Saturday morning we arose in our Charlottesville Inn and tottered off to the kitchen about 7:45 AM.Â Breakfast at the Cedar Spring Inn doesn’t start until 8 so we were a bit early.Â Ms. Innkeeper reminded us that we shouldn’t sit down and expect breakfast.Â Of course not, we replied we just wanted to stand around and drink coffee.Â I wonder why these people had a desire to become innkeepers.Â They are certainly not the warm, fuzzy types that you figure would want to do it.Â Anyway, Mr. Innkeeper asked where we were off to today.Â When we replied Asheville he asked if we were planning on going there in one day.
Uh oh, we thought.Â In our minds Asheville was just a hop, skip and jump away from Charlottesville.Â But no, it turns out that it is over 350 miles away.Â We ended up leaving much later than we would have for a long trip and spent a long day getting to our new lodging at the Sourwood Inn outside of Asheville.
The inn is at 3500 feet and has no air conditioning.Â The temperature was fine but the humidity made everything feel damp.Â We had dinner at the inn and turned in.Â On Saturday we met Mr. Innkeeper who engaged us in a conversation about whether one could be good without god.Â He gave us some tracts to read and we figured we would be quizzed in the morning.
Well, what’s the most important thing to do after breakfast?Â Find an internet site of course.Â Unfortunately, internet is not offered at the Sourwood Inn.Â So once again with my trusty computer on my lap we went out trolling for a connection.Â We found one at the Sleep Inn.Â People have been really nice about letting us park ourselves in the lobby of their hotels.
Â Next we went to the Biltmore Estate.Â This is a huge mansion built by George Vanderbilt whose major occupation in life was being rich.Â His grandfather and father had made the fortune.Â George’s job seems like a good one.Â We took the audio tour which highlights about 60 rooms.Â Then we went to the winery.Â The wine was okay, not great, and mostly the grapes come from California anyway.
After a long day we returned to the Inn, had dinner, and retired to our damp room.Â We finished reading the tracts that the innkeeper gave us but when we went down to breakfast on Monday morning he was nowhere to be seen.Â But that’s okay, John and I had some interesting discussions about whether progress is a positive thing or should just be aÂ concept without a value judgement attached.
Help! I am crippled in my blogging by staying in places where there is no internet or at least no internet except in the public spaces. So I am playing catch-up and trying to remember what we did.
We drove to Charlottesville through a lot of traffic in the D.C. area. It seems that the urban environs are reaching further and further out. We found our lodging down a windy country road about seven miles outside of Charlottesville. It was a really beautiful spot. But we had arrived too early. Mostly we just wanted to drop off our perishables so they wouldnâ€™t overheat in the car during the afternoon.
We were met at the door by Mrs. Stern Innkeeper. â€œYou cannot check in now. Check-in is not until 4 and it is only 1:30!â€
â€œ Oh, please Ms. Innkeeper, take pity on our wine and edible gifts, and let them check in now. We wonâ€™t stay ourselves but will wait until the appointed time,â€ we beseeched.
Apparently we were pathetic enough as she led us to our room (which was totally ready to be checked into) and allowed us to make our packages comfortable. (To be fair, the Cedar Spring Inn has been the best place weâ€™ve stayed â€“ great breakfast, good bed, superior sheets, beautiful inside and out with friendly guests with whom we talked and drank wine for hours.)
Leaving our lodging, we went to Montpelier, the home of James Madison. Letâ€™s see, what do I know about Madison? – founding father, short, married to Dolly Madison, did something with the Constitution. Well, I found out heâ€™s just about the most important American ever. Madison was a voracious student of all things. He had a keen sense of history and the place that the founding of the United States had in it. He was a meticulous record keeper which gives us incomparable insight into our own history. He is the founder of the Constitution and writer of the Bill of Rights. He was concerned about making a Bill of Rights not because of granting rights but because writing them down might limit them.
We saw Montpelier in a state of transition from the house that the duPonts bought and renovated back to Madisonâ€™s home in 1809. We were fortunate to see it while before the walls are plastered up and while its 18th century skeleton is exposed. The tour was exceptional. We really came out with a new appreciation of James Madison.
On Friday we went to Monticello, Thomas Jeffersonâ€™s home. While Iâ€™ve always thought of Jefferson as one of the greatest men of all time, it became apparent that he was complex and paradoxical. Taking the tour made him seem very human. He had a tragic personal life losing his wife and almost all of his children. He held slaves but abhorred slavery. He died in debt. I wish I had pictures but my camera ran out of battery juice right before we left for the tour.
After getting all our ducks in a row, like John getting his hair cut and me getting my nails done, we headed off to the bounding main.
Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho, a pirateâ€™s life for me.Â Or at least a boaterâ€™s life for me.Â We spent a couple of days on the Miles River with my sister, Peg, and her husband, Ted.Â Â We headed to St. Michaelâ€™s.
We lived aboard and docked at the Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s.Â It was a really interesting museum and we also wandered around the town, shopped and ate at places where our esteemed Vice President, Darth Vader, spends some of his off-time.
John and I are big people, heâ€™s tall and Iâ€™m wide. I think that boats are manufactured with smaller people in mind. Here’s a picture of John doing deck chores.
We had a great time at Peg and Tedâ€™s both on land and on their boat.
Now we head west.
Just post- and pre-posting a few days. We made it across a choppy Delaware Bay and to my sister, Peggy’s, in Maryland. We went to a party and did a lot of dancing. Today, Sunday, until Wednesday we are heading out on their boat, Just Us. We are going to St. Michael’s and motoring around to other places. I won’t have an internet connection so no posts. I should have lots of pictures and narrative when we get back.
