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Friday, June 23, 2017


We love Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Pass over the dunes, and this is the a sight you might be lucky enough to encounter.
It's not what you might normally picture as a beach scene,
but perhaps that's one of the reasons Myrtle Beach is so lovely to vist.

Friday, June 16, 2017


This peaceful farmhouse nestled near the Antietam Creek
in Sharpsburg, Maryland, saw the bloodiest single day in
American history, the Battle of Antietam, the first battle
of the Civil War to be fought on northern soil
Visit the battlefield.
Study our history and learn from it.  You can take a tour
and see the monument to Clara Barton, the "angel of the
A woman well ahead of her times, she said,
"I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man's work for less than a man's pay."

Friday, June 09, 2017

When you get to California, make sure you visit Hearst Castle.
See how "the other half" lives.
This pool, for instance, was used to film the 1960 blockbuster movie
Spartacus, starring Kirk Douglas.
Hearst Castle is quite an experience.

Sunday, June 04, 2017


Tryon Palace, the capital of the colony of North Carolina
the first capital of the state of North Carolina
Walking through New Bern, North Carolina is akin to stepping into United States history.  Or stepping into pre-United States history when New Bern was the capital of the colony of North Carolina, and the Governor made his home in Tryon Palace.

Tryon Palace, the Governor’s home and the seat of colonial government, comes as total shock if visitors expect something similar to a European palace.  It is anything but.  It was actually designed to be like the fashionable homes in London, but in the distant colonies it was known for its grandeur. 

Governor William Tryon brought an architect from England to design the very grand and expensive Georgian building. Tryon, often despotic in his manner of ruling, then taxed the colonists to pay for it.  Needless to say, he was not loved.

The building is beautiful. Each room is done with exquisite craftsmanship.  This the staircase, cantilevered so there are no visible signs of support.    Notice the scrollwork at the base of each step and the intricacy of the ballusters.  All of these done by artisans.

Here the crown molding is incredibly impressive as it is in every room.  Again, the signs of expert workmanship.  The details in the fireplace and the tiled hearth make for a beautiful toom.

The Palace was built between 1767 and 1770.  Ironically, Tryon and his family lived there for only about one year before he was transferred to be the new Royal Governor of the colony of New York

The second Royal Governor, Josiah Martin, lived in the Palace until 1775, when, as a Loyalist and fearing for his life, he fled North Carolina. The Palace became the headquarters of the revolutionaries who auctioned off Martin’s belongings.  After the Revolution, New Bern became the first capital of North Carolina with its seat of government in Tryon Palace. Quite an impressive history.

The governor may have fled, but the coat of arms still graces the entryway to the Palace

One very famous visitor to North Carolina’s first capital city and to Tryon Palace was George Washington who visited in 1791 for a dinner and dance held in his honor. 

In 1798, however, a fire, starting in the cellar, destroyed the Palace.  As time passed and the community grew around the ashes, Tryon Palace became little more than local history, its acreage covered by homes.

It wasn’t until the early 1900s that volunteers uncovered the original architectural plans, raising the hope of rebuilding Tryon Palace.  It would be an expensive and monumental task but persistence and dedication paid off, and in 1959 the re-built Tryon Palace opened to the public; furnishings were chosen from the extensive list William Tryon kept from his second home in Ft. George, NY which burned down and for which he hoped to be reimbursed by the king. In reconstructing the Palace, that list enabled the new Palace to reflect the Tryon family’s tastes as closely as possible.  A visit gives us a glimpse of our past and enables us to envision life in the latter part of the 18th century.

This little girl's bedroom exists as it would in Tryon Palace's heyday.
We learned that blinds had already been invented.
It is, to say the least, an interesting feeling to walk into rooms here in the United States adorned with portraits of King George.

In this room business was conducted.  Notice the portraits of the King and his wife.
How beautiful are the ceiling moldings, the details around the fireplace, and the
furniture.  Impressive, most impressive.

Touring the palace is quite a rewarding and enjoyable experience.  They are conducted by guides in period dress who talk about the daily routines of the household both the official residents and their help.  They answer questions and try very hard to describe the life, private and public, that existed at the time.  It’s quite impressive. 

