Sunday, August 30, 2015

It is the last day in Virginia. I am kind of sad about that. Our host has been wonderful, the room nice, her daughter is a hoot and the cats have been very catty. How could this be a bad thing? But all things come to an end.

We have been washing and packing, making sure we have all our clothes cleaned and stuff. A little later we are going to be taking the majority of the stuff out to the car so that in the morning we can get up, dress and head to the really cute local diner before we head out on 29. Honestly we don't have as much stuff as we did on the trip up, because we had a whirlwind trip back to TN in order to drop things off, pick up like 4 things, meds for Cindy and back up.

The only downside to this has been the fact that the driving has made my ankle hurt. So my foot is in an ankle brace and propped up. I will certainly be ready to roll come the morrow, no doubts on that. And we are not doing the 11-12 hour drive to Vermont. Instead we are stopping in PA for the night and then away we go.

It should be fun. I will miss Tiffany, Doug, Astrid, and the pets. They have been wonderful and very welcoming. However that is the nature of Walkabout.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

James River & Fallingwater Cascades Trail

Well, we've been busy, and we've been not-busy... A week ago, I fell and was out of commission for a few days. Heather wouldn't let me do much of anything until the worst of the swelling went down and I quit making pain noises with every step. She's a good wife that way.

Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway - I do love waterfalls

When we decided my ankle was in good enough shape to try a little walking, we went out to see Fallingwater Cascades. The book we looked at said this was a mile out and back, and called the trail "easy." We disagree. It's more of a moderate trail, and possibly more than I would have attempted had I known what it looked like, but we did it. (It's also more than a mile total, but I skipped the last section of it and turned back early.)

Proof we were outside!
The views, however, were beautiful. We ran into a few other people here and there, got one person to take a photo for us, but mostly we were alone, just walking through the woods, listening to the waterfall and the wind in the trees and the birds and, well, you know, nature. :)

We saw several butterflies and a couple dragonflies while we were out there, but those guys are really hard to pin down for photos. Plus we actually only took our phones out to snap pics a couple different times. The pics we got, though - well here...
Google "auto-awesomed" this one for us
Heather went along part of the path while I rested and started back slowly. She got some gorgeous shots of the falls, and the old river crossing. On the way back, she stopped for a few photos of these bizarre trees that she's deemed "Seussian" - I can't say I disagree.

Anybody know what kind of trees these are?
The remnants of a long-ago bridge

At the top of the falls, there was a bridge that crossed over, and some rocks near the water that were perfect for resting on for a bit. We even took off our boots and put our feet in the (really COLD) running water! Here's a view from the rocks, and a one minute video of the "babbling brook" part before it hits the big fall seen above.

On the way there, we stopped at the James River Visitor Center to look around and use the restrooms. We walked partway across the foot bridge over the river and got some more beautiful views.

Ansel Adams stylings by Google

It was a lovely day. Oh, and our trail kisses pic - so goofy looking, but that's okay.
Apparently this is what you get when you're actually kissing, and not just pecking for the camera.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hard Days

These last few days have been on the hard side. Since both of us have chronic health issues that wasn't unexpected. However, when you mix Cindy's tripping and hurting herself, with migraines from me you have a perfect storm of us sitting around doing nothing.

However, the way I see it is that we are decompressing from at least 2008 on. There is a lot of stored tension, anxiety, stress, mood stuff, etc... that we are finally coming out of our bodies. This is not as granola as it might sound. There has been research into "vacation migraines". These are basically episodes where the release of tension causes the system to react. We are merely going through that.

It sucks and we feel like idiots for coming all the way to VA to simply sit around someone else's house. And yet, it is days like a few ago, where we sit on the deck and enjoy what we have that make it all worth it. So yeah, sometimes the illness wins, but not everyday.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Yesterday was really nice. The weather was lovely and so we sat outside on the deck for most of the day. While Cindy was doing something, I decided to wander about the property. So I will be sharing some photos.

This is the view from the mailbox. Yes that tree manages to hide the house.

The Welcome Gnome.

Here is Opal, who was following me as I walked about.

