Tuesday, October 29, 2013

EAST COAST 2013: North Carolina

SATURDAY, October 26, 2013
Smithfield, VA to Lewisville, NC
Home of Rob and Karen Rembold
268 miles

View today's pictures HERE

         Another beautiful day in the South, although frost is on the windshield of the truck and it was a COOOOL night!  (I accidentally turned the heater to fan again before we went to bed, so it was 38 degrees when we got up to go to the bathroom!)  A BRISK MORNING!! 
Betty, Tom, and Rick
         I got up around 7:15 to head inside and work on journal and pictures, although no internet, so no posting.  Rick up around 7:45, and Betty came out to greet us at 8am, very apologetic about sleeping in!!!  No apologies necessary!!!  We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, packed up and were on our way shortly before 11. 
         Again, we are traveling on the side roads, with only a 30 miles stretch of Interstate freeway entering Greensboro, NC.  The notable fact for today?  WE ARE HEADING WEST MOST OF THE DAY!!!  First time since we left that the majority of our travels are taking us westward.  Our route is across southern Virginia on four lane US 58 – a beautiful highway with business routes into most of the small towns, so we don’t even encounter many stop lights.  We pass cotton field upon cotton field, bursting open with balls of fluff.  Looked to be ready to harvest soon.  We also passed one obvious peanut field, with the plants upended and the peanuts on top drying in the sun.  We are starting to think that the stick plants might be peanuts. 
Check out the gas price!!!
Cotton fields!
         The terrain is lined with trees, the sun shining through the branches, other places open fields of agriculture.  Southern Virginia is a major peanut production area, but we see more cotton fields than peanuts.  Tom also said there is considerable soybeans grown for fuel purposes. 
         It is along US 58, but NOT at an interstate junction, we see gas for $2.99 for the first time.  One area had several stations, so we stop at a Sheetz where we also get a 3 cent discount.  Gas for 2.96!!!  Wow!  Too bad we only needed a half tank. 
         We stopped at a small town Wendy’s to grab a lunch and I drove for about 85 miles until the Sheetz.  Rick took us on in to North Carolina, Greensboro, and then I-40 through Winston-Salem to Lewisville. 
         Rob and Karen have located in a small residential community about 6 miles west of Winston-Salem.  Pretty setting with winding roads, beautiful homes and landscaping and wrapped in trees.  The trailer we sneak through the gates into the back yard and set it up so we have access all week.  We are sleeping in a downstairs guest room.
Rob and Karen's new home
   The bathroom is unique!  Because it is in the basement area and they are on a septic system, it is raised with 4 steps leading up to it!  I said it was truly a ‘throne’!  Suggested Karen add a red piece of carpeting on the steps and perhaps a Burger King crown to wear while sitting. 
         Whew!  We are glad to be in one spot for a little relaxation for a few days.  Told Rob and Karen we didn’t want to do ANYTHING on Sunday (I don’t think they have establish a church home yet.)  I hope to catch up on some of my devotion materials. 
         At 7pm we head out to a restaurant for dinner.  We are hungry by then!  Good meal with an entertaining crowd! 
         Late evening, but the bed sure feels good and it is MUCH warmer sleeping tonight! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013
Just chillin' on the back patio
A Day of Rest

         Lazy day finally!!!  We are up and coffee, I work on posting and picturing and journaling, etc.  Karen and I take a walk – fast pace for me and 2.5 miles – I am sweating by the time we get done.  This should help the weight of the last 1o days!  Rick and Rob take off with the dog in another direction. 
         Other accomplishments today?  We do a load of laundry.  Karen and I go to the grocery store.  Karen makes a pot roast for dinner which we all enjoy, along with some really good bread I found at the store. 
         Our cell phone gets lousy coverage here in Lewisville.  Well, Rick’s phone works if you stand in the middle of the road.  Not the best scenario.  But I did manage a conversation with Mom Mac later in the evening!  I spent much of the day catching up on computer work, devotions, etc.  Whew.  

Monday, October 28, 2013
Mount Airy, NC (Mayberry)
Hanging Rock State Park

View today's pictures HERE

Our afternoon ambles for today,
circa 120 miles!
          A little adventure today, but saving most of it for tomorrow!  We have a leisurely morning, all walking the dog Sadie together in the morning, and I get caught up on a little correspondence. The weather today is forecast for clouds and perhaps a little rain.
 Around noon we take off, circling around Lewisville countryside a little, then into Winston-Salem, and north 35 miles to the town of Mount Airy, home of Andy Griffith.  Mount Airy was the model for the town of Mayberry in the Andy Griffith show.  We parked and walked around the downtown section.  Found Opie’s Candy store, Floyd’s Barber Shop, Aunt Bea’s Restaurant, etc.  Much of the downtown caters to the Mayberry trade.  An old police cruiser, ala Barney Fife, gives rides down Main Street.  It was fun and we topped it off with lunch at one of the diner’s.  Good meal. 
Mount Pilot
Mayberry Barber Shop!
         On the way up to Mount Airy, we passed Mount Pilot, which was often mentioned in the TV show.  It is a rounded knob jutting into the horizon, about 2400’ in elevation. 
         Robin had read in a newspaper supplement a couple months ago about trails at Hanging Rock State Park which lies southeast of Mt Airy, so we went there on our return.  There are so many country roads here that wind in and around and everywhere!  Hard to figure it out, and Rob and Karen had their GPS going to help us find the park!  I
Colors at Hanging
 Rock parking
was totally twisted around!  It started raining again as we drove, harder this time, and we wondered what kind of hike we would be able to make.
Group on top of rock
     We visit the new Visitor Center, just built in 1996.  The park is bigger than I expected, considering the access.  But I don’t think we came by the normal route!!  There are vacation cabins, campgrounds, a man-made lake, and numerous trails.  But the ‘main attractions’ are huge rock outcroppings, the remains from centuries of erosion, of volcanic rock, the largest of which is called Hanging Rock. 
From top of rock
         Once we arrived, the rain
Rick on another
portion of summit
stopped!  We were left with a stunning, 1.3 mile trail, through a largely oak mixed forest in an array of autumn colors.  The trees are so tall there is an openness to the forest.  The reds are present at this elevation.  (Hanging Rock is 2150’)  Our view from the top wasn’t quite the dazzling vista Rob had hoped for due to the cloudy skies, but it was pretty good!  We could just make out the outline of the front ridges of the Appalachian Mts and the Blue Ridge Parkway. 
         Back to the car by 5:15 and the drive home to Lewisville via more back roads!  Dinner of salad, wine, cheese, and chips!  Yum!
Sunset enroute home!
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The 'High Country' and
Blue Ridge Parkway

