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I offered a land way and a sea way to beat the high cost of gasoline, but Sara was reluctant.

I the end, I agreed to use the car if Sara would help out.

Not much time to sightsee the first two days as we head for Virginia for a wedding.

Once again, Sara has tricked me into going to Georgia -- known to many ill-informed people as the peach state.

But, I got back by taking Sara to South Carolina, where, as anyone who is not in denial knows, more peaches are grown in Spartanburg County than the whole state of Georgia.

Our next stop was North Caroli...   which is the state of truncation.

Virginia really did welcome us. Gasoline prices were about 15 cents per gallon lower than the other states we had visited.

We have arrived in Virginia Beach, VA in order to see for ourselves our last nephew getting married. While all of us took tons of amateur photos, there was a professional photographer who will make all the good pictures available on-line soon. Meanwhile here is a look at the new couple, and I will publish a link to the official photographs here as soon as it is available.

Here is the link for wedding pictures; click here

We hung around Virginia Beach a few days with family.Virginia Beach works hard to be a family friendly tourist destination:

That is my brother standing under the sign and behaving appropriately.   These signs were all over town.

Sunday, we attended this old Methodist church literally across the street from the beach.

There was a kite flying competition on the beach:

They had colorful kites and really big kites

We left Virginia Beach and used the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel to head for the North Virginia and Maryland shores

I wanted to get a picture inside the tunnel, but I was driving and Sara was busy holding her breath. We tried not to think about the tons of water being held up by a structure built by the lowest bidder.

One of the islands for the bridge-tunnel structure had an official weigh station. They had promised me that was low calorie wedding cake.

We saw most of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge from the car due to rain. We saw many wild horses, but everything else had sense enough to come in out of the rain.

Maryland is called the free state. Speech and assembly are relatively free. Gasoline and the right to cross bridges is definitely not.

This is the Assateague Island National Seashore. They say that, due to erosion and sand deposit, it moves wetward up to two feet per year. Through the efforts of GPS and Sara navigation, we managed to find it anyway.

This seashore is not like a Florida beach. You need at least a six piece bathing suit.

Plenty of wildlife here -- like deer and more wild horses.

People in Maryland like to joke about the poorly developed and dilapidated rural South.  This is an intersection on the island.

To get from Maryland to New Jersey, we had to pay another toll, but this one was worth it:

The Lewes - Cape May Ferry is like a 1-1/2 hour cruise, complete with dining room and sun decks.

Here is our car getting the best mileage of the whole trip.

I have spent a lot of time working around Newark. They kept telling me that there were parts of New Jersey that were beautiful -- especially in the spring. I finally found out it was true.

At the Cape May lighthouse, Sara took a picture of me...

...and I took a picture or her.


Atlantic City was great, with miles of perfect beach.  The Boardwalk still has some of the funky little shops, but most of it has been taken over by the casinos.

In Philadelphia, the first order of business was to see the liberty bell.

I know you can't see the crack, but one of the things Sara does best is to cover up the flaws in the things she loves.

We also had a Philly cheesesteak sandwich served by a guy who talked like Rocky Balboa, and heard some unusual musicians in Independence Hall.

but not as unusual as the many street musicians. I thought they were playing everthing but the kitchen sink -- and then:

We really enjoyed driving through the Pennsylvania Dutch country. We saw beautiful scenery and ate well.

I drove a little too slow in the left lane and was passed on the right by a local driver.

We passed a Wal-Mart parking lot where they were having a sale on buggy whips.

Next stop, Hershey, PA where the city really appreciates the Hershey candy factory.

We watched them make candy

from the raw materials,

through the process,

to the finished product.

I had promised Sara that if she did some of the driving, I would show her a thousand kisses.

Only one picture for today, because we drove from Hershey, PA to Milford, Ct all the way in the rain. New York offered us an attraction -- a ride over the George Washington Bridge for only $8.00. I thought it was an awfully short ride for that much money, but they thoughtfully added a traffic jam so it turned out to last about 45 minutes.

We stopped at the Connecticut Welcome Station/Service Plaza for food and to get a Welcome to Connecticut picture. Apparently this is how they say welcome.

Although the day and night had been dreary, cold and wet, we awoke to clear skies and began to feel a lot better about Connecticut. Spring has come to New England.

In Groton, CT, we went to the Submarine Service Museum. Any engineer would feel like a kid in a candy store.  Besides the equipment exhibits, we toured the Nautilus -- the first nuclear sub -- and we saw big, small, and really small submarines.

