Fort Sumter

For the record, today is July 15, 2017, the first day of our week-long family vacation.  This is kind of different from my normal entry, driving and blogging solo, cross-country.  This is a family vacation, kind of unique; really at this point, one of a kind.  We’ve done many week-long boys-only fishing trips to Canada and the ladies have done likewise ladies-only ‘fishing’ trips but this year for the first time we’re doing a Ruts Family vacation.  What’s with that?

My son Bob and I left Ohio on Thursday morning in my favorite car.  We’re the advance party of 18 of us (grandparents, parents and children) arriving hopefully safely today and gathering here.  Agenda is sunbathing, dining, sleeping, playing Monopoly, etc.

Thursday was mostly uneventful.  Nine hours, chauffeured mostly by Bob.  Scenic drive for sure, through the mountains, but Charlotte; yikes, a horrendous traffic jam (if driving south on I-77, exit at Cornelius and take 21S and get back on at Huntersville).  I assumed that Charlotte had some number of historic attractions, sort of like Charleston and Savannah, but alas, not to be (Beth, you were indeed right, should have listened).  So basically we got into a Sleep Inn, sacked out and bolted Friday morning.

Three hours later we’re in Charleston, SC and here, there’s a ton of stuff to see and do.  What we saw and did was Fort Sumter.  The first photo below is of a model of the original five-story fort.

What happened here?  Sort of goes like this.  Flashback to the 19th Century.  Charleston early on being a major port for trade with Europe, was key to the security of our young country.  Key to the outside threats of pirates and enemies of the state.  So after the War of 1812, construction of Fort Sumter began in 1829 on a sandbar in Charleston Harbor.  Year-by-year military budget allotments and some eight million bricks (made by slaves) later, construction moved forward to near-completion in 1860.  Then, with the country split between individual freedom and slavery, north and south, Fort Sumter, along with the other three Charleston harbor forts – Moultrie, Johnson and Castle Pinkney – became, as guardians to the Port of Charleston, significant to the military strategy of both the Union and the Confederacy.  The Union occupied the federal forts here, the small military garrison commanded by Major Robert Anderson.  Brigadier General Beauregard, commanding the Confederate Military, was his opponent.

Flashing back again to a few months earlier, Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected President in November, 1860.  Buchanan remained the lame-duck through February, continuing to do nothing about the slavery issue.  Lincoln however was seen as a major threat to the Southern Democrats.  In early March Lincoln was inaugurated, and ended his speech with the following.  “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so . . . We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies . . . The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Regardless, immediately after Lincoln’s election, South Carolina seceded and by the time he was inaugurated, six other southern states followed with their own secession.  And in the ensuing month, the Civil War commenced, right here, at Fort Sumter.  Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, understood the significant need to maintain trade with Europe (tobacco, cotton, indigo) and the crucial need to keep the port of Charleston open.  He declared that Sumter must be taken and on April 12th and 13th Beauregard attacked the fort with artillery lobbed from ships.  4,000 shells and 33 hours later, the fort’s five stories were reduced to the rubble of two and Anderson was forced to surrender.  Sumter fell and the war commenced.  It took another four years, and the reelection of President Lincoln to see the Union flag to be re-hoisted over the fort; the very same battle flag that came down at the surrender.  History made, right here, over 150 years ago.  What a story.

So now we’re back on dry land and this morning on our way to Hilton Head.  More . . . later.

 

 

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

After doing the post for yesterday at Dillsboro, I went for a drive through downtown Dillboro and neighboring Sylva and walked around both.  Sylva has the Jackson County Court House up on a hill overlooking downtown.  Last time I was here I toured the courthouse.  Yesterday I just took a few pix.

Off this morning (Thursday, May 18) and into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the south at 8:15am.  Compared to the yesterday, the best day on the BRP, the park was for me, a bit of a bust.  Fun driving the switchbacks and curves.  Just a few good vistas compared to the Parkway.  I’ve seen all this, like three times now and simply drove through it with relatively few stops.  It takes only and hour and a half.  I skip two of the major features here: Clingmans Dome and Cades Cove.  But because I’ve seen them I can readily tell you about them and describe them anyway.  First here’s the best of my pix today on entry into the park.  As you can see the vistas don’t compare to those in the Asheville part of the BRP.

