Thursday, October 28, 2010

On to The Sunshine State…

We decided to drive to St. Simons Island, near Jekyll Island, before we left Georgia. There we rode our bikes around before going to the Southern Soul BBQ with the intention of having a well-earned lunch. It’s another of those restaurants made famous by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. When we got there though we discovered it had burned down in March and wasn’t re-opening until Tuesday next week. The owner advised us to go to the Mallery Street CafĂ© to try the shrimp and grits. We rode there but, when we looked over the menu, we decided to split a shrimp Po-boy and crab cakes instead - we almost always order different things and then split them in a restaurant. We both picked well - it was really good food.

We came back to camp for a dip in the pool and then watched the San Francisco Giants beat The Philly’s out of the National League Pennant. Just the result we were looking for, or, I should say, I was looking for. Janice couldn’t really give a hoot.

Today we’re heading for Florida and hoping that we might be able to time the last Space Shuttle launch, scheduled for November 1.

We crossed into Florida, stopping at the tourist booth for lunch. An hour later we were setting up camp at Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine. We spent a couple of hours at the beautiful beach there, where a local was teaching us to body surf properly - dive into, but with, the wave just before it’s about to crash. We got rolled around for awhile before having to stop to rinse the fine film of salt and sand from our skins as we left the beach. The waves here are the biggest so far and the water is the greenest yet, although there were some jellyfish.

Pictured is Anastasia Beach.

Later we took a quick tour of the campground, and to our delight, spotted Massachusetts Maureen’s motor home. She’s the retired school teacher we had met earlier at Myrtle Beach. She’s off to St. Petersburg and Desoto State Park in the morning so we hung with her for awhile and had a few drinks around the campfire.

Pictured are Maureen and Tim.

Our neighbours at Anastasia Park turned out to be a couple from just outside Toronto, Keith and Heather, who were on their way to Key West to celebrate their thirty-fourth wedding anniversary. They only had a couple of weeks to enjoy as much sunshine as they could so they had driven hard for two days to get here.
It was their inaugural trip in their new-to-them motor home though, and it wasn’t going so well.

Right after they first pulled into camp I noticed Keith with his head under the hood and went to introduce myself. It was apparently some kind of wiring problem that resulted in the electrical stuff not working in the back of the unit, and it was draining the battery. He unhooked a couple of wires that he saw had been Mickey Mouse’d and it seemed to do the trick.

The next morning they were all ready to go to the beach. They were all smiles as they climbed into the motor home, until it wouldn’t start because the fob wouldn’t unlock the ignition or steering. They were faced with having to make what seemed to be the inevitable call to AAA, probably having to have the unit towed somewhere to be fixed. The prospects were good for having their day pretty well ruined.

There was nothing we could do for them so we headed into St. Augustine, the oldest city in America. It’s a beautiful little town with a lot of Spanish influence in the architecture with many of the narrow little side streets closed to vehicular traffic. Janice and I decided to go our separate ways for an hour or so - she could kind of go by the map and check out a few shops while I wandered aimlessly.

Pictured: are the college at St. Augustine and a few other miscellaneous shots from around the town, including Janice's shot of the oldest wooden school house in America.

When we got back to our campsite I noticed all the wiring and the security box to Keith and Heather’s motor home sitting on the picnic table. After we left Keith had figured he might be able to save himself some grief by just ripping it all out. It ended up not only saving him grief but probably a lot of time and money too. It all worked fine for him after that, and for that reason, they arrived back at camp in a good mood, asking us over for a drink. We said we’d be there in a few minutes, after we showered.

When we got there, Heather had exited the shower to discover a squirrel darting across the floor. She thought she had shooed it out when it went up under the dash. She assumed that it had must have come in that way too. Then Keith noticed the hole it had chewed through the screen door to get in. We were all guffawing about the outrageous series of unfortunate incidents that had befallen them when Keith went in to get another beer. He discovered one of the blinds had also been destroyed and another hole had been chewed in a window screen on the other side of the unit, through which the desperate but dastardly little critter had made it’s escape.