View today's pictures HERE

         Rob is going to get tired of serving as a tour bus driver!  Today was a long day of driving, but beautiful.  The skies had cleared a little from yesterday’s light storm, and while there was still cloudiness over the
Today's travels - about 220 miles
mountains, patches of blue sky reigned as well!  Warmer temps forecast also!
         After Sadie is walked and tended and a rather leisurely start to the day, we left shortly after 10 to head west toward the ‘High Country’ of NW North Carolina – the Blueridge Parkway and some of the small towns in the mountains. 
View from section of parkway
         Our first stop is the Blueridge Parkway….closed!!!  A 5 mile section of road was in trouble, the very location we wanted to enter!  Change of plans and 10 miles on in to the town of Boone.  At 18,000 AND the home of Appalachia State University, Boone is NOT very small.  We drove through some of the brick-building campus and admired the huge stadium tucked into the hill.  Hwy 221 winds in and around the parkway so we followed it until we were able to rejoin the parkway.
My best steeple find of the day
...near Boone, NC
         Rob and Karen had tourist materials from the NPS on the Blueridge, so I was able to follow along and read information as we drove.  And take pictures out the windows!  We missed the peak color season by a week or so….many of the bright reds have fallen.  But that always allows you to see THROUGH the trees much better to vistas that are normally hidden!  The road is not fast with a maximum speed limit of 45.  The last section to be finished is a viaduct along the side of Grandfather Mountain – a compromise to complete the parkway but not damage the hillside ecology. 
Group shot at Linnville Falls
     Our first STOP is Linnville Falls around milepost 316.  I get a NP passbook stamp at the small visitor center, and we take the short hike down to all three viewpoints for the multi-tiered falls.  There is considerably more water coming down than I expected this late in the season and with the apparent waterflow in the river above!  Lots of steps in the trail; two busloads of school children on a field trip (we don’t miss it!); and an area absolutely covered with rhododendrons.  In fact, I think the rhodies were probably the most amazing ‘find’ of the day.  Hillsides are carpeted with huge plants.  They are EVERYWHERE!  It must be gorgeous in the late spring/early summer. 
Upper Linnville Falls

Color reflection in Linn River above falls

Starting across the Suspension Bridge
Rick gazing over the mountains
from top of Grandfather
         Up to Grandfather Mountain.  I had read about this spot in Guideposts and then Mom R mentioned it when she returned from her visit with Rob and Karen last spring.  You drive up to the top of the mountain (which is actually a series of several ‘peaks’) where a suspension bridge was built back in 1952 between two of the smaller summits of rock.  The vistas to the south, east, and north are spectacular.  We didn’t have the clearest of days, but you could see far enough!  Linnville itself sat just below, with its high-end hotels, resorts, and golf courses.  The bridge used to be called the Swinging Bridge because of the extreme  SWING!  But it was rebuilt in 1999 and now is just a SINGING Bridge….the new platforms whistle slightly in the wind!  It is exactly a mile high in elevation. 
Bridge and other peaks from tip of Grandfather Mt.
         We stop on the way down to check out the nature center – excellent displays and I found the oak red earrings I was hoping to get to match the necklace!  However, our stomachs are rumbling wildly at the lack of food and it is nearing 4pm!!  So we leave in search of something more than the small Milldred’s Grill at the center! 
The Gardner Statue tends the flowers
of the town park along Main St of
Blowing Rock, NC
         About 20 miles to the town of Blowing Rock, a village of 1500 in the winter that swells to 8000 in the summer heat!  This was where Jan Karon lived while writing the Mitford series of books.  It has a wonderful downtown with quaint shops and buildings.  Rob remembered the Six Pence Pub and we went there directly to catch a dinner!  (Portebello Sandwich – yum!!) The stores were closing as we left the restaurant, which probably was GOOD for the budget, but we did sneak into one shop and purchase a small windflag for the front of the house at Christmas. 

         By then….the skies were darkening and it was time to call it a day!  Quiet drive home, arriving around 7:40 to a very excited Sadie dog!!  Early to bed!  

WEDNESDAY, October 30, 2013
Salem Lake Greenbelt Bike Ride
7 mile Bike Ride around Salem Lake
         Ah, another day of rest and relaxation!  I can get used to these leisurely mornings, daytime TV, unlimited coffee, and a morning walk with the dog!!  But I also spent some time looking ahead on the computer, and making sure I was ready for the END of iGoogle in two days!! 
         Around 11:30, Rick and I head out for Winston-Salem to visit Weight Watchers and then take a bike ride.  Rob and Karen opted not to go, so it was a good opportunity for us to ‘get out of their hair!’  We found the WW locale easily and were delighted to see a Super-Cuts next door.  Just what I needed!  So….after a successful weigh-in (3 lbs plus!) I went and got my hair trimmed!  Nice gal and I enjoyed listening to her accent! 
         Then it was on to a lake that sits in between Winston-Salem and Greensboro….Salem Lake and the greenbelt.  There is also about 6 miles of paved trails that connect the lake system to downtown Old Salem.  We parked and unloaded the bikes.
A pause for a picture
     What a BEAUTIFUL ride!!!  A few steep grade sections, but overall fairly level as the path winds right around the shoreline of Salem Lake.  The trees were incredible in shades of purple-dark red, orange red, oranges, golds, and greens.  The path was lined with dead leaves, splattered with an occasional leaf of color.  I saw some magnolia leaves that had to be at least 18” in length!  The sun was shining through the trees and casting gorgeous shadows and bright patches of color. 
         We saw a couple of herons, LOTS of turtles from little tiny baby ones to a giant one, and mallards.  The path was busy with joggers, cyclists, moms pushing strollers, and walkers of all ages.  While it was mostly unpaved, it was well graded and packed.  A fun time!!!
Gorgeous trees!
    Back to Lewisville, dinner was BBQ turkey burgers and hot dogs, and then an evening of TV and conversation.  Tomorrow we will do a final load of laundry and have the trailer all packed up and ready to go! 

Saw this scene over and over today!

