Saturday, October 30, 2010
New Bern has seen her share of history for 300 years. There are over 150 historic landmarks throughout the city. An important first stop in this city is the North Carolina History Education Center. It features exhibits and educational galleries covering three centuries of history in North Carolina. I certainly discovered that there is still a lot I do not know in regards to the early years of our country, in particular its land on the eastern coast and the differing races of people who inhabited that land over the years. For the price of one admission ticket we were able to tour the museum, Tryon Palace and gardens, as well as three historic homes from the 18th and 19th centuries. Tryon Palace was the 18th century residence of the governor of the Colony and state of North Carolina. After the Revolutionary War the Georgian-styled mansion served as the capitol of the independent state of North Carolina for a couple of years before the capitol was moved to Raleigh. In 1798 the palace was destroyed by fire and almost a century and a half later it was rebuilt on the old brick foundation. The new palace was built following the original architect's drawings.
Friday, October 29, 2010
We drove through Dismal Swamp as we took a southeastern route into North Carolina. We stopped at a rest area right after entering the state and found out that it was adjacent to Dismal Swamp State Park. At the park is a channel of Dismal Swamp and there we saw many boats queuing up for passage through the canal. Apparently a storm the night before had made the inter coastal waterways unnavigable for small boats, which then created a traffic jam of boats in the canal. John went over to the boats and chatted with the men for awhile. He found out that some people travel like we do, except that their home and mode of travel is on water.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Yesterday, Wednesday, was one of those days for us when we had only a hazy notion of where we were going or even how far. John's main goal was to drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to the Delmarva Peninsula. The bridge-tunnel links mainland Virginia to the southern tip of the peninsula, parts of which belong to Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. The bridge tunnel is supposed to be one of the world's most incredible engineering feats. Parts of it dips under the water so massive ocean-bound freighters can pass over the top of it. There are two sections of the bridge where the tunnel plunges under water.
There is both seashore and forest to explore on this island. While hiking in the forest we read an interpretive sign which noted that the Delmarva fox squirrel, once almost extinct, is now making a comeback at Assateague. We were fortunate to see several of them while hiking around. At least I am fairly certain we saw that particular squirrel as he has particular physical features that are different from those of the common gray squirrel. Never thought I would get excited over seeing a squirrel! Their numbers at one time were dwindling because of the harvesting of the loblolly pine trees; the nuts of that pine tree are a food source for them.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Just yesterday we were enjoying the fall colors and today we saw mainly palm trees. What a switch, and to add to our enjoyment today it was 80 degrees with a cool breeze coming off the ocean. Well, I do have to admit that the humidity was high so it was not all that perfect. I did enjoy taking my shoes and socks off to walk on the beach. The picture below is of the boardwalk and was taken from the outdoor restaurant where we ate our lunch.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
We certainly enjoyed our stay at Bull Run State Park. Melissa, Dan and Amanda stayed out there with us Saturday night. Dan and Amanda did a ten mile run there Sunday, in preparation for a run they are doing in North Carolina next month. The park is at its peak of autumn colors, but the trees are fast loosing those brightly colored leaves. Leaves and acorns are coming down at a fast rate. Those acorns sure make a lot of racket as they drop down on the roof of our home! Today we left the park and headed south on state highway 17 on the coastal plain of Virginia. It was quite a beautiful drive because of the fall foliage. And it is an area rich in American history. We passed many historical markers noting sites of battles fought during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Appropriately enough, we crossed a road named Muddy Gut. And equally strange was the next road after Muddy Gut, its name is Upright. There has to be a connection between those two roads! After driving through the town of Newport News we drove over quite a few fingers of the Chesapeake Bay where the York and James Rivers flow into its tidewaters. We stopped for the night just outside of Portsmouth. It is hard to believe that earlier this year we were driving along the western coast of our country and looking at the Pacific Ocean!
This park is a city park in the heart of Washington DC. Our son Dan's former place of employment, Environmental Law Institute, had organized a group to help pick up trash in a portion of Rock Creek Park, so John and I volunteered to help with the clean-up. We did not even give it a thought that we would be caught in a traffic jam coming into the city on a cool fall morning, but that did happen and we arrived at our destination an hour late. The city streets were fairly navigable once we passed the Mall area around the capitol. We spent two hours clearing a section of the park of trash, and our group filled about 22 bags of the stuff. I thought we would be just picking up small scraps of paper, in fact I was given a tool for that purpose, but once I peered into the underbrush, I soon tossed that implement aside and started pulling out beer bottles and soda cans. It was not long before I was also adding wine and whiskey bottles to my collection of refuse. And we could open a hardware store with what we found in that department! Dan found what he called the "quintessential lead pipe". There were also parts which came from bikes, a broken hammer and a cracked pail. What stories they could tell if they were able to! I puzzled a lot about the nice padded stroller we found; except for being dirty, it was in good condition. Who threw that away and why? Another puzzlement to me was the empty bottles of beer placed back in their original cardboard container, and into a plastic bag. If a person goes through all that trouble, why not go a step further and put it in a trash barrel? We also found many discarded items of clothing, as well as boots and shoes. Hey, if it gets too hot, or if it stops raining, just toss off your clothes and boots. It is fairly easy to find another set of clothes and shoes. Sadly, I imagined, such is the life of the homeless. They do not have the luxury of a car and home, the keys of which some unfortunate jogger dropped in the brush, and which we found among the trash. The people on the sidewalk walking pass where I was working were interesting too. Most of them acted like it was not unusual to see an old lady plunging out of the woods with trash in her hands and smelling like she had spilled a few beers over herself ( I had somehow managed to pour some beer down my leg when I picked up what I thought was an empty bottle). One person did stop and thank me for making the area look better. After hauling all of our bags to the nearest trash barrel, John and I headed out to do some sight-seeing in DC. Dan wanted to show us the building where he is presently employed, the Environmental Protection Agency. It is located in the old post office building. What an impressive old structure! A statue of Ben Franklin stands in front of it. I think he founded the concept of a national postal service.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
By the time we were on our way Wednesday afternoon there was not much time left to do any touring in Washington DC. We always feel a bit over-whelmed when considering what area to explore in that city, and we do try to avoid what we have toured in the past. So that brought us to the United States Botanic Garden. The garden had its origins back in 1842 when the United States Exploring Expedition to the South Seas brought to Washington a collection of living plants from around the world. The garden was then opened to the public in 1850, and moved to its present location in 1933. Despite the cool weather now setting in, the gardens outside still had some beautiful flowers blooming. Below are smooth blue asters, and Yakin River Goldenrod.
