Home Again, Home Again

Day 52: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Start: Duncannon, PA
End: Amherst, NH
Miles Driven Today: 450
Total Miles: 9,378

It’s over. I’m sitting here in my easy chair, getting used to home again. There’s a huge pile of mail to sort through. Bags to unpack. Laundry to be done. But that’s for tomorrow.

We had another lovely visit with Bob and Sharon yesterday. Sitting around the kitchen table, we caught up on the trip and the happenings in the almost two months since we last saw them. It was a nice respite before the final sprint home, and visiting with good friends was a fit way to start and end this grand adventure.

Of course, Jasmine felt right at home and climbed up onto the kitchen table. Perhaps she wanted to get in on the conversation. Or perhaps, she was just a little thirsty!

Singha! Jasmine's favorite brand!

Singha! Jasmine’s favorite brand!

Juliet spent the evening searching for food. She sniffed (and snarfed) every inch of the house, looking for tidbits of food that the resident dog, Lily, had dropped on the floor, under furniture, etc. She was driving us nuts! I think we’ve created a monster… 🙂

Buddies

Buddies

We have marveled at how much both dogs have changed throughout this journey. Jasmine is much quicker to acclimate to a new situation. She co-existed with Lily after a few minutes. Perhaps it’s because she had met Lily on the way out. But climbing on the table, accepting treats from everyone, and running around the house without her tail between her legs…such progress. Juliet is so much more curious, confident and STUBBORN. True Dachshund traits are coming out. But what’s really great is to see the two dogs finally bonding.

Our final leg of open road

Our final leg of open road

We’ve had a great run. NOTHING bad happened to us. No flat tires. No pickpockets. No items stolen from our room. No car trouble. Rarely any crowds. No tornadoes. No forest fires. We’ve had an incredible experience and the trip of a lifetime. I’ll summarize it all this weekend, after a bit of sleep and settling in!

Today’s travels were long, but relatively easy. There had been an accident on the bridge through Harrisburg a few weeks ago, so we decided to skip going through Harrisburg and went some backroads to reach the Interstate. So, once again, we had some picturesque travels across open roads.

But we were soon motoring our way back to New Hampshire. We flowed through New York, retracing some of our route on the Turnpike to the East of the Catskills and then through Mass and up home to New Hampshire. We hit very little heavy traffic except for areas with road work. Even then, we made it home in around 8 hours.

Back to New York

Back to New York

Massachusetts - We skipped it on the way out

Massachusetts – We skipped it on the way out

Close to home

Close to home

Waiting for us when we got home was a huge pile of mail, some packages we sent home, and Tom’s prized piece of Acoma pottery that we purchased in Albuquerque. It was a great welcome home, along with an in-tact house (thanks Sam!).

Acoma Pottery by Michael & Robin Romero

Acoma Pottery by Michael & Robin Romero

All is well. We’re a bit sad that the trip is over. But there’s really no place like home. As we were driving the last few minutes until we reached our house, I looked at the lush landscape that we call home. We’ve seen a lot of beautiful places and driven some wonderful open road. But seeing our town…the road home rivals any of the picturesque and quaint backroads we took.

It’s good to be back.

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Back in Pennsylvania

Day 51: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Start: Winchester, VA
End: Duncannon, PA
Miles Driven Today: 141
Total Miles: 8,928

Today was a day to visit friends. We started out in Winchester and headed just 30 minutes East to visit one of Tom’s former colleagues, Paris Resnick. Paris now owns and runs the Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm in Berryville, VA.

It was a short but lovely drive to the farm. Our open road was quite nice.

Today's open road - Berryville, VA

Today’s open road – Berryville, VA

We were soon at the farm. Perfectly manicured Christmas trees greeted us at the foot of the driveway.

Arriving at Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm

Arriving at Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm

As we pulled up the driveway, we saw a fabulous log cabin. There was a huge wrap-around porch (which we later found out wrapped ALL the way around the large house).

Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm - Log Cabin

Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm – Log Cabin

We got a tour of the place. They have a nice variety of trees. What was great was that it was quiet…but not. Tons of birds were chirping and darting amongst the trees; sweet voices surrounded us. We spotted a bunny in the blueberry patch. There were nests all around the rafters. A little paradise!

The farm does (not surprisingly) almost all of their business between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but many people come out in October to pick and tag their trees. The farm will also be hosting a wine tasting in October with a local winery. Taste a bit of vino, pick out a tree…come back and cut it down. Sweet!

Tom and Paris

Tom and Paris

The inside of the house was even more spectacular than the outside! And the handmade crafts were fabulous! Kathy, Paris’ wife, paints and their daughter makes stained glass and fused glass (we bought an ornament). The farm also has jams, jellies and syrups made specifically for them. I picked up a jug or two of Brandy Vanilla Syrup. YUM!

We said goodbye to the Resnicks and motored on to Duncannon, PA to visit Bob and Sharon. Our route took us through an unusual part of the area where we were in three states in a matter of five minutes. We traveled from West Virginia to Virginia and into Maryland in a short spell! What travelers we are!

Hello there Maryland!

Hello there Maryland!

We were soon in Pennsylvania and headed for our final destination.

Hello again, Pennsylvania!

Hello again, Pennsylvania!

It was good to be in familiar territory! We started out our journey here; it was fitting that this be our last stop! Jasmine was looking forward to the visit!

Checkin' out the scenery

Checkin’ out the scenery

Perhaps Jasmine likes it here because she gets away with a lot. She climbed onto the kitchen table from my lap. Sharon’s response? “She’s allowed to do that HERE!” 🙂

Dogs are allowed on the kitchen table here!

Dogs are allowed on the kitchen table here!

We’ll stay the night here, and then we’re heading HOME. Yes, our journey is coming to an end.

Of course, before we left for home, we had to see one more thing…

First there was Margaretville, then...

First there was Margaretville, then…

Kentucky and the Bourbon Trail

Days 45 & 46: Thursday, June 13 & Friday, June 14, 2013
Start: Burlington, KY
End: Sevierville, TN
Miles Driven Today: 331
Total Miles: 8,078

We were all set to leave on Thursday. We had a great time with the old “gang” from Kentucky. Tom and I were ready to hit the Bourbon Trail. And then a text from Heather came in late on Wednesday night. “Want to meet us for lunch at Skyline tomorrow?”

Hell yes!!!

So, we decided to do lunch with Heather and her daughter. And if we did that, we wouldn’t get to our destination until pretty late. SO that meant staying another night at Minda’s. Minda, being the gracious hostess that she is, let us camp out for another night. We made the best of it with a great lunch and visit with Heather and a nice pot of Coq au Vin and more Graeter’s ice cream for dinner. We know how to live!

Skyline Chili

Chowing at Skyline Chili

The dogs were really comfy and happy at the Michels’ house. They made themselves very comfortable and were peacefully co-existing with the resident dog, Sparky.

Jasmine and Juliet made themselves comfortable

Jasmine and Juliet made themselves comfortable

Alas, all good things do come to an end. And given that Minda’s daughter is having a horde of teen-age girls over for a sleep-over tonight…hm…just in time! (Just kidding, Grace!!!) So, off we went in search of the Bourbon Trail.

Instead of taking the highway all the way to Frankfort, we decided to get off the Interstate and take some back roads. We went through small towns like Owenton, KY and were able to finally take some snapshots of a few of the barns on the Kentucky Quilt Trail.

Barn quilt on the Kentucky Quilt Trail

Barn quilt on the Kentucky Quilt Trail

Barn quilt on the Kentucky Quilt Trail

Barn quilt on the Kentucky Quilt Trail

We made it to Frankfort in less than two hours and hit our ‘priority’ stop–Buffalo Trace Distillery. Tom had been sipping on Buffalo Trace each time we visited the Michels family…so we had to stop there! We picked up a few choice items…given our wild Bison encounters, we are loving the furry beasts (and Tom is loving the bourbon!). I tasted a bit of the Bourbon Cream and had to have some to take home. YUM!