Before we left Connecticut, we spent some time in the old fishing village of Mystic. It was great.

They have their old wooden boats,

their old gardens,

and their old marketing maxim that if you provide about a hundred shops, EVERYbody will buy SOMEthing -- we bought fudge.

On to Rhode Island

In other states, it was always a problem to get one of us in the picture with the great big welcome sign. I guess RI keeps their signs small so they will all fit in the state.

The advantage of a small state is that it is easy to keep clean.

Also, RI tries to avoid having anybody make a mess to start with.

This is a typical RI home. Again, I guess they are this small so they can all fit in the state. Actually, most of the rural New England homes looked just like this -- only larger.

When we got to Newport, the homes were somewhat larger.

We have been following Spring north, but I am afraid we have overrun it.

Spring has not come to Cape Cod.

This is such a beautiful and relaxing place...

that people pay fortunes to live in summer houses like this typical Cape Cod cottage.

We went up the coast to Plymouth specifically to see Plymouth Rock. The rock has been available for public viewing for 328 years -- except for the ten weeks to rebuild the covering portico.

We managed to visit during that period.

We did get to see a replica of the Mayflower built to the original specifications.

It is amazing that the Pilgims survived a sea crossing in this tiny craft.

We've finally arrived in Boston

Boston is COLD.

The city is full of historic buildings. See how many you can identify.

Of course, there are three Boston landmarks that everybody knows:

the Old North Church,

Fenway Park (that's a statue of Ted Williams),

and, of course, Cheers.

Every old building in Boston has a story.

Even our hotel was once the brick exterior that contained a collapsible tank for holding natural gas.

All these old buildings have lasted for hundreds of years and still hold up well.

This 21st century skyscraper has had EVERY window replaced at least once.  Buildings are like people. They just don't make them like they used to.

Speaking of old things, would you believe this the SECOND oldest cemetery in Boston.

This reformed pirate asked to buried ten feet deep and in a stone casket so that former victims would not desecrate his bones. The grave has not been disturbed, but it looks as if some unforgiving colonists used his headstone for musket practice.

One of the neatest old things in Boston -- besides Sara and myself -- is the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship still afloat.

There is an extensive museum here that recounts Old Ironsides' remarkable war record. It was never defeated (33-0).

The people of Boston are very broad-minded, but they live narrowly. Street frontage is limited and expensive. This three story residence is eight feet wide in the front and six and one half feet wide at the rear. The only door faces the building to the left.

Back to the Old North Church.  In the picture below are the pipes of a famous organ, the oldest operating public clock in the country, and a set of four angels with, you guessed it, a story.

The angels were crafted in France for a church in Canada. A pirate who captured the ship carrying the angels donated them to the church. The current congregation recently contacted the Canadian church to negotiate some sort of settlement. The Canadian church said, in effect, "Never mind". Apparently, Canada is still more English than French.

Paul Revere is revered in Boston.

This statue represents the US revolutionaries' heroic view of Paul Revere. (That's the Old North Church in the background.)

The same statue represents the Tories' view of Mr. Revere.

Irish immigrants played a major role in Boston's history, and they are still a big part of the city's culture. I was obliged to visit Ned Divine's Irish Pub and have Shepard's Pie and Guiness Stout. The place is supposed to be entirely authentic, but no employee could tell me what the (Gaelic?) inscription on the wall meant.

Please let me know if you have a translation.

We get a brief taste of New Hampshire on the way to Maine. We will get to visit longer on the way home.

This symbol on top of the New Hampshire Welcome Center is explained in a brochure inside -- "Visitors need to understand that although we have a very short coastline, New Hampshire has a vital and important maritime industry."

If there is an official regional tree for New England, it ought to be this one. It comes in pink or white and seems to be bursting out everywhere. We were told it is crabapple.

What a perfect day. We have reached our northernmost destination state, the weather has turned warm and beautiful, and we just learned that the Rays are on top of the AL-East. The only thing that would have been better is if they could have made it before we left the smug fans in Boston.

We loved driving up the coast of Maine. Spectacular shorelines, great lobster rolls, and lots of lighthouses. We finally started skipping some lighthouses and went to the lighthouse museum and learned a lot. I'll let you try to identify the following devices:

This is out of sequence, but I just realized we left out any pictures from a very enjoyable visit to Salem, Massachusetts. We saw some interesting things on the way, including

a working windmill

and yet another quaint New England lighthouse.

In Salem we visited the restored House of the Seven Gables, about which Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, and where he lived for some time and wrote several other of his works.

I counted eight and asked for my money back, but they pointed out that one was actually a dormer.

