Tag Archives: Travel

Amelia Island Part 1

Hello in Blogland!

There hasn’t been a lot to report in a while and I got out of the habit of blogging.   Sis and I had a vacation, so there are new things to share with you.

Amelia Island!  I received a Garmin GPS for Christmas (LOVE IT) and it doesn’t recognize Amelia Island, but it does Fernandina Beach which so handily is the same place.  Sis was attending a professional conference and brought me along for company and driving assistance.  I enjoy driving, and she doesn’t so it is a good match.  The first road test of the Garmin with the sisters on wheels provided some entertainment to watch the roads go past on the display and hear the oh-so-patient “Recalculating.”

Garvin the Garmin is pretty insistent on the routes you are to take and doesn’t have a lot of understanding that you might wish to detour a bit for various reasons.  I declare that The Voice becomes a little testy at times when you ignore it.   One of our brief stops was at one of the Citrus stores – with free samples and juice.  That alone was worth the stop.

We both LOVE pralines, and the store had a packaged one that we bought to give it a try.   Sis is trying to adapt to a low carb diet so chooses her carbs with care and this was not worth a second taste to her.  It wasn’t all that bad, but did have a “chemical-y” taste to it.  Interesting that they used a plastic lid for a drink cup as a support for the praline.

Garvin took us right to the door of the hotel.  It was a recently remodeled hotel with comfy beds and great pillows.  A nice bar area held a microwave and small refrigerator.  After dropping Sis off at the first conference session I did a bit of shopping in a local grocery store to lay in some lunch and snack supplies.

The original plan had both of us getting up and I would drop Sis off at the conference each morning and pick her up in the afternoon in order to have the car for the day for driving around and doing things.  But the conference schedule was arranged so the participants would have time to enjoy the features of the resort and she was “released” at lunch time most days.  Sis was the only one to arise in the early hours and drove herself.  Save gas you know and I was looking forward to some crafting time…sleeping in a bit had NOTHING to do with the decision (HAH!).

The hotel also had a marvelous hot breakfast – fluffy scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits, and the usual cereal, toast, yogurt, and pastries.  I’d go down and linger over a leisurely breakfast while reading and return with my spinning wheel to spin while I watched the world go by.  People generally do a double take when they walk past when they see me spinning.  Some stop and chat with me, and it is always interesting.  One man said “You don’t see people doing that much, do you?”  My response was that he wasn’t hanging around with the right people…

I did brave the chill of the pool one day to do my water exercises but although pleasant was a bit on the COLD side.  Sis loves being in the water, too, and when she got home from the conference the first day we hit the pool.  I got in but she dipped her toe in and declared it was too cold so went and sat in the sun with her book.

This is going to be the tale of the seafood restaurants.  We LOVE seafood, and since this area has a great history of fishing…so it must be easy to find good seafood, right?  The first restaurant was within walking distance of the hotel but I about fell out of my seat over the price of the food.  A little more than I was expecting but we decided to stay and I’m glad we did.  The crab cakes were perfect – large bits of real crab with just enough other stuff to make them hold together while cooking.  YUM.  It was also interesting to note that the tables were supported by antique treadle sewing machine bases.  Interesting but horrifying…all those gorgeous sewing machines trashed!!!


Vacation 2010 Monday October 18-NC

Sunday night we spent in a hotel just off the interstate in Hendersonville, NC.  We have family nearby and it was a good location to start the next day’s activities.  Dinner was at a nice Italian restaurant on Broad Street and they had the best pesto butter for their bread!  YUM.  As good as the meal was, I could have eaten a meal with bread and that butter and been satisfied.

I am a BIG fan of the Peaches & Creme yarns – the last cotton yarn spun in America from American Cotton, dyed in America by a family owned business.  The factory is located in Old Fort, NC not too far from Asheville.  Sis agreed to let it be our first stop on Monday, and I am so glad we did!

I met a fellow Ravelry member that lives nearby and we were able to see all the colors and different yarns produced by the company and spent some money at the outlet store.

A few of the many colors - too many to choose from!

