Monday, July 27, 2009


Except in and around Washington, D.C.

R. and I find this is sooooooooo true when we’re on the road again to our nation’s capitol (via Arlington, Virginia). AND, this lack of signage AND/OR size of signs almost gets me thrown in the slammer (you think I’m kidding – I’m not). Let me explain. . .

Oh, but I have to tell you about our visit to the Arlington National Cemetery first.

Hallowed ground, the sign reads! Silence surrounds us as we walk among the white grave markers. Row after perfectly aligned row blankets the landscape and it’s so much bigger than I thought it would be. Again, I say “thank you” to the countless men and women who sacrificed their all for our freedom.

Next, R. and I go to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the changing of the guard ceremony. Even though we read about it before we made the trip, it’s amazing to see. Unbelievable what these soldiers must go through to get one of the prestigious positions. To read more - go to


As we leave the cemetery in search of our next destination – the Pentagon Memorial - the signage problem starts to rear its ugly head (refer to first paragraph above). Try as we might, we can’t find the highway to take us to the 9-11 memorial, but we do locate (and take) the one leading us back to Herndon.
R. doesn’t let this little detour dissuade him. He turns around and we get on the road again and locate a honking sign announcing the Pentagon exit, which is a half mile in front of us. Praise the Lord, we’re almost there.

NOT SO FAST! What do my eyes behold but a teeny tiny sign telling unsuspecting tourists that the exit we’re about to pass is the one we want. I shout and point and POOF! Mario Andretti replaces R. in the driver’s seat (or so it seems). Somehow hubby’s able to maneuver the Hyundai down the ramp in time with no mishaps recorded.

Unfortunately, those are about to surface when we try to park at the Pentagon. Every sign in the large lot indicates that only cars with specific stickers can park there. Since we see others parking there, R. and I reason it’s o-ke-do-kie to do the same.

I get out of the car and decide it’s time to take a picture. But before I do that, please repeat this phrase after me – “For lack of knowledge, people perish.”

One minute I’m posed to take a photo of the Pentagon and the next thing I know two cops are vying for MY full attention. People, I’m torn as to which one of them to go to. Do I go to the one on my left who’s just jumped out of his car and is waving his arms at me? OR do I go to the one in front of me who is sitting in his patrol car with his index finger out his window motioning me to come on over?

Logic tells me I better do something before one of them decides to shoot me for evading arrest. With my heart a pounding, I look over to Officer #1 and point at Officer #2 and shout, “He wants to see me, too.”

It’s obvious by Officer #1’s expression he doesn’t know what I’m trying to say. Also, I realize he doesn't see Officer #2 and the fact he too is beckoning me. I repeat myself and point with more enthusiasm at Officer #2. Finally Officer #1 understands and turns and goes back to his patrol car. I can once again breathe.

We head over to Officer #2’s vehicle and before I can ask what all the fuss is about, the man says, “Put the camera away. It’s against the law to take pictures of the Pentagon.”

As quick as I can, I stuff my camera deep into my Capri pocket. “Sir, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see any signs.”

It’s obvious my answer isn’t the one he wants because the young man’s bald head begins to turn a pinkish color. Seems he’s struggling with what to say next. He takes a couple of breaths and with all the calm he can muster, he blurts out, "there are SIGNS posted everywhere stating that the taking of photographs is illegal.”

Before a sassy retort falls out of my mouth (like - where are they), R. jumps in and informs the policeman of the signage woes we’ve already experienced today. The officer seems to agree with our assessment and says so.

I’m thinking that we're getting somewhere and we’re almost done with this discussion. I really want to move on to see the memorial.

NOT SO FAST – R. isn’t finished. He adds, “And we aren’t supposed to park here, are we.” He point to our little car in the almost empty lot.

“No. You need to follow the signs to park at the mall. Turn on Red, White and blah, blah, blah…”

ALL I WANT TO DO IS SEE THE MEMORIAL! Please, don't tell me we have to find another SIGN!

I wait patiently as the officer finishes his directions, and then I thank him for his help. R. and I walk to the car and together we decide it’s time to move on. Today isn’t the day to see the Pentagon Memorial – maybe next trip.

R. finds his way out of the parking lot and is on the road again and I’m happy to report we locate our next stop - Capitol City Brewing Company – without any more incidents. And, I think you’ll agree I’ve had one too many of those already. People, it's not every day I’m in the middle of a stand-off and almost get thrown in jail.

