Saturday morning we arose in our Charlottesville Inn and tottered off to the kitchen about 7:45 AM. Breakfast at the Cedar Spring Inn doesn’t start until 8 so we were a bit early. Ms. Innkeeper reminded us that we shouldn’t sit down and expect breakfast. Of course not, we replied we just wanted to stand around and drink coffee. I wonder why these people had a desire to become innkeepers. They are certainly not the warm, fuzzy types that you figure would want to do it. Anyway, Mr. Innkeeper asked where we were off to today. When we replied Asheville he asked if we were planning on going there in one day.
Uh oh, we thought. In our minds Asheville was just a hop, skip and jump away from Charlottesville. But no, it turns out that it is over 350 miles away. 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. The temperature was fine but the humidity made everything feel damp. We had dinner at the inn and turned in. On Saturday we met Mr. Innkeeper who engaged us in a conversation about whether one could be good without god. 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? Find an internet site of course. Unfortunately, internet is not offered at the Sourwood Inn. So once again with my trusty computer on my lap we went out trolling for a connection. We found one at the Sleep Inn. People have been really nice about letting us park ourselves in the lobby of their hotels.
Next we went to the Biltmore Estate.
This is a huge mansion built by George Vanderbilt whose major occupation in life was being rich. His grandfather and father had made the fortune. George’s job seems like a good one. We took the audio tour which highlights about 60 rooms. Then we went to the winery. 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. 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. But that’s okay, John and I had some interesting discussions about whether progress is a positive thing or should just be a 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 wouldn’t overheat in the car during the afternoon.
We were met at the door by Mrs. Stern Innkeeper. “You cannot check in now. Check-in is not until 4 and it is only 1:30!”
” Oh, please Ms. Innkeeper, take pity on our wine and edible gifts, and let them check in now. We won’t stay ourselves but will wait until the appointed time” 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 we have stayed- 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. Let’s see, what do I know about Madison? – founding father, short, married to Dolly Madison, did something with the Constitution. Well, I found out he is 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 Madison’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 Jefferson’s home. While I’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 pirate’s life for me.” Or at least a boater’s life for me. We spent a couple of days on the Miles River with my sister, Peg, and her husband, Ted, then headed to St. Michael’s.
We lived aboard and docked at the Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s. 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, he is tall and I am 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 Ted’s both on land and on their boat.
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 Jersey’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 small plates 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 there are only a couple of bites of each thing, you do not 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.
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. We were especially interested in their current exhibition showing works by Edward Hopper. There was an excellent audio guide which we used for the exhibit and for the regular collection. 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.
We’ve made it! All the way across the United States. On Tuesday it will be our anniversary. Sunday was a trip down memory lane. After leaving Albany early we arrived in our old neighborhoods by around 11 AM. First we took a quick detour to the old Data General site. It is partially an EMC building now. John called George so they could reminisce about the days of working at DG.
Even though this is not the way we visited our former homes, I thought it would make more sense to post the pictures chronologically. Before John and I were married, I lived in Brookline in an apartment with two other girls. Before too long, one of the girls departed and John left his groty apartment on Peterborough St. in Boston and moved in. We had two bedrooms, a large living room and a tiny kitchen. I had my car, Otis, towed here when I could not find off-street parking in the middle of the winter. It was also the site of the Mad Whistler.
After the lease ran out, we moved to Milford (first floor.) At this point I told my parents that John and I were living together, or as my father put it, shacking up. My mother was so concerned about my neighbors finding out that she sent me mail with an outside envelope addressed to John and an inner one addressed to me. God forbid the mailman should know. So we moved into suburbia clandestinely on July 1 and got married 16 days later. I have always craved parental approval. This was quite the step up for us. The rent was $201/month for a large 1 bedroom apartment. It was $1 over our budget and we had to think long and hard before we signed the lease. We lived here two years.
Then we discovered that we made too much to be living at the Rolling Green apartments. So we decided to build a house. Our first house had three bedrooms, one and a half baths, a living room, family room, dining room and kitchen in Mendon on a dirt road. The road is paved now and the house has a number. When we lived there, Mendon did not have numbers for Neck Hill Rd. We decorated in garish 1970’s colors, grew flowers and pumpkins and lived there for 3 years. I worked at Appliance Buyers Credit Corporation and John was doing well at Data General. We decided to start a family. So this is Jonathan’s first house. He had a pretty little sunlit bedroom and he was the best baby ever. But Data General had plans for us. When Jon was 6 months old we were transferred to North Carolina. But that is a story for another trip.
