Shay Crazy

We awoke to a beautiful mountain day at our little cabin. We had to be out by 11:00 and we efficiently went about having breakfast, tidying up and packing the car. We thought we might go to blowing rock or grandfather mountain, but as we got to the blue ridge parkway we changed our minds and decided to just head home so we could see Shay sooner.

Are we the only people who cuts our vacation short because we miss our dog? It was not as if we had been away for weeks, or were just sick of each other’s company. We just wanted a good Shay snuggle.

We drove without stopping for lunch and you know if we skip lunch to get home earlier something is up. We headed straight to Shay’s sitter’s and got her just as the sky’s opened up and there was a huge deluge. That ended our perfect weather streak.

It was coming down so hard that when we pulled into the driveway we just stayed in the car playing with Shay until Russ eventually braved the rain and ran into the garage for umbrellas.

Apparently we missed quite a bit of bad weather. Our power was out for 12 hours last night according the texts from Duke Energy. I was thankful to come home to a cool house that was fully powered and a happy puppy who likes to snuggle no matter the temperature.

Great Day, In Every Way

Some vacation days are more perfect than others, at least for me. We started the day with a beautiful walk around Bass pond. The breeze was just enough to keep you dry and cool, but not so much that your hair did an unattractive dance. It was sweet of Russ and Carter to do this flat walk with me before they went off to do a strenuous waterfall climb on rocks rather than on a trail.

The perfect part for me was I sat on the front porch and read my book and did not hear a person, car or plane. It was not quite as tranquil for Russ and Carter because they had to jump from rock to rock as they climbed up the waterfall and river. It would have been fine except Carter is known to have an accident or two and was worried. Then to add trauma to the whole thing a family came down the other direction and little boy told Carter he had seen snake up river a bit. Not as perfect for Carter. They came hiking home soon after that. No injuries or snakes in tow.

Everyone cleaned up and we went to a beautiful spot up the mountain that had a gorgeous view to have a drink before going off to dinner at the Gamekeeper Restaurant that my friend Christy had recommended. Carter didn’t love that Russ told her it was in the top 100 romantic restaurants on Open Table. Carter had nothing to worry about.

The place is in a house on the side of the mountain. The decorating looks like your Aunt Tilley and Uncle Bub lived there with deer heads on the wall and strange old family photos. The tables were plain wood and the ladder back chairs were straight and uncomfortable. The music was eclectic and weird from Herb Albert to 1920’s jazz with no flow between them.

The menu was interesting as it was a lot of game. The reviews of the food and the place had been spectacular. We ordered fried green tomatoes, escargot, and okra and black eyed peas salad as starters. They were all good, except Russ thought the Okra was not half as good as Carter’s. For dinner I had duck and Russ and Carter had trout. It was also good, but not spectacular. Despite all that I have written on the place we had a lovely dinner just being together.

We returned to the cabin to sit by the fire pit and this was the highlight of the whole trip. Something wonderful happens by the fire. We talked and shared and loved each other. The kind of talk that you will talk about years from now. It was the perfect last night in the mountains.

Mountain Day

Russ awoke early and took a hike in the woods and then came home and made me his best breakfast of avocado toast and slow cooked eggs. It was a lovely way to begin the vacation day.

We are staying in a small cabin off a long dirt road on the side of a mountain at the edge of a huge National Forest. It could not be more peaceful and relaxing. After we all had breakfast we set off on a trek to find the tubing spot we were going to on the New River. The water in the river is low which made our two mile float take over two hours.

Two hours floating down a river is the ultimate unhooking from the outside world. The only thing we encountered was a father and his three year old son tubing and a couple of kayakers who paddled past us at a clip we could only imagine.

Russ named the most exciting part of the float a short stint of “rapids” as a .5 on the five point scale. We could have done the whole loop a second time but since we did not bring any food with us we decided that lunch was in order.

Russ and Carter had seen a sign that Carter misread as Nachos, so that is what they got in their tastebud brains we should have. Nachos meant another run back to the grocery store on our way home from rafting.

Carter volunteered to do the cooking so Russ and I sat on the porch and enjoyed the beautiful day. It was four thirty by the time lunch was served, but it was an instagram worthy sight to behold. Cat naps after lunch and we have fully evolved into vacation mode. I am enjoying everyone else cooking.

Tonight a fire in the fire pit outside and a night under the stars.

Russ Gets A Vacation

Apparently I have taken a bunch of vacations in the last year and a half and Russ has not. This life of all work had to stop and Carter made it happen. She too has been on quite a few vacations and is good at planning them so she convinced Russ to take a few days off and go to the mountains. I think this is Carter’s way of weening herself of a dozen summers spent at Camp Cheerio.

We rented a little cabin on the edge of the Cherokee National Forest. It was an easy drive since Carter did all the driving as the expert to the mountains. There were only a few stress filled moments as I drove her crazy as the consummate back seat driver.

We stopped in Boone for lunch where I was the only person without a tattoo or homemade shoes. We had a sweet hummingbird dining beside us. I am not quite sure how pot has not been legalized in North Carolina, but when it happens Boone will lead the way.