We sat around laughing a lot about their bad luck, and all of our good luck, drinking too much before finally eating some burgers about ten o’clock. Despite Keith having many physical maladies, some of which are quite debilitating, he is cavalier about it all and they are both easy and funny to be around. Wendy is just downright easy going. They were booked into Tomoka State Park near Daytona beach for the next day, just an hour or so down the road, so we decided we’d join them there.

Pictured are Keith and Heather.

On the way Janice and I stopped for lunch at Beverly Beach, pictured below.

After getting set up at The Park we gave Keith and Heather a ride to the beach, which was about three miles away from camp. We paid the $3 entrance fee so that we could drive onto and along the beach for about ten miles. That arrangement is nice because there’s hardly any parking on the streets and you get to have all your gear with you - the truck even providing some shade and shelter from the wind. We all took a stroll down the beach before Janice and I got wet in the big waves. The water was too shallow where the waves were too big and. because we didn’t want to get pounded too severely, it was more of a dunk than anything else.

Pictured are Keith, Heather and I at Tomoka Beach, part of the same stretch as Daytona Beach.

It being Janice’s birthday, her and I had planned to go out for dinner. We invited our new friends to join us and that’s when we found out that Keith doesn’t like a lot of different foods. He doesn’t like any kind of seafood. He doesn’t like stew, or anything else mixed together. If you mention Sheppard’s Pie, for example, his face curls up like and old shoe and you can actually see the gag reflex. Of course we learned to have fun with that in a hurry. We knew he would have been stuck for anything he’d like at a restaurant of our choosing so we set out alone to cruise the strip.

We settled on Pho Saigon, a Vietnamese joint just off the strip. The food was excellent and the menu offered some items that we’d never tried before so, before we were done, Janice had wrangled the recipe for Banh Xeo from the waiter. No doubt she’ll be trying it on some unsuspecting souls in the future - you know who you are.

Pictured is Janice at the restaurant on her 52nd birthday. Or, as she likes to say, “Twenty-six, on both sides.”

Keith and Heather decided to motel in Daytona Beach for the next day so that they could return to one of their favourite old haunts, Crabby Jack’s, on the pier. We agreed to meet them there the next day.

In the morning I unintentionally ran over a monstrous snake on the paved road about ten minutes from our campsite. The speed limit was 45 mph and the road was mottled with shade so I was on the thing before I knew what it was. It had still been alive when I thump-thumped it because I saw it wriggle in the rearview mirror. Later I described it to The Ranger as being at least six feet long and light-ish in colour. He said that, because it’s been dry here for so long, it would definitely be a rattle snake looking for water. It creep’d me out all day - the thing was so big, and I had run over it..

We met Keith and Heather at Crabby Jack’s on the pier at Daytona Beach as agreed. It’s a no-frills bar that occupies what has to be one of the most desirable locations anywhere. It’s so rustic that, if you were to drop your credit card on the floor, it could easily slip between the cracks to the ocean thirty feet below. Pitchers of beer were only $6.50 and the pound of spicy garlic shrimp was also cheap and delicious. Of course, Keith never had any shrimp.

Pictured are: Crabby Jack’s and the view of Daytona Beach from Crabby Jack’s.

Today is the 28th. We’re headed for Blue Springs near Warren, an hour or so inland, where the water is supposed to be crystal clear, offering excellent swimming and snorkeling. If we’re lucky we may get to see some Manatees - you know, those big gentle, gelatinous, limbless, giants of the sea.

We’re also booked into a park near Cape Canaveral for November 1. It would be very cool to see that last shuttle launch.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

No Rainy Nights in Georgia

From Charleston we headed south and about an hour-and-a-half later crossed the border into Georgia, where we stopped at the tourist info booth for lunch.

Settling in at Skidaway State Park, not far from Savannah, we decided on heading to the beach at Tybee Island, because it was so hot and because we wanted to give Savannah a full day. At Tybee Island we got wet and then took a long walk on the beach - such a long walk that we ended up in a different town. It was still a nice walk back, except for the damp bathing suit chafing.

