Sunday, April 27, 2014

About That Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, and Spotsylvania, Virginia (April 18 - 26)

Dear Family and Friends,

We spent a very busy week in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Spotsylvania, Virginia.

In Charlottesville, we dropped in for PickleBall one morning. The group was very welcoming and we had a lot of fun playing indoors.  In addition we spent time with our Air Force friends, Beth and Greg. They entertained us royally with a bike ride, a fun evening at their local pub and some fabulous meals (thanks Beth) in their beautiful home in the Virginia countryside. We had so much fun reliving Air Force days and catching up with their lives.

Roger and Greg

Greg, Beth and Roger

The four of us enjoying a pub evening.

Of course no visit to Charlottesville would be complete without a visit to Monticello. Thomas Jefferson's beloved home has never failed to amaze us as a symbol of the genius of our forefather. This was our fifth time to see it. Two years ago additional rooms were made available for viewing. It is now possible to go up into the dome, as well as viewing rooms on the second floor.

 This Linden tree is over 150 years old.

Spring time at Monticello with beautiful tulips, dogwood and redbud trees.

We left Charlottesville for Harrisonburg on Tuesday morning. Harrisonburg was great for a three night stay. We were able to play PickleBall at one of the best indoor courts that we have seen.

On Friday we arrived in Spotsylvania, Virginia. We were thrilled to stay with our friends, Judy and Barry, at their beautiful home in an area south of Washington DC. Roger and Barry were Air Force Academy classmates and worked together during one of our assignments in Washington. They were outstanding hosts and we appreciated their hospitality so much.

 Barry with Bear
Judy and Roger

Barry volunteers as an interpretive guide at the Ellwood Farm. We had a private tour of this mid size farm that sits on a knoll overlooking Wilderness Run. Barry explained that this was the site of a a civil war battle that lasted for three days in May of 1864, called the Battle of the Wilderness.

 The headquarters of Generals Warren and Burnside during the war.

 This painting depicts General Grant (on the horse) demanding of General Warren his reasons for starting the battle so late in the day.

General Stonewall Jackson's arm is buried in the cemetery at Ellwood. General Jackson had been shot in the arm at Chancellorsville the year before. His arm was removed. Jackson's chaplain was the brother of the man who owned Ellwood. That chaplain was responsible for the arm being buried in the family cemetery.

It was hard to say goodbye to Judy and Barry on Sunday morning. We are now at Andrews Air Force Base where we will stay for the week. We spent ten years in the Washington DC area so it will be fun to see our favorite places again. Thank you for checking in with us. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

About That Damascus, Virginia (April 14 - 18)

Dear Family and Friends,

This week we spent time in two places: Lake Norman, North Carolina and Damascus, Virginia. Beside seeing beautiful places, we got to see friends and family.

Our first four nights of the week were in Lake Norman, North Carolina. Our RV site at Lake Norman RV Park overlooked the lake. We experienced those "Carolina Blue" days. Our temps were very warm with trees and flowers in bloom.

 Our site overlooking Lake Norman

 Roger joins our friends, Jeff and Carol, in their lovely home on the lake.

 We had so much fun touring the lake on the Catawba Queen. Carol and Jeff were incredible hosts. We thank them for their hospitality!

We left Lake Norman early on Monday morning driving north into Virginia. Our beautiful blue sky turned dark, yet we avoided the rain showers predicted for the area.

 Driving into Virginia

 After leaving the interstate, we drove on country roads to Damascus, Virginia. With our smaller rig, these narrow, winding roads are so much easier.

  Damascus is interesting in that this tiny town is the home of some famous trails. The Appalachian Trail runs through the town as well as the Virginia Creeper Biking Trail. The two people above have just come off the Appalachian Trail looking for a hostel to spend the night.

 The first part of our four nights in Damascus was spent in rain and cold weather. Fortunately it did warm up during the day.

 Our RV site sat on this river running through Damascus.

Roger's brother Bill and our sister-in-law Karen took the time from their very busy schedules to show us around the area. Bill and Karen are concessionaires for the federal government. They run the Northwest Trading Post on the Parkway. Our first stop was the Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed place on the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway. 
Mabry Mill

Bill, Karen and Roger in front of the fireplace at their farm.

On Wednesday, Roger, Bear and I drove to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where we met Karen and Bill for  a tour of some of their favorite spots along the parkway. They have lots of experience with the area. The pics below show some of the beauty of the area.

On Thursday morning, we met Bill and Karen in Damascus for a bike ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail. This is a "rails to trails" path and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to ride it.

 The Applachian Trial intersect the Virginia Creeper Bike Trail at this point.

We ended our wonderful visit with a dinner at The Tavern in Abingdon, Virginia. The food was fabulous but the company was even better.
Bill, Karen and Roger
Thank you Bill and Karen for such a great time!

