This is our final hike and post of our fabulous Fall and water fall trip to Sapphire, NC! The waterfalls were what caught Bill’s attention, this is a place to hike with lots of great rewards. Our last post, contained two hikes in the Gorges State Park. Our first post contained the best waterfalls we could find in this area. So this one was a bit more about challenges, some waterfalls but the view was the best of all our hikes. We didn’t know that when we selected it – which is our usual method. What we do know is that you can’t drive anywhere with out seeing beauty in this area!
We have three more hikes to share while we were in Sapphire, NC. The first two, in our last post, were the most spectacular! But the other three were still great hikes, very challenging and encouraging to me, Debbie.
I mention my knees issues every once in a while. I am so grateful I can still hike! I was told in 2004, I’d need a partial knee replacement in five years. Never happened. I found a different doctor who prescribed a better regimen but I was also told to avoid stairs. So I do as much as possible. I have had two meniscus repairs on each knee. My last X-rays were very encouraging, no knee replacements in either in my future. Can I shout, Praise the Lord!!! It really is miraculous because I did abuse my knees with long distance running in the beautiful city of Philadelphia, but on the sidewalks. My mom warned me I would wear out my knees. I was a bit disrepectful and said God created them to run so I’ll be OK. Needless to say, mom was right! I have to use caution with any activities. I can’t walk fast let alone run, but I can take slow walks on hard packed dirt or sand and I can HIKE! There is something about being in and around God’s creation that brings me much peace and joy!
9/13/2022 Windy Hills Fall hike – attempted but failed.
Our first hike in the Gorges State Park was more or less a failure. We thought we were hiking to another beautiful waterfall, called Windy Falls. There are pictures of it in the All Trails App but it was impossible for us to hike to see it using the app and designated trail. There is a glitch of some sort. However, we still had a great time and learned we should not climb over road closure arm. We entered Toxaway Game Land. It wasn’t marked. We were told Gorges State Park was NC’s newest campground so perhaps that was why there wasn’t better signage.
Let me back up. I should start at the beginning of our day. Using All Trails App, we looked for great hikes closer to us. Gorges State Park was only about 15-20 minute drive. We had plans to at least hike 6 if not more miles. Normally, we stop in Visitor Centers, especially when it is so convenient to the trail head. We decided we wanted to hit the trail and, after all, the All Trails App had the trail map and a great review to Windy Hill Fall trail then on to the Rainbow Falls. Follow our hike in the slide show, below. It looked well marked in the beginning. But as noted above, we hit a glitch;
After the fact, we realized we could have had a disaster as we descended. I couldn’t take pictures and use my poles most of the way from the barricade to the end of the trail. It was narrow, lots of roots and rocks. The review warned us of this so we were not concerned. But by the time we could go no further, we realized we made a mistake. In the Visitor Center, we later learned we had entered Toxaway Game Land. There were no warning signs, but maybe a barricade was a clue we weren’t entering a viable State Park trail. While we wanted to hike more miles, we encountered another couple that let us know, we needed to call it a day.
9/14/2022 Rainbow Falls and Turtle Back Falls
As mentioned above, had intentions of ALSO hiking to Rainbow Falls the day before. To get to the Rainbow Falls, there is a steep descent – so one must be prepared to climb back up and out. We literally bumped into a really nice couple in the parking lot, then ended up hiking the entire trail with them. They were maybe 15 years younger but were novice hikers. Perhaps they thought we might need help since we had hiking poles. We thought they might need help since we’re so “experienced.” We were tipped off the day before, it is a tough trail. We did fine. We actually were forced to go slow because there were a lot of other hikers. What they learned from us was to get hiking poles!
Follow our hike in this slide show. To read the captions, click on the first image then view as a slide show:
This trail was challenging for those not used to hiking. Unless one reads the description of it at the trail head, they may not realize the challenges. The day before, we met a couple who just finished the hike. We had gone nearly four miles challenging miles, they said this one was also challenging in the descent then ascent.
While we waited to get our pictures taken, we talked to an “urban” couple. They wanted to experience a lot of fresh air on their vacation. They had no idea what they were in for, but in their determination, they made it to the Falls. However, it was slippery and the woman lost her footing and slide down. Fortunately, the fence caught her! It was a heart stopping moment. Thankfully, she was not injured. We met up with them on our way back to the car. The were sitting on a bench about 1/4 mile from the parking lot. They were catching their breath. They had not carried water but had some in their car. They needed a drink so we offered to go get it. They thanked us and said they learned some valuable lessons if they ever decide to take a “hike!”
Stay tuned for our final hike to Salt Rock Gap trails. It’s been nearly two months since we were here. Writing this up has helped us to book another trip here – in the Spring.
My final thoughts as I finish this post:
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him!”Psalms 28:7
Bill continues to serve as our Travel Adventure Director. He never disappoints. I am always amazed at the places he finds for us. So for this quick one week trip as close to home as possible with challenging hikes, we traveled to Sapphire, NC. He said he picked this area because of all the water falls.
First, a bit about our accommodations at Fairway Forest Resort. We are members of RCI (Resorts Condominiums International). We needed a better way to travel after giving up Recreational Vehicles. We actually stumbled upon this travel idea. It is too complicated to explain, let’s just say it is working for us. This week was our ninth week since joining a year ago. The condos are fully furnished with fully equipped kitchens. We have not been disappointed in any of our accommodations. This one ranked up as one of the best – but then I seem to say that after every week. Maybe our expectations are lowered, or maybe they are higher, no matter, our expectations each trip so far have been exceeded.
Our two story condo was on a golf course, next to a National Forest with a babbling brook running nearby. The sound was so soothing! The outside appearance was really not all that lovely, but inside, it was perfect. We had a two bedroom, two bath. Full kitchen, dining table, living area with a fireplace, sliding doors from both of these areas are technically on the second floor and went out to a large balcony and overlooked a hidden golf course. Stairs are my nemesis but these were carpeted, not steep and easy on my knees. The stairs went downstairs to the master bedroom ensuite. HUGE jetted bathtub with a separate shower. Full washer and dryer with plenty of closets and drawers to unpack. We also had a sliding glass door to an outside patio. I have lots of photos but really, they do not do it justice.
We went on five fabulous hikes, plus visited with friends who have a cabin in the area. Little did we know we were staying so close to them so it was bonus to spend an evening with them.
September 11, 2022 Glen Falls Trail
My review on All Trails, which I rated four out of five stars: We like to hike to falls wherever we can. We’re in this area for a week because of all the Falls. This hike had the most robust and gorgeous falls! The trail was challenging so it was well worth the length and rewards. We had poles – and needed them for balance around some mud, all the roots and rocks. These are natural in a forest! The trail was well traveled but no signs after the first one. Fortunately someone familiar with it helped us at one junction-not marked. Conditions: Muddy, Rocky, Great!
Sadly, I had a hard time getting the All Trails App to record the hike. But I used my Apple Watch which said it was about three miles. We had a picnic at the bottom of the trail. It was a three and back.
A slide show of a few pictures:
September 12, 2022 Nantahala Whitewater Falls & Foothills Trail
My review from All Trails, which earned five stars out of five! Fabulous! We started at the Whitewater Falls, then hopped on the foothills trail to Grassy Knob. Great views. Two areas with benches as we climbed Grassy Knob. Trail was excellent, just one area needs maintenance from fallen trees. We need to carry a saw!
Stats: Length, 4.81 miles (Actual was 5 miles); Elevation gain 702 ft; Moving time 3:02:08
And we thought Glenn Falls was fabulous. This is THE WATERFALL that makes this area famous for waterfalls! From the Forest Service website:
“Whitewater Falls owes its existence to the Blue Ridge Escarpment, a sharp drop in elevation between the mountains and the Piedmont.
