So I have been in North Carolina for about 5 weeks and living in a world that is revolving around COVID-19…….I am going stir crazy being at home by myself with nothing much to do and not able to see what little family I have here. I decided I just needed to get out and do a little sightseeing but practicing social distancing. My route started in Dallas, NC where I am renting an Airbnb…….from there I caught highway 321, then Hwy 74 through the towns of Shelby and Forest City to Hendersonville which becomes Hwy 64. Highway 64 is the Waterfall Scenic Byway that took me to a few waterfalls that were right off the highway. This highway takes you through some beautiful scenery as well as several small historic towns. From Hendersonville, I went on through to Brevard, Rosman, Lake Toxaway to Cashiers, Highlands and Franklin. From Franklin, I caught Hwy 23 and 74 to Waynesville and then Ashville, which was my last stop before heading back to Dallas NC.
I found over the years that I really love history and being able to visit all these great places has been awesome and deepened my connection with the world we live in. One of the things I really loved about Hendersonville was its small town, mountain feel and all the old buildings that have within stood the test of time because they were built by amazing architects. I love knowing and learning the history of how the town came to be, the businesses and people who came before and those who have made it what it is today.
Founded in 1838 and named for the 19th century North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Leonard Henderson. The historic downtown main street is well preserved with many restaurants, antique shops, and boutiques located in architectural buildings that reflect the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Historic Henderson County Courthouse (1905) – The building was designed by Richard Sharp Smith, the supervising architect of Biltmore House. The Greek goddess Themis adorns the dome. The statue is without a blindfold, holding a sword in her right hand and scales in her left. It is believed to be only one of only three in the United States without a blindfold, statues of Themis/Justice are blindfolded to typify that Justice should be impartial. The Courthouse also houses the Henderson County Heritage Museum. It features public displays, artifacts, collections, archives, libraries, demonstrations, performances and other similar exhibitions relating to the heritage of Henderson County.
Hendersonville City Hall Built between 1926 and 1928, this Neo-Classical Revival building was designed by Erle Stilwell. A flight of stairs leads up to the main entrance which is under a tetrastyle portico, on which is inscribed ‘”Erected by the People, Dedicated to the Perpetuation of Civic Progress, Liberty and the Security of Public Honor.” This building reflects the prosperity of Hendersonville during the 1920s and the architectural refinement that Stilwell brought to the city.
State Trust Company Building houses the Henderson County Genealogical and Historical Society and the Mineral and Lapidary Museum. The McClintock Chime Clock is located on the corner of this building and was added in 1927. The clock was reactivated through community efforts in 1983 and is now maintained by the local chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. Built as a bank at a cost of $125,000, it operated until November 20, 1930 when it closed. It reopened in 1936 by State Trust Co., later Northwestern Bank, then Home Bank & Trust, then Bank of N.C.
First Bank and Trust operated until November 20, 1930 when it closed. It was reorganized by local investors and reopened 2 weeks later as State Trust Co., merged later with Northwestern Bank, then First Union Bank until 1998. Designed by prominent architect Erle Stillwell.
Woodmen of the World Memorial Water Fountain. The water fountain was carved out of native stone. It was dedicated to Woodmen founder, Joseph Cullen Root, in 1947 near the site of where Root passed away in 1913, in the former St. John Hotel which stood on the corner.
Coca Cola Mural – The building was built in 1900 by Dr. William Hicks Justus to operate Justus Pharmacy. The soda fountain advertised in the mural first opened in the former Justus Pharmacy in 1907. Today it is a sandwich and soda shop.
Peoples National Bank Building – This building, dating back to around 1910, is a two story Neo-Classical structure of cream colored brick and was built by W.F. Edwards. It has a recessed central entrance beneath entablature supported by Ionic columns, and storefronts to either side. The bank building was the earliest use of Neo-Classical style and reinforced concert construction for a commercial building in Hendersonville.
Maxwell Store Building – This building once housed a fancy grocery business run by Maxwell Brown, a longtime proprietor. It was built around 1910 and is a two-story pressed brick structure. Highlights are round and segmentally arched windows with fanlights.
Ripley-Sepherd Building – This building is believed to be the second-oldest building on Main Street, one of several buildings built by Colonel Valentine Ripley and once known as the “Ripley Brick Store House.” It is said to have served as a district commissary under a Major Noe during the Civil War. Later it was also a post office for Hendersonville. Later still it was the home of Shepherd and Hart’s furniture store and undertaking business.
This building at 122 N. Main (1920) has been tenants to Beck Hardware, Court House Cafe, City Cafe, C&D Music Shop, and Elizabeth of Carloina Women’s Wear. For more thatn 30 years the Justice of the Peace office was upstairs.
Here are a few more pictures of places and things in downtown Hendersonville
More history and information about Hendersonville visit the attached link
About 25 miles from Asheville is the small town of Waynesville. This was another small, mountain town with a lot of character with many historic buildings and some that were very unique. Due to COVID-19 there were not many people around and it was pretty quiet. I am not even sure how many businesses were open as I was not interested in shopping, but more interested in the history and character of the town. Waynesville is located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains and therefore known as the “Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains”. I would have loved to have explored the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but it just wasn’t possible for this trip. I hope I will be able to make it back in the near future.
People originally found their way to Waynesville for a couple of reasons, one was due to doctors at the time prescribing visits to the area for their patients who were suffering from respiratory ailments, the other was the wealthy who came from Charleston and Atlanta by train in the summer to escape “the suffocating heat”. Traveling to Waynesville became easier once the railroad line was completed in the 1880’s. Two trains a day unloaded vactioners at the depot as what is now know as the Frog Level District. From the Frog District visitors would be taken the three blocks to Main Street by horse and buggy.
