A Travellerspoint blog


A Great Summer Adventure

sunny 93 °F


As I mentioned in my last blog before leaving Atlanta South RV Campground I divided the trip home into thirds. Each leg was about 200 miles or 4-5 hrs. travel time. My experience has been to not push it much beyond that on a day's drive. Piloting the 37' rig with car in tow has a level of stress beyond that of just driving a car. Besides, what's the rush! The first leg of the drive ended just over the Georgia/Florida state line in Jennings, FL. The campground had a meal delivery service so I ordered in for dinner. Very convenient!

The next leg of my journey ended by design in Hudson, FL, about 30 miles north of Tampa. The scheduled dinner was wonderful for me as the Keystone Quarterly Dinner Club was for the Saturday I was in Hudson. I arrived on Friday and left for Estero on Sunday morning. The down time on Saturday morning allowed me to catch up on some laundry.
The Horn's, who live nearby, picked me up at the campground and together we drove to St. Petersburg where we met the Loftus' and Jim Price. As always, we enjoyed catching up with each other's lives. Our dinner at a very nice steak house was enjoyed by all.

Sunday was the final leg of my 4 1/2 month, 7,600+ mile journey. Reflecting on it, Pat and I saw much and had some wonderful experiences together. Life is what you put into it. I certainly have been fortunate to have a travel companion in Pat.

This ends my 2019 blogs. Thanks for tuning in!


Posted by dixter 06:58 Archived in USA Tagged the last leg Comments (0)


Then on past Savannah to Dublin, GA

semi-overcast 72 °F


Two nights in Charleston with a day of sightseeing seemed adequate for us. One could spend a couple more days if you wanted to dig into the history more for it is teeming with historic places to visit. We stayed at a lovely and large campground (KOA) just north of the city in Mount Pleasant. After checking in and getting settled we drove to the Visitors Center for information on Charleston. We learned of a bus tour leaving hourly throughout the day so we purchased tickets. This enabled us to get an overview of Charleston. Our driver/narrator was excellent and gave us more information during the drive that we could digest but it was entertaining, however. I did not realize how prosperous the area of Charleston is. A seaport, it dates back to British occupation before the American Revolution. Today, the port is the second largest container port on the Eastern seaboard. Fort Sumter, the island fortress guarding the harbor from colonial days was where the American Civil War began. For 34 hours the South Carolina militia fired upon the Federal-held fort until they ran out of gun powder to fire their cannons. Not one person was killed during the seige. Being such lousy shots, the Militia (Confederates) should have given up on declaring war! A short time later, however, the US Army surrendered and that started the Civil War.
The bus tour drove us down narrow streets, past magnificent homes, and through the campus of The Citadel, the military college in Charleston. It happened to be Parents Weekend so we saw many Cadets in their uniforms, downtown with their families. The locals told us that it was an unusual sight for the Cadets are normally restricted to campus in their strict military regimen. The end of the tour took us through the Market Place. Dozens of vendors display their crafts in open-air covered buildings downtown. Of course, restaurants and bars number in the dozens. We chose a roof-top establishment for lunch. Afterwards, we walked around the area then decided to take a horse carriage ride narrated by a knowledgable young lady. It covered the old section near the water and she gave some history on the sea captain's homes, etc. Afterwards, we walked to the docks where we saw 2 cruise ships in port. It started to rain lightly at that point so we found an oyster bar with a dozen or so TV's. There I enjoyed a dozen oysters on the half shell while Pat had something different for she does not like these albuminous crustations. We enjoyed the NFL games with the other sports fans as we watched the games being played. The city has a free bus system which we took advantage of to return to our car at the Visitors Center as night-fall had set in. We decided not to take tours of the local plantations as we had both visited plantations before. All-in-all we enjoyed our visit to Charleston for it is a destination city. A bit of trivia- Charleston hosts the most marriages per year in America behind Las Vegas who is #1. Six-thousand five-hundred marriage ceremonies are performed in Charleston annually. With that statistic I felt it best that we quickly get out of town!

A point half-way between Charleston and Atlanta was chosen as a place to stay on our way to the Atlanta Airport where Pat is to depart for MSP. That place was Dublin, GA. The campground was given a personal rating of 1-2 on a 10 point scale. It had, however, 50 amp. power, water, and sewer so it satisfied our requirements for one night. After setting up, we drove to the local Walmart for some supplies and then Googled Dublin restaurants for a place for dinner. To our surprise, we found a delightful place in the downtown historic district. We drove on a street lined with beautiful southern mansions of an earlier time. All were in wonderful condition and reminded us of a 'Gone with the Wind' scene. Dublin, GA must have been a prosperous community at one time. Even today, it appeared to be prosperous as the County Seat.

The next day our destination was a campground on the south side of Atlanta. Chosen for its location, it is but 12 miles (45 minutes) from the Atlanta Airport. I did not want to get mixed in the horrible Atlanta traffic which rivals Washington, DC, Dallas, TX, and Seattle, WA. From here I head south toward the GA-FL stateline for an overnight, then on to Hudson to meet friends. More on that later................................