THURSDAY, October 31, 2013
Happy Halloween!  
Reorganization Day!

     A day of rest before we take off in the morning for Great Smoky Mountains and points west!  I am excited to get going, but also have appreciated the somewhat relaxing days here with Rob and Karen.  We all tend to such things today as laundry, packing, and preparations to leave.  Rob and Karen are heading east in the morning to visit with college friends in Virginia Beach.  They will stop and see Tom and Betty's new place in Smithfield enroute home on Monday.  
Sadie dog in her shark costume
     We pack up the trailer in the early afternoon before any chance of the forecast rain begins to fall.  It is a mild day.  I wore just a t-shirt when Karen and I took our walk.  Rick went with Rob to walk Sadie dog.  
     I spent a VERY lazy afternoon out on the screen porch finishing my book!  That felt very indulgent!  

Pumpkin in front of
Blue Moon Oyster Bar
     I got a picture of Sadie in her shark Halloween costume (compliments of Megan!).  We went to the Blue Moon Oyster Bar for dinner - oysters but other seafood as well.  Rob and Karen had shrimp dishes, I ordered Blue Moon Cannonelli (angel hair pasta, shrimp, ham, artichokes, and sundried tomatoes) which was very good.  Rick had salmon.  An interesting place with no actual tables, just bar style seating.  Fun to see many customers in costume come in before heading out to Halloween parties.
     Just 5 Trick or Treaters came to our door.  The road isn't walking friendly and most kids go to the housing developments on either side.  More Snickers for Rob this way!!  
     Thus ends our North Carolina adventure.  Tomorrow we start anew!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

EAST COAST TRIP FALL 2013: Washington DC and More!

SUNDAY, October 20, 2013
Phoenixville, PA to Alexandria, VA
Home of Mike Braymen

         What a gorgeous fall day it is!!!  Cool, brisk, and bright!  The leaves around Bovais have been changing to deeper colors everyday. 
         A little more relaxing morning as we don’t have to be on our way by 7:30am!!  Just a 9:30 departure for church.  Rick and I pack up everything in the truck, as we will pick up the trailer from the church and be on our way after a brunch out. 
Trinity Church
Back window 
   Trinity Presbyterian Church in Berwyn has been the Bovais church since they arrived in Wayne, PA 20 plus years ago.  When Don and Sally moved up to Phoenixville, they are still driving the 15 minutes back to Trinity.  Are just preparing to welcome a new young pastor in December, having completed the PNC journey!  Sally was very involved in that process.  It is an old building of stone with beautiful windows.  Much was just restored or updated for their 150th birthday celebration earlier this year.  Attendance seemed to be lean but very welcoming!  A plus for us was that Amy and her family still attend this church even though they have moved to Downington, also 20 minutes or so. So we got to visit with them as well!
Don, Drew, Sally, Amy, Matt, and Brooke

Rick and I with the Bovais
     Brunch afterwards at ‘Em-J’s’, a local diner.  Good meal.  Then Don and Sally drive us back to the church and we hitch the trailer up.  Don leads us back out the winding roads and sends us on our way down Rt 202. 
Route for today!
         I planned our route today to take us through the countryside of east Maryland, rather than down the turnpike and through the crowds of Baltimore, etc.  It was beautiful!!!  We went through four states today:  Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia! 
         Our route also took us over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and into Annapolis, Maryland.  The bridge is nearly 6 miles long from start to finish.  That is one large open section of water! 

Chesapeake Bay bridge to Annapolis
         I got messed up on Mike’s directions about taking the LOCAL version of the beltway.  I thought he said stayed OFF the local, so Rick and I sailed right past our 176A exit….it was on the other side of a berm.  But, we managed to wind our way back thankful for a fairly detailed section of map in our new atlas!  Got to Mike’s without further incident, although I had to instruct Rick to turn rather abruptly a few times.  Ooops. 
Masonic Temple at night
         Mike’s condo is in a section called Fort Ellsworth, an area of a former Civil War center.  It is very near to the Washington Masonic Memorial Temple, which is a beacon on the Alexandria horizon.  Two bedrooms and baths, reasonable storage, balcony and patio.  Nothing fancy, but living in DC area is not cheap.  He got us straightened out on plans to use the Metro all week.  The trailer is parked in one guest parking space and the truck in another.  Hopefully, there they will stay until Thursday morning when we leave. 

Metro map! 
    Around 6:30 (Rick was starving I think!) we wander downtown to find some place to eat.  Mike helps us get a SmartCard for the Metro.  We purchase one and he has another extra for us to use.  We will leave ours with him when we go and he will have plenty then for guests!  You can add value to the card once you have it.  Round trips into DC proper from here will run about $5-6 a day for each of us.  Not too bad and no parking fees!! 
         We finally stop at Hard Times CafĂ© – specialty is various kinds of chili.  Good enough!!  Mike has a burger, Rick and I chili.  The cornbread was outstanding I thought! 
         Late night by the time we walked home, calls to Moms, etc, and Mike helped me check out various options on the internet.  By 11:30 I am crawling into bed! 

MONDAY, October 21, 2013
Washington National Cathedral and Washington Zoo

View all today's pictures HERE

         I may not be able to keep up the DC pace!!  How in the world did I ever manage to get journals written by hand??  Oh yeah, I didn’t have to deal with pictures back then!  It is Tuesday morning and I am just getting to yesterday’s post.  Mike is busy in the kitchen preparing to leave for work.  Today is his 50th birthday.  We will meet up with him either in town or here in Alexandria later this evening for a birthday dinner celebration. 

