Monday, October 19, 2020

A year later...

Well it has been a little over a year since our last blog post! 

What a year it has been. As most of you know we decided to settle back down in the Asheville, NC area. We bought a house in Weaverville, which puts us about 15 minutes north of downtown Asheville. There are days when we miss our full-time travels, but with the current state of affairs we are pretty happy to be settled down. 

The day we moved in
We moved into our house on June 18, 2019. It is a 3-bedroom home sitting on an acre of land. About a third of it is cleared where the house sits, surrounded by lawn and gardens. The rest of the property is treed, both the hill behind our house that leads to a flat section of land, and the slope down to the creek in front of our house. 

While we are just minutes from shopping we feel like we are in the middle of nowhere. A definite win-win for us. We love the privacy and the fact we can get to a store or restaurant (well, brewery really) in short order.

The past year has been filled with home improvements to the house (not much needed to the house except our personal touches) and the yard. We have added and upgraded the raised garden beds. 
Nancy is becoming quite the herbalist, in fact she is taking an online Master Herbalist class. New flower gardens have been added to both ends of the house, along with one in front next to the walkway.

On our back hill we have planted heather (appropriately Irish Dusk and Swedish Yellow) and flowers. Plus we have added steps leading to the property at the top of the hill -  that is still an ongoing project, waiting for cooler weather this fall to finish it up. 

We have planted Blackberries, thanks to our friends Barb and Steve. They were the owners of the campground we were staying at when we bought the house. They gave us a bunch of plants and they are doing great here. There were two new apples trees here when we moved in. Blueberries and Raspberries have been added to the mix. 

The front stone walkway has been refurbished, it was a true labor of love, while pulling all the weeds Nancy discovered the original small stones were buried under all the dirt. So she dug it all up and sifted the stones out of the dirt. By the way, that sifter was in our first home in Detroit, 40 years ago!!! It looks so much better. A funny story regarding the colored marbles you see in the bottom left picture. 
Nancy laid out 400 blue and green marbles to imitate a river. During the week we waited for an additional 400 to come in to finish it off, the original ones disappeared. Yep, all 400 of them. - gone. They are nowhere to be found. 
We believe the local crows have taken them, and are leaving us pennies in return. They need to step up their game if they are going to pay for all of the marbles! 
We also have added solar lights to the walkway and deck - it is rather dark here at night! 
Speaking of Solar - the biggest project was having Solar Panels installed on our roof. The entire back roof (south side) is covered end to end, and we have one panel on the front of the house.

The project was finished last September and we discovered over the winter that the sun was blocked by some of the trees on our back hill. So early spring we had 15 trees cut down - don't worry we still have plenty left.

One of the guys on the solar crew had his dog with him - he is a big sweet baby and Mielikki loved having a playmate.  While taking the trees down - the tree crew found two metal chairs under a bunch of vines. 

The tree trunks will one day be the path of our labyrinth that we plan to create. 

The second big project was installing an RV pad for the Beast. This was the whole reason for buying a house with land. The original plan was to turn it into an Airbnb, but Covid has put that on hold. We got the pad in and electricity hooked up, next step will be hooking up water and sewer. One day it will be perfect for guests, both friends and family and paying customers!

We were pretty excited that there were rain barrels - but the existing connection for them was placed way to low on the downspouts - we got new connections and now we can collect all that rain water for our plants - and we have had a ton of rain this year! By the way - that is a wine cork plugging the old connection - Nancy knew her wine drinking would come in handy one day. 😁

We have had some visitors since we moved in - unfortunately not many this year. We had envisioned a revolving door of guests - maybe next year. 
Our first visitors were our niece Lillian and her fiancé Larry. We took them to our favorite place on the Blue Ridge Parkway - a hike to Craggy Pinnacle.  

Second visit was with our niece Jennifer, hubby Jim and son and daughter-in-law Barrett and Emily. More fun on the parkway along with them enjoying Sliding Rock. A new tradition was started - the M & M Challenge. A big bowl of many different types of M & M's - so which one did you get? All of them were just recently here again with the addition of daughter Sophia and boyfriend Sam. Sophia was on her way to Duke University for grad school. Due to Covid we just hung out at the house, which was actually perfect! No pictures - hard to believe but true.

