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West Virginia
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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April 11, 2015

Spring Cleaning

No, no - not dusting and vacuuming, heaven forbid!  I decided to clear out a big batch of pictures from my phone.  I'm always taking pictures with it thinking "oh, I can say something about this on my blog" and then, of course, I don't.  So I decided that I would post some of the results of my cleaning - sort of a "look what I found!"  Then I'll include a brief report on my visit with my kids - where strangely enough, I hardly took any pictures.

First are pictures from one of my friend Peggy's and my outings.  I think these were all in Milton - a small, but busy town about 12 miles or so down the highway from Huntington  They have a HUGE pumpkin festival every October which I've never been to.  And they also have a park where most of these photos were taken - and that's an authentic covered bridge - not one they built to look pretty.

These are all kind of the same but I had forgotten what a gorgeous day it was for pictures and I loved the geese and the bridge and the clouds and the clouds reflecting in the pond.  In a way it's kind of sad - these are so much better than some of the pictures I take on my trips.  But I'm glad I came across them.

While still in Milton we decided to have lunch at a place we hadn't been to before.  It started out a semi-mansion of I think a doctor back many years ago.  And then at some point, probably in the 90's, some people bought it and started a beautiful nursery business with a gift shop in the ground floor of the house.  They ended up closing and either they or new owners turned it into an "event" type place.  I realize I don't have a very good grasp on the history.  But here's some pictures I took while there.  Oh, and the food was good.  Peggy and I were just talking about it a few weeks ago and thinking we would go back as soon as it got a little springier.

 I think we went last fall and it was kind of chilly but they were still serving lunch in this building that is basically open on both sides.  It was nice and will be even more pleasant on a nice spring day.
 This is a new building they built for wedding banquets, etc.
Wouldn't this be pretty with a wedding party coming through the arch?  So that was our day in Milton....

So now my short but very nice visit over to VA/MD.  It was pretty spur of the moment - our condo association was going to meet to elect two new board members and since there were only two people willing to be on the ballot, it seemed fairly ludicrous to me to have the meeting although I sure was looking forward to my stint on the board finally coming to an end.  But I decided rather than stick around for that, I would use as my excuse that my son, Chris, was going to be taking part in a book signing at the National Cathedral in DC!  There is a tremendous amount of ironwork in the cathedral - all beautiful - and one of the more recent blacksmiths who contributed to that work decided he would write a history of all of it.  He and Chris have become friends over the years and he asked Chris if he could use some of his photos and if Chris would be willing to take some more photos.  Chris jumped at the chance, of course.  So, the smith - Nol Putnam - and Chris along with another photographer all spoke briefly and then signed books. :)  They had a good turnout and wine and nibbles and I got to be a proud mama which is always pleasant.  I'm putting in this LINK so you can take a look at the book.  Don't worry - I'm not trying to sell anything but the cover of the book uses two of Chris's photos - one kind of fogged out as a background and the other as a beautiful photo of a very lovely piece of iron work.

Chris and I got together with January and Maggie for dinner on Monday night.  Then they were headed out to Indiana for a visit with Maggie's two little nephews who like all little ones are growing up so fast.  Thursday I headed up to Heather's home.  Johnny, my grandson, was headed off to Seattle Friday afternoon to spend spring break with his dad so I was glad to get to see him for a little before he took off.  He's taller every time I see him - I have to actually look up now if we're standing talking to each other.  Hard to believe he'll be 15 in the end of this month.

Heather has taken up a new passion.  I've mentioned before they are raising alpacas on a small farm in Howard County, MD and a couple of years ago she got intrigued by the idea of spinning their fleece herself.  Nothing too much came of it until last year sometime when someone helped her with her spinning technique and there was no looking back.  As she says, she is "spinning like Rumpelstiltskin"!  And she cards the fleece first.  I am really impressed.  She stays up half t night working which worries me but getting such pleasure out of something probably counteracts the lack of sleep.  And she started a knitting club probably about a year ago - not knowing how to knit - and it's going like gangbusters.  So she's increasing the size of her shop she set up in their barn and will be displaying her yarns there along with having an area for set up for the club and for working on her yarns.  Where such a dynamo came from, I've never figured out.

Saturday Chris came up and spent the night and we had quite a fun time.  Sophia loves her Uncle Chris and I have to say, he certainly displays a lot of patience with her.  I took some quick shots when Heather had been showing him some of the scarves she had crocheted and Sophia had decided she should put rubber bands around little tufts of hair on his head.  Quite hilarious really.

 Heather took me out to a restaurant we had gone to a year or so ago that is really special and it was special this time too.  It's the Charleston Restaurant in Baltimore and it's pretty expensive but the service is incredible, the food is very, very good and beautifully presented, the wines are matched to what you're eating, and they have a cocktail called the Rasputin which I have thought about off and on ever since I had one on our first visit.

All in all, it was such a nice visit that I ended up leaving a day later than I had thought I would cause Heather took Monday off too so I drove home on Tuesday.  And driving home I finally, after years of flying past it thinking "sometime I'm going to stop there", I finally did. and have pictures to prove it.  This is Sideling Hill - a rest stop on I-68 which runs across the panhandle of Maryland.  I always thought it must be some kind of government installation or something cause it looked official somehow but it's a rest stop with lot of information about the history of the roads built over the years through these hills.

 This is a pedestrian walkway over to the other side of the highway.  There are no facilities on that side so I guess it's just for anyone who wants a hike.  It was chilly and windy when I stopped so I didn't opt for that.

 Frozen rivulets and a sign explained that those swooping curved lines were created by a river which I didn't really understand.  I would have thought they were tracks made when they were dynamiting out the hill.
 And this picture gives some idea of the massive amount of hill that had to be removed.
 A picture from the top of the walkway back down towards the parking lot area.

So I think that's pretty much it (aside from the fact that I installed a new kitchen faucet mySELF!! but that's way too long a story!).   Spring has sprung in Huntington and this last picture is a tree in the process of springing from the tiny buds you see here to full bloom just a few days later. 

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