Our lives now include living at one of the nicest senior communities in the USA. Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, CA. We will still travel in the RV but not full time.

Archive for May, 2013

More wonderful spots of history in Shenandoah Valley

Ok, it is true, this is my fourth blog today, but the three before were done at Starbucks in Target here in Front Royal.  Now I have moved to the other Starbucks in town, just across the highway.  This is the one I was sent to find, but the Universe took me to Target to meet another person that wanted to share something with me.  Now I am in a traditional Starbucks that can sell me the instant coffee we use on the mornings we are packing up and moving on.  It is cheaper in the grocery stores but you never know who will have it.

Yesterday’s pictures are from the Heritage Museum town of Dayton.  They have a huge genealogy Library, and given that this area was settled by German and Scotch-Irish immigrants I wish I had the time to do some research cause the Greenawalts were German and Grandma Greenawalt came from Scotch Irish people-the McLarens.  But the museum was in this tiny brick house, which actually extends out and under where you cannot see it.  Lots of culture of those early people and Folk art of the past.   Dayton, the town, is prettier than many of them.  I am not only in spring and seeing Peonies blooming, but I am hurridly taking photos cause the intense heat that hit this week is finishing them quickly.

Also in Dayton is a wonderful grist mill.  The story about it is another great one of the civil war and what happened to the people and their land and homes.  Any by the way, many of the people here are descendents and are of the Bretheren or Friends faith-most being Mennonites today.  At any rate Daniel Bowman was a Unionist and against slavery.  Many of the people in the area were either with the Confederates but many just wanted to live.  They often fed and nursed soldiers from both sides.  The men were often with local groups of like minded Confederates who did not join up with current militias but formed small groups that fought and attached in small detachments.  Many historians say, however, that basically the people of Shenandoah were southern minded and pro Confederacy.

The mill was not supposed to be burned because Sheridan ordered the Union troops to spare the mill and home of Bowman.  Then along came General Custer and said, no way!  “The Burning”  fell on everyone.

At any rate-the mill was rebuilt and is a thriving business today that personalizes dishes, glasses, plates, cups and so on.  We saw the ones from Williamsburg that we were familiar with being worked on.  Quite a structure and the Swans were the big treat.


A few days ago, we drove up 340 thru Front Royal and then went sight seeing in other areas too.  Today I needed a Starbucks to blog as I could not get fast enough internet to upload the photos.  It was a beautiful drive again up here through the farms, forests and on curvy roads going up and down over the rolling valley.  So I Googled Front Royal and here is the possible reason for the name.

The entire Shenandoah Valley including the area to become Front Royal was annexed and claimed for hunting by the Iroquois Confederation during the later Beaver Wars, by 1672. Some bands of the Shawnee settled in the area as client groups to the Iroquois and alternately to the Cherokee after 1721. The Iroquois formally sold their entire claim east of the Alleghenies to theVirginia Colony at the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744.[6] Front Royal, originally settled in 1754 under the name LeHewtown, had been known to European explorers as early as the 1670s, and the nearby settlement of Chester’s Ferry was in existence by 1736. The town also had a well-known nickname by the 1790s, “Helltown,” due to the many livestock wranglers and boatmen on the Shenandoah coming through the area, who came into town looking for alcohol. It was incorporated as “Front Royal” in 1788.

The origin of the name “Front Royal” remains uncertain. One version holds that, in early decades of European settlement, the area was referred to in French as “le front royal,” meaning the British frontier.

At any rate Russ and I loved this Historical downtown and then moved on t0 see Belle Grove Plantation just south of Middletown.  It is a 1797 plantation.  Major Hite married President James Madison’s sister Nelly.  Thomas Jefferson gave them suggestions for the fancier home they built later and you could really see his input.  But the original footprint is lined by rock foundation-and it was a very small two story house.  It seems Dolly and James Madison honey mooned with the Hites in the little house which included the 3 children.  Anyway the Major got slaves from his wife’s dowry and really did well.  The mansion only has one floor and the below ground floor that the slaves worked and cooked in.  It was a sensational tour especially when you stepped on the front veranda and visualized the Union Army camped all across the acres in front.  Union lost to Stonewall Jackson who pushed them north, but pushed back and took over again.  This was part of the fight over this great bread basket that the South needed to hold onto.  Sheridan then burned almost everything so that the south could not eat out of this beautiful area.  Loved this history.  Had tingles standing on the veranda and visualizing the troops, tents and fires that were going when the Confederates surprised the Union in the middle of the night-Cedar Creek Battle.

