Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wild Horses of North Carolina

After we left Washington, DC we made our way towards the “Outer Banks” of North Carolina. Our goal was to get to Corolla, NC and the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge which is located on the north end of the Corolla Island. We were going to see the wild horses!

The history of these wild horses living here started about 500 years ago when the Spanish explorers arrived to this coast area. Because these coastal waters are very shallow the Spaniards would sometimes need to toss heavy items overboard to keep afloat. The ancestors of the horses that inhabit this area now are descendents of those who swam ashore.

The horses adapted to this coastal region and in the mid 1980's a paved road was built and some serious construction of homes began. Sadly, the horses would be hit by motorists, so a fence was put up that spans from the Atlantic across the stretch of land to the sound on the other side to contain them in an 1800 acre refuge. They are safe now.

The highway which runs up this area of the outer banks also extends on to the beach and similar traffic laws apply, with reduced speed, maintaining a minimum of 50 feet distance from the horses and obeying standard traffic laws. Of course, we saw every one of these laws broken during our tour. People can be really stooopid!

Here is a shot of the highway.

As our tour guide drove us down the beach we were lucky enough to see several horses enjoying the cooling breeze and ocean air. What an amazing sight this was!

A mama and her babe!

We were also driven inland to find more horses and we saw several, but the shots didn't come out so good. Except for this one. This is a horse they have named Cyclops...for an obvious reason. He only has one eye. He lost the other fighting to maintain his herd of females. You can tell by his attitude towards us, even enclosed in our vehicle that he means business. His females were just on the other side of a thicket. Our tour guide was very respectful of Cyclops and kept a good distance from him, well over the 50 feet mandated by law.

I was able to find my home out here! Isn't she beautiful?

There are 100's and 100's of these homes all built out in the sandy dunes of this refuge. I can only imagine the amount of money required to get the materials out here along with the labor. Most of the homes were built as vacation rental units. What a fun time that would be!

There are also many weddings held out in this area. We spotted these two. This one with the guests just their fancy the sand!

And this one where the happy couple have already taken their vows and are now having some stunning photos taken. What an amazingly beautiful location for such a special event.

Back onto the “highway” and headed down the beach to see more horses we also saw these amazing cypress tree stumps along the shoreline. Remnants of an old cypress forest that grew here peek up out of the ocean waves. I am so intrigued by the thought of just how old these stumps are and that they remain even with the constant motion of the water. 

And these sweet little birds that get to forage around these ancient stumps and shells washed up along the shore. This is truly a magical place on the planet.

After our amazing adventure, we had some of the best BBQ I have ever had a little place called the Duck Deli, in the town of Duck. If you get to this area make sure to stop here for a meal. Crazy good!

See you at the next stop!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Washington, DC

First let me say...the weather is crazy here! One minute the sun is out and literally 10 minutes later lightening, thunder, and torrential downpours. Then it stops after a few minutes and the sun peeks out again and the temps crank back up to the low 80's. So different from NorCal weather for sure.
It rained off and on most of the day we were in town, but it wasn't so bad that we didn't fully enjoy our time here. We took a trolley tour and learned a lot from the various drivers we had, plus they were all funny, too. If you're interested in a tour like this (on/off options, 3 different routes all for one price) I highly recommend the Olde Town Trolley company. They operate in several different cities.

We got to see several areas of town, including all the main DC sights. I have to admit, while I was intrigued with the thought of the amount of politics swirling around this area of the planet, what really got my attention was the architecture. I would love to return here and be able to slowly make my way through the various neighborhood viewing all these amazing buildings.

Sadly, we weren't able to do any of the museums, so I'll mark that down for what to do here next time as well.

Here are a few of the more than 170 images I took. Some through raindrop splattered windows, but I still think they came out okay. Oh...and the first one is of a flower at our campground just after a rain. So pretty!

This is the bottom of the flag pole out in front of the Union Station where we picked up the Trolley.
Every where I looked there was one ornate item after the next.  I loved it!

The is a corner on the front of the Union Station building.

My first glimpse of the capitol building with this beautiful statue.

I am amazed at the architecture of this building.  They began building it in 1793.

Love this sculpture.  I wonder if something like this could be created with beads.  I think a long, tightly woven strip of Peyote that is wound back around itself might work.

My house!  I figured there had to be at least one of them in the area!  =o)

The Jefferson memorial.

The Washington Monument.  Until recently you could ride up to the top and check out the town.  Sadly, the recent earthquake in the area damaged the top and it is closed until they can figure out how to repair it.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.  They were preparing the area around it for its dedication on Sunday. 

Not the best shot of the White House but it seemed like every time I got a decent view of the building it was either raining or I was on the wrong side of the trolley!  Check out the secret service guy.  He's really in focus!  LOL

Some amazing buildings!

These next two images are of the ceiling the Union Station.  When it was built they used over 70 pounds of gold leaf.  At todays prices that hovers around 2 million dollars worth of gold on the ceiling!  It is stunningly beautiful!

The outer banks of North Carolina are next....stay tuned!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vermont, Maine, Boston

Reminder...if you want to see an image enlarged for more detail just click on it.

I have to admit, I was really sad to be leaving the Adirondack's. I love being in the mountains and all the quaint towns and the amazing colors of the trees were such a joy for me to see. But we must move on. Our campground for the night was just outside the town of Westport, NY. A lovely little village town along the shores of Lake Champlain. We arrived a little late to do much more than get parked and plugged in, so we didn't see too much of the town when we arrived, but what we did see was beautiful.

In the morning we drove in to Westport and past an amazing building that I wanted some pictures of. So...Patti turned up a street to turn around. Bad move! LOL We ended up on a teeny tiny winding residential road in a 33' motorhome. I imagine the residents were considering us all levels of foolish, We did, however, find these really cool old milk jugs with a “FREE” sign on them. So we picked up two of them. Every night since then we've needed to move them outside and bring them back in every morning. What were we thinking? There isn't enough room in here for the three of us to move about easily let alone adding two milk jugs. But, stubbornness and an odd affection for the dumb things has kept us from leaving them behind anywhere. I continue to move them outside each night.

Patti found this really cool bush in the yard of one of the homes that we passed (read "passed" as pulled into their driveway while trying to back up on the street...repeatedly). They remind me of Kiffa beads.  Mainly that deep orangish-reddish shade of glass, but also the drop shape.

After about 30 minutes or so we managed to get back out to the street. Here are images of the building we worked so hard to get back to.  Check out the ornate scrolling along the top of the tower.

And here is a shot of the town library.

And the great sign out in front of the fire house.

Driving towards the ferry that would take us across Lake Champlain into Vermont we drove through several lakeside towns. One of them was named Moriah. Kathy spotted the top of this building hidden down a road. Since we were still a bit shell shocked from our last innocent “turn down this road” adventure, I made Patti pull into a parking lot and I walked down the road. This building now houses the town offices of Moriah, but I imagine in its day it must have been a hotel of some sort. All I know is that I absolutely love it!  It is for SURE one of my houses!

On to Vermont.   As we were taking the ferry across Lake Champlain you could just barely see this old lighthouse peeking out thru the trees.

We meandered along a two lane road past dairies and farms and huge grassy fields. Thru little towns with general stores and folks hanging around chatting with each other next to a piece of farm equipment. My imagination hopes the folks who live in this area are as peaceful and calm as their farms look.

I didn't realize I was taking a photo of some folks taking a photo of this beatiful setting until I opened the image here to resize it. 

We were headed for the Ben & Jerry factory tour! It was a lot of fun. And we left with way more ice cream than a motorhome freezer knows what to do with! Ice cream for dessert as often as you like? Sure, sounds good to me! =o)

After we left this area we begin driving through more beautiful trees and mountain roads.  It seemed like every corner we turned was another postcard worthy view.  I just cannot seem to get enough of them!

As opposed to the 1st abnormal school?  ;o)

We stayed that night in Eastern Vermont. The next morning would be a short drive through New Hampshire and then on to Maine headed for the coast.

The terrain slowly changed from that riot of fall foliage colors to more green the closer we got to the shore.

Patti was totally focused on getting her lobster dinner that she had been waiting for. Our campground directed us to a restaurant called Bufflehead (this is a type of duck, apparently) but sadly, they didn't have steamed lobster, just lobster pie. So we had a seafood pasta instead with the intent of heading to a different location for lunch the next day for lobster.  This is an image of the Atlantic from the backyard of a house across the street from the restaurant.  I'm sure they didn't mind.  ;o)

I did a little research online and learned that a place called Nunan's had great deals on lobster and came highly recommended by folks from all over the world. We headed that way...only to discover they didn't open until 5pm. Poor Patti. She pouted for a bit and we decided to just go have a light lunch and then head back to Nunan's for dinner. We soon discovered that many of the restaurants in the area close “for the season”...or in other words, around the beginning of October. =o/ Finding lunch was not easy but we eventually found a hot dog stand....along with the other 50 travelers needing lunch. This would be the 1st time in my life I've waited close to an hour for a hot dog. Will probably be the last time, too.

After lunch we drove around thru the small coastal towns in Southern Maine. There are certainly some beautiful homes on these roads. We also drove out to the York lighthouse.

Look!  My house!!

Some cool yard art at a shop in one of the little towns.

I just keep thinking of Shawn saying "Does anybody know where the hell we are?" every time we drove by one of these signs. 

Mine....just in case you were thinking of calling it!

Stunning white on white.  The architecture is just amazing me every moment!

Finally time to head back to Nunan's for dinner. It certainly lived up to all the good reviews. This was only the second time in my life I had ordered a lobster. And since their special was for 3 lobsters that's what I got! Patti ended up taking my leftovers home for dinner the next night.

Lobster, lobster, lobster!

And homemade blueberry pie!  Yum!

The next day we headed towards Cape Cod. We drove around the small towns along the shore and I found my house!

Then we headed towards Salem. There wasn't anywhere for us to park the motorhome so we just drove through town and then headed towards Boston. We stopped to see the John F. Kennedy memorial library and museum. The architecture of the building was amazing.

 No photos allowed inside, but I was able to get this great shot of Boston from the pavilion.

Next stops...Hoboken (I'm not kidding!) And Washington, DC!  See you there!