and came upon this statement: "from jungle to desert to primeval paradise, the indoor gardens and galleries of our Conservatory offer the perfect foil to a winter day.." There certainly was plenty to see inside. It is the largest indoor garden which we have ever seen. Below is the garden court.
The garden's collection of orchids is awesome to see. The USBG has 5,000 orchid specimens and
hundreds of them are on display at any given time.
The west gallery is a permanent display which demonstrates how plants provide livelihood, theapy, art and tools in our everyday lives. There are metal sculptures here of plants, in which there are videos explaining some of those details. It is quite a unique way of delivering information.
In this gallery I learned a lot about the many spices which plants provide, and they are even available in bottles so they could be smelled. One thing I learned is that curry powder is not one spice, but a mixture of seven spices. There is some much more I could share with you about the United States Botanic Garden, including many pictures, but I will just conclude that it is a must see on your next visit to Washington DC.
Monday, October 18, 2010
We moved our home to this park today, Monday. Last week we were outside of Richmond, Virginia helping our daughter Melissa with her move to Fairfax,Virginia. We managed to get all of her belongings in a 17 foot U-Haul. Fortunately we did have help. Melissa's friend Ryan helped us in Richmond, and in Fairfax our son Daniel and his fiance Amanda gave us a hand with the unloading. At her new apartment we had three flights of stairs to climb, and I am happy to say that John and I are not hurting too bad after that! I told John that we need to keep on hiking and climbing mountains as those activities seem to keep us in shape. Sunday afternoon we drove into Washington DC to attend church with Daniel and Amanda. Is was another one of those times when we felt we were in a particular place of worship at a time where it was meant for us to be. The organ music and choir provided some awesome music and Pastor John Kidd gave an inspiring sermon on the importance of being persistent in our faith life- both the epistle and gospel readings for that day related well to that subject. A "Mission Minute" was provided by a inter-racial couple who spoke on what being a part of Augustana meant to them. The church is located in downtown Washington DC, and in a community of people who come from diverse cultural backgrounds. All are welcomed in that church, and, in testimony to that fact, Augustana on Sunday had a goodly number in attendance. Many large inner city churches which we have attended are half empty, and I must say that was not our experience Sunday !
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
We got into this town late last evening, and found a city park there where we could park our rig. The park overlooks the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, a preserved coal mine which offers daily tours.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The fall colors are quite prettier here in Indiana than in Missouri. This evening we stopped in Corydon, Indiana for the night. It is about 23 miles west of Louisville Kentucky. After supper John and took a walk around the town, initially our purpose was just to see the old capitol building. From 1815-1826 Corydon was the state capitol until it was moved to Indianapolis. This town is rich with history. During the Revolutionary War George Rogers Clark captured this territory from the British and gave it to the United States (Indiana was the nineteenth state to join the union). In the early 1800s William Henry Harrison (our ninth president) purchased the land on which Corydon was later built. He had his daughter Jenny name the town. She picked Corydon because that was a character from the Pastoral Elegy, a favorite hymn of her fathers. In 1863 Corydon was the site of the only Civil War battle in Indiana. Brigadier John Morgan, with his troops called the Confederate Raiders, easily defeated the home town guard (his troops numbered 2,400, the home guard numbered 400 men). After plundering the town he "paroled" the captured 345 men, and left with his troops. It was amazing that we were able to glean the history of this town by reading the historical markers with a tiny flashlight! It was tempting to change our plans and stay another day to take pictures of the historical buildings here in town, as the capitol building, but we must move on.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Rocheport is part of the Columbia, Missouri metropolitan statistical area. Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, made mention of the area in his journal when he visited there on June 7, 1804. Besides writing of the flora and fauna at this convergence of Moniteau Creek and the Missouri River, he noted native pictographs on the river bluffs. By 1875 Rocheport was one of Boone County's main river ports on the Missouri River. Today Rocheport is a small river town, noted mainly for being the trail head near the middle of the Katy Trail. My sisters and I drove over there Saturday from Columbia to walk that trail. Some of you, not being from Missouri, may need a clarification as to what the Katy Trail is. It is a 225 mile-long bike path which stretches across the state of Missouri. It used to be the railway line for the Kansas, Missouri, and Texas. Saturday we saw on the trail an old marker of this railway on a river bluff along the trail.
Monday, October 4, 2010
This park is one of the St.Louis County Parks. We toured it Friday with my sister Linda and niece Katie. It is amazing that we can still find areas like this to enjoy after all the years we have lived in St.Louis. John and I had been to this park once many years ago with our children, but the park has changed a lot since then and I also think we had not taken the time then to fully explore the park. It certainly is a fun park both for the young and old. I enjoyed Ricardo Cat and had to sit inside him to completely enjoy his mosaic beauty. Katie, my niece, is sitting next to me in the picture below.