Sunday, November 27, 2011

Myrtle Beach - Charleston

Boardwalk and beach
Huntington Beach
After a great visit to the Smoky Mountains it was time to head down to the ocean and our first visit to South Carolina.  On Nov. 13 we drove to Myrtle Beach to check it out.  I had not realized how commercialized or how many miles long it is.  It is at least 35 miles of continuous commercial attractions, if you include the continuous string of towns north and south of the city of Myrtle Beach.  We learned that people (women) love to come to shop.  There are numerous malls and beach shops.  And for the family experience, there are huge performance venues, i.e. Carolina Opry, Pirates Voyage, Medieval Times, and over-the-top miniature golf courses.
Huntington Beach state park

Along the boardwalk
We stayed for 10 days and took 5 walks along the beach.  On the weekend we went to Huntington Beach State Park where we took an inland walk and saw a couple of alligators soaking up some sun; we toured an old estate/home that did not impress us much; and we walked a board walk out into the tidal area to view the changing tide and wildlife.  We went to the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk area where we got lucky to score an outside lunch table with an ocean view.

Angel Oak
On the day before Thanksgiving we made the relatively short move to Charleston.  The campground we stayed at held a Thanksgiving potluck meal.  The campground provided the fried turkeys and everyone else provided a huge variety of food.  It was quite the feast while I listened to the Packer/Lions game on the radio.  After the meal and the Packer game we made a short trip to view a gigantic Oak tree called the Angel Oak.  It is estimated to be 1,500 years old and its canapy covers a full acre.  Truly one of natures wonders.

Heyward-Washington House
from back garden
The day after Thanksgiving we went into Charleston.  We started with a guided coach tour, then walked through the historic area.  We visited the Charleston Museum and toured two historic homes.  The tour of the Heyward-Washington house was our favorite.  The home was built in 1772 and is still the original home!  President Washington stayed there and they have priceless furniture made in the 1740s!  It was a goose bump tour.

Boone Hill plantation - Slave Street

Avenue of Oaks entering
 Boone Hall Plantatio
On Saturday we went to the Boone Hill plantation.  We thoroughly enjoyed this visit as well.  The home wasn't that old (1935) but it is a reproduction of a plantation home with period furnishings from the early 1800s.  We had a good tour guide telling the story of the lifestyle.  The really awesome part was the original slave homes from the late 1700s.  They had each of them setup to provide different historical information about the life of slaves and the history of slavery.  It was very informative and interesting.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On to North Carolina

We had a very nice drive through Kentucky and Tennessee to western North Carolina.  Rolling hills covered with colorful fall leaves on a sunny day, very pleasant.  We stayed at a campground about 25 miles from Asheville and 15 miles from Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  The area is hardwood covered hills (mountains?) with streams flowing in all the valleys between.
Great Smoky Mountains

We took a beautiful drive through the National Park but Ann thought the miles of up and down winding road was a bit nerve racking.  We hiked to the highest point in the park and a few other view points.  The Appalachian Trail goes right down the center of the park along the ridge of the mountain which also happens to be the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina.  We walked the trail for a bit just to check out the condition for future hiking.  We drove the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while and it was also very beautiful.

Another wonderful time was spent touring the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  What a magnificent place!  It is hard to think of it as someone's home when it is so large - the house alone covers 4 acres.  It made me think of a palace in Europe, which I guess makes sense since that is what it was modeled after.  I highly recommend a visit to anyone that hasn't seen it.
Biltmore Estate

Friday, November 4, 2011

Michigan wrap-up

We had a great stay in Michigan visiting with family and friends, going to Pulaski Days, taking in a Ferris hockey game and attended Drew and Kate's wedding.  With the weather getting cold, it was time to head south.

We headed south on October 28.  We shot down pretty much straight south to Park City Kentucky, gateway to Mammoth Cave.  We arrived Tuesday afternoon to warmer weather and we are far enough south to see another round of leaves changing.  There's nothing like experiencing the best part of Fall twice!

Over the weekend we did two different cave tours.  Honestly, we've seen some beautiful caves so this doesn't rank real high with us as there are very few formations or color.  Pictures, of what?  It's claim to fame is size, not character.  We took some walks in the woods to enjoy some beautiful fall weather.  It had been a long time since we had walked through dense crunchy leaves while getting bombarded by falling leaves. It was great.

We are heading to the Asheville NC area tomorrow.  We'll be right on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, looking forward to it!