Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hi from HI and Damn You Sandy

We had a wonderful couple of weeks on Hatteras Island with great weather and time with friends. We had several beach days when I got to do some fishing while Nanc did a lot if reading and sunning. 
A beautiful day with high clouds that stayed off shore while we soaked up the fall sun.
For several years Tom and Georgie have come to HI in the fall. They rent a beach front cabin at the Outer Banks Motel that is not available in the summer.  When I say beach front I mean so close to the ocean you can fish from the deck at high tide.  Here they are with Nanc doing that life's a beach thing.
So true!!
The fishing picked up a bit when I got these two nice blues.  I love fishing here because you never know what is on the line when you get a hit.  This is the first time we ate the blues, which many people say are strong, but Nanc found a recipe for a great citrus marinade and we found them to be very tasty.
A sure sign that things are changing on HI is that there is now entertainment at a couple local restaurants. The music starts at eight or nine in the evening.  Years ago nothing would have been open this late, much less just starting at that time. Above is Rory singing some of our favorites. 
Another great feature of HI is the chance to see the sun rise over the Atlantic and then set across the Pamlico Sound.  You can almost hear the hissing as the sun goes down into the sound.
Tom, Georgie, Jim and Nanc at the Breakwater where we went to see that sunset. It was great getting to spend a week with friends. As always, seeing friends on the road is one of the best things about our lifestyle.
As I write this we have left HI and are sitting 100 miles inland while waiting for Hurricane Sandy to pass.  I guess there is a reason Cape Hatteras High School teams are known as the Hurricanes.  In addition to the chance of flooding and high winds, another big concern was that Highway 12 would be washed out and we would be stuck.  This is the new inlet I wrote about in the last entry.  Some of the locals we talked to were worried the temporary bridge would be wiped out, meaning we would be stuck until it was repaired.  Based on past experience we decided it was better to be safe than sorry. 
We drove through some of Sandy's far outer bands of rain and had a little wind, but the trip was uneventful.  If Highway 12 survives we plan to return after she passes.
I found an iPhone app called What County that uses the GPS to tell you what county you are in.  This can be very helpful when listening to weather warnings.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

On to OBX

After leaving Charlottesville we headed to the Outer Banks for a month-long stay.  Hatteras Island was our favorite vacation spot when we lived in a stix and brix and this will be the third time we have visited here since going on the road.  Being here in the fall is wonderful with warm weather and almost no crowds.
 Before we headed to Hatteras Island we stopped to see Sherri and Mike who were here in Corolla with their family for the Columbus Day weekend.  This was the BIG house they rented.  It was nice to see how the other half lives.
Pappy Sharp fishing with Andrew and Benny.

The guys drove up the beach to see the wild ponies that roam the beach here.  They are descended from ponies that swam ashore from some of the many ship wrecks along the Outer Banks.  I have never been this far north here and was surprised by the many houses that are off the road and require a four wheel drive to get to.
Here is the Sharp family celebrating Mike's birthday.  We had not seen them for quite a while and it was great seeing all seven grandchildren together. The only ones we missed were Carrie's and Tracey's husbands, John and Matt, who had to stay back and go to work and pay into Social Security.  I'm sure that was why they were not there and it was not to get away from the chaos of a weekend in a house with seven kids under the age of 12:)
You never know what you are going to encounter when you get on Hatteras Island and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  The island really is just a narrow bit of high sand that jets out into the Atlantic.  There is an almost constant moving of sand off the road and rebuilding of the dunes.  This is the same stretch of road where we had to drive through the water when leaving on our last visit.  Here is a link to the scary trip and a look at Andrew and Benny the last time we saw them.
On the Northern end of the island the dunes are slowly being destroyed by the waves.  The dunes are not natural, they were built by the CCC (socialist government program to employee people) during the Depression.  The results have not all been positive and it looks like they are going to let them disappear in the areas that are not populated.
Another change since we were here two years ago is a new inlet with a temporary bridge.  It was a bit tight with two rigs passing.
This inlet in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is the second cut by storms on Hatteras in the last ten years.  Long term plans are to move the highway to a bridge on the bay side so the "temporary" bridge may be here for a while.
We arrived on Columbus Day, the last day of the season to climb to the top of the tallest lighthouse is the US.  We have not done that for several years so as soon as we were set up we headed to the lighthouse.
Here we are 254 steps later at the top.  In 1999 we were vacationing here when they picked up the lighthouse and moved it 2900 feet away from the water's edge.  It was quite impressive.  The brown circle of sand in the distance over my right shoulder is where is used to sit.
Looking north from the top.  In the foreground is Buxton and in the distance is Avon where we are staying.  You can see how narrow the bit of land is connecting the two towns.  In the 1960's a storm cut an inlet here, so you can see why you really have no idea what you are going to find when you return to Hatteras.  The thing we love best about Hatteras is the long stretches of beach with no buildings and almost no people.
Doing my thing.  We have been to both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts in our travels and I must say the west coast is beautiful, but when I think ocean I think beach and getting into the water, which you cannot do in the cold Pacific.  We are looking forward to a month of wonderful beach days.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Charlottesville and Friends

