Tag Archives: Travel

If We Were Having Coffee….8/7/16

imageGood Morning!

If we were having coffee…on this beautiful Sunday morning I would welcome you in and offer you a cup of freshly brewed French roast or some hot tea if you prefer. Perhaps you would like something cold instead like orange juice or iced tea? The thermometer is reading 97 degrees, of course that’s on the front porch which is directly in the sun at the moment.

You might happen to notice that even though the air is on, the screen door is open, something that would freak the hubby out if he weren’t 90 miles away on a fishing boat. I know it’s very wasteful but hear me out. Miss Dee is still asnooze upstairs so if I turn off the AC she will melt ¬†(it is much warmer up there than down here in the summer), but there is such a beautiful blue sky and I’m going nuts being in a hermetically sealed environment day after day so I couldn’t resist opening the door for a bit. Just listen to the birds and smell the fresh air! Ahh!

I suppose I could haul us all out to the back deck but I’m still in my jammies at the moment and that might make the neighbor gardening in his yard a bit uncomfortable. We will close it in a bit, I promise. Just don’t tell D-man if you see him, okay? As I said, he is in Cape May fishing at the moment. He has a friend who owns a house and a small boat he keeps down there so occasionally he will call and invite my hubby to join him for the weekend. He quite enjoys it. I find fishing a snooze, but that’s me. I do always tell him that if he catches any of those rare filleted fish with their heads already removed that he can bring them home for me to cook. ūüėČ I do love to eat fish. So far, though, he hasn’t had much luck.

If we were having coffee…I would ask you about your week? That’s the best thing about the Coffee Share; hearing about all the interesting things you all have gotten up to. You would probably ask me about my week as well and I would tell you that it has been pretty busy and quite exciting!

I would tell you that Monday and Tuesday were routine. ¬†I did do my volunteer gig at the charity thrift store downtown on Tuesday afternoon, but the rest of the time was taken up with odds and ends and getting ready for our trip on Wednesday. “Where to?” you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you…

Back in June, for Father’s Day, I gave the hubby tickets to see “Phantom of the Opera” at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. It’s his favorite show, but I admit, it was kind of a self serving gift since I gave him TWO tickets and he knew he had to use the other one on me (or elseūüėä). Washington is about a three hour drive for us so we left at 11:00 and arrived in time to check into our hotel. We stayed at the One Washington Circle Hotel right in downtown DC. I was able to get a really good discount on the room because we belong to AAA motor club. I can’t say enough good things about this place. It wasn’t incredibly fancy and could probably use some up dating but the rooms were clean and spacious and the staff was uber friendly. It was also perfectly situated because a half block away, there was a shuttle bus stop to the Kennedy Center where a free shuttle stopped every 15 minutes. It made getting to and from the theater super easy.

Needless to say, the show was excellent. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do. This is our third viewing. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music is so beautiful and haunting and the story is intense. The two and a half hours just flew by. Here is a clip of one of my favorite songs:

After the show, we went back to the hotel for a night cap and then the next morning, after a bit of sightseeing including a walk to the White House, we drove an hour further south to visit some friends in Stafford, Virginia. We enjoyed a lovely day there with them and their 17 cats (yes, I said 17)!

I told you a bit about this friend last summer. She and I have been friends since we were wee ones and were lucky enough to breath new life into our friendship during a trip she and her husband took up here to New Jersey last August. They have never had children but their kitties are their family and she helps out the local rescue shelters by taking in kittens that have been abandon. She has two little ones now that still need to be bottle fed every six hours! Usually, they find new homes for the cats but some tend to stay. ¬†I have to tell you though, we have indoor cats so I know that odor control can be tricky sometimes, but their house did not smell like a house with 17 cats! I don’t know how she does it.

Max

Max

They have two, a brother and sister named Max and Maxine that are Maine coon cats and have and extra toe on each paw. What beauties they are!! I fell in love. Miss Dee would have tried to pack them in her suitcase, if she had been there.

On Thursday afternoon, they took us for a tour of their retirement home that they are building out in the country, about 45 minutes away from their current home.  It should be done in September and is quite lovely with plenty of room for all their feline friends. Afterwards we had dinner at a near by restaurant and then headed back to their place for coffee and dessert. She makes the most wonderful apple cake! On Friday morning, after breakfast, we headed home. It really was a great couple of days and I was sad to get back to routine living, but I must admit I was missing my kids a bit.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that this Wednesday, the whole family is off for our annual three day camping trip to upstate Pennsylvania. If you stop back next week, I can tell you all about that!