Tom's new favorite bourbon--Buffalo Trace!

Tom’s new favorite bourbon–Buffalo Trace!

Pre- or post-tasting? You decide.

Pre- or post-tasting? You decide.

MMMM...bourbon! The Bourbon Cream is the BEST!

MMMM…bourbon! The Bourbon Cream is the BEST!

Our next and final stop was Wild Turkey. We picked up a turkey call and a great bourbon barrel coat rack. Alas, at both Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey, we couldn’t take the distillery tours even though our timing was good. The day was way too hot to leave the pups in the car for any length of time. We knew that this could be a problem…but we still enjoyed both distilleries!

Wild Turkey Distillery

Wild Turkey Distillery

Tom riding the Wild Turkey!

Tom riding the Wild Turkey! Pre- or post-tasting? You decide!

Back on the back roads. One of the reasons we stopped at Wild Turkey was to see the S-shaped bridge near the distillery. We couldn’t get a good shot of the bridge, but it was pretty darn cool!

S bridge right past the WIld Turkey Distillery

S bridge right past the WIld Turkey Distillery

We also opted to go through Daniel Boone National Forest instead (again) of the Interstate to really enjoy the scenic byways and hills of Kentucky.

Beautiful road past Daniel Boone National Forest

Beautiful road past Daniel Boone National Forest

That route put us through Cumberland Gap on our way to Tennessee. We picked up salads from Cracker Barrel (yes, SALADS…healthy food!) and had a picnic in the park.

Picnic at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park

Picnic at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. Who says Cracker Barrel can’t do ‘healthy’ food? 🙂

Tunnel through Cumberland Gap

Tunnel through Cumberland Gap

Hello Tennessee! Thanks for the Welcome!

Hello Tennessee! Thanks for the Welcome!

One of today's open roads. Beautiful Tennesse hills.

One of today’s open roads. Beautiful Tennesse hills.

Then it was off to our stop for the night, Sevierville, Tennessee. Sevierville is outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We’re going to visit Gatlinburg, the Smokies and hit the Blue Ridge Parkway tomorrow, so this just sets us up for our next adventure. We’re settled in for the night and are looking forward to tomorrow’s sightseeing. We’ll end up in Asheville, North Carolina tomorrow night. From there, we’ll head up the Blue Ridge Parkway to its Northern End. I’m really looking forward to the Smokies and the Appalachian Mountains!

My Old Kentucky Home

Day 43 & 44: June 11 & 12
Start: Louisville, KY
End: Burlington, KY
Miles Driven: 94
Total Miles: 7,747

Yesterday's open road

Yesterday’s open road

We’re back in Northern Kentucky visiting the Michels family and other friends. It’s nice that we were able to swing through again and see more of my old friends! Who says you can’t go home again?

We have said that the dogs have changed on this trip. They are more easy-going and tolerant and MUCH less skittish. All of this has been readily apparent during this visit with the Michels.

Jasmine is much more accepting of people, and Sam has a new friend.

Sam and his new best friend

Sam and his new best friend

A changed dog

A changed dog

What's on TV?

What’s on TV?

The pups have some spiffy new bandannas…of course, they advertise my VERY favorite ice cream. The best of both worlds!

Graeter's Ice Cream Doggie Bandana!

Graeter’s Ice Cream Doggie Bandana!

Juliet is also pretty darn content. And sleepy. 🙂

Juliet's life is so rough

Juliet’s life is so rough (NOT)

Minda held a happy hour last night. It was great to see old friends and just hang out in the kitchen to talk. Of course, French Martinis were involved!