“With a 411-foot plunge, Upper Whitewater Falls in North Carolina is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. South Carolina’s Lower Whitewater Falls falls another 400 feet.
“Because of the escarpment’s difficult access and rugged terrain, much of the area receives few visitors and has remained wild and undeveloped over the years.”
A slide show with captions of a few pictures:
In a recent Bible study, we looked at Psalms 90. I thought of our wonderful time in these beautiful mountains and the prayer of Moses:
“A prayer of Moses the man of God. Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”Psalms 90:2
We still have three more days of hiking to share. So stay tuned. We liked this area so much, we are returning in the Spring!
(Warning, picture slide show overload!)
Since our last two hiking trips in Missouri, Bill has wanted to go to the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. But we had to wait for a few issues to be taken care of and for the weather to warm up. Finally, everything came together in April. As a bonus, we were able to fit a week in Vermont first, then to the Berkshires the following week.
Here is a quick recap of our week in Wilmington, Vermont, with the details in two blog posts:
The week of April 16-23, 2022
April 16 Arrived but first took a tour of the Visitor Center Bennington VT
April 17 Easter Service, snow, Hoot toot whistle trail (hiked 4.6 miles)
April 18 Haystack Mt. (Hiked 4.1 miles)
April 19 Day off hiking so drove to NH for groceries
April 20 West Lake Trail (Hiked 6.2 miles)
April 21 Catamount Cross Country Ski Trail (Hiked 3.3 miles)
April 22 Toured Hildene Mansion
April 23 Drove to Pittsfield, MA
On April 16, 2022, we arrived in Wilmington, Vermont with no expectations. Bill only had a few days to book the week but thought it might work out. It was also Easter weekend so thankfully, there were openings. After all, this is the cold north so, unlike other “warmer” locations we tried, there was availability. I trusted my Travel Guide, my husband, on this one. Thankfully, he exceeded ANY expectations I could have had!
We stayed in the historic Crafts Inn, 10 West Main St., Wilmington, Vermont. From the informative website:
A little history about The Crafts Inn
The Crafts Inn, along with Memorial Hall (which is next door), were designed by architects, Mead, McKim & White, with the New York firm of Stanford White. White was considered one of the preeminent architects of his time. The architectural designing of the Inn and Hall was started in 1898, Memorial Hall was opened mid-December 1902 in time to have Christmas celebrations for the town, and Craft’s Inn was opened on February 10, 1903 by Major F. W. Childs and was called ‘Childs Tavern’ at that time. The hotel was built more as a resort for visitors who would be staying for an extended period, as opposed to other accommodations in the area, designed largely for travelers passing through. A lot of people would come up from the city. The men would send their families up for a long-term stay, maybe for a month during the summer. It was a very popular place back then….”
A few pictures inside and outside:
The best feature of not only the Inn, but the town, was the relaxing environment. From my first phone call to the Inn about two hours before our check-in, until we checked out and drove away, we were impressed. The staff was second to none. All were very friendly and wanted to make sure our stay was the best.
About the only thing we could complain about this week was the unpredictable weather! Friends and family thought we were a bit crazy to head so far north in mid-April. BUT I did check the weather forecast and there was absolutely NO snow predicted. I should have taken a picture of a sign that indicated the snow season was over on April 15. Remember, we arrived on April 16. We had a nice snow shower Sunday afternoon but it didn’t stick. But as everyone in Vermont knows, you can never take the weather for granted! Monday, warnings were issued, between 5 – 8″ of snow was coming Tuesday evening! But I am ahead of our week in Vermont.
April 17, 2022, Sunday was Easter so of course, we had to find a church. No problem, there was a precious young fellowship around the corner, in a historic church building. We found such a wonderful body of believers and heard an outstanding message for this most Holy of our holidays. While it was hard to not be with any of our family members, I told them, I felt like we were with long-lost relatives – after all, we really are family!
After church and eating, it was time to get acclimated to the terrain. We were surprised it began to snow as we headed out. Seriously! Bill said we’ll just stay out as long as we don’t get cold. It was only a five-minute walk from the Craft Inn.
Here is a slide show of the rest of our first exciting Vermont hike:
This was an excellent trail! It was well marked and had plenty of beauty along the way. It had rained a lot the day before and then the wintery mix as we started. So there were some soggy and slippery areas. We decided to walk back via a hard-packed gravel road in the interest of time. Why not go enjoy the hot tub and sauna?
April 18, 2022, we decided to drive to Brattleboro to pick up some provisions. While it was only 23 miles from destination to destination, it was predicted to take nearly 40 minutes! Oh well, it was a very windy and cold day, at least it was warm in the car. The weather forecast said 5-8 inches of snow overnight. On the way, we saw a Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters. Bill’s favorite hiking shoes are no longer made (so we thought) so he’s looking for a replacement. We tried to park nearby to shop there but no convenient parking places close by. So we skipped it and ended up in New Hampshire. Bill knew that was where we were going. I didn’t see a welcome sign but could sense a bit of difference in attitude as we grocery shopped. That’s when Bill told me we were now in New Hampshire. Interesting!
April 19, 2022, the weather was perfect for a great hike! And guess what, we only got about an inch of snow, not the 5 – 8″ predicted. It melted as the sun began to shine. We had so many places to choose from that, using All Trails, we decided to stay close to Wilmington. The gas prices are just ridiculous so why not stay close to our Inn? We picked a four-mile hike with great views. We had no idea what we were in for as we are “out of practice.” We didn’t look closely at the elevation! Thankfully, our only complaint was the last 3/10th mile to the summit. Due to the snow, only three visible markers didn’t seem to be doing the job. Fortunately, a local hiker came by and agreed to blaze the way for us! She ended up taking a picture of us at the summit.
4/20/2022 We were not sure if I could hike when we planned this trip. My orthopedic surgeon said it’s just arthritis, which comes and goes. So far so good, so next we went on the West Lake Trail, 5.9 mile out and back and the elevation wasn’t apparent. When will we learn? But we have to remember, we are in the mountains. Also, prefer loops when that is an option. Still, this looked inviting because it was considered moderate. To us, surprisingly, this ended up being one of the best hikes we’ve ever been on! And probably not for reasons others would agree. It just threw everything at us as hikers! Here is a slide show:
It was interesting to talk to a new owner around “West Lake” which is really called the Lake Raponda. She and her husband actually just purchased the land, which borders part of the trail. They are from Boston, Massachusetts, and will build a summer home on the lot. She was just in town to check it out! She explained the closest place for us to sit and enjoy a refreshment was on the other side of the lake, a bit too far at this point. So we made our own picnic area on a fallen tree. I didn’t take a picture but we could see the lake enough to enjoy our reward!
4/21/2022 Our last hike in Vermont was the Catamount Cross Country Ski Trail. It sounded moderate. But the melting snow made the trail a mess. We had an alternative trail where we parked, near the trailhead. We took the packed gravel road alongside the creek. At the end of this trail, we hiked and walked at least 25 miles. So our next day will be a scenic drive to a historic location.
I am out of downloading and uploading energy. So I will save that drive and what is now one of our favorite tours for the next post! All I can say is, can anything top this week? Stay tuned!
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy” Psalm 98:8
As I started writing this, we finished our second week of hiking and sightseeing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. These have been two AMAZING weeks. We had no idea if I could hike – I could – nor how the weather would be. We only had one unexpected snowstorm. Thankfully, we brought all of our cold-weather clothing, gloves, hats, etc.
