May 10 – Going Home

After a little more than four months, we we're headed home today … generally, however, the most arduous of any trip when having to pass through Washington, DC, Baltimore, Wilmington and Philadlephia!  Aside from the unpredictible traffic (generally heavy just south of the Potomac River and through Philly), there are section of I-95 which border on "horrible".  Then there is the always "exciting" trip up and over the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

Fortunately, unklie during our trip south, there were no cross-winds.

No sooner than we left our Ashland, VA campground, we kept our record in tact, passing through a

zone on every day we've actually traveled in our motorhome!

Since leaving Sarasota, we have been surprised at the number of vehicles we've seen which have been pulled over by local and state police, and today was no exception.

Otherwise, the trip was rather uneventful, although we were passed by both a polo team's mounts

one of several truks sporting an American flag,

Half a house,

and a boat

While my attention was focused on the road, Debbie did manage to spot an old barn,

several water towers,

several boats, two afloat,

while the other was well past any hope of salvaging it.

and some pretty roadside color.

We arrived back in Langhorne shortly after 2:00 PM and were unlaoded and returned our motorhome to where we store it by late afternoon. 

Now, we're looking forwrad to catching up with our kids and cgrandchildren over the next two months.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May 9 – Virginia’s State Capitol and Executive Mansion

During the American Colonial period, Virginia's first capital was located in Jamestown, where the first legislative body, the Virginia House of Burgesses, met in 1619. The new government used four state houses at different times at Jamestown due to fires. The first Representative Legislative Assembly

convened on July 30, 1619 at the Jamestown Church

which served as the first Capitol.

With the decision to relocate the government inland to Williamsburg in 1699, a grand new Capitol Building

was completed in November 1705. Nearby was the grand Governor's Palace. It burned in 1747 and was replaced in 1753.

On June 29, 1776, Virginians declared their independence from Great Britain and wrote the state's first constitution, thereby creating an independent government four days before Congress voted for the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4th.

The Capitol at Williamsburg served until the American Revolutionary War began, when Governor Thomas Jefferson urged that the capital be relocated to Richmond. The building was last used as a capitol on December 24, 1779, when the Virginia General Assembly adjourned to reconvene in 1780 at the new capital, Richmond. It was eventually destroyed.

When it convened in Richmond on May 1, 1780, the legislature met in a makeshift building near Shockoe Bottom. By 1788, the "Old Capitol" where the Virginia Ratifying Convention met was at the New Academy by the Chevalier Quesnay.

Plans were begun for a new building to serve a new state, the Commonwealth of VIrginia. The site selected for a new, permanent building was on Shockoe Hill, a major hill overlooking the falls of the James River.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with the overall design of the new Capitol, together with French architec Charles-Louis Clérisseau. The design was modeled after the Maison Carrée at Nîmes in southern France

an ancient Roman Temple.  The only other state to accurately copy an ancient model is the  Vermont State House (which we hope to visit this coming summer), which based its portico on the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens.

The cornerstone was laid on August 18, 1785, with Governor Patrick Henry in attendance, prior to the completion of its design. In 1786, a set of architectural drawings and a plaster model

were sent from France to Virginia, where it was executed by Samuel Dobie. It was sufficiently completed for the General Assembly to meet there in October 1792.

Some interesting anecdotes:

  • It is one of only twelve Capitols in the United States without an "external" dome. (The others are the Capitols of Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New york, Nrth Dakota, Ohio and Tennessee)

  • Only the State of Maryland State House, completed in 1788, is older than Virginia's Capitol.
  • However, new Hampshire claims the distinction of having the oldest legislative chamber still in use … since 1819.

Aside from practical matters of adding windows, Jefferson made few changes to the exterior in his transformation of the building into the state capitol; engaged columns became pilasters, the corinthian order became ionic, and the portico shortened.

Two other important features were in the original design but have since been altered. The building initially had no front facing stair case and the pediment was punctuated by a central arched window and two flanking half arch windows. A stair case has been added and the pediment simplified, improvements on the original design.

The building’s interior features a two-story domed rotunda

containing Jean-Antoine Houdon’s full figure portrait of George Washington.

This 6'2" life-sized statue is the only one Washington ever posed for … and he never saw the finished statue.

Surrounding the statue are busts of the other seven Virginian presidents

Thomas Jefferson – 3rd President

James Madison – 4th President

James Monroe – 5th President

William Henry Harrison – 9th President

John Tyler – 10th President

Zachary Taylor – 12th President

Woodrow WIlson – 28th President

and one of the Marquis de LaFayette.

Looking down, one can see ancient fossils in the limestone floor tiles, a phenomenon we've seen only once before in Cheyene and the Wyoming State Capitol.

On the floor beneath the Rotunda, visitors are greeted by a statue of Henry Clay, The Great Compromiser

a bust of George Washington

and a bronze statue of Thomase Jefferson

holindg, not a copy of the Declaration of Independence but, rather a copy of the plans he submitted for the Capitol Building in which his stuatue now resides.

After a major structural failure in 1870 which resulted in the collapse of the floor above the House of Representatives and causing the deaths of over sixty people, the capitol faced demolition. Fortunately, the building was spared and renovation began. Two wings were added on either side of the Capitol in 1904 to provide space for the Senate and House of Representatives.

circa 1904

The Virginia State seal is embedded in the concrete entrance in front of the building.

Old Senate Chamber

This room originally served for more than 50 years as the General Court Room for Virginia's judiciary. The Senate, which previously met in a smaller room on the third floor, moved into this room around 1840. In late 1861, the room was remodeled as the "Hall of Congress" for the Confederate House of Representatives. The Senate of Virginia returned here in 1865 from an upstairs room and held its last session in this room in 1904

circa 1904

   Present Day  

The chamber contains several historical paintings

"Three Ships" – On may 14, 1607, three ships carrying 104 English settlers arrived at teh site theywould name Jamestown to establish the first English settlement in the New World.  The ships were the "Susan Constant" (center), the "Godspeed" (left) and the "Discovery" (right)

John Rolfe arrived in Jamestown along with 150 other settlers in 1610, as part of a new charter organized by the Virginia Company. He began experimenting with growing tobacco, eventually using seeds grown in the West Indies to develop Virginia’s first profitable export. In 1614, Rolfe married the daughter of a local Native American chieftain, Matoaka (better known by her childhood nickname, Pocahontas), who had been taken captive by the English settlers and converted to Christianity. The couple sailed to England with their infant son in 1616; seven months later, Pocahontas died as they prepared to travel home. Rolfe returned to Virginia, remarried and served a prominent role in the economic and political life of the colony until his death in 1622.

