9/26/2014 – Quiet Time

September 27, 2014

 

I know, I know… no one can just “get lost” in a big city like Chattanooga… but, there was this “Detour” sign, see, and, well… oh, never mind.

At any rate, after passing through parts of Chattanooga even MAPS ignore, managed to regain US-64, segue onto I-26 for a short period (long enough to be impressed that this MUST be America’s fireworks “Heaven”… every few miles promising “Biggest”, “Best”… what ever happened to whiskey?), and finally back onto US-64.

 

Long, quiet, valleys of rolling, empty, green fields; occasional “fences” of trees; and forested, charcoal green mountains under blue skies filled with exotically-shaped white clouds… sparse traffic…how easy to drive… mindless: brain processing, yet, in a kind of “overdrive” where thoughts become kaleidoscopic.

 

Decide to “exercise” in Fayetteville/TN: great decision, except it’s 93-degrees and humidity is twice that.

 

Fayetteville/TN: Historic District - Douglas-Wyatt House

Fayetteville/TN: Historic District – Douglas-Wyatt House

 

Fayetteville/TN: Historic District - something a bit more modest

Fayetteville/TN: Historic District – something a bit more modest

Find an old historic district of homes, some, elegant; some, merely individualized. Wedding cake Douglas-Wyatt is a member of National Register, yet, right down the street, a modest, yet unique home sits close to an old Southern “manse”.

 

Fayetteville/TN: Downtown - Lincoln Teater

Fayetteville/TN: Downtown – Lincoln Teater

 

Downtown, Lincoln Theater blatantly advertises its new “digital” status, while a block away, a steady stream of box-bearers moves “antiques” from old store to new, in a row of buildings which looks little changed in over a century.

Fayetteville/TN: Downtown - Three "Dowager" buildings

Fayetteville/TN: Downtown – Three “Dowager” buildings


9/25/2014 – A Drive in the Country: Falls Beauty

September 27, 2014

 

Appalachian Mountains in NC: US-64 heading west

Appalachian Mountains in NC: US-64 heading west

 

Drive in dismal drizzle, aware that, in California, it would be greeted as manna from Heaven. A bit later, bright sun highlights forest, sky and clouds.

At a Brevard/NC gas station, chat with an older couple (well, they are about MY age, truthfully) who are also assaulting Appalachian mountains. From “the seacoast”, they choose to drive across their state and celebrate 50 years of married life in Murphy. (They’ve passed through on I-40, but want to “visit” small towns.)

 

 

Highlands/NC: Highlands Lake

Highlands/NC: Highlands Lake

Aside from “Vote NO on Alcohol” signs, and occasional resorts, find most of these small towns easy to pass. Highlands proves an exception: a vibrant town of boutiques and surprisingly “expensive” eateries catering to an affluent, aging demographic attracted by its beautiful lake. Its charm, alas, resists photos, as center-of-the-street parking makes getting unobstructed views impossible.

Near Highlands/NC: Bridal Veil Falls

Near Highlands/NC: Nantahala NF – Bridal Veil Falls

 

Near HighlandNC: Bridal Veil Falls

Near Highlands/NC: Nantahala NF – Bridal Veil Falls

 

Fortunately, not far west of town, Bridal Veil Falls offers a small, but pretty stream of water pouring gently over a wide, gray rock face. But, this is only an appetizer, as, a few miles further along, Dry Falls turns out to be something more.

 

 

 

Near Highlands/NC: Nantahala NF - Dry Falls

Near Highlands/NC: Nantahala NF – Dry Falls

 

A true cataract, Dry Falls attracts a steady flow of visitors, descending into a steep gorge (easy going down; a labor coming back up). Am unsure how best to describe a feeling of being “behind” falls and looking through them… it’s cool and damp, and, realizing TONS of water fall in front of my eyes offers one of Nature’s thrills.

Near Highlands/NC: Nantahala NF - Dry Falls

Near Highlands/NC: Nantahala NF – Dry Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Near Highlands/NC: Nantahala NF - Bend in the River

Near Highlands/NC: Nantahala NF – Bend in the River

 

Road winds uphill and down, so, for the most part, have only brief glances of forest-obscured river. So, when road and river make L-shaped turn, check out a placid river bend.

 

Near Highlands/NC: Nantahala NF - River Rocks!

Near Highlands/NC: Nantahala NF – River Rocks!

 

Curiously enough, hardly a mile farther along, two young girls splash at river’s edge, no more aware than close-by, cigarette-smoking parents, of rushing water’s power.

 

 

Having once camped near Hayesville, pause to check out town.

In its town square, a wheel-chair bound, white-haired man directs a bunch putting together an anti-fracking effort. Help a lady carry chairs from her SUV, but demur from a thought of offering my observations about uglification of Williston/ND where it brought jobs (alas, many went to people with no interest in community), but also, petroleum stench, denuded land, and a cacophony of road-widening, plus caravans of supply-bearing trucks. Suspect, considering number of lawn placards, folks here are emotionally tuned into this issue.

