Thursday, March 09, 2017

On the Road Again to Hot Springs and Gulf Shores Part 1

I just returned from a great trip in my RV - I guess I need to name her one of these days!

Michael always said going on vacation with me is like going on a forced march, in this case I guess he was right. When I retire I am going to slow down and enjoy a little more. I love seeing lots of things, I just would like to not have such time limitations.

I was in a hurry to get to Hot Springs and soak but I did take time to stop to take a few photos on the way.

One place was the Murray Mill. It is on Balls Creek and has a 28-foot waterwheel. It is open seasonally, I was just a few days too early. It's just off I-40 not far from Hickory.

It was built in 1913 and is surrounded by outbuildings, including the Murray and Minges General Store, the Wheathouse, the John Murray House and other small buildings.

Inside are millstones used for grinding corn and roller mills for grinding the wheat into flour.

Here is a link for more information.

I used to draw this type of things, I don't any more but am still interested in looking at them!

I own a grindstone, which is considerably smaller than these, that came from Grindstone City in Michigan. It is in the thumb of Michigan and when I was a child you could just go up there and pick them up, it is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places so I'm sure that practice has stopped. If you are interested here is more information about it.  We also had a Grindstone City grindstone as a step into our home on Woerner Road at Manitou Beach, Michgian.

Right around the corner from Murray Mill is Bunker Hill Covered Bridge. It is one of only two covered bridges remaining in North Carolina. It was built in 1895 and they have created a nice little park so you have a nice place to park. For more information about the bridge.

On the way back to I40 I spotted this unusual skeleton. 

Upon closer examination I realize he is really Joseph with Mary by his side. Baby Jesus seems to be missing but his bed is there. You never know what you'll see if you pay attention!

I made a quick stop in Asheville at Highwater Clay to pick up some glaze then headed west. It started to rain and I decided I'd better get off the road. I took the next turnoff I saw for camping and what a treat it turned out to be.

I have been camping since I was a child. My folks took us to Canada and all over Northern Michigan and I continued to camp as an adult. Over the past 30 years I've camped in a 1967 VW Bus, a 2003 VW Eurovan, and now have a 2012 Pleasure Way Sprinter and in them have camped all over the country. So I have been in a lot of campgrounds and I can say the one I found that day was the nicest one I have ever been in.

They weren't open for the season yet, I was a few days early but they said everything was turned on so I was welcome to stay. 

The campground is on Lake Douglas in Tennessee and the view was wonderful. Each site was paved and landscaped with stone, grass, a fire place or a fire pit. The bathrooms were tiled and everything looked brand new. I was surprised when they said it was four years old. It has all the amenities pool, basket ball court, gold carts to rent, wifi, cable tv, etc. I give it a 5+!!

In my next post I'll talk about stops in Jackson, Tennessee, Memphis and other places along the way.

You may ask, what does this have to do with art and Carolina Creations.... it's how I get my inspiration, how I find new artists and how I get renewed.

Monday, March 06, 2017

A Quick Trip to Baltimore and the Inner Harbor

From Philadelphia I journeyed to Baltimore.

There I like to stay at the Hyatt or the newly renovated Sonesta because of the views of the Inner Harbor.

From Philadelphia I journeyed to Baltimore.

There I like to stay at the Hyatt or the newly renovated Sonesta because of the views of the Inner Harbor.

I usually have no time to look around while I'm there but this time I did. My first stop was the Visionary Museum - I could see Volis Simpson's sculpture from my hotel room! I've stared at the sculpture for years and finally got to go. Michael and I met Volis several times in his workshop when we would take visitors to view his amazing wind sculptures near Wilson, NC. We have a small one on the corner of our third floor balcony. I've written other blog posts about him.

Volis Simpson Park in Wilson

Vollis Simpson

I was pleased to see that they acknowledged him in the elevator!

I loved a lot of things in the this museum including the 
beautiful glass and mirror mosiacs on the outside.

This crazy lady.

This wall art made out of bread!

From the Visionary Museum I took the water Taxi to Fells Point.

I had gone the night before via taxi, the taxi ride out was ok, the driver very nice and helpful.

The taxi ride back was not, the driver talked on his phone the entire time in a foreign language and was downright rude when we asked for a receipt.

I would highly recommend the water taxi instead, It cost $8 for all day plus who doesn't love a boat ride.

As far as Fells Point goes, the only real attraction there right now are the restaurants, if you aren't going to eat I wouldn't bother. It has been cleaned up quite a bit since my last visit 5 or 6 years ago.

One of the things I saw on my way that was really cool was this water vessel.

We pulled up right beside it and I wondered what in the world it was. When I got home I saw an article on facebook and thought "that's what it was!" Here's a link. 

It's a machine that picks trash out of the waterway.

Later that night I walked to the Walters Art Museum, which was very interesting and on the way saw this tower.

