Today’s edition of the New England Road Trip – Part IV takes us to Cape Cod, which ended up being my favorite part of the trip! We rode all the way to the tip of the island, seeing several lighthouses along the way, of course!
Cape Cod’s first lighthouse was none other than Highland Light.
The Highland Light Station is also known as Cape Cod Light, and is within Cape Cod National Seashore in North Truro. This lighthouse was commissioned by George Washington, established in 1797, and is the 20th light station in the United States.
In the 1850s, Henry David Thoreau, known author and naturalist, visited this beautiful lighthouse. He is quoted describing it as,”A neat building, in apple pie order.” Then in 1864, Thoreau went on to write an essay for Atlantic Monthly. In this essay, he told the history of the Highland Light. I love how he described the power of the light:
“The keeper entertained us handsomely in his solitary little ocean house. He was a man of singular patience and intelligence, who, when our queries struck him, rang as clear as a bell in response. The light-house lamp a few feet distant shone full into my chamber, and made it bright as day, so I knew exactly how the Highland Light bore all that night, and I was in no danger of being wrecked… I thought as I lay there, half-awake and half-asleep, looking upward through the window at the lights above my head, how many sleepless eyes from far out on the ocean stream — mariners of all nations spinning their yarns through the various watches of the night — were directed toward my couch.”
Next up was the lighthouse you might recall from the Cape Cod potato chip bag in the grocery stores. If I am going to eat chips, this is my “go to” brand, especially the salt and vinegar! I could eat them until my mouth is raw! Ha!
My youngest daughter was surprised to learn that this lighthouse really existed. Some times you see pictures of things someone has envisioned and created into a colorful masterpiece, a work of art, but isn’t actually a “real” site you can visit. Not so here!
The Nauset Lighthouse is the most well known and most photographed lighthouse on Cape Cod. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nauset Lighthouse was painted red and white in the 1940s as a daytime indicator. Then, in 1981, the Fresnel lens was replaced by two rotating aero beacons, changing the signal from three white flashes to one red and one white flash, with five second intervals between them. Due to erosion, the lighthouse was moved and now sits across the road from its original location. Someone lives in the lighthouse keeper’s house today, so we were respectful and only stayed a few moments to enjoy the lighthouse. (The grounds are open for foot traffic, picture taking, etc.)
There’s so much more I could share with you, but alas, I will refrain as this travel segment has already gone into four parts. Instead of sharing more of our journey, I will, instead, encourage you to take your own road trip! You will marvel at the beautiful landscape New England has to offer! Take time off work to explore, make memories, and live!!
As we continue the New England Road Trip – Part III, we explore Nubble Light on a brisk day in Maine. The wind was fierce while we were exploring the different areas, and it was no different as we climbed out of our rental car and stepped out on the rocks to get a closer look at this beauty.
It would have been awesome to explore this area by boat, but alas, due to the cold Winters in New England, boat cruises do not start up until the end of April. We were a few weeks too early!
The lighthouse keeper’s house and the lighthouse itself look smaller due to the distance we were away from it on the rocks. I secretly wished there was a zip line that would take us from the rocks I was kneeling on straight to the lighthouse grounds.
Just this week, as my co-worker looked at the lighthouse decor on and around my desk, he asked why I like lighthouses so much. My reply was that I like to think of what it must have been like back in the days when the ships were lost at sea, being tossed around by the waves, fearful of the storms in the dark. I can only imagine the relief that washed over them as they spotted the beacon in the night shining brightly for them, ushering them to safety. My mind often thinks of how Jesus is our lighthouse also. There is safety and security found within The Light that shines so bright for all the world to see, if we would only come ashore as He beckons us.
As our New England Road Trip story continues, we leave Salem, Massachusetts, and head to Portland, Maine! I was especially excited about this part of the trip due to the many lighthouses I would see in that area. I remember years ago seeing a beautiful picture of a lighthouse sitting up high on a hill, almost as if it was sitting on the edge of a cliff. When I realized it was within driving and/or flying distance, I vowed “one day” to visit. On this trip, I was able to mark that lighthouse off the list, as we visited the Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine!
It was a cold morning in Maine, chilling us to the bone, as we dashed from the hotel to our awaiting metallic blue Toyota Corolla rental car. Oh, how we wish we had heated seats in this thing! We settled into the car with camera in hand ready for our adventure, only it wasn’t calling for rain when we last checked. Reaching for my phone, I swiped over to Weather Underground only to find the forecast changed to now 100% chance of rain. As I made this announcement to my family, a big *splat* of rain hit the windshield.
