Posted on 5 Comments

Island Time

Before this trip the furthest south in the Carribean I had been was Cuba. On this trip two friends and I spent a couple weeks on Virgin Gorda.

Lonely planet described Virgin Gorda this way – Somehow, Virgin Gorda keeps a level head and remains a slowpoke, chicken-dotted destination without rampant commercialism. To the chicken-dotted I would add goats, donkeys and cattle.

I contemplated cancelling this trip due to COVID but then thought at least there I would be staying by myself and being outside most of the time. Actually I felt safer there than at home. Everyone wore a mask, even outside if you were around other people. At a grocery store they took your temperature before you could go in, had to sign a contact tracing form at a restaurant even though we were eating outside and no one else was there, every building you went in had hand sanitizer and if you did not use it they told you to within a few steps of entering. We had to take a test within a few hours of leaving the US and returning.

We flew into St Thomas where we spent the night. We climbed down the 99 Steps, built in the 1700s to make climbing Government Hill a bit easier, this staircase is one of St Thomas’s most famous landmarks. We walked around downtown and had a delicious dinner outdoors at Amalia Café. We didn’t get out of downtown  Charlotte Amalie. There are a couple of nice craft galleries, and of course the dozens of jewelry stores that the cruise ship crowd seems to love. Many local shops have not reopened as of yet, hurricanes Irma and Maria and COVID have kept them closed. Cruise ships have just started to return. We saw one on the way out and 3 in port on the way home.

Then the next day we took the ferry to Tortolla to Road Town and had a private tour of the island. There were beautiful views and the West End and Road Town were interesting. I can’t say I loved either St Thomas or Tortolla, but then I’m sure there are beautiful places on both islands. There is a great bakery on Tortolla called The French Bakery and Deli.

This is part of a mural that is painted on a curve on top of Fahie Hill, Ridge Rd depicting life on Tortola.

Virgin Gorda sign on Fanny Hill Road overlooking the North Sound

Once we got to Virgin Gorda I became the designated driver. We had a car with a left hand steering wheel so it didn’t take me long to get used to driving on the left side of the road. I’m not sure it would have been so easy to get used to if the wheel had been on the right – we did see some – or if I was in a panic situation.

Our condos were overlooking North Sound, wow. Thanks to Laurence Rockefeller a lot of the island is a national park. He also created Little Dix, an exclusive resort near Spanish Town where the ferries come in from Tortola. We tried to go for lunch but they were fully booked and not taking any outside guests. It, like many of the resorts, Little Dix was closed for years after the 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria, which pretty much decimated Virgin Gorda and many other Caribbean Islands..

This is the view I woke up to every morning.

North Sound Virgin Gorda

Up until recently there was a lot of undeveloped land around the north sound. There is still a lot not developed but much of the far end is being developed into an exclusive neighborhood called Oil Nut Bay. We did go there for lunch at the Marina Village which is the part of the development that is open to the public. To get to the rest of the development you have to be an owner or guest of one. What we were able to see of it was beautiful.

It seemed most of our days were centered around lunch! This was the most laid back vacation I’ve been on in years. And certainly the one with the prettiest views out my window.

From Nail Bay

One of the ladies I was on this trip with had lived here for 5 or so years in the 1980s. She and her husband managed Biras Creek Resort, and oversaw the building Tradewinds then ran it. So it was old home week for her. The 2nd lady that was traveling with us had worked for her for a couple of years there. And the place we stayed was owned by another former employee. So it was wonderful to be with folks that knew folks and what to see and do. Where we stayed was just up the hill from Leverick Bay, and we overlooked the North Sound, Saba Rock, Necker, Moskito, Prickly Pear and Eustatia Islands.

North Sound from Hog Heaven

What a view. I never knew much about this part of the Carribbean. For some reason I was thinking they would be flatter like the Florida Keys. The islands in the BVI were all formed by volcanoes, except for Anagada which is the only one of the British Virgin Islands which was formed from coral and limestone so it stands only 28 feet out of the water. The rest are mountainous.

We had lunch at Saba Rock and got a tour thanks to my traveling companion knowing what names to drop.

Bitter End was destroyed and had just reopened a month before our visit. We walked off the end of the property past the staff only signs on the way to Tradewinds and when stopped, my companion told them why we wanted to look and they let us go on. What a mess. some of the buildings are still there, it’s currently being used for staff housing and a staging area for rebuilding Bitter End. They used salvaged wood from the destroyed buildings to build the new resort. It was hard getting any information about Biras Creek, which is closed, so we hired a boat to drop us off there just to see whats going on.

We visited the Baths of course! We did not swim there because it was pretty rough …

… but swam later at Mahoe Bay where you could see offshore how these islands were formed.

Leverick Bay was our “go to” place for lunch, just down the mountain from our condos. The road is a little hair raising, I hate it when you get to the crest of a hill and can’t see what is beyond! And the hairpin turns are a little tricky to navigate.

We saw the ruins of the copper mine and the Sugar Mill at Nail Bay. From what I could find out the Sugar Mill was in operation in the late 18th century. The ruins are on the site of Nail Bay resort. The grounds are well kept and the view is amazing. And the restaurant was delicious and outdoors like most on the island. The Sugarcane Restaurant. One thing I found interesting was that you could use the pool at places like Leverick Bay even though you were not staying there, and in the middle of Mango Bay Resort is a parking lot and beach access.