         Mike got off around 8am.  A leisurely morning for him.  Basically he tries to avoid the real Metro crush, so he often goes in earlier.  He doesn’t have set, punch-in-the-clock, hours.  It is about a 15 minute walk down to the Metro station from the condo.  We will make the same walk later!
Washington Cathedral from side
         Rick and I finally get off around 9:15, having checked and rechecked what we can on the internet, taken pictures of the pages, and with plans to hit the Transit Shop to pick up a Metro map of the area.  We spent some time this morning checking the weather and today is the day to do the ‘outside stuff’ – it is a glorious fall day!!!  Clear skies in DC!  So, Cathedral and zoo bound!
         We add a little money to the Smarttravel card from yesterday and enter the Metro station (ok, I’ll be honest, we tried to go through the exit gates at first! But we figured things out!)  You just swipe the card over a button and the gates open!!  We took the Blue Line (same as Mike takes each day) up the Arlington side of the river, past Reagan airport, the Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, Mike’s Rosslyn stop, and then under the river and into the north side of the mall area.  We get off at ‘Farragut West’, and come ‘out of the tunnel’ to the park area.  Finally find where our #32 bus stops and we just missed one, so we have to wait about 15 minutes for the next. 
Washington Cathedral front
         Rather slow bus trip up past several embasseys along Wisconsin Avenue.  We talk with a gentleman behind us, who lived in Oregon for awhile in Eugene.  He made some suggestions for our travels while in DC, which coincided with some of Mike’s!  (EG go to the Portrait gallery!) 
         We get off the bus and walk the short distance up to the Washington Cathedral, built on one of the highest points in the DC area.  The cathedral was started in 1907 and finished in 1990!!!  YEARS!! Largely built with donated dollars, there are signs and wall engravings EVERYWHERE commemorating the various donors. (Each buttress has a couple of donors for example)  All those signs aside, it is a glorious structure.
 The cathedral was a highlight of our trip in 1998, but we arrived late in the day and never fully had time to explore.  Rick and I arrived at 10:45 and left at 3:15!  We took our time!  We made a donation of $10 to take the self-guided tour.  The only hard part is there is no written material (aside from a $20 book in the gift shop) to fully explain the many huge stained glass windows, especially the largest ones high on the cathedral walls.  The tour does give enough information to help you through interpretation of much of the artwork and glass, however. 
Welcome to Children's
Gotta love the gargoyles! 
We slowly worked our way down one wall of small alcove crypts and windows, each with a message, then to the Baptismal area, the Children’s chapel (everything is sized down to a  6 yr old proportion), and the two side chapels.  It is a tenth of a mile from one end of the church to the other.  Typical Gothic style, the wings form a cross.  The ceiling is over 100’ above. 
View NW - center square tower in distance is the
National Presbyterian Church
While we were in the chapels, the rector asked us to leave as he closed off the area for the noon eucharist.  We took the opportunity to go outside, eat some lunch, and then take the elevator up to the observation deck on the 7th floor of the cathedral.  We hadn’t done this part before and it was a marvelous view of all of DC.  We could see the National Presbyterian Church in the distance, the Capitol, Washington monument, lots of trees and buildings, etc.  A good way to orient ourselves!
Morning light made kaleidescopes of color on floor.
Much of the interpretive information on the observation deck concerns the recent 2011 earthquake that did considerable damage to the spires of the cathedral.  The early construction did not join some of the rock pieces that form the spires.  Gravity and a circular concave joint were all that was deemed necessary.  These are the spires that lost tips, rotated, or just plain fell.  There is a ‘fallen angel’ on display.  Some gargoyles were knocked off and then left hanging by the metal pipe that went through them.  There are cracks in 6 of the buttresses.  The cathedral is currently surrounded by scaffolding in many places as repairs are made.  A black transparent screen has been stretched across the highest level in the interior to catch any stray mortar, stone, or dust that might come down during construction.  This screen reflects the stained glass light as well, which makes for interesting patterns of color. 
Rick reflects
Organ console
We came down out of the sky just in time to hear the end of the organ explanation and listen to the organist play two numbers.  There are 10467 pipes in this organ, ranging from pipes so big you can only feel the vibrations, to pipes so small the notes are practically inaudible at the upper range.  Especially with the second number, a fugue, the organ was alive.  I think this was Rick’s favorite part of the day!  We sat in the choir loft opposite the organ console.  Pipes were above us on both sides, housed in magnificent panels of carved wood. 
Carvings on center pulpit
Once the organ was done, we moved down the north wall of the building, studying all the alcove glass, etc.  There is so much to appreciate in the building, from the glass, to stone sculpture, to ornate wood carvings everywhere.  In totality, it overwhelms.  Some of the carvings are so involved and intricate, you can get lost in the story. 
Space Window in honor
of Lunar Mission
Good Shepherd Chapel
And then….down into the basement chapels and crypts.  Another new place to explore!  There are at least 4 more chapels downstairs, most dedicated to the life of Jesus: The Bethlehem chapel, the Resurrection chapel, the Good Shepherd Chapel, and finally the Chapel of Joseph of Arimathea.  The Good Shepherd chapel was very small, just two 4’ pews and a wall sculpture of Jesus and a lamb.  I liked it!  The Resurrection chapel was filled with mosaics – a large one of Jesus up front, with the angel, open tomb, and sleeping guards, and six smaller depiction the six appearances of Christ after the resurrection.  I could only make out the story on two of those (Emmaus and lakeshore).
Central Resurrection mosaic
Also downstairs was the gift shop, filled with all sorts of religious gems and books, and the Pilgrimage and Prayer Center.  The latter was staffed and open for any and all to spend time in meditation, reflection, or study. 
Final view back as we left
Whew!  We then went outside and visited the Bishop’s Garden, a replica of a typical gothic garden of a 9th century monastery.  Filled with herbs for kitchen and pharmacy, surrounded by flowers on the outer circle, centered by a baptismal font sculpture in the middle.  Pretty neat. 

At 3:15 we begin our walk down to the National Zoo, about a mile and a half away.  Our only map is a picture I took on the camera before we leave Mike’s.  But….we make it!  Pass several private prep schools up near the Cathedral (St. Alban’s is right in 
Asian river otters

Cathedral square block) and gradually the housing appears a little older, etc. as we near Connecticut Ave and then a short walk up to the Zoo entrance. 

Red Pandas
The Zoo is free, and a baby panda was born in August!!  However, we see no pandas, as they are still inside tending the young’un.  Rick says there is a panda-cam on the web that we can view!  We tour the rest of the Asian loop, with elephants, red pandas, Asian otters, etc.  All of which are out and ready to entertain (especially the otters!)
We are tired!!!  On our feet most of the day.  We walk down Connecticut to the Metro station for the Red line, descend into the maze underneath the city, and find our train!  Subway all the way back to King Street and Alexandria.  We do have to switch at Metro Center, and change levels to catch the blue line.  It is fascinating to watch everyone hustle and bustle up and down the elevators, etc.  We get a seat, but by the time the train leaves Foggy Bottom, it is standing room only.  We are at the beginning of the rush (Mike said it was BAD between 4:45 and 6!)  We are also paying more for the ride since it costs about 25% more during peak times.  Oh well!! 
Typical metro landing
Back to Mike’s around 5:30, too tired to go out to the grocery store, so we scrounge around the kitchen between our supplies and Mike’s and put together something tolerable for a meal (barely….I would love some salad!) Mike doesn’t get home until 6:45, having accidentally taken the wrong sub out of work and a little side jaunt out west of DC into the Virginia countryside!  Oops.   Guess it can happen to the experienced as well!

