Posts filed under ‘Sean’

All Things Olive Festival

A couple of years ago, my friend Meredith took me to a wine tasting at Villa Appalachia off the Blue Ridge Parkway. We enjoyed our wine sampling and then moved upstairs for lunch. While we waited for our food, we snacked on bread and some nearby olive oil. It was the BEST olive oil I’ve ever had in my life. It was easily the highlight of my day– Better than all the wines combined! It turns the olive oil was freshly pressed, using olives from the owners’ property in Italy.

So earlier this year when I saw an advertisement for the “All Things Olive Festival” at the same winery, featuring olives and olive oils from various regions, I was committed from the start. In fact, I made sure to work both Trail Days and All Things Olive into one weekend.

So the Sunday after Trail Days, Sean, Lud and I headed down the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. We enjoyed a series of tastings – olive oils, olives, balsamic vinegars (including one that was 25 years old) and wines. We got to enjoy the beautiful scenery and finally, we had a nice lunch provided by the folks at Zeppoli’s. I thought it was a good day and well worth the $15 dollar fee.

Beautiful Villa Appalachia in Floyd County

Olive oils waiting for me to taste

Sean tastes an olive

Lud gets a sample of balsamic vinegar

Wine tasting!!!

The aftermath – oil stained sheet and plate full of pits.

Clematis at the winery

Beautiful Rock Castle Gorge from the Blue Ridge Parkway

I thoroughly enjoyed this event and would highly recommend it to almost everyone. You probably should like olives before signing up to go. For example, based on one of his Flickr comments, I venture to say that Clint is not the optimal attendee:

I actually think they are just about the worst taste in existence (especially the green ones) — out of edible food. Obviously I’m not including feces, rotten milk, and non-edible/non-food. But I have drank egg nog so rotten that it had chewy chunks in it (And then proceeded to finish Carolyn’s) – infinitely more edible than olives. The thought of martinis with olives sickens me.

And the only way to make an olive taste even worse? Put a pimento in it! They managed to one-up themselves!

If, on the other hand, you do not think chewy, chunky, rotten egg nog tastes “infinitely” better than olives… you might want to give the festival a try in the coming years. 🙂

More pictures of the All Things Olive Festival are available on my Flickr site.

May 27, 2008 at 7:15 pm 9 comments

McAfee’s Knob!

One of my high school classmates, Christina, lives in Germany now. From what I gather, she has met other expats through her blog and now they schedule dinners and other events to meet up and visit. I have never met anyone through my blog in person… until today!

I got to meet PassionPhish and MissesPhish from They just moved into Virginia and have not yet had a chance to hike any of the Virginia Appalachian Trail miles. So what better place to take them than the overlook that may very well be on our Virginia AT License plate?

Two bloggers at McAfee’s Knob – Me and PassionPhish

Sean had never been to McAfee’s Knob before so he came along as well. That means I got to expose three newcomers to the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. The dogs, on the other hand, are old pros. This was their fourth trip. But don’t admire Jimmie and Henry too much. On the way up the trail, we read about a man who hiked to McAfee’s Knob 300 times (200 of those occurred after his 85th[????] birthday).

We could not have gotten a better day for this outing. The weather was perfect and regardless if it is your first trip or your 300th, the views of the valley and Tinker Cliffs are stunning.

McAfee’s Knob in the foreground, Tinker Cliffs in the background

I was pretty into Tinker Cliffs today. A lot of my photos shared a common formula – something in the foreground and Tinker Cliffs in the background.

Tree Branches…and Tinker Cliffs

Mountain Pieris…and Tinker Cliffs

Pine Cones… and Tinker Cliffs

Jimmie…and Tinker Cliffs

I wasn’t able to come up with a new and creative McAfee Knob pose. But, we did contribute to the growing collection of people sitting on the edge:

PassionPhish on the edge

Me on the edge. Note how Henry stayed back. 🙂

Mother Nature seemed to going out of its way to make sure I don’t forget about Pieris floribunda. Catawba Mountain was absolutely covered with it. How did I not notice this plant before?!?

