Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Big Adventure in Big Valley

I have the best friends! Five of them, to be exact. We met in grad school and call ourselves "The Ahngels." It's a long story. Ask me about it in person sometime. Two of "my lovelies" have since moved away - Katie to Spokane, WA and Giovanna to Chesapeake, VA. I miss them every. single. day. Thankfully, I still have three of my beautiful besties right here in Central PA with me - Amber, Karen, and Rachel. And today we took the day off from work and went on an adventure. A big adventure in Big Valley!

Big Valley is the area of Central PA that includes Belleville and Reedsville, PA. Amber is originally from Big Valley. Over a recent fro-yo lunch - and because Karen, Rachel, and I had never been - we decided to head to Belleville to the "sale barn" that happens on Wednesdays. The "sale barn" is an eclectic mix of vendors - farmers, Amish bakers, flea marketers, and there's even a livestock and goods auction. Amber served as our fearless leader and tour guide for the day.

But before we could embark on such an adventure, we needed breakfast so we checked out The Naked Egg Cafe on East Pine Grove Road. None of us had been there yet, so we were eager to check it out. We were all impressed - it's a cute little cafe and the food was tasty. It's nice to know there's another local breakfast joint that isn't The Waffle Shoppe. Not that there's anything wrong with The Waffle's just that everyone seems to go there!

My yummy waffle with fresh strawberries.

Amber and Rachel

Karen and me

After breakfast, it was a lovely ride up over PA 26 and PA 305 to get to Big Valley. Even though the trees are bare and the fields are plowed, we were all still wowed by the beautiful scenery of Central PA. We commented on just how gorgeous this area truly is!

Flea marketers set up in the parking lot at the sale barn.

It's too bad none of us were in the market for a wagon wheel - there were two available today!

Once we'd seen all there was to see outside, we headed into the first building where they were auctioning off...potato chips. I'm not kidding. It seemed like A LOT of potato chips - homemade potato chips - but potato chips nonetheless. Inside, we happened upon two delightful young Amish women...actually, they may have been Mennonite as they seemed "more modern?!?" Anyhoo, among their wares, they were selling homemade soaps. Karen, Rachel, and I each bought a bar. Karen opted for "Sweet Spice" whereas Rachel and I picked "Cambrian Blue Clay" which is a mix of eucalyptus and peppermint. It smells awesome! 

Hey Giovanna - check out this soap! :)

We ventured into the second building which is where the restaurant is located, as well as the livestock holding pens and auction block. 

"Well, I went down to the Grundy county auction..."


I didn't see any Nubian goats, or else the ride home in Amber's car might have been interesting!
(I really want a goat.)

This horse was giving us the "crazy eye."


It took her a few minutes, but #739 finally warmed up to us enough to pose for a pic.

Back outside, we did another sweep of the vendors to make sure we'd seen everything. That's when I spotted these:

Is it any wonder they were only $1 for the pack?

We left the sale barn and headed to Peight's Market, where Rachel proceeded to buy nearly everything in the store, ha-ha-ha!!! OK, maybe not...but it was close.

The view from Peight's parking lot.

It was a lovely day to NOT be at work!

Rachel unloads the cart...

...and then wheels all of her purchases to the car!

From Peight's, we went to Peachey's which is another Amish market...but they also have a craft shop and a restaurant. We had lunch at Peachey's, each of us enjoying some yummy chicken-corn soup either straight up (Karen), with a side salad (me), or with a grilled cheese (Rachel and Amber). 

Peachey's is still operating out of several small buildings after a devastating fire a few years ago wiped out their former location.

After our lunch, we stopped at Brookmere Winery to sample some wine (and buy some, too!). 

Brookmere Winery & Vineyard Inn

Get it? Crushed?!? Ha!

The white wine options at Brookmere.

Wine, wine, and more wine.

Sipping some samples.

The creme sherry was REALLY good!

The Red Foxx in the crockpot was amazing. That came home with me!

I sampled both the Riesling and the Pinot Grigio.
While I like the Italian flag look of the Pinot label, I opted for the Riesling.

When we got in the car, Amber asked, "Now what?" I half-replied/half-asked, "Hop on 322 and stop at Seven Mountains on the way home?!?" Everyone agreed that was a solid plan, so off to winery #2 we went!

Seven Mountains Wine Cellars - my favorite winery in the area!

This wine glass is bigger than anything that Jules has had on "Cougar Town."
The tasting guide at Seven Mountains - you may pick up to seven wines to taste.