Pocahontas (born Matoaka, known as Amonute, circa 1596–1617) was a Native American woman notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown.  She was the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of a network of tributary tribal nations in the Tidewater region of Virginia. In a well-known historical anecdote, she is said to have saved the life of a captive of the Native Americans, the Englishman John Smith in 1607 by placing her head upon his own when her father raised his war club to execute him. Some historians have suggested that this story, as told by Smith, is untrue.  Pocahontas was captured by the English during Anglo-Indian hostilities in 1613, and held for ransom. During her captivity, she converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca. When the opportunity arose for her to return to her people, she chose to remain with the English. In April 1614, she married tobacco planter John Rolfe and in January 1615.  In 1616, the Rolfes traveled to London. Pocahontas was presented to English society as an example of the "civilized savage" in hopes of stimulating investment in the Jamestown settlement. She became something of a celebrity. In 1617, the Rolfes were ready to set sail for Virginia, but Pocahontas died at Gravesend of unknown causes and was buried in a church in Gravesend in the United Kingdom, but the exact location of her grave is unknown.

 

"Storming of a British Redoubt by American Troops at Yorktown" – A depiction of the decisive moments leading to the end of the Revolutionary War when American forces overwhelmned at Yorktown.  Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton, sword arm raised, leads his men to capture British Redoubt 10.  On the horizon the incoing French fleet (far right) have bottled up and ultimately defeat the trapped Britisn supply fleet (far left). 

John D. Rckerfeller, Jr, together with his wife financed the restoration on Colonial WIlliamsburg.

Old House of Representatives Chamber

The Old Hall of the House of Delegates (or Old House Chamber) is located off the Rotunda in the north end of the Capitol. At 76 feet in width, it has a dramatic coved ceiling, projecting cornices, and carved interior woodwork, which reflect the Capitol's Roman Classicism. Delegates assembled in rows of seats arranged around the Speaker's chair. As there was no other large meeting hall in the area, the room was also used for community events and church services in its early years, with Episcopal and Presbyterian congregations meeting on alternate Sundays. The Virginia House of Delegates met in the Old Hall regularly from 1788 until 1904.

circa 1860

circa 1904

Present Day

Replicas of Original Desks and Chairs

Prominently displayed in the Old House Chamber is the Commonwealth's official "Mace"

Each day, when the General Assembly is in session, 81-year-old Bud Roderick slips on a pair of white gloves. He transfers the Mace from the Old to the current House Chamber.  At precisely three minutes before the gavel bangs in the House of Delegates, Roderick — dressed always in a blue blazer, gray slacks and a white shirt — opens a glass case, tenderly removes a golden mace and carries it on extended arms into the chamber.

In a Capitol rich with pomp, few things embody it more than Virginia's solid silver, 24-karat-coated ceremonial mace.

Weighing in at 10 pounds plus, measuring nearly 4 feet long with a head that's shaped like a crown, the staff is a throwback to the days of kings and queens.

Statue of Jefferson Davis at the exact spot in the House Chamber where he accepted the command of the Confederate Armies

The Chamber is also the repository for an amazing collection of bust of famous Virginians

Alexander Stevens – Vice Presdient of the Confederacy

Anderw Lewis – An Irish-born American pioneer, surveyor, and soldier of Colonial Virginia. A colonel of militia during the French and Indian War, and brigadier general in the American Revolutionary

Cyrus McCormack – An American inventor and businessperson, the founder of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, which later became part of the International Harvester Company in 1902

Fitzhugh Lee – A Confederate cavalry general in the American Civil War, the 40th Governor of Virginia, diplomat, and United States Army general in the Spanish–American War

George Mason – a Virginia planter and politician, and a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional COnvention of 1787, one of three delegates who refused to sign the Constitution. His writings have been a significant influence on political thought and events, including substantial portions of th Fairfax Resolves of 1774, the Virginia Declaration of RIghts of 1776, and his Objections to this Constitution of Government (1787) in opposition to ratification of the constitution. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, which Mason principally authored, served as a basis for the United Staets Bill of Rights, of which he has been deemed the father.

Georeg Wythe – The first American law professor, a noted classics scholar and Virginia judge, as well as a prominent opponent of slavery.

James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart was a United States Army officer from the U.S. state of Virginia, who later became a Confederate States Army general during the American Civil War

Jefferson Davis – The President of the Confederary

John Marshall – The fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1801. He is largely responsible for establishing the Supreme Court's role in federal government.

Joseph Eggleston Johnston – A career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War

Matthew Muray

Meriwether Lewis – An American explorer, soldier, politician, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark

Patrick Henry – An American attorney, planter and politician who became known as an orator during the movement for independence in Virginia. He served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786.  Henry led the opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765 and is remembered for his "GIve me liberty or give me death!" speech. Along with Sam Adams and Thomas Paine, he is regarded as one of the most influential champions of Republicanism and an enthusiastic promoter of the American Revolution and its fight for independence.

Richard Henry Lee – An American statesman from Virginia best known for the motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain

Born in Virginia, Sam Houston – Became a lawyer, congressman and senator in Tennessee. After moving to Texas in 1832, he joined the growing conflict between U.S. settlers and the Mexican government and became commander of the local army. On April 21, 1836, Houston and his men defeated Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna at San Jacinto to secure Texan independence. He was voted president in 1836 and again in 1841, then served as a senator after Texas became a state in 1845. Despite his pro-slavery views, he believed in preserving the Union. He became governor in 1859, but was removed from office after the secession of Texas in 1861.

Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson –  A Confederate general during the American Civil Warr, and the best-known Confederate commander after General Robert E Lee.  Confederate pickets accidentally shot him at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. The general survived but lost an arm to amputation but he died of complications from pneumonia eight days later. His death was a severe setback for the Confederacy, affecting not only its military prospects, but also the morale of its army and of its general public. Military historians consider Jackson to be one of the most gifted tactical commanders in U.S. history.

