Posts filed under ‘Mike E’

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
When:
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
When:
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
When:
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
When:
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
When:
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.

“Hike?”

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

Aww for the Day – July 9, 2008

Mike E’s dog recently had 10 puppies.  Here is a picture of one.  Isn’t it just so precious looking?!?!?!?!  And I bet it smells like puppy too!  And it’s fur is probably so soft and kissable!


Aww……. (Photo by Mike E)

If you happen to be interested in one of the puppies, let me know and I’ll be happy to coordinate.  The mother is a very fit hound dog, so I bet these little guys will make great hiking companions.  🙂

July 9, 2008 at 9:35 am 12 comments

The Birthday Orange

Last weekend, as we hiked Peters Mountain, Mike E celebrated a birthday. The wilderness doesn’t provide good shopping opportunities, but I was able to find a great gift for him from the inventory of my pack. An orange! And so, at our our second day campsite near Symms Gap, Mike ingested his birthday orange.


The Birthday Orange!!!

An orange may sound meager, but it was well-received. Over the last couple of years, oranges on hikes has become a little tradition of ours. Here’s an entry I found in my 2006 journals talking about the history of our hiking oranges.

6-3-2006

Last year when Mike E and I hiked VA-779 to VA-311 [13.1 miles], Mike brought along an orange. When we reached Tinker Cliffs after a long, steady ascent, Mike shared a few wedges of his orange with me.

It was so very delicious on that hot day, that orange and its sweet rejuvenating juices were exactly what our bodies needed.

This year when we hiked 13.1 miles from VA-779 to VA-220, it was I who brought an orange. And… when our bodies were hot and fatiqued, shortly before Hay Rock, Mike and I sat down and split that fruit.

Again – it was DIVINE. Delicious and refreshing. Just what we craved.

The oranges are such a highlight of our hikes– that [on our hike] last week, Mike and I both brought 2 oranges each! That’s a total of 4 oranges!

Not only that– early in our own hike, maybe even mile one, we started anticipating the oranges – speculating when we’d stop and how good they’d taste.

It wasn’t a disappointment when we finally stopped and ingested our first orange.

So today, preparing for my hike with Bill— an orange was a no-brainer inclusion. It was a downright necessity.

BUT– once I got on the trail, the orange securely in my pack, I had a strange feeling come about. It was a twinge of guilt and regret. It almost felt– it almost felt like I was being adulterous to have an orange without Mike E. Like I was cheating on him by sharing our fledgling tradition with a stranger.

It turns out no one (Bill, Tony, Paul, Matt, Nancy) had the least bit interest in my orange. That only goes to show they were unworthy of the orange to begin with! 🙂

Anyway– so no orange was had in Mike E’s absence.

This evening when I returned, Mike and I discussed today’s orange goings-on. Mike and I decided to have an “open relationship”… in regards to oranges. 🙂

“I’m cool with you eating oranges with other people,” Mike said.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Likewise, I give you permission to share oranges with whoever you like.” I told Mike.

So we are both free to sow our orange seeds whereever or with whomever we desire. BUT– I suspect that having an orange on the trail without Mike E will just not be the same.

I will always think of my hiking buddy whenever an orange is ingested. Mike’s lasting legacy?

It’s a good thing we established an orange understanding. This summer at Apple Orchard Falls— I shared an orange with some Potomac Appalachian Trail Club members. Yup, members. I’m a slut. 🙂

October 10, 2007 at 9:18 am 3 comments

Barney’s Wall

After talking about it for a few months, today Mike E and I managed to finally get over to Barney’s Wall. We were accompanied by Sean and the dogs. Barney’s Wall is a big steep rock face. One hiker describes it as one of the “the region’s best-kept-secret stunning views.”

Although you can get to Barney’s Wall from the Cascades, it was my first choice to not go that route. The Cascades is always crowded (even in winter there are plenty of visitors). On a beautiful day like today, the Cascades Trail was about as appealing to me as a Saturday visit to Walmart.