Greetings from Cape May, New Jerseyâ€™s southernmost beach town! After driving through torrential rains we arrived in picturesque, Victorian Cape May. I know that this whole region really needs the rain but perhaps a gentle shower every few days ago would be better than the cats and dogs it rained on our trip here
We stayed at the Queen Victoria B & B. It is one of many restored Victorian houses here. We had a lovely room on the first floor with access to the front porch. John and I went out and took a walk along the beach and through the shopping area. We stopped at the wine store for supplies for al fresco dining on the front porch. We sat there and had our wine and munchies and waved at the horse drawn carriages and tour trolleys that went by.
The other night we were in Cape May we ate at another Victorian hotel. Our dinner at the Union Park dining room was really good. We decided to have a â€œsmall platesâ€ experience by ordering mainly from the appetizer menu. This way we were able to sample their gazpacho, tuna with seaweed salad, duck tart, foie gras with buckwheat blini, scallop with manchego potato cake and shrimp and scallop pad thai. Since thereâ€™s only a couple of bites of each thing, you donâ€™t get overfull. Another big plus for this restaurant is that they allow you to bring your own wine and there is no corkage fee.
After an exciting few games of skeeball, we were ready to call it a night.
We left Boston early on Wednesday with a goal of making Cape May around dinner time. But the most important thing to do was stop in my hometown and see my house, the houses of my relatives and go down to the beach. Beach, you see, is what we called it. All the folks from north Jersey and New York who polluted our roadways in the summer called it the shore. But those of us who lived here on the Atlantic just went to the beach.
I’ve got to say that Red Bank was looking pretty good. First we stopped at my great-grandmother’s house. She lived on “the other side of the tracks.” But she had a great, big yard where we played ball and she grew corn where Peg and I would hide. Her brother lived right next door. She was alive until I was 8.
Then we went to my old house. It looked pretty good. There were moms outside and lots of kids. We got out of the car and introduced ourselves. Courtney, the woman who owns the house, invited us in. (Who says NJ-ers are unfriendly!) They’ve made the house their own but it still looked like the house I grew up in. It made me a little teary. We visited both my grandparents houses and my sisters’ old houses. I am really glad we stopped.
Truly could any Jersey girl from the shore not stop at Max’s for the definitive lunch at the beach? Here’s John at Max’s enjoying an onion ring and a hot dog. If you click in on the picture and get the big size you can read all the posters on the wall. Plus at all the tables there is a commendation from Governors going back years. The hot dogs are served with a pot of sauerkraut. A lot of fun times of my youth were spent in Long Branch (where Max’s is). It used to be that Max’s was right on the boardwalk and you could sit at your seat and watch the Atlantic crash on shore right under the restaurant. Unfortunately that Max’s burned down and while the decor on the inside is the same, the location is a bit inland.
Unlike Anthony’s Pier 4 where we couldn’t go home again to, our stop in Red Bank was full of good nostalgia. My house, my grandparents houses, downtown, the beach – it all looked pretty nice. And I didn’t have time to include the river, and the library where I worked, or Red Bank High. I think it was a good place to grow up.
It’s our anniversary! YAY! Today was a day to relive life in Boston. We started out by walking through the public garden. John had never been on the swan boats, so we were paddled around the pond there. What a good idea public gardens are. I think they soothe and inspire the people who pass through them.
While walking around Boston, we stopped at the Granary Burial Ground. The picture is of the marker for the Boston Massacre. Other graves here include the parents of Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and Paul Revere. It is so special to go to Boston and really feel a part of this country’s history. It makes you realize what a patriot is.
This is the place where John and I got our wedding bands. We just happened upon it as we were walking around Boston. We decided to go in. Well, I found the very piece of jewelry that I have been looking for! So we bought it. It’s very beautiful partly because it just is, and partly because we found it at the very same place as our wedding bands that we bought 35 years ago.
Lastly we went to Anthony’s Pier 4 for dinner. It was a really bad experience and we ended up leaving before we even sat down. Enough said. Our anniversary didn’t need this place to make it special. The dinner we had on the Anniversary Eve will be the new benchmark for special dinners.
Only one more day to go!
Monday John and I boarded the T (with a Charlie Pass – remember “Did he ever return? No, he never returned and his fate is still unlearned. He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston, he’s the man who never returned.”) for a trip to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.Â We were especially interested in their current exhibition showing works by Edward Hopper.Â There was an excellent audio guide which we used for the exhibit and for the regular collection.Â But after three hours on our feet we were ready to get back to the hotel and get ready for dinner.
Picture below is Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.
On Monday evening we went to dinner at Aujourd’hui in the Four Seasons Hotel. John had called earlier to make a reservation and to arrange for some special surprises. When we got there the champagne that he had picked out, Perrier Jouet, was waiting. It was wonderful! We told the waiter our story of coming all the way cross country to celebrate our anniversary. He loved it and we were treated to all sorts of special delights the rest of the evening.
We decided to order three courses plus dessert and have the sommelier pair wines. Of course, we ended up getting way more. First came a cucumber juice, chorizo and jalapeno shooter. Next tuna tartare on a base of diced watermelon with an avocado sauce paired with a Cotes de Provence Rose. Then, actually something we had ordered, seared foie gras in white nectarine soup with candied angelica paired with a Bordeaux sauterne. Next we had an elephant garlic veloute with escargot and lovage paired with a Loire sancerre. Our main course was butter poached lobster, veal sweetbreads, asparagus and crisp hominy. We had a burgundy with this from Volnay, a little town in France where John and I had stood with a French vintner in her little cellar with vintages dating back to WWI. Just when we might have exploded they brought over some candies and an Uruguayan port that we just had to try. Yum. Finally a Happy Anniversary dessert plate, mine’s in the picture with an ice wine. John had an apple dessert with grappa.
It was an outstanding meal . We were treated like royalty. All our negative experiences from the day before were totally wiped out.