The beautiful thing about Georgia is the Spanish Moss. It’s draped from the trees almost everywhere, sometimes hanging right to the ground. Where we're camped at Skidaway Park, the mammoth Live Oaks with bark like chapped elephant skin, create a seventy or eighty foot canopy overhead that provides welcome shade. The Spanish Moss appears to ooze from massive gnarly branches.

Pictured is Tim riding one of the many trails at Skidaway Park as well as a shot of the canopy.

I’d have to say that Savannah was a bit of a disappointment. I guess I’d assumed, subconsciously, that Charleston would be a mere warm-up to Savannah but, in my view, it would be the other way around. Savannah is nice enough, for sure. Unlike Charleston though, it has the typical tourist trap waterfront and the downtown core, even though all the commercial buildings are very old, doesn’t have the same feeling of overwhelming grandeur. I’m sure some would argue the point with me but I think that the allure of Savannah has a lot to do with the number of parks and the amount of Spanish Moss adorning most of the trees.

Anyway, we walked the streets of Savannah for miles, electing not to drop the fifty bucks on a guided bus tour. Maybe that has something to do with the bit of a let-down, but we figure that reading the plaques on the buildings provides us with more historical detail than we can ever remember anyway.

Ok, it’s old already!

Once we got back in the truck and wandered the town, away from where the tour buses go, we found some streets lined with the beautiful old homes that we’d expected to see.


The weather continues to co-operate with cloudless skies and temperatures in the high 80’s. Tonight being a full moon and all, we figure we’ll head for Jekyll Island.

Pictured is the pool at our Golden Isles Campgrounds near Brunswick, Georgia.

Jekyll Island is where JP Morgan, the Rothschild’s, the Rockefellers and a few other early twentieth century billionaire industrialists, founded an exclusive hunting club that even the President of the United States was refused entry into. It was there, at a very secret meeting, way back in 1913 or so, that these billionaires got together and decided to form the Federal Reserve Board. They also decided at the same time to set up the Central Banking System that governments and the chartered banks could borrow from. The Federal Reserve Board, (The Fed) would determine the borrowing rates.

It was a brilliant but sinister plan because it resulted in every man, woman and child becoming indebted to these mega rich families through government debt. It's important to know that The Fed operates completely autonomously from the Federal Government and it’s logo, the pyramid with the eyeball inside, is present on all denominations of American paper currency. (Correction: After I looked, I think it's only present on the one dollar bill). Some would argue that this arrangement provided stability to an emerging nation, through capital for infrastructure. Others would say that these families have total control of the economy. Whichever way you look at it though, it begs the question - who’s really in charge?

We drove to Jekyll Island about 5:00pm and toured it's fifteen mile circumference, taking in the 'cottages' of the Rockefeller's, the Rosthchild's and the Morgan's. These cottages are typically 20 bedrooms and 17 baths. The whole island is a state park so, aside from a few hotels and resorts, it is void of commercial enterprise - not even a corner store or gas station. There are a few hundred residences however, mostly rambling ranchers that look like they were built in the 70's.

Pictured is Janice at The Beach Deck at Jekyll Island, some Spanish Moss at Jekyll Island. The Jekyll Island Resort Hotel, the full moon at Jekyll Island and Janice, who says, "Oh, that Man in the Moon is so cute, I think I'll squish his tiny head."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

From Myrtle Beach to Gone With the Wind

I thought I’d give you all a break for a few days. Us too.

Myrtle Beach was so nice, and the weather was cooperating so well, that we decided to hang out for a few days. Mostly we spent the afternoons on the beach where we could see schools of Mullin, (foot-long silver fish) jumping out of the water, sometimes not three feet in front of us. The day before yesterday, as we were watching a tight, dark school of the little jumpers, I noticed a smooth slick of water approaching them. All of a sudden a whale rolled over, not more than fifty or sixty feet from shore.