The house is set in an authentic 18th century village where everybody tries to stay in character.

The buildings are original, including N. Hawthorne's birthplace, which was cut in half and moved from about a half mile away.

Next door to the Hawthorne village was this really neat 170 ft (approx.), three-mast, square rigged sailing vessel called Friendship of Salem. It appeared seaworthy and ready to sail, but there was  no one around or any indication of what or whose it was.

Before we left Salem, we visited the site of the witch trials -- Sara was very quiet.  I took a lot of pictures at the Witch Museum, but they all came out blank.

This B&B near Acadia National Park will be our base of operations for 2-3 days. We got here with enough daylight left to just relax and enjoy the view.

Acadia National Park covers a huge area with beautiful scenery.

From mountain heights

to rugged seashores.

I am vainly looking for any wildlife willing to climb into the mountains of Acadia.

This is all we found.

The highest point on the North Atlantic coast is Cadillac Mountain. The name is French which loosely translates as Chevrolet Mountain With Additional Trim.

This is the view  from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. If you stand here at dawn (and you are the tallest person there), you can be the first person in the continental US to see the sun rise. There were two days I had good intentions but slept in.

Acadia National Park includes Sand Beach -- the only sand beach on the North Atlantic coast.

There were actually hardy young ladies on the beach in bikinis.

But most wore the official Down East beachwear.

Finally found some non-avian wildlife, but still no mammals.

This was the view when we had lunch in Bal Harbor.  We were staying just across the water in Southwest Harbor where the yachts are smaller, prices are lower, and there are few if any Kennedys about.

Not all of the area is so upscale. Within 10 mi. of Bar Harbor, we passed this department store.

Here is a sign that Spring has come to Maine, and a reminder that Winter is never far away.

As we drove along we stopped to see many beautiful old church buildings. At this one, the maintenance people invited us in.

They told about the history of this 19th century chapel, showed us around, and even gave us a commemorative trivet.

Back in New Hampshire with their friendly welcome stations.

Lots of picturesque places for a snack break.

It is getting steeper and cooler as we enter the White Mountains.

Of course, THE White Mountain is Mount Washington. It is the highest, and it has beat out Cross City, Florida as officially having the country's worst weather. They once recorded a sustained wind speed of 231 mph.

The toll road up Mt Washington is twenty dollars, and was only open 2/3 of the way up due to snow. There's not much satisfaction in going partway up a mountain, so here is a picture of Mt Washington from just outside the toll booth.

Everyone told us to be sure and drive the Kancamagus Highway. I don't have to write a caption because it's all on the sign.

They were right -- miles and miles of beautiful scenery. Plenty of spots like this for snack stops.

An easy view of the White Mountains from our hotel window.

From White Mountains to Green Mountains

We can see why Vermont is called the Green Mountain State.

This sign was in a New Hampshire Welcome Center. I guess they want to distance themselves from the attitude attributed to other New Englanders. When Sara asked about maple syrup, the attendant even told us about a syrup producer that welcomed visitors. He said it was "a little out of the way."

On the way we got to see some great scenery.

I got to lead Sara into the wilderness again

and we found another mystery for you to solve. Why does this 2" pipe come out of the ground and disappear about 35 feet up the tree?

Still on the way (we hope) to find some maple syrup, we go over this covered bridge and past the small hydroelectric plant on the left. We are encouraged that both are older than we are and still performing.

Always turning uphill, we get on four or five progressively smaller dirt roads until we find...

Sugarbush Farms

and their steam house.

This is where they boil water out of about 40 gallons of sap to make each gallon of syrup.

They also had a rather pointed display regarding well-known brands of maple-flavored syrup.

Among the over 6,000 maple trees was this small chapel

with this sign.

Speaking of chapels, we passed about 50 almost identical to this in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

We spent the night in Rutland, VT, where Norman Rockwell lived for a portion of his career.

We really enjoyed the Norman Rockwell Museum.

I was taking this picture of a Rockwell poster when an attendant suggested that if I wanted to take home some of his work, I should buy a print.

There were small museums everywhere, so here's another test. Can you say what each of these devices is for?

Driving through Vermont, even on main roads, you could see all of these signs in a short distance.

Another state line -- another ferry.

This small, tug driven ferry took us across Lake Champlain to New York.

We really enjoyed Northeast New York for its crisp, clean air, its gently rolling hills,

and magnificent Lake George.

As we came down out of the hills, the road got closer and closer to Lake George.

This area is full of colonial forts and historic battlefields.