… and then …
All of a sudden, it started pouring down rain! Oh no!! We didn’t know it was going to be like this, but we only had a few days on this trip. We weren’t going to let rain interfere with our good time. Searching the car, we found a few items for makeshift head wraps to fight against the brutal wind. Once we arrived at our destination, I could not get out of the car fast enough, even in the rain that was now hitting me in the face. I made my way to awe over the majestic lighthouse that stood before me.
I walked around trying to get “the” right angle to showcase the lighthouse. Before realizing the cold, dreary day would dash my dreams, I envisioned capturing this lighthouse surrounded by glorious sunlight glistening off the blue waters licking at the rocks beneath it. In my mind, I envisioned the sun surrounding it as if an angel in Heaven had a spotlight upon this great lighthouse. Ah, but I had to settle for a dreary picture instead. Whatever works, right? But … the fact is I was there in Maine standing before this lighthouse in all of its wonder and beauty. Truth be told, I could have stayed out there longer and would have if it wasn’t for the bitter cold ripping right through me when the wind would blow. We endured as much as we could stand before retreating to our rental car. We drove along the path and saw the ruins of a mansion to our right.
This was none other than the Goddard Mansion, which was made out of granite back in 1858. Mr. Goddard was a local businessman who briefly served as a volunteer army colonel at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. The mansion was later acquired by the army in 1900 and was used as the non-commissioned officers and sergeant’s quarters. We found it very interesting, but sadly, the fence prevented us from getting an even closer look at it. The grounds leading up to the Portland Head Light is known as Fort Williams.
“Once a year, go somewhere you have never been before.” –Dalai Lama
There are several things I am passionate about in this life. If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you know right off how passionate I am about God and my family! Travel is also a passion of mine, as I love exploring and going on adventures!
Each year I look forward to planning vacations for my family. I simply will not solely exist only to work and pay taxes. No, I want more out of life. There is a great big world I have yet to see or experience. So, we go on as many adventures as possible in order to make great memories together!
This Spring Break I realized there is only ONE more Spring Break before my youngest daughter graduates from high school.
I am NOT going to handle the empty nest well at all. Let me just go ahead and put that out there.
Thankfully, my daughter has only shown an interested in the small college near our house and doesn’t appear enthused at all about touring bigger colleges or the dorm life. My heart is grateful every time I hear her talk about staying at home a little longer. Thank you, God!! I have already told her she can stay until she is 35 years old, and that would suit me just fine!
Now back to Spring Break …
This year’s adventure took us by plane to Rhode Island. A new airline was introduced at the end of last year, so we decided to give them a try! Breeze Airlines had a really good deal, but there are only certain cities they fly nonstop in to. We looked at the areas and found it was just a short drive from Rhode Island to Maine! What does Maine have to offer? Portland Head Lighthouse is in Maine, and it is a lighthouse I have longed to see ever since I first saw it in pictures across the internet!
So, off we went!
We arrived in Rhode Island on a Thursday, picked up the rental car (making sure the contract stated “unlimited mileage”) and made our first rounds the next morning seeing the local sites. Then, we headed to Salem, Massachusetts. Witch Country. Ha!
Hocus Pocus has been around for years, and both of my daughters enjoyed this movie. Allison’s house from the movie is actually in Salem, so the hunt for all things witchy began. Don’t worry, we played it safe.
Do you recognize this house from Hocus Pocus? It is none other than Allison’s house mentioned previously!
When I was a little girl, I LOVED watching the sitcom Bewitched. I remember trying to twitch my nose just like Samantha Montgomery, but alas, I couldn’t make anything spectacular happen with the twitch of MY nose. Ha! Imagine how I almost squealed with delight when we saw her bronze statue!
We were having a marvelous time exploring Salem, and even went to a re-enactment! Stories were told of those that were stricken with illnesses or afflictions who were thought to have been possessed. Sadly, those innocent victims were hanged when they truly were not witches. Here is a cute little picture of my daughter and I outside of the building where the re-enactment took place.
Stay tuned, as there is more to come of our adventure. Thanks for reading our New England Road Trip – Part I.
“Daddy, have you been keeping up with the storm?” I asked.
“No, not really. Why? Should I?” He replied with little concern in his voice.
