Spring 2017 Vacation

Unfortunately, I was called in to work on Thursday morning because the hard drive on the main web server had filled up.  I was willing to come in, but had said I expected to be reimbursed by the department since I would not want to work and then have to rush to Lynchburg, VA to spend the night at the Quality Inn.  Lynchburg was not the end point of my vacation, but a mid-point.  I wanted to stop at Sticks & Stones Pizza in Greensboro for an early lunch, and then drive on to High Bridge Trail State Park, east of Appomattox, to see the High Bridge trestle.

I came in about 9 am and worked for about an hour and a half, and then it was about another 20 minutes to get back home, so that I could leave.  That meant that I was leaving Fayetteville about 11 am, so the two hours trip to Greensboro would put me having a late lunch at Sticks & Stones.

I got to Sticks & Stones around 12:30 pm, and there were a couple of parking places in front of the restaurant.  I walked in and there were customers at several tables, but the place was not packed.

I was directed to a table and asked for water to drink.  I looked through the menu, but already knew that I wanted a “To Be the One” and added jalapenos & onions.  I also ordered a spinach salad, which had a pimento cheese dressing.   I checked work on my phone while I waited.

The pizza arrived and was delicious.  I sifted some hot pepper flakes and some cheese on most slices.  I ate the whole pizza.  The salad was good, but I probably wouldn’t order it again.

After lunch, I drove diagonally across the street to a small neighborhood market.  I had been in once before and knew they had a large selection of craft beers.  I was put off by the high prices, which, even if I liked the taste of beer, would have made me think twice.  I didn’t buy any beer for later.

I checked my phone for directions and headed north east toward High Bridge Trail State Park, east of Appomattox, VA.  The trip was going well, when I came to a detour.  The detour was caused by flooding caused by the recent rains.  The detour added about another 45 minutes to my trip.  Getting late in the day, and still 39 miles from the State Park, I finally decided to reroute to Lynchburg and to skip this facet of my vacation.  You can’t take almost 3 hours out of your day and still think you are going to get everything done that was originally planned.

I got into Lynchburg and found the Quality Inn easily.  The clerk was friendly and told me that Wards Road had many eating establishments, and was just around the corner from the motel.  I did a quick check of my room and headed out to look for a place to eat.

I had originally intended to eat at an Indian Cuisine Restaurant, Milan, which I had found online.  As I had read over their menu, the night before the trip, I wasn’t pleased with what I might want to eat and looked at other restaurants.

One other restaurant that I had noted was called “Famous Anthonys”.  I ended up finding Famous Anthonys and stopped in for dinner.

The songs playing were from my younger days, including several “Beach Music” favorites and some songs from the days I spent in Portsmouth, VA.  I looked over the menu and decided to have a “Surf and Turf” special.  I thought briefly about ordering the steak as medium, or “pink on the inside” but then when the waitress came, forgot to make that note.  [ ANTHONY’S FAMOUS SURF & TURF PLATTER  Five golden fried shrimp teamed with Black Angus steak and topped with grilled mushrooms and onions 10.99 ]

My food arrived, and I laughed to myself when I saw the steak.  It was a thinly sliced portion, and it was “well done”… very, very “well done.”  The salad was good.  The fried shrimp were good.  The steak was good, but dry, and would have been better, less well done.  The baked potato had good flavor, and I, as usual now pick the skin off, eating less of the white flesh that can turn easily to sugar (from starch).

I noted that most of the people, couples were older, as myself.  I did enjoy my meal.  It was comfort food.

As I left, I drove about the parking lot, and noted that the Milan Restaurant was in one corner of this strip mall.  I then headed down Wards Road and in the general direction of where I thought downtown Lynchburg was located.

I think I turned onto Fort Road (Street) and passed a City Ball Park, and eventually made it to the old downtown section.  The downtown was comprised of a large number of old buildings, some with dates which were in the late 1800s.  I do not recall how many streets I rode up and down, but loved the old look n feel.

I found the Quality Inn without a problem.  I don’t recall what I did, but seems that I watched TV into the night, reviewing what Conroy had done to the web server so that it would not fill up with redundant files during replication.  *A change had been made, not intentional by me, which caused multiple copies of “assets” to be copied to each web instance.  This caused the server’s storage to fill up.

I showered the next morning.  The shower had strong pressure and the shower head was adjustable.

Raspberry Flavored Tea
I think this is what I had.

Before I left, I took my cooler to the ice machine and got a couple of scoops of ice, keeping the flimsy plastic insert.  I also checked the Continental Breakfast, and took an small apple for later in the day.  I tried to pour some orange juice, but there was too much water and I poured it out.  I don’t recall if I found the Raspberry tea bag in the common area, or if it was included in my room, but I made a cup of hot Raspberry tea, adding some sweetner.

I found Famous Anthonys again, having seen that they also served breakfast.  I ordered the Country Ham and Pancakes breakfast, with sugar free syrup.  A couple of eggs, over medium, coffee and water.

The pancakes were gigantic, three of them, each filling up the dinner plate.  The country ham was sliced thin, and was well cooked, like the steak had been prepared the night before.  The ham was dry, but had good flavor.  I pulled off a little of the top pancake and used it to sop up the egg yolk.  I had part of the top pancake with some syrup.  The coffee was strong and good.

20170428_082234_001After breakfast, I headed down Wards Road to Fort, and to downtown again.  I rode back and forth down the open streets.  Church Street was partially closed due to some street construction.  Early morning in downtown was comfortable.  I made it eventually to the waterfront.  Not able to see much, but the one fountain.  I took pictures of the downtown skyline.

I wanted to drive up to Lexington, VA before I started down Interstate 81 and eventually Johnson City, TN.  Why Lexington?  There is Washington & Lee University in Lexington, as well as, VMI.  Washington & Lee uses Ingeniux CMS for their web site.  I had contacted their webmaster by email some time ago asking for insights into using Ingeniux.  I had gotten an almost immediate positive response, but had never heard any further from him.  Not sure if he lost my email address, or if he became busy, or if there was some other reason for not following up with some Ingeniux insights, as he originally had proffered.  *I have sent another email just recently, but have not seen a reply, and the email did not bounce back.

20170428_082943I had checked Google Maps to determine my route between Lynchburg and Lexington.  Just after crossing the river, there is a cut back which leads to a small park directly across the river from the old downtown area.  Go left from the cut back and you can go to the park, or up into an old neighborhood, the back way.  Go right, and you are travelling down a narrow river road, with few houses or buildings and mostly hedges hiding the river view.  *I had gone down this road via the Street View on Google Maps the night before, making note of the fork in the road to take.

It was amazing to me that the first step on my journey out of town, was taking a back road.  I was not using my GPS and passed the fork, which was to King Road, but quickly recognized my error and turned around a short distance later.  I wound up small country roads, using my GPS several times.

I think it was somewhere before Buena Vista, VA that I passed a farm that had a bee hive that they had made into a mail box.  I thought that very creative for someone who keeps bees.  *Of course, I guess it could be really stupid if they did not keep bees;-)

coffee-pot-houseOn the way out of Buena Vista, I passed a house along the road which was made to look like a large coffee pot.  It was well built, with the pot being metallic and rounded, and the back end squared off.  All of this had the back drop of a sheer stone wall. *I just saw a short video of this house, and smoke comes out of the spout, as if it were steaming hot drink;-)

I came into Lexington and part of the road was under contruction.  I had also used the Street View from Google Maps a few days before to see where Washington & Lee University was located.  I came through town, and eventually turned right by a ball field.  Don’t recall if it was a soccer field, or perhaps lacrosse.   I wound through the campus, coming in the “back way” and then past the Law complex.

20170428_102923I came back through town.  I don’t recall if I found the Visitor Center first, or came through the VMI campus first, but it looked exactly as it had on Street View.  The Visitor Center hostess was personable and listened attentively as I told her about my vacation delay the day before.

I headed down Interstate 81 and planned to have lunch in Roanoke.  I arrived in downtown Roanoke at lunch time, but realized that I didn’t want the hassle of finding a parking spot and fighting the crowd. I checked my phone for a Macados Restaurant.  I had planned on checking out Macados in Lexington, but after realizing it was a local chain, thought about visiting another location.  Salem, VA is an adjacent neighborhood to Roanoke, so I followed my GPS to the Macados in Salem.

No parking on the front side of Macados, but I saw that there was a side street and apparently parking in the rear.  The street behind Macados was partially closed, road work going on.  I travelled a circuitous route around Roanoke College and found my way behind Macados.  I turned into the parking area which was full.  I found an empty space near the street and pulled in, but as I got out of my car, I saw a sign on the wall of the nearby building that this parking was for Faculty & Staff of Roanoke College.  I got back into my car and made the loop through the parking area again.  No vacancies.  I saw a couple of young guys walking out to the parking area.  I hesitated briefly and then turned in again for another go around.  The young guys had made it to their vehicle and were pulling out, leaving me with a space to park.

I walked in the patio area of Macados and in a side door.  I walked up front, the place was filled and loud.  I waited at the front and the hostess finally came around the corner.  I followed her to a two person table.  I could see through a large plate window to the outside patio.  There were people in the booths.

My waitress came and I asked for unsweet tea.  I mentioned to the waitress that I thought I had seen a Reuben sandwich on the menu, but couldn’t find it.  She said she thought it was on the menu, but didn’t know where.  By the time she had returned with my tea, I had found the Reuben at the bottom of the menu.

