Saturday, September 29, 2007

Back from Vacation

We are back from our week long vacation in Tennessee and North Carolina. I hope you all missed me! We drove down in the truck and took the motorcycle on the trailer and had a wonderful time driving the Smoky Mountain roads and visiting a few of the local sights. Our first three nights were spent at a cabin near Townsend, TN. There are literally thousands of cabins available to rent in the areas around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. We rented one through Dogwood Cabins and though it was a little far from much of anything, it was a pretty nice little cabin.
For those of you who've never been to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, it is become quite a "touristy" sort of area filled with theme parks, gift shops, outlet malls, dinner theaters and lots of traffic. Yes, I did visit the outlet mall, but Dennis bought more than I did! We were invited to join some friends at the Blackbear Jamboree on Saturday evening. We had a great time. Thanks C & G !
I warned everyone that they might make the blog so now I've made good on my promise!
Sunday morning we headed out on the motorcycle to explore the area. We started at Cade's Cove. This is a valley that has been preserved by the National Park Service with its historical cabins, churches and other structures. There is an eleven mile road that stretches through the area. It is heavily traveled by park visitors hoping to see some of the wildlife that inhabit the area. We tried to get an early start with the hope that we would avoid some of the traffic and have a better chance of seeing some wildlife ( I was hoping to see a bear in the wild !) No such luck on either. But it is a beautiful valley. We only saw one deer - we see a lot more just on our evening rides around here! On Monday morning, we headed back to ride the "dragon"! If you've been following my posts for awhile you'll remember that we drove this famous road with it's 318 curves in eleven miles on our trip in July. And since we've become addicted to motorcycling, we find ourselves here again! This time we drove the opposite way and since it was Monday morning, we only saw about a dozen other bikers out. It was hunting season for something though as we saw several dozen hunters with dogs and rifles. Maybe we didn't see any bears because they were all in hiding! We still enjoyed the ride and know we'll be back this way again someday.
We explored more of the Smoky Mountain National Park including parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Clingman's Dome. We actually got off the bike for a hike to the top of Clingman's Dome where we were supposed to see several states from this space alien type lookout tower. But the hazy skies that are typical of the Smokey Mountains obscured the view. The path to the top actually crossed the Applachian Trail so we had to have our picture taken so we could just say we walked on the famous trail.

Here's some of the sights from our week of riding the Blue Ridge Parkway and our visit to Asheville, North Carolina. I know this is getting a little long and I hope I'm not boring you all!
Looking Glass Falls

Little Switzerland, NC and these interesting little shops including this huge used and antique book store.
Dennis on the Blue Ridge Parkway - he did come back for me!
Cold Mountain, the setting for the book and the movie by the same name. But I think the movie was actually filmed overseas somewhere.

At the Fiddlin Pig BlueGrass and Barbeque I was asked to share my square dancing talent along with other customers and the clogging group performing that evening. Little did they know that I have only square danced once or maybe twice since fifth grade in Mrs. Tucker's music class.

This is a view from Chimney Rock State Park near Lake Lure, NC. A view from inside the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I could have spent more time here just looking at all the wonderful handcrafted items. There were quilts, weavings, paintings, glass, pottery and so much more. Everything is made by local artists. Our last day on the Blue Ridge Parkway was clear, cool and beautiful. Some of the haze had moved out and the colors were beginning to show in the trees. I'm sure by next weekend the fall colors will be wonderful. Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi. Nothing like the elevations out west but the views were stunning none the less.
Sorry this has gotten so long. I have many, many more photos but it is getting late and maybe I can post a few more another time. We saw a lot of beautiful scenery and really enjoyed riding the motorcycle along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It is easy to see why this is the most visited national park. I hope you all have a chance to enjoy it someday too. There's so many wonderful places to visit in this country. Now we'll have to plan our next excursion!

One last thing - Happy Birthday K!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What Flower are You?

Sometimes, when I'm just browsing through this vast new world of blogs, I find some interesting little item to add to the side bar here. I can equate it to shopping, only I never have to leave the house, or my corner of the couch for that matter. Best of all, they are free. My last find was "What Flower are You?" (Just what do you call these things you decorate your blog with any way? Is there a proper name for them? Maybe some of my computer wizard relatives can help me out here.)
Just for fun, click on the sunflower. You will be guided to a gardening blog which will have you answer several random questions, then they will tell you which flower you are. I think it is pretty neat that I came up as a sunflower - especially since that is one of my favorite flowers and of course, since I was born in Kansas! Send me a comment and let me know what you came up as.
I thought I'd share a few photos of some of the remaining summer flowers around my front door. I am about ready to get rid of the red wave petunias ( I didn't photograph them, they are really getting scraggly) and put in some mums, but it is still too hot for that. My geraniums are still doing well though and so is this huge (for Indiana) lantana plant. It is actually two plants, one yellow and one variegated. It is usually surrounded by about a dozen butterflies too.
Last of all, here's my front door. And yes, those silk sunflowers have been there all summer.
I hope to have lots of neat photos for next week. We will be taking a few days and driving down to the Smokey Mountains. Of course the motorcycle is going too, but riding in the trailer! I'm not sure how much fall color there is yet, but as long as there isn't too much fog, it will be beautiful!
Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Surprise for me !