Included on the property is the original stable building which escaped the fire and where, presumably, they point out, George Washington stabled his horse.

Around the Palace are seasonally shaped gardens with hedges that offer meandering brick or gravel paths, and as we walk under brick archways or through doorways in the brick walls, we experience real garden “rooms,” offering peace and privacy, birds and flowers.  These are “revival gardens” reflecting, as much as possible, the flowers and arrangements of the time. They help to complete the experience. 

Pass through one doorway through a tall brick wall, and find yourself walking under a long, arched arbor that would be bursting with flowers a little later in the season.  As you walk, you can see enough in the distance to imagine the pathway leading right down to the river.  It is all quite beautiful  

I thought you might be interested in this information about the gardens and the hedges.  It’s one more way such attention to detail is taken to make a visitor really understand the Palace and the care taken in bringing it back to life.

Here's something I found interesting, to say the least. As we enter the gardens, we find a rather incredible birdhouse.  It’s an entire building, and looks so special with the big entry at the top and all the little doorways beckoning to birds.  But you don’t want to look through that screened door.  Imagine what lies on what looked like hay at the bottom and along the walls.  It’s not such a pretty sight when you think that it was someone’s job to keep that birdhouse clean.  It really is something to see!

Take your time visiting Tryon Palace, and use your fertile imagination to see the times as well as the place.  Then walk the historic streets and see homes of that time.  Visit the North Carolina Museum right next door to learn more, and take the trolley tour for more insight.  It will be a wonderful trip.

Friday, June 02, 2017


Magen's Bay, in St. Thomas, is arguably one of the best and most beautiful
beaches in the Virgin Islands.
Just look at it and dream of being there.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


In honor of Memorial Day, 2017
In honor of all those who served our country, sacrificing their lives
In honor of all our veterans who have passed
We remember you.

I chose this photo because it juxtaposes respectful youth playing Taps and the old veteran
honoring those who served as he did in wars past and present and
in times of peace.  He remembers them.  He honors them.

On Memorial Day we honor and remember.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Traveling with a good book is akin to having another companion, and Fredrik Backman’s strong  novel, A Man Called Ove, is just the kind of traveling companion you look for.

While his story makes a wonderful companion, Ove, the 59 year old we meet as he vents at a salesman trying to explain to him what an iPad is, would not be the kind of man you’d normally seek as a travel partner.  He has no faith in technology and no respect for salesmen who try to explain it to him.  He’s a cranky guy, set in his ways, disliked and avoided by most, and thoroughly convinced that his way is the only way.

So what makes Ove interesting?  We all think we know someone quite like him: older, basically intransigent, intolerant of others, longing for the past, etc. etc.  I, of course, do not find a 59 year old to be “old,” but that’s another story.  Ove’s familiarity is part of his appeal because we nod our heads and smirk as the author sardonically portrays him.  He’s humorous because he is essentially humorless.  But the more we get to know Ove, the less we smirk at his bungling attempts, his unfailing but failing resistance to the growing interaction with his very persistent and very pregnant new neighbor, and his reliance on a very real guardian angel whose approval he seeks even as he deeply sighs at what she prompts him to do.  There are a lot of tears, often unexpected, that go along with our smirks at his quirky behavior. 

Why the tears, you may ask.  Behind every person’s current story is a back story.  It is important to know Ove’s, and as a reader, you might begin to hope for a long flight or a rainy day where you stay indoors.  You will want to read about a man called Ove to find out what makes him tick.

Backman’s writing is direct and deceptively simple.  A chapter entitled “A Man Called Ove Backs Up with a Trailer,” for instance, becomes an introduction to a host of characters, each nicknamed by Ove according to physical appearance. He practically becomes unhinged for his neighbor's breaking the (Ove’s) rules, for driving ineptitude, and for what he considers his basic lack of respect.  Of course, it’s also humorous as Ove tries to drive their car with all the modern bells and whistles, reacting peculiarly to backup warning sounds and other new-fangled unnecessaries in modern vehicles.

Backman makes sure that just as the reader begins to feel dead set against Ove, he releases a bit of information, injects some humor, and makes sure we want to see what happens next. He brings our rolling boil back down to a curious simmer.  

