11/21/12

Well, back in PA for Thanksgiving week.  We left Florida Sunday and got in Monday evening.  Took  some planning to start out in warm weather clothes yet be prepared for cold weather once we got further north.

On the trip up we stopped in Beckley, WV at Tamarack.  This is a huge center for local crafters to display and sell their work.

The artist’s work is truly extraordinary.  The pictures I took can’t do it justice.  Everything from hand made furniture to fudge. 

There was a lovely food court complete with hand dipped ice cream.  Local crafters also come and work there so you can see how things are made.  It’s definitely a great place to stop if you’re ever traveling through WV.  http://www.tamarackwv.com.

Travel for John’s work will begin again next week.  We leave Monday for Springfield, MO.  More cold weather!

11/15/12

Our travel has slowed down a little over the past month.  John has been working here near Orlando.  We will leave Florida Sunday to go home for Thanksgiving week and see family.  When we get back, travel will begin again.  We’ll be going to Sioux Falls, SD and Springfield, MO again.  Big cold weather shock, but I’m sure we’ll appreciate the warmth even more when we get back. 

Did some fishing …ha ha…
10/31/12
Ok, the cigar bar review blog is up and running.  Take a look at www.agreatpieceofash.com
10/30/12
We arrived safely in Florida on Sunday.   We are fortunate that the trip down went smoothly.  The first night we stayed in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel.  They are nice enough to allow their RV customers to do this at no charge.  We had everything we needed in the motor home so it was a fine place to spend the night.  The second night we stayed at a nice little campground right off the interstate near Christiansburg, SC.  We’ve landed in Florida during a cold, windy spell.  Well cold from  a Floridian’s standpoint, I guess.  It’s still beautiful, sunny and in the 70’s.  Since Somerset, PA got snow from hurricane Sandy, we are fine with this weather. 
We’ve settled into the RV resort and everyone seems very nice.  John is working over in Kissimmee today and will work in Orlando the rest of the week. 
Stay tuned for info on second blog for female cigar smokers.  It’s under construction now!

Like I said…walking contradiction!

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10/24/12

We were planning to take our motor home to Pensacola, FL right after Christmas until the end of February.  Last week’s trip to Orlando for John’s work convinced us to go down early.  We are leaving tomorrow and will come back the end of February or maybe March.  We will stay at the Citrus Valley location of www.EliteResorts.com  If that goes well, we might stay there or move over to Pensacola, FL the end of December.   We will be back in the area over Thanksgiving and Christmas to see family as well as in Pittsburgh for business in early December.   We’ve never taken the motor home this far before.  We only need to be near an airport for John’s work…so…here we go on another adventure!

Dubbed “The Beast” by mother-in-law

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On a layover between back to back trips while waiting on a flight to Orlando we found a new cigar bar called Smoke Cigar Shop & Lounge in Bridgeville, PA. www.smokecigarshop.com

We have been in several cigar bars now along the way since this travel odyssey began and have found this one to be the nicest atmosphere.  The owner is a cool girl named Mame Kendall. 

Mame Kendall

Mame has many years experience in the business and has owned multiple shops in New Hampshire.  Her store is comfortable and cozy.  The focal point is a unique smoke blaze on the ceiling.  Visiting Mame’s cigar bar has inspired me to start a second blog specializing in reviewing cigar bars from a female perspective.  While cigar smoking is a male dominated past time, I have been pleasantly surprised to see the number of women smokers in the cigar bars we’ve visited in major cities such as Corona Cigar Co. in Orlando, FL.

 While the Corona is a big store and the atmosphere really suits a city like Orlando, Mame’s is the kind of place an ordinary woman who doesn’t live among the wealth of an area like Orlando could go with her husband and feel very comfortable.   Talking with Mame has confirmed for me that there are many more women out there like me who wouldn’t be afraid to admit that they enjoy the occasional luxury of a fine cigar and a little cognac.  Thanks for the inspiration, Mame!   Stay tuned for further info on the second coming blog. 

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10/11/12

We drove back to Columbus again yesterday.  We’ll be here  till Friday evening then will drive back to Pittsburgh and fly to Orlando, FL Saturday.  It should be alot warmer there! 

While in Columbus last week we tried a new wine place called The Twisted Vine.  They have a nice selection of wine and a variety of wine related items.They also carry a small selection of cigars.  They do not have a kitchen, but allow you to bring your own food and snacks to enjoy with their wine.  The gentleman who took care of us was Steve Hewitt.  He went out of his way to make us feel comfortable even though he was busy handling a private party there at the same time. This place is very comfortable and cozy.  Make it a point to stop in if you’re ever in Columbus. www.thetwistedvine.net

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We visited the Montecristo Cigar lounge again on this last trip to Columbus.  Chad was there and still as gracious as ever.  You know how you are really impressed sometimes with the people who handle you as a customer and other times you wonder if they even have a pulse?  No customer would ever feel that way there.  I can see Chad working in a really high end hotel such as The Four Seasons or some place like that. I’m sure Diab realizes he can’t let that one get away!  We also met on of his co-workers.  I believe his name was Wade. (Gosh, I hope that’s right!  I’m so bad with names and having more trouble with it now because of all the new people we’re meeting!)  Diab lucked out again with this one, too!  I understand he’s trying to break into the music business and should have no trouble with a personality like that.  If  I ever go into management again, I think I’ll ask Diab where he finds these people!

Outside of Jungle Jim‘s

Inside Jungle Jim’s

Inside Jungle Jim’s

While in Cincinnati we checked out a  place called Jungle Jim’s.  HOLY COW!  This place was massive!!!  It housed a huge international market, a cigar store, a wine store, a tasting bar, a health food section, and a zillion other things I can’t even remember.  I actually got lost in it and had to ask for directions!  Everyone has been in giant grocery stores like Wegman’s and Whole Foods, but this place makes those look like cracker boxes.  There were race cars in it…an airplane suspended from the ceiling…an entire hot sauce room dedicated to the efforts of fireman that even had a whole fire truck sitting in front of it!  One of the displays included a little airstream camper trailer.  I could never have taken enough pictures to do this place justice.  One of the clerks told me the story of it’s owner…James Bonaminio… and how she remembered when she was a little girl that he started out with only road side fruit & vegetable stands and now he has this mammoth operation.  This one is his second location and had only been open a week.  The original Jungle Jim’s is in Fairfield, OH.    You gotta see this place!!!  http://www.junglejims.com/

During a one night stay in Cincinnati, OH on the last leg of this trip we had a little visitor one evening.  While sitting outside the hotel to enjoy the nice evening, a little black female kitty came to visit.  She was thin and appeared hungry so I fed her a cookie, which was the closest thing I could find from the hotel reception desk.  She ate part of it then curled up at our feet.  It wasn’t long before she was on my lap contentedly taking a snooze.  She had a white bib and one white toe on her back foot.  I named her Cookie.  I really wish I could have brought her home with me.  She just needed to be near someone and feel loved.  Don’t we all?

Cookie kitty


On the way up from Tennessee we got off the interstate and tripped over Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch.  The grounds are beautiful and the story is interesting.  In the 60’s Loretta Lynn and her dad bought the town of Hurricane Mills, TN.  There is a plantation home there that is part of the tour along with the rest of grounds.  Loretta lives behind it in a private home.  She is in her 70’s and still tours.  Her tour bus was even parked there.  There is a simulated coal mine entrance and a replica of her Butcher Holler Home. Also campgrounds and a motor cross track. It’s really a beautiful, peaceful place.

Entrance to Beale St

Gibson guitar factory

10/3/12

Before leaving the Memphis area, we spent some time on famous Beale St.  What an experience!  It was kind of like a mini Bourbon St.  The street is blocked off with a very strong police presence, but we saw nothing that made us uncomfortable as far as safety is concerned…just a lot of people having a great time.  It’s packed with open door bars and restaurants with some of the best live country, jazz and blues bands performing into the wee hours of the morning.  We ate outside at O’Sullivans and listened to an incredible 80’s band.  Never heard anybody sound more like Journey or Robert Plant than those guys!    John found a cigar bar there, too but I missed getting any information about it.  I was interested to see several female customers smoking cigars there and on the street.  Imagine that.  We also saw the Gibson guitar factory.  There were outdoor markets as well with more excellent blues bands.  Beale St. is some kind of place!

Almost forgot…while in Memphis, we took a spin over the Mississippi and Arkansas state lines one evening just for the heck of it.  Didn’t really see much, but it was a fun ride. 

While in Memphis, we happened to drive by the entrance to Graceland.  I was so surprised to see the condition of the area it’s in.  I pictured it outside the city somewhere in some sprawling country area.  Nevertheless, it was fun to see. The hotel across the street was Heartbreak Hotel on Lonely St.  Too cute.  Maybe we’ll do the tour if we’re ever down that way again.

Across from the entrance to Graceland

I must confess…as contradictory as it sounds for a vegetarian health nut…John has convinced me to experiment with the occasional cigar.  Once I learned not to cough…much to John’s amusement…I find it quite relaxing.  I have some pictures of that, too but in order to maintain some dignity will not display them here!   🙂

Riverside Cigar Shop

John found a little cigar bar to explore in Indiana state, which is just over the river from Louisville, KY.  It was called the Riverside Cigar Shop and Lounge.  The owner is Jeff Mouttet, a very personable guy.  If you’re ever in the area and love cigars, you should stop in.  He has a nice selection and the atmosphere is very relaxed and comfortable.  www.riversidecigars.com

One of many Riverwalk cafes

Riverwalk boats

Earlier in September we were in San Antonio, TX for a company conference.   Our hotel was right on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  This area is a must see if you’re ever in San Antonio.  There are a multitude of little shops and restaurants all along the river.  The walk ways are beautifully landscaped and so well take care of.  I noticed how clean everything was considering what heavy traffic it has.  There were areas to sit along on the water and listen to live bands such as Peruvian flute music, country, etc.  You could also choose to take a boat ride on the river while a guide explained the history of the area which is right  near The Alamo.  We didn’t make it over to the Alamo, but it’s a good excuse to go another time. 