Quiet evening visiting, talking football (Rick and Mike!), catching up on pictures.  We are into bed shortly after 10.  Tired!!!

TUESDAY, October 22, 2013
Washington Memorials
Hirshorn Museum of Modern Art
Oldtown Alexandria

View all of today's picture HERE

         Not sure I can keep this kind of pace up for much longer!!  I am too tired at night to get my journal written.  Last night we talked with Wyatt as soon as we got home and had to check on campsite options; a little visiting with Mike, and we were all in bed at 10!!  I had been nodding off for the previous 30 minutes!
Our 'Monumental Hike'
         So….it was a busy and full day!  Rick and I headed out right around 9:20, caught the blue line into the Smithsonian stop, which landed us right in the middle of the National Mall near the Washington Monument.  The day was overcast with a chance of rain, so we wanted to do our walking tour of the Memorials first thing, BEFORE the weather moves in.  Pictures will NOT be bluesky background, however! 
         I grab a map from the National Park information booth (now open!) and we head out toward the Tidal Basin for our 4.5 mile circle.  First stop is the Jefferson Memorial.  The approach from the Tidal Basin is beautiful as we walk under the many cherry trees that line the edge.  Beautiful in springtime, but not yet turning colors in the fall.  The trees are a hundred years old and showing their age.  Gnarled and rotted trunks for some, branches that extend way out over the water. 
Jefferson Memorial from across Tidal Basin
We climb the many steps of the Jefferson Memorial.  I had forgotten just how tall some of these places are – and how massive!!  Got a few good reflections pictures from the area as well. 
Sam Mason Memorial
From the Jefferson we continued around the tidal pool, but before we crossed over the narrow bridge, we veered off to the Sam Mason Memorial.  It was built like his plantation garden, but the flowers were in a transition stage (government shut-down!).  There were some great quotes around the central part of the memorial.  Mason was especially brave to refuse to sign the constitution because there were no anti-slavery clauses.  .
Ginger at FDR waterfalls
Over bridge to the FDR Memorial which we approached from the ‘wrong’ side – hence, went through his life backwards.   Waterfalls, statues, quotes, all through the four terms of his presidency.  I have always like this particular memorial with its many waterfalls, the noise and silence combined of each section of water.  Some awesome copper statues, of both FDR and Eleanor, as well as representations of the food lines of the Depression, the nightly radio broadcast, and more. 
Rick stops to ponder the MLKJr stone
From FDR, we continue to circle the tidal basin to the 2010 opened Martin Luther King Junior Memorial.  It is impressive with white stones, lots of good quotes.  A split mountain of white marble reveals a wedge with King overlooking the basin.  You can see across directly to Jefferson on the other side.  Many quotes of King's speeches line the walkway leading up to the statues themselves. 
Our next stop was the DC War Memorial for those killed in WW1 who lived in DC.  (Many other states have memorials and include the names of those killed or injured with them.)
         We are now on the National Mall itself, that 2 mile stretch from the Capitol Building down past the Washington Monument to the Reflection Pond and Abraham Lincoln on the far end.  The crowds are much heavier here.  Busloads are parked along the edge of the road.  It is starting to lightly sprinkle, but not enough to sense ‘getting wet’! 
Figures of the Korean War Memorial
Veterans group reflected in Korean pool
         To one side of the Lincoln Memorial is the 1996 Korean Memorial,  It was just completed the last time we visited.  The juniper like shrubs have now filled in the ground cover, the granite ‘barriers’ now partially hidden in the green.  I don’t remember the reflecting pool from before.  It sits in a circular grove of trees at the apex of the triangular ‘war field’.  These statues, which number about 20, are so realistic, like a moment in time has been captured from the war.  They represent all nationalities and races; all ranks of war.  Fall colors are mirrored in the pool.  While a busload (or more!) of Illinois vets come in to visit, Rick and I ate a bite of lunch in the shelter of the trees.  One wall along the triangle has individual photos etched into the wall.  I read later they are taken from actual war photos, but with all identifying labels, numbers, etc. removed to render them ‘everyman’.  Very effective. 
On steps of Lincoln Memorial is the marker of
location of MLKJr I Have a Dream speech

Closeup of Lincoln
         What can you say about the Lincoln Memorial?  Massive? Overwhelming?  Spiritual? It rings with the silence of freedom achieved and freedom to come.  The steps of Lincoln have been the site of most major Civil Rights protests and rallies. The words of the Gettsburg Address are etched on one side panel, the 2nd Inaugural Address on the other.  Signs to be respectfully quiet remind guests of the nature of memorials.  There is a sense of awe present.  With hazy and cloudy skies, it is difficult to make out the outline of the capitol building just two miles away. 
 We seem to be moving in mass with the Illinois vets: wheelchairs and attendants, green, yellow, blue, and red shirts identifying vet or assistant (the red are EMTs!)  They move with us to the Vietnam Memorial which stands opposite the Korean on the flanks of Lincoln. 
Rick checks the register books posted at either end of the Vietnam Wall of Names to find where his high school friend, John Loponchonsky, is recorded.  I remember from 1998 that he is way down by the center.  Sure enough, Panel 3W, Line 109.  So many names, so many men and women.  We find ‘Lopo’s name and take a moment to remember.        
Tribute to Lopo