Here is the yarn we took home.  Sis bought a bagful for the Pink Ladies to knit and crochet baby hats and bibs – I have the rest!

Yarn and thread - what a lovely pile!

Lunch was at Mustard’s nearby and we all enjoyed our meal – then Sis and I hit the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We wanted to get some maps and info and get to the Folk Art Center before it closed.  Success!  Beautiful structure, and just jam packed with all handcrafts you could imagine – pottery, quilting, wood working, weaving. glass work, and more.

Our hotel for the week was a lovely motel right on the river in Chimney Rock, The Carter Lodge.  We could step out on our little balcony and look down on the river and then up to see Chimney Rock!  The room was cozy and the beds were quite comfy and it was a good place to call home for our time in NC.  Believe it or not, it was still light and we ate at a restaurant in town, also overlooking the river.  The food was fantastic – Sis had the chili and it came in a huge bowl and I was a bit jealous I didn’t order it.  She did give me a bit, along with a taste of the cornbread, too.

We watched the sun go down over the mountains and I took one of my favorite photographs


Evening sky over the river


Vacation 2010 – I’m back!

Hello out there in blog land!  It has been some time since I visited with you and I have traveler’s tales from a vacation the end of October.  Sis and I do enjoy traveling together and have similar views and likes so it goes well.   Stage one was getting out of the house, no mean feat as neither one of us has learned to travel lightly.  Watching travel shows where the host dangles a little pack from his hand containing all the necessities of life for 4 weeks strikes me as odd.

Yes, we can stop and purchase whatever we need at a handy neighborhood Walmart, but why should we have to buy a replacement item when we already have another one right here that can be tucked into the suitcase?  I am also an…ahem…unusual size and have to buy clothing in a couple of stores that aren’t quite as ubiquitous as WM.  So if I need another blouse or pair of slacks, I can’t just run into a nearby chain store and get something off the rack.

Sis has a cute smallish car that is amazingly roomy on the inside so there is always room for one more thing.  Almost always.  No wonder we prefer car vacations.

This was the first year we traveled primarily by GPS.  Sis has an iPhone with the AT&T Navigator app.  It works well, but you have to double check it because if you choose shortest route you may be driving through someone’s back yard on the way to the neighbor’s field to cut off a mile or so from the distance. This happened to us returning home from a visit to our brother.  We wanted off the interstate because I-75 Southbound on the Sunday following a major holiday weekend is not for the faint of heart, or those unwilling to spend a few hours in 3 lanes of a parking lot.  We followed the iPhone and it lead us to a state highway to a county road to a gravel road to a dirt road.  You can imagine our relief when the dirt road ended at a state highway.  We had no idea what might be coming next – a deer path, perhaps?

Fastest means you will be driving interstate.  Even if you have to drive 10 miles in the other direction to get to the interstate and 10 miles to get from the interstate to your destination.   I did learn to use the different features of the GPS to prove that yes, we were following reasonable and logical directions.  Is this sense of victory I felt a bit odd?

The first day of marathon driving finally ended in the northern part of SC and found a motel for a much-needed night of rest.  At breakfast the next morning Sis spotted a baby.  Sis is a Baby Whisperer.  Babies love her and she loves babies.  They are simply enamored with her, and this little boy was no different.  He was with his Dad and we all had a nice visit while the adults finished their breakfast.  Time for getting on the road again!

It wasn’t long and we noticed a roadside sign directing us to the last remaining covered bridge in South Carolina, Campbell’s Covered Bridge.  It was only 11 miles off the highway so we detoured, and so glad we did!  What a lovely little park and covered bridge a short walk from the parking area.

Campbell's Covered Bridge in South Carolina

The goal for the day was Ceasars Head State Park in South Carolina.  It is on a very wind-y road with switchbacks and beautiful views.  Not too many guard rails and the drop off is a bit close to the road for those with altitude issues.  Sis likes to drive in the mountains simply because it DOES bother her and driving helps keep the motion sickness under control.  She also thinks I spend too much time looking at the scenery and not the road.  No problem.  As passenger I get to look at the scenery all the time and take pictures.

