Monday, May 25, 2009


Sooooooooo many miles, but we finally arrive at MONROE PLACE. My eyes behold Starbucks and Panera Bread smack dab in front of my new 'temporary' home. I believe I'm going to like living in Herndon, Virginia.

After countless trips toting our belongings (can anyone say, "kitchen sink?") up to our third floor apartment, even with the elevator, we're pooped. We decide to rest today and tomorrow we’ll start investigating the area.

And that’s exactly what we do – in the RAIN!!

First on the agenda is Washington, D.C. (the place I’ve wanted to visit all my life). It’s rainy and cold, but do I mind? Heck no. I’m here to take in all the sights—whatever the weather, but I discover others in the car—not so much. Randy and Hazel refuse to get out for a Kodak moment (the little bear says his fur will molt).

We leave them in the car and stroll around the city with our umbrellas (remember this little tidbit for later), stopping in to visit one of the Smithsonian museums (I didn’t know there was more than one until they told me).

As we begin our tour, the lady security person asks to see my purse. I go to hand her my stylish little number, but soon realize I’m still attached to it. The strap is over my head. AND in my attempt to extricate myself from its hold, I notice the woman steps away from her station and looks as if she’s swatting flies. That’s strange? I finally get the strap over my head and lay my purse on the counter. She looks through it and deems it worthy to visit the museum, too.

Still standing next to her, I put the strap over my head and at that moment I understand why she backed up, (‘cause she’s doing it again). The reason: I’m flailing my weapon (umbrella) at her.


Without hesitation, security lady states, “all umbrellas go over there.” She points to an area next to the front door.

R. and I sprint over and deposit them into the holders before another mishap occurs and then proceed to the nearest escalator.

Now, if you think the saga ends here—it doesn’t. We go upstairs to check out more of the contemporary art displays. As you know with this type of artful expression, it’s sometimes way out there. . .kind of like what is sitting in front of us at this moment. Stacks of UPS boxes and broken display cases line the perimeter and center of the room. Tags say they’re pieces of ART.

In the middle of viewing the ‘art’ I hear an incessant beeping noise and mention the fact to R. He says he hears it too and can’t figure out where it’s coming from. I see a security guard and decide to ask her what it is, but she beats me to it.

“Do you hear that noise?” she asks us.

“Yes and it’s annoying,” I say with a chuckle.

“The reason it continues to beep is because you’re walking too close to the exhibits.” She points to tape about a foot out from the display. “You need to stay outside of that line.” Her smile assures me we aren’t going to get arrested for our second offense.

From this point R. and I take wide sweeps of the remaining display areas and don’t have any more encounters with security. Two is plenty in an hour.

We walk over and pick up our weapons (oh, I mean umbrellas) on the way out and decide to call it a day since it’s still raining. Not to worry, though, I’m coming back. So much yet to see in Washington, DC (the city I FINALLY got to visit).

Love ya,

PS: Stay tuned—more to come from my Back East Bloglog (and next time I promise more photos of our adventure).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Thursday morning, after a hearty breakfast at The Blue Ridge Inn, we stop for coffee and get online as fast as we possibly can. I know you’re asking yourself, “why are those people in such a toot to check the world wide web?”

Let me tell you a story. The conversation the day before goes something like this. “R. did you know this expires 4-09?” I look up from the car registration sticker on our windshield to see the horror on my husband’s face. Not the most reassuring expression when you’re miles from civilization (remember we’re on those back roads in the middle of Georgia).

Hubby recovers quickly and states he’ll take care of the problem, which brings us back to the coffee shop. With the click of a few buttons, free Wi-Fi and a credit card the registration is on its way. Disaster averted and we’re on the road again. Destination: Boone, North Carolina.

Along our day’s journey, R. keeps mentioning Asheville, North Carolina and I can’t figure out why the town sounds so familiar. We stop at a Visitor’s Center and the man asks if we’re going to stop at the Biltmore mansion. I almost give the gentleman a kiss for jarring my memory.

“R. it’s the house HGTV always talks about,” I explain, and then chuckle at his ‘deer in the headlight’ look. I go on to tell him that it’s a very large home and we MUST see it. Mr. R. nods and we drive to experience America’s Largest Home®.

But first we need to go to the bank to secure a small loan before we can buy the two tickets. This fact comes to light after we read the sign above the counter.

“Please tell me that doesn’t say $50 per ticket.” R. utters to no one in particular.
I can only nod at his observation because at the moment I’m speechless. Pretty soon words start to form in my mind, but none of them will convince my hubby why we should fork over the absurd price to see the famed Vanderbilt estate.

So what to do? Well, we could leave, but I rrrrreeeeaaaaallllyyyyy want to see the house. I decide to bring out the big guns. “R., the price includes wine tasting at the Biltmore Winery.”

His pretty gray eyes light up and we waltz over and purchase the tickets for our self-guided tour of the 250-room mansion, the wine tasting tour and the magnificent manicured gardens and greenhouses.

