dreaming of summer: let’s go for a RIDE

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above: Hershey Park / Hershey, PA

2013 Summer Roadtrip Recap: Picturing Thrills and Chills

We didn’t end up blogging from the road as much as we thought we might. This was partly because we had to rely on inconsistent wi fi access at various stops along the way, and partly because we typically spent our evenings finding a local eatery, swimming in a hotel pool, and trying to get to sleep early so we could get an early start in the morning!  Days were spent driving (of course!), and cramming in as much scenic wonder, historic sites, and fun pit stops as we could manage. Months have gone by and summer seems both a distant memory and a longed-for mirage on the other side of this bitterly cold winter. We thought it’d be fun to do some more roadtrip recaps, to capture more of the highlights from our amazing 3,600-mile journey, and other images from Summer 2013. 

Before and during our big road trip the girls and I enjoyed rides that are faster, louder, steeper, twistier, and a heck of a lot more thrilling than driving around in the B Bus!

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Last summer we spent more time than we usually do at amusement parks. I took lots of pictures while they went on LOTS of rides! These are some of our favorite old-time carnival-inspired amusement park photos, from Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire, Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, and a few other tourist spots.IMG_0988

Our favorite ride at Canobie Lake Park: Da Vinci’s Dream. Always best at sunset.IMG_0987 IMG_0991

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Old-timey Over the Rainbow.IMG_4663

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PHB, GHB, & LHB all contributed to this post

misty morning in maggie valley

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Summer Roadtrip Recap: Maggie Valley, NC

We didn’t end up blogging from the road as much as we thought we might. This was partly because we had to rely on inconsistent wi fi access at various stops along the way, and partly because we typically spent our evenings finding a local eatery, swimming in a hotel pool, and trying to get to sleep early so we could get an early start in the morning!  Days were spent driving (of course!), and cramming in as much scenic wonder, historic sites, and fun pit stops as we could manage. Now that we’re home, we want to recap some of the highlights from our amazing 3,600-mile journey, in both words and images, and not necessarily in chronological order.

Maggie Valley is in the heart of the Smokies about an hour west of Asheville, and close to the Oconaluftee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It also boasts the added attraction of Tom’s Stand, a magical mountaintop home on Bear Stump Gap where we were fortunate enough to have a beautiful visit with dear friends I hadn’t seen in literally decades.

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The girls were meeting Jane for the first time, and we got to sleep in her incredible art-filled log house, surrounded by flowers, horses, cattle, hummingbirds, friendly Jay Jay the Jack Russell guard dog and — perhaps in the middle of the night — a roving bear or two.

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The road to the house was shrouded in mist when we headed up off the highway in Maggie Valley near the pancake house, past the family’s Cataloochee Ranch. mail.google

The curving dirt road simply disappeared into the clouds in front of our eyes.

The Odyssey doesn’t have 4WD and this driver was modestly freaked out by the fog-shrouded drop-off at the edge of the steep road. So the B Bus had to spend the night at the ranch.  And Jane picked us up in her intrepid Subaru for our overnight in the clouds. When we pulled up at the big hand-hewn log house with its elven guest cottage across the lawn, LHB’s reaction was priceless: “She lives in a fairy house!”

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And so it proved.  The cottage kept appearing and disappearing into and out of the mist like something from Brigadoon.

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In spite of the rain that obscured the views, our visit was a joyful highlight of the trip, an evening of wonderful conversation and catching up with Jane, who was one of Emmy’s dearest friends back in NYC days, and son Ames, last seen by me sometime before either of us learned to read. The girls marveled at Jane’s multi-textured rooms brimming with art, photographs, ceramics, and curious objects. LHB took many photographs, including some of these.

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When we awoke the next morning steady rain had set in, and we still couldn’t see over to the driveway.

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IMG_0626We said goodbye to the hummingbirds and headed down to see the ranch and meet some of the other residents, including cows, horses, turkeys, and the staff and dudes (guests) at the ranch.

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LHB hopped in and out of the car to take these great livestock and landscape photos.

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We left a quahog from the Cape for Jane’s garden pond — a little piece of New England for her beautiful haven in the Smokies.

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It was tempting to stay longer and we could have spent at least a week exploring these beautiful mountains, but we had to pull ourselves away from Cataloochee, bound for Chattanooga!

– PHB

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parked in the driveway

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3,601 miles since our Massachusetts to the Mississippi adventure began, the B Bus is home again tonight. We can’t believe we were only away two weeks — the weeds out in front of the house, along with leggy sunflowers and out-of-control hostas, are giving everything a very Jurassic Park look (this an especially apt comment by friend and neighbor ATC). But in spite of epic amounts of weeding (and laundry) to be done, we are happy to be home. It was an unforgettable road trip loaded with wonderful experiences, places, people, and creatures.  But we’re all a little travel-weary, and glad to have a week to settle in at home before school starts.

