Saturday, August 11, 2012

Working our bucket lists and 4000 miles later

It has been AGES since I've posted and from time to time I thought about not ever coming back but I missed you too much.  We finally reached a point a few weeks ago where we found there was nothing demanding our attention for the first time in...well, our lives.  No kids that need anything, no pets, no elderly, and the pool has a man, the yard has a man, and we set up sprinklers for the rock garden, and put hanging baskets into flower beds that are watered by the sprinkler system. 

Anyway, we had no responsibilities to tend to or anything.  We took off and ran like a couple of dogs that got out of the yard.

We went to Nashville and stayed at the Opryland hotel and went to the Grand Ole Opry.   That night Kevin Costner was at the show, The Charlie Daniels' band, and the Oakridge Boys.  Kevin Costner had a mini series about the Hatfields and McCoys this past spring and he has a band of his own.  They played music from the mini series.  I liked it but some of the people on our shuttle bus had not seen the series and didn't much care for his selections.  They thought the songs were dreary.  Well, the Hatfield-McCoy feud didn't have too many upbeat times.  The Charlie Daniels' band, and the Oakridge Boys sang their hits from long ago like "Elvira" and Charlie Daniels sang "The Devil Came Down to Georgia",  and some very young and upcoming country music stars sang their songs   I don't remember their names.  Oh yes, Little Jimmy Dickens was there.   He has been there since I was a kid and that is a long time!
Then onward to the Biltmore Estate and we stayed at the Inn on the estate in N. Carolina.  Dinner at the inn was fabulous.  I had the chef's tasting menu.  It was a steak with the most delicious reduction sauce.  The vegetables were so good, too.  Everything was delicious.  Dessert was angel food cake with seasonal berries.  Lord it was so good.  I told my husband if I started licking the plate to take it away from me. Ha!

We toured the main house the next morning and I just bought a book with pictures of the home and grounds.  I couldn't take pictures in there and the photos in the book are great.  It was very hot when we got out, and there is no a/c in the big house.  We had lunch at a place where the stables used to be.  We attempted the gardens, but it was just too hot.  I'll have to go back in the fall or spring or another time in the summer.    It was unseasonably hot.

We stayed at a little place in NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway called Little Switzerland.  That was interesting, too.  The local folks were setting up a tag sale in the parking lot when we started putting suitcases in the car to leave.  It might have been great fun to hang around for that, but my husband was on a mission.  They did have a Wal-Mart there, but not on the Parkway.  At another place called a Trading Post I bought myself an apron.  I love it.

The shortest route is not necessarily the fastest route we found out.  The shortest route was pretty, but HOLY COW we couldn't find a town. We got lost in that Virginia forest and in the mountains you cannot get a cell phone signal or Onstar.  Our GPS worked, but didn't tell us how far it was to civilization or gasoline!  I did contact the onstar people for a while and she told us there was a hotel coming up.  It was in a very primitive town and we actually had to go back to find the hotel.  I thought for a minute I heard a banjo start playing and scenes from Deliverance flashed though our minds.  We did forgo that hotel and forged on under out own steam.  Finally we found a gas station in a nice little town and contact again.  While hubby bought gas I went to the ladies room.  When I came out there was a siren going off.  I was all like" what now!!?",  I asked but it was the weekly test of the fire siren.  Moving onward we found a room in an ancient hotel sans banjos and slept soundly.

Moving on we went to Maryland and met up with my hubby's family.  It worked out perfectly and we went to dinner with them at the golf club. Oddly enough there was a corn patch on the course.  I thought that was probably the REAL rough.  We haven't really spent much time with them at all before and this was the the first time we have gone up there.  I've been emailing with one of his cousins since getting back home.  It was a very pleasant Sunday afternoon.

We went through Lancaster Co. Penn., but he was still on a mission or something and we didn't stop until Hershey, PA.  That is where I suspect the sore throat was contracted.  There were a jillion little kids there that didn't really want to be there and some where coughing and crying.  I bought some cocoa powder, since I've had trouble finding it at our local supermarket.  One thing I thought was so special was the hanging baskets full of petunias on all the light posts.  We can't do that here with the heat.  Hanging baskets of cactus isn't that pretty. 

Our next big stop was Niagra Falls.  It is so beautiful I couldn't believe it!  Nothing had prepared me for the majesty of it.  I've seen pictures, movies, and documentaries about it, but was still floored by the beauty.  I'd never seen a blue river that had clear water.  We rode in a helicopter over the falls.  WHAT A BLAST!!! My husband worked at Bell Helicopter for 30 years and never got a ride.  I paid for out tickets and it was worth it for him to get to go. Was fun for me, too.  That evening we went on the Maid of the The Mist boat that takes you right up to the falls on the river.  That was very beautiful, too.  Wet, too.  They give you a poncho and that helps loads, but I'm guessing there were a boatload of people wondering why their cameras no longer work.  We learned ages ago about water and cameras at Dunn's Falls in Jamaica.  I felt so stupid.  Our guide offered to hold our cameras at the van for us while we climbed the falls.  Well, it was an expensive learning curve.  I buy underwater cameras now if we go anywhere there is a lot of water.

We went over into Canada at the Falls and drove to Windsor.  The name of the bridge is The Rainbow Bridge.  I didn't find any of my pets over there though. 

Getting a stamp in my passport was one of my goals and after we'd gone a ways I noticed he didn't stamp it. They didn't stamp it when we came back to the US, either.  I'll have to go somewhere else out of the country.

By this time my throat was becoming an issue so we headed home.  I'd wanted to go to The Ozark Folk Center in  Mountain Home in Arkansas and to P. Allen Smith's place by Little Rock.  I watched  on tv while the home was being built.  Will have to be on another trip though.

We drove 4,000 miles and got some of our bucket list things checked off and added some, and had a really great time.