Mountain Andromeda/Mountain Pieris/Mountain Fetterbush on McAfee’s

Baby Fetterbush growing on the rocks

PassionPhish reported taking 144 photos. I took 212. As you may expect with such extensive coverage, we did get pictures of people taking pictures.

Jimmie watches MissesPhish take a photo. By the way, Tinker Cliffs is in the background. 🙂

MissesPhish takes a picture of PassionPhish

They snagged a shot of me taking pictures as well.

All the picture taking was certainly not a futile exercise. It was such a beautiful day, even a picture of a puddle that had bloated Goldfish Crackers floating in it came out looking pretty.

Flowers growing in a puddle… which also houses old Goldfish crackers.

Needlesstosay, this was a great outing, filled with fascination and fun. The first people I met in person through my blog could not have been nicer people. It was such a treat to spend the day with them!

Who’s next? 🙂

Additional Links
My McAfee Knob Pictures on Flickr
PassionPhish’s McAfee Knob Pictures on Flickr
PassionPhish’s Post on the Outing

April 27, 2008 at 10:40 pm 7 comments

Is Wind Rocks the Hike for You?

Wednesday, I squeezed in another quick after-work outing. I took Sean and the dogs up past Mountain Lake and Miniball Hill to the Appalachian Trail’s Wind Rocks. I think Wind Rocks is a great return on investment hike. You get a very nice view just 0.30 miles from the parking lot. Because the stroll is so short, I think it is a good hike for children. In fact, when Penn was tiny, tiny, tiny, this was one of his first outings.

TINY Penn on the shoulders of his Uncle Ted at Wind Rocks

In the interest of full disclosure, I do have to admit that Sean was not impressed. Unlike the the valleys we drove up from, on Salt Pond Mountain the leaves were not opening yet. “Everywhere I look, it’s brown,” Sean said. What Wind Rocks lacked in leaves it made up for in flying insects, which all seemed to take a liking to… Sean.

Between the brown and the insects, Sean concluded that this hike “ruined all that is good about a spring day.”

But…uh… I still liked it. So I guess, like a movie, take the varied reviews into account and make the best decision for you. And you should also peruse previews:

[Brown] View from Wind Rocks

Sean’s silhouette at WInd Rock

Dark Ridges from Wind Rock

More pictures of this [brown and buggy] Wind Rocks hike can by found up on my Flickr site.

April 25, 2008 at 9:43 am 2 comments

Easiest Lent Ever

Well, it turns out Lent 2008 was my easiest Lent ever.  The leap to giving up red meat wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated and I adjusted well to the text messaging restriction. 

Courtesy of text messaging, 2008 was also one of more amusing Lents.  I allowed myself to read text messages, but I wouldn’t write back.  This opened the door for a series of taunting messages.  When they knew I was on the road Derek, Sean and Larry all found it fit to send messages like this one:

From: Derek
Mar 17, 12:35 pm

Haha you can’t reply 🙂

Meanwhile, one of my old co-workers took a very different approach.  He simply sent text messages to tell me when HE was driving.

From: Mark
Feb 21, 6:44 PM

I’m driving.  🙂

Giving up red meat, on the other hand, has been educational.  It taught me just how effective ad campaigns are.  You have no idea how many people approached me, insisting that pork is white meat.  It’s not!  The National Pork Board can use its slogan all it wants, but nutrition-wise PORK IS RED MEAT.  From the USDA Fact Sheet on Pork:

Why is Pork a “Red” Meat?
Oxygen is delivered to muscles by the red cells in the blood. One of the proteins in meat, myoglobin, holds the oxygen in the muscle. The amount of myoglobin in animal muscles determines the color of meat. Pork is classified a “red” meat because it contains more myoglobin than chicken or fish. When fresh pork is cooked, it becomes lighter in color, but it is still a red meat. Pork is classed as “livestock” along with veal, lamb and beef. All livestock are considered “red meat.”

