F) Beryl Staves’ Jouney

Beryl Staves is a member of the Civil War Round Table of Ottawa.  She has taken off for Winter 2012/2013 and we plan to keep track…  From time to time she will check in and share the road…

Click here to see Fall 2012 Excursion…  (Our CWRT team says, Bon Voyage and Stay Safe… )

Below is the start of the 2011/2012 winter journeys.

(Format:

Day 1 – 7 on this page

Day 8 – – See Beryl Staves’ Journey Page 2.   to continue the journey… Each new day is added at the top of the page.

November 17 — See Beryl Staves’ Journey Page 3 – to continue the journey…  Each new day is added at the top of the page.

Day 7

Good evening intrepid armchair travellers and bon vivants…..

Today was all about the Florida landscape. Jacksonville is right at the top of the state, and I located an alternate highway, that turned out to run right along the ocean, so drove it all the way to Daytona Beach.
At first the juxtaposition of long needle pine trees next to palm trees was a bit disconcerting, but they both disappeared and it was all about sand dunes.

I have fallen in love with the architecture of their beach houses – a lot had Spanish influence and red tiled roofs, some looked like Cape Cods on steroids, some were modern, and some were just boxes with multiple garages and porches.  The colours were right out of a crayon box and popped against the blue sky!! And they were all large !!!
Back in the Carolinas, I was told there were alligators in the ponds that seem to be everywhere, so I kept looking to see if there was one half out of the water, and making his way to someone’s yard!!

The other architectural effect that was most entertaining were the mailboxes – a lot were your basic Home Depot special, but then there were the clever ones lokking like lighthouses, pelicans, storks, marlins, geckos, etc.  But just to add to the individuality, some of the posts were actually manatees, dolphins, and seahorses standing on their tails to hold the box portion at the correct height.

When I arrived in St. Augustine, I actually felt intimidated by all the tours they were offering to tourists, and in all sorts of vehicles. So instead I got some advice from Richard at the visitor’s center, and did my own thing. St. Augustine is Florida’s oldest town, begun in the 1500’s, which is amazing considering Chris Columbus only crossed the Atlantic in 1492.  A man named Flagler did a lot for the town and is known for building a railroad from there to Key West. I also saw some references to Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth.  This created a conflict for me as I saw a number of older folks – so their story was either that they had yet to drink from the Fountain of Youth, or they had and the magic waters hadn’t worked !!!!  Ouch !!!

I stayed driving south on the alternate highway “A1A” until I got to Daytona Beach.  What a trip!!!  I paid $5.00 to drive on to the beach, and eventually off at another street about 3/4 mile down the way. But inbetween I parked and headed for the surf. Remember the Carolina Shag I learned a couple of nights ago? – well I wanted to see how well I could dance in the sand. Seagulls and sandpipers were dancing with me, so I suppose I did well enough !!

After Dayton Beach, I shifted over to I-95 and what a dreadful highway that was….no scenery and it even had traffic jams!!  But I wanted to move further along the coast – the Civil War things are mostly behind me, and other experiences in front !! In about a half hour I’ll be putting the dancing shoes on again, and after that driving on to Miami.  I’ll be on the lookout for David Caruso……

Day 6

This morning began in Charleston SC, headed off to Savannah Georgia, ended in Jacksonville FL.

I was sending off a package first thing, and got into a conversation with the UPS guy. He’s a new American but visited Canada – guess where? – eveyone’s fav city – Toronto !!

I took up Dan and Willie’s suggestion to go to Savannah and try out Paula Deen’s restaurant. It is located in the downtown city market area, and got in immediately for lunch. Bonus !!  The following description is primarily for all those who are now going to Prairie Lights without me !!!!!

My server’s name was Danny; we got into conversation; he has visited cousins in Canada – guess where?  (see answer above!!)
He very kindly brought me a sample of collard greens, cause I’d never seen them before! Like swiss chard, but cooked with ham hocks, and quite tasty. There was a waitress who came to every table with Hocakes and a herb biscuit. Not sure I spelled hocake right, but it is 1/2 pancake batter and 1/2 cornmeal. They cook it on a griddle, but it could also be done in a cast iron pot.

I ordered a spiked Arnold Palmer – a drink I learned about last year. Apparently when Arnold Palmer was golfing, lemonade was too acidic, and sweet iced tea affected his game adversely so he came up with a 50/50 mix. Add some vodka, a sprig of mint , slice of lemon, and you’ve got something yummy!!  The funniest thing was that I got ID’d….but I noticed that all the women got ID’d. What a great conversation starter !!!! LOL

Lunch was a Paula speciality – chicken pot pie.  But no sides – there was no room for those. The pot pie was topped with a lattice of puff pastry, that could be lifted off and set aside so one could get to the chicken – which was in a cream sauce the colour of butter, with the taste of butter, and only slightly thicker than melted butter. NOT a dish for vegans !!

