Friday, June 29, 2007

The Puffs are Here!

I planted this tree in front of my house a couple years ago. It's a Mimosa. They grow fast and are kind of weedy, and are actually an invasive species here in NC. I like them though, for several reasons. I like the form the branches have in the winter when there are no leaves. I like the tiny little leaves they have in the summer, and the way they open during the day and close at night. I like those tiny leaves again in the Fall when they need no collecting. They just dissolve into the soil and are gone. And the Mimosa tree has Puffs! Delicate Pink Puffs. This is the first year mine has had any. I though maybe I got a boy tree and only the girl trees have puffs, but no, the puffs are here this year!

The only problem I have with the Mimosa is that the branches tend to droop low in the summer when they are heavily laden with leaves and interfere with passersby. So I have tied some of the branches to each other across the middle of the tree with strong fishing line to hold them in toward the center of the tree. After a year, I will take the line off and the branches should hold the position they are now tied in.

(click the photos to see bigger versions)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Most Scenic Dairy Queen

Yes, it's the most scenic Dairy Queen in the world, located in Hinton, West Virginia. Above is a panoramic view of the dining room which overlooks the famous New River near it's confluence with the Bluestone River. If you click the picture you can see it in larger splendor. If you think there is a more scenic DQ, I want to hear about it.

Also notable at this DQ is table service. You order at the window, but they bring your food out to your table and call your number. The menu is somewhat expanded also. On a previous trip, I had the fried oysters. Why I thought that was a good idea in the middle of remote WV, I can't tell you now. The oysters were amazingly uniform in shape, parallelograms as a matter of fact. Oyster-llelograms is what they became known as. My advice is to stick with the staples that would normally be good at a DQ.

I visited on this trip on Friday night and it was nice scene of Summer. The sun was getting low and pretty after a beautiful warm day. One of those crisp West Virginia days with low humidity and long clear views driving on the beautiful back roads. Sliding right through little towns and people's front yards, catching fleeting glimpses of what's important to them, and what isn't. And there at the DQ were a variety of people ending their day and week with a little outing. There was a group of 10 or 20 people in one dining room ending a dinner of some significance with hugs and some people still lingering and talking. Well dressed white haired couples ask what kind of fish they serve, and cause confusion behind the counter while research on the fish is done. The young woman comes back and answers, "Cod?" in a question, as she apparently has never heard of a fish with that name. Older teens in rugged 4wd pickup trucks that look like they actually go off-road congregate and chat non-threateningly. A few bikers come and go with loud revving engines.

So I did a little audio recording while I was there, with my ISDV2+ and I'm going to try to edit it into something so you can get a flavor of the scene there at the most scenic DQ in the world on such a pleasant Summer Friday evening. One of the most interesting things I heard there was one of the young women behind the counter. In an effort to keep people flowing through the ordering process, she frequently said, "can I help someone?" Nothing too strange about that, but it was the way she said it. She had one of those naturally strong voices that carries way down the road. And her intonation had a pleading quality to it, like she REALLY, REALLY wanted to help someone. The other thing to listen for is the retro musak playing in the dining room, and the excited patron who lets out a YeeHaw when his order number is called. OK here it is, an mp3 file about a minute long.

I Didn't want to see that.

There are my friends Terry and Ellie. I've known them a long time, but had kind of forgotten about Ellie since I hadn't known her that well before the 22 or so years elapsed since the last time I saw her. I did remember her significant resemblance to Jessica Lange back in the 80's, and it's still there.

I was mentioning my use of to find eligible bachelorettes, and so we set to finding Ellie a possible date. She was lukewarm to the idea. I warned them about what they might see in the men seeking women ads, and to be especially careful of ads that say they have a picture. Well, one stray click, and we ended up seeing a 60-something guy in his underwear. Or was that a speedo? Does it matter? No.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Trip Blogging Preview

Just a teaser of what's to come, so get ready. I'm back from an exciting 8 day trip and hope to blog it to bits! Here's the kind of excitement you can expect:

  • Lost keys! First I lose the key to the gas cap of the van and can't put more gas into its empty tank. Yikes! How did I overcome that major obstacle? And now that I'm home, I can't find the key to remove my bike from the back of the van. Yes, my bike is stuck on the van!
  • Reunion Hijinks: the last time I saw her was 31 years ago, when we were 12, and now she's upset.
  • The most scenic Dairy Queen in the world.
  • Hot driving: it's in the high 90's in the van, and that's when I'm underway with the windows down.
  • Wind Farms.
  • Vanagon Tech-talk
  • Excitement boils over: climbing a steep grade is interrupted when a cloud of smoke and oil appear in the rear view mirror!
  • Off-road excursion: The GPS says it's a road, I think not! I was stupid, then lucky, and part of the lucky was that I was smart.
  • Limping home: with a compromised front suspension and transmission, I make it home.
  • Old friends: It was good to see them.
  • Lots of photos and maybe some video too!
  • BBQ.
  • Frozen drinks near and far.
  • Scenic Splendor.
  • Modern Art.
  • Urban Sprawl.
Watch this space.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Summer Trip Planning

Sometimes planning the trip can be as much fun as the trip itself. Currently have 13 stops planned over about 8 days. If you click the map you can see it in more detail. Any guesses as to what any of those those numbered stops are?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

What is that?

Behind the Patton Building?

Watch this space for future developments...