We enjoy history as much as we enjoy hiking. We found a perfect balance in both locations. It’s a good thing I’ve had to rest my knees a bit. If not, we would have missed out on some great sights and history lessons.Read more: Celebrations Continue: Easter, Anniversary, and Hiking! Part 2 (last one)
For me, the Lincoln Family Summer Home, called Hildene near Manchester, Vermont is now one of my all time favorite historical homes! When Bill first mentioned it for a “day off of hiking” something didn’t make sense. I didn’t recall any mention of a Lincoln summer home in Vermont. Lincoln’s Presidential Library is still one of my favorite museums. Sadly, we visited it when I wasn’t blogging about our travels so no pictures or written memories. Other than how it was so well done but …. Hang on
A few years later, we toured Mary Todd Lincoln’s childhood home in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky. We have a blog post about that visit. Click here to to learn more about her early life. She had a sad childhood, then lost all her children but her eldest son, Robert. I can’t imagine her distress and pain over those losses. It is even harder to imagine how horrific it was for her beloved husband to be shot while watching a play, only to die the next morning. Apparently, all this heartache caught up with her as she eventually was placed in a sanitarium.
Robert was Abraham and Mary’s only child to survive to maturity. An ugly side portrayed at Mary’s home/museum was Robert’s relationship with his widowed mother. No wonder. He had her committed to Bellevue Place Sanitarium in 1875. Needless to say, it did not make me want to see HIS summer home, Hildene. But I read a little bit about it, so since it was not a day to hike, why not? It was a beautiful day to drive. While writing this blog post, I found a wonderful article about the reconciliation of Robert and his mother. It gave more background which was fairly presented. Click here to read more.
As an aside, someone on a hiking trail recommended this “Relive” app so decided to try it on our drive through the Green Mountains. Let me know if you can see our drive from Wilmington to Manchester. I’ve recorded a few more of some of our hikes. Practice makes perfect and I need more practice!
A bit about Robert Todd Lincoln’s summer home from the Hildene website:
Hildene is formed from two old English words: “Hil” meaning “hill” and “dene” meaning “valley with stream.” Robert and his wife Mary gave their Vermont home this name because it is perched on a hill overlooking the Taconic Mountains to the west, the Green Mountains to the east, and the Battenkill river flowing through the great Battenkill Valley below….
Hildene is rooted in Abraham Lincoln’s values, making them our own and relevant to the 21st century.”Hildene Website
I found another site and like it and its description. Plus it has fabulous pictures of the flowers:
Hildene is considered the most significant Lincoln site outside of Illinois. Situated in Manchester, Vermont, it is the site where the Lincoln family lived from 1905 to 1975. Built by Robert Lincoln, the oldest child of President Abraham Lincoln, the 412-acre estate consists of the mansion, formal gardens, “Sunbeam” (a 1903 Pullman Palace Car), a goat dairy, Dene farm, and miles of trails for hiking and snowshoeing. The site’s unique aspect is that the Hildene Foundation, which preserves the property, has transformed Lincoln’s values of integrity, perseverance, and civic responsibility into actions: sustainability, preservation, conservation, and education, all of which you can experience when you visit.
We arrived too late for the only guided tour of the day, at 11:00. But, a very knowledgeable docent was available. He gave us lots of valuable insight. This beautiful 8,000 square foot 24-room is a Georgian Revival mansion. Three generations of Lincoln’s lived in the house, from 1905 until 1975. The mansion was built with electricity, telephone connections, and a hot air heating system. About 90% of the furnishings were original.
While it was supposed to be “just a summer” home, Robert Lincoln was said to spend about 80% of the year here. Robert died in the home in 1926. His wife maintained the home until her death in 1938. Upon her death, her daughter, Mary (Peggy) Lincoln Beckwith inherited the home. She lived there until her death in 1975. She and her brother, Robert Lincoln Beckwith spent considerable time there as children. Neither one had children so upon their deaths, the family lineage of Abraham Lincoln ceased. Allegedly. Hang on again. I seem to learn more when researching the places we visit afterward to verify my memory and add more facts – to write-ups such as this one.
I uncovered information I had not heard before. First, the research helped me correctly remember the story of the condition of the mansion in 1978 when the Hildene Foundation took ownership. These days, my memory is only good for about 20 seconds. What I uncovered was even more fascinating than I hoped. I’ll have to save some of this for a future visit to another Lincoln memorial. But here is what I found to substantiate what the Docent said about what a mess the house was in when it was finally taken over by the Hildene Foundation:
Peggy Beckwith moved to Hildene after her mother’s death and stayed there for the rest of her life. She spent her days golfing, dabbling in oil painting, sculpting, photography, and chain-smoking cigars. Because she tended to dress in knickers and men’s shirts, rumors spread about Peggy’s sexual orientation. No one knows for certain whether the rumors were true, but it is certain that growing the Lincoln family tree was not in her plans. She never married and never had children.
Housekeeping wasn’t in her plans, either. When she died in 1975, the mansion was in disrepair and was overrun with animals, including raccoons. ‘She’s an odd one,’ said Lincoln scholar Ralph G. Newman at the time. ‘I would call her an eccentric recluse. She doesn’t give a @#*! about Abraham Lincoln, and she’s rebuffed any attempts by historians to interview her or look for family papers on the farm.'”https://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/09/the-story-of-honest-abes-family-tree/
I found a few favorable facts about Peggy. She was a pilot and owned several planes. She had a runway added to the property but I couldn’t find anything to substantiate that claim. I do want to get this posted as I still have to write up our week in Massachusetts, but I could keep digging up and reading about this family! But the other important detail in the article quoted above is there is an heir-apparent still living today. I believe more Lincoln historians are ignoring it but the fact of the matter is a 17-year-old (Timothy Lincoln Beckwith born in 1968) was able to claim part of the inheritance left by Robert Todd Lincoln. Hopefully, one day I will be able to write more.
This 24-room Georgian revival mansion has been perfectly restored. But yet, it is the sad legacy of one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, who was not appreciated by his children and subsequent heirs. But yet, his legacy is living on in the museum, mansions, and humble sites pertaining to his life. A few pictures I took downstairs inside of this amazing Mansion:
My favorite part of the house was an exhibition room dedicated to the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Around the room were numbered excerpts from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, delivered on March 4th, 1865 during the fourth year of the Civil War.
I typed up the quotes with their corresponding “numbers” as they went around the room. Several were my favorites so you will see additional information and pictures. First, the entrance way.
On March 4, 1865, only 41 days before his assassination, President Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office for the second time. Lincoln’s second inaugural address previewed his plans for healing a once-divided nation.”www.nps.gov/linc/learn/historyculture/lincoln-second-inaugural.htm
The below numbered quotes, 1 – 13 were from displays around the room, dedicated to Lincoln’s second inaugural address. I took pictures of each display, so they typed them up and inserted them. So any errors, are mine! I only included a few pictures of the displays with the quotes plus a few other displays worthy of inclusion. Actually, the ENTIRE room is worth viewing! We encourage others to go and visit this historic mansion.
One quote under #4 below was also on display and is so noted. Number 9’s full quote is under the slide show as it deserves more room. Click here to read and listen to the short and entire Inaugural address.
- “At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper.” Abraham Lincoln
- “Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented.” Abraham Lincoln
- “The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.”