Apples were in season and we stopped and bought a small bagful from a man on the side of the road.  Cameo apples were a new variety for us, and they were so good we bought more before heading back to Florida.  YUM.

Since we arrived on a beautiful, clear Sunday and the leaves were changing, there were LOTS of people in the park and finding a parking place was a challenge.  You must get out and walk out on the overlook.  It was a stunning view.

The Overlook at Ceasars Head State Park in South Carolina

Some cousins have a vacation home just over the border into North Carolina and we stopped by to see if they were home- nope.  We missed them by a few hours.  The dam our grandfather and great-grandfather helped build was a few miles farther along the road so that was our next destination.  Here is a picture of the falls over the top of the dam.

Waterfall over the top of the Dam

The end of the first day of sightseeing!  More vacation pictures and stories coming.

TECO Manatee Viewing Center

We are not the only ones that want to get to warmer places – the manatees do too and take refuge from the chilly water in the power plant cooling water canals.   TECO has developed the south shore of their cooling water discharge canal into a very nice viewing center, museum with interactive exhibits and of course a snack bar and gift shop.  It is a popular  spot for both people and manatees when the Florida winter weather turns a bit more chilly than we would like.

The dark blobs in the water are the manatees.  LOTS of manatees!  None came closer to the viewing area than what you see here but it was fascinating to watch one effortlessly float to the surface of the water and stick up a bit of snout to catch a leisurely breath and sink again.  Now and then you spot a bit of the paddle-shaped tail as one dove a bit deeper or the scarred sides as one rolled in the water.  If you were observant, the leaping rays or tarpon wouldn’t catch you by surprise.  If you were looking in the wrong direction the only signs visible were ripples in the water and other onlookers pointing where you were NOT looking.

Tarpon are fascinating to watch jump.  Not only do they leap into the air, but they spin like a thrown football at the same time.  I did hear some gasps of “shark” one time after a tarpon exhibition…

The spotted rays were gliding about near the viewing areas and I enjoyed watching them seemingly “fly” through the water.

Don’t see it?  About the middle of the image, just about where the color has turned to blue you see a dark smudge.  Look closer and you can almost see the spots on it’s back.  Almost.  I promise, it is there.

OK – NOW do you see it???  Even I had to go back and resize a part of the image to remember where the ray was swimming.

wow…look at all the manatees – I think I did use a bit of the telephoto setting to get a bit “closer.”

There is also a nature walk and self-guided tour of the estuary to show more about the animals and plants that inhabit the area.  I do love going here, and based on the FULL parking area, so do a few other people!

Gamble Plantation – Florida State Park

Ahhh.  This is the weather I remember from growing up in Florida.  I am enjoying every moment of it!

The weather in Florida is glorious.  Saturday a few of my knitting group went to the Gamble Plantation, a Florida State Park in easy driving distance. It is believed to be the only surviving antebellum mansion existing in south Florida.  The mansion itself is glowing white and reminds me of a mini-Tara (from Gone With the Wind if you need a bit of a reminder of the reference).  Do check out the link to the state park page. (they have a better picture)  I am not a student of architecture but there is just something appealing about the appearance of the building.

The grounds are right on the “main road” and when you see the white picket fence you know you have arrived. The house makes a great impression and  you know you have arrived at a special place.  I can just imagine riding up on horseback in the sticky heat and seeing the cool white mansion as a place of rest, recovery, and refinement.  A bit of astonishment too of what was built on the frontier.  Over to the right is a tidy gray and white frame house, where some of the family lived once the “big house” became too expensive and impractical for upkeep.  It had been moved from another part of the property to the current location.

There was just enough time before the tour began for us to view the exhibits in the small but informative museum for a perspective of the property, people, and the events through the years.

We were in the first tour group and had a very interesting and knowledgeable docent to show us the house and relay the history of the house and it’s people.  I’ve toured some of the big Louisiana plantations and kind of expected to see somewhat of the same design here.  Entering the house, there is a beautiful (but rather ordinary) wood staircase to your immediate left and a hallway to your right.  No elegant foyer to take your breath away.    The home was built when this part of Florida was the frontier and danger lurked from every direction; not only from lightning, fire, and storms but also from unfriendly folks.  Mr. Gamble designed the structure so there was always an alternate exit or two from any room.

One of the stops on the tour was a workroom that we could not enter as there was damage to the roof above and the ceiling of the room wasn’t stable.  But the docent opened the door and allowed us to look into the deep, dark interior.  And what did we see? A spinning wheel and a skein winder!  I had my camera out and snapped a couple of quick shots before we had to move along.  It was torture to be that close and not be able to inspect more carefully.

The warming kitchen, where the vegetables and side dishes were cooked and plates prepared for serving was fascinating.  It had the odor of wood fires as there had been recent demonstrations and dinner prepared by a famous chef specializing in recreating the techniques and menus of the time.  What a sense of reality that created.  As if a couple of logs added to the coals are all that would be needed to start the meal preparations.  The odd shaped globe in the image below is a coffee roaster!  You really can’t see, but it has a long handle that the cook could turn for even roasting.

The house is decorated with antiques, but not all of them are from the 1850’s era.  Some might find fault with that, but I find it charming – as if each generation left behind their cherished bits and pieces for us to enjoy.  The stories of the acquisition and restoration of some of the pieces is nearly as interesting as the information about the house!

The Cistern was fascinating.  The water collected in there provided safe and clean(er) drinking water than was otherwise available.

You really have to admire what they were able to accomplish with local building materials and the skill to construct a building that has lasted through the years.  Not without quite a bit of work as the building was in serious disrepair (especially after being used as a fertilizer storage barn) and in danger of demolition in the early 1900’s.  Fortunately it was rescued by some women who took the preservation of the site and it’s history as a mission.  The result of their hard work and vision is the bit of irreplaceable history we can take a few moments of our time to tour and visit today.

I do encourage you to make a point of stopping here on a visit to Southwest Florida.

Postcard: Eastern Airlines Super-C Constellation over Miami Beach

Eastern Airlines

Eastern Super-C Constellation over Miami Beach, Florida

I have some comments about flying and such, but will talk about the postcard first. It’s on ebay right now, item #150253300916 or you can click here and go immediately to the listing – I’m starting this one at a LOW price of $1.49 so you have a chance at a real bargain!

Wow – Eastern provided the postcard, You could write it in flight, place a stamp, and the airlines would drop it in the mail for you. This card was mailed from Arlington, VA and talks about a rough flight experience. The writer became air sick and the plane had to circle Washington DC for two hours before they could land. Not very pleasant (and waiting is still quite common 50 years later!).

Fantastic postcard and a quick look around the internet shows much higher prices for this card – and none of the ones I found had been postmarked!

The instructions to “Please affix stamp and give to your flight attendant for mailing” is printed on the reverse.

Postmarked 1953 with purple three-cent Liberty stamp
Very Good condition with minor corner wear and bumps (hey, it’s been through the Postal Service…)

Fifty years ago. Things have changed. Not only is this view markedly different, but Jets are common for passenger flights and Eastern Airlines folded. AND this is from the era when flying was still a classy way to go and service was a KEY word in the industry. Each individual was treated as an honored customer and your needs were seen to – a blanket and pillow was available, along with beverage service and FOOD. I noticed a few years ago that I began feeling like cattle rounded up and lead through the chute to an uncertain and unknown future. These days I’m beginning to wonder when the electrified cattle prods are coming out.

Food. Remember the days when you were offered a choice of meals if the flying was close to a mealtime? The latest news report stated that in coach (steerage) you won’t even be given a measly package of four pretzels.

Flying with Sis is great. We always carry food, books, and activities with us. Once there was a mechanical problem with the plane and during the delay we played Pass the Pigs (you can see the game here) and ate our balogna sandwiches (NOT the same activity). Early morning flights are the best, but the food was usually a sweet roll or danish. Neither of us thinks a sweet roll is a good way to start the day, so we like to pack boiled eggs. Couldn’t leave behind our Everglades Seasoning. (That is a mix of salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and other spices and perfect for eggs, meat, and more).

The last time we did the eggs was pre-911 so I don’t know if the security standards allow boiled eggs on the flight…