Category Archives: Places

Apalachicola, Florida; A Small Gulf Coast Town

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Apalachicola, Florida Sunrise on the Apalachicola Rider

When I think of small Gulf Coast towns my mind conjures up all the visions of the many small towns along the Gulf Coast I have had the privilege of visiting. While driving back from a family Disney World vacation last April we stopped for the night in Apalachicola, Florida. Apalachicola is a quaint, small southern historic town with a maritime culture, shops, galleries, restaurants , B & B’s, motels and museums. It is as near to perfect stereotype  a Gulf Coast small town as one could hope to get.

Apalachicola, Florida  Sunrise on the Apalachicola River

Apalachicola, Florida Sunrise on the Apalachicola River

Apalachicola, Florida , small gulf coast town, small town, travel

Apalachicola, Florida Pirate of …

We arrived on a Thursday and found a local motel for the night. Driving into Apalachicola on U.S 98, we drove through the historic downtown. After checking into our motel we drove back to the downtown area to find a place to eat. The restaurant we saw while driving in was closed, so we walked down to the Sea Food Grill & Steaks and had some great southern cookin’. Loved the white beans…

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Apalachicola, Florida The Grady Market

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Apalachicola, Florida Historic Downtown

After diner we walked down to the Apalachicola River. The sun was setting and there were a lot of photo opportunities… Old buildings with interesting architecture, an old wrecked boat and spectacular  views of the river and docked boats. Unfortunately, we left our cameras back at the motel. What a bummer… We decided we needed to return at sunrise and get some of the pictures we missed…

The Three Soldiers Monument, Apalachicola, Florida , travel

The Three Soldiers Monument

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Orman House

The next morning we get up before sunrise and headed down to the river.  At every turn there was a great photo op…  We got some great shots along the river as the sun rose over the river. There were several boats active on the river giving us some sunrise activity. We then strolled through town taking pictures of buildings and interesting sights while we waited for the Apalachicola Riverwalk Café to open. We had a great breakfast and enjoyed visiting with the owner. She filled us in on some of the history of Apalachicola and some of the must see sights.

Apalachicola, Florida , gulf coast small town, small town, travel

Chapman Botanical Gardens

There are several museums in Apalachicola that we hope to visit. It seems that most of them are closed on Wednesday. So we will  save them for our return to Apalachicola at a later date…

The Orman House was our first stop. The grounds were open to touring but the house was closed. We would love to have done the home tour but we will save that for our return trip. On entering the property we saw the Three Soldiers Monument, the focal point of the park. The Three Soldiers Monument pays honor to the Southern soldiers who served in Vietnam. Sculptor Frederick Hart said once that he believed that art must “touch our lives, our fears and cares – evoke our dreams and give hope to the darkness.” The Monument does just that.

Adjoining the Orman House is the Chapman Botanical Gardens. The Chapman Botanical Garden honors the memory of Dr. Alvan Wentworth Chapman, a noted botanist who in 1860 published “Flora of the United States”.  We took a leisurely walk through the garden enjoying the early morning and the tortoise strolling across our path.

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The Chestnut Cemetery Apalachicola, Florida

Driving in the previous evening, we saw an old cemetery that we wanted to explore. The Chestnut Cemetery, like any old cemetery, is like taking a remarkable walk back through time. If you stop, be sure to pickup a map which gives information about many of the people and history of Apalachicola buried there.  The Chestnut Cemetery is open during daylight hours. The cemetery is on U.S. 98. There isn’t any parking at the cemetery so we parked nearby and walked to the entrance. The Chestnut Cemetery is very interesting and worth a look.

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Chestnut Cemetery

We would liked to have stay longer but we needed to get on down the road. We will be coming back (hopefully soon) to explore more and to see the museums that were closed… Apalachicola, Florida; A Small Gulf Coast Town you need to visit… You will be glad you did…

The Loneliest Highway In America

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The Loneliest Highway in America

This past summer we drove out to San Diego to visit our daughter and her family. On our return from San Diego to Texas we took a different route back to see a different part of the country. We have done this many times over the years of traveling to see our daughter. It has allowed us to see much of the western United States… but we still have more to see.

On this trip we drove a portion of US Highway 50. We picked up Highway 50 at the tip of Lake Tahoe in California and drove east through Nevada and Utah.

