On my recent trip to Asheville, NC, I took a walking tour with a company called Hood Huggers International. The tour features the history of African-Americans in Asheville, as well as a look to the future of the community. The tours founder, Dewayne Burton, took me to an area called “The Block”. The block is an area of downtown Asheville that was once a thriving African-American Community. Burton is very involved with his community and is working hard to improve the lives of African=Americans, not just in Asheville but in the United States. He has created a new “green” book that features black owned businesses in Asheville and is hoping to expand the book. If you want to know more about my tour, you can listen to the Podcast here.
So, here I am starting something new. I’m almost 48 and feel a little too old to be starting over with something I know nothing about. I have decided to start a travel podcast. It’s called Tourist in Your Town. Head over to the website and check it out.
I know nothing about audio recording or editing. But I guess I’ll learn. I thought this might be a good thing for me to try. I love to travel and I love to talk about it. So, it seems a logical step for me.
I have 2 episodes out now and am having a great time with it! Give it a listen!
I had 2 pieces in a juried exhibition at the Salmagundi Club. So, we took the train up to NYC. Read about the trip up here. Once in New York, we ate and drank and walked. The walking was probably a sad thing to watch really. I was having back spasms and the mister had a cold. We did not take the town by storm. But we did have a good time. The reception for the show was packed. It was exciting for me to see my work on the wall with so many other beautiful pieces.
Before the show, we went to Burger and Lobster for dinner. The service was excellent. I also had the best Dark and Stormy ever. We both got lobster rolls and were fat and happy when we left.
When we got to the Salmagundi Club, we noticed a long line for the coat check. There is a restaurant in the club, so we thought it might be for that. Nope. Turns out all of these people were there for the show! We made our way to the gallery, where we found this.
We made our way to where my pieces were and took a few quick pics before the crowd swept us around to see the rest of the show.
We made it back home, despite the fact that we almost missed our stop on the way home. But that’s another story.
In September 2018, I visited NYC. Read about that visit here. While there, I took tons of photos. Two of those images were accepted into a juried exhibition called “Glimpses of Our World”. Naturally, my husband and I decided we needed to go NYC for the artist’s reception. My husband doesn’t fly and driving seemed like a stressful nightmare. So, we decided to take the train. Specifically, the Amtrak Crescent, which runs from New Orleans to New York City.
At the Station
Knoxville does not have a station, so we had to drive to Charlotte, NC to get on the train. Did I mention the train was leaving at 1:45am? It took just over 4 hours to drive to Charlotte. Did I mention this was something we just really wanted to do? When we got to the station, I was a bit surprised by the size of it. I had seen photos of the exterior. Since the Charlotte Station is the fifth busiest station in the Southern US, I expected it to be a bit bigger on the inside. It was not. The building was originally built in 1962 by Southern Railway. It has not changed since then. Although, I have read that Charlotte is planning a larger transit station to be finished in 2024.
Once on the train, our porter, Vincent, helped us find our roomette. A wee space, great for 1 person, acceptable for 2. The seats fold down to make a cot. And an upper bunk slides down. When you get a sleeper, you also get a porter. Vincent was a excellent! He made sure we got breakfast and lunch and did not miss our stop. He switched our roomette from the night layout to the day layout (2 seats). We talked to Vincent about his hometown of New Orleans, another place now on our list of places to visit! We slept well, once we got used to the movement of the train. People in roomettes get breakfast and lunch on the day train. Both meals were fair. Better than an airplane meal, which is a rarity anyway these days. Lunch is a prepared menu, so don’t get too excited about a gourmet train lunch.
A great way to travel
The great part about train travel is that you get to see a little more of the US than if you drove. Of course, we were moving pretty fast so unless there was a stop, it was difficult to take any photos. But it inspired us to drive the route and see some of those beautiful towns and cities some day. Another thing I like, is that when you go to the dining car, they will seat with you someone you don’t know if there is space at their table. This is a great way to meet some interesting people and learn about new places to see! If you do not want to do this, they are accommodating and will allow you to sit alone, if there is room. For breakfast, I sat with a young man from Canada. He was not very interested in chatting, and that was fine.
A little issue with the roomette though. There is an actual toilet in the roomette. This is just awkward and weird for me. Fortunately, there was no smell, which was my biggest concern. Other restrooms were available 3 cars up in Coach. So, I admit, that I did break down and use the in room facilities. It was not the worst thing ever. That being said, Amtrak, please remove these and just put a facility in each passenger car. I know that is the way it is in the newer trains. But maybe the Crescent could use a quick retrofit?
We Made it
We loved ride the train. I like being able to walk around and stretch my legs. It did take a little longer than what would have been a 3 hour flight. The ride was 12 hours. However, we did not have to arrive 2 hours early, go through security, remove all of my toiletries, or face a good possibility of delay. The PIA factor in flying that makes the long train ride worth it for me. I get so stressed out when I fly. How long will security take, will the alarm go off and I have to get wanded and patted or worse, taken to the side? Will I leave something in the plastic bin? Do my socks have holes in them? We also did not have to find a way from the airport to the hotel. The hotel was 2 blocks from Penn station, so walking was quick and easy.
Stay tuned for the next entry about NYC and the show!
When it was time to leave Providence (see Rhode Island or Bust), E dropped me at the station early because I did not know what to expect. Would it be like the airport? Would I have to remove my shoes and take out my electronics and shampoo? Would I get the joy of a pat down? Nope, none of that. They did have police walking around, watching for suspicious behavior, I suppose. That left me with some time to kill, so I went down and took some photos of the platforms. When it was time to board, I hopped on and grabbed a comfy seat. Coach seats on trains are nice and cushy. After everyone found a spot, no seat assignments here, we were off. I was headed to New York City, just me and my camera.
On the Train
I sat next to a very nice woman from Florida. Her daughters lived in New England and she was visiting them. She told me to visit the Public Library in New York. So, I added it to my list. There are several reasons to love the train. One of those is that you can have a conversation without everyone else in the whole place hearing what you say. It’s also easy to get up and move around. I visited the snack bar where the cashier told me about the time he visited East Tennessee and loved it. There’s also the views. I got to see so much of New England that I would not have seen otherwise. It made me want to visit the places I viewed from the train.
Made it NYC
The train pulled into Penn Station and I had a moment of what now? I had researched the location of my Airbnb and the exits were clearly marked, so I found my way out easily. The Airbnb was only 3 blocks from the station. I made my way there and there was a nice guy waiting to give me a key card and show me to my room. It was a private room with a shared bath and kitchen area. I had reservations about the shared bath, but it ended up not being an issue for me. I only ran into the other tenants once in the 4 days I was there.
The biggest problem with visiting a place like New York City without specific plans is there are so many options, it’s hard to decide what to do. I took a shower and relaxed for a bit before deciding to hit the streets in search of food and drink. It was Sunday and quite a few of the nearby places were already closed or closing soon. But I found Jack Doyle’s Irish Pub and Grill and planted myself at the bar. After a couple of perfectly poured Guinnesses and a delicious Caprese Salad, I was ready to go to bed and start again the next day.
Watch for Day 2! The next installment includes a trip to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, more beer, and lots of walking.
I lost my job in July. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. When I lost my job, it allowed me to take some time off, giving me a chance to spend time with one of my oldest friends (as in how long I’ve known her). She was also off of work because she was going back to school to get her Master’s Degree at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Turns out she would be driving up and needed someone to go with her. Since I had nothing better to do, I offered to be her partner in this extra long road trip, from East Tennessee to Rhode Island. We loaded up and headed out. It was Rhode Island or Bust.
To the East
We headed East from Knoxville up I-81. We would be overnighting in Richmond, VA with E’s brother and his girlfriend. The only hiccup was our inability to find a Waffle House when it was time for lunch. We opted for Cracker Barrel instead. Perfectly fine, but it’s no Waffle House. Almost there, we decided we looked like we’d been driving for 7 hours and smelled like it too. So, we stopped at a rest area and cleaned up a bit and changed our clothes. We were once again the ravishing goddesses we were when we started out. Once in Richmond, we met up with E’s brother and girlfriend at this great oriental restaurant, Beijing. The food and service were excellent for a busy Friday night.They are a lovely couple and so kind to let us stay in their place. We spent the night at their house and went to a local diner, City Diner, for breakfast. A great way to start the day!
Through the Big City and then some
Back on the road, we made our way up through the New England states and toll road mecca. Tolls are a huge PIA, in case you didn’t know. There has to be a better way. Someone out there, please come up with a better way! The roads were terrible too, so it’s not like the $40 we paid in tolls were going for great roads or anything. Rant over.
I was most nervous about driving through New York City. While, we wouldn’t be on the city streets, I knew it would still be a bit crazy and stressful. Guess what! It was! There were so many odd on ramps and off ramps, stay left, go right, stay left, cross 4 lanes and go right. It was a bit nuts. But we made it through without incident. We took a wrong turn somewhere after NYC and ended up taking the scenic route through Connecticut. I’m glad we did. It was beautiful and I will definitely be going back there.
Once in Providence, Rhode Island, we found our Airbnb, a big sprawling home divided up into apartments. We were exhausted, but also starving. We went out in search of food. Apparently, Providence strongly discourages late night shenanigans because almost all of the nearby restaurants closed at 9pm. Yes, even on Saturday. It was close to 8:30, so we were limited on options. We decided (decided for us because not much else in the area), on Andreas, a greek restaurant. We started with the Mussels and they were yummy. I quite frankly don’t remember what else we had because we were half asleep already. Back at the Airbnb, I showered and promptly went to sleep.
Moving In and Heading Out
We started out early, so we could have breakfast then get the van unloaded and me on a train to NYC. We unpacked the van on to the sidewalk because we had to get the vehicle quickly moved. Finally we got everything into her apartment and she dropped me at the Amtrak station.
We went our separate ways. She, off to a completely new and different life. Me, to a solo vacation in NYC and a new life waiting for me at home. I am thankful that we were able to spend this time together and support one another when we needed it the most!
I am proud of both of us for being brave women!
We recently took a quick trip to Johnson City, TN. It has been on our list for awhile because we love Yee-Haw beer. But we finally had a good reason to go. It was work related, so at least the gas was paid for!
Dinner and a Beer (or two)
The first place we went was, of course, Yee-Haw Brewing Company. They have a great in house bar and they share space with White Duck Taco Shop. Yay! Beer and food all in one handy place.
After eating, we decided to walk around downtown a bit and see what else is happening in Johnson City. As it turns out, not much. But it was a Sunday evening. We will try to go back on a Saturday and catch a show or something. Prints are available of the images below – here.
I had a hankering for ice cream but there did not seem to be any ice cream shops. I admit, we didn’t look really hard. We headed back to the White Duck to see what they had for dessert. They had two desserts and both were yummy!
We will definitely go back to Johnson City, Tennessee!
Dublin, Ireland is one of my favorite cities. It was everything I thought it would be and more! The people were kind and gracious, always willing to help and show us a great time. I took many photos in Ireland. But these are a few of my favorites from the land of Éire.
Dublin and the River Liffey
The River Liffey runs through the city. There are 21 bridges crossing the River. Each one is unique and has its own history. I took photos of almost all of them. However, these are a few of my favorites.
We went to a few bars. We drank some Guinness (okay, a lot of Guinness).
Ruins everywhere. Some are castles, some are just old buildings. But they all look cool.
There’s more! These are some more of my favorites.
To see more photos from Ireland, visit my website.
I wanted to share five of my favorite travel photos on this hot July Friday. Looking back, some of them are easy to see why I like them so much.
Buskin’ on the Danube
We had spent the day in Budapest walking, walking, walking and needed a break and a drink. We found a spot on the edge of the Danube. As we sipped our drinks, the busker started playing. The setting sun touches the edge of his shoulder and the Hungarian flag in front of him, giving the whole scene a soft glow. See more travel photos from Hungary here.
Enter for Enlightenment
Another image from Budapest with that soft glow that I love so much. This was taken in Matthias Church, a gothic cathedral complete with restored frescos and painted walls. But this simple unadorned stairwell glows from the soft window light, silhouetting the outline of the door. It’s inviting and peaceful. See more travel photos from Hungary here.
The Main Square in Kraków, Poland just after sunset. The sky is that early evening blue that contrasts beautifully with warm tones of the city lights. People are sitting down for dinner or cocktails as bicyclists whiz past, creating a bit of a blur. Find more travel photos of Poland here.
Taken in Havana, Cuba, this photo is a little busy. But I love that about it. I love the old worn signs hanging above the many people milling about in the streets. And there’s that glow again, only this time it’s a cool glow from the cobblestone street below. I can almost hear the sounds of Havana. Find out more about my trip to Cuba here.
Kutná Hora Alley
This one is a little more subtle than the others. At first glance it’s just an nice photo of an alley. But the open arches and speckles of sunlight lead the eye directly to the back of the alley, where two people stand deep in conversation. I love small details like that. More images from Czechia can be found here.
I hope you like these as much as I do! Prints of all images are available here or click on the individual images and it will go directly to the shop page.
I’d love to hear your feedback and comments. Also, feel free to share a link to your own favorites!
Breaking our Fast
We spent the early morning with coffee and Abby (old dog) in the sweet garden at the Childress house. I found a book on the historic homes in the area and found our Airbnb in the book. I love little details like that. On the way out of town we stopped at Coffee Fusion. They had so many great treats, it was hard to choose just one. I got a biscuit stuffed with eggs, cheese, and I don’t remember what else. But it was gooood.
We made our way to the festival, after a slight traffic delay. We got there at exactly the same time everyone else did. But traffic moved fast and we were inside the faire in no time. Pro tip: buy your tickets online. The will call line was completely empty so I was ready to enter the faire in no time. But my friends had to wait in line to buy their tickets. The good thing is the line moved quickly and we were in the gates, ready to faire.
Travelers of all kinds
What I love about the Renaissance Festival is that it is full of travelers. It’s a safe bet that most of the people we saw have never been on an airplane or out of state or maybe they’ve never even left their home town. But when you visit the Faire, it’s like walking into a completely different world. People are dressed up as everything. There are knights, princesses, queens, peasants, elves, aliens, everything imaginable. The vendors are artisans. They make what they sell from jewelry to clothes. I bought a staff and the man offered to put my initials on it. I thought I’d leave it and come back. He said, “it won’t take long.” (see pic below). It’s all there and most of it is handmade. We drank some lovely dark ale and ate giant turkey legs as well as pretzels. We watched several comedy shows. And yes there is jousting.
Time to go back to the real world
After we had Ren faired ourselves to exhaustion, we headed out. But before leaving Murfreesboro, we had to stop at The Green Dragon for one last ale and a snack. It’s a hobbit’s life for me.