Our Top Ten Favorite Hikes – 2nd Anniversary

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Stone Mountain Trail

We have crossed another milestone.  Two years ago today, on March 1, 2012, we embarked on our new lifestyle of living on the road.  One of our many goals was to continue to exercise and be active.  Building on what I began last year, and to commemorate our 2nd year of full timing, I have compiled our new set of favorite hike/walk trails.  This top ten list covers the trails we explored between March 1, 2013 and Feb 28, 2014.  It does not include the dozens of beach walks we took while on the east coast.  Although we love long walks on the beach, they tend to be fairly similar and we decided not to try to rate them.

Our criteria has remained the same, and that is: (1) the trail had an awesome reward at the end (2) the trail was well-maintained and (3) the experience along the way was memorable.  These trails were fairly short, and some even overlapped each other – unlike the ones we blazed out West.

Below are our top ten favorite hiking/walking experiences.  Clicking on the name of the trail will take you to a website that describes it further.  The “Click related post here” link will take you to our posting that included the hike/walk.

1. Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail – Acadia National Park, Maine

Click related post here.

Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail

Going down Cadillac Mountain

2. Buck Hollow Trail – Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Click related post here.

3. Combined Trails at Schoodic Peninsula – Acadia National Park, Maine

(Anvil Trail, Adler Trail, East Trail and  Schoodic Mountain Summit)

Click related post here.

 

4. Sleeping Beauty Trail – Lake George, New York

Click related post here.

Sleeping beauty trail, Lake George

Sleeping Beauty summit

At the Sleeping Beauty summit – what can we say?

5. Overlapping Trails at Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia

(Allegheny Trail, Yellow Birch Trail, Elakala Trail, Red Spruce Trail, Balanced Rock Trail and Lindy Point Overlook)

Click related post here.

6. Overlapping Trails at Stone Mountain Park – Atlanta, Georgia

( Walk-Up Trail with connections to Cherokee Trail, Nature Garden Trail and  Songbird Habitat Trail)

Click related post here.

7. Overlapping trails of Cavendish Duneland Trail and Homestead Trail – PEI National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Click related post here.

Cavendish Duneland Trail

Cavendish Duneland Trail

Homestead Trail PEI

Homestead Trail

8. Niagara Gorge Trail – Niagara, New York

Click related post here.

Whirlpool Bridges, Niagara

Upper Great Gorge Hike

Great Gorge Scenic Overlook Hike

Great Gorge Scenic Overlook Hike

9. Black Ridge/Rock Castle Gorge Trail – Blue Ridge Mountains, VA

Click related post here.

10. Lake Monroe Conservation Area – Osteen, Florida

Click related post here.

Lake Monroe Conservation Area

How about you?  Do you have a favorite hiking trail to share with us and our friends who might be there one day?

Next up:  Our Top Seven Favorite Bike Rides – 2nd Anniversary Post

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Good Friends Gather Once More – Punta Gorda, FL

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We are continuing to meander up the southwest coast of Florida, on our slow northward migration.  Our next stop was in the city of Punta Gorda, spanish for “fat point”.  It sits at a point where the Peace River meets Charlotte Harbor.  On our way there we caught a glimpse of this interesting car.  Would you ride in this red wagon?  Steve said he would!

Immediately after settling in, we contacted our friends Dave and Sue, John and Pam, and Joe and Judy to make arrangements to get together one more time before we leave Florida.  Fortunately they were able to carve some time away from their “busy” retirement schedules to meet us for meals.  But more on that later, as Steve and I had some exploring to do around our new home base.

Harbor Bridges, Punta Gorda

Harbor Bridges Mural

During our walk along the Punta Gorda Harborwalk we discovered the cool Harbor Bridges Mural.  It depicts Theodore Roosevelt (who came to Punta Gorda in 1917) and his guide in the foreground with a Manta Ray they had beached.  The center of the mural shows Charlotte Harbor, and the sides show the old and new Harbor Bridges.  The arrow indicates the locations of Punta Gorda and Gasparilla Island, our points of interest while staying in the area.

Punta Gorda Harbor Walk

A section of the Harborwalk with the Harbor bridges (highway 41 north and south) in the background

Steve and I had been lamenting that our walks here in Florida lacked elevation.  The walking/hiking trails are almost completely flat, and we were hoping for some changes in elevation as we walked around scenic Charlotte Harbor.  The pathway is quite popular, well maintained and cuts through various city parks.

As we neared the east end of the pathway, it branched out.  One path went safely under the bridge and the other lead across it.  We followed the one onto the northbound US 41 bridge, and ahead of us was the steepest incline we have seen in months – the bridge itself.  Pitiful!

US41 bridge heading north

Hey, look at that hill!

Harbor Bridges

Twin bridges, US 41 Northbound and Southbound

Walking across bridges is obviously not our favorite way to exercise, what with the noise and car emissions.  But we walked both of them, and after adding that to our harbor walk we had covered several miles.

Harbor Bridges, Punta Gorda

The Harbor Bridges (also called the Highway 41 Twin Bridges) cross the Peace River and connect Punta Gorda to Port Charlotte to the north. Our efforts were rewarded with several wildlife sightings – dolphins, jellyfish, stingrays and other fish.  Not bad after all!

In another area we saw these feathered friends frolicking and scurrying for food in the the pond at nearby Fishermans Village.

On another day we hauled our bikes to Gasparilla Island, part of a chain of Gulf Coast barrier islands.  We paid the $6 causeway toll and a $3 parking fee before beginning our ride from the south end of the island where the restored 1890 lighthouse sits.

Boca Grande Lighthouse

A restored 1890 Boca Grande Lighthouse

From there we followed the Boca Grande bike path, a paved 6.5-mile trail which is credited as Florida’s first rail-trail.  It travels the length of the Gulf Coast barrier island. The northern section has a separate jogging/walking path that is privately maintained and beautifully landscaped.  We shared the bike path with an ocassional golf cart, which appear to be the preferred mode of local transportation in this upscale area.

Boca Grande Bike Path

Landscapde Boca Grande bike path

On our way back home we stumbled upon a Fishery Market and Restaurant in Placida. We saw fresh-caught fish being unloaded from a boat and taken directly to the market. I was so excited to see not only the various fish, but they also had blue crabs available when we stopped by.  I wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity!  I got 5 crabs and 3 various kinds of fish for a measly $17!  After packing them into our trusty ice chest that never leaves the car, we proceeded to have a fabulous lunch at the Fishery Restaurant. Then we raced home so I could clean my yummy catch in time to have some more for dinner!

