Road Trip

Time for a road trip to check out the winerys we passed on a fall bike ride David led near Crozet. First stop was the Greenwood Grocery, an eclectic store with gourmet food items and great sandwiches for lunch. On we forged to Grace Estate Winery with a beautiful tasting room plus a fine cabernet franc. The server was very entertaining, obviously someone who liked to emote! We learned about the tannat grape....grown in the south of France and now the national grape of Uruguay.


Next stop was Stinson Vineyards, across the grape vines from Grace, due north as the crow flies. Their Imperialis port we tasted was fabulous. The owner told us it was made in the same tradition as ports are made in southern France using the tannat grape. They named it Imperialis after the tree planted next to Stomewall Jackson's grave. Why? Well, it is said he stayed in a house on the Stinson Vineyard property in 1862. Leaving for home with a bottle tucked under our arms, we decided that port runs to Stinson Vineyards may well be in our future! Great day Emily and David, we look forward to our next road trip!
BTW...Emily alerted us to a premium box wine that should arrive on grocery shelves this spring. It's called Cardbordeaux!



Grand Idea...Poor Execution

We saw on the news that the The National D-Day Memorial has an annual December celebration where they light luminaries to honor the 2,499 Americans who lost their lives on D-Day. Luminaries are also placed in honor of men and women who have served our country by their friends and family. So, last night we drove to Bedford to attend the event. This year 4,413 luminaries lined the drive up to the Memorial and were evident through out the facility as well. What a grand idea to honor of our veterans! We were disappointed, however, because the LED candles in the luminaries were so faint, there was literally no visual impact. I wish the candles were brighter so each luminary brightly lit a spot around itself. That would light up the entire hill and Memorial providing a visual impact commensurate with the grand idea prompting the celebration!




What's Wrong With Us?

Gretchen and I love Hallmark Movies! We watch all of the holiday offerings. We know they are all the same. Boy meets girl in some setting (Office, Store, Small Town, Palace), they are attracted to each other and forge the beginning of a relationship. Then, at twenty past the second hour, a crisis occurs and their relationship sours. But it is a Hallmark movie and by the end of the hour, something magical happens to resolve the crisis and the couple embarks on a wonderful life together; generally with some fanfare that brings a tear or two to one's eye! I wonder what is on tonight?


Thanksgiving 2015

Twenty minutes from Hillsborough, the phone rang. Audrey just threw up, can you pick her up at The Little School? Sure.....really hope she doesn't have a stomach virus with two days to go before Thanksgiving! She didn't! Wednesday before the Hill's arrived, the ladies went shopping and the men went to the park.

Henry, let's park at Weaver Street and walk the Riverwalk over to Gold Park. No Grandpa, let's go to the park and walk to Weaver Street. OK, Henry sounds good to me. So we go to the park but I can't get Henry to walk on the Riverwalk! I've learned my lesson Henry, next time we'll park at Weaver Street. Fool me once, shame on you...fool me twice, shame on me!


We had a great time cooking Thanksgiving dinner together and the kids got to eat at their own table! It was sooooo good..turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cranberry sauce, pound cake, pumpkin roll and libations. Quite a meal!



Friday, Katie had to work. In the morning, we went to the Life and Science Museum. Maggie and Henry loved the tree house where there are many places to climb.


The Butterfly House was a hit too since all of the kids got to hold a butterfly. Audrey was quite enchanted.


After lunch, the girls took a nap and then Daddy came to pick up Audrey and Henry. Grandpa and Grandma headed home and Kelley, Seth, Maggie and Katie had a night by themselves. Thanks for hosting Thanksgiving this year Katie and thanks for coming to Hillsborough Kelley and Seth. It was great being together for the holiday.!



Garth Newel

October 11, 2015

Gretchen and I finally made it over the mountains to Warm Springs today for our annual visit to Garth Newel. We met Jenny and Jeff there for one of the "donate what you wish" concerts. The day's theme was French Tea House with selections from French composers and a wonderful tea after the concert. It was J&Js first trip to Garth Newel. Hopefully they will join us along with our other friends every year. We missed Gary, Laurie, David and Emily this year. We just could not get a date that worked for everyone.



Following the concert we had a fine happy hour in the parking lot enjoying the mountain scenery, beautiful fall day and great friends!



Double Nickels 2015

Tuesday September 29th

The Nickels are headed to the Mason Dixon Line to bike the North Central Rail Trail. It's a 42 mile trail connecting Baltimore (Hunt Valley) with York, PA. Emily, David, Gretchen and I left Lynchburg heading to Railroad, PA where we will meet Gary and Laurie at the Jackson House B&B. For lunch, we stopped in downtown Leesburg to eat at a good bakery Gretchen and I found on a recent trip, but alas, we couldn't find it! (Age has nothing to do with our plight!) Arriving back at the cars after lunch (At a restaurant with no patrons but surprisingly decent food), David discovered his driver side mirror had been torn off of his car, hit by a passing motorist who did leave a note.

