere (for instance the microwave oven in the cafe) is encased either in steel or copper. It was all really fascinating. We had to get off the highway and drive through some nice country to get there and then when we left, rather than drive back south we continued on the secondary road going north and came out at Rt. 66 (4-lane divided) which left about 72 miles to Chris's house. So that was nice too - very pretty driving.
And being a miniaturist, I enjoyed this model in their cafe area. It's not the GBT, but is another dish there. The little dots down on the bottom are scale people.
Since I've been here, we had an outing on Sunday to Great Falls Park which is on the Potomac River with Virginia on one side and Maryland on the other. It was an absolutely beautiful day and a very enjoyable jaunt except for the fact that everyone in the surrounding area apparently had the same idea and the line to get into the park was longer than any I've ever seen at any park. But once we were parked, the park itself didn't seem overly crowded and was very enjoyable. I, of course, didn't have my camera or phone cause this was a spur of the moment outing after we had been to Starbucks but Chris took these two with his phone.
So that's it - a really fun, nice, tasty, and extended visit with my favorite (and only!) son. I'm really looking forward to my visit with my sister and then seeing the rest of my family when I get back down to the DC area. Will be a little strange getting back home with Sophia in tow after such an extended trip but fortunately she seems to enjoy life to the fullest whatever is going on so hopefully she won't mind her old grammy's slow "getting settled back in" process.