Waynesville was founded by Robert Love, who was a colonel in the United States army during the Revolutionary War. After the war he, his wife and 10 children relocated from Eastern Tennessee to Haywood County’s Richland Creek area. Love was a weathly man who had inherited a fortune from his mother and he further increased his fortune working as a land speculator, lawyer, justice of the peace, surveyor, state senator and court clerk. In 1809 he donated 17 acres for the town of Waynesville, which was where the courthouse and jail were to be built. During the war Love served under General “Mad Anthony” Wayne, and later named the town after him.
Main Street in Waynesville…..Romanesque Revival style one-story river rock building was built by William H. Lord is one of the most unusual buildings on Main Street. It opened in 1903 as the First National Bank and in 1916 it merged with the Commerical Bank. Today it is the Wildflower Blue Bakery.
The current courthouse was completed in 1932. It is a 3-story ashlar stone veneered rectangular building in the Classical Revival style with a slightly projecting entrance pavilion with a pedimented frontispiece resting on four engaged Doric Order Columns.
Haywood County Historic Courthouse
There are several monuments at the courthouse that are very nice.
Haywood County Veterans Memorial: A granite three sided pylon sits on top of a pentagon shaped granite base with insets on each side with the bronze coat of arms of the five military branches. On top of the pylon sits a bronze pair of hands holding a globe with a eagle perched on top. This monument is in honor of all veterans who served in the armed forces of the United States of America. Dedicated November 11, 1991
Haywood County Korean War Memorial: Three tablets stand vertically atop a wide base. The middle black tablet contrasts with the light gray flanking tablets which features the seal of the US army, the start and end dates of the war, June 25, 1950-July 27, 1953 and a simple outline of North & South Korea. Each flanking tablet bears a list of 13 names.
Memorial Tablet to Revolutionary Soliders – Revolutionary War 1775-1783, dedicated to 10 Revolutionary War soliders buried in Haywood County and erected by the daughters of the American Revolution November 11, 1922.
Haywood County Vietnam Memorial 1960-1975: Listed are the names of those from Haywood County who lost their lives in the war. In front is a cast metal pair of empty combat boots that are often filled with flowers and flags. Dedicated 1990.
1776 Militia Rifleman Statue – Revolutionary War 1775-1783: This statute stands on a rock pedestal and depicts a frontiersman in traditional dress, with a small clutch and powder horn slung across his shoulder and a large buck knife at his waist. In his right hand is a Kentucky flintlock rifle, dedicated July 4, 2019. The Sculptor was Earl Lanning and his story as a sculptor and why he wanted to do this piece is pretty interesting, you can read more about him by clicking on this link:
A couple of blocks off main street is the historic distirct called “Frog Level”. It once was the center of town, until the train station stopped operating when rail service was discontinuted in 1949. It fell on hard times and over the last decade the town has been working to revitialize this area.
Waynesville did not see its development boom until the railroad came in 1884. The area of town located along Richland Creek and down the hill from main street is where the tracks were laid and had been basically a swampland with a few buildings here and there. Once the depot was built and the trains started arriving, the area soon became known among the locals as “Frog Level”. The first train depot burned in 1900, but was soon replaced with another depot that remained standing till 1987.
Frog Level businesses were associated with the railroad industry with warehouses and wholesale centers. This area was the first stopping place for tourists arriving in Waynesville, with the livery business there serving to carry visitors up the hill to the various inns and boarding houses. Main street began to develop with most of the retail stores, banks and professional buildings.
Most of the businesses in Frog Level which make up the historic district has changed only minimally over the years with only a handful that added new materials and/or changed of a few storefronts. Overall the area has retained its integrity in terms of architecture, setting and its historical association with the railraod and the commericial development it encouraged.
Here is some history of some of the historic buildings in Frog Level that are still standing:
This building was the Armory/Farmers Federation – A two story brick, flat roof commercial building that was divided into 3 storefront bays. The storefronts on the first floor have been altered with more modern changes. The second story facade is still intact. In the mid to late 1910s the armory was located upstairs. Members of the National Guard practiced their drills here and community dances were also held here. This building was used as the armory until the new building was constructed in 1936. In 1924 an auto repair shop wing was built at the rear of the building, which has now been torn down. The Farmers Federation came to Waynesville in the mid 1930s and moved into the second floor. In 1945, a freezer locker was located in the southwest side of the building, a service offered by the Farmers Federation to store frozen meats, vegetables and fruits. Richland Supply Company that provided farm supplies, operated here in the 1950s.
This building is a two-story commerical style brick with a “Coca-Cola” sign still on the wall. This building first appears on the maps in 1908 as a restaurant, it later housed a fruit stand, and originally had a one-story horse shed at the rear which no longer exists. The building’s longest use was as a cafe in the 1930s and 1940s.
Warehouse 66 was once the J.B. Henry Warehouse/Boyd Wholesale – A one-story brick building with five bays, four which have wide delivery door openings, flat roof. The Henry family built the warehouse prior to 1924. In 1924, the property was sold to R.T. Boyd and J.M. Palmer. The building changed hands several times in th late 1920s to mid 1930s, with different companies leasing the building, including Haywood Supply Companyy from 1925-1927 and a feed and seed store from 1927-1935. By the mid 1930s the property ended up back in the Boyd family. From 1935-1960 the building was in use a Boyd Wholesale, a wholesale grocer that sold feed and general merchandise. A salesman would travel to neighboring areas to take orders, with delivery trucks carrying products within Waynesville and surrounding areas. Today the building is home to the Frog Level Brewing Company, Sheppard’s Bear Den Antiques and Panacea Coffee House & Cafe.
This building was used in 1924 as a retail store, but its not known what types of goods were sold. By 1931 it was part of the feed and building materials warehouse of the adjacent building.
The adjacent building to the left is a tall one-story warehouse building. The building is nine bays wide with a L-shaped attached frame loading dock at the rear with a covered carport. This building first appears on the maps in 1924, as a wholesale grocery with hay storage at the rear. By 1931, the building was being used as a feed and building materials warehouse, known as Hyatt and Company.
