Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jammin' at Hippie Jack's

The Frau and I spent this past Memorial Day weekend at a little music festival near Crawford, TN called Jammin' at Hippie Jack's.  It is relatively small festival that gets us out of Western North Carolina to hear some new music.  Our favorites this year was Darrell Scott and Geoff Achison.  Both of these guys were amazing!  Of course, there were some crowd pleasers there also such as the Flea Market Hustlers!

We really enjoyed this festival and got to meet some old friends and make some new ones.  After three days we were "musiced" out beyond our capacity and headed back for home.

The weather was cold and I was totally unprepared for it.  As a result I did not get to see some of the later acts (so called "headliners") that close each night's show.  I was in my tent and sleeping bag listening and trying to stay warm!

Only one minor incident marred the weekend.  A fellow concert goer slipped and fell in the stream by the "swimmin' hole" and broke his hip.  An ambulance had to be called and he was taken care of at a nearby hospital.  What a way to spend the weekend!

EMTs arrive to cart off a broken hip

We can't wait for next year, although we may be in Germany for couple of months.  We are not quite sure if we will be here for Memorial Day or not.  Only time will tell.  Until my next post here are some of the sights we say at Jammin' at Hippie Jacks.

You see all sorts of instruments at Hippie Jack's

The sound board

"Free the Honey"  I really like seeing young folks playing Americana music

The swimmin' hole

A sitar at Hippie Jack's?!?

Inside the tent

Festival food... fried, fried, fried

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bethany, WV

Last week the Frau was scheduled to do her presentation at Bethany College in Bethany, WV.  I was her chauffeur and dutifully drove her there and back.  I must admit I love these little trips to small colleges in Appalachia.  Bethany is a real jewel.  Think Oxford in the Appalachian Mountains.  Beautiful!

Bethany College

 The school had an almost monastic feel.  The small town of Bethany had only one general store for shopping, but it had a little bit of everything.  To find more extensive shopping one has to drive 15 or 20 miles.  Bethany is very remote, and that, we were told, was by design.

Bethany College

The General Store in Bethany, WV

The college was founded by Alexander Campbell in 1840.  Campbell was also the founder of the Disciples of Christ denomination.  He lived in a mansion approximately one mile from the present day campus.

The Campbell Mansion

 Another interesting fact is that the college was where the fraternity Delta Tau Delta was founded.  I am not a member of Delta Tau Delta, but my fraternity,  Pi Kappa Phi, had a friendly rivalry with them at my undergraduate Alma Mater of East Texas State University.  Many a bottle rocket was shot off between our two houses.

The Delta House

The historical marker in front of the Delta Tau Delta House

 I walked around photographing most of the day, but the Frau was there to work.  Her presentation was well received by students and professors alike.  It was quite a turnout for a Friday afternoon lecture!

The Frau doing her thing

The presentation complete we drove home the next day stopping by the New River Bridge.  The New River (despite its name) is actually one of the oldest rivers on the earth.  It also one of the few rivers that flows from south to north.  The bridge is the third highest vehicular bridge in the United States.  Each year, on the third Saturday of October, the bridge is closed for "Bridge Day".  On this day folks are treated to demonstrations of rappelling, base jumping and ascending.

Panoramic view of the New River Valley and Bridge

We arrived home that evening tired from the long trip but happy.

Stay tuned!  We will be traveling to Hippie Jack's in a few short weeks!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Clarksdale and Longview

Each year in March I try to get back to Texas for my Dad and Sister's birthdays.  This year I decided to make a stop in Clarksdale, MS to see Po' Monkey's juke joint in Marigold, MS.  Po' Monkey's is in a corn field in the middle of no where.  These days it is only open on Thursday nights and as luck would have it I was in Clarksdale on a Thursday night.

Poor Monkey's in Marigold, MS

Very tasteful decorating

The next day I drove to Texas to visit my family.  On Saturday we went to one of my favorite steak houses in Texas.  The 5D Cattle Company in Avinger, TX.  I ordered the 20 oz. T-bone.

My 20 oz. T-bone at 5D
The next day I spent shopping for food items I cannot get in North Carolina.  BBQ sauce, Whataburger Ketchup and Crazy Water from Mineral Wells.