As we drive through the Biltmore estate it’s an orchestra in bloom. I, again, marvel at God’s handiwork. He gave countless people the talent to transform the 8,000 acres into a work of art. Come to think of it - isn’t our writing the same? The Lord gives us an idea (seed) and it’s our responsibility (with His help, of course) to ‘cultivate’ it into a Masterpiece. Just a thought!!

Late afternoon we leave the grandiose mansion behind and travel farther into North Carolina. Since scenic byways are singing our song, we venture on The Blue Ridge Parkway. Winding roads through the mountains remind us of Colorado and we can’t help but smile.

Since I’m in such a good mood, I decide it’s high time I crank out some words. I take out my computer and open up the file I’m working on (it’s the last couple of scenes in my novel) and start typing. Tension builds between each of my characters. Excitement flows through my finger tips and I feel like I’m going
to. . .throw-up.

You thought I was going to say something else, didn't you? HA! But that is what I feel like doing. While I’m trying to write The Great American Novel, R. is ricky racing around the hairpin turns. So much for finishing the crucial scenes while riding in a car. I put my computer away and go back to enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Our destination of Boone, North Carolina comes into view. We’re tired and decide snacking is a good dinner for the evening, that is after we check into the Super 8 Motel. Yes, people, that’s what I said. One minute I’m in a mansion hobnobbing with the rich and famous, the next I'm in a motel half expecting a creepy craw...oh, never mind. Guess R. and I love living on the edge.

The comfy (and cheap) room and (free) breakfast hit the spot. And, today we’re off to our next destination: Herndon, Virginia and our ‘new’ home-away-from-home for the next three months – Monroe Place.

Love ya,

PS: I'll tell you all about Virginia in my next Back East Bloglog.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Can't you just hear Willie Nelson singing his signature song? Trust me, he sounds better than we do, but this is how R., me and the ‘kids’ (Randy and Hazel) start out every trip we take. Usually one of us will try and serenade the others and it’s not a pretty picture.

Anyway, I promised you news from afar and here’s my Back East Bloglog and I’ll do my best to keep you entertained.

As you know, nothing in my (our) life goes without a funny or two, so sit back and relax while I tell you a few stories…

After packing the car, we settle in for the BIG adventure. Rain tags along, but after a few prayers, the downpour ceases and blue skies carry us to our first stop—Gulfport, Mississippi (my brother and sis-in-law’s home for a family fix and free lodging-thanks S. & P).

I announce our arrival and brother comes out and gives me a hug, but his perplexed expression tells me I must be sporting more than one head. Curiosity gets the best of me and I ask. “Didn’t you get our message?”

He goes over to their phone and sure enough that pesky light is blinking. “Guess we didn’t check messages when we got home last night.” He laughs and assures us we’re welcome and we spend the evening chatting, eating take-out and watching Dancing With The Stars. Life is grand.

The next morning we say our goodbyes and R. heads out on the road again (are you humming the tune yet?), while I map out our next stop—Chattanooga, Tennessee. Somewhere in Alabama I take my turn driving. About an hour later I hear, “you want to take off on some back roads?” People, I almost swerve into the other lane ‘cause this unexpected declaration is coming from the man who only travels major highway.

Before he changes his mind I nod my head. R. says our next stop is Rome, Georgia. As I meander through the rolling hills, the azaleas burst forth in pink, purple and white. I thank God for their awesome beauty.

We arrive in Rome and peruse their Visitor’s Center. They laden us with brochures and we decide it’s too early to call it a day. Next stop—Blue Ridge, Georgia. The Smokey Mountains and the Appalachian Trail are calling our name.

For those who know me will say I can lay it on pretty thick when I’m talking about the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Let’s just say the scenery our eyes beheld as we drove through Georgia was almost as spectacular. Dogwoods, dotted with pink and white flowers, and mighty evergreens blanket the mountainside. An amazing sight!

We find Blue Ridge, Georgia nestled near the top of the Smokey Mountains. I decide we need stay at a bed and breakfast, not some ordinary hotel. R. locates The Blue Ridge Inn and the owner, Milt Darden, welcomes us inside. Late April is their slow season, so we have our choice of rooms. We decide to stay downstairs in The Rose Room. Its Victoria charm invites us to enter.

Later in the evening we explore the upstairs of the grand home built in 1890 (Milt said it was okay). I notice plaques above each door. We venture in to see the rooms and their theme comes alive in the furnishings. Stuffed bears and a canoe in the Cabin Room and a baseball bat and ball and football in the Sport Room.

The last room we check out is the Marilyn Monroe Room. Pictures of her adorn the walls and there’s even a life-size cardboard cut-out of her in the corner. Her white dress bellowing in an imaginary breeze. This all seems a little creepy to me. . .but then I thought. . .what about an Elvis Presley Room?

Guess I’ll have to talk to R. about this idea. Hey, maybe I’ll do it while I have him trapped inside our car for the next three days. But, for now I’ll end my rambling. Tune in next week and I’ll tell you the rest of our BIG adventure to Virginia. Hold on to your hats – our tales will keep you on the edge of your seats.

Love ya,