SugarCane Restaurant at Nail Bay.

The ruins of the copper mine were at the bottom of a steep hill so we parked at the top and walked down. Fortunately we had a car that had enough power to go up the hills, this one I was a little nervous about the brakes because they were making a lot of noise and if they quit working we would end up going off a cliff into the ocean. Cornish miners built the ruins that remain today in the 1800s.

There weren’t as many flowers as I’d hoped to see, one reason I was told is that the island is quite dry so unless the flowers are watered you only see cactus.

We got to go see Biras Creek and got a tour by the resident caretaker Bob, who was glad to talk to Pam about what it was like when they were there and they compared notes on mutual friends. Right now the plans are unknown and the only buildings on the property habitable are his house and the house of the project manager. And what a view.

Biras Creek

We spent a couple of nights on Anagada at the Anagada Beach Club which in my opinion was the nicest resort on the island (there are only a handful). There really isn’t much on the island, a lot of scrub, lots of cattle, lots of goats roaming, even some donkeys, it appears to be free range so if you don’t want them on your property you have to fence to keep them out, Virgin Gorda was the same way.

There is a flock of flamingos, maybe a couple hundred and type of iguana that are threatened by ferral cats. They have a “head start program” for the iguanas to let them get big enough so as to not be threatened by the cats. The iguanas are have been around for over 10,000 years. We didn’t see any in the wild, only saw some babies in the cages at the Head Start program.

They were a long way off

This photo is from World Life Expectancy website of the type of Iguana on Anagada.

And the beach goes on forever.

Anagada Beach Club
Anagada Beach Club
Anagada Beach Club
Lobster Trap Restaurant

I’ve never seen so many conch shells or such big ones.

Conch shell mound

Gas Station on Anagada, fill up from the back of this pickup.

After returning home I looked online at the damage done by the back to back cat 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria, and see how far they have come. With the remoteness of the islands and the extent of damage I can see why it has taken so long to recover. We’ve had our share of hurricanes but at least here everything does not have to come in on a boat. Most of the resorts I’ve mentioned on Virgin Gorda do not have roads going to them from the rest of the island. You can only get there by boat.

As far as the photos I saw of Tortola and St Thomas, wow, the devastation was amazing and actually I’m surprised how good they look now.

This trip was certainly an education, and a beautiful one. If I was to go again there are a few things I would like to do. We never went snorkeling or took the glass bottom boat tour. I would visit Prickly Pear Island in the North Sound. On the way to Virgin Gorda I would go to Jost Van Dyke, it’s hard to get back there from Virgin Gorda so need to do it on the way or on the way home. Also Beef Island – try to go to a Full Moon Party – visit the studio of Aragorn to see his fireballs – try to see the Mocko Jumbies, and I’m sure there is more. No matter how much time you have when you travel there is never enough time to see it all. But I do try!

Where to next? A month in Ft Myers and a few days in my favorite spot Key West.

Posted on 3 Comments

Road Trips – Wandering

There were a couple trips this year I did not do blog posts about but want to mention them so they can be included in my blog book I print each year.

Two friends and I went to Charlottesville, VA to visit Monticello in October. On the way we stopped in Richmond and went to Maymont Italian Garden. I had never heard about it but ran across it when I looked up gardens in Richmond on the internet.

The gardens up near the house were beautiful but I really loved the Japanese garden down the hill, it was worth the climb back up.

From there we continued to Chrarlottesville. We walked around downtown and I saw (an purchased) a piece of artwork by the artist Randy Smith who lives in the downtown. I love his perspective and style. I’m trying to not be so literal in my paintings, we’ll see if his artwork can influence me.

We visited Monticello. The last time I was there was with my Mom. Actually it was the last visit I ever had with her. The funny (not) story about that visit was….. she was in a wheel chair and we went down to the gift shop (this was before they built the new visitors center) so the gift shop was just down the hill a little from the house. I asked in the gift shop if the path was such that I could wheel her down in the wheel chair rather than try to push her back up the hill to catch the shuttle. Oh yes they said. Well if another visitor hadn’t seen me struggling with the wheel chair trying to prevent her from taking off without me, she would have beat me to the car. Thank heavens for that stranger!

Anyway there was not a lot of plants in bloom but it was still a beautiful day and we enjoyed the visit.

We had a nice dinner in the Belmont area of Charlottesville and at The Local and had a delicious meal. Just across the street is a really nice shop that is worth a visit. It’s called Just Be.

We visited several wineries but the most interesting one was. Barboursville Vineyard. The winery is built on the grounds of Barboursville, the home of the 19th Governor of Virginia, James Barbour.. The home was built from 1814 through 1822 and was designed by Thomas Jefferson. This home is now just ruins. They have an Inn which was built in 1804.

We visited Sheperdsville and the pottery of John Pluta at Noon Whistle Pottery. I really like his whimsical work. They carry a lot of other artists, some that I carried at Carolina Creations when I owned the gallery.