I ordered the Pastrami Reuben sandwich with an order of fries.  [ Pastrami Reuben  $8.75 hot pastrami, melted swiss, sauerkraut, and 1000 island dressing on grilled rye. ]

When the sandwich arrived, it was cut in two.  There was a grand portion of pastrami in each half, with sauerkraut.  The cheese was melted, and I guess there was Thousand Island dressing.  The rye bread was good.  The fries were large cut, and the ketchup was thick and sweet in a little plastic cup.  I sprinkled a good portion of black pepper and some salt on the fries.  There was also a chilled dill pickle spear.

The sandwich was delicious.  The pickle good, and the fries excellent with the ketchup.  I eventually got the attention of my waitress and asked for a refill on my tea, and another cup of ketchup.

This was an excellent meal!  So good, that I ordered a Reuben sandwich at two other restaurants along my way, and even got the fixin’s to make a Pastrami Reuben at home.  The Reuben at the East Village Grille, in Asheville, was almost as good.  The fries were slightly different, but good.  Part of the show while I ate lunch at the East Village Grille was provided by someone mowing the lawn along the edge of the Veteran’s Hospital across the street.  The lawn comes to the street at a great angle, down from a fence that surrounds the facility grounds.  I thought that anyone trying to mow this area would have to use a push mower, but the groundskeeper came in a green riding mower with a large glass enclosed cab, small wheels on the back, and the mowing unit on the front.  He proceeded to mow the top and bottom horizontally, but then started from the left and mowed vertically, driving to the top, lowering the mowing unit and cutting as he came to the base.  Amazing.  Other diners were also making comments.  Something that I would not want to do.

20170428_160235After lunch, I headed out of Salem, VA down Interstate 81 with the intent to stop in Abingdon, VA to see the Barter Theatre.  Dr. Elton Hendricks and wife, Jerry, had told me about the Barter Theater prior to my trip.

I stopped for gas in Abingdon and asked a woman about the location of the nearest Food Lion.  I had just seen a Food Lion 18 wheeler pass by.  The Food Lion was a short distance back into Abington, and at the top of a hill.

I found Texas Tailgate Chili, and bought a can, talking with the checkout clerk about how close it was to the taste of Texas Pete Chili.  I also bought a couple of 2 Liter bottles of Diet A&W Root Beer and some microwave poppable popcorn.  I also bought a jar of Splenda sweetened pickles.

I’m not sure if the GPS went nuts, or not, but I traveled a circuitous route to get to and through Bristol, TN.  I passed by the Speedway, and headed to Johnson City.

I came into Johnson City and passed Cootie Browns, which was eclectic and memorable from its exterior.  I found the Red Roof Inn, which I had stayed at during two previous visits to the City.  I asked the motel clerk about places to eat, that were unique to Johnson City.  He suggested Cootie Browns and XXX. I checked out the menus for each, and decided that Cootie Browns appeared to be a little cheaper.

I backtracked to Cootie Browns and turned into the front parking area.  There was a space, two in, and another by a post near the front door.  I passed by the first empty space and then saw that the other parking space was for curb side orders.  I backed up and pulled into the empty space.  I walked into the gaudily painted restaurant.  There was outdoor seating, but I asked to be seated inside.

I was seated facing the kitchen and the cash registers.  The place was packed and busy, but I was seated at a table for four.  It was brightly painted with various colors, I think in a spiral pattern.

My waitress was young and friendly.  I ordered water.  I ended up ordering the Jerk Chicken that had a sweet sauce and pineapple & maybe mango chunks.  I had a baked potato with butter & sour cream, and an unsweet coleslaw, to which I added some sweetner, which made it good.

I did a quick tour around Johnson City, traveling past the VA Hospital, near the entrance to ETSU, and then back into old downtown JC.  I really wasn’t interested in being in Johnson City.

My motel room did not have a microwave or refrigerator.  So, no popcorn.

As stated earlier, I ate at East Village Grille for lunch in Asheville, but before that I stopped in Weaverville and at Mangum’s Gallery.  I bought a mug there.

I traveled the back way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and to the Cultural Arts Center.  After leaving the Cultural Arts Center, it was still too early for lunch so I travelled into downtown Asheville.

Clemson

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Watt Family Innovation Center

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Anderson

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Fatz Cafe

Eggs Up Cafe

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Newberry

Columbia

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Florence

Groucho’s

Note:  I just noticed that the date on this posting was April 19, 2017, but I was on this vacation late into the month and in Johnson City, TN on April 29th, because I am about to throw away a Johnson City Press paper that I picked up at a restaurant that morning after staying at the Red Roof Inn the previous night.

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