In the meantime, I hope you have a great week filled with both excitement and simple pleasures. Thanks so much for stopping by and don’t forget to catch up with the rest of the Coffee Share¬†posts hosted by the lovely Diana at Part Time Monster.

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Elephants on the Brain

Lately I seem to have elephants on the brain. It’s not as uncomfortable as you might think. I like elephants. In fact I find them to be amazing, soulful creatures and, sure, I think about them now and then but I’m not usually pondering pachyderms quite as often as I have been over the past few weeks.

It all started a few weeks ago with Charlie at Doodlewash who created this cute little baby elephant .¬†His handsome pachyderm (titled “Baby Elephant Walk”) reminded me of a really corny old film with Elizabeth Taylor called “Elephant Walk” in which an angry herd of elephants demolishes a house that an arrogant plantation owner builds right across the middle of the path they take to reach their water hole. Personally I think the elephants were more than justified. On an entirely unrelated note, Liz Taylor sported a pretty amazing wardrobe for a woman living in the middle of a jungle.

Anyway, back on topic…A few days later ¬†while reading the local paper I came across an article about another elephant, this one is a bit of a local celebrity. Her name is Lucy and I thought since I seem to have elephants on the brain and since Lucy is by far my favorite elephant (sorry Charlie) that I should introduce her to all of you as well!

Meet Lucy…imageIsn’t she something?!

Lucy lives in Margate, NJ, Just west of Atlantic City. Here is a little background information about her and James Lafferty, the man behind the elephant!

“In 1881, the U.S. Patent Office granted (James) Lafferty a patent giving him the exclusive right to make, use or sell animal-shaped buildings for 17 years. Lafferty paid for the building of his first elephant-shaped building at South Atlantic City, now called Margate. He employed Philadelphia architect William Free to design the building and a Philadelphia contractor constructed the structure at a cost of $25,000 – 38,000. Originally named “Elephant Bazaar”, the building is 65 feet (19.7 m) high, 60 feet (18.3 m) long, and 18 feet (5.5 m) wide. It weighs about 90 tons, and is made of nearly one million pieces of wood. There are 22 windows and its construction required 200 kegs of nails, 4 tons of bolts and iron bars, and 12,000 square feet of tin to cover the outside. It is topped by a howdah carriage, also known as a hathi howdah.

Lafferty brought real estate customers up a narrow spiral staircase from within the elephant’s body to the howdah, where he could point out real estate parcels available for sale. Lucy’s head shape identifies the building as an Asian Elephant, and its tusks as a male. In its first few years, the elephant was referred to as a male, but today it is now generally considered to be female.

The structure was sold to Anton Gertzen of Philadelphia in 1887 and remained in the Gertzen family until 1970. Sophia Gertzen, Anton’s daughter-in-law, reportedly dubbed the structure “Lucy the Elephant” in 1902″. ¬† ¬†https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_the_Elephant

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Lucy in the 1950s or 60s

Lucy in the 1950s or 60s

Over the years, Lucy has been a restaurant, business office, apartment and tavern. By 1969 she was really showing her age and the City had her scheduled for demolition but a group of locals (who apparently also had “elephants on the brain”) formed the “Save Lucy Committee” and raised enough money to have her moved to a bigger space closer to the ocean and to restore her to her original glory. Can you imagine watching a six story elephant being towed down the street?! That must have been a site to see!

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imageThere is a narrow spiral staircase built into Lucy’s rear leg that takes you up to the interior of this unique building where a large room with a vaulted ceiling is filled with memorabilia. A second spiral stairway leads up to the observation deck that affords wonderful views of the ocean and the New Jersey coast.

Interior

Interior

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Spiral staircase inside Lucy’s leg

View from the howdah

I’ve ¬†been to visit Lucy more times than I can count and so have my children. We always find it impossible to see her and not smile. I guess she is such a totally unexpected surprise…so unique!

Having elephants on the brain is a pretty cool thing after all!

Here is a really great website about Lucy in case you want to learn more: Lucytheelephant.org

This post has been added to the Leisure Link at Perspectives On. Hop on over to check out some other post about great leisure activities!

