In conclusion, at long last…

I admit it: when I came to Blacksburg I was hoping to get a job in the area and stay. In fact, it was a particular job at the Radford Arsenal, doing similar work to that I was doing for the navy in Maryland. And I got it! Anyone who reads this blog probably already knows this, but I felt like it was unfinished because after a point I didn’t know how to excuse my continuing presence here without admitting that I was looking for a job, which was somewhat of a secret. But maybe now that I have worked for over a month and it seems that I may not be waking up from this dream-come-true, I can say it out loud: that I have a job and will be living in Blacksburg indefinitely. Woohoo!

Lucy and I hiking Dragon's Tooth on New Year's Eve

Lucy and I hiking Dragon's Tooth on New Year's Eve

Oops, it’s been a really long time…

I really thought I posted once since being in Blacksburg but have not.  I’ve been busy!

We are camping in the Coopers’ driveway (that’s my sister and her family, Al, Patrick, Jacquelyn, and Bear).  They invited us to stay inside but with fall approaching so fast I wanted to sleep outside for a while longer.  Staying here is so great it’s hard to seriously consider leaving but at some point they must tire of having a delinquent in the driveway who occasionally comes in late and gets Bear all excited.  

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Al making his great ribs the first weekend I was here

I have spent the last two weeks catching up with Blacksburg and my friends.  The farmers’ market is bigger, there is disorienting construction on South Main, traffic seems thicker but I think that’s the story almost everywhere, and they either moved the bike racks around downtown so I can’t find them or they got rid of too many.  I plan to lodge a complaint about that.   I have been running almost every day and am starting to feel better about my fitness, which deteriorated during the trip.  Also, I get to play a little bit of touch rugby twice a week with the Blacksburg rugby team, who have healthy numbers lately and beat Danville by something like 90 points last weekend. 

I finally made it down to the river on friday of this week, after exactly two weeks in town.  My friend, Ann, lives on the New River in a beautiful spot out in Eggleston and she has always been really generous about letting me spend time down there.  I ran into her Monday night at a performance in Radford and when she found out that I had been in town for over a week and hadn’t been to the river yet, she asked “Did you lose your soul?” 

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Lucy says it’s good to be back at the river

Angus actually came from this property.  Six years ago they found a hound dog down here with nine puppies and he was one of them. 

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My river dog

Lastnight the Coopers and I went to Mountain Lake (the hotel where Dirty Dancing was filmed, for all you non-Hokies) for Oktoberfest where we saw the Sauerkraut Band!  They are a German oom-pah band that used to play downtown in Blacksburg occasionally and played at Kristie & Al’s wedding.  They have polka and yodeling contests between crowd members and are a lot of fun to see. 

That’s all for now.  I expect to be back in NJ friday night to do some painting over the weekend.  ‘Til then I’ll be tootling around Blacksburg.

My mom indulges the dogs so much she buys them cantaloupe

For years my mom claimed she didn’t like dogs, but she constantly cuddles with Angus (or vice versa, to be fair) and I caught her voluntarily petting the labrador in a car whose driver stopped to talk to her.  Then she told me other day that she had bought the cantaloupe I was eating “with the dogs in mind.”  I love it; she is completely converted!

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Mom and I biking at Smithville Park

I love being here.  I have done a few productive things but we also take time to go biking and walking and we still drink cocktails almost every day at 5:00.  As you have probably guessed, most of my sightseeing is done.  I think so, anyway, but I have proved to be an unreliable planner.  I leave tomorrow for Blacksburg and I will spend a couple weeks there.  Then we’ll see.

Planning Labor Day in Jersey

Ah, the dogs are napping on the carpet in my parents’ air-conditioned house as we wait to hear whether the barbeque at the pool is postponed until tomorrow or not.  We plan to stay here about a week to catch up with my parents.

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The dogs get no love here


…I could skip spending more time in the Finger Lakes and head straight to Connecticut for a few days to hang out with the Salan family: Jerry, Kerri, Sasha, Kane, Luke, and Eddie the English Lab.  Schedules work out better this way and now I don’t have to worry about finding a campsite for Labor Day weekend because I can stay in Jersey with my parents!  I have been here since Sunday hanging out with the family, eating fabulous food, and checking out the sights.  The kids really like the camper and we have had a couple sleepovers this week in the driveway. 

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Sasha, Luke, and Kane 

Today I went to the see the US Navy Submarine Force Museum.  My dad used to work on submarines, which is why I was particularly interested.  At the museum you can tour the USS Nautilus, which was the first nuclear powered submarine.  I went first thing in the morning and I was the only on the boat during my tour. 

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USS Nautilus

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Close quarters in the submarine!

All the mannequins are rail thin.  After seeing pictures of my dad from his submarine days, I would guess they are pretty accurate representations of the submariner physique.  They say that submarine food is the best in the navy though. 

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Don’t they say you can’t trust a skinny cook?

Yesterday we went to Bluff Point park in Groton.  They have a nice walking trail and pretty beaches.  Eddie had so much fun retrieving from the water!  After the museum today we met Kerri and the kids today in Old Saybrook, a cute little town with great shops.  Lastnight was delicious pizza and possibly the creamiest ice cream I have ever had.  It was so good that on the way out of town I might have to swing by for one more taste.  Coconut chocolate chip came highly recommended and I like it so much I’m afraid to try anything else for fear it won’t be as good.  It’s been such a nice visit here!  They let us pop up in the driveway (and invited us numerous times to sleep in the house) and we haven’t wanted for anything.  One morning Kerri brought me coffee in bed!  I told her it was a dream come true.

Getting back east

I didn’t look around too much between Wisconsin and New York.  We did stay at a series of really nice state parks: Pokagon (Indiana), Geneva (Ohio), and Allegany (New York), but one night apiece.  Now we are in Corning, NY, where I was born.  I really like it here, since it has trees and hills and a river and the pretty city isn’t too big.

Corning 007 by you.

Sorry to be so brief but the internet access isn’t so convenient.  I am headed up closer to the Finger Lakes from here.  Don’t harass me about wine tasting!  I’ll get to it if I get to it.

Cheeseless in Wisconsin

I have been keeping an eye out for squeaky cheese curds since entering the state but haven’t had any yet and it’s not looking good for my eating curds because I am not too from the Illinois state line and I plan to cross it today. 

We camped near Madison Saturday night and went into town that night to find that all the students were returning for classes and crowded downtown, greeting each other and finding out where everybody moved to. 

Madison capitol building by you.

I liked Madison all right, for a city.  They have closed off parts of the main drag downtown, State Street, to traffic which makes it pedestrian friendly, I noticed a lot of bike lanes, and the buildings aren’t too imposing so you don’t feel starved of sunlight in the city like you might in NYC.  We went back downtown on sunday morning hoping to investigate a used bookstore I spied saturday night, but it didn’t open ’til noon (too late) and all we found were a bunch of grumpy people.  I’m not impressed with the friendliness of the folks there, but I am probably particularly sensitive to an unrequited hello right now.

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Cow boat just off the university campus

Good thing I came to Lake Geneva next; it’s the perfect antidote to feeling like an unwelcome stranger.  I am staying with my friend, Ginny.  She lives in a beautiful farmhouse just a mile from the lake on just under 3 acres.  It’s very private, has gorgeous flower gardens, and IT’S FOR SALE!  You, too, could own a little bit of heaven in a small pleasant lakeside town. 

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The Venetian festival was this weekend and since I arrived on sunday, Ginny took me to the boat parade and fireworks down on the lake.  The fireworks were the best I have ever seen!  The finale was incredible, perhaps because last year’s fireworks were rained out and they had twice as much?  I will be sad to leave here but fortunately I can see Ginny again back in Blacksburg, where she lives for most of the year now.  (Lucky girl.) 

Venetian festival by you.