Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"The List" for next year at the CMA Music Fest

Honky Tonkin'!!!!!
Line Dancing one afternoon
Remember to wear orthodics! (for colleen...remember to BRING orthodics)
Have breakfast again at Monell's and Pancake Pantry
Have another Pina colada at Joe Crab's (okay two)
The guys should go shooting more than once!
party until 4am ...oh sorry typo...that would be 4pm!
Go to trace's fan club party (and trisha's again)
marty stuart's late nite jam
Get tickets to Celebrity Series again
Get in early enough into Nashville so we can take a 2 hour nap so we can stay to the end of marty stuart's late nite jam. (I think jerry and I are going to get in the night before!!!)
Toes up time before each big show
Bring a white board!
Remember to "train" up the hill...zigzagging to save energy
Hall of Fame Museum
Bus tour of the stars homes.
have a drink at "The Stop" John Rich's bar on Broadway near the honky tonks.
Get down to the Riverfront Stage more (providing it isn't SO hot)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Woken by the smell of smoke!

No it wasn't our hotel that was on is the Great Dismal Swamp that has been apparently been smoldering for months. It was a lightning sparked fire that moved into the peat bogs and in essentially acting like a big peat fireplace...they are now trying to drown the fire with water pumped in to drown it out. You can smell it everywhere and when the wind shifts (like it did that morning) you can smell it inside your nice Hilton Garden Inn hotel room. The smoke moves across the region depending on wind conditions. Over on the East Shore of the Chesapeake they even have the fog horns come on in the middle of day because of the low lying smoke...yucko!

So this was our last day on the road for a bit. We drove north along State Route 13 over the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel and Bridge. We drove up to Salisbury Md where we hoped to visit the Delmarva Great Chicken Festival...but sadly it had been a friday/saturday festival...the chickens had gone home (along with the "world's largest chicken frying pan"...I kid you not!). So we ate at English's Chicken restaurant instead, bought watermelon, cantaloupes, and peaches from roadside stands and headed home up through maryland.

Got home to see happy cats, a MOUNTAIN of mail, a garden in a riot of colors, and my bed!!! was GREAT to sleep in my bed!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hilton Head to Chesapeake, VA

Drove mostly the 95 today entertained by the gazillion (okay maybe 200) signs advertising the coming of "South of the Border" a completely silly, tacky, entertaining, and never subtle roadstop see it coming?....south of the north carolina border (in South Carolina). It started life as a beer stand when North Carolina went dry in the 40s. It took on the name South of the Border...because it was...and then gathered the tacky and overdone theme of Pedro, sombreros, and all things Mexico (although what the larger than life gorilla, flamingos, geodesic domed motor hotel, and gators have to do with mexico I'm not sure). You name it, it is at SOB (as it is known to the locals and signed on its water tank). Mostly clean bathrooms, gas, food, mini golf, arcade games, t-shirt shops, and Firework shops (not just one). And if you really are sick of being in the car you can ride the glass elevator to the top of the sombrero tower!

This guy with humungous crotch is something like 87 feet high and is supposedly the highest free standing sign in the US.

When we reached a spot just south of Rocky Mount we ditched the 70 MPH highway and took off in a easterly direction towards the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina and Virginia. DRove through cotton and corn fields, pine forest, and swamp lands. Crossed the Roanoke River...very pretty with rocks and rapids at that point. We drove along the southern and eastern borders of the Great Dismal Swamp (no hikes bug spray). Turns out that one branch of the Intracoastal Waterway runs along the eastern border through of bridges and locks...really quite pretty. There was a large sailboat tied up to the dock at the visitor center from Rhode Island!!!

Found a Joe Crab's for dinner (a sister restaurant to the one in Nashville) pina colada and a basket of coconut shrimp later...I am ready for bed!!!

ST. Pete to Hilton Head

Set off on the last leg of our 3 week sojourn through 13 states. Stopped in Orlando for lunch with jason (and a trip to Border's where Jason acquired much coveted Manga novels courtesy of mom). Then it was north on the I-4 to the 95. The area between Sanford and the 95 is mostly pine forest with palmetto understory and occasional commecial developments and signs indicating that homes are coming to the area. Once on the 95 heading north we went through Daytona (home not only of the speedway but of the "largest Harley DAvidson dealer". We zipped through jacksonville blessedly missing any of the traffic we usually hit (they have massive highway construction going on). Saw the Barack Obama motorcade (a gazillion cop cars and motorcycles, big bus, couple of black official looking cars, and a hovering helicopter overhead). He was going to jacksonville for a press conference....working Florida already.

The 95 through Georgia streams north and south mainly through a series of pine forests, river crossing, and marsh grass lined sloughs and wetlands. if you keep your eyes straight ahead it sometimes seems boring...but take the time to look down the rivers and sloughs...well, it makes you wish for a flat bottom boat and some mosquito repellent and the time to explore a few of them.

Crossed into S. CAroline and soon took a eastward turn at offramp #8 and headed to Hilton Head for the evening. WE had a FABULOUS meal at Red Fish Restaurant...probably the best meal of the trip. It's a charming, sprawling, multi-roomed, wine filled walled, restaurant. We had the dominican slow cooked pork and some interesting and tasty salads. Very good service. And HUGE wine list. Spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express with HUGE rooms...we could have a southern debutante ball in this one. And now...we're off to the Great Dismal Swamp.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gelato in ST. Petersburg

Paciuga's is a great little gelato place on Beach Drive in ST. Petersburg. It isn't as good as my favorite spot in Montreal...but it's the best place I've found in the states so far. They have a myriad of far I've like them all (but I get the smallest cup now...don't want to be wearing the gelato...just eating it). see

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

La Cabana del Tio, Clearwater Florida

This is one great hole in the wall restaurant. La Cabana del Tio at 1709 Drew St, Clearwater, Fl. A small storefront restaurant and take out where they make corn tortillas by hand all day can buy them go. FAbulous, absolutely fabulous carnitas...they have lots of other thing...but we always have the carnitas. And orange soda from mexico....yum! There is a counter and about 3 small tables...most people seem to take out. but we can't wait that long to eat the carnitas tacos

st. petersburg post office

In downtown St. Pete there is an historic Post Office building that was built in 1916 and is an "open air" post least the post boxes and the mail slots are all snugged in under the arched loggia ...there is an indoor office to buy stamps etc. Here's a photo of it in the 20s.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pass - a - Grille Beach

Just south of St. Pete Beach on the barrier island is Pass-a-grille beach...the very tip of the island. We stayed there years ago at "island's end" which is still there (despite a hurricane near miss). It has a lovely beach and beach walk and several fun restaurants...including the 3 storied Hurricanes (where you can go to watch the sunsets from the top deck bar). We chose to watch the sunset from the was lovely.

St. Pete in June

Have had a nice few days so far. Have had productive meetings with our architect. We have discovered a couple new places to eat that don't violate our new nutritional goals (on the way to be healthier and thinner people). And we've had some really nice drives and walks. Our best find for new restaurant is "Red Mesa" on 4th St somewhere in the 40s. Latin inspired food. It was PACKED for lunch and should be. Jerry had the pork verde which was very good. I had a seared scallop salad with tomatoes, hearts of palm, and pine nuts with a light vinagrette....excellent.

Drove out to St. Pete Beach area on the weekend and had dinner at a "fish place" at St. John's Pass. An area that defines the word "touristy" but it has great views and is very festive.

We saw dolphins in the channel from our dinner table. There were also lots of egrets, herons, and laughing gulls in addition to the dolphins in the water.

