Oct 28

The colossal statue of King Neptune on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Compare Neptune's size to the bike rider!

Compare Neptune’s size to the bike rider!

September of 2005 saw the grand unveiling of an awesome sight on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Where 31st Street intersects Atlantic Avenue, a 34′ tall bronze statue of the famous King Neptune gazes over the city as he emerges from the depths of the sea. Well, OK, he maybe isn’t coming out of the sea but he is sure impressive!

The artwork is the masterpiece of artist Paul DiPasquale’ a well known sculptor from Richmond, Virginia. Neptune grips his trident in his right hand while he “palms” a huge sea turtle in his left hand. He is surrounded by many other seas creatures, including dolphins and a massive octopus. The details in both Neptune and the sea creatures are breathtaking. This statue is adjacent to Neptune’s Park, site of many events held on the beach during both the summer season and the off season as well.

Neptune and his turtle

Neptune and his turtle

The octopus on the statue base

The octopus on the statue base

A trip to meet King Neptune is a must when you visit Virginia Beach, Virginia. You will be impressed!

Oct 26

Bardstown, Kentucky’s old jail is a real trip back in time

Thick walls and narrow windows of the jail

Thick walls and narrow windows of the jail

Bardstown, Kentucky is in Nelson County and is in the heart of the Kentucky Bourbon industry. Bardstown is also home to one of the oldest jails in the area. The original jail structure (now called the front jail) was erected in 1819 and was used until 1874 to house prisoners. In 1874 the “back jail” was built and held inmates until 1987. During this time the front jail was the jailer’s residence. The facility is now a Bed and Breakfast using the rooms in the old residence.

The history of this place is fascinating. You can (for a fee) take a tour of the back jail, with many of the jail cells untouched since the last prisoners left in 1987. There are original photos, some of which show the last hanging that took place in 1894 in the yard in back of the jail.

The structure is quite the fortress! The walls are every bit of 30 inches thick with large metal bars covering the narrow windows. There are mason’s marks on the huge stones where hooks were used to move them into place during the construction. The original wall surrounding the back yard is complete with massive solid metal gates.

There are some nice RV parks in the area, including My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Be sure to check out the old jail and the other attractions in and around Bardstown.

Hood and shackles for the 1894 hanging

Hood and shackles for the 1894 hanging

Back of the jail where the gallows were for the last hanging in 1894

Back of the jail where the gallows were for the last hanging in 1894

Oct 25

The haunted Willard Library

Willard Library reading room

Willard Library reading room

Evansville, Indiana is home to one of the most documented haunted structures in the country. The library,  a private enterprise, opened in 1881. The beautiful building is filled with period furnishings and some magnificent interior wood work. Here is the main library website. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

The Willard library started its journey as a haunted site in the 1930’s. A custodian was greeted one evening by the vision of an apparition that is now known as “The Gray Lady”. This translucent form has made many more appearances throughout the decades and has been seen by many. No one knows for sure who this ghost is nor the reason for her continued presence in the library.

One thing for certain is the fact that strange and unexplained happenings have and continue to occur in the building. Water faucets have mysteriously found to be opened, books have been moved and other objects have been found in new places. No one feels that the lady is malevolent but her identity remains a mystery.

2nd floor conference room

2nd floor conference room

One of the "Ghost Cams"

One of the “Ghost Cams”

Some feel that other spirits other than the Gray Lady also haunt the library. Interest in the hauntings have resulted in many paranormal investigations. Photographic evidence abounds that shows what many think can only be apparitions.

The library has installed several “ghost cams” that are functional 24/7/365. A trip to the ghost cam website allows you to participate in anytime ghost hunting!. Go ahead, open up the Willard Library Ghost Cam website and maybe you’ll see the Gray Lady!

Oct 18

Some nice fall Indiana festivals

Our set up at Atlanta Earth Days

Our set up at Atlanta Earth Days

Indiana offers some really nice fall festivals that are suitable for the entire family. Depending upon your home location, many of these will be a great event for a one day outing.

Atlanta Earth Days has been a tradition in central Indiana for years. Entertainment and hundreds of craft and merchandise vendors set up all over town. You can find anything for sale at this exciting shopping event. Bands also perform, and there are tons of food vendors scattered throughout the town. Thousands of folsk take advantage of this iconic festival each year.

Atlanta is just minutes north of Indianapolis. Here is their website.

The Cataract Bean Festival is held the first weekend in October in the tiny town of Cataract, Indiana. Home to the Cataract Falls State Recreation Area, the site is perfect for a fun event. The Cataract Volunteer Fire Department puts on the event which is their fundraising project each year.

Over 700 pound of beans are cooked over open fires in huge cast iron kettles. Served with cornbread, the firefighters always sell out each day! In addition to local entertainment, one of the highlights is the huge open air market. Crafts and flea market vendors fill nearly every open spot in the town. In addition you’ll find the full range of food concessions set up. Here is the VFD website.

