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2019-PLEASE NOTE: Since Google has stopped Open ID comments, I've been receiving Anonymous comments that don't SEEM like spam. If you DO comment on a post, please don't be disappointed if I don't post it. When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, 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 major 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.

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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.    


Christopher said...

Well, that all sounds like just a marvelous visit filled with lots of fun things to do -- and now, Sophia has a bit of celebrity going for her, as a baseball opener ;)
The shaving cream tile thing sounds absolutely baffling...!

Chinch said...

Sophia is the cutest and seems completely charming -- it's fun to see such enthusiasm over most anything that crosses her path which might also explain how she was selected to open the ball game. I can sure understand why it felt a bit lonely to come back to your apartment. xoxo

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