It's a Washington Monument that predates the Washington Monument in DC. You can walk up this one too. There is a small museum at the base. I'm told the view from the top is great.

The last stop for Baltimore was the Helmand Restaurant not far from the Monument and the Walters. The food is Afghani and the place was packed but we only had to wait a few minutes to be served. I gave it 4 1/2 stars!

Next stop New Bern, NC!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Walk Around Philadelphia and my recommendations

The main reason I stay at the Courtyard or the Residence Inn when I go to Philly is I get to look out the window at City Hall. I recommend both of these hotels.

The past few years when I've been there there has been scaffolding on the building while they cleaned it, this year the scaffolding is gone.

Obviously it has been a long time since I've walked through City Hall because I did not realize there was a garden on the other side from where I stay. It's called the Dilworth Garden and there is a maze there for the winter.

In case you haven't been city hall has a large courtyard in the middle of it! And I haven't done this but you can go up into the tower of city hall. The view must be incredible! Buy a ticket at the visitors center inside city hall and reserve a time, obviously there isn't room for a lot of people up there at once.

Just around the corner is Macy's in the Wanamaker Building, built in 1911. Wanamaker's was the first Department Store in Philadelphia. The most amazing thing about it is the huge organ in the atrium. The organ is from the St. Louis worlds fair and is the largest playable organ in the world.

It has been played daily since its installation. I always try to hear it each visit and this year happened to go upstairs to shoot this photo and was invited in to see the keyboard. Wow!

The weather was very nice for February, as I stated in a previous blog post, I've been there in some pretty cold and snowy weather. Took a stroll by Independence Hall. And other architectural beauties in the oldest part of town. A hint, lots of the shops in that part of town are closed on Mondays.

And the food is fabulous, there are so many great restaurants you could never eat at all of them but here are a few that I have eaten at.

Vedge is a vegetarian restaurant on Locust Street - my first time there, wow! The food was delicious (as was the Daiquiri or two we had made with lemongrass), and beautifully plated.

Didn't go to Moriarty’s this time but often do. Can't beat the burgers and over 150 kinds of beer.

But I did go to the Caribou Cafe. which I do every visit. I've had some of the best food I've ever eaten here and this time I was not disappointed.

I've never spent much time in China Town but did this time. I didn't have time to get my hair cut before I left New Bern so went to Perfect Cut and was very happy with both the cut and the price, I highly recommend it!

Of course my favorite murals in Philadelphia are the mosiacs by Isaiah Zagar I've written about before but there are fabulous murals all over downtown Philadelphia.

Other recommendations - Di Brunos Deli.

and of course the not to be missed Reading Terminal.

I've written about some of these places in other blog posts but never tire of visiting Philadelphia.
Here are links to those.
Magic Garden
Home from Philadelphia and Baltimore 2014

My only disappointment this time was that there were people approaching you at every turn asking for money. It's unfortunate that in our country of plenty we have so many people living on the streets.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

My Favorite in Philadelphia the Magic Garden

I've been to Philadelphia probably 20 times but don't always get a chance to do any sight seeing. The last time was in 2009 when I got stuck there during an historic blizzard. Everything was shut down. I was supposed to go home on Monday and didn't get there until Thursday.

It was beautiful, I tromped around the streets, sometimes walking down the middle in one of the two tracks. Once I got into the swing of it I had a great time. Of course not much was open and it was erie being on the streets, much of the time by myself.

 This time the wind was howling but there was no snow.

Taking a break from looking for art for Carolina Creations I walked about 30 blocks - to get a hair cut, visit Dick Blick Art Supply Store, the Visitors Center at Independence Hall, The Reading Terminal, and my favorite of all, the Magic Garden.

This time I got a special treat and even got to meet the artist Isaiah Zagar. I have to admit I always assumed he was some kind of odd ball but he's not! He's articulate, fascinating,  and passionate about his art.

For years we sought out his murals - my favorites being the mirrored ones.

Then in 2002 we noticed that you could tour his Magic Garden but for some reason we never did.

Until this time. Perhaps this is what I'll do in my side yard when I retire!!

Isaiah went to Pratt, married, spent 3 years in Peru and was fascinated with the folk art there.

He and his wife moved back to the US and bought a building on South Street which was a scary place in those days. The area was going to be demolished for an expressway so everything had moved out.

The expressway never happened and his building was the first one Zagar ever mosaiced. They had and still do have a gallery there where they sell folk art.

Other artists and shops moved in. They bought
another building (the current one attached to the Majic Garden) and he mosaiced that. Then started building his magic garden in 2 vacant lots beside. The owner of the lots wasn't happy with it but let it stay until property vallues rose to the point that he could sell the lots for $300,000.

Zagar didn't have that kind of money so was faced with having to bulldoze his work. After the press got ahold of the story a group of civic minded professionals stepped forward and made the Magic Garden into a non profit institute and purchased the land.

It's a fascinating visit!  

 I need to remember 3 parts cement 1 part sand.