Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Let Hodgepodge Ring

Gee, it's hard to believe that half of 2018 will be over in a few days, isn't it?
And it's always kind of messed up when the 4th of July falls in the middle of the week.
But we'll be taking a few days off anyway to go see our Tennessee bunch late that evening.

We almost always travel at night to avoid the traffic...Jim drives and I sleep. 😉
Hopefully we will avoid most of the 47 million others who will be traveling next week...
...47 MILLION...can you believe that?

I heard that on TV so surely it must be true, right?
Maybe it's just FAKE NEWS, who knows,
but I doubt seriously that those 47 million will be starting out at 3:00 am on July 5th,
heading towards I think we're good!
So it's time for some red, white an blue Hodgepodge questions.

Joyce asks the questions on her blog and we answer them on ours.

1. Security or freedom? Can you have both? Explain.

If I am understanding the question correctly, I think we should be able to have both. Freedom and security go hand in hand...both are basic rights that we all should have as human beings but when it comes to those rights, we are required to hold up our end of the deal. There is so much back and forth going on today about rights being infringed upon, etc., etc. but when it comes to going against the law or threatening others, one's freedom and security can become jeopardized, as they should be if there is reason to believe there is a real threat involved. In a perfect world, they both work together in harmony but the only 'perfect world' exists only in the heavenly realm. So until I make it there, I will place my hope in the One who gives me all the security and freedom I could ever want.

2. If you could visit any historical American site what would it be? Why?

There are many places I would love to visit, some are right here in my own of them is the Biltmore Estate. I can't believe I have lived here for over 25 years and have never made it there. Another place is Pennsylvania Dutch country. Why? Although a Downton Abbey fan like me would much enjoy seeing first hand what it would be like to live in such opulence, the other part of me, the one who loves the country and rusty, crusty things, would also enjoy knowing what it's like to live that simple, polar-opposite lifestyle.

3. Free as a bird, free reign, be free of, free enterprise, free trip, walk away scot free, free for all...which 'free' phrase can best be applied to your life in recent days or weeks? Explain.

I wish I could answer this question by telling you all about the free trip that I won, but I didn't win any trip. Joyce, you've got me stumped!

4. Something in your frig that's red?

Something in your house that's white?

Something in your view that's blue? 

5. July 27th is National New Jersey Day. Have you ever visited The Garden State? No. If so where did you go? Are there diners where you live? Yes, Blue Ribbon Diner is one of our favorite places to eat. Have you tried Taylor Pork Roll? No...never heard of it. Do you like to play Monopoly? Haven't played since I was a kid. Salt water taffy-yay or nay? Depends on the flavor. How do you feel about shopping at the mall? Not a fan. Springsteen, Sinatra, or Bon Jovi-you have to pick one. There was a time I may have picked Bon Jovi but the older I get, I have found that when I do listen to secular music, I get more pleasure from easy-listening classics... so if I had to listen to one of the three, Sinatra would get my vote.

Raise your hand if you know why these add-on questions are appropriate on National NJ Day.

I'm a big dummy...I give up.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I've been saving this one especially for this week! 😁

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Saturday, June 23, 2018


Well, it's taken me a couple of weeks to find the time to get this posted but as promised,
 here are a few highlights from our train ride on the Cass Scenic Railroad.

You don't have to be a train enthusiast or a history buff to enjoy visiting here,
but you may very well be one or both when you leave!
We have been talking about visiting this place since we lived in Kentucky
and our boys were still just little guys...about 30 years if I was to guess.
It was about a five hour drive from our home in NC and it was a very nice drive...
...for most of the way at least.

This is pretty much what the journey looked like for about an hour before we reached Cass.

And just let me warn you, there are a lot of photos so if this doesn't interest you,
please feel free to click out at any point! How will I ever know?? 😉
The tiny little town of Cass, West Virginia has a population of 52 at last count in 2010.
You can click on the link to find out all about it if you's really quite an interesting place.
I really wish we would have had more time to explore the tiny town, itself.
The town basically consists of the train station, a few old buildings, the old company store,
and 52 company homes where the loggers/railroad workers and their families lived.