Luckily, there is another route. You can get on the Nature Conservancy Trail from the dirt road that takes you to Butt Mountain Overlook (otherwise known as VA-714). The only problem– we didn’t quite know where the trailhead was. Information on the internet was frustratingly hard to come by and the only map we stumbled upon failed to inspire confidence– it incorrectly labeled VA-714 as VA-71! I had hiked a section of the Nature Conservacy Trail in 2003, but to get on it I, uh, sort of cut across private property. That wasn’t going to fly today. So many times, I’ve passed by trailheads that were obscured by neglect and vegetation. So when we all loaded into the XTerra in Blacksburg, I wasn’t entirely convinced we would find the trail.

Turned out to not be a problem. The trail is beaten enough to be easily visible from the road and a “Nature Conservancy Trail” sign eliminates any ambiguity. There are small pull-offs nearby for vehicles and oh, there is an orange rock (some local campers gave us that particular landmark).


This is obviously a trail– beaten path AND a sign.


Orange rock near the trail

Driving on VA-714 is no picnic and you definitely should take a 4WD vehicle. But the hike itself is quite simple– a quick (~15-20 minutes), gentle decline to the view.


Jimmie at Barney’s Wall

The view took a backseat to something more interesting, though. There were some rappellers out taking advantage of the sheer drop. It looked scary and at the same time, extremely intriquing. Now I want to learn!


Getting ready


Rappelling!

As usual, more pictures of our Barney’s Wall hike can be found on my Flickr site. If you are interested in taking the VA-714 route, Mike found some detailed directions (including coordinates) a good four hours after we got home.

September 3, 2007 at 11:07 pm 3 comments

Early to Rise, Early to Rise

I’m an early bird and a night owl , so I’m wise… and I have worms.- Michael Scott from The Office (U.S.)

In the last week, I’ve had horrible luck when it comes to getting up early. It seems everytime I’ve set my cellphone alarm early, something spites my efforts.

Spited By Scheduling
Last Wednesday morning, some overnight upgrades were occuring on one of our servers that hosts three key web applications. On paper, everything indicated the updates would be fine, but I took extra initiative to get up at 4:30 AM to perform testing on all three sites. I diligently confirmed third party components, email relaying and file permissions were all in order before heading back to bed. The next morning, I emailed to the server contact to report all was well on our end and I congratulated him for a smooth update.

“Thanks for the compl[i]ment,” my contact wrote back, “but I am afraid it is unwarranted.”

Turns out they had some unrelated events surface and had to reschedule the updates. D’oh.

Spited by the Sky
This morning there was a lunar eclipse! Figuring the workings of the universe are slightly more reliable than server maintenance, I set my alarm. Christopher Columbus once exploited the predictability of a lunar eclipse to weasle food from Jamaican natives. Even ancient civilizations found reliability in celestial events. Pretty safe bet for Vicky then, eh?

My alarm went off, I stumbled onto my deck and I could just barely see something that resembled an obscured, pink moon. It just wasn’t the earth’s shadow that hindered my view. The sky, particularly near the horizons, was overcast. I went downstairs, sent a few select IMs to Mike E (who was also up for the same purpose) and took the dogs out for a walk. By that time, the entire moon was gone. If I were to curse something, it would have to be the morning mountain fog that I usually cherish.

The dogs and I still had a good walk and since we are both up and lacking a lunar eclipse, I get to meet Mike for coffee at the Easy Chair. This day will still manage to start on a good note afterall.

For the coming week, though, I think I’m going to focus on a little more wise, and a little less worms.

August 28, 2007 at 6:42 am 6 comments

Early Morning Send Off

This morning I woke up at 5:30 AM in order to drop Mike E off at a trailhead for the Appalachian Trail. Mike’s starting point was VA-652. Going southbound on the trail from VA-652, you cross a bridge and then take on a small hill. That modest hill provides some splendid views of the surrounding area. It’s an excellent return on investment. Remembering that, I walked with Mike up the first hill. I took some pictures and then we parted ways.

Mike on AT
Mike embarking on his journey. For some reason a hot air balloon is in the sky.

