Thursday, July 31, 2014

#656 Home to Missouri (and Virginia)

"One thing is certain. No one is moving from Charlottesville any time soon."

That's according to the Guardian in their article Happiness is a place called Charlottesville, Virginia.

Charlottesville is magic and our 7-year residency was definitely filled with happiness.  And now, despite the Guardian's prediction, we've moved to Missouri which, for us, is the western half of Virginia.  Or Virginia is the eastern half of Missouri.  There are so many connections.

I'm a native Virginian who grew up and attended Green Acres elementary school in Fairfax.  This is what I looked like then.
My family moved to Missouri where I attended high school and college.  So I find much happiness in both states and call both states home.

Now when Kelly and I cross the rivers Ohio and Mississippi at the meeting of the two in Cairo, IL, we find ourselves in the Show-Me State ready for more happiness.

The first discovered happiness is the magnificent Big Spring, a Missouri state park and one of the largest natural springs in the world.  According to the NPS National Scenic Riverways site:  "There are three contenders for America's biggest spring including Big Spring, Idaho's Snake River Spring Complex and Florida's Silver Spring. Since the flow from springs varies with local rainfall, any of these three might be biggest on any given day depending on the weather in Missouri, Idaho and Florida! The truth is they are all about the same size."

As a Missourian, loyalty dictates that I declare Big Spring to be America's biggest spring.  And I can say without bias (and without having seen the other two) that Big Spring is the most beautiful of them all.
Our four-day, 1150-mile road trip via US Route 60 has taken us door-to-door from home to home.  We are grateful to Mr. Jefferson for his founding of the University of Virginia.  And we are grateful for his 1803 purchase of the Louisiana Territory including Missouri.  It was a good buy and folks in the Show-Me-State felt a kinship with the Virginian ever since.  Jefferson’s original headstone can be found on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia. And in honor of Mr. Jefferson, Missouri's capital city was named "City of Jefferson." 
Yours in being home,
Mary

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

#655 Western Kentucky

It takes us 2 days to cross Kentucky on Route 60 because there's a LOT to see!

The first thing that catches our eye is this eerily similar statue of Mr. Jefferson standing outside what used to be the Jefferson County courthouse in Louisville.  It turns out this is the 1901 original by Moses Jacob Ezekiel, a Richmond, VA sculptor.  He kindly made a copy that prominently stands today in front of UVA's rotunda. This is another photo taken by Kelly through the open car window in a lightning quick response to 'hey, isn't that Mr. Jefferson?'
 
The bullion depository at Fort Knox is off limits to hooligans like us, so we speed on by.
But we definitely stop and smell the roses (lots and lots of roses) at Owensboro's Western Kentucky Botanical Garden.  We especially appreciate the Japanese garden and the large collection of windmill structures.  Scheming is underway about how to implement our own windmill.

We love what Owensboro has done with its downtown waterfront.  On a Monday morning, this beautiful, creatively-designed space fronting the Ohio River is popular with walkers, admirers, and kids enjoying the ultra-cool playground.  We're big fans.
Lunch at Bill Clinton's hang-out, the Moonlite Bar-B-Q is a big hit with us too.  Owensboro claims to be the barbecue capital of the world, but loyalty dictates that we point out the true barbecue capital is Kansas City.
 The Route 60 drive remains spectacular in western Kentucky.
John James Audubon lived for a time in Henderson, KY so the locals were inspired to create the beautiful  John James Audobon State Park.  A large collection of Audubon art is housed inside their museum building built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
 The 88 Dip in Marion serves the blackened bluegill that Kelly cannot pass up.

 And we reach Paducah just as the sun is setting after a full day of Kentucky adventures.
Yours in enjoying Kentucky all the way across,
Mary




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#654 Commonwealth of Kentucky

We've entered Kentucky, the second commonwealth of our trip and one of only four in the country.

Kentucky is famous for tobacco, college basketball, bluegrass, horse racing, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.  We skipped the KFC, but along Route 60 in eastern Kentucky, we find beautiful horse farms, plenty of tobacco and tobacco barns,
lovely downtowns,

and college basketball's home to the University of Kentucky Wildcats, Rupp Arena.
 
More importantly to me, Lexington is home to the makers of my favorite peanut butter.  We are becoming experts at snapping photos through the window.  This Jif photo was taken in a jiffy in a lightning-quick response to a 'hey, look at that!'
 
The Kentucky state capitol is beautiful from the outside and locked up tight when we stop by.
We especially like the Kentucky floral clock and are scheming how a mini version could be built.
And finally, we arrive at the controversy for the day, Daniel Boone's grave.  Loyalty dictates that we Missourians believe old Daniel is still buried in Marthasville, MO near where he was living at the time of his death.  But these Kentuckians in Frankfort would have us believe that he's buried here overlooking the Kentucky River.