Thanksgiving brought more guests - the first time in many years that our niece Sherrie, hubby Eric and daughter Lilly along with our daughter and son-in-law, Katrina and Steve have spent Turkey Day together. Lots of food, drink and laughter - along with some creative Gingerbread Train decorating. 

Katrina and Steve came for a second visit just a few weeks ago. They got in some hiking and lots of hanging out happened. Mielikki always loves to see Steve. 

Our feeders feed a variety of birds - so fun to watch
We have a number of local visitors on a regular basis. Surprisingly bears are not included in that.  
Turkeys - Deer - Cows and Squirrels 

But all of these creatures have stopped by! 
Spiders - bees - wasp enjoy our plants

Yep - that is a Black Widow
spider in the bottom left pic

Box turtles and lizards! 

Yes we do get snow here but
thankfully not as much
as we got when we
lived in Michigan. 
The deck is great place to relax -
Mielikki has found lots of
new "toys" in our woods!

We will leave you with a few random shots of the outside and what the place looks like now - along with the coolest shed ever!

Hope you have enjoyed the tour - we hope that soon traveling will once again be the normal thing to do and you can come and visit us! 

Watch for future blogs of looking back on our travels - and other adventures we get ourselves into. 

Till we meet again....

Happy Trails to You! 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Fourth Year in Review

It's a Wrap!

This blog post has been a long time coming. Due to some computer issues we lost the content twice, and we have been pretty busy. But, here we go....

What a ride we have been on over the last four years! It has been a journey of a lifetime. We of course had some bumps in the road, moments when we thought we couldn't go on and times when we may have wanted to lock each other out of the RV. But, it was worth every one of those few moments to experience all the joy that we had. This trip gave us breath taking views, delicious food and drinks and restored our faith in humanity. Yes, there are still really great people out there - even when you don't agree on everything - crazy right? But it's true! 
We have now been in all 50 states and found amazing things to do and see in every single one of them. The RV was in all of the lower 48 and we flew and cruised to Alaska. We visited Hawaii long before this journey was even a thought, Nancy earned a trip there back in the '90's while selling PartyLite Candles. 

After all of the places we have visited, we never found anywhere quite like Asheville, NC, so while our traveling days are not done, we will not be full-timers any longer, or at least for awhile. We found a house in Weaverville, just north of Asheville and have decided to plant some roots again. 
With all there is to do around here we will still be hiking and exploring, so there will additional blog posts coming - plus we will be looking back and highlighting some of the places we have visited.
Here is the review of our 4th year with links back to the original posts where of course there are a lot more pictures and info. 

National and State Parks and other Natural areas
As always State, County and National Parks were high on our list of things to do and see. 

While in Asheboro/Tabor City, NC we hiked the Thornburg Trail in the Uwharrie National Forest in Troy, NC. Butterflies were migrating so we saw lots of them. Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is in Kune Beach and touches both the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. Beautiful views and a very cool tree that looks like it is going for a walk.

Three islands make up the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We visited here from our campground in Chocowinity, NC. We saw two lighthouses, the Bodie Island Light Station, and the Cape Hatteras Light Station.
Our hike at Goose Creek State Park in Washington, NC was eventful, Mielikki decided to take a swim in a swamp!
There is so much history in Williamsburg, VA, (part one)  that it took two blog posts to cover it all. Colonial Williamsburg was just minutes away from our campground and steeped in history.
The Colonial Parkway in Williamsburg, VA, (part two) is a 23-mile long stretch with hiking trails, picnic areas, overlooks and lots of history. It takes you from Historical Yorktown to Jamestown. Other historic stops were the Stonewall Jackson Shrine and the George Washington Birthplace National Monument. 

Gettysburg National Military Park was really interesting. So many memorials and so much history, all set in beautiful surroundings. 
Harpers Ferry 
Harpers Ferry, WV is another area steeped in history. Trade and wars have left there mark here. (Link for both is part two Clarksburg, MD and Westover, MD in Cemeteries)

Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia is where you can see the Liberty Bell. The park is five city blocks long and in some sections four blocks wide with many houses and museums. 
At the Cape May Point State Park you can play on the beach, bird watch and tour a Lighthouse that was built in 1859. We visited both of these from Monroeville, NJ.

The Plymouth Rock is well protected
under a pavilion.  
(Link is Littleton, MA in Presidential
Libraries and Museums.) 

Arcadia National Park has been on our bucket list for a long time, what a beautiful place. We spent three days exploring it from our campground in Orland, ME.

The Marble Quarry in Dorset, VT
was the first quarry in the U.S.,
opening in 1785. Today it is a
popular place for swimming.

Ithaca Falls 
Kinzua Bridge
Ithaca Falls was one of four we visited from our stop in Bath/Falconer, NY We also went to the Kinzua Bridge State Park just outside of Warren, PA.

The train ride at Cuyahoga Valley 
National Park was so much fun. 
We visited it from our stop in Warren, OH

We toured the Carl Sandburg
 in Asheville, NC  

On the Road Home to Asheville we
 stayed at the 
Stone Mountain Park Campground
 Peter "Wolf" Toth Indians - Trail of the Whispering Giants
We found nine Indian carvings this year! 

In Virginia Beach, "Indian Chief" sits at the entrance to Mt. Trashmore Park. Yes, it was a landfill. (Link is Williamsburg, VA (part two) in National and State Parks)

"Nanticoke"Ocean City, MD
(Link is part two Clarksburg, MD and
Westover, MD in Cemeteries).
 "Omiskanoagwiak", Springfield MA
 (Link is East Haddom, CT in
Museums, Tours and Historic Sites) 


"Enishkeetompauog", is in Narragansett, RI. We found "Enisketomp.", in Plymouth, MA  (Link is Littleton, MA in Presidential Libraries and Museums) 

"Keewakwa Abenaki

While staying in Bristol, NH we were very glad we got to see "Keewakwa Abenaki Keenahbeh" in the Opechee Park in Laconia, NH. He is rotting and may not be around much longer.  

"Glooscap"Bar Harbor, ME
(Link is Orland, ME in the
National and State Parks)

"Chief Grey Lock"
Burlington VT 

((Link is in Plainfield, VT in
Museums, Tours, Historic Sites..)

Dunkirk, NY..
(Link is Bath/Falconer, NY
in National and State Parks)

The one iPennsylvania does not have a name, it is dedicated to the Seneca Indians. Unfortunately the one in Akron, OH is no longer there. (Link is Warren, OH in National and State Parks)
Eat Drink and Be Merry!
 Here is a small sampling of our favorite places for food and drinks.
The second campground we stayed in, Carrollwoods Campground and Vineyard in Tabor City, NC was also a winery. It was rather convenient(Link is Ashboro/Tabor City, NC in National and State Parks)

On our way to Harpers Ferry we made a stop at Beans in the Belfry, an old church in Brunswick, MD. Stained glass windows and a choir loft along with great coffee and yummy nibbles (Link is part two Clarksburg, MD and Westover, MD in Cemeteries)

The Two Wrasslin' Cats in East Haddam, CT is our kind of place, the large sign out front says it all. We continued to hang with the locals at the Shady Habit Brewing Company. (Link is East Haddam, CT in Museums, Tours and Historical Sites)

Nancy's birthday beer was at
Airline Brewing Co

Ellsworth, ME. (Link is Orland, 
ME in National and State Parks)

Every Thursday the Northville Winery and Brewery
in Northville, MI  has "Dead at The Winery."
 Just one of the many places we love
 while staying in 
Belleville, MI. 

We were regulars for breakfast at Daddyz in The Pass in Pass Christian, MS. Good food and great service, Heidi was our waitress just about every time and we miss her smiling face. 
Mockingbird Cafe in Bay St. Louis, MS was another favorite place, coffee, beer and great food. (Link is in Road home to Asheville, NC in National and State Parks)

During one of our stays in Pass Christian we enjoyed a flight and great conversation with the bartender at Abita Brewery in Covenington, LA. (Link is Pass Christian, MS in Roadside Oddities.)

Roadside Oddities
We found over 300 oddities, some we stumbled upon but most we learned about from Roadside America. Check it out and see what is in your neck of the woods. Every link in this blog will have an oddity or two featured in it. Due to the extreme number we are only going to highlight some of our favorites!
Mary's Gone Wild, in Supply, NC is certainly a top favorite. Mary received a vision many years ago from God on how to reverse paint on glass. She took that vision and ran with it. Her property is covered with glass bottle buildings that are filled with her art. (Link is Asheboro/Tabor City, NC in National and State Parks) 

During our stay in Clarksburg, MD, part one we went to Frederick, MD where you will find the Trompe-l'oeil Painted BridgeIt took local artists five years to complete it. It is an amazing work of art and in our top five of favorite roadsides.

We found lots of oddities in Baltimore, MD, two from this stop really made us chuckle. First is a plaque honoring the birthplace of the Quija Board. The second one is Abe Lincoln and Perry Como singing a duet on a street corner in Gettysburg. 
(Link is part two Clarksburg, MD/Westover, MD in Cemeteries).

Not surprising there were a number of oddities in Philadelphia, PA. The Grumman Greenhouse was our favorite of all of them, the plane actually has plants growing in it.  
On the campus of  Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ is a giant book sculpture called Knowledge is Power. This is probably our number one from this year. (Link is Monroeville, NJ in National and State Parks.)

Yasgurs Farm in Bethel, NY, is where all the music magic happened 50 years ago. 
A Hippy Muffler Man stands guard. (Link is Wurstboro, NY in Presidential Libraries)

The Frog Bridge in Willmantic, CT is a tribute to the textile industry and a strange night in 1754 when frogs invaded the town. (Link is East Haddam, CT in Museums, Tours and Historical Sites)

 Worlds Largest Crank Telephone 
Bryant Pond, ME was the last place to
 give up crank telephones.

(Link is Bethal, ME in Museums, Tours and 
Historic Sites)

While in Freeport, ME  we 
found another favorite. In  
the DeLorme Building is 
Eartha, a Giant Rotating Globe. 

  Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, NY and grew up in Celoron, NY. You will find two statues, one called Scary Lucy and the other Lovely Lucy(Link is Bath/Falconer, NY in National ans State Parks)
We stayed in Pass Christian, MS a few different times and there are a number of oddities in the area. A gas station in Gulf Port has a giraffe out front and we saw it dressed for Christmas and Easter (the link to that one is Road Home To Asheville in National and State Parks) On a previous visit in 2018 it was dressed for Mardi Gras. 

In a park in Texas City, TX there are two planes on display as it is claimed to be the "Birthplace of the U.S. Air Force."
 Crystal Beach-part one

As you all know we love to wander old cemeteries.This year we found the resting place of a number of well known people, some not so famous and quite a few unusual headstones. 
One of the saddest cemeteries we have been to is the Shopping Mall Cemetery, in Greenville, NC.  It is formally known as the John Evans Cemetery. It has been completely paved over and a number of the headstones are broken. (Link is Chocowinity, NC in National and State Parks)
 Francis Scott Key is buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, MD, his remains were moved here from Baltimore in 1855. Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, (F. Scott Fitzgerald) cousin to Francis Scott Key, is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery iRockville, MDHis remains were also moved, when he passed away the Catholic Church would not let him be buried here, 30 years later they allowed his remains to be moved here. (Link is Clarksburg, MD, part one in Roadside Oddities)

The Westminster Burial Ground in Baltimore, MD is the final resting place of  Edgar Allen Poe, part two of Clarksburg, MD and Westover, MD has that information. We also visited the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, beautiful memorials throughout. A statue of a very pregnant Elizabeth Masser Thorn stands at the entrance of the Evergreen Cemetery which borders the National Cemetery.  