   

Clingmans Dome.  A side trip from the main park north/south drive, here it is off of Newfound Gap.  At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the GSMNP’s highest point.  Also the highest in Tennessee as well as the second highest point east of the Mississippi.  A paved trail leads to a 54-foot observation tower and I can tell you from experience, the half-mile hike up is will get your heart pumping.  Here you can see from aerial photos, the parking lot, the trail and the top of the dome which sports that 54′ tower.

Vistas from the tower are spectacular. On clear day, views are over 100 miles and into seven states.  The whole deal is breathtaking, getting there and the views.

Between Clingmans Dome and Cades Cove going north the drive is all downhill, following a creek all along the way.

Cades Cove is a broad valley surrounded by mountains.  Seeing it is on an 11-mile one-way loop.  When I was here, it was crowded.  Coming up on a traffic jam, all the peeps are out of their cars and peering at a black bear up in a tree.  Have these people never been to a zoo?  It’s just a small one at that.  I mean c’mon.  There’s a lot of historic examples of the folks who once made their living here as well as their home here.

Here’s some of my own pix of the drive through the park that are typical.
 
Okay, and then at the Townsend access, I’m outta here.  It’s still early so I drive on to Lexington, Kentucky.
Well that’s it for the day and I’m afraid to say, that’s about it for the trip.   Tomorrow all interstate highway and home.  I’ll do another post in a day or so to recap, but in the meantime I want to thank all of you who have followed me on this trip.  The joy and comfort of having each of you riding all means a lot.  Thanks for that.  Cheers to all.
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Blue Ridge Parkway – Part 4 Asheville to Dillsboro

The above are my two favorite photos taken this morning.  Again what I was trying for was to portray the layers of the Blue Ridge Mountains from close to far away.  Not nearly perfect but approaching it better than previous.  Click on each to have them come up larger on you photo viewer; better to see the detail.

Well now, the drive for today, Wednesday, May 17.  Completed the last part of the drive down the Parkway from Mile Marker 385 to 469.  So that’s it.  Drove every foot of the entire 469 miles.  Been there, done that.

What transpired.  As it turns out Day 4 on the BRP, these 86 miles from Asheville to Cherokee is my favorite of the four days here.  Going at speed for virtually all of it, the drive was although challenging, easy and perfectly enjoyable, mile after mile.  Comparatively the vistas from the overlooks were many in number and most were spectacular.  So for those of you who want to drive the Parkway, even a part of it, be sure to see this part of the four ‘sections’.  Decidedly the best of them.

From the outset I’m in the good stuff.  This next photo from Walnut Cove.  From here I’m reminded the Betty liked the Asheville area, the mountains.  Note the homes in the side of the mountain.  Such a deal.  I can see living here.  Asheville is big enough with an 80,000 population but small enough not to be a big city with miles and miles of urban sprawl.  Asheville  has many attractions including ‘mountain culture’.  There’s the Folk Art Center here and the River Art District.   Asheville has been home to famous artists, writers, musicians, and architects. There’s hiking and biking here, fishing and of course enjoying the Blue Ridge Mountains.

From the Wash Creek Valley Overlook, I get a glimpse of what I think is the best ‘photo op’ of the trip.  What makes it even better is that I’ve got John Denver singing For Baby For Bobbie.  My emotions are all of a sudden up there in the sky.  Here’s the photos, the last one with the lens zoomed.

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But just down the road is the same vista, and it’s from here that I take decidedly the best photo of the day.  It’s the one at the start of this post, shown below again.  Again not perfect.  Early in the day would be best, when the sun’s angle is more horizontal.  I’ll have to when in the Smokies tomorrow, make it a point to get out earlier.  As it happens, today I’m out earlier than the first three days.

These next are not bad.  From the Big Ridge Overlook.

Another outlook.  They’re coming now, fast and furious.  There’s a huge rock formation strangely out of place, zoomed in the third photo.

East Fork.  Pretty good.

Oddity.  With just a few scattered clouds today, this is strange.  A cloud shadow moving along the landscape, making an isolated dark spot in the midst of green.

 

And what I’ve been longing to see.  Not seen yet but I know it’s coming up as I’ve seen it noted in a BRP brochure.  I remember the high point on the roadway through the Smokies but don’t remember this one.  I think it’s because I’ve not been on this part before.  It’s the highest point on the BRP roadway.  This is a very popular spot.  I’ll show you the vista from here in a moment but first I’ve got to talk with the peeps here.  First is David.  He’s the proud owner of a Valkyrie with customized pipes that have a distinctive ‘mating call’. I’m immediately pulled into his presence.  David (last names never mentioned here) is a pleasure to talk to, authoritative and knowledgeable about riding a bike (you ride a bike, unlike a car which you drive).  I tell him I too once owned a Valkyrie, red and white; he knows what year it was.  These Valkyries at 1500cc’s are powerful bikes.  I tell him how riding along in second or third and punching it, how I was thrown back.  He relates that in this mountain ups and downs, how Harleys labor while his is really almost resting.  Now we’re grooving.

