Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Charleston and Savannah

Crazy to be heading south this time of year but we want to visit with family and friends in Florida and that's the way things have worked out. It's put a bit of a cramp in sightseeing plans since the heat index in several places has been well above 100, but we've done what we can and stopped in a few of our favorite cities.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a unique city. We love the huge live oak trees, stately homes and mansions, and the history. I thought I would share some of the pictures we took while wandering around the historic part of town. Hopefully they will give some sense of the charm of Charleston.

The high battery walk follows the Cooper River and is a great vantage point from which to view some of the historic mansions. Many of the homes are open for tours but we didn't take one. These homes had prime views of the shelling of Fort Sumter at the beginning of the Civil War.

Lots of ornate grillwork on the Edmonston-Alston House dating back to 1825
The detail on this house was exquisite

Charleston is known for what are called 'single houses.' These houses have an entrance on the street leading to a porch running along the side of the house where people would be able to sit and enjoy the breezes. The actual entrance to the house would be on the side porch. We saw several examples as we walked around the historic district.

We saw a beautiful houses as we walked in the area behind the water - many of them had signs explaining their history. The old hitching posts have been preserved in the area in front of these homes.

This house looks as though nothing has been done to preserve it, but I think it's been cared for and the look it has now is intentional.

There is a lovely park called White Point Gardens which is also know as Battery Park (I'm guessing it's named that because of the Fort Sumter barrage). It's on the Charleston peninsula where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet. We parked there to begin our walk in the historic homes area and then came back and walked around the park.  There are huge live oak trees

and some interesting statues.

There was a sign in the park explaining that the park was a nesting area for herons, and it asked people to honor that and leave them alone. We saw this juvenile heron that didn't appear to be able to fly yet, and looked quite confused.

In a mix of the new and the old, we saw this woman paddleboarding past the mansions with her dog keeping her company.


It's a great city, well worth a visit. It was ranked the top number one top city in the U.S. and Canada to visit by Travel and Leisure magazine, 2015 World's Best Awards, and number 2 best city in the world Conde Nast Traveler 2014. So much to see and do, wish the weather had been better for us but we'll probably be back.

Savannah, Georgia 

A few years ago we took a Trolley Tour around Savannah and enjoyed it thoroughly. This year we decided to explore on our own. There are a series of squares, or small parks, throughout the historic area. We began in Johnson Square which has a 50 foot tall marble obelisk. It's a monument to Nathanael Greene, who was second only to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Greene was awarded Mulberry Grove Plantation near Savannah by the grateful state of Georgia and he moved there with his family after the war. He died a short time later of heat stroke (there's a warning for the heat and humidity in the area). His remains were moved to the base of the monument in 1902.

As we continued to walk through Johnson Square we came to Christ Church, an impressive historical building.

As with many of the places in Savannah, there was a nearby plaque with information about the history of the building.

We continued around the square and had a beautiful view of Savannah City Hall, another impressive building.

Once again we found a plaque with historical information.

The City Hall building is adjacent to the old Cotton Exchange which has been restored and now houses shops and offices. The Savannah River flows behind these buildings and is reached by going down stairs that are located here and there, or an elevator next to City Hall. The riverfront is an interesting area. The last time we were there we saw some huge ships going up and down the river but this time we saw mostly tour boats or water taxis.

The original buildings are still on the riverfront. Some have been restored and some haven't. It's a busy tourist area.

We had a nice lunch and then decided just to sit a while and watch the boats and people go by.

There were some local crafts people and musicians along the riverwalk.

Once again it was a nice place to spend some time, but the heat and humidity limited our exploring.

Maps with stops along the way

Winchester to Lexington VA 122 miles July  13
Lexington to Rock Hill SC 263 miles July 15
Rock Hill SC to Charleston SC 190 miles July 16
Charleston to Savannah 103 miles July 19

Monday, July 20, 2015

Moving Down the East Coast

Mamaroneck, New York
Brian grew up in Mamaroneck which is in Westchester County. His nephews and niece still live in the area and we spent 4th of July weekend visiting them. His niece Lorraine lives on the water in Norwalk, Connecticut which is just over the border from Westchester County. She invited us to a July 3rd party at her place and it was quite a party, fun to see the fireworks from the water. Also nice to catch up with family. Brian's nephew Bruce and his wife Sara have two boys, Owen and Henry. His niece Lorraine has two daughters, Colleen and Julia.

Owen, Brian and Julia - Sara and Lorraine in the background

Bruce and Henry
We spent the 4th of July with Bruce's family at Shore Acres Beach Club, just down the street from Bruce's house. It's in a nice spot on the harbor.

Bruce and Sara now live in Brian's family home, and Owen and Henry make the 5th generation to live there. Pretty unusual in this day and age. 
While in Mamaroneck we had to make the customary stops for food at two of our favorite places, Sal's Pizza which has been open for 50 years, and Walter's Hot Dogs which opened in 1919. There's nothing like a slice at Sal's - it has received numerous accolades. Walter's was voted No. 1 in the country by Gourmet magazine in 2001, and their hot dogs have received praise from top outlets. In 2004, The New York Times writer R.W. Apple Jr. highlighted Walter's as "topping the whole list" of noteworthy dogs across the country - more info at http://www.waltershotdogs.com/ We don't normally eat hot dogs but can't pass these up. Yum.

