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Friday, September 23, 2016

Brews and Brushes......

Something new for us!     A local Raleigh brewpub collaborated with the Cary Arts Center to create an evening of Brews and Brushes.      The bar was open and we were encouraged to partake.

 The word "Art" might be a stretch for some of the paintings that came out of this, but others weren't too bad.     Fifteen artists tried their hand at creating a masterpiece.

The theme tonight was  "Paint Your Pride" by creating a football helmet.    

Can you guess who created this masterpiece?      You are correct if you said "Not Marti !!!"

Another masterpiece and the first one done in our group........

What can I say - some artists think real football even when being creative!

This artist forgot to sign their masterpiece - it was later signed "Grandma"

Anyone want to hire us to create artwork for your home ?????????

The next challenge:    Getting four wet oil paintings home (an hour's drive) without smearing them!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Adventure on the Parkway................................

We were approaching one of the look out points when I see two very unusual vehicles.      This first one is owned by a British photographer for a major U.K. magazine.       He must be very good since they shipped his "car" over for him to use on this assignment.

He has a seat belt, but if he is not wearing it he must wear the motorcycle helmet.      If you look carefully on the box with British decor you will see one of his remote cameras.     He also has one on his helmet.

The second car belongs to a retired couple from Washington State.      They plan their trips  (in the U.S. and Canada) based on scavenger hunts from some group they belong to.     They travel independently to complete their hunt.  

They have covered all but a small handful of States and Provinces over the past few years.       They usually stay at hostels while they travel.      Not bad for a couple who appeared to be easily pushing 70.

Next on our agenda - a single day in Asheville then on to an overdue visit with our great friends in Raleigh   ......................

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Blue Ridge Parkway Revisited.....................

We have visited the Blue Ridge Parkway many times on our trips to NC, but have never been to the Northern end of it.     It starts in Virginia, so that's where we started.    We are making it a three-day journey to Asheville.

As usual, there is a significant haze over the valleys.      We are also here before fall color.

Our first planned hike of the day is a modest .8 mile hike to a look-out.     What my limited literature didn't tell us is that it is a significant incline the entire 8/10 of a mile up.     We made it over 6/10 of a mile before we had to give up.     Both of are still battling our never ending colds and just don't have the stamina to continue.     Keep in mind, this was all up, no level areas or up/down areas.

The trip down took as long as the upward journey  (sans the catching my breath moments!).     The decline is steep enough that you have to walk slowly, too.

My missed photo op of the day would have been incredible!     We were driving in an area with absolutely no place to stop when I see a bear cub climbing up a rock wall.     Unfortunately there wasn't a spot to turn around for over five minutes, so it was gone when we got back.    

There's not much water on the Parkway, but this was a pretty spot.    

I don't know if you can read this, it says:   In June and July during corn-chopping time, this cliff serves the folks in White Rock Community as a time piece.     Twenty minutes after sunlight strikes the rock face, dusk falls on the valley below.

Another hazy valley scene.

We saw this large group of cars and people with binoculars but had no idea what was happening.

It turns out this is a hawk viewing area.     I spent a few minutes, but didn't see any.    Oh well......

Unfortunately, the rest of our journey was non-photo worthy.   Actually, it was pretty bad.   Heavy fog all day 2, so we left the Parkway after four hours and drove in lighter fog on regular roads.  We still haven't seen the pretty areas from the NC border to Boone.   Guess that's an excuse to come again.

There was one "out of the ordinary" sighting on Day 1.     I'll share that tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Exploration Continues..............

We are still in the Finger Lakes region.     What a beautiful area.     We start out exploring the Skaneateles Lake.   This is the furthest East of the lakes and is also the highest  (867 feet above sea level).    It's 15 miles long and is surrounded by gentle rolling hills on the south and more majestic, near-mountainous ones to the north.   It is spring fed, crystal clean and clear.

The only real village on the lake is of the same name.   Handsome summer homes surround this north end, not far from Syracuse.  


The first Europeans were Moravian missionaries who came here in 1750.     From 1843 forward they advertised a short-lived Utopian community that advertised in NY newspapers for followers and advocated communal property, nonviolence, easy divorce and vegetarianism..     Quite a combination of guidelines!

The area also served as a stopping place on the Underground Railroad, with English born Quaker James Fuller spearheading the local abolition movement.

These two beautiful wood boats do wine runs on the lake, deliver the mail and give passengers a ride.

I loved the roof on this church.

In the lake front park is a Veteran's Memorial Park.

There are plaques throughout this small area recognizing the fallen heroes of various wars, starting with the Spanish-American War, The War of 1812 through the current time.

Although this Park recognizes our fallen heroes, this duck says it is also for the living.

Since RJ is a Navy Veteran, I am also including this bust depicting the Navy.