One day we hopped on a boat cruise that took us across Charlotte Harbor for Sunday brunch at a place called Burnt Store.  Legend says the Trading Post there was burned down by Billy Bowlegs, the leader of an Indian settlement who was pissed off when settlers invaded their territory.  The Trading Post was never rebuilt, and the name Burnt Store stuck.  The road leading to it – and the one on which we stayed at Gulf View RV Resort (see Steve’s review here) – is Burnt Store Road.  Although the boat cruise was relaxing, the brunch was not very good and there was nothing much else to see or do at Burnt Store.  However, we were happy to see the migrants just offshore, White Pelicans hanging out on a sandbar.  It’s hard to tell in the picture, but these guys are huge – much bigger than a typical brown pelican.

White Pelicans

White Pelicans migrants

The birthday boy, Steve, celebrated his birthday by going to the Muscle Car City Museum after reading Sue and Dave’s recent post about it. He discovered that the museum  was right up the street from our RV park.  It had an amazing collection of Corvettes, at least one from every year it has been produced.  He also salivated over the Camaros, Chevelles and El Caminos, all of which he had worked on and rebuilt in his earlier mechanical life.

Muscle Car City

Muscle Car City Museum

This guy bought a former Walmart store and filled it with classic cars – how cool is that?

Muscle Car City Museum

Steve had a good laugh at this sign in the restroom

Finally, the chance to gather with friends had arrived.  We first met up for lunch with Joe and Judy at Ft. Myers, a midway point between Bonita Springs and Punta Gorda. They were so kind to restock us with fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice from Sun Harvest.  After our BBQ meal we talked about where we might meet again and said our goodbyes.

Next we drove to Venice, Florida to meet up one more time with Sue and Dave of Belugas Excellent Adventure, and John and Pam of Oh the Places.  We had a delicious lunch at Sharkys by the Pier and then walked to the Venice pier and along the beach.  Sue introduced us to fossilized shark tooth hunting/collecting.

Sue told us that collecting prehistoric shark’s teeth has been a favorite pastime for visitors and residents of the Venice area for years.  They may be black, brown, or gray, depending on the minerals in the soil in which they have been buried.  They range in size from one eighth inch to three inches, and on rare occasions larger.  Collectors or enthusiasts bring their metal sifter, scoop up a bunch of sand, then dump it on the beach before sifting through for the teeth.

During subsequent walks I have collected some items, but I think only one of them might be a shark’s tooth.  Am I right Sue?

Fossilized Sharks Teeth

Fossilized Sharks Teeth?

After the beach adventure we followed our friends to Snook Haven, where the sign says it all:

Snook Haven

After enjoying a refreshment and more talk, the cool people had to split up and be on their way.  We vowed to meet again somewhere in this vast land of ours, perhaps this summer.  Thank you friends, for hanging out with us – and lets keep in touch!

Next up:  A 2nd Anniversary Post of our Top Ten Hikes

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Of Friends and Palm Trees

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Fiji Fan Palm Tree

On our way out of the Florida Keys, a funny thing happened as we were leaving the RV park.  It’s not often that we see another Winnebago Tour motorhome in an RV park – they are not nearly as common as the Tiffin Phaeton model.  But on this day as we were about to hook up our car, Steve pulled up next to another Winnebago Tour towing a Honda CR-V like ours.  And the other folks were also registered in South Dakota, using the same mail service we do!  We enjoyed talking with them for a few minutes before they pulled out just ahead of us, heading to Fort Lauderdale – just as we were!

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In addition to birds and beaches, palm trees dominate the scene in Florida, especially in the southern part of the state.  Here, palm trees adorn highways, line side streets and are used in landscaping for houses or just as centerpieces.  I didn’t pay much attention to these trees until my one time header, taken of a palm in Puerto Rico, got LuAnn’s (Paint Your Landscape) curiosity as to its name.

Her query  got me into “research mode”, and I began to focus my camera on palm trees so I could google them to learn more (as if learning about birds isn’t enough for me).  I couldn’t find that particular palm from Puerto Rico here in Florida, and as a last resort I contacted the hotel in San Juan to ask about it.  Incredibly, they got back to me with complete details about the Fiji Fan Palm Tree.  Isn’t it a beautiful one?

Fiji Fan Palm Tree

Fiji Fan Palm Tree

You may wonder why I went to such trouble?  Well, I was about to finally meet LuAnn. We had been hoping to meet since last year when we were both in Arizona, and again while we were in Ohio.  But our paths and schedules just never came together.  Fast forward to this winter in Florida, and our stars finally aligned.  She and Terry were parked just a few miles from us when we were in Davie, near Fort Lauderdale.

Happy hour at the Lowe's

Over wine, good food and LuAnn’s smooth and yummy chocolate pudding dessert, we had a great time talking with her and Terry.  This was our first time getting together, yet we felt like we had known each other for a long time and were just catching up.  We clicked right away, and there was such a positive vibe between us.  LuAnn is reserved, as I’d imagined her to be when reading her introspective posts.  She has one of the most well-written blogs encompassing not just their RV travels, but also musings about life, her beautiful poetry, great photography and yummy recipes.  Terry is ever the gentleman, outgoing and funny.  We all got along so well that we lost track of time!  We had a wonderful visit and vowed to meet up again, maybe even to travel together somewhere in the future.  They are a delight and we are so glad our paths finally crossed.

Paint your Landscape

Blogger gals rendezvous

It’s funny that we forgot to talk about the Fiji Fan Palm tree, as there were so many other interesting tales to share.  But here are some notable palm trees that I have encountered here in southern Florida.  These trees enjoy the warm, humid climate and sandy soils that Florida has to offer. There are thousands of palm tree types but these are the ones I thought worth showing.

Royal Palms

Royal Palms at Homestead

Fox Tail Palm Tree

Fox Tail Palms at Punta Gorda

Indian Date Palms at Ft. Myers

Bizmark Palm Trees

Bizmarck Palms along our route to Miami

Coconut Trees

Coconut Palms obscure a mansion in Miami

Indian Palm Tree

Dr. P. Frost’s (inventor of Viagra) mansion lined with exotic  Palm Trees in Miami

Palm Trees seen in Venice, FL

Palm Trees in Venice

Steve and I love all of these palm trees, they just put us in such a fun tropical mood. We’ll miss them and the ocean shoreline that we’ve enjoyed for the past several months, when we begin making our way inland in a few weeks.

Finally, a last look at the Miami skyline with windblown palm trees in the foreground.

Miami Skyline

I’m glad LuAnn sparked my interest and that I paid more attention to these beautiful trees.

Next up:  Punta Gorda, FL

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And then there’s Key West…

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At the very end of the Florida Keys, the last island on the Overseas Highway (US 1) is of course Key West.  It sits at the dividing line between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, and is surrounded by incredibly clear beautiful water.  As usual, a question crossed my mind as I wondered why is this island called Key West?  Why not Key South? There are lots of theories, but the plaque below that we saw upon our arrival explained it one way:

Caso Hueso

It was about a one-hour drive to Key West from our home base near Big Pine Key. Arriving fairly early, we immediately noticed the island was a tourist mecca buzzing with activity – not to mention heavy traffic – as we skirted around several road construction projects.  The streets were teeming with bicycles, scooters, cars and the obvious tourists. We learned during our previous visits to cities like Savannah and Charleston that taking a trolley tour is a good way to get your bearings around town, see the city highlights and learn along the way.  And so that’s what we did.

Cinema Tropics

During our 90-minute tour, we learned that Key West has known the best of times – being the richest city per capita in the mid 1800’s – mainly due to the business of salvaging ships that had crashed onto the nearby reef.  It’s also seen the worst of times, declaring bankruptcy in the 1930’s after the modernization of merchant vessels made salvaging operations no longer necessary.

The wreckers

“The Wreckers”, a sculpture that captures the spirit of Key West.  Wrecking (salvaging wrecked ships) was the island’s first economy that brought it a lot of wealth.

Bisecting the town is Duval Street, called the “longest main street” because it stretches from coast to coast – from the Atlantic ocean to the Gulf of Mexico 🙂  But here it is known more as party central, with its numerous and diverse bars, clubs and restaurants. However, it was still fairly early when we arrived so things hadn’t kicked into gear yet.

Duval Street, Key West

We hopped off the trolley to explore the area on foot.  This is when I started to look beyond the usual tourist trap stores selling T-shirts, trinkets and other stuff (not that there’s anything wrong with that) that I noticed whimsical sculptures scattered around town; Banyan and other exotic trees decorated streets and homes, and feral chickens roamed all around the island.

First, the sculpture pieces are life-size bronze statues, which are actually castings of living people, depicting them engaged in day-to-day activities.  These were all donated by J. Seward Johnson, and many of his works grace the Key West Lighthouse Museum grounds and other places on the island.

Key West Custom House

“Time for Fun” at Key West Museum of Art & History.  Some of the statues are obviously larger than life!

DayDream by Seward Johnson

“Daydream”

LunchBreak by Seward Johnson

What are you talking about?

Strolling around Key West, you can’t help but notice the chickens and roosters roaming everywhere.  I come from the Philippines, where chickens roaming around like this would be on the dinner table by sunset.  But not at Key West.  These guys are a popular, colorful sight around town, free to come and go as they please – and they are protected by law.  And yes, they seem to know it, strutting around everywhere while preening and annoying folks with the “little gifts” they leave behind.

The trolley tour guide told us the chickens were brought here by the Cubans when they fled their country in the 1950’s, as a result of the Revolution.  What we see today are the descendants of the birds that were turned loose in the 1970’s when cockfighting was outlawed.  Now they are here for the tourists to enjoy.

Chicken and chicks around Key West

Mother hen and her brood leisurely strolling through town.  Any red-tailed hawks around here?

Rooster crossing street

Why did the chicken cross the street?  This guy thinks he owns it!

Coconut and palm trees definitely bring a tropical vibe to the island.  Added to that mix are exotic mature trees dotting the area and adorning homes.  These trees help create a natural setting to homes and the island.  The building height restriction of 7 floors also keeps the town a bit more quaint.

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We thought these were the coolest!

And just like the other tourists, we walked down to the end of Whitehead street to pose at a landmark.  It looked like a giant buoy, but according to our tour guide it is actually a septic tank!  Phew!  But this colorful septic tank or giant buoy marks the southernmost point of the US.  It’s nothing fancy, yet many folks lined up for a picture with it and so did we.  We came across another landmark, “Mile 0” at the beginning of US 1 which runs along the east coast and ends all the way up in Maine.  I thought it was a cool landmark, so I posed again!

When our tummies told us it was time for lunch, we skipped the seafood this time and went to El Meson de Pepe, a family-owned and operated authentic Cuban Restaurant. And we weren’t disappointed.  Steve got the Cayo Hueso Cuban Mix, a traditional Cuban sandwich with trimmings – while I went with the Tostones Rellenos.  It was four stuffed green plantains, filled with roast pork, picadillo, ropa vieja, and seafood creole. The verdict?  Delicious!

And of course a visit to Key West would not be complete without a slice of Key Lime pie – a culinary staple for any visitor on the island.  Yum!

Key Lime Pie

To quench our thirst after walking all around the island, we stopped at the Southernmost Cafe and Bar for a refreshing Rum Runner.

All roads in Key West lead to Mallory Square, where crowds gather for the  sunset celebrations.  But it had already been a long day for us, and we knew the sunset shots at our nearby state park would be just as fabulous, and without the crowds.

Mallory Square

Our trip to the Keys was brief, but walking the island was the best way for us to see and experience it, and we covered it pretty well.  Now we can check that one off the list!

On Valentine’s day, Steve and I went back to Bahia Honda State Park for our last hike and last sunset.  But our day got exciting before we even left the RV park.  At the entrance we saw a vendor who sells fresh fish on Fridays, even calling her kiosk “Seafood Friday”.  It turned out the woman was from Ninilchik, Alaska, where she lives and fishes during the summer.  Then she brings down her awesome smoked products and winters in Florida, where she sells fresh local fish.  Folks coming down this way should try to stop at Sunshine Key RV Resort on a Friday, just to buy her extremely fresh and reasonably-priced fish.  Since we had been to Ninilchik, we stopped and chatted about her little town in Alaska.  And look what I bought for dinner!

Yellow Tail Snapper

Sporting my yellowtail snapper, soon to be dinner!

After our walk that afternoon, we got a quick visit from our new friends – Vic and Pam of Travelin’ in the Big EZ.  They happened to be just a few miles from us, staying across the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon.  It was a too-short hello, and I forgot to snap a picture posing with them.  Hopefully next time we’ll have a happy hour with them somewhere.

Finally, our last sunsets at the Keys.

Sunset at the Keys

Sunset at the Keys

And when we turned around to go back to the car, we got a moonrise too!

MoonriseIt was a perfect ending of our last night at the Keys.

Next up:  Friends and Palms

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Into the Keys, the Fabulous Florida Keys

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Just down the road from the Everglades is the island chain called the Florida Keys – also known as America’s tropical paradise.  Because there are so many islands (1,700 in all) within the Florida Keys, they are often divided into regions with each presenting its own version of island paradise.  On our way there, an obvious question was triggered, why is it called the Florida Keys?  We learned that the Spanish called these chains of islands “keys” from the Spanish word “cayos”, meaning “small islands.”   Today we know them as the Florida Keys and they are connected by 42 bridges.

The Florida Keys

Our scenic drive on the Overseas Highway (also known as US 1) combined multiple water views – Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west – and natural wonders with their history along the way.  We crossed the longest and most famous Seven-Mile Bridge, which is 35,716 feet long.

Seven Mile Bridge

Does this bridge (Seven Mile Bridge) remind you of scenes from True Lies, 2 Fast 2 Furious and Mission Impossible III?

Paralleling the Seven-Mile Bridge on our right was the previous automobile bridge, now a National Historic Site and being used as a fishing pier.

Old Seven Mile Bridge

Old Seven Mile Bridge

Our next stop was in the subgroup of islands called Lower Keys, which is anchored by Big Pine Key – our home base for a week.   Among the Keys, the Lower Keys is the largest.  It’s a laid-back area, perfect for viewing wildlife and a bit of history.  We checked out an area that showed extensive impact from the storm surge created by Hurricane Wilma in 2005.  That surge resulted in a widespread “salt-kill” of pine trees throughout Big Pine Key.

Big Pine Key

Storm surge killed all the pine trees at Big Pine Key

When driving there, we watched our speed as the limit is strictly enforced to protect the Key Deer. The Lower Keys area is the location of the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, where these cute little guys are protected.

Key Deer warning

Speed is strictly enforced on this stretch, 45 mph during the day and 35 mph at night.

The Key Deer is the smallest sub-species of the Virginia white-tailed deer, standing only about 2 feet tall.    Their population is very low and under threat of extinction due to human interaction, which is why they are listed as endangered.  Folks around here take their Key Deer seriously!

Key Deer

A Key deer posed for me

Another nearby refuge was the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, created in 1938 to protect habitat for the Great White Heron and other migratory birds.  Lucky for me, it’s only here in the Florida Keys that you can find this beautiful white color-phase of Great Blue Herons, the Great White Heron.  At first I thought it was a Great Egret, but a closer look at its pale legs told me otherwise.  I’m sure all of my birding friends will be jealous of my only-in-the-Keys experience 🙂

Great White Heron

Great White Heron, note the pale legs compared to the black legs of a Great Egret

and for comparison I got a good shot of a Great Egret while at the Everglades.

Great Egret

Great Egret

With the continuing gorgeous – albeit a bit humid – weather, we planned our activities for this stop.  There was no shortage of things to do in this area.  The nearby Bahia Honda State Park has extensive sandy beaches and beautiful waters for snorkeling, plus unusual plants and history.  Riding our bikes and then walking through the park, we came across the Old Bahia Honda Bridge, which was originally part of the Overseas Railroad.  Also called the “railroad that went to the sea”, it was built at great expense by Henry Flagler and completed in 1912.  One of the connecting links which joined Key West to Miami, the over-the-sea railroad was short-lived as a category 5 hurricane wiped it out in 1935.  Only skeletal sections of it remain standing today.

Old Bahia Honda Bridge

Originally a railroad bridge, an automotive road was later added to the top

Old Bahia Honda Bridge

Old Bahia Honda Bridge on the left and the new one on the right

We followed a trail onto part of the bridge that is accessible from the park.  When we got there we were rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the islands and the state park.

Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park, viewed from the top of the old bridge

With our history lesson concluded, we began to get more active.  We cruised along the state park’s 3.5 miles on our bikes, then added a few more miles as we rode along US 1 to and from our RV park.

Biking at Bahia Honda State ParkWhile in the state park, we also walked along the Silver Palm Trail.  It looped through a hammock, mangrove area and the beach, where a mosquito found and bit me.  I hate those pesky critters!  The park is home to one of the largest remaining stands of Silver Palms in the U.S.

Silver Palm

The increasingly rare Silver Palm, it is illegal to remove them from their natural habitat

We also enjoyed the colorful butterflies at the Wings and Waves Butterfly garden. But I failed to encounter the “Miami Blue,” described as a small brightly colored butterfly, which lives only in Florida 😦

In the park, we also walked on what is boasted to be one of the best beaches in the Keys. Well, the crystal blue waters were certainly inviting and the white sand was very soft to walk on, compared to many other beaches we have explored lately.

Bahia Honda Beach

Bahia Honda Beach

Among the water activities offered at the park, we chose snorkeling.  A boat trip to the reef for snorkeling at Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary was available.  I wasn’t too nervous snorkeling this time, as I was in Barbados.  Our guide gave a brief refresher snorkeling course to a few of us, which elevated my confidence.  But unlike Steve, I stayed close to the boat and enjoyed viewing the nearby coral reef and many colorful fish.
Our home base here was not exactly paradise.  It was crowded, very noisy and tight.  But Sunshine Key RV Resort is located just a couple of miles from Bahia Honda State Park in the Lower Keys.  When I made our reservations seven months ago, I wanted very much to stay at the state park but was unsuccessful in getting a site for Betsy.  Despite our dislike of the RV park, its proximity to fun things we wanted to do made up for it.
Sunshine RV Resort, Big Pine Key

Can you spot Betsy?

A few more pictures of our activities:

Barracudas

Barracudas brought in by local fishermen

Pelican

A pelican making his move – a fisherman shooed him away just in time!

Lastly, the Keys are known for spectacular sunsets.  So back to the state park I went, climbing to the top of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge just to capture a gorgeous shot for my friends.  At first the clouds were covering the sun…
Sunset from Old Bahia Honda Bridge
…but 30 minutes later I was rewarded!
Sunset from Old Bahia Honda Bridge
Next up:  A long day at Key West

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Hanging out in Lake Monroe, FL

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Ibises

We usually don’t make RV park reservations six months in advance, for doing so can mess up our flexibility (we call it “jello planning”) as we travel along.  But we were forewarned that snow birders from the northeast flock to Florida during the winter and parks fill up fast.  Now, six months later, we arrived at Lake Monroe, Florida for a month’s stay at Town And Country RV Resort.

Town and Country RV Resort

Even the golf carts are in the holiday spirit

We learned long ago not to be fooled by the “resort” designation, as it is often misused to make a park or campground sound like what it isn’t.  We chose this park for its proximity to Orlando Int’l Airport, from which we’ll be departing for our vacation.

Town and Country RV Resort

This place is not exactly the stuff you write home about.  In fact, the campground has been sold to a developer and in its place will be homes which will be constructed next year.  No wonder the park is not crowded; on the contrary we’ve seen several of the “perms” packing and moving elsewhere.  We feel bad for them, as many of them live in structures that cannot be moved and will have to start over.  But to our advantage there are fewer campers, no crowds, less noise and spacious surroundings.  We’ve kept ourselves busy – I with my household chores and reading, while Steve does maintenance and minor repairs.

We have a great site, an end spot under a huge oak tree with a canal view 🙂 (site #9).  The local “feathered residents” are so welcoming as they check us out daily – early in the morning, around noon and again in the early evening – showing off their plumage.

As you may know, Florida is teeming with birds and I don’t have to walk far from our site to observe these waterfowl quarry for food in the canal next to our site.

The weather here during the past week has been astounding – 80’s during the day and mid-60’s at night – as we leave our windows open while we sleep.  This, while most of the nation is suffering such a cold snap.  We almost feel guilty!  Our friend Marcy advised us that a “National Hate Florida Day” has been designated because of our fantastic weather break.

Lake Monroe Conservation Area

For our exercise, we drove to the nearby Lake Monroe Wildlife Conservation Area to tackle their yellow, red and blue blaze trails.  We went there twice and never encountered another human during our long walks (although we did chat with several cows).  Is that cool or what!

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Gee, hope I don’t get a sunburn!

Lake Monroe Conservation Area

They must think we’re trespassing – we’ll just keep mooooving!

Sandhill Cranes

Lake Monroe Conservation Area

Ground Spider

~Thousands of these spider webs were all over
the dew-covered fields when we arrived.

The city of Sanford was only 10 miles away, so on another day we loaded up the bikes after deciding to ride along their “Riverwalk” – thinking it would be a nice a long path.  Well, it was actually quite short, but we enjoyed riding its length several times while checking out the abundant waterfowl that seemed quite comfortable in this urban setting.

Riverwalk, Sanford Florida

Wow, it’s really warm out here today!

Riverwalk, Sanford Florida

This woman is in “bird heaven”

Armed with a tip from Steve’s barber, we took another trip to a more promising bike path at Big Tree Park, which follows the Cross Seminole Trail.  Before our ride, we walked down the park’s boardwalk to see “The Senator”, an approximately 3,500 year old Bald Cypress Tree that was lost to an arson fire in January of 2012.  Steve angrily commented that he hoped whoever did that would himself burn when the time came.

About 40′ feet away is the Senator’s sister tree – “Lady Liberty” – another Bald Cypress Tree estimated at approximately 2,000 years old.

The Cross Seminole Trail was not one of our favorites, because a large section of it ran through residential areas and paralleled a heavy traffic road.  But part of it was nice as it passed through 3 miles of Big Tree Park and over U.S. Highway17/92 via a large overpass.  The signage was a bit confusing and we ended up stopping after 10 miles.

I know it seems like we are running around all the time, but yes we do take a break now and then to just sit around or read while waiting for our feathered friends to come and visit us.

Town and Country RV Park

Our afternoons at the site.  Did I mention how warm it is here?

I still have a post to write about our exciting visit to the Kennedy Space Center, but I’m running out of time.  By the time you read this Steve and I will be on our way to San Juan, Puerto Rico to hang out for a few days before hopping on a Royal Caribbean liner for a seven-day cruise in the southern Caribbean.  Steve calls this “a vacation from our vacation”, for he will not have to drive Betsy during this trip.  We’ll be back a few days before Christmas – happy holidays to all of you!

Lastly, just for laughs this holiday season, somebody does not know their spanish…

Funny Sign

Next up:  Touring the Kennedy Space Center, FL

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Back to nature while checking out Savannah, GA

Comments 33 Standard
The Pirate House

We were so looking forward to the next destination, our home base near Savannah, GA. And we were not disappointed as we settled in at Fort McAllister State Historic Park, less than an hour’s drive from the city.  The weather forecast for the next few days said cloudy, a little rain and maybe some wind.  We hoped for better,  but didn’t mind too much since our site #11, (check out our header) was just what we were looking for, after being in too many crowded campgrounds lately.  This park was nestled among giant live oaks and beautiful salt marshes on Savage Island.  Since it’s off-season we had practically the whole place to ourselves, and the weather actually turned out much nicer than predicted.  Yeah!

Savage Island

Entrance to campground that sits on Savage Island

It was so quiet and tranquil that all we heard were branches swaying in the wind, the rustling of the leaves and the occasional acorn bouncing off Betsy’s roof.  And so many visits from chirping birds (oh yeah!).  I was in heaven!  And of course I must post some bird pictures…

We knew we were back to nature when our live entertainment consisted of squirrels noisily chattering and chasing each other, and the loud rapid pecking of Pileated Woodpeckers.  We were surprised at just how loud they were, and several of them pecking all around us brought a smile to our faces.

Pileated Woodpecker

Check out his beak and the branch he’s pecking on!

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker, a very handsome fellow

There were two walking trails that lead us to palm trees, palmettos, a boat ramp and the edge of tidal Redbird Creek.  Our walking/hiking opportunities were lacking in the urban areas we visited during the past few weeks, and we were happy to catch up here.  Even though the trails weren’t really long, it was refreshing to get back on our “workout schedule”.

On our visit to Savannah we made the most of it by taking the “hop-on – hop off”  Old Savannah Trolley Tour, which gave us a thorough overview of the city and its history. Like its neighbor Charleston, which we had toured just a few days before,  Savannah has a well-preserved historic district.  But unlike Charleston, Savannah is all about “the squares”, which are scattered throughout the Historic District.

Oglethorpe Square

Oglethorpe Square

The squares are laid out in a unique grid of streets and “lanes” (or alleys) that follow a pattern established by General James Oglethorpe when he founded Savannah in 1733. There were originally 24 squares of which 20 remain.  They were designed around a system of wards and shady public squares, which were used for public services and as meeting places.  These days they are beautifully maintained parks that make walking around this area a pleasure.

Chippewa Square

Oglethorpe Monument at Chippewa Square

As we toured around the tidy and lushly green squares, we noticed that some displayed monuments while others had fountains.  But each of the squares is different, and together they make Savannah a unique and unforgettable city.  The building height restrictions help to give it a little more “quaintness” than some of the other southern cities we have visited.

Forsyth Park Fountain

Forsyth Park fountain, a cast iron piece erected in 1858

Along the city’s National Landmark Historic District are homes of a diverse architectural style, many of which have been restored, preserved and converted into museums or inns.

The park bench scene for the movie Forrest Gump was located at Chippewa Square, and scenes from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil were filmed at the Mercer Williams House.  The Conspirator was also filmed in and near Savannah.  And, oh – Johnny Mercer – musical composer of many old time favorites (Moon River, Autumn Leaves etc .) – was from Savannah.

Something to talk About

A scene from the movie “Something to talk About” was filmed here

wpid19332-2013-11-18-GA-1200907.jpg

Best Shrimp and Grits so far

After the tour, Steve and I walked to the river front where old warehouses on River Street have been converted into pubs, restaurants and specialty shops.  They have really rebuilt and revitalized this area and it is very nice.  For lunch I had Shrimp and Grits for the third time since coming to the south (don’t tell anyone I love them!).  While in the south we just have to eat what they are known for – comfort food 🙂  With tummies satisfied we continued to wander around Factors Row, which is a unique collection of red brick buildings forming the center of commerce for Savannah’s cotton factors (or brokers).  These buildings are connected by Factors Walks, which connect the buildings to the bluff at the river’s edge.

Factors Walk

Factors Row along River Street, which is lined with cobblestones

We were surprised to learn that the Port of Savannah, nicknamed “America’s Retail Port,” is the fourth busiest port in the United States.  Because of its proximity to Atlanta and other major cities across the mid-South, WalMart, Lowe’s, IKEA and The Home Depot have built major import distribution centers in this area.

Port of Savannah, GA

Port of Savannah, GA

We fully enjoyed our day in Savannah – Georgia’s first city – rich in history, architecture and Southern charm.  The layout of the town makes it very easy to walk, and it is lined with old oak trees dripping with spanish moss.  After hearing on the tour that Leopold’s ice cream is known as one of the 10 best in the world, we walked all the way back through town just to try it.  Well, for sure it’s the best we’ve ever had, and a must-try for any ice cream aficionado coming to this area!

Back at camp, it was so serene in the park that we chose to just chill and unwind at our campground the rest of our stay here.  If interested, you can see Steve’s review here.

Fort McAllister Historic Sate Park

Wine and cheese spread at site #11 – we are happy campers again!

And finally, I just can’t help but share a gorgeous sunset with you when the opportunity presents itself:

Fort McAllister Sunset

Fort McAllister Historic State Park Sunset

Next up:  The Golden Isles of Georgia

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Party time at North Myrtle Beach, SC

Comments 26 Standard
Lewis

Isn’t Lewis cute?  This guy enjoys posing for pics!

What do bloggers do when they meet? Well, they eat, drink, talk and have a ball – especially when they happen to land at the same RV park!  And that’s exactly what we have been doing here.  Heading toward North Myrtle Beach, we learned that Dave and Sue of Beluga’s Excellent Adventures were already settled in at Briarcliff RV Campground.  Then we discovered that John and Pam of Oh the Places would be arriving at the same campground the day after we got there.  None of us planned it that way, it just happened!  Following each other’s blogs helped us to track our movements, and – viola! – we all ended up here at the same time.  Now, how cool is that?

Oh the Places they go

Happy Hour at John and Pam’s site (John and Pam on the right).

This was our first time meeting Dave and Sue, and their very well-behaved black beauties, Lewis and Sasha.  We had met John and Pam earlier this summer at Lake Erie, NY.  Both couples have been on the road longer than us and had lots of stories to tell and experiences to share.  There were a lot of laughs as we got caught up on our adventures.

Briarcliffe RV Resort

Happy Hour #2 at Dave and Sue’s

Good times with good friends was the main affair here.  Happy hour in the afternoon…

Briarcliff RV Resort

Happy Hour #3 at the Lowe’s

…and dinner in the evening at the excellent restaurants that were just a short walk away.  All we needed were hungry tummies and the gate combination – “lower, middle, top”, according to Dave.  We had themed dinners – seafood night first, then Italian and finally pizza.  I forgot to bring my camera to our unexpected family-style Italian dinner.  That doesn’t happen very often!

Joe's Crab Pot

Seafood night at Joe’s Crab Shack

California Pizza

Pizza night, and we were happy to have leftovers of this pizza!

Each night, Steve and I arrived home with full tummies – oink, oink!  We don’t normally go out for dinner so often, but we had a blast enjoying good meals with our friends at these excellent restaurants.

Hungry Warriors

Hungry travel warriors heading out for pizza – don’t get in our way!

Just like the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Myrtle Beach is pretty quiet this time of the year.  And to quote one of the servers we talked with, “it’s boring here now”.  Wasn’t a problem for us!  Unlike at the OBX, we had to drive just over a mile to access the beach here.  But parking wasn’t an issue, and it was free.  So, we made the most of our time, hanging out at the beach whenever the weather permitted.

North Myrtle Beach

Looks like someone’s ball left behind from busier times

Myrtle Beach

Each stop on our way south is getting a little warmer – in about 500 miles we should be down to shorts and tank tops every day – yay!