Hayesville/NC: Historical Museum (old jail)

Hayesville/NC: Historical Museum (old jail)

DO find a small, old jailhouse which has been converted to a historical museum. Just down a slope, a small Cherokee “homestead” has been re-created. Before Andy Jackson created a “Trail of Tears” displacement, these valleys, rivers, creeks and forests were once home to endless small Indian villages. (A People who lived on and loved this land, existing on its “interest” and not touching its “capital”: wonder how they would view fracking?)

Hayesville/NC: Historical Museum - Cherokee Indian Homestead

Hayesville/NC: Historical Museum – Cherokee Indian Homestead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Near Ducktown/TN: Cherokee NF - Lake Ocoee RA - Big Creek (kayak) Access

Near Ducktown/TN: Cherokee NF – Lake Ocoee RA – Big Creek (kayak) Access

Crossing into Tennessee, find a certain irony, that miles of Appalachian national forest should be named “Cherokee”, and pause at a near empty, Big Creek Access at Lake Ocoee’s recreation area to chat with a fortyish, hippie-esque kayak enthusiast taking advantage of mid-week quiet. An employee of Tennessee Valley Authority, Dan works weekends, which allows him to miss many of the crowds which turn this quiet spot into a “carnival”.


9/24/2014 – Up, Up… and Away

September 27, 2014

 

Drive from Midland in rain, which slows traffic through Charlotte and beyond, but, by Shelby, sun and clouds make hilly roads great viewing spots.

Head into Forest City, and, though Farm Museum is closed, get a chance to wander “historic” downtown. A very long mural just off Main Street captures this town’s self-perception, but it’s vision doesn’t include a lot of closed, empty shops. Down Mill Street, an empty parking lot suggests its main employer is now long gone.

Forest City/NC: Downtown - historical mural

Forest City/NC: Downtown – historical mural

 

Forest City/NC: Downtown - historical mural

Forest City/NC: Downtown – historical mural

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manage to get off on a wrong road, but, it turns into a plus, as, passing by Lake Lure, am treated to a series of gorgeous old spas/resorts (before gambling casinos captured our culture, resorts were THE place to vacation). On a long, winding, hilly, forested road, am rarely able to exceed 40 mph, but beauty rewards my “turtle” speed. Suspect “Bat Cave” has no relationship to “Bruce Wayne”, but, it’s a real village.

 

Hendersonville/NC: 7th Avenue Arts District - Train Depot & Historical Museum

Hendersonville/NC: 7th Avenue Historic District – Train Depot & Historical Museum

Get back on US-64, and, in Hendersonville, aim for 7th Avenue Historic District. Obviously, my aim is lousy, as crowds of homeless congregate near an old train depot awaiting “meal time” in a huge “mission”. Fortunately, this highway is loaded with our familiar cultural icons (Arby’s; McDonalds; Pizza Hut; Lowes; Wal-Mart; etc.), so know safety secure. (And, I cannot tell a lie… am always intrigued by puns, and found this sign clever).

Hendersonville/NC: 7th Avenue Historic District - Signs and Portense

Hendersonville/NC: 7th Avenue Historic District – Signs and Portense


9/21/2014 – Heading “Uptown”

September 23, 2014

 

Drive into Charlotte/NC on a warm, gloriously sunny, autumnal day.

It’s been about four years since a prior visit. Much looks the same; much is different.

Charlotte/NC: "Uptown" - skyline

Charlotte/NC: “Uptown” – skyline

 

Charlotte, is growing: more/bigger, quite attractive, commercial complexes; more/bigger, albeit, unattractive, housing complexes; more social settings.

Banks continue heir to their “Edifice Complex”, so skyline has changed. Churches continue to flourish downtown, as do some small, human-scale shops. Horse-drawn carriage rides seem an anomaly: old, distinguished Charlotte no longer exists downtown – a more appropriate transport method would be Segways.

 

Charlotte/NC: "Uptown" - Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Charlotte/NC: “Uptown” – Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

 

A downtown (tho in Charlotte, it’s called “Uptown”) Mint Art Museum is housed in a modern building with impressive open space, but no charm. Across the street, a modern art museum manages modernity with taste. (Ironically, a nearby church retains a sense of what appeal Charlotte once offered).

 

An evening professional football game fills this area with pro/con numbered/named uniform shirts: players names largely unknown to me, often on bodies which make me wonder whether wearer knows a football’s laces from its seams. Parking lots become ad hoc “BBQ joints” as families and friends sit on camping chairs beneath canopies preparing for late afternoon’s gladiators event.