Dessert was a gopher I picked up somewhere in the market. A gopher is pieces of pecans held together with caramel, and some icing (or not) on top. Yummy !!

At lunch, a guy sat down next to me, and we got into a conversation. Turns out he is a photographer in town for the film festival. He is going to be in Orlando next Sat for the DVD drop of the final Harry Potter film. It is going to be an event at Universal Studios theme park. And then in late Feb he is going to be in LA for the Oscars. So we exchanged contact info, and I’m thinking this is going to make for some great stories !!

After lunch I explored the city – wanted to see the Bonaventure Cemetery, although the Bird Girl sculpture had to be moved because tourists were chipping pieces off her. Her image was on the cover of the book and used in the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Also located Mercer House, used in the movie. Johnny Mercer was a local celebrity. I had to google him, because I knew the name but wasn’t sure why. He was big in music from the 1930s to 60s, and if you heard any of it, you would recognize it.
Overall Savannah was very nice, but the biggest surprise is they have open container laws. Can you say PARTYYY !!!!!!!!

I really wanted to move on to Florida, so didn’t hang about, and hit the interstate. From tomorrow on, I am going to be travelling down the Atlantic side of the state to Key West, then up the Gulf side to Orlando and Walt Disney World Resort.

If anyone has a particular thing they would like to know/hear about, let me know, and I’ll do what I can.
Until tomorrow,

Day 4 Ok – I’m back !!!

I was so annoyed at the rain last night, I forgot to tell you I got gas at a Sheetz gas bar.

I first heard the name when I saw Morgan Spurlock’s film “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”. The company was one of the sponsors he sold to in the movie. It was a quasi-documentary about how product placement gets into the movies.  It was hilarious, down at the Bytowne Cinema, and must be rentable by now. Spurlock is a very clever film maker !!

And turkey buzzards – there were 3 of them above me, and I had seen a fresh roadkill that I suspected was to be dinner – but I know they only go after a carcass at a certain point, and I’m not sure when that is. I figured if I staked out the roadkill to see them land, I might be waiting a while. So I carried on.

The site I hoped to see in Petersburg was closed so figured I would make tracks!

North Carolina is of particular interest to me as my German ancesters landed there somewhere between 1850-60. As the family story goes, they didn’t like slavery or the swampy lowland farmland, so they headed north, and settled in Canada.

North Carolina had lots of interesting places I would like to see – who could not want to stop at the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy – or the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield (which I did). Besides being genetically blessed, and aging really well, she had an 18″ waist.

Seriously?  Anyway, the museum was very well done, and I recommend it.

I will have to go back to Greensboro to see the new Civil Rights Center. It is located in the former FW Woolworth store where the 4 black students sat at a whites only counter to challenge the institution of segregation in 1960. From that moment, the issues of segregation moved forward, but the violence that went along with the changes was pretty horrible, as I recall. Only 7 yrs later I got to watch while Detroit burned – our neighbours to the north, and we couldn’t do anything but listen to the tanks and gunfire, and hear the sirens.

Stopped at a country store, and learned about boiled peanuts – they were different !!  Sitting on the floor were bushel baskets of the largest sweet potatoes I have ever seen – which says to me the ones we get in our grocery stores are the field leftovers.  They also had baking potatoes, but the shape was just like a sweet potato with a white skin.

Took a side trip down off the interstate to a Civil War battle site, and came across fields of cotton. So cool. Turns out this is just the beginning of harvest time, so some of the plants had been picked, but the harvestor was going to have to do a 2nd or 3rd run through that field. 

South Carolina – picked up some lure cards at the visitor center coming into the state and kept on going. Stopped for dinner at a place called Patriots Restaurant…so named because they were the opposite of the Loyalists ( yes , the same ones who got chased back to Canada) This was the American Revolution of 1775-83.  So the States broke away from British rule. Blah…blah…blah….

Of course we got them back when we burnt down the White House during the War of 1812..

The food was OK…..and the desserts were magnificent – cakes that stood 6″ tall, and an apple pie (not even deep dish) that was 4″.

Time to put on the ipod again, as the radio stations held no interest for me – sports/politics/country western music !!

I have made it into Charleston, and think I may be here awhile….even in the dark the architecture is soooo wonderful – and I’m not sure how to describe it. Hopefully seeing it in the light will help.

And I met my first palmetto bug – he was about an inch long, red in colour, and a bunch of legs; apparently harmless, but startling when one has never seen such a thing before!!

And I have tried sweet potato pie – lighter in colour than pumpkin, and there didn’t appear to be any spice as in pumpkin.

Day 3

Tonight I’m in Petersburg, Virginia.

Is it anywhere far away from yesterday’s Richmond?  NO !!!

Y’all know I try to learn something new every day – it’s usually something that absolutely no one else in the world cares about – but that’s me!!