After checking into the B&B, we discussed how to tackle riding the trail given a very rainy weather forecast....only about a ten hour fairly dry window tomorrow. We decided to ride the entire trail tomorrow and then headed to the Seven Sports Bar and Grill for dinner. Given the fact that New Freedom is a sleepy little town, we could not believe that the restaurant was packed on this rainy night. The food and the beer brewed on site were both very good!


Laurie decided not to ride today so Emily and Laurie dropped the rest of the Nickels off at Hunt Valley and we began the ride north to New Freedom where we would meet for lunch. Given the rain in the past few days, the trail was in excellent shape. However, David's day was made when we ran across this blow down in Gunpowder Falls State Park and had to portage our bikes...not to mention the mud stains on our jerseys!

The morning weather was misty (pretty strong mist for one 15 minute period) but we reached the Mason/Dixon Line within a couple of miles of New Freedom just in time for lunch.

After lunch at Paesano's, Emily joined the bikers while Laurie and I did the drive around. We checked in with the riders at Hanover Junction. It was here where Lincoln took the train west to speak at Gettysburg and where his funeral train traveled north to New York; quite a historic junction on the North Central Railroad.


The riders pedaled on toward York through the Howard Tunnel (the oldest functional railroad tunnel in U.S.)...


and arrived at the finish looking quite chipper! Gary, David and I rode back to New Freedom while the girls loaded their bikes on the car and drove back to the B&B. Following a quick shower, we headed to the Glen Rock Mill Inn for dinner. To our delight, a representative of the New Belgium Brewery was holding a tasting which, of course, we partook....and before he left he gave us souvenir beer glasses that have a bicycle logo!



The ten hour window closed with rain returning overnight so it was good we had derived Plan B, to visit local factories. Our first tour was Snyder Pretzels followed by Utz Potato Chips, both in Hanover. What is mind boggling to me is the amount of raw materials used each day and the speed of the manufacturing process; literally tons of materials and thousands of bags a day!


Lunch at Miscreation Brewing Company on the square in Hanover was quite good. I tried an interesting beer, Frank'n Stoudt, it had jalapeño peppers added to give it a kick! I thought it was surprisingly good. The waiter said it was their biggest seller at fairs and tastings. I'm glad to have tasted it but would not buy it again!


We ended the day with a dinner accompanied by music at Wyndridge Farm, an excellent restaurant/winery/brewery/event venue in the middle of nowhere near Dallastown, PA. The owner is a medical doctor who graduated from UVA!


After breakfast, we headed our separate ways; Gretchen to visit her mother, David and Emily to Delaware, and Gary, Laurie and I back to the Burg. Given the weather, I was really happy we got to ride the entire trail. Laurie, we were so sorry your back was hurting and you could not ride. Thanks again Double Nickels for another great bike trip; always a fun time with great friends!



Chester River

Monday 9/14

Fredericksburg, Annapolis and the Bay Bridge were enroute to our vacation rental on Reed Creek (off of the Chester River) near Centerville, MD. The cottage was at a beautiful location! The owner had a boat parked in the only spot we felt comfortable tying up to his dock, but he moved his boat (no one uses it) so we could keep our boat at the cottage. We checked out the public ramp in Centerville to see if we could launch there....and it was Happy Hour!


We launched the boat at high tide in Centerville with the idea of exploring, then dropping Gretchen off to pick up the car and trailer while I motored to the cabin. But, the depths in the channel were very shallow and we decided trying to get back to the launch site close to low tide was not a good idea. So Gretchen did the run around and I motored to the cabin and we figured out how to tie up safely and then we headed to Lanford Creek. Several years ago, I had stayed at Langford Bay Marina (still for sale) and sailed to Cacaway Island where the creek branches. We headed up the East Branch which holds deep water for a very long way and is lined with beautiful estates! Leaving the creek, we motored to Kent Narrows for lunch at Bridges (excellent crab cake sandwiches)!

Our rental was on a farm with huge fields of six foot tall corn, that is until 7:30 p.m. when the combine came and....

by 9:30 p.m. the corn was gone!


I had never sailed to Chestertown when I was on the lower Chester River. Wind and time never supported that venture. Today, however, outfitted with a motor boat, no wind and glass-like water, Gretchen and I made the fourteen mile trip from our cottage in an hour's time. We walked around the restored town center, tried to walk to Washington College but failed and had lunch at the local bakery. I was concerned coming up the river where we might find a spot to dock. The town has a dinghy dock but no day slips; nor are there any at the marina. However, docking was not a problem....we tied up at the marina and found a sign on the office that they were closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Still, one would think the town council would make arrangements for day slips and advertise them in crushing guides and in online town documents?
Chestertown has a rich history as a colonial era port serving the agricultural lands adjacent to the Chester River. The s-turns in the river were famous for delaying the progress of schooners sailing up and down the river. To honor Chestertown's nautical heritage, a group decided to build a replica of an eighteenth century British Navy Schooner, the Sultana, in the late nineteen nineties. It was a monumental task that took over 200,000 volunteer hours to complete. Today, we motored past Sultana, filled with school children learning about their Chesapeake Bay heritage!


On the way back to the cottage, we toured the Corsica River and found the "Dacha" for Russian Embassy staff. Quite an estate we think!



