FINALLY — THE ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION!

YAY!  Glen and Adina met us in Cleveland, TN, on Friday night, Sept. 10th, to begin a weekend full of anniversary celebration.  First, they surprised us with flowers and appetizers before the first of several anniversary meals! 

Saturday, September 11th, is now Patriots Day – a day of remembrance of the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.  Legion friends from home sent us a photo of an early morning solemn ceremony.  We observed a moment of silence, but this date was OURS first, so we went on to enjoy a day of 55th anniversary fun.

Adina and Glen treated us to a full day of river rafting on the Ocoee River in Tennessee.  I had hoped to get some good photos, but the river was busier than I expected.  Here are some shots I got in-between rapids:

And here are some shots by professional photographers set up strategically along the river:

We were pretty exhausted by the end of the day, but rallied for another great meal at a restaurant near our hotel.  We got up slowly the next day and took our time getting on the road to return to Adina and Glen’s house.  

Jay flew home on Tuesday, but I was able to change my flight in order to spend some additional mother-daughter time.  I’ll fly home on Saturday.  

Thank you, Adina and Glen.  And thank you to all our wonderful friends who let us drop in for a visit.  This has been a fantastic anniversary trip.  

Give us a couple of weeks and we’ll be blogging about our Model A Touring Club visit to the “Ole Southwest”.  See you down the road!

Returning to Tennessee for Our Anniversary

On September 9th, we left Jack and Carol in Athens, GA, to return to Tennessee. We decided it was too long of a drive to go all the way to Cleveland, TN, where we were going to meet Adina and Glen on Friday, so we spent an evening in Lookout Mountain, TN. We stayed at a charming B & B (with a REALLY yummy breakfast) called the Chanticleer Inn.

Lookout Mountain is a beautiful town somewhat near Chattanooga, but remote and obviously full of artistic people. We had dinner at the Cafe on the Corner, which displayed a lot of local art. Here’s a piece that caught our fancy. (Fortunately it wasn’t for sale!) This was an actual chef’s jacket which the artist soaked in some kind of hardening chemical. She shaped it the way she wanted, laid it out to dry, then somehow painted it to look like bronze patina.

Here are a couple shots of the local natural beauty.

Since we had a short drive before meeting Adina and Glen for dinner on September 10th, we checked out some of the sights in Chattanooga. We spent quite a bit of time walking in the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park:

Next, we discovered the National Cemetery at Chattanooga:

After lunch, we visited the Hunter Museum:

Before leaving Chatanooga, we purchased a special item for Jay:

It’s supposed to be a “guitar”, but it has only 4 strings, and the body is pottery. It’s intended to be amplified, but I’m not sure I’m keen on having application in my home! Jay can play it, but I think mostly it will hang on a wall! It’s very cute…

The next post will show our anniversary weekend with Adina and Glen.

Two Anniversaries!

We arrived at Jack and Carol’s new home in Athens, GA, on September 6th.  And Amy (the guitarist) came to visit from Tryon, NC, so we had a guitar fest on Monday!  Lots of fun and lots of music, but I totally forgot to take photos of the musicians…

Jack and Carol recently moved from Avondale, a pleasant subdivision of Atlanta, to Athens, GA. Athens reminds me somewhat of San Luis Obispo. The population is a couple times larger than SLO, but it’s a university town, and the flavor is very similar. After our day of guitars, our next activity was to visit the campus of the University of Georgia. The undergraduate enrollment is approximately 30,000.

While we were walking, we checked out some of the sights downtown.

Athens has a lot of good restaurants, and we checked out as many as we could. but one night was special, as it was Jack and Carol’s 48th wedding anniversary. Brought back good memories of when we were all much younger! Jay and I were at their wedding and Jay was even IN the wedding. (Jay and Jack have been buddies since their early Air Force days.)

Even after 48 years, they still celebrate, and that dessert was unbelievable!

When Jack and Carol bought their new home, it was missing a place for Jack’s workshop. (Remember he’s a luthier…) That problem was resolved while we were there. They had ordered a custom building which was erected in slightly over a day.

Jack still has to do the insolation, wallboarding and then bring in his benches and tools. Seems like he’ll have plenty of room for everything he needs.

The next post will talk about our visit to Lookout Mountain, TN, and the sights we saw on our way to meet Adina and Glen to begin our weekend of anniversary celebration. Stay tuned!