The weather here in Southern Indiana has finally become more seasonable. Although it has been extremely dry, this weekend was beautiful. Just enough chill in the air Saturday morning to make me think fall is finally here.

Our weekend started out very pleasant with dinner Friday evening with our friends C & P at a new establishment in New Albany. Speakeasy is a restaurant/jazz club in one of the old buildings in the downtown area. We enjoyed the company, conversation, ambiance and the music but would have to give only about 2 stars on a review of the food. Hopefully, that will all fall into place as they grow.

On Saturday, our planned breakfast run back to the Story Inn with another novice biking couple was pretty chilly. But we warmed up quickly with coffee, banana walnut pancakes and good ol' bacon and eggs ! We've made this trip several times since we got the motorcycle and always enjoy it. Of course we had to browse the shops in Nashville where the fall decorations were plentiful.

We headed home early because I thought C & G were anxious to watch the Louisville/UK football game. Little did I know there was a surprise waiting for me !

J & J and the two dogs (T & L) had taken advantage of the pretty day to make the trip from MO to see Mom and Dad! Of course Dad was in on the plan but I was certainly surprised when we came around the corner and I saw the dogs playing in our back yard and the "kids" lounging in the driveway. So we cooked some steaks on the grill and pulled together a pretty good meal (if I do say so myself!) and enjoyed a nice family evening. B & N even came by after work to "hang out" for a while. Unfortunately, Beamer and B's cat Tini were not as happy to see T & L as the rest of us were. Beamer hid in the basement or on top of the dryer in the laundry room for most of the weekend. See the fear on his face and the fur raised on his back - poor baby! He's not as tough as he thought he was.

As of right now though, I believe he has recovered and back on his perch on back of the couch. Tini, however, is probably still hiding under the bed! I hope T & L have recovered too! They probably can't figure out how come these furry friends are not as fond of them as everyone else is!

This might be a decade or two late, but Dad and son shared their first ride together on a motorcycle.

Tomorrow is the September meeting of my block of the month club at Among Friends Quilt Shop. I finally finished the block but this one was a bit of a challenge for me. Too many pieces! Only three more blocks to go. I chose the Sonnet collection of fabrics and I am looking forward to having someone machine quilt it when I get them all put together.

Have a good week everyone!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

On the Road with REMC Ride for Charity

This past Saturday we rode in our first large group motorcycle ride. It was the REMC Ride for Charity. My friend, Norma, let us know about the ride as she was a volunteer again this year. You can see her here, though her orange shirt almost makes her invisible in front of the orange shirt display! With the threat of rain, the number of bikers was down this year, but there was still a nice turnout with about 150-175 bikers and riders. I know this isn't as big as some rides we've heard about, but to us it was impressive.
Everyone gathered at the picnic grounds behind the REMC offices for registration, the National Anthem and a prayer for a safe ride. They were selling raffle tickets for donated prizes but we weren't lucky enough to win anything. We did win a door prize of a REMC cookbook! After the ride, we met back here for a late lunch of hotdogs and brats. They all did a nice job of organizing this event - but I guess we didn't really have anything to compare it too either !

These photos were taken as everyone was lining up to head out. Imagine the sound of all of these motorcycles when they started their engines. I would guess that about 80% of the motorcycles were Harleys. We only saw one other V-Star, but there might have been more. The county sheriff and local police blocked traffic at all the major intersections so the group could travel together. It made it nice for the riders, but I bet there were some frustrated motorists. The line of motorcycles was two abreast and probably stretched for at least a mile - maybe more. (I'm not a very good judge of distance !) There were lots of folks lined up along the route and kids waving - just like we were some kind of parade!
It finally began to rain when we were almost to the third stop. We did get a little wet but we decided not to stop and put on our Frogg Toggs as we quickly ran out of the rain. The whole ride was only 95 miles and we had three stops along the way. I don't know if that is typical for a ride that distance but to us it seemed like one stop or maybe two would have been sufficient.
Overall, we had a good time and will definitely do something like this again. It is nice to have events like this where our entry fees go to a worthy cause and yet everyone gets together and has a good time.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Pets and Purses

This will be one of those blog posts about completely random "stuff".
I stopped at B's house to pick her up for a quick shopping trip to Macy's and Dee's Crafts over in Louisville this morning. I had purchased these pretty "sunflowers" at Hannah's last weekend and needed some extra greenery to complete this late summer arrangement for our dining room table. The pitcher is one that I purchased several years ago at a Southern Living at Home party. The leaves and sticks were leftovers from B & N's wedding reception last fall. It's that time of year when all the summer flowers are drying up but too early to put out mums and pumpkins so I was ready for a little change. What do you think?