Jefferson Room

This room contains a large full-length portrait of Thomas Jefferson painted by George Catlin,

who copied an original portrait by Thomas Sully now on display at West Point.  Jefferson once wrote that "architecture is my delight." After the Revolution, Virginians instinctively turned to Jefferson and asked him to design a new state Capitol, combining "economy with elegance and utility."  The plaster model on display (photo abbove), built by Jean-Pierre Fouquet, shows Jefferson's original architectural intent for the new Capitol of Virginia, which he designed in 1785-86. Jefferson designed this building to be "a temple of sovereignty." He hoped to impress foreign visitors, raise our reputation in the eyes of the world, and inspire citizens of Virginia.

circa 1865

Present Day

Caled variiously an "Act of Pariament" clock, tavern clock or coaching-inn clock, this eighteenth century dial clock was a gift to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1947 by Lady Astor.  Born in Danville, Virginia, Lady Astor (Nee: Nancy Wincher Langhorne) married William Wladorf Astor, her second husband, the heir to one of the largest American fortunes at the time, and lived exclusively in England.  In 1919 she became the first woman to take a seat in the Birtish House of Commons.

Current Senate Chamber

Current House of Representatives Chamber

Close by and within the Capitol Complex sits Virginia's Executive Mansion.

It has been home to governors of the Commonwealth since 1813 and is the oldest governor's residence in the country still used for its original purpose.  Designed in tehe Federalist style, the mansion is located close to the former site of a modest frame structure that served as the home to Virginia's governors after the Capital moved from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780.

circa 1905

For more than 200 years, the mansion had welcomed many distinguished visitors including the Marquis de Lafayette, Sir Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and several U.S. presidents; Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama.  While three former Virginia Governors went on to become president, only John Tyler used the residence during his term.

Entrance Hall

The Entrance Hall provides sweeping views thought the mansion’s central interior.  The 14’ high ceiling and plaster cornices adorned with neoclassical motifs are designed to capture the idea that the Governor’s house provides “honor and dignity to the state”. 

Old Governor’s Office

During the 19th century, this room was the most important in the mansion as it served as the governor’s working office and continued to do so until 1906.  Originally furnished with only a pine table and a corner washstand, the study has been restored to a more elegant appearance with wallpaper and carpet in archival patterns from the early 19th century.  In 1906, Governor Andrew Montague permanently moved his office to the Capitol.  Today, the governor’s working office was moved to the Patrick Henry Building.

Table owned by Patrick Henry

Black Hawk, (17671838) was the leader of a faction of the Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) peoples. Black Hawk and his followers contested the disposition  of 50 million acres of territory that had supposedly been granted to the United States by tribal spokesmen in the Treaty of St. Louis in 1804. His decision to defy the government and attempt to reoccupy tribal lands along the Rock River in Illinois resulted in the brief but tragic Blackhawk War of 1832.  He is flanked by his son (right) and mentor (left).

One of several painted lanp bases

Box contains a silver humadore

Ladies Parlor

During the early history of the mansion, the Ladies Parlor was used as a waiting room for female visitors while their male counterparts met across the hall with the Governor.  Today, in the Parlor, there are three sewing tables indicative of the type of activity that would have occurred during the time the women were waiting.  The room features a number of historic paintings and a box piano from the 1830 which belonged to Governor James Barbour (1812-1814),

the first governor to reside in the mansion. 

Ballroom

The Ballroom, because of its impressive size, was once two rooms (a formal parlor and dining room) divided by a wall featuring a pocket door in between.  The wall was removed in 1906, creating a large open room and ideal gathering space for the Commonwealth’s civic, political and cultural life.  The ballroom was the site of a large fire during the holiday season in 1926, when Governor Elbert Trinkle’s 5-year old son accidentally set fire to the family holiday Christmas tree with a sparkler.

Pocahontas (age 19)

Dining Room

The spacious dining room is an addition to the mansion’s original four-square floor plan.  Added in 1906, the oval-shaped space once featured a large fireplace that was removed after the 1926 fire.  When fully extended, the dining table seats twenty-six.  By tradition, the Governor sits at the southern end of the table in recognition of Virginias distinction as a southern state.  Of note is the custom-made rug with various symbols of Virginia including the state seal; state flower, the Dogwood; and state flower, the scallop shell.  Just off the dining room is a cozy breakfast nook that was once a screened-porch. 

The Executive Mansion’s 51-piece heirloom silver service from the USS Virginia (BB-13), which was decommissioned in 1920, is now displayed in the dining room and throughout the first floor.   

Renderings of the U.S. presidents from Virginia adorn the base of the bowl (Woodrow WIlson missing as tehe bowl was manufactured prior to him becoming president)

Gillette Garden

Charles Freeman Gillette, nationally recognized as one of the premier landscape architects associated with the restoration and re-creation of historic gardens in the upper South and especially Virginia, including the formal garden at the Commonwealth's Executive Mansion. Gillette established a regional style—known as the "Virginia Garden"—characterized by its understated classicism and attention to detail.

Slave Quarters and Valentine-Memorial Garden

The mansion’s original grounds included a separate cook house (with a tunnel leading to the main house), smoke house, stable, ice house and carriage and cannon houses.  Today, only the cook house and carriage house remain.  Above the cook house were the slave quarters. 

Located behind the cook house is the Valentine-Jackson Memorial Garden, dedicated to the Valentine and Jackson families who were enslaved at the mansion from 1837-1840. 

Excerpts from letters written by the family members are displayed on the garden walls in honor of their memory and contributions to the Commonwealth.

As with most state houses, the grounds surrounding the Capitol have an number of statues and monuments … and Virginia is no exception.

George Washington Equestrian Monument

The Washington Monument features a 21-foot, 18,000-pound (8,200 kg) bronze statue of George Washington on horseback.

The base of the monument (finished after the Civil War) includes statues of six other noted Virginians who took part in the Revolutionary War; Thomase Jefferson, Patrick HJenry, Amdrew Lewis, John Marshall, George Mason and Thomas Nelson, Jr.

 

Zero Milestone Market – The three-foot tall stone and bronze marker is the official Virginia highway point of measurement of distances from Richmond for Virginia.

The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial is a monument commemorates protests which helped bring about school desegregation in the state.

R.R. Moton High School, an all-black high school in Farmvile, VA, founded in 1923, suffered from terrible conditions due to underfunding. The school did not have a gymnasium, cafeteria or teachers' restrooms. Teachers and students did not have desks or blackboards, and due to overcrowding, some students had to take classes in an immobilized, decrepit school bus parked outside the main school building. The school's requests for additional funds were denied by the all-white school board.  In response, on April 23, 1951, a 16-year-old student named Barbara Rose Johns covertly organized a student general strike. She forged notes to teachers telling them to bring their students to the auditorium for a special announcement. When the school's students showed up, Johns took the stage and persuaded the school to strike to protest poor school conditions. Over 450 walked out and marched to the homes of members of the school board, who refused to see them. Thus began a two-week protest.  The protest led to a court case where Virginia civil rights lawyers Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson brought suit against the school board.  Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County was eventually one of the four cases combined into Brown v. Board of Education, the famous case in which the U.S. SUpreme Court, in 1954, officially overturned racial segregation in U.S. public schools.

