I thought about salmon But I really wanted to cook a "Butt Chicken" and Kathy surprisingly gave me permission, said Dick as he carried his prize creation from the grill to the kitchen for carving.

So what exactly is a Butt Chicken we inquired? Well, it's a manly recipe. You get a can of beer, crack it open, drink about a third, and stuff it up a chicken's butt to serve as a base to set it on the grill. Rub it with some seasonings and cook 35 minutes per pound at 350 degrees. The juices drip onto the coals to provide smoke and the beer evaporating keeps it moist!

Choice of beer for the night was Yuengling lager, quite appropriate for friends who grew up four miles from the original brewery. It seems to me that Butt Chicken could take on a regional flavor; perhaps for central Virginia using Starr Hill beers from Crozet since they recently began using cans for several of their brews! For those with more bourgeoisie tendencies, have no fear for Butt Chicken can be in your future as well! Williams Sonoma sells a ceramic base you use in a similar fashion to the beer can, and you can fill it with your favorite wine, bourbon, or even hundred year old scotch.

Add a salad, corn pudding, and a home made peach pie to the menu and there was fine dining at the Pumphrey's tonight. Thanks for the evening guys; great food and friends, remembrances of our kids when they were the ages of our grandchildren, and Beatle's music to transport us back to our middle (or in one case elementary) school days!


BTW My choice of Starr Hill beer would be Northern Lights!

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Pine Creek Rail Trail

Pine Creek flows through a beautiful, forested canyon in north central Pennsylvania (Tioga County). It is a remote area with a rail trail running nearly 60 miles along the creek. The area was the source of timber used for Philadelphia's construction in the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The timber industry brought wealth to Wellsboro (a quaint, well kept town to this day) and Williamsport, the shipping port for the timber to points south.

Priscilla, Phil, Gretchen and I drove to Cedar Run Saturday morning and pedaled north on the trail. The trail is extremely well maintained by the PA Department of Forestry and very pretty; a nature lover's paradise! It reminded me a lot of the Greenbriar Trail in WV.
We rode out to Darling Run and back (42 miles). We stayed at Cedar Run Inn, a mature inn with old fashion simple country rooms. It was a very clean establishment with a nice dining room, friendly staff and a fine breakfast!

After cleaning up, we headed to the Slate Run Inn for dinner; Pris and Phil's favorite restaurant in the area. Chicken parmesan, fresh trout and several rounds of beer got us refueled and rehydrated for Sunday's ride. The Slate Run Inn serves really good food in a nice atmosphere.
Sunday's ride was portrayed as a 24 mile ride to Camel and back but we knew that would never happen since someone in the group has a computer that is not turned on all of the time and needs to log even multiples of ten miles before a ride can be deemed complete. So we rode on beyond Camel to ensure a 30 mile ride at day's end! A refreshing dip in Pine Creek readied us for the trip home. Before we headed south, Phil took us to a beautiful overlook of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon at Leonard Harris State Park.

The park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and the view point was directly above (~1000 feet) the Turkey Path Trail junction near Saturday's turn around. When I visit spots like Leonard Harris, I think of all of the great monuments the CCC built around the USA while employing a generation and teaching them how to work. I wonder if it is possible to get the ranks of today's unemployed to do the level of manual labor the CCC required; to leave a CCC type legacy for the country?

Sisters at the Slate Run Inn!

Many thanks Pris and Phil for planning a wonderful cycling adventure. We love our time together on and off the trail!


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Piss & Vinegar

Feeling a lot of pressure from other Double Nickel leaders, Gretchen and I headed to Pennsylvania to scout out next year's venture; possibly a ride on the Schuylkill River Trail which will eventually run from Pottsville, through our home town of Schuylkill Haven to Philadelphia following the old canal path(98.5 miles). The canal was built to transport coal south from the mining region north of Pottsville.

Yesterday, Priscilla, Phil, Juan, Gretchen and I got an early start (8:30 a.m.) and headed to Valley Forge to ride the trail from there to the Art Museum in Philly (20.5 miles). We began the ride by following the sketchy directions from bike rental folks at the NP and getting lost. Many questions and two miles later, we reached the trailhead. The path is paved until Manayunk where you can ride on roads through town or follow a dirt canal tow path through the city which has a cool downtown with lots of shops and restaurants. We ate a fine lunch and got back on the trail. It is a neat ride along the Schuylkill from this point to Philly as you pedal through several towns, Fairmont Park, past Boathouse Row and finish at the Art Museum.

