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Friday, June 30, 2017


Driving home yesterday, I stopped to take this photo
about a mile from my home.
This is tobacco.
Isn't it absolutely lush and beautiful as it grows?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


As we got into the car, I wasn't singing "Going to Kansas City" for any reason other than anticipating a return to barbecue heaven on hearth.  I was looking forward to Kansas City's renowned brand of barbecue--a craving I've had since our last visit here more than two years ago.  Rob, Michael, and I decided on an early dinner,so we headed for Smokehouse Bar-B-Cue in Zona Rosa, Kansas City, Missouri as it is exactly the craving satiator I was looking for. 

The restaurant's cavernous setting has a set of double entry doors, and once you leave the street and enter through the first set, you are transported to a separate universe of special offactory delights.  The splendid aromatic combination of spiced and rubbed hickory smoked meats and sauces fondle your receptors until hunger and desire are overwhelming.

I am not exaggerating.  We’re certainly not the first to discover Smokehouse Bar-B-Cue.  Go on a weekend and expect a wait.  We were lucky on a Monday, early, and were seated immediately. By the time we left, the place was filling up.

The wait staff is knowledgeable and friendly.  The restaurant, a family-owned business with two other locations, is redolent of comradery and good cheer, so it is at once comfortable and familiar.

Our drinks of choice were beers.  Rob went for the hoppiest IPA, Firestone Union Jack IPA, brewed out in Paso Robles, CA. (another delightful place) Michael and I went local,  KC's own Boulevard Brewery's Pale Ale for him and Boulevard Wheat for me, after a sample taste to make sure this beer would do.  I really liked choosing a Boulevard brew as we had a wonderful tour and tasting at the Boulevard Brewery on our last trip to KC.  This choice was like coming home.  I drank it throughout our Kansas City stay.

Boulevard Wheat is served with a slice of lemon.
Great beer!
Trying to satisfy those barbecue-hungry taste buds in one meal is tough, but we were determined.  After suitable deliberation, we all ordered the Chef's Special which includes pork spare ribs, baby back ribs, bone-in chicken, burnt ends, thick slabs of toast, and two sides.  Here Rob and I agreed on Cheesy Corn and Hickory Pit Beans.  Michael joined us in the corn but went for the cole slaw instead. 


Generous is an understatement when I describe the portions.  The meats were juicy, tasty, fall-of-the bone deliciousness, dowsed in a delightful sauce at once tangy and sweet, thick and sticky, a pleasure to enjoy. I’m smiling even as I write this!

The secret of great barbecue is in the sauce.  Smokehouse's is sweet, spicy, thick, and sticky.  It's tomatoey and sharp.  It clings to the meat, and there is no need to add anything to it.  It's wonderful.  If there is any left on your plate or in your bowl of beans, you take a piece of your thick hunk of toasted bread and wipe it up and eat it.  It's too good to allow it to be washed down some drain!

Do you know what burnt ends are?  This is part of the uniqueness of Kansas City barbecue.  Burnt ends are considered a delicacy. It is the thoroughly cooked point end of the brisket, separated before or after the rest of the brisket is cooked, so the ends are crispier with a decidedly well-done flavor. At some smaller barbecue restaurants, burnt ends are not offered everyday because they don't cook a sufficient quantity of brisket. Not to worry at Smokehouse. They cook plenty.

The beans, too, slow cooked in a savory, thick sauce, were delicious.  Ever try Cheesy Corn? It is so unusual, creamy and mixed with a thin melted cheese sauce.  The corn is sweet and crisp, not overcooked soggy kernels, and the sauce does not overpower; it compliments. It's a side I fondly remembered just as soon as I saw it on the menu. Scrumptious and different.  I’ve never seen it on any of our other barbecue junkets outside Kansas City. Here it is a menu staple but prepared differently in different restaurants.

What a dinner! What a welcome to a great week in Kansas City!

Dessert?  Are you kidding? Sometimes there really is too much of a good thing! 
Take my word on this--Smokehouse is a great place to go if barbecue is your thing! 

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.