“Yes! Hurricane Matthew is going to impact South Carolina. They’re saying it’s going to be like Hurricane Hugo was for us back in 1989.” I said, trying not to be an alarmist, but hoping he’d see the seriousness of this approaching storm!
“I haven’t really been watching it. I just have a peace about it, and I don’t think it will be that bad.” He said, in the calmest tone ever.
This was a conversation I had with my daddy two days prior to Hurricane Matthew pounding South Carolina’s coast. While we’re not right on the coast, I knew from the news reports that we would be affected in our area.
Taking a moment to reflect back on Hurricane Hugo, I remember feeling nervous and anxious in 1989 with the threat of a hurricane approaching. We boarded windows on our blue house and rode it out that night. At the time, we lived in a block house, so we did not fear damage to our structure so much. With windows boarded, we prayed no trees would fall on the roof as we tried to steal a few hours of sleep. We awoke to downed trees, but we were spared a huge amount of damage, unlike others in our area. I remember doing yard clean up work when one of my former classmates drove up in our yard. My face flushed with embarrassment as they giggled at me, but without lights or water, there was no way to shower. I tried the best I could to look presentable, but there was no denying my less than perfect appearance with hair tossed around and no makeup.
Fast forward 27 years that really sailed by way too fast for my liking, and the same nervousness and anxiousness resurfaced as Hurricane Matthew changed course. I knew then, without a shadow of a doubt, we would feel the affects of this hurricane further inland.
Bracing ourselves for the worst, we filled all of our vehicles with gas just in case we needed to join the mass of others evacuating. We consulted with some of our horse friends in the area, but they thought our horses would be fine in our pasture instead of finding a facility elsewhere to house them until the threat of the storm was over. As the rain started, we were under the shelter tagging our horses with ribbons braided in their manes bearing our names and phone numbers just in case our fence got damaged in the storm and our horses got out. Tears filled my eyes at the thought, but I forced them back so as not to upset my children who were helping us.
Arming ourselves with food, water, flashlights, and ensuring the RV was positioned out of harm’s way, we prayed as Hurricane Matthew drew nearer. Sleep was scarce as the wind and rain slowly began tapping on our windows at first, then became more forceful as it beat angrily on the side of the house and roof so strongly at certain points we felt it would surely burst right through our wooden structure. Thoughts of the big bad wolf from my childhood days ran through my mind as the wind threatened to huff, and puff, and blow my little white house in the country down completely. I forced those thoughts right out of my head and began praying to God instead! As I tiptoed down the hall in the wee morning hours and began to peer out of the living room window, I prayed over the two trees way too close to the front of my house for my liking at that point in time. When once I admired those tall, strong trees, they now became a threat to me as if one fell with the force of the wind, I feared it would land directly on my living room and garage. More upsetting was the thought of the other falling across my children’s rooms. They swirled and swayed back and forth, and at other times looked like someone was shaking them viciously as they were tossed to and fro by the relentless wind. I had a long conversation with God concerning those rather large trees and pleaded with Him for protection over our family. Suddenly, our lights began to flicker, then went completely out leaving us in utter darkness alone with the big bad wolf still beating on our door with this feeling of impending doom deep inside of us.
When daylight began to break through leaving the night sky and my fears behind, I ventured outside to check on the horses. Tears stung my eyes as I found them huddled together under their shelter. The one pony they always seem to leave out in the rain was tucked under the shelter, too. It was as if the other horses had compassion and said, “Okay, little one, you can join us. We do love you, even if we don’t always show it.”
As the rain and wind subsided, we gathered our belongings and headed to the RV. We realized during the previous ice storms we’ve had that our area will be one of the very last with power restored, unfortunately. Having just purchased this Class A Fleetwood Flair RV in March, I whispered prayers of thanks to God for us making the right decision with this purchase! I’ll never forget how we went back and forth until we finally decided it would be a wise move, and this past weekend certainly proved that to be true. We were able to fire up the generator and live in comfort for short periods of time, in an effort to conserve gas. With the water tank completely full and LP gas on board, we were able to have hot showers, too!
Being without power forced us to put down our cell phones more since battery life was so precious, it seemed. Since we were not able to watch television, we were outside together watching our horses graze while my youngest daughter rode her bike. While it seems like a hardship, it makes you spend time with your family that you really should be spending with them any way! I think even after the storm and this timely reminder, we should make more of an effort to put down our phones and turn off our televisions to really get to know our family members again!
When we ventured out in our neighborhood, it didn’t take long for us to realize why we were still without power.
As we drove cautiously around the curve, it almost seemed like more trees were down than standing! Sadly, as we approached a group of homes, we noticed a tall pine tree uprooted and laying over on a house.
Transformers were snatched from the ground and power lines from their poles.
And there stood my sweet friend in her yard. We stopped immediately when we recognized her and asked if everyone was okay. She replied that they were, all things considered. She had tarps inside to protect her belongings, but that was all they could do at that point. We were just thankful to hear that no one got hurt and no lives were lost when the tree fell on their house.
After leaving my friend’s house, I thought of another dear friend I hadn’t heard from. With urgency in my voice, I asked my husband to drive to our friend’s house. Night was falling again by the time we found the driveway. We pulled in and searched for their vehicles, but none could be found. We were hopeful that they evacuated and were in a safer area. As we drove home, I whispered a silent prayer for their safety! And … thankfully, the very next day, they sent us a message that all was well. They were without power, and their phones were not charged to reach out to anyone until that point in time. They assured us that we were the first ones they notified of their safety. Oh, thank God for answered prayer! Our friends were safe!
As far as my parents, they never left their house the entire time … and, miraculously, they never lost power! While my dad didn’t get a bit of sleep Friday night into Saturday morning, my mother slept right through the entire thing.
There’s just something about having peace in the mist of the storm. And, there’s something, also, to be said for heeding the warnings and preparing in advance “just in case.”
We’re thankful for another day, and we pray our electricity will be restored soon. As we wait, we realize how fortunate we are in only having a few downed trees in the back of our property. How fortunate we have been! Thank you, God. Sadly, others in our area, especially along the coast, weren’t so lucky.
There is a lesson to be learned by Hurricane Matthew. All week long at work, we had The Weather Channel going as we watched as they tracked this storm. As it approached landfall, it shifted and came further inland than first anticipated. Governor Nikki Haley was begging and pleading with fellow South Carolinians to evacuate and flee their homes. People rushed to the grocery stores to stock up on supplies as Hurricane Matthew drew nearer.
What if we all saw the urgency in getting our hearts and lives right with God before He comes back? What if we watched, prayed, and prepared for the second coming of the Lord like all who had their eyes glued to the news watching the weather? What if we got down on our knees and begged God for forgiveness and hid scriptures away in our hearts? Then we could be like my father with peace in our hearts not fearing what was to come.
Technology is a wonderful thing, and Saturday night, we watched history in the making thanks to how far we’ve advanced with technology in this day and age.
If you’ve been a fan of this page for long, you know of our love for the Morris Island Lighthouse. Engineers got together with the help of SCE&G to delight all of the lovers of this lighthouse. By pressing a button on their cell phone, this lighthouse lit up once again after being out of commission for many, many years. Solar panels were placed on the lighthouse along with batteries to make this moment in history one we shall never forget as long as we live.
It has long been a dream of mine to walk the wrought iron steps of this magnificent lighthouse. While that dream may not become a reality any time in the near future, I still hold on to it like so many others in attendance that night.
A rather large crowd gathered along the sandy shores to share in this moment in time. A ceremony was held with various speakers from the Save The Light organization, to the mayor, as well as a grandmother who donated $250,000 in memory of her granddaughter who passed away in 2014 as a result of an automobile accident. With music playing, the crowd took pictures, enjoyed a slice of cake celebrating the 140th birthday of the Morris Island Lighthouse, and waited anxiously for this beacon of light to come to life at exactly 7:30 p.m. Saturday night. Sitting on the large rocks lining the beach with the waves crashing below our feet, we stared out across the ocean as a tiny light appeared at first and slowly turned toward us to reveal a beam of light that cut through the darkness. As this beacon of light illuminated the night sky, we watched in amazement and wonder completely thrilled to be a part of this moment in history!
Sadly, the lighthouse only remained lit by solar power for four hours Saturday night. That is the maximum allotted time the coast guard could give to this organization. When we realized earlier in the week that it would not remain lit, we knew we had to do everything within our power to ensure we were among the crowd gathered for this event. My heart danced as I watched the light from this tall tower of hope.
Among those in attendance were a couple who got married at the top of the lighthouse in the 1980s. They drove from Wilmington, North Carolina to be there for the lighting. As I listened to the speaker talk of how they walked the steps and got married at the very top, I couldn’t help but wonder what the pictures must’ve looked like from back then. Oh how I wish I could have seen a glimpse into the lighthouse when the steps were in much better shape to allow climbing to the very top. I can only image the breathtaking view of the island from up there!