Edgar Allen Poe Statue

Harry F. Byrd, Jr, an ardent segregationist

General Stonewall Jackson

The red brick Bell Tower has stood since 1824.  It was once used for a guard house and the bell warned of fires.  During the Civil War, the bell sounded when Federal troops approached the city.  More recently, it was an office for Lt. Gov. Charles S. Robb (1978-82), and the Capitol Square Preservation Council.  It now serves as a Visitor Center for VIrginia Tourism.

An iron fence surrounds the 14-acre Capitol Complex including the State House and Governor's Executive Mansion.  Note the main posts with the fasces, a bundle of rods tied around the shaft of an axe, which had been used by the ancient Romans to symbolize unity and civic authority.

Also of interest were the architecture of the Old City Hall,

two building-mounted clocks,

St. Paul's Episcopal Church,

a carillon,

and the Valentine First Freedom Center commemorates and educates about freedom of religion and conscience as proclaimed in Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This 1786 Virginia law, brilliantly shepherded through the General Assembly by James Madison, laid the ideological groundwork for the religion clauses of the First Amendment and has served as a model for other state constitutions and constitutions around the world. It is considered the essential counterpart to the Declaration of Independence.

The Valentine First Freedom Center teaches the extraordinary history that led to Virginia’s declaration of non-establishment and free exercise, and shows how these Jeffersonian principles continue shedding light on every public matter involving religious liberty. The center's current location is positioned on the same site where Virginia’s temporary capitol stood in Richmond and where the statute was enacted.

 

Our only disappointment was that we didn't have sufficient time to take in more of Richmond.  However, that presents us with a "excuse" to return in the future!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Virginia State Capitol | Leave a comment

May 8 – Visiting with Chip and Debby

This afternoon we viisted with with my cousin Chip … who recently retired after 35 years with FreddiMac … and his wife, Debby,

at their beautiful, now full time, home on Lake Anna.

They've reently purchased a Winnebago motorhome and are planning on spending more time seeing the country.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May 4 – 7 – Working Our Way North

Not certain we've mentioned it before, but based on the prevalence of their use, we've come to the conclusion that across much of the country … and in Florida in particular … directional signals for changing lanes or making turns must have been disabled or bannd by local or state laws.  It is amazing that there are not many more accidents based on avoiding drivers slamolning down the Interstates, cutting across multiple lanes to make turns they'd not properly planned for or, when used, are good for a single blink before dying or being turned off!  Very frustrating and dangerous.

Thursday – Today we stayed put at our campground in Tallahassee as the southern tip of the weather which has casued flooding across Missouri and several eastern seaboard states drenched the Tallahassee area.

Friday – Today's trip took us back east along I-10 toward Jacksonville and then north along I-95 with winds 10-15 MPH and gusting at over 25 MPH … mostly catching us braodsides … made driving a real challenge and requireing a near "death grip" on the steering wheel for most of the trip.  What highlights there were …

A freight company owned my a Female Native American

An unfortunate speader corraled by no less than three police cruisers … his day was obviously ruined

Some roadside color

An RVer who either has a broken fuel gauge or has forgotten the adage to "drive on the top half of his tank"

A water tower in Live Oak, FL

Loved the sign just before crossing the river Stephen Foster made famous

A couple just starting out on their life's journey

And then …

where our first stop was at the Georgia Welcome Center where the kick off for the summer tourist season was bening promoted … free popcorn and "everything" peach.  They also had a World War II torpedo on display.

A little over an hour later we arrived at our campground for a one-night stay

and discovered it had a great lake

complete with its own … albeit now "retired" … boat

and was full of Mute Swans

  • Size & Shape – Mute Swans are very large waterfowl. They have heavy bodies, short legs, and a long, slender neck habitually held in a graceful S. The large, flat bill has a bulging knob at the base.

  • Color Pattern – Mute Swans are entirely white with a bill that is orange with a black base. Young swans (cygnets) may be dusky brown-gray all over, with a gray-black bill.

  • Behavior – Mute Swans spend most of their time floating on the water. They feed by grazing on underwater vegetation in shallow water, tipping up their bodies if necessary. These aggressive birds often hold their wings half-raised in a display as they swim toward an intruder.

Dating back to the 1500s the oxford English Dictionary verified male swans have been called “cobs”, meaning big or stout … while other sources suggest the knot on their head, the “crown”, which was more highly developed on males was also called a "cob".

Pen”, the name for female swans, has also been in existence since the 1500s.  Two possibilities;  they arch their wings when they swim, displaying their “pennes” … their feathers were used for writing implements.

as well as some Canadian geese

and even a family of wood ducks

This evening we took advantage of a discount coupon offered by the campground to have dinner at

To the right of the restaurant’s door is a 1917 Model-T delivery truck named “Gertie”.  Although 100 years old, the car runs, drives and stops, too.  Her wooden body and wheels are original!  In the 1920s, Gertie worked for Pike’s Quality Meats in Colorado and even made the climb up Pike’s Peak.

Entering, you dsicover a most unusual chandelier

made from inverted wine glasses

and a fishing boat above the bar.

We were greeted by the owner, a wounded veteran, and his step-daughter.

Oh, yes … the dinner was excellent!

Saturday – Another windy day along I-95 as we drove north from Richomnd Hill, GA

to Fayetteville, NC.

We saw a

2016 Porsche 911 GT3

and old cars,

boats,

more local water towers,

and roadside flowers,

a walker

a horse trailer with a horse's tail streaming through a crack in the rear doorand an American flag!

 

Sunday – Today's drive from Fayetteville to Ashland, VA (just north of Richmond) was equally uneventful but denefited from far less wind that we've had the past several days.

Again, more water towers,

and more roadside color.

Meanwile, Debbie did finally find more old and decaying barns and homes,

a borken down military Humvee,

Confederate

and American flags

beautiful landscapes

Fields from a bridge over the James River

and efficient Virginia state police!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May 3 – Florida State Capitol – Governor’s Mansion – The Grove Plantation House

Today is day 1,100 of our RVing life!

On our drive into the heart of Tallahassee, we were struck by the overwhelming predominance of huge live oaks draped with Spanish Moss

and the almost absence of palm trees, with those we did see having been imported for decorate landscaping purposes.