At Fort William Henry, actors spent a lot of time explaining its history and giving live fire demonstrations of period muskets, grenades, and cannon.

The muskets and cannon were original 18th century pieces. The grenades, not so much.

We continued westward into the Adirondacks...

and enjoyed the pleasant, relaxing roads

and the reminders of the magnificence of God's creation.

We can find at least one big chair on every road trip.

There are hundreds of lakes in this area, so I guess they ran out of names.

This went on through Eighth Lake.

This is the upper Hudson River, where it is still a river and only flows one way.

We finally made it to Lake Ontario. Ontario is an Indian name which I think means "It's awfully cold here for May". Sara is standing at the site of an historical pier.

Or actually a pier that's history. Apparently the sign was more substantial than the pier.

Once we got away from the water, the weather was warm and pleasant. Standing in a place like this, I think I might like to live around here,

until I see how they have to find the fireplugs in the winter.

We thought we had seen the full extent of the magnificence of God's creation,

and then we arrived at Niagara Falls.

Mostly from the Canadian side,

and with the help of our feet, a tunnel, and a boat, we saw the falls

from above,

from the side,

from behind,

and below.

Sara survived.

Sara found us the perfect place to eat on a deck overlooking the falls.

This is the Rainbow Bridge between Canada and the USA. I walked back and forth just to say I did. With my honest face, and no lines, I cleared customs on both sides in a total of 60 seconds -- would have been less if the agents hadn't wanted to discuss weather in Florida. The bridge is said to represent the unity of vision of both countries on such issues as defense of democracy, human rights, and freedom for all.

Not sure what this bridge is called, but I suspect it could represent the unity of vision between the countries regarding fishing rights, fiscal management, and how many official languages one country should have.

New test question -- How is Canada like New Jersey?

While we waited for the nighttime illumination, we looked around the acres of parkland that adorn the Canadian side.

I saw a lot of beautiful things there, and SOME of them were flowers.

I think this guy followed us from Maine to Canada.

In the end, we didn't stay for the illumination because we didn't see how it could improve on God's handiwork.

I think we can already call Niagara Falls the highlight of this road trip.  I took about 300 more pictures of the falls that you are welcome to see if you have a week or so you want to while away.

We drove about 20 miles from Niagara Falls to Port Erie, Ontario on the Niagara River Parkway. This picture doesn't capture it, but Winston Churchill was very nearly correct when he called it "...the finest Sunday afternoon drive in the world."

Here is Sara at Lake Erie with Buffalo, NY on the other side.

Back in the USA, we drive through the Allegheny mountains in Pennsylvania.

All the scenery is hidden by trees! These are beautiful woods -- easy to get around in with little or no underbrush. This is the view on both sides of the road for miles and miles.

Sara engineered a detour through Punxsutawney, a little town in PA that recognizes an old superstition, but wouldn't think of exploiting it commercially.

We visited Johnstown, PA -- scene of the Johnstown Flood(s).


A geographer would say that the city was built on "the flood plain created by the confluence of the Little Conemaigh and Stoneycreek Rivers." A practical person would say it was built in a hole. We saw a documentary film, the theme of which was that the flood was caused by indifferent millionaires and that the survivors were indominatable visionaries to rebuild it on the same site. Thing is, the millionaires have left and the city has been destroyed and rebuilt three more times. The visionaries continue to repeat the same action with the same bad outcome. This is one  definition of insanity.

Also in Johnstown, the steepest vehicular inclined plane (35 deg, 25 min) in the world. I would rather be at the top if it rains.

Old Bedford Village outside Bedford, PA is a group of 28 restored 18th and 19th century structures -- about half in the original location, the rest brought in. Each was informative about some aspect of village life, and some included character interpreters.

Here is an early American scroll saw and exercise machine.

I am not sure when this log cabin was built, but it was in use as a schoolhouse as late as 1930. Test question -- can you read the chalkboards?

There are 18 covered bridges in Bedford County, most were built at least 100 years ago.

The only one we ran across was this one, built circa 2005.

Without leaving the Alleghenies, we were in four states today.

The views were awe inspiring in all four states. This one is in West Virginia.

Our lunch break was on the towpath of the C&O Railroad Canal.

We found beauty on the grass bank

and beauty on the mud bank.

We spent most of this day negotiating the Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah Mountains. The scenery was beautiful

I thought this was the highest point in Shenandoah National Park, but I think we saw one higher.

Two tests this time: What bird is this, and how many of her chicks can you find in the grass below.