More Anniversary Fun

On September 3rd, we were up early to take the coast road (and two ferries!) down to Wilmington, NC.  If we were “normal” people, we would have gone inland and driven for 4 hours, but we are COAST people, so we took the scenic route down the Outer Banks and spent 11 hours getting to our hotel!  

Too tired to do much that night, but the next morning we checked out the North Carolina World War II battleship.

Before we left Wilmington, we took a quick drive around the historic downtown and found beautiful mansions and churches:

Next stop: Savannah, GA.  We had reservations at the Kehoe House in the heart of the historic downtown area.  Apparently Mr. Kehoe owned the ironworks in town, providing many of the decorative iron fences around town.  

We took a carriage ride around the historic center, then toured the Davenport House, right across the street from where we stayed.  This 1820 federal style house is interesting for at least a couple of reasons.  Mr. Davenport was a builder – and carpenter.  He built his home with a relatively plain exterior, but a lavish Greek Revival style interior, so he could impress potential customers with his talents.

The Davenport House had been scheduled for demolition in the 1950s to make another parking lot, but a group of seven ladies stopped the demolition.  It’s said that the women stood between the building and the wrecking ball – I don’t know how true that story is.  However, the women saved the building and became the founding members of the Savannah Historical Society, which went on to preserve many more old buildings in the city center.

Next blog will cover our visit with long-time friends, Jack and Carol.  See you there!

Anniversary Adventures Continue…

We left Williamsburg, VA a little bit wilted, but ready to arrive in Currituck County, in the extreme northeast corner of NC.    

The word “Currituck” means “Land of the Wild Goose.”  Currituck is currently known for the wild horses that roam the beach, but the area actually earned its name due to its early population of wild geese when the Algonquin Indians founded it.  To make things more confusing, we stayed in the town of Duck!  To our east was the Atlantic Ocean and to our west was the Currituck Sound.

While we were on these Outer Banks, we walked on a delightful boardwalk through a maritime forest, visited the wild horse museum, the Currituck Lighthouse, and the Kittyhawk Wright museum and memorial.  

We also took a wild horse tour, of course.  We had been looking forward to this expected photographic highlight, and yes, we found the horses.  Our guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the area and the horses, but we think he was not a photographer and didn’t understand a photographer’s needs.  We managed to get some reasonable photos anyway.

It was really warm and humid here, but our last day in Duck cooled down as we received the fringes of hurricane Ida.

More to follow soon. Having SO much fun!Wild

Fifty-Five and Beyond!

September 11th is our 55th wedding anniversary, and we started planning this trip three years ago.  Best laid plans of mice and men… We went through the planning stages four times for separate cruises, each of them cancelled by Covid.  We finally gave up on the cruise idea, and settled on a road trip!

We started by flying into Nashville, TN, to spend a little time at Adina and Glen’s house, and this is where we’ll return for more family time after the road trip.

We borrowed Adina’s car to see some of our East Coast friends.  We didn’t have time to stop in Asheville this time, but spent a couple of nights in Tryon, NC.  Had fun visiting Amy’s horse and mini-donkeys, plus Amy staged a performance of her trio – including a special arrangement of “our” song, Wind Beneath My Wings.

After that, we drove to Appomattox, VA, for a little sight-seeing.  

The next day, we stopped to tour Monticello on our way to friends in Arlington, VA.

We were really warm and we were very happy to reach John and Pam’s home in Arlington, VA. It was too warm to do much sight-seeing, so we hung out and caught up with our friends and filled them in on happenings in Cambria.  We also had a beautiful drive (in the air conditioned car!) through Arlington Cemetery.

Leaving John and Pam’s house, we visited Williamsburg on our way to the Sanderling Hotel in Duck, NC, for 4 nights of romantic R & R.

The next blog will start with our arrival in Duck, NC. Hoping for some cooler weather…

Final Thoughts on a Fantastic Trip

After a loooong flight back to California, we’re catching our breath at a friend’s home in Camarillo.  Looking back on our African experience, we realize we have memories we’ll carry with us forever.

You’ve read about our non-stop schedule, and you’ve seen many of the animals and birds we encountered.  But there were many social experiences also.

For one thing, we were constantly eating!  We always had a breakfast at the camp prior to our early morning game drive,  And a lunch usually at camp after the morning drive.  And a dinner there after the evening game drive.

But we never had a chance to get hungry.  All of our drivers routinely scheduled bush snacks, afternoon “tea”, sun-downer cocktail hours, etc.  Sometimes, we had more “formal” outdoor meals.  And when we had an evening activity away from camp, we had to have a special permit and armed rangers.