We were transferred back to Massachusetts in 1983. We bought a hole in the ground and a plan for a house in the summer and arrived in October to find – – a hole in the ground. We finally moved into 2 Maria Lane in Hopkinton in February of 1984. This is probably our best-loved house. We lived here for six years. We made friends who are still our friends today. All of us in our little cul-de-sac had kids who were the same age. It was idyllic. But then friends moved away and ultimately we did too.
It was a very peculiar day for dining. It was like we were the couple beamed down in Star Trek wearing the red shirts. (Wearing the red shirts in Star Trek meant that you were never returning to the ship, or anywhere else for that matter.) John started out the day by filling the waffle machine at the hotel. This machine had slots for four small waffles. He left his waffles to cook as he filled his coffee and got some fruit. When he came back someone had taken two of his waffles.
We continued on to Mendon where we were looking forward to a lobster roll at Lowell’s Dairy. Lobster rolls are lobster salad in a New England hot dog bun. A New England hot dog bun has sides that are like regular bread with the crust only on the top. They are impossible to find elsewhere. Unfortunately, we found out that Lowell’s Dairy burned down three years ago. So no lobster roll and no lunch.
Okay, after encountering a very talkative former neighbor in Hopkinton it was almost 3 PM and we still had eaten no lunch. Any place would do. We stopped at Chili’s in Framingham. We sit down. No one waits on us. We each take a turn going to the restroom. We’ve have empowered the other with our lunch order, but still no one shows. John gets up and goes over to the clutch of waitstaff and asks who is responsible for our table. Could we get someone to come over. They look at us with unseeing eyes. After another 5 minutes we give up. As we walk out, we are asked if we are all set. Yeah, all set to walk out the door.
Finally, we go out to dinner at Legal Seafoods in Park Square, Boston. The picture of the rolls and wine represent the best part of the dinner. They came in a timely fashion and were not overcooked. We ordered lobster. And waited. And waited. And waited. Finally we asked our waitress about what was happening with the order. She says, oh, there’s a big party downstairs and they ordered 18 lobsters so things are backed up. Hopefully yours will be done soon. She comes back to say ours is 3rd or 4th in line. Finally it comes. It is overcooked and dry. But we are hungry!!! So we drench it in the butter so it has a little moisture.
On the way out, the hostess asks John if everything was alright. He says no. So she gets the manager. We tell him that the lobster was overcooked and the service was very slow. I mention about the large party who orders a bunch of lobsters and held up our order. He looks confused. There’s no large party downstairs. There’s no 18 lobsters. There’s only a story made up by the serving person because she screwed up the order. But the bill is already paid (with tip) and we just gave up.
Tonight we are eating at the highly acclaimed Aujourd`hui in the Four Seasons Hotel. Hopefully, we won’t be wearing red shirts.
We left Henrietta for our next overnight, Albany. It is almost anniversary time! On Sunday night we willl be in Boston. We were originally going to go to the Matt Brewery today but their tours did not start until 1 PM. So we opted for the Ommegang Brewery which is near Cooperstown.
Ommegang was founded in 1997 and they were recently bought by Duvel, an old, old Belgian Brewery. We took the tour and tasted the beer. I liked the Witte. It is kind of like a hefeweitzen. John liked the Ommegeddon, a hoppy, wild yeast, lambic type beer. John also got a T-shirt with the Beeriodic Table on it.
Tonight we ate at the 99 Restaurant and Pub. I had a baked dish of lobster, crab and scallops with breadcrumbs and John had scrod. Yum, yum and yum. How I miss shellfish from the cold waters of the Atlantic.
Starting tomorrow there will be lots of pictures of the places where John and I met, fell in love, got married, lived, etc. It will probably all be quite mushy. I told John tonight how special he has made this trip for me. He has an incredible wealth of information that illuminates every place we go. I cannot imagine a better companion. Of course after I told him that, I had to explain why I was so important as well. Seriously, I have to at least be smart enough to ask interesting questions!