Friday, May 03, 2024

Last Days of This Year's Trip

Heather, James, Morgen, Kolya and Scott at Artomatic

We spent 3 nights enjoying a visit with our son James, daughter-in-law Morgen and our 5 year old grandson Kolya. They live in the Capitol District of Washington DC and spring was in full bloom there. The gardens are small but packed with flowers - some spring bulbs but the roses were in full bloom and every color was represented. 

Kolya is quite an artist and we enjoy working

He loves wearing as little clothes as possible 
around the house.

James and Morgen, surrounded by books. Morgen
works in a bookshop nearby and she and James
are voracious readers.

Our first full day we got to take Kolya to school. It's a half a block away! Then Scott and I went downtown and visited the National Portrait Gallery and have lunch. We picked that museum due to the opening of Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris. But we also enjoyed Struggle for Justice and the portraits of recent Presidents.

On Saturday we took Kolya to the Arboretum - he loves it there. His interests are the buttercups (which he can sit and enjoy, and pick) and the Koi in the pond surrounding the Visitor's Center. . But he also loved the walks through the Azalea Garden - he found lots of little paths between the official trail!

Kolya among the buttercups.

Enjoying the Koi with a new friend. 

Sunday we all went out for Brunch and then to the last day of the Artomatic show. This pop up month long sporadic, peripatetic art festival by local artists takes place in an empty office building. This one had 5 floors packed with artists shows - hundreds. Morgen entered one year and another friend of her and James', who we met there, has also entered several times.  It was a celebratory crowd (there were several bars available, also pop up). Kolya is very creative and loves art. He really enjoyed it (for awhile anyway). 

Enjoying the art!

This is one small section of a single floor. Some were open
totally and others divided into small rooms, each with a 
different artist. 

But all too soon we had to return up to our RV Sunday night. We stopped in to see Paula that evening and again in the morning before hitting the road north and home. We left Maryland at 9 AM and arrived back in Shrewsbury at 4:30 PM - 8.5 hours, not bad and especially since we stopped and had lunch at Panera. It's wonderful to be home and although the trees are still bare, there are lots of daffodils and other early spring flowers. But we only have barely a week here. On Sunday we drive to Boston to babysit our 9 month old grandson Rowan for the week. Our son Sean and son-in-law Will are both away with work commitments. 

Thursday, May 02, 2024

Heading Home!

The best view from our window since the Santa
Rosa RV Park where we were on the beach!

The pond was small but evidently had good fishing
as several people were busy at it. 

Entering Virginia felt like we were in the last phase of our trip, with only 9 days left. I had read about the Walnut Hills Campground a year before on one of our RV site reviews and planned it as our last stop before returning to the Bar Harbor RV Park in Maryland where we've stayed at every year near my sister's. It's a beautiful setting in the hills just outside of Staunton with a small pond and meandering streams. Our site was right on the pond and the view from our dinette was lovely. 
Several pretty streams wandered around our

We enjoyed a big breakfast lunch after our hike at
Kathy's Diner in Staunton. 

We saw several deer on our hike: they were not at
all worried about us. 

We had two nights there. On our one full day spent the morning hiking around a local park.. We thought we were ascending a small hill to a viewpoint over the mountains but got the wrong hill! Oh well, it was still a pretty walk with several glimpses of a herd of deer. That worked up our appetite, which was a good thing as the brunch at Kathy's Diner was enormous. 
"The Manse", Woodrow Wilson's birthplace in Staunton, VA

Wilson's 1919 Pierce-Arrow limousine was
completely restored and very beautiful.

The "interactive" replica of a WWI trench is in
the basement of the museum.

I love these old kitchen's. This one reminded me
of my grandparents' in Canton. They still had 
their old wood stove when I was young.

The historic downtown features many beautiful homes and buildings all perched on a series of hills! The streets are narrow and steep. Luckily we got to our next destination, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Birthplace just before it opened. So we were able to get a parking space in the small lot. 
We spent the afternoon touring the Museum and Birthplace. "The Manse" is called that as it was the residence of the Presbyterian Minister. It was built in 1846 and the Wilsons moved into it in 1855 just before Woodrow was born. They only spent 3 years there, Woodrow only 2, but he continued to go back for visits all his life and somehow thought of it as "home".  His widow Ellen (his second wife) bought it after his death in 1924 and along with his friends and the city, created the Birthplace Memorial. 
He was the 28th President of the Untied States and served two terms from 1913 to 1921. Before that he had been Governor of New Jersey and President of Princeton. Although though as Governor he broke with party bosses and instituted several progressive reforms, during his presidency he instituted segregation within the federal bureaucracy and opposed women's suffrage.. But he later came to support the women's right to vote and if his dream of creating the League of Nations after WWI had worked, we might have avoided the even more disastrous WWII. 
On Monday night we celebrated Passover with a simple Seder ceremony with Paula. She converted to Judaism many years ago and has been a very active member of Temple Adas Shalom.  