This building is a two story brick Romanesque Rivival with two intact storefront bay windows, and double leaf doors. Was a general store (T.N. Massie & Son) as early as 1908. By 1913 there was still a general store in this section and a grocery store in the northern bay. By 1916, Medford Furniture Company occupied this building. Originally there were exterior stairs on the southeast side of the building where boarders lived above the stores. Claude A. Haynes General Store occupied this building in the early 1920s. Waynesville Candy Company has occupied the building since 1925. George Dewey Stoval, Sr. arrived in Waynesville from Cleveland, Georgia around 1921. In the 1930s and 1940s this store was the distribution center for all of the Stoval 5 & 10 cent stores in Western North Carolina and Georgia.
Cherokee Garage built in the 1920s as a car dealership and garage for 35 cars. Building was altered in the 1940’s for Burgin-Clayton Furniture Store.
This two-story brick Romanesque Revival building was built 10 years after the adjacent T.N. Massie & Son building to the southeast in almost identical style. The similar detailing makes the two buildings appear as one structure. This building was constructed around 1913.
Burgin’s Market 1925……a two-story brick commerical building with original pressed tin ceiling.
Shelton House Museum of NC Handicrafts – Waynesville
The Shelton house was constructed for Stephen Jehu Shelton by local woodcrafter, Henry Napoleon Francis. Stephen was a Haywood County Sheriff, fought in the Civil War, and served as the Superintendent of the Methodist School. The construction of the orignal house was started in 1875 and the family was able to move in November 1878. The downstairs addition with a dining room and kitchen was added around 1880. The upstairs was originally two bedrooms that included a gabled dormitory style room over the one story dining room/kitchen addition. In 1905 the house was purchased by Shelton’s son, Will Taylor Shelton. In 1918 Will and his wife Hattie expanded the house to include 4 additional bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a linen closet/dressing area. They used the addition to open a boarding house which often housed attorneys and judges who traveled to Waynesville, the County Seat for court. At the same time a Carriage house was added with a second floor apartment for the housekeeper and the ground level had a coal bin storage area. Later the Carriage House was turned into a two-car garage. Will also operated a dairy farm after he retired as Superintendent of the San Juan Northern Idaho Agency in Shiprock, New Mexico, where he founded the Shiprock Reservation and School. In 1944 the house was willed to Charles E Ray, Jr. a nephew of Will Shelton. The house was used for community affairs and rented out as a residence. In 1977 the house was purchased by Mary Cornwell and Board of Trustees. Mary founded the museum of North Carolina Handicrafts. In 1979 the Shelton House was put on the National Register of Historic places. The museum houses historic furnishings and decorative items, heritage crafts, argricultural exhibits and item’s of today’s Crafters and Artisans.
The barn is a Pennsylvania Dutch style barn and was part of the Shelton’s working dairy farm in the early 20th century and now includes antique farm tools.
VIETNAM UH-1H “HUEY” HELICOPTOR
From 1965-1973, the Bell UH-1 was the most common utility helicoper used in Vietnam. This particular helicopter is a “slick”, used for troop carring. It was not fixed with external weapons to save weight and is only armed with the M60s used by the door gunners. This Huey located at the Waynesville VFW, Serial #67-17145 came to the VFW with some wear and tear, but was restored in 2013 through a special project involving students from the SOAR academy.
“Old Time Music” Sculpture
These giant metal band members, made of recycled materials are located at the intersection of Main and Miller Street. They represent Waynesville rich musical heritage of string bands, fiddle tunes and ballards played and sung at their street dance and folk festivals.
U. S. Route 64 is the longest numbered route in North Carolina, running 604 miles from the Tennessee state line to the Outerbanks. It dates back to a time of the Modet T and snakes through the North Carolina mountains, by waterfalls, through gorges and some really neat and awesome small towns.
A 150 mile section of Highway 64 near Asheville runs from Morgantown to Franklin. Most of this route is a winding 2-lane road. The last 40 miles before getting to Franklin is part of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, with many waterfalls. This is part of the route I took…….I would have loved to have stopped and hiked to many of the waterfalls on the list for this route, but with the time I had and mostly due to bad knees I just can’t do the hiking. So come along with me and join me along the beautiful country side and water falls of North Carolina that I was able to experience.
As part of the Appalachian Mountain chain, Transylvania County’s high peaks and rolling ridges were first created by a shift of geological plates about 450 million years ago. These early mountains eroded down into almost a flat plain over subsequent geological eras only to be uplifted into its current topography during the Cenozoic era.
As soon as Transylvania County was established in 1861, a courthouse was needed, but was delayed until 1866 at the end of the Civil War, when a two-story frame courthouse was finished. Soon after, in 1874, the Board of County Commissioners approved $12,000 to construct a stately and impressive brick courthouse for the county seat, which still stands and operates today. It was the first brick building in Brevard. The Transylvania County Courthouse continues its operation today as a courthouse and the Clerk of Court. In 1979, it was recognized for its local historical significance and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On U.S 276 North, six miles from Brevard is Looking Glass Falls. From my research of the waterfalls in this area Looking Glass Falls is one of the most popular and beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina and its also one of the easist to view as it is accessbile from the roadside, which was perfect for me. U.S 276 is just a two lane country road, but there is plenty of room to pull over and park near the falls. There is a overlook from the parking area along the road that you can easily view the falls from, or you can take the steps which lead down to the falls for a closer view. You can even wade into the creek and swim underneath the falls when water flow is low.
Looking Glass Falls is 60 feet tall, there is no admission fee and it is always open.
Toxoway falls is half way between Brevard and Cashiers North Carolina. Most travelers drive across the top of the 150 foot falls and don’t even know it. I know I would have if I had not done my research and internet googling before I headed out on this trip. The falls are located on Highway 64, 16 miles west of Brevard. At Lake Toxoway, you will cross a bridge below the dam for the lake. There are spots to park on the westbound side of the road. Cross the road to a walkway along the bridge for a view from the top of the cascading water. Its very beautiful and awesome! Continue to travel another 13 miles to reach Cashiers.
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is a 45-ft waterfall located in Nantahala National Forest just 2.5 miles west of Highlands, North Carolina. These falls have been famous for generations as the only waterfall in North Carolina that you could drive behind. When the highway was originally built, all traffic went behind the falls, but in the winter there were problems with the ice and falling rock year round! So now that section of the road is blocked off from automobiles for safety and visitors are able to walk behind the falls and enjoy it more. Bridal Veil Falls does not have a large volume of water so it makes it safe and fun to stand behind. The falls are located right along highway 64, there is roadside parking and is accessible to everyone…..wheeel chairs, strollers, etc.
As I have mentioned in other posts I made this trip during COVID so there were not a ton of people out and about and not a lot of traffic so access and driving was pretty easy and nice. I really enjoyed these falls and thought they were so unique with traffic at one time being able to drive right behind it. It was definetly a different view and perspective to be behind it looking out.
Dry Falls is another popular waterfall that is only a mile from Bridal Veil Falls. Dry Falls is a 75-ft tall waterfall that falls over a cliff which allows you to walk safely behind the falls and stay “dry.” At the top next to the parking lot is an observation area where everyone can view the falls. There is a short trail that leads down to the falls, which I did not take as its all down hill and I knew it was going to be to much with my knees. It was a beautiful view and a lot of water flowing.
One more water fall I was able to see along this route was the Cullasaja Falls along the Cullasaja River Gorge……a beautiful drive with narrow roads, curves that are frequent and shop. Cullasaja Falls is 8 miles west of Highlands and there is no sign for this 250-ft waterfall. The best way to see it is if you are driving from Franklin….due to the location, there is only a small pull of for 2-3 cars along the road, so drive slow and look for the pull off.
Something of interest…..the word “Cullasaja” comes from the Cherokee word meaning “honey locust place”
Other scenic pictures along the drive through Cullasaja Gorge
I started my RV traveling/work journey 4 years ago as of January 1, 2020. In those four years and prior I have learned so much….in the beginning, I had a couple of friends who had been RVing and working full time so I did a lot of talking with them and researching several of the resources they shared with me. Along the way, I have continued to research and pick up additional information of where to look and find jobs and because people are often asking me what I do and how do I find jobs I decided I would make this post with a list that I am aware of and have used.
The first 8 months I was on the road I had the finances so that I did not have to work and that was wonderful, but I knew I would have to go back to work. My first on the road job was in Vacaville, CA working part-time at a thrift store cashiering for 6 months, I then applied with Delaware North and got a retail/cashiering job at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon working at Desert View. I mainly worked at the Trading Post, but I also cashiered at the General Store and the Gas Station during the summer. I spent 10 months working and living at the Grand Canyon……I can tell you it was an awesome experience to be able to spend that much time getting to know the Grand Canyon and then being the tour guide to friends and family who came to visit. While there I was able to venture out on my days off and visited so many awesome places. From there I went to Phoenix and went to work for a heavy equipment/RV company doing office work and was there for a year and 3 months. This job came to me because I had been referred to them for some RV work of my own in February of 2016 and my RV was in the shop there for about 4 days. During that time I got to know the owner, we stayed friends and I ended up coming to work for him January 1, 2018. It was a situation that worked out well for me at the time as I was able to get some additional RV and car repairs done. Things were very flexible for me here, I lived on site so no commuting to the job, was able to do a lot of site seeing around the Phoenix area as well as traveling further out to Sierra Vista to visit friends who lived there, I also had the opportunity to take off for a few weeks to see family and travel (unpaid) the end of August 2018 and did a 4,000-mile road trip. Read my blogs titled Road Trip – September 2018. By the end of January 2019 things were shifting and changing at Dynamic Diesel and my hours were getting cut, so I took a part-time/seasonal position with Delaware North in Phoenix, AZ as a Cash Room Attendant at the Spring Training Games at the Maryvale Sports Stadium with the Milwaukee Brewers till the end of March 2019. This was a great experience and opened even more doors for me. A couple weeks before the Spring Training games ended I was browsing the Delaware North job site and found a opening for a Cash Auditor at Kings Canyon National Park. I applied for the position and was hired. I gave Dynamic Diesel my two week notice, packed up my motor home, loaded my car onto my tow dolly and off I headed to start my new job on April 12th, 2019. I arrived in Kings Canyon April 8th, so I had a few days to get settled in and explore a bit before my first day on the 12th. I spent 6 months at Kings Canyon National Park which was another great experience and made many new friends. You will find more information on my time there on separate blogs. One of the awesome things I enjoy about this life is the opportunities I have had to see so many great, beautiful places and make many new friends. I am going to be honest here and say that living this life is not always perfect or with out its struggles and frustrations, because that is just how life is. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people….but the trade off you get makes it all worth while, and when things start going sideways or get to frustrating or the season ends I always had the option of moving on to somewhere else for a new adventure.
I decided that since I was back home visiting Washington and had renewed my passport in 2019 that I would take the opportunity to make a visit to Victoria B.C.
Day 1 (December 29, 2019) – I boarded the Blackball Ferry Coho for the 2:30 P.M sailing in Port Angeles, Washington. The day was a little overcast and cold. The hour and a half crossing to Victoria B.C. was pretty uneventful, other than a short stroll I took out on the deck for a few pictures and spotted the tail of a whale. I waited around for a bit hoping I would see the whale resurface but I never did. It was pretty windy and cold to be outside so I wandered back in where it was warmer.
I arrived in Victoria B.C at about 4 P.M and after 45 minutes of waiting in line to get through customs, I was finally on my way to spending 4 days exploring Victoria. Now the last time I was here was about 37 years ago when I (being pregnant with our son Aaron) came with my husband Randy, our daughter Erika, and my parents.
