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Our names are John and Cathryn.  We live in Kalispell, Montana and recently came back from a year long RV trip together around this beautiful country.  We traveled over 31,000 miles and drove through over 35 states.  It was an adventure to remember and one that sealed a friendship between us that began twenty one months ago that we hope will last the rest of our lives.  As we adjust to living together in our home in this beautiful part of Montana, we are happy, content and enjoying life one day at a time to the fullest!  Life is good!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

SOUTHERN CHARM IN THE CAROLINAS












Mt. Airy, North Carolina

After leaving Maryland and Virginia we headed to Mt. Airy, NC, the hometown of Andy Griffith, also known as Mayberry, USA.

Andy Griffith's childhood home.

The entire set used in the TV series was duplicated throughout the town.  One can take town tours in the police car.

The Blue Ridge Parkway

This National Park is a beautiful highway stretching over four hundred and fifty miles and spanning several states. We really enjoyed the beautiful scenery but also the bluegrass music and folk culture we found in the towns along the way.










This photo illustrates why the Blue Ridge Parkway is named as it is.  Notice the many layers shown in this landscape and the unmistakable shades of blue.












Asheville, North Carolina

This city has many attractions but none more famous than the Biltmore Mansion built in 1889 and still owned by the Vanderbilt family.  This "house" is the largest house in the United States at 178,926 square feet of floor space. We enjoyed a tour of the mansion itself with the original furnishings, the gardens and the farm that supports it today.  It was a special treat to see it decorated so beautifully for the holidays.










We celebrated John's birthday with lunch at Cedric's Tavern located on the grounds and named for one of the beloved dogs in the Vanderbilt family.
Cedric and his Master

Charleston, South Carolina

We spent more than three weeks enjoying the Southern hospitality of Cathryn's dear friends, Maggie and Virginia in Charleston and shared many good times with them.  We arrived the day of the annual Charleston Cup horse race which took place at the Plantation of Stono Ferry where they both reside.




The steeplechase race takes place directly behind Maggie's backyard!

Maggie's beautiful Southern home

Ms. Maggie downs her Charleston Cup hat and boots for the race.
Maggie, Cathryn and Virginia warming up after a wet and cool race.
More good times.....mounds of oysters at an oyster roast we attended.  John is loving every bite and becoming a fine oyster shucker!

Historic Charleston

Downtown Marketplace that dates back to the early 1700's

Gullah Sweetgrass baskets are hand made only in this general area from indigenous bulrush, a strong grass that thrives in the sandy soil of the coastal region.  Enslaved Africans, usually men, made baskets for use on the plantations and for sale in the early 17th century.

The carriage rides


The balconies that are typical of this city's style
The iron gates like this one have been used for centuries in Charleston and lead to beautiful hidden gardens like the one below.



Large old live oaks and spanish moss are seen everywhere.
We visited the historic Middleton Place plantation in Charleston.  It was one of over 20 rice plantations along the East Coast owned by Henry Middleton and had over 6000 acres and remains today owned by the Middleton family.  Henry Middleton was one of the original signers of the Declaration of  Independence and a Governor of South Carolina.  His son, William, was a signer of the Ordinance of Secession resulting in South Carolina becoming the first state to secede from the Nation.  Five years later, during the Civil War, Middleton Place was destroyed by Union forces bringing its golden age to a sudden end.
This is all that remains of the original plantation house called Middleton Place.


The remains of Fort Sumter, a man made island built to defend Charleston Bay, remain today.  The Battle of Fort Sumter, April 12 - 14, 1861 was the bombardment and surrender of the fort that started the American Civil War.

Thanksgiving In Charleston


We were delighted to be invited to have Thanksgiving dinner with some of Maggie's friends in the neighborhood.   Jim and Danni, our hosts, put out a big spread and we all had a great time together.

Maggie, Cathryn and Virginia at Thanksgiving.  We are truly blessed to have such wonderful friends in our lives.

Annie At The Beach


Annie at Edisto Beach near Charleston

Annie has learned to surf the waves!


That's all for now.  We are heading south to Florida and unknown warm locations along the Gulf Coast for the winter.  Happy Trails until we meet again.

John, Cathryn, Annie and Dexter 





Saturday, October 31, 2015

AUTUMN IN NEW ENGLAND






Vermont

After leaving Moosehead Lake in Maine, we traveled through New Hampshire and into a campground near Woodstock, Vermont.  We were about a week early for seeing the best leaf peeping but we did see some change and also some very quaint and neat villages. 

Vermont is charming, rural and the people were very friendly.  We both agreed we could live there if it were not so humid!








The Marsh - Billings - Rockefeller Estate in Woodstock, Vermont and now a National Landmark.  This home dates back to the early 1800's.

Woodstock, Vermont....very charming village.

Many of the older homes in the Northeast are very large.




This covered bridge is near Woodstock and a common sight in Vermont.
   



The Constitution House....birthplace of Vermont.
A beaver is going to have this tree pretty soon.


Adirondack State Park in New York

Driving through the Adirondack State Park in New York was a beautiful trip.  It is the largest state park in the nation with over two million acres.  Lake Placid is a small quaint village but still a major training center for the winter olympic events. They hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and again in 1980.

We were still about a week ahead of the full "popping" of the fall colors but it was still very beautiful.


The ski jumps at Lake Placid, NY










Ausable Gorge

The Finger Lakes Region of New York

We really enjoyed this region of New York. There were numerous wineries on the shores of the lakes.   We were also surprised to find many Amish farms in the area which only added to the charm.





Beautiful vineyards blanket the hillsides overlooking the lakes.














This explains the above picture.  The Louvre is a famous museum of art in Paris, France.  These falls are just outside of Watkins Glen, NY.


  Pennsylvania and Virginia


The "grand canyon" of Pennsylvania one foggy morning.


Near Shanksville, PA

A very moving tribute to the lives and courage of those extraordinary Americans on 9/11.


35,000 Amish live and work in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.  They live lives devoted to their faith, family and friends.  One can only admire their resolve to stay true to their values in the very midst of a world so different from their own.







  


Notice this farmer's resources in contrast to the machinery being sold in the background.




Gettysburg

Our trip to Gettysburg was very interesting as the National Battlefields and Museums have documented in great detail those three days of fighting which turned the tide of the Civil War.  Thousands of lives were lost on both sides. To be present on those very fields was almost eerie.  We were also able to visit the site of the first battle in Manassas, Virginia as well as Appomattox, Virginia where Generals Lee and Grant met to sign the terms for ending this long and devastating war.  It was hoped that this would be the beginning of a united America.





Looking over a battlefield where over 5000 men died in one day.



Notice the cannonball hole in the brick wall of this barn.


This is the exact location of Pickett's Charge.


The McLean House where the final surrender agreement was signed.



Appomattox Courthouse


General Grant sat in that very chair and penned the surrender terms.





A Special Visit

We were pleased to have the opportunity to visit with John's brother, Waldo, in Frederick, Maryland.  He was a gracious host and excellent cook.  His daughter, Jennifer and her family joined us for a very nice evening together.






Sawyer, Jennifer, Peyton, Eli and Marc

Moving Southward

We are continuing our journey south as we are trying to stay one step ahead of the pending colder weather. We are reminded each day how truly blessed we are to live in this beautiful and diverse country. 

We will check in with you again in about a month. Until then.........Happy Trails.

John, Cathryn, Dexter and Annie.