Hanging Out With George Washington

This weekend we ventured north to Chads Ford, Pennsylvania and the Brandywine Battlefield Park. It was here that George Washinton fought William Howe in one of the largest battles of the American Revolutionary War. Some friends were visiting from Virgina, one of them a retired Marine Sargent. He is into all kinds of Military history and my family just loves history in general so this was the perfect outing. The site is nestled among beautiful rolling hills but since the day was very hot and humid we decided not to walk the miles of actual battlefield. Instead we toured the museum/visitors center and the two homes that sit on the property.

We started by watching a short film about the Battle of Brandywine. Although this was not an American victory,  it was where the American army first showed itself to be a formidible and capable force. It was also here that a 19 year old French soldier named Lafayette first saw action.  After the film we checked out the many artifacts that have been found on the property, everything from cannon balls to personal items. They also had replica uniforms and of course a gift shop!

Next we toured the Benjamin Ring home. This house was used as George Washington’s headquarters for three days prior to the actual battle on September 11, 1777. Mr Ring was a Quaker and had tried to stay out of the conflict but he and his sons eventually sided with the Americans. The home that stands on the property now is a replica that was constructed in the 1940’s after the original was destroyed in a fire.¬†image
imageI love the beautiful stone exteriors so typical of historic homes in this area. We were told that Mr Ring owned several mills along the river and was quite wealthy by Colonial standards.¬†The young man who gave us the tour was very knowledgeable but we all agreed that he spoke much too fast! Maybe it was the heat. ūüėį One interesting fact he shared was that the¬†little structure jutting out the back of the house is called a “beehive oven” and it is where Mrs Ring would have spent one day each week baking the 56 loaves of bread required to feed her family! Busy woman! There was also an underground ice house out back where the family would store large blocks of ice hauled from the river each winter. They would pack the ice in hay and use it to keep there foods cool during the warmer months.

Here are some photos of the other homestead on the property which was owned my another Quaker gentleman Gideon Gilpin and his family. We were not  able to go inside but even the exterior of the buildings were quite charming.

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I was really taken by these little steps that were built into the wall surrounding the property. What a clever chaps those colonial farmers were!

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This amazing white oak was growing in the yard next to the ¬†Gilpin house. The plaque next to it says that it is believed to be over 200 years old! That’s my Hubby in the photo giving the tree some scale although it looks more like he is giving it a hug! The branches were spread out in a huge canopy above our heads. It was breathtaking!

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We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch on the grounds and then rounded out the day with a stop at the Chaddsford Winery where we listened to music and sampled some local wines. All in all it was a lovely day and it was even educational!  I highly recommend it.  For more information visit here: Brandywine Battlefield Park.

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A Night in a Castle

 Summer Bucket List item #1. Technically, it was an overnight trip and not a day trip but I think it still qualifies! ūüėä

Last week Hubby, Miss Dee and I took a road trip up north to The Castle at Skylands Manor in Ringwood NJ. The building itself was built in the 1920’s but was designed to resemble an old Tudor castle. Really cool! Surrounding the castle are the most beautiful botanical gardens. The land and buildings are owned and cared for by the state botanical society and offer year round tours and events. The Castle at Skylands functions as a bed and breakfast and an amazing wedding venue for some very lucky couples. The inn keepers also run the catering business for any of the affairs held there.

Here are some shots of the exterior of the building…

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And the interior…

I kept visualizing Scarlett O’Hara coming down this stairway!

breakfast roomMiss Dee enjoying her breakfast in the sun room.

This is a small peek at the gardens.  The grounds were huge and every corner you turned revealed another statue, fountain or display of plants with a quiet little bench from which to enjoy the view. There were only a few blooms this time of the year so we all decided we needed to make a return trip in the spring.

arborfountainbutteflies in flightlong pool 2bridge fountain 2liliesrear patio 2water lilyvisitors centerThis ivy covered cottage serves as the visitors center and this little hobbit-like house…

pump house.. is where the pumps for the fountains are hidden!  Miss Dee was ready to move in!  All photo credits, by the way, go to the lovely Miss Dee (except of course for the one photo she is in).