It was quickly starting to get dark so I pulled out my map and my instructions to get to my hotel. I had done my research before I left the U .S as to how to get to my hotel from the ferry…..boy was I off base and it turned into an hour and a half public bus ride craziness, first of all, it appeared to me that I could ride the bus or walk it in about 15 minutes, so I started out walking and realized after walking a few blocks that I was at 700 Douglas Way and my hotel, Island Travel Inn was at 1850 Douglas Way, so I caught the bus and it was my understanding from previous research if I rode the bus I needed to get off at Jackson and Douglas. So I paid my $2.50 bus fare and got on the bus….so we’re traveling along a bit when the driver turned down a different street. I was like … Oh no, this is not right…. I have not ridden the public bus in a long time and I was in a place I was not familiar with and not completely sure of my directions. So after we traveled a couple blocks I asked the driver if this bus would circle back to Douglas?, He said no…..you need to get off at the next stop, walk to the corner of Qudra and cross the street to catch bus #6…..so I did….I get on bus #6 pay my $2.50 bus fare again and I tell the driver where I need to go….he said he was not sure where that was but that I needed to get off at Douglas and View and catch bus #30 or #31 because that is still a ways to walk….so I ask him for a pass since I have now paid $5 in bus fare and for $5 you can get an all-day pass. He gives me a pass, I get off and find my way to the next bus stop. I get on bus #30 and I tell the driver where I need to go….he doesn’t speak English very well and I finally get out of him that I need to get off at Hillside. I get off at Hillside and see the building address is 2610 Douglas…. Really!!! Now I have gone to far….by this time it’s been dark for awhile other than street, traffic and store lights….I’m still in the downtown area and plenty of people out and about. I cross the street to catch the bus going back the other way. I get on the bus and again explain to the driver where I am going and how I keep getting fouled up…the driver says he thinks he knows where my hotel is at. It seems the drivers know cross streets and bus stops, but not so much the addresses and this hotel is not well known I guess…..so we’re rolling along and this lady on the bus has obviously overheard my situation…..she tells me she is staying at the same hotel and will show me the way…….our stop soon comes up, we get off and sure enough it’s just a block and a half from my motel. I was so thankful for this lady and told her she was my angel. So finally I made it to my hotel, my room wasn’t ready so I got a deluxe suite with a Jacuzzi, King Bed, little refrigerator, and two separate sitting areas. This is an older hotel, a bit dated, but clean and decent. What an adventure!
Day 2 (December 30, 2019) – After a really great nights rest in the very comfortable, huge King size bed I ventured off to the Butchart Gardens by public bus.. ..let me tell you after yesterday’s escapade I figured out the bus system…..so with a little more map quest research I knew which bus to take and I was right….made it there and back with no issues….I have to say I knew that the gardens were not going to be in bloom like they are in the Spring and Summer, but I really thought there would be more colorful winter plants and some flowers, so I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong it was a very awesome place and I can imagine how gorgeous it is in the Spring.
The Gardens began as a limestone quarry dating back to the early 1900s. Over time the quarry was transformed into one of Canada’s premier garden attractions. The floral gardens were started by a cement contractor by the name of Robert Pim Butchart.
Robert and his wife, Jennie Butchart, moved to Victoria, BC from Ontario, Canada. The Butchart family has carried on the legacy of these now-famous gardens. Jennie Butchart recognized that the mild temperatures and the lush environment was an ideal setting for gardening. Slowly the gardens grew and the Butchart Gardens were born. The Butchart’s received many accolades…… Robert Butchart was given the key to the city and was made a Freeman of the city of Victoria in 1928 and Jennie Butchart was named Citizen of the Year in 1931.
After the death of Jennie Butchart,the gardens fell into despair. The grounds were left unattended until 1946. It was then that Ian Ross, the grandson of Jennie Butchart and his wife, Ann Lee Ross, brought the Butchart Gardens back to life. In order to help with the costs, they began charging admission and generating revenue from their seed and gift store, as well as the Benvenuto Tea House.
The gardens are open year-round and you can see hundreds of different colors and varieties of flowers. During the holiday season, the Butchart Gardens are decorated with Christmas lights and decor depicting the 12 days of Christmas. I had arrived at about 2 P.M in the afternoon so I stayed till the evening to see the lights. Here are some photos I hope you enjoy.
Day 3 (December 31, 2019) – Rain was in the forecast for today so I made plans to be indoors and go see the Craigdarroch Castle which turned out to be amazing……so gorgeous and so much history. Craigdarroch is a four-storied stone mansion that wow’s you the minute you see it, it sits on a hill in an older, nice residential area overlooking Victoria B.C. You pay an admission fee in a modern building just a short walk across the driveway from the castle. Tickets are at $14.85 for adults, $13.85 for seniors (I don’t know what the senior age is…..I completely forgot to even ask and paid the adult ticket price), students 13 or older $9.75, children 6-12 $5.35 and a family $36.00 (2 adults/seniors and 2 students/children).
The castle was built by wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir during the reign of Queen Victoria and is now a National Historic Site. Visitors are able to have a glimpse of privileged life in the 1890s. You are met at the front door by a guide who gives you a self-guided tour brochure that takes you through all rooms on each floor. The tour starts on the 1st floor and up the front formal staircase. On each floor, you are able to view reception rooms, bedrooms, and studies that are furnished, with a portion of the furnishings being original to the home. The woodwork and stained glass in the formal areas of the home are so amazing and beautiful. The view from the top floor at the top of the stairs gives you a panoramic view of the city of Victoria. Once you reach the top you are then directed down the stairs to the backside of the house where you will find a few servants quarters, the kitchen, pantry, and storerooms which are still in the stages of being restored. Robert Dunsmuir died April 1889, 17 months before the home was completed. His widow Joan and a few family members lived in the home for a short period of time, but eventually, it was abandoned since none of the children wanted the home. For a time it was used as a residential school and a military hospital then was saved from ruin by the government and opened for tours.
After my day at Craigadorrch Castle and being a little soggy getting to and from the bus and castle I stopped for a late lunch at a restaurant just across the street from my hotel called the “White Spot Caledonia” which was pretty good. I got a small caesar salad with a toasted turkey sandwich, fries, and a soda. I went back to my hotel room to watch some TV and just relax as it continued to rain. It was on my mind that being in was New Year’s Eve I had wanted to check out the “Wonder of Lights” exhibit that was just a block and a half up the street from my hotel, but with it raining I did not really want to go out and I was feeling so warm and cozy in my room. I had relayed this thought to my daughter as we were texting……she said: “Mom you went to explore and experience what is there, so you best go check it out”……I pondered on it a little longer and the rained had started to let up so I went. Centennial Square in downtown Victoria was transformed into a holiday wonderland. There were themed light exhibits, light tunnels, and a 40 foot live Christmas tree that was decorated. When I arrived around 7 PM it had recently just stopped raining, it was still early and so there were not very many people out….it was all free, soft Christmas music playing and people walking around, and taking pictures. I did not stay long, I just wanted to check it out and see what it was all about and take some pictures……. and that was how my New Year’s Eve wrapped up as I then walked back to my hotel and hunkered down for the night.
Day 4 (January 1, 2020) – Happy New Years Day……Today there was no rain and a nice day to be outside, so off I went to the 11th annual Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread fundraiser at the Parkside Hotel and Spa. I had run across this event when I was looking on the internet for things that were happening in Victoria while I was here and this was free and sounded interesting so I went and checked it out. It was a small venue that featured Gingerbread exhibits that were created by professional and amateur bakers. This year’s theme was “Building a Diverse Community.” Habitat for Humanity Victoria brings communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable homeownership.
Across the street from the Parkside Hotel and Spa was an interesting old church…..The Church of our Lord….It was not open to go inside but there was a historic marker out front that said that this building was constructed in 1875 for the Reformed Episcopal Church. This building is one of the finest expressions in wood of the Gothic Revival Style in Canada. The architect enhanced the building’s Gothic character by exploring the advantages of board-and-batten siding to reinforce the vertical thrust of its pointed roof, pinnacles, and spire. Inside is a Gothic Hammer beam ceiling that spans the broad open space to provide an unbroken view of the apse and pulpit. I really love old buildings, and churches with their history, and architecture.
From there I walked up Belleville Street that runs in front of the Parliament Building. The very beautiful and grand BC Parliament Buildings sit on 12.5 acres of land on the waterfront of downtown Victoria. The building was started in 1983 and completed in 1897 but details, refinishing, additions and upgrades were ongoing right up until 1915. The parliament building was designed by 25-year-old architect Frances Rattenbury, a “Free Classical” Romanesque and Renaissance style. Rattenbury and his crew used local material, resources, and expertise. At night the 500-foot long building is illuminated with thousands of light bulbs.
I walked a little way along the waterfront on Government Street, sat on a bench for a while to people watch and admire the view of the Parliament Building, The Harbor and the Empress Hotel. Fairmont Empress Hotel commonly referred to as The Empress is one of the oldest hotels in Victoria, it sits in downtown Victoria, facing the city’s Inner Harbor and also was designed by Francis Rattenbury. The Empress Hotel has been a symbol of Victoria since its opening in 1908 and has hosted Kings, Queens and Hollywood stars from around the world.
I next made my way to the nearest bus stop and caught the bus back to my hotel and stopped by a small mom and pop Chinese restaurant you could eat in or take out. I ordered chicken chow mein to go and it was very filling and good.
Day 5 (January 2, 2020) – Today I was up early, checked out of my hotel, caught the bus to the Blackball Ferry Coho to catch the 10:30 A.M sailing back to the United States – Port Angeles, Washington. The hour and a half sailing back was again uneventful and that concluded by adventure to Victoria B.C.
On my trip back home to visit my family in Washington, we (my daughter, her boyfriend, and his 3 children ) decided to visit the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic National Park as they live only a two-hour drive away. For the 30 plus years, I and my husband had lived with our kids in Washington we had made a few trips over the years to the Olympic National Park, but we had not been to the Rain Forest. I think with working, raising kids and the fact that we lived in Gig Harbor, WA another two hours further south made for a 4-hour drive just one way.
I was really excited that we were going to the rain forest, the weather forecast was for rain which is not surprising since the Hoh Rain Forest gets as much as 14 feet of rain a year, along with the fog and mist which adds another 30 inches of rain, making this one of the world’s lushest rain forests, and designated as one of the wonders of Washington State. So we packed some lunch and off we headed about 9 AM this Saturday morning. As the morning progressed the rain held off and some sun actually started coming out.
Some of the most common trees that grow here are the Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock (Washington’s official state tree), which can reach heights of over 300 feet and seven feet in diameter. Most of them are covered with huge clumps of hanging moss and ferns. Moss is an epiphyte, which is a plant that grows on another plant without harming it as opposed to a parasite. Epiphytes get their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, fog, and debris that accumulates around them.
We arrived at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center at about 12:30 P.M. and took a look at our map as to the different trails we thought we wanted to do. We decided on the most popular trail….”The Hall of Mosses Trail” is a 0.8-mile loop. This trail proved to be just right for me since I have bad knees. Walking through this trail was absolutely awesome and beautiful, it’s like walking through a living, green cathedral. The best time to visit the rain forest is when it is damp and raining because that is when the moss is the lushest and greenest. The rainy winter and spring seasons are also the best times to see the Roosevelt Elk that live in the area since they move to higher elevations in the summer. The best way to share our day is through my pictures, hope you enjoy them!
After our hike, we ate our lunch that we packed and started heading back home…..our timing was perfect as within about 10 minutes of leaving it started to rain. On our way out of the park we stopped and got some pictures of this beautiful herd of Roosevelt Elk…..Olympic National Park is home to the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt Elk in the Pacific Northwest. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, they are the largest variety of elk in North America. The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the best places to see these amazing animals. They are non-migratory herds that stay in the Hoh Rain Forest area throughout the year as they feed mainly on ferns, shrubs, and lichens from the rain forest, as well as the meadow grasses.
Our drive back took us through Forks, WA where the “Twilight” story took place. We stopped at the Visitor Center just outside of town where we got a “Twilight” map of Forks and saw “Bella’s Trucks.” Next, we stopped in town to check out the “Forever Twilight” collection at the Rainforest Arts Center. The space is small but it’s pretty cool, you can view the authentic on-screen costumes that were worn, authentic movie props used by the actors, a backdrop for photos, fan quilt, and other interesting memorabilia.
And our last stop of the day was at Madison Falls. Madison Falls was a short paved walk through a lush forest from the parking lot. At the end of the paved trail is a viewing point where you are able to see the falls drop 40-50 ft into the creek below which runs into the Elwha River just across the paved road opposite the parking lot. The Elwah River is a 45-mile river on the Olympic Peninsula and runs into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
This post is about some of my roaming and wanderings that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Many of you who know me and who have been reading my blog know that before I started my nomadic lifestyle I lived and raised a family in the Pacific Northwest of Washington State for almost 40 years. I still have family there and so I, of course, get back to spend time with them.
FIERO MARINE LIFE CENTER
I stopped one day at the Port Angeles waterfront and checked out the Fiero Marine Life Center. The facility is very small and the young woman who was volunteering that day was so full of amazing information about all the sea life that I ended up being there for about an hour and a half. There are about 5 tanks containing various marine life that are fed directly by seawater from the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The natural water flow keeps the habitats at exactly the right temperature and provides the food source the habitats feed on.
I enjoy the Sea Anemones with their beautiful colors, they are among the most colorful creatures in the ocean that range from purple, red, green and white. Their bodies consist of a stalk that ends in a flattened disk with a central mouth surrounded by tentacles. Anemones are carnivores and will eat fish, crabs, and anything else that swims within reach.
I found the Pacific Hagfish to be disgusting looking but amazed at the by-product it produces that is used in consumer products. It lives near the ocean floor and excretes huge amounts of slime in self-defense, so when a hagfish feels threatened, it releases hagfish slime, a protein-based, jelly-like substance from slime pores that run the length of its body. This slime is a thick glycoprotein excretion called mucin. The mucin is made up of long, thread-like fibers. These strands, which are arranged in bundles called skeins, are thinner than human hair, stronger than nylon, and extremely flexible. When the skeins come into contact with seawater, the glue holding them together dissolves, allowing the slime to expand rapidly. It is said that one hagfish can fill a five-gallon bucket with slime in only a few minutes. This gooey material has a surprising number of uses…… Hagfish are already used for making products such as “eel-skin” bags. The strong, flexible fabrics made from hagfish slime could replace petroleum-based materials like nylon which would be more durable and environmentally-friendly.
There are many uses that are being researched…..such as protective gear like safety helmets and Kevlar vests, airbags in our cars, lightweight strength and flexible car parts. The U.S. Navy is currently working with hagfish slime, hoping to create a substance that can protect divers from underwater attacks, fight fires and even stop missiles.
PORT WILLIAMS / MARLYN NELSON COUNTY PARK
Little remains of Port Williams which was once a thriving commercial port on the bay of the Strait of Juan De Fuca near Port Angeles, WA. In 1944, the waterfront with beautiful views was renamed Marlyn Nelson County Park in honor of a Sequim born Navy sailor who died from wounds in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Nelson was 19 years old and a 1940 graduate of Sequim High School. He was an engine room mechanic on the battleship USS California. A monument bearing his name and a photograph was erected at the one-acre park in 1999.
Operating since 1857 at the tip of Dungeness Spit, the Dungeness Light Station was the first lighthouse built in the Washington territory. Once towering 91 feet, the upper portion of the light station’s brick tower was removed to deterioration in 1927 and is now 63 feet. Living quarters were added and modified over the ensuing decades to accommodate lighthouse keepers, who often lived at the lighthouse with their families, and an armored marine cable bought power to the light station in 1934. The light station and 80 acres surrounding it were designated a National Historic District and placed on the National Historic District and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.
PUGET SOUND SPOTTED SEALS
I drove out to the spit in Port Angeles and found some spotted seals hanging out on the logs on the bayside of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. If you did not have binoculars or a camera like mine that zooms in I would never have seen them and they blend in with the logs. These harbor seals are protected under the federal Marine Mammal protection act and Washington State. Their populations in Washington State have recovered since the 1970s. Here are some pictures of the seals, the harbor and the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
After leaving Kings Canyon National park on November 4, 2019, I made my way back to Washington State to spend some time with my kids and grandkids. I always have a great time with this crew of mine…..Here are some of our adventures:
Within a couple days of my arrival back in Washington, I rented an Airbnb for the month of November……it allowed me space to have my grandkids spend time with me, cook, and hang out with them without being so cooped up in my motorhome.
Here is my cute little Airbnb in Port Orchard, WA along the waterfront of Sinclair Inlet across from the Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA:
Hanging out with Grandma making Christmas ornaments, and painting name letters
Well here it is November 4, 2019, and my 6 month season at Kings Canyon National Park has come to an end. Today was the day I was pulling out and heading to Washington State. I had spent the week packing things up in my motorhome for traveling and today I was up early to do last minute things and get my tow dolly connected to the motorhome. I thought I had it all figured out and I pretty much did, but there always seems to be a hang-up here and there. A few days prior I had managed to pull by hand my tow dolly out of the brush where it had been sitting since arriving here back in April. A few of the rental trailers had been picked up by the rental company so the two spaces next to me were empty and made it easier to pull the dolly out and place it in the empty spot next to me. My plan then was that I could just pull my motorhome out of my spot and then back up to the dolly and hook it up. Well, my motorhome is 34 feet long and for some reason, after several attempts, I just could not seem to get it backed into the position I needed. I was close but just not where I really wanted to be, so I decided that maybe I could just pull it by hand to line up with the hitch on the motorhome. Well, I just did not have the psychical strength to get it moved and pulled by hand to line up correctly and in fact, it ended up rolling kind of sideways into the backside of the motorhome. No worries no damage. Knowing I was not going to be able to do this by myself I called up a couple of my guy co-workers, but they were working and involved with a year-end audit so they could not leave. I called my co-worker Andrew, who is the restaurant manager. Things were slow so he was able to help me out. He had the muscles to get the dolly moved to where we needed it and between us, we managed to get it hooked up on the hitch. My next obstacle was since I had been there one of the power lines was lower than it had been before due to some work that had been done over the summer, so Andrew kept a watch as I pulled out and up the hill that I was not going to catch the top of my motorhome on the wires…..Yea!, I cleared the lines. The next obstacle was just getting down the rutted out dirt road that was always a mess to drive even our cars on. I just took it really slow and easy so that I didn’t rattle and shake everything out of the cupboards in the motorhome. I made it down to the flat area of the parking lot where I had parked my car the night before. I knew Andrew had to be getting back to work and I thought I could load my car myself. So I proceeded and was able to get the car pretty much loaded by myself…..this was really the first time I was doing it by myself as the previous few times since I have been towing the car I have had help. I was doing good till I was at the part where I had to place the tire webs over the front tires and just wasn’t sure about if I was placing them correctly. About that time two of our girl co-workers came by in the company truck and asked if I needed help…..I was debating whether they could be of any help when I saw Rick our housing manager. I told the girls thank you but I thought Rick would proably be able to help me, so I got Rick and YES, he was so much help, he actually gave me good tips and got me all setup and the car secured for travel.
I made my last rounds stopping off at the Market, the Trading Post, and the Restaurant to say my last goodbyes to everyone. It was bitter-sweet. My time at Kings Canyon was amazing but also had its frustrations. I was ready for a change and ready to get back to Washington to spend time with my family. I made so many good friends at Kings Canyon and I knew I was also going to miss them a lot.
I was finally pulling out about 12:30 P.M. made my way down the mountain which is all downhill for 57 miles from Grant Grove Village to Fresno, CA. I made it to Stockton, CA by late afternoon where I was meeting up with a friend who lived there to have dinner, visit and stay overnight. It was great to catch up with my friend and take a good break from the day of just trying to get loaded up, on the road and driving. I stayed overnight at the Walmart parking lot.
November 5th – This morning I was back on the road knowing I needed to get the air checked in my motorhome tires before I went to much further. After sitting for 6 months at Kings Canyon I knew they were a bit low and you just can’t get air in your tires anywhere. The tires are much bigger than car tires so I needed a truck place. In Lodi just off the freeway about 12 miles from where I had stayed at the Walmart, there are several truck services, so I got off at the exit and spotted a truck tire and wash place that was an easy pull in and out. Pulling a tow car I can not back up so I always have to be thinking ahead about getting in and out of places pretty easily. I parked alongside the road and walked into the place of business to make sure they would be able to help me out and sure enough, they could. There were no other trucks being serviced so I was able to pull right in and get taken care of. My tires were a bit low just as I thought…..all tires were checked including the tow dolly tires. I was not charged at all, but gave him a tip for the service and helping me out. So off I went, hopping easily right back on the freeway. I drove this day till I stopped at a rest stop about 4 PM just outside of Weed, CA as it was getting later in the day, I don’t like to drive in the dark and did not want to be driving over the Siskiyous in the dark.
November 6th – I made it through the night just fine although it was cold. One of the things I have going against me right now is my propane heater and my generator does not work, so I have no heat when I am on the road and its November…..Brrrr! I bundle up a bit more, put on my gloves, turn on the front dash heater but it’s not really made to heat up all the space in the motorhome, but it does a good enough job after a while that I am fairly comfortable. Today I drove a few hours and stopped at a rest stop at about noon for some lunch and to get a shower while the temperatures were warmer. I proceeded on my way and stopped again for the night around 4 PM just a couple hours before Portland. OR.
November 7th – Today I drive the rest of the way to Washington close to my destination of Gig Harbor arriving about 7 PM. I drive to Port Orchard, a small town about 15 miles outside of Gig Harbor where I can park at Walmart for the night. My son lives about a half-hour away so he and his girlfriend come to see me and welcome me home. I stay the night in Port Orchard but the temperatures really drop during the night and it’s very cold without any heat.
November 8th – This morning I called my son and talked to him about how cold it had gotten during the night. My son talks to the homeowners where he lives to see if I can bring my motorhome to their place to park and hook up to electricity for the night….I am so grateful as they say that it is fine. I have an Airbnb reserved in Port Orchard on the 9th for a month, so I just needed to get through one more night in my motorhome. I drive out to the Key Peninsula and my son helps me get parked and all settled in. I am happy to be warmer.
November 9th – It rained during the night and I awake to some drizzling rain. I spend a few hours getting some things packed up and loaded into the car that I will take with me to the Airbnb that I think I might need and some of my scraping book stuff to work on while I am staying there. I borrow a car from my son’s girlfriend since mine needs to be worked on. I head out about 1:30 and pick my grandson up from high school at 2 PM. He is going with me to the Port Orchard Airbnb to help me unload the car and get set up. Check-in time is 3 PM…..We get to the Airbnb, meet up with Shannon the host who was very nice. The cottage is just as awesome and cute as I thought it would be from the pictures that were posted on the website. The cottage sits at the front of the property near the road with a circular driveway between the cottage and the main house which is on the waterfront. The cottage is blocked from street noise and view by a row of very tall Juniper trees….its a lovely place.
October I took my last drive to Cedar Grove. This post will mostly be pictures, as I have shared most of the information about the area in my other posts. As much as the Sequoias trees are amazing and beautiful, Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon was my favorite. I love rivers and waterfalls and I loved seeing the changes that took place over the season of the landscape and water flows. The heavy spring runoff that made the rivers and waterfalls swell so high in Spring was beautiful and amazing…..but I loved just as much coming back over the Summer and Fall as the river and waterfall levels receded and I was able to see what laid beneath all that roaring water. So take a ride with me on my last trip and I hope you enjoy this beautiful landscape as much as I did.