David and his fellow bikers are from Texas; they’re far from home.  He’s originally from southern Indiana on the Ohio River, his ancestors landing here after floating down the river, arriving from Bavaria.  He tells me of putting this bike down and sustaining broken ribs and a skinned hand.  And he advises that biking should only be done at age 40 or so, after it’s been determined that family will be taken care of if and when a crash results in a major disability or heaven forbid, a fatality.  David says by way of experience it’s not if an accident will occur, it’s when.  Masterful advice David.  Smart man, this biker is.  By the way, I tell David that I sold that my Valkyre before the worst happened.

Now I ask if I can pose on his bike.  He obliges.  Now we’re BFFs.

Right, there you go David.  You’ve now been memorialized.  I tell him to see me on the blog.  Cheers fella, you are the man!  Pleasure to meet you.  See you on the road.

David and I shake hands and I’m gravitated to the big group of bikers, these from Alabama.  They’re getting photographed for posterity at the big sign marking this spot.  I love talking with bikers and I break in with a comment and ask to pose with one of the southern belles.  Here we are.  So much fun.  Thanks for that.

Oh yea.  The view from this outlook.  Here it is, from the vantage point to the vista.  Not too shabby.

Now the back side of this high point.  It’s downhill from here, not figuratively but literally.  Ten miles of it.  No accelerator needed, just braking to keep it under 60mph.  And not the wheel brakes but the engine braking.  Sixth gear and a lot of fifth do it quite nicely.  Down, 4,000 feet in elevation.

A Corvette pulls out of an outlook behind me.  This is the very same muscle car I passed two days ago, maroon in color.  And now I not willfully or to prove something, again demonstrate that naturally, I go faster the him.  With ease.  The thing is with his muscle, wheelbase and width, he could have me for lunch.  It’s not that my small car is more nimble.  Or his powerful machine is more capable.  The difference really amounts to this: personal courage.  I’m comfortable at going 60.  He may want to, but can’t. He doesn’t have the courage.  I outpace him slowly enough and pull further ahead until in a jiffy he’s gone.  Take that, Mr. Vette.  Hah!

After all that downhill, another ten miles of uphill and then a final ten miles of downhill to the last overlook and getting off this Parkway, this national treasure.  I’m through the town of Cherokee and into Dillsboro in no time.  It’s hardly 1pm.

And now another high point and that’s this Best Western Plus River Escape.  I’ve stayed here before and would certainly like to return again.  Five stars.  Kind of expensive; an indulgence perhaps but at the moment, worth every penny.  I’m charmed.

Tomorrow the Smokies.  Short on distance across compared to the BRP, but long on views and vistas.  Stay tuned.

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SOS. Again!

Can’t believe my good fortune.  Now for the fourth morning in a row, SOS is on the menu!  Glad to see it.  Don’t get it at home.  Not sure why.  Will have to do something about that.  The commentary on SOS is amusing.  Go back to my May 15 post – Luray Caverns and read my two paragraphs on SOS (just under the photo of the St. Francis of Assisi Church).  And then read the commentary between my son Matt and me.  Too funny!

If you don’t know, you can see comments that folks have made, and my responses (I make it a practice to respond to all comments and encourage everyone to leave a comment) by going to the very bottom of a post and clicking on ‘X Comments’.  In this case ‘4 Comments’.  Also if you push the ‘Follow’ button and leave your email address, you’ll get an email every time there’s a new post.

Change of plans.  I need to get home on Friday rather than Saturday, so tomorrow I’ll skip visiting all those waterfalls near Cashiers and Highlands.  So today drive the last part of the BRP and into the kind of, twin towns of Sylva and Dillsboro.  I want to stay at the Best Western in Dillsboro to see that river that flows behind the motel.

One more thing.  Yesterday I brightened my room here in Asheville with flowers picked from the plantings out in front of my room.  Mother Nature always welcomed here.  I’m thinking this morning of picking a fresh yellow one for my dashboard.

Alright then.  Time to get packed and go.  Jump in shotgun and join me on this last day on the Parkway.  Let’s go.  We’re burning daylight!

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Blue Ridge Parkway – Part 3

Yesterday I was up at 4am.  This morning (Tuesday, May 16) I slept in til 7:30 and got on the road by 9:30.  No plan on where to stop for the day but once I got back on the Parkway and saw that Asheville was 180 miles down the road, I started out thinking I’d never get there; this given that I drove only 200 miles the first two days on the BRP.  But here I am, in Asheville.  After 100 or so miles this morning and after a tentative notion to go no further than Little Switzerland, I got a second wind and made a command decision to drive on another 57 miles.  Glad I did; Asheville has an 80,000 population and a lot more motel offerings.

The drive.  Pretty much like Day 2.  Few curves sharper than 35 mph or lower and able to go at speed.  That is, the speed limit all along the Parkway is 45 mph; so ‘at speed’ for me is 50 to 60.  This way I am always confident I can negotiate an unmarked curve at speed.  This car can readily handle it, with ease.

The Grandview Overlook.  It is a grand view, no?  Here I’m trying to show the layers of mountains in terms of near, mid and far distance.  I can’t seem to get this quite right, not enough pixels maybe or more focus.  The third photo below gets it a bit better when I zoom the lens.  So here’s a photo (the fourth one) that I lifted off the internet.  This shows the layers quite nicely.

A couple more overlooks.  Three Knobs and Black Mountains.  They do look black, don’t they?

A tunnel.  One of about a dozen so far.

So that’s about it for the day.  Here’s the general plan for the rest of this trip.  Tomorrow do the rest of the Parkway and stay in a town called Cashiers.  There’s waterfalls there that I want to see, on Thursday.  Stay in Dillsboro on Thursday.  That’s at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Do that on Friday and stay in Knoxville.  Drive home on Saturday.  Hang in with me these last few days.  Still things to do, and places to see.

 

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Blue Ridge Parkway – Part 2 Mayberry

Off this Monday morning, May 15 from Roanoke VA onto the Parkway again at Mile Marker 120 and driving to MM 200 to drive a short way to Mt. Airy, North Carolina.

Getting out the Roanoke Airport motel driveway and getting on an Interstate highway and then a four-lane divided highway with traffic lights takes 15 minutes.  It’s heavily traveled and the dozen or so traffic lights are a little annoying.  Already it’s getting hot.  As I get back on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this all changes.  Few cars, no commercial vehicles and it is a whole lot quieter.  It immediately gives my mood a lift.

The first part of the drive is much like yesterday; mostly the roadway is wooded on both sides with overlooks that look down to the Roanoke Valley 1000’ below.  Up at 2000’, the temperature is noticeably cooler.  Down below I wanted to have the top down and up here though cooler, I still do.  Pulling over and with the engine off it becomes real quiet; I can hear the natural sounds around me. And now I put the same CD on.  And the same thing starts to happen again.  It’s the music, the driving, having this place virtually to myself.  My emotions well up and get stronger.  It’s sort of a high.

I wish I could better convey this feeling so that the same experience happens to you.  Here, try this.  It’s sort of like meditation; being in the moment.  Find a quiet place, alone or with someone who can also be quiet.  Listen to three of the other tunes on my CD: For Baby, For Bobbie by John Denver, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and Perhaps Love by Placido Domingo and John Denver.  I can’t guarantee that your emotional state will rise but if you can get into it sans the driving and the good stuff to see coming at you, and if you concentrate on the moment, perhaps it will.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgOU1h12G_w       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrLk4vdY28Q     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toYfeN0ACDw

I just now tried it sitting here.  Stopped writing.  It worked.  Perhaps I was associating with this morning in the car.  Don’t know.

So stop reading now.  Try it.  I hope it works for you.  If it does leave me a comment, or a personal email.

 

 

A footnote.  Perhaps Love was recorded in 1981, now over 35 years ago.  I gave that album to Louise at the time; she liked it.  At the moment Placido Domingo is 76.   Denver and Cohen are gone now.  In 1997 John Denver died in a crash while flying his own plane.  Leonard Cohen passed away just this last November.

Okay now, back to the details of today’s drive.  If perhaps mundane to you, please forgive; all this stuff is sort of, for the record.  I was at a loss yesterday to find photos of the curves through the forest, which predominate, compared to the cliffside, rather open areas.  So I took a couple of these this morning to demonstrate.

