Duck, North Carolina— We took a short trip to Duck, North Carolina, and stayed at the Sanderling Resort and Spa. The resort was simply fabulous. As was the whole area.
The town of Duck only has about 500 people living in it all year round, but in thew summer it gets quite crowded, kind of like LBI used to be about 25 years ago. All in all, they have some very good restaurants, fabulous beaches, and a whole array of shops, museums and tourist type stuff. It’s well worth paying a visit, and for more than a few days.
Virginia Beach is the most populous city in the state of Virginia. Located on the southeastern coast of the Commonwealth, it has a population of about 450,000. We recently spent a few days there as part of a larger trip of exploration of the South East.
Although relatively large, Virginia Beach tends to be rather suburban in character. It is also a huge vacation destination spot that gets visitors from all over. The beach itself is very commercialized, like Seaside in New Jersey. The boardwalk, ringed with hotels, is paved with separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists who charge along with all the caution of New York City cab drivers.
There are lots of restaurants and bars, as you would expect, but there appeared to be a paucity of high-end gourmet type establishments. We were there (coincidentally) for most of the annual Sand Soccer tournament. This tournament has a match between established teams in a temporary beach stadium. Other matches—they go on for two days—are between teams of similar age participants who form teams ahead of time and register for the tournament.
The participants play on the beach—hence the Sand Soccer name—and the temporary playing fields stretch for many blocks accompanied by food and beverage stands.
All and all an interesting place, but like Seaside it’s a bit on the tacky side.
Well, we are back from a long Memorial Day weekend in New Orleans with friends. The Big Easy is an interesting town, especially if you are in the mood for food and music, and lots of it. There are bars and restaurants everywhere and there are jazz bands playing everywhere. This doesn’t leave out pop or any other type of music.
But it’s jazz and blues that dominate the city’s musical history. And it is a colorful history. Titular control of New Orleans, the Big Easy, went back and forth between Spain and France in the 17th and 18th centuries before Thomas Jefferson bought it in 1803. The Louisiana Purchase included a lot more than New Orleans. All told it was a vast amount of territory that amounted to 828,000 square miles. Soon after purchasing it, Jefferson commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition to exploration the land he had purchased for the United States.
To this day New Orleans proudly displays its French roots. Over the years it kept and developed its unique brand of French culture, while still assimilating into the broader culture of the U.S. There probably is a lesson there.
While we were in town we visited the New Orleans Jazz Museum, went to some historic above ground cemeteries, went for a ride on the Mississippi River on a paddle wheel boat, toured the French Quarter and (of course) went to some fine restaurants.
Some photos from our trip are included below. You can click on the photos to see bigger, high resolution versions.
A busy summer for traveling lies just ahead. We recently got back from D.C. (not really travel–it’s around the corner) where we attended the commencement ceremony at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, where our niece Keelin O’Loughlin graduated. Congrats to Keelin (and parents Steve and Ellen O’Loughlin).
Soon we will be on the road again, first to New Orleans over Memorial Day Weekend; then later in June we are off to Virginia Beach and then Duck, North Carolina before returning to Reston via Charlottesville VA. After a brief rest we make our way in July to Stockholm, Sweden where we begin a couple of weeks touring Helsinki, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Tallin Eastonia and Schwerin Germany before ending the trip in Amsterdam.
I will be bringing my Nikon Z7 Mirrorless camera on these jaunts. I expect to give it a full workout by taking a lot of photos and posting some of them here. Stay tuned.
Spring arrived with Easter in Spring Lake, NJ. Some trees, like the cherry blossoms, are in full bloom. Others are just beginning to sprout. The severe rain storms that were supposed to hit Spring Lake didn’t show up, at least not with the advertised ferocity. The water was a bit rough at the beach and there was a lot of fog on the boardwalk. Here below are some photos taken over the weekend that include a long exposure photo of the beach, flowers in bloom and the Constitution Gazebo in Potters Park.
Clicking on a photo will take you to Evocative Photos where the photo can be licensed.
Quick note: We also have some trips around southern Virginia and North Carolina coming up, as well as a trip to the Baltic’s and St Petersburg later in the summer. Photos from those trips will be posted here as they happen.
We spent this past weekend in Baltimore for a very special occasion. We attended the wedding of Jennifer Rynda and Mark Sapienza. Jen is the daughter of our very good friends Rich and Anne Marie Rynda. Jen and Mark were married in a beautiful ceremony on the waterfront, followed by a reception on the waterfront. Amazingly enough, no one went into the harbor.
Before the wedding we got a chance to spend some time with our good friends of many years, Ron and Ethel Thau, along with their two daughters, who were also in town for Jen’s wedding. So we all walked around the Fells Point section of town for a bit. Fells Point is a landmark historical district where the architecture dates back to colonial times. Complete with cobblestone streets, the area is full of shops, restaurants and boutique hotels. It’s quite charming (as befits Charm City) and vibrant—even if you are not on your way to Jen’s wedding.
Here (below) are a couple of shots from our brief walkabout around the city. More photos are at Evocative Photos.
The Cherry Blossom Festival runs every year from March to April to commemorate the gift of 3,000 cherry trees the Mayor of Tokyo donated to the United States in 1912. The trees were meant to symbolize the friendship between the Japanese and American people. Located mainly around the Tidal Basin, the festival attracts large crowds to D.C. each year, especially for “Peak Bloom” which occurs when 70% of the Yoshino Cherry trees are open.
The festival includes walks, tours, concerts and a kite flying festival. However, the peak bloom period lasts only a few days, so people pack the District to celebrate the event during a narrow time window. This year predicted peak bloom is April 1, so Mary Anne and I headed out to the District to catch the sights and some of the celebration.
Sure enough there were large (mostly polite) crowd there to celebrate. And it is sure worth celebrating. The scenery is just spectacular. So: Here are a few shots taken today at the fesitivities.
We took a short trip down to the Tampa-St.Pete area on the Gulf Coast to celebrate my sister’s wedding. The weather in February was perfect. St. Petersburg is a vibrant town with impressive parks, restaurants and spaces for art.
We stayed at the Don Cesar, a first rate hotel, and met some friends who live nearby for dinner.
We also headed out to visit Fort De Soto Park in Tierra Verde. It’s the largest park within Pinellas County. It is made up of 5 interconnected islands and encompasses 1,136 acres. It has 7 miles of waterfront that includes 3 miles of sandy beaches; there are campsites, a museum, a ferry service, food concessions, birdwatching, swimming, nature trails—you name it. And if you don’t have a car, you can just Uber over and back.
We took a short trip down to the historic triangle which encompasses colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. This is not a trip to be missed. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the new land and the place where the mighty British Empire established its first presence. Not surprisingly, Jamestown served as the first capitol of the Colony of Virginia, from 1618 until 1699. It was also the home of the county’s courthouse.
It is difficult in the modern age for us to even imagine the dangers and hardships the settlers endured. For instance, from 1609 to 1610 over 80% of the settlers perished from disease and starvation, in what came to be known as the “Starving Time”. During this time the the settlers dug graves for the fallen, but hid the site so the Indians wouldn’t realize how weakened their position had become.
It was also in Jamestown that the first Africans arrived—aboard a Portuguese slave ship. Thus began America’s long history with slavery, which was not to end until the civil war (1861—1865).But some effects linger to this day.
Virginia is a living museum to the American experiment in self government, and the historic triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown tells an important part of the story.
Williamsburg, VA, USA — January 9, 2019. Photo of horses, carriage and drivers in period dress by a hitching post by shops on the streets of colonial Williamsburg.