Lizzy Mabry Mill

October 15th, 2018

Lizzy Mabry Mill   Mile Post 176 in Virginia, One of the most picturesque places on the Parkway. Mabry’s original sawmill and blacksmith shop still stand.  The National Park has done an amazing job in preserving this treasure.  We saw a blacksmith working his craft, corn being ground and hand weaving.  The Mill was very picturesque and picnics were welcomed.

                                  Mabry Mill

The Big Deal

October 14th, 2018

The main focus of our trip this fall was to return to North Carolina and the Smokey Mountains via the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We have done many miles on the Parkway but this trip will be 469 miles on the Parkway.  Smokey Mountain NP will be the ending of the Parkway. We will take several side trips but mostly we will be on the parkway.

First item on the to do list is get to the entry gate at milepost 0  in Virginia and get our senior parks pass that will be good for Paul’s lifetime.  A great value as long as we keep moving.  Not only do you get into the National Parks free but also get 1/2 off camping in most.  So on this trip we spent (actually Amy and Stephanie bought it for Paul’s birthday) $80 and saved about $60 in entry and camping.

A real senior benefit

Our first view of the beautiful area is behind Paul.  We will get in some hiking on this trip but also a lot of views!

Because of the winds last night the parkway had lots of debris because the NP Service does all the maintenance and often closes stretches of the parkway if they cannot get to it.  That happened at about mile 30 but the detour was beautiful also.  We missed about 11 miles of parkway but none of the big stops.

Peaks of Otter near Mile Post 86 is a beautiful resort area complete with a lodge, restaurant and a beautiful lake.

The lodge of Peaks of Otter

Fuel is not available on the parkway so you need to exit the parkway and even though there are lots of signs on the parkway it is a National Park so signs of what is available at the exits is minimal so it is up to your smart phone to guide you to the outside world.  Sometimes you get really lucky and find some amazing place!  Some not so much!

You decide!

Paul pulls into the station for fuel and sees this sign and says “you need to go shopping! I have some work to do!”  Ok then, it was kind of a warehouse with lots of racks of clothing in beautiful colors.  Tunics and Leggings were the hit of the party.  I walked out with a $75 Credit Card bill but some really cute leggings for Halloween.

 

 

Shenandoah NP

October 12th, 2018

The beginning of our road trip during the fall.  We entered the Shenandoah NP at the North Entrance Station under cloudy skies.  The Skyline Drive was our goal thru this park which is 105 miles and will connect us to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Our first night was very rainy and windy.  The park has several campgrounds and are very well kept with nice showers.  We had to move around some to find cell service to make it through the evening of rain.  When we have no connections we rely on cell service so we can work and play indoors.

A very cool outcropping of rocks, If I was younger I would have tried to get to the top

At the same stop there was a small waterfall and a portion of tracks that have been refurbished and you can get a sense of long ago days.

Waterfalls are always my go to.  I will hike miles just to see running water.  Most of the falls on this trip were pretty close to the roads.  This one was after a nice little uphill trek.  There was plenty of water to fill the streams and falls as it has rained most days that we were in Shenandoah NP.

Our last night was very rainy so we finished the drive and found our way to a local town with Walmart and Starbucks and spent the afternoon and evening with plenty of internet.  It was very windy and rainy.

 

Another Roberts Family Reunion

October 11th, 2018
This one is for the youngest Roberts 50th birthday. Yep, we all left our lives to celebrate Stephen turning another milestone!
We all made our way to Old Forge again and had a great 4 days of togetherness. Lots of laughs, more than enough food and snacks! If you couldn’t find something to snack on well…..
The weekend was Columbus weekend which means it is also homecoming and the big Varsity soccer tournaments.

David and Ethan both play varsity so we got to see them run around the bonfire that is set by the volunteer fire department after the 5 floats are dismantled.
The team had a great first game but lost the championship game. They came in 2nd in the tournament !
Saturday we had the big party for the birthday boy, Stephen with all 9 siblings and some cousins and one aunt.

And our favorite hike to Bald Mtn. Of course! This view never gets old

That’s me with Paul’s sister Nancy  (#5) and his niece, Jennifer. The only one from her generation besides the boys who live in Old Forge to make the weekend.
And the best reason this was a good time to come to Old Forge! We hit peak!

Old Forge, New York, such a beautiful spot

January 14th, 2018

We arrived in Old Forge just after dark and it is already 0 degrees!  But the house is nice and warm!  And now we have a shower and running water, YIPEE!  Life is all about the small things that make me smile.  We had a very uneventful evening and slept great, we even had to turn the heater down a notch.  The Van was very cold and both heaters were working overtime.  We woke up about 8 and it was -20 degrees!  WHAT???  Well I did say I wanted to experience “REAL” winter.  I think this is as real as I want!

Well that is a “new” look!

The van used a lot of propane so we will be out refilling it this am as soon as it warms up a bit!

We finally got ourselves bundled up and headed into town.  There are lots of snowmobiles on the roads, trails, bars and it is before noon.  It is a beautiful morning in the Adirondacks but most are staying inside next to the fire.  We found propane and the gauge said it was out.  The poor guy had to get down on his belly in the snow and then Paul had to drive up onto a board because the tank is low and his hose was stiff!  Duke and I waited about 50 feet away because I am very nervous around gas and don’t want to get caught in the explosion; I can just watch as Paul and our van go I guess!  It took the guy at least 20 minutes to get hooked up and then he pumped our 4 gallons into the tank.  At these temps it may not last until we leave on Thursday.  The weather says it is going to warm up again after more snow on Tuesday.  Warm up is 20 for a low!!!

Anyway, we cruised around town and I got to see my frozen lake!

1st Lake in the Fulton Chain of lakes

I have ridden in a boat on this lake many times!

The track is from Snowmobiles

Snowmobiles heading for the next bar

The deer are still around

Above is the Moose River which we canoe on every time we are here and usually go for a swim right here as we are just about done with our 10 mile paddle!

 

It’s not Frozen but WOW!

January 13th, 2018

It is bitter cold when we get up and the roads are covered with a thick layer of white stuff!  I have not driven in snow in years and we are in a van with regular tires!  I am quite nervous but we head out anyway!  First stop Starbucks!  I wonder how long my latte will stay warm?  It is 11 degrees!

 

We made it and no one is here!  Perfect weather and oh so beautiful.

Looking towards the falls from the Bridge to Canada. The river is a solid sheet of ice and snow

 

Baby its cold out here!

The view of the falls is best from Canada and we needed some exercise after sitting in the car for 4 days so we grabbed our passports and headed across the bridge.  It is a beautiful day and no one is here.  I think this is my favorite visit to Niagara Falls and we are just getting here.

From Canada looking at the American Falls

Taking Duke for a walk near the American Falls, He thinks the snow is really fun, especially making yellow snow

Posing for mom, not their favorite thing to do especially at 0 Degrees

 

The American Falls, it is just beautiful every time I see them

Looking toward Canada. The falls are flowing right over the edge

Remember the photo above? Not anymore.

Poor Duke, he was having such a good time, running, sniffing, peeing and then he stepped in a puddle of melted snow and at 0 degrees it is freezing!  He held his paw up and would not move!

Just after a snow fall is the best!

Since we have been here many times and it is almost too cold to just hang out we are going to continue to Old Forge today. There we get to stay in a nice warm, cozy house all to ourselves!  The RV will sit in the driveway and we will try to keep it warm enough to survive!

 

 

Adventures to the Great Northeast

January 12th, 2018

Paul is from way up north in New York and has always told me about life in the winter, the reason he came to California.  We visit often to Old Forge which is where he lived after high school, but only in the summer!  He still has a sister and brother living here.  It is beautiful in the summer, kind of like Lake Tahoe but much smaller.  We have never come in the winter, mostly because the weather is very unpredictable.  The town is big in snowmobiles when they get snow and summer being on the water is perfect (although cold).

We had no plans for this winter other than the usual, go to Arizona and Texas in February so when Paul told me that Niagara Falls had frozen I said “Lets go!”)  I have no idea about winter, the coldest I have ever experienced is about 17 degrees  and I hated it.  Yes, this is a stretch and not easily done on a whim but if you want to see the falls you need to hurry because it doesn’t usually happen and if they get a warm snap its all over.