We have left the Skyline Drive, and started down the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are awesome. The flowers in the foreground grow wild everywhere we look.

Here's a close-up of the bloom. Another test: Can you ID this?

I'll give you two answers on this one. Officially, it's Flame Azalea. Locally, it's called Golden Honeysuckle.

Fortunately, there was plenty of real honeysuckle around.

The greatest thing, of course was the view.

Along the Parkway, there were many preserved homes representing the various mountain lifestyles.

Sara found her mountain home.

I found one that we could afford.

We stopped at this pond to reflect awhile.

Found a nice spot for a snack break --

and once again found butterflies congregating on the bank. Next test question: Why do butterflies cluster around mud banks?  It may be the same reason that 20-somethings cluster around the singles bars.

Each hotel likes to add its personal touch.

Still on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we have gotten back to North Carolina, so this time we can include the whole name.

Our God is an awesome Creator.

Now the mountains are higher and the clouds are lower, so we have spent some time driving in almost zero visibility.

Here's Sara with her head in the clouds.

We found a tree that appeared to be sustained by rock

We figured this is what would happen as the tree grew and consumed the rock.

Sara said if I loved her, I would pick her some flowers. I decided to go with FTD.

Of course we had to go up  Grandfather Mountain.

Here's Sara on the trail up the mountain.

Here is the view from the summit of Grandfather Mountain. I won't show you the view of Sara discovering that we could have driven most of the way.

Sara insisted I include a picture of the sign she found AFTER we came down the mountain.

Grandfather Mountain has animal habitats where bear, cougar, bald eagles, and otter live with little or no awareness that they are fenced in or observed.

This is actually a black bear. 1% of them are cinnamon colored.

Yes, he DOES, and the Pope IS a Catholic.

Don't mess with the world's last remaining superpower.

South Carolina -- Smiling Places, Beautiful Face.

In SC, we got to visit my alma mater, Clemson University. We checked in on the traditional landmarks,

including the spot where I graduated with the class of 1965.

Then we went to see some of the new, soon to become traditional, landmarks. These are provided and maintained by my father's class of 1939. They include:

the original Seth Thomas bell from the Tilman Hall clock tower,

the Cadet Life Center with the guardhouse bell,

and the acres of the Heritage Garden.

Last test question: Why is this a Clemson landmark?

We also visited two of Clemson students' favorite off-campus landmarks and cheap date destinations:

Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel -- a 1600 foot dead end that was never finished after construction was interrupted by the Civil War. Sara opted to skip the (minimal) risk,

(this is the only air-shaft -- about 1550 feet in)

and Susquehana Falls -- almost hypnotic to watch.

Home again, home again. The only task left is to shovel out the car.

OK, here are the answers to the test questions:

What are the historic buildings pictured in Boston?                                                    I took a lot of pictures and didn't know which was which, so I started the test questions hoping you would know. The answer is I don't know.

Also in the I don't know category:                                                                                   The Gaelic inscription in the Boston pub                                                                         The 2" pipe climbing the tree in New Hampshire                                                             Why butterflies congregate on mud banks                                                                      Please let me know if you have the answers.

The lighthouse museum devices are:                                                                               An automatic bell-striker for a buoy                                                                              An eight-spot Fresnel lighthouse lens                                                                              A manual foghorn

The devices in the Vermont museum are:                                                                        A butter worker to remove water from butter                                                                    A cider press                                                                                                               A corn sheller                                                                                                               A wheat thresher

How is Canada like New Jersey?                                                                                    Like New Jersey, you can get into Canada for free, but it costs to get out.The pedestrian toll on the Rainbow Bridge is fifty cents from Canada to the USA -- free the other way. There is a toll bridge between New Jersey and Pennsylvania with the same arrangement at $1.25.

What does the chalkboard in the Bedford schoolroom say?                                               I realize the picture is hard to read, so here is a close-up

It is Old English with some translation rules to help.  "The jam is then put in the jar with nutmeg."

What is the bird pictured in Shenandoah National Park?                                                  It is a Wild Turkey, and there are at least six chicks hidden in the grass.

What is the wild flowering tree on the Blue Ridge Parkway?                                           The Park Ranger said it is Catawba Rhododendron, but that locals called it Laurel and that they called the Laurel Mountain Ivy. I call it nice to look at.

Why is this Esso station a Clemson landmark?                                                               The station, opened in the 1920's, always did as much business selling beer and snacks to Clemson students as it did selling gasoline. By the 60's, it was primarily a student hangout, and in 1985, it quit selling gasoline. It has become a well known sports bar featured recently on ESPN.