Tuesday, July 19

Island Time Crochet Afghan

So.... I guess I haven't been keeping up with my new year's resolution to blog every day. Life is too short for that.  But I'm here now.  For a minute.

I've started a new crochet blanket that I wanted to share.  It's gorgeous.  It's called Island Time and is a pattern by Mallory Krall. You can purchase the pattern on NautiKrall or Ravelry. Wouldn't this be great in a beach house?

I've been crocheting for about four years now. You can tell by my seams that I'm not an expert yet.  I really need to learn to do better seams. Some of my afghans are for sale and some I have gifted. My artsy side met up with my hippie side and resulted in a love for crochet... and less time for blogging. 

What do you love doing right now?

Tuesday, June 14

Grandfather Mountain Camping Trip


           Grandfather Mountain in profile.

So we crossed the Tyger River once again and headed upstate, crossed the NC border and flew through Linville Falls to arrive in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain just before bedtime. We had three tent sites and one cabin reserved at our beloved Grandfather Campground. My son brought his golf cart and upon arrival, I was greeted with the grandkids piled on the golf cart, riding precariously through the campground yelling "POOKIE!"  I arrived.

How ironic my cabin was on Granny Branch Drive. Charlie commenced to calling me Granny instead of Pookie. I've always been a tent camper.  Until my fifties. My hips... back... and shoulders all require extra padding from the ground now, so it's either an air mattress or a cabin for me.  Don't judge.

Grandfather Campground is well-kept and clean.  They have a small playground, a wonderful creek, a trout pond and a gem mining facility for the kids. They are close to many area attractions - Boone, Blowing Rock, Mystery Hill, Grandfather Mountain, Linville Falls, and Linville Caverns to name a few.

You can always find a big rock next to a creek on which to picnic.

On Day One, we headed to Grandfather Mountain. The entry price is steep, I'm not sure it's worth it. They enjoyed the mile high bridge.  Used to be the "swinging bridge," but it's been rebuilt and doesn't swing anymore. 

Across the bridge, you can hike a little and enjoy the rock croppings. There are several hikes within the park. There's a lame zoo type thing the kids might like and plenty of picnic areas. 

Back at the campground, the kids enjoyed trout fishing and gem mining. Also, cornhole and horseshoes. I enjoyed the campfire.

On day two, we headed to Linville.  The kids went to Linville Caverns while I went to one of my favorite places in the southeast:  Wiseman's View.  The kids were highly disappointed with the caverns. First, you had to wear a mask - in June of 2022.  A covid mask. The three year old wouldn't keep hers on and they were kicked out of the caverns tour because of it. The others who finished the tour said the tour guide was horrible and rushed them through it.

As for Wiseman's View..... it did not disappoint. The drive up is not for regular vehicles. It's literally a 20 minute drive up a dirt road with huge potholes and divets. A car or van or SUV CAN make the drive, but you will probably need an adjustment afterwards. My Jeep did amazingly well.  I was bounced around a LOT.

Upon arrival at Wiseman's View, I had a five minute jaunt down a paved trail to the lookout. The view is spectacular.  You HAVE to go at sunrise though to really see the beauty.  I've gone at sunrise plenty of times and it is creepy to walk that five minute jaunt in the woods alone.  But so worth it.

Linville Gorge

The view across the gorge at Table Rock.

After my view, I headed to the caverns parking lot to meet up with the kids for a picnic lunch. Then Patti, the kids and I hiked up to the Upper Falls of Linville Falls.  I tried to remember how to get to the swimming hole we found years previously, but I couldn't find it.

We cooled our feet in the pond under the falls. Such a relaxing break.

The Upper Falls are just a short hike from the parking lot. It is hilly and a little more strenuous than a "moderate" hike. If you feel like hiking more, you can proceed up the trail to the chimney, a much more strenuous hike, where you get a view of both the Upper and Lower Falls.

We then went back to the campground for more gem mining.

I slept in the tent that night with NO air mattress. Just like the old days when I was young and spry. I was awakened at 7 am (late for me) by Benji's pounding on rocks to break them open and find gems.

I strongly recommend this campground and activities. If you can afford Grandfather Mountain, then go for it.  If it's a strain, then skip it.  Blowing Rock is a good alternative and the town has an excellent playground for the kids. Also, somewhere along the Watauga River, there is a great jumping-off point we enjoyed one year.  Not sure how to locate it now or if it's still there. You can see it near the end of the video in this blogpost.

Enjoy!  Keep an eye out for Hillbilly Sam, NC's oldest Hillbilly.