Paul winterized the van and I cancelled and rearranged the calendar and borrowed what I could of winter wear and Monday in the rain we headed east.  We made it to Little America, Wyoming the first night after only 14 hours of driving.  We have to stop more often because since the van is winterized we cannot use the facilities.  That means pee only in emergencies, brushing our teeth with Crystal Geyser, and washing up with wet ones!

Our second day the weather started warming up and we made it to about 50 miles out from Omaha.  Then I start looking at the weather more closely for the New York area and see they are having a warming trend!  By Wednesday I’m figuring we will see the falls just like we saw them in September!  There is no snow anywhere and we do not need these boots, hats, scarves and coats we rustled up to come here.  Oh well, life is an adventure and we will get to see some of Paul’s family on this trip so all is not lost.  Maybe we can rent golf clubs and play instead of snowmobile?

Wednesday is more of the same and another 14 hour day.  It’s looking pretty dreary but the forecast for Niagara is good!  It’s going to get snow and the temps are going to drop.  We have been driving for 3 days on the interstate, not interesting at all so all we have is each other and of course Facebook.  Thank god for cell phones and Facebook!  Today was probably the hardest day all around!  I’m tired of sitting, Duke is tired of not getting to play fetch and Paul, well Paul is just trying to get us to Niagara Falls.  Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, they all look alike and if you get on a Toll road even the service areas are the same, same gas, same Tim Hortons, Pizza and McDonalds.  Tonight we sleep on the thruway.  Very exciting as they have Starbucks in Ohio and it is only 50 feet from my door!  Grande Nonfat Latte to go!

Thursday we arrive in Niagara Falls near dark and it is still 50 degrees and raining!  Not good for frozen falls and snow.  By 9 pm it is freezing and we have to climb into bed!  This van is like a tiny metal box, do not dare touch the sides.  We cuddle in the middle of the bed and doze off.  About 11:30 someone has to pee!  That’s exciting in itself but then Paul opens the blinds above the bed and we have solid ice on the inside of the window!  This is like sleeping in an igloo!  We have electricity because we are parked in an RV dealers lot and our little electric heater is trying its best!  Even the furnace is working.  It is so cold but under the down comforter I am actually sweating a bit, off comes the socks and long underwear.  The problem with that is getting up!  The thermostat says 55 inside but my body says no way.  it’s getting cold and snow is predicted.

Friday we wake up to lots of snow and very cold!  Paul works and Duke and I hang out.  Friday night we park the RV because more snow is coming.  We walk the 1/2 mile to a great spot with a Fish Fry.  Tomorrow is suppose to be clear and cold.

 

Day 17, 18, 19 Dublin

October 31st, 2017

Back in The Republic of Ireland and back to the Euro and oh so many people!  Dublin is definitely way ahead of the rest of Ireland, both Northern and the Republic.  There are so many people wandering the tiny streets.  We stayed right in City Center so everything is right here!

Trinity College and the Long Library were on my list of places to visit.  The college is right in the city and beautiful.

                         Clock Tower

                                        Trinity College

 

                            Long Library

That is a lot of really old books.  I wanted to know why they still have these.  The whole thing is beautiful but seemed like a large collection of books that the students probably never even use.  They actually can check them out to view from the librarian in a special room.  At least some of the students benefit from this collection.

The Harp is the National emblem and it is housed in the Long Library.  It is in a case so not to be played.  It is beautiful and many musicians in Ireland play the harp.

 

We enjoyed several more pubs and of course we visited Guinness Beer.

The tour is very extensive and the building is beautiful.  There is a Pub on the 7th floor with amazing views of Dublin.  On the tour you get a cute little sample of the brownish red beer.  Of course that is not how the Irish drink their beer but not to worry, once you finish the tour you can go to one of the pubs in the building for your Pint!  Included in the price of admission.   I’m more of a 1/2 pint girls so I actually left 1/2 a beer on the counter!  Unbelievable!

 

Dublin also has several Distilleries and we visited two newer ones that are jumping on the resurgence of Whiskey.  Teeling and Pearce Lyons  Distillers have great tours and are very informative about the whiskey making process in Ireland.  I still think it taste better in coffee!

Pearce Distillery is an old church that had been abandoned.

