Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Gallery Windows and Outlooks That Don't

 August 25 - 30, 2022
Salem, Virginia

Thursday's an easy drive on mostly divided highways into the mountains of southern Virginia. It's another new area for us. Dixie Caverns Campground is the easiest of only two RV parks here, and I'm not expecting much. 

So I'm not disappointed when we find a small, rough park between the highway and a large hillside. Several mossy, dented, older rigs that look like they've been here for years, and buildings and picnic benches that have seen better days. We have a 100' pull-through with 50 amp FHUs, and amazingly our satellite connects between the trees. The park WiFi doesn't even show up, but again our MiFi works fine. 

After a few days here I'm noticing those older rigs have pots of flowers, and neat and clean outdoor areas. It's quiet even on the weekend. The highway noise isn't that bad. We'd stay here again :-)

Saturday Bill needs to partake in a prescriptive preparatory procedure for Monday's lab tests so I head out to explore nearby Roanoke with Tessa for a few hours.

The Taubman Art Museum is not only a highly rated institution, both entry and parking are free! The building itself is a work of art with wonderful light coming through windows that frame a variety of scenes that change as you move through the room.

A magical floating display of framed costumes.

Layers of the city.

Downtown rooftop ads from the 1960s.

Windows and roofs from rooftop window.

I'm delighted to find pieces from artists I know - there are probably more "famous" ones here, but I'm no art expert!

Over the River to Grandmother's House on Thanksgiving by Grandma Moses, 1943.

Easily identifiable as a Norman Rockwell, The Little Model (1919) is one I've never seen. It's a new favorite!

Not a well-known artist, but when we were at the national monument we saw many of Joseph Henry Sharp's 200 portraits of warriors who survived Little Big Horn, commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt .

Crow's Foot, 1975,  by my favorite artist, Andrew Wyeth, depicts harbormaster Forrest "Crow" Morris, one of many local community members Wyeth painted while in Maine. 

Seven Deadly Sins by Robert Hite, 2007. Multi-media of found objects. I want to make something like this for the house!

Occasionally a piece makes me curious - "Why does this large photo look different?"

Up close I see the ground cover is actually vintage wallpaper - how? Groundspeed, 2001 by Rosemary Laing. Called a C-type photograph.

Snake Handlers, 1989 by Fred Webster. I'm a big fan of Americana. This would be Bill's favorite :-)

This is not a piece that would normally interest me. Yet I sit and look at it for a long time. Called The Debutante by Antoinette Hale, it is not the young woman who is the point of interest for me, nor the crisp folds of the table and skirt. I spend the time trying to understand the role of the woman with her back turned. Mother? Older sister? Why has she turned her back on this tradition?

The museum is well "paced" for however much time you wish to spend. I'm there about 90 minutes, but it can be enjoyed in an hour, or four! Downtown is busy including the first Saturday market I've managed to get to this summer. I don't get anything from the many booths, catching a few minutes of the street performers along the way. 

At 90 degrees the tree-lined streets are nice for walking.

The magician draws a nice crowd.

"Center in the Square" is a fun area of eateries, artisan shops and boutiques.

And in California....

Elliott - so happy.

Elliott - so cool :-)

There are actual caverns at Dixie Caverns, but as much as I always want to go inside these beautiful natural wonders, I know I'd regret it. The giant metal doors that close behind you here make my heart race just looking at them from the outside :-) Instead we opt for a more wide-open exploration. The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center looks like a good place to start, but after the 37 mile drive we find it's not a national park visitor center. It's a private tour company with a surrounding park. Arrggh. We find the parkway and drive about 10 of the 470 miles pulling into "overlooks" that don't. 

I'm sure the roads are glorious dressed in fall colors in a few weeks, but today there is little to see but more green trees. Downtown Roanoke is busy so we find a small eatery out of town - Scratch Biscuit Company is as good as it sounds! Best sausage gravy ever - and yes the biscuits are great.

A small place that smells like fresh baked biscuits.

After Bill's lab tests and a grocery run on Monday, we wrap up our stay with a drive to the top of Mill Mountain. At just 1700 feet it's really a hill, but does give us a nice view of Roanoke Valley. The Roanoke Star was built in 1949, standing 100 feet tall including the frame. At night it can be seen from 60 miles away. It symbolizes the progressive spirit of Roanoke, the star city of the south. 