It all started when Janet picked up a brochure titled “The Loneliest Highway In America”. In July of 1986, Life Magazine ran a negative article about the Nevada State Highway 50 titled “The Loneliest Road.” AAA  described Nevada State Highway 50 route through Nevada this way: “It’s totally empty” and advised traveling a different route unless you are confident of your survival skills. Nevada officials, wisely, seized on the phrase “The Loneliest Road” as a marketing slogan. US 50 covers large desolate areas, with signs of civilization few and far between. This sounded like something Janet and I would like… so we drove it.

US 50 crosses several large scenic desert valleys separated by several mountain ranges. It has many little-known and unique places of interest, and most of these places are free to see. Also US 50 roughly follows the path of the Pony Express riders. The route included Baker, Ely, Eureka, Austin, Fallon, Silver Springs and on to Sacramento.

Virginia City, Nevada

Our first stop was Virginia City. Virginia City is just 7 miles off of US 50.

Virginia City sprang up as a mining town sitting atop the Comstock Lode. The Comstock Lode was the first major silver deposit, discovered in the United States in 1859. At its peak, Virginia City had over 15,000 residents. Today, the population of Virginia City is about 855. There is some mining activity in the area still but today Virginia City’s main industry seems to be tourism.

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Man with his pet owl in Virginia City, NV

Virginia City has several buildings from the time it was a boom town. The most notable artifact is the Suicide Table. It’s an old Faro Bank Table dating from the 1860s, claimed to be responsible for the deaths of three of its owners. Loses at the table caused the losers to depart this world at their own hands. The Bucket of Blood Saloon, the Old Globe, the Silver Queen and The Red Dog Saloon are some of the more colorful buildings.

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Virginia City

Virginia City has been a Historical District since being declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.

Janet and I spent the afternoon leisurely walking the main street visiting all the shops, taking lots of pictures, learning bits of history here and there and visiting with the many friendly local folks about town.

There are many other things in town and in the area. Our time was limited so we will need to return at a later date to see more.

Grimes Point Petroglyphs

Grimes Point Petroglyphs are about 10 miles east of Fallon, Nevada, just off US 50 to the left. Look close or you might miss the turn.

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Grimes Point Petroglyphs

Janet and I enjoy learning about Native American history. This was a good site and a nice little hike in the early morning. I found myself as always imagining what life was like back then. If rocks could talk… or better yet… If we could only read what the rocks were telling us. Archaeologists believe the petroglyphs here are not a form of writing. They may depict constellations, hunting areas, or markers of some kind.

Grimes Point was first visited by Native Americans about 8,000 years ago. You can view petroglyphs along a short, self-guided interpretive trail. We picked up a brochure at the parking area. Some of the petroglyphs are very faint and hard to see in the early morning sun light. Look closely or you will miss some of them.

This is a must stop if you have the time…

 

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The Shoe Tree

The Shoe Tree

The story goes something like this… There are several versions…  A newlywed couple driving to California pulled over to rest under this large Cottonwood tree. They soon got into an argument. The bride threw a pair of the groom’s shoes into the large Cottonwood tree. In revenge, he grabbed a pair of her shoes and tossed them into the tree… Who knows what really happened except, now everyone stops to see the shoes in the tree and some add to the shoes already in the tree. If you head that way, it is a good place to rid yourself of some old shoes and add to the stories and speculation…

Stokes Castle

Stokes Castle, located just outside Austin, Nevada , is a three-story stone tower built by Anson Phelps Stokes. Stokes was a miner, banker and railroad magnate. Stokes began building the Castle as a summer home in 1896 and completed it in 1897.

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Stokes Castle outside of Austin, Nevada

The castle was patterned after a tower in the Roman Campagna in Italy.    The kitchen and dining room were located on the first floor, the second floor contained the living room with a balcony and on the third floor were two bedrooms with balconies.

The Stokes family lived in the Stokes Castle only for a short time. In the summer of 1898, they sold their mine, the milling equipment, and the castle.

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Mining equipment at Stokes Castle

This is a must see when traveling through Austin. The Castle sits atop a hill overlooking the town and countryside. Quite a view and I could see why Mr. Stokes picked this spot for his home. It is in near ruin now and fenced off and can only be seen through the fence. We could only imagine what it was like in its hey-day. There are remains of some of the mining equipment near the home and what appears to be mining tailings just down the hill.

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Grocery store in Eureka, Nevada

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Eureka Opera House

Small Towns

There are several small towns along the route (Baker, Ely, Eureka, Austin, Fallon, Silver Springs). We love small towns and stop every  chance we get. We enjoy learning the history and visiting with real ‘down to earth’ people who live there. We stopped in Eureka, Nevada  at the Owl Club Bar & Steakhouse for lunch. The good food and friendly staff made it a great choice. After lunch we took a stroll to checkout more of Eureka. The small grocery took me back to my childhood. The grocery reminded me of the small grocery we shopped at growing up in rural Texas. The store was small physically but they managed to get a lot into the small space. The shelves were wooden made just for the store. Every inch of space was use to display a variety of goods just like the store from my childhood. Old memories are always good no matter how they are triggered.

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Double Rainbow on the Loneliest Highway in America

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Loneliest Highway in America

The Great Basin

The highway passes through several large desert valleys between many mountain ranges that tower over the valleys, in what is known as the Basin and Range province of the Great Basin. It’s hard to describe the beauty we experienced traveling this highway. We saw beautiful valleys, majestic vistas and native animals along the way. I saw some the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen. One rainbow was a complete double rainbow.  Just an incredible sight to behold…

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Loneliest Highway in America

We are glad we chose this route. My only regret is we were traveling by car instead of motorcycle. Needless to say I have added “The Loneliest Highway in America” to my “Ride Bucket List”. Stay tuned for that ride.

While you are here, you may like these post, too…

Come follow along as we explore more scenic vista’s in Texas…

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Ironman Triathlon in Coeur d’ Alene. Idaho 2014

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Being a tourist before the Ironman

This past June we traveled to the Ironman Triathlon in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho to see our daughter Katie and son-in-law Ben run in the Triathlon. This was our first time to be in Coeur d’ Alene and it won’t be our last. The city of Coeur d’ Alene is named for the lake it is on. The lake is beautiful and is surround by scenic mountains with beautiful sun sets and sun rises. Coeur d’Alene is surrounded by dozens of lakes left by the glaciers of the Ice Age. Lake Coeur d’Alene is more scenic and offers many activities in and around the lake. We were impressed not only with the scenery of Coeur d’ Alene and the surrounding area but the people were some of the friendliest people we have met on any of our travels.

Travel, Ironman Triathlon, Coeur d’ Alene Idaho

Katie getting ready for the 2.4 mile swim

Travel, Ironman Triathlon, Coeur d’ Alene Idaho

Ben and Katie on the 26.2 mile (i.e. A marathon) run.

Ironman Coeur d’Alene started in 2003 and is held each year on the fourth Sunday in June. Triathletes start their day with a 2.4-mile (3.9 km) swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene, followed by a 112-mile (180 km) bike ride and finish with a 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run for a total of 140.6 miles (226.1 km). The city is a gracious host and made us as well as the triathletes feel welcome. The weather for this year’s triathlon couldn’t have been better. The weather was partly cloudy, with mild temperatures and a slight wind. The wind was probably the most problematic for the triathletes. This was the second Ironman for Ben this year. Ben will do two other Ironman’s later this summer. I don’t have a clue how he or anyone else can do one much less, four in one summer.

Ben and Katie stayed together for the race and finished together. This was the first time they had done this and they said it made the race that more enjoyable. Katie had a problem with her bike on the bike ride. She was glad Ben was there to help get her back on her way. This was our first time to see them do an Ironman. The beautiful location, the people of Coeur d’ Alene and the great weather all made for a good time. Janet and I look forward to doing it again.

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The end of a perfect day…

More pictures and video… Below is a video I put together of Ben and Katie’s race.

For more information about Ben and Katie’s races and what it takes to be a triathlete checkout their website here.  www.TriFit-XT.com

A Waitress Is Like a Box of Chocolates

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Morgan our waitress and good sport at the Rock City Diner

To coin a phrase… “A waitress is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you will get.” It’s always a joy to get one you can connect with. One who can give as good as she gets.

A few weeks ago we rode the Blue Ridge Parkway and stayed in Mount Airy, North Carolina. After a long day riding and seeing some of the most scenic landscapes there is to see in the Smokey Mountains we were ready to call it a day. The Rock City Diner was just beside our motel and was a short walk to some good food and great service.

There were eight in our group and we all had a good time joking around about the day and our ride. Morgan, our waitress, had no problem joining in and visiting with us. She could have easily been part of our group. Morgan was a great waitress and an even better sport.

I hope her boss is reading this. She deserves a raise in pay for putting up with our humor and she gave us the best service too.

Oh, I need to mention the food was as good as the wait staff. If you are in Mt. Airy you need to stop by The Rock City Diner and tell them the Texas Rambler sent you.