I can now say I truly know where Cornell College is located.    What a beautiful area to spend four years of your life!

We moved on to Cayuga Lake.   This is the longest of the lakes at 40 miles long.   We visited a couple winery's.      Our favorite today was the Long Point Winery.       We have been slowly accumulating bottles to take to Ron & Mary when we arrive for an extended visit next week.     RJ was set to buy 5 bottles, but I reminded him of our limited car space, so we finally settled on two.

This is a small winery  (as most of them are in this area).      They produce about 1,500 cases of wine per year.      I got permission to photo their production room (and storage area for aging the wine).

Sorry about this first blurry shot.     No excuses, just bad photography!    The blur you see on the left is Gary, the owner, maker of the wines, etc.

The next two pictures are the extent of his brewing equipment.

Cases of wine awaiting sale/delivery.

The view outside the winery.

I couldn't resist getting a photo of this barn across the road.

We visited another winery down the road, but the wines couldn't compare to this place.     Maybe I should have let him buy those extra bottles!

Tomorrow we hit the road again.........

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

No Football Day - Time to Taste Some Wine .............................

The wineries in the Finger Lakes Region are so much fun.      You get a real wine glass plus 5 (or 6) samples for $3 - $5.   Lots of friendly chatter and they are happy to answer your questions.     

Today we are doing Seneca Lake, which is the most significant of the 10 lakes.      It is also the deepest lake at 618 feet deep and it is 36 miles long.      There are a large number of vineyards around the lake.   We will admire most from the road, but have a few stops we want to make.

The town of Geneva (13,200 residents plus two colleges) is a community primarily constructed in the 1860's.     You forget that most of the NE part of the country respects these old homes/buildings and they are well maintained for daily use.      We determined that this large home on the lakefront is a summer home based on how closed up it appeared but still had impeccible landscaping.

Our must stop location is the Fox Run Vineyards.      We had stopped here for lunch in 2010 and  we both wanted to return.     If you see me on FB, this is the lunch I posted.    Their wine selection is limited, but they have a small, well stocked deli for lunch.

We decided to skip the samples and just purchased a bottle for lunch.    Did you notice the bag of chips?     We haven't tried them yet   (they just don't go with quiche).    They are sweet corn chips.   Sounds interesting, right?

After the wine and lunch, we visited the two wineries recommended by our new "volcano follower" friends from yesterday.  

This Wisconsin girl, however, can only take so much wine before she needs a beer.    Fortunately there are a few microbrews in the area!

More exploration tomorrow..............................

Monday, September 12, 2016

Finger Lakes, NY - Napa Valley of the East Coast...............

The Finger Lakes Region of upper New York state is often called the Napa Valley of the East Coast.   I would have to agree with them.    

We were in Napa Valley for the first time in 1972.    It was a fun place to visit.    The Vineyards were happy to see you.     They let you sample wines using real wine glasses for free (or nominal fee).   We visited again in the 1980's and it was totally different.   You were herded through (as if on a timer).   You paid dearly and in return received a small paper "medicine cup" for your sample.   Not fun!

Today I am touring the area on my own   (after all, it is an NFL Sunday).    No wine tours til tonight!

My first stop is the Watkins Glen State Park.    It is described as more of a "walk" than a "hike".   The gorge trail is paved with many stone steps, bridges and tunnels.   The trail takes you along the river and 19 water falls.        You have to admit, this seems perfect for me since I love waterfalls!

The first few feet is very doable and pretty.   Many photo opportunities.

After shooting the above photos, I decide to read the signs.      Guess what.     There are 800 stone steps and zero railings over the course of this trail.    Knowing me you understand that even if I really took my time and climbed those 800 steps, there is no way that I can come back down the steps with no railing or cane.   I am, after all, alone on this journey.

I take one final shot and decide to look for easier photo ops!

A neighboring town beacons me with the promise of Chequaga Falls.   Of course this has been a very dry summer, so we have more of a trickle than falls.     The community does light it at night which I'm sure is beautiful in the spring.

I pick RJ up and we go to the Chateau Lafayette Reneau for a tasting.     Their wines are very good, and all seem to be dry which I appreciate.     Have you every tried a "Franc"?      I'm either very wine ignorant or it's not common in the midwest.      

We met a fun couple from Connecticut (mid 40's) who seem to travel almost as much as we do.     They have a theme for their travels - they seek out active volcanoes.     It was so much fun listening to their adventures around the world.   They convinced me I was wrong to pass on a trip to Belize a few years ago!    A couple of their adventures were in locations they had to describe to me since I had no idea where in the world they had gone.

They come to this area a few times each year and restock their wine cellar.     They gladly shared a couple other favorite stops that we can try tomorrow.

Tomorrow RJ and I will tour together and try a few more local wines.................