After a dozen miles the landscape changes from what it’s been the first 110 or so miles.  The curves start to get a little gentler.  There start to appear green grass, treeless places.  And it becomes apparent that the BRP property is necking down on both sides.  Glimpses of private property are beginning to appear.  The long-view vistas also thin out.  This effect grows as I approach my goal for today, that is the Mount Airy turnoff at Hwy. 460 just into North Carolina.  Toward the end of today’s drive on the BRP, I’m able to consistently travel  at 60mph, significantly different than what went on up until now.  Nonetheless there are still mountain passes to get through (they’re called gaps here), where approaching these gaps the elevation goes up and on the other side, down.  Okay, knowing the photos don’t do justice, I take fewer today.  Here a few of the better ones.

So now, jumping off the Blue Ridge and another 15 miles, here’s Mount Airy, North Carolina.  It the home of Andy Griffith and it also known as Mayberry.  It’s famous for being where the Andy Griffith Show was made.  It was all filmed here; aired over eight seasons from 1960 to 1968.  Griffith was middle-aged back then; he was born here in 1926, passing away in 2012 at age 86.  Now there’s busloads of older folks like me who come here to see to us, some really cool memorabilia.  The town is viable, the downtown shops, many of them cater to the tourist crowd.  There are no vacant storefronts.  I was here before about ten years ago when I drove half the Parkway in my Ford Escape.  I now realize there was more to see than that last visit.  And it was pre-blog for me.

There’s the Andy Griffith Museum here.

And here’s some of the cool stuff.  The Sheriff’s office and jail and the gas station.  Amusing.  I laughed a lot while walking through it.  The show of course featured Andy and his son, Opie (now the movie director Ron Howard), Aunt Bee, Deputy Barney Fife, Floyd the barber, Wally, the filling station owner, Goober, the mechanic, Emmitt of the Fix-It Shop and others; they’ve all got a sidewalk plaque.

And then downtown to see Floyd’s barber shop

Now then.  On to Andy Griffiths home where he actually grew up.

And then on to Aunt Bee’s current barbecue restaurant where I get a takeout order for tonight’s dinner.  Fun day, walking around here, blending in with all the other turistas.  Hah.

So that’s it.  It’s only 6:30 this afternoon and I’m done, caught up.  Time to eat dinner and take advantage of some rare downtime; maybe a movie tonight?  Too bad I missed last week’s Survivor.  Well, that’s when I get back home.  More Parkway tomorrow.  I’m less than half way through the 469 miles of it.  As Joe once said, ‘I’m here for the whole experience’.  Well strap in Joe and all you others; there’s more coming.

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Luray Caverns

This post is out of sequence.  It’s the story of what happened on Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13, 2017.  I was behind in posting so this finally catches me up.

Friday.  Drove the short rainy distance from the D.C. Beltway to Front Royal which is at the northern entry into  Shenandoah Park.  I’m here early and waiting for a room at the Quality Inn, so I set up shop in the lobby and get to work on writing a post.  I hear that free hot dogs and hamburgers are being offered by the Front Royal Fire Department in a nearby park in historic downtown Front Royal.  Not one who’s shy of passing up on a freebie, I’m there.  Sure enough the gracious and friendly folks there serve me up a large hot dog and a Dr. Pepper.  I say what do I owe you?  No, no, they’re complimentary.  So I walk around, take some pix and go up again to ask where the post office is and see that they’re shutting the operation down and want to get rid of the hamburgers.  I’m happy to oblige.  Out of sight on the way back to the car, I ditch the bun and enjoy the burger with mustard.  Hah.

Saturday.  The next morning I’m up early.  No rain, except what what left from yesterday.  Clear visibility.  Seems there’s a car show this weekend featuring vintage Hudson cars.  There’s a few parked at the motel.  The red and white-wheeled beauty below is a 1953, the maroon-colored one is a ’54.  Nice.

Excited to get onto Skyline Drive.  At the north gate of Shenandoah, I show my lifetime national parks pass to the park ranger and am told that there’s limited visibility in the higher elevations.  I’m not put off, confident that what little fog there might be will be cleared up quickly by the sun.  I get going uphill and alas, not so.  Limited visibility?  More like NO visibility.  The outlooks are completely fogged in.  It’s identical to my visit to the south end last October while on my way to Washington D.C.  Nuts!