In the early 60s the logging ceased and the railroad shut down, leaving much of the town deserted.
Today, many of these homes have been completely restored to their original condition
and are rented out to guests who visit the railroad.

Above is the old lumber mill that has been converted to various shops and such.
I failed to get a shot of the company store which is now a gift shop and restaurant
so I am borrowing one from Google.


We arrived at the station about an hour before the train was to get there at around noon
and we enjoyed a picnic lunch I had packed on a nearby picnic table while we waited on Shay #2.
Shay, you say? You can find out all you ever wanted to know about them here.

To say the least, these Shay locomotives are pretty amazing pieces of engineering,
no pun intended...well, kinda. 😀

The time had come and the train was ready to leave the station...

Jim is all smiles as we get ready to pull out of the station...
...actually, I should say push out...the locomotive actually pushes the cars up the mountain.

Josh, our engineer (above) is a 4th generation railroad worker at Cass.
His great-grandfather actually worked as cook for the loggers back in the 1920s.
I can't even imagine the back-breaking work these men endured,
spending as much as six months away from their families up on the mountain...
cutting down huge trees, sending them down the mountain, day in and day out for over 40 years.
Josh narrated our journey both up and back down and knows this railroad like the back of his hand.

Click on the short video as we get started...I love to hear that whistle!

Slowly but surely, we started our slow trek up the mountain.

I stood up much of the time to be able to get photos from both sides.
 Our seats were at the end of the car and above is a shot of what was right below my feet.

I prayed hard that the predicted rain would be delayed and my prayers were answered!
God is so good...the views were breathtaking.

Finally, we made it to the top of Bald Knob, elevation 4,843 feet above sea level
and the third highest point in West Virginia and the Allegheny Mountains.

The observation deck does look a bit rickety but I assure you, it was quite sound.
The rustic design seems to add the charm.

The view from the top nearly took my breath away.

At the very end of the tracks sits a caboose that may be rented out for weekend camp outs.
If you are the adventurous type, you too can be left on top of Bald Knob to your own devices!
The little red caboose can sleep up to 6 adults, comes equipped with a coal stove, coal, 
kindling wood, water (not running) for drinking and another container for dishes, etc., 
microwave, small fridge, minimal electricity for lighting and keeping your phone charged.
But there's a catch...there isn't any cell phone service.
Oh, and we mustn't forget to mention the outhouse...that is of major importance.
Once the train drops you off in the afternoon, that's it...bye-bye, choo-choo!
You. Are. On. Your. Own.
This sounds really fun to me for some odd reason.


So after spending about 30 minutes up top, it was time to make our descent down the mountain.

About half way down we stopped at Whittaker Station, what remains of the original logging camp,
where the old fire tower still stands.

Our crew took a few minutes to chill under a shade tree while others visited the facilities.

Soon it was time to give everything a quick once-over.

 This little guy should be considered our hero.
He alone, shoveled an unbelievable amount of 4-5 tons of coal to get us up the mountain!
Can you just imagine that?

Our break was over and was time to make our last leg of the journey.
It was a fabulous experience and we would love to return one day.
And maybe next time, we might even be crazy enough to stay in that caboose...
...or not.😊

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hodgepodge in the Summertime

Yes, I do believe that summer has arrived!
It has been in the mid to upper 90s here the past few days and all I can say is...

So here's a little blast from the past to bring back a summer memory or two.

And my little garden must love it because it's going crazy.

I have my own personal little jungle growing on my deck!