- “On the occasion corresponding to this for years, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending war. All dreaded it… All sought to avert it.” Abraham Lincoln “I worked night and day for twelve to prevent the war, but I could not. The North was mad and blind, would not let us govern ourselves, and so the war came.” Jefferson Davis
- “While the inaugural address is being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war… Seeking to dissolve the union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nations survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.” Abraham Lincoln
- “One eight of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest.” Abraham Lincoln
- “All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than restrict the territorial enlargement of it.” Abraham Lincoln
- “Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it had already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier Tryon, and a result less fundamental and astounding.” Abraham Lincoln
- “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.” Abraham Lincoln
- “The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!’” Abraham Lincoln
- “If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove and that He gives to both the North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?” Abraham Lincoln
- “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toils shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.’” Abraham Lincoln
- “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” Abraham Lincoln
I found the rest of the statement from Number 9, so worthy to get the complete quote:
Each (party) looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces…(but) the prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.”Hildene House Lincoln Room
The Docent was outstanding. Apparently for the price of admission, if you miss the guided our Docents are available and await your questions. I wish I had recorded all he said, but I thought I would remember the important tidbits. But hopefully, this blog has captured the essence of this beautiful mansion and the legacy behind its creation.
After we spent an hour or more inside, we went outside to see the garden and the views in the back.
After admiring the view, we went back through the welcome center. We made a few purchases to take back to our neighbors. They are watering our flowers! Everything for sale was “local” merchandise. We could have spent a fortune there.
Next, we went and put on more warm weather gear and walked to the Pullman. We had actually wanted to walk around on the hiking trail. But we were running out of daylight. No way Bill would drive in the mountains in the dark! We were greeted by another Docent. He was so knowledgeable. He impressed me but Bill questioned some of his “historical” facts. There may have been a slant but I did fact check what I could remember and the facts were true.
Preamble to the US Constitution, also on display:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….”https://www.freedomworks.org/content/we-hold-these-truths-be-self-evident…
We end on a patriotic note. And all GLORY to God!
Next up, is our week in the Berkshires, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
This is the final blog post of our hiking in the Ozark Mountains for 2021. Our first Ozark hiking trip this year was in eastern Missouri, south of Saint Louis in Desoto, Missouri. You can catch up here. Our last blog post was the start of our week in the Branson, Missouri area. Interesting, where we stayed is called Ozark Mountain Resort. I used that as a play on words, so to speak, in my blog post titles! We enjoyed the mountains in both areas. However, I have a relative who lives in Arkansas who also likes to hike. He said it is even better there. So hopefully, one day, we will hike in Arkansas!
We ended on a cliff hanger in the last blog post, sort of. Did we visit the cabin where Matt and Aunt Mollie lived? Yes and no. We didn’t explore the history of Branson soon enough so we missed it. We had our Thanksgiving dinner in the Shepherd of the Hills complex. It was too cold and windy to go explore what all was around the restaurant. So we missed it and now have another reason to go back. We will also explore more of the history Branson. I am a bit fascinated with Harold Bell Wright’s writing and his life in case you didn’t notice in the last blog post. He is given a lot of credit for putting Branson on the map so to speak. I want to explore that idea. But in this blog, I am digging into a more obscure historical figure. Hopefully, next time we visit I will have more answers.
We have three hiking excursions, Thanksgiving Dinner and a visit to historic downtown Branson in this post. I enjoy writing these memories in this blog as it helps me relive them! And we do go back and refer to our posts from time to time – to remember where and when we visited…..various areas!
We have not regretted our decision to NOT buy a Class B RV. We wrote about our dilemma on how to travel in two posts, here and here. We finally figured it out. This is our third road trip as we return to our love of hiking. This is the start of our most recent travels in diary form.
On November 11, 2021, we departed our home in Myrtle Beach. We took two days to drive to Bill’s brother’s home near Boonville, Missouri. It is just over 1,000 miles and without stopping, takes around 16 hours. In case you aren’t familiar with David and his wife, Linda, you can just about catch up to their lives in a post written here. Most recently, their was some good news is that he has taken a turn for the BETTER in his battle against cancer. Modern medicine has done all possible to eradicate his body of the disease. He was told there was nothing more they could do but offered palliative chemo. In the meantime, they have looked at alternative treatment methods. The latest CEA test results were encouraging, for those familiar with CEA tests.
11/19/2021 After a week with David and Linda, we went to Branson, Missouri to hike! That’s probably not what you think of when you say you are going to Branson, is it? More about that below. From there, we returned to the Fayetteville, Arkansas area to visit with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Then we went to Little Rock area. I have cousins to the south and north of the city. After all that, we headed back to Myrtle Beach. According to this map, it was about
Our October 2021 hiking vacation, so to speak, continued on a good note! We were watching the weather closely and discovered the mid west gets a lot of rain storms. But like us in Myrtle Beach, the systems move fast and it seemed the ground dried out. We were prepared for indoor activities just in case….It looked like both Thursday and Friday had high chances of rain. We don’t mind those days as we enjoy museums and other interesting inside venues – such as caves!
Bill and I tried to scuba dive one time, in Cancun. We had “free” snorkeled a lot but those opportunities were disappearing as the reefs were becoming damaged from all the snorkelers. Snorkeling was becoming “controlled” which meant more people going out together so they could be closely monitored. The idea of scuba diving seemed the answer to enjoying that beauty under the ocean! We were optimistic we could scuba dive, but Bill was just too buoyant while I had a hard time equalizing. We did manage an hour in plus 30′ but pretty much declared it wasn’t for us. So to see a dive sign at the nearby Bonne Terre mines initially put Bill off. I looked closer and saw it included an underground boat tour. It just looked worth the price of admission – and it was!Continue Reading
The first time I heard of the Ozarks was when our friend, Larry Hurst, accepted a job transfer there. At least how he described his families new home – AMAZING. Now we know and understand the beauty of this part of the country.
I developed my wanderlust as a young child, exploring a ranch around Colorado Springs. So no wonder I really enjoy hiking. Bill grew up hunting and exploring the great outdoors. So when we want to take a bit of a vacation, we look, or actually, he looks for places to hike. Somehow, that is a skill he developed when we started traveling in an RV.
Now that we have decided not to buy a Class B or any RV now, we are taking trips “resort” style. To buy the Class B we wanted, it was going to cost at least $120,000 IF we could even find that one. Yes, they are hard to find right now. So let’s divide that up and see how many “vacations” we could take in the next five years for the same amount of money. Let’s start with easy math: $120,000 divided by 5 = $24,000 a year. We honestly only want to go for a week approximately four times a year. At our age, we do prefer the routine we have at home. BUT in traveling, we hope it will keep our minds and bodies sharp and in shape. Anyway, that equals $6,000/week. We can certainly enjoy a vacation/trip for that amount! HOWEVER, if you know us, we are budget shoppers and we are pretty good at finding budget vacations (click to see our two Colorado vacations in 2011 and 2012). So our bottom line to a Class B, we also don’t want all the head aches associated with them and we want flexibility. So with that said, here is our first vacation/travel blog!Continue Reading
You may have figured out from our last post, when we said we were lost in the woods, we found our way out. If you missed it, click here. We had taken a short hike, about two miles, in a heavily treed park nearing dusk. We did finally see enough daylight to find our way out! And perhaps you may also have figured out, I can hike! We haven’t been in the mountains since March 2019. Let us continue with recent travels that took us to the Beckley area of West Virginia and in particular, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (NRG).