As far as post-Lent, I’ve sort of had quite a reunion with red meat (including that deceptive pork).  A Pot Roast Burger from Red Robin, Meatball Sub from Substation II, Pork BBQ from Due South and a Victoria Filet with Horseradish Crust from Outback have all been ingested in just this week.  Hopefully, this reunion is brief and I’ll settle down to substantially less red meat.

But on a positive note, chriggy and ClintJCL may be happy to learn that I’m still not typing away while driving.  I’m aiming for that change to stick!  🙂

March 28, 2008 at 10:51 am 4 comments

The Goatse Christmas Cookie

This year I got to participate in my family’s Black Friday tradition of decorating Christmas Cookies.  As I’ve mentioned before, the results of our efforts aren’t your usual festive designs.  In past years, we’ve had cookies that read “BEOTCH”, cookies that read “JACKASS” and tons of mangled cookies covered in blood. 

This year started off innocently enough.  Justin Girton, a first timer, was given the honor of cutting out the first cookie.  He took some pause to review and select just the right cutter for the 2007 Kickoff.

The selections Justin got to choose from

It took some time, but Justin finally selected a donkey.  He pushed the cutter into the sugar cookie dough and we were on our way!

Justin cuts the first cookie!  (Photo by Aaron Evans)

It didn’t take long before the uh…creativity… in the room started to flow.  This year, Carolyn brought along a special request from a friend.  He wanted to have a “butt” cookie.  As is a good idea with any design request, this cookie coveter provider a drawing of exactly what he wanted:

You should always draw out the type of cookie you want

And so our team did what we could, producing a number of butts.  I believe Carolyn’s friend would be pleased with some of the results:

Finished project and original specifications (Photo AND cookie by Aaron Evans)

When it came to icing time, we were left with the question, “How does one decorate a butt cookie?”  Welp, it turns out there isn’t one answer.  We had icing tattoos, icing thongs and then some convenient chocolate icing made it easy to… well, make a mess.

Butt cookie with a red icing tattoo.  (Photo AND cookie by Aaron Evans)

A butt cookie with a thin, white thong

A butt cookie decorated with… chocolate icing. (Photo by Aaron Evans)

It is safe to say 2007’s cookie decorating experience was already a little racy.  Well, then someone (who wishes to remain nameless) took it much, much further (Click More to Continue):


November 25, 2007 at 12:06 am 11 comments

What Goes Around Comes Around

A few years ago, Sean started replying to certain queries by getting a whimsical look on his face and saying:

“If only… there was this network of computers… where I could go to my computer…type in the question…find out the answer.”

I’ve heard renditions of this line come from many of our friends and I have poached the line myself on numerous occassions.  One such opportunity presented itself at Stacy’s reception!  I don’t remember the specifics, but groomsman Matt said something and I went with the, “If only there was this tool…” reply.

Well it didn’t take long for Matt to adopt the concept for his own comedy.  When they brought out our salads, I promptly dropped a piece of dressing soaked lettuce (This is particular frustrating because I rarely ever put dressing on salads!) on my dress.

“Oh no!!!!” I exclaimed.

Matt’s eyes twinkled.

“If only…. there was this thin piece of cloth…that you could lay on your lap… and prevent stuff like that.”

After that I made sure to use a napkin.  🙂

November 17, 2007 at 11:53 am 5 comments

Not So Camouflaged Humour

Greetings from Wichita, Kansas!  In our social group, we often repeat lines from movies and TV Shows.  Lines from The Office, Seinfeld, Office Space, Super Bad, and a little bit of The Flight of the Conchords all make it into circulation.  The references are pretty fun and they don’t really get old.  Tonight I have two tales of repetitive humour that doesn’t age as well. 

In high school, my friend Jeremy decided to have a yard sale.  After posting a series of signs around his neighborhood, it started to rain so he had to move everything to the garage.  Parked in the garage was some classic, restored car that belonged to Jeremy’s father.  I can’t remember the make.  Anyway, throughout the day, Jeremy said a number of shoppers would come in and scope out the inventory and then make a joke, “How much for the [car]?  Heh heh heh.”

Jeremy reported that each comedian seemed rather pleased with his joke and had no idea that many, many others said the exact same thing earlier in the day.