Winter Park and the Boys

Stopped in Winter Park, Florida for the night on our way to St. Pete. Celebrated an early FAther's Day with dinner at a restaurant that Jason picked out (and he made the reservations and everything). It was called Le Coq au Vin..."a french bistro Y'all". It was a lovely spot in Orlando it what seemed to be an old house. Jerry and I, Jason and Yaric, and Matt (Jason and Yaric's roommate). A nice meal...good conversation. Here is a picture of the menfolk.

More Photos - Jacksonville Beaches

Atlantic Beach and Laughing Gulls

Jacksonville Beach at sunset

Photos to Go with Trip Blog - Okeefanokee Swamp

Here are some photos that go with previous daily blogs.

Okeefanokee Swamp

Don't have photos of those darn little bugs that bit my ankles!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Jacksonville Beach

We spent 3 nights in Jacksonville getting our somewhat annual physicals at the Mayo Clinic. This time we spent both evenings down in "the Beaches"...Jacksonville Beach, ATlantic Beach, and Ponte Vedre. The first night we walked around the cute little Atlantic Beach "downtown". They have a very nice independent bookstore called The Book Mark...Jerry got a new Denise Mina book. The store owner recommended Sliders for a seafood dinner which was just 2 short blocks away. We ate outside,played dominoes, and had good food. I had shrimp and a rice/beans mix. Jerry had oysters and mahi/mahi. There was a guy playing guitar and singing (old eagles, eric clapton (acoustic), jimmy buffett). He was pretty good and we enjoyed it. The evening was quite nice with a stiff breeze coming from the southeast off the ocean. After dinner we walked on the hardpacked sand and watched kids look for shells in the low tide, laughing gulls take baths in the pools left behind by the escaping tide, other walkers enjoying the soft air. it was really delightful

The second night we went down to Jacksonville Beach for a walk. There are a lot of bars (many with music). This part of "the beaches" must REALLY be hopping during spring break!!!. Also many restaurants...we saw another Joe Crab's (sister to the one in Nashville) right near the Red Cross LIfeguard Station and Tower. Jacksonville has a great municipal pier...quite long We walk to the end and watched the endless parade of people fishing off the pier...there had to be at least a hundred! Coming back to shore we looked over the side and saw a large group of rays gliding through the water...really graceful and beautiful. There were many, many of them.

The homes in Jacksonville Beach and ATlantic Beach were lovely...a much nicer area than expected. Not pretentious but also a cut above the barren beach cottages of many areas. There was lovely landscaping at most homes...

All in all...two lovely evenings. Now we head south to Winter Park and then St. Pete.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Okeefanokee Swamp - or how to get 14 bug bites in 30 minutes.

We entered the National Wildlife Refuge from one of 3 entrances - the West…leading to Stephen Foster Park…Did you know that the Suwanee River (that Foster wrote about) starts in the Okeefanokee swamp and then travels southwest through Florida? And did you know that Foster never actually SAW the Suwanee River? He just liked the name and wanted a river in the south!

Since it was mid-day when we got there and was about 96 degrees…we took just a short ½ mile walk on the boardwalk into the swamp…just long enough to a) get some pictures b) get really sweaty and c) get14 bug bites from some stupid little buzzy things that hopped on my bare legs (Okay…I know, just how dumb am I to walk through a swamp in mid-day without long pants and socks on!?!!! )

Despite the bugs, heat and sweat, it was really cool. The dragonflies (a myriad of different colors and sizes) and butterflies (also many different kinds) were flying around in great numbers…They were beautiful. The loblolly pines were in bloom (they have flowers that look just like small magnolias) and were dropping their pretty blossoms on the boardwalk. Didn’t see gators…but saw all the signs of what NOT to do (swim in the water, feed them, etc).

After grabbing a popsicle and hopping in the blessedly air conditioned car we were off for the last leg of the day…the drive to Jacksonville. Much of which was driven in a driving thunderstorm!!! Florida really knows how to do thunderstorms!!!!

