Monday, August 29, 2011

Oreo Cows -- "Got Milk?"

Do you have Oreo Cows in your area of the world?  We saw some yesterday, and I decided to do a post about them.

I've seen them before, but we don't seem to have a lot of them in our area.  My husband first saw them years ago when he was travelling back and forth to England for a project at work.  He told me about them, and I think he may have taken some pictures; I can't remember now (that was before we had a digital camera).

Actually,  "oreo cows" is just a nickname.  They are really Belted Galloway cows.  According to Wikipedia, they're a rare breed of beef cattle originating in Galloway, in the southwest of Scotland.  Some of their other nicknames in the U.S. are "police car" cows and "panda" cows.  Aren't they cute?  I realize that "cute" is a funny adjective to apply to an animal of this size, but nevertheless, I happen to think they're cute.

On Sunday afternoon, we decided to drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Based on the posts I've done lately, it probably seems like all we do is travel.  But, that's not really the case.  This is just one of those in-between times in our life.  We only had one child, and he's no longer a child.  He's flown the coop, so to speak.  He's making it known that he wants some independence.  So all the time that we spent doing things with him and for him, has suddenly become free time.

There are some projects we would like to do on our house, but that's out of the question until our son finishes college.  And we are fortunate that all four of our parents are still living, but they are quite independent too :)  I quit my part-time job (which I liked a lot, by the way) after our son's sophomore year in high school.  Now the job market is terrible, but I knew that was a possibility at the time.  Thankfully, my husband has a good job, but it's very stressful right now.  He likes to get away whenever we can.

We have always liked the mountains.  We love the ocean too; we really do.  But it takes us four hours at least, to get to the coast, and we can be in the mountains in a little over an hour.  So yesterday, we drove to the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed north into Virginia.  I love Virginia.  I think it's such a pretty state, and there's so much history there.

We stopped at an overlook on the parkway to stretch our legs and maybe take a few pictures.

We've driven by this little farm many times before, but since we had stopped (and of course there were the oreo cows), I got the urge to take some pictures.  Such a pretty, pastoral little scene.

This house appears to be new, so I'm not sure if the existing farmhouse was torn down to build a new one.

What I found so amusing was that this cow stared at us over the fence the entire time we were taking pictures.  My husband pointed out that she had a calf, so I imagine she wanted to make sure we weren't a threat. 

In a pasture right beside the cows, there were several lamas, and a sign that said "Alpaca Farm and Store".

The mother cow is still giving us the eye while the young calf is nursing.

Moooo  :-)

It was a beautiful day up there, but the breeze was so strong that it was hard to hold the camera steady enough to take decent pics.  That's okay; we still had fun.  And I almost forgot to mention that we took our "adopted" child on the outing with us...

...because he needs a change of scenery, too, and a chance to get rid of some wiggles ;)

This is my Seasonal Sunday post for the week.  Thanks to The Tablescaper for faithfully hosting this party every week!  I'm also linking to Outdoor Wednesday, hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Thank you for stopping by House at Forest Manor; I always enjoy your visits!




Saturday, August 20, 2011

Enjoying The Blue Waters

The Tablescaper reminded us last week that summer is almost over and to be sure to link our summer posts to Seasonal Sundays this week.  A big part of what summer means at our house is our annual trip to the beach and our trip to the mountains.  We took our beach trip in May with our son ( it seems like ages ago now).

Recently, the Hubby and I spent four days at the end of July in the mountains of Western North Carolina, or as I call it "Deliverance" Country.  That's right; I've never actually seen the movie, but I've heard enough about it to know that this particular area can (at times) have some eerie similarities.  Don't get me wrong -- it's beautiful, but the first year we visited there, I had one ear tuned at all times for the sound of banjo music :-)

This year was the seventh year that we've been to the same place to gather with other Mazda Miata owners from all over the U.S. (and Canada) to enjoy the mountains; and specifically, to drive the famously curvy roads in that particular area.  It's a welcome break from the work-a-day world and a chance to see some really incredible scenery.

Every year, we stay at The Blue Waters Mountain Lodge, in Robbinsville, North Carolina. 

If you wanted, you could literally walk across the narrow, country road fronting the lodge, 

 down a short flight of steps...

and dive off the pier into Lake Santeetlah.

Or if you want to enjoy the lake, but prefer to stay dry, you could rent one of their pontoon boats.  In the evenings, most of us like to gather on the front porch and catch up with old friends from previous summers, or talk to the new guests.

On Friday evenings in the summer, there are barbecues down at the dock with lots of good music and great food prepared by the owners, Mike and Maury.

This year at the dock, they had grilled chicken kabobs, and bratwurst, along with a variety of fresh salads, and locally grown vegetables, tortilla chips and homemade Mexican dip, and various baked goodies for dessert.

Last year, I don't remember exactly what food was served at the dock, but I definitely remember the music.  One of the guests had brought his guitar, and we had an impromptu sing-a-long.  It was great!  Terry played songs from our high school and college days.  Our generation's music.  The Eagles' Lyin' Eyes  and Take It Easy; Jimmy Buffet's Come Monday and Margaritaville; and a little bit of Boston, "Well I'm takin' my time, I'm just movin' on, You'll forget about me after I've been gone.."  Anybody remember that one?  And one of my favorites, Teach Your Children, by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.  A good time was had by all.

Over the years, this same group has shared a lot of laughter, food and drink, and good music.  But we've shared more somber times, as well -- the loss of a beloved son, the serious illness of an aging father, health issues of our own; and two summers ago, three of our regular couples weren't able to be at the Blue Waters because of loss of employment.  One of the men was just a few years away from taking an early retirement.  Most of us only see each other once a year, but we seem to pick up where we left off the previous year in sharing each other's good news and bad.

The Blue Waters Lodge has nine guest rooms, so it's not too small, but still small enough to get to know the other guests.  A full breakfast is included in the price of the room, and there's no excuse to leave the table hungry.  Maury prepares homemade quiche or strata every morning; along with blueberry or banana pancakes, bacon, sausage, scones, and fresh fruit.  Are you hungry yet? :)  There's also cereal and yogurt for those who prefer a lighter meal.  I wanted to take pictures of the breakfast buffet, but I was too sleepy every morning to get downstairs before everyone had started eating.  That's another thing -- the mountain air makes us sleep like babies.

They also serve excellent dinners (for lodge guests only) in the dining room Thursday through Saturday evening.

Mike and Maury have cultivated a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and for us, that's a large part of the appeal.  Some of the guests have been staying there since the first summer the lodge was open, and several of the couples return year after year to spend the last weekend of July (plus a few extra days if they're lucky) at the lodge.  And there are usually a few new couples to meet each year, just to keep things interesting.

To be in such an isolated spot, it's amazing to see how many people come from places near and far to spend some quality time.  This year we had a French Canadian couple from Quebec. There was also a couple from Florida; the man was a native of Belgium and his wife, a native of the U.S.  The Blue Waters Lodge has also hosted guests from Germany, who came to backpack in the surrounding mountains.

When we make this trip to Robbinsville and the Blue Waters, we usually take a few side trips while we're there.  We often go to the town of Highlands, which I wrote about HERE.  Sometimes we check out the waterfalls in the area, or drive up to Fontana Village.  Basically, we go where the mood takes us.

We took some pictures in and around the lodge, so you can see for yourself.  Hope you enjoy!

I love the way the lodge is furnished and decorated.

My husband took this progression of pictures as the sun started to set.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you'll join The Tablescaper at Seasonal Sundays to share a bit of your summer fun with us.  Have a great week!


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