Posted by dixter 16:15 Archived in USA Tagged georgia Comments (0)


Driving down the coast

sunny 90 °F

Hi y'all;

We left New Bern with warm feelings of our visit. Seeing friends always gives me that feeling. It was about a 3-4 hour trip from New Bern to Myrtle Beach. Located on South Carolina's coastline it is a meca of tourism. The beautiful beach is lined with hundreds of hotels and condos. A boardwalk extends behind the hotels along the water and a pier stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean with a seafood restaurant located there. We patronized it for Happy Hour and appetizer for our evening meal. It was hopping with the crowd there.

The KOA where we are staying is conveniently located about 5 blocks from the ocean beach. The campground has several hundred sites and offers a shuttle service to the beach operating every hour throughout the day and into the evening. We put on our bathing suits, gathered our beach towels and bag, and took the shuttle over in the afternoon. After about an hour in the sun with the temps at 90* we had had enough. The ocean temps are warm now so it was fun walking in the surf. Returning to the MH we showered, did a little reading, and got ready for dinner.
One day in Myrtle Beach was enough. It is a 'carnival-like' atmosphere with a ferris wheel, rides of all sorts, restaurants galore, more T-shirt shops than you can count, and it happens to be 'Motorcycle Week' with hundreds (thousands?) of noisy iron hogs. The campground has dozens staying here. I nearly forgot to mention that Myrtle Beach is a 'golfing destination' with 90 courses from which to choose. Since I don't golf much I nearly overlooked this important information.
Tomorrow we head to a more peaceful setting in Charleston. The sound will be horse's hoofs on the streets. The weather, however, is in a 'cold snap' with overcast skies predicted and temps falling to the low 80's. Brrr!

More on Charleston later...................................


Posted by dixter 05:04 Archived in USA Tagged beach myrtle Comments (0)


Retracing our steps

sunny 85 °F

Hi y'all;

Asheville and our visit to The Biltmore was our furthest venture west in North Carolina for we wanted to visit Coastal Carolina in the east. So we traveled from the mountainous Blue Ridge region across the state to the tidal plain of eastern Carolina. It being about half way, we stopped in Mebane once again. It has a nice campground and we patronized the same restaurant, The Table, for a wonderful meal. The stop enabled me to get a prescription re-filled at the local Walmart. The next morning we drove past Raleigh-Durham and Greensboro on our way to New Bern, our destination. I wanted to visit an old friend, James Odham, Sr. who lives there. Unfortunately, he was ill and we were unable to see him. However, his daughter-in-law, Crystal, the widow of the late James, Jr. met us and with her colleague at work, Dan Ensor, and we had a delightful lunch together.

New Bern, NC is located very near the coast. Its location is on the 'Inner Banks' at the confluence of the Trent and Neus Rivers which flow to the nearby Atlantic Ocean 30 miles downstream. Founded in 1710, New Bern is the second oldest town in NC, as well as the original seat of North Carolina State government. A British seaport, Royal Governor William Tryon made the city his colonial capitol with the Tryon Palace built in 1770 before the American Revolution. While located deep in Confederate territory Union troops captured the city by sea and held it throughout the Civil War of the 1860's, interupting Confederate supply lines. Another 'claim to fame' that New Bern is proud of is Caleb Bradham's creation of "Brad's Drink". A local pharmacist, he concocted this drink which was sold over the counter of his drug store. It was later called, Pepsi Cola. So New Bern is the birthplace of "Pepsi" and the corner pharmacy is now a museum of Pepsi history. Apparently, once each year the Board of Directors of Pepsico meets in the basement Board Room of this former pharmacy, now museum.
After lunch with our friends, we took the Trolley Tour of the city and learned much about this interesting town. In it are over 150 sites included on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a bustling community of 30,000 but within the area I would guess it to be about 75,000. The coast of North Carolina, including New Bern was hit hard by Hurricane Florence in Sept. 2018 with a storm surge reaching second story height. Two downtown river-front hotels, the Hilton and the Marriot along with the Convention Center are still undergoing renovations and repairs. We were told of yachts from the marina being deposited by the storm surge two blocks into the city's downtown with their docks still attached to them. The city sits 30' above sea level. Our visit was most enjoyable. From here we travel down the coast to Myrtle Beach, SC.

More on that later.....................

Posted by dixter 08:31 Archived in USA Tagged after new switzerland bern named Comments (0)


A visit to America's largest privately-owned home

sunny 82 °F

Hi y'all;
That greeting was in North Carolina-speak.