Tuesday, February 15

Juliette, Georgia

So 2 friends and I crossed the South Edisto, and the Savannah rivers, passed mistletoe park with no one to kiss, crossed Oconee Lake and found ourselves gliding through the shady Oconee National Forest.

After crossing Standard Creek, we hung a sharp left and crossed the Tomaliga river, coming to a slow crawl on McCrackin Street in Juliette, Georgia.

Home of Whistlestop Cafe. The place where the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed. A shrine. And we were giddy. 

As we waited for the restaurant to open, we gazed at the Ocmulgee river and the railroad tracks where Buddy lost his arm.

We walked around back to see Smokey's little bungalow and we caught the waitresses having a break on the back patio. We had one foot in 1991 and one foot in 2022. It was hard to toggle back and forth.

I think I prefer the '90s.... But anyway....

Our name was called and we entered the restaurant, taking photos of the famous booths. Of course we started with the fried green tomatoes which were incredible. We avoided the barbecue because we know the "secret's in the sauce" and we know what that secret is.

We all three got the country fried steak which was also incredible. We got different side dishes and some cornbread. Everything was fantastic and it was worth the 3-hour drive just to eat at this restaurant.

In movie terms, I am Idgie and I was trying to figure out which of my two friends would be Ruth and neither one really fit the bill. Either one could have been Evelyn scaring the young people in the parking lot.

After lunch we strolled the street and visited the gift shops. We found where Buddy's arm was buried and then we drove to the church where Ruth and Buddy were buried and their tombstones remain. We were quite surprised to see that fictional characters have a tombstone in a real grave with the beloved remains of real people. That tells you how loved this movie is.

We spent about two and a half hours in Juliette and loved every minute of it. We had a 3-hour drive each way and it was worth it.  My advice is that you watch the movie, go to Juliette, and then watch the movie again.  And definitely try the fried green tomatoes.

Saturday, January 29

Racing in my Genes

I took three year old Becca to the zoo yesterday and as we were driving down I-20 she expressed this observation:  "Pookie, your jeep goes FAST!" I smiled because really it doesn't. It's a 2-door soft-top Jeep Wrangler that shakes, rattles and pops and has little to no credible acceleration.  But OK, a three year old is impressed. I straightened my back a little, held my head up proudly.

Fifteen minutes later, Becca excitedly, confidently inquires, "Did we win yet, Pookie?!"

I smiled again because that's my girl! That's right, baby, we're in a tough vehicle, riding rough, going fast and we will win, suckers.

I don't really think I'm competitive, am I? I'm pretty cautious, kind of mellow.

Except for that time with the Busbees..... OK, so I was pretty riled up there.

And of course I get obsessed with the Dakar Rally every year.

And well, I worked for a place called The Race Shop.

Errr, I write an awful lot about Enduros.

Argh, I even love glider racing.

So maybe I do like racing.

But I'm not competitive.


Sunday, January 23

Dakar 2022 Sketches

I was again obsessed with the Dakar Rally during the first two weeks of January. I usually just watch the bikes, but this year I was also interested in the Light Prototype because I was following "Tomb RaiderAnnie Seel and Annett Fischer.  They came in #1 in all women team and #15 overall. Anyway, here are my sketches from this year.

Seel and Fischer's Ride
soft pastel:

Annett Fischer, beginning, day one

Toby Price, end of day full of trouble
water soluble graphite:

Manuel Andjubar
water soluble graphite with watercolor:

Adrien Vanbeveren, end of good day
soft pastel:

That's it!

Dakar 2021 Sketches

Sunday, January 9

Iceman Championship 2022

So I crossed the North Edisto and much later, the Saluda, breezed along the Saluda just short of Riverbanks Zoo and downshifted the Jeep as I approached the Saluda Riverwalk on Saturday, January 8. There was no parking, cars were lined up along the road and I parked the half mile away in an empty yoga studio parking lot. 

The Mill Race Massacre and Iceman Championship was in full gear when I arrived. Around 50 kayakers were doing their best to out perform each other on the icy Saluda. Maybe some were just trying to beat their own record.

The Saluda Riverwalk is new to Columbia and offers a wooden walkway along the river, picnic tables, restroom. I haven't kept up with the river scene in Columbia for the past couple of years so it's possible the walkway connects with other River walkways. I think the city was trying to get them all connected. I didn't walk far enough to find out.

I was there to play around with my camera. I was disappointed to find that I had the settings wrong and the pictures aren't quite right. I was also there as a fellow kayaker however this is not the kayaking that I do. I ride the sit on top kayak and just float down a lazy river with no white water.  These kayakers probably resent that I used the word kayak. 

Anyway, it was a beautiful day and I thought you might enjoy the pictures. Even overcast, cold days can be beautiful.

