September 2007


I’m staying home this weekend (unusual for me) to work on writing projects.  I’m hoping things will calm down a bit in a few days.  Meanwhile, here’s a travel Hub on West Virginia’s Cass Scenic Railroad, another on the Chesapeake Children’s Museum in Annapolis, and a third about my favorite Indianapolis restaurant, The Rathskeller, for your reading pleasure.

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We just returned from a trip to the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, Delaware.  While the drive was fairly long (almost two hours), the museum was interesting.  They have several airplanes inside a 1944 hangar, and they have static display aircraft outside.  I counted at least five volunteers inside the museum.  They were very helpful and friendly.  The kids tried out the museum’s flight simulator and did pretty well – no one crashed and burned, whew!

After my son took several dozen photos, we did some shopping on base and tried to figure out where things were in relation to the front gate and flight line.  I worried a bit about traffic on our homeward journey, but things went well.  It’s nice to see that fall’s finally arriving; leaves are beginning to turn and farmers on the Eastern Shore have set up pumpkin stands.  Bread-baking season isn’t too far away.

It’s almost time for fall foliage in Monterey, Va.

A Different Kind of Road

My son is preparing for a big Scouting endeavor.  He’s joining his troop’s Philmont crew.  The Scouts who trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico prepare for a very long time; it’s a physically and mentally challenging effort.  The Scouts go up into the high country, carrying everything they’ll need for a week of adventure.  Many Scouts never make it to Philmont; far more troops ask to go each year than the ranch can accommodate.  We have lots of training walks and hikes to think about during the next several months.  It’s going to be a challenge, but I know he’s up to it.

Find out about the Glenn L. Martin Aviation Museum here.

Long ago, in southern Italy, my husband and I occasionally found ourselves with nothing to do on a Sunday.  It sounds silly, but we usually took the foot-ferry into Brindisi, walked up the (closed) main drag, and hung out at the stazione looking for lost tourists to assist.  We seldom had to wait long.  There they’d be, hesitantly glancing at the train schedules, trying to figure out how to read them.  We’d walk up and say, “Do you need some help?” and the inevitable response was, “Oh, thank goodness!” or something to that effect, in English.  We’d teach the travelers to use the schedules and then leave.

Almost two decades later, we were living in Italy again.  One of the first things I was asked to do was help an American priest get to his lodgings so he could say Mass at our little Navy base.  He missed his train from Rome.  Having been in country less than a week, he had no idea how to read the train schedule.  He telephoned, I talked him through it, then reviewed the lesson when I picked him up in Formia.  He became a family friend, which was wonderful, and he never missed a train again – at least when he visited us.

Today I was at the airport and ran into a church friend.  I had the opportunity to help her with her bags and with the self check-in process.  She was grateful, and so was I.  Once again, I felt as though I’d really helped a fellow traveler.

Life’s short.  Pay those favors forward.

 Heading to Indianapolis?  White River State Park is a great downtown destination.  Besides, a cute kitty lives in the Visitor Center.

This weekend’s road trip got me thinking about how fortunate I am to travel as much as I have.  Many people save for years to get to just one of the amazing destinations I’ve visited.  There’s nothing like that “wow” feeling you get when you see, say, the Grand Canyon for the first time.

There’s a tradeoff, of course.  I have to move every two years or so, whether I want to or not, because of the demands of my husband’s job.  This brings us to new places, and I truly enjoy exploring them, but it also means I sometimes forget which kitchen I’m standing in.  I’ve moved 10 times in 22 years.

Fortunately, I like new places and make a big effort to get out and experience the best of any place I live.  At our very first duty station, in San Vito dei Normanni, Italy, I met people who literally never left the base.  Ugh.  That’s so not me, but you’ve probably figured that out by now.

Here’s some info on two small but significant science museums I’ve visited, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the College Park Aviation Museum.

This weekend, I went to Almost Heaven (West Virginia) and had a truly wonderful musical experience.  Friday night, we went to a free SHeDAISY concert in Sugar Grove, W. Va., at our previous duty station.  Wow!  I am not usually a country music fan, but the SHeDAISY ladies are first-class performers and people.  They braved the mountain roads in their souped-up tour bus, posed for photos with the VIP’s and award-winning sailors, and delivered an incredible performance.  They sing beautifully, and their music touches the heart.  I’m sure Pendleton County will be talking about this event for years.

Last night, we drove down Route 33 to Bridgewater, Va. and listened to our favorite Shenandoah Valley Irish pub band, Scruffy Murphy.  Paul, Sarah, Mahlon and LB put on a great show, introducing several new songs and bringing guest blues harmonica guru, Dave, onstage for an awesome mini-set. 

If I’m on the road and listening to great music, I’m blissfully happy.  This weekend was brilliant.

If you’re on the road in southern Maryland, check out the Calvert Marine Museum.

I wrote a travel Hub this morning about West Virginia’s Seneca Rocks, and got to thinking about all of my favorite W. Va. spots.  Seneca Rocks probably tops the list.  Germany Valley is right up there, though; it’s eerily remote, bright green in the spring and charmingly hazy in the fall.

Another great W. Va. stop is the New River Gorge.  Their visitor center is tiny, but the walk down to the gorge’s edge is easy and the view is heartstopping.  Some year I’ll get up the nerve to take a raft trip; my adventurous friends tell me the New River is a great place to start.

Sometimes city life gets so hectic I forget that there’s wilderness nearby.  We all need to take scenic road trips or just sit out in a park somewhere once in a while, so we can enjoy the sunshine and peace.

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