The next day was an easy drive briefly through West Virginia and then into Maryland. Baby was settled into her site at the Bar Harbor RV Park by 4 PM and we drove right over to see my sister Paula. She has settled right into the long term health care facility close to her old apartment. Sterling Care Riverside is also right near our RV park so it's easy to run back and forth. We bring her breakfast in the morning (a cheese & pepper & onion omelet and coffee) and then dinner in the evening. The first evening I made her dinner but after that we got Indian and Chinese takeout - fun for all of us. 
We woke up on our first morning to this - a very
high tide due to the winds and a full moon. 
Scott had to wade out to our truck to move it.

The staff knew enough to empty the sites right on
the water. We were just beyond the worst of the
flooding but had to pick our way to dry land from
our RV.

On Thursday we drove down to Washington DC for a 3 night visit with our son James, our daughter-in-law Morgen and 5 year old grandson Kolya. That will be my next blog entry!

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Second Big Surprise - Nashville!

A view of one section of downtown Nashville from the Pedestrian Truss Bridge that spans the Cumberland River over 3,000 feet.

A full size replica of the Parthenon dominates the
large Centennial Park. Bult in 1897 it's now an 
art museum.

A section of Broadway, home to endless numbers
of music venues and restaurants.

That's the view of the State Capitol
Building, one of the few without a
dome (from our tour bus)


Roswell was the first and then Nashville. We were expecting a city like Memphis - lots of great music but kind of rundown. Instead it was rather like what it claims "The Athens of the South", and a gleaming modern high rise city, clearly growing and prospering. We only had one day so decided to take the On and Off Bus around the city. We mostly stayed on as it takes over 2 hours. Mid way we fell for the sales pitch from the driver and ate lunch at the Farmer's Market. It reminded us of Quincy Market both in architecture and the variety of vendors. We chose a Korean stand and had Bibimbap bowls, excellent.

We then took a walk downtown and across the Pedestrian Bridge that spans the river. Built in 1909 it was closed to vehicular traffic in 1998 and refurbished for bicycles and pedestrians.  Then it was time for the Country Music Hall of Fame. It's a very modern museum with multi media presentations illustrating the history of country music through the years. But it also illustrated one other major difference between Memphis and Nashville - the latter is very white! Not only in the Museum but seen around the city. And country music claims a lot of musicians that we wouldn't think of as country - Bob Dylan, most folk musicians (again, the white ones) and a lot of rock & roll groups. OK, there is always cross overs in inspiration and derivation.

There were long streets full of recording studios and companies! We saw two big universities right downtown - Vanderbilt and Belmont had beautiful campuses. Museums were everywhere - lots featuring artists like Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash but there were several Art Museums, the National Museum of African American Music (separate but equal?), and the Tennessee State Museum. 

We saw a number of old industrial complexes 
turned into boutique shops, bars etc. 

Modern and Classical sculpture graced many
parks and street corners.

This fountain is in front of their Symphony Hall.

Written material, artifacts, costumes and film
illustrated each time period.

The building was very modern - like many new
museums, you started at the top and walked down

But the Country Music Hall of Fame was very entertaining with lots of videos of performers. We particularly liked the early music of the Appalachians and derivations from the European traditions.  But soon it was time to meet our shuttle back to the KOA Nashville. For only $10 each we were picked up at our resort and brought back - saving a lot of money and trouble parking in the city. The KOA was very nice and our second night we enjoyed the live entertainment at the poolside. The couple (sorry forgot their names) are on U Tube and have several albums out. They were very good! Our first night we ate out at a local steak restaurant - nice after our long 10 hour drive from our emergency stop visit to the Creek Golf and RV Resort in Cave Springs, Arkansas. 

The KOA's pool - nice but either filled with kids
or on this evening, threatened thunderstorms.

Our entertainers at the Nashville KOA

But we were off again the next day for one night at another KOA in Baileyton, TN - not much to say  like most KOAs, clean and attractive. It was half way between Nashville and our next two night stop at Walnut Hills Campground in Staunton, VA.  But that's my next post!

This was the only photo I took at the Creek Golf & RV Resort where we stayed for 2 nights while Junior was getting repaired. A gorgeous sunset after pouring rain and wind.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Family Time, the Total Eclipse and a Dead Stop

Scott put film over this phone to take
this photo. 