I learned a lot from being on the road with GHB and LHB. They are genuine road warriors now, accomplished at navigating everything from Google maps to strange towns, new situations and unfamiliar food choices. It was a great way to mark our milestone birthdays together. We hope to post some more of our stories and pictures in the coming days, but for now we’re enjoying the chance to stop and rest!

– PHB

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Cumberland, MD

valley forge

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A final national park stop before we arrived back in the northeast yesterday. At Valley Forge the girls were eager to find the monument to Baron Friedrich Von Steuben – they are fans of the baron from Ms. Power’s cool summer fun course on the American Revolution. We left a B bus quahog there in tribute to the troops and the winter of 1777.
Now we are homeward bound – will sleep in our own beds tonight!

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Photographing the baron overlooking the Grand Parade grounds.

sleep in a wigwam: signs along the road

Some of my favorite tourist signs and spots as seen through the windshield of the B bus this week and last.

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Cave City, KY

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Cherokee, NC

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Bryson City, NC

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Cave City, KY

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Lebanon, PA

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rest area on the Music Highway outside Nashville

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Muscle Shoals, AL

the caves of kentucky

posted by GHB

This is a photo PHB took of us 250 feet underground in amazing Mammoth Cave. We walked almost two miles underground but there are over 400 miles of this cave!

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I want to write more about Mammoth Caves because it was so cool. Right now we are posting from PHB’s phone while waiting for another cave tour of a different part.

massachusetts to the mississippi

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We made it to the Mississippi, and managed to find a place to get close without being up high on an interstate crossing. It was HOT out there on this deserted boat launch north of Memphis, and the river seemed immense and timeless.

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across alabama but still on the banks of the tennessee

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We are poised to see the mighty Mississippi tomorrow, which will be the westernmost point on our journey. Today we hit our southernmost points during our drive along “blue highway” 72 across most of northern Alabama. For 8 miles right outside Chattanooga we were actually in Georgia, and then we were also in the northeast corner of Mississippi for a while this afternoon before turning north to stop for the night at Pickwick Landing State Park right over the state line in Tennessee, and also along the Tennessee River.

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It rained for most of our driving time and at one point we veered off of 72; my course correction involved traveling south down AL 101 and over the WPA Wheeler Dam built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1936. It was deserted and eerie in the pouring rain – like stepping back in time.

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More history at Shiloh, TN where we arrived at the national park battlefield site close to closing time and saw the giant flag lowered.

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More eerily deserted landscape, this one memorializing one of the US Civil War’s most infamously bloody battles with soldiers from both sides buried in mass graves.

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Without intending to, we’ve developed a Civil War thread for this trip, in part perhaps because we hear this may be part of 5th grade social studies.

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Sort of an anticlimactic and quiet day of driving and roadside vistas after coming down out of the Smokies and the thrilling visit to the Tennessee Aquarium yesterday. We’re still on the river, here tonight at the Pickwick Landing Inn in Pickwick Dam.
More off-interstate driving tomorrow, and we will see the big big river!

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Highway 22 southeast of Shiloh.

– PHB

a day of wonderful animals

posted by LHB

Almost ready to turn around and go head back Northeast  on our road trip, the B Bus took a stop in Chatanooga, TN. While there we went to a very exciting place full of fuzzy, adorable creatures, scaly, slimy creatures, and much, much more. I bet you’re thinking we went to a zoo, huh? Well guess again my friend. This stop was at the Tennessee Aquarium. an aquarium with not only fish , rays, sharks, jellyfish and other typical aquarium residents, but this aquarium also housed butterflies, macaws, alligators, turtles,snakes, and other seemingly out of place animals.

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This picture is of a bridge that crossed a river called the tennessee river right out side the aquarium’s ocean journey building. The brige was the market street bridge and it was apparently important in the civil war as david’s crossing. It was also a pretty  important location for the Cherokee trade.

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Here is a picture of a funky colored ray from the aquarium’s ocean building. The aquarium has two buildings, one full of ocean animals (plus macaws and snakes) and one River building full of river animals, but it would take forever to list all the animals in this building!

My favorite animal in the Ocean building which was named Ocean Journey, would have had to be a tie between the blue macaws, the funky rays and the bonnethead shark.

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This is my favorite animal in the entire aquarium. He is the River Otter and his name is Dale. I loved this guy so much that I visited him twice and I took tons of pictures and video but this was the best still shot. He looks better in the videos! I loved this otter before I found out his name is Dale. I called him Riggy. I bought a stuffed otter in the gift shop and also named him Riggy.

I started the day yesterday with ranch animals such as horses, cows, and turkeys (!?!) up at Catalooche Ranch in North Carolina and ended the day with a bunch of awesome ocean and river animals in Chattanooga, Tennessee. What a day of animals!

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– LHB