Day 3 August 24, 2021
Miner’s Museum Our friends from Beckley highly recommended we visit the Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum in the City of Beckley. It is the #1 activity according to Trip Advisor and it was well worth it! We bought our tickets and had about 45 minutes before the underground mine tour began. We enjoyed the quaint museum. We always like to learn local history. We certainly appreciate what miner’s did for our country to provide fuel for heat and energy for transportation. So this really was beyond anything local! Continue Reading
December 2018, when we decided to sell our motorhome and “get off the road” Bill asked only one thing. He wanted to take at least 3-4 road trips a year. I agreed but I wasn’t sure how it would work out. Long story short, it hasn’t. We did manager a few fabulous hiking excursions while we traveled to see family. Otherwise, the travel/hiking bug began to bite us big time. BUT we just didn’t know how to make it work. Finally, it looked like buying and traveling in a self-contained Class B would make it possible. We wrote two blog posts, Is it Time to Hit the Road and Van Life – Pros and Cons, as we began to seriously consider it. This blog post will explain why we decided against it. We figured it out when we took a side trip in West Virginia on our way from Pennsylvania where we attended the funeral of a precious relative, Bill’s second cousin, to attend my mom’s Celebration of Life service in Virginia.
Our first stop after a family weekend in Mount Vernon, Illinois, Bill’s mother’s birthday celebration, was to visit Indianapolis. We stopped at the Capitol Building for a tour and then headed south to Bloomington to do some hiking. We really enjoy history and where else can you get a great history lesson? This was our 5th such Capitol tour: Frankfurt, Kentucky; Montgomery, Alabama; Madison, Wisconsin; and, Harrisburg, PA. While our tour guide was good and we were able to go into the Governor’s private office, he was away, this one ranks 5th as far as “wow” factors. But it was still a very good visit and we would recommend it.
Our two top tours tie for #1, Madison and Harrisburg showcased history and the majesty of the physical buildings. We would put Frankfurt next followed by Montgomery. All were enjoyable and we are grateful we saw each. Indianopolis was lacking in the amount of history we cherish and the building wasn’t showcased like the others. But there were many things that set it apart from the others. It was pretty cool they were in session – first time we’ve seen it.
Indiana is one of 8 states that have all three branches of government working in the historic capitol building. All seven Executive officers, 100 members of the House and Senate and five Supreme Court Justices have working offices in the building.
We’re on a two week road trip, which we didn’t spell out in our last blog post (click here if you missed it). We’ve been working hard on our new home (closed on it on 2/1/2019 in Myrtle Beach), getting it ready for our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons to spend their Easter Break with us. We needed a bit of a
vacation break, but more importantly, we needed to spend time with Bill’s mom – to celebrate her 98th birthday and to be supportive of Bill’s brother and his wife. They have been her caregivers for the past five years. We are trying to cram as much as we can into two weeks while driving from Myrtle Beach through the Smoky Mountain National Park; to where his mom is in Mount Vernon, Illinois; to visit the State Capitol in Indianapolis, Indiana; to do some hiking near Bloomington, Indiana and then to spend one night in Newport, Tennessee to finish our drive back home.
We left you with a cliff hanger last blog post, so without further delay, let’s see how our third hike in the SMNP turned out! Continue Reading
Wow, so much has happened since our last blog post. We are still getting settled into our new home – as well as changing our domicile to South Carolina. I really want to write a post on what one has to do to become a resident of this great state – it’s not as easy as it was to become residents of Florida. I don’t want to forget and who knows, maybe one day some family members or friends will want to move here. It would be great to have the steps written down for them. But onto more exciting things!
When we got off the road, we knew we weren’t through traveling. Just like when we first bought our 5th Wheel on September 4, 2013, we didn’t know how our travels would work out. And now we can say the same thing about “settling” down – we know there is still so much to see in our great nation and so many things on our bucket list to see.
One such place was Smoky Mountains National Park (SMNP). We first visited the area in 2012. We stayed in a cabin in the Pigeon Forge area with our daughter, son-in-law and grand pup. Sadly, I didn’t write a blog post about the trip but I have pictures posted on my personal FaceBook page. We did a few of the same hikes, so I wanted to refresh my memory about them – but somehow, those pictures now seem to be lost in the outer spaces of the internet. Anyway, we knew this was a place we would return one day to do more hiking. We actually tried to get here several times in our motorhome but something always came up to hinder us….
How exciting to attend our oldest great nephew’s wedding in California! As much as we would have liked to drive our home there, it’s just too far for us the way we like to travel – since we prefer to be back in Fredericksburg every three months.
It’s a big deal to figure out where to park and leave our motorhome – safely. This is not our first time to leave it. We’ve been fortunate it has always worked out for us. This time, we had also had to figure out which airport offered the best direct flight options. There were so many airports to pick from! So the wedding helped confirm Pennsylvania as the place to go for our summer travels. We didn’t want to go too far since we had to be back by August, to celebrate both grandsons birthdays and my mom’s 95th.
And bonus! My mom was flying to the wedding with my oldest sister, grandmother of the groom, from the Florida panhandle. We’d be together for the wedding and then she flew back to Virginia with us. More on that later. Continue Reading
We’re in the Wilds!!! See the bottom picture in our last blog post to see how Pennsylvania is broken down regionally. Anyway, trying to decide where to finish our last two weeks in Pennsylvania was no easy task but we felt the Wilds calling our name. So much to see, so little time!
We’ll admit, we were pleasantly surprised at how much we’ve enjoyed this beautiful state. Surprised because it is Bill’s home state – he never really “saw” the state! Bill had hoped to make it up to Lake Erie and to the Allegheny National Forest, but the clock was ticking, we needed to return to Virginia on June 27, 2018.
Bill’s focus this summer, after reviewing places to hike in Pennsylvania was to find state parks where we could start our hikes from our campsites. Our last two weeks, we finally stayed in two locations where we could do this and we loved it! Continue Reading
Bill is from the New Stanton/Greensburg, Pennsylvania area. Sadly, it takes funerals to reconnect with family in our culture today. We all seem to move and it’s not easy to go back – until we grow up. So we returned on May 23, 2018.
After we were married, we lived in Bill’s hometown – for 1 1/2 years. I’m so grateful as it gave me an opportunity to get to know Bill’s parents and extended family. We both come from small families so it is nice to remain close to the few family members we have – and that is not easy since we all live so far apart. But for the funeral of Bill’s Uncle Warren in November 2016….
We drove our car up from Myrtle Beach to attend Uncle Warren’s funeral – our motor home was safe there for a few days. We reconnected with many and it was as if we hadn’t been apart for 40 years! One second cousin has a fifth wheel Recreational Vehicle (RV). They camp in it at Myrtle Beach every summer. So it was easy for us to connect and share adventures! She also said there is some good RV campgrounds in the New Stanton area if we ever decide to bring our motor home. So that started the wheels turning our heads….
We are enjoying our short drives from location to location to maximize our adventure days this summer. (Click here to see our short drive in our last post.) We never know what we may be facing driving our 40′ motor home towing our car, so Bill likes to be cautious with the routes he takes. This may not have been the most direct route, but in the mountains, we needed the safest.
The 119 mile drive to Shawnee State Park was uneventful so we made record time, arriving by noon time on May 17, 2018. On the way, we decided to call the office to ask if there had been any cancellations. For the six days we would stay here, we initially booked two sites, our first two days we’d be on an electric only site and then we’d move to a full hook up site. We’ve noticed in most state parks (and many federal parks as well), the weekends are always booked, which means we may have to change sites for our week-long stays. It seems the prime spots in this case, sites with full hook ups are booked on the weekends during “peak” season. We know this is a reality so we’ve learned how to work around it. The weather forecast wasn’t
We will be flying to attend a wedding in Sacramento on 7/8/18. This has dictated our summer plans – we don’t want to be too far from our home base, Fredericksburg for multiple reasons. More on that later.