North Myrtle Beach

North Myrtle Beach, SC

These guys seem to be enjoying the quiet times

I want to take a moment to thank all of you who have asked about my family in the Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated my country.  Mom and the rest of  my family in Cebu are safe and out of danger.  However, as of this post we are still unable to contact my nieces and nephews who live in the province of Leyte, which bore the brunt of the powerful storm.  We’re praying for them as we wait for communications to come back up.

Update: As of today Nov 11, the fourth day after the storm we finally heard from my nieces and nephews. They are all alive, safe but are now homeless. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.

Next up:  Charleston, here we come!

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Betsy’s “ferryfull” adventures – Outer Banks, NC

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Hatterras to Ocracoke Ferry
Outer Banks, NC

The Outer Banks, NC

Leaving Virginia behind, we were looking forward to our next destination – the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Our friends Joe and Judy (who are North Carolinians) gave us heaps of information about the Outer Banks.  But what and where exactly are the Outer Banks?  Referred to as OBX by locals – it’s a long string of narrow barrier islands that run along most of the North Carolina coastline.  Over 130 miles long, it arcs into the Atlantic Ocean like a taut bow, forming many beautiful pristine beaches.

We made two stops on the OBX, one at Kitty Hawk and the second at Buxton.  To get back onto the mainland, Betsy had to take two ferry rides.  First, a 40-minute free ferry transported us from Hatteras Village to Ocracoke Island.  The second was for a reasonable fee and took over two hours to go from Ocracoke Island to Cedar Island.  But I am getting ahead of myself a bit here.  Let me tell you about the fun things we did after reading Judy’s excellent suggestions.

She didn’t have to tell us to take long walks on the beaches – we figured that out all by ourselves!

Kitty Hawk RV Park

Betsy was parked so close to the beach that we could hear the waves at night from Kitty Hawk RV Park – loved it!

Of course, our major goal in the Kitty Hawk area was to visit the site where air travel was born.  The Wright Brothers National Memorial encompasses more than 400 acres and marks the spot where brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first four powered flights.  And lucky for us, we had just seen the actual plane they built while at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in DC.

We climbed a hill to a 60-foot granite monument which is perched atop the 90-foot-tall Kill Devil Hill.  It commemorates the achievements of the Wright brothers, who conducted many of their glider tests on the massive shifting dune that was later stabilized.  Then we drove around a loop to a display of bronze statues that re-enacted the first flight.  While there, I asked first flight photographer John T. Daniels to take a picture of me.  He was very accommodating, but sort of a quiet chap 🙂

Wright Brothers Memorial Monument

The Memorial Monument sits on the hill behind the bronze sculpture of photographer John T. Daniels

As if our morning walk on the beach and hike up Kill Devil Hill were not enough, we continued to Jockey’s Ridge State Park  and climbed sand dunes topping out at 80 feet. The park boasts that the dunes here are the tallest natural sand-dune system in the eastern United States.  Upon reaching the top, we were rewarded with unparalleled views of the central Outer Banks and the surrounding area.

Jockey's Ridge State Park, Sand Dunes

Hiking up one of the tall sand dunes – where is everybody?

Our days here were spent catching the sunrise in the morning while walking on the beach, and enjoying watching the surfers, fishermen and hundreds of shorebirds.  We listened to and watched the relentless swells of the Atlantic Ocean pawing away at the beach.  Oh yeah, life is a beach indeed.  Do we have to leave?

Fishermen at Outer Banks

Beats working!

Kitty Hawk Beach

Kitty Hawk Beach

Some crazy woman wandering aimlessly around the beach…

Kitty Hawk Beach

We watched an endless parade of pelicans gliding inches above the water and swooping down on their prey, while other shorebirds scurried along the beach looking for food…

Pelicans

Pelicans gliding above the ocean

…and the unobstructed sunrises were just gorgeous.  Yes, I got many pictures of them each morning!

Sunrise at Outer Banks

Sunrise at Kitty Hawk Beach

Sunset at Kitty Hawk

Sunset at Kitty Hawk Beach

From Kitty Hawk we move just 60 miles further south to enjoy more beaches along the OBX.  We also checked out a few historical sites along the way.  We believe this is a great time to be here – the “shoulder season” – as the summer tourists (and their noisy little brats) have already gone back home.

Highway 12vOuterbanks, NC

Cruising along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore- Atlantic Ocean on the left, Pamlico Sound on the right

Cape Hatteras National Seashore covers all of the coastline from Nags Head to Ocracoke, seventy four (74) miles of unpopulated, unspoiled, and always open beaches.  Cape Hatteras Campground would have been a great place to park Betsy, but it had already closed for the season. 

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Instead, we parked Betsy at Cape Woods RV Park in Buxton (Steve’s review is here).  We found the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse a few miles away.  At 208′ tall, it is distinguished as the tallest brick lighthouse in the nation.  Its unique diagonal black and white striped pattern really make it stand out.  Folks can climb to the top during tourist season, but it too had already been closed for the winter.

Beach erosion forced the relocation of this venerable landmark in 1999.  The lighthouse was moved 2,900 feet to its new location, the tallest brick structure in the U.S. to ever be moved.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

2,900 ft distance of lighthouse relocation, a huge and interesting project

Moving on to Ocracoke Island, we discovered it’s well known for wildlife attractions, especially its herd of ponies.  The ponies are called the “Banker” horses of Ocracoke, believed to be descendants of Spanish Mustangs that were unloaded in 1585.  Physically, the Ocracoke ponies are different from others – they have a different number of vertebrae and ribs, as well as a distinct shape, posture, color, size, and weight – that sets them apart.  The park service has been taking care of the herd since 1960, and only seventeen remain.

Ocracoke Pony

Ocracoke pony

The highlight on Ocracoke Island is the Ocracoke Lighthouse, the oldest (1823) and shortest (75 feet tall) operating lighthouse in North Carolina.  It is one of four that dot the main stretch of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  Over the centuries, some 1,500 ships have perished in this area, earning the Outer Banks the moniker “Graveyard of the Atlantic”.

Ocracoke Lighthouse

The “guard kitty” at Ocracoke Lighthouse

At this time of year, thousands of migrating birds can be seen resting on the great Atlantic byway.