My mind quickly shifted to the lady before me in the wheelchair. With her white hair blowing with the slight breeze coming off of the ocean, the gentleman attempted to push her through the white sand that seemed to match her hair. I was extremely impressed when the gentleman finally spoke and said she was 95 years old. It was her heart’s desire to be present for this event, and she was well pleased as evident by the smile stretched across her thin, pale lips.
How meaningful this night was for so many of us, and it is one I’ll never forget. It provided hope for all that one day this lighthouse will be preserved and restored completely.
“Let’s go camping!” my husband exclaimed as he showed me the typical camping gear involving tents and the like. My response was something along the lines of, “Ah, no! My idea of camping is the Holiday Inn!”
Fast forward many years later, add five horses, and we are now officially campers! Happy campers at that!
My husband just said over the weekend that he never would have imagined me … camping. Well, I had to have a purpose. While I enjoy sitting by a fire at night, my idea of fun is not going to sit in a tent in all different types of weather being miserable. I camped in my late teens at the beach – in a tent – in 100 degree weather. This was something I was talked into, and boy was I ever miserable. My earlier memories from my childhood camping experiences involved raccoons that got into our trash overnight in the mountains as we knew nothing about “bear bags” at that point in time. Then, when we tried “camping” at home in our backyard, my dad’s bull dogs got out and decided to fight right outside of our tent! Imagine four 10 year old girls getting woken up in the middle of the night by growling and snarling with dogs pushing themselves up against your tent, then causing it to collapse on you! Yes, this happened, and we screamed bloody murder until my dad woke up and ran outside to see what was going on. We all ended up okay, but the horror of that event lingered on!
So no, tent camping was out!
Then the tables turned as we started venturing out into the horse world. People camp with their horses all the time. Some have tents, some have living quarters in their trailers, and some take a stock trailer and make it to where they can sleep in it overnight. We considered this option, but with three of us, I knew that would not be comfortable. The living quarters in the trailers are really tight spaces. We looked into buying a new living quarters trailer at the beginning of the year. They were nice, but they were also super expensive. You had all the space in the world for your horses, it seemed, but what a tiny living area when you have two adults and a child camping with you! We knew that option just was not going to work. As one salesperson put it, “You have to REALLY love each other to be in that close quarters for any period of time.” We laughed when he said it, until we saw what he was talking about.
When I said earlier that the tables turned, they did because about two years ago, I stumbled upon a good deal on a used RV! My husband was so hesitant about this ole “fixer-upper.” I almost had to drag him kicking and screaming to look at it. We drove a little over two hours to look at this 1985 Georgie Boy RV. While we knew that it wasn’t the grandest of RVs, it was perfect for what we wanted to do – camp with our horses! I remember when we arrived how my husband reacted. He hesitantly got out of the vehicle just to wrinkle his nose. I asked him to just look at it and keep an open mind. He walked into the RV, looked around, and then let me know that he was not impressed at all. That is until the guy mentioned the 454 big block engine! My husband’s eyes widened, and he said, “Hey, we can always take this motor out and put it in my 69 Camaro.” We ended up buying this older model RV for little of nothing. Then we put a little bit of money into it to make us feel better about using it. After a while, we were ready for our first camping trip in it.
We found out that we absolutely LOVE camping with our horses!!
We enjoyed it so much, in fact, that we decided to explore other options of possibly getting a newer RV. When it was mentioned, I told my husband that if we did get another RV, I wanted one that we would be confident in taking on road trips even without the horses. My goal was to have a RV that we could travel the world with, if we so desired!
And so began our search!
We looked at so many different used RVs. From dealers to individuals selling their RVs themselves, we were just overwhelmed at the RVs and their prices! Yikes! To get a decent one, you had to spend a bunch of money, or you’d be stuck with a fixer-upper like we already had! Even those were outrageously priced! Finally we came upon an older couple that was looking to get out of camping. The couple was in their 70s, and the man had begun to have some health issues to where he did not feel he could continue with the RV lifestyle. His wife was emotional as she showed us the RV, spent time telling us all about it and demonstrating how the different controls worked within the RV itself, and the stories she told of their family trips together. They had an RV as long as they could remember and took their kids on many trips, and then they started taking their grandchildren on trips as well. The newest RV had provided lots of memories, and it was hard for her to part with it, I could tell. But, she and her husband gave us a really sweet deal on the RV, we sold our “fixer-upper” actually making a profit off of it, and paid cash for the new-to-us RV to begin our RVing lifestyle!
We had to pinch ourselves when the couple delivered the RV to our house. After they left, our children rushed into the RV where I fixed dinner and we ate in it the first night we had it! We could not believe this baby was ours!
Since that time, we have gone on numerous trips with and without the horses. I’ve discovered that although “roughing it” is part of camping at times, we do like having the amenities at the RV resorts. We have stayed where there has been full hookups, and we have stayed where we were standalone with our generator and on-board water supply. I do appreciate that we can have the comforts of home now in our RV! And some of the places are extremely nice! I have been impressed! It isn’t a bunch of red necks sitting around a fire chewing tobacco, spitting, and drinking. Not that there is anything wrong with this at all, if that is your thing. We have found such joy in camping in our newer RV that we planned back to back trips not too long after purchasing it! I’m sure some of our friends on Facebook tire of all our pictures that we share, while others have commented that they enjoy our pictures and look forward to them.
Our goal we set is to go on a trip in our RV at least once a month to justify having it. I told my husband when we were considering buying the RV that it would not just sit in the yard unused. And, it hasn’t! We’ve camped with our horses a few times at places like Kings Mountain State Park, Middleton Plantation, etc., but we have also gone to places like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Thomson, Georgia, Sevierville, Tennessee, and now we will soon be embarking on a trip to Crystal River, Florida! We are so excited!
Now we can hardly wait for the other to say, “Let’s go RVing!”
With warmer temperatures in the 80’s this week, we can safely say that it is Spring in the South now!
I can hear the choir of angels singing now!
Can you tell that we are extremely overjoyed now that the harsh winds of Winter have blown out of here?
Oh, I know! All of you up North are laughing hysterically over the Southerners down here complaining about “harsh winds of Winter.” We aren’t used to it, and frankly, I don’t see how you guys LIVE where you have to shovel all of that snow! And let’s not even talk about when temperatures are way below freezing there. We cringe when the weatherman talks of just snow flurries here and the possibility of ice on bridges!
Ah, but Spring has sprung!
Every outdoor surface is covered in a blanket of … green pollen. Not as romantic as sitting by the fire up North with a blanket of freshly fallen white snow on the ground.
But, let’s not talk about Winter.
Spring is HERE!!!
I know … there is still a chance of a “cold snap” before Easter, as always. Just when the trees start flowering – like my Bradford Pear Trees I’ve been waiting FOREVER to see bloom … and now they ARE … with the dogwoods beginning to come to life as well. Imagine my excitement yesterday when I realized they are getting ready to burst forth in a few weeks, too!
This weekend we rode our horses through God’s beautiful country in the Charleston area! Does it get any better than that?! With trees lined with gray moss hanging overhead, we felt as if we were truly in the enchanted forest. Ah, but this was no fairy tale. This was real life on the grounds of Middleton Place!
Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark, and we had the pleasure of riding our horses here! No, we couldn’t actually ride up close or around the house or the gardens, but we were still on their land with beauty surrounding us nonetheless!
While we could only see a small portion of the house, which was built in 1755, from the trails, we were excited when we were able to capture this picture from across the road at Bailey’s Field.
We rode our horses around ponds where we saw Canadian Geese, ducks, and about three alligators right there in a row. I contemplated on what to do because I knew that we were bound to see an alligator with all of the ponds around. We were riding close to the water’s edge, too, so I was trying to decide whether to tell my daughter when I spotted one sunning on the bank or to just go on by as if I didn’t notice. I finally decided to tell her as I was afraid the alligator’s swift movement off the bank and into the water would cause a splash which would startle or spook our horses. I tried to break it to her as gently as possible, but she was consumed with fear as soon as the first alligator scurried off the bank and into the water faster than anything we’ve ever seen before! She began to cry, and no amount of reassurance from either my husband nor I would help at that point. We came upon another one within minutes from the first, and it entered the water with lightening speed. The third alligator, however, was soaking up the sun and did not even notice (or care) that we were any where around. My daughter’s tears quickly dried as we lead our horses away from the pond and on to higher ground. I tried to tell her that the alligators are probably just as afraid of us (with the exception of the one that didn’t acknowledge our existence) as we are of them! As long as we don’t provoke them, we should be fine. That helped, as the very next day we rode around some of the ponds on the right hand side of the trails. She was fine then as we only spotted one or two in the middle of the ponds and not on the banks as we passed by.