Only had a couple of hours for the city of Winchester-so we went to the historic down town blocks that has been set up nicely as a pedestrian mall.  Found a bistro for lunch and sat out in perfect weather (today is 93) but that day was in the 80’s.  Will say that Winchester was the first English speaking town west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the County was the military and political training ground for George Washington.  During the Civil War the town changed hands 72 times.  Puts the war in perspective here in Virginia.

I know, too much information, but I do not want to forget what we have seen and this is my best way to remember.  Love you all and will get to the west despite tornados.

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Camping Alone at Luray! Where did all the People Go from Outlanders RV Park?

Let me remind you-double click title line to get on to actual blog when you cannot get the photos up.

Last weekend was a Holiday and our lovely camping spot at Outlander RV near Luray, VG was full of families getting away for the weekend.  Really nice people to visit with.  Gary and Hilary next to us have traveled across the States 4 times-he is in the Navy (?) at Alexandria, VA.  She is a social worker and is from Kentucky and told us where to stay and what to see in Louisville including touring the horse barns at Churchill Downs.  He was at Monterey for some years.

Then the weekend comes to an end and Memorial Day everyone left except two couples.  So I went over to them, old Air Force buddies and wives.  Lots of good stories to share.  Both men had been at Mountain Home, Idaho air base.  That was one of the towns we played basketball against when I was in high school.  Talked about Beale outside of Marysville, CA where I lived as well.  Then one couple and I exchanged stories of meeting our partners.  She was divorced and ended up with her old boyfriend from when she was 12 and that was it-they are together now.  The other couple are both military! Nice people.

And then they left and here we are-with gorgeous nite skies and almost no lighting.  We are on farm land. The grasses and weeds and wildflowers grown high in certain parts, with mowed areas for runners and graveled areas for walkers and bikers.

Vehicle repairs took us the little town of Stanley, and then we finally -after 5 days here, made it to the actual town of Luray.  Another incredibly sweet spot in the Shenandoah Valley.  It is actually just up the hill, hidden, 5 miles away from us.  I bet if we had not gone to a garage for repairs we would never have seen it.  It was the first really hot day here in these mountains and we could not leave Shadow in the car-so I allowed Russ to do the laundry in air conditioning-and I found a park on the river with ducks and kids and people having their lunch break.  Shadow and I walked the path to Main Street and checked out the shops.  These little towns are very interesting.  They manage to keep businesses in the old buildings and even the battered ones draw you in.  Homes are smallish-old and 50’s 60’s old.  People do not appear to have wealth in these small towns.  The shops are not open every day except maybe in the heart of summer and we are just early for that.  I have such wonderful conversations with strangers!

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Thank you for all your Comments!

Weird!  I just looked at comments you have all made-and realized I had not posted them on line-don’t know how I got out of the habit.  BUT I really do love hearing from you and knowing you get to read some of our posts.  We love being able to look back and remember, as well as give people information when they ask, by going back to a blog.  Just met a couple going to Toronto, CA and told them about a campground our friend Teri found for us.  At any rate thanks for the comments.

This country in Virginia, along the Blue Ridge Mountains and in the Shenandoah Valley is quite incredible too.  We drove up here on Highway 81, but learned that it parallels Highway 11.  I did not know the extent of this highway 11 and up here they say it is the Main Street of Shenandoah Valley.  You go right through all the little towns that have been here from the late 1700’s and so much Civil War History is here.  We are staying in farm country at LuRay near the “Endless Caverns”.  We are close to Harrisonburg and they have the most wonderful tourist office in a historic old house-also on Main Street.  The ladies in there have given me everything to do that I want. And they found us the best vegetarian resturant for lunch today.  We are in Starbucks again so that I can blog and not use up all of our  data time on the MIFI.