As we learn more about Ove, we begin to envision a very different man from the 59 year old we’ve just met.  It reminds us not to judge because we never really know how deep the roots are and where they are gnarled and twisted. 

A Man Called Ove examines some deeper questions as well.  What makes a person heroic?  What are worthwhile values by which one lives life?  What makes one truly happy?  Do we always know our true worth in the world?  Are we ever too old to stop growing?  Is happiness out there if we just look for it and reach out?

In many ways, these questions are answered, and as they are, along with the smiles at the humor, and the interesting encounters and revelations, the reader is moved to tears over and over again.  Those tears are not always from sadness.

It’s a complex book.  It’s an interesting book.  It’s a thoroughly enjoyable book.  Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove is definitely a worthwhile travel companion.

Friday, May 19, 2017


Wouldn't you love a home like this one in Lenox, MA?
This is The Mount.

It belonged to Edith Wharton, novelist and expert in home design,
whose book, The Decoration of Houses is still studied today.
The Mount is an incredibly wonderful and beautiful place to visit with expansive gardens,
ponds, and gorgeous views.

Wharton won the Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence.
She was nominated for the Nobel Prize three times.
Perhaps you've read The House of Mirth somewhere in your
American Literature studies.

Friday, May 12, 2017


 I love taking photos of gulls, and these, and these three, facing a brisk wind in the Bahamas, were definitely stoic.

Friday, May 05, 2017


At the Visitor Center (located in the Convention Center),
you can pick up a map of the Bear Town Bears
A visitor barely arrives in New Bern, North Carolina before he is confronted by a bear.  Yes.  They’re all over the city.  But don’t be frightened. These bears are the works of artists welcoming you to Bear Town

Today there are several more than the 50 original bears created for New Bern’s 300th anniversary in 2010, and it’s a lot of fun to go hunting for bear and experiencing the clever renditions and the symbolic nature of many of these sculptures.  Make sure you pick up a Bear Town Bears map at the Visitor Center so you will get to know your way around as well as be introduced to the artists and the names of these wonderfully creative animals.

This bear, located in Bear Plaza, of course, is named the Bearer of Rights.  Notice he is wrapped in our flag and holds the scales of justice in one hand.  Look closely at the cloak over his left shoulder.  On it is written "Non establishment of religion, Right to bear [haha] arms, No quartering of troops, and No unreasonable search and seizure."  Each bear bears a message to the visitor, and it is nice to think about that.

Wonder how the bear became New Bern’s symbol and displayed not only in the sculptures but also featured on the bear flags and in the bear gifts found all around town?  Here are the bare bear facts.

In 1710, Baron Christoph DeGraffenried, given a tract of land by the English, led a group of Swiss and Palantine German refugees living in England to this spot. He named his new settlement after Bern, the capital of Switzerland.  Hence, New Bern

Bern is an old German word meaning “bear.”  But are there bears in Bern, Switzerland?  The founders of that city were hunters, and they named it after the first animal they came upon while hunting—bear. The symbol as well as the name not only stuck but also sailed across the ocean with the colonists. Perhaps the European name gave them some hope for civilization in their new and very different world.

At any rate, the New Bern Bears are a vivid reminder that this town, the second oldest in North Carolina, is a living museum of American history.  Bear in mind that New Bern bares Colonial, Revolutionary, Civil War, and other pertinent histories to its visitors.  As you get to know the Bear Town Bears, you will see some of that history laid bare.

This noble creature is BEARON DE GRAFFENRIED,
adventurer and entrepreneur who 
founded the New Bern colonial
settlement in 1710. 

Here is a teaser with some of the other bears we met in New Bern.  To see them all, you will just have to pay a visit to this wonderful city.  It's a place to add to you "must visit" list.



Fairfield Harbor. New Bern, North Carolina

Who will catch dinner first--the fly fisherman or the watchful alligator?

If I were still teaching, this photo would certainly open up a lot of possibilities in a creative writing class, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


No sense moving to the South if you’re not going to feast on real Southern cooking.  Hype cultural diversity in restaurants all you want, but it’s tough to beat great Southern cooking’s range and deliciousness. The beauty and flavors of Southern cuisine reflect a culture too often overlooked.  What a shame! Have you had real Southern cooking yet?