The Christ Church Burial Grounds in Philadelphia are the final resting place for Benjamin Franklin and five signers of the Declaration of Independence. We were expecting something a little more elaborate for Ben. (Link is Monroeville, NJ in National and State Parks)

Springfield Cemetery in Springfield, MA is well known due to the Titus Family Monument, it is also where we first found the Brownstone Headstones with angel carvings. We found even more at the Longmeadow Cemetery in Longmeadow, MASome of these had skulls with wings instead of the angel head. (Link is East Haddam, CT in Museums, Tours and Historical Sites)


At the entrance to the Old Burying Point Cemetery in Salem, MA is a courtyard with stone memorials to the 19 women and men who were killed for practicing witchcraft.
On a cheerier note the authors, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott and Emerson are laid to rest in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA. 
An Irish Tower holds center court at the St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Milford, MA (Link is Littleton, MA in Presidential Libraries and Museums)

In Burlington, VT  is the Middlesex Center Cemetery with an interesting mix of old and new headstones running the gambit from Willow Trees to Giant Clothespins. The Hope Cemetery in Barre, VT has some of the most unique headstones we have ever seen. Helps when you are in an area full of granite. (Link is in Plainfield, VT in Museums, Tours and Historic Sites)

Chester Alan Arthur (1829-1886) was the 21st President of the United States. He is buried in the Albany Rural Cemetery just north of Albany, NY. (Link is Dogelville, NY in Museums, Tours and Historic Sites)

We visited the grave of Samuel Clemons, aka Mark Twain, in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, NY from our stop in Bath, NY.  Lucille Ball is laid to rest in the Lakeview Cemetery in Jamestown, NY. (Link is Bath/Falconer NY in National and State Parks)

Museums, Tours, Historic Sites, Zoos and more: 

Our stop in Quakertown, PA was a fun one. Nancy has a life long love affair with Crayola Crayons so when we came across the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA she had to check it out. So much color! 

 Gillette Castle was just minutes from our campground in East Haddam, CT. It was built by William Hooker Gillette, actor, director, playwright and inventor. He is most famous for his portrayal of "Sherlock Holmes". Crazy beautiful and inventive.
Castle Craig, in Meriden, CT. It is not really a castle, it is a stone observation tower, Beautiful non the less. 

We took a trip down memory lane and visited some old haunts of our daughters. Katrina lived in New Hampshire for a couple of years and worked at the York's Wild Kingdom in York, ME (Link is Littleton, MA in Presidential Libraries and Museums)

There are three lighthouses in Portland, ME. The Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, or " Bug Light"  as it is called, the Spring Point Ledge Light and the Portland Head Lighthouse. We saw a second house of Harriet Beecher Stowe in Brunswick, ME where she lived when she wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin", and Nancy was brave enough to walk across a Swinging Bridge(Link is Freeport, ME in Roadside Oddities)
The Mineral and Gem Museum in
Bethel, ME was still under
construction but a small portion
was open and i
Gotham, NH we didn't see Batman
but we did visit the 
Train Museum. 

We love tours where you get free samples! While in Plainfield, VT we got cheese from the Cabot Cheese Factory and ice cream from the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory.

Nancy loved the Southern Vermont Arts Center, in Manchester, VT There is a gallery but the best part is the property is filled with giant pieces of art. The Art Park in West Rutland, VT was another favorite. (Link is in Dorset, VT in National and State Parks) 

The Herkimer Diamond Mine is what brought us to Dolgeville, NY. We found a few small diamonds, okay
 they are really crystals, and we
had great fun looking for them. 

Mobile, AL was a short drive from our stay in  Foley, AL We enjoyed both the Mobile Botanical Gardens and the Mobile Museum of Art. 
The Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur, TX is a really interesting place. It is filled with local and regional history dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. Janis Joplin was born and raised in Port Arthur. All the details can be found in Crystal Beach part 2

Fort Travis is a United States
Army Coastal Artillery Facility. 
It is on 
Bolivar Peninsula across the
 Intracoastal Waterway from Galveston, TX 
 (Link is Crystal Beach, TX in Roadside Oddities)

The Infinity Science Center in Pearlington, MS was very interesting. We also took a bus tour of the NASA Stennis Space Center. (Link is in Road Home to Asheville, NC in National and State Parks)

Presidential Libraries and Museums

With these last two we have now been in all of the Presidential Libraries and Museums. 