One night we invited ourselves to our neighbour’s camp, Tom and Wendy,from Raleigh, NC. They were 40’ish and were nice people, but when I mentioned we’d been to New York City, Tom asked me what I thought of the proposed Muslim Mosque near Ground Zero.

I said, “Not much.” He said, “Well I think it’s disgusting. It’s a clear victory for their side if it gets done. I think that people are going to go out of their way to come from all over the US just to paint bomb it.” I said that I’d seen something on Sixty Minutes about it just the other night and that the moderate Muslims see it as their duty to get it done in order to try and bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians in America.

He still wasn’t having it.

I didn't want to press it too much - we were at their campsite - so I replied with something inocuous like, "It's a small planet."

Later of course, I wished that I’d thought to reply that a lot of Canadians refuse to travel to the US because they think that all Americans are a bunch of gun-toting, war-mongering rednecks. Of course it’s not the truth, but the sentiment is born from the same kind of thinking.

On the other hand, on our last night at Myrtle Beach, we invited our female neighbour from Massachusetts over. She’s a retired school teacher who’s been married for years but is traveling alone because her husband is working as a tug boat captain and is away for extended periods. She was interesting, open minded and funny. Just like she described her grown sons, she was a polar opposite to the people from North Carolina.

Myrtle Beach stretches for miles and we walked a good deal of it. We also toured The Strip where everything is garish, outlandish and over the top. You might see a massive man made jungle dedicated to Mini Golf, a volcano spewing smoke and coloured water dedicated to the same thing, two or three twenty-thousand square foot buildings dedicated to nothing but beach wear, all surrounded by numerous restaurants and bars - each of them loudly proclaiming to be the best, the biggest, the cheapest, or the most unbelievable.

I think I may also have mentioned that Janice is now throwing the football around at the beach, which is not something she’d normally partake in. I, on the other hand, don’t like to just sit much, so I entice her by making it into a game of Donkey. That way I can ignite her competitive spirit and she gets involved. So much so that I thought I'd introduce the Frisbee the other day for the same purpose. She beat me the first game.

We also checked out North Myrtle Beach - you'll want to know that it's the home town of Vanna White - and historic Georgetown, which we quickly departed due to the stinky pulp mill. Man I’m glad they got rid of that stink in Kamloops. It’s easy to forget how bad it used to be.

We decided we'd seen enough of Myrtle Beach and so we moved to Lake Aerie Campsite just outside of Charleston. It’s still really hot but there’s a shimmering kidney shaped pool here that takes the heat off nicely.

In the evening we were invited to share S’mores with our new neighbours, Wayne and Kathy. Wayne is an ex Vietnam Vet who is exceptionally upbeat. He declined all the Armed Forces benefits and pensions that had been offered to him over the years because he was still able-bodied. He just retired though and is now able and willing to take advantage of some of those benefits he had refused over the years.

Downtown Charleston is very charming, made up almost entirely of grand, gracious old homes that all carry some kind of historical significance. Did I mention that Charleston is where the Civil war started when the Confedrates attacked Fort Sumner. They took it in 36 hours and it took The North more than four years to get it back.

Pictured are some of the grand old homes and businesses of Charleston, as well as me with what must be the only modern home in Charleston.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Myrtle Beach and another great recipe...

We left the outer cape because the mosquitoes were just too thick, even with the ocean breeze. We drove inland, stooping at a fresh seafood outlet where we were talked into trying some soft shelled crab, which was neither here nor there. On the other hand, the two large prawns wrapped in crab cake and then bacon were excellent.

We set up at Green Acres Campsite near Williamston, NC, Janice cooked the prawns on the BBQ until the bacon was done, which we were told indicates that the prawn ends up cooked through. It was true. Mmmm, good. Janice has already filed that one away to try on dinner guests at home.

Pictured is the road into the Green Acres Campsite along with the over filled pond there. They had received sixteen inches of rain in the couple week prior - the most since Hurricane Floyd back in 1999.

It had clouded over in the morning and was slightly cooler, which made for a comfortable drive to Shallotte, NC where we set up at Holden Beach Campsite. By then the temperature had climbed into the 80’s again so we hit Holden Beach and threw our little football around for awhile before getting wet.

Pictured is Janice playing in the waves at Holden Beach. She was getting a little sore about all the sand getting in her suit though so, in that imitable way of hers, she takes control.

When we returned to camp Janice finished off the Pozole, which she’s been a little coy about sharing the recipe for. I talked her into it on the condition that our friend Jose Lorenzo Zaldo gets credit for the original. When Jose makes it though it‘s a day-long affair where he makes his own chili paste and all. This is an abbreviated version, that’s more practical for RV’ing or, just a really good dinner that tastes like it took all day.

It’s a truly authentic Mexican meal that village women sometimes take around to work sites to sell to the local workers.

2 large pork shoulder steaks, or, the cheap or hurried man’s version, ground pork.
Rub the pork steaks down with chili powder, cumin, and a little chipotle. Brown both sides in oil.
(For ground pork add spices after you have browned and drained the pork).
Throw in one onion quartered, 1 crushed garlic clove and about a liter of chicken or vegetable stock.
If you have any dried Pasilla or Guajillo peppers add them now. Simmer for an hour or so.
Remove pork and onion, (and dried peppers) shred the pork and discard the onion and dried peppers.
Add the shredded pork back into the stock.
Add one drained can of Pozole (Hominy) that you can only get at Wal-Mart in Kamloops. It’s puffed white corn and some supermarkets carry it in the canned vegetable section. It’s not Pozole without this ingredient.
Adjust with chili powder or chipotle to taste.

Ladle into bowls and serve with the following garnishes.
Top in any order you like…we have our own styles…
Finely chopped red onions, finely chopped radish, shredded iceberg lettuce, cubed avocado,
Tortilla chips for crumbling, and lime wedges for squeezing.

You’re going to love it!

Traditional Pozole does not use cumin…lo siento Jose.

The next day we drove to Myrtle Beach State Park and set up camp before going for another swim in the ocean. What a beautiful beach. The water was still 79 degrees and the beach stretches for miles. Unlike the previous day at Holden Beach, the sand doesn’t get churned up so much that it ends up, well you know…

Just when we’d decided we’d had enough of our amateurish attempts at body surfing the sky darkened and a huge downpour ensued. It’s tropical here though, (palm trees and all) so it passed in an hour, and the sun was back out in time to set.

If anyone’s looking to take a getaway, almost all of the hotels here, (and there are many) are offering Recession Specials of $25 per room, ($40 for oceanfront) and weekly rates of $125 to $175.

Pictured are: Myrtle Beach; a thunderhead appearing and the sky darkening before the storm rolling in.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sweet Virginia and cotton fields, North Carolina

We left Stanardsville under sunny skies and forecasts for temperatures in the mid to high 80’s. After setting up camp, we took the short drive to historic, and hip, Charlottesville. We walked the downtown area which is graced with a lot of red brick, white pillared buildings. The main street, which is blocked to vehicular traffic for about eight blocks, is chock full of ethnic restaurants and unique, funky and upscale shops. It was the middle of the day and pretty hot downtown though so we decided to head for Monticello.

Pictured is the main street at Charlottesville.

Right before Monticello is a place called Carver’s Apple Orchard where you drive to the mountaintop that affords views in all directions. There you can pick your own apples or you can buy just about anything that has any relation to apples. We sampled the cider and a warm apple donut before departing with a couple of different varieties of apples and some hot apple salsa.

Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, is both beautiful and fascinating, but a little over-priced, and overrun. It costs $22 per head and a tour leaves every ten minutes. Janice quickly deduced that they’re taking in $440 every ten minutes. Not bad.

