Where in the World is LB and Where is She Going?

Forgive me, WordPress Friends, but it has been 5 Weeks since my last confession … er, I mean, post!

In the almost 6 years that I have been blogging, that may just be a record.  So! Where have I been?

Inauguration

In early January, we traveled to Richmond, Virginia’s Capital City, to see the Inauguration of our new Governor.

It was a cold, but beautiful winter day and we were all so excited to be there!

As you might guess, I took a ton of photos.  Sadly, I just haven’t had time to work through them yet.  This image, though, shows the impressive sight of all 1600 Virginia Military Institute Cadets march by in the Inaugural Parade.  Our new Govenor, Ralph Northam, is a VMI Grad.

The Women’s March in Roanoke

One week later, I hit the streets of Roanoke for the Women’s March.

From the Women’s March to the Swearing-in of Delegate Hurst

We left the Women’s March a bit early and drove straight to the swearing-in of our new Delegate, Chris Hurst.

I loved catching this image of the Delegate in concentration,

and of course, enjoyed a quick visit in his office.

It was a long, exciting day and I’m so glad to have had this man to share it with.

Puzzle Time with Family

 I enjoyed a quick run to Williamsburg to spend time with some of my family,

followed by a brief stop in Richmond on the way back home.

8 weekends in a row of travel, with work in between, and suddenly blog posts take a back seat.  As much as I have loved all the road trips, some of which I didn’t include here, I was grateful to be home this past weekend.  Why?  So I might be able to plan the BIG TRIP:

New Zealand and Australia!!

I am the luckiest gal to be leaving in just 12 days for the Southern Hemisphere!  Even better, I’ll be spending time with dear blogging friends: Pauline from The Contented Crafter, (and her awesome daughters), Alys from Gardening Nirvana, and Boomdee from Boodeeadda.

I anticipate lots of laughter and love, good food and drink, gorgeous scenery and many, many photo ops.  I’ll be traveling on foot, and by car, plane, train and hopefully motorcycle, and I simply cannot wait to share it with all of you!

Riding on Sundays

Sunday rides are my therapy!

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My campaign manager and I have carved out 6 hours in the week for time on the bike and time with friends.  While the rest of the week is devoted to work and the campaign, those 6 hours on Sunday are for ME!  This ride was extra special because my friends and I were celebrating my birthday.

Dave led us through Craig County, VA on our most recent ride, and as we traveled along those curvy mountain roads, I was wishing I had a go-pro on my helmet so I could share the beauty of this county.  We stopped at Fenwick Mines, the site of a 19th Century iron mining site.

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Offering a wheelchair accessible trail that winds through woods and across wetlands, Fenwick Mines is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.

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The reflections on this overcast day kept me shooting.

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The water was so still that the blue sky, breaking through the clouds, was visible in this reflection.

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We rode on to Tizzone, a new wood-fired kitchen and wine bar, owned by a friend.

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We enjoyed the Charcuterie and Cheese Platter, and I followed it with a Wood-Fired Smoked‎ Gouda and fig spread on Ciabatta bread.  Accompanied by a Raven’s Roost Baltic Porter, it was a delicious birthday meal. The extensive wine and beer list will require a return visit with a DD.

We left Tizzone and headed out to Parkway Brewing, a 2 year old brewery with “Fresh Beers, Artfully Crafted in the Heart of the Blue Ridge”.

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Riding a bike significantly limits the intake of alcohol for me (obviously) but learning the history of the places we visit and listening to local music always provides great entertainment.

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Another Roadside Attraction is a “husband and wife duo from Roanoke who perform mostly original songs on a myriad of eclectic instruments: from the Mexican guitarron, to a variety of ukuleles, to the haunting musical saw, and a homemade recycled percussion setup”.  Can you see that Jordan is playing the musical saw in this image?  Be sure to check out the link.  Another Roadside Attraction travels the length of the US and will be heading to Mexico later in the year.

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Sunday Riding: a great way to celebrate a birthday!  I walked in the door and the downpour began, as did the campaign phone calls.  I’m already counting down to next Sunday!

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Yummy snacks

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 plus a designated driver

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plus amazing friends

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plus locally owned restaurants

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plus magical light

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equals another great BGs celebration, our first in Roanoke!

Hangin’ With the Big Dogs: A 500 Mile Weekend

I just LOVE the first long rides of the summer!

Those who truly love riding motorcycles, will ride all year long.  Even on cold winter days, as long as the sun is shining.  Winter rides are incredibly satisfying but they’re often shorter in duration, with far fewer miles covered.   So when the warm weather arrives, the long riding begins, and there is nothing like it!

This past Saturday, during the middle of an early morning hair appointment, I got the call to ride.  My two favorite bikers, Dave and Michael (My Guys) are great friends, awesome mentors, and have taught me so much about riding these past 5 years.  They told me I had 10 minutes to be ready (I made it in 15) and off we went!

