Archive for August, 2008

Hooray for Creative Commons!

My Creative Commons license on Flickr allows for people to reuse and modify my photos as long as they attribute the source back to me. Today my Google Alerts brought it to my attention that someone had done just that. And check it out!

They took a picture of clouds from an airplane:

How boring. Clouds from an airplane

And then made it into Steampunk Wallpaper:

Add some guys with funky mustaches and WOW!!!!!!

And on a side note– Steampunk Wallpaper?!?! How freaking cool of a concept is THAT?!?!

August 29, 2008 at 2:06 pm 12 comments

One Great Real-Date Date

Another reason you shouldn’t shed tears for my dating life is courtesy of my divorce, I can like, go on dates and stuff and thus will have the opportunity to contribute to and mold my own dating future!

Not sure how this compares to GeekHiker’s “Them!”, but I am quite pleased with this outing from last week:

1) Eat a late breakfast of freshly made blueberry muffins (Thanks Linda!)

2) Bike four miles along the Virginia Beach boardwalk to First Landing State Park.

3) Bike another twelve miles throughout the state park via the Cape Henry Trail, enjoying views of cypress trees, spanish moss, marshlands and a bay.

Cypress Trees off the Cape Henry Trail

Spanish Moss off the Cape Henry Trail

Marshland off the Cape Henry Trail

4) Share a snack of home-grown garden tomatoes (Thanks Erin!) and homemade chocolate chip cookies (Thanks Rachelle!).

5) Bike back to the beach.

6) Walk about a mile to eat dinner with friends.

Aaron and Meagan!!!!

7) Cap off the evening with a leisurely mile walk back with friends, checking out the Ella Fitzgerald tribute, an amusement park, the Curiosities Rock Shop and, of course, the baffling Dance Heads display. Not familiar with Dance Heads? Watch this must-see demo.

Amusement Park in Motion! (Photo by aejonze)

Lights at the amusement park
Merchandise at the Curiosities Rock Shop

8 ) Hold hands

Guy on Stilts (Photo by aejonze)

9) Three of us hang out on the balcony and pretend our fourth is not having a bowel emergency in the restroom. La Dee Da Dee Da.

10) With the balcony door open and exhausted from a very full day, fall asleep listening to the ocean.

In case you were not counting, that’s:

  • 20 miles of biking
  • At least 2 miles of walking
  • and 1 dire dumping incident

What more could a girl want? 😉

More pictures from First Landing State Park and Virginia Beach can by found on my Flickr site as well as my friend, Aaron’s, Flickr site.

First Landing State Park

2500 Shore Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23451-1415
Phone: (757) 412-2300


Cape Henry Trail
Length: 6 miles one way
Elevation Gain: Negligible – it’s all flat!

August 29, 2008 at 1:08 am 2 comments

Five Great Platonic Non-Date Dates

Earlier this week, GeekHiker posted about how one the biggest ironies of him being single is that he does “come up with some damn good ideas for dates.” It sparked some thought on my part here in Virginia and I polled a few of my male friends to hear about their great dates. And wowzer! The men I know can really crank out some great ideas.

It also opened my eyes a bit. I never really thought about “date ideas” being a task that fell on the shoulders of the male. Part of it is definitely, I’m female, and I get to just take all that stuff for granted. Suck it, Y Chromosomes!

But at the same time, it may be that I had little cause to think creativity was involved with planning dates. While I listened to elaborate tales involving rented boats, surprise flowers, expensive wines and batteries of candles, I realized– as far as dates go, I don’t have many that deviate from an age-old, tried and true formula. Throughout my dating career, my experiences are dinner-movie, dinner-movie, dinner-movie with the occasional dinner-movie-ice cream (w00t!).

But don’t shed tears, even if you think my dating life was deprived, because you know what? I have been lucky enough to share some PHENOMENAL days of my own with men. PHENOMENAL. Great days, adventurous days, inspiring days that I will remember forever and ever.

They just happened to be totally platonic.

I’m not ready to declare these to be my Top Five Platonic Non-Date Dates. But here are five I remember fondly that come to mind right now on this chilly Thursday night.

Great Platonic Non-Date Date #1 – Butt Mountain and Frozen Cascades
January 2003
Who: Tony Airaghi

One weekend morning, Airaghi asked me if I wanted to go hiking. It was January, so this seemed odd, but I heard him through. We took both dogs, drove on a snowy road, checked out Butt Mountain Overlook and then hiked DOWN to the Cascades. Lo and behold, the falls were almost completely frozen. It was— amazing. The whole hike with all the snow, the trees and the curled up rhododendron was beautiful, but it was the waterfall that stole the show. And this hike taught me an important lesson– hiking in Virginia does not have to be confined to summer and fall.

Tony at the Frozen Cascades, January 18th, 2003

Great Platonic Non-Date Date #2- Roanoke Symphony
Fall and Winter 2003
Who: Leith S

My friend Leith had season tickets to the Roanoke Symphony. Anytime he didn’t have a date, I got to accompany him! Although this isn’t as adventuresome as hiking, boy, I grew very fond of our outings. Each month, on a Monday night, I got to dress up and put on makeup and meet my companion for an evening of music. It was winter, so the days got dark fast. As I drove to Roanoke, I’d look at the crisp stars that frequent the winter skies, I’d listen to NPR and I’d feel introspective. And nothing compliments an introspective mood better than beautiful, classical music.