Also of interest was the very hilly topography … we were later told that the city has nine major hills, with the State Capitol and Governor's Mansion sited on two of them … and the boundaries of the city which appear to have taken gerrymandering to new hieghts!

Our first destination was the State Capitol … actually two capitols built 132 years apart.

During the first few years after Florida became a territory in 1822, legislators held alternating sessions in both St. Augustine, on teh Atlantic coast, and Pensacola, in the far western reaches of the panhandle.  As travel at that time was dangerous andcold take up to twenty days, it was an untennible aggrangement. 

Located almost halfway between was the then frontier town of Tallahassee ("Tallahassee" is a Muskogean Indian word often translated as "old fields" or "old town", and it likely stems from the Creek … later called Seminole … Indians who migrated from Georgia and Alabama to this region in the late 18th and early 19th centuries) which was chosen for as the new capital in 1824.

In 1845, the year that Florida became the 27th state, a new brick capitol building was completed.

BOth the front and rear porticos were dignified with six Doric columns, eachmeasuring 34 feet in height and 13 feet in circumfrence.

 

Over the next century and a quarter, the old capitol building was expanded and both a dome an later a copula were added.

All three branches of the state's government were housed under its roof until 1912 when teh Supreme Court moved out.

After the new "tower" building was completed in 1977, the state considered tearing down the old building.  However, a successful preservation movement spontaneously arose. The decision was made to restore it to its 1902 state, and this was completed in 1982.  Today the faithfully restored building serves as Florida's Historic Capitol Museum. 

Rotunda Stairs

Interior Dome

Supreme Court Chamber

House Chamber

Original Desk and Chair from 1845

Senate Chamber

Governor's Offices

Private office

Outer Secretarial office

Guest Bench

This grand old building also has dozens of extremely interesting exhibits …

Mutoscope – popular during the early twentieth century

Jai Alai Pelota

mid-19th century school room bench

Remnant of segregation

World War I Photographic Archives

Florida case:  Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), is a landmar case in the US Supreme Court. . In it, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states are required under the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution to provide counsel in criminal cases to represent defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys.

Dierctly behind is the Old State Capitol is the New State Capitol.

The Capitol is usually referred to as a twenty-two-story building with a height of 345 feet. However, including the 3 underground floors, it is a 25-story building (the 6th floor is only accessible through the freight elevator). 

State Seal on Plaza Floor

Plaza Level Murals

Staircase to Lower Level

Welcome to Florida Between Plaza and Second Floors

'

Information on Florida Between 4th and 5th Floors

House Chamber

Representative recognizing a championship football team from his distirct

Senate Chamber

Governor's and Lieutennant Governor's Outer Offices

Attorney General's Outer Office

Chapel

The 22nd floor's observation deck is 300 feet and offers 306o views of Tallahassee and the surrounding area.

Three aera churches, the one to the left, St. Johns, the oldest in Tallahassee

Florida State University in foreground and one of several large fires on teh horizon

Vietnam Memorial

Leaving the New State Capitol, we passed "Stormsong", a sculpture of playful dolphins

and crossed the street to Supreme Court Building

withits concrete barrier and blast-proof doors.

Rotunda

Area Outside Court Chambers

Lady Justice

Lady Justice is an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems.  There are four distinctive features of Lady Justice: a set of scales, a blindfold, a sword and the garment she is wearing.  The scales are typically suspended from her left hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case's support and opposition. The depiction dates back to ancient Egypt, where the God anubis was frequently depicted with a set of scales on which he weighed a deceased's heart against the Feather of Truth.  The blindfold represents impartiality, the ideal that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power or other status. The sword represented authority in ancient times, and conveys the idea that justice can be swift and final.  The Greco-Roman toga symbolizes the status of the philosophical attitude that embodies justice.

An Amazing Collelction of Documents

Minutes of Florida State Constitution Convention (1885)

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Hay's Memorial Address after the Assasination of President William McKinley

Cherokee Constitution in the Cherokee's  Language (circa 1875)

Court Chambers

Our next stop was the florida's Governor's Mansion

where we'd arranged for a private tour.

he original Governor's Mansion 

was built on the current site in 1907 and was occupied for nearly 50 years by a succession of eleven governors. In 1955, during the term of Governor LeRoy Collins, the first mansion was dismantled when it became structurally unsound. The current mansion was completed in 1956, and the First Family moved into their new home in the Spring of 1957.

While there were vrtually no access problems to teh original mansion, in today's 9-11 world, one can only get so close by car …

and then you need to be buzzed-in by a guard who wands you before actaully setting foot on the property.

The mansion's architectural style is Greek Revival and the central portico resembles that of another historic building near Nashville, Tennessee known as the Hermitage, home to Andrew Jackson, Florida's first military governor. The mansion is designed to accommodate both private living and official entertaining for the chief executive of Florida.

Foyer

18th Century Grandfather's Clock

Roy (r) and Walt (l) Disney meeting with Governor Haydon Burns and hus wife.  As a result of these meetings, the Disneys purchsed large tracts of land in central Florida … what we know today as the Disney World theme park complexes.

State Dining Room

USS Florida Silver Bowl

 

Public Living Room

First Floor Guest Bedroom Suite

Where many famous people have slept, including Presidents Carter, Bush 41 and 43 and Clinton

Library

(added during Governor' Jeb Bush's tenancy)

The room contains an incredible library of books and other artifacts coverin four centuries of Florida and US history

Black leather combat-style boots worn by New York City policeman Bob Crystal at Ground Zero/World Trade Center site during the search and recovery operations.  They were presetned to Governor Bush on the one-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

A colletion of artifacts from the St.Augustine region

1.  St. John's Pottery Bowl (circa 1400-1500) from the Timucuas who inhabited Florida prior to the first Eurporean arrived.

2.  Timucuan Shell Hammer (cica early 16th century) Prior to the arrival of Eurpoeans, the Timucua people had no metal dools.  Rather their implements were made from Shells, Stones and Bones.

3.  Wooden Chocalatero Frother (circa early 17th century) Chocolate, a staple of teh Timucua was rapidly adopted by the early Spanish explorers.

4.  12 lb Cannon Ball (circa 18th century) St. Augustine was bombarded by the BRitish between 1702 and 1740 with cannon ballslike this.

5.  Spanish Olive Jar (circa 17th century) Typical of the jars were teh principal shipping containers of the time.  They were used to ship everything from wine, to olice oil to to soap to wheat.

