Thursday, October 31, 2013

Weekend in New Bern, NC With Bill and Mary;Last night on the road

This was written mostly on Tuesday evening, when we were in Asheville, NC.  I didn't get it completely finished or Trisha's editing done before we left, so I'm just finishing it up back home here in Cherry Log, on Thursday morning:

After spending a wonderful week in and around Baltimore with our good friends Mickey and Sharon, we bade them adieu and headed to New Bern, NC to visit our friends Bill and Mary--Trisha, Bill and I all met as college freshmen nearly 50 years ago, and have been fast friends ever since.  Bill and his wife, Mary, both work in care support/counseling for Marines and their families at Cherry Point, and last year Trisha married their son and his bride.

Stopped briefly at Chincoteague to take a bike ride--many, many memories of camping here and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland back when we were in the Army, