Spring is in full bloom on The Way of St. Francis.
Spring is in full bloom on The Way of St. Francis.
Brad and his girlfriend Ashley kept us pretty darn busy during our recent visit to Chico. Ashley planned an action packed Saturday, beginning with a wildflower walk atop North Table Mountain near Oroville, California.
Formed by ancient lava flows, and looking suspiciously like our own Upper and Lower Table Rocks just outside Medford, Oregon, it rises 1582 feet above the valley floor. The wildflowers were spectacular!
We meandered along a series of interconnected trails, eventually arriving at Hollow Falls where we cautiously followed Ashley down the face the cliff you see behind us in the above photo. Fortunately, we discovered a trail that led us easily (and safely) back up to the top.
After a quick bite to eat, we took a short drive north of Chico for some wine tasting at The Abbey of our Lady of New Clairvaux, located in the tiny town of Vina. The history of the land dates back to 1843 when it was a part of a 22,000-acre Mexican land grant. Established in in 1955, the monastery sits on 600 acres and is one of only 17 Trappist-Cistercian monasteries in the United States.
Our tasting included a variety of whites and reds, all of which were quite good. Even Brad, who loves his beer, admitted the reds were pretty good.
New Clairvaux Vineyard offers a unique setting and is well worth the detour when traveling through Northern California.
Today we wound our way out of the Black Hills of South Dakota, snuck through a corner of Wyoming and arrived in Montana – Big Sky Country. The gently rolling hills of Montana’s eastern plains seem to stretch on forever…and so does the sky above them.
It seems like spring has been late arriving in the northern part on the United States. Although landscapes have been green and lush, trees have continually been bare of leaves. That just made it all the more exciting to stumble upon these wildflowers blooming on the hillside behind our campground.
Montana is a new state for both of us, and we are eager to discover what adventures lie beneath this “Big Sky.” Plenty of time for that tomorrow!
Development of the park began in 1938 when the Civilian Conservation Corps established Camp Kanawha and began cleaning up and improving the area. Work continued until 1942 when World War II began and the camp was closed.
Hiking trails, picnic sites and shelters, numerous playgrounds and 45 campsites are available for all who want to leave the city behind.
The area is also known as a wildflower haven, with 574 species sprinkled throughout the landscape. We saw quite a few in bloom today as we wandered along the nature trail. As it turned out, today was a great day for a walk in the park.
It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend since arriving in Charleston, West Virginia. Chris and Gail enjoyed a mini vacation when they spent Saturday night in a cabin at our campground. We enjoyed having them “right down the street,” if only for one night. After a barbecued steak dinner at the cabin, followed by two highly competitive rounds of our dice game Yamslam, Reg and I headed back to our trailer to rest up for the Sunday breakfast we were hosting.
Chris has been working at Gritt’s Midway Greenhouse for the last year, and today he gave us a tour of the company’s retail store and 20+ greenhouses. We weren’t quite prepared for the scale and quality of this family operation.
A kaleidoscope of colors and textures greeted us as we wandered through most of the six acres of production greenhouses. We saw flowers, vegetable plants, house plants and potted blooming plants, all grown and nurtured to supply Gritt’s retail and wholesale operation.
As amazing as all of that was, the greenhouse where the tomatoes grow surprised us most of all.
We were fascinated with the 1.5 acre hydroponic tomato operation. These are vine ripened tomatoes and the plants produce continually except for the months of December and January.
We were tempted to sneak a couple for our dinner!
It is the Gilded Age and you have become one of the world’s richest people by means of the shipping and railroad industries. What do you do with your riches? If you are George Vanderbilt, you spend 1889-1895 building America’s biggest house near Asheville, North Carolina.
The Biltmore Estate, by the numbers: 255 rooms, 2.4 million cubic feet of interior space, 135,280 square feet, nearly 8,000 acres. A brick kiln on the construction site produced 32,000 bricks a day.
It is a house beyond imagination, even for HGTV addicts accustomed to the expensive whims of home buyers.
We were among throngs who visited today (yearly visits total 1.2 million). The gardens, especially the azaleas, were spectacular. We enjoyed about two hours walking many of the informal trails. The self-guided house tour was fascinating, but we missed getting a feel for how the family lived. It was dark and felt stiff. Exceptions were the 22,000-volume library and the billiard room. The enormous indoor swimming pool was impressive.
They put us in the old horse barn for lunch. We ate in a stall next to the trough. I should point out that it had been tastefully cleaned up and decorated. It is one of 15 restaurants on the property.
Is the tour worth the $60 admission? If you cannot secure a private invitation from George Vanderbilt’s great-grandson, who owns the property and lives in the area, then we think it is a place for the ages, not to be missed when you come to Asheville.
Fires raging to the north of us have created a smokey haze across the skies of Southern Oregon for over a month. It was time to get away, and with a wedding anniversary coming up, we needed very little prodding to pack up and head to the Oregon coast!
We have somehow missed Shore Acres State Park in past trips along the coast. What a beautiful spot…however, I've got to say…all Oregon State Parks are amazing.
This property was the summer estate (and showplace) of lumberman and shipbuilder Louis J. Simpson. Unfortunately, fire destroyed the original mansion in 1921. Financial losses prevented him from rebuilding and the state took over the property in 1942.
There is still plenty to see though, and we managed to make a day of it. Take a picnic lunch along and enjoy the views!
The original estate boasted five acres of formal gardens built around a 100-foot lily pond. All continue to be beautifully maintained for year-round visitors. From Thanksgiving Day through New Year's Eve, the garden is decorated with 300,000+ holiday lights. Hmm…I think we may need to come back before the year is out!
The garden city of Victoria, British Columbia, is 152 years old and remains a lively oceanfront provincial capital. It was named after the United Kingdom's longest-reigning monarch.
We visited last weekend to see my (Reg's) brother Roy and his family.
Living where we do (in the Sierra at an elevation of 3200') gardening is often a fight against nature. Deer, squirrels, rabbits and lately raccoons, have all helped themselves to various plants, shrubs and most recently, chunks of our lawn. Because it's rare for our flowers to last more than a day or two before wildlife makes a meal of them, I was pleased to see a few flowers to be enjoyed in and around Rome.