Riding Through Civil War History

My weekend ride continued on Sunday morning and the route that I chose took me through Appomattox Courthouse.

You will most likely recognize the name Appomattox as the site of Lee’s surrender, effectively ending the Civil War.

It was quiet that morning, and all I heard were the birds singing and the leaves rustling in the breeze.

I could not help but think about the 620,000 souls who died during that terrible time when our country was so divided.

The peace that morning was such a contrast to the violence that was seen in those fields.

A solemn walk through this small confederate cemetery revealed the story of a soldier who joined the army on day one of the war, April 12th, 1861, and after serving for 1,458 days, was killed on the last day of the war, April 9, 1865.

Standing there that day, I could not help but think about how divided our nation is now, and how desperately we need a leader who will unite us.

Somehow we must learn the lessons of past tragedy and move beyond the divisiveness.

Riding ‘Round Virginia

While it can be a challenge to be away from home for several weekends in a row, the benefits include the opportunity to visit with family and friends.  Two weeks ago I was in Williamsburg celebrating my mother’s birthday.  Last weekend, for a mix of meetings and fun, I rode the bike from Blacksburg to Fredericksburg to King George to Richmond and back home.  The weather was bright and beautiful and I enjoyed 600 miles of happy!

My meeting was in  Fredericksburg, an historic town that I had not visited in decades.  Sadly,  I wasn’t able to do much exploring since I arrived late on Friday and had to be in meetings first thing the next morning. I did stay in a hotel that I now hear is haunted, although I saw no sign of ghosts.  The Inn at Old Silk Mill was built in the 1930s and was one of the largest motor lodges on the east coast.

The Silk Mill was built in 1889 and was a factory that employed over 200 women. The women spun silk that was imported from Italy to go around spools for sewing. Originally the C.W Tholtz Throwing Company, The Mill has been recently renovated to host weddings and events.

All the meeting attendees were able to attend Senator Mark Warner‘s annual BBQ.  Located in King George, Senator Warner’s home is located right on the Rappahanock River.

The Senator, and Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, and current candidate for Governor, Ralph Northam, and Attorney General Mark Herring stood in line for hours greeting the many hundreds of people in attendance.

What a wonderful way to say thanks to the many people who have worked to keep Virginia blue.

Next post: Riding Through Civil War History

Cruising: Food and Drink

Are you ready to be done seeing photos from the cruise that I took with friends in April?  I promise, this is the last one!  If you’ve followed along so far, you’ve seen a recap of the whole experience, the birds and flowers, the ship, and the windows and doors.  You’ve read that I had my reservations about cruising, that I’m not sure I’d do it again, AND that I had a great time with friends and with my camera.

I also enjoyed great food and drink! There were 13 bars on that ship, and Kerry, from Love Those Hands at Home, asked if we managed to visit every one.  I’m proud to say that over the course of one week, we did!  In fact, I carried around the “List of 13” and we would check them off one at a time.  Several of the bartenders got into the spirit with us.

And of course, I couldn’t help but turn my drinks into photography.

Beer

Wine

Cocktails

Frozen Drinks

The best part?  No need for a designated driver!

Thanks for hanging with me through all of these posts about the cruise.  Someday, I’ll be able to look back and remember the fun.

*****

It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve been back from the cruise and I’ve been on the road, working, and taking care of civic duties.  It’s my goal to visit all of you over the next week or so.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to!

Cruising: Doors and Windows

* This is the fourth post in the series about the cruise I took 6 weeks ago.  Life has moved on, but the cruise pictures keep coming!  You can see those images, and read my thoughts about cruising here, here, and here.*

Believe it or not, a cruise keeps you busy!  It seemed that my friends and I were always on the go.  We never took an elevator and instead took multiple flights of stairs several times throughout the day.  We joined excursions off the ship and participated in activities on the ship.   Even still, I never felt that I was forced to do any one thing nor eat in any particular place at a specific time, something I had worried about before starting the cruise.

I loved the contrast of in and out,

and photographed several windows along the way.  From inside the bar, of which there were 13,

from inside one of the many restaurants,

and from inside our room, looking out to the balcony where I would enjoy my coffee and book each morning.

