Friday, November 30, 2007

Georgia On Our Minds

We spent a couple of days in the Savannah, Georgia area. In the historic district we took a 90 minute trolley tour which gave us a lot of information about the city. We then walked around and enjoyed the sites. The city was built around 22 squares that are parks honoring various famous people. Each park is filled with gnarly old oak trees that are cover with Spanish moss. We visited the Telfair Museum to see the Bird Girl statue that was made famous by the story "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". We also went to the Jepson Center for the Arts, a new museum, to see an Ansel Adams photography exhibit. One of the statues in the city is of Florence Martus who for 44 years waved at every ship that sailed by on the river. The city is built on a high bluff overlooking the Savannah River. Because the city is on the bluff the river front buildings are all three or four stories tall. The lower floors on the water were warehouses to store goods being shipped in and out and the top floor was the offices with the front facing toward the city. There was an street call Factory Way that served the middle floors on the city side so in order to get to the offices you had to cross a bridge over that street. While we where down along the water a huge ocean going container ship sailed up the river. Savannah is one of the largest ports for this type of ship in the US. The next day we went to Tybee Island which is right on the ocean. We climbed the lighthouse and toured the museum. The lighthouse is the one of four along the Georgia coast. It has a nine foot tall First Order Fresnel Lens which is made from many prisms to concentrate the light so it can be seen farther out at sea. There are not many of these lenses in the US that are still intact. The museum was in an old concrete artillery bunker that was part of Fort Screven which was built during the Spanish American War. It was used until WWII after which it was sold to the town to be turned into a resort. Some of the houses are the old military buildings. Some people have actually turned the old bunkers into foundations for clubs and homes. They are quite unique with walls that are several feet thick.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Weekend

We are now at Lake Norman staying with my brother Rick and his wife Denise in their beautiful home overlooking the lake. There was no place nearby to park the motor home so we parked on the horse farm of their friend, Carole Earnhardt. While we were there we got to watch her daughter break a young pony that had never been ridden. It is the first time in four months that we have not slept in our own bed. Next week Nanc and I both have birthdays and, as a gift, Rick and Denise had a masseuse come to the house for 90 minute massages for each of us. Wow, talk about relaxing, Annette worked out all the kinks. For Thanksgiving the four of us went out to dinner. We had a wonderful buffet at Upstream in Charlotte with all the traditional dishes plus a whole table of fresh shellfish and shrimp. It was a great day with good company, good food and no dishes to clean up. We really do have much to be thankful for. On Friday we went to Lowes Motor Speedway and got to drive on the track, which is only allowed the day after Thanksgiving each year. It was quite a hoot. They put about 20 cars at a time on the track and you are permitted to drive around as fast as you like as long as you don't pass the pace car. We got the CRV up to 80 mph (woohoo) going through the high banked turns. It was wild with everything from sports cars to mini vans driving the three laps together. On Saturday the four of us went to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville to see the house decorated for the holidays. We took the audio tour which gave a lot more information than the tour with just the pamphlet. We were there several years ago and this time much more of the house was open to the public. The holiday decorations were beautiful but, unfortunately, no interior photography is allowed. If you are into estate tours this is definitely one you don't want to miss. It is spectacular.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Sharp Weekend

We had a great weekend with the Sharp's, Mike, Sherri, Brian, Lori & Andrew and Tom & Darlene Dufalla, Lori's parents. We visited, did some touring, played games and helped Brian & Lori move into their new house. We toured Beaufort, an old seaport. There are several original houses including the Hammock House where Blackbeard the pirate is said to have stayed. We also went to the North Carolina Maritime Museum that has a lot of artifacts from the area and a workshop where they build small boats to keep the traditional methods alive. The place we found to be the most interesting was the Old Burying Ground that has graves dating back to the 1700's. One of the graves is the girl in the barrel on whose grave people continue to leave tributes. The story is that her mother only allowed her father to take her to England if he promised to return with her. When she died on the ship, rather than the usual burial at sea, her father bought a barrel of rum from the captain in which to place her body in order to preserve it. Thus, he could keep his promise to bring her back. Next we went to Fort Macon which was built in the 1800's. During the Civil War the local militia took and held the fort for a year before Union forces led by General Burnside (of sideburns fame) recaptured it. It was not used again until the Spanish American War after which it became a state park. During the Depression the CCC totally refurbished the fort for the state. When WWII started and the German U-boats were sinking ships off the North Carolina coast the army once again occupied it with a Coast Artillery Unit. Since that time it is once again a state park. It is very well preserved and is worth the visit.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rollin n Rockin

On Thursday we crossed Pamlico Sound from Ocracoke to Cedar Island on a 2.5 hour ferry ride with 40 mph winds and 6 to 8 foot waves. It was so windy we had to be very careful even opening the door of the motor home which was travelling backwards. For most of the trip the ferry was heading into the wind and waves so there was not a lot of motion. For the last half hour the boat turned and sailed across the waves. This caused it to roll back and forth quite a bit. Looking out the door window from the drivers seat the horizon would disappear both above and below the window. We were very happy to get into the harbor. On the drive after landing I had the signal I have been waiting for to show I am officially retired, we had to stop the motor home for a school bus. We are going to spend the weekend with Brian & Lori Sharp and Mike & Sherri are going to be there. We are looking forward to getting together with all of them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


We are spending a couple days on Ocracoke Island. To get here we took the motor home on a forty minute ferry ride from Hatteras Island. The island is almost entirely national seashore except for the southern most point where the village is built around Silver Lake. We have been here in the summer when you can hardly move because of the number of people but at this time of the year the streets are empty. We walked and drove around and enjoyed the great weather and scenery. Driving along the northern end of the island the dunes are gone and you are very close the the ocean. Nearer the village the beaches are very wide. We saw at least a dozen dolphin in the water close to shore. They were jumping out of the water and circling to feed on the fish. If you look closely you can see a fin and the swirling of the water. We also saw the Ocracoke ponies that arrived here from ship wrecks along the coast in the 1500 & 1600's. At one time they roamed freely but have been penned because of the increase in traffic. We visited to the lighthouse which is the oldest in North Carolina. The campground is beside the British Cemetery where British sailors whose bodies washed ashore are buried. Most of these are from WWII when they patrolled the Atlantic coast looking for German U-boats. The U-boats sank so many ships in the area it was named Torpedo Alley.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Still having a HI Time

We are on Hatteras Island until this Tuesday then we will move south to Ocracoke for a couple days. Next weekend we are going to visit Brian and Lori Sharp before heading to Lake Norman for Thanksgiving with my brother Rick and his wife Denise. We made our first reservation for Florida at Cape Canaveral to see the shuttle launch in early December. The weather here has been much cooler with highs in the 50's but it does not get much lower than that at night. It's been great being here for a month experiencing the off season. We have taken long walks, fished, and just chilled out. It has been interesting seeing how the weather has changed over the month and watching the ocean. We started out with beach weather then we had the "hard blow" and now we have cooler temps. Now when I go fishing I wear a coat. We drove north to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to see the birds and also saw how much sand was blown across the road in Rodanthe during the storm. The first house on the left in the picture had waves breaking under it and the road was also closed for a day. We did have visitors this week when Georgie and Tom came down for three days. Having this personal mail delivery is really pretty nice. We took long walks, went out to dinner, played cards and had a great time just visiting. It was very comfortable with four of us in the motor home. The pictures are just a few random shots of the island.