Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Virginia wanderings

On the road again... we're off to Wilmington, Delaware after a delay while we replaced the alternator yesterday in Farmville, Virginia. We had been on the road to Norfolk, Virginia for a game last night, followed by a game in Salisbury, Maryland late this morning, but Arby just stopped yesterday and wouldn't go any farther. We were very glad to have repaired the generator in Louisiana, as that allowed us to wait in relative comfort (air conditioning) for the two hours it took to get a tow - they need special equipment for an RV. I even fell fast asleep while waiting.

Having emergency services with AAA was great- they did the work of finding the nearest business that could work on it, and we had to stay overnight because they had to order the alternator.

We've stayed in hotels or motels about 12 days of this trip, for various reasons, and for the most part, we've stayed in Hampton Inns, which are fairly priced and are always good. We've had one poor place- a Days Inn in Jackson, TN, and two superb nights in the Craddock Terry Hotel in Lynchburg, Virginia. It's a boutique hotel that was having a special "dog days of summer" (they got that right!)so it was affordable. It's a reconditioned shoe factory. Every room is architecturally unique, and very large scaled- 14 foot ceilings, a room that made the king-sized bed look small and lovely fittings. They have a shoe motif- pictures of shoes in each room, a plaque of a shoe style on each room door, and a massive red high-heeled shoe mounted below the hotel sign. I highly recommend the hotel!

Posting pictures turns out to be a problem- we have very little time with good wifi that would allow the full service features of the laptop. This entry is composed on an iPad while Joe drives, and I have yet to figure out how to add photos from the iPad, as it doesn't hold photo files in folders where I could fetch them to add to the picture upload section of blogger. If anyone has clues for me about how to post, I'd appreciate it!

Joe's singing continues to be excellent and memorable. He gets hearty applause and many comments from folks in the stands-- it matters that the song is sung straight, with dignity, and without decoration.

______________________ The part I tried to post a few days ago.

For a thorough overview of the trip so far, please check out this link to an article today in the Roanoke Times written by Dan Casey. He has captured not only the essence of the trip but also has lots of interesting data and anecdotes.

My apologies for no postings this last week. I was on vacation in DC visiting friends while Joe toured in Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.   We're back on the road this morning, heading for Lynchburg, VA where we stayed just before DC- it's a lovely place!  Joe sings in Pulaski ( 2 to 2.5 hours one way) and Salem (1.25 hrs one way) and then we scoot over to the other side of the state, Norfolk, and  on up into Maryland that same night.

After a week of touring, visiting and shopping, I'm definitely on the road again- and cheerful!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Places We've LIked

America is full of lovely places, and we have been lucky to find many.  As you see the pictures, you’ll probably notice that I enjoy lush greenery.  The dappled light of the eastern hardwood forests is a lovely sight for me. 
We’ve found many spots to visit- some the homes of friends, some RV parks, and some historical places.  And we’re only about one third through the tour.  Who knows what else we’ll find! 

Kentucky has much natural beauty- the limestone outcroppings along the Louisville roadsides, the Japanese dogwoods at the home of friends, the Appalachian arts feel of Berea Kentucky.  A beautiful state, and I didn’t even include any of the grandeur of bluegrass horse farms in Kentucky. 
Butterfly shaped bench outside the Berea College handicrafts building in Berea, KY . Students  at Berea all learn trades  as well as attend classes. 
Japanese dogwood- found at the home of our friends Ken and Cheryl Rich in Williamstown, KY. 

The rail fence on this public park in Berea, KY  is reminiscent of the Abraham Lincoln homestead in Kentucky.

Alabama has many charms, but none as compelling as the home of our new friends, the Ross family, just outside of Huntsville. Their 300 acre farm had just had the hay baled, and their gracious home sheltered us for three very hot days. 

 Hay has just been baled on the Ross farm outside Huntsville, Alabama.

Joe enjoys a cool airconditioned workspace on the sunporch at the Ross farm's home.

Asheboro, North Carolina was our headquarters for four days as it was a central hub for four ball games- in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Durham and Kannapolis.  Just south of Asheboro we found one of the two remaining covered bridges in North Carolina.  Beautifully restored and without any commercialism, it was a serene and lovely picnic site.  

Pisgah Covered Bridge.

Interior of the Pisgah Covered Bridge, south of Asheboro, NC.

Bridge on the walkway of the trail near Pisgah Covered Bridge. 

Summer cookhouse of the McLean home at Appomatox. 

Virginia is for lovers, as the tourism motto goes-- and that goes for lovers of history and lush landscaping as well. We were able to visit the beautifully restored village of Appomattox Court House, where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, thus beginning the end of the Civil War and the reunification of the United States. 
The Appomattox Court House area has been restored to original condition of the roads, building and homes. Somehow I can't picture antebellum scenes this tightly groomed, though it's quite pretty.

The desk in the parlor at the McLean House where Grant sat as he presented terms of surrender to Robert E. Lee.

Interior of a slave cabin behind the McLean home in Appomatox Court House, VA.
Dining Room of the McLean house, where Lee surrendered to Grant, which began the end of the Civil War.

Lastly, we recently stayed at the Lynchburg RV Park in Gladys, VA, and had no idea an RV park could be so pretty.  Our site was lakeside, yet nestled among the trees. Scenic yet private. What more could we ask? There's no place like home, especially if it's a home that rolls through beautiful scenery!