Besides the large front back yard of grass, there are some lovely flower bushes.

Opal is sad that I won't let her attack any of the butterflies.

This is a shed in the back yard that is surrounded by sad fruit trees.

The little walk was nice. The weather is lovely here and it was not too hot. After a bit, a snack was in order. So we had Parmesan crisps, fresh fruit, glasses of sangria, and I had an open face sandwich, which consisted of Genoa salami, havarti, tomato, seasoning on Pumpernickel bread. It was lovely.

Life is so terrible I can barely handle it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What a long strange trip its been

Its been a while, for which I am sorry. However, let me regale you with the latest misadventure we were a part of.

I had an appointment in PA with my surgeon on Monday the 10th. We were leaving lovely Madison Heights and it would be a 6 hour drive. No worries. We got in the car and left on time, a fortuitous start. Breakfast was at the diner where I almost traumatized Cindy by ordering Brains and Eggs. After a quick visit to the post office and the gas station we set forth. All was well.

We drove on US 29, which runs from Pensacola FL to Baltimore MD. It is a major thoroughfare in VA and is named after the 29th Infantry Division which was formed in 1917 and has served with distinction in several wars. But anyway, we drove on US 29. This stretch from Roanoke to Charlottesville has a plethora of winerys, breweries, and I spotted one place that did cider. We even passed the Walton Mountain Museum. It was a lovely drive.

From there the landscape flattened out, with the only really interesting spot being the Bavarian Chef, a restaurant that was sadly closed. :(

We caught the interstate and this is where the tale of woe begins. Monday was apparently crazy driver day. It seemed like the big theme was trying to kill us or cause accidents. Lunch was fine but as we left and headed towards Baltimore the clouds that had hung over us all day opened up. After getting fleeced in Delaware by tolls we hoped it would get better but alas it was not to be. With the crazies this meant auto accidents. My stress level started to climb higher and higher the longer the delays were getting. There had been some leeway built into this trip but not as much as it was saying the delays were going to be. Cindy kept looking for other routes and that is how we ran into Blue Ball Rd.

Instead of simply driving up I 95, like originally planned, we ended up all over the place, including Trenton NJ on this epic rerouting. We had entered New Hope and were nearly there when they called us to check where we were. We told them we were maybe 2-3 minutes out. Then we reached the doctor for the appointment.

I have been having pain and this was a worrisome thing. So I was nervous. It turned out that there was nothing physically wrong but thanks to PTSD and such I have a pain issue that is recognized and a known thing. This means it is something I can deal with and can be fixed.

Feeling better, we headed for the tasty tasty Taco Loco and had dinner. Then it was off to Philly where we stayed the night at an AirBnB. It was a lovely place and we slept the sleep of the dead, at least I did.

This morning we got up, bought breakfast from a grocery store, coffee from a 7-11 and took off back this way. We had a plan, to go visit my High School and then the house I used to live in. A few hour drive later, we pull up at West Springfield H.S. in Springfield, VA. It was almost exactly the same as it had been when I had graduated in 1987. That's right 28 years ago. I showed Cindy the choir room, the stage, the creative writing classroom, the 11th grade class where my English teacher refused to answer my questions or to let me answer anything, the Library, Observatory, and the classroom where I came up with the Root Beer story that nearly killed Owl.

With only a minor turning around we made it to my old house. This is the house we rented when my father worked at the Pentagon from Colin Powell while he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. We took a picture of me in front of the house. Cindy told me to knock on the door and see if anyone was there, you know like in movies and TV? Well, someone was home.

The window directly over the front door was mine.

Oddly enough, they actually let us in. He was retired Military and she was a retired teacher. That was a bit freaky. Then they told me that the house was still known as the Powell house. We wandered around and I talked about each room and shared some of the fun stories involved. We talked and walked about for about an hour. It was surreal.

At lunch a wave of memories and emotions hit me and I teared up some. Thankfully Cindy drove after that because it took me a while to get recentered. When she got tired we pulled into a parking lot of some business called Edens. That was when we noticed that they sold Gluten Free stuff. Cindy went nuts. I convinced the woman to give us a cooler and ice packs. It was wild. The remaining drive back here was thankfully excitement free, but still lovely.

Once home, the leftovers from lunch that I had planned on eating were filched by one of the cats.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Madison Heights, VA

Our first stop is a small town called Madison Heights, just outside of Lynchburg, Virginia. We're renting a room in a house, and the owner, Tiffany is a hoot! We knew from her Airbnb profile that she'd be easy-going and fun, and we were right. Our room is nice, and the animals that live here are great. A couple of the cats seem to be particularly interested in napping on us, especially Opal.

Tiffany and her teenage daughter Astrid have been very welcoming to us, and have become fast friends. It's like spending time with family you don't see often - lots of storytelling and laughter and catching up, even though we never met before last week. I kinda love that, and I love the fact that the Airbnb places will give us a variety of experiences. This one is a family home, next month is a small inn run by a lady named Kathleen. I expect it will feel different in some ways, but I'm sure it will still be lovely.

In admiring a bunch of needlepoint art in her house, I discovered that she did most of them herself, and then got an offer to learn some new techniques from her! She's a crafter, with about as many interests as me, so there have been several conversations about patterns and yarns and quilts and more! It's kinda awesome. She's even going to let me use her sewing machine to work on a project I thought I would have to do at home (or completely by hand, which wasn't likely).

Heather and Tiffany have spent lots of time chatting over a shared love of travel, languages, and living in Europe, so I'm certainly not the only one feeling welcome here.

Completely unrelated to the people, the house is quite comfy, too. The back deck has become one of my favorite spots, and I've spent a lot of time out there, from early mornings to late afternoons to middle of the nights. It's so quiet and peaceful, the breeze blowing by, the trees all around the back yard, the butterflies fluttering past, the sounds of wind and birds in the trees. I love it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

All About that View

We explored today! We actually started our fun with a picnic at Explore Park in Roanoke.

Trailhead Selfies - should they be a tradition? Discuss.

That Forestry Education Trail was going to be our first hike here, but just a few minutes into it I realized I really didn't have the spoons for it, especially with today being the hottest of the week (still cooler than Murfreesboro, but not by much). My amazingly supportive beloved helped me get back to the car safely, made sure I had water, and turned on the AC as quickly as possible. Then we adjusted our plans to come back and check this out more later, and to take a nice relaxing drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway today instead.

As you can see, the views totally sucked up there.
We stopped at several of the scenic overlooks, sometimes just to pause and take in the view from the car, sometimes to get out and take pictures, stretch our legs, or walk a couple minutes of the Appalachian Trail when we ran across it once. :)  We've now hit parts of it in Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia.

And among the beautiful mountain views...

              ... there were also beautiful smaller and closer views...

There's a couple mountains here called the Peaks of Otter (more about them later after we visit them for real) but we drove past them today, and checked out the welcome center and hiking info. The hikes to the top of either one are "strenuous" and therefore not something I'm prepared for, but one has a shuttle bus that goes almost to the top. The area also has a winery and fruit farm, a lodge, a restaurant (where the head chef came to speak to me personally when I asked about gluten free options for future reference), and of course, gorgeous views.

On the way back, we also stopped at Thunder Ridge parking area, which is a small lot, maybe a dozen cars long. Each end of the lot is one end of a 10 minute loop. Why stop for a 10 minute loop, you ask?

Here's why.
Yes, this was the perfect time to break out the panorama mode. :)

Sitting on the wall at the edge of the observation platform

Heather did a lot of smiling at the view. (Not that I didn't.)
 I think one of the most interesting things is that even today, on the way back to our temporary home (which I will post more about in the next few days, but it's pretty awesome) we were still saying to each other "we're really doing this. We're on the road, doing our thing, seeing new places. It's really happening." Like that moment a week or a month or so after you get married when you make a reference to your spouse or something, and suddenly it hits you, "holy crap, I'm really married." Why does it take our brains so long to adjust to these kinds of changes? (Hell for that matter, we're still trying to wrap our brains fully around Heather's book release and that was in March.)

Okay, here's a sneak peak of the airbnb - the view from the back deck where I've spent many hours already just listening to the sounds of nature and a quiet country road.