After Phil got his flavored ice from a vendor at the museum, we headed back to the car. Alas, in Manayunk, things fell apart. Because of traffic and lights, Phil and Gretchen got ahead of the group. I thought I saw Gretchen's yellow jersey and took off up Main Street to catch up with her. By the time I knew it was not her, Juan disappeared and Priscilla was nowhere to be found! Priscilla found Gretchen and Phil on Main Street and a phone call brought me back into the fold, but we could not contact Juan since no one had his cell number! A plan was hatched, Gretchen and Pris would wait at a rendezvous point north of town and Phil and I would backtrack along the canal path and bike route to see if we could find Juan. This was Phil's favorite part of the day, since he got to climb some formidable hills! Seven miles later, we were back at the rendezvous but Juan was nowhere to be found. We concluded he must be riding back at the car, so we headed back as well. Unbelievably, it was 6:00 p.m.

Prisicilla set a fast pace to get out the "Piss and Vinegar" and we found Juan who had been waiting for us at the car for over an hour! So, the ride was an adventure. Phil and I rode 53 miles and everyone else 45 so it was a great workout on a beautiful day with a great riding group!

Will this be the Double Nickles ride next year? Yes indeed, as you can see from the picture below, the Schuylkill River Trail meets all of the criteria!


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Yesterday I met Danny, an old friend and colleague from the Virginia Society for Technology in Education, in Richmond to go flying in his plane. We headed to "The Farm" in Gloucester County where he keeps his plane along with 4 other small plane enthusiasts. Danny regaled me regarding how humidity makes it difficult for these planes to lift off, on how we would have to hop over power lines several times following fields before we gained enough altitude, on how unreliable two cycle engines are and how everyone in the group has had emergency landings! Suffice it to say that I was having doubts about this adventure especially when I saw EXPERIMENTAL
in large letters printed on the wing strut!

But, my faith in Danny prevailed and we took off (easily gaining altitude without hopping power lines) and headed to our destination; the Virginia Diner for lunch.

The Farm lies parallel to the York River about 5 miles west of the bridge at Yorktown. We headed south cruising at 2000 feet at 65 mph over the College of William and Mary and Jamestown on our way to Wakefield. What a sensation it is to be in a small plane with the cool breeze wafting around you looking straight down at rivers, towns, farms, ships, amusement parks and even a nuclear power plant.

We circled a farm belonging to one of Danny's friends, landed and called the Diner to come and pick us up for lunch!

As you might have guessed by now, Danny's plane is a small two seater make by RANS that he actually put together from a kit! Very impressive!! It has a 65 horsepower engine made in Switzerland mounted astern with a three blade propeller. It is designated an EXPERIMENTAL craft. One would think the aviation powers to be could have come up with a more reassuring name for this category of aircraft!

It is a pretty impressive flying machine and Danny has all of the gadgets; radio, intercom, gps, and a flying teddy bear (forgot to ask). These experimental craft even have a rocket propelled parachute that will lower the plane to the ground safely should the need arise. Danny and his buddies climb to 6000-7000 feet to cross the Chesapeake Bay; that way they can glide (7 to 1 ratio) to safety on the other side if need be. They travel far and wide as well, having taken several trips to Florida. I wonder if pilots name their planes like sailors their boats? Are planes female like sailboats? Does one say, "she flew like a charm today"?

After lunch, we headed north, flew over the Yorktown bridge and out across Mobjack Bay. We skimmed over the barrier islands and inlets at about 80 feet off the ground; what a rush! It was so cool to see this area from the air since I have sailed on Mobjack Bay and through the "Hole in the Wall" at Gwynn's Island.

We followed the swath of the May tornado that hit Gloucester County (destroying the middle school and many houses) back to The Farm where Bubba was waiting for us in the hangar. In the picture below, you can see the runway beginning as a green strip in the field, crossing the dirt road and continuing into the far field parallel to the road.

After listening to Bubba and Danny jawbone for awhile, it is clear Danny and his friends have a great time at The Farm working on their planes, sharing their expertise and flying in their EXPERIMENTAL craft together!