Then we went to Gordonsville. There is a very nice gallery there Annie Gould Gallery, a couple eating places, and some lovely shops in their tiny downtown.

We made a quick stop at Appomattox Court House where the papers to end the Civil War were signed by Lee and Grant.

Then wandered south and had a fantastic lunch at a tiny cafe in Warrenton, NC called the Hardware Cafe, well worth a detour if you are anywhere close. And then home.

I went to Georgia to visit friends over Christmas. On the way wandering through Fuqua Varina I saw this beautiful gate. I know nothing about it but love it.

And these murals.

The friends I visited in Georgia were people Michael and I met within a month of us coming to New Bern. We lived on a boat at what was then the Ramada, now Bridgepointe. They had lived on a boat for years already. We then bought a house downtown and they sailed away but we have kept up with them ever since, over 30 years. After living on a boat for many years they bought a motorhome and traveled all over the country for 7 years and have just now bought a house in Georgia.

Most of the visit was spent talking about our travels around the world. We did go into Athens and walk around the downtown. This is a photo of their beautiful City Hall.

And had lunch at the Porterhouse Grill. Excellent! The restaurant is full of paintings by Heidi Hensley who I met years ago in Atlanta.

There is a cute neighborhood in Athens called five points. The commercial area is small but with a bookstore, bakery, chocolate shop and other retail shops in an intimate setting.

We went to see The Rock Hawk and the Rock Eagle Effigy just south of Eatonton. I never knew about them before.

The Rock Hawk Effigy is off Georgia Highway 16 which was once the Okfuskee Trail, a prehistoric trail that went from Charleston, SC to the Mississippi River.. They don’t know who built the Effigy or exactly when or why. But some speculate as long ago as 2000 years and perhaps were religious sites. The land was occupied by Native Americans. The effigy is made from milky quartz rocks and is in the shape of a hawk. Some of the rocks are so large that some archaeologists believe they were dragged there with the use of deerskins. The Hawk appears to be flying southeast.

The other one, The Rock Eagle Effigy is located at the University of Georgia 4-H Center on Highway 441. The WPA did several excavations in 1936 where they recovered small amounts of aboriginal pottery, chipped stone and items covered with a plaster like substance. In 1938 the WPA built the tower so you can climb up high enough to see the effigy.

And there are a couple dozen signs about the flora and fauna and other significant historical things in the area.

Eatonton is a town I’ve driven through several times on my way to somewhere else but I never really looked at the town other than stop a few times at the Uncle Remus Museum.

There is the Georgia Writers Museum and the town is full of beautiful architecture. I didn’t get to go to the museum because it was Christmas Day, another visit!

Three famous authors came from the county, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker and Joel Chandler Harris. There are signs all around directing you on a driving tour of their homes.

We visited Madison too. I’ve been there several times and love it, in fact after selling Carolina Creations I even considered moving there. It would not have been a bad choice, it is a beautiful area but I’m glad I stayed in New Bern, I can always visit Madison, especially now that my friends live just 20 miles away.

The last stop on this trip was at the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden. The garden surrounds his house and you can wander around it. This was my second visit there. Now he has teamed up with several organizations to preserve and maintain the garden.

The last trip of the year was to Durham. The sun was not out and there wasn’t much in bloom but the Sarah Duke Garden was still beautiful.

And for some reason I had never been to the Nashar Museum of Art. Which is right next door. They have some beautiful pieces in their permanent collection – my favorite is this portrait by Joaquín Sorolla of Sarah Duke. I was thrilled to see it. In the spring I hope to go to Madrid while on a tour and visit his home and museum.

2021 was a good year for me even with dodging COVID. Looking forward to a peaceful 2022.

Posted on 1 Comment

Road Trip NC to Maine to Cape (part 2)

This is a part 2 of my month long rv trip to the North East. Read the first half by clicking here.!


From Old Forge and Saratoga we headed to Arlington, VT arriving at the Camp on the Battenkill. It’s a very large, wooded campground with nice sites, some right on the river.

Arlington is where Norman Rockwell lived for 14 years. I enjoyed reading about his time there on the New England Historical Society Website.

      “Rockwell had trouble painting the black eye in Triumph in Defeat, so a newspaper ad ran requesting a child with a black eye. Wire services picked up the story, and Rockwell offered $5 for a ripe one. A prison warden wrote that there’d just been a riot and he had dozens of black eyes and a father joked he’d give all his kids a black eye for $5. A toddler named Tommy Forsberg had acquired a shiner, and his father drove him from Massachusetts to the studio of Norman Rockwell in Vermont.”

Rockwell and his family left Arlington in 1953. His home is now a bed-and-breakfast, The Inn on Covered Bridge Green

Inn on Covered Bridge Green

The view from the Inn is this church and covered bridge.

This corner of Vermont in the Green Mountains is called the Shires, I had never heard it called that and it turns out it is a fairly new designation. “A picturesque New England region nestled in the Southwesternmost corner of Vermont, the geographic designation may be Bennington County but in recent years residents and visitors alike have come to affectionately call this area, the Shires of Vermont.”