Jefferson first became the US Envoy to France before becoming Vice President and then the third President of the United States, where he served two terms. Besides holding those lofty positions he was also the main author of the Declaration of Independence, a lawyer, an architect, a musician, a farmer and an inventor. One has to remember that this was all way back in the 1700’s so he would have, as the US envoy to France, been sailing back and forth to Europe on some kind of clipper ship and, to get to Washington, would have had to cross three major rivers, all on horseback. He also penned, and copied,(with his own invention) over 90,000 letters in his lifetime.

The home itself is a brilliant design but we weren’t allowed into the upstairs/the dome, which was his main working and thinking space. Nor were we shown the basement, which housed the kitchen, wine cellar, etc. We found out later that we could have toured the basement ourselves, but our tour guide never mentioned that to us. We did tour the enormous grounds and his gravesite on the way back to the parking lot.

Pictured is Jefferson's house at Monticello as well as one tree hugging another at Monticello.

Later, camping at the KOA, there were four couples from California who had known each other since high school. When they saw our BC plates they stopped by to compare notes. All four couples had been married for 40-or-so years and were blogging their 66-day travels together as The Class of ‘68. The most gregarious of them kept showing up at our campsite, with a refilled glass of wine, because he couldn’t believe we were on the road for, “A Year!”

Pictured is the pond behind our campsite at the KOA outside Charlottesville.

The next day we drove The Parkway through the Blue Ridge Mountains, detouring through Lexington for an oil change. It turned out to be a long day driving because there were no campsites at our original target, Roanoke, Virginia. We also took a long hot hike along Otter Creek.

Pictured is us, kind of, reflected in Otter Creek as well as a view of some farms, from The Parkway in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

At about 7:00pm we ended up in the hills near Sydnersville,VA. The most memorable there thing was this dog that made an immediate impression because, although he looked full grown and his muzzle was greyish, he kept running around and playing like a puppy, all on his own. He was about the happiest and most friendly mutt we’d ever met. He even slept under our trailer and I got him to wake janice with his furry face in the morning. It turned out his name was Maybe, as in maybe we’ll keep him and maybe we won’t. We thought maybe we’d steal him, but we didn’t.

Pictured is Maybe. I never said he was cute, or photogenic. To be fair, the goofy expression could be due to a scratch behind the ear.

The day was already hot when we pulled out, headed for North Carolina, just an inch or so away on the map. When we got to the Tourist Info Booth across the border, there was a BBQ Festival going on just down the road, so we stopped in and split a BBQ pork sandwich and a half dozen Hush Puppies,(deep fried corn bread).

The first thing we noticed were the cotton fields stretching toward the horizon in all directions. We drove as far as Elizabeth City where we set up in the 85 degree heat. We went looking for somewhere to swim but couldn't find one so went back to the RV park and washed the truck and trailer.

Pictured is a cotton field in North Carolina.

It was hot again when we set out for Shilo, NC. We took nice scenic back roads before ending up at the North River RV Park. We were headed back into town for some supplies when Janice realized she'd forgotten her list. We went back to find smoke coming from under the trailer. I was foolishly playing with the wires where the smoke was coming from when Janice jumped into action, grabbing the fire extinguisher that I had forgotten we even had, and put the fire out.

The next morning I disconnected the wires and we drove to Kitty Hawk, about an hour away, where we met the RV fixer guy who put it all back together properly. He only charged us $80, under the table.

Kitty Hawk is on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Outer Banks are basically a series of long skinny islands that run parallel to, and just about the entire length of the state's coastline. It's a little disconcerting because they're flanked by the open Atlantic Ocean on one side and, in spots, they're no more than a couple of hundred yards wide and three feet high. Yes, Kitty Hawk is so named because it's where the Wright Brothers did their thing.

We drove further south to Hatteras Island where we set up before going swimming in the ocean. There we were entertained for a few hours by people trying to learn the very difficult sport of Kite Surfing.