Thanks for a great time today Danny! Most of the time, I write about more mundane stuff in this blog, mainly as a way of documenting things Gretchen and I do. However, I believe what we did today can truly be classified as an adventure! It was also great to see you again!


BTW It seems to me that if you can fly that EXPERIMENTAL plane to Florida, you and Jamie could fly it easily to Lynchburg!

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Longs, SC

Traveled south to visit Kelley and Seth this weekend in Longs. We had a great visit! Friday night we dined at Bistro 90; a really good Italian restaurant not far from the Hill home. Saturday we toured the area, around North Myrtle Beach.

Conway has a quaint downtown with a boardwalk along the Waccamaw River. We had a wonderful dinner with lemon shrimp pasta and SALMON grilled to perfection!

Good weather today found us heading to the intracoastal waterway.

I had never traveled on the waterway and was surprised with how many restaurants, marinas, and beautiful homes lined the shoreline. It seems a house on the waterway really makes sense in a lot of ways for people who want to live at the shore. It is protected by the beaches and lowlands from the onslaught of the ocean, and you can have a dock and a boat! We traveled about ten miles up the waterway stopping at a beautiful beach across the inlet from Bird Island. Thanks for a wonderful day on the water Kelley and Seth.

We reluctantly headed home on Monday. It was great to see Kelley is having a healthy pregnancy and it will not be long before "Little Hill" makes an appearance! Mom and I hope all continues to go well, Kelley! I can't believe how much weight the baby gains every week for the next six weeks. Also, it's good news that Seth is nearing surgery that will put his back issues behind him; hopefully for good!

We'll look forward to returning to Longs again in October!

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Weekly Bike Ride

Gary and David were still at the AT Conference this week so the TOF Brothers were sidelined, but Gretchen filled in as a willing and capable riding partner. We rode the the Pamplin/Hampden Sydney double loop (39 miles). It is always a fine ride with lots of countryside a cyclist can really go through on a roll! Despite the heat, Gretchen felt great and rode strong!

Here she is at the old Pamplin clay pipe factory at the end of the ride. I can't imagine how many of those old style white clay pipes were produced here?


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Appalachian Trail Conservancy Conference

Gretchen and I traveled to Emory and Henry College this weekend to attend the ATC biennial conference and to help man the hike desk. Our friend David was co-chair and his team did a marvelous job organizing the conference. We worked for Pat who did an excellent job coordinating the hiking program. The hundreds of hours each of them spent (plus many other volunteers from other hiking clubs) was evident as the conference got under way without a hitch with over 950 people attending!

NBATC was in charge of the hiking program and many members were involved as hike leaders, and folks manning the hiking desk (Emily, Bland, Leonard, Joe, Pauline, Gary, Laurie, Jinx, Norman, Sam, Sharon, Sue, Ralph, T, Marjette, Mike, Liz, Sarah, Shannon, Bev, Barbara, Patti, Liz, Robert, Bill, Laurie, Mary Jane, Ed, Ellen, Laura, Trudy, John, Marilyn, Nancy, Bruce, Jason, Jordan, Jim, Nora, Francie, Tom). I am sure there were other NBATC folks who attended who I did not see or who came later in the week but NBATC was well represented. Please note that volunteer commitment like this is what makes it possible for ATC not only hold the biennial conference, but also to maintain a 2000 mile foot trail along the spine of the Appalachians!

Having left my hiking days behind me due to foot and knee problems, I must say I felt like a "stranger in a strange land" because this conference is so different from the ones I attended as an educator. I am used to conferences where everyone congregates in a central location each day and one runs into old friends and colleagues throughout the day in meetings, exhibits, and sessions. However, at this conference, most people are out hiking everyday, and there is little activity at the conference site until late afternoon and evening. However, different as it may be, people have a great time and connect with old friends via the hiking program, training sessions, meal times and evening social events. It was also interesting to hear folks tell me at the hike desk that they have hiked with Laurie at the conferences for years, or that Norman is the best hike leader and they were looking forward to hiking with him again later in the week!

BTW, if you are traveling on Interstate 81 near Abingdon, VA, stop at Heartwood; a brand new cultural arts center modeled after Tamarack in West VA. It is a beautiful building, with fine galleries, a coffee and wine bar and a restaurant.

Ever hear bluegrass piano? The entertainment Saturday night was Wayne Henderson (guitar) and Jeff Little (piano). They were super and you can check them out on iTunes.

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