Arlington is a small town located between Bennington and Manchester Vermont. Manchester has a beautiful downtown with lots of local shops as well as the flagship of Orvis, it is a beautiful building. Orvis also has a fly fishing school there. I loved to watch my dad fly fish, the line whipping back and forth.

Manchester is also the home of Hildene, we were disappointed that it was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, the days we were there. Hildene is the historic home of Robert Lincoln, only child of President and Mary Todd Lincoln to survive to adulthood. The estate has beautiful gardens, restored 1903 wooden Pullman palace car, goat farm and cheesemaking facility, 12+ miles of walking trails, teaching greenhouse and cross-country skiing in winter. Bummer we didn’t get to see it.

The American Museum of Fly Fishing is in Manchester as well.

The Southern Vermont Arts Center was a real treat. It sits on property that was once owned by Orvis and through some changing of hands, divorces, etc, it ended up being the art center. The grounds are huge with hiking trails and a large sculpture collection. The drive is about a mile long winding through the woods.

they had a great exhibit of work made from recycled materials
And I was very impressed with the egg tempera work by Mary Schwartz

Bennington was a disappointment, the best thing we saw there was this old fire station and a craft gallery, but it was not the one we really wanted to see.

I then parted ways with my traveling companions and I drove to Maine. I spent the first couple of nights near Rockland.


In this same harbor are the remains of lime kilns.

During the 19th Century, Rockport was a major supplier of lime to East Coast markets. These kilns converted limestone rock supplied by 15 local quarries into lime used to make mortar & finish plaster. The burned lime was packed into wooden casks and shipped by schooner . In 1843, all 100 lime cargos came from Rockport, Camden, and Thomaston kilns. In 1859, it was a $100,000 industry shipping 156,500 casks. A disastrous fire in 1907 came at a time when cement was beginning to replace lime in building construction. The industry continued for a few more years but never fully recovered.

In Rockland I really enjoyed the Farnsworth, I don’t remember it being that big (but then it’s been 40 years since I’ve been there!), several things caught my eye especially, one being a dress decorated with shells by Brian White. Then just down the street at Dowling Walsh Gallery I saw a show of his being put up. The first piece I saw was an owl in the window then inside his sheep, wow! For some reason I thought they were clay but as I read about his work there is zero clay involved unless it’s something he found and he added to his piece. Most of his sculptures are made of shells.

Of course the Farnsworth has a lot of work by the Wyeths, there are the iconic pieces by Andrew but I also love the equally skilled work by Jamie and his choice of subject matter.

At a stop in Camden I ran across the Riverhouse Foot Bridge. I have a photo of it I took years ago but could not remember which town it was in! Lots of neat shops and some beautiful homes.

I decided to visit Cape Clyde where you catch the boat to Monhegan Island, where Wyeth spent a lot of time painting.

On the way I caught some highly decorated pottery in a studio window out of the corner of my eye. I turned around and unfortunately the studio was closed but as I stared in the window the potter showed up, George Pearlman. We had a long conversation about how his work evolved, he started with underglazes like I use. I ended up buying a piece from him (the one on the left).

On the way back to Rockland I stopped to tour The Langlais Sculpture Preserve celebrating the work of sculptor Bernard Langlais. His work is pretty funky but don’t be fooled, he studied at the Corcoran School of Art, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Brooklyn Museum School, and received a Fulbright Scholarship to Oslo, Norway.  I love his work and here is a map of where you can see his pieces.

This is his too. I love the way he attached wood to the painting

I’m excited to have more room and more time to garden in my new home. I haven’t seen many dahlias around New Bern and I was bowled over with those I saw on this trip. Up there you have to dig them up every year, well knowing me that would never happen so am pleased to read that you don’t have to do that in zone 8. My favorites are the informal ones.

I’ve passed by Acadia National Park a number of times but never stopped. I have to say I was a little disappointed with Bar Harbor but the Park is beautiful, to really see it though you need to get out and hike. Since I was by myself I didn’t think that was a particularly good idea so I just drove through the park.

On the way there I happened to pass Bar Harbor Weathervanes, I had been looking for one for my new garage. I enjoyed meeting Bill McElvain the owner. He told me about his dad that started the business and how he has continued with it and his children are continuing the tradition. He told me about the molds they use and how those have evolved through the years. To make a weathervane, Bill first carves the two sides of the design in wood. Then, he creates cast-iron molds for the designs. Finally, the copper is hammered into the mold and the two sides are soldered together. And YES I found one I like. I will have to say I did my part in supporting artists in almost every state we visited!

While I wasn’t thrilled with the town of Bar Harbor I did have a wonderful lobster lunch on the dock, and a FABULOUS campsite at the KOA.

On my way to Southwest Harbor I came across this beautiful Museum and Garden at Somesville.

Rockland, Rockport, Camden, Belfast, all I had heard of or been to before but I have never heard of Castine. It is one of the oldest towns in New England. What a jewel! The entire town is on the National Register. It’s like going into a Norman Rockwell painting.

From there I headed south again, next stop Boothbay Harbor….

