06-21-18 It’s Been A Year Update 3

It’s been a year since we started this adventure – Update #3:

We flew back from Europe to Virginia moving back into our ‘room’ at Jason’s home. The first part of our return involved spending a good deal of time with our granddaughter

KB with her Unicorn outfit

and submitting paperwork for new drivers licenses, income tax returns and transferring the title of the Prius to Jason.

We had a lovely dinner with Jason, Katie and Terri while in Virginia

We hadn’t been back more than a day or two and we were notified that our car, which we had dropped off in Paris in November, was available for pick up at the dealer. It was nice to have our new wheels back and allowed us to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. This was very fortunate as we got a call that Janeen’s dad had fallen and was on his way to the Hospital. We left the next day for Macomb, Illinois.

It seemed to be winter when were in Macomb in late January.

Fortunately, he didn’t break anything but he did have a case of pneumonia that needed to be addressed. By the time we arrived,

Yup, snow on our car!

Harold had been moved to an assisted living arrangement for more direct attention. While we were there, Harold had a relapse of the pneumonia and went back to the hospital and upon release, went into a different assisted living arrangement that was much better.

While we were there, Jason, Terri and KB came for a visit which was a great boost to Harold’s well being.

Harold with his great granddaughter

After being there about 4 weeks, we drove back to Virginia and made arrangements to fly to California. It had been 8 months since we had been back to our “old homestead” and while the house

Our front yard still looks good!

was rented we have some great friends who allowed us to stay at their place during our visit. The primary reason to return was to check in with our various doctors and have a general check up to make sure we were still good to go on our continued travel plans.

It was great to see our friends,

Kirk and Denise – winemakers from WesMar in Russian River area. They were in town the weekend we returned to California and it was a treat to have dinner with them.

visit some eating establishments we have enjoyed in the past, and of course for Janeen to get to the

Lovely flowers in bloom at the Huntington Gardens while we visited California.

Huntington Gardens. We also got a few things out of our storage in the garage and a couple of cases of wine to bring back when we returned to Virginia. All in all a wonderful 4 weeks in the sun!

When we arrived back in Virginia, the cherry blossoms around the tidal pool were in full bloom!

Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin in DC
The Jefferson Memorial across the Tidal Basin

We could not have planned a more beautiful day to visit and see the cherry blossoms and enjoy spring! When we left, in mid March, it was still WINTER – cold, snow and wet. When we got back it was SPRING with trees leafing out, flowers blooming and beautiful sites all around. It was now time to return to Macomb and check on Janeen’s dad and plan our southern loop drive.

Janeen and her dad – he turned 101 in March of this year.
Our beautiful MercBlue in front of a lovely dogwood in Macomb.

We returned to Macomb late April and stayed for a couple of weeks making sure Harold was getting all the assistance he needed.

While in Macomb we say this production put on by the Macomb Community Theatre.

Once we had confirmed that, we packed up our car and started our way south. Our first stop was to Cincinnati. Neither of us had been there and it was a beautiful day to enjoy the sites along the Ohio River.

Friendship Park in Cincinnati

We also took in a visit to the National Underground Railroad Museum.

A huge quilt at the Underground Railroad Museum

This Museum covers all aspects of the anti-slavery efforts and also pays tribute to all efforts to “abolish human enslavement and secure freedom for all people”.

From there we drove to Maysville Kentucky. My father grew up in Maysville

My dad, his brother and parents lived on the second floor of this house.

and Janeen and I visited once while my grandmother was still alive in the early 70’s. We were able to drive by both the house my dad grew up in and the home my grandmother was in when we visited. After driving around the town a bit we headed out to try and find the old family homestead.

It is a fact that Lee’s have been in Maysville since the late 1700’s. General Henry Lee purchased the house and land in the late 1700 and his descendants include my grandfather – my dad’s father.

The major farm building still exists (no longer in the family) and we were able to find it.

Leewood – the original family home in Kentucky.

Referred to as Leewood it is a two-story home with twin chimneys with a balcony between. I also learned that the family graveyard was close to the property and it was my goal to try and find it. Once we found the home, we noticed some folks behind the house working some cattle. I stopped and asked if it would be OK to visit the graveyard and was given permission – fortunately there were no cattle in the field we had to go through to reach the graveyard.

The Lee Family Plot – started in the early 1800’s. My great grandfather is here.

The earliest grave markers date to the early 1800’s and include both direct decendents (Lee’s by name) and the related families. Unfortunately the graveyard is really overgrown and many of the stones are unreadable. It would be an interesting project to come back and clear all the weeds; clean the stones and general refurbish the place. Maybe another time we can come back and do that.

After leaving Maysville, I visited with Cousin Bonnie –

My cousin Bonnie – we connected after our visit to Maysville.

the daughter of my dad’s adopted sister. I don’t recall having meet Bonnie previously, but it could have happened sometime in the past. It is always great to reconnect with family.

