Posts Tagged With: Photos

Sculpted From History

Once home to a rambling rice plantation, 2500+ acre Huntington Beach State Park transformed into a beautiful seaside getaway when the when the state of South Carolina took over in 1960. Our week here was filled with exploration; walking the sandy beach, hiking through the woodlands and searching the marshes for a glimpse of the dreaded alligator.

The park is also home to Atalaya Castle, built as an escape from the cold winter months by successful businessman Archer Huntington and his renowned, sculptor wife Anna Hyatt Huntington. Soon after the couple purchased the land in 1930, work began on the castle and the adjacent Brookgreen Gardens. The 30-room home was built around two courtyards, separated by a central corridor. For a small fee, curious folks, like us, can tour the interior, a few outbuildings and a small historical display.

Brookgreen Gardens is part botanical gardens and part indoor/outdoor sculpture garden. We were lucky to catch the Rodin exhibit featuring many of his bronze works.

Fortunately for you all, my camera battery died, otherwise I’d probably have even more photos to share. Here are just a few of the 2700 sculptures, by 425 artists, displayed among the grounds.

This may be the most beautiful state park we’ve ever stayed in…certainly one of the top five. However, we have miles to go and many more places to see before we’re home. Where to next?

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Miles and Miles of Sandy Beach

Not quite barefoot weather, but with the Atlantic Ocean in our backyard, we couldn’t resist beginning our week’s stay at Huntington Beach State Park with a nice long walk. We gawked at all the waterfront “cottages” just out of reach (usually) of the high tide line, although there must have been a recent storm with rough seas. Many of the private deck stairs had been, or were in the process of being rebuilt.

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The Gateway to the West

The day was gloomy, but we set our sites on exploring the National Historic Landmark known as the Gateway to the West. The Gateway Arch stands on the banks of the Mississippi River and towers 630 feet over the city of St. Louis, Missouri. It’s the world’s tallest arch and Missouri’s tallest accessible building.

The arch stands as a monument to the United States’ 19th century westward expansion. The Missouri-based routes, the Oregon, Mormon and California trails together are known as the Emigrant Trails. It’s estimated that between 350,000 and 500,000 men, women and children traveled west between 1843 and 1869 on these three trails.

The museum at the arch covers over 200 years of westward expansion history and is free for all visitors. We had purchased tram tickets, so we saved the museum for after our ride to the top.

Arch construction began in 1963 and was completed in 1965. As a nod to the times, we were asked to stand on this spot of far-out looking Love Bug daisies while we watched a short video. Neither Reg nor I had any idea what to expect as we waited for the tram. Heeding the warning not to bump our heads climbing through the four-foot steel-framed door, we were off on our rickety ride.

We had our five-seater tram pod all to ourselves. Looking through the door window, it appeared that there was just enough room to squeeze between the walls. The four-minute ascent was over right about the time I began to worry about the “what ifs.” What if we get stuck…how will we ever get out of here? What if the cable snaps? When was the last safety inspection?

Ducking out of our tram pod, we climbed a few steps to the top of the arch. Looking out to the west the view took in the city of St. Louis. The green dome you see in the first slide show photo (above) is the Old Courthouse, the site of the Dred Scott case, first brought to trial in 1847. To the east, in the third photo, the Mississippi River creates the border between Missouri and Illinois.

Soon our time was up and we headed back down the stairs to catch our ride to the bottom. Shouts from above directed us to stand on the yellow bars, allowing incoming passengers to disembark. A speedy three-minute ride down returned us to where we began. After a look through the museum, it was time for coffee and a snack.

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Somewhere in North Carolina

Today we picked up Minnie, our little vacation home on wheels. After 10 days on the road, we are more than happy to to leave hotel life behind.

Reg directed the truck toward the blue sky and we were off.

It took awhile to clean and organize our space, but we’re already feeling pretty much at home. Reg and I have always battled over the thermostat, so while the wind howled outside, I bundled up to keep warm. Reg poured a cold drink and celebrated our return to traveling with Minnie, anticipating the adventures that await.

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We Found OurThrill…

Taking a rest from our mad dash across the country, we planned two nights in St. Louis, looking forward to a day for stretching our legs and seeing the sites. We eventually realized we had landed in a special place; The Delmar Loop.
Reg was skeptical as we set out to find dinner. Our little stretch of Delmar Boulevard felt, shall we say, a little rough around the edges.

It didn’t take long for Blueberry Hill Restaurant and Music Club to crush any misgivings either of us had. The St. Louis Landmark is part restaurant, part concert venue and part museum.

The most incredible tidbit of history we learned was a connection the legendary Chuck Berry had to Blueberry Hill. As a native of St. Louis and friend to owner Joe Edwards, he played over 200 monthly concerts at the venue from 1997 – 2014. We were told they were always on a Wednesday, and always a packed house.

In the 1970s businessman and developer Joe Edwards spearheaded a movement to revitalize the stretch of street known at the Delmar Loop. He opened BlueberryHill in 1972. His accomplishments since that time have been remarkable.


After finishing dinner, we were surprised to see the neighborhood had come alive with crowds spilling out of bars and restaurants. That was the vibrant, eclectic neighborhood we were expecting.

Shining above Delmar Loop is the Moonrise Hotel, and it was our home for two nights. I should have taken more photos. While the lobby sports some pretty groovy mid-century modern furniture, it’s the glowing, psychedelic staircase that steals the show. Multiple display cases are chock full of space-themed memorabilia…all in all, very 1960-ish.
It’s been quite an evening and we have an entire day tomorrow to rest up for. It’s going to take something pretty spectacular to compete with all this!