And now I have a contemporary memory!  A couple of weeks ago, I used a Gap gift card to buy myself a pair of camouflaged pants.  This increases my already formidable inventory of drab green garments.  I am quite pleased with them and the ratio of the frequency I’ve worn them versus the frequency I’ve washed them may be disturbing to some readers.  So moving on…

New pants, pictured in a hotel bathroom in Wichita, Kansas

Almost instantly, Sean starting cracking jokes.  Stuff like, “Where are your legs?  I can’t see your legs.”  I figured it was Sean being Sean.

This past weekend, I went to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit friends and watch the LSU-VT slaughter.  There, a friend a whole 2 1/2 hours away, made a similiar comment about my pants.

So Monday, I fly to Wichita.  I’m 1000 miles away from home now.  I walk into the hotel and run into a colleague from Texas who promptly announces, “Vicky, I can only see you from the waist up!”

Apparently, camouflage pants are amusing nation-wide.  If you feel this is a tidbit of wit you’d like to utter, never fear.  I remain undeterred!  I expect to wear the pants frequently this fall.  If our paths cross, you’ll get your chance.

That is, if you can see me!

September 12, 2007 at 12:44 am 21 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


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

Quick Keys To Kids’ Hearts

Yesterday, Sean and I babysat Penn and Gwyn.  I picked them up at day care where Penn tried to convince me it was just me and him.

“My mommy said you do not have to pick my sister up.”

Nice try.

After a quick stop at Wendy’s we headed over to the house.  Ignoring the huge collection of Simpsons collectibles, there really aren’t many toys to offer children.  Nonetheless, both children find plenty of fun in our house.  It shouldn’t be surprising since once they did entertain themselves for 45 minutes with brussel sprouts.  Still I find it fascinating what features they find fun.  Some examples from last night:

Okay, this one was probably more fun for me.  I got to get another hairnet photo opportunity! 😉

Gwyn in a pink (of course!) hairnet

BOSU Balance Ball
This has been a Penn and Gwyn favorite for a while now.  Both kids love standing and hopping on the BOSU Balance Ball.  One time, a fight started to break out over who had the right to stand on the ball.  Last night, however, they did a great job of sharing. 

Gwyn comes in for a landing

Penn dismounts the balance ball

I have hammock in the backyard which is another common favorite, even if they can’t remember the name.  In June when Penn and Ann were dropping Gwyn off with me, Penn told his sister, “Gwynie you are going to have so much fun!  You get to ride in the hamster!”

Penn and Gwyn enjoy the hammock

XTerra First Aid Kit
One of the “features” of an XTerra is the First Aid Kit mounted to the rear cargo door.  Whenever I drive the kids around, it’s been of great interest and speculation.  

XTerra First Aid Kit 

Without their inquiries, I never thought twice about it (though it apparently it costs over $70!) and I had never used the kit until last month.  Little Gwyn pinched her finger in a door.  She performed some legitimate crying, but as soon as I suggested we get a Band-Aid from the XTerra, tears stopped and suddenly it was an adventure. 

Yesterday, we had another boo boo en route to a playground.  A skinned knee.  Once again, all crying ceased when the XTerra was mentioned.  The XTerra bandaids are plain and brown.  No princesses, no ponies, no Scooby Doo.  I guess the Band-Aids are special because they come from the car.

R.I.P. Waterbed
My house has lost a fan favorite.  On the way to the playground, Penn requested we lay on the waterbed when we get back.  I had to report the sad news– I drained and disassembled that waterbed as part of my home repairs.  At that point, Penn dazzled me with his intellect.

“There’s water in the waterbed?!?”  🙂

August 21, 2007 at 10:41 pm 2 comments

Hairnets for All!

And in case you are pondering the age-old question of “What does Sean look like in a hairnet?”, you’re in luck.  I have the answer for you:


If you are wondering about lurchers (dogs who are part sight-hound):


Or say you are curious about beagles in hairnets:


Yup, it’s a hopping Sunday down here in ole Blacksburg.

July 15, 2007 at 9:15 pm 2 comments

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