September 2018 Vacation Trip Notes

created on Sep 25, 2018

Gabbie's second birthday occurred on Fri, Sep 7, 2018. CP and Brad held a party at their home for Gabbie on Sat, Sep 8. At least two dozen friends and family came to the party. Deb's parents came down. Deb's sister Amy and Steve came up from Columbus. They all spent Saturday night at our house.

We arrived at Gabbie's house at mid-afternoon. The event was scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. While I unloaded the car, Gabbie climbed into the backseat, and then she wormed her way to the front seat area. She wanted to play with the buttons and knobs in the car. But our "play" was interrupted by two people riding horses on the road. The riders came over to the driveway. Gabbie got excited to see the horses up close. That was a heck of a start. The horses distracted her from the car.

Gabbie's next distraction was playing in the coolers of ice that held beverages. She liked handling the ice. Later, she liked to bring cans of soda to people even if they didn't want them.

It was a fun, busy afternoon and early evening at the party. People brought a lot of good food. During the party, Gabbie grabbed my hand and led me around to play or get into things.

The presents were opened later that night by CP and Brad. For Gabbie, I crocheted a small, wool bucket bug that I lightly wet-felted. I used two yarns: pinkish and yellow. The pinkish yarn came from a small place in Portland, Maine that Deb and I visited on our way to the Portland airport and home after vacationing at Arcadia National Park.

It was a rainy day to the south, such as Bowling Green and Findlay. It rained south of Toledo all day. The rain stayed south of LaSalle. Some rain entered Toledo while we were at the party.

On our way up to the party, we dropped Barney off at Kristy and Craig's house. Then we stopped at Kroger for some party grub and ice.

We arrived home from the party around dark or 8:00 p.m. We snacked on more food at home and stayed up chatting and watching TV. Deb and I slept downstairs. I packed earlier in the day before going to the party. I got everything that I needed from our bedroom upstairs where Deb's parents spent the night. Amy and Steve used CP's old bedroom.

The next morning, Deb and I would be leaving before everyone else got up. I set the alarm for 3:00 p.m. I hit the snooze a few times, as expected. Then I got up around 3:45 p.m. Made coffee. Ate a little breakfast. Showered. Etc. Deb's Mom got up before we left. CP and Brad were running a little late. The initial plan was for us to leave our house around 5:00 a.m. We left at 5:45 a.m., which is still pretty good and early.

Brad drove, CP sat in the front passenger seat. Gabbie was awake in her car seat, located behind CP. Deb sat behind Brad. And I sat in the middle of the backseat. I thought that Gabbie would go back to sleep, but apparently she was wound up like the rest of us, excited to embark on a journey. She stayed awake for long time.

Our initial plan had been to drive on Sunday to Winston-Salem and spend the night in WS with Jeanine, Jay, and their girls. And then on Monday, we would drive to Oak Island, NC, about four hours from WS.

On Sunday evening, Sep 2, I checked the National Hurricane Center's website. I saw tropical storm Florence located closer to Africa. It was forecast to move slowly and turn sharply north, moving east of Bermuda. But on Thursday, signs indicated that something was amiss. Jeff texted me Friday morning because the path of Florence had it moving toward the southeast U.S. coast.

Florence was forecast to become a hurricane on Sun, Sep 9 and then a major hurricane a day or two later. Even on Fri, Sep 7, the estimated forecast track had the center of Florence hitting the coast near the NC-SC border, which is near the location of Oak Island.

No change in the track occurred on Saturday. No change was forecast on Sunday morning either. During the drive to WS on Sun, Sep 9, Deb and CP hatched a new plan: Gatlinburg. They managed to find and reserve a house in the country via AirBnB. We were set to stay at the house for five nights, checking in on Monday afternoon and leaving on Saturday morning.

But we were still headed to WS, since the Gatlinburg plan did not occur until we were approximately half-way to WS. And we wanted to visit some family on this trip. Jessica, Jeff, Kate, and Lexie were going to visit us in OINC on Friday afternoon, Sep 14.

The drive through Ohio on Sun, Sep 9 was different than I expected. In the past, I took I-75 to 15 to 23 to Columbus. Then I took I-270 around C-bus to route 33. Route 33 goes by Athens and into West Virginia. 33 hits I-77 near Ripley, WV.

On this route, we drove past Findlay on I-75 and exited at the Ada/Ohio Northern University exit. We took small roads or routes. Drove through small towns, including Dunkirk. Eventually, we hit I-270. We stopped at a McDonald's near Grove City, outside C-bus. We got grub and used the restrooms. CP and Brad changed Gabbie's diaper in the backseat. I got two egg McMuffins. I drank some of Deb's coffee once we got driving again. Gabbie ate one of those fried potato things called hash browns or something like that.

During the drive in Ohio, Gabbie also ate a lot of grapes. She loves grapes. She ate other things too. It was a nice drove through the middle of southern Ohio. I rode a couple bicycle tours through the south central part of Ohio in 1994.

Stop number two occurred at a gas station at Rio Grande, Ohio. We got fuel. I used the restroom again. And I took over driving. This stopped occurred before 11:00 a.m. I turned right from the gas station when I should have turned left. We drove through downtown Rio Grande, past the university and community college. We turned around by looping around on a small, rural paved road. Country. Then we got back to the gas station and the proper location, getting back on route 35, I think.

Rio Grande is located near the bottom of Ohio. Soon we crossed into WV. But we still drove mainly on a two-lane road, four lanes at times. We would hit I-77 at Charleston.

Between the Ohio River and Charleston, Gabbie threw up, a lot. She was not sick. She probably ate too much disagreeable food. I pulled off into a church parking lot. Church was in session. When I drove, Brad sat in the front passenger seat. CP sat behind me. Deb sat in the middle next to Gabbie.

Brad, CP, and Deb worked on Gabbie, stripping off her clothes and cleaning her seat. Deb spread essential oils to mask any leftover smell. The weather was overcast and a little rainy at times. Mild temps, in the 70s. Gabbie was placed in the front seat. She shivered, probably not from the weather but because of being upset about what occurred. Nobody got mad. It happens. It took a little while for order to be restored, and Gabbie was immediately back to her bubbly self, like nothing happened. We took off down the road.

After a few minutes, Brad realized that he took off his Michigan hat and placed it either on the ground or on top of the Ford Explorer. Either way, we left the hat behind. I turned around and went back. It was now about Noon. I guessed that church might end around Noon and someone might see it in the parking lot as they left. Church must have let out, shortly after we left the first time. Fewer vehicles existed than about 10 to 15 minutes earlier. And the hat was gone. Someone must have snagged it. We didn't go inside the church to see if anyone turned it in. We should have. We moved on.

I had Deb text Jeanine to contact Jay. I assumed Jay would be at work at WF. I wanted Jay to get a WF hat for Brad.

We hit I-77 a little north of Charleston. Now I was on familiar road. I didn't need any directions until we got to WS. We drove past the golden domed capital building in Charleston. I love the drive through WV. The hills are smaller, but they are steep. I-77 is windy a little south of Charleston. The weather, unfortunately, was a little dreary for much of the trip.

The highest point or one of the highest points during the drive through WV is at Flat Top. When we reached Flat Top, we were in the clouds. The cloud bases were low, which meant that we were in dense fog. The road descends some from Flat Top, and we got out of the clouds.

In Virginia, I think, we stopped in the mid-afternoon for lunch/dinner. We ate at a Cracker Barrel. It was a long stop, since we were in traffic getting to CB. After dinner, we had fun letting Gabbie walk around the parking lot and the outside of the CB building. Gabbie needed to work off some energy. It was a long day in the vehicle.

Back on I-77, we were back in the clouds/fog at Fancy Gap. Little visibility. No views. During the drive down the mountain from VA into NC, also little visibility and no views, which is unfortunate because that part of I-77 south has amazing views. A Fog Advisory existed for that stretch of highway. The digital speed limit signs kept dropping in max speed, bottoming out at 30 or 40 mph at the slowest.

Once down off the mountain and into NC, we drove out of the clouds. Then we headed to WS. Brad led me into Jeanine and Jay's house. We arrived around 5:30 p.m. We stopped at least four times, maybe five, during the drive down. Gabbie slept for a while in the afternoon. So did everyone. I drove from Rio Grande to Winston-Salem. Good drive except for the low cloud base and lack of views.

When we exited the vehicle, we unloaded and Gabbie went to playing outside, walking around. I kept an eye on Gabbie. Miranda and Kenzie hung out with Gabbie and me outside. Gabbie spent a good amount of time peeling the bark off of a small tree that existed in the front yard. I don't know what kind of tree. An ornamental tree, I think. It shed bark, like a sycamore. Right up Gabbie's alley. We had trouble getting her to do something else.

But then the next door neighbors emerged with two small dogs that attracted Gabbie's attention. We visited the dogs. The neighbors walked up the hill, along the road, and Gabbie wanted to follow. We walked up the top of the knoll and turned around. Then we walked down to the pond. Gabbie got excited about seeing all the Canada Geese in the cove at the end of the pond where we stood. Gabbie wanted to get closer. Brad came down, and I let Brad corral Gabbie.

Jeanine had made a taco bar where we could assemble tacos for dinner. Very tasty setup. Miranda made cupcakes. Also very tasty. Gabbie had energy to burn. She played a lot on the steps between the first floor and the basement. Eventually, she climbed the steps between the first floor and the second floor.

In the living room, Miranda had mat pieces assembled to provide a tumbling area for Miranda's dance and gymnastic moves. After watching Miranda, Gabbie tried her tumbling moves too, which was funny to watch. It was a familiar sight that I had seen many times over the years at Christmas time in B'ville. The younger nieces tried to emulate and keep up with the dance and gymnastic moves of the older nieces. Now Gabbie follows along too.

More time was spent on the steps. Gabbie began to walk up the steps herself by holding onto the railings or posts. This was new to me. She did well too, although she tumbled on the carpeted steps a couple times.

We brought along the pack-n-play for Gabbie to sleep on. Brad and CP slept on an air mattress in one of the basement bedrooms. Gabbie made belly splashes on the air mattress, which was also hilarious. How did she know how to do that?

Deb and I slept on an air mattress in the sun room on the second floor that overlooked the backyard. The room had screens and windows to the outside. I left one window up to let the nighttime insect sounds in. It rained during the night at one point. And around 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., I heard the Canada Geese leave the pond, maybe going out somewhere to feed. It was very comfortable and relaxing, sleeping out in the sun room. Jeanine gave us the idea.

We were all tired. Gabbie wore me out even more by playing in the evening. She was wound up. She liked some of the stuff animals in Miranda's room upstairs. But she really liked playing on the steps, going up and down. I went to sleep around 11:00 p.m., maybe a little before that, like 10:30 p.m. Jay was still at work. I heard him arrive home around 11:00 to 11:30 p.m.

I got up to use the bathroom around 5:00 a.m. I used a first floor bathroom, located near the living room and next to the piano room near the front door. Jay slept on the couch in the living room. He awoke. We spoke for a little while. He needed to get up and get going to work by 5:30 a.m. Wow. WF played a Thursday night game after playing on Saturday. Short week of work probably required more hours. With Florence heading toward NC, Jay said that the Thursday night game in WS was in question. Would the game be moved to Boston College or to Saturday? He said that they would decide on Monday.