Those are the highlights of my Ireland vacation.  My favorite part was definitely the Dingle Way where I got to walk among the sheep visiting tiny villages and pubs.  We saw very few tourists until we got to Belfast and what my idea of Ireland was before my visit was definitely the countryside that I got to see.  The Irish people are so welcoming and friendly.  For my first trip to Europe it was the best!

Day 14,15,16, Belfast

October 24th, 2017

A whole new world.  Belfast is quit old and not too vibrant.  I guess being in constant battle for so many years wears on things.  We took the Black Cab Taxi tour from recommendations and wow!  what an experience.  Our guide took us through some very troubled neighborhoods and taught us a lot about the religious fighting that has only been over for about 10 years.

Peace Wall

Leaving a message on the wall is encouraged

This wall was built between the Catholic and Protestant communities to prevent some of the fighting.  The wall had to be raised higher several times as they would launch bombs over it.  There is still a lot of bombed out buildings in Belfast but they are rebuilding and the people seem to be coexisting.  The younger people don’t have the same beliefs as their parents and grandparents so things are changing.

The Titantic was built in Belfast and they now have an exhibition on the waterfront.  It is a very beautiful building and someday the whole waterfront will probably be a big tourist hit.  I enjoyed it as I not only learned a few things about the Titantic I learned a little more about Belfast.  The Titantic was very beautiful for the times and it doesn’t appear that cruise ships are much fancier today other than they have way more amenties.  The cruise ship was definitely for the wealthy.  Today just about anyone can afford to cruise.

During the tour you board your own vessel. It is attached by a scissor like devise and you move up and down. Like a Disneyland ride!

 

C. S. Lewis is sort of famous although the people of Belfast didn’t realize he was a famous writer for a long time.  I guess fantasy was not too popular.  They do have a small park dedicated to him with some statues.

We have done so much touring during the day and then at night we have to go to a Pub.  There are lots of Pubs in all of Ireland and everyone you meet tells you about one you have to go to.  Right around the corner from our hotel is the Crown Liquor Saloon which our cab driver told us to try.  It is beautiful on the outside and very crowned on the inside.  Another one we had to try was the Sunflower Pub.  It was recommended by one of our Inn’s on the Dingle Way.  This one had live music.  We have heard a lot of Irish music on this trip.  I saw bagpipes for the first time.

Pubs are fun but sometimes you need a bit of culture.  The Grand Opera House was playing Beautiful and it was right around the corner so we bought tickets and enjoyed a night at the Theater.  Beautiful is the story of Carol King and is currently playing on Broadway.  Belfast’s version was not as professional but some of the actors had amazing voices and the story was truly beautiful!  The music was a blast from the past; I knew every song!!!

Day 13, Northern Ireland

October 21st, 2017

We made it to Northern Ireland where now we have to have pounds instead of euros.  No customs to change countrys but a definite change.  Northern Ireland is much smaller.  They still have lots of green but now we are seeing way more multifamily type housing and way less sheep!  We make it to our B & B in Bushmills after about 6 hours in the car.  We are ready to relax.  Thats good because the only thing around is the Inn where we are staying and they only have Drinks, no food till tomorrow morning where they will cook us a very nice Irish breakfast that is included in our night stay for only 60lbs!  That is a bargain because we will spend about double that for a travelodge in Belfast, without breakfast.

Giants Causeway   The story is interesting and we enjoyed the walk.  The stones are the most impressive as I have not seen that.  I still like Big Sur better for cliffs but this was beautiful.

The hexagon shape of the rocks is very unique.  We were there early but before we left the buses of tourists arrived and soon it was people everywhere.

Sometimes I see things that make me just have to snap a photo.  This girls is walking on these rocks, very close to the cliff and she has a kid on her back who could not have seen anything.  The child is facing forward and covered with clothing.  I guess the kid doesn’t like nature!

Old Bushmills Whiskey  is right here and we have not tasted any Irish Whiskey yet so we do the tour!  Very interesting and very much like Kentucky Bourbon in that they get their barrels from the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers after they are done with them.   Cindy enjoyed the tasting.  I think it is similar to what I think lighter fluid tastes like, but it is alcohol so I’m not passing up the tasting.  I did add ice to mine which the bartender discouraged.  I like my Irish Whiskey in Coffee!