…and the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens a highlight of the trip. I loved a lot about the garden, the fact that a lot of it is planted in an informal way, the hiking trails through the woods have benches along the way and if you get tired you can make your way to the main trail and get picked up by a cart. But the best thing was seeing the …Trolls by Thomas Dambo. I had seen some of his trolls once before in Breckenridge, CO so was thrilled to see them again! He is a master of recycling and has created his trolls all over the world. Every one is different and every one has a story to tell. There are several videos on his website talking about his work, he’s very passionate about recycling and has made some incredible pieces.

Two bald eagles flying overhead

I visited every gallery in town and in the Gleason Gallery I saw some of George Pearlmans pottery. The gallery director told me I should drive to the Ocean Point Loop, turn right at the only stop light in town and you can’t miss it. There is a small parking lot and parking all along the drive, right on the water, but those are not for rvs.

On my list for next years visit is to find all of the sculptures on the Sculpture Trail. Here are just a couple of those in town.

The long footbridge in the harbor was built in 1901 at a cost of $1,500, and it originally had a hand-operated swing span to allow large vessels to reach the head of the harbor.

A lot of what I’m interested in painting right now is gardens so I took LOTS of photos of with painting potential.

In Portland I stopped to visit folks I used to work for in Aspen, they live in this beautiful home on West Prom.

It was early so missed visiting the Maine Crafts Gallery, but will put it on the list for next time.

Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Kittery, York were all next. Love them all.

Where I got my wind spinner on my last trip here – Maine Art Hill.

There are a lot of really nice shops in Kennebunkport. Abacus (American Craft Gallery like Carolina Creations), Dannah’s and others.

I HAD to walk the Marginal Way to Perkins Cove, that’s what you do when you come to Ogunquit. The town was so packed with people there was no where to park so I went very early in the morning and found a spot and by the time things started opening up I was gone.

Walking back to my car I saw this rock wall with inspirational stones attached. I will have to say most places I went were good about wearing masks. I did most of my own cooking on this trip but on the few occasions I ate out I tried to eat outside.

I got a major dose of vitamin C on the Maine coast. I have never seen so many rose hips in my life. They were everywhere so I didn’t feel guilty snitching some here and there.

It is a good thing my rv has a pretty short turning radius considering that is is 22 1/2 feet long. I am not adverse to turning around, sometimes more than once within the hour. Spotted this neat looking garden shop near Kennebunk. Snug Harbor Farm, beautiful!

Cape Cod

Love driving 6A even though I got caught in what I’m told is the every weekend traffic jam. Finally made it to Brewster to spend the night then spent the next day exploring Chatham, Harwich and other towns along the south coast.

Cape Cod Lavender Farm

Then the next day got up early to take the ferry to Marthas Vineyard. We spent our first day exploring the Campground Associations Gingerbread Cottages. Last time I was on MV was in 1972!

When I was on MV before I only saw Oak Bluffs, so this time we rented a car and got to see the rest of the island. Beautiful!

Our luck ran out and we caught the tail end of one of this summers many hurricanes and it was supposed to pour all day long.

We toured the island between raindrops.

We drove by the end of the road that goes to the new estate of the Obamas and saw a big black SUV turn down it. We visited several art galleries The Field Gallery, Martha’s Vineyard Glassworks, but my favorite was Cousen Rose Gallery, we went to a great farm shop, The Grey Barn, and a wonderful quirky book store in Edgartown, Portobello Road.

And you never know when you are going to run across a flower pot full of chickens.

Well fortunately it didn’t pour until we got to Chappaquidick. The bad news there is there are 3 roads – 2 dirt and 1 paved. I thought we were going to get washed away so never made it to the infamous bridge, instead turned around at the Japanese Garden which we didn’t get to see either. Oh well next time.

The Oak Bluffs Inn where we stayed, loved sitting on the porch.

We made it back to the mainland and our campground in time to be treated to dinner at the Lobster Pot by it’s owner. We got to meet some of her kids and I was gifted one of their cookbooks.

Our last day on the Cape we took the bus into Provincetown and did what you do there, shop, go to galleries, people watch. We walked down to the end of Commercial street and got back to where we started, I wanted to go to the other end too where more galleries are, but we were already pooped so caught a pedicab, I’ve never ridden in one before. Price was whatever you wanted to give.

I still remember the first time I took a photo of this couple in 1972
A church door in Wellfleet

After returning to the campground we went to Wellfleet, a sweet little town just a few miles away.

Then we started home. Our first two nights were spent in Moodus, CT, a place I had never heard of but ended up loving, right on the Connecticut River. Of course we had to take the The Chester – Hadlyme Ferry. It doesn’t matter how short the ride is I can’t pass up the chance to go on a boat ride. It takes just 5 minutes to make the crossing. It began service in 1769, was originally operated by Jonathan Warner who owned the land on both sides of the Connecticut River.  Warner’s Ferry, as it was called back then, connected King’s Highway in Fort Hill, Parish of Chester to Norwich Road in Lyme.  The Original ferry was pushed across the river using long poles. A steam-powered barge began to serve the ferry crossing in 1879.

From the ferry we saw Gillette Castle built by William Hooker Gillette, noted actor, director, and playwright.

Chester is a sweet little town with some nice shops like Lark. There I found the work of local artist Jill Butler. Her work is delightful, whimsical, and colorful. I bought notecards, a book about Paris, and some placemats by her. Turns out I already owned one of her books Paint Brush in Paris!