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OKC Is Okay With Us

Canal rides are available along the Bricktown Canal.

I’ve always loved Oklahoma (the musical that is) but Reg and I had never given much thought to visiting the Sooner State…until this trip. Oklahoma City happened to be in the right place, at the right time for an overnight stop on our eastward journey.

Our reservation at the Hyatt Place in the Bricktown entertainment district was the perfect blend of comfort and fun. Just steps outside the door an entire neighborhood of shops and restaurants awaited. Bricktown is also the site of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City Dodgers – the city’s minor league baseball team.

Dinner was another high point of our short stay. Pearl’s Crabtown wasn’t fancy, but we had been assured the seafood was top notch. Even on a Monday night the place was hopping.

So, at the end of the day, Oklahoma City soared to the top of favorite city of the trip…so far.

Next stop: The Moonrise Hotel which promises to “bring us out of our world for an unforgettable experience!” I hope you can join us!

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Maine or Bust 2022: We Crossed The Line

After nearly 3 months on the road, we crossed the line into Maine!

First stop in the state of Maine – a short, 2-night visit with friends and former California neighbors Jeannie and Jeff at their lovely coastal home. Although the weather wasn’t looking good Friday morning, we donned our raincoats (just in case) and set off on a path through the 295-acre Beech Hill Preserve, hoping to take in the 360° view of Penobscot Bay, Camden Hills and the St. George Peninsula. Our hopes were dashed upon reaching the summit of Beech Hill as the clouds closed in.

We were able to have a look at the 1913 restored sod-roofed hut and the remains of a stone circle. Jeannie captured our hiking memories with her photos.

We tidied ourselves up and went out for dinner at Archer’s, a terrific seafood restaurant with a harbor view, where our evening began with drinks and Oysters Rockefeller. Thank you so much Jeannie and Jeff. It was sad to say goodbye, but you gave us wonderful memories and a perfect introduction to the state of Maine.

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Maine or Bust 2022: Sometimes It’s A Bust

Shenandoah National Park offers over 500 miles of hiking trails through Virginia’s spectacular mountain scenery. We reserved four nights just outside the park in Luray at Spacious Skies RV Park, excited about three full days to explore the park.

We had big plans for those chairs after our daily hikes.

Our first day found us back on a section of the Appalachian Trail. We were curious to see the overnight shelters distance hikers frequent, so we chose a 6-mile out and back trail called Mary’s Rock and Birds Nest 3 Shelter.

It was a rocky, uphill path to Mary’s Rock but the view was worth the climb. We continued on until we reached the shelter known as Birds Nest 3. While it was pretty rustic, it would certainly provide welcome relief to weary hikers eager to escape bad weather. At one end was a large fireplace while a raised sleeping platform stretched across the back. Tucked away at a discrete distance was another treat…an outhouse. I didn’t peek inside assuming it was likely pretty rustic, but figured it would offer a bit of hard-to-come-by privacy after miles of wilderness.

That night the temperatures dropped and the rains began. Hard rains…relentless rains. Perhaps day two was a good time to drive a part of 105-mile Skyline Drive that winds along the spine of the park.

It was obviously not a day for sightseeing, so we went back to our trailer and got the laundry done. The rain and cold continued into the next day. Our Shenandoah National Park visit was a bit of a bust, and we weren’t able to fully appreciate the beautiful campsite we had, but we did have one great hike and a good laugh about our “drive through the park.”

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Maine or Bust 2022: George Washington Slept Here

Mount Vernon – George Washington’s plantation estate.

The most historic home in America lies on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia. For nearly 45 years Mount Vernon was home to George Washington, our country’s first president, and his wife Martha.

The estate has been privately owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association since 1858. It is open for all to enjoy 365 days a year. Your admission gains you access to the gardens, farm and a number of outbuildings. The interior home tour is an additional cost, but the grounds surrounding it are free for all to explore.

It took a tremendous amount of manpower (not to mention womanpower) to keep the plantation running and profitable both inside and out. As was the practice of the times, Washington depended on a workforce of enslaved men and women to tend to the day-to-day operations of the garden, crop, fishing, farm and household chores. The days were long.

Facts and figures according to the 1799 census.

George Washington died at Mount Vernon in 1799. Martha passed away a little over 2 years later. Their remains lie side-by-side in the Mount Vernon the family tomb.

Construction of the Washington tomb was completed in 1831 where the remains of George, Martha and other family members remain today.

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Maine or Bust 2022: Appalachian Trail Dream

A short drive to Virginia’s Grayson Highlands State Park allowed us a chance for a short hike with a link to one of the country’s most iconic national trails.

The 2.3-mile Massie Gap and Wilburn Ridge loop trail overlaps a portion of the Appalachian Trail, the nearly 2,200-mile path that leads thru-hikers from Springer Mountain in the state of Georgia, north to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

If we were 25 years younger we might try hiking this entire trail. You never know, but for now…this short segment will have to do.

We read that we could expect spectacular views and, if we were lucky, glimpses of a wild Grayson Highland pony or two.

From atop the rock outcropping (behind Reg in photo with trail marker above) we could see forever. We rejoined the Appalachian Trail section and continued on for a short bit until a steep downhill (requiring a steep return ascent) turned us around.

We found a grassy meadow for a lunch stop, but not one pony was tempted to join us. They all remained hidden from sight.
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