I went back to my car where the only thing I had to think about was dodging cow poo. Mike is going to continue southbound for 140 more miles and has more substantial things to worry about– water, food, shelter and the likes. In my defense, I was wearing sandals, so stepping in cow poo would have been remarkably unpleasant.

Mike will be posting regular updates of his journey from his cell phone to Twitter. Zooomabooma probably wouldn’t approve of this continued destruction of society, but if you have no objections to cell phones you can keep track of Mike’s progress on his Twitter site.

I’ll part with some pictures:

Stile on Appalachian Trail
Stile on the Appalachian Trail at VA-652

Cows and Field
View of Cows and Fields from the Appalachian Trail

Tower of Virginia Creeper
A tower of Virginia Creeper doing what it does what it does best.

Blazed Bridge
Blazed Bridge on the Appalachian Trail

As always, more pictures are available on Flickr.

May 26, 2007 at 9:02 am 3 comments

Foamhenge

After our Devil’s Marbleyard Hike, Mike took us to another unique site– Foamhenge.  It is a full-scale replica of Stonehenge… only made out of styrofoam!  It is right off Route 11, just slightly north of Natural Bridge, Virginia.  A sign at the site compares the construction of the Stonehenge and Foamhenge.  Here is a quick summary:

Stonehenge Foamhenge
Completion Time 1500 Years 6 Weeks
“Stone” Weight 50 Tons 420 Pounds
Labor Estimated 600-1000 Men “4-5 Mexicans and One Crazy Man”

Here are some shots of our visit:


Jimmie approaches Foamhenge


View from Foamhenge with beautiful mountains in the distance

Between this and the makeout couple at the airport, I am definitely seeing alot of unusual sights this week!

April 28, 2007 at 10:45 pm 6 comments

Devil’s Marbleyard

Today Mike E and I took the two dogs up near Natural Bridge to visit Devil’s Marbleyard. 500 million years ago, this particular area was a beach of quartz sand (I’ve read very similiar to the Outer Banks). 250 million years ago, the North American plate collided with Europe and Africa, forming the Appalachian Mountains and forcing this terrain upwards. Today what we have left is an entire side of a mountain (8 acres worth) covered with quartzite boulders of various sizes. Fossils in the boulders still record where ancient worms had made their homes way back when the rock was just soft sand.

The hike to the Marbleyard is very easy– the Belfast Trail gradually ascents 500 feet and is a little more than a mile one way (Appalachian Trail hikers– you can take the same Belfast Trail down from the AT). Climbing on and ascending up the Marbleyard is a different story. Much like Mount Sentinel in Missoula, the perspective is misleading. Just when you think you are close to the top of all the rocks, you’ll discover there is another huge slope of boulders.


Just some of the rocks at Devil’s Marbleyard.


To provide some perspective– people climbing on the rocks and some trees

It is not my favorite hike, but it sure is beautiful. Up on the rocks, we got some great views of the surrounding mountains and valley:


View from Devil’s Marbleyard

Dog Friendly
Today I learned Devil’s Marbleyard is actually dog-friendly. When I was there in 2003, we had a dog named Maggie get stuck and Alex Moskwa and I had to carry her down. Keeping that in mind, I tied Jimmie and Henry to trees near the bottom. My intent was humane– they would get to relax and rest while Mike and I ascended up the tougher terrain. The dogs disagreed with my assessment. They cried non stop and did their best to convince other hikers I was torturing them. I finally turned around and fetched them. It turns out they knew better than I. They were fine. To the right of the boulder field, the Belfast Trail continues the ascent. It was steep, but nothing the dogs could not handle. When I did venture out onto the boulders, both dogs knew their own limitations. Henry stayed on some small rocks and watched, while Jimmie followed me out further.


Henry wisely waits on rocks near the trail.


Jimmie navigating larger rocks

Wildlife and Domestic Life
Jimmie ran into this snake (almost literally!) on the way to the Marbleyard. The snake was beautiful and allowed us to photograph him for some time. Anyone know what kind of snake it is?

