Double Nickles 2014

Thursday June 5

We departed for Marlinton, WV, at the very civilized hour of 10 a.m. Our first adventure started in Warm Springs when Gary turned the "wrong" way. But knowing he is a meticulous planner, we followed and shortly arrived at Jason's for lunch. Jason's food was wonderful, but just let me say that his burger & fries would feed an NFL offensive tackle! After checking into the Locust Hill Inn, we went to Beartown State Park. It's an interesting place with a boardwalk through these really unique rock formations. Gretchen and I remember visiting this park with the girls....a long time ago. I wonder if they remember walking the boardwalk?

Dinner was at the Pretty Penny Cafe in Hillsborough; an old haunt of ours now under new ownership with fine vegetarian fare. And the great thing was that Laurie did NOT order skim milk! Locust Hill Inn has beautiful grounds and a fine porch, so where we had cocktails and watched the sunset. The men also watched the ladies doing laps up and down drive way to satisfy their Fitbits.

Our porch!


It was a beautiful day to ride the Greenbrier River Trail with blue sky, low temperature and humidity! We rode from Marlinton to Cass and back (49 miles). We ate lunch in Cass at the train depot where we got to see several of the excursion trains.

In the evening, we went to First Fridays in Lewisburg (Coolest Small Town in American 2011). The downtown was packed and we had a hard time getting a parking place. A band was playing at the center city park, people were milling around shops and galleries; it was a fun time! We had dinner at Food and Friends, an excellent restaurant!


Another beautiful day for riding and we did, from Renick to Marlinton (31miles) with lunch in Seebert. The Inn has a pub that is open on the weekends so we had an early dinner there before heading to the Marlinton Opera House for the surprise show Gary promised. It was Hilby the Skinny German Juggling Boy! Hilby was a juggling artist and comedian who had an amazing stage presence. He had every one in the audience laughing, clapping and yelling; it was a really entertaining evening!


Today, we left our bikes rest in the barn and went to tour the Green Bank Radio Telescope facility. It has a really neat visitors center with a tour of the telescopes and a great exhibit hall.

One thing that caught my eye was a Jansky unit displayed by typing its value out, the long string of zeros lining the hallway on the way to the auditorium. A Jansky unit is 10 to the minus 26 watts per square meter per hertz. It measures the strength of radio waves. We're talking really minute strengths here. Imagine a 100 watt light bulb. Now reduce its light by a thousand, that is 0.1 watts; not reduce its light more to the Jansky level.....its would be 0.000000000000000000000001 watts. That is a really small amount of light! The point is astronomers measure really weak radio signals coming from space and.....when we are exposed to their realm, our minds are boggled by the numbers they use! Karl Jansky was a pioneer in radio astronomy who worked for Bell Labs. His first antenna is on display at Green Bank. Dinner at the Locus Hill Inn Pub was so good last night, we ate there again tonight. If we head to Marlinton again, we will happily stay at this wonderful Inn!

Gretchen's photo of the poppies in the garden.


Time to head on home. But wait there is more! Our first stop was at the Pearl Buck birthplace for the 10:30 a.m. tour. It is an interesting stop. We knew a bit about Pearl due to her affiliation with RMWC and some of us had read The Good Earth, but we were really surprised at the total number of books she wrote. We had no idea!

Do you know the origin of the phrase "pop goes the weasel?" We learned one plausible origin on the tour. A yarn spinner's weasel in the old days was a rotating device used to measure a specified length of yarn. When the length was reached, the weasel popped a button out to stop the wheel turning. Hence the term "pop goes the weasel!"

Greenbrier Resort

Lunch was at the Stardust Cafe in Lewisburg where salads were the fare of the day. Then we went to The Greenbrier to tour the bunker. The bunker was built to house Congess and their staff members for up to sixty days in case of a nuclear attack. It was constructed in 1958 and kept secret for thirty years. It is a fascinating tour, well worth the price of admission. The design was neat because parts of the bunker were used by the hotel for public functions with no one knowing they were actually in the bunker. Gretchen and I think we'll have to take in a stay at The Greenbrier, it is an impressive hotel! Did you know they do not list any room prices on their website?

