Stone Mountain State Park

Not Stone Mountain in Georgia. This is the less famous but more beautiful Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina. We took our first strenuous hike of the year with our good friends, Brent and April. The temperature was an unusually warm 66 degrees, 20 above the average. It was sunny and no wind. Perfect! The hike up to the top of the mountain was a doozy! But the views were worth it!

Though, really, Princess Gail is all the view I need!

After the hike up, we hiked around the top and down the back side of the mountain, following a stream and waterfall back to where we started from.

And now that Princess Gail is carrying a camera, I get to be in an occasional picture!

She even got a picture of my halo! 😉

Sandee and Zane

It’s funny how life works. A few short weeks ago, I had no idea I would be meeting one of my favorite blog friends live and in person!

I need a number of CME hours every year to keep my medical license current. It’s a common routine among doctors to realize that the year is almost over and that we need CME hours pronto! Of course, by then the holidays are upon us, and the year end schedules are pretty much set in stone. So I looked at my calendar and realized I had a span of four short days in December that I could use for some of my needed educational hours. Of course I asked myself, “What are the chances I’ll find a good conference on those exact days?! Slim to none.” But I did a search anyway, and was surprised to find an excellent Cardiology conference put on by UCSF, on the exact days! I figured that was a sign from heaven and signed up on the spot.

I thought of Sandee immediately. As everyone knows, Sandee is the giver of “Big Hugs” who runs the Comedy Plus blog. She brings smiles, chuckles, and LOL’s to the whole wide world! I get her daily posts in my morning emails, and always look forward to the cheerful pick-me-up. I knew that Sandee lived close by. I had seen her many pictures of boating on the bay. So I dropped her an email informing her of my trip plans and inquiring if she and Zane would like to meet Gail and me for dinner. Her reply? “You bet!”

The rest is history, as well recorded on her blog earlier today. Each of us had a bit of an adventure getting to the yacht club for dinner, but we got there! The Encinal Yacht Club was gorgeous, the evening was pleasantly cool, and the slight fog gave the city lights a beautiful, soft glow. At this, our first meeting, I felt an instant bond with both Sandee and her husband, Zane. They had a Big Hug, open armed welcome for us, and the rest of the evening was spent in fun and friendly conversation and enjoying a splendid dinner! It was a wonderful feeling to meet Sandee and Zane live and in person, and to get a couple of her famous “Big Hugs” IRL!

For me, blogging is about making human connections with people of like minds. I have gravitated to a few such people, geographically scattered all over the place, usually far enough away that an actual meeting is unlikely. But I value those relationships in a very real way. And now, having actually met, I will treasure our friendship in a really real way!

Thank you Sandee and Zane! I am happy and proud to call you friends!! 🙂

Mount Airy Autumn Leaves Festival

We’re getting to love these small town festivals! Mount Airy is a town of about 10,000 people, about 45 minutes north of us, in a beautiful setting at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains. It was the birthplace and childhood home of Andy Griffith, and is the inspiration for the “Mayberry” setting of the Andy Griffith Show. In this part of the world, you can see a rerun of the Andy Griffith Show every day. Personally, that’s way, way, way too much Andy Griffith for me, but I guess it’s kinda cool. The spirit lives on with Mayberry art, old fashion police cars, stores and products, etc.


Main Street, Mt Airy, with the Blue Ridge in the background.


See!? Mayberry stuff.


See!? Andy of Mayberry art.


The traditional long line for a "pork chop sandwich, all the way" at Snappy Lunch!


Remember Ron Howard as Opie?


Gail and April at the festival. Gail is turning into a southern girl, a sunny 75 degrees and wearing her coat!


April, Amanda and Gail with a bloomin' onion. Deep fried, of course!


Some dude preparing a little pork!


Gail was on the prowl for a turkey leg, and she found one!


nom nom nom nom!


Trying my very first deep fried Oreo!


I liked it! I liked it!

It was a great day! I’m grateful for so many things, especially the deep fried Oreos! 🙂

A very good day!

The work schedule has been busy for me lately, so I plan to really enjoy these two days I have off. We started out last night at Hitchcock Under the Stars, on the front lawn of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art. We watched North by Northwest, with Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. Great movie, and the night was beautiful!

This morning, we started out with a bike ride around Salem Lake, one of our favorite rides.

Later in the afternoon, we went with our friends April and Brent to check out the North Carolina Beer Fest at Tanglewood Park. There was an unbelievable number of people trying to get into the park. It took about an hour, but we finally parked amidst an ocean of cars. Then we found out it cost $30 to get in, for the privilege of sampling as many beers as we wanted. None of us thought that was worth it, so after all that, we left! No big deal, we had fun just being part of the craziness. We ended up having a nice dinner at our favorite Winston restaurant, the Village Tavern.

After that, we all went to catch our first Winston-Salem Dash baseball game, on another glorious evening of fine weather. It’s a great little stadium, brand new this year, and we beat the Myrtle Beach Pelicans! Yay us!

So far, a most excellent weekend! I think I’ll add to this post with whatever tomorrow brings! 🙂

Okay. So today is “tomorrow!” I started the day asleep! I didn’t set an alarm and slept in a bit. It was wonderful! Then I lounged around in my underwear. (Oops. Can I say that on a blog?! — Of course I can! It’s my blog dammit!) Then I ran on the treadmill, and later ran a few errands with Princess Gail. It was a great, mindless kind of day.

We spent the evening with a bunch of new friends. They were all absolutely wonderful! A very welcoming and fun crowd! We had a delicious dinner at a funky restaurant in downtown Winston, Sixth and Vine. The place has a fun schedule of activities, so I think it will become one of our favorite stops.

All in all, an excellent weekend! 🙂

The Best Playhouse

We had dinner at the house of our dear friends, April and Brent, last night. The dinner was worth a blog post all by itself, but instead I’ll focus on this unbelievable playhouse in their backyard. April designed and built this all by herself for her kids when they were small. Look at the porch, door, window, the walls (which match the main house), the roof with working gutters, the landscaping. And you can imagine the inside is just as cool, with a tiny but real bed, cupboards, working electric lights, and a little fake fireplace with a space heater. I’ve never seen anything like it! Way cool!