Now you know why I’m a writer.

Love ya,

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Today’s blog is our 4th of July/28th Anniversary adventure. Yes, I'm a tad behind, but sit back. It's a ride you're sure to enjoy. We’re on the road again -this time we visit Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

We make our usual stop at the area’s Visitor’s Center. Then we head to the Appalachian Trail Visitor Center. This is the place where thru-hikers stop for supplies, hook up on the Internet, and rest up. A sign boasts it’s the halfway point between Georgia and Maine.

Since I’m a curious sort, I start talking to one of the thru-hikers. Kozemo tells us he started his trek on the AT in March, but got side-lined in mid-May. He slipped coming down a hill and broke his leg.

People, I know what you're thinking, but I stay put and calmly ask him if a helicopter was involved in his rescue.

“No, I’m trained as an EMT and I had my buddy wrap my leg real tight and we walked out.”

At that moment, I decide I am NUTS for even thinking about hiking any of the 2,178 miles. BUT when I thought it couldn't get worse, it did. After our chat with Kozemo, I pick up a book to read. Information inside seals the deal. I AM NUTS and I’m not sleeping in the shelters along the Appalachian Trail. They have MICE (did I mention I hate them more than going over huge bridges).

I've never hyperventilated before, but I am certain I was doing just that with this last bit of news. Then I realize (and start to smile), I don’t have to worry about the rodents. First, I have to train for the long journey. And, I’m thinking it’s going to take a whole lot longer to get into shape than I thought (wink, wink).

We head to our hotel and settle in. Oh, by the way, did I mention the reason it's a big day? R. is dragging me down a big nasty river in nothing but a little rubber boat. We're riding the rapids.

Oh, how I prayed for the Lord’s return, but the day dawns clear and bright. We arrive at River Riders with plenty of time to spare. R. assures me that we’ll face Category 1 and 2 (mild, with a few bumps) rapids. I’m okay with his explanation until I watch the safety film. The water and people flopping around in the rafts appear anything but tame. God help me.

Again, I bow my head in fervent prayer, but Jesus decides it still isn’t time for his triumphant return. I don’t have a choice but to go and get fitted with a helmet and life vest. We take a bus to the Shenandoah River and Ryan, our guide, loads us up and we’re off.

All (or most) of my fears disappear a few yards from shore. Ryan assures me if I pay attention, I won’t fall out of the raft. Whenever we come close to any rapids, he tells us exactly what we need to do. I’m out of my comfort zone and having a GREAT time. Who knew?

As our almost four hour voyage wraps up, I look back and ponder - it's amazing when I push the limits I’ve set for myself, I enjoy the experience. Am I ready for bigger and faster rapids? Not quite yet, but I’ll remember the great time R. and I had for years to come.

Both of us are tired pups, but there’s still daylight. We take off on the back roads and (as usual) find some interesting sites (see picture below).

We found this adorable house in Shepherdstown, WV. Wouldn’t this make a wonderful playhouse? Honestly, I’d love to go home right now and build one and call it my office. Since it seems almost magical, maybe I’d get some serious writing done. Just a thought!

Our eventful day ends and our heads hit the pillow early ‘cause tomorrow is another big day. It’s July 4th and our 28th anniversary. R. and I need to do some serious celebrating after the year we’ve had (I’ll leave it at that and go on) and what we decide to do is hike another stretch of the Appalachian Trail (no worry about mice today since I won’t be sleeping).

R. pulls into the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and we grab our hiking sticks out of the trunk and take a bus. The driver drops us off in Harpers Ferry and within minutes we’re on the trail again.

Should we go to Maine or Georgia? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

We decide to head north and maybe a half mile into our excursion; I spot a man in a wheelchair coming toward us. This incredible sight puts any troubles I may have in the “quit grumbling, it could be so much worse” file in my heart. R. and I say hi and the gentleman asks if we want to buy some water. Since it’s early, we decline (stay tuned to the rest of the story).

As you can see we manage to clock a quite a few miles on our hike today (and if you believe that we walked 59 miles – I’ve got some land in Florida I’d like you to look at-HA!).

As much as we hate to end our hike, it’s time to go. We turn around and on our way, we run into the gentleman in the wheelchair. This time we’re ready to buy a bottle or two of water from him, but he’s sold out, but all is not lost. Craig goes on to share why he spends his time on the trail.

“I’ve got two choices. I can stay in a nursing home and die or I can be out here, bringing water to people who need it. I’d rather be among the living.”