Rachel, Amber, Karen, and me.

Today was EXACTLY what I needed - I think we all did! A little mid-week shenanigans between girlfriends. It was a beautiful day with my beautiful friends and I can't wait for our next adventure! (Which will hopefully be visiting Giovanna over Spring Break!!!)

Oh, and here is one of my purchases from today...a new winter hat!

Monday, October 28, 2013

FINALLY! In Search of Bourbon - Day 6

So we are on Day 6...almost two weeks after I published Day 5. Sorry about that! I got a little busy, and then, the more I thought about writing the last day's post, the more I didn't want to do it. Because if I didn't write it, then the trip down memory lane of our trip down to bourbon country wouldn't have to be over. Right? Makes total sense!

But Day 6 did happen. Like this...

It was another early morning for breakfast and our departure. We met in the breakfast room at 6:45 and were on the road by 7:30 that morning. To say it was a brisk morning would be an understatement. We hopped onto the Blue Ridge Parkway to head north. The good thing about being on the Parkway was we were above the fog and clouds. The bad thing was we were at elevation; it's cold at elevation. 

A chilly morning at the Colony House Motor Lodge.

Chris is ready to spring into action!

Turning onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.

As much as we all wanted to head south and do the trip all over again, we headed north toward home.

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning on the Parkway.

The scenery along the Blue Ridge Parkway NEVER ceases to amaze me.

We stopped at an overlook to take in the awesome view while we were above the clouds.

While we were stopped, and despite the beautiful scenery, we decided to leave the Parkway in pursuit of some warmer air (it was in the low 40s). We took VA 43 (Parkway Drive) to drop down off the Parkway into Buchanan, where we picked up I-81 to run north briefly to Lexington, VA. We stopped to add more layers, warm up, and grab hot beverages at a Sheetz. When we left, we got a little turned around in Lexington, but that meant we got a nice little tour of the VMI and Washington & Lee campuses!

Whoa! Regular gas for under $3.00/gallon. We MUST be in Virginia!

After our detour through Lexington, we headed north so we could hook up with US 250 from Staunton, VA over to Monterey, VA where we stopped to warm up, "rest," and take in the always intoxicating smell at "The Chicken Gas Station."

This photo is for our friend Jeff.

And this one is for our friend JT.

From "The Chicken Gas Station," we headed north on US 220 all the way back to Moorefield, WV where we stopped for a late lunch at Subway. It was here that we parted ways with Shane and Andrea (boo!) and set out for home. But we didn't hop on the highway since it was still early enough in the afternoon that we could take "the long way home." We took US 220 north to WV 28, which lead us to Cumberland, MD. After getting turned around in Cumberland (seriously...WHY is it so hard to find a Sheetz when you have to pee?!?), we picked up Pleasant Valley Road near Rocky Gap State Park, which turns into Beans Cove Road in Pennsylvania. Beans Cove Road is a fun little road with great scenery, especially in the fall.

Giving Chris bunny ears!

In-motion selfie!

We took PA 326 north to US 30 where we jogged east briefly to pick up Lower Snake Spring Road, which is a road Chris has ridden several times and mentioned to me, but was one that I'd not yet ridden. We eventually found ourselves on US 22, which we took to PA 453 to PA 550 to Marengo Road (YAY!) to get home.

Stopped at Yellow Springs along US 22.

We were so close to home that we were starting to get punchy!

One last selfie before the final leg of the trip home.
SO CLOSE to home! In fact, we'll be there at 5:45 (it was probably 5 PM at that point).

We did arrive home at 5:45 and were enthusiastically greeted by Oscar! He was so excited to see us that it wasn't just his tail that was wagging - it was his whole backside!

Smooches for his daddy!

Oh, hey Mom...good to see you, too!

Final trip stats.

As you can see above, our total mileage was 1,810 miles. We fell short of the 2,000 miles we'd originally planned because of the changes to our route that we made on Sunday and Monday. But that's OK! We spent nearly 36 hours in motion and kept a moving average over 50 MPH...not too shabby!!!

I said to Chris later that evening over dinner, "You know, we just spent six days on vacation together in close proximity to each other nearly the whole time. Seriously, think about it. For nearly 36 hours, we were actually touching on the bike while we were riding. And then when we weren't on the bike, we were still together. That's A LOT of time together. AND IT WAS FUN!" 

It really was! I think this might have been my favorite motorcycle trip to date - the destinations, the roads, the friends - it was all fantastic! Now I'm just left to wonder...when is our next trip?!?