The staff at the inn was very helpful and pleasant and the rooms are full of character.  If you are looking for modern conveniences though you will probably be disappointed.  There are no phones in the rooms, no refrigerators, no bar or restaurant on the grounds and breakfast was your typical continental fare, muffins, bagels, juice and coffee.  We drove into the town of Ringwood, about 3 miles away, for dinner.

All in all I would definitely recommend a visit to Skylands Manor, especially if you are interested in history, or botanical gardens or just a really romantic get away. I know we will be going back!

Check out their web site for more information: http://www.frungillo.com/venues/skylands-manor

A Day at The Met!

This Saturday Miss Dee and I took a trip to the Metropoliton Museum of Art in New Your City. ¬†We traveled by bus, not usually my favorite mode of transportation but it was actually very nice. Our driver and tour director couldn’t have been more helpful, efficient and entertaining. Of course our very first order of business was to take a selfie on the bus! ¬† ¬†selfieDon’t we look happy!? Anyway, this was our first trip to the Met so I did a little research first. Here’s what I found out:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially The Met), located in New York City, is the largest art museum in the United States and one of the ten largest in the world.[7] Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided among seventeen curatorial departments.[8] The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan’s Museum¬†Mile, is by area one of the world’s largest art galleries. ¬†http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art

When we got there, we could see what a truly imposing building it was…

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ceiling

Here is some of the building’s beautiful architecture.

The collection is so endless, we knew we would only be able to see a small part of it so we decided to concentrate mostly on the American Wing.
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This area is called The Charles Engelhard Court and it anchors the American Wing, added in 1924, to the main building. The graceful statue of Diana that stands in the center was designed by artist  Augustus Saint-Gaudens as a finial for Madison Square Garden.

At each end of the court are two very different architectural elements. One is this beautiful loggia or porch from the Long Island home of Louis Comfort Tiffany:

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I wish I had gotten a better photo of the windows at the rear. They were really amazing examples of Tiffany glass. He is another Tiffany work that was along another wall in the court.

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The colors and detail were incredible. I can’t imagine how many hour of work went into creating this. Below is another ¬†Tiffany designed landscape in mosaic that sits along another wall.

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At the other end of the court is the facade of a federal bank that was once located on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. Kind of unusual to see a building inside a building! The front door is actually the  entrance to the American wing.

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Once inside we wandered through the many galleries enjoying the numerous painting and sculptures by all the greatest American artist including Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, and one of my favorites, John Singer Sargent.

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This one titled “The Wyndham Sisters” painted in 1899, is my favorite. It captures the elegance and beauty of the era. I love the softness in the colors and how each woman’s personality comes through. I’ve seen this work in books many times but I never realized how large it was till I saw it in person!

And of course, how could you have an American Wing without including…

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Anyone living in the U.S. has probably seen a print of this painting by Emanuel Leutze (1816-1868) aptly titled “Washington Crossing the Delaware”. I know I have, but I never realized how massive it was in real life. Even the gold frame screams “Liberty!” Seriously, though, it is a very moving piece. I can understand why it has been reproduced so often.

After the American Wing, we had just enough time to take in a special Vincent van Gogh exhibit called “Irises and Roses”. No photos were allowed but they would not have done justice to these beautiful paintings anyway. The colors and textures were so rich.

By the time we boarded the bus for home we were exhausted but also disappointed. We hadn’t had time to see any of the European Impressionist, ¬†the Greek and Roman statues, the Dutch and Spanish masters or about a thousand other things! We did get a quick look at the Egyptian wing but only because we had to go through it to get to the ladies room! It felt like we spent a lot of time trying to find our way around. Thank goodness for all those bored security guards willing to give directions!

All in all, Miss Dee and I give our trip to The Met two big thumbs up. We highly recommend it to anyone who loves great art, history and architecture. We, however, feel like we will need at least 10 more trips there in order to truly appreciate it!

For more info about The Met: http://www.metmuseum.org

Pondering My Future Retirement…

This weekend I spent some time with my one sister and her husband. ¬†Discussion turned to the fact that my brother-in-law after 28 years with the U.S Post Office had retired that week. My sister, who is a nurse, had cut her own work days so they were chatting about what they planned to do with all¬†the free time they now had. My other sister and her husband have been retired for over a year as well. ¬†This got hubby and I thinking about what we would do with our retirement. ¬†Not that it will be happening anytime soon (my sisters are over 10 years older than me), but, except for a few years when my children were little, I’ve worked since I was 16 years old. It’s hard for me to imagine not having a job to go to.

