We left the race track in Pocono and drove down to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for 4 days. We had both visited Gettysburg years ago before we met, so this was our first trip there together. The new Visitor Center built in 2008, is very nice and we spent two hours watching the movie, and the 360 degree diorama painted just 10 years after the battle. It has been restored and is magnificent. We finished our tour in the Civil War Museum, and then drove around the battlefield.
From Gettysburg we drove down to Charlottesville, Virginia to see Missy, who is now getting her MBA at the Darden School of Business. Later that evening we were joined by Missy's Godfather Leon and and his wife Laura you were passing through on their way west on vacation. We had a great time visiting.
The next day we went with Missy and her friend from Darden, Amy, to the King Family Winery for the Sunday polo match. This was our first polo match and we had a nice time sitting field side sipping wine and eating Charlottesville's famous Coastal Gas Station chicken. The action on the field was followed by the tradition of stomping down the divots made by the horses on the turf.
Later that afternoon we went to see the now not so little boy that was Josie's first charge when she became a nanny. Brooks Nopper is now a handsome young man who will turn 21 next month. He is a third year student at UVA. It was great catching up on all that is going on in his life
Tomorrow we will arrive back in Virginia Beach where our Journey began almost two years to the day. We will be staying at First Landing State Park site D1 for the first week then move to Holiday Travel Park on General Booth Boulevard for a month. Please come by and see us, we want to see all of our Virginia Beach friends while we are in town.
We had an extra passenger when we left Rhode Island. Cathy rode with us to the Pocono International Speedway since she and Scott would be going that way to visit Scott's father in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Scott came a few hours later after finishing his work day and picked her up. We had heavy traffic as was expected since we were skirting the New York City area. We arrived at the raceway in driving rain but found a good parking spot right outside turn three. Two days later the car of Charlie Kimble went airborne after hitting the wall right in front of where we had parked. We could see the RV in all the news reports the next day. We visited the paddock area everyday and were able to see the cars being unloaded and prepared for the race. This was the first time Josie had ever done anything like this so I had her pose for a few pictures. Indy car drivers are very approachable and we saw many of them including racing legend Mario Andretti. I also enjoyed seeing a few of the vintage race cars that I grew up watching with my father. The Pocono track is very nice and well maintained. They even boast of having the longest restroom in the world, "Big John"
On Saturday night we attended the Guess Who concert in the infield and then watched an exciting fireworks show that was a little too close for comfort. We had fireworks debris landing all over us, the Jeep and RV. On race day we arrived at our seats early so we could watch all the pre-race festivities. Last year's race went 158 laps before they had the only caution of the race. This year was a lot different. There were a lot of caution flags during the race for accidents and even one when a fox was running down the track. Unfortunately the final caution was for a bad crash where driver Justin Wilson was hit in the head by a piece of the nose cone from a car that went into the wall. He was flown to an area hospital where he passed away the next evening. Our prayers go out to his family.
We have been visiting with Josie's daughter, Cathy and her husband, Scott at their home in East Greenwich, Rhode Island for the past two weeks. We were able to park the coach in their spacious driveway at their beautiful home. One of the first things we did was take Scott's convertible down to Charleston, Rhode Island for the Seafood Fest. Where we pigged out on Oysters and Lobster rolls then for dessert, fried dough and wine ice cream. The ladies were a bit chilly and windblown in the back seat. On the tenth we celebrated Josie's birthday at the elegant Chapel Grill overlooking Providence, Rhode Island, where they delivered the birthday girl a special chocolate dessert. The next day we played pitch and putt at a local golf course, where the winner got all the money in the world and a beer.
Later in the week we were joined by Josie's sister Mary Ellen and her husband Rich, who came in from Baltimore on the train. There was a New England heat wave while they were here, three days in the low 90's, so we were able to enjoy Scott and Cathy's backyard pool. We dined on seafood at local waterfront restaurants in scenic East Greenwich, as well as enjoying Scott's fantastic back yard grilling. We celebrated Mary Ellen's birthday early and re-celebrated Josie's again one of the evenings. The Fire Marshal would not allow that many candles on the cake so we just had one for every ten years. Each evening we played lively games of Mexican Train around the kitchen table and had a great time. Today we drive to Pocono International Speedway for the INDY Car race on Sunday.
For the past two weeks we have immersed ourselves in the 147th Summer Race Meet at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. The race course grounds at Saratoga are beautiful, everything is first class. The main clubhouse is 100 years old this year and is on the registry of historical places.
We have seen some of the best horses, jockeys and trainers in the sport. Hall of Fame jockeys Johnny Velazquez, Javier Castellano, Junior Alvarado, and Jose Lezcano. Not to mention up and coming jockeys, like brothers Irad Ortiz Jr. and Jose Ortiz. We hung out at the paddock and saw Hall of Fame trainers Todd Pletcher, D Wayne Lukas, Barry Zito and Linda Rice. We attended 10 days of racing and saw many grade 2 and 3 races not to mention 1 or 2 Stakes races each day with purses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The highlight races were the five hundred thousand dollar Diana and the six hundred thousand dollar Jim Dandy. The Jim Dandy only had 4 horses in it. When American Pharaoh announced it was going to run in the million dollar Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park, New Jersey a few of the horses that had signed up to run in it backed out not wanting to face an almost sure loss. So the racing commission of New Jersey added an extra seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars to the purse to draw a bigger field. So 3 horses in the Jim Dandy forfeited their entry fee and went to try for the huge payout. Now Saratoga has increased the purse for their big race, The Traver's in hopes of luring American Pharaoh to run in it an the end of August.
In the spirit of the meet and the history of Saratoga we participated in Fashion Saturday. We were there for hat day and cooler bag give away day. One morning we went over to the track at 7 am and took the stables tour followed by breakfast trackside at The Porch Restaurant, where we watched the exercise jockeys run the horses through their workouts. Later in the week we reserved a table at The Porch and watched the days races from our trackside table. The food and beverage options are phenomenal. We had lobster rolls 5 of the 10 days we were there.
Of course you cannot go to the track and not bet on a race, unless you're Josie. She would study the racing form religiously every morning and make her picks, but never put any money on them. We saw almost 100 races so betting on every one of them was out of my league. I bet on four races a day and after all was said and done I broke even. I had a lot of small losses but a few big wins to even it out. For the fun of it and bragging rights we decided to take each other on in a handicapping competition. We would each pick one horse in each race. You would receive 5 points for a Win, 3 for a Show and 1 for a Place. Josie won 7 of the days and I won 2 days with a tie 1 day. She had a total of 175 points to my 125 for the week. Maybe I should start betting on her picks. Tomorrow we drive to Rhode Island.