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Monday, July 6, 2009

Visiting Rich and Linda

I was invited to spend July 4 with some friends who run a B&B in Monterey, VA. I had not visited with Rich and Linda in quite some time. I used to help them a little when they first started running the B&B. Helping out there satisfied my desire to run a B&B and it gave me an escape on weekends from my real life. I soon became attached to the town and many of the people there. I purchased and operated a Gallery for a couple of years, which I sold to Rich and Linda when I left Monterey. The three of us have made a lot of history together. My life spiraled out of control for a long time. I tried to keep everyone outside of the spiral, and in doing so, lost touch with many people that I cared about. Rich and I started reconnecting when he started reading my blogs. Through them he could see that life was returning to me and he saw the me he knew so long ago, the me I had so carefully hidden. He is right. Because time heals and sometimes we are fortunate enough to find our way back…to spiral our way back outside of the spiral. And if we are really lucky, we find those we cared about and we reconnect…as if it were yesterday.

I joyfully accepted the invitation. I prefer traveling in my vehicle because it allows me to pack options. I put new tires on my battered mountain bike (circa 1978) and loaded it into my car because Highland County is a great place to ride. I took lots of CDs (duh), a book (What Southern Women Know, recommended by a friend) and flannel PJs (cause I love crawling into them). I was glad that I had taken a long sleeve Tshirt and a jean jacket as I needed them in the cool mountain air. Some would say Monterey is one of those places that ya can’t git to from here. Yes you can, and the gittin’ there is good. It is a beautiful drive across 4 mountains (or is it 3 mountains and a ridge?). Arriving felt like coming home. I got to stay in my old room.

The house is on Mill Alley (it travels east and west, or is it north and south???)

And there are beautiful old rambling roses that grow over the wall in front.

Rich and I stopped in to say hello to Joan, who was shop sitting.

Then Rich and I did some porch sitting. That's what you do when you want to get reacquainted with someone. Rich and I had a lot of talking to do, so we porch sat.

Nothing like a dog at your feet when you are porch sittin'...

and a good glass of wine served in a beautiful glass purchased in the Czech Republic.

We aren't the only ones that like to sit this perch, I mean porch.

Linda was working at the Gallery while Rich and I were porch sitting. We were glad when she got home. They didn't have anything for me to play my CDs on, but she introduced me to Pandora Radio on the internet. I discovered some music I don't have, but I will.

The salmon, corn, broccoli salad and fresh baked bread made for a wonderful dinner. We sat at the table with a view.

After dinner, one should take an evening stroll. Especially when you live in a picturesque place like this. My favorite walk is up the hill to the cemetary behind the house...cause of the kind of stuff ya see on this walk.

I used to walk up to the cemetary often, back in the day. The first time I walked here I "met" Mary Cook. I have visited her often since our first encounter. I like that she tells you she had lived 60 years, 1 month and 23 days when she died October 6, 1901. I am so curious about her. Why would someone have inscribed on her tombstone "She hath done what she could"?

Sunday morning Rich and Linda served bacon and blueberry buttermilk pancakes while some of us watched and waited patiently.

Making pancakes is quite a science, which requires math skills when doubling the recipe. Sshh! Don't anyone talk. When you do, Rich forgets what he put in the batter last. Was it sugar??

While breakfast was being prepared, I got the boot. Rich's boot that is. I wanted to go outside in the rain to photograph the squash blooms. I put on Rich's boots, tied them around my leg and I was good to go. Boots, PJs and a little coffee. You have to take me as I am.

Great breakfast. It fortified me for the entire day.

I got to visit Joan and Tom before leaving town. Some people are afraid of Tom cause he is a tough cookie. But not me. I think he is a teddy bear.

Joan is quite the gardner. She loves it. I love what she does.

I gotta tell Shaun to let Tim know I spotted another successful hangy-upside-down-tomato plant.

I started driving back home over the the rain. I was wet and cold when I got home because I had to stop a few times to take photos or just to look. Sometimes you just can't get the camera ready fast enough. Like when the black bear crossed the road in front of my car. I pulled over to watch him as he climbed the hill and was satisfied with that.

I am grateful that Rich saw a glimpse of the me he once knew and that he and Linda invited me to their home. It felt like coming home. Staying in my old room. The familiarity of the kitchen. The cemetary walk. The porch sitting. My long catching up talks with Rich. I was happy to see Tom and Joan once more. This place and these four people took care of me in many ways during the 2 years I lived here. They were an important safety net for me. They were the comfort zone I needed. I'm glad they did not give up on me.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why Would We Go To Natural Bridge??