Here are some of the food-related activities:

But in addition to these “normal” food activities, John and London O’Regan were determined to help us celebrate our 55th wedding anniversary – over and over again!  The first surprise was at One Nature Camp in central Serengeti.  When we got home from a game drive, there was a table set up for a romantic dinner on our back veranda.  The camp manager really got into executing the O’Regans’ wishes and had two Masai light candles around our back area and start a full-on fire.  Herry was quite the director, as you can see from the photos he took:

Our last night in central Serengeti, the whole group was transported down the road a bit where we had a fireside chat and dinner.  

One portion of the celebration included John “marrying” us in the traditional Masai way of wrapping a red Shuka around the two of us.  However, this ceremony is not official until the groom pays 10 or 12 (or ???) cows for his bride.  So I guess that ceremony didn’t take for us!

Then, in Kenya, we returned “home” one night to find the table on our veranda decorated for another romantic dinner for two:

We have travelled with John and Diana for years, and now we have the pleasure of also travelling with their son, London.  What a wonderful family, and very special travel agents.  If you ever need help with your travel, don’t hesitate to contact San Simeon Travel, located in the heart of Cambria, California.  Drop me a note and I’ll sing their praises for you!

Final Thoughts on a Fantastic Trip

Out of Africa

Our final safari day started with a morning game drive.  I never got a good photo of the ostriches, but I thought you might be interested anyway.

The black one on the left is the male and the light one on the right is the female.  The male has a harem of females, and as I understand it, the primary female lays the first egg in the center of the nest and the remaining females lay their eggs around that center egg.  The last one to lay an egg shares incubation duties with the male, and their coloring helps protect the nest, which is on the ground.  The female sits on the eggs during the day, when her color is the best camouflage, and the male sits during the evening, when his color is the best camouflage.  So, it is not unusual to see a female ostrich with 20 – 24 baby chicks, but she didn’t lay all those eggs herself!

After lunch and a Masai lecture, we took our last bush flight.  Before the plane can take off (or land) here, a truck goes up and down the dirt runway chasing wild animals away.  There is a grim reminder of the danger – there is still a carcass of a plane which had landed when a wildebeest darted back into its path.  No people were killed, but it had to be horrifying.

Our bush flight took us to Nairobi where we went to dinner at The Carnivore, which offers all kinds of wild game dishes for those who are adventurous.  We sat in an outdoor area, where the monkeys were obviously used to darting down to steal food.

Finally, we were taken to the international airport for the first of two long flights home.  Here’s a shot of several bags belonging to our group after we had had them shrink-wrapped for extra security.

Next post will summarize the social highlights of the vacation.

Moving to the Masai Mara

Another bush flight brought us to our final segment of the safari vacation: Kenya.  The maps show an overview of Kenya as well as the location of our final camp, Bateleur Camp, in relation to the prior two camps in Tanzania.

The last map also shows how the Serengeti National Park extends into Kenya as the Masai Mara Game Reserve.  Same ecosystem, different country.

Our camp (as before) is rather luxurious:

The Mara River affects the landscape in this part of the country – heavily wooded areas line the river, while the Savanah looks very similar to what we saw in Tanzania.  And from the top of the escarpment above our camp you can look out over the Great Rift Valley.

The migration hasn’t reached here yet, but we visited one of the main crossing points on the Mara – with crocodiles in wait:

Highlights of other animals:

The Leading Edge of the Great Migration

One of the reasons for including Tanzania and Kenya in our safari vacation was to witness the Great Migration.  Normally, our timing should have had us viewing the animals at the peak of the migration, but Mother Nature fooled us!

The reason all these animals migrate all at the same time is because their food becomes more scarce as the rains stop and the vegetation dries out. This year, the rains lasted later than average, so the grasses remained green and the migration was delayed.

However, we did get to see the leading edge of the migration on an all-day drive into the southern sector of Tanzania.  The zebras and wildebeests were starting to gather in larger groups as they headed north.

Zebras are one of my favorite animals, but it was difficult to capture the long strings of animals with my cell phone.  You can see, though, that they didn’t hesitate to cross the road in-between our vehicles.  I guess not much deters them at this time.

The wildebeest were a little easier for me to capture.  It was really amazing to sit in our vehicle while the herds swarmed around us!

Aside from the migrating animals, here are some animal highlights from the central Serengeti.  

There were some social highlights too, but I’ll save those for a separate post at the end of the vacation.  Next post will introduce you to our Kenyan experience in the Masai Mara.