6.  Engilsh Spirit Bottles (circa early 18th century) Bottles like these held wine, brand and rum in both homes and taverns.

Silver coin aggregate, 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet Shipwreck.  55.9 lbs.  The clump consists of one bag or approximately 1,000 silver reales concentrated together due to corrosion of the silver caused by the sale water in which they sank

Gold Bar removed from a Spanish shipwreck.  Due to the dates on teh silver coins also found at the same site, this shipwreck is thought to be teh San Miguel Arcangel, a courier ship whhich carried dispatches between Spain and her colonies.  The San Miguel left Havana late in 1659 o a return voyage to Spain but was wrecked and sank off the coast of Florida

Hnad Grenade with a Wooden Plug (1715 Spanish Plate Fleet shipwreck) Essentially a small bomb, the early hand grenade appeared in Europe during teh 15th century.The cast iron ball was filled with black gun powder, through which a fuse was inserted.

Governor LeRoy Collins – who was the first chief executive to live in the new mansion

"Florida" Room

Former patio before being enclosed and becoming the Florida Room

The mansion grounds include a screened swimming pool, cabana, exercise room, and beautiful brick patio area. There is also a greenhouse and its adjacent rose garden which provide many of the beautiful flowers and plants found inside the residence.  Two sculptures grace the property.

"Florida's FInest"

Playful Manatees

Our final, and originally unplanned, stop was the grove Mansion

not only located next door to the Governor's Mansion but which shares a unique history with it.

The Grove, known officially as the Call/Collins House at The Grove, is an antebellum plantation house.  The exact date of its construction is not clear, but he built for his new wife, Mary,

Richard Keith Call circa 1815

as a replica of his friend and mentor, Andrew Jackson's, Nashville home, The Hermitage. 

Andrew Jackson

It was built by enslaved craftsmen of African descent, many of whom were likely hired from other slave owners and had perhaps also worked to build Call’s railroad. The level of their craftsmanship can be seen in the building itself, which still stands after over 175 years. While Call owned a number of slaves at this time and later became a cotton planter, there is little evidence to suggest The Grove itself ever served as a major agricultural plantation.

Stairway

Living Room

Osceola (1804 – January 30, 1838), born as Billy Powell, became an influential leader of the Seminole in Florida. Of mixed parentage, Creek, Scots-Irish, and English, he was raised as a Creek by his mother, as the tribe had a matrilineal kinship system.

When Mary died you in 1836, Call stopped much of the work on the house, as evidenced by the failure to complete the second story on the rear of the house over the glass enclsed sunroom.

By 1851, Call deeded the property to his daughter Ellen Call Long,

who owned it until 1903.

Richard Keith Call (circa 1860)

Long’s granddaughter Reinette Long Hunt

acquired the property and owned it until her death in 1940. Hunt opened The Grove Hotel during this era and developed onsite cottages that served as rental properties.

After a brief period under the ownership of John W. Ford and Josephine Agler, future Florida governor LeRoy Collins and his wife Mary Call Darby Collins, a great-granddaughter of Richard Keith Call, bought The Grove.

Mary Call Darby Collins was the last of Call’s descendants to own The Grove.

During LeRoy Collins’ tenure as governor, The Grove served as the unofficial executive residence

LeRoy Collin's Basement Office

while the current Florida Governor's Mansion was under construction from 1955 to 1957. The Collins family owned The Grove until 1985, when the state of Florida acquired the property for the purpose of creating a state historic house museum. The Collins family received life leases and lived there until their deaths.

Following the death of Mrs. Collins in 2009, the property formally reverted to the state.

The property includes a small active family cemetery that predates the current Grove residence and serves as the final resting place for several generations of the Call and Collins families.

Mary (r) and Richard (l) Call

surrounded by the graves of their eight children, only two of whom lived into adulthood

Note the above-ground rounded brick structures over several of the graves

LeRoy (l) and Mary (r) Collins

An interesting anecdote, as Governor, and married to the great grandaughter of the ardent slave-holder who built the Grove, LeRoy Collins became one of the country's

In 1954, LeRoy Collins becomes Florida's 33rd governor.  Although he is elected because of his popular record on public education, and creates Florida’s Community College System and three new state universities, he also becomes known as the first Southern governors to actively work toward desegregation in the South, and toward state reapportionment which would guarantee a "one man, one vote" principle.

Beginning in 1957, Governor Collins would become nationally known as a "spokesman of the New South” because of his public support of integration. He became chairman of the Southern Governors Conference in spite of the fact that some members disagreed with his ideas on education, reapportionment, and integration – a true illustration of his statesmanship. In 1958,

Governor Collins was named chairman of the National Governors’ Conference. He is the first governor to serve simultaneously as chairman of the National and Southern Governors' Conferences.  In 1960 he is elected as permanent chairman to the Democratic National Convention and presides over John F. Kennedy's nomination for the Office of President.

After retiring as Governor, he remained an outspoken advocate of civil rights. He is invited by President Lyndon Johnson to be present at the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Note one of the pens with which Presidnet Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964

and is later asked by the President to offer his leadership in securing the civil rights march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama.

In a period when southern governors campaigned and worked actively to preserve white supremacy and racial segregation in education, and public accommodations, LeRoy Collins openly supported the role of law and the Movement in the struggle for racial equality. His courage and leadership, culminating with his role in Selma (which is recalled by Professor Bass in “Taming the Storm”) was truly unique, and his role in Movement history distinguishes the state of Florida, which honors his legacy.

Thoughtout the the city, we noticed clusters of blue pinwheels.  

They are a visible token of Tallahassee's "Pinwheels for the Prevention of Child Abuse" program

 

Posted in Florida State Capitol | Leave a comment

May 1-2 – Our “Really” Last Day in Sarasota and Trip to Tallahassee

I was up and on the road to Sunset Jeep's Service Department

bright and early on Monday morning … to make certain I could get them to address the problem with not being able to disengage our Jeep's transmisson for towing, given I did not have an appointment.  As with my past experiences with them, they were extremely helpful … and discovered that when RV World Nokomis was installing an auxilliary breaking system in our Jeep, they spliced into a wire which controlled the disengaging mechanism, rendering it unusable.  $300 later, I was on my way to Nokomis where they agreed the mistake was thiers and agreed to cover my expense.  Clearly, both dealerships again proved worthy of my business!

