Sure Looks Like 60 is the New 40

A few weeks ago, we gathered to celebrate the 60th birthday of a friend. This group of women has been celebrating each other’s birthdays for many years, and as the years have gone by, we have turned an evening into a weekend.

A weekend of Incredible sunrises

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Lots of time on the water – photo credit Liz Altieri since I’m the one in the cowboy hat

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Yummy food and drink

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Gifts and Games

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60 Candles and Lots of Sparklers

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A comfortable cabin with lovely views

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It was the perfect way to celebrate 60!

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Stormy Weather

When I pulled out of the driveway that Saturday morning almost two weeks ago, the skies were slightly overcast and the temperature was 70 degrees F.  It was a lovely day to ride.

As I rode down through the mountains, heading towards the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I was filled with excitement about a week at the beach with the GOAs.  The Girls Of August have been taking a vacation together for over 20 years, and it is one of the highlights of the year for all of us.

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After riding 200 miles, I met up with Jan and we began the second half of the trip.  WIth 180 miles to go, and the skies beginning to darken, I was glad to have a friend to share the journey with.  As it became clear that rain was in our path, we transferred my gear from bike to car.

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It was such a relief to know that all my gear, including my camera, would stay dry in the car because before we knew it, the skies opened up.  It was a deluge!

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For over 100 miles we rode in driving wind and rain, and thunder and lightning.  Headed toward the coast, the road was flat with few opportunities for shelter in this rural part of the state.  At one point, we pulled off the road to seek shelter under an overpass.  I put my feet down at the stop sign, and the water was over the top of my boots!

Several cars and trucks were already idling under the overpass, and I had to laugh at the fact that I had stayed on the road longer than they had.  By the time Jan took these photos, the rain had calmed down a bit and most of the cars had continued on.

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You just have to keep smiling and ride safe.

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From this point onward, the weather became even worse.  It took all my energy to stay focused on the road, and I’m thankful that I wasn’t a newbie rider.  Imagine going up and over the bridge across the Pamlico Sound. In the dark. In the rain.  When we finally arrived, the only part of me that was dry was my head, thankfully protected by the helmet.  I’m so grateful that Jan had been with me.

How wonderful to have friends to greet us, drinks in hand.

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Our time in Nags Head was incredible, and we could not have asked for a better vacation.  We did however, experience one more huge storm.  While enjoying the beach one day, we watched the clouds roll in.

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The GOAs started to pack up beach bags and chairs, but being the lover of storms that I am, I decided that I’d stick it out on the beach.  Janet, too, decided to ride it out, and oh what a wild ride it was!

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Rain, thunder, lightning, hail.  Our beach towels offered meager protection! I kept my camera covered up inside a bag, and these cell phone images do not do justice to the weather that Mother Nature treated us to that day.  I’m so glad that Janet was there to witness it with me.

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When the storm finally settled down, we sent a text up to the house that all was well, and Jan and Becky sooned rejoined us on the beach.  Later that evening, we enjoyed the post storm beauty.

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What a gift.

Walkin’ Around

In an effort to deepen my understanding of the intricacies of my camera, I was up and out early on Sunday to walk and shoot.

Despite the remnants of snow, the signs of spring were everywhere.

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The warming temperatures created a subtle mist that softened this next image.

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Don’t get me wrong.  If it snows again this week, as the forecast predicts, I’ll enjoy that, too.  I’m all about trying to embrace, and capture the beauty of, whatever Mother Nature throws my way.

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Even still, it was lovely to hear the birds singing all along the way.

Time on the bike will be here soon!

Cold Outside, Warmth Inside

As it is where many of you live, it’s a wee bit chilly here in Southwest Virginia.  The subfreezing temps with furiously whipping wind, provide the perfect excuse to stay inside, work on photography, catch up on my own blog, and with yours, too.

Sadly, the bike sits outside in the cold, waiting for the temperatures to rise.

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Yesterday morning, instead of being in my office at 8:15, I had a meeting at Radford’s new locally owned coffee shop.  Radford Coffee Company is located in an historic building, recently renovated by a favorite local developer, Joe Fortier.

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The Company gives its profits to help in the education of over 1200 students in 14 communities along the Rio Coco, the river that is the boundary line between Nicaragua and Honduras.

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The details of the renovation and the warmth inside the shop allow patrons to forget the chill for a little while.

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The furniture and decorations include a curved church pew and a Whizzer Motorbike.

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And on this particular day, a Radford mentoring program called CAMP was holding a fundraiser.  CAMP “offers a chance for Radford’s kids to explore their community and to discover how many opportunities are out there just waiting for them”.

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Soon enough, though, it was time to head to the office.  With the warmth to sustain me, I stopped to take a shot of the cold, beautiful sky.

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And at the end of the day?  An opportunity to warm up with a little single malt scotch and time with a friend.

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Stay warm, my friends.

Keswick Hall

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The destination was Keswick Hall, a 100 year old resort just outside of Charlottesville, VA.  The purpose was a long planned reunion with a dear friend from college.  Jan has been a big part of my life through the years, and was instrumental in my recovery from the motorcycle accident.

The drive to get there?  Near whiteout conditions (cell phone image)

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I left early in the morning, hoping to beat the snow but instead spent almost 5 hours driving through it (the drive would normally take 2 1/2).  It was certainly not the deepest or the worst, but driving through any snowstorm is challenging.

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You know me though.  I am nothing if not up for an adventure, and oh, how glad I am that we didn’t reschedule this 24 hour getaway to Keswick Hall.

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“Built in 1912 as a gorgeous Italianate-style estate, the property was converted to a country club in 1948, and restored in the early 1990s as part of the world-class hotel that now graces a most beautiful piece of Virginia countryside”.

Keswick, at least for us, is one of those once in a lifetime type places to visit.

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An historic home, beautifully renovated, Keswick is a place where “guests feel as though they are visiting a grand country estate rather than a hotel”.

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Our plan was to take a tour of 4 of the 30 wineries in the Charlottesville area, but once we arrived in safety, we decided to nestle in.

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What an incredible place in which to ride out a snowstorm!

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In the next post, I’ll share some indoor images of Keswick Hall.

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Cheers to a fabulous reunion!

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