Bourbon – Whiskey – stuff made in Kentucky that people drink a lot – that was the mission today. First stop, Jim Beam Distillery

Jim Beam – need I say more?

for a tour and tasting. Located just off interstate 65 south of Louisville is the place where they make a LOT of this bourbon. It was an interesting tour going over the entire process and into their aging barns holding hundreds of barrels and finally into a tasting room where we were able to sample the final product. Being a scotch drinker, bourbon is not my first drink of choice but it was a great tour and we are glad we made the stop. Next stop – Nashville

Music City USA – Nashville the city where a lot of music has been recorded, played and enjoyed. Before we checked into our hotel, and toured downtown Nashville, we stopped at Cheekwood Estate and Garden. Once the family home of Mabel and Leslie Cheek, this extraordinary 1930s estate, with its Georgian mansion and 55 acres of cultivated gardens

Janeen peeking out of a greenhouse at Cheekwood Estate and Garden

and expansive vistas, today serves the public as a botanic garden, woodland sculpture trail, and art museum. We spent the better part of the day touring the gardens (a must for Janeen every so often) and the home of the family. Much of the interior of the house has been restored

The drawing room of the Cheekwood Estate.

to the original condition and a lot of the original furniture has been acquired and placed throughout. Nice visit to a lovely spot.  We also visited the Belle Meade plantation – which was a ‘big’ race horse place for a number of years.  The place has been restored and is a good example of the period.

The plantation, was named “Belle Meade,” French for beautiful meadow, and known as the “Queen of Southern Plantations”
The stable of Belle Meade
A cute little house for play for the girls of the family.
Slave quarters at the Belle Meade Plantation

When you think of Nashville you cannot help but think of the Grande Ole Opry that really put the place on the map.

Bluegrass started right here at the Ryman in Nashville.

The Ryman Auditorium was home to the Opry for many years before a new facility was built.

Here’s the author and his wife at the upper level of the Ryman Auditorium

We did a tour of the place and enjoy the history very much. From there it was off to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Sure, I’ve listed to Country Music from time to time but the breath and depth of this museum is beyond comprehension. Spending a few hours going through the building is just the beginning.

Our goal, when we left Macomb on this southern loop, was to get to Savannah, Georgia and connect with Bob and Linda. Bob was my boss when I worked at Lehigh University in the late 70’s. When we left we lost contact but reconnected last June. They have a lovely home in Skidaway Island just south of Savannah and graciously hosted us for several days.

Bob and Linda – they seem to be enjoying retirement living in Savannah

Nothing like catching up after 40 years while visiting an interesting part of the world. Bob gave us a quick motor tour of Savannah and the following day we took the hop-on-hop-off bus to get a more in-depth view of the City.

Stately home on our tour around Savannah

Lots of old homes, great restaurants, city parks, and a lovely city. You know that stuff that hangs from trees called “Spanish moss”? Well, it’s everywhere.

Spanish Moss – lots of it hanging on the trees.

From Savannah we headed to Charleston and stayed at the French Quarter Inn. This was like taking a vacation while on vacation. I had decided we needed a true break and spent the bucks to be able to stay at a really nice place, have some great meals and enjoy the City.

A lovely garden and home we saw during our walking tour of Charlestown.

Fortunately in both Savannah and Charleston we were not overwhelmed by the heat and humidity – both of which can be murderous particularly in the summer.

Leaving Charleston we headed to Asheville, NC and a visit with our friends Gloria and Jerry. Readers of the Blog will remember they were the couple that joined us in Portugal for the River Cruise. It is always a treat to visit with them and see the sights of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We spent a day visiting the state Arboretum,

Gloria and Jerry taking in the sights

having lunch at a spot along the Blue Ridge Highway and dinner in town. They kept suggesting we could move to Asheville and who knows, it could happen. After Asheville back to Springfield, Virginia for a few weeks to recoup and figure out what’s next.

It’s now been a year. We have travelled a lot, visited old friends and generally had a good time. During this last year Janeen and I have been together virtually the entire time and with very rare exceptions have gotten along well. We continue to learn about what we need to have available to us when we are driving around (how many changes of clothes do you really need; how many shoes can you really wear?) and stayed in a bunch of different hotels (mostly Best Western actually) and had all kinds of weather – sun, rain, snow, everything as far you can imagine. Over the next several weeks we are going to do a Northern Loop – through Pennsylvania, the Finger Lakes of New York, Niagara Falls, drive through some of Canada on our way to Prince Edward Island, visit friends in Boston and return to Springfield. Once we return its go west time, checking in on Janeen’s dad, then all the way to California.

Only time will tell where we end up, but so far the Gap Year Adventure has been fantastic. The Blog will continue!

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