Tammy and Heather

Tammy and Heather

Heather and her husband Tom

Heather and her husband Tom

Pete

Pete

Minda, Grace and Sparky

Minda, Grace and Sparky

Tom is tired of the paparazzi

Tom is tired of the paparazzi

We’re actually staying another night so we can hang a bit longer and have lunch with Heather today. Then it’s off on the Bourbon Trail!

Santa Fe: Relaxation Day

Day 20: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Miles Driven: None

Today was another day of relaxation for us. We haven’t driven anywhere since arriving in Santa Fe. It’s a great walking town, and we are loving it!

We started the day with a long walk down the Canyon Road arts & crafts district. It felt good to have a nice long walk (walking off all that green chile stew), and we took the pups along in the doggie stroller (short legs, long walk…nope). As usual, we attracted a lot of attention.

Canyon Road has some fabulous galleries. While we were out early for a Sunday (most of the places opened at 11, some at 10), the outdoor art was spectacular. Almost all the galleries had statues.

Street art

Street art on the way to Canyon Road

Dragon on Canyon Road

Dragon on Canyon Road

Relaxation Day

Aaaah…Relaxation Day!

Rock chair

Rock chair. It’s MUCH more comfortable than it looks!

Bunny

This one’s for you, Sydnee!

Reading arch

Reading arch

We worked up an appetite (duh) and once again decided to dine at Tia Sophia’s. Some old friends of Tom’s, Hans and Marge, joined us at brunch. As Tom described in his blog post, he hadn’t seen Hans and Marge in 23 years! We had a great chat and a great brunch.

Sunday Special at Tia Sophia's

Sunday special at Tia Sophia’s: Chorizo, potato and scrambled egg burrito “Christmas” style (red and green chile sauces)

Marge, Tom, Mahgrit and Hans

Marge, Tom, Mahgrit and Hans–great brunch with great people!

After brunch, I went for my spa treatments. I had a lovely Shiatsu massage and a pedicure at the Nidah Spa at the hotel. All I can say is…aaaaaaaahhhhhh! When I got back from my pampering, I found Tom and the pups napping on the couch. It seems like I wasn’t the only one with a relaxation day!

Everyone had a relaxation day

Everyone had a relaxation day

To top off our day of relaxation, we sat by the fireplace at the Agave Lounge at the hotel and had drinks and appetizers. The Kobe Beef Sliders were exceptional!

Relaxation

More relaxation!

The reason this post is a day late is due to the travel complications from Memorial Day Weekend. We were originally planning to stay in Flagstaff, but due to its proximity to the Grand Canyon…well, let’s just say that staying at the EconoLodge would have been the same price as Santa Fe’s Eldorado hotel. NOT. So, we were up until 1am, rejiggering our travel plans and making reservations. I’ll create a separate post for today’s travels…and travel adventures!

Sunday Sunday

Day 7 (May 5)
Visited: Burlington, KY
Miles Driven: None

Today was a care-free day of down time and good conversation. We started off with a light brunch at Panera Bread with Minda, Pete, Sam and Grace and then we headed back to the house for a quiet day at home. Grace and I worked on a cool craft, we hung around the house and snuggled with the dogs.

In early afternoon, Heather Dorning and her son Jason came for a visit. Heather is another of the “gang” of friends I made here in the late 80’s, and it had been over 17 years since I had last visited Northern Kentucky. I got to meet Jason for the first time today. He has her goofy sense of humor…lucky kid.

Heather and Jason

Heather and Jason

What’s really great about good friendships is that they just seem to pick up where they left off. Minda, Heather and I spent a couple of hours gabbing away like no time had gone by. It was so good to sit and laugh about the past…and today.

We had two more Cincinnati traditions to experience–Montgomery Inn Ribs and Graeter’s Ice Cream. This restaurant has THE best ribs. The sauce is a sweet and tangy vinegar-based sauce, and the baby back ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender. We all pigged out on ribs and Saratoga Chips (home-made potato chips with ribs sauce for dipping) and topped it off with some Graeter’s ice cream (Raspberry Chocolate Chip is my favorite). We’re now sitting around, watching the tube and letting dinner settle in our stomachs.