We leave on Friday morning for Charlottesville, Virginia. Thank you for following our blog. Your interest in our travels is appreciated.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

About That Asheville, North Carolina (April 5 - 10)

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello from Asheville, North Carolina. We left Jekyll Island early Saturday morning. Before leaving, we had one last view of the dogwoods and azaleas that were in bloom. Our drive took us over the beautiful Brunswick Bridge to I-95 North to I-26, which took us near Columbia, South Carolina. We spent Saturday night at Lexington.

 The Brunswick Bridge just outside of Jekyll Island.

 Beautiful sunrise from the bridge

 Welcome to South Carolina

 Wisteria at the campground where we spent one night in Lexington.

On Sunday morning we continued on our drive along I-26 to Asheville, North Carolina. 

 Along the way the odometer in our Unity turned over at the 5,000 mile mark.

 Hello North Carolina

 Mountains lie ahead.

 Along the way, we stop for PB and J at a roadside park.

 Spring is definitely here with the beautiful buds on the trees.

 Dogwood Trees
You can see our coach on the right corner of the picture.

We arrived in Asheville with plenty of time to make arrangements for PickleBall games in the area.
We found a very friendly group that play indoors, a first for us. Roger and I played twice this week.

On Tuesday, we toured the Biltmore Estate. George W. Vanderbilt built this incredible home in the late 1880's. There are more than 250 rooms in the mansion and we were able to see 60 of them. This is the largest home in the United States that is privately owned. Vanderbilt's daughter, Cornelia, married John Cecil. Their descendants own and run this beautiful estate.

We enjoyed our four nights in Asheville. We had lots of rain to work our sightseeing around. Indoor PickleBall was one way to do that. We leave for Terrel, North Carolina on Thursday morning. We are looking forward to seeing friends in the area before we head to Damascus, Virginia to see Roger's brother and his family. Thank you for checking in with us.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

About That Jekyll, Island (March 29 - April 4)

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello from Jekyll Island, Georgia! Jekyll Island is located north of Jacksonville, Florida. We left Mayport Naval Station on a very rainy Saturday morning. Our route had us follow I-95 north to Georgia.

 Crossing into Georgia on I-95

Jekyll Island is one of four Georgia barrier islands that feature a paved causeway to access the islands by car. The island measures 7 miles long by 1.5 miles wide. It is owned entirely by the state of Georgia. They have done a great job in making this island a favorite of ours.

 Our home for the week was at the Jekyll Island Campground. Our 24 foot RV was a breeze to park in the campground. With the tall trees surrounding us, we really did feel like we were camping. Camping with electricity of course!

 Across from the campground, is a beautiful park filled with huge live oak trees and lots of Spanish moss.

Spanish Moss

Jekyll Island has incredible bike paths, both around the island and cutting across it. We took advantage of those paths this week. Along the way, there were lots of historical signs that educated us about the history of the island. We learned that Indians, then the Spanish and French inhabited the area. 
Roger is standing in front of Horton House which is one of the oldest structures on the island. It was made of "tabby," a material combining equal parts shell, lime, sand and water. Horton was given several hundred acres by the British government for his service to the crown. He stayed and farmed the land.

 Horton House

Roger with the Atlantic Ocean behind him. On the other side of the island, we found the intracoastal waterway.

Jekyll Island is home to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. With five of the seven known sea turtles using it's beaches for nesting, it is easy to see why this center was established in 2007. This institution is devoted to the rehabilitation of injured sea turtles and preservation of the delicate oceanic eco system. We learned a lot about the turtles, especially the loggerheads.

These tanks are the rehab homes. The mirror in the upper part of the picture shows the turtle in the tank below.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center

With the beautiful white sand beaches, we had to let Bear enjoy the joy of running off leash one morning. Bear loved to chase the waves, but not get too close. He was one happy puppy!

From the late 1800's to the early 1900's, Jekyll Island became the privately owned island of the nation's empire builders. Think of Rockefeller, Morgan, Pulitzer, Crane and Gould as just a few of the names that were the major wealth holders in America. These men built "cottages" for the winter season (January - March) on the island. All belonged to what is referred to today as the Millionaires' Club. Roger and I took a tour through the historical part of the island. In addition to touring two of the cottages, we got to see a beautiful stained glass window in the church installed by Louis Tiffany.
An example of a cottage.

Jekyll Island Club
The busy social life of the millionaires centered around this club. Today it is a hotel.

The wealthy had fun driving around in this precursor to the golf club type vehicles on the island today, known as Red Bugs. This one stands in front of William Rockefeller's cottage.

From the clubhouse looking onto the Intracoastal waterway. The only way the families could get to the island at the time was by taking a boat along this waterway.

Our week on Jekyll Island flew by. We truly loved the beautiful weather, the cycling, learning the history of the island, walking on the beaches and in the parks with Bear and our time in the campground.
Barbecuing on the campground

Thank you for checking in with us. We leave Saturday morning for a one night stay in Lexington, South Carolina. Then we head to Ashville, North Carolina for four nights. We appreciate your interest in our travels.