14 March 2009

Roadtrip '09, DAY 3: Sunday on the Rocks

Tal & Sera's Big 2009 Roadtrip
DAY THREE - Sunday, 22 February.
Destination: Two trips into Petersburg, WV and an attempted joyride into the Dolly Sods
Miles traveled (total for the weekend): 239.6
(Helvetia, 3 trips into Petersburg, and one Dolly Sods)

Sunday morning in our happy cabin. Cabin #1 was a little closer to the main highway than I would've preferred (there are a number of other cabins down the little road, more isolated than this one). The one overriding positive, which made us forget about this lack of apparent coziness, was the view from its picture windows:
"When you have this to look at, who needs television?" --Seraphim

The day began with more fun and conversation. It was VERY cold and blustery, with snow beginning to fall. The coffee was made, and we did our own things for breakfast. Late in the morning, Melissa went out to hike the trail to "top of the rocks" (above right picture). We stood lookout for her to reach the peak, but seeing her walking back across the little bridge told us we missed seeing her.

Tal's Big Challenge: Ascent 2009

I made an offhand mention to Melissa that my last serious mountain hike was Pinnacle Mountain west of Little Rock, Ark. back in 1987 (when I weighed something like 185 pounds, if not less). I went to say how much I missed mountain-climbing, that with my weight-drop project I was looking forward to something like that again. My big concern was that I wasn't yet to a point physically where I could pull it off. Well, leave it to Melissa to be a superb motivator. She thought I could do it. The woman chiseled away at my misgivings, until I gave in. Okay, I'm gonna give this a shot.
Pre-climb ceremonial picture.

Kate/Susan had this idea of us all signing our names to a rock from outside. My mission was to transport said rockage to the top of the mountain, where I'd place it.

All right then, Melissa and I set out for the trail. It was a steep climb, with a couple of nice fallen-tree hurdles. Melissa walked with me, now with her hiking sticks (she didn't take ‘em the first time because the brochure said it was a level trail .... forgetting the word "level" means an entirely different thing in West Virginia!) .

The view looks stunning so far....

If I look short of breath in this picture, it's because I AM.

I took a couple of short rests – by this time my heart was beating faster than a Huey Lewis 45 set to 78 RPM – but I made it to the top. And the view from up there is indescribable!

(LEFT) The roadway in front of our cabin
(RIGHT) Close-up of the cabin itself. We could see Kate/Susan
and Seraphim in the picture window watching us!!

Before conducting the ceremonial rock-planting, we paused for victory pictures:

...and Talmadge (with rock).

Sera was recording us while we were on the mountain, and below are a few frame-grabs from that tape:

The placing of the rock. At this point my wife was about to have a fit.
She thought I was too close.

The wind up there was vicious and cold. And when I went to the edge of the protrusion to place our signed rock – something Melissa wasn't about to do – a gust of wind nearly blew my collectors'-item Sirius hat (if not with the body it was on!) clear up to Maryland.

Mountaintop photo-op.

I cannot start to tell you how it felt to conquer that mountain. It wasn't the 1,000' climb of Pinnacle; this might've been a 400-footer. At any rate, what I do know is that a year and 60 pounds ago, I would not have gotten more than a third of the way up that trail.

Returning, we saw that Sera and Kate/Susan had moved the couch to a full view of the picture window!

Lunchtime for the guyfolks

I rested for a few minutes, and as the ladies got started on their 80-plates Swiss fondue lunch, Mike and I took a little drive into Petersburg and some worldwide eating of our own at Mickey D's. It was good to be able to 'get away' and have some one-on-one convo with The General.

Soon after we got back from town, it was time for the Virginia faction to depart. Kate/Susan, Mike and Melissa left about 2:00. I hated to see them go ... this was a wonderful time, and it was an honor to finally meet the face behind Playtime! Melissa was every bit the good person she came across through the blog, Facebook and e-mails. And, again, I did something very positive because of her -- first, it was cutting all sugared sodas (all because of two words she said last Summer: "drinking calories" -- they sank in and did their job), and now it was climbing a mountain again ... sooner than I myself thought would have been possible.