Our summer travels will be to see as much of Pennsylvania as we can in 52 days! Although Bill is from Pennsylvania, he has never appreciated the state like we now do after traveling to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Bill’s goal is to see enough of a state to really grasp it’s essence. We’ve had grand plans, but a month has passed as I write this and we haven’t begun to see the state as we originally hoped. Mainly, because we are traveling “slo-mo” to really enjoy each stop. Continue Reading
It’s officially Spring so time to end our Winter Series posts! As mentioned in a few previous posts, we really weren’t sure how our winter would go – but we never imagined all the freezing, literally freezing weather we were in and that we dodged a tornado! That post, it is written here if you missed it.
But first, let’s look at the conundrum Bill felt. He is the “driver” and the one most knowledgeable about what he can handle on our journeys. He does ask for my input but I usually say, “whatever you can handle (driving) is fine with me.” He does a spectacular job and since we want to do this for a long as possible, why should I try to muck it up? Continue Reading
It was time for our annual trek to Red Bay, Alabama, home of our Tiffin Motorhome, named Tiffany after our precious tween dachshund (1982-2006). We had a few pressing things Bill wanted to get done and if the weather cooperated, we would go this winter in March, rather than May. We didn’t set any winter travel expectations – it depended on the weather. And it looked like the weather would cooperate. As with most full time RVers, we avoid snow and freezing weather. But we never thought we had to consider tornados in March!!! This post will be in three parts: 1) RV repairs/maintenance/remodeling; 2) Hiking in Tishomingo State Park; 3) Weather issues such as a tornado!
On February 26, 2018, we drove from Gunter Hill US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) Campground to Foscue Creek Park COE, Demopolis, Alabama. It was an ideal distance, just under 100 miles and only took two hours 15 minutes. It was ideal, State Highway 80 in rural Alabama.
Friends had highly recommended it since it has full hook ups and is only $13/night with our America the Beautiful pass. (NOTE: the price went up $1 on March 1 and they expect another price increase soon.) Bill took a look at the map and decided it would help get us in a better position to drive up to Red Bay, Alabama. See our map in our last post here to see our route. Continue Reading
It’s that time of the year, so Happy New Year! We enjoy reading a snapshot of others’ year end blogs so hope others enjoy ours as well. And writing ours helps us keep our travels in perspective. We are still enjoying our lifestyle in spite of the challenges we’ve had this year. But that’s why it’s even more important to look back.
First, it helped us to look at what we wrote last year (click here if you missed it).WOW, our start this is is the same as last year. Once again, we started the New Year fleeing freezing cold temperatures in Virginia. We forgot how bad it was last year when we tried to close our slides to leave Fredericksburg. The slide toppers were frozen with a sheet of ice! This year, we had the slides pulled in for over two weeks to stay warm which we have never had to do before. The winter storm Benji arrived ahead of any other storms we’ve fled from in these four years of traveling. Continue Reading
Finally, I have been inspired and have the time to write a blog post after two months. We are so overdue and are so grateful for new followers – although we haven’t written anything to follow for two months! We had hoped to write more about our travels in Wisconsin and about the end of our summer travels back to our “home” base, Fredericksburg, Virginia. We have been on the go since we arrived here, not a spare minute to compose a post (nor the energy)…. Continue Reading
How can we possibly write about all that we did while in Wisconsin, from June 15 to July 13, 2017? We were so active, we just didn’t have time to regularly write posts of our travels for this month. I’m sad as we are already losing some memories we were making that we try to capture in our posts. So we’ll start with some summaries and see how it goes. First, let’s learn a little about Wisconsin.
We decided to tour Wisconsin after Bill “noticed” it was directly above Illinois – where we visited family. After our family visit, we needed a route back to Virginia, where we will spend August. It seemed natural to go to Wisconsin rather than Michigan, our original plan….more about that route later! Continue Reading
Oh where to start??? It’s been a month since we last wrote a travel post. Let’s back up to June 6, 2017. We’ve been hitting the road hard and we have had an AMAZING summer so far! If you want to see details/pictures, we post almost daily on our Travel Facebook page, so stop by, look around at our photos and like it if you haven’t already. If you have, thank you! In addition to this lame excuse for not blogging, some of the remote areas we visited didn’t have many cell towers. Oh the internet access woes of full time travelers!
We decided to spend a month in WISCONSIN! How did that happen? When Bill was trying to plan our route back to Virginia, he originally planned to go via Michigan and a northern route. But then something drew his eye to Wisconsin. And we learned a lesson recently: No more “flying” through a state – we want to savor our journeys as we go….
So we decided to see a few new places as we headed north to Wisconsin from Lake Rend near Mount Vernon, Illinois. Bill does an amazing job of finding GREAT places to explore on our routes. Our first stop was in Utica, Illinois, home of Starved Rock State Park.
Our first leg there, to Utica was our longest so far, 284 miles, nearly 5 hours of driving – and not what we prefer, but thankfully, the trip went smooth as silk! We stayed in Hickory Hollow Campground, which had it all! It is a Passport America park ($20 cash and excludes weekends) for full hook up, 50 amp and wifi. It was conveniently located with easy access in and out and very well maintained. Our site, G3, was relatively flat. We did have an issue with the 50 amp circuit breaker. It blew a few times – so they sent out their on-site electrician who fixed it in a flash! He said they were going to close soon for a short time to re-do their electric hook ups. Continue Reading
On May 12, 2017, we celebrated our second anniversary of the purchase of our motor home and our TOAD (the car we pull behind us). Bill drove the motor home 13,152 miles in those two years and we’ve driven our TOAD, 34,000 miles! So we are in a reflecting mood after we read “Wheeling Its” recent blog, The Art of Slo-Mo RVing, etc., where they talked about how their full-time RVing has evolved. We could relate: we prefer slo-mo and we want to smell the roses as we travel.
We are not complaining but we have put ourselves on time constraints since we return to Virginia every three months (or there about) to spend a month or so with our grandsons – and their parents! In the meantime, we have been trying to saturate southeastern USA. But things happen and sometimes we have to miss many flower gardens and gems. Things like RV repairs. Between our time in Red Bay at the Tiffin Service Center, the tire blow out repairs and our recent generator repair, we’ve spent a little over three months in parking lot “campgrounds” since we bought our motor home. We have always made the best out of it. But since we want to see it all, it causes us to sometimes travel faster than we want. And our Summer 2017 travels are falling into that category! I’d say since we left Fredericksburg on May 2, 2017, we’ve experienced some real challenges – the main one will be in an upcoming post!Continue Reading
After the month of April, with our grandsons and their parents, it was time to hit the road! Our grandsons are now just over 3 1/2 and 20 months old. It’s getting easier to leave – for me, but I am sure not so easy for our daughter. Our oldest grandson understood we’d be back. The baby, well, he’s still a baby to us!
We have a general idea about our summer travels. But first things first. Our generator went out on us at the start of our winter travels. We’ve only ever used it once in our two years of owning it. It is our “back up electricity” as I had to explain to my mom. One cold night, a campground’s power went out for an hour or two – the Electric Company got it going again. About an hour later, the campground circuit breaker went out again for another hour. We were thankful we had our generator to stay warm!