Real BBQ sauce by Bodacious

Survival items need for a Texas Ex-Pat
The Blue Bell ice cream shown in the photo above did not make it to North Carolina!

On Monday we went to Jefferson, TX where I was introduced to the kornbread sandwich.  It was delicious!  I have since made them at home.

Kitt's - Home of the Kornbread Sandwich

We also drove by the dam at Lake o' the Pines.  It had been raining quite a bit and the spillway was flowing at the highest rate I have ever seen.

The spillway at Lake O' the Pines
Fishermen along the spillway
The next day I had to leave for the two day trip back to North Carolina.  The trip home was uneventful since I was just blasting back via the Interstate.

More trips are planned in the near future so stay tuned!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Quick Trip to Texas

My brother-in-law, Tim, was graduating from nursing school and at first I thought I would not be able to attend this event.  Then my son called from San Diego and said why don't we use our air miles on Southwest and fly to Dallas to surprise Tim?  I ran to my computer and checked the flights and I was able to book one that would arrive at Love Field 30 minutes before my son's flight from San Diego.  This trip was a go!

On Friday, December 12, I woke up at 3:00AM and drove to Greenville/Spartanburg Airport to catch my flight.  To get to Dallas I had to fly via Chicago Midway!  I LOVE Southwest Airlines!

Chicago Midway Airport
I arrived in Dallas on time and so did my son.  We got a rental car and started our two hour drive to Longview.  On the way we stopped at a Whataburger.  We didn't really need to, but if you have only 36 hours in Texas a Whataburger is just one of those things you need to eat.

We arrived in Longview late that afternoon and Tim was surprised to say the least.  I really think he did not expect us.  Later that evening we attended his graduation and, of course, there was Mexican food afterwards!

Tim did it!

We spent the next day, Saturday, just visiting Longiew and seeing some of the sights of my youth.  Of course, eating was involved.  We drove to Hallsville where we indulged in some Pittsburg Hotlinks.  They don't look very appetizing (I won't say what they do look like) but believe me, they are good!  Of course, we also had to have some Barbecue.  I don't like North Carolina BBQ so I have to fill up when I am in Texas.

Pittsburg Hotlinks (they do taste better than they look!!)

Barbecue the way it was meant to be.
On Sunday my son and I headed to Love Field and flew to Houston together.  From there I flew back to Greenville/Spartanburg and he flew back to San Diego.

Houston Hobby Airport
I arrived back at GSP an drove back to Asheville.  All in all it was a good trip. I only gained a few pounds, but it was totally worth it!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Thanksgiving in Wilmington, NC

My wife and I take a trip every Thanksgiving.  Our family is spread out all over the world (well at least California and Japan) and it makes no sense to us to have the traditional Thanksgiving feast for just the two of us.  Usually we travel to Charleston, Savannah or St. Augustine.  Our son that is currently in Japan has mentioned that he may want to attend the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (for surfing reasons, I am sure) so we thought we would go to Wilmington this year.

First we went to the UNC-W campus and I must say it was impressive.  It is a "planned" campus, meaning it is relatively new.  A lot of red brick building and laid out logically as a college campus.  After that we spent the rest of the day in downtown Wilmington.  Wilmington is not a tourist area so the downtown area was deserted.  About the only thing open was the Battleship North Carolina.  The battleship seems to be the biggest attraction in Wilmington.  However, we did not visit it.

Battleship North Carolina

We found a bar open in Carolina Beach and that is where we had our traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

The next day we went to Wrightsville Beach, NC just to walk along the beach and see the ocean.

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
As you can see, those beaches were also deserted.

The next day we returned home.  Wilmington is a nice place but a little low key (and cold) this time of year.  I am sure there is a lot more going on in the summer months.  I believe we will head further south next Thanksgiving.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Beckley, WV

The Frau had a conference to attend in Beckley, WV and since I had time I decided to driver her.  There really isn't anything exciting about this trip.  It was a conference for librarians so what do you expect?  It was pretty much a run up the Interstate, spend the night in Beckley, and then run back down.  We did make one little side trip to Damascus, VA where we took the road to Shady Valley, TN.  On this road is the world's shortest tunnel.  It is only about seven or eight feet (2m) long.