We rode 350 miles,  through 8 counties, and on too many country roads to count.

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This bridge was built in 1896 and was just closed to traffic this past year.

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I’m told that this tower was used to measure river water levels.

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It was a glorious day for riding!

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Lunch at Devils Backbone Brewery offered much needed fuel for our bodies, and then we turned and headed for home.

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We hit the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and pulled back into Radford around 8pm that evening.

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Sunday morning found us back on the bikes, this time joined by our good (and fun!) friends Cherie, Tim, Diana, and Jeff. Dave always leads the way and while I may not always know where we are headed, I am always confident that the ride will be a blast!

Total mileage today was  145 miles.

After a brief stop at Tuggles Gap, a restaurant and motel serving BRP customers for over 70 years, we took off in earnest.

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Wide sweeping curves on the BRP and much tighter curves on Rt 8 in Floyd and Patrick Counties, eventually took us to Squirrel Spur.

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Our final stop was the Kanawha Valley Arena.  The arena “was formed in the interest of Equestrian Enthusiasts” and in addition to the professional arena, barn, and corrals, Kanawha has a Carriage House Museum and a Carriage House Saloon.

And a covered bridge!

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This scene just made me chuckle and I had to take a picture!

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What a weekend on the bike!  I simply can’t wait for the next one!

What’s in a Year?

Or at least … what’s in a blogging year?

I’m contemplating that very question as I sit out on my finally clean screened in porch.  The rain and too many weekends of travel have kept me from enjoying it and I have missed spring and summer mornings out here.   Breakfast is done and I sit here now in comfortably cool temps, hot coffee at hand and a multitude of birds singing in the background.

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 How lucky I am to live where I do!  The house is far too big for one, what with the child moved on years ago, and 2 dogs and 1 cat also passed on.  It’s now just me and Abby, and every so often I consider moving to a smaller place.  Then I sit here on my porch, surrounded by nature (in the middle of my little city), basil growing in posts,  rabbits (and deer) eating all my hostas (damnit), and I drop all thoughts of moving … for now.

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But I digress.

One year ago, almost to the day, I started this blog as a way to communicate with family and friends while riding.  Each year, I take a solo bike trip and I’m loved enough to have people worry about my safety.  The first two years I typed a travel update via email from my Blackberry.  I’d find a fun little pub or restaurant, order the house special and a good imported beer and write the days news.  In searching for a better venue, I came to WordPress.

One thing led to another and I’ve now been posting for a year.  I started Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things as a travel journal and method of communication and it has morphed into something much, much more.

Story Telling.  Travel Journal.  Photography Portfolio.

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But after 12 months and 158 posts (now 159), it has become a passion, almost an addiction and has taken valuable time away from reading!

The two things that I did not anticipate?

1.  Growth as a photographer – because of many of you!  I have learned so much about the technique and artistry of photography and I have grown better (and more critical) of my efforts.  I can not wait to find a weekend photography retreat to attend so I can continue to improve.  Thanks to all of you out there for inspiring and teaching me.

2.  Connections – I had no idea that I would find such an amazing community of bloggers.  When I first signed on with WordPress and started trying to find my way around, I would read about the blogging community and was mystified.  How would I ever connect with people? How would they ever find me?  Then suddenly that first Like came … and then the first Follow (I still remember the thrill) and all of a sudden I was hooked!  I love telling my local friends about the connections I have made in Australia, London, Norway, Canada, and in many other countries and various parts of the US.  You all inspire me, uplift me, make me cry, and laugh out loud.

I have sighed, exclaimed and been envious over your photos.

I have been moved by your words and laughed at your jokes.

I’ve followed along on your adventures, been proud of your accomplishments, and wondered about you when you haven’t posted lately.

I’ve also lost hours of sleep and time spent with a books … ah well, it’s not all perfection.

To my family and friends: thanks for your patience with my requests to look at just a few more photos.   My annual solo bike trip is planned for August (details pending) and I look forward to having you all along for the ride as always.

To my fellow bloggers:  Thanks for coming sharing this amazing thing called blogging with me.  You have made my life richer for embracing me into your community.

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First True Ride on the New Bike

Two weeks ago I picked up the bike, rode home from the dealer, around town just a bit, and then the snow came.  So this past weekend was the first time I was really able to get out and learn the bike.  And learn it I did!

Even though this bike sits lower than most (24.5 inches) and even though I had it modified for short arms and legs, I find that there are still adjustments to be made.  Most importantly, I have to stretch just a bit too much to reach the left handlebar.  Other things such as the weight and being able to back it up, will come along with time.  Despite the low seat height, I only stand at 5ft tall, so no matter what I ride, I will be always be challenged just a bit.

Having said all that, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this bike!  It rides so smoothly and runs so well … I am thrilled!