The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels was our destination. We became members prior to this trip because they have free day docking and free admissions for members. Both Gretchen and I have sailed into St. Michaels in the past but never toured the museum. We arrived just before noon, then walked downtown and had lunch. The next three hours passed quickly as we toured the extensive displays in the museum; restored Hooper's Strait Lighthouse, boat restoration shed, in and out of water boat displays, fishing, crabbing and oystering exhibits, decoy collection, steam boat building, life on the Chesapeake building and other smaller displays. We would definitely recommend touring this museum if you are interested in the Chesapeake Bay!

We don't know what was happening, but today, the small harbor was filled with huge motor yachts. Line the main channel with huge yachts on each side and there is not much open water left! The Museum staff was setting up for a wedding, maybe the yachts are sailing in for that event?


The Wye River, south of Kent Narrows, has several well know anchorages near it's entrance that draw scores of boats on summer weekends. However, if your boat can get under a fixed bridge with 10' clearance, you can make a 10 mile circumnavigation of the river. That's what we did today. It was a delightful trip. I was surprised at how wide the river was for most of the route; there was only one spot where it was narrow (a couple hundred yards) as I had imagined. We ate a picnic lunch in Dividing Creek, a spot I had anchored several years ago.

We had made arrangements to leave our boat a Wells Cove Marina for the weekend so we could explore the Eastern Bay without making the trip down the Chester River. So our day ended at the marina and we drove back to the cottage.

Our plan was to boat Saturday and then pull the boat out of the water Sunday in order to head for home on Monday. However, the absolutely beautiful motor boat weather we had all week came to an end with small craft warnings posted for Sunday. So we moved our plan up one day....thus ending a delightful week on the Chesapeake Bay!


Labor Day at SML

We had a great family weekend at the Lake hosted by the Benders. Katie, Henry and Audrey came from NC and Jenelle, Andrew and Hunter from NOVA. We fished,

played and chatted,

enjoyed the water,

and went for boat rides!

The weather was perfect, the company devine, the food sumptuous and the drink plentiful! We had a wonderful time. Thank you Jenny and Jeff!



Maggie is four!

Maggie had quite a birthday celebration this year. Grammy, Grandma and Grandpa joined Mommy and Daddy for a family party on Friday (8/28). Kelley did a super shrimp boil and we had cupcakes. When Maggie opened her presents, it was obvious that Angelina Balerina was a big hit!

Daddy, mommy and Maggie building a house with her magnetic blocks.

Saturday afternoon and it was time for Maggie's birthday party at Chick-fil-A! There were pink princess decorations and a balloon for everyone. The girls played on the playground, then it was time to eat. Each of the kids got a bagged lunch (and the parents a buffet) plus ice cream....

and Kelley made beautiful cupcakes which were quite yummy!

The Chick-fil-A cow make an appearance and the girls just adored her! Plus they were given a cow doll to take home!

I never knew Chick-fil-A did birthday parties but it was a perfect choice for four year olds.

Grandma, Grandpa, Mommy, Daddy and Grammy with Maggie, the birthday girl!

Kelley and Seth, you planned a wonderful birthday celebration for Maggie. Thanks, we loved being a part of it! We love you Maggie!





Gary definitely garnered points on our ride this week. The Main Street Cafe & Coffee staff uploaded a Facebook post about us....a first for the TOF Brothers!

These gentlemen are bicycling 40 miles round trip to eat lunch here.
Rock on, you awesome old guys that are in better shape than us.


Well, we like the the picture and the write up except, perhaps, the "old" categorization. :) Add points for a train sighting, a beautiful August day with LOW humidity and good company....and what you get is a great day to ride a bike in Central Virginia!


The old guys!





Up for a Chukker?

Turns out Gretchen and I and our friends were Sunday as we headed to a polo match at the King Family Vineyards in Crozet, VA. The home Roseland Polo Club plays mid-Atlantic teams here every Sunday from Memorial Day to mid-October and it is quite a happening. We pitched our tent along the Sideboards with 150 other groups and settled in for a gourmet lunch with a bit of wine during the Match.

We learned that players are rated by the U.S. Polo Association, teams are handicapped based on those ratings, that polo ponies are shorter than other horses and the field is 300 yards long by 160 yards wide. It was obvious from the first Throw In that it is not an easy task to hit the ball with one's Stick, galloping full speed on a pony while other players are trying to Bump or force you to Ride off the Line of the Ball!

We thought the match was six Chukkers and we were waiting for folks to charge the field after three to stomp the divots! Alas, they do not uphold that tradition at this venue. But our group, not deterred and with wine in hand, stomped the field after chukker three. Turns out the match was only four chukkers...but since there were no announcements...we had no idea. We still don't know the team Roseland played...but they did win!

Many years ago (circa 2000), NBATC had a wine tasting event and we stopped at the King Family Vineyards. They were just beginning to build the polo field. And what a smart move that was from what we could see.....there were a lot of people buying and drinking wine at the Vineyard Sunday afternoon! We bought their rose which was quite good, dry and fruity. They named it Crosé!


Thanks Emily for putting together this event! It was a lot of fun!

Oh no Emily, that divot is steamy!