Today I learned that no matter how much money I shove into the parking meter, I can count on coming back 15 minutes late, and the parking meter person will have already put a ticket on my windshield.

That meant all the good feelings I was having towards the Confederacy, their White House, and adjacent museum disappeared faster than smoke!!

And it means this Northerner is helping to reconstruct the South. Yeah me !!!

I did another check off on the bucket list – Appomattox, site of the surrender of Robt E Lee to Ulysses S Grant. Names you will all know, and wonder why!!

Turned out the site is in the middle of Virginia, and it took a few hours to drive there, but the scenery was really great.

On the drive back to Petersburg, it began to rain, and several hours later, it hasn’t stopped.

Which leads me to something else I learned (again) (but I am ever hopeful) I am neither evil enough to be melted by water like the Wicked Witch of the West, nor do I have a powerful sugar content (denoting sweetness)….ah yes, mediocrity thy name is Beryl…

Happy Halloween.

Day 2

 

I’ve arrived in Richmond. Waking up to trees loaded down with snow and the landscape as white as it can get, was not my idea of a good time, however several hours later when I was coming into Maryland it was gone.

I got to St. Mary’s Church in Rockville, Maryland and saw the graves of the Fitzgerald’s.  It was quite moving – and there were flowers and coins placed there by other visitors.

The church originally opened in 1816 so the rest of the graveyard was interesing as well (to me). Only a few blocks away I made it to a Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop and tried the Schweddy Balls ice cream.

Hats to to Pete Schweddy !!!  (yes, paid for it an hour later)

Back on the interstate and hoping for no traffic tie-ups around Washington. (It has worse traffic than Los Angeles.) The bonus for me was seeing all the signage directing me to various Civil War battlefields and museums.

I know this does not interest most of you, as it’s all just ancient history. Richmond was the captol for the South during the Civil War years, and tomorrow I am going to hit as many museums as possible.

The general rule whereby museums are closed on Mondays doesn’t seem to apply, so I am happy !! And isn’t that what life is all about being happy??

I also have new manual dexterity – iPod in right hand, driving with left !!!  Way easier than using a cell phone while driving !!!

Tomorrow night is Halloween – my favourite holiday  !!  Raise a glass to that!!

Tonight I’m in Petersburg, Virginia.

Is it anywhere far away from yesterday’s Richmond?  NO !!!

Y’all know I try to learn something new every day – it’s usually something that absolutely no one else in the world cares about – but that’s me!!

Today I learned that no matter how much money I shove into the parking meter, I can count on coming back 15 minutes late, and the parking meter person will have already put a ticket on my windshield.

That meant all the good feelings I was having towards the Confederacy, their White House, and adjacent museum disappeared faster than smoke!!

And it means this Northerner is helping to reconstruct the South. Yeah me !!!

I did another check off on the bucket list – Appomattox, site of the surrender of Robt E Lee to Ulysses S Grant. Names you will all know, and wonder why!!

Turned out the site is in the middle of Virginia, and it took a few hours to drive there, but the scenery was really great.

On the drive back to Petersburg, it began to rain, and several hours later, it hasn’t stopped.

Which leads me to something else I learned (again) (but I am ever hopeful) I am neither evil enough to be melted by water like the Wicked Witch of the West, nor do I have a powerful sugar content (denoting sweetness)….ah yes, mediocrity thy name is Susan.

Day 1

Friends, Romans, Countrymen (and women) ….

I’m back on the road. The RV got put into storage, did one final gym workout, and a couple of errands before actually leaving Ottawa.

I took the Thousand Island Parkway so I could brag to all the westerners in this group how terrific the red and orange leaves looked. Unfortunately they didn’t get the memo, and only the brown and yellow leaves showed up !!

The drive south through New York State was uneventful until I noticed I could see the “rain”. The radio in the minivan doesn’t pick up news radio stations (only plays rock and roll) , so I missed hearing about the snowstorm in the area !!!  You should see the snow!!!  Actually it looks just like Winnipeg on a Halloween night – and all the little kids get to wear their costumes over their snowsuits, and look like chubby little monsters/superheroes/etc – and their pillowcases are dragging in the slush on the sidewalks !!

Anyway, I’ve dropped anchor at the New York and Pennsylvania state border.

Tomorrow – hope to be stopping by F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s graves in Maryland, just outside Washington DC, and on to Richmond Virginia. I know you are all secretly as excited as I am to be (possibly) touring sites related to the American Civil War – because after all, isn’t that our common bond???

I can’t even keep a straight face as I type this !

Last week one of my LA contacts sent me a notice for an open casting call in LA on Nov 5th.

I’ll have to miss this one – which works, as I need new head shots anyway!!

(add drum roll here) LOL

Thanks for all the going away gifts – although I am coming back  – just not for a few months !!

One of my next quests is to find some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream – Schweddy Balls !!!

Cheers everyone !!!