Sunday, August 19, 2007

Highland County

My Aunt and Uncle invited me up to the house they are renovating in Highland county. In fact, they invited a bunch of friends and relatives and put us to work tearing out fireplaces and rotting floors in return of food and a place to pitch our tents. I think we managed to work for one afternoon. The rest of the time was spent swimming in the creek, or fooling around on this Honda Trail 70.

It took Kristal and I just over three and a half hours to drive out there, including a couple of stops. She kindly let me drive her PT Cruiser over the mountains. I loved it. Manual transmissions are few and far between in the States, but it really does the job on the twisties! Also, it has arm rests, so on the Interstate you really feel like you're cruisin'. The only problem was getting down the rocky driveway to the house.

The place is a bit of a dump. I don't think the owners would take offense to me saying that. But the location is great, and it has a lot of nice features. From the outside it almost looks like it just need a new coat of paint. On the inside, they are basically stripping most of it down the the original walls or the frame. There have been so many alterations on the place, not all of which were performed by professionals, but I'd say that adds character! We did what we could, and all foolishly volunteered to do another weekend of work soon.

It was also great to catch up with the friends and family in the county who I haven't seen in a good seven years or so... I'd forgotten what characters George and Peggy were - it was so fun to see them again. David is running to a position in local government, so it was interesting to chat to him about the challenges and opportunities facing the county. Julia scolded me for not visiting sooner and insisted that I could arrive without invitation! To other people who were there: you are also all very nice!

blog layout changes

Hopefully regular readers will have noticed a few changes in the appearance of my blog. It's been a while since I 'studied' HTML programming, but making changes to existing code is fairly simple, especially with a bit of trial and error. I was finding it hard to write much, knowing that the blog displays in such a narrow column. I've widened the width of the main section. Please let me know if is isn't displaying correctly, due to low resolutions, for example. Also please tell me if the text is too wide to read comfortably - if so I may get really adventurous and try to format posts on two columns! A few colour changes here and there also help make my page a little more individualized.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Nickel Creek

Nickel Creek are the definitive 'Newgrass' band, and one of K's favourite performers. Their farewell (for now) tour came to Innsbrook After-Hours on Friday so a few of us grabbed an early sushi dinner and went to check it out. Four some reason they are touring with Fiona Apple, doing bluegrass renditions of her hits as well as a few other covers and a bunch of their own material. It's kind of a new genre to me, but it's a lot of fun to listen to. I'm considering getting myself a mandolin...

A trip to Mathews

You can take the girl outta Mathews, but you can't take Mathews outta the girl. With that in mind I thought it would be nice for my family to get a glimpse of where K was from, so we took them out to Mathews for a day. Plus I think it's a cool place with fun things to do and great people to visit, so I'll take any excuse to get myself invited out there. We got together a couple of canoes and paddled out into the bay to work up an appetite. On our return, the crabs were boiled to perfection, along with corn, tomatoes, potato salad, apple pie and cookies - fabulous country fare! The meeting of respective parents seemed to go well - birds formed the common interest through which new friendships could be forged. Good Times.

At the Beach

On Wednesday Kristal, myself and the family took a trip to Sandbridge beach. We got great weather for it - you might say a little too good as everyone came away with at least one spot of sunburn. We did all the things you have to do when you go to the beach: build a sandcastle, jump waves, take a walk down the beach, throw a frisbee and eat an ice-cream. Yup, I'd say we about covered it!

At the River

One of the best things about Richmond is the river, and no visit would be complete with spending some time horsing around in the rapids. I took Dad and Martha down to Belle Isle to take a dip in the refreshing waters of the James. Somehow, they'd never been off the southside of Belle Isle, so I took them across the police access bridge then we jumped rocks back to the old powerstation dam. Despite low water levels, the hollywood rapids are still fierce, so once we found ourselves getting complacent of the strength of the current we knew it was time to move on.
We went for lunch at Padow's deli and Dairy Queen then headed over to pony pasture. Unfortuantely the weather started to turn and by the time we arrived a good storm was brewing. We walked out on the rocks a little ways but as the lightning strikes drew closer it seemed unwise to enter the water, so we called it a day.