Staying at Jenny and Jeff's house at Smith Mountain Lake, Gretchen and I definitely found ourselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. We talking ping pong ball size hail. We were out at the Lake to participate in the spring clean-up at the sail club Saturday morning.

Saturday afternoon, a severe storm blew through with a pelting hail storm. The hail was hitting the living room window so hard we thought it might break and we took shelter in the basement. Below is a video of what it looked like toward the end of the storm, definitely after the worst part had passed. Note the hail stones plunging into the water. We never heard the roar associated with a tornado but clouds were circling in opposite directions and a tornado was spotted just across the lake at SML State Park. It was the worst hail storm we have ever seen.



After the storm, our immediate thought was to check for damage. The house seems to have made it through the storm OK but that was not the case with our cars. Both the Prius and GMC have major damage with dents all over them. I called the insurance company today to begin the claim process. What a bummer!



Spring Break 2012

OK, it's Gretchen's spring break, not mine and we're off on a road trip. First priority is to see our new granddaughter Maggie in South Carolina. Maggie is a beautiful baby who is growing and developing well after her premature start in life. Her signature trait will have to be her big blue eyes, always open wide taking in everything around her!

We had a laid back visit but had a good time with Kelley taking Maggie for walks in the mall on a blustery cool day and on the Myrtle Beach boardwalk on another afternoon. Gretchen had a great time holding her little granddaughter. I can't wait until Maggie gets to toddling around; that is when my grandfather instincts kick in!

After a four day stay, we headed to Asheville. Bill and Laurie raved so much about the Biltmore, we decided we had to go and take a look. We stayed at the Red Rocker Inn in Black Mountain, known to us from the kid's outings there during their trips to Montreat. (new management discontinued offering the massive sundae girls) The Biltmore is an amazing place, certainly on a par with any of the great houses we have toured in Europe. The gardens are equivalent to 140 Central Parks! Do visit when you are traveling near Asheville.


On the way home we stopped at the Carl Sandburg farm about 30 miles from Asheville in Flat Rock. It's a National Historic Site and the tour gives one a good overview of his family life and work. We learned a lot since before our visit we simply knew Sanburg as a great American poet. The quote below struck me at my core since I have always had this burning need to spend time alone. Over the years I have hiked to the top of mountains, rode my bike long distances and more recently sailed SunShower over lake and bay.

It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and ask, 'Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?

Carl Sandburg (Letter to his friend Ralph McGill)