Check back later for more posts from our Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle ride. Until then here is a video of our ride.

Favorite Photos from Our Motorcycle Travels

This is a collection of our favorite photos from our motorcycle travels. Over the years we have ridden many miles, to some of the most scenic places here in the U.S.. We have taken a lot of photo’s… Some of them , in my opinion, are good… But then it is hard not to take a few good ones when you have such scenic subject matter. Many of these pictures are found in post in this blog. Each picture caption has a link to the post for those of you who would like to read and see more… or you may want to ride or drive to see them. The post have many details to help with planning your trip.

For more photos of our rides, checkout “The Texas Rambler” Facebook page. And don’t forget to give us a LIKE to see more of our future adventures and travels…

Below are some of the rides we have done over the years. There might be one for you. Check them out.

If you liked these rides there are more to come. Don’t miss any ride post. Look for the “Subscribe to Texas Rambler via Email” at the bottom left column to receive notifications of new posts by email. Also please take some time to leave us a comment. We always love hearing from y’all…

“Have Goldwing Will Travel”… Ride safe…

The Church Members Are Gone…

Abandoned church, worship

East of Fort Sumner, NM off US-84

It’s obvious the church members are gone… but there is more to this church when you have a closer look… Recently Janet and I were returning from visiting our daughter and her family in San Diego. When we return we take the opportunity to travel a different route each time. This gives us a chance to see different parts of the country between California and Texas.

Janet and I like anything old… homes, barns… churches, etc. While driving through Fort Sumner, New Mexico Janet spotted an old abandoned church just off US-84 on the east side of town. I turned around and went back just for Janet… It was a small one room church. It had been abandoned for some time. As always I found myself wondering about all the people who have attended this church over the many years. Love, sadness and joy have been held within these walls.

Standing outside I could see graffiti on the walls… obviously left by people who have little respect for much of anything… Entering the building I found there was not that much graffiti… Surprisingly, what I found really touched me. There were many notes written on the wall left by past visitors… Earnest notes of praise, prayers and confessions… from their hearts.

The church members have gone but this little church is still a place of worship …

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Mel’s Hard Luck Diner Branson Missouri

Mel's Hard Luck Diner Branson Missouri A visit to Branson is not complete without at least one meal from Mel’s Hard Luck Diner, a 50’s style restaurant, home of Branson’s original singing servers. The diner’s servers, hosts, cooks, and cashiers are also professional singers, song writers, and musicians. You are always greeted with a smile, served great food and entertained by great singers. A show for the price of a meal… This is our third trip to Branson in two years and of course we ate at Mel’s again. My brother Gary and his wife Ginny were our travel companions on this trip. Gary and Ginny have been to Branson many times but they have never been to Mel’s until now! They will be back! Singer Kelly Bryant Mel's Hard Luck Diner Branson Missouri We discovered Mel’s on our first trip to Branson two years ago. We eat there every chance we get. On this visit when we being seated, I ask if Kelly Bryant was working and if so I wanted to be seated at one of her tables. We met Kelly two years ago and she is my favorite singer at Mel’s. On our first visit, Kelly sang the gospel song “I Call It Home”. I had never heard the song before and immediately loved it. After buying one of Kelly’s CD’s with that song, it has since become my favorite gospel song. Singer Kelly Bryant Mel's Hard Luck Diner Branson Missouri Kelly was working and it was a pleasure visiting with her again. On our first visit Kelly (a displaced Texan) ask where we would go on vacation in Texas if we had the choice between Galveston and South Padre. We told her South Padre hands down. So I had to ask Kelly were they ended up going. They chose South Padre and Kelly excitedly told us how much She and her family enjoyed it. I know we weren’t the only ones who gave her that advice but it was nice to know she and her family really enjoyed South Padre. South Padre is Janet’s and my favorite Texas beach. I requested Kelly sing “I call It Home” again. When she sang, she said it was her favorite song too. Kelly did a great job as usual and we enjoyed it very much. Singer Kelly Bryant CD "A little Bit of Heaven" If you are ever in Branson you have to eat at Mel’s and if Kelly is working tell her hello for us. I’m no talent expert but I know what I like and I like all the singers at Mel’s.  Each singer has CD’s available for purchase. So help them out, they always appreciate your support. Mel’s… great atmosphere, great food and great entertainment… we will definitely be going back on our next visit. I hope we see you on the road somewhere… Ride safe…