Georgia - Not just Red Clay Dirt and Peanuts

We drove south from Nashville on Monday morning driving down the 65 where it met up with the 75 just outside of Chattanooga, TN. The drive was pretty: hilly with woods and fields. As we neared Chattanooga the hills became near mountains. We didn’t have to time to stop this trip but plan to return to see Rock City Gardens, Lookout Mountain, and Ruby Falls (“the world’s largest waterfall contain within an underground cavern). All three have been tourist stops since the 20s…we’re sure there is more than a little hokieness to go with them, but we want to see them anyway. Jerry remembers all the barns painted “See Rock City” when they drove from Ohio to Florida in the 40s…the barns were everywhere!!!! And many are still maintained.

From Chattanooga, we drove south on the 75 through Atlanta (Hotlanta indeed…it was almost 100) and Macon and stopped for the night in Warner Robins (about 30 minutes south of Macon). North of Macon it was hilly…the Chatahoochie River winds through Atlanta (the river of Alan Jackson song fame). Atlanta has some beautiful and interesting downtown buildings. Ted Turner’s broadcasting headquarters is located there. We are going to stop for the CNN Tour our next time through…I wonder if they give tours of the Weather Channel too?? Atlanta AND Macon are growing cities (if the amount of road construction on the interstates is any indication). Atlanta has 7 Costcos in the greater Atlanta area…we of course stopped at one…in Kennesaw (of Civil War battle fame).

The face of Atlanta is also changing if the waitstaff at the Sonny’s BBQ was any indication…2 southern women, a Hispanic woman, and 3 russian women provided service at Sonny’s…the new face of the south!!!

And Warner Robins was an odd (but pleasant) spot. We saw signs for hotels on the interstate and got off at the interchange expecting them to be right off the freeway. Nope…3 miles east we drove and then rising up out of red Georgia clay was the sea of new hotels, Hampton, Quality, Comfort, La Quinta, etc. etc. plus an assortment of new restaurants and suburban tracts. We had to ask at the hotel desk…what are all these hotels for? Answer, first..the Warner Robins airbase…must be doing a lot of business there!! Then agribusiness: Frito Lay, Planters, and ?. The essence of Georgia: corn, peanuts, and ? toss in pecans, tobacco, and peaches and you’ve got the agricultural history of Georgia…

Tuesday we headed down the 75 across much flatter land. It must have been the perfect weather to bring in the hay because fields were strewn with new round hay bales and trucks created to haul the big round bales were traveling off to the local farm supply store. We got off the interstate at Tifton and headed east and southeast to the Okeefanokee swamp. Gone was the deep red Georgia clay replaced by brown dirt. Pine forests mingled with fields of tobacco, corn, hay, and blueberries!!! Who knew blueberries in Georgia…there were a lot of fields at one point. Oh…and HUGE Pecan trees.

Jerry remembers driving across Georgia in the 40s and all he remembers is the heat and tar paper shacks. It is still hot, but the shacks are gone (mostly) replaced by mobile homes (mostly) and small tidy homes and fields.

Oh by the way, one of the many special license plates you can get in Georgia is apparently one that is the solid color of red Georgia clay

Monday, June 9, 2008

Last Thoughts Upon Leaving Nashville and the CMA Fest

Had a great time with great people listening to great music and eating WAY TOO MUCH great food. Only thing we didn't overdo was drinking...thank heavens...I think it was too hot (although much of Nashville concertgoers appeared to differ on that opinion).

I forgot to talk about the City of Hope Charity Softball Game held the day before the festival...also known as Sweatin' in the Sun with the Stars....whoooheee it was hot! Here are a few photos from the event from Greer Stadium. Photos include Jo Dee Messina pitching (her team won despite the large number of opposing batters she walked), Sara Evans (who can really play softball, has a good arm, and does NOT run like a girl), and Joe Nichols (who looked good just standing there...but also could play).