So far on Highway 11 we have seen a county seat where the courthouse was designed by Thomas Jefferson and where he was sworn in to the House of Burgess.  I have been most impacted by the beauty here and the horror of the Civil War, where the Union burned down all the farms, towns and grain mills-because this was a breadbasket for the South.

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U.S. Route 11 is a north–south United States highway extending 1,645 miles[1] (2,647 km) across the eastern United States. The southern terminus of the route is at U.S. Route 90 in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in eastern New Orleans, Louisiana. The northern terminus is at the United States-Canada border in Rouses PointNew York. The route continues across the border in Canada as Quebec Route 223. U.S. 11, created in 1926, largely follows the route of the original plan.

Long Drive to Asheville NC but worth it to see the Biltmore Estate

Whenever you open my blogs and do not get photos, just click on the title and it will take you to them.

OK, it was also important that we get to a Whole Foods.  We got some great meals already prepared.  They helped us a lot traveling up here to the Shenandoah Valley in northern Virginia.

Everyone had said-to go see the largest mansion in America.  It was built by a third generation Vanderbilt as his little summer retreat and basically it covers 4 acres, that’s the house, the land covers miles!!!

It is one of the most beautiful spots in America, Smokey Mountains and trees and gardens I could not believe.  The weird part was that we arrived in sheeting rain, parked in handicapped which meant we rolled up the car windows for Shadow and caught a bus.  We were almost finished seeing the first floor and balcony when the sun came out, hot.  Russ had to catch the bus back to the car to open the windows.  Then a man told him for $10 he could valet park in front of the mansion.  I came up out of the gardens to find our car parked right next to the mansion.  OMG!  Even then the weather joked with us-Russ missed the final floor-basement because it started raining again and he decided to go turn on the air and sit with Shadow.  You get to drive out through the gardens and they are exquisite.

One of the great stories is this- When George Vanderbilt decided to make Western North Carolina his home, he hired the founding father of American landscape architecture—Frederick Law Olmsted—to design the grounds. Olmsted’s vision for Biltmore included a small pleasure ground and garden, a major arboretum and nursery, and a systematically managed forest. A conservation-minded man, Olmsted felt creating a managed forest at Biltmore was important because it could serve as an example for the rest of the country. In fact, the national model for forestry began at Biltmore during those formative years.

The bottom 6 pictures are mine!  I had to find the ones inside the mansion as you cannot take photos.

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Full Timer in the RV (Don’t make too many Plans) or (Let the Universe Lead You)

Complete strangers can change your life-for a moment, for a day and for years.  We all know how you meet a person on a plane and exchange all kinds of personal stuff you never thought you would share.  Well I, of course, do not have much that I don’t share! But you know what I mean.

At Perdido Cove we made friends with Linda and Wayne from Young Harris, Georgia and they not only were fun, but kind, helpful, thoughtful, bright, and extremely interesting.  I knew very quickly Linda and I would be girl friends.  Then Wayne helped me plan the trip north and we decided to see their beautiful area.  So we got to know them a little better.  I will miss them and truly hope we get time together in the future.  But whether we do or not may not be the point.

Being free to change plans or to await for them from that Source we usually call God is very rewarding.  There is less fear.  You take more chances.  Best of all you see and listen.  Sometimes when I am not sure what should be next I use a prayer from a writer and blogger that I have followed. I thought today I would share it with you.

“God let your will be done not mine. Jesus I give you my heart, my eyes, my ears, my smell, my touch all my senses, let your will be done not mine. Let me be the divine channel of your loving expression. Make the signs easy and clear to understand so I that I know what to do, and I will show up and I will say yes.”

Most of you know I believe there is no God box and that all religions would use different names to call upon that connection that I believe is everywhere, is all we are.

Yesterday the Tornado hit Oklahoma and children in a schoolhouse were killed.  I am not a good enough writer to express my feelings.  Why????  But this time on the road at least has taught me that I do not do this alone, that God is always there-with those children and with me.  I have finally come to know for myself that we are not just this body or this time.  I am less afraid to just live each day and be.  Since I am blessed with good health and my other senses I really am grateful for this opportunity to “be here” in this moment.