10/3/12

We are in Columbus, OH again.  Tomorrow is the last day of our car travel starting 9/22…we left on our 28th anniversary.  John had work in Memphis & Nashville, TN so we took our time on the road and stayed in Louisville and Bowling Green, KY.   We had beautiful weather.  Was nice way to celebrate 28 years. 

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Rte. 66 outside Baxter Springs, OK

8/29/12

Should be an interesting trip home on Friday.  Weather Channel is calling for heavy winds and rain here as a result of hurricane Isaac.  We just might not be flying anywhere.  That’s ok.  Springfield is a nice area and we can hang out till the flights clear if need be.

We ate a restaurant here this evening that had deep fried spinach.  Pretty odd, huh?  It was unbelievably delicious!  I thought it would be in a batter, but it wasn’t…just done in olive oil & parmesan of some sort.  Bet I’ll be looking up the recipe for that! Talk about an usual surprise.  Much to my surprise this restaurant also had a heated toilet seat and bidet in the ladies bathroom!  Good golly!

8/29/12

We flew into Springfield, MO Monday and will be here till Friday.  Since John didn’t have to work that afternoon, we drove over to Oklahoma and Kansas just because we were close.  We had a nice afternoon exploring.  We stopped in Joplin, MO.  Remember that town out here who had the terrible tornado in May 2011?  Was kind of creepy seeing where that happened. We also drove through Picher, OK which is a ghost town now because mining ruined the water and destroyed the buildings.  It’s interesting to visit, but I could never live here in the midwest heat. 

Falls River Park, Sioux Falls, SD

8/14/12

We were in Columbus, OH again last week.  We flew into Sioux Falls, SD yesterday.  Gosh, it’s flat out here!  I guess I expected to see a lot of Indian related things.  Not so. You would never know there were Indians ever here.  No signs remain.  I find that very  sad.  Sioux Falls appears to be a very ordinary town.  We did visit Falls River Park which was interesting.  We fly home Friday. 

7/27/12

Leaving California today.  Sooooo sad to leave this weather.  No wonder people are drawn here.  It was interesting to notice how friendly everyone was.  For such a busy area there was no sense of urgency.  Now the 405 bumper to bumper was another story…ha ha.  Met some nice people, connected  with several food banks for Ample Harvest, John’s work went well.  Good trip and as always, it will be good to be home.  

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John Wayne Airport Santa Ana, CA

Me at Dana Point near Newport Beach, CA

7/23/12

Wow!  People weren’t kidding about the weather in southern California!  We are in Santa Ana and it is absolutely gorgeous!  After dealing with Pennsylvania humidity, this is heaven!  After we landed yesterday, we did some site seeing.  Drove through Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach.  It was so great to see the ocean again!  We stopped at Dana Point and saw pelicans and sea lions.  Laguna Beach was quite the experience!  The town itself was jammed with the clearly affluent.  I’ve never seen so many Maseratis and Bentleys all in one area.  The town itself is really cool with a ton of interesting restaurants, shops and art galleries.  

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John in the cigar bar

7/18/12

Back in Columbus again this week.  We’ve done some exploring and Columbusis a nice city with a lot of diversity.  Last week we went to The Wine Bistro in Upper Arlington.  Beautiful place!!!  Take a look at their site in the links section.  John wanted to check out a cigar bar so we visited the Montecristo Lounge on N. High St.  Very cool place.  Not a bar in the typical sense.  They served no liquor…only turkish coffee and mint tea they made themselves from mint grown outside by the door.  Really cool place.  One of their employees was Chad…a charismatic young man who helped to make the experience unique.  He seemed to really enjoy his job.  A rare quality in customer service these days.  Their link is also included in my links section.  We leave for southern California on Sunday…stay tuned.    

 

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7/9/12

We are in Columbus, OH now until Friday.  Ohio is an amazingly flat state.  Beautiful weather today and a welcome break from the recent heat wave.  So far prior to this trip we’ve been to Delaware, OH…Richmond, VA…San Antonio, TX…Atlanta, GA…(ungodly traffic!!!)…Memphis, TN and  St. Louis, MO…(hot, hot, hot!)  Looks like we’re headed to Irvine, CA later this month.  When we’re not traveling, John works at home with the rest  his team who are scattered all over the country.

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