Great Platonic Non-Date Date #3 – Speedboating on Smith Mountain Lake
May 1999
Who: Mike Miller, Ryan Schutt

Okay, this one has just a little bit of threesome action going on. Ryan Schutt, Jimmie and I drove up and met Mike Miller in Roanoke. Together we went to Smith Mountain Lake and rented a speed boat. It was the weekend before Memorial Day so it was still considered off season, meaning we got a cheap rate! And yet, it was the weekend before Memorial Day, meaning the weather was still great. We all had a splendid time driving the boat and checking out the scenery of the lake. Before that day, I didn’t even know one *could* rent a speedboat. But you can! And it is quite fun!

Ryan driving the speedboat at Smith Mountain Lake

Great Platonic Non-Date Date #4- Rollerblading the Huckleberry Trail
Spring 2002
Who: Tony Airaghi

What would eventually become a yearly tradition, Tony and I met after work to rollerblade the entire Huckleberry Trail. Back then our 11 mile journey was unprecedented for me and quite a feat for my little legs. The route may be the same six years later, but it sure feels a heck of a lot easier nowadays!

I remember a lot of laughter, I remember visiting with Larry at his house half way, but most of all I’ll remember that final half mile. It was getting dark and a thunderstorm was approaching. In a distance, we could see the hazy lights of the mall where our cars were parked. I couldn’t really see Tony except when lightening streaked across the sky– then I could see his skating silhouette ahead of me and at one point a pole I was about to run into. We were able to barely beat the weather to the mall. Tony opened the back of his Explorer and we sat down. As soon as did, the rain hit! With the subtle nagging soreness of accomplishment in my legs, I removed my skates and just absorbed my favorite of nature’s many shows — a summer thunderstorm.

Great Platonic Non-Date Date #5- Tinker Cliffs AND McAfee’s Knob
May 2005
Who: Mike E

One morning I woke up and signed onto AOL IM with the intent of asking Mike E on a hike. He beat me to it. As soon as I logged on I saw a message from him.


I was so in. We met at the Easy Chair Coffee Shop to pick up breakfast and then we headed to Catawba with Jimmie and Henry. Our journey began at VA-779. We hiked two and a half hours to Tinker Cliffs. There we shared an orange (which would later become a tradition). We then hiked another three hours to McAfee’s Knob. At one point, I wanted to cry. But before I knew it, we were at the most photographed point on the Appalachian Trail looking at where we were earlier in the day. It was an energizing feeling.

Just 3.5 short miles later, we were reunited with a car at VA-311. At the end of the day, we had finished 13.1 miles of hiking. We promptly drove to Fuddruckers and treated our bodies to a lot of greasy, fatty food. We may have even had ice cream (w00t!). It was a very fulfilling day and when I think of a great hike– this one is one that will always come to mind.

Me pointing to the day’s trek

And so there are five non-date dates that I remember. Most of them weren’t even planned! Just a quick call in the morning was all that was needed to spark an adventure. Some were on weeknights, some were on weekends. And they spanned all four seasons. With speed boating, a good amount of capital was required. But on the other extreme, seeing the Frozen Cascades didn’t even cost a dime.

It seems to me… that regardless of budget, day of the week, or time of year, a great experience can be had.

All you need is a good friend.

August 28, 2008 at 10:42 pm 3 comments

links for 2008-08-28

  • Interesting. By using Google Earth images, researchers observed that cows tend to be pointing north when they are grazing or at rest.

    One time I was hiking northbound on the Appalachian Trail when I saw a black animal up ahead. I whipped out my camera, took a bunch of pictures thinking it was a bear.

    Nope… it was a cow…in the middle of woods. Now that I think back on the incident, that cow was indeed pointing northbound! 🙂

    Hat Tip, Clint

  • (tags: cow hiking)

August 28, 2008 at 6:01 am 2 comments

Mount Vernon

On Sunday, I met Stacy and his family at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. It was far from my first trip to the grounds. But, it does seem every time I visit, my perspective is just a little bit different and I pick up on different things. In past years, I definitely focused on the mansion or the farm animals. This time around, it was the trees and gardens that caught most of my attention.
Turning leaves

Spider web

The grounds had a lot of old, large trees

From One Generation to Another
My maternal grandmother used to volunteer at Mount Vernon, so she brought my siblings and I to the property pretty often. She taught me quite a bit. I, of course, learned about the Washington family and life during that era. But there were little unrelated lessons as well. I still remember my grandmother pointing out and telling me about sycamore trees. I learned what the color “Navy Blue” looked like thanks to her uniform. And Mount Vernon was the very first time (but not the last!) I got shocked by an electric fence. 🙂

Me, Grandma and Carolyn at Mount Vernon (Photo from ClintJCL)

This year, I got to witness the process starting over! I got to see cute little Addie enjoy Mount Vernon with her own grandparents. How can you NOT smile?