To read about this weekend from the POV of our blogmates:
Melissa | Kate/Susan | Nettiemac: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4

Hello, Dolly

(LEFT) You certainly don't see signs like this in coastal Georgia!
(RIGHT) The view in that general area. It's part of why I keep coming back.

And then there were three: Nettiemac, Sera and myself. We relaxed for a bit, then as the snow picked up, we all had the urge to explore down the Dolly Sods "Forest Road." About a mile or so past the "No snow removal" signage, plus the infamous "IMPASSABLE IN WINTER" sign spelled out with those hinky letters one finds at Ace Hardware, the snow was getting thicker, and the road beginning to show signs of hazardous going .... so we turned back. Dolly Sods, I'm told, offers some amazing vistas, so we'll do that another time.

The road looks good so far ... so we continue.

Rut-roh. The temperature is falling, the snow is falling even more ... and the road
is beginning to get a bit covered and slick. With three Deep Southerners in a
4-cylinder SUV with two-wheel drive, it was time to declare Dolly a big folly.

We returned to the cabin, and - like clockwork - Seraphim felt like taking a late-afternoon nap. Nettie and I talked for a bit until the wifely one woke up. This would've been about 8:00 p.m. Hungry, we took off for "the big city." We all had a hankering for Chinese (we had the menu from Sera's Friday night vittles). To my dismay, they were out of cashews. Well, poot. Nothing else on the menu did anything for me, so as Sera and Nettie waited, I went next door to Dairy Queen. Meh. I had my heart set on some cashew chicken, and I had to settle for a cheeseburger and a chicken sammich. Oh well. After a final stop at Sheetz (love that place), and a "Diet Fountain Dew" for me, and some bottle sodas for the ladies, it was ‘home' for the night.

Sera wasn't as comfortable up in the loft, so she moved into the bedroom downstairs vacated by Mike & Susan. Since she went to bed early, plus the fact that I didn't feel like moving my crap downstairs only to have to repack it the next morning, I stayed in the loft for the final night. This despite my knees feeling a bit sore. Hmmmm, wonder why that would be?

The Craptastic Maytag

After my wife retired for the night, I started laundry. Nettiemac and I stayed up awhile and talked (what? Is that a look of surprise on your face?), mostly about Weight Watchers stuff. She has begun training to become a WW leader, and it's the consensus of all this group that it's a perfect fit for somebody like her. She showed us the photo board she takes with her to show WW groups she speaks to (having lost 222 pounds and counting, they frequently tap her to be a motivational figure).

I was less than pleased to see the washing machine (a front-loader) was less than optimal when it came to rinsing clothes. I had to add in another rinse cycle. As if that wasn't bad enough, the dryer was even worse .... the hot-to-the-touch exterior plus the lackluster results (70 minutes and the clothes were still more than damp) told me those folks haven't cleaned the exhaust duct. The lint filter inside the door was fine, however I'm sure the outside pipe was clogged with it. Talk about a fire hazard!

Eventually I got our jeans dry enough that I could hang ‘em on the loft railing overnight to finish the job. And after checking the web for a weather update for tomorrow's drive to Mount Nebo -- while our area was to get no more than an additional inch of snow, areas to the west of Allegheny Mountain were slated to get as much as half a foot. Nettie went to bed around 12:30, and I waited for the "dryer" – or should that be "hot and still wet" – to finish up. I put stuff in for one final round, and called it a night at 2:00 a.m.

To be continued.......

Dead skunks spotted and/or smelled: 0
Bob Evans restaurants passed: 0
Diet Mountain Dews consumed: 5
Times Melissa made a fool out of my doubting self: 1
Times I wanted to take the washer/dryer outside and "Office Space" 'em: at least 20

NBC stations on the Dish Network local package: 2
NBC stations with good production values: 1 (WRC/Washington, DC)
NBC stations like a timewarp to 1985: 1 (WHAG/Hagerstown, Md.)
Messages from 1985 requesting the WHAG anchor's shoulderpads and hairdo back: 8, maybe 9


nettiemac said...

I totally forgot about the 80s timewarp with the anchoress until you mentioned it..... snork!!!

Kate/Susan said...

So glad you're posting your travelogue and it's nice to relive the memories :-) Love all the pics, can't wait to do it again!