After driving back to our campground we decided to run some checks on all of the wiring connections between our motorhome and our Jeep.  Everything (Brake, Brake Lights, Directional Signals, etc;) worked fine … although a dash light in our motorhome indicating the auxillary braking system in the Jeep was funcitoning did not come on.  As it was too late to do anything about the problem, we opted to spend yet another "tough" day in sunny and warm Sarasota!

This morning, we were again up and on the road … this time to RV World Nokomis

to have the issue of the problem light addressed.  Seems with the splicing now disconnected, the dash light would not function.  Seems I need a part installed.  However, as the light is really little more than a "security blanket" than a functioning element, we opted to leave and plan on having the installation done at a later date. 

The first hour of our journey was, fortunately, uneventful, passing the lone and large "Stars and bars" flag

at the intersection of I-75 and I-4 just east of Tampa.  Always curious about the reasons behind its flying day and night.

Over the next hour, the crystal clear blue skies began to turn darker and darker shades of gray

before disolving into a torrential downpour with visibility less than a tenth of a mile,

so severe we decided to pull off into a rest area … as did several other RVers.

While partially blue skies returned, we passed through two subsequent downpours.

Aside from more State Police than we've seen on any signle days in years, including one which pulled out and followed us for 15-20 minutes at one point, the "highlights" included the first roadside flowers we've seen this year,

several motorhomes with beautiful murals painted on their rear panels,

several extremely wide loads which came close to nicking our side mirror when passing us,

water towers,

and three unfortunate RVers who had broken down.

After arriving at our destination campgorund in Tallahassee and hooking up to the shore power, cable and water, I was faced with cleaning one of the worst collection of bug caracses ever off our windshield and the front of our coach … so bad even Debbie took pity on me and joined in the cleaning effots

Tomorrow we plan to take in Florida's stae capitol.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 30, 2017 – Sarasota National Veterans Cemetery

Given we were "marooned" today, Debbie suggested we go see the Sarasota National Cemetery.  With my expectations set by several other veterans' cemeteries I visited or for services for friends and family members who have been interred … I was extremely impressed with Sarasota's.

It is a 295-acre site with space for 18,200 casket burials,

7,000 columbariums,

and 500 in-ground cremations, is administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and is the sixth in Florida an expected to hold more than ten burials per day for the next ten years as World War II and Korean veterans die.

The focal point of the grounds is Patriot Plaza.

In addition to two sophisticated glass and steel space frame canopies over the main seating area and stage, this project also features precast concrete seating for 2,800 people, an 80’ flagpole as the center point of the space, and extensive landscaping and hardscaping.   The Patterson Foundation is capping off the project with artwork throughout, including cast bronze Eagles standing guard at the entry,

The American Bald Eagles welcome visitors in their familiar roles as teh symbols of our democracy.

The nest occupied by an adult American Bald Eagleand an eaglet is a vision of home, where acts of everyday life occur.  Here, the eaglet prepares to leave the safe and nurturing nest, to take flight in the world and face challenges and dangers.

The empty branches symbolize a nest, cradle or even a boat.  The quote;

"… Let us strive on …to care for himwho shall have borne the battle for his widow and his orphan …"

is from Abraham Lincoln's 2ed Inaugural Address in which he calls on Congress to attend to the needs of Veterans and their Families.

The well-known symbols are reimagained as protective guradians and vigilant sentinels to the visitor to Patriot Plaza and the graves beyond.

The small markers will soon be repalced with new grave stones

a mural at the stage, and other pieces visible from every angle of approach and the entire seating area.

A map of the world is set in the center of the amphitheater and emphasizes the global readh of the United States Armed Forces. 

Surrounding the Amphitheater are three groupings.

NIGHT AND DAY

An mosaic imagry landscape of earth, sea and sky, with the sky changing from night to day and back to night again.  The landscape evokes the global presence of teh United States military and the lives of those who serve … sometimes separated from their families by great distances.  The winds blow laurel leaves, an ancient symbol of honor and distinction. 

The horizon line of th elandscape is composed of service ribbons awarded by the five branches of the military. 

TESTIMONIES

Sixteen Georgia white marble tabletsrelate stories in words and images about serving in the military and being a military family.  There are stories on each tablet; a photograpgh etched on a laminated glass "window"; and etched drawing by the artist based on a photograph, and words of those who served, supported and sacrificed in the military life.

Along the Testimonies walkway are etched stones highlighting the attributes to which all veterans aspire.

WITNESS TO MISSIONS

A collection of forty-nine photographs tell multiple stories of the military experience of Americans since the Civil War. 

The images are moments of military life at war and in peace times. 

Union soldiers keep under cover along the Rappanhannock River before the second Battle of Fredericksburg as part of the Chancellorsville Campaign

Stg. Larry Green gets a big hug from his son upon his return form a one-year deployment to Afghanastan in support of Operation Eduring Freedom

Soldiers carrying a wounded comrade in Vietnam

Army helicopters providing cover fire for U.S. troops engaging the Viet Cong along the Cambodian border

US troops rest in dense jungle around the embattled town of Binh Gia

An exhausted Marine near the DMZ in VIetnam

Tuskeegee Airmen trainees of the U.S. Army Air Force

At the end of World War I …"the war to end all wars" … elated soldiers are mustered out from Fort Dix, New Jersey

A Burgess-Wright Model F hydro-plane crossees the bow of the USS Washington (ACR-11)

General Herman Haupt, aboard a pair of small pontoons to facilitate scouting operations, was responsible for constructing and operating Union railroads and bridges during the Civil War

Two U.S. Navy sailors from the escort carrier USS Liscome Bay (CVE) are buried at sea from the deck of a U.S. Coast Guard assault transport.  The Liscome Bay was bound for the Gilbert Islands when it was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine, resulting in trememdous casualties.

A final farewell to comrades is steeped in tradition and ceremony.  Marines drape a flag over the casket of 2nd Lieutenant James Cathey, killed in Iraq.

Sailors serving as flag bearers bow their heads during a burial-at-sea aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)

U.S. Army Sargeant Louis Van Iersel was one of the most highly decorated soldiers of World War I and is believed  to be the first non-citizen to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.  A Dutch immigrant, Van Iersel enlisted on the day American entered the war and became a U.S. citizen in 1919.  He also served in the 3rd Marine Division during World War II.

I ACTUALLY WATCHED THIS LIVE

A U.S. Air Force officer returns to Clark AIr Force Base after spending more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam

Navy Seaman 1st Class Duane Reyelts, a survivor of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, remembers frllow service men during the 60th Pearl Harbor Day ceremony aboard the USS De Wert (FFG-45) at the US Naval Station, Mayport, FL

Sailors at the Naval Station on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor watch the USS Shaw (DD-373) explode during the Japanese attack.