Relaxing with Al....
On across Constitution Street and a short backtrack to the national sciences buildings where Albert Einstein is sitting on the steps in front -   huge statue with wore spots on Al’s lap and nose (many children pick his nose!)  A map of the stars is embedded in the courtyard, but we had trouble making sense of it.  I have always liked the ‘rough texture’ nature of this sculpture style. 
John Witherspoon signs
the Declaration
         Our next stop on our ‘Monumental Walk’ (which is beginning to feel like a monumental HIKE!) is the Constitution Pond and Gardens with it’s small memorial on an island to the remember the 52 signers of the Declaration of Independence.  The ponds are filled with geese and ducks, the trees beginning to show signs of color change.  I find the stones for Jefferson and John Witherspoon, the Presbyterian pastor who was instrumental in the Declaration process. 
Fountain, pool, and Pacific end of WW2 Memorial
The WW2 Memorial was just dedicated a few years ago (before MLKJ and has been the site for many vets to return for recognition.  We lucked out as the military colors arrived just after we did – we witnessed the ceremony of thanks and gratitude, signing of star spangled and playing of taps on trumpet.  I couldn’t tell if our busload of Illinois vets were the targeted recipients, but it was exciting to be a part of that service.  The design of the memorial is outstanding with a huge pool directly in line with Lincoln and Capital, many small fountains, and two large fountains and pillars on either side representing the two realms of the war: Atlantic and Pacific.  All the states and territories who fought are represented by pillars on the outside and bronze wreaths.  There is a wall on the Cost of Freedom – bronze stars representing 100 deaths each – that spans one side from Atlantic to Pacific.
Honor guard for veteran ceremony
Washington Monument
under repair

Cost of Freedom stars
We loop up to the outside of the Washington again, reading signs about the restoration after the 2011 earthquake.  Most of the damage was to the very top, but to do those repairs, scaffolding had to be erected the entire height.  Makes the monument look massive and rather formidable.  An elevator runs men and materials up and down one side. 
Smithsonian turret
Smithsonian Castle
On to the Smithsonian Castle and the legacy of James Smithson to the US.  Smithson was from England and left his financial estate to the US for the advancement of knowledge.  Typically, in the early 1800’s, the government didn’t quite know what to do with it!  The castle building is a magnificent piece of architecture and well maintained.  (Actually we thought often during our three days, that for a government which shut down with monetary woes, there sure is a lot of money being spent in Washington DC on building remodels!)  We purchase a $3.60 cup of coffee to share and sit down for a chance to rest our feet!  Wander through a ‘souvenir’ display at one end of the lobby.  Washington himself was the first to produce souvenirs when people kept taking pieces of Mt. Vernon.  Early promoters at Plymouth Rock actually gave visitors a hammer to take home a piece of the rock!  (It is now protected by glass….what’s left of it!)  Other interesting tidbits on the history and variety of souvenir collecting. 
Rose in garden- SO PRETTY!
Angel's trumpet flower
We find the gardens in back of the Smithsonian Castle with formal hedges, stars of a bright purple shrub, and an unusual yellow trumpet flowered tree. 
Outside the Hirshorn Art Museum
I wanted to visit the Hirshorn Museum of Modern Art and the sculpture gardens outside.  A quick visit, so Rick was patient and went in with me.  (Modern art is NOT his cup of tea on a regular basis!)  There was definitely some weird stuff, but I was excited to see a room dedicated to Alexander Calder’s works, plus I could pick out the Mondrian, Miro, and Louise Nevelson stuff before I read the titles!   The basement section, in addition to the gift shop, was walled with red, white, and black graphic quotes.  HUGE letters everywhere,

Alexander Calder!

A room of huge letters in red, white, and black!
Here comes the Yellow Line!

including the sides of the escalors!  The building is built in a circular with open center, so it is easy to circle the exhibits on an inner and outer ring. 
St. Mary's Catholic Church
         It is a short block walk from the art museum down to L’Enfant Plaza and the Yellow Line metro station to head back south to Alexandria.  We talked with Mike and have arranged to meet him down in oldtown for his birthday celebration.  Once at King Street station, we hop on the trolley for the free ride down toward the waterfront.  We hop off a few blocks early and walk over to see an Episcopal Church (pretty ho hum architecture), and then to St. Mary's Catholic Church with an cool steeple and bell tower, which happened to back up to the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, to which Mike has transferred his church membership! 
Presbyterian Meeting House
Box pews at Meeting House
 The cemetery in the back was amazing with its 300 some graves, many unidentified, including the remains of an unknown Revolutionary War soldier who was unearthed during a Catholic church remodel.  The cemetery seems to be co-joined with the back of the Catholic Church.  I could peek inside the windows on one side of the building to see the boxed pews, the raised and ornate central pulpit, bare walls and plain colors.  It is a classic colonial design church.  But Mike is pretty sure that membership exceeds that of Eastern Oregon Presbytery!!   He describes a very educated and active congregation which a full slate of classes integrating religion with the life situation.  Mike is now singing in the choir, along with the ‘professional’ choir members!
King Street Market Square
         We walk down to King Street again and find the Alexandria Market Square with its central fountain and the steeple/clocktower of City Hall in the background.  A nice spot to SIT and peruse the tourist stuff available seeking good restaurant suggestions!  Mike arrives around 5:45 via the trolley and we opt for a Bilbo Baggins restaurant about two blocks away.
Happy Birthday Michael Braymen!
         Mike was happy with the choice!  It seemed Happy Hour lasts until 7pm, so we were able to get drinks and pizzas for half price.  That made our menu decisions easy!  We all order a different pizza (Shire, Frodo, or Green Dragon) and swap.  I also got a small salad.  Fun place.  Mike said he will come back!! 
         We wander briefly down to see the lights of the riverfront, the huge art center which was now closed, and then trolley back to the Metro station for the walk home, arriving about 8:30 pm.  A good 50th for Michael!  A FULL day for us!! 

WEDNESDAY, October 23, 2013
Smithsonian Museums
Visits with Susie and Chris!

View today's pictures HERE

         Another wonderful day in DC!  Cooler, but no raindrops fell!  By day’s end, we came home to a brisk sky, but clearing!  Could be cooler tonight and especially tomorrow as we camp once again in the trailer!
At the King Street Station looking across to the
Embassy Hotel
         Mike is out of here before 7am today.  Hope we haven’t thrown his schedule totally out of whack.  I’m not even sure he stopped long enough to eat much breakfast.  He had a presentation to give today. 
         Rick and I are on our way a bit more leisurely….but early enough today that we had to pay the ‘prime time’ prices for the Metro!  Oh well!  We took the Yellow line today directly into L’Enfant plaza, past the Hirshorn and down the mall toward the Museum of American History.  We arrived just 5 minutes after the 10am opening.  Perfect!!
Entrance to American History
         Considerable time spent in the American stories section, visiting such relics as Archie Bunker’s chair from All in the Family, Judy Garland’s red slippers from Wizard of Oz, Dizzy Gilespy’s curved horn,
Michelle Obama's
Inaugural gown
 a menorah made from Statue of Liberty replicas, designed by a Jewish immigrant, Kermit the Frog, etc.  We also saw the completely refurbished flag from the War of 1812 – the Star Spangled flag of Fort McHenry in Baltimore.  When we were here 15 years ago, the flag was being restored.  A good exhibit by the museum….stories of the war, the flagmaker, the song, etc. 
Kermit the frog,
original made from his
mother's coat.