Pictured is the beach at our campsite. We were swimmming on the other side of the island where the water is much more calm. Also pictured: There are very serious fishers around Hatterus Island. They carry their poles around like ornaments on the front of their trucks. Some even have bumper mounted cleaning stations and coolers.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


We drove from The Duncan Family Campground near Annapolis, Maryland to The Metro, which would take us directly to the centre of Washington, DC. The campground offered a shuttle to and from the Metro for just $3 each but we decided we wanted to be on our own time. It was a good thing too because by 4:00pm we were completely bagged. Waiting for the shuttle at 5:30 would have been a stretch.

The GPS, (Susan) took us right to the Metro parking compound and from there we hopped on the high speed Metro, which mostly ran underground. Every time it did go underground it created a lot of pressure on our ears - more so than a jet taking off - so our ears were constantly popping. I guess people who ride it all the time must become somewhat immune. It was a twenty-five minute ride and covered at least that many miles, with five or six stops.

We got off at The Smithsonian Stop, right at ‘The Mall’ in the centre of the Capital District. The Mall has nothing to do with shopping, instead it is lined with the twenty-three buildings that make up The Smithsonian Institute, the enormous National Gallery of Art as well as the Museum of Natural History. It’s anchored by the George Washington Monument at one end and by The Capitol Building at the other.

Just as we did in New York, we went right away to a tour bus outlet and paid $27 each for passes that allowed us to jump on and off the narrated tour buses all day. In New York our buses were double-decker with open tops, where we always positioned ourselves. In Washington the buses were one-story and enclosed, with a central hinge that made them into two sections.

The first stop was The Capital Building. All the major news crews were lined up there to report on whatever spin was coming down the pipe for the day.

Pictured is the Capital Building.

Next stop was Union Station, a beautiful building that is still a serious hub of activity. Trains full of business people from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore, probably a good deal of them lobbyists, were scuttling for waiting taxis or limousines. We went to the food court there and had a Subway Sandwich, (budget, you know) waiting for our tour bus to reappear. Right across from where all the taxis and limos were lined up, this oriental guy, with an amplifier, was singing religious hymns, slightly off key but at the top of his lungs. He also played trumpet, not so badly, and would promptly knock off another hymn on that instrument, at a decibel level that could not be ignored. He was there all day, every day, paid by this or that church, driving the Union Station workers crazy.

Pictured is a shot of the inside of Union Station.

We got back on the bus, (the tour guides are so much drier in Washington than those in New York City) and got dropped off across the Potomac, in Virginia, at Arlington Cemetery. There we watched the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then visited the JFK gravesite/memorial before heading back to the tour bus.

Pictured are: A small portion of the thousands of graves at Arlington Cemetery as well as the JFK site.

We hopped off the bus again at the Lincoln Memorial and then walked along the reflecting pool to the Whitehouse.

Pictured are: Janice in front of the reflecting pool with the Washington Memorial in the background - the shot was taken from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Whitehouse.

We got back on the bus and headed for our last stop, The National Gallery, where we spent some time taking in the huge Rembrandt and August Rodin collections, a private collection of famous impressionist paintings that had been donated to the museum and a lot of priceless renaissance work, including one beautiful Leonardo Divinci painting that stopped us in our tracks - a portrait of a young woman that I was unfamiliar with. Janice remarked, “He was pretty good, wasn’t he?”
Pictured is Janice at the top of the steps at The National Gallery.

We walked back to The Metro for the ride home and found ourselves to be the only white people on a crowded subway. We commented that we were glad to be taking the ride now, as opposed to what the same ride might have felt like twenty years ago.

As we tried to exit the Metro Parking compound, the sign in front of the closed gate said to Swipe Your Pass To Exit. Realizing that must not have noticed that we should have purchased a pass when we got there, with traffic backing up behind us, Janice ran back to the car behind and asked what we could do. He laughed and gave Janice his pass to swipe. She threw five bucks in his lap and we were out of there.

The next morning we decided to head for the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. We drove the Skyline Road along the mountain ridges, where you could see for miles and miles on each side, and then dropped down into Stanardsville and the nearby Heavenly Acres Campgrounds. From here it’s a short jaunt to Charlottesville and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.