Vacation with Peg

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Peg is ready to travel as we arrive at Providence Place following our Double Nickels Bike Trip. She is coming to Virginia for a vacation, first with us and later at Smith Mountain Lake with the Benders. The trip is uneventful, following Interstate 81 south with lunch at Panera's until we near Harrisonburg. Traffic is stopped and we wait and wait. It's an accident like we have not seen before with six or seven cars smashed, two wrecked tractor trailers (one hanging off a bridge) and a third jack-knifed......all spread out in a row over two miles. We are delayed over an hour and have to give up plans to stop for a tasting at a winery. A bit further south, we saw a similar accident on the north bound lane. The accidents really show how Interstate speeds can cause drivers to loose control of their vehicles and eventually end up in very serious collisions. The delay did have a silver lining for us as we reached Blue Mountain Brewery just in time for dinner. And....since Peg had never experienced tasting a flight of beers, we just had to do it!


An early phone call sets the agenda for the day.....Katie is having a baby.....we're headed for Chapel Hill! We arrive late afternoon just before Audrey Elizabeth! It is a special event because four generations are present for Audrey's birth....and mom and baby are healthy and doing great!


It was a good day for us old folks to rest up after our travels, get food into the house and do assorted errands.


Katie says she is coming to Lynchburg for Julie Palmer's wedding (she is a bridesmaid)! In preparation for a busy weekend, we took a picnic lunch to Leo Grande winery. We did a tasting with the owner (a delightful chap) serving up the rounds and then ate our lunch with a nice Nebbiolo on the porch; a view of the Peaks of Otter in the distance.


Katie arrived last night. Grandpa's job today is to watch Henry; easy duty! We went to the market and playground before lunch and after to the spray park, playground and rode his bike around the neighbor....and Henry is still running around the house! Grandpa on the other hand is exhausted! Katie had Audrey with her all day during the lead up to the wedding and Grandma went to the B&B to watch her during the ceremony. Granny still can't believe you were in the wedding Katie, three days after having a baby!


Gretchen and I took Henry to Blackwater Creek; he wanted to ride his Skoot to the "tunnel!" It was a good outing and gave Katie time to rest with Audrey and Peg before heading back to NC after Henry's nap.


After a month in the body shop, the Prius is ready and we went to Moneta to pick it up this morning. The Coachworks did a marvelous job. It looks like a new car! So the hassle in making the arrangements was worthwhile in the end. What truly is amazing is the cost of fixing the damage from the hail storm is almost 1/3 the cost of the car. It is also quite impressive how paintless dent repair can eliminate the dents by rubbing them from the inside. The sections done by that technique are flawless. On the way home we stopped at the Dutchess of Bedford Bakery for lunch. It's a fine lunch spot and Peg remembered stopping there for lunch with us years ago.


Kelley arrived with Maggie so Peg got to meet her third great-grandchild and I took another "four generations" picture. Maggie is a precious little girl, developing on schedule given her "preemie" status. At the moment, much to Gretchen's dismay, she has stranger anxiety and does not want to be held by Grandma!


Peaches anyone? A necessary trip to Saunder's Orchard gave us a good excuse for a lunch outting. So we left a bit early and stopped at Wild Wolf for lunch. It was delightful as usual and Maggie had a great time sitting in her car seat at the table, eating her snacks, taking in her surroundings. She even discovered how good it was to suck on a cold water glass! Peach favorite time of year for fruit. Peaches on cereal for breakfast, and Gretchen's home made peach pie!


The girls hung around the house today and I was off on my weekly TOF Brothers bike ride. Jenny came in from SML to see Maggie and Kelley and Maggie is showing signs of warming up a bit to these "strangers." I made shrimp and grits for supper.


Gretchen got to hold Maggie this morning without her tossing a fit, as long as mom wasn't too far away. Have no fear Grandma, it is just a normal cognitive developmental stage! After too short a visit, Kelley and Maggie are leaving today. It was wonderful seeing them and so neat to see our daughter being such a great mom! Peg's tenure with us is drawing to a close as well; she'll be leaving tomorrow for the second half of her vacation with Jenny at the lake. For our last outing, we went to the Ploughcroft Tea Room downtown. It's an authentic British Tea Room with tea, sweets and British dishes. I had a steak and ale pie and Gretchen and Peg had Canterbury chicken and mushroom pie. It was so great having you once again in Virginia, Peg! We had a marvelous time....and I hope I can be just like you at ninety-two!



Audrey Elizabeth

6:00 a.m. Katie's water broke...the baby is coming this afternoon! We arrived at the UNC Women's Hospital in Chapel Hill and got to see Katie about 4:50 p.m. She was doing great, had a contraction and chatted a few minutes. Then another contraction and she told the nurse to get the mid-wife, this baby is coming now! Audrey Elizabeth came into the world at 5:02 p.m.; a healthy 6lb 8oz beautiful girl. Katie came through the delivery healthy and in good spirits and of course, David was beaming.

Jim and Linda picked Henry up at school and he told us Audrey could sleep in his room if she was good but if she was bad she would have to sleep in her own room. He got a tag from the hospital that said "Big Brother" and quickly assumed that role.

A really cool thing is there were four generations at the hospital. Peg (92 years old) had returned with us from Pennsylvania yesterday for a vacation. When Gretchen asked Peg this morning to guess where we are going today, Peg thought a wine tasting or perhaps, to get yarn at Michaels? She was really shocked to be going to Chapel Hill! So Audrey had her mom, grandmother and great grandmother present on her day of birth!

Peg was so excited she had goose bumps! She has three great granddaughters but Audrey is the first one she has seen in person. She will get a chance to see Maggie this week when Kelley comes to Lynchburg.

What a joy it is to have grandchildren. We look forward to getting to know Audrey, loving her, having fun with her and spoiling her a bit too. Gretchen and I are so glad everyone is healthy and doing well. We also think the Alexanders are a wonderful family!




Double Nickels 2012

Early June and time for our annual bike trip with Laurie and Gary and Emily and David. Pennsylvania is the destination this year to ride parts of the Schuylkill River and Delaware and Lehigh Trails. Unfortunately, as we gather to leave Friday morning (6/8), Gary is in Ohio because his son was admitted to the hospital this week in serious condition. He is hoping to join us this weekend if Aaron's condition stabilizes.

Three p.m. and the full page of directions has successfully guided us to the AT Cottage in the woods we rented for the weekend. It is a well appointed rustic cabin about a quarter mile south of the point where the Appalachian Trail crosses Rt. 183; only a few miles from Schuylkill Haven where Gretchen and I grew up. We quickly changed and rode a 12 mile section of the Schuylkill River Trail north of Hamburg to stretch our legs after the long trip. After the ride, we took the group on a "Tour of Gretchen and Tom's youth" ending at Heisler's Dairy for dinner and ice cream!

Saturday we left the cabin at the "civilized" hour of 10 a.m. (either age or the Morgan's are influencing the group) and headed to Pottsville. Laurie and Gretchen dropped Emily, David and I at the Yuengling Brewery for a tour and picked up Gretchen's mom to run some errands. Then we stopped at Roma Pizzeria to pick up lunch to take to Providence Place to eat with Peg. She had arranged to eat lunch at her table with drinks, potato chips and dessert....and David had the best Greek salad of his life! It was great the group could see Peg's apartment and share a meal with her. Next on the agenda was Longwood Gardens and an afternoon of listening to David talk about his Greek salad!

Longwood Gardens is a world-class facility created by Pierre S. du Pont; the result of a lifetime developing his weekend retreat near Wilmington, DE. We arrived at 4:00 p.m. in hopes of touring the gardens and staying until dark to get a glimpse of "Light Installations," a seasonal art exhibit by British artist, Bruce Munro. Gretchen was happy as we logged over 10,000 steps walking around the grounds filled with early summer blooms, climbed the tree houses, saw a musical fountain display and enjoyed the beautiful Conservatory and Exhibition Hall. Following dinner in the Cafe, we wandered again to see the light exhibition. Unfortunately, it was not quite dark enough to enjoy the full effects of tens of thousands of fiber optic bulbs scattered around the landscape, but a two hour drive back to the cabin, made us bid farewell to Longwood prior to total darkness. Throughout the day, I marveled at the gardens and kept thinking that Longwood Gardens is the first garden I have visited in the USA that is on a par with the wonderful gardens we have visited in Europe.

BTW, did I mention that David had an absolutely marvelous Greek salad yesterday?

The Delaware and Lehigh Canal Trail beckoned us on Sunday and we arrived in Bethlehem at the "civilized" hour of 11:00 a.m. The plan was to ride first to Allentown and back, then to Easton and back. Shortly into the ride, however, we noticed we were riding down river, ie to Easton! So all allusions to extraordinary trip planning were abandoned; no matter how hard we try, the Morgan's can't rival Gary in that venue! The Trail is varied with rocky dirt, nice crushed stone and paved sections hugging the river. However, if you are going to ride the trail, be ready to ask a lot of questions to gain local knowledge because there are absolutely no signs anywhere where you need them the most to follow the path. Following the round trip to Easton (24 miles), we ate dinner and toasted Emily for her strong riding as we quaffed a few beers (between us Fegley's ESB, Steelmaker's Oatmeal Stoudt, Yard's IPA and Devil's Hearth) at The Brew Works. The picture below was taken at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers.

Monday's "civilized" hour found us at the Pawley's Road entrance to the Schuylkill River Trail. We road the trail from Valley Forge to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (46 miles round trip). It was an absolutely perfect day to ride and this section of the Trail is paved, well signed and takes riders through canopied woods, suburban towns like Conshohocken and Manayunk, and Fairmont Park with its sculpture and the famous "Boathouse Row" along the river. At the Museum, a man offered to take a picture for us and then "hustled" us through myriad poses in hopes of a nice tip. He got one, and it was well worth every cent; the guy and his "photo shoot" with our cameras was just a scream!

After the ride, we got Laurie settled in a motel in Norristown so she could catch a morning train to Boston from Philly and ate dinner at Brother Paul's (a pub rated 90+ on Urbanspoon). Are not those iPhones great, David? We all inhaled our dinners, bade farewell to Laurie and headed back to the cabin.

Double Nickels 2012 was a great trip as usual with lots of adventures, great bike riding, good food, and fun times with wonderful friends. All that was missing was Gary. We missed you dear friend and our thoughts and prayers were with you and Aaron.

Want the best Greek salad David ever ate? It's available to you in Pottsville, PA!

BTW, there really was a secret swing at the A.T. Cottage for those willing to seek and find!



Virginia's High Bridge Rail Trail State Park

Built in 1853 as part of the South Side Railroad, the High Bridge spanned the Appomattox River on the line running from Petersburg to Lynchburg. At the time, it was one of the biggest bridges in the world with a span of 2,400 feet looming 125 feet above the river. It was the site of a Civil War battle and guided trains along its rails until 2004. In 2006, Norfolk Western donated the Bridge and 31 miles of railway to the Commonwealth for a state park. The High Bridge was opened this spring and it is the "jewel" of a magnificent rail trail.

Sunday we set out to ride the Trail from Farmville east across the High Bridge with Jenny and Jeff. It was a grand day for riding in the seventies with low humidity, but first we had to have brunch at Charley's Waterfront Cafe. Gretchen and I had rode the Trail from Pamplin to the bridge site before but were eager to ride the rest of the Trail now that the High Bridge is open. We all thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon ride and were absolutely impressed with the High Bridge. The State has done a super job developing the trail and the facilities in the Park. All cyclists interested in rail trails need to put the High Bridge Trail on their agendas. It's a great Trail for riders of all ability levels; from a less than 2 mile out and back ride from the nearest parking lot to the High Bridge to a 62 mile metric century out and back ride of the entire trail!

Great riding with you Jenny and Jeff. Gretchen and I were so glad we could share our virgin trip across the High Bridge with you guys!