The world's shortest tunnel between Damascus, VA and Shady Valley, TN

I am excited to get this blog going again.  I suspended posting due to the political situation at the time while I was in Europe.  Unfortunately this is a slow time for travel for me.  I don't foresee another trip until Thanksgiving, two months for now.  But if there is one thing I have learned... you never know what will happen!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Krakow, Poland

The Frau and I took an ICE train to Berlin from Hamburg and then spent about eight hours on bus to Krakow, Poland.  It was a long bus ride, but it was a hell of a lot better than Greyhound!!!  We arrived Sunday night and it was already dark.  We were in a county where we had no money (they use zlotys?) and did not even know how to get to our hotel in the dark.  It all turned out not to be a problem.  There was a currency exchange on the way to our hotel that turned out to be not even 300 meters from the bus station.  After settling into our room we decided to venture out to the old city to find something to eat.  It was raining and we found a place that was comparable to an Appleby's or Chili's at home.  I had quesadillas, very Polish!  It was raining so we went back to our hotel to get ready for our first full day in Krakow.

The next day was grey and drizzly so we just spent the time walking around the Main Market Square where they were preparing for the Christmas Market.  It was cold and we were there early so there were not very many people out and about.

Main Square in Krakow, Poland

Main Square in Krakow, Poland
The weather was terrible so we decided to visit the underground museum covering the history of medieval Krakow.  The museum was very well done.  At one point there was a glass ceiling that allowed you to look up at the steeples of St. Mary's.

Looking up at St. Mary's from the underground museum

Above the museum was a market that has been in operation for centuries.  Now it sells mostly tourist items, but it is very colorful and dry when it is raining!

The market stalls

We spent the rest of the day just walking around trying to stay dry and warm.  Krakow has an abundance of coffee shops that are excellent for that purpose.  One thing that fascinated me was the Trumpeter of Krakow.  On the hour a trumpeter from the steeple of St. Mary's plays a fanfare four times in each direction, north, south, east and west.  The tune stops abruptly at one point in memory of a trumpeter that was shot by an arrow through his throat while trying to warn the inhabitants of an impending invasion.  It was hauntingly beautiful.  Here is a YouTube video of the trumpeter.

The next day we continued our city exploration.  Of course, Krakow was home to Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope John Paul II.  His image is everywhere and he is still very much loved and honored in this city.  That was another thing that impressed me about Poland.  In most of Europe the churches have become tourist attractions.  In Poland the churches are used!  It was not uncommon to see numbers of people praying in the churches and even adoring the Blessed Sacrament. And not just the elderly, young people were seen in great numbers in the churches.  It was sort of refreshing to see their faith had not been lost like it has in Central Europe.  The Catholic faith is a part of the Polish national identity.

Pope John Paul II's apartment when he was Bishop of Krakow

The next day we spent in the Jewish section of town and visited several former synagogues.  Before World War II 250,000 Jews lived in Krakow.  Today about only about 150 live there.  That is 150 period, NOT 150,000.  No typing mistake there.  Of course, most of the synagogues are not in use any more and are museums or memorials.  Only one synagogue is currently in use.

The Izaak Synagogue

That evening we discovered the cellar bars of Krakow.  Krakow has been built up on itself many times and this has left many cellars that have been converted to pubs.  These are not visible from the street and you have to develop an eye to find them.  We were always the oldest in the bars, but the young folks did not seem to mind having us around.

The Frau enjoying a Tyskie

The next day we went to Oskar Schindler's Factory.  Most everyone has seen the Spielberg film Schindler's List.  Today the factory is a powerful museum and one of the best we have seen during our time in Europe.

Oskar Schindler's Factory

Schindler's List

Schindler's Factory today
This was our last evening in Krakow and we decided to spend it in the cellar bars.  These were very cozy and inviting.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the beauty of the Polish girls.  They were stunningly beautiful, more so than any I have seen in the rest of Europe.  I have to mention that, but I will say no more since I do not want to invoke the wrath of the Frau!

The next next day we repeated, in reverse, our bus and train trip back to Hamburg.  Poland, and Krakow, in particular have a rich history and was very interesting to visit.  I would go back in a heartbeat!

Our next trip is planned for next week and will be to Bavaria, my old home in Germany.  We will be visiting the Christkindlmarkts in Augsburg, Munich, Nuremburg and Naumburg.  I will probably not be posting from the road, but check back in about two weeks!