Superlatives are inadequate in what we witnessed in our visit to Biltmore. America's Industrial Revolution of the late 1800's and early 1900's created massive wealth among a few. Namely, Andrew Carnegie (steel), John D. Rockefeller (oil), Cornelius Vanderbilt (shipping, railroads). Even today, several generations later the wealth remains among their off-spring.
Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt amassed a personal fortune of $100M (billions today) at his death. His favored son, William received the bulk of the estate, although contested by his 9 siblings. William, being an astute businessman doubled his wealth during his lifetime, primarily in railroads, creating the New York Central Railroad system, and building Grand Central Terminal in NYC. Upon his death his 8 sons & daughters each received a fortune. With their money they built fabulous mansions along 5th Avenue in NYC , called 'Vanderbilt Row'. They also built summer 'cottages' in Newport, RI, (The Breakers, Marble House), Hyde Park (on the Hudson River next door to FDR's estate), Burlington, VT (Shelburne Farms), and Asheville, NC (Biltmore).

George Vanderbilt was the youngest son of William and had 7 older siblings, as mentioned before. A 23 yr. old bachelor at the time of his father's death, he dreamed of building a 'country cottage' somewhere in the wide-open spaces of America. A visit to western North Carolina with his mother convinced him that with the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains with its unspoiled landscape that this was the place he wanted to build. Undecided on a style of building he hired famed architect Richard Morris Hunt and they traveled together to Europe to visit English estates and French chateaus for design ideas. What was created at Biltmore is a blend of both. He also contracted with landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead to design the grounds and gardens. In the course of all this, George bought 125,000 acres including a mountain he liked 15 miles in the distance, to assure privacy in his domain. To begin construction he had to build a spur railway to the building site for transport of building materials, and a small village was built just outside the entrance gate for the workers. An Episcopal church and rectory were constructed for his pastor and family, as well. In the course of the 6 year building project it took 2 years to construct the massive stone foundation reaching 26' into the ground. On top of the foundation rose a 250 room chateau with 175,000 sq. ft. of floor space. Everything was done on a massive scale. The banquet hall, for example, seats 68 guests at the table, has a 7 story ceiling rising above, with a pipe organ at one end and 3 massive fireplaces at the other. Each hearth of each fireplace measures 6'x6'x6' deep. The library holds half of George's collection of 22,000 books. The Tapestry Room, is 90' long and displays European tapestries from the 15th century. There is the Breakfast Room, the Salon, the Music Room, the Oak Sitting Room, the Billiard Room, the Gun Room, the Smoking Room and on the lower level; the Swimming Pool, the Bowling Alley, the Gymnasium, along with the main kitchen, the pastry kitchen and rotisserie kitchen. Servants dining room and female servants bedrooms are there, also. Male servants lived above the Stable area adjacent to the main house. There were 30 full-time servants and others were called in for large parties to assist the permanent staff. Today, the Stable Restaurant is in the beautiful tiled former horse stable. We had lunch there. We were not invited to eat in the Main Dining Room, however.
In walking down through the formal gardens to the Conservatory we passed by literally thousands of mum plants which had been planted in a design preparing for the Autumn colors. In the glass-roofed conservatory building there was a model train display the size of which I had never seen. I would estimate the railroad track length to be several hundred yards long with several model trains moving through the exotic plants and foliage, over bridges, above our heads, all making for a delightful experience. There are also the Italian Garden (formal), the Shrub Garden with 500 varities of ornamental shrubs, the Spring Garden, the Walled Garden (4 acres in size), the Rose Garden (40 varities), the Azelia Garden (15 acres), and the Bass Pond & Boat House.
Frederick Law Olmstead created in his over-all plan a 2 mile entrance road from the Guard Gate building to the 'house' winding through the forest and only after turning at the last curve did the visitors see the spectacular chateau sitting in this large open area. It was designed to 'awe' the guests as they arrived for the first time.

George Vanderbilt, as I mentioned, was a bachelor at the time later marrying a debutant from Washington, DC several years after the chateau was built. Her father was a US Senator who lived in Washington so she preferred to have a home in DC, as well. The couple had , in addition to Biltmore and the DC home, other homes in NYC, Maine, and an apartment in Paris, France. It must have been a dilema for them to decide just where to sleep.

Biltmore was designed to be a self-sustaining farm providing produce and dairy products for the chateau and surplus for sale locally. A model farm was created with registered cattle producing milk and cheese for sale. A vineyard was established on the property. Today, the winery produces 150,000 cases of wine annually. George & Edith Vanderbilt had but one daughter, Cornelia. She married the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil in 1924 and they lived and entertained at Biltmore. After George's death in 1914, Edith, over time, was forced to sell much of the property to keep things going, reducing the current estate to a more modest 8,000 acres. Today,William Cecil, Jr and Diana Cecil Pickering own and operate The Biltmore as a business adding 2 hotels and various restaurants on the property. They employ 2,400 people and host over 1 million guests each year. While a visit to the Biltmore properties is not inexpensive the experience is worthwhile. We are glad we went.


Posted by dixter 05:38 Archived in USA Tagged biltmore Comments (0)

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