Saturday, February 28, 2009

A quiet day in....

Sunday, February 22; Day 3 Travelogue
Nowhere but Petersburg -- 20 miles RT

This morning, I awoke much later than yesterday -- almost a quarter to nine. I rarely get the opportunity to sleep so late. Others were up and stirring before I was, but that was fine by me. I started on the Saturday travelogue and had some breakfast. No coffee this morning for me, which is a bit unusual.

The morning brought partly cloudy skies and occasional flurries. I just sat and marveled at it for a while. Snow is so rare, even in the mountains of SC, and it's been a fairly normal winter for us -- probably on the warmer end of normal. Except for a couple of really chilly weeks, we've had average to slightly-above-average temperatures. What precipitation we have had (and for which we are grateful!) has been liquid. But we've had nothing even smacking of a real chance at snow this year. In fact, the last good snowfall we got was the March Blizzard of 1993 (on my brother's 18th birthday, no less).

So to watch snow falling and flurrying around has been a treat. As you all are well aware, I love the beach almost as much as life itself. There has always been something about being at the ocean that balms my mind and soul. But this place is also in the running.

When I got out of the shower, Melissa had gone on the Top of the Rocks hiking trail. I'd gone up the first 5 feet or so yesterday, but it was fairly steep in that section, and I didn't get very far up the trail without hiking or all-terrain shoes. Melissa read some information in our cabin guidebook that said the terrain leveled off and it was around 20 minutes to the top. When she returned, she talked Russell into hiking it and she would go again -- we stayed behind and watched them when they got to the top. Before they left, Susan had gotten a smooth small stone, and we all wrote our names or initials in marker on the stone. They took it with them to the top and put it there as a monument to our weekend. They returned within the hour, and according to both of them, the West Virginia mountain/highland definition of "level off" must be very different from the definition used by us lowlanders. Apparently "level off" means "slightly less steep incline."

I really would have enjoyed hiking it myself, in better weather and if I weren't so wiped out from the upper respiratory thing I've been battling all week. But there's always next time, and I will be up for the challenge -- and in the meantime, I will manually adjust the incline on the treadmill to mimic the WV "level off"!

After their return, preparations for the Great Fondue Fest began in earnest. Yesterday in Helvetia, Susan bought a cookbook that had been published by one of the civic organizations (the garden club, maybe?). There was a really good cheese fondue recipe in there, so we used that. The guys decided that the fondue fest was a little more frou-frou than they liked, so they went into Petersburg for some manly fare...... and we girls were more than happy to let them have their man-food. More fondue for us!!!! Russell & Mike left and we began on the cheese fondue with bread cubes and cut veggies. Oh. My. Was it good!!! Very tasty, and I will have to ask Susan for the recipe to use myself. I have a little mini crockpot that it would work well in.

Then Amy made the chocolate fondue and we used cubed angel food cake, marshmallows, strawberries and bananas for that. Oh dear, it was divine too. It was my big indulgence meal of the weekend, and I totally enjoyed every bite! YUM!!!!!!!!

After Mike and Russell returned, the DC gang had to leave us -- they all had work on Monday :( and needed to get back. We said our goodbyes and wished them a safe and easy return home. After they got on the road, we decided to go out to Dolly Sods to see what we might see. The turnoff to the Dolly Sods Wilderness was only about a quarter-mile from the cabins, and it wasn't much further off that to the Forest Road 19. About a quarter-mile in on that road, we found the signs that said "NO SNOW REMOVAL BEYOND THIS POINT" and the sign lettered by hardware-store lettering: "IMPASSABLE IN WINTER."

I should also mention that according to Rupert's temperature gauge, the exterior temperature at the cabin read 31F. When we got to the Forest Road signage, it was 28F. So on we drove just to see what we could and how far we could go. Nothing but uphill and hairpin turns, and we probably drove on for about a mile at most. As we drove on and up, the temperature dropped to a lovely 23F. Yep, an 8-degree drop in just that short time and distance. We decided (wisely, I think) that the ever-whitening road in front of us meant that we maybe oughta turn around and SOON.

Once we got back to the cabin, we sat and relaxed for a while, then decided to go into Petersburg for some dinner. Russell brought along a rather interesting CD -- it was an elderly gentleman who was doing a medley of every song he knew (whether he knew the lyrics or not) and singing it at top speed. Right as we pulled into the parking lot for the Chinese restaurant in Petersburg, the old man on CD was singing "Jingle Bells" ...... I broke out in a howl of laughter. I explained by singing "Jingle Bells" the way the waiters did in "A Christmas Story" (yes, the fa-ra-ra-ra-ra scene). We all realized the hilarious irony..... and went in for our food. Much to Russell's great disappointment, they were all out of cashews for cashew chicken. So he drove off to get something else while Amy and I waited for our orders. We came back to the cabin afterwards for a late dinner, and the TV newsflash that western Grant County was in a winter storm warning!!! WHAT???????

Yep. Russell did a little further research at the NWS site and we were not in the warning zone -- it was on the further western slopes of the county, but not all that far from us, either. They were going to be heading west in the morning, but given the weather conditions, I might have to change my mind about traveling west (and going home down I-79 to I-64 to I-77 and home). We would see how things developed in the morning, but my backup plan -- to return home via WV-55 out to I-81) might end up being the route out.

Amy went on to sleep after the 11:00 news, and I flipped it over to the end of the Oscars, in time to see Sean Penn win and "Slumdog Millionaire." You know, really...... I don't go to the movies. Why should I spend $7 to watch a movie in a darkened theater where I have to worry about missing something if I have to leave to pee; where I have to wonder if the people behind me or in front of me are EVER going to shut up and let the rest of us actually SEE the movie; and what if I get sick (yes, I have gotten motion-sick in a theater .... a few times, actually)? I'd rather wait until DVD or PPV, watch it in the comfort of my home, pause it if I need to pee or have a popcorn urge, and I can stop it and come back later if need be! And it's way cheaper!

Before going to bed, I started putting away everything but the essentials for the next morning. All too soon, this wonderful getaway would become just a happy memory..... BIG sigh. More to come........

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