Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'm Really Moving Now!

The other stop we made on the road trip to Pennsylvania was in Durham, NC to see Phil's relatives, especially his favorite neice, JoAnna.

We also got to see his brother Dennis and sister-in-law Susan, along with nephew-dog Riley, who is a wiz at playing the shell game.

From there, my Aunt Mimi and I hightailed it up to Pennsylvania in one day! The trees were blooming beautifully at my father's house.

I stayed across the street on the property of the World's-Best-Neighbors, Steve and Nancy. I had some other rather loud neighbors, but I learned to put Kleenex in my ears at night so I didn't wake up at 4am.

I managed to get a very rare photo of my father and his two sisters. Beatrice (my Aunt Bea) is on the left, and Millicent (my Aunt Mimi) is on the right.

The last time they got their pictures taken together was in 1981.

And here's an earlier one, maybe late 1940s -

About the time of my parent's wedding. Aunt Bea is on the left, holding my one-and-only cousin Linda, and Aunt Mimi is next to her, with my Uncle Clarence, who passed away in 2010. My grandmother is next to him.

Here's a picture of the 3 siblings from 1931. They grew up in the idylic town of Boiling Springs, PA.

And here's an even earlier photo. (My father is going to kill me...)

Now for the really sad part... A few days after the sibling reunion, my Aunt Bea passed away suddenly. I am so glad they got to see each other a final time.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Oh Savannah!

Before leaving Jacksonville, FL, I got to visit with my 2 beautiful nieces, Laura and Christy. They are my sister Barbara's daughters. I know she's pretty jealous right about now...

But the main reason I was in Jacksonville was to pick up my Aunt Mimi and take her on a road trip to Pennsylvania. She's thinking about moving up there, and wanted to check out things first.

Because she was riding along, and not too thrilled to be doing so, we didn't stop too many places. But we did go to Savannah for a couple nights. While there we went on a trolley tour of the city.

The old houses were amazing, and centered around a bunch of squares - small parks with statues or fountains in them.

I love the ivy growing under these stairs.

Several times, famous people got on the trolley to speak to us. I'm sure everyone recognized Forrest Gump, who sat on a bench in one of Savannah's squares to tell his story in the movie.

You can get off and on the trolley at any one of their stops. We got off at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The outside was going through a major renovation, so no photo there, but the inside was amazing.

I always check out the Stations of the Cross in Catholic churches. These were hand carved, and incredibly detailed. The most unusual ones I've seen are still the ones in Tahiti. You can read that post here.

The Juliette Gordon Low house (founder of the Girl Scouts) would have been a nice stop if it hadn't also been undergoing a major renovation.

Down by the river are some old buildings near the old Savannah Cotton Exchange. I just loved all the different layers of construction.

The most famous statue here is that of a young girl and her dog, waving to passing ships.

Kind of a "The End" shot, huh?

Friday, May 24, 2013

OMG - Is That the Atlantic Ocean?!?

I've made it all the way to St. Augustine, FL! Certainly the first time I've see the Atlantic Ocean in a VERY long time. I love old forts by the sea, so off we went to Castillo de San Marcos.

This fort actually still has all its four corners.

You enter over a drawbridge, which looks like it should have a moat underneath, but in fact was then, and is now, dry.

I'll do anything to get the shot!

This is the oldest masonry fort in the continental US. Construction began in 1672 - 107 years after the city was founded! Of course, it belonged to Spain at the time...

Wow! I loved all the cannons.

Some were quite fancy.

Just look at that detail!

The fort is made of a stone called "coquina," Spanish for "small shells."

Very old outhouses???

Inside are some old etchings of British ships.

Next, I was off to the St. Augustine lighthouse.

The bottom floor was decorated much as it would have been in the past.

Clpimb 219 steps to the top -

To see the Fresnel Lens -

And a great view!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Moving Further East (Oh Nooooo!)

Moving further east, I went through Mobile, AL. Didn't stop, but saw an amazing drive-by sight - a cruise ship. And guess which one! The Carnival Triumph, towed here across the Gulf of Mexico, when it lost power in February. It suffered even more damage here when it broke free of its moorings during a storm. I'm sure glad I don't own Carnival stock...

I was headed to Pensacola, where Fort Pickens is located. This has been on my wish list for a long time. After the War of 1812, the United States decided to fortify all of its major ports. Fort Pickens was completed in 1834 as part of that plan.

Here's a drawing of the fort - notice one corner is missing.

That is the result of an explosion in 1899 when a fire ignited 8000 pounds of powder. The explosion was so strong that bricks were thrown 1 and 1/2 miles away.

You are free to wander all through the fort -

Even down some dark dead-end corriders.

One of the arches is excavated so you can see how there is a top arch and a bottom upside-down arch for added support to prevent the fort from sinking into the sand.

After exploring the first level, you can go up on top -

Where there are some big guns...

Nearby are several other fortified batteries. Battery Cooper contained pop-up guns, which would rise to shoot, then go back down to hide.

The drive back to Pensacola looked like a drive through snow!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Katrina, Angels, and Blow Flies

The first stop after crossing the dreaded Mississippi River was Gulfport, MS. I scored a terrific parking place right along the Gulf at a casino.

It's a great town. The Mardi Gras museum is inside the Visitors Center. I'm not big on museums, but this one was quick, easy, and fascinating.

The detail on the costumes is amazing!

This area was hit hard by Hurrican Katrina back in 2005. It was one of the strongest storms to hit the US in the last 100 years. There is still a lot of damage here.

The homes along the waterfront that have been rebuilt are now on stilts.

There are many, many vacant lots for sale. If you are looking for waterfront property, this is the place to come.

It is no laughing matter, but these Laughing Gulls were really whooping it up.

One of the coolest things around are the "Katrina Angels," carved out of the dead trees left by the storm. This one was in a cemetery -

Where even the angel statues wear Mardi Gras beads.

The carvings are located all over town.

This was my favorite, done by wood carver, Dayle Lewis.

It consists of 3 dual-colored angels -

And a bunch of different birds and other critters.

The detail is amazing -

Even down to little lady bugs.

But the best thing we did here was meet up with Erin and Mui of Two To Travel's Phaeton Journeys. Erin is a terrific photographer, and Mui is not too shabby either. If you go over to their blog, you will have to go back a ways, because Erin is actually up-to-date, unlike yours-truly.

We met at the Blow Fly Inn. The food was great, in spite of the name. Whoa - is that an actual blow fly? Oh no - it's plastic. Good one!