Winchester, Virginia
Denny and Patti are the first people we met when we first started going to Vieques and have been friends ever since. They owned the only dive shop in Vieques at that time, Blue Caribe Dive Center. They ran dive trips, snorkel trips, Bio-bay trips, and rented and sold dive and snorkel gear. At times they even appointed me 'head shop tart' when I went in to help out. Such an honor! When they sold the shop and moved away we really missed them but have managed to visit them every few years, first in Florida and now in Winchester. Visiting them in Winchester is always interesting since they have researched much of the history in the area and share their knowledge with us. 
We had a really nice visit, capped off by a trip to a few wineries (oh what a surprise). 

Patti at the entrance to the cave
Our first stop was at Maggie Malick Wine Caves, which is near Harper's Ferry. The caves were built into the hillside.

Denny, Patti and Brian at the tasting bar
Our second stop was at Two Twisted Posts winery. Good wine and interesting people to talk with.

Denny, Patti, Sue and Brian at Two Twisted Posts
They even had a cockatoo perched in the corner, which we all thought was a stuffed bird until it began to move.

We had a great visit, lots of good conversation, good food and good wine. Thanks Patti and Denny!

Maps of our route

Rockland ME to Auburn MA 235 miles 7/2
Auburn MA to Croton Point Park 154 miles 7/3
Croton Point Park (closest RV park to Mamaroneck) to Carlisle PA 229 miles 7/6
Carlisle PA to Winchester VA 99 miles 7/7

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mainly Maine Again

We love Maine and it was great being there again. Our two main destinations were near Acadia National Park and North Haven Island.

Acadia National Park

While visiting Acadia we stayed in the Ellsworth/Trenton area, near Bar Harbor. This is a good choice for going to both areas of the park. We were really happy to connect with our friends Barb and Sal - we originally met them at the RV park they owned in Mexico.

Sue, Brian, Barb and Sal on top of Cadillac Mountain, the first place to see the sun rise in the continental U.S.
Barb and Sal have sold the RV park but still have a lovely home in Valle de Juarez, Mexico, as well as a home in Illinois. We were fortunate to catch them on their way to Nova Scotia when they were on their way to visit Paula and Jerry, other RV amigos. We had a fun day touring Acadia with Brian as our tour guide. We toured the area of Acadia on Mount Desert Island which is the main part of the park that most people visit.

Brian is fascinated with the bridges and carriage roads in Acadia. He knew Sal would appreciate seeing the bridge above which was constructed in the 1930's, and of course Sal found it to be interesting too. Many of the bridges are part of a series of carriage roads and bridges throughout Acadia which were built and financed by John D. Rockefeller. Their construction from 1913 to 1940 resulted in roads with great vistas and close-up views of the landscape. There are 45 miles of these level, 16 foot wide roads which weave around the mountains and valleys of Acadia National Park. There are no motorized vehicles allowed - pedestians, bikes, horses and carriages only.

Tilly and Brian on the rocks at Schoodic Point
Another part of Acadia NP is Schoodic Point which is actually the only part of the park on the mainland. When Brian was in the Navy he was assigned to the Naval Security Group at Winter Harbor on Schoodic Point.

The Rockefeller Mansion housed many of the troops and is now a museum. The sign out front had a photo from the time Brian was there. His commanding officer is on the far right, and he recognized some of the other guys in the photo.

North Haven 

Our dear friend Bici spends her summers in her beautiful home on North Haven island. We left the Bus in Rockland and took the ferry over for our 4th visit. Obviously we love going there!

Bici's house, tucked into the trees on the other side of the dam
Our dog Tilly has known Bici's dog Keeper since they were both puppies. We all wondered if they would still recognize each other, and they did. They got pretty excited when we got off the ferry, but since they're both a lot older the jumping around didn't last too long. It was fun to get them out together, along with Bici's other adorable little sweetheart Ivy. Tilly and Keeper liked to wade while Ivy still had the energy to run around. 

Ivy enjoys being a lap dog, something the other two would love to be.

It's always so nice to visit with Bici - delicious 'lobstah', great talks around the table, 

a nice walk down to the beach

and we even did some interesting bird watching. We spotted an osprey nest while at the beach and saw one of the chicks being fed.

There were several sightings in front of Bici's house of harrier hawks, osprey, and even an eagle. The harrier spent time trying to chase the eagle off, and was successful.

What a great time - we hope to make a 5th visit one of these days!

Maps of our route
Toronto to Malone NY for one night June 19, 271 miles. This is the area they caught the prison escapees - yikes!
Malone NY to Gorham NH for one night June 20, 237 miles.
Gorham NH to Trenton ME (near Acadia), June 21, 186 miles
Trenton to Rockland (where we catch the ferry to North Haven) June 28, 68 miles