Thursday, December 10, 2015


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