Cynthia and I have been saying for 2 years that we wanted to go to Natural Bridge for the day. We had not been since we were small children. It is less than an hour away. Thousands visit it every week. Finally we took the time to make the short drive July 3 since we were both off work that Friday. We were at a birthday party the night before and invited Debbie, knowing she would add to the fun. She spoke to her sister on the phone from my car and she decided to join us. She lives 20 minutes from The Bridge and had never been there. Literally everyone we spoke to asked us why we were going to Natural in, why on earth would you go there? Well, because. We want to. Want is.

So now we have a foursome, 2 sisters and 2 sisters. Cynthia and I...

and Debbie and Dianah.

Turns out it was a great foursome. Debbie is a hoot.

Dianah is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet.
And Cynthia is always up to something.

So off we go to see the Natural Bridge (of Virginia, not Kentucky).

We had barely started when the laughter began. We laughed all day.

You barely start your walk when you get your first glimpse of The Bridge. You can see all the photos you want, but there is something about being in a place. Experiencing the thing. Seeing it your way.

Natural Bridge is a rock formation that was formed when a cavern collapsed leaving the natural arch that stands 215 feet tall and 90 feet wide. In 1750, George Washington surveyed the site for Lord Fairfax and carved his initials into the rock.

Five years later, Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres of land including the Natural Bridge from King George III of England for 20 shillings. It has remained privately owned. Thomas Jefferson built a two room log cabin in the late 1700s; one room was reserved for guests. This was the start of the area becoming a retreat. Jefferson’s heirs sold the retreat in the 1800s and the new owner took the retreat to resort status.

None of us realized there was more to see than The Bridge. The Cedar Creek Nature Trail, about a mile long, provides a wonderful walk that takes you past the Ancient Arbor Vitae Tree, a 1500 year old tree that is 56 inches wide, Saltpeter Cave, The Lost River and Lace Falls. You can also explore the Monacan Indian Village, a reconstruction of life there from 300 years ago.

Arbor Vitae Tree: Before this tree died in 1980, this more than 1500 year old specimen of the Arbor Vitae tree, meaning tree of life, was the largest known in the world. Native Americans used the foliage as a source of vitamin C to prevent scurvy.

Salt Petre Cave: The information provided by the cave says that during the war of 1812 and the Civil War (1861-1865), earth from the Saltpetre Cave was mined for the bird and bat droppings that it contained, to make gunpowder. The earth was saturated with cold water and left in hoppers for a day or two. Once boiled in iron kettles, the mixture of earth and water, called "soak", was filtered through wood ashes, producing a clear solution named nitrate of potassium. Boiled for a second time, the liquid was converted into crystallized salts or "saltpetre", and used to make gunpowder.

Lost River: Legend has it that several unsuccessful attempts were made to locate the underground channels of the Lost River. Colored dyes and flotation devices of all types have failed to determine the source and final destination of this mysterious subterranean river.

You can also explore the Monacan Indian Village, a reconstruction of life there from 300 years ago.

Lace Waterfalls: The information given next to the waterfalls states that the headwaters of Cedar Creek originates from high on the south end of the first ridge of the Alleghany Mountains, 180 miles away. At this point, Cedar Creek plunges 50 feet to the creek bed. After flowing under the Natural Bridge, it continues southeast and enters the James River about a mile away.

You have to have your picture taken in front of the falls. Everybody does. So we did.

And we watched a couple of others...Sears could not have produced a better photo...

We saw other stuff, too...

This couple laughed with us and took our picture in front of the pee place...

Once we finished this wonderful walkabout, we went to the Wax Museum. They said you can take pictures, so Cynthia and I did. Laughter is contagious...especially among the men who were watching us.

Then there was the wax man we all fell in love with....

On the way home, we stopped by Foamhenge. No, I am not making this up. Foamhenge…constructed of foam…is an exact replica of Stonehenge in Great Britain. I'm serious.

So why did we go to Natural Bridge? Because we could...we ain't dead yet. Because the world has so much to offer and we want to see as much as we can. The day turned out far better than we could have imagined. We bonded. We laughed. We left the rest of the world behind for the day and relished in the tranquility this place offered. We talked and laughed with strangers...people we will never see again. We went to Natural Bridge to take a bite of life. Our hunger was satisfied.