Amen! And what a testimony, Craig. Thanks for putting things into perspective. May God richly bless you and your endeavors.

We head to Herndon for a dinner at Uno-Chicago Grill. What a delightful day and it ends with delicious food (dessert was on the house-what a surprise).


PS: And since we’re speaking of Uno – our wonderful waitress brought us our doggy bag in this brightly colored box. What a sweetheart.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Mapquest is one of the best inventions, but I still have one BIG grumble about them and that is their last two directions. The streets don’t exist OR they moved them when they knew we were coming to town. Please tell me someone else has this problem?

The step-by-step instructions get us on the road again to Atlantic City, New Jersey this time. Today there’s no back roads for us – toll roads are calling R.’s name. He says they’ll save us an hour and a half in driving time. This sounds good to me (that is until he makes the eight stops at the toll booths and forks over a whopping $17.35). Thank goodness R. thought to get some cash before we left. God bless him.

Our travels take us over the Delaware River and did I ever mention I don’t like bridges? I’ve found in this area you don’t have a choice but to take them. Only other option - ferry a boat to get where you’re going.

I live through the traumatic ordeal and we make it to our destination on time (despite all the stops at the toll booths, breakfast/Starbucks/potty break AND (refer back up to first paragraph) not finding the last two street on our directions).

As usual, we didn’t make reservations. Thought we’d check out the area and then make our decision on where to stay. I’m so glad we did because we find a cozy bed and breakfast (The Carisbrook Inn) a block from the Boardwalk and beach.

Our room looks out over the Atlantic Ocean and the first thing we do is open all the windows and let the sea breeze in. Tiredness just evaporates and we’re ready for whatever the rest of our day has to offer.

Which is off to walk on the Boardwalk and visit some of the establishments (casinos) lining the beach. Lady luck smiles on me the first day, but leaves me high and dry the rest of the time. That’s okay, the stars align for R. and his winnings keep us in the black. No need to sell our gold to get home.

After dinner we head back to the bed and breakfast and open the windows again. We crawl into their king size bed and soon we’re fast asleep.

Early the next morning (before breakfast), we take a stroll along the beach. We don’t get very far before I stop and begin my ritual of collecting shells. I hear R. sigh deeply. The sure sign he wants me to walk faster (get a little exercise while we at it), but that’s not happening. Do I have to remind him (AGAIN) that there are treasures waiting for me to find? Anyway, I’m getting a workout – bend over, pick up shell, stand up, walk six inches and bend over. . .you get the drift.

Soon, my stomach starts to growl and I know breakfast is calling my name. We get back to the b&b and clean up and go downstairs. A couple is already sitting in the dining room. We chat with them while we wait for our fare of the day (fruit, scone, omelet, potatoes, juice – did I say we weren’t hungry after their feast?).

Another couple comes in and starts chatting with all of us. Laughter fills the room. I smile. THIS is why R. and I stay at b&b’s and why we owned one. In the matter of minutes you make friends and everyone has a tale to tell.

And, this morning, for some reason, our story seems to intrigue these people – especially the last couple. They have questions about opening up an auto repair shop. I know for a fact we spent over two hours talking to them about opening, running and maintaining a successful shop.

They listen to us and the bits of advice we give them, and then they shared their hearts with us. In the end we prayed for them. What a blessing and one we would have missed if we’d stayed at an ordinary hotel. Thank You, Lord.

We hate to leave our new friends, but need to get on the road again. Our next stop – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - and the home of the Liberty Bell.

Right in front of us is another bridge (which you know I love). This one is called the Ben Franklin Bridge. While R. drives across the monstrosity, I look for signs for the famous bell. There are none (or I didn’t see any that points us in the right direction).

But after reading the teeny-tiny map of downtown Philadelphia, I discover we’re going the WRONG direction. I tell R. to turn around and without another mishap (and my expert navigational skills-HA!) we find the Visitor’s Center.

Before we get very far inside, I see an interesting sign - Tickets for Independence Hall are SOLD-OUT! Oh my goodness, does this mean we don’t get to see the Liberty Bell? I scurry over to the counter and ask the young girl. She assures us that the bell is in another building and circles the location. We thank her and follow the map she gave us.

Liberty Bell and
Independence Hall in the background

After R. snaps a picture of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, I hear a man reading the first paragraph to his son. At first I chuckle to myself, but then realize how important this moment is. I’m witnessing a father trying to convey to his son the importance of the document in front of them. And, the reason our nation is free today.