Since both sisters have grandchildren, much of their time will be dedicated to spoiling them. ¬†They also intend to do some traveling and spend lots of time at the beach. ¬†My one sis is trying to talk her husband into renting or buying an RV and driving cross country to visit their son in California. ¬†There is a lot of speculation among the rest of us as to whether or not the marriage could survive such a trip! That’s an awful lot of togetherness for any couple but who knows? I’m sure my husband and I will do the same sort of things when we retire but what else would we do to fill our time?

Obviously, we would still want to spend time being of use to society and the world around us so volunteering would be a given.  I would enjoy working with Habitat for Humanity or the ASPCA.  My one sister volunteers once a week at a thrift shop that her church runs.  She finds the sorting and organizing at the store both therapeutic and fulfilling. My husband would probably lean more toward helping young athletes.

I would like to spend more time drawing and painting and exploring other mediums. Then of course there are books I haven’t gotten a chance to read, and films I’ve been wanting to see. There will be more time to spend with the people I love and more time to make new friends. Hmmm, I’m seeing a pattern here.

Basically, retirement to me is just a shift in balance. It would allow me to spend less time doing the things I have to do and more time doing the things I want to do. For now I want to do as much as my free time allows, then in 10 or 15 years I can just expand! Okay, that’s a plan.image

What do you, or will you do with any leisure time you acquire?

X is for Xenodocheionology

Good word, huh? I admit I had to search through a list of “x” words to find something to write about. I never heard this word before but I like what it mean: A love of hotels or inns. I definitely have this. There is nothing like a fancy hotel or a quaint little inn to get my heart racing.

We stayed in motels when I was a kid. After all I live an hour from the Jersey shore-motel capital of the world, but my first real experience with true xenodocheionology (pretty sure I’m using that word incorrectly) was in 1982 at the age of 19 and it was all thanks to my first serious boyfriend and his well-to-do family.

His name was Steve and his dad owned a couple of car dealerships in Philadelphia. We had only been dating for a few months when his parents invited me to vacation with them in New Orleans. Steve’s uncle worked as the purser on a river boat down there and the plan was to stay in the city for a few days and then sail down the Mississippi on the uncle’s paddle boat cruise. I thought about for about a half a second before screaming “HECK YEAH!”

The hotel we stayed in was right on Bourbon Street. I can’t, for the life of me, remember it’s name and I’m not if it was damaged by hurricane Katrina years later, but at the time it was the most elegant place I have ever been. The lobby was floor to ceiling marble with a row of fountains along the center. To the right was an open courtyard that was attached to the hotel’s gourmet restaurant.

Our suite (yes, suite) was on the third floor. It had a seating area with a bar and French doors that led out to the in-ground pool….a POOl on the third floor!?! ¬†Steve’s sister Lori and I shared one of the three bedrooms. The furniture was French provincial and the twin beds had canopies!

The rest of the vacation was amazing too but that hotel was my favorite part. Steve’s favorite part was the fact that it was perfectly legal to walk along Bourbon Street drinking a beer. I guess his priorities were a little different than mine.

I would love to hear about some of your favorite hotels or inns!

A is for Art

Okay, so here goes my first post for the A to Z Challenge…..

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To celebrate the first day of our Easter break ¬†girl child and I decided to take a road trip with my sister and my wonderful mother-in-law ¬†to the Brandywine River Museum¬† in Chadds Ford Pa. This was my first trip there but I have always loved the work of Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. ¬†There is also a gallery dedicated to Andrew’s father N.C. Wyeth who illustrated countless books including the original version of Treasure Island as well as other artist from the Pennsylvania area. ¬†It’s an amazing collection and I highly recommend it.

It is always inspiring ¬†to see such beautiful artwork. ¬†I needed a jump start ¬†in order to start working on my own art again. ¬†I have been drawing and painting since I was a little girl but it’s hard to find (or rather make) the time to really be creative.

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Worlds End State Park, Pa

Can you tell I’m dreaming about spring? This is where my family camps each year…Worlds End State ParkThe Endless Mountains and Sones Pond…the most peaceful place on Earth. Sigh.Worlds End