While we were in Fredericksburg for the month, Bill did try to find someone to try to get it started to no avail. While he’s mechanical, he didn’t want to try to fix it. Reluctantly, he pulled out the manual, called Onan (the manufacturer), then went to the RV Geeks YouTube channel to figure a few things out. He managed to change the air and oil filters, which was not so easy since the manual used a pencil drawing, Onan wasn’t much more help, but the YouTube video helped. It still wouldn’t start, throwing an error code 36. Continue Reading
Next stop and to our final US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) campground was an easy drive, just over 85 miles to Eastbank Campground, 153 Eastbank Road, Bainbridge, GA 39819, telephone number (229) 662-9273. We were there from 3/14 until 3/16/2017
We enjoyed our time in southwestern Georgia. It’s very rural, but the road system is really nice. Thanks to Jimmy Carter a local Georgian told us! After last summer in rural Kentucky, we made sure of our route the night before we traveled. The directions were not crystal clear on the website, so we called and talked with one of the camp hosts. She said to call them when we were just about 5 miles away so she could “talk” us in as many people end up at the dam! She didn’t seem to think the signage was very good, but if you have a passenger who focuses on the signs, there were more than she said. Anyway, here are a few pictures of our journey there:
The Davis Bayou Campground is our 10th RV park/campground since we arrived in Florida on January 6, 2017. We were in this National Park from February 19 to 26, 2017. It is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore Park. We discovered it when we were in Fort Pickens, Pensacola (Part 6 of our winter travels), Florida. It is a continuation of the Gulf Islands Seashore! Since we had such a wonderful time in Fort Pickens, we thought we’d go farther west than we had originally planned and try it.
The Lure of the Islands in the Gulf of Mexico
What is it that entices people to the sea? Poet John Masefield wrote, “I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.” Millions of visitors are drawn to the islands in the northern Gulf of Mexico for the white sandy beaches, the aquamarine waters, a boat ride, a camping spot, a tour of an old fort, or a place to fish.
We fell in love with Alabama when we lived in Mobile from 1986 – 1988. We just clicked with it, from it being on the Gulf Coast with gorgeous beaches nearby, in the Central Time Zone, to the Azaleas, to living in the Bible Belt, and to the down home southern hospitality! We really enjoy visiting Alabama any chance we have. And you may remember, Red Bay, Alabama is where we take our motor home yearly for routine maintenance!
We still love it in spite of the fact it was in Mobile where our marriage collapsed. For those who have been following our blog since the beginning or you are a family member or friend, you are aware of our story. The GREAT news is that our marriage and family was restored. We visited Mobile in 2012, taking a long motorcycle trip, nearly 600 miles, from Sebring, Florida. We wrote a short blog post about it, call “The Lost Years.” I’m sorry I didn’t write about all the historical places we visited while there. Things we didn’t appreciate while we lived there.
Since May, 2016, we hoped to stay the month of February in Gulf Shores, Alabama, along the Gulf of Mexico. As mentioned in a previous post, those plans were sadly changed. We are making the best of it, but are still trying to figure out the best way to be in a warmer climate during the winter. We are having a blast, but these 1,432 miles driven in the motor home, staying in 11 different campgrounds/RV Resorts in just over a month and a half hasn’t been our ideal. But that is how you see lots of new things…. Continue Reading
When we started our winter travels from Virginia on January 4, 2017, to stay
somewhat warm, we really had no idea how our travels would turn out. We are still a bit gun-shy, so we don’t like to make reservations until we are on our way to a particular RV park/campground. We’ve had four family emergencies in our three years on the road where we’ve had to cancel our reservations, turn around or set aside our travel agenda for a time. When we started this winter series, I wasn’t too optimistic about coming up with a way to label our travels. So if you have been following along, you can see I have modified our titles, which means things are getting a bit more exciting!
We are now in our eight RV Park/campground since we
left fled the snow in Virginia. We know reservations in the warmer parts of Florida between January and March are tight, slim, and expensive. Thus, we have been bouncing along, not staying anywhere too long. Although, we have not paid the high prices we thought. Anyway, we had planned to spend a month in Gulf Shores, Alabama with friends we made last time we were at the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay, Alabama. We called the couple a few days before we made the reservations in Fort Pickens. They said they would have the scoop on where we could stay….only to learn the husband had just passed away. 😢 You know, it just puts life into perspective! So our plans have again changed, but then, we really didn’t have any plans set in stone.
Another one of our destinations this winter was to spend a week or so with my mom. She is splitting her year between one sister in Virginia and the other sister who lives in the Florida Panhandle. We had an easy drive, 150 miles and 2 1/2 hours, to our next destination, Emerald Beach RV Park, Navarre, Florida from Three Rivers State Park (post about it is here). We stayed here for 8 days. This was the perfect place for us to have our mattress shipped, as we discussed in our last post. Continue Reading
We’re here from January 26-31, 2017 and continuing our journey to stay warm this winter and to discover new places! It’s easy sometimes just to return to the same old place, but we are trying to resist. Since we are returning to familiar areas to see friends and family, it’s been a bit of a challenge. We’ve really enjoyed our travels so far. But we feel we scored a touchdown at our next stop, Three Rivers State Park, Sneads, Florida. Everything went about as perfect as could be. We had a perfect travel day from Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, but one of our longer trips so far, at just over 200 miles and taking us 3 1/2 hours. Continue Reading
To catch up, Part 2 of our winter travels left off with us in Country Oaks RV Park in Zephryhills, Florida. We stayed here January 17 to 24, 2017. The 55+ RV park was very basic (actually a manufactured homes park with a field area turned into about 8 RV sites) in a small town. While it had full hook ups (so important since we will be without sewer over the next three stops), we had to drive to get in a walk. The Park had a “special” where you could stay a week for $99 if it was your first time there. It was well worth it. We only ate and slept there since we were mainly in this area for the Tampa Super RV Show and to see a nephew, his wife and meet their baby. Continue Reading
We have so many campgrounds to stay week or less lined up for the month, we’ll just post our travels in various parts. We were in Jacksonville in our last post, found here. We really enjoyed our time there. We’ve stayed around Jacksonville in the past, just for a few days, to allow Bill to reminisce about the “good old days” and for us to explore sights unseen. Little did we realize we would be able to get in a workout regime, get a handle on our new way of cooking, find such a great campground on the beach with great trails for hiking and get our itinerary set for the month. Continue Reading
If you read our Reflections on December 2016, we had a bit of a rough December. We failed to mention on top of everything else how cold it was – but then, it’s been a cold winter about everywhere! But living in a motor home isn’t ideal for temperatures in the low 20s and let along the teens. It was so cold, we had to bring in our slides for a few days to have less square footage to heat. The day we were pulling out (we had them opened for a few days) the moisture turned to ice in the slide covers! This was the third year of RVing and spending December in Fredericksburg, Virginia. So this was the third year we had to literally “flee” a freezing winter storm, they are now naming them so this was Helena. Continue Reading
People tell us all the time they wish the could do what we’re doing, living on the road and seeing the USA. This is one of the first couples we started following on the ‘net as they love to hike as they travel. They’ve just concluded their five year long retirement dream to not only see all the contiguous states but also much in Canada and even trekked in Mexico. Their map is great and they’ve included lots of stats as they wind down. We hope to get back to blogging as we hit the road again.
We’re in Jacksonville, Florida so that’ll be our next post.
This is the final segment to wrap up the first chapter of our RV travels. The previous segment with our statistics is here.
As we reviewed the 422 posts that we published along the way, we recalled many fond memories and also came up with some fun tidbits that we thought were unforgettable, surprising, scary, stressful or fascinating experiences. Compiling this collection made us pause and reflect on how many wonderful experiences we’ve had while on the road.
We faced our first major challenge just as we started the journey at Pleasanton, CA. A hydraulic failure left our jacks and slides extended, and we learned a lot about that system during the next 3 weeks that it took to get it fixed (under warranty, fortunately). Since that time we’ve dealt with many minor water leaks, a dead video camera, an intermittent engine cooling issue, refrigerator problems and other things that we consider part of the joy of moving…
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“We’re going to have to rappel our way out of here!”