         Other highlights….the civil rights movement from pre 1863 to 1963, Lincoln to the March on Washington.  Good information, much of which I wasn’t previously aware.  Upstairs to the Philadelphia gunboat…brought up from the depths of Lake Champlain  200 years after the sinking during the Revolution.  It was brought into the museum through the third floor opening prior to the completion of the building.  It will never come out!  Then we went to the Presidential area, highlights of our Presidents,the First Ladies with their gowns and more,  children, etc.  Interesting stuff, but we soon checked our phones and realized it was time to head up to the Natural History museum to make our rendezvous with Rick’s cousin, Susie. 
Rick and cousin Susie
         We went to the wrong lobby of the Natural History museum, but the security gals quickly advised us to just check our bags and walk THROUGH the museum rather than go around!  Good advise!  We met Susie on the other side and walked about two blocks down to the Cosi’s Restaurant.  Good food and conversation for the next hour.  I was dutifully scolded by Sue’s mom, Rick’s Aunt Edwina, about not calling last summer when I was in Pittsburgh for General Assembly.  I’ll have to apologize in my Christmas card!   Cosi’s is a cafeteria style place – Rick ordered a sandwich and I had an excellent salad!  All flatbreads-yummy stuff! 

Chris and Ginger at Air and Space
Chris and the Dragon Eye
         At 1:45, we walked Susie back to work, and then took off for the Air and Space Museum to meet Chris Bovais.  Only a few minutes late, short security check, and we meet up in front of the Apollo 11 capsule.  The next three hours are a wonderful blend of reminiscing, discussing families, and learning the inner stories of some of the planes, spacecraft, and other exhibits at the museum.  After 2 hours and at the display for the UAVs, Chris finally comments, “I thought I would never see something I designed at the AandS Museum while I was still working and alive, but….do you want to see it?”  What humility to patiently wait 2 hours to show us his pride and joy!!!  The Dragon Eye!  Practical, simple, and affordable.  Everything Uncle Bill would have loved!!!  It has since been replaced with a similar, but refined model, but the autonomous, portable in a backpack, UAV, launched by bungee cord, that Chris’ team developed is pretty cool.  Proven invaluable during the Gulf War and in Afghanistan.   
Air and Space Moon
       Chris is living his dream in aeronautics.  From a childhood spent flying and building model planes, to a degree in aeronautical engineering, to go straight to the Naval Research Lab and design flying things!  He has also flown the remote advertising blimps for the Washington Wizards professional team.  He has an airplane in his garage.  Now married and with two young girls, they are growing up to love the skies!!  It was GREAT to see him and visit. 
         Chris rode the Yellow Line Metro up to meet us, so we all rode back down to King Street together, gave a hug and were on our way.  He another stop to get back to his car.  The air was brisk as we walked back up to Mike’s condo. 
         Fixed dinner of tomato soup and grilled cheese, cleaning out some of the fridge in the process.  Mike was later in arriving home, having stopped to have a birthday beer with his boss (important stuff!).   Rick and I had everything ready to sit down and eat!  A little World Series baseball and then the required game for the visit!!! (Set and Raj) We played until 10 and bedtime!!! 
         Honored to have been the first people to sign Mike’s new guestbook for visitors to Washington DC!!  It has been a super visit!!! 

THURSDAY, October 24, 2013
Alexandria to Williamsburg, VA
Pottery Campground
159 miles

See today's pictures HERE

         Have I mentioned often how incredible the weather has been for this trip?  Praise God!  Last year Hurricane Sandy hit the East coast during October.  Two years ago it was a freak October snowstorm.  Three years ago, something else!  2013???  Untimely late Indian summer weather, temps above normal, we seem to dodge many of the rainstorms, and I can’t count the number of crisp fall days!!  Today was another, at least for the morning! 
         Up to spend a little time with Michael before he left for work at 7:45; our instructions are to pull the door tight and drive safely!  We shower, clean things up and pack up the truck and trailer, and by 9:15 we are on our way south!  Glad to relieve Mike of the burden of providing the trailer and truck a temporary home, but rejoicing over the good visit we had. 
Today's travels
         Traffic is thick but moving as we head down I-95 toward Richmond, VA.  Lots of construction work on HOV lanes in the center and the northboiund lanes are backed way up and not moving at one point.  We continue past Quantico and the Marine Base, Aquila and Stafford, where we stayed 15 years ago, and into Fredricksburg.  Rick pulls over to an Exon Station with $3.11 gas to fill up, coffee up, and switch drivers!  (We eventually see gas for as low as $3.05). 
Our route from here on is scenic and country.  We are off on the ‘road less traveled’ once again.  In this case, US 17, after the first 19, two-lane miles, is a four lane gem of a highway for the next 50 plus miles.  Often, I cannot see a car in front or in back of me, nor on the other side of the divided highway!  We travel through farms and larger plantations, growing unknown crops.  (Peanuts?  Soybeans?  NOT Tobacco!)  The setting is idyllic, the driving conditions pristine!  Wow! 
         Off on Rte 33 toward West Point (junction of two rivers) and then onto another ‘shortcut’ route that takes us to US 60 and eventually into northern Williamsburg.  Rick was going to take over driving again, but we never found a good spot to stop and eat lunch, so I drove us into the campground!  (Hence not many pictures of this section of highway!)
Campsite at Williamsburg
         The Pottery Campground in Williamsburg is….empty.  There are 3 trailers or RVs in this campground for about 225 rigs.  The guy comes up to meet us from mowing, acknowledging that he doesn’t really know why they are still open!  (Eventually we see two more rigs pull in during the next hour!)  We have our pick of sites, so we take one down in the trees, but near the restroom!  Lunch from our Wal-Mart purchases (we stopped in Tappanhannock) and then time to explore! 
We drive part of the Colonial Parkway
John Smith statue and
Memorial Church
   We decided to head out to Jamestown and visit Colonial National Historic Park, which includes Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown on the other side of the peninsula.  In 1994 extensive archeology digging began at the Jamestown site which has unearthed many skeletal remains, as well as old well sites which housed thousands of artifacts.  The site of the original Jamestown fort has been excavated, even though only a single tower from the church building remained after nearly 400 years.  They have rebuilt several replica models of buildings, giving just enough to provide a picture of Jamestown life without comprising the history of the area.  Statues of both Pocahontas and John Smith.  We were approaching closing time, so we didn’t stop to visit the Glassblowing house on our way out.
Crosses and James River in beautiful skies
         Back toward Williamsburg on the Colonial Parkway and under some gorgeous red brick bridges, which are part of the distinct parkway design.  The parkway connects the three sections of the national historic park.  Enter Williamsburg itself and find a spot to park in the old town area and Market Square – lots of quaint little shops.  We are able to waste about a half hour there before driving up to Wyatt’s apartment complex and meeting up with Wyatt and Christine. 
Merchant Square in Williamsburg
         Ironically, Wyatt takes us back to the first restaurant we had just parked in front of 30 minutes earlier!!  It was called a bistro, but the prices were NOT bistro in nature!!  A bit on the expensive side, but it was Wyatt’s night to shine!!  I have a vegetable pie which was excellent, Rick some sort of chicken dish.  I took pictures!!  Got a good chance to hear from Christine a little bit more of her plans, caught Wyatt up on all his ‘old’ friends from Baker City.  He is doing extremely well at the bank (just got a promotion!) and is a remarkable young man (we always knew that!)  He reminded me to be sure to mention that we visited BEFORE his mom and dad have made it to the east coast!!  (HINT! HINT! Midge and Cal! J)
Dinner with Wyatt and Christina
         Might have been tempted to stay late and watch a bit of Wyatt’s 10:15 indoor soccer game, but Rick has been fighting off a bit of a bug and it is prudent to get back to the trailer and get a good night’s sleep!  So it is written, so let it be done!! 