This is a sweet house in downtown Chester

Another neat place in the area is East Haddam. A wide spot in the road but neat.

Essex is where the Connecticut River Museum is and the area surrounding it is quintessential New England with white stately houses.

We were a little disappointed in Old Saybrook and Old Lyme but did love the Studio 80 Sculpture Grounds. It is on the grounds of the studio of Gilbert Boro. Here is what he had to say about it “It brings me great joy to watch people of all ages interacting with my sculptures, which is why I created my own four-and-a-half-acre sculpture grounds adjacent to my studio in Old Lyme, Connecticut.   Considering the environmental, social, and political disorder all about us, I believe that public art brings some semblance of beauty to all of us who take the time to look.  My full-scale outdoor sculptures, as well as other works by contributing artists, can be seen year-round on the grounds.  Entry is free and open to the public. ” Since my new house is on a double lot maybe an idea for me (too many ideas, not enough time.)

Other things to see in the area are The Katharine Hepburn Museum and the Florence Griswold Museum. >

Then off to East Stroudsburg, PA, on the way I made a few stops like at Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon, NY, and Peters Valley Craft School . I also stopped in Milford, PA which is across the river from Peters Valley, and visited Grey Towers National Historic Site, which I had never heard of. It was built in 1886 by James Pinchot. He was disturbed by destructive logging practices that were taking place in the country and encouraged his oldest son, Gofford Pinchot to go into a career in forestry. He became had of the Division of Forestry in 1898 and in 1905 was head Chief Forester of the newly created United States Forest Service. He later became Governor of PA in 1922.

Winding our way south I wanted to stop at Chadds Ford at the Brandywine River Museum again but they were flooded by the same storm that flooded the subways in NYC. The artwork was not hurt but the grounds had many feet of water on them.

I’d been to Longwood Gardens (detailed in a previous blogpost), before so did not stop there. But passing through I saw this intriguing yard for Chadds Ford Barn Shoppes where I stopped and took photos of these cool, funky, birdhouses.

The last night we spent at the POND State Park in Delaware worth a return visit!

The highlight of the last leg of the trip was stopping at various Garden Centers and picking up plants for my new garden by the time I got home there wasn’t much floor space left.

It was a great trip!! What’s next? So far next trip is a few days in Charlottesville then to the BVI’s in January. In the meantime I have a LOT of artwork to get done for the Studio Tour, November 6th and I’m the featured artist at Carolina Creations in November.

I got lots of inspiration for it on this trip.

Posted on 10 Comments

Road Trip NC to Maine to Cape (part 1)

Since I sold my house and my new house renovations are nearing completion I left on a month long road trip to the NE with 3 other ladies, me in my rv, and the other 3 ladies in 2 trucks pulling trailers. I’m used to traveling by myself so my mantra was “I’ll meet you there”!

Heading north to Virginia I stopped by Hope Plantation the home of former Governor David Stone. The plantation complex offers insights into the late 18th- and 19th-century rural life in eastern North Carolina.

Also on the grounds is The 1763 King-Bazemore House which is a great example of vernacular architecture. It is one of the few remaining examples in North Carolina of mid-eighteenth century “hall and parlor” design. The home has been restored and furnished based on the 1778 inventory of owner, William King.


Heading into Virginia the Bacon Castle, is just outside of Surry. It is the oldest brick dwelling in the US, built in 1665 for Arthur Allen. It was originally known as Allen’s Brick House but became known as Bacon’s Castle in 1676 when Nathaniel Bacon’s men occupied it during the uprising that became known as Bacon’s Rebellion.  It is part of the National Park Service.

I also stopped at a neat little shop I discovered on my last trip up that way, in Surry. 

Jamestown Ferry

Our first two nights on the road were spent at Chickahominy Riverfront Park. So I cut off a few miles and avoided the traffic of Norfolk by catching the Jamestown Ferry. It’s just a little bigger than our local ferries, and my timing was perfect, I waited about 5 minutes to board. There has been a ferry running here since 1925.

The campground was perfect too, it’s right on the Capital Trail that runs from Jamestown to Richmond, is on the Chickahominy River. There are trails, fishing, splash pad, horseshoes and other games, and it has an amazing pool. 

The bike ride to Jamestown from the park is about 7 & 1/2 miles and at mile marker 5 is the Spoke & Art, where a cup of coffee and a muffin hit the spot. You can also rent a bike there, even a recumbent trike like mine! The last time I was there they had a trio playing in the outdoor dining area.

It was pretty hot but much of the trail was in the shade and is paved. We rode to the Historic Jamestowne Visitors Center, ducked in to cool off and after riding back to the campground spent a couple hours in the beautiful pool. 

From there I headed west, taking Hwy 5 along the James River and past the James River Plantations. I drove back to a couple of them, just to have a look. Some are grand, some are not! Shirley, Westover, and Berekley are the ones that are most famous but there are many more. Shirley Plantation, settled in 1613, is the oldest plantation in Virginia and the oldest family-owned business in North America, dating back to 1638.

Shirley – photo a little crooked!