Friday, December 31

In which no news is good news

Christmas went well. There were absolutely no hilarious mishaps to report.  It was indeed an unfortunate choice not to have a trash committee, that issue blossomed.

This was a special year with all of us together. Robby and Ollie were napping and, sadly, are not pictured.

I forgot my apple bread and left it in the freezer. Jerry brought 15 lb of mashed potatoes. And everybody had trouble with the 70 plus degree weather. Otherwise, it was a wonderful reunion. So good to spend three days together.

Also, very happy to see 2021 come to a close.

Saturday, December 25

Committees are the secret to a successful Christmas

Merry Christmas!  I'm up at 5:00 waiting for the Cousin Crew to wake up.

Christmas Eve was a blast!

Maybe too much fun for a few.

The night started with a meeting of the Chair Committee.  Followed by a briefing from the Utensil Committee. The Food Committee took over and all went well.

We had our traditional lasagne dinner followed by the stocking stuffers exchange wherein the most coveted and traded gifts included a Chick Fil A card and an autographed photo of Eric Estrada that was clearly regifted.

The least traded gift was a dose of GasX which the original recipient was stuck with. Which was totally appropriate since it was dad.

The evening ended with hugs and kisses and me whispering to dad, "We have a situation brewing."

Yikes! We never formed a Trash Committee. 😧

Friday, December 24

Cousin David Update

Within hours of starting my blog up again, who magically appeared through the back door while we were eating lunch?

He has aged a little since my blogging days, no? He and Lexi stopped by to show us their new car:

We kicked the tires and smelled the interior, oooh'd and ahhh'd, and talked for awhile.  It was so good to see them again and I think he has made it clear that he's ready for the blog to crank back up, too. 

Then the little woman called to see what was taking him so long.  (She might not be as eager for the return of the blog.)

Thursday, December 23

Crossing the Catawba Again

So I crossed the Catawba again.  Back in my blogging days, when I crossed the Catawba, it meant I was going to see my nana. But now I would have to cross the Jordan in order to see my nana again. So when I cross the Catawba now, I'm either meeting Cousin David for wings or going to visit my mom and dad.

In this case, it was Mom and Dad.

As they approached their eighties, mom and Dad decided to sell the family home and downsize to a condominium. At which point, the grandchildren cried out for one last Christmas at Mimi and Papa's house. Mimi and Papa acquiesced, albeit with fear and trembling.

As Christmas drew near, they wondered more and more how they could possibly host 28 people for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Several under the age of 9 and rather mischievous, slightly brutal to home decor. 

So that's what led me to cross the Catawba three days before Christmas in the difficult year of 2021.

As I dusted the four bedroom home, climbed the rickety 1910 wooden ladder to fix the garage door opener and drizzled chocolate over 61 truffles (but who's counting?), I found myself longing for wings with Cousin David.

And thinking of Cousin David made me want to blog again because my faithful readers have always enjoyed following the life of Cousin David.

It was also a couple of faithful readers who suggested I might start blogging again. And with 28 family members in a four bedroom house for 2 days, what could provide better blogging material??

Drop a comment and tell me how you plan to celebrate christmas.

Saturday, January 16

Dakar 2021 Sketches

Dakar 2021 has concluded after two harsh weeks of excitement and cut-throat competition. Manuel Andujar took first place in the Quads. 

Kevin Benavides (ARG / Honda) took first in the Bikes with Ricky Brabec (USA / Honda) at second and the adorable Sam Sunderland (GBR / KTM) taking third place.

Those are generally the only rankings I watch, however, I was watching the cars this year for Cyril Despres (FRA) because I was a huge fan of his when he did Bikes. Back in the day. 

So here are a few sketches I did during the Dakar.

A watercolor based on a published photo by Charly Lopez.

A pencil sketch of Cyril Despres based on a Red Bull Content Pool photo.

A colored pencil sketch of Manuel Andujar at the finish line, winner of the Quads.

A watercolor of Toby Price.

Toby Price at the start.

Sunday, November 29

Wiseman's View, Linville Gorge, Marion, NC Blue Ridge Parkway

I went back to one of my favorite places in America for a sunrise view - the Linville Gorge at Linville Falls, NC.  For sunrise, go to Wiseman's View, but you should have 4 wheel drive. It's a long drive on a gravel road with giant potholes. Every single passenger in your car will complain.  So worth it.

For sunset, go to the other side of the gorge at Table Rock, hike up to the Chimneys for an amazing sunset.

Sunrise at Wiseman's View:

Great view of Table Rock, NC:

I have two or three more weeks of work in Boone, working 6 days a week. Not sure where next Sunday will lead me, but I'll keep you posted. Muah, darlings.