At 73 years old this metal structure is in better shape than many others in this climate.

7-year-old Ezra out for coffee with Daddy.

I'm glad our Tuesday drive is a short one as we're meeting up with a wonderful friend who I'm so excited to see after too long!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

All About the Girls

 August 20 - 25, 2022
Powhatan, Virginia

We're on the road early Saturday morning, anxious to see those grands south of Richmond, Virginia. It's just 126 miles south, then west across Chesapeake Bay - but with bridges, tunnels, toll booths, traffic slowdowns, and road construction, it's five hours later when we pull off another narrow country road into Cozy Acres RV Park

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is impressive, and the bay is the longest span of water we've crossed driving the motorhome.

And then they break things up a bit by dropping the road under the water - twice!  

The tunnel is two feet wide, five feet tall, traffic in both directions three inches apart, surrounded on all sides by that big bay, with signs to keep your speed up!

At the campground we have 50 amp FHUs on a level gravel site in the trees, I'm not expecting satellite here. The spaces aren't large, but are staggered nicely to give a feel of more room and more privacy. No park WiFi, but again our MiFi has fair signal. 

About three hours into our drive Reese and Penelope's dad Travis calls to say the girls both woke up with stuffy noses :-(((. They're getting them tested and will let us know. At this point unless they have the plague we're going to see them!!

An hour after our arrival we get the "all-clear!" and are out the door to go see family. We visit for a bit at their pretty home in a new development on the edge of the forest. We wrap up our first day with margaritas and tasty Mexican vittles - and best of all, sweet grands.

Penelope is such a happy girl.

Reese cuddles and giggles with Mommy.

Penelope and her PopPop


Sunday is cooler with rain, and our breakfast with Travis and Reese becomes brunch when the eateries are packed. Waiting with family doesn't seem as long :-)

Two-year-old Reese impresses us with her coloring!

Richmond has several nice museums and Reese is a fan of the Science Museum so we spend the afternoon exploring. I agree with Reese, it's a fun place!

Bill and Travis check out the wind room - they bail at 81 mph. It says it goes up to 251 mph but that doesn't seem safe!

Tiny moon rock - still intrigues me that there are pieces of the moon here on Earth.

A large curved wall of water bottles with changing light colors, a screen with plastic usage and water consumptions facts, and music that makes the lights dance - a very fun visual.

Reese races the pink shark - and wins!!

Real time counts of internet usage - the emails are flipping 10M per second!

Physics fascinates me, but I understand very little of it. Higgs Super Collider pictured - doesn't answer any questions, but it's very cool!

Now the joy of tubes of sparkly glitter water on a spinning board - that I totally understand!!

Reese, Nawma and Tessa figuring out the pedal exhibit - nothing in the instructions make your legs long enough to reach.

Behind me is Mommy using the large rope and lever to lift Reese, Daddy and Penelope in an iron cage - she's strong!

Reese has all the moves!

The experiment is to see how small you make yourself, but of course bright pink changing squares is much more fun to dance in!

The whole shark experience area is well done, but the multi-screen movie room is the best!!

Reese is as captivated as Daddy and PopPop


Beautiful Emily saves my sad selfie attempt - at least with the mask you're not looking up my nose!

Reese building a castle. I'm delighted that she loves the apron I got her in the UP. 

Penelope showing Nawma how things work.

COVID has brought us many changes - this may be my favorite. A real hands-free door in all the restrooms.

Having five of the six sons, and all the grands, in one area of SoCal sounds great - seems you could see all of them and have more time together. The reality has never worked that way for us. Too many different work and school schedules usually meant one or two short visits with each, and maybe a gathering of a few of them on an afternoon. Not only are we excited for the opportunities Travis and Emily are enjoying by moving to Virginia, but selfishly we're most excited to be able to visit with just them and the girls. Hanging out at their home with no schedule pressures (Travis gets off at 3 and Em works from the house) for five days is wonderful! 

When the princess says you're a unicorn - you're a unicorn!

Tessa makes sure no one forgets who's the best girl.

Our last day :-((((( Tessa finally gets groomed, which takes the whole morning, we get caught up on laundry, and then meet the family for early dinner and fun. 

And just like that our time here is over, and it's time to continue west. As it always does with family, it went by too, too fast.