Our quest for truly Southern food leads us to Greensboro, North Carolina and Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, a restaurant highly ranked by visitors and hometown folk alike.  It has been on our “to try” list almost since we arrived in North Carolina a year and a half ago.

If you’ve followed Third Age Traveler, you know that we have been barbecue tasters and lovers for years, ever in search of the perfect rack of fall-off-the-bone ribs, brisket, chicken, or pork, but Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen is not a barbecue joint.  This upscale restaurant is everything a special dining experience is about: ambiance, superb, caring service, and, of course, a menu that makes choosing one of the great conundrums of life.  What could be better?

Well, maybe “better” also means that this restaurant is one of the few wholly employee-owned restaurants in the country.  Maybe “better” means visiting their website and seeing a list of local farms and events at this location or at their second location in Cary, North Carolina.  Maybe “better” means being able to get their recipes and try to emulate the deliciousness you’ll experience at this great restaurant.

Our date for Lucky 32 is Rob’s birthday, so we want something special and something new.  We know the moment we drive up to the impressive restaurant that we’ve found what we are looking for.  Lovely building nicely landscaped with patio dining as well.  From our table inside, the big picture windows reveal trees just beginning to green up, and it is hard to remember we are in the middle of a city. 

 The interior color scheme is basically black and white, but the soft lamplights are like flowers, and the windows allow for natural lighting as well.  Nothing stark about the interior; rather it was warm with tables spaced so there is no crowded feeling.  Too often,  restaurant spaces require tight seating where it’s hard to even stand up without brushing another patron’s chair; not Lucky 32. 

Our waiter is prompt, takes our orders for two martinis, and comes back quickly bringing with him a nice hunk of multi-grain bread, still soft and warm. 

The menu—wonderful and varied—making us sigh as we try to narrow down our choices.  Everything tantalizes.  Just look at the first five starter selections!  What would you choose?

We decide to share the Buttermilk Fried Green Tomatoes.  WOW.  Here’s a dish that has intrigued me since I saw Fannie Flagg’s movie, Fried Green Tomatoes.  Not something ordinarily found in New York!.  I first had them at B.Smith’s restaurant in DC’s Union Station one lovely Easter Sunday years ago.  Love at first bite.  I’ve made them myself since we moved down to North Carolina, and good as mine were, these are wholly different. 

The blue cheese sauce and bacon add a zing, and I’m not sure what went into the voodoo sauce, but it certainly put a plus on that zing.  All five tomato slices are garnished with scallions, and the presentation is lovely.  Absolutely delicious. 

The entrée selection presents no less a problem.  Everything on the menu seems wonderful.  Each entrée is accompanied by two side dishes, and even those are difficult to decide.

I choose the Local Pork Loin —three slices of seared Hickory Nut Gap pork loin served on a bed of heavenly creamed spinach and topped with crisps of shiitake bacon. As my sides, I choose mustard braised cabbage and pimento mac. 

The meat is nicely done, and the creamed spinach adds a flavor boost to the meat.  The braised cabbage, a dish I’ve never had, is superb, tangy, neither too crisp nor too soft—tastefully seasoned.  The combination is unique as are the flavors of the pimento mac.

My meal is so good I will have to fight my yearnings to repeat this selection the next time we come.  And we will be back. I want to try some of the other possibilities.

Rob orders the Cornmeal Crusted Carolina Catfish, farm raised in Ayden, NC with Creole mayonnaise.  It is served on a bed of squash and peas.  For his sides, he chooses collard greens and beans and kale greens.
Perfection on a plate.

Did I say that we cannot resist tasting each other’s selections?  Amazing.  It’s not often where there is not one bit of negativity.  I, who really am not a fan of kale, cannot even complain about that.  I really like the collard greens and the squash mixture.  We both agree, too, that the fish is done just right.  Rob’s reaction to my entrée is equally positive. 

I’d love to tell you what we have for dessert, but there is just no way we could take another bite.  Servings are ample. If you’re sorry I cannot share our reactions with you, you can imagine how sorry we are that there is just no room for dessert!

We’re planning a sightseeing day in Greensboro with our next house guests, and Lucky 32 is where we will take them for dinner.  It will be a real Taste of the South treat.