Double Nickles 2014 was another great tour. Thanks to Gary and Laurie for you excellent planning!



Day at the Lake

June 2nd

Fun day at Smith Mountain Lake with friends. Rowing, canoeing, kayaking, motoring SunShower (no wind), tin foil dinners and Dutch oven cooking were all on the agenda.

Where's Gretchen?
Good job Emily!

David and I broke out our Dutch ovens after several years in storage to make desserts; an apple cobbler by David and a pineapple upside down cake by me. Thanks David, it was fun cooking with you once again.

Oh well, almost got it to flip cleanly!

After dinner, we sat around and watched dusk settle over the lake; peaceful ending to the day! Note: we arrived at VISA to find the water off in the bathrooms due to a water line break. So, figuring all of our guests are avid outdoor people, we broke out the buckets to flush manually. And true to our guess, toilets were not a problem. Next year Gretchen and I will try to schedule to see how we do without electricity!



South Carolina Bound

Tuesday May 27

Gretchen and I are on our way to see Kelley, Seth and Maggie, but first we are going to Columbia so we can go to Congaree National Park, one we have not been to and need to check off our list! We decided to visit the NPs we have not been to in the lower 48; Congaree, Dry Tortugas, Isle Royal, Key Biscayne, Monmouth Cave, Pinnacles, and Voyagers in the next year or two. Since we have never been to Columbia, we headed downtown after checking into our hotel. We ate dinner at the Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Ale House; the beer and the food were both great. We walked around the University of South Carolina campus which we thought was really well kept and quite lovely. A drive around the center of the city took us by the Capital and left us with the impression that Columbia is a nice, livable city. It might be that we drove downtown on Devine Street which is upscale with some truly divine houses.


It was a nice cool spring morning to visit Congaree NP. The 26,000 acre old growth bottomland hardwood forest is the largest remaining tract in North America. The Park has a nice 2.4 mile boardwalk so visitors can get a feel for the forest. We were really surprised we could walk it's length with few biting insect encounters.

Huge Oak Tree

Southern river systems were once covered with this type of forest land but severe logging in the 1800s decimated most of it. Congaree was saved because of the remote area and difficult conditions for logging. It is home to tupelo, elm and oak trees that top 100 feet plus cypress trees, one 27 feet around, and a record loblolly pine reaching 165 feet!

Although Gretchen and I were not enthused about visiting Congaree NP, we both felt it was a worthwhile stop; a unique ecosystem with a lot of history. After leaving the Park, we stopped at the Calla Lily Cafe in Manning for lunch and then drove to the Hill's in Murrell's Inlet.


Pegasus..largest sculpture in Gardens

In the morning we went to Brookgreen Gardens that are only about a mile from Kelley's house. It is a wonderful place established by Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband in 1932. Anne and her husband had a summer beach house in Murrell's Inlet. She was a well known New York sculptor and the driving force behind the Gardens. She wanted to highlight sculpture in a garden setting and the result is the renowned 9,100 acre park we strolled through with Kelley and Maggie this morning. There is something for every one, with a children's zoo and play area, historical exhibits about life on the four plantations that the Gardens encompass, trails, boat rides and a lot of cultural events.

After lunch, Maggie and Kelley headed home for a nap and we walked around the rest of the gardens (Gretchen needed steps) and we took in an exhibit housed in an air conditioned gallery...Kent Ullberg: A Retrospective.

Maggie and Mommy

The retrospective was quite impressive with several maquettes of large installations found in cities around the world. We had just finished our walk through the Live Oak AlleƩ and went into the gallery, when a half hour down pour moistened the grounds! The Gardens are exquisite! Thanks Kelley and Seth for providing passes for us!

When Seth got home from work, we ended the day by going to eat at Quigley's Pint & Plate....fine beer brewed on site and great food.

Daddy and Maggie


Today we went to the beach at Huntington State Park. Maggie loves the beach. She jumps the waves and makes cakes with her sand toys. She is a happy little girl and we noticed on this visit that her speech has exploded. She is constantly babbling and trying to say things you say to her.

It was a fun visit, good to see you guys.