Sunday - when we weren't eating

Sunday night's concert was a very pleasant evening (although slightly more humid). Dwight Yoakum performed (his first appearance at the Fan Fair/Music Fest since 1988). He was great. We also saw: Chuck Wicks, James Otto, Bucky Covington, Randy Travis, John Stephan, Sara Evans, Phil Stacey, Billy Ray Cyrus,. And Billy Ray was a pleasant surprise...he really rocked...a great gravelly country rock voice. Randy Travis was ALOT of fun...and we think we is turning into Mick Jagger's country cousin...don't have a picture of him...but next time you see one...see what we mean? At last late night walk back to the hotel was was 80 degrees and humid at midnight!!!! AGain...thank god for well air conditioned hotels. Speaking of hotels...The Hermitage Hotel is trully lovely. I really didn't take any pictures of it...but this one of TJDuck and Cowgirl duck (on their first "date") shows some of the lobby...which is spectacular

Sunday in Nashville at the Loveless Cafe

The menfolk went out shooting...little orange disks...nothing animate. The womenfolk got to sleep in...yeah!!!! Once up and running we went to BlueShoes office (the agency who we got our CMA Fest package through) and signed up for NEXT YEAR! Yahooo. Then, not satisfied with cherries and cinnamon roll sticks, we drove out to Highway 100 on the outskirts of Nashville to eat lunch at the famed Loveless Cafe and Motel ( again!). The "motel" is now a series of shops (jewelry, pottery, art, and "ham and jams") which we wandered through while waiting for our buzzer to buzz. They said the wait would be 1 hour and 15 minutes but it only took 45 minutes. AGain...good country food...really good cucumber/onion salad....excellent fried chicken...what is it with tennessee fried is SO good (must be those Tyson plants in Eastern Tennessee).

This is the stuff you do when you've eaten yourself stupid!

Saturday Night's Concert

A great evening of men with low voices and one great band of magical harmonies! Jason Michael Carroll, Craig Morgan, Little Big Town, Jamey Johnson, Rodney Atkins, Darryl Worley, Trace Adkins, Alan Jackson, and Kenny Rogers. Trace had his "Game On"! Craig Morgan was a great crowd pleaser...I had never seen him perform before...he really loves the crowd and they love him...who knew you could rock to a song about an International Harvester!! The only disappointment of the evening for us was Kenny Rogers...the final act of the evening. Time has unfortunately taken a toll on him and working a big arena of 25,000 people is past him. Maybe smaller club venues where he can work that old kenny rogers charm. But he seemed frail and tenative and well...just not up to snuff as the rest of the acts...sorry to say...because he's been a great performer, but not anymore.

More great food!

Saturday morning we rose early enough to be at Monell's at 8:30 for their famous country breakfast. I can guarantee you it was ONLY the promise of their cheese grits and fried chicken (yes for breakfast) that got me up at 7:30 in the morning after Friday nights LATE concert. Monell's is located in the Old Germantown seciton of Nashville. Everyone sits family style at shared tables and food is brought in a steady stream from the kitchen and passed clockwise around the table. biscuits and gravy, scramble eggs, potatoes (fabulous potatoes), cinnamon buns, cheese grits (I love these grits...and I'm not even a grit gal), ham, bacon, sausage, the BEST fried chicken...oh yes...buttermilk pancakes. I'm sure I'm forgetting something...unbelievably. We met Mark Kendall, the eldest son of good friends of ours. He is a recent VAnderbilt graduated grad student. with a new job...he's working as a videographer for Wynonna Judd...his first day was Friday at her autograph signing at the CMA Fest. We had a great time visiting with him (in between bites of all that food)

Peg, Jeff and Mark,

Got crabs? They've got 'em at Joe Crabs

Friday afternoon took us to Joe Crab's on 2nd Avenue just off of Broadway in Nashville. Yes...they have crab (3 kinds)...fabulous shrimps (3 ways), great crab cakes....salads...karaoke upstairs...wild waiters...and really great pina coladas...I mean really great!!! Does it look like we're having fun?

