Sunday, October 29, 2017

Congaree National Park, SC

The highlight of our stay near Lexington, SC, was Congaree National Park.  Another one of those not so well known national parks, this park protects the largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest in the US.  Many of these beautiful trees, bald cypress and loblolly pine among them, are well over 130 feet tall.

before we set out on the trail, we consulted the mosquito meter;)
It turned out to be accurate, I received only one bite .

Banana spiders were everywhere
fortunately they are big enough
to be seen most of the time before you run into their web!

so nice to see pileated woodpeckers again, no good pics though:(

loblolly pines

mostly cypress in this pic

no clue what he is called but sure is cool!!

first pic of this type of butterfly I think, could not get closer

we were in cotton country for sure

The nearby city
of Columbia had a very nice
riverfront walk...
old lock system on the canal

dam across the Congaree River

looks like this guy had been basking all day in the sun!;)

railroad across the Congaree River

Did a very warm walk across
the 2 mile dam at nearby Lake

This section of fence had thousands of "love locks"
these islands on Lake Murray were used as bombing ranges for training during WWII, at least 4 bombers went down in the lake and were later removed

Twisted Spur

always looking for good beers:)
which these breweries
happily provided us
during our stay!

River Rat

Old Mill Brewery

Friday, October 20, 2017

Jordan Lake, NC

We are finishing up our stay in Moncure, NC.,  just about 1/3 mile from B. Everett Jordan Lake.  This large lake, covering about 14,000 acres, has been our source of hiking trails while here.  Lots of nice dense forest and a large lake, yay! The pics below were all taken at various locations around the lake.

Not far from us, in Pittsboro and Cary and Fuquay Varina, we were able to find some nice breweries and one winery to visit. We bought a couple of bottles of a nice syrah from Chatam Hill Winery.

marbled orb weaver - we kept running into this spider, literally, on our hikes!  It is a pretty one!

two juvenile bald eagles playing over the lake this morning

we can count on a good IPA at
most breweries these days
.... sours are still harder to

Bond Brothers had a good

2 breweries here, Aviator and Carolina Brewery

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Petersburg, VA

We spent the last week just outside Petersburg, VA, and had a nice, low key week;)  There is another battlefield here, the Petersburg Battlefield.

The Siege of Petersburg happened here June 18, 1864 - April 2, 1865.  A major event in the Civil War, this siege enabled Gen Grant to take the city and subsequently take Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy which lead very shortly at that point to the surrender of Lees army at Appomattox Court House.

The battlefield was a nice place for Mike and I to get our exercise.  We also drove to Newport News one day for a hike and 2 breweries.  That was quite a drive and our hope was that it might be a bit cooler as it was close to the coast.  However, it was still 80+ degrees and 80 percent humidity that day! Ugh!   I was so miserable we had to cut the hike short.  Tradition Brewery was very nice though and had some good IPAs;)

There were several battles during the
seige.  Very interesting to read

Petersburg Battlefield

The Noland Trail in Newport News, VA

sometimes even a blurry picture makes for an interesting one

German style beers at
the St George Brewing Co.

We enjoyed Tradition a
bit more, good IPAs
Tradition Brewery

 In Petersburg we also visited a couple of breweries, Ammo Brewery and Trapezium and enjoyed both!

Trapezium Brewing

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Washington DC, 5th and Final Post

We had an amazing time in our nations capital.  I would not mind going back someday.

We enjoyed a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  No pics allowed;) We were able to see the entire process of printing money from above by walking along enclosed catwalks.  Very cool.
 The Bureau will print 6.5 billion dollars in new notes this year. 95 percent of those notes will replace old notes.  Just crazy to think about!

The United States Holocaust Museum is so new they are still working on it.  Once again, this is a must see.  We can never be reminded enough of the atrocities committed on the Jewish people and others by the Hitler regime.
 Pictures fill a 3 story high room of families from a 400 year old Jewish village, one of many that were entirely wiped out by the Nazi's.

I remember reading
The Diary of Anne Frank
in 7th grade
this is one of the types of train cars used to "relocate" Jews

a copy of the sign over the entrance to Auschwitz "work will make you free" to give people hope
 Upon arrival at the "work camps" people were immediately chosen to go to the gas chambers (women, children, infirm, elderly) or to be worked to death.

"workers" carrying stone blocks up a staircase, over and over until they expired
A model of an extermination camps undressing, "delousing" chambers and crematorium:
Jews were sent down into an undressing room where they had to give up all their things and clothes to go into the "showers" for a delousing treatment

they were then moved into the "shower" room and the doors secured and poison was pumped into the chamber through the shower heads

up on top on the left are the incinerators for the bodies

after the war, huge piles of shoes were found outside this camp

casting of a memorial wall constructed from fragments of stones from a Jewish cemetery 
 The Kennedy Center of Performing Arts. We were unable to tour the main hall but there are several stages inside the center and every night of the year one can attend a free performance on the Millennium Stage.  Free!  We attended a jazz performance by Libor Smoldas of the Czech Republic.  He was introduced by the Czech ambassador.  Every type of performing art is held on these stages and from all around the world.  How cool is that!!

 Spent the better part of a day at the National Zoo.  The zoo specializes in endangered species.
 They have some great exhibits there but the undisputed show stealer that day was Batang and her baby, Redd.  The orangutans have an enclosure with an O-Line.  I have never seen this before and it is the coolest!!  They have the ability to climb up a tower and take the cables across the park to another enclosure.  So you may get lucky as we did and see one walking the cables 50 feet over your head!
initially, we did not see any apes using the O-Line.....

...sometime later, we saw people looking up and there was Batang taking Redd to the opposite enclosure

Mom and baby having some alone time in the Think Tank

Adorable little guy, 1 year old
 Annapolis is just a few miles from Washington so we could not resist a look at the Naval Academy:

this is the largest building and also houses all 4000 midshipmen!

beautiful inside!

the chapel

The organ boasts over 15,000 pipes.  Where they are hidden is not evident but it is beautiful .

under the chapel is probably the fanciest tomb/sarcophagus  in the US holding the remains of  John Paul Jones, naval commander in the Revolutionary War. A very interesting story goes along with his burial here.  Check on line;)

we were there for an evening parade, very nice!

US Army Corp of Engineers Park, Iowa City, IA

Mike and I love it when we can find a COE park because they are always on water and our last stop at Coralville Lake was no exception.  A bi...