View from our bedroom window!

My cozy bunk, nestled in the woods.  Ahhh.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Fun is THAT?

Ball parks are fun.  If they weren't, they wouldn't be enjoying the crowds that show up to cheer the team on to victory.  They're full of excitement, movement, sound, food, fun promotional activities, and on top of all that, there's a live sports event to watch, complete with surprises, great hopes, the chance to cheer or boo the players or the umps, and get your heart racing with the hopes that this time the batter might hit it out of the park! 
But. (If you know me, you knew there was a "but" coming.) Not everyone is a fan of baseball.  There, I said it.  And have implied that I am one of those who is not a fan of baseball. This leads to cognitive dissonance, at the very least, as it seems I have signed on for a tour of excessive visits to minor league baseball parks this season. 
And the actual truth is that I cannot call myself a true fan of baseball.  I am a fair weather fan of baseball games that are populated by people I like to spend time with.  I am certain that I am not alone in this description.  Many people like passing the time with friends and family that are true fans, and that's the category in which I belong. 
Note the term "fair weather" fan.  Weather has been a deeply important factor in my daily life on this trip. At home, Whittier weather is pretty constant. Sunny and dry.  Sunny and hot.    Overcast and cool.  On the hottest days, I hide indoors as it seems there is a somewhat narrow range of temperature in which I can remain cheerful- say between 65 and 85 degrees fahrenheit outdoors. And home is not humid.  
Since Texas, we've had intermittent spells of such hot weather that my orientation has been focused on finding relief.  On one particularly hot day- nearly 100 degrees at 11 am, game time in San Antonio,  we were given seats in the hot sun- none other available, and I insisted that we leave the park before one inning had passed- all Joe got to do was sing and leave.  I had spent about 45 minutes of standing in shaded heat waiting for him to do all his pre-singing prep.  The singing takes less than two minutes, but the prep can range from 30 minutes to much longer. Though leaving the game without getting to watch any of it is not Joe's first choice, he is gracious enough to realize that it's best we go if I insist. 

The rain cover is being rolled out at 7:10--to be put away at 10:00!
The "much longer" record for time spent in preparation for a game is currently three hours. Durham, North Carolina was our destination when we set out from Zooland RV Park, in Asheboro, about an hour away.  It was warm and dry, but we'd heard reports of rain and brought umbrellas in the car. We arrived to find swarms of people there 45 minutes before the game, a sold out crowd because the Boy Scouts were going to camp on the field that night. An oversight by someone in the administration left us with no tickets waiting at will-call, so they printed up some that put us in the picnic area (full sun, bring your own chairs).  Not a good start for me on a warm humid day.  Joe immediately found a staffer who provided two seats, with apologies that they weren't in the same row- sold out for today! 
Joe went his way with his notebooks and camera and pitch pipe, but soon found me to tell me that the forecast had strong showers to show up just at game time. There would be a delay, and I would be advised to find a place to get protection during the rain.  There were some empty seats in an uncovered area, but since it was sold out, I wasn't comfortable taking someone else's seat and being asked to leave. 
It rained for three hours. By then I was not in a good mood, though I will say that the one fourth of the original group in attendance who had not gone home was quite cheerful when the game started at 10 pm. Most were scouts, who still planned to camp on the field. I was not a happy camper.  It had been hot, noisy, sticky and solitary for me to the point that when Joe finally showed up to keep me company I had nothing to say, but only sulked. It's not fun feeling trapped at a ballpark - or anywhere, I suppose, but this was hard, as I'd chosen to come. 
So. The solution to the dilemma is to decide more carefully which games to attend.  I had prepared for all sorts of alternatives, most involving sitting out the game time at a coffee shop, as what else is open in the evening? - or staying at the RV, which at least has diversions like books and movies and even sometimes internet access.  
In my ill humor after the three hour Durham rain delay (yes, I did insist on leaving immediately after he sang), I silently vowed to myself to never attend a game again. Note the "silently".  It's easier to break vows to yourself (if they ever were true vows, anyway- actually more persistent petulance) if you haven't shared them.  Planning up until the last moment to avoid the next game, I gave in and climbed the steps to the concourse at the Lynchburg Hillcats. 

That was a great decision.  Though I'd spent the pre-game time plugged into my iPhone music to avoid the droning announcements on the speaker, I noticed some very spirited fans behind me, and soon was unable to keep from interacting.  They had loudly praised the quality of Joe's singing and began discussing how wonderful it was that he was crossing the country on this tour.  "With his wife!", I chimed in, starting up a set of interactions that was to be the most pleasant yet at a ball game.  Six women slightly older than I were loud, happy and devoted fans of the home team.  They attended two or three times a week and provided extensive local color- when the announcer failed to urge the team on with the trumpet call answered three times by "CHARGE!!", this group took it upon themselves, started up by the trumpet sound of a most enthusiastic and LOUD member of the group.  It was terrific fun. The general manager dropped by to see Joe, then the son of the owner, and one of the women started hooting at Dennis, who they said was a terrific sports broadcaster at the local TV station.  
At the entry to the Lynchburg Hillcats park
"Hey, why don't we get Dennis to put the anthem singer on TV?" they discussed, then one of the group took off to make this suggestion.  Soon the camera swung around and we were all being filmed.  After Dennis had put all his equipment away, the game got interesting -it had been a very slow start to the action, but Dennis still gave it up for the night, and came to interview Joe.