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BigBruno

If you are weary of hearing about my bear visitors here in rural Virginia, I do understand.  I hope you are able to “grin and bear it.”

But I must recount the latest episode.  This time I was away from home with a friend.

We were out for lunch at a general store (and diner) in Natural Bridge Station, Virginia.  That is only a few miles from the actual Natural Bridge (an awesome sight indeed).

The Natural Bridge  is also now a Virginia State Park.

Anyway, we pulled into the driveway of the little general store and there he was – Bruno’s father! BIGBruno!

He was crossing the parking lot right in front of us.  And he went loping down an embankment to a little stream, and up the other side to cross the road into the woods.

Could I get out of othe car without fear of bodily harm?  No.

I was on the bear’s side!

Could I outrun the bear?  No.

Still having trouble hobbling around on a bad foot, but even if it was normal……. well, you get the picture.

Was I stupid enough to get out of the car (on BigBruno’s side) and slowly make my way to the diner entrance?

Yes.

And so it was.  Lunch was a breathless affair recounting the story to the hostess.  She said they had been frying bacon all morning.  Well, no wonder BigBruno was enamoured of the place!

And on the wall was this frightening image!

It looked just like him.

I still don’t know if it was a photograph or a painting, but BigBruno loomed out of the canvas as big and wild and beautiful as I could ever conjure up in a dream/nightmare.

Lunch was delicious by the way.  A very informal setting with all natural all fresh salads and sans – everything to a bear’s liking!

Another adventure in Virginia country living.

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There is a dance that is new to me and maybe to you too.  It is a dance that is “as old as the hills.”

My good friend, Amy, who is always trying new things, filled me in on this enchanting activity that is good clean fun, great exercise, and a place to meet friends and smile.

 Have you ever heard of Contra Dancing?

Well, one site describes it like this: “If Swing Dancing and Square Dancing met in a bar, you’d get Contra.”

  • It is similar to square dancing but not the same.
  • It is considered a social dance that you can attend without a partner, but is danced in pairs.
  • It is danced in long lines and couples progress up and down the lines dancing with each other and other couples in the line.
  • There is a caller who teaches the sequence of figures before the music starts.
  • The music can be Irish, Scottish, old-time, or French Canadian folk tunes.
  • It is impossible not to smile at the music.
  • The fiddle is the core instrument, but can also feature the guitar, banjo, bass and mandolin.

 Contra is a folk dance with mixed origins from English country, Scottish,  and French dance styles in the 17th century and African influence from Appalachia.  Sometimes described as New England folk dance or Appalachian folk dance, Contra Dances can be found around the world as well as in most US states.

Check out Contra Dancing in your state or community.  Guaranteed to make you smile!

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Actually, there is a Himalayan Salt Cave/Spa nearby in Forest, Virginia.

Have you ever tried reviving yourself in a Himalayan Salt Cave?  This is now on my bucket list!

And no, you don’t have to work with a pick and axe to retrieve salt from a mine.  You can just sit down and soak up the purified air or get a massage or have a family get-together!

cave_for_web

From the London’s Salt Spa Website: “Here is our spacious, relaxing and therapeutic Salt Cave, where you will experience the healing and relaxing power of our pink salt from the Himalayan Mountains.  Sit back in our Zero Gravity chairs, relax and breathe while the cave purifies, replenishes, and rejuvenates your mind and body. For the optimal respiratory comfort, we keep the Salt Cave at a stable humidity of 30-50% and temperatures range between 70-74 degrees. Fresh Blankets And socks Are Provided.”

 

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FatTunaRestaurantBarView

“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”  

~Jonathan Swift

If you are ever in Williamsburg, Virginia and you’re hungry (especially if you are hungry for shell fish), I discovered a place I would drive three hours to go back to.  It is called The Fat Tuna Grill and Oyster Bar.

I was yearning for  seafood  and though it is available “inland” where I live, it is oddly not quite satisfying.  But on our trip to Williamsburg I learned I  had forgotten the joy of consuming fresh oysters on the half shell and big fat broiled shrimp dipped in butter!

oysters-on-the-half-shell

And that is exactly what I ordered at The Fat Tuna – oysters on the half shell and broiled shrimp.

Ambrosia!

Bill doesn’t know it yet, but I am planning a calculated semi-yearly blitz urging him to join me in return trips to Williamsburg – just for a repeat of that dinner!  Tomorrow would not be too soon.

But back to my somewhat less than professional food critic’s review:

I was oohing and ahhing so much the smiling Manager came over and touched my shoulder in gratitude for such exuberant appreciation of the chef.

I loved the service too.  “Star” understood  and she was truly a star in bringing us fabulous warm hush puppies and corn bread for starters.  I am off grains of course, but had a taste of each to set me swooning for more.   Selected sides were green beans cooked to perfection and fabulously delicious coleslaw.  And Key Lime Pie for dessert – the real thing!

The Fat Tuna is a casual dining destination – meaning it is not hoity-toity and you don’t have to dress up but it is pleasantly appointed.

Can you tell how much I love this restaurant?

If you love seafood too and you are anywhere near (or even far), The Fat Tuna is the place to go.

 

Fat tuna sign
1433 Richmond Road
Williamsburg,Virginia 23185

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Chownings Mug Sign

Chownings Tavern – Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

The Way We Were

Chownings Tavern Welcome Team

Tavern Reception Team

Bill and I have been escaping the past several days, on a brief trip to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia – not the first time for sure.  There is always something to see and do and never enough time for any of it.

The main allure of this incredible place is the ability to experience a “living museum”

where you can see and feel the past

whilst knowing you are viewing it from the future.

O.K. I know this doesn’t make much sense but it is perfectly true.

But we had another reason to visit the area this time.

We stopped at the MAI Conference being held at the Williamsburg Lodge!

Our friend, Pete, is the organizer and MAI stands for Mid Atlantic Innkeepers, so it was a conference and trade show for Bed and Breakfast people.

Attendees are either eager Hosts and Hostesses, eagerly Aspiring hosts and hostesses, or eager Suppliers of eager hosts and hostesses.

In any case, they are all delightfully friendly energetic people enjoying courses, classes, and camaraderie dedicated to optimizing the travel experience in today’s bustling new world.

Here are photographs of our friends who were working so hard to make the conference a success.

MAI Organizer Pete Holladay http://midatlanticinnkeepers.com

MAI Organizer Pete Holladay
http://midatlanticinnkeepers.com

MAI Ladies

Beautiful Friends Phebe and Katherine

Where Are We

Bill Wondering Where We Were

Believe it or not, the Williamsburg Lodge was a stop on our bus route around the periphery of Colonial Williamsburg.  We had lunch at Chownings Tavern along the way.

Bill tried the Shepherd’s Pie with Root Beer to swig it all down.  And I had Brunswick Stew and hot apple cider.  We were serenaded by a lovely lady in period costume who played the fiddle and then we were visited by a fellow who looked like John Adams. Then we heard a fife in the back room.

Talk about being transported back in time!

How I would love to vacation again in Colonial Williamsburg – but via a time machine back to 1734.  Then I would return of course, to all my modern conveniences!

Well, a lunch hour at the Tavern in the restored Old Towne will have to do.

A Colonial Street of Homes

A Colonial Street of Homes

John Adams Maybe

 

Wood Pile at the Ready

Wood Pile at the Ready

 

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Three Gourmet Chefs

Three Gourmet Chefs Serve Dinner!

Our son and grandgirls arrived January 1st, 2016 to celebrate Christmas and to welcome in the New Year.

Testing a New Back Roll

Testing a New Back Roll

There was one hot political discussion.  Gifts were exchanged with lots of laughter,  there were giggles trying out a new exercise thing, and my Star Wars pet robot is now up and running and making R2D2 sounds while bumping into things. The grandgirls put that together since I am technologically challenged.

They were full of happy surprises too, and as I sat back, pampering the poor old Big Foot, I was amazed to watch “the kids” cook a whole meal for our family.  That was a first!

The Grandgirls Cooking

The Grandgirls Cooking

Mongolian Chicken from an online recipe was the challenge that required dedicated chopping and mixing. I was stunned by the sight of the three working together so harmoniously in the kitchen – no longer babies but grown women.

“But, how good could this meal really be?” I wondered.  An hour went by and there were some delectable aromas drifting around.

Suddenly there we were having the most delicious family dinner!

How could this be?  How could they have grown up so quickly?

What happened to the babies who used to play jacks with me on the kitchen floor?

About the 3rd day we began to run out of “vittles” and planning a visit to the market.  “We’ll go,” the kids all chimed and son and the three first went running for exercise on the Chessie Nature Trail and then to the store to replenish the food stock.

We played Guesswork  for more howling and laughter and  watched four or five old Star Wars films to prepare for going to the newest release in town (Lexington, Virginia).

There was something about this Christmas delayed, combined with welcoming in the New Year, that is “one for the books” or in this case, one for the blog, to be remembered for a long time to come.

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Stone Tower in Regensburg, Germany

Stone Tower in Regensburg, Germany

This is one of the medieval tower buildings in Regensburg, Germany that once belonged to a rich and powerful patrician family.

The actual living space was on the main level.

The upper stories were only a façade, with small storage rooms behind the upper windows.

Stone was expensive, so prosperity was displayed by the height of the tower you owned – the higher the tower, the more stones required and the wealthier the merchant.

Germans still say of someone they think is wealthy, “He is stone rich.”

Many such buildings remain in Regensburg and some owners have invested in renovating the upper levels and adding electricity.  They can then rent the tiny spaces to students who are able and willing to climb the ladders between floors.

Note the varying window styles on the different levels of this tower.

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