Well, I better wrap up our Back East Bloglog for today. Stay tuned for more adventures to come.

Love ya and happy reading,

PS: What a sight!! A clown toting a tool box - either they have lots of make-up to carry or they’re a handyman wearing the outfit as a unique marketing tool. I’ll guarantee I wouldn’t forget my plumber if he came in a get-up like that one.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Today our excursion takes us on the road again to Baltimore's Inner Harbor. A mere 60 miles from Herndon. Amazing that a whole other state is just a little over an hour away. Tad different from Texas, I’d say.

And, as usual, our trips come with a delay or funny (this is a little of both). The fact is I should leave my coffee cup at the apartment. But noooooooo I bring it along and swig it down like I have a Porta Potty in the back seat (we didn’t buy that Hyundai model). Even these short distances cause me problems.

R. (ever so kind) takes an exit which boasts of a Shell station. On our off-the-freeway run, not a gas station is found. He turns the car around and gets back on I-495. As he merges, the VERY next sign announces a rest area and a visitor’s center a half mile away. Glory Hallelujah. There is a God in heaven and He heard his daughter’s cries.

Now we’re ready to visit Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

The city skyline welcomes us.

We park and spot the Visitor’s Center and go in and get a map of the area and start walking. I don’t believe we went two blocks and hunger pangs hit R. And since I'm never one to turn down a meal, I follow and order a slice of pizza. When it comes it’s hanging over the side of the plate. It’s the biggest slice of pizza I’ve ever seen and I consume most of it.

With energy to burn, we take off again.

First stop Camden Yards (in baseball lingo that’s the Baltimore Orioles stadium) and another landmark I can check off my list. As we stroll around the perimeter R. notices plaques embedded in the cement. I stop and notice they are there to mark where players have hit it out of the park. COOL!!!

After our self-guided tour of the Orioles stadium, we take off and walk around town. Thank goodness for the breeze off the water and shade trees (both make our looooonnnnnggggg stroll more enjoyable).

While on our extended walk, I see a woman with a stroller on the other side of the street and she’s heading the opposite direction from us. We cross the street and there on the sidewalk is a pink teddy bear. Without much thought, I ran after the woman, thinking the stuffed animal belongs to her child.

As I get closer to the woman, I say, “Ma'am. Ma’am.” She doesn’t turn. I try again. She still keeps going. Finally I yell, “Lady with the stroller.” She stops and looks at me like I’m some kind of lunatic. I ask her if her child lost their teddy bear. The woman answers “no” and turns and walks away.

Sometimes my good deeds work out and sometimes they don’t. This time not so much. R. props up the abandoned bear by a tree and we continue our travels, but my heart hurts for the little one who lost his or her buddy.

Soon after my trek to save Mr. Teddy, I’m hot – and God bless R. when he spies a place for refreshment. Good excuse for us to get into air-conditioning and rest our weary feet. Did I mention shopping??

But, thank goodness, I didn’t buy anything because our next stop – a climb up some pretty steep steps to an overlook to take a picture of the harbor. Breathtaking scenery!

On our way down, we decide to take the path, but soon R. gets bored of the sensible and wants to get down quicker. He heads down the grass and urges me to do the same. Need I say that going downhill is the part of hiking I hate? People, I’m afraid I’ll trip and roll down the mountain (in this case – a hill) and die (melodramatic-I know). R. reminds me to take slow, easy steps and I make it to the bottom alive and all in one piece.

And at the bottom is a gallery with this mosaic wall glistening in the sunlight. The bus parked in back is also covered with mosaic tile. Love all the creatures on the hood (see picture below). Maybe R. and I will buy a bus and create our own masterpiece on wheels. Just a thought.

I want to check out the interesting gallery, but we don’t have enough time.

We have a boat to catch for a dinner cruise and we’re starving. The Spirit is supposed to take off at 7:00, but for some reason it’s delayed. At 7:15 we find out why. A wedding took place on the upper deck and we’re invited to take part in the couple’s wedding reception. What a surprise!!!

An evening to remember – fabulous food, dancing the night away and a spectacular sunset.

Better scoot for now, but talk to all of you next week in another Back East Bloglog.

Love ya,

PS: And I promise no more mention of pitstops or pitfalls in the upcoming blogs. . .Yeah right, nettie - who are you trying to kid?