I lost track of the number of times I threw my head back and said, “Oh my gosh … I LOVE this place! It is soooo beautiful!”
From vast ponds to wildlife and on to fields full of Yellow Carolina Jasmine, we were in awe of ALL of God’s creations!
As we got further into the woods, we stumbled upon a little bridge, completely safe for horse travels, across a little creek. As soon as you crossed over the bridge, you immediately had to climb uphill. We had the best time at this spot with our horses trotting up the hill, so much that we went back to this spot a second time just for the thrill of going back up again. It is hard for me to contain my excitement, and I cannot hold my laughter in at this point. I laugh because I’m happy, and I feel FREE on the back of my horse! It is truly one of the best feelings in this world!
If you’ve experienced your share of Winter Blues, we encourage you to get out in nature at the first opportunity you have with warmer weather in your area. Let yourself stand in awe of God and the beauty He has provided for us all. I am constantly amazed at Our Creator. He thought of every single detail, didn’t He? Of course, He did!
And we bow our head and thank Him for ALL of His many blessings in our lives.
Nestled in a scenic valley in the far Northwest corner of Illinois, sits the quaint little town of Galena Illinois. There is a very special place among the shops and eateries that is a popcorn lover’s dream; The Great American Popcorn Company.
The city of Galena got its start as a boomtown for lead mining in the early 1800’s. The city became known as the home of General and later President Ulysses Grant when Grant moved there to work in his father’s store on Main Street. Today, Galena has all the charm of a 19th Century town with its vintage buildings on Main Street and grand houses standing upon the hills of the city. Today, Galena is a wonderful destination for a weekend getaway from the stresses of the work week. The downtown area is adorned with shops and eateries with such a variety as to please most everyone.
For years, I heard friends talk about Galena and how they loved to go there. It is only about an hour and a half from where I live. Yet, I had set aside the time to go there until about ten years ago. Once I stepped on to Main Street my nose caught the wonderful smell of one of my favorite things; popcorn. I have only two vices; diet Wild Cherry Pepsi and popcorn. I felt like Toucan Sam as I “followed my nose” down the street and into the Great American Popcorn Company. It was if I had stepped into a dream as there was popcorn in flavors that I never imagined such as Zesty Ranch and Parmesan and Garlic. Galena instantly became one of my favorite places in the world.
The Great American Popcorn Company was started over 20 years ago by Dave Lewis and his wife Cathie. They run the business with their children Zach and Victoria. It is easy to tell that they all have a passion for their products and their customers. You can sample of any of the popcorn flavors in the store. Over the years they have come up with hundreds of flavors of popcorn; many of which are long time favorites and always in stock such as the Galena Mix; a tasty combination of cheddar cheese and caramel corn.
On my first visit, I wasn’t too sure about some of the flavor combinations and if they would taste good. You may feel that way too when looking through their selection. Don’t! You will miss out on an amazing taste treat. Some of my current favorites are: Thin Mint (yes, just like the Girl Scout Cookie), Zesty Ranch, Peanut Butter Cup, Cookies and Cream, Molasses (just like ginger snap cookies), and a long-time favorite of mine White Cheddar. They even have a flavor that was created at the request of the hostess of this blog, Shirley. Shirley has a passion for brownies so Dave came up with Brownie Explosion. To say it is amazing in taste is an understatement; especially if you like brownies.
Popcorn is not the only wonderful treat you can get at the Great American Popcorn Company. They have homemade fudge in a wide variety of flavors. Today I got to taste a new flavor; Dark Chocolate with Raspberry Wine. Fortunately, I only had a small sample otherwise I could easily see myself eating a whole block in one sitting. Some of the other fudge flavors they have include Birthday Cake, Mint, Peanut Butter, Honey Graham, Praline, Carrot Cake and many. In addition to fudge, they have variety of other candies, Jelly Bellies, ice cream and an extensive selection of sodas.
I could go on but I hear a bag of Thin Mint calling my name.
I highly recommend making a trip to Galena to see the sites and get some popcorn. If you can’t get to their store, check out their website at www.greatpopcorn.com or look them up on Facebook.
As a last thought, thank you Dave and family for bring a little taste of heaven into my world. See you soon.