I’ve been collecting Virginias LOVE sculptures around the state. I didn’t realize that there is a website listing where most of them are. And that the state reimburses communities and companies that commission a LOVE sculpture as part of the states branding “Virginia is for lovers”. You have to apply for the funding and if approved they state will reimburse you for $1500 towards the cost of construction. What a neat idea. Since, as of this writing there are over 275 LOVE sculptures around the state, it will be a while before I have seen them all. But here are a few that I HAVE seen.

This one is at the Spoke & Art and is designed by my friend and famous sculptor Don Drumm of Akron, Ohio

I drove through downtown Richmond and spotted a few murals I liked and ended up going through a beautiful neighborhood I hadn’t been in before. It always pays to leave early and get there before things get too hectic. It also saves me money because the galleries are not open yet. I still do my best to support other artists wherever I go!

That night we stayed at Natural Chimney State Park. It is the location of the largest Joisting tournament in Eastern US – I’m personally surprised there is more than one anywhere! In fact it was taking place the day we left and has taken place annually since 1821. What the park is most famous for is its natural towers made of limestone dating from 500 million years ago, a time when this area was covered with water. They range in height from 65 to 120 feet above ground level.

Early the next morning I took off and ended up at the Harrisonburg farmers market – very nice. I wanted to go to the White Oak lavender farm but was too early so I was pleased that they had a booth at the farmers market.

I really like driving the “blue highways” instead of the interstate but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet to get somewhere fast. I usually don’t mind driving 81 through Virginia though because its one of the prettiest interstates I’ve driven.


All was well and driving was easy until I hit Harrisburg, PA. It didn’t matter if you went straight through town, like my friends did, or took the bypass, like I did, there was at least a hour that we lost with the traffic backup. So I was glad to get off that road for a bit by going to the Hope Hill Lavender farm just outside of Pottsville, since I missed the other one. The view from their mountain top shop was beautiful.

Next stop Lackawanna State Park. Before going there I made a stop in Scranton, there is some beautiful architecture there. And Steam Town! I didn’t stop this time but have in the past. When I was in my twenties I did a lot of railroad drawings and drawing of railroad depots. Some are even in the Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library. Michael and I rode many of the tourist trains across the country and I ride the train whenever I get a chance.

The Lackawanna State Park is lovely but it was a quick overnight stop so we did not take advantage of all that is there.

Then it wasn’t a long drive to Watkins Glen. Route 6 was touted as an artisan trail but I didn’t see much in the way of art but the scenery, the further west you got, was beautiful.

I spotted Trowbridge (the last name I was born with) on the map and had to go see. I thought it was probably a wide spot in the road, and I was right. There was only one house. A lady was mowing her lawn so I stopped to talk to her, she lived in that house and told me Trowbridge was a stop on the railroad, and later the house was an Inn and the trolley ran out there from Elmira. The only indication the area was called Trowbridge was the street sign. Further north and east I saw a town called Conklin (my mom’s side) but didn’t have time to go there.

In Elmira I stopped to see the Carousel. It was built by Looff and not as detailed as the Philadelphia Tobaggon Company ones I’ve drawn, still it is nice to see it preserved and running. The park it’s in is quite lovely with a beach with dragon boats, different rides and a mini golf course. Elmira is where Mark Twain is buried and he spent twenty summers there at his wife’s sisters house. It was in Elmira that Twain wrote portions of some of his most famous books, including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” 

A quick stop in Montour Falls led me to meet the wife of Magnus Agustsson, a sculptor, and tour their house/gallery. Born in Iceland, Magnus immigrated to the US in the 1950s and became a prominent Pediatric cardiologist and surgeon before becoming a renowned sculptor. His wife is responsible for the beautiful gardens on the grounds. The gallery is the house his wife lives in and every room is full his sculpture. While walking through the house/gallery, (which was packed) I thought to myself, is that going to be me someday??

It was a little shocking to see this waterfall so close behind this house!

New York – Watkins Glen through Ithica

At Watkins Glen we stayed right in town at Clute Park and Campground- there are absolutely no trees in this park and you are park side by side but it was quiet and you were just across the street from Seneca Lake.

We got up early and hiked DOWN the gorge at Watkins Glen State Park. So glad we read that you
could do that because I would not have hiked up the 832 stair steps. You can take the shuttle for $5 and they drop you at the top. The park has a nice swimming pool too.

We went to Corning just to check to see how the downtown was doing and stop in a couple galleries. One I wanted to go into is now permanently closed, I hate seeing that but there were other nice shops like The West End Gallery, Vitrix Glass Studio, Conners Mercantile, and others. Of course if you haven’t been you need to visit the Corning Museum of Glass.

While walking across the street I spotted this metal train sculpture.

Corning Centennial Sculpture

It is part of a historical memorial dedicated to the Corning Centennial.

And you can’t go to the Finger Lakes without going to at least one winery, there are over 100 in the region. The one we chose had outdoor seating with a beautiful view of the Lake.

We headed out and I took a detour to Ithaca. I had been there before and what I remembered most about it was how steep many of the streets are. This visit confirmed my memory! My brake light even came on for a while, I guess they got a little warm, but fortunately it went out again. 