Charlotte/NC: street scene

Charlotte/NC: street scene

 

Two young Japanese girls take one-another’s photo in front of a silver sculpture at modern art museum. As one has a “real” camera (have discovered cellphone cameras are not my métier), offer to take one of them both, and minutes later notice them chatting up an older man sitting on a shaded bench holding is jazz trumpet on his lap.

 

 

 

 

 

Charlotte/NC: "Uptown" - Founders Hall Plaza

Charlotte/NC: “Uptown” – Founders Hall Plaza

 

In fairness, Uptown offers some delightful “open spaces”

Charlotte/NC: "Uptown" - bank plaza

Charlotte/NC: “Uptown” – bank plaza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close to old-time Independence Square (where, some years back, observed Charlotte’s Symphony season “opener” close off traffic for a couple hours… definitely, a class act), charm from its past.

Charlotte/NC: "Uptown" - Independence Square - Sun Trust Building dorway

Charlotte/NC: “Uptown” – Independence Square – Sun Trust Building doorway

Charlotte/NC "Uptown" - Independence Square - waterfall in Thomas Polk Park

Charlotte/NC “Uptown” – Independence Square – waterfall in Thomas Polk Park


9/7-24/2014 – A Time to Relax

September 23, 2014

 

“Hang out” with daughter Siobhan: some chores, some TV, some conversation… but (heart-in-mouth) highlights are watching do her beloved “horse thing”.

She’s found a great friend/trainer in Canadian-born Dana, and works diligently with a “pony” nicknamed “Smudge” in hopes of competing during 2015.

Mooresville/NC: Kingfisher Farm - Siobhan & Smudge; Dana

Mooresville/NC: Kingfisher Farm – Siobhan & Smudge


9/4-6/2014 – Gotta Lotta Drive

September 23, 2014

 

Recognize “It’s a long way to Tipperary” (or, in this case, Midland/NC), so hop a ferry at Cape May which drops us off in Lewes/DE. (my prior trip on this ferry was just before Hurricane Sandy, so this is a calm, refreshing ride.) Jake and his wife, campers from San Diego, offer suggestions about places they’ve stayed, and Benjamin, a Brit flyer who came here during WW II, regales me with stories about being an air raid warden (plus, a bit more than is needed about his daughter’s financial prowess working for a London entrepreneur investing in Siberia). Our only “near excitement is when someone notices a “pirate ship” in our wake… but, would be meeting Johnny Depp be all that bad?

Lewes/DE: "A Pirate Ship Dressed Up in a Disguise"?

Lewes/DE: “A Pirate Ship Dressed Up in a Disguise”?

 

Drive down DE-1, and, even as dusk settles in, am entranced by ambrosia of freshly plowed land.

 

Next day, cross Chesapeake Bay bridge/tunnel complex, and am again surprised at how mild it is compared to remembering heavy surf preceding Hurricane Sandy. Spend an afternoon in Norfolk’s Chrysler Museum of Art… perhaps not great, but, definitely, quite good.

Norfolk/VA: Chrysler Museum of Art - Anna Huntington's "Torch Bearer" sculpture

Norfolk/VA: Chrysler Museum of Art – Anna Huntington’s “Torch Bearer” sculpture

 

Beyond that, it simply becomes a “foot race” until reaching daughter Siobhan’s place in Midland/NC.


9/3/2014 – Glass Where?

September 22, 2014

 

Millville/NJ: Wheaton Art Center - glassblowing tour

Millville/NJ: Wheaton Art Center – glassblowing tour

 

With Betty, head back over to Millville to check out Wheaton Art Center. Arrive just in time to get in on their glass-blowing tour (on a day as warm as this, working close to a furnace seems hellish). As a narrator describes, three artisans convert sandy loam into finely turned glassware.

Millville/NJ: Wheaton At Center - Glass Museum - foyer

Millville/NJ: Wheaton At Center – Glass Museum – foyer

 

We pop over to its Glass Museum, where we are treated to a personal guided tour which covers New Jersey’s historic role in early glassmaking (“It’s the sand”), and a marvelous collection of historic creations, as well as an introduction to work produced by Wheaton’s training program.

 

 

Millville/NJ: Downtown - Old Oar House Irish Pub

Millville/NJ: Downtown – Old Oar House Irish Pub

As their café is closed for the season, we traipse into downtown Millville and lunch at Old Oar House Irish Pub. (Hesitate to share, with Betty, my concerns about pub name being a pun). Our tattooed waitress and slatternly bartender concern us, but, for “pub grub”, we are well pleased. Outside, there is a charming ambiance to Millville’s two-block “historic district”, but can imagine a day when there was a thriving middle-class trade.

 

 

 

Millville/NJ: Downtown - Levoy Theater

Millville/NJ: Downtown – Levoy Theater

 

Millville/NJ: Downtown - Colorful Shops

Millville/NJ: Downtown – Colorful Shops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our return trip, Batty takes us through tiny Mauriceville, where 18C homes seemed completely unchanged.