Fort Vallonia Days in Jackson County is also one of those huge festivals set in a tiny town. Each year this festival continues a decades long tradition of providing a wholesome family event. The normal crowd size reaches nearly 30,000 people! Running for two days, Saturday is the day of the large parade that is fun for kids of all ages.

Hundreds of vendors are set up selling all kinds of goods. You can find inexpensive new merchandise, great antiques and lots of beautiful handmade crafts. Food? You bet! There are all the usual food concession trailers scattered around the town. Here is the Fort Vallonia Days website.

Oct 09

Beef & Boards takes you Into the Woods

Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci), right, asks for a loaf of bread from the Baker (Don Farrell), left, and his wife (Meaghan Sands), center, in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Photo courtesy B&B media

Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci), right, asks for a loaf of bread from the Baker (Don Farrell), left, and his wife (Meaghan Sands), center, in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Photo courtesy B&B media

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre ventures into new territory this fall with its production of Into the Woods, the Stephen Sondheim musical version of classic Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. This production first hit the Broadway stage in 1987 with multiple Tony Awards to its credit. Disney made a movie of the tale in 2014.

This striking production takes beloved fairy tales through two different stages. The first act brings the familiar story lines to the audience with music and clever comedy. Cinderella wants to attend the “festival”, Little Red Ridinghood is off to Granny’s house with a basket of goodies, Jack (of beanstalk fame) wants his cow to give milk and the baker and his wife want a baby. Rapunzel is also looking for a suitor to save her from her life in the tower. Happily ever after comes at the conclusion of Act 1.

Act 2 explores what occurs after “Happily Ever After”. Decisions have consequences is the theme of the often dark side of the continuation of the story lines. Let me just say that events that occur in Act 2 do not always fit into a “Happily” ever after definition.

The live orchestra brings vibrant music to the many songs performed for this production. The acting is superb with realistic character development. The set design for the woods is moody to fit, including the moving turntable that gives the illusion of the characters covering long distances as they weave in and out through the trees. You’ll feel the impact of the footsteps of the giants as well!

The Wolf (Timothy Ford) encounters Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci) as she journeys to her grandmother’s house. Photo courtesy B&B media

The Wolf (Timothy Ford) encounters Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci) as she journeys to her grandmother’s house. Photo courtesy B&B media

The costumes both set the stage and fit the characters. Of special note is the incredible makeup for the Witch. Her face will bring an unsettling vision to your eyes. Likewise the frightening presentation of the Wolf as he stalks Red Riding Hood will both delight and scare.

Please note that this performance is recommended for audiences age 13 and above.

Into the Woods is on stage through Nov. 20 in the intimate space of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. Tickets range from $41 to $66 and include Chef Odell Ward’s dinner buffet and select beverages. Parking is always free. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664 anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays. Go to the Beef & Boards website for complete details.

Jul 27

Virginia Beach Steak & Shake falls way short in quality of service

We were very disappointed with our stop at the Steak and Shake at 1676 General Booth Blvd.in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Sher and I were with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter looking for a place to grab a bite of lunch. Normally we enjoy Steak and Shake. This restaurant fell far short of the usual good service provided by this chain.

The problems began with the “host” who thought our party of five was a party of two, thus giving two tables to larger parties who arrived after us. Once seated (rather crowded in a booth designed for four) our waitress took our drink orders. After a long wait, drinks arrived. Two of our four shakes were not even close to what was ordered. The waitress took the drinks  back after she took our food order.

As served, very thin patties, no lettuce, tomato or onion

As served, very thin patties, no lettuce, tomato or onion

The food took a long time to arrive, and our son’s double came plain without the fixings as was ordered. He said bring the tomato, lettuce and onion on a plate instead of sending the sandwich back. The meat patties were also very very thin, much thinner than normal. (See picture)

Sher never did get her shake during the time we all ate. The waitress said that she had to get the reorder in line and it took that long. Hmm…You would think that a mistake would be corrected first.

This restaurant opened in September of 2015, Management better sharpen things up if it wants to stay open. As of now, I would have to say avoid the Steak and Shake on General Booth Blvd. in Virginia Beach.

Jul 24

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl

Tom's Ice Cream Bowl

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl is a real off the beaten path gem in Zanesville, Ohio. Sher and I were told to be sure to take in this local treat shop by Alan Cottrill, a local artist. (read about our time with him here.)

This favorite shop has been in business since 1948. The history of the establishment is interesting but the real story is that the ice cream dishes are worthy of high praise! Sher enjoyed the banana split while I ordered the hot fudge sundae. Huge portions, delicious homemade ice cream and scrumptious toppings were quickly prepared and served to us

Also offered are home made chocolate candies and a wide variety of nuts. The nuts are fresh roasted daily. In addition Tom’s has a good selection of sandwiches on their menu.

Yummy!

Yummy!

Candy/Roasted nuts counter

Candy/Roasted nuts counter

Long story short: when in Zanesville, Ohio, patronize Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl. Anyone you talk to in Zanesville will tell you the same. Here is their websiteUse it for directions and hours open. This is a terrific place for an ice cream break.

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

IMG_4856

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

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