The hike was terribly popular today and the parking lot was full. Mike and I had to park down the street next to a pig farm. As we loaded back into the vehicles, one pig took an interest in watching and was apparently not intimidated by the barking dogs. I think he was cuter than the snake. I named him Wilbur.


Wilbur watches us.

More pictures of our Devil’s Marbleyard hike (including more snake pictures and pig pictures) are available on my Flickr site.

Additional Links on Devil’s Marbleyard
Kevin Myatt’s article for the Roanoke Times
Washington and Lee University’s Geology of the Blueridge Mountains

April 28, 2007 at 10:13 pm 9 comments

Walk on Campus

This evening, Larry, Mike E and I took a somber walk around campus. Below are some pictures from our walk.

Sentiments From Other Schools
I continue to be overwhelmed by the responses we see from around the world. A couple signs on the Drillfield originated from other schools.


NYU Stands With You


From Auburn University

Marquee Messages
In my journals following September 11th, I noted how the local businesses displayed messages in their marquees. This incident provoked a similiar response.


The Lyric, our theatre which originally opened in 1930


The Comfort Inn in Christiansburg quotes Nikki Giovanni

A Child’s Note
People had placed flowers next to the West Ambler Johnston (my dorm of two years) sign.


Flowers at West Ambler Johnston

A child had placed a note there as well. From what I could tell it read:

I [am] sorry for wh[at] haped. I hop there [is no] more bad g[?]eas at VT. I hoap it wilt never haped a gine

At such a young age, this child is already reaching out and communicating his/her personal disappointments and sorrows. If Cho Seung-Hui had mastered similiar skills, perhaps his turmoil would not have reached the point it did.


Child’s Note

Hokie Stone
On the Drillfield in front of Burruss, 32 blocks of Hokie Stones were placed in an arc. Each stone represented a life cut short and each stone had a VT flag and flowers respectfully placed upon it.


One of the memorial Hokie Stones on the Drillfield


Three of the stones with flowers and Burruss in the background

Drillfield Trees
A tree is planted on the Drillfield for each graduating class of Virginia Tech. Today, maroon, orange and/or black ribbons were tied around each tree. This particular tree was near the War Memorial. You can see the VT President Bush and Governor Kaine signed in the background.


Maroon, orange and black ribbons on a Drillfield tree.

Drillfield, War Memorial and Squires
Multiple memorials were present all around campus, particularly the Drillfield and our War Memorial.


Maroon and orange wreath at the War Memorial. You can see visitors to the Drillfield in the background.


A make-shift memorial (the VT was originally crafted by students for the Miami game). In front are white candles for each of the deaths and red candles for each of the injured. In the background, a blooming tree indicates it’s spring (a period typically associated with new life, not what was brought our way).


A Sign Hangs Above Squires Student Center


Signatures and flowers on the Drillfield


A teddy bear on the War Memorial with a shirt that reads, “Somebody in Blacksburg Loves You”

I have a few more pictures of our campus visit on my Flickr site. There are also some wonderful shots by others at the Virginia Tech Shooting Flickr group.

April 19, 2007 at 1:12 am 4 comments

Cascades: One Week Apart

I have shared photos of different hiking sites during different seasons. I’ve shared photos of my work area four years apart and even a bathroom exit four years apart. Now, I present you with a more modest time frame (though not as modest as toddlers two seconds apart).

Last week, while I was hanging out with Clint, Carolyn and Ryan Somma, Mike E discovered the Cascades were completely frozen!


Mike’s picture from 2/17/2007

Today, the dogs and I headed back. After a week of weather in the forties and fifties, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The falls had melted, but there was still a lot of ice to look at!


Vicky’s picture from 2/24/2007

More Pictures
2/17/2007 Cascades Pictures on Mike’s Flickr account
2/24/2007 Cascades Pictures on my Flickr account

P.S. All my photos were taken with my cell phone camera. My digital camera broke. It appears I’m on the market for TWO digital cameras now.

February 25, 2007 at 12:50 am 3 comments

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