Migrating Birds

Migrating Birds, Ocracoke Island

Thousands of bird taking a break from their southward migration

On our way back to the mainland, Betsy was prepped for a long day of ferry rides – not one but two in a single day.  We always unhook the car and remove the tow bar when going on ferries, to avoid possibly dragging our hitch and to be more maneuverable on the vessel.  The first ride was easy and comfortable, as there weren’t too many folks going from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island.

The second ferry was a little different, for there were many more cars and RVs taking the 2+ hour ride from Ocracoke Island to the mainland, disembarking at Cedar Island.

It was a long day of ferry riding and driving – fortunately the forecasted high winds did not materialize.  We experienced a slight rocking and rolling on the ferries, but not enough to bother our tummies.  We loved the Outer Banks and plan to come back in the future to spend more time.  We learned that the best time to go is late summer to early fall, because everything is still open and the huge crowds have already departed.  But we still came at a good time – the weather was mostly nice and we had the beaches pretty much to ourselves.

Next up:  Lots of relaxing and socializing at Myrtle Beach!

Our upcoming stops – tell us about any “must do” tours, excursions,
restaurants, etc. you’ve enjoyed at these places, so we can check them out:

Charleston, SC
Savannah, GA

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What’s in your wallet? – Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington DC

Comments 12 Standard
One Million Dollar in Ten Dollar Notes
Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Steve’s all ready for our tour of the BEP!

When we arrived at College Park, Maryland (our home base during our visit to the nation’s capital), the government shutdown was still underway. We all know Washington, DC is a city rich in museums, monuments, attractions and more.  Despite the shutdown there were several interesting things for us to check out. The famous open-air memorials were still somewhat accessible, and several of the non-Smithsonian museums were happy to welcome us.  We hate to admit it, but the closure actually worked well for us. There were no crowds, and it was easy for us to do our non-government exploring on the first two days. Then, when the government re-opened, we were able to hit everything else as other tourists began coming back into town. Sometimes timing is everything!

One Million Dollar in Ten Dollar Notes

Sorry, no take out allowed!

Our first stop made Steve happy, as he had been excited to visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) – which was not affected by the shutdown.  The BEP is one of the largest currency printing operations in the world, with facilities in Washington, D.C. and Fort Worth, Texas.  All U.S. currency is printed at one of these two facilities.

Photography was not allowed while we were on the actual production floor. We witnessed the printing of millions of dollars as we walked along the galley.  During the tour, our guide asked us to pull out a dollar bill and study it as she explained the printing process and security measures taken to prevent counterfeiting.  There is a whole lot that goes into the printing, but I won’t bore you with those details.

Instead, lets have some fun – take your dollar out, and let’s decode it. Then you’ll know what all those seemingly random letters and numbers mean!

Dollar

  • The letter “B” inside the circular seal represents the Federal Reserve Bank issuing the bill – in this case, B=New York (A=Boston; C=Philadelphia, etc.).
  • A number is printed in four places around the face of the bill, corresponding to the letter in the circle.  For example, printed here is number 2 because B is the second letter in the alphabet.
  • The note’s serial number also begins with a letter corresponding to the issuing Federal bank, again it’s B in this instance.
  • The serial number ends with a letter which identifies the number of times that the BEP used the sequence of serial numbers – A is the first time, B is the second time, C is the third time and so on.
  • The “H3” on the upper left quadrant represents the position of the bill on the 32-note printing plate it was on.  The “H90” on the lower right quadrant represents the specific printing plate used.
  • If this bill had been printed in Forth Worth, Texas, then “FW” would have been printed next to the plate number H90.  Is “FW” printed on your bill?
New One Hundred Dollar Bill

Redesigned hundred dollar bill began circulation on Oct 8, 2013.

There’s a lot more, but here are a few tidbits I thought interesting to share:

  • Paper money is not made of paper, but of cloth – 75% cotton and 25% linen – that is why it survives in the washing machine.
  • It cost 5.4 cents to produce a $1 bill and 12.7 cents to produce a $100 bill.
  • Estimated life span of a dollar bill is 5.9 years, while a $100 bill survives about fifteen years.
  • The Secretary of the Treasury is responsible for the final choice of currency designs, including the portraits.
  • On the reverse side, the bald eagle seal contains 13 stars, 13 bars on the shield, 13 arrows, 13 leaves, 13 berries and 13 letters in “E Pluribus Unum” on the ribbon.

Have you seen the redesigned $100 bill just now coming into circulation?  If not, it looks like the one pictured above with its two distinctive security updates – the Liberty Bell in the inkwell and the blue 3-D security ribbon running down the note.

We left the Bureau of Engraving and Printing feeling pretty smart about what’s in our wallets.  Not only that, I learned that I’m about $1,374,750 tall in $100 notes.  Hey, I’m rich!

Have I bored you yet?  Okay, then lets move outside to see the sights at the National Mall, the tidal basin and some other popular spots in DC.  The National Mall, and pretty much everywhere else we went, looked like ghost towns on the day we were there – the last day of the shutdown.  Although we loved the light crowds, the downside was that the public restrooms were locked.  Also, the food trucks were nowhere to be found, and we heard some of them are great and wanted to try them out!

Despite the barricades placed at the memorials, visitors pretty much ignored them and just went in – like this tourist, who must be exercising his 1st Amendment rights.  Hey, he looks familiar!

Korean War Memorial

The news was reporting that veterans and supporters were taking down barricades around the WWII memorial and dropped them off in front of the White House.  Thanks to them we just walked around the remaining barricades and visited them, too.  The police stood right there and didn’t say or do a thing.

Just a handful of tourists at the Martin Luther King Memorial…

…and a barricaded and almost deserted Thomas Jefferson Memorial.  Oh well, we had both seen most of the memorials before so this was close enough.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial was also very quiet…

Franklin Delano Roosevelt  Memorial

…but as expected, there’s always a crowd at the White House:

White House

Everyone knows that visiting the National Mall and the memorials can involve a lot of walking.  Although the sky was cloudy, it was warm and a beautiful day to roam around town.  There were no tour buses running because of the shutdown, but we prefer to walk anyway and knocked out over 7 miles!

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

We noticed on this day (Oct. 16th) that there was a lot of air activity.  We saw the president’s “Marine One” helicopter and several others fly over a few times, shuttling back and forth from the White House to various locations.  We learned later in the evening that the partial shutdown had been lifted and was over.  Yay, the government is finally “functioning” again!  To the museums we go!

Next up:  So many museums, so little time!

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