They're all clumped together in the corner of my deck that gets the most sun.
So far they seem to be getting along pretty well and playing nice with each other.
I have heard that certain plants shouldn't be planted near others but I really don't know which ones...
...remember, this is still in it's experimental stage. 😉

Just look at my precious babies!
I have one eggplant but there are others in the process,

my tomatoes are still mostly green and you can bet I'll be pulling a few of those off the vine
for a mess of fried green tomatoes before they ripen!

And remember those male and female zucchini blossoms from a couple of posts ago?
Well, here's a look at the difference...the male blooms have skinny stems...

and the female blooms have fat ones that actually are what grows into the fruit, itself.

Yes, zucchini are actually a fruit, as I found out on our trusty Google.
Can you tell that I am excited about my little garden??
But right now, it's time to get to those Hodgepodge questions...
...where Joyce asks the questions on her blog and we answer them on ours.

1. Summer is upon us this week in the Northern hemisphere. Tell us three things on your summer bucket list.

When I think of a bucket list, I relate it to something I want to do before I die. To tell you the truth, there are many things I want (need) to accomplish this summer but I wouldn't necessarily classify them as bucket list items. As usual, one of my goals is to stay cool! It has been miserable here the past few days and summer hasn't even officially arrived yet...Lord help us by the time August gets here! As far as plans go, the only travel that has been nailed down is a trip to Ohio to visit the family and attend my brother's surprise retirement party. He has been Minister of Music at his church for 30 years and is finally turning over the reins to his assistant. We do plan to make another trip to TN next month as well and I would love to get to the beach. I also have tons to do to the house, some jobs no doubt will be put off until the fall when it gets cooler.

2. Something fun you used to do as a kid in the summertime?

Oh my, where to many fun memories. It could be something as simple as throwing an old blanket over the picnic table and benches to make a clubhouse and eating a picnic lunch in it. I also remember staying outside and playing with our neighborhood friends all day long until dark nearly in the vacant lot next to the house that included Red Rover, kickball or softball, croquet, Red Light-Green Light, freeze tag or hide and seek. There were games of hopscotch and roller skating on the sidewalk, riding bikes on our dead-end street...only, and jump rope games (including some of the adults) right in the middle of that dead-end street. The summers that we could afford family passes to the swimming beach at Crystal Lake was always a special treat but only when the older siblings were able to drive us as well as stay with us. Dad was always working and Mom never drove a car. It was a wonderful time in my life and it saddens me a bit thinking that so many kids growing up in today's world, with all of their technical gadgets, social media and the like are missing out on so much fun...and what's it's truly like to be a kid.

3. Rooftop or backyard? Why?

Rooftop seems to be referring to the city life and that is just not for me. I've never lived in the city nor do I think I would be happy doing so. Give me a backyard any day and it's even better if there's a big ol' porch, shade trees with a hammock and a great fire pit. Oh, and throw in a mountain view as well and call me a happy camper!

4. Do you read food labels? Place importance on them? Make an effort to find out/care about where your food comes from?

Yes, yes and maybe. For years now, I have found myself reading the nutrition info on nearly everything I buy. It has surprised me how much sugar and/or sodium some products contain. I should surely be dead by now when I think about all of the years this information wasn't known to us consumers. Now, this is not to say that everything I put in my mouth is always super healthy...but I am very glad that the info is readily available. I have to admit that I am not as concerned about where it all actually comes from....maybe I should be.

5. A song you'll have on repeat this summer?

I can't think of one certain song I will actually have on repeat, simply because I would rather listen to the wind rustling in the trees and the birds singing. If this kind of heat stays with us all summer, there won't be much listening to those sounds either because I will be inside listening to the sound of the ceiling fans twirling and the A/C kicking on and off.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Wedding bells were ringing over the weekend at an impromptu ceremony in Gatlinburg, TN.

Aaron and his Michelle have most definitely endured a lot during their 14 years together. She has been there right by his side during some very trying times. We love her very much and are so happy that she is finally officially our daughter-in-law!

Many of you have prayed for him and some of you still do...I appreciate it more than you know.
Please don't stop now! 😌

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