Yours in The Bluegrass Commonwealth,
Mary

Monday, July 28, 2014

#653 Well played, West Virginia.

Well played, West Virginia.  Well played! 

We had thought our idea to drive across US Route 60 from Virginia to Missouri was unique until we cross into West Virginia and these signs appear.
These savvy WV folks only scooped us by 26 years.  Back then they started promoting US Route 60 as more than a road.  It's the Midland Trail, a National Scenic Byway, and something special to be experienced.
As far as I know, no other state promotes Route 60 in this way.  Maybe no other state can offer what we saw along this 180-mile strip of West Virginia real estate?

On entering West Virginia, we notice an inordinate number of New Orleans Saints signs and banners. Even deep inside Batboy's underground lair, Lost World Caverns, we spy an unusual new sign tagging a flowstone formation with Who Dat?  So, of course, we're asking Why Dat?  Why in West Virginia?
Upon resurfacing, we find the answer.  The Saints pre-season training camp is headquartered at the nearby Greenbrier Resort this year for the very first time.  The team's first public practice was just yesterday, so the locals are all newbie Saints fans!  Well played, West Virginia!

If you've ever attended a fair or festival and walked into a tent displaying nature photography, you've likely seen Glade Creek Grist Mill in West Virginia's Babcock State Park.  Photographers from around the world swarm the place in the fall when it's smothered in autumn colors.  From the miller, we learn a lot about mills.
Years ago, we'd stayed in one of the park's rustic log cabins, the gorgeous place where Mary's parents chose to honeymoon, just off Highway 60. 
Capitalizing on a high-visibility location along Highway 60 has clearly been part of the business culture in West Virginia for decades.
In fact, the Burger Carte's fried baloney sandwich proves irresistible.
This delicious sandwich sustains me through Route 60 road repairs.
I stay strong viewing farmer's fields.
And remain vigilant for crossing tractors.  Baloney is clearly superior road food.
Route 60 swoops by the State Capitol where the gold-domed structure looms photogenically outside our passenger-side window.
In all ways, well played, West Virginia!

Yours on the Midland Trail in the Mountain State,
Kelly

Sunday, July 27, 2014

#652 Heading west on US Route 60

Not long ago, we drove from the Atlantic Ocean half way across Virginia on US Route 60.   Yesterday, we picked up the highway where we left it and continued west.

At 2,670 miles long, US Route 60 is the 7th longest highway in the US from Virginia Beach to Quartzsite, Arizona.  

A road trip from Virginia to Missouri is our retirement celebration.  The farewell festivities ended on Friday afternoon with a too-wonderful-for-words party in Alderman Library.  We're still thinking and talking about our 7 years at UVA and that lovely Friday reception during our cross-country road trip, but we're not quite up to blogging about it.  So instead, let's talk about the beautiful 312-mile-long stretch of US Route 60 through Virginia. 

We drive south of Charlottesville to Amherst and turn right (west) on to Route 60 toward the Blue Ridge Mountains - often catching a glimpse around the corners and through the trees.



We spy a lot of kudzu, the vine that ate the south, in this part of the state.
We cross the Blue Ridge at a slightly higher elevation than we usually cross it on I-64 and the road's a bit more twisty. 
We make our way down the west side of the Blue Ridge to Lexington past Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University and this Confederate soldier.

And following these stunning views, we leave (for now) the beautiful commonwealth of Virginia.   


Yours in snapping photos from car windows,
Mary

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#651 We love you, Charlottesville!

Some say Charlottesville is the happiest city in the country and that just might be.

We've loved our time in Charlottesville and are so grateful for the opportunity to live in this beautiful place.  Of course, it's the people who matter most and really make Charlottesville special.  But here are some of our other favorite things. 

Our work place.
Alderman Library
The rock stars who enjoy coming to Charlottesville. 
Elton
Bono
 The plethora of ideal wedding venues.
McCormick Observatory
The beautiful 2-foot snowfalls and neighbors with shovels.
The downtown mall, of course.
 The world's best airport.
 The intriguing home of Mr. Jefferson and his magnificent views.

The Amtrak rail service that brings in friends across the country
.

Exciting cultural opportunities such as the Charlottesville Derby Dames and
 
the Charlottesville Municipal Band and
friends' reading events at New Dominion Bookshop.
 
The meaningful relationship with Winneba, Ghana via Charlottesville's sister cities commission.
 

Our back deck.
 Our back yard.
 Our walk to work.
 The congregating spots for those big Semester at Sea reunions.
 And, of course, the food.
Bodo's Bagels
Spudnuts
Whiskey Jar
The Virginian
Riverside Lunch
Christian's Pizza
The Villa
Our friends at The Villa
Yours in loving Charlottesville from start to finish,
Mary