Troops from the U.S. Army's Company E, 16th Infantry Division from the USS Samuel Chase (APA-26) wade ashore from a Coast Guard manned landing craft on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 (D-Day).

Troops and spectators aboard the USS Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay witness the formal Japanese surrender at the end of World War II.

A World War I patient wearing temporary pylons which precede permanent artifical limbs, at Walter Reed Medical Hospital in Washington, DC

Marine Cpl. Justin Gaertner was on his thrid deployment when he lost both of his legs above the knee, and suffered severe damage to his left arm in an improvised explosive device blast in Marjah, Afghanastan on November 26, 2010.

During World War I, Mrs. Hammond, a nurse with the American Red Cross, provides water to wounded soldiers at a railroad station in Montmirail, France.

U.S. soldiers tend wounded comrades while awaiting evacuation just south of the Demilitarized Zone during the Vietnam War.

South Korean peasants, who acted as ammunition carriers, help as litter-bearers for wounded U.S. soldiers during the Korean War.

Chow is served to U.S. Infantrymen of the 78th Infantry Division in the Hutgen on their way to La Roche, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.

 

On a small, nearby grass knoll, a lone flag stands a silent vigil recognizing those unaccounted Prisoners of War and veterans who remain Missing in Action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Sarasota National Veterans Cemetery | Leave a comment

April 25-30 – Our Final Days in Sarasota

Several days ago, it began to dawn on us that our escape to Sarasota was quickly drawing to a close.  Debbie and Sharon joined Tom and I for lunch at the Mission Valley Golf Club before we headed out for a round .. while th egirls hung out during teh afternoon.  That evening, we had dinner at …. 

Wednesday evening we went to teh Nokomis Drum Circle.

While still great for people-watching, it is much more subdued that those on Siesta Key Beach, in part as the number of tourists and snowbirds in the area is shrinking daily.

However, we never tire of the sunsets over teh Gulf of Mexico!

As we were leaving be beach, we turned around an were further rewarded …

While we have a great site at Sun N Fun, one with a large live oak providing us with shade during the day, the tree also has its downside as it sheds leaves and other debris, some of which lands on the roof of our motor home.  So, a prrofessional cleaning was called for.  Drew (on the roof) with his sone

and grandson (whom we tipped)

did a fantastic job!

Golf on Friday with Jeff Fitts while Debbie and Sandy (my cousin) went shopping.

Dinner with Debbie's brother ans sister-iin-law, Kate on Saturday evening.

This morning we were ready to leave and went to hook up our new Jeep … only to discover to our dismay that we could not disengage the transmission so it could be towed.  A quick trip to the dealer where we purchased the car ended is more disappointment as they're closed on Sundays!

So … today we get to sepnd another unplanned day in the Sunshine State!  Oh well, tough life!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 15 – 23 – Sarasota Water Ski Show

Over this past week, our campground has seen an ever increasing number of open sites as more and more snowbirds begin their homeward treks.  And, best friends Ken & Cheryl left last Thursday.  Meanwhile, I've continued to punish several local golf courses … but incredibly shot an 81 on Saturday, my lowest score since I was in my early 30s.

Today, together with Debbie's older brother Dick and his wife Kate we took in the Sarasota Water Ski Team's

Sunday afternoon show … made all the more fun as it was FREE!

While both Debbie and I waterskiied in our [much] younger days, and among our peers we could hold our own on one and two skis, these folks … all volunteers … are simply amazing!

However, just as the show was about to begin, a Manatee was spotted on the course delaying the start for about 10 minutes.  Then, after the Manatee had cleared the area, more wildlife swimming into the course caused an additional delay.

Finally the first group of male skiiers came by,

followed by their female teammates,

skiiers without skiis (something I never could master)

skiiers forming pyramids,

acrobatic and other lifts,

youngsters new to the show,

and then came the jumps.

Regular jumps

Jumps with Forward flips

 

Jumps with Backward (Gainer) flips

Jumps with two skiiers leaping over a third skiier

Between events, pelicans and herons flew by in seemingly effortless manners.

From there we stopped by the Sarasota Sailing Association where we spotted several ospreys.

Then we hit the

along Sarasota Bay

for a drink and early dinner.

A week from today, we'll also be leaving Sarasota on a liesurely ten-day trip home …stopping along the way to visit three more state capitols and another presidential museum.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 9 – 14 – Visiting Doug and Ben (Vero Beach) – Scott and Family (Ft Myers Beach)

This past week provided us a chance to see both of our sons who were here in Florida.

Our grandson, Ben's, high school basebal team traveled to Dodgertown (the former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger's spring training facility) 

to play four games.  Our son, Doug,

flew in the following day where we shared a room at a local hotel.

Just outside the stadium, we noticed what looked like a woodpecker, which we've thus far been unable to identify, which had made its home in the trunk of a palm tree.

While Ben's time before and after his games and practices were limited, we did get to see him play and spend a few minutes after each game with him.

On Monday afternoon, while Ben was at practive, we took a drive along the shore Rroute (A1A) north to beautiful Sebastian Cove.

Very few of the people fishing off the pier seemed to catch anything …

Although there were a few exceptions

Unfortunately, toward the end of his third game,

he reached for an errant throw and caught his left foot on the third base bag.

A trip to the local hospital for Xrays

suggested a bad sprain and not a break.

In exchanging texts with him since he got back to Pennsylvania he seems to think that he may be able to get back on the field sometime later this week.

On Firday, we drove to Ft. Myers where Scott and his family

Kira, Scott, Krista and Sean

were spending an abreviated school vacation week at the Pink Shell Beach Resort on Estero Island in Ft. Myers Beach.

About seven miles before arriving, we found ourselves stopped by police for no apparent reason.

Twenty minutes later, a #convoy" of police motorcycles and official-looking SUVs came charging down from the other direction.

We're still not certain who the VIP was whose caravan held up so much traffic.

After arriving at the Pink Shell Beach Resort we had drinks around the pool and enjoyed the views

View from the screened lanai

before grabbing a trolly for a short trip to the center of the restaurant area where we ate at the Beached Whale.

Debbie and I loved the many brightly painted buildings and murals.

Rather than taking the trolly back to the hotel, we opted for a beautiful, mile-plus walk back along the beach.

It was a great week!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment