South Carolina 11/2013

Smiles, giggles, cries, yells, babbling, exploring, running...a granddaughter is a precious gift. Maggie is no longer a baby. She is a tall, strong willed toddler, always in motion and a joy to be around. I find myself looking at her while drifting backward 30+ years and seeing Kelley running in the same tip-toed way across the lawn or smiling with the same wide grin.

I remember the pre-school years when we could not go by a playground on a trip without yells from the backseat pleading for a stop.....SEE that playground over there DAD?

We had a fun weekend with the Hills. Got to check out Seth's Mr. Sparky truck and see him in his work duds. Congratulations on your new job Seth. I'm glad you like it a lot! Most of the time we just checked out the local sites between stops at the playground. I think I'll just let the photos below relate our activities.

Strolling on the Garden City Pier.
Lunch at Bisquit.
Watching the Carolina Panthers!
Reading a book on the iPAD.
Testing a Pawleys Island rope hammock.

Thanks for the hospitality. Love you guys!



Segue into Old Age

Mercy, how does one make the transition into being an official senior citizen? Hard to believe I turned 65 on Tuesday! How about taking a Segway tour? Emily told us about a tour she and David took on his birthday and the Living Social deal available from River City Segs in Richmond. So Grectchen got the deal and to Richmond we are bound; after voting of course.

River City Segs is located in Shockoe Bottom in an old firehouse. They have a neat indoor course to train you how to ride a Segway. If you can do the course, you'll have no trouble out on the streets. We did the history tour because our historical knowledge is scant! Jeff, our guide, did a super job. We learned a lot and went to many places we had never been before. They have ghost tours and art tours too. After hours of touring, we definitely had Segway legs! I'll let you discover what that condition is on your own. But suffice it to say, we highly recommend taking a Segway for a spin. It is a very cool adventure!

Gee, it's almost 5 p.m. and we are just across the James River bridge from Legends Brewery. Guess we'll have to go there for dinner....and we did. Tasting note: Gretchen and I could not tell the difference between their regular porter and their seasonal chocolate porter. I guess we lack the buds! And yes David, their collard greens are superb.

Thanks Gretchen for a great birthday adventure! Love you!!


Vermont Biking Inn to Inn

Gretchen is retired, free to travel in October and we're headed to Vermont to see the fall colors! Our bikes got a power wash the last two hours of our trip as we drove through a pouring rain storm. But..the rain stopped and we are at the Churchill Inn. Seth gave us the trip sheets and maps and the weather forcast is for sunny days with highs in the sixties for the rest of the week. Ideal for biking. Tonight we had a fine dinner at Cafe Provence, a French restaurant in Brandon.

Lunch at general store in Orwell.


A leisurely breakfast, packing done, all moving parts on the bikes oiled, sunshine, and it's 10:00 a.m....I'd say it's a " civilized" hour to begin our first day of riding.

Today's ride took us west through rolling hills and lush farmland. First stop was in Orwell for lunch at the general store which has a good deli counter. We came within a mile of the ferry across Lake Champlain near Fort Ticonderoga. We passed the spot where Ethan Allen gathered the Green Mountain Boys to cross the Lake and garner the first victory of the Revolution by taking Fort Ticonderoga from the British at dawn without a shot being fired! Our ride of 48.3 miles with plenty of hills brought us to the Cornwell Orchards B&B, a lovely place just 3 miles from downtown Middlebury. The owners suggested eating at Bristro 51, a cafe owned by Middlebury College. Turns out it was Tuesday Burger Night: all burgers $6.00 (local grass fed beef) and $3.00 microbrews! Can't beat that!

Lake Champlain


Today's ride (44 miles) was a circular route with a long segment along Lake Champlain near West Addison. Beautiful farms in rolling countryside dotted with fall colors made for a wonderful ride. We stopped for lunch at a cafe in Vergennes. On our way to Middlebury, we rode on Morgan Horse Farm Road! Our destination today was the Swift House Inn; a wonderful place with a suberb restaurant!

Gretchen at the Morgan Horse Farm


Gretchen thought the ride today was much easier than yesterday. We even had energy left to walk around Middlebury checking out the College and the falls on Otter Creek!

BTW, you might be wondering why the B&W and weird colored photos on a fall foliage trip? Well, the new iOS 7 has a "filter" button on the menu of the camera app that I turned on somehow. Thought the camera in my phone was going bad, but discovered it before panic set in! ;-)

Middlebury College


Well fueled by a great dinner and breakfast at the Inn, we headed North to Bristol and Monkton, then to Vergennes (from the opposite direction from yesterday) before coming back to the Inn tonight. Yea! The ride today was supposed to be 42.7 miles but we ended up backtracking due to a bridge closure which added four miles to the the ride. Village life is certainly alive and well in Vermont. Every day we are riding though rural landscapes dotted with little villages; all with small stores, caf├ęs and residential blocks. Very nice!

More scenic country and the quaint town of Bristol where we got blueberry pancakes for lunch made for a great day on a bike. We are most impressed with the motorists in this area; they all go out of their way to give cyclists a lot of room on the road! So, where we came back into Middlebury, it was only a quarter mile side trip to the Otter Creek Brewing Company.....not even a hesitation....we turned. It is a pretty large establishment for a microbrewery and their beer was outstanding.

Dinner and breakfast at the Inn were again great! We're so glad logistics required us to stay two nights here. We highly recommend the Swift House Inn to anyone traveling to Middlebury.

'Twas a beautiful day to complete our trip in Vermont by riding a 32 mile route around Lake Dunmore on the way back to Brandon. Lunch today consisted of snacks since the two suggested stops near the Lake were closed for the season. Our lodging tonight is the Inn on Park Street. The proprietress usually cooks dinner at the Inn but due to recent surgery, she arranged for us to return to Cafe Provence. Sure, we can do problem!

Bridge on W. Salisbury Road.


After our ride today, we decided to drive up into the Green Mountain National Forest to check out the tree colors at higher elevations. It was a nice ride and on the return down to the valley, we came across this huge resort complex.....the Middlebury College Writing Campus! I knew the College was famous for its writing program but I imagined people coming to the summer workshops, living in log cabins in the woods, etc. Not so, the participants are writing in comfort! I didn't know that Robert Frost was the director of the program for thirty years. Guests in the Inn told us the NF has a trail built to honor him with stops along the way noting what inspired a specific poem. At each stop, the words of the poem are etched in a stone marker. Wish we had known it was there! Our last stop was at the Drop Inn Brewing Company, Middlebury's other microbrewery. It was interesting because you could only taste their beer and buy it in growlers to go! So we had to buy a growler of their 90 Shilling Scottish Ale. The 90 Shilling comes from the way a barrel of beer was taxed long ago in Scotland. More alcohol in the beer...higher shilling tax. And the growler? Well, Phil is finally in compliance with the natural law...."All boys need a growler!"

Schuylkill River Trail


We have had a super week of biking in Vermont. Gretchen got to check "Seeing the fall colors in New England" off of her bucket list. She also learned she can ride 40-50 miles a day on a bike with no problem! We got to know one couple from Winnipeg and four from California at our Iodgings, all of whom take biking trips all over the world on their vacations. Gretchen and I just don't get that. We loved our week here but in reality we only traveled within a 15 mile radius of Middlebury. Biking vacations really limit the scope of what you see and experience in the area you're visiting.

One great thing about this trip I've not mentioned is that we got to spend time with Peg and the Olmes family going to and from Vermont! It's always great to see you guys. Thanks Pris and Phil for accommodating the two of us. We appreciate your hospitality. Peg, we both thought you were doing amazingly well just a few weeks after your surgery. If I live to ninety, I just hope I can be as spry and lucid as you are!