Yep, deep down into our hike to see Fern Bridge, Bill hollered that up to me! He says some of the funniest things on our hikes. I should do a better job of recording what he says….
We are continuing to write about our time in our last Kentucky campground and this time, it’s a state park. Click here if you missed the previous post about our arrival.
After a good nights rest, we were ready to conquer Three Bridges Trail (TBT) and see some of the best the natural geological sites in the park. We tried to find Smokey Bridge the night before, allegedly the biggest of the three. We actually had walked right past it! It was hidden by the trees. The only way to see it, you had to walk down lots and lots of manmade stairs, my nemesis. We skipped it.
We’re now using the All Trails app to help track the elevation in our “mountainous hikes.” The TBT turned out to be the perfect hike and I captured it correctly: Continue Reading
This is our final stop in Kentucky and what a great place to end: Carters Cave State Park and Campground, Olive Hill, Kentucky. I’ll call it the Campground in the rest of the post. What a wonderful summer we’ve had!
Since Bill is the driver and is good at researching places visit, he sets our itinerary. I’ve never had a problem with his choices, except I really wanted to see some family members in Louisville. It was just too far north and too much traffic for his comfort. 😞 Plus, we had decided we wanted to do a lot of hiking in the mountains this summer…. Continue Reading
We wrote about about our fabulous hike in Natural Bridge State Park on our first day in this area – which is nestled in the Daniel Boone National Park (DBNP). If you missed it, click here. Then we wrote about our not so fabulous hike in the Red River Gorge, also nestled in the DBNP. If you missed it, click here.
We’ve decided to return to the Natural Bridge State Park (NBSP) for the rest of our hikes while we are here. On July 13, 2016, we headed back to NBSP for what we hoped would be a 7 & 1/2 mile hike, Sand Gap Trail. Yes, we thought we were ready for a long hike! We used All Trails to take us to the trailhead, which is in the State Park. It got us close, but we had to ask for help. So went to the Gift Shop to ask for directions. We were told the trail was closed due to a storm, there were too many trees down, AND they had to rescue some people stuck on it last night. She suggested we hike on Hood’s Branch Trail, close by. She also said to watch for the copper head snakes. Oh this sounds exciting! Continue Reading
This map shows where we had multiple hiking adventures, from July 11 to 18, 2016. We were in the blue area, Powell County, Kentucky. We also drove over 60 miles on July 16 to Lexington, marked by one of the three orange stars, one day. We’ll have a post about that trip.
We stayed in a brand new RV park, 4 Guys RV Park. Some parts are still under construction, but it didn’t bother us. The office hours are of an evening, so we didn’t get a map or the Wifi password until after our hike to Natural Bridge. We were told the Red River Gorge (RRG) is excellent for hiking. I guess he was kind and didn’t mention our age….😁 I said we love to hike, so I guess he thought we looked fit enough (or again he was kind) to not mention how rugged it is!
Anyway, we were psyched from our hike the day before to Natural Bridge. And after hearing the affirmation the RRG is great for hiking, we were told to take the Historic Nada Tunnel. We were ready to tackle the RRG – or will it tackle us? Continue Reading
On July 11, 2016, We headed north from London, Kentucky to our next adventure, just 70 miles north and slightly east. “The Daniel Boone National Park (DBNP) embraces some of the most rugged terrain west of the Appalachian Mountains. Steep forested slopes, sandstone cliffs and narrow ravines characterize the land…Spread across 21 counties of southern and eastern Kentucky, more than 708,000 acres of national forest system lands are managed within a 2.1 million-acre proclamation boundary.” We’ve emphasized rugged as I don’t think we read about the forest from this website! Continue Reading
Our last few days (July 8-10, 2016) were filled with two nice hikes in God’s creation and one day worshipping Him with a large congregation of other believers. We love the peacefulness of hiking in the woods. We like to focus on the goodness in the world so let’s take a quick look at our last two hikes, one starting the descent down from this picture and the other was across the street.
As said in our last post, we came to this area for a few reasons. We are continuing our trek back to Virginia through Kentucky, to spend about 5 weeks with our grandsons. Both were born in August, so we plan to do a lot of celebrating as the oldest one turns three and our baby turns one.
You can read all you want about an area, but until you are actually there start walking around, you never know what you will like, what you will discover or how the weather will affect your plans! We really had no expectations, just that it sounded like Kentucky was a beautiful state and we planned to find that out – and we can confirm, it is full of beauty! But we’ve had so many unexpected surprises along the way. Most good, but eastern Kentucky hiking is not for the faint of heart! Continue Reading
We are finally getting into rhythm with Kentucky! We had a rocky start when we first arrived in the Land Between the Lakes in late May. Click here if you missed that post. We hoped our difficulty was not a sign of things to come while in Kentucky. Well, guess what? It was! We’ve had to turn around, unhook, go back, and make more u-turns in Kentucky than ever! But we are on roads less traveled and it has all been worth it!
Our trip to London, Kentucky from the Mammoth Cave area was just over 100 miles. We are actually enjoying the short trips between stops, and we have decided to stay longer at each location. Seven days per location has become comfortable, and we stayed eight days in the Mammoth Cave area. Continue Reading
It took three posts to really capture the essence of why we came to this area. But there was one other reason Bill picked this area. Can you guess?
What I hoped to do was lots of hiking. But it ended up raining so much, we had to find some indoor things to do. Can you believe the Mammoth Cave National Park has 84 miles of trails! These trails are not just for hiking but some are designated for bikes and horses. There is also canoeing and kayaking at this park. We only got in one day of hiking, but it was 8 miles! And it was a glorious trail. Click here to read more about the trails and view maps. Continue Reading
After our Frozen Niagara Falls tour, we asked about additional things to do at this wonderful visitor center. We learned of two free opportunities (most tickets sale tours were sold out): a 45 minute long Porch Talk by a Park Ranger and a walk with a Ranger on the Heritage Trail. We love listening to their stories, so we enjoyed both. The Porch Talk conversation was with about 20 others and the Heritage Trail walk with two other couples. Their talks were open for questions and answers. They seemed to fill in the blanks from our tour and added to each others knowledge. Below are the interesting tidbits I picked up from these talks, from our Frozen Niagara Falls tour, as well as from materials provided at the visitor center. Most of the areas discussed below are available to see on various tours. Continue Reading
Finally, Bill got me here to see the world-famous Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky! I talked about our anticipation to visit here in our last post, Caves or Caverns.
We made our reservations to Cave Country RV Campground a week or so ahead since we knew this was the 4th of July holiday weekend. We knew we couldn’t get into the campgrounds in the park, so we didn’t really explore them. Soon after we arrived, we decided to add a day on to our stay. We loved the warm welcome we received and all the brochures we were handed to help us make the most of our time here. There was so much to do in this area, but first, let’s check out Mammoth Cave National Park, which is part of the America the Beautiful pass program. Our tickets for the tours were half price! Continue Reading
Bill doesn’t remember traveling very much with his family, except every summer, his family went to the Jersey Shore. But he remembers visiting Mammoth Caves in Kentucky with his parents and an Aunt when he was 18 or so. The caves left a great impression on him. Every time we visit caverns, he says he can’t wait to bring me here – and we are finally here! This is the fourth cave system we have visited in our marriage. So before we talk about the Mammoth Caves, let’s figure out the difference between caves and caverns and then look back at our previous three caves or were they caverns? Continue Reading