Oh well.  Shenandoah is again not in the cards, not this trip.  Time to reconnoiter.  I get out my maps, tour books and local brochures.  There are several caverns here.  Which one?  I pick out the one with the best brochure.  It’s on to Luray Caverns for me.  And a plan to stop at the Virginia Civil War Museum, Natural Chimneys State Park and the Woodrow Wilson Library.  Enough to keep me occupied for the day.  Skyline Drive is not a 100% bust, I score a Shenandoah coffee mug at a wayside shop and a confirmation that Luray Caverns is indeed the premier cavern operation in the area.  After driving in 500-foot visibility on Skyline Drive, I get off at the first available exit off, which happens to be the road to the town of Luray and the caverns there.  Today serendipity steers me from driving to spelunking.  Hooray.

Now then, the Luray Caverns is one big commercial operation (in the photo below, the main entry is in the far background).  There’s of course the guided cavern tour, and also a vintage car museum, a small antique farm village.  General admission gets me into all three.  I’m skipping the children’s toy/rumpus room and the outdoor maze that’s quite similar to the one in The Shining.  I jump into line for the first cavern tour of the day and in five minutes we’re walking down into it.  The tour is about a mile and a quarter and lasts 90 minutes.

I’ve been to only one other cavern in my time and this was Mammoth Cave which is managed by the National Park Service (Mammoth Cave is indeed a National Park).  Park rangers do it all there, in their typical professional and knowledgeable fashion.  Here at Luray Caverns the above-ground atmosphere is very much commercial.  Sort of like Wisconsin Dells.  Underground in the caves is a different story.  A cave is a cave?  Stalactites and stalagmites.  Not quite.  Mammoth Cave goes on for miles and miles and the tour there is through mostly inactive areas, where the drips have dried up.  There are some very impressive live areas and features there but compared here at Luray, the difference is dramatic.  Immediately on walking down into it, I know this is something special.  The well-lit formations all along the way are spectacular.  I take near a hundred photos.  Here’s a couple of them.  Many of the others are as usual, not too good.

So here’s some from the internet.  One of The main features of these caverns is Saracen’s Tent which is considered to be one of the most well-formed draperies in the world

Others.  The Fish Market.  And the Washington Column.

And Dream Lake and the Wishing Well.  Note how in the lake the real images of the stalagmites are reflect as being actual in the water, both identical but reversed.  And in the Wishing Well there are thousands of dollars retrieved from the coins tossed into the well each year.     

 

SONY DSC

And now outta the cavern and quickly through the auto museum and farm museum.

And now the drive to the hard-to-find Natural Chimneys State Park.  Finally there after much narrow country road driving.  Here they are.

It’s getting late and I’m tired, so I skip the Civil War museum and the Wilson Library.  And finally after driving to Staunton VA this Saturday afternoon, I check into the Sleep Inn and get to Mass.  This is strange.  As is normal the communion rail is long gone.  But at the communion, ushers come up and place two kneelers in front of the altar steps.  Those in the front pews get in line to receive Holy Communion by kneeling at these and receiving the host on their tongues.  This is the only way to do it, up until 1977 when it was permitted to receive the host in the hand.  I’m not too sure I’m into this and am glad to see the some folks are doing it the modern way.  That’d be me.  Old school here at St. Francis?  For sure.

 

Now as I’m in the midst of writing this on Monday morning, it’s 6am and the breakfast bar is open.  I’m really not hungry, less so at the thought of more wet eggs and gooey bacon and sausage.  Surprise.  There’s SOS on the menu!!  So exciting.  I’m about to give the young attendant on duty a hug, but don’t.  Instead I give her a lecture of my lifelong experience with SOS.  She needs this info, as she didn’t even recognize the term.  I tell her of SOS in the military and how to approach motel SOS.  You lay down a bed on an english muffin or in this case, hash browns.  Instead of wet scrambled eggs, cover two hard boiled eggs cut in half with a small pat of butter, mike for 20 seconds and then scoop on a liberal portion of the SOS.  A little salt and pepper and you’re there.  Close your eyes.  Smile.  You’re at the gates of heaven.

The Canadians are smart.  They do SOS up there also.  In their case the dish out the SOS over french fries.  It’s called ‘poutine’.  Once while on a fishing trip up in Wawa, Ontario, my brother-in-law Henry and his son, David made ‘huevos rotos’, spanish for broken eggs.  The bed is french fries, eggs fried sunny side up to go on top fried eggs.  Break the yolks just before eating.  Serrano ham or prosciutto may be added.  The Spaniards know what’s going on also.

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