Uzi, Heather and Shira viewing the eclipse by the pool in their
backyard in Dallas

Uzi, Scott, Heather & Shira

We combined both this year. At last year's Stellafane Convention in Springfield, VT we saw a presentation on Solar Eclipses by a noted astronomer and vowed to see the next one. Easy peasy as it was visible both in Vermont and in Dallas, TX where our oldest son Josh has a home. We visit them every year now on our travels west. In the past that's been on the way out, but we timed our next stay during the solar eclipse on April 8. It was amazing and for us, very easy. We just set up in their backyard in Dallas and watched the spectacle. 

Total eclipse at Lake Willoughby

Sean, Will and 11 friends went up to Northern Vermont to
view the eclipse, after spending the weekend at our 
home in Shrewsbury, VT. 

Our son Sean and his friends had a different experience, along with many in the northeast. The weather in northern Vermont was clear and they had a wonderful view, but then they had to join the thousands and thousands driving south. All hotels were full on the way and they have an electric car - "long, long, long lines at the chargers". They left Lake Willoughby around 4 PM and got to Boston at 5:30 AM! And with a 9 month old baby on board.

Josh, Michal and Scott up in the Penthouse of 
their apartment in Tulsa for a party. It was the 
opening day at the Oneok Field, home to the
Tulsa Drillers. 

Watching the game from the Penthouse is like
having a private box.  It's a lounge, game room,
kitchen with decks for everyone that lives there.

Our son Josh has 5 children but only 2 of them are with he and Michal now. Daniel and Cookie are both at Columbia University and their third Maya, now in London, has been accepted by Columbia for next year. Like Cookie, she still had one more year to finish high school in England, but got accepted anyway. That means they have had to take all their A levels (graduation exams) a year early. We're pretty proud of all of them. The last two, Jonathan "Uzi" and Shira are at the University School in Tulsa, OK, near where Josh works as a Radiation Oncologist. Uzi graduates this year from 8th grade and they and Michal are moving to NYC to finish school there at the New School in Manhattan. Josh only works 3 or 4 days a week so he'll commute. They've done this before in London and Costa Rica and it works for them. Hard to imagine - but the results are wonderful. 

Scott got a virtual haircut at the Greenwood Rising
Black Wall Street History Center

Josh and Scott at the Philbrook Art Museum

The Philbrook Art Museum, opening in 1939 in the 1920s villa of Waite & Genevieve Philbrook. When Josh and family lived full time in Tulsa they had a home just a block away. 

So after our long weekend in Dallas, we spent the rest of our 10 day visit in Tulsa. I really love this city and will be sorry they are leaving. We visited the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Black Wall Street History Center, the Botanical Gardens and lots of time at The Gathering. We stayed at the Warrior RV Park right in Tulsa which was convenient but very basic. That's OK as we spent most of our time with our family. 

Lighting the candles on Shabbat

Walking around Tulsa - great weather during out

There is so much to do in The Gathering - here
the garden of mirrors.

Shira and I hide in the giant stem garden

Shira and Scott made my birthday cake - 
celebrated a few days early on our 45th wedding

So now - the Dead Stop! It happened in Centerton, Arkansas. We were on our way to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art when our RV brakes came on suddenly. Luckily we were coming up to a red light and I was able to pull over on the side of the road. Then the motor revved up to 4,000 rpms at idle.  Scott fiddled around and finally it seemed to stop. So we continued on. A few miles later the motor revved up again and we almost came to a stop. Luckily there was a parking lot right there to pull into - a Verizon Store (how appropriate for this Verizon Retiree). 

Many calls and hours later we got a tow company to bring Junior to a dealership and Baby to a RV park. We spent the next day waiting impatiently for news from the service department. We had to cancel our reservations in Little Rock. Finally we got the call and good news! It will be ready this afternoon and we decided to drive direct to Nashville tomorrow. That will put us back on schedule. It's 8 hours and 12 minutes Google time - longer than we've ever attempted. It will take us 10 to 11 hours.

Two problems combined to cause our situation. The emergency brakes on the RV came on due to faulty wiring. The sudden stop forced the plastic floor cover forward and over the end of the gas pedal. We vacuumed Junior in Tulsa the day before and evidently didn't put it back correctly. It happened again a little later and that's the answer. They fixed the emergency RV brake system and the floor cover - and a long standing engine light service problem as well. So we're off as early as possible tomorrow.  More news in my next blog!

Shira models a parasol at the gift shop
at the Botanical Gardens

They had a Lego art installation showing there - animals in all
colors and sizes - totally in Legos.  Here's a American Bald
Eagle in Pride colors.

This was a larger than life size zebra!