Our little cabin is exactly what we needed. Russ immediately went out on a hike to get the lay of the land. He already found a waterfall and knows where a second one is.

After we cleaned up we went over to Blowing Rock to visit my Aunt Edie and Uncle Bill. They have been summering in Blowing Rock for eleven years and this is the first time we have come to see them. Eddie is my mother’s youngest sister and Carter has not spent any time with them.

We sat on their porch with a view of nine mountain ridges and had drinks and some nibbles while we caught up. We went into town for dinner and continued our great conversation. Carter wondered why I had kept these relatives from her all these years. I promised it had not been my plan.

Now back snuggled in our little cabin our Russ-along-vacation is off to a very good start.

Comfort and Love

Almost a day doesn’t go by that I am not thankful for Westminster. I am not a religious zealot. I am just a person trying to figure out how to live in this world and do better everyday. The one thing I know is that most everything that happens at church helps me get there and trust me none of it is perfect.

Today I had the pleasure of listening to Davis Bingham sing a solo. His gift of song brings joy to everyone who hears him. I just adore that I have such a sweet relationship with he and his wife Joan because of our church connection.

Russ has agreed to be an elder at church and his training concluded today with his examination for ordination. Thank goodness he passed. He will be a great elder and I am happy that he is offering up his precious time.

Next Sunday he will be ordained along with the four other elders and nine Deacons. Sadly I am missing his big day because I will be in Baltimore. My best college friend Suzanne lost her father earlier in the summer and I am going to the celebration of his 98 years.

If you go to Westminster look out for Russ as he starts this journey without me. Of course I will be back that night, but I wish I could be in two places at once.

Everyday hard things are happening all around us, and Westminster and the people there make it easier. I hope you have a place in your life that makes you feel comfort and love.

Schools Back in NC

Growing up in Connecticut back to school was always the day after Labor Day. I have never gotten used to back to school being in the middle of August, but here it is. Our friend Adam leaves his car at our house over the summer and today he and his Mom, Kelly, arrived to pick it up so he can move into his college apartment.

The news alerted us yesterday that UNC was moving in the past few days and Duke is coming on a Tuesday. This alert is code for, “Don’t try to go to Target, Walmart, Costco or Bed, Bath and Beyond.” Thank goodness I wasn’t going to go in a Walmart anyway.

Adam didn’t store all his stuff in our garage this year. Instead he used a storage service. Turns out that they are a little behind on deliveries because a whole lot of their workers quit. I hope he is able to locate his boxes and if need be Carter and her Land Cruiser can aid in delivering them.

As a sweet thank you for just letting Adam’s car sit in our driveway Kelly took us all out to dinner tonight. It was a wonderful chance to catch up and hear about Adam’s summer in Tanzania. College summers are so different than when I was in college. Adam’s twin Cait was in Australia, Carter was in London and Adam in Africa. Oh what I wouldn’t do to have a college summer. Of course I am not looking to go back to class, certainly not before Labor Day.

Dickinson Reflection

A young woman who is a student at Dickinson College, where I went to school, e-mailed me a few weeks ago asking to meet me for an interview. I agreed and today after I had a very poor showing at bridge I met her at Fosters. Nell, is something called a Presidential Fellow and she was assigned to interview graduates who live in North Carolina.

She was polite, on time and a good conversationalist. She asked me about my time at Dickinson. What did I think was my favorite part about the school? It was an easy question , I said, my friends. I am glad she did not ask me what classes I took sophomore year because I don’t believe I could tell you what anyone of them were, but if you wanted to know the name of every girl in my pledge class I could give you that almost without taking a breath.

I loved my time at Dickinson, but as I told her, I was more interested in clubs and activities than in academics. It worked out well for me as not one potential employer ever asked me for my transcript. They were much more interested in leadership positions I had held.

My best skillI developed in college was public speaking. I got there with a lot of experience from boarding school, but I had bigger audiences in college. To this day talking is my favorite activity. Even at bridge today a woman I was playing against who goes to my church told me she likes when I speak at church.

As Nell continued the interview she was asking me things about how I thought the college could improve. I offered two areas I thought it was lacking, real life job experience for students and for Dickinson to play a bigger role in improving the town of Carlisle.

Central Pennsylvania is not exactly a hot bed of excitement and one small liberal arts college is not likely to fix what years of poor governing has done, but Carlisle is a nice enough town that has potential, but could use a big idea or two.

Liberal arts is a tough sell in these STEM filled times. Not that Dickinson doesn’t offer great science and math that produces a good share of great doctors and researchers, or that liberal studies are not a wonderful foundation for any future, but place it in a sleepy small town and it gets to be a harder sell.

One thing that I learned from Nell is that Dickinson has just two fraternities and many sororities which is a little bit of a flip from my years there. I didn’t ask her what they do for fun. The litigious world we live in has caused all schools to crack down on what we used to do in college. Maybe we need to teach bridge and Mah Jongg at orientation so at least kids can play a game they could play the rest of their lives. If only I had learned to play bridge in college…on second thought I probably would not have graduated.