Okay - here I go with the pet pictures again. Every time I go to B's house, her little tortie female, Tini, has to check out my purse. She loves to rub her whiskers all over it and then snoop to see what might be inside. It doesn't seem to make a difference which purse I carry either. She's just curious I guess.

This got me thinking about a post I saw on my cousin's blog last week. She had bravely listed the contents of her purse. So, like Tini, maybe you all are curious as to what is in my purse :)
Here it goes. Of course there is my wallet with my driver's license, debit and credit cards, some change and not much cash, Kroger, Pets Mart, Sam's Club and insurance cards and also a family photo. My cell phone (funny how we feel naked without that now!), my camera (a new habit thanks to Blogspot!), sunglasses, lipstick, lipgloss, lotion, Tylenol and girl stuff (like to keep that handy, just in case but maybe that's too much information). I've also got reading glasses - can't be without those and a comb. I usually have a package of gum but I'm out of that right now. There is a granola bar left from my trip to Oklahoma and a fruit bar from Trader Joe's in Chicago. Matches, even though I don't smoke but I grabbed those at the restaurants in Chicago to keep on hand for my Yankee candles at home. There is also an old grocery list, a Starbucks receipt and miscellaneous business and appointment cards. Of course I have my car keys, house key and a key to I'm not sure what. I also keep a little plastic envelope for coupons and paint color chips.
When I list it all this way it looks like a lot but it really is pretty organized right now compared to what it has been. Okay - now I challenge you all to let me know what is in your purse (or briefcase, backpack etc.) !

Just to keep things fair, I'm going to post some pictures of some of my other "grandanimals". Mouse is B and N's other cat. He is an American Curl. Notice his distinctive "curly" ears. Though he is normally a very laid back guy - he loves to talk!

Meet Thelma and Louise (aka T & L). These cute rescue dogs are owned by our son and daughter-in-law J and J. This was taken last Thanksgiving when they were still in the puppy stage. They share the house with a hefty black cat named Tray. Next time we go to visit, I'll have to get a better photo of him.

This is all I've got for today. Complete nonsense I know. We hope to participate in a motorcycle ride tomorrow if the weather cooperates. The local electric company is sponsoring the REMC Ride for Charity to benefit BridgePointe and Goodwill. You can read about it here. This will be our first large group ride. It should be fun.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Chicago Weekend

Since our daughter E lives in one of the many suburbs north of Chicago, we make this journey a few times a year. But we had another reason to head north and brave the holiday traffic this time. Dennis' dad, stepmom and sister were all going to be attending the EGA (Embroidery Guild of America) conference in downtown Chicago. Since they all live far way (Arkansas and Colorado) we wanted to take this opportunity to get together. Pat's business, The Stitcher's Workshop , had been chosen as the exclusive boutique for the conference and Dennis' sister Jody was there to help them set up and work the booth. I must say we were very impressed with the shop and all the work that Dad and Pat put into getting ready for this event. Here are a few photos of the boutique and some of the colorful displays of threads, beads and interesting canvases. Of course E, B and I all had to shop the boutique too! Even though we aren't "stitchers" the colors and textures were calling to us, so now in addition to my quilt stash, I have stitchery and beading stashes :) The girls will probably get their projects done before me. In fact, B started on hers in the car on the way home!

It has been quite a while since the girls and I have tackled the Magnificent Mile. We had a great time elbowing our way through the holiday tourists and browsing the stores. My biggest purchases were at the caramel corn shop and Ethel's Chocolates !

The weather was beautiful ! I don't think we've been downtown Chicago very many times when it was this nice. Usually it is freezing or windy - or both! Grandpa didn't mind having being photographed with two pretty granddaughters on the streets of Chicago!

The Greek Islands Restaurant - a fun place for a family meal !!

Grandpa and his girls !

We managed to do our share of eating this weekend too! On Saturday night it was Greek food at the Greek Islands Restaurant. They can serve your meal family style and we had a blast feasting on saganaki, tzatziki, taramasalata, pasticcio and several other delicious dishes. Then Sunday evening we went to the Weber Grill for a belated 25th anniversary celebration for Bill and Pat. My filet was superb! I know, I'm becoming obsessed with taking strange photos, but I really could cut this with my fork! We also had lunch on Monday at a Thai restaurant. So we had a global gastronomical weekend.

One more stop for the weekend was Hannah's Home Accents in Antioch, Illinois. We went to find some quilting fabric for a project that Pat is working on but they have much more than fabric. I was impressed by the large inventory of Crocs ! Check out their website and blog.

Now that I've bored you all with family photos this week's blog wouldn't be complete without a pet photo ! So here is my oldest "grand kitty" Decibel. She loves to sit on her mama's deck and watch the ground squirrels.

Thank you all for a great weekend - wish we could do this more often.