Friday Night Concert - Keith is the Man!

The CMA Festival nighttime concert at LP Field was as sizzlin' as the day had been. We laid low on Friday afternoon enjoying the air conditioning comfort of the Hermitage Hotel (what a civilizing invention...air conditioning). Come evening we again walked over the Cumberland River to LP Field and enjoyed one heck of an evening!!! Ashton Shepherd, Jack Ingram, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Josh Turner, Jake Owen, and Faith Hill. AND the surprise of the night...the wonder from down under...Keith Urban played us past midnight!!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Pancake Pantry - The BEst in the World!

We made a beeline this morning for Pancake Pantry on 21st Avenue in Nashville after getting a recommendation from another Trisha Yearwood Fan Club Member who said "they have the best buttermilk pancake in the world"...not just in Nashville, or Tennessee but the world. Well...I haven't sampled enough buttermilk pancakes around the world to be able to attest fully to her claim..but I do bet they are the best in Nashville. If you are going, get there early (we got up and out by 7:30AM even after a late night concert) or plan to stand in line.

CMA Country Music Festival - Day One

What a great day! Peg, Colleen, Mo and I attended Trisha Yearwood's Fan Club Party. We met in a small bar just outside of downtown Nashville and Trisha sang, answered questions, and then took pictures with everyone. A gracious and talented woman with a fabulous, rich voice. Later in the day we went to the Old Ryman Theatre to watch a taping of Celebrity Closeups...interviews with Sara Evans, Joe Nichols, Bucky Covington, and (to be filled in when my memory returns). Great fun. Then last evening (a HOT evening) we enjoyed a great first night concert at the LP field. Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Montgomery Gentry, Kellie Pickler, Jewel, Luke Bryan, Jennifer Hanson, and Rascal Flatts. FABULOUS!

Trisha Yearwood at her Fan Club Party

Peg, Trisha Yearwood, Annette (with TJDuck)

Nashville's LP Field - home for 4 nights of the best Country music concerts

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nashville, Tennessee

The old and new of downtown Nashville

Jerry and I have joined good friends (Peg and Jeff cotter, Mo Cotter, and Colleen Noonan) in Nashville to do a little boot scootin' during the 4 day CMA Country Music Festival. We're staying at the gorgeous Hermitage hotel in downtown, which has great beds and really great air conditioning...both really important to Jerry since he is still battling a killer cold/bronchitis. It's an old historic hotel on 6th Ave and Union.

Last night we went to Marty Stuart's SEventh Annual Late Night Jam benefiting Nashville's MusicCares!. It was at least 3 1/2 hours long (that's when we left since it was 1:30...but it was still going). Marty Stuart and his fabulous superlatives were just that Superlative! We saw Charlie Daniels, John Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Mel Tillis (a surprise guest), new talent, bluegrass talent, old songwriters, and the guy who was the drummer for Johnny Cash for almost 40 years (I'll look up his name and post it later). It was in the Rynam Auditorium the former home of the grand ole opry...the church of country music. A great, great, evening...

Grethcen Wilson and Marty Stuart.

Today we're off to Tricia Yearwood's fan club party, a taping of GAC's Celebrity Spotlight, and this evening, the first of the BIG concerts at LP field. Yahooo! Where is my cowboy hat???

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In the Land of Moon Pies

We are in Somerset, Kentucky. It is a small town near the large recreational Lake Cumberland in south central Kentucky. There are many older buildings in the downtown built around the turn of the 1900s. Although this is supposedly a happening tourist town related to Lake Cumberland, it isn't happening downtown...a lot of the building are empty. But it's neat and tidy. And there is a Food Fair....