On the day to day surprises, I have pictures of Clayton in Rabin County-made me think of Gooding, Idaho in the 50’s and 60’s.  The hand painted sale signs on the store windows-my Dad’s store!!  Ace had everything including a deer stand, which I took the picture for Todd Mink and Brandon.  It is considered one of the prettiest counties anywhere.  By the way,  the movie, Deliverance was filmed here.

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Brasstown Bald-What?

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We followed steep winding roads to the top of a mountain (east Coast style) and visited the views of The Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

I can’t really explain traveling with Rose Bushes, but I had just sold the house-what do you think?

Chattenooga, Tennessee, Ruby Falls and Rock City

Russ and I are falling in love with Tennessee.  So far there isn’t much to not like.  The forests and Low Coastal Mountains are covered with so many spring green shades that we are in awe.  Countryside has falling down barns and old  homes along side incredible dream homes.  Everyone has grass and many many are on huge lots that everyone mows with tractors.  I guess falling down buildings are more beautiful when everything is green and trees bloom in purple and white.

We acted like real tourists in Chattenooga, riding bikes along the river and tackled a bridge that is just for walkers and bicyclers.  We found a wonderful coffee shop and Shadow got her own egg while we ate ours on croissants.  Then we were told that we must go up on the ridge of mountain above town to see Rock Gardens and Ruby Falls (deep in a cave).  So of course we went up on the Rock Garden when is was raining and into the cave when it was sunny outside.

Our camping spot did not line up for satellite TV so we read some good books those evenings, but you will notice maybe that we did not do blogs so I want to catch up.  We Continue to enjoy the beauty of the country and the many packages that good Americans come in.  Not to say we do not meet foreigners, too.  It seems Chattenooga is an incredible place for wifi and big business on spectacular grids.  All kinds of business around this and we met people from silicon valley as well as India-all involved in this industry and the growth of Chattenooga.








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The rock gardens were on private land and developed by he owners-Rhodadendrums everywhere.

The rock gardens were on private land and developed by he owners-Rhodadendrums everywhere.

Favorite spot for eggs and latte

Favorite spot for eggs and latte

Can cruise

Can cruise

Haiwassee and Young Harris, Georgia

Russ and I became friends in Perdido Cove with a lovely couple, Wayne and Linda.  They were the center of the night life each evening as a half dozen or more of us gathered together, they had the view of the tug boats and the waterway.  Well, when I began to plan our route out of Florida and through Alabama and Tennessee and then into the Smokey Mountains, Wayne said, bring the map to me.  He knows all the south, actually.  So leaving Chattanooga we did not go to Knoxville, but he wanted us to see a very scenic area in NW Georgia where he and Linda live-Young Harris.  He knew of a remarkable campground, isolated a bit but still close to everything.  This was in Haiwassee. Well the drive from Chattanooga there was on narrow two lane highways, with plenty of up and down, and then my side of the RV almost over the River was very exciting OMG!  Russ knows he should never have me be a passenger on those narrow road trips, as I am sure he will drive us right into the river.

The RV place is beautiful, rolling country grasses and forests and the whole valley has lake and river winding through it.  I think it might be the prettiest place I have ever been. In Haiwassee the campground was River’s Bend.  Creek was stocked with trout and place was landscaped beautifully.

For some reason I keep forgetting to say anything about the Southern accents.  They all don’t come across the same.  The order of words, the level of education, the country or city they live in-absolutely delightful.  What I have enjoyed is that I don’t try to imitate anyone, but in my head I play back something someone said and I realize I am remembering it with the accent.

Linda and Wayne live on top of one of the Hills and have a scrumptious house and huge lawns.  They entertained us for the first evening in her country creative porch room they enclosed.  Oh, the views!!!  They also belong to a Resort with pool both indoor and outdoor.  Linda took me to swim and have lunch by the pool.  I can’t believe they are members of this magnificent spot.  What an incredible afternoon she gave me.  Girl talk endlessly!

DSC04197This view from Linda and Wayne’s family room views the mountain.


These two are the porch-very informal compared to the rest of the home.  They enclosed it, and it is perfect for family.



One of the views of the resort where Linda and I swam.


Resort fireplace and great room.


more of the resort


views from resort terrace


Russ with our friend Linda.

You know who!!


The area around the RV place.

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