Around the U.S.

Blog posts from travel around the U.S.

The Outer Banks

Thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak our travel plans have changed quite a bit. The 2 month trip to Florence and Rome—well that didn’t happen. Three cheers for British Airways and Road Scholar for promptly sending us refunds after Italy shut down the country. The same can not be said for Hotel Adriano in Rome. After initially promising a refund, they tried to back out until we reported them to American Express. After that they saw the light. 

On a happier note, we traveled to the outer banks and stayed in Duck, North Carolina for two weeks. What a spectacular place–for instance, see the image below.

A beautiful pastel colored sky reflects soft morning light onto the beach in Duck, North Carolina

The Outer Banks are a series of barrier islands located between the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound. There aren’t any cities on the 100 miles + of the Outer Banks. Instead the islands are mostly populated by small seaside villages and towns. It is a favorite vacation spot, attracting visitors from the Northeast as well as Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas. 

We rented a house for a 2 week stay in Duck, a tony village with plenty of gorgeous beaches, fishing spots and restaurants.  That’s right. Restaurants you can actually go to and sit inside and have cocktails and dinner. Or you can get a table outside and relax over food and drinks. 

There are other places to go to as wee—for instance Kitty Hawk, where Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first historic flight in their flying machine back in December 1903. And then there is Corolla Park with the architectural masterpiece Whalehead and its Museum. 

If you get a chance, visit the Outer Banks and the town of Duck. You’ll be glad you did. 

Here are a couple of photos from our trip (below), taken with a Leica Q2 camera. Click on a photo to enlarge it. They can be licensed at Evocative Photos.

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In the District–Washington, DC

We spent a busy weekend in the nation’s capitol. Among other things we saw an absolutely terrific performance of My Fair Lady at the Kennedy Center.  Shereen Ahmed, a 26 year old graduate of Townson University was perfectly cast as Eliza Doolittle. She lit up the stage with an astonishingly versatile voice which she combined with first rate acting. The Kennedy Center revival performances of My Fair Lady are the beginning of a national tour. Don’t miss it if it comes to a theatre near you. 

We stayed at the Watergate for the weekend which now advertises that you don’t have to break in to enjoy the place. We also got a chance to stop in to see the exhibits on display at the Phillips Collection of Modern art and the National Geographic Museum. The National Geographic had an exhibit featuring Jane Goodall, known for her path breaking field work on chimpanzees in Africa. Both the National Geographic and Phillips Collection Museums are certainly worth a visit when in DC. Finally I should mention a very good French Bistro, the Opaline Bar and Brasserie, where we had dinner. Good food, great atmosphere and a fine Martini can be had there. 

Some iPhone photos from our jaunt are below. 

JFB

The Watergate Hotel
Photo that focuses on one of the buildings in the Watergate Complex in Washington, DC


Stairwell and Window in the Phillips Museum
Photo looking out a window in the Phillips Collection Museum of Modern Art to a Washington DC neighborhood.
Kobacker Building
Washington, DC, USA — 1/18/2020. An iPhone photo of the exterior of the Arthur and Sara Jo Kobacker building that now serves as a home for the Religious Actions Center for reformed Judaism.
In the Phillips Museum
Photo of a painting that takes up an entire wall in a Phillips Collection exhibition.
The Cosmos Club
Photo of the outside of the Cosmos Club in Washington DC.

Florida in February

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. 

St Petersburg, FL, USA –February 15, 2019. Boats are moored in a Florida marina on a February morning.

We stayed at the Don Cesar, a first rate hotel, and met some friends who live nearby for dinner.

The Don CeSar Hotel

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. 

 

Beach chairs and lounges decorate the beach at dusk

 

Fort De Soto Park, Florida — February 17, 2019. Photo of three men fishing off a pier into the Gulf of Mexico.

Beach at Ft De Soto Park in Florida

Fort De Soto Park, Florida — February 17, 2019. Photo of a long pier in the Gulf of Mexico with fishermen and tourists.

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George Washington’s Farm in Mount Vernon

One of the very nice things about living in Virginia is the abundance of historical sights. For instance, the Smithsonian is 15 miles away in DC; there is the Manassas National Battlefield Park, and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association maintains Washington’s farm and mansion and runs a first rate museum and film center.   

We recently paid a visit to Washington’s mansion and the grounds in Mount Vernon. The tour begins with an excellent short film that focuses on Washington’s leadership in the Revolutionary War. The grounds are beautiful and the story is inspiring. It is hard—impossible actually—not to reflect on the courage and leadership of Washington compared to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That alone makes the trip worthwhile, even though there is so much more. 

Perhaps the difference between Washington and the current crop is best summed by  Washington when he said “I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” Something to think about.

Some photos below. 