And of course, Samuel is now smitten with Jasmine. I think he would be happy if I ‘forgot’ to take Jasmine with me. Sorry Sam. 🙂

Tomorrow, we leave for parts unknown. We now begin the “no reservations” leg of our journey! We’ll decide on a daily basis how far we’re going and how long we’re staying. No agenda. No hurry. No worries!

Samuel and Jasmine

Jasmine makes a friend

Jasmine and Samuel

Sam wants to dog-nap Jasmine!

Derby Day

Day 6 (May 4)
Visited: Villa Hills and Burlington, KY
Miles Driven: 28

Today was a day to visit with old friends and to enjoy Kentucky and Cincinnati traditions–Goetta, Skyline Chili and Derby Day!

We’re staying with the Michels family. I lived in Northern Kentucky when I first graduated from college, and I met and became fast friends with a group of really great people…people who made this my home and made me a part of their families. We’re staying with one of that group of friends, Minda and Pete Michels, their children, twins Sam and Grace, and their dog Sparky.

After we arrived, we decided that frosty beverages were in order. I made my French martinis and Tom had his usual Jack Daniels. I got Minda to try the French martinis, and we stayed up until the wee hours, catching up on our lives and drinking way too much. Tom and Pete quit around midnight; Minda and I…not so soon!

We began Derby day with a low-cal (NOT) breakfast of Goetta, eggs and rolls. Goetta is a local, scrapple-like product that’s created with some grain (steel-cut oats, buckwheat groats or the like), pork and seasonings. It’s boiled, formed into a loaf-like structure, sliced and fried. And it’s GOOD. But it’s not exactly healthy. Oh well!

After breakfast, Tom and I went to visit with Nancy Egan and Barbara Wilson, two of the Moms of my extended family. It was really heartening to see both Nancy and Barbara. They both welcomed me into their families with open arms and made this a home for me. We had very nice visits…it was really great to see them both.

Skyline Chili

Yum! A Cincinnati tradition! I like the 3 Way.

In between our visits, I initiated Tom into a Cincinnati tradition–Skyline Chili. Cincinnati chili is…different. The meat sauce isn’t spiced like a traditional bowl of red; instead, you can taste cinnamon and other ‘odd’ flavors that you wouldn’t think of in chili. It’s served in different ‘ways’, but traditional is over spaghetti with cheese (3 Way), onions (4 Way) and beans (5 Way). Tom loved it enough to finish my dish.

After the visits, it was time for the main event–the Kentucky Derby! Minda threw a Derby Day party. I made more French Martinis, Pete broke out the Buffalo Trace bourbon, and we were good to go! Yummy Tortilla Soup, Not-Too-Bad-For-You-Ham-Sammies and Really-Bad-For-You-Desserts were on the menu. Grace put together a Derby contest. We each put in $2 for each horse (picked randomly) and the Win, Place and Show winners shared the pot. Orb, Minda’s horse, blew away the field at the end. Minda, our hostess, was the big money winner. Fixed? Hm…I don’t know! Given that Minda’s mother won the Place and her son won the Show prizes…hm…suspicious! LOL!

We had a great time catching up, eating and drinking, and just enjoying the company of good friends. And being in Kentucky for Derby Day…a completely unplanned event, but definitely a bonus!

Tom and Margaret Donnelly

Say CHEESE!

Jeff Sizemore

Smilin’ Jeff

Winners' Cups

A shot of the Winners’ Cups prior to the race

On Your Mark...

On your mark…get set…Post time!

Sparky

Sparky wants Tortilla Soup too!

Kate

Kate (Pete’s mom) is egging on her horse!

Minda and Sparky

Minda and Sparky rootin’ for Orb!

Jeff and Marty

Jeff and Marty Sizemore

Smile BB

BB doesn’t like to have her picture taken. I think she’s beautiful!

Grace and Sparky

Grace and Sparky