I think we'll be making use of this grill sometime during the month.
It was a fairly low-key kind of day, but still an excursion and lots of fun. I will say I'm learning things with every trip we've taken recently and every activity I want to do - and how to adjust to them with my health limitations. I have a list of health issues that all cause low energy and chronic problems, but I've decided they won't take over my life and keep me from the things I want to do. Hence, this walkabout. So far, so good.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


So its, (checks calendar to be sure) Tuesday evening. We got here Saturday night, which means we've had 3 full days here now. Sadly, due to exhaustion and fibro, these 3 days have been mostly in bed for me. I know this is a thing that happens, fibro flares are just an aspect of being me, and the best I can do is listen to my body and take care of myself. This has meant lots of sleep, Heather being amazing and getting food for my picky stomach, and really very little else. We've organized our belongings a bit more, and looked at a few books on waterfalls and weirdness in Virginia that our host has on hand.

Our host - We're staying with a lovely lady named Tiffany. She's got a boyfriend I haven't actually met yet, and a daughter (16 years old) who I've seen briefly, but is currently staying with her dad. There's another tenant in the house - a guy who mostly keeps to himself. It's a nice place, lovely trees, away from a lot of city and traffic, so it's nice and quiet out here. I've spent many hours already just sitting on the back deck and looking out at the trees. Definitely not a bad start if that's all I've got the energy to do. :D

Heather mentioned the animals here - they're all very sweet, but Opal is definitely the one who pays the most attention to us.

Today sort of fizzled on us. The good news is that the locals accept us given that the cat Opal wouldn't leave us alone and slept on Cindy's head. The bad news is that Cindy was sick to her stomach most of the day and needed to take one of my promethezine. That led to much unconsciousness, hence Opal sleeping on her head. I waited on her hand and foot, which is easy with a sleeping patient. After a while I headed out to Target to see if they had any of the Gluten Free stuff that ours in Murfreesboro has. It was an arduous trek filled with danger. It rained. There could be danger there. Anyway, long story short, they had the GF stuff and I stocked Cindy up. The cookies made her smile as did the bagels. :D Dinner was the Udi's Lasagna, which was very tasty. Gonna have ice cream for desert. So, we haven't struck out on any local journies yet, but we have plans and have even made a drive plan to have as Circle route as possible. Hopefully tomorrow will take us out to the sights.

Monday, August 3, 2015

As many of you know, we have been working really hard to help the kids more fully move in, trim our stuff, move rooms, help their friend move in and get ready for this trip. It has been a crazy 2 1/2 months to be sure and these last 2 weeks have been brutal. Because of this we left later than expected and were on the road late into the night. Yesterday, we slept or lounged all day except to get lunch and dinner. Today I awoke after sleeping 13 hours. Cindy is still asleep. I am just starting to feel recovered. Getting older certainly does a number on your energy reserves. We had intentions of getting up early, exercising, and driving along the Blue Mountain Parkway. That might still happen but I don't know. We are tired. Though the place we are staying at is nice, with a number of cats and a dog. It is also in the middle of nowhere, so very quiet. Yesterday we ate at Dudley's Diner here in Madison Heights and it was really good. Despite looking a bit old and scary, it seems to be a local favorite. The coffee was a bit watery but that was honestly the only food sin I saw. The food was fast, tasty and in good portions. The coleslaw was excellent as were the roasted apples. We are sure to eat there again. Dinner was at a place called Charley's. It was similar to Raffferty's only a bit more casual. Despite having an annoying party behind us, the service was great and the food very tasty. I had Cordon Bleu the first time in decades and it was excellent. Their Risotto was also tasty. Cindy got this BBQ chicken dish that had apple rings and cheddar cheese on it. I was impressed with how tasty it was. So now we need to try and get going, as we are burning daylight. More later.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Today is the day. These last two weeks have been rough. This last week practically hell. The last two days a blur of headaches and packing but it is here. Sure we are getting a very very late start but after everything I can live with that. So it is out and on the road with us. There will be more posting as we travel along, never fear. Love you all.