The doors of Mexico were intriquing, and so narrow!

Many of the buildings were old and in need of repair,

except in the tourist area, of course.  I definitely enjoyed my cold beer at Woody’s.

In order to avoid the near constant panhandling, cruisers are able to visit ports of call created by the cruise lines.  This was one of the disappointments for me.  I didn’t feel like I learned much about the culture, and it seemed that the cruise lines try to “hide” the reality of the noticeable poverty.   They build what I call the “Disney Land” ports of call, this one in Roatan, Honduras.

Beautiful for sure, but how real?  I consoled myself with knowing that these ports create jobs.

This next shot is from Harvest Caye, Belize,

and this last image, a selfie, was taken in Ybor City, a neighborhood in Tampa Bay, that we visited after docking at the end of the cruise.

Next Cruising Post – Food and Drink

Cruising: The Ship

My last two posts about the cruise have focused on the experience and the flowers and birds.  You’ve read that I had my reservations about cruising, and while I’m not sure that I’d do it again, I found much to enjoy.

The ship itself, the Norwegian Jade, also offered wonderful opportunities for photography and I rarely went anywhere without my camera!

Was it the contrast between the natural and the human made world?

Or the wonderful patterns of repetition.

Perhaps it was how vast the ship was,

especially when standing between the Jade and her sister ship, the Dawn.

I loved the comparison of this classic tall ship and the new cruise style ship.

I adored having a morning cup of coffee on the balcony, one of the absolute best things about the cruise!.

I even slept on that balcony one night after dragging out a blanket and pillow, and laying on the deck.  The sea, the wind, the stars … it was an amazing thing to be in middle of the Caribbean Sea, and to feel so close to nature and to feel her power.

What a gift!

Next Cruising Post – The Doors and Windows and Architecture

Cruising: Bird and Flowers

If you had time to read my last post, you’ll know that I recently went on my first cruise.  Despite a few misgivings, I found much to enjoy about the experience: time off from work, a whole week with friends that I only see a few times yearly, and fun with photography.

Clearly I am not a wildlife photographer but it wasn’t hard to photograph these colorful birds.

I attempted to capture a pelican taking off from the water, but I just didn’t have the right lens with me.

One of my favorite images from the trip is this next one, which I am posting again even though I shared it in the previous post.

The flowers and trees were stunning as well.

Such vivid colors!

These shadows made the photographer in me quite happy.

While I would have loved to have done some hiking or to have learned about the local flora and fauna, I sure enjoyed the color of that water.

I was so inspired by it that I waded right in even though I didn’t have my bathing suit on!  Is anyone surprised by that?  Yes, that is a margarita in my hand 🙂

Next Cruising Post – The Ship

The Cruise Experience

Almost six weeks ago I went on a cruise, a mode of travel that I never anticipated experiencing.

According to Cruise Ship Industry Statistics, over 20 million people cruise per year so clearly, it is a popular way to vacation.  Frankly though, I had my misgivings.

Even though I’d be off of work and with close friends for a week, I kept saying “I’m just not sure that I’m a cruise kinda gal”.  Even after having a super fun time, I’m still not sure if I’d do it again.

Not because I didn’t enjoy myself, but because there are so many things to do in this big, wide world and in that I have only 3 weeks vacation per year (thanks to unplanned and planned job changes), I just need to use the time I have to experience new things.

Having said all of that, I had an incredible time with dear friends, spent alot of time with my camera in hand, had a blast on a zipline (wow!), and enjoyed lots of good food and drink.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some images from the cruise.  You’ll see food and drink (mostly drink – ha!), flowers and birds, doors and architecture, scenes from the ship, and assorted miscellany.

Thanks for still coming to visit despite my protracted absences.  I’ve started a new organization and am working to encourage women to run for office or to support those who have decided to run.  I’ve also just finished working on our community’s annual Ride of Silence, and am looking forward to helping with the annual Memorial Day Service.

Next Post:  Cruising – Birds and Flowers