Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summertime and the traveling begins

Fife and drum, a taste of Colonial times.
(Photo courtesy Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance)

Vacation season is here!

Well, for those who are retired, traveling to exciting places can be experienced any time of the year.

But for the majority, when Memorial Day has come and gone, and school is out, its time to hit the road.

Even though wifey and I are retired, our traveling somehow coincides with events that deal with relatives.

Knowing that some travel to events is going to take place, we tend to hold back on expenditures during other times of the year so that we can make the best of what we do experience.

On Wednesday, we will be heading east and over the course of a couple weeks will visit Georgia, South and North Carolina and then into Virginia which will be the terminus.

Chesapeak Bridge and tunnel
(Photo courtesy the bridge-tunnel commission)

I’m looking forward to traveling across the Chesapeak Bay Bridge and Tunnel that crosses the expanse of the Chesapeak Bay where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.

At times, I’m told it can be quite an experience especially if the wind is kicking up the water.

Historically speaking, we will be experiencing the Colonial times with a visit to Williamsburg.

After participating in a wedding of one of our nieces, we’ll head back down to, guess where? The Great Smoky Mountains, of course with a stay in Gatlinburg before heading home.

Next post: June 3, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tale of the Dragon, it's not: Thank goodness

Waterville Road-TN 32 intersection offers options
I’ve heard about the Tale of the Dragon, a 11-mile drive that has 318 curves on US 129 along the North Carolina-Tennessee border. It is a well-known location for motorcycle enthusiasts who like to swerve a lot. 

I don’t know if I’m cut out for that many switchbacks, but Tennessee Highway 32, to my estimation, has enough curves for me.

Over the course of several trips to the Cosby area, east of Gatlinburg, we sometimes decide to take the less traveledTN 32 to the south which leads to either the Cataloochee area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or we take a left turn at Waterville Road and head over to Interstate 40.

TN 32 is a two-way paved road most of the way, but the last mile turns into a dirt road which I don’t know if I’d want to be on it during a rainstorm.

The first time we took the trip many years ago, we didn’t know exactly where it was going or where it would end. But, we ventured on none-the-less, just wifey and I. 

Closed business offers advertising space at Waterville Road-TN 32

Being a little hungry, at the Waterville Road turn, we headed east and found a place called “Mountain Moma.” No, I didn’t spell that wrong. I know, you’re thinking it should be “Mountain Momma.” Well, apparently there wasn’t enough room on the sign for that extra M. 

We stopped off and I believe wifey and I got a hamburger and french fries along with a some tea and coffee. It wasn’t a busy place, mainly I guess, because it was in the middle of nowhere.

Waterville Road leads past a power plant on the Pigeon River before intersecting with the interstate.

Over the course of the next 30 years, we’d traveled back into the past, but we couldn’t find that restaurant again. On our jaunt last year, we asked a local native about the place. He remembered the restaurant and said the building was now being used for a school.

At the four-way stop where we turned left on Waterville Road, southbound TN 32 turns into Mount Sterling Road which eventually turns into National Park Road and continues on to Cataloochee.

On this particular trip we hit the interstate, went over to Waynesville and then headed back through Cherokee to Gatlinburg.

Traveling on the 20-something mile mountain road could be a white-knuckle drive if one was in a hurry. The road goes up and down the mountain with seemingly hundreds of back and forth turns to add to the excitement.

Next post: May 27, 2014

Crossing the Pigeon River 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Scenic Drive visit fulfills longtime desire

519 East Scenic Drive, Pass Christian, MS
For the 44 years wifey and I have lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we have always been intrigued by Scenic Drive in Pass Christian, about 30 miles to the west.

Scenic Drive shoots off from US 90 and parallels the highway for about three miles.

While US 90 is more on a plain with the beach, Scenic Drive elevates along a ridge and overlooks the Mississippi Sound. There are no structures between the two roads from where they intersect on the east to the main intersection of the town on the west.

The road is a pretty drive. But to the north side of the road there are many homes and mansions which at one time or another we had wanted to visit.

And Sunday a week ago, we did just that.

We participated in the Pass Christian Historical Society’s Tour of Homes. Five residences were featured between 2 and 5 p.m.

Tea and a lot of other goodies and finger food were provided at the home of Jeanne Hines at 519 East Scenic Drive.

According to the guidebook for the tour, the home, built in 1895, suffered major damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was torn down and rebuilt. 

‘’The 10,000-square-foot reconstruction is faithful to the original house but constructed of concrete and steel,’’ the brochure reports.

(Three scenes below are interior shots from some of the residences)

Other homes on the tour included:

— 533 East Scenic Drive, the home of Janet and Michael McElroy. The residence was constructed circa 1938 and has an extensive garden.

— 829 East Scenic Drive, called the Carlisle place and built circa 1850, with a second story added in 1938.

—710 East Second St., the home of Sidonie and Keith Petagna. The residence once belonged to a prominent New Orleans sugar plantation owner.

—1001 East Beach, the home of Mrs. Lynn Gildersleeve. The structure is a classic Coast cottage with center hall. The front gallery overlooks the Sound and back gallery has a view of their pool.

829 East Scenic Drive, Pass Christian, MS
It had been a long time waiting, but the trip fulfilled a longtime desire to see how people along that stretch of road lived.

Swing with a coastal view

Next post: May 20, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Big Easy itch scratched

Wifey and I scratched an itch this past weekend.

We took another trip to New Orleans. It was our second of the year.

The itch doesn’t last long. We usually spend about four hours in the Crescent City before heading back home. Unless it is a time when we plan to spend the night at one of our favorite locations.

When the city’s not busy, the lodging place offers a good I-10 “Welcome Center” rate that we take advantage of. Those rates are only good Sunday through Thursday.

This was a Saturday, and we had other things planned at home on Sunday.

The visit is just a matter of getting just enough of a taste to make us want to return.  We figured we had to get this trip in pretty quickly before the summer heat started up.

New Orleans is unbearable for me when the temperature stays above the 80 degree mark. The higher the temperature and the accompanying humidity, the less interest I have in something.

We arrived at around 1 p.m. and planned on eating at a place we had walked past on a previous trip. Unfortunately they didn’t open until 5 p.m.

We were hungry and headed a few blocks over to Decatur and got a bite to eat at the Market Cafe. It was a sausage po-boy and fries for me and a cup of gumbo for wifey. Tasted pretty good.

An added enjoyment was the five-piece band that was playing.

We sat around a little and listened and then headed down to Cafe Du Mond for cafe au lait and beignets.

While sitting at the Cafe Du Monde, I got to thinking about the place we had just left.

I believe it was the original location for the Morning Call, another well-known coffee and beignets place back in the middle of the past century.

They moved out to another location in what is called Fat City. Sometimes when we are on the interstate west of downtown, we stop and eat.

A short walk around Jackson Square, a visit to the Whole Foods store on Magazine Street and then we were ready to head home.

Can’t want till cooler temps in the fall.

Next post: May 13, 2014