“Friends don’t let friends eat microwave popcorn.”
My family and I traveled to Barnardsville, North Carolina the weekend of October 23-25, 2015. We were very impressed with this historic 1900s cabin which has now been modernized to include a bathroom!
The owners, Ann & Jay, were wonderful! They were very accommodating and helpful during our stay. One of our horses is an escape artist and got out of the paddock the first night, which gave us a heart attack when I was laying in bed and looked out the window to find she was missing. Thankfully, though, she didn’t go far and was actually beside the cabin when I flung the cabin door open to look for her! Whew! She also escaped another time to visit two neighbor geldings in the next paddock. She stretched the fence, which we felt badly about and offered to help fix, but Ann did not seem upset at all. She fixed the fence in no time flat! The reason behind her escape adventures was due to someone turning the electric fence off in the barn. This was quickly remedied, and our horse remained in the paddock throughout the remainder of our trip!
Our first ride there was actually just up the road and toward Ann’s house. The view is breathtakingly beautiful, and we appreciate that Ann allowed us to ride to her house to use the round pen. It was rather steep so our mares took several resting breaks, but it was so worth it when we reached the top!
Saturday we explored Pisgah National Forest’s Big Ivy. We walked our horses from the cabin right into the forest where we rode for hours near creeks and around the mountains!
This was my daughter’s first time in the mountains with her Pinto pony. She was nervous and excited all rolled into one! They both did a great job crossing the creeks with ease, though. Several times our horses stopped right in the middle to drink the cool mountain water from the creeks. I’m sure it was quite refreshing after traveling many miles up, down, and around the mountains.
On our last day there while traveling up the mountain, we encountered a portion of the trail that was rather steep and narrow. We hated to turn around because we were so close to the very top of the mountain, but safety won so back down the mountain we went. We didn’t feel so bad when two other equestrians attempted it behind us yet turned around for safety’s sake as well.
The view was breathtaking with splashes of vibrant reds, yellows, oranges, and greens on the horizon. We timed it just right for the changing of the leaves this Fall in the mountains!
We had a great time during our mountain days and highly recommend this mountain getaway! While we’ve ridden in Dupont before, we fell in love with Pisgah!
Wow, what an absolutely beautiful Halloween weekend! We stayed at the Saddle Pad just outside of Camelot Farms in St. Helena, SC, with our 11 year old daughter.
The cottage was warm and welcoming. We loved the horse bedding as well as the entire horse theme they had in the cottage.
They had nice sized paddocks for the horses, and we really loved that they were right next to the cottage where we could check up on the horses. It was really nice having them that close. We could literally look out the living room window and see them.
This is the first time our daughter has taken her Pinto pony to the beach, and she had the BEST time! We enjoyed having the opportunity to walk to the semi private beach any time we wanted on our horses. Thursday night we timed it just right as the sun was setting on the way back!
Friday we rode to the beach again where we had a fun time trotting and loping our horses! We had lunch on the beach as well and enjoyed the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore. Shortly thereafter, we took the trails around Camelot Farms. That evening, we went into Beaufort for a haunted carriage ride put on by CAPA. They were dressed in costumes as ghost stories for the Beaufort area were told, and on the streets different characters would startle us as they told their version of the story or appeared at just the right time during our tour. This was the BEST ghost tour we’ve ever been on, and we’ve been on several in the Charleston area.
Saturday we took the dirt roads that lead to the plantation house that was used in Forest Gump! We enjoyed the moss covered trees and had a really nice ride together. The weather was perfect hovering around 70. The people we encountered along the way were friendly and respectful to us on our horses, too, which is always nice.
While we were there, we visited the Old Sheldon Church Ruins as well as The Chapel of Ease. That was a really cool backdrop for our Halloween pictures, too!
We took our daughter trick-or-treating at the Hunting Island State park also, which she loved! She was a hit with all of the little children as she was dressed as Mal from the Disney “Descendants” movie.
We had three beautifully amazing days on horseback! We loved that we could vacation as a family and take our horses with us! We had all of the accommodations from home with good quality time spent together as a family and on horseback!
We highly recommend this horse lover’s vacation! While we enjoyed the beach access while staying at the cottage, Hunting Island allows horses on their beach December 1 – February 1 as well. We took our horses last year and recommend it to anyone that has ever wanted to ride their horses on the beach!
Thank you for allowing us to share our Halloween Adventure with you!