In search of diet ginger ale (still have stomach issues) we landed in the local Food Fair which closes SHARPLY at fortunately we were there at 7:50. And it was here that we discovered where all the fudgecicles are sold...I don't know about where you live but I can hardly every find fudgecicles much less fudge bars. Well here in Somerset...they have both and they have them in several different brands! Right in the same aisles were the Moon Pies. And a huge stand of soft drinks called Faygo. And soft drinks are the only drinks available here...its a dry town. when we were told about places to have dinner, we were told we could drive 5 miles to the next town if we "would like a drink with dinner". How quaint.

Rain down the Ohio River

After another fabulous breakfast at Bramble Creek Bed and Breakfast and a trip to the walk-in medical clinic (jerry's chest cold has gotten worse), we headed the car down the Ohio River once again...destination? somewhere in Kentucky. After two days of glorious weather today was gray and raining and at times POURING...complete with thunder and lightning and a tornado watch ...just a actual twister!

Again the drive down the Ohio was a curious mix of pastoral beauty and well kept farms interspersed with tired sagging buildings and massive power plants including the Gavin Power Plants which is the largest Coal fired power plant in drive right through it (pictures to post later).

We crossed the Ohio into Ashland Kentucky (the home town of the Judds and Billy Ray Cyrus!!!) where we ate at J&J Family restaurant....a place that time has truly forgotten! Wow...breaded porkchops, corn bread, hot roast beef sandwiches with the mashed potato and gravy ON TOP of the sandwich. Complete with an autographed photo of Naomi Judd behind the front counter. Truly an experience (and I believe we are still experiencing the after effects of those porkchops and hot roast beef sandwich).

Then back out into the rain and through the extremely beautiful countryside of Kentucky (rain or not).

Marietta, Ohio

Marietta itself is an extremely picturesque and likable town. VERY friendly. It prides itself on its heritage and prosperous history. The downtown is well maintained with lovely brick streets. There is a live theater, an historic old hotel (the Lafayette), good restaurants, and a lot of cultural and recreational entertainment throughout much of the year. I’d love to see the annual steamboat races. It was at one time a lively steamboat terminal and there are still a few steamboat moored on the Muskigum. We could easily stay another day…we didn’t get to see the Ohio River Museum (closed on Mondays) and missed the drive up the Muskigum to see the still working locks (all done by hand) that make the river (the longest river within the boundaries of Ohio) navigable. Didn’t get back to a cool looking book store (The Barking Dog). And we missed the last tour of the Fenton Art Glass Factory (across the river in Williamstown). Who knew there’d be so much of interest in the land that time forgot!!!

But tomorrow we have to push off to Kentucky. Nashville and the Country Music Festival is our Wednesday destination…Yahooooo!

Oh…there is a great deli on 3rd street: aptly name the Third Street Deli…great sandwiches and salads…eat in or take out.

View of Ohio from Marietta, Ohio

Part of downtown Marietta, Ohio
Early morning.

Why Marietta?

You ask…why did you make the effort to come to Marietta Ohio? Where the heck IS Marietta Ohio? Well, obviously it’s on the Ohio River…actually the Ohio AND Muskingum River to be exact. Marietta was the first town in Ohio when revolutionary soldiers and their families took up the government’s offer of land in the new territory that would become Ohio. They settled here in 1797 (give or take a year). In 1803, my mother’s ancestors (the Bartletts) also took up the siren call of the new Ohio Territory and 3 Bartlett brothers and their families moved from Cumberland Rhode Island to Marietta. Some of the family stayed and some after 40 years or so moved onto to NEWer territory in Iowa (and then Nebraska) which is where my mother’s family stems from. We’ve known for sometime Jeremiah and Jerusha Bartlett (grandparents nth times of my mothers) moved to Marietta and died here. I had heard that they were buried in the oldest cemetery in Marietta. So I was determined to find their headstones…which we did!!! (after two tries…the first dry run requiring a trip to the historical documents collection at the Marietta Library…thanks Ernie!!!). They are buried at the Harmar Cemetery. We also found the property where a son and grandsons of jeremiah and jerusha established a farm on the Muskigum…some of the land is still farm fields and old homes but some of the land is a large factory (like much of the history of the Ohio River valley, I guess).

