CALIFORNIA: Years ago, I took this fun tour of Universal Studios. This video clip shows a re-creation of a scene from the movie "Jaws" for tourists. I'm glad Jon Kasinksi has captured it on videotape for me to re-enjoy and for others to anticipate as they plan their trips.
MAINE: Acadia National Park. Sullivan. Ogunquit.
Lovely camping trip for Memorial Day near historic Camp David in the Catoctin Mountains, at Cunningham Falls State Park.
On Sunday, Lucia and I hiked CAT ROCK/BOB'S HILL, a 7.5 mile-hike. This strenuous trail crosses the mountain and passes two scenic rock outcrops with scenic views. We also discovered an old farm that had been in the same family since the 1700s, ate a late lunch at in Thurmont, and explored the Inn where journalistic and political notables stayed while covering summits at nearby Camp David. We got a kick exploring the Cozy Country Inn and Hotel, with its Kennedy Room, Roosevelt Room, Reagan Rooms, and rooms for various international press outlets.
Lucia, Alex and I had a delightful family day exploring Maryland's first settlement, the landing of the Ark and the Dove, at St. Mary's City (city is a misnomer -- it's an extremely small town), as part of Maryland Day. Festival marked the 370th anniversary of Maryland’s founding.
Saturday my wife and I spied a small gray fox in our yard in Fearrington Village, between Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, NC. Our son later discovered a mother fox and baby foxes in a drainage pipe. We frequently see cardinals, hummingbirds and titmouse at the bird feeder. Click on either photo to enlarge them. (I apologize for the quality of these pictures -- I was using a cell phone camera.)
With a guide and boats from the Haw River Canoe and Kayak Co., my boys, wife and I took a moonlight canoe ride on the Haw River, putting in at Saxapahaw in Alamance County, NC. It was a delightful evening.
We also enjoyed a too brief visit to the town of Saxapahaw, which seems to doing a great job of transforming itself from a former mill village into a tourist attraction and model of environmentally-conscious living. See Sustainable Saxapahaw: Community-wide Conservation and Smalltown Living, in Fifteen501 magazine.
Who says you can't have fun at the beach in November? This weekend, we discovered Atlantic Beach, near Morehead City, staying at the Windjammer Inn for $50 a night. We toured the fascinating new Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. My 10-year-old son Alex and other kids "interviewed" a diver while she was underwater surrounded by sharks. He touched a Manta Ray's "gooey" skin, and it closed its jaw around his finger, but then swam away. Alex also stroked hermit crabs until they climbed out of their shells.
I'd like to return after Alex turns 12 years old so we can go on kayak and canoe tours through the marshes with aquarium staff.
I'd also like to return to Atlantic Beach or Morehead City some time to charter a boat for a deep sea fishing expedition, as long as it could be guaranteed we wouldn't get sea sick. What I most remember about deep sea fishing with my dad at age 10 was spending most of the trip lying on a bench vomiting, with the wind blowing in my face.
Despite temperatures in the 50s, on Sunday Alex and I braved the lake-like ocean for invigorating quick dips. I was amazed at how crystal clear the water was -- I could see my feet even when the water was up to my chest. We built a sand castle, went on long beach walks, and explored Ft. Macon.
My boys and I spent some time kayaking on the river I grew up on -- the Lumber, or Lumbee as we call it. We put in our kayaks at Turnpike Road north of Wagram and paddled down to McGirt's Bridge. When I was in college, I canoed with three buddies all the way to Georgetown, S.C. The Lumber River flows into the Little Pee Dee River and the Waccamaw River (where we saw alligators) before flowing into the intercoastal waterway. Gradually, I'm retracing that trip -- just not all at once, due to time constraints. We missed the canoe regatta, which (wonderfully) has returned to Wagram after a 20-year hiatus. But we enjoyed the new state park, where this picture was taken, and I enjoyed reciting "Sunburnt Boys" by John Charles McNeill, North Carolina poet Laureatte and a native of Wagram.
In a recent visit to Maggie Valley, we learned about the effort to re-introduce Elk to the Cataloochee Valley.
Halloween weekend we spent in the mountains of North Carolina. I really enjoyed the http://www.hauntedasheville.com/ tour.
Ghosts are his business: "Asheville’s own Joshua Warren makes a living from the unliving." My wife, sons and I came away believers, though my older boy later cast doubt on the "orbs" that showed up in his digital pictures.
I've decided I enjoy believing in ghosts.
Climbing Chimney Rock
At 2,280 feet, with a 75-mile view, my spirit soars. Yet I'm struck by how many over-weight and out of breath Americans I see. I overheard a middle-aged woman complaining as she climbed the 200th stair: "I'll have to take another pain-killer when I get to the car."
61% of North Carolina adults are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. North Carolina’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases is to reverse the rising tide of obesity. See www.EatSmartMoveMoreNC.com* and www.NCHealthyWeight.com
Road to ruin: Fighting Obesity (CBS News)
I'm sending this photo and blogging this from my cell phone. Note audio clip.
Lucia, Alex and I just spent three days on a little vacation, to Amish country. What pure and bucolic countryside!
We stayed the first night at the grand Gramercy Mansion near Baltimore, which was built in 1902 by Alexander J.
Cassatt, owner of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
We visited the fascinating Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
took a back-in-time ride on the coal-running, steam-powered Strasburg Railroad
stayed at the Eby Dairy Farm Bed & Breakfast, which has been in the same family for seven or eight generations.
...But Charleston No Longer Seems Haunted by Racism
Visiting the 'Banana Republic' of Myrtle BeachVIRGINIANatural Bridge, VA: Bleeh. Tacky, tacky. Thumbs Down What a disappointment we found Natural Bridge, VA, near Lexington, to be. First off, we were blown away by the price of admission: $30 for two adults and one child. This is supposed to be one of the natural wonders of the world that would exist without the commercialized, kitchy, junky buildings nearby. If the National Park Service operated Natural Bridge, I bet it would be tastefully presented and well-maintained, with lots of hiking paths. As is, there's not much to do at Natural Bridge once you've gawked at the bridge itself.
Whatever one's political views about "big government," nearly everyone can agree that the National Park Service generally does a splendid job of making America's national parks and incredible natural environment more accessible to the people, regardless of income.
The (apparently for-profit) Natural Bridge corporation bilks the public; the buildings are antiquated, and the exhibits are dated. Several were closed when we attended. Granted, the fact we visited the place on a rainy day in early January may have colored our impression. But even if we had seen the place at its best, with the walking tour included, we would have been disappointed and felt gouged. My guess is that Natural Bridge's management company is in a vicious cycle: more people don't visit because they're aware of the exorbitant pricing, and high prices are required because more people don't visit.
In keeping with the tacky atmosphere, nearby is "Foamhenge," a replica of England's mystical Stonehenge, and the Natural Bridge Petting Zoo, which when open, probably displays a few mangy, unhappy animals.Comments (10)
- Wikipedia's good summary of Natural Bridge's interesting history, a geological formation dating back hundreds of millions of years, and what it could have to offer.
It was a cool experience accompanying a crew of cub scouts on a tour of Luray Caverns in Virginia. Awesome descent into the world below. Highlights: the world's only Stalacpipe Organ, and Dream Lake, an underground water mirror that creates an optical illusion of a big lake in a cave.