Jul 23

Fun at Virginia Beach beaches

Sometimes the weather conditions can be a little rough for enjoying the boardwalk and beaches at Virginia Beach. However the city has added features to the beach scene that provide families the opportunity to use the beach even on cool and blustery days.

A unique beach park and playground

A unique beach park and playground

A imaginative park design

A imaginative park design

There have been many additions to the beach since our last visit. The Grommet Island park and playground has really nice  playground equipment with some whimsical features. Our granddaughter enjoyed playing in this park when we went to the beach during a recent trip to visit our family.

A blustery day

A blustery day

A few folks enjoying the boardwalk

A few folks enjoying the boardwalk

We liked seeing the pelicans flying overhead

 

Jul 21

Deer Ridge Camping Resort is one of Indiana’s finest

Welcome sign

Welcome sign

Nestled right off I-70 at Exit 153 the RV traveler will find a delightful campground. The Deer Ridge Camping Resort is close to Richmond in the far eastern part of the state, between Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio.

This RV park is one of those campgrounds that immediately makes you feel at home. The owners are always there to insure that you want for nothing during your stay. With 30 years of camping under their belts, both Scott and Pat know what makes camping a fun and safe experience.

The nuts and bolts: all roads are gravel in excellent condition, sites are mostly grass with picnic tables and many fire rings are available. Layout allows for easy maneuvering for even big rigs or long fivers. All sites have water, sewer and electric. Rates are reasonable and all discount programs are honored and vets get a 15% discount.

Inviting you to a swim

Inviting you to a summer swim

Critters at the mini-golf course

Critters at the mini-golf course

Amenities include lovely playgrounds for the kids, a fun animal themed mini-golf course, large pavilion and one of the cleanest swimming pools we have ever had the pleasure to use. The main building houses a couple of pool tables, restrooms, laundry and plenty of books to read. 24 hour WiFi is on in the lounge. Within the building you will find the office/store. Also be sure to note the nostalgic decorations in the lounge. Boomers for sure will get a kick out of the collection.

Well groomed grounds

Well groomed grounds

Showers, bathrooms and pool house

Showers, bathrooms and pool house

Ice, propane and firewood are available for purchase. Scott personally delivered our firewood to our site and even threw in a pile of kindling which enabled an easy fire start. (The s’mores were great as usual!)

This campground should be on anyone’s list of stops in East Central Indiana. Scott and Pat are gracious, peaceful people who really make you feel part of the Deer Ridge family. You will enjoy your stay, be it for a night or longer. Here is the Deer Ridge website with all details.

Our very nice site near the pool.

Our very nice site near the pool.

Jul 21

North Carolina is home to Wright Brothers first flight

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Life sized plane and sculpture field

The National Park Service operates the National Memorial to the Wright Brothers located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, specifically the Kitty Hawk/Kill Devil Hills area.

All have heard of the first manned flight in a powered airplane. Any trip to the area of the Outer Banks should include a visit to this dramatic Memorial. We arrived late in the day, and thus did not have time to visit the Visitors Center. We did, however, enjoy the massive monument and the artistic reproduction of the original Wright flier and associated sculpture field.

The massive monument is on top of the large sand dune hill where the flights occurred. In the 1920’s the dune was seeded with grass to stabilize the hill in preparation for the construction of the monument.

Originally from Ohio, the Wright brothers found that the sand dunes of the outer banks would be a perfect place for them to design the gliders and finally the engine powered airplane. Sand dunes provided a relatively safe place to test fly: sand is soft, protects the pilots and lessens potential damage to the aircraft.

Monument on the hill where the first flight occurred

Monument on the hill where the first flight occurred

Statue of Wilbur running alongside the plane piloted by Orville

Statue of Wilbur running alongside the plane piloted by Orville. Note the portrayal of the photographer left background

Personnel from the local US Lifesaving Service offered help and on December 17, 1903 several were at the site of the flight. This moment was captured in the iconic photograph of the moment the plane took flight. At the memorial there is a marvelous sculpture field including a life sized reproduction of the plane as well as bronze sculptures of the men who were there at the time. This is a most impressive view that immediately takes you back to that famous December day in 1903.

Plan on visiting this marvelous piece of U.S. history. Here is the NPS website with details and some great information. Note: our National Parks Service Senior Pass saved us the entrance fees to the site. (Seniors 62 and older can get this pass here: NPS lifetime Senior Pass website)

The monument

The monument

Jul 19

Virginia Beach Virginia KOA is nearly a perfect campground

Trademark big chair near the office/store

Trademark big chair near the office/store

The KOA at Virginia Beach provided Sher and I a perfect place to stay and share with our family over the past July 4th holiday weekend. I was pleased that we were able to get a spot over the holiday, and doubly pleased with the location of our camping space.  We were placed in a spot on the first row next to the store/pools and other amenities. This gave us an easy, short walk to the pool!