Harmar Cemetery

Headstone of Jeremish and Jerusha Bartlett

Bramble Creek Bed & Breakfast

This is a lovely place. Bramble Creek Bed & Breakfast. It sits quietly on a high bank above the Ohio River about 20 minutes south of Marietta Ohio. Jackie LeBerth and Mike Neeley are the owners. They bought the home a number of years ago when it was falling down and covered up. They’ve worked for years to uncover its past and modernize it for comfort. There are two rooms available upstairs. Very comfortable. There are chickens out back (with that durn rooster that woke me this morning..actually I found it quite pleasant). A resident cat called IttyBitty. A herding dog named Blaze. They have an organic farm down the road a piece where they grow various berries, fruit trees, and some heirloom vegetables. Breakfast this morning was fabulous: pumpkin muffins, fresh fruit, and a freshly baked frittata for two. If you are in the area it’s a great place to stop for a night or two: (740) 989 0334

On the Road Again - West to the Ohio River

We went to bed to the sound of sleepy robins chirping in the pine outside our window. And we woke to the sounds of a rooster crowing. We are staying at the Bramble Creek Bed & Breakfast in Little Hocking on the Ohio River south of Marietta, Ohio.

We left home on Sunday and the day was mostly the blur of the Interstates as we drove west across Pennsylvania to Wheeling, West Virginia and the Ohio River. I’ve made this drive many times over the past years and although some find it monotonous in its green rural nature, I’ve always found it a pleasant and at times interesting, if not even humorous.

Around Harrisburg we hit a long patch of highway that was rimmed in a riot of small wildflowers: white, yellow, with an occasional fuchsia pink. Round topped silos and red barns dot the landscape. Fields that are visible are barely woken from winter’s dormancy.

Just around Harrisburg, we were on the fringes of what has been historically the major coal producing areas of Pennsylvania (and where some mines still hang on). Large Billboards read slogans such as: Without Coal Most Cities Would Be Dark or Welcome to Coal Country or even better Coal: Clean Green Energy. And in fact the sight of ugly smelters and coal tinged air seem to be a thing of the past…but not the far distant past. As we came out of the Allegheny Tunnel (one of many tunnels that thread the “ridge and valley” topography of central Pennsylvania) we entered a wide valley with curiously stunted and sickly trees. At first I thought perhaps it was the work of a beetle or tree fungus. But soon I noticed on the map the telltale “dots” of mines throughout the region and out the window we could see the manmade hills of slag from mining operations. The coat mining/processing history of this area was marked in no small way by the ailing trees and vegetation. And yet it seems that at the base of all these sickly forests are new plants and trees that appear more robust, perhaps the new generation of plants to accompany the new generation of coat technology? We can only hope.

At Wheeling we turned south on Ohio highway 7 which hugs the western shore of the Ohio River. Our destination for the evening was Marietta Ohio…the first town established in Ohio (more on Marietta later). The drive down the Ohio is a curious mixture of the picturesque, the historic, and the grotesque. One curve brings us to a bucolic set of hills with plump green trees and views across a wide, placid green river. The next curve brings into view smokestacks from coat fired electrical plants along with curious hourglass shaped cooling towers. (that made us first think they were nuclear plants).
Then it’s back to fields and trees. And then again we come to views across to West Viriginia and HUMONGOUS aluminum smelters. Back and forth all the way down the river. and then further south of Marietta are the chemical/polymer plants.

And yet, here I sit in the parlor of a home that was begun in 1800 (the part I’m in was built in the 1860s?). I’m looking out the window to the river, lovely and green. Oak trees provide shade and a perch for a whole gang of robins. An occasional barge moves up stream and an occasional motor boat whizzes by. Geese fly up the river and float down it. The view I’m looking at has hardly changed in the 200plus years since this house was built. We’re happy to enjoy the view for a few days.