Friday, October 25, 2013
Williamsburg, VA to Smithfield, VA
Home of Tom and Betty Robson
47 miles

See today's pictures HERE

         Ah!  What bliss!  A morning to relax, sleep in, finish my book in bed!  I got up around 6:30am to make the dash up to the bathhouse.  The trailer clock registered 44 degrees.  We actually had gotten HOT during the night somewhat.  I thought I turned the heater up and crawled back into bed to read the last chapters of my book. 
A short day!!
         When I got up shortly after 8am, the trailer was still 44 degrees!!!  I checked the heater and realized I had turned it to fan instead of from 1 to 2, so it had just been blowing the air around for the past hour.  Quickly turn it up so it is warm enough to sit and read, study, etc.  By 10pm, it is nearly 75-80 inside, but the sun was helping the process considerably I think!!! 
         We warmed up our Subway sandwiches for breakfast.  We had stopped last night enroute home to buy the egg and ham breakfast sub with the intention of a microwave warmup in the morning.  Worked just fine!! 
         We finally showered, packed up, and left the campground by 11:30am.  Not even sure if we were out by check-out time, but I don’t think anyone was around to check the details!! 
Boarding the Jamestown ferry. 
         Return trip down to Jamestown and we drive right on to the ferry waiting on the dock at 11:55.  By noon we are on our way across the river!  What great timing, once again!  This is a free ferry service.  No payment necessary.  It only takes about 15 minutes to cross the James River and land in the tiny town of Scotland on the other side.  A drive up to Surrey, and then down Rt 10 toward Smithfield. 
Jamestown Settlement from the ferry
         We are still trying to figure out the identity of a crop grown along the roads.  Soy beans that have lost their leaves?  Peanuts? (We think not!)  We do pass a cotton crop that is showing the white fluff of cotton.  It is in the discussion of this field that I think we missed our turn-out to Tom and Betty’s – Road 677 or Wren’s Mill Road.  We drive on in to Smithfield, find a parking lot at a small Food Mart and grab a quick bite.  I finish the crab, with cheese stick, and a handful of cereal.  Rick has a cheese stick and some crackers, etc.  Our larder is low!!  Then a call to Tom to verify directions to the house. 
         We arrive at 14149 Bethany Church Rd within 10 minutes of our conversation!  Nothing like a few verbal directions as well!  Tom and Betty are at the end of a long shared driveway.  Across the field is son Mark’s white house, and in between is the barn which Deb built with its upstairs apartment.  A gal and her son are living in the apartment currently. 
Tom and Betty's place in Smithfield
         Tom and Betty’s house is basically done, with all the finish work still to be done upstairs and in the basement.  The main floor is good!  Tom has also finished building a shop area, the yard has been seeded with grass.  Still much to be done, but he is also working to maintain the log home in North Carolina (up for sale!).  Their dog, Jake, has grown a ton since we saw him at Pop’s service 3 years ago when he was just a pup.  Long and lanky! 
Tom and Rick with the horses
       We visit for awhile and then set up the trailer prior to taking a walk around the grounds.  Betty has a horse, as well as three horses which belong to son Mark and wife Karen.  We greet all four of them!  Then around and through the trees to loop back to their house.  Betty and I then walk the half mile down to the road to pick up the mail.  Later I find a small tick crawling around my hairline - naturally I am itching and scratching the rest of the evening.  
         Dinner is chicken noodle soup with biscuits/bread.  Yum.  Some down-home cooking!  After dinner, Betty and I walk over to the barn to feed two of the horses.  My first time to give a horse food!!  Rick and Tom drove over to Mark’s house (he and Karen are in Florida!) to feed his dog and the horses there. 
         Conversations for the evening after Tom shows off the rest of the house – the empty basement and the unfinished second floor!  It will be quite the place when they get finished. 
         Am falling asleep.  Must be time to go to bed.  It will be another chilly one tonight.  We are out in the trailer…..it was 38 according to ‘Betty as we came outside .  Brrr.  Heater on low, bundled up!! 

Tom, Rick, and Ginger
Betty, Tom and Rick

         We are leaving Virginia tomorrow.  Thus ends the 'Washington DC Plus' portion of this journal!! G’night!

It is now Sunday afternoon, the 27th, and I am finally able to wrap up this journal posting and get it along its way to the internet.  Whew!