JFB

 

George Washington’s Mansion

Gardens on the Grounds

Sideview of the Mansion

Looking out from the 16-sided Barn

 

Wasting Away in Margaritaville

Well, here we are in Key West, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, also known as the Conch Republic. It is quite a scene. In some respects, it bears a faint resemblance to Nashville’s honky-tonk scene. There are lots of bars and restaurants with working musicians playing guitars looking for a break. Like Jimmy Buffet. But Key West is far more upscale.

Welcome Booth

Located in the Straits of Florida, Key West (Cayo Hueso in Spanish) is an island city at the Southernmost point of the North American Continent. It is closer to Cuba than it is to Miami. He island is very small—only 1 mile long and 4 miles wide. If you walk the length of Duval Street (the main street) you will have walked from the Gulf of Mexico at one end to the Florida Straits and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

 

The permanent population is about 25,000, and tourism is a very big deal here. And the tourists arrive by plane, auto, ferry and cruise ship. In the first three months of 2018 alone, cruise ships brought about 275,000 tourists to the island and airplanes brought about 120,000.

Key West is (or was) home to quite a few notables, including Earnest Hemmingway, John Dos Passos, Tennessee Williams, John Dewey, Winslow Homer and Calvin Klein to name a few.

Anyway, Key West is a more than a bit bohemian with an independent streak and a live-and-let live attitude that is kind of refreshing. More than refreshing, actually. There may be a lesson here.

Here (below) are some photos taken during our too short stay.

JFB

Famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar

Fat Tuesday

Rick’s Bar on Duval Street

The Customs House Museum

The Finger Lakes Region of New York

We are back from a short visit to the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The region is gorgeous, especially as the leaves begin to turn as fall arrives. Small towns dot the landscape, and except for the larger cities like Ithaca, home of Cornell, it is mostly rural territory. And it has those scenic lakes, particularly Lake Seneca and Lake Cayuga. Seneca is the largest and deepest of the Finger Lakes measured by area; it extends to a depth of 618 feet at its deepest point. Cayuga is the longest lake at 38 miles, but it is not as deep as Seneca. Cayuga’s maximum depth is 435 feet.

 

In addition to the beautiful scenery, the area has lots of vineyards, so of course we went wine tasting. And we had some very nice Cabs and Chards.

 

The Finger Lakes region is home to the Women’s Rights Movement, and it has a number of museums celebrating that fact. Like all political movements, in the fervor of the moment the participants tend to get carried away. The early suffragettes claimed that by allowing women to vote the nation would rid itself of corruption. Moreover, they insisted that women would never support legislation in favor of women only. Well, we know how that worked out. (See below).

 

All in all the Finger Lakes region is well worth a visit. But unless you are a professor at Cornell or a wine producer, there doesn’t seem to be all that much opportunity here.

 

Anyway, some photos of our travels below. Please click on the photos below to see large, high resolution versions.

JFB

Four silos, several barns and tractors on green grass with a blue sky background

Horses Grazing in the Field

Looking out over Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen, located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State

Seneca Falls, NY, USA — Sept 30, 2017 — The Seneca Knitting Mills building, due to re-open in 2018 as the Center for Great Women. Editorial Use Only.

Photo out a window at cows grazing in a pasture

Waterloo, New York, USA — September 30, 2017 — Customers at a cheese tasting in a barn at a dairy farm in the Finger Lakes region of NY State. Editorial Use Only

 

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A visit to Tanglewood and Saratoga Springs

It’s tough to beat the natural beauty of New England. We recently took a trip up to Saratoga Springs to visit the track, then on to The Clark museum in Williamstown, and then onto Lenox Massachusetts where we were able to see Yo Yo Ma play with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood. And we got to see a boat go through lock #4 in New York State.

 

The Clark Museum in Williamstown, MA.

Looking at the stage from inside “The Shed” at Tanglewood.

Horses come around the bend in Saratoga Spring race track

Horses race for the finish on turf

Two silos, trucks and a barn on a green crop field under threatening skies in New England.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer is Here–at Least in Spirit

Summer has arrived, if not officially, at least in spirit. The brand new Marina Grill opened for business in Belmar—and it was packed. The tent houses in Ocean Grove are being readied for the summer season, and the rides at Jenkinson’s Pavilion on the boardwalk at Point Pleasant are open for business on the weekends.

JFB

Point Pleasant, NJ USA — May 14, 2017 Adults and children riding the “Wave Swing” at Jenkinsons Pavilion on the boardwalk.

Riders wave thier arms as they go around the bend

Ocean Grove, NJ USA — May 12, 2017 — Tent houses are set up for the summer season in Ocean Grove, NJ.

The Fishing Pier at Ocean Grove