On Sunday, I rode with friends for the first 80 miles.  We rode to Smith Mountain Lake and then I headed out on my own.  My goal was to focus on how the bike handled (and how I handled the bike) without worrying about keeping up with friends.  I thought it fitting that I took the first half of my first long ride with the guys who have taught me the most (see this post to learn about them) https://lifeonthebikeandotherfabthings.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/my-guys/.

I left the lake area, where I of course had to stop and take a few photos …

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I was really too focused on the bike to spend time on photography, but it was so beautiful that I had a hard time not stopping!  I headed over Catawba Mountain, through Ellett Valley and home through Tom’s Creek.  A total of 170 miles and a wonderful, wonderful day!

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A Gift!

When I first began to blog 9 months ago, I would see and read about a variety of awards that bloggers would give to one another.  I was curious but didn’t know much about them.  At that point (and truly, still to this day), I was just thrilled if someone other than a family member or friend liked or made a comment about something I posted!

Then I was nominated for my first award and I felt so validated!  Even if it was just one person, at least that one person liked what I was doing.  How cool!

https://lifeonthebikeandotherfabthings.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/validation-and-gratitude-a-blogging-award/.

I know that there are those who do NOT want to be nominated for awards, but I was pretty tickled.

And then came Meg (http://athomeworkplaydotcom.wordpress.com/ ).  Like me, Meg was cherishing the new friendships she had found since joining the blogging world and she decided to let those friends know how much she appreciated them.  This wasn’t an “official” award … just an incredibly lovely message that made my day.   And the funny thing?  I had just been telling someone about Meg the day before.

Then came another nomination, this time the Beautiful Blogger award and it was just as exciting as the first nomination.  I mean really …  it is so rewarding to have someone tell you that they like what you are doing.

THE RULES:

Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo and place it in in your post – CHECK!

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Thank the person who nominated you and create a link back to their blog – CHECK!

Thanks so much to Susan at Gasm Travels for nominating me for the Beautiful Blogger award http://maedetera.wordpress.com/.

A traveler, photographer, writer and water color painter, Susan describes her love for traveling this way: “I was searching for the right word that would best describe my travel experience and my feelings whenever i am planning a trip or visiting a new place….that ‘ahhhh’ feeling when something excites me every time i see new things….that ‘oohh’ feeling whenever i have satisfied my curiosity….that ‘wooow’ feeling whenever i am awestruck with a beautiful scenery in front of me….that kind of exhilarating feeling that i always get every time i am on the road or upon arrival to my destination”.  Be sure to visit her blog and by doing so, vicariously visit many fun and interesting places!

List 7 Things About Yourself – CHECK!

1.  I love the Gonzaga Bulldogs Basketball team (Ranked #1 in the NCAA – first time in the history of the University!)

2.  I have an amazing family!

3.  I’ve been a nurse in one setting or another for over 27 years and for the last 17, I’ve worked as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

4.   I’m passionate about reading.  I NEED to have books all around me in my home (I am not an e-reader – yet)

5.   I’m a community activist, especially when it comes to green initiatives.

6.  I served on Radford City Council, an elected position for 8 years; this helped me to learn that I am an ACTIVIST, not a POLITICIAN

7.  I did not find out until the age of 40 (yep, 13 years ago) that I am absolutely restored by water – river, lake, ocean, pool, bathtub …

Nominate 7 other bloggers for their own Beautiful Blogger Award – CHECK!

NOW comes the hard part? How do I choose only 7 out of the many, many wonderful blogs out there?

And what qualities make a beautiful blogger anyway?

In my opinion, a Beautiful Blogger is someone who not only has a talent for writing or photography but who also has the ability to interact and connect across the blogging world … they have made me feel welcome in that world, and I look forward to hearing their comments and reading their posts.  All these bloggers go beyond the likes … they engage, they comment, they share … and I love that!

http://ionicphotography.co.uk/ – Beautiful photography and conversations about our efforts to improve at the craft

http://beachbums1.com/ – a wonderful blog about one family’s travels and currently, their lives in London

http://badsphotoblog.wordpress.com/ – I love viewing Bryan’s photography and chatting about techniques / what works / what doesn’t

http://athomeworkplaydotcom.wordpress.com/ – – be sure to check out Meg’s blog … you’ll see why I like it!

http://unistudentsoutlook.wordpress.com/- I love the honest writing of this young woman and her efforts to move beyond the end of a relationship

http://boomdeeadda.wordpress.com/- While I’m not the crafter / artist that she is, I enjoy reading her blog and sending comments back and forth.  Enthusiasm personified!

http://retiredruth.wordpress.com/ – a diverse blog, full of information, recipes, stories and opinions!

and just one more!

http://greenhornphotos.com/–  Scott is endeavoring to post a picture a day, yet he still finds time to make and respond to comments.