Addie walks with her Grandpa at Mount Vernon

Addie and Grandpa enjoy the gardens

This wasn’t a new discovery about Mount Vernon by any means, but I did want to share one of my favorite parts about the mansion. The outside of the mansion looks like stone and it feels like stone as well. But it is made of pine boards! What Washington did was have the boards beveled to look like masonry. Then when they painted it, they threw sand on the wet paint to add texture. Pretty sneaky! I just love the thriftiness and the creativity with that trick.

NOT stone!

It may have been a brief trip, but it was a great one! More pictures of our Mount Vernon outing can be found on my Flickr site.

August 20, 2008 at 11:26 am 5 comments

Vicky the Wedding Ringer

I **LOVE** weddings! I really, really do. I enjoy watching the ceremony. I enjoy believing in happy endings. I enjoy witnessing all the touching moments throughout the day. I’m a huge fan of the Father Daughter Dance. And then there are my favorite parts– dancing and cake!

Because of my great affection for weddings, I make a great ringer. Don’t have a date? Ask me! I’ll go! I’ve gone to at least four weddings where I didn’t even know the bride *or* groom and still had a fantastic time. Hey, when you don’t know anyone you can be all the more liberated on the dance floor! 😉

This past weekend, my lovely sister tapped into my services and took me to her boss’s wedding. I’m happy to report that divorce does not dampen my appreciation for a good wedding. I had a splendid time!

One thing that was impressive and unique about this particular event was all the singing. Songs were performed by guests not only at the ceremony, but throughout the reception as well. It was a great showcase of local talent.

Oh… and there were THREE different cakes.

And broccoli salad!

Can’t get much better than that! 🙂

My beautiful date, Carolyn, and I

A singer performs during the ceremony

Dancers perform at the wedding ceremony!

One of the many guests who sung for the bride and groom at the reception

THREE different types of cake!

The hood ornament on the bride and groom’s departure car.

More pictures of Felicia and Lawrence’s Wedding can be found on my Flickr site.

August 20, 2008 at 10:31 am 9 comments

Shortest Hike Ever

So it turns out getting a divorce could easily be a full time job. Putting a house on the market could be a full time job as well. Add that to a real full time job and you are one busy bee (or should I say yellow jacket?).

With all those items on my plate, hiking has been pretty far down on my list of things to do. So it’s been some time since I’ve been out and about. A couple of weekends ago, after an exhausting week and weekend of working on the house, I loaded up the dogs for a run to the dump. They were both so excited to be in the car and I had a somber thought. I used to take my dogs hiking. Now they get to go to the dump.

Honestly, I don’t think the dogs minded all that much. They were just happy for an adventure and the dump does have its fair share of smells. Still, when I descended Harding Road and saw those beautiful, beautiful green mountains, I decided action must be taken!

After I hurled old furniture and a disgusting, outdoor carpet out of my life, I took the dogs to nearby Falls Ridge. I still have to be careful of Henry’s leg, but the beginning of the Falls Ridge trail is a completely flat field. So I figured we would mosey across the field and back, all along monitoring Henry’s leg.

That was the plan.

But it wasn’t Henry who was our limitation. It was me! I got out of the car, walked no more than 50 paces and suddenly laying down sounded awfully good. So I did. I laid on the grass and rested while the dogs sniffed things and enjoyed the fresh air. And then I got up, returned to my car…and went back to work.

It was my shortest hike ever, if you can even apply to word “hike” to this context. But even those few moments were refreshing. And guess what! You can still take pictures when you are laying down. 🙂

Henry, my foot and the XTerra. That’s how far I made it from my car!

I didn’t even make it across this flat field!

It is not often that I photograph Henry from below

August 14, 2008 at 12:08 am 5 comments

Dairy Footwear

Last fall I did a quick cheat-sheet to business casual mine wear, so one would know to avoid khaki pants at say… a coal mine.

This week I have another lesson about wardrobes to share. This one regards footwear in a Dairy Plant.

One should avoid skimpy open-toe sandals in a Dairy Plant.

There’s a lot of liquid action going on in Dairy Plants. You’ve got milk, water, sanitizer in play and all those items would just love to saturate your feet.

But never fear, I’ve found a trip to Kohl’s can quickly rectify the situation (And said trip to Kohl’s could also arm you with an absolutely adorable outfit to wear to upcoming weddings as well).

Ahh. the shoe of the left kept my feet completely dry. The sandal on the right– useless.

August 13, 2008 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

A Sunset and a Sunrise

Busy, busy, busy. Not much time to post, but I can share two pictures. This past week I went up to Assateague Island and then hit Bethany Beach in Delaware.

At Assateague, I sacrificed for art. I knowingly stood still and let mosquitoes bite me in order to get some shots of the sunset. Bethany Beach was significantly less sacrifice. I just had the burden of carrying my camera on a walk I was already going on. 🙂

Anyway, here is a sunset from Assateague Island and a sunrise from Bethany Beach.

Sunset from Assateague Island, Maryland

Sunrise from Bethany Beach, Delaware

More pictures from Assateague Island and Bethany Beach are available on my Flickr site.

August 8, 2008 at 9:04 am 8 comments

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