We moved on to Charlottesville to see Valerie and Richard Frayer, the RVers we first met at RV Boot Camp in 2007.  We have crossed paths with them all over the country in Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and now Virginia.
While Valerie and Richard are still RVing they bought a condo in Charlottesville to use as a base.  We have been looking forward to seeing the new place and all the decorating touches Valerie has worked her magic on.  They did all the remodeling themselves and the place is really great.  They had us over for dinner, a debate party, a chance to see their new place and to get caught up on what has been going on in our lives.
The next day we all went to nearby Monticello.  To get there, we walked a three mile trail through the woods.  We checked for any Geocaches along the path and Nanc found this big one.  This was the Frayer's first Geocache adventure.
Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello was built in the 1770's.  The house was designed by Jefferson and influenced by buildings he had seen during his time as the US minister to France.  Many of the furnishings in the house are original but no interior photos are allowed. 
The house has many unique features that Jefferson had designed or improved upon.  The weather vane on the portico roof is attached to a compass rose on the ceiling.  The clock in the entrance hall told the time to the second (rare for that time) as well as the day of the week.
The wine cellar and kitchen were typical of houses of the period.  There was also a beer cellar:)
 I was really impressed by the huge garden that was still producing vegetables in early October.  This was, in part, because Jefferson had located it where it was in the sun all day even into the fall.  The man really was a genius. 
 Here we are with Tom.  Center is Jefferson's gravestone.  We visited here many years ago and really love the place.  One difference in the tour is that they now acknowledge that Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves.  After I wrote this, Richard sent me this article from the Smithsonian magazine that put Jefferson in a little different light on the issue of "All men are created equal" and slavery. 
Next we went to Carter Mountain Orchard to watch the sunset across the Blue Ridge Mountains.  If you are in Charlottesville a trip to the orchard to see the sunset should be on your to do list.  In addition to seeing the sunset and purchasing your favorite apples, if you visit before mid-October they have wine tasting and music.
The next day we drove a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway which travels along the top of the mountains from here to Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  We were a bit early to see a lot of fall colors, but a few trees had started to turn and the views of the valley below were spectacular.
An old farmhouse that was typical of those built by the mountain people.  It was really quite roomy compared to an RV, but then again we are not raising half a dozen kids.
The fireplace and bed inside the cabin.  Notice the quilt roll on the foot of the bed.  A neat way to store an extra cover.  Bottom left is the barn for the family cow and right are hollowed out logs they used as beehives.  These early pioneers had to be very hardy.  We had a great couple of days exploring the area and visiting with Valerie and Richard.
In another small world experience, I saw on Facebook that our old WashPA neighbors JoAnne and Jeff LaBella where also staying at Misty Mountain Campground.  We went to the office to see which site they were in and dropped by for a surprise visit.  They are now retired and doing a bit of RV exploring.  Once again seeing friends along the road continues to be one of the best things about our lifestyle.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tidballs, Antietam and Harpers Ferry

We are back on the road and in the tourist mode so we are looking for more places to explore.  Since last summer, when I discovered there is a Tidball Trail there, I have been planning to visit Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland.  Antietam was the first major battle of the Civil War fought in the North and the bloodiest day in American history with about 23,000 killed, wounded or missing. 
The initial attack was carried out by Union troops moving through a corn field with devastating results.  The dreary, cloudy day sure helped set the scene in imagining what that terrible day 150 years ago must have been like. 
The Dunker Church, ironically a house of worship for pacifist German Baptists, was the focal point of the Union for the morning attack.  The next phase of the battle was the Sunken Road where there were so many causalities it is now known as Bloody Lane.
The afternoon battle shifted to Burnside Bridge where 500 Confederate troops on the high ground from where this picture was taken held off a much larger Union force.  The Union finally flanked and drove the Confederates from their position.  In the final fight of the day Lee's forces were saved by A. P. Hill's that had just arrived from Harpers Ferry.  Even with all the casualties, the day ended pretty much a draw. But since the South had not been able to win a battle on Northern ground, Lincoln used the results to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves in the rebellious states.    
This is Capt. John C. Tidball who is surely a distant relative of mine.  Capt. Tidball was in every major Eastern battle of the war and was the first officer to order that Taps be played at a military burial in place of the usual firing of the cannon.  After the Civil War he served 40 more years in the Army, raising to the rank of brevet (honorary) Major General.  He is also the author of the Manual for Heavy Artillery and served as the Commandant of Cadets at West Point.    
Here I am on the Tidball Trail and with the artillery where Capt. Tidball's battery was positioned during the battle.  I have never been into genealogy but I have had an extract of the Tidball family tree for years that was prepared between 1885-1899 by John C. Tidball.  It is interesting knowing that an ancestor played such a big part in American history.  It has peaked my interest enough that I'm looking forward to reading more about John Tidball, including an anthology that has just been published.   
The same afternoon we drove to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to explore this unique old town that played an important role in much of early American history.  Harpers Ferry is at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.  It was the site of the US Armory and Arsenal, an important industrial center, the location of John Brown's ill fated attempt to start a slave rebellion and a major transportation hub for canals and later the railroads that went through the Blue Ridge Mountains. 
The lower part of town has a great collection of buildings that line the steep old cobblestone streets.  During the Civil War the Federal troops set fire to the arsenal in hopes of preventing the Confederate Army from getting to the weapons.  The Southern troops were able to save the weapon making equipment that was then used to supply them through the war.
A few of the old businesses that lined the streets.  Harpers Ferry was also the site of the largest surrender of US troops in history when Stonewall Jackson captured the town right before the battle at Antietam.  The North retook the town and used it as a base for the campaign in the Shenandoah Valley later in the war.
Harpers Ferry also played an important role in African American history.  Before the Civil War there were about as many free Blacks as there were slaves working in the town.  It was the site of the second meeting of the Niagara Movement, an early civil rights group and the home of Storer College, a school that educated students of all races and both genders in the second half of the 1800's.  This is a building used by Storer College.  
If you have any interest in American history, Antietam and Harpers Ferry should be on your to do list.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Music, Food, Friends, Family and WashPA VII

We finished up our stay in WashPA as it began, by getting caught up with friends, going to doctor appointments and listening to local music.  Here is a link to to a video of Dan, Josh and the Band. My last doctor's visit was for glasses, so we are now all set for another year.  I failed to take pictures when we played euchre with the old card club (I lost), a dinner and fun evening with the Jones',  and one last trip to the bowling alley where I soundly defeated Mike in all three games.  We both exercised our rights and voted via absentee ballot.  "O" what an experience helping to elect the president.  I am sad to report that for the twentieth year in a row the Pirates finished below .500 with a September swoon, so we were real lucky to see a win when we went to a game.
Here we are with Ed and Donna when we did a hamburger night with them along with Tom and Georgie at Someone Else's. The guys agreed the burgers were wonderful.  Nanc had a veggie quesadilla and Donna and Georgie had wraps and they agreed their choices were wonderful too.  Thumbs up for this restaurant no matter what you order.
A sign at the casino where we left a few $$$$$$$.  You know if there is a sign, some fool did it. 
This time of year in Western PA is beautiful as the leaves begin to change.  The colors are really amazing.
My bro, Capt'n Rick, with his birthday present.
Nanc, Denise, Rick and Jim celebrated his birthday with a wonderful meal at the Sonoma Grill in Pittsburgh.  Another great evening together before we hit the road.
Another birthday celebration.  Nanc, Jim, Georgie and Tom, who turned 74, had a wonderful meal at the Back Porch.  The next morning Tom ran the Pittsburgh Great Race.  I think the man is ageless.
 On our last day in WashPA we were invited to have wood fired pizza one last time with John and Patrice.  Here Patrice, Kim, Bill and Nanc are enjoying the first one out of the oven. It was one more wonderful day with friends.
Johnny preparing and cooking another tasty creation.  He has always been a great cook and this oven is a dream come true.  This is something we will always look forward to when we return to the area.
Look, he even made one for us to take home.  It was supper our first night on the road.  Thanks again!
While we love our life of travel and being on the road, we always look forward to being back in WashPA and spending time with our old friends and family.  We have stayed here a little longer each year and even at that we still don't get to do all we want to or see everyone we had hope to see.  Thanks to all for your friendship and hospitality.  We loved seeing everyone and truly had a wonderful visit.