Our spot was a pull through with all utilities, including cable TV and a very strong WiFi connection. The parking was level for our 24′ Thor Four Winds. There was a picnic table and permanent fire ring. Our only problem with the site came with the rain that hit a couple of times. Our site drainage was poor and we had quite a puddle outside our door until it slowly drained away. Our site was long enough to allow our family to park their car behind our RV. All in all the site was very nice.

Our comfortable site for five nights

Our comfortable site for five nights

Office and store

Office and store

The KOA has a lot of great amenities that we enjoyed with our 5 year old granddaughter. She stayed with us for the week days while our son and daughter-in-law worked. We loved the two (yes, two) swimming pools. They were crystal clean and had a lifeguard on duty during the day. Pool chemical levels were checked every hour with results posted publicly for all to see.

In addition to the pools the grounds had a huge sand pile to play on/in. Measuring at least 20′ X 20′ and a full 3′ deep, this pile of fine beach sand with buckets, shovels and other toys made for a great place to let kids play while adults sat in the shade under a huge umbrella. There was a large inflatable slide and bouncing pad next to the sand pile. Other traditional playground equipment was scattered around the park.

Convenient covered bus stop: runs all day every 20 minutes

Convenient covered bus stop: runs all day every 20 minutes

One fantastic feature of this park is the local city bus stop right on the grounds. For a mere $4 you can ride the “trolley” to and from the Boardwalk at the beaches of Virginia Beach. The day pass is good for 24 hours, the busses come by every 20 minutes and run from early morning to late at night. No need to drive your tow vehicle to the expensive beach side parking lots: take the bus!

We thoroughly enjoyed our five day stay at this KOA. We bought the KOA Value Kard to get the substantial savings offered. Our family had a ball with us. We used the fire pit, roasted hot dogs and introduced our granddaughter to s’mores. An added plus to this RV park is the security gate. Sher and I felt very safe in this park.

Be sure to check out the KOA website Virginia Beach for reservations and more information.

Jul 17

“Church Basement Ladies” gives a light hearted evening of fun

The cast of Church Basement Ladies

The cast of Church Basement Ladies

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre brings back to the stage the original version of the popular Church Basement Ladies series this summer. Set in the basement of a  rural Minnesota Lutheran church in 1964, four ladies of various ages bring a mix of nostalgia, cooking, planning and hilarity to this fun story.

Beef & Boards favorite Eddie Curry is featured as the hapless pastor of this church. His interaction with the basement ladies rings so true to anyone who has experience in a local church of any denomination. Licia Watson is fabulous as the matriarch of the basement kitchen, Vivian Snustad. Vivian is struggling with changes within the church, including a recent change from black to red hymnals. The unforgettable Mavis Gilmerson is played by Karen Pappas, reprising her original role. Newcomer to B&B is Dawn Trautman (an authentic Minnesota Lutheran) playing Karin Engleson and Lindsay Sutton is featured as Karin’s daughter, Signe.

"Mavis" in a typical wacky scene

“Mavis” in a typical wacky scene

You will laugh 'til you cry

You will laugh ’til you cry

 

 

 

The story follows the problems the ladies face as they prepare for the typical series of events that most church kitchens have: Christmas dinner, a funeral bereavement meal, the Easter celebration and even a wedding. The antics of the ladies as they compare recipes, reduce the possibilities of disasters and keep the pastor in line will have you laughing until you cry.

Don’t miss this funny and poignant production at the popular Indy northside venue. Church Basement Ladies is on stage through August 21st. Tickets include the famous all you care to eat buffet from Chef Odell Ward. Free parking is close and always available. Call the box office at 317-872-9664 for ticket reservations. You may also visit the Beef & Boards website for all details.

Jul 13

“The Lost Colony” brings history to the outdoor stage

1st contact between Indians and English

1st contact between Indians and English

The Lost Colony of Roanoke Island has been the subject of study by historians for centuries. For the past 79 years the Roanoke Island Historical Association has put on a play that gives the history of the lost settlement and one version of what happened to the missing settlers.

This production is a wonderful play. The costumes and sets are fantastic and the actors are professionals who give great performances. The outdoor theatre is very comfortable and all seats provide good views of the stage. The show has all the elements of a top notch production including a seamless narration given by a “National Park Ranger”.

The story line traces the history of the early English explorations in the New World. The interaction between the Indians and the English is portrayed with drama and in a couple of cases violence. The scenes shift back and forth between Roanoke Island and Queen Elizabeth and the English Royal Court and the docks in London.

Lavish costume for "Queen Elizabeth"

Lavish costume for “Queen Elizabeth” (Emily Asbury)

Actor Christian Muller

Actor Christian Muller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were able to chat with one of the cast members prior to the show. Christian Durand Muller was a delight to talk with and, as part of the Choir, added greatly to the production.

The Waterside Theatre is located within the grounds of the Fort Raleigh National historic Site. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a popular travel destination. When you visit be sure to get tickets for “The Lost Colony”. Here is the website.

Old Tom (Robert Hooghkirk)

Old Tom (Robert Hooghkirk)

Sure looks like a ship sailing off to the New World!

Sure looks like a ship sailing off to the New World!

Don Bridge portrays NPS Historian (narrator)

Don Bridge portrays NPS Historian (narrator)

Jul 09

Lanier Mansion in Madison

Madison, Indiana is a charming little town about 100 miles south of Indianapolis. It is located on the Ohio River and there you will find the beautiful Lanier Mansion overlooking the river. The large mansion was built in 1844 by James Lanier.

James Franklin Doughty Lanier was one of Madison’s pioneers. As a result of his activities in banking and railroad development, he became one of the most important and influential figures in Indiana’s history in the first half of the 19th century.

Lanier’s good business decisions allowed him to hire Madison architect Francis Costigan to design and build for him the grandest residence ever imagined in Madison. The home was built on the same riverfront property where Lanier had lived with his family since the 1820s. The Lanier Mansion was completed and occupied in 1844.

The Lanier Mansion is one of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the country, and today is acknowledged as the “Crown Jewel” of Madison’s Historic District. The south portico, with its colossal Corinthian columns, overlooks the Ohio River. Other distinctive exterior features include the octagonal cupola, oculus windows and iron balustrades. Below the house, formal gardens developed by Lanier’s son, Alexander, after the Civil War, have been recreated with plant varieties authentic to the period. The interior, with its central hall and elegant spiral staircase, epitomizes the Greek Revival style. In recent years, restoration and redecoration, made possible largely by funding from private contributions,has recaptured the Mansion’s 19th century splendor. The Lanier Mansion was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994.

The Lanier Mansion is open daily. For times and more information, visit Lanier Mansion State Historic Site. This makes a great day trip as you can see the Ohio River while you are there.

Jul 09

Shipshewana, IN

April showers bring May flowers and thoughts of open flea markets in Indiana. Shipshewana is a small town in northeast Indiana and home to an Amish community. It is, also, home to be the largest flea market in the midwest. The Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market will open the 2016 season on May 3.

The Shipshewana Flea Market will be open on Tuesday and Wednesday of each week from May 3rd through October 1st. At this big flea market you can find almost everything you are looking for. There are hundreds of vendors selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to antiques and handcrafted furniture at the Shipshewana Flea. . The first week in May this little community comes alive with visitors traveling from all over to experience this, do not miss Hoosier tradition. The atmosphere around the Flea Market is happy, welcoming and fun.

There are plenty of places to eat and you won’t want to leave the area without experiencing home-style Amish cooking at the “Auction Restaurant” on the Flea Market grounds, or at other fine restaurants in the area.

The town of Shipshewana offers lots of activities to keep you busy after you’re finished flea marketing. For more info on activities such as buggy tours visit the official Shipshewana attraction page by clicking here.

Shipshewana is located in LaGrange County about 3 hours from Indianapolis. While it is a little far to take from Indianapolis for a daytrip it would make a wonderful weekend trip into the land of the Amish in northeast Indiana. For more information on the flea market visit the website by clicking here.

Jul 09

Duchess Market Place

Fishkill, New York is home to a vibrant shopping experience named the Duchess MarketPlace. The main buiding covers 100,000 square feet of indoor spaces occupied by a huge variety of vendors. A typical flea market, this indoor shopping offers just the kind of goods you come to know and love at a flea market. Open year round on Saturdays and Sundays, Duchess is a great place to browse.

During the months of March through December your treasure and bargain hunting is enhanced by the outdoor flea market. The entire south parking lot begins to fill with vendors every Saturday at first light. Some vendors set up tents and canopies while others simply set their wares out on tarps on the ground. Either way the sharp shopper can find all kinds of bargains during the good weather days. The outdoor spaces are filled with everything from new merchandise to what some would call garage sale junk.

The Duchess MarketPlace and outdoor flea market is easy to find. It is located on Route 9 south of I-84 Exit 13. The indooor market is open from 10 until 5 each Saturday and Sunday. The outdoor market opens early those days. Vendors begin setting up at the crack of dawn. Get there early for a chance at the best bargains!. More details are found on the Duchess MarketPlace website.

Jul 03

BJ’s Carolina Cafe was a good stop

My "catch of the day" with cornbread, hand cut fries and slaw.

My “catch of the day” with cornbread, hand cut fries and slaw.

Sher and I were on our way to Kitty Hawk from Va Beach with our family and hit some very slow traffic. Seems like lots of folks were on their way to the Outer Banks that Saturday. We stopped at a place named BJ’s Carolina Cafe to eat and hopefully the traffic would be cleared when we were done.

BJ’s Carolina Cafe was a great stop for us. This family oriented cafe had a diverse menu that had something for each one of our party. The service was friendly, albeit a bit slow. However we were not in a rush and freshly prepared hot food is always worth a little wait.

BJ’s Carolina Cafe is located in Currituck County, North Carolina on Highway 158. Check their website for details.

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