We visited the FDR Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY from our stay in Wurtsboro, NY. It is located on his beautiful estate Springwood. 

Our campground in 
Littleton, MA was just outside of Boston which made it easy to visit the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. It ranks pretty close to the Jimmy Carter Museum in Atalanta as a favorite. 

Friends and Family 
The best part of traveling is meeting up with friends and family. 

We met Kim Fox at the Thirsty Monk in Asheville, NC. She was a bartender there during "Wedding Year" when we were collecting pint glasses for our daughters wedding. She now lives in Emmaus, PA - her hometown and we got to share a few beers with her during our stay in Quakertown. (Link is Quakertown, PA in Museums, Tours, Historic Sites and more) 

Carolyn ~ Nancy ~ Laurelle 
While in Wurstboro, NY we discovered that the International Center for Reiki Training Retreat was happening just 11-miles away. Nancy worked there when we lived in Michigan. It was absolutely wonderful connecting with old friends, Pam and Donald T, Michael and Laurelle and Carolyn. This was the trip for Reiki reunions, as Jim Crowley came and spent the day with us at the RV, we didn't get any pics. Nancy and Jim took a Reiki Master Class together way back when in Michigan. (Link is Wurstboro, NY in Presidential Libraries and Museums.)

We got to see Carolyn again with the added bonus of Trish on this stop. They are both Licensed Reiki Teachers from the International Center for Reiki Training (Link is Bath/Falconer, NY in National and State Parks)
Preston ~ Luke - Grant ~ Keagon

We gave the RV a rest and stayed with Nancy's sister Linda in Warren, OH, This also meant we got to spend time with her niece Becky, husband Jeff and two boys Luke and Grant. Her great-niece Frankie and her two boys Preston and Keegan came to spend a day with us. (Link is Warren, OH in National and State Parks)

Of course our Michigan stays always includes friends and family. Some came to our campground in Belleville, others we met for food and libations.  
Mary Ellen and Paul, LeeAnne, Kitt and Dianne, Amy and Kevin, the "girls" from Teamsters 214, Terry, Jennifer and Jim, Nigel and Tina along with Cora and Sydel, Mike and Anne, Tina and Jim, Gail, Lynne, Mike and Jennifer, and Maggi and Denny.
Denny ~ Maggi ~ Nancy ~ Les
Cora ~ Sydel
We are always so bad at getting pictures when we are with everyone. Thankfully Maggi got one of the four of us and we got some family pics celebrating Anne's birthday and Halloween.
Steve and Marion

Nancy, Katrina, Tina and Anne had so much fun at the Vineyard Church Paint and Sip Night. Not one of us did the painting they were demonstrating - no surprise there!

We also enjoyed going to music events that we went to all the time when we lived here. 
Baseline Folk Society meets in Plymouth, the East River Folk Society meets in Wyandotte and the Wayne's Soul & Sole meets in Livonia. All three groups have FaceBook pages. (Link is Belleville MI in Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

Our niece Sherrie came and spent the night with us in Mt Vernon, KY on our way back to Asheville.
While we didn't get to see everybody on this short stay we did see a few friends. Dinner with Sally at Les's favorite Mexican restaurant. Coffee with Donna at Fractals Coffee Shop.
Of course we hung out with Janet, but surprisingly never at a brewery! But we did enjoy some meals and coffee and the only person we got a picture of!
  (Link is Asheville, NC in National and State Parks)

We are so grateful for all of the love and support of our travels over the last four years. It has been fun having all of you follow along with us and commenting on the many different places we have been. 
So this blog post closes a chapter but not the book. There will be more adventures for us, more information on our house and visits from friends and family. So when do you plan to come and see us? 

Till we Meet Again...

Happy Trails to You! 

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ Never stop exploring. You don't have to travel far from home to explore. Look for Roadside Oddities, Historical Sites, Hiking Trails, Museums big or small, find a small town close by and eat at the local dinner. Whatever you do or where ever you go - have fun and be safe!