The Botanic Garden at Cornell University is a gem. They have every plant identified so I got a lot of ideas for my new garden.

The Downtown is thriving and there were three American Craft Galleries within 2 blocks, and a Papperie! Two of the galleries are American Crafts by Robbie Dein, Handwork, and there are many more painting galleries I did not make it to.

The other reason for going Downtown was to see the Carl Sagan’s  Planet Walk.    I’ve always been fascinated and dumbstruck reading about our Solar System and the Universe. This walk is a 1 to 5 billion scale model of our Solar System and it really drives home just how big it is. The Moon and Earth were just a few feet from the sun, but Pluto was 3/4 of a mile away! I drove to it instead of walking, glad I went since Pluto is at the Science Museum. I didn’t take time to visit the museum but will next time. Carl Sagan was Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University in Ithaca and this Planet Walk is in his honor.

The bonus of going to the Sciencenter was seeing this mosaic mural. A few years ago I went to Philadelphia to a workshop and helped Isaiah Zagar work on one at St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, this is much the same style with lots of mirrors. Maybe I can find a place at Rhem to do one, I didn’t think I could get away with one on East Front. 

On my way north I saw a sign for Bellows Falls. I remembered that the Erie Canal passes through there so took a detour. What I didn’t remember was the Women’s Rights Museum.

I took a quick break at Auburn to see Harriet Tubmans Home. She was illiterate, but help scores of slaves escape bondage and went on to become a Civil War nurse, a Union spy, the first woman to lead American military forces in combat and a renowned suffragette.

I drove through Skaneateles wishing I had time to stop but instead headed north to Lysander where my great great great grandfather died in 1837. We cannot find where he was buried but his wife and 12 kids headed west to Ohio afterwards. There is a cemetery in the town but I didn’t have time to walk through to look for a grave. I will have to say Lysander is a beat up little town but Sara Smith Schenck thought enough of it to make this cement planter, the only thing indicating that you are in the town of Lysander.

Now I REALLY had to hurry to get to Wellesley Island State Park. It’s a huge park and well done! And just a short distance to the Canadian border.

The park has a nature center, a marina, a beach, a store, and golf course plus 432 campsites that were very spacious. Wellesley Island is one of the Thousand Islands in this part of the Saint Lawrence River. There are actually 1800 islands, and I was told that to be considered an island, a piece of land must stay above water throughout the year and support a living tree. I have passed in the vicinity of the Thousand Islands both on the Canada side and the US side before but never had time to stop. I’ve read about the Boldt Castle for years and was thrilled to finally have a chance to take the boat ride and to visit it.

From afar it’s pretty impressive but you can’t tell how well it is maintained until you get off the boat. The Castle, boathouse, and island all belong to the The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority. Construction began on Boldt Castle in 1900 for millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt as a tribute to his wife. Boldt Castle was designed as their summer dream home. The castle rivals those I’ve seen in Europe. the TIBA is painstaking restoring it, It’s probably half done. And the grounds are exquisite. If we would have read about the boat house we would have taken the boat to see it too, but didn’t realize how impressive that looks from the Castle! Before the TiBA acquired the Castle it had sat vacant and unfinished for 70 years. It’s well worth a visit, and the boat ride was fun too, seeing the other grand, and not so grand homes on the other islands.

Back to Wellesley Island, one of the two towns on the island is Fineview. And in Fineview is Thousand Island Park, founded in 1875 as a Methodist Campground, TI Park thrived as a family retreat with a Chautauqua atmosphere of religious, cultural and recreational activities. It is also full of beautiful gingerbread houses! We ate dinner at the Hotel sitting on the huge wrap around porch.

I took a quick trip to Clayton, just down the road. It has lovely shops, is right on the River, and is the home of the Antique Boat Museum and The Thousand Island Museum. What I enjoyed the most was sitting on the river eating lunch and watching the boats go by.

Then it was time to head to Old Forge, but I wasn’t through with the Thousand Islands area yet. On my way out off the island out of the corner of my eye I caught what looked like giant crows in a field. I was going too fast to stop so had to go to the next exit, 6 miles away, and come back to check them out. Yes indeed they WERE giant crows. They are by Sculptor Will Salisbury. I couldn’t find a measurement of them but I’m guessing they are 10-12 feet tall. Pretty cool.

The stop in Old Forge was very interesting. The camp we stayed at, Bald Mountain Colony, is on the grounds of what once one of the resorts you read about that the Adarondiaks were famous for. One of the earliest camps in the area The Bald Mountain House was on Third Lake in the Fulton Chain of Lakes, and there are 8 lakes in the chain. The Bald Mountain House was an early Adirondack resort hotel built in 1893 near Old Forge, by Charles M. Barrett. Designed to accommodate 140 people, the hotel offered luxurious amenities, daily activities, and relaxing mountain air to guests who often stayed for the entire summer season.

Everyone ate at the main building and there was a casino, horses, boating and all other types of sports to be played croquet, tennis, there was a dance hall, a soda fountain, and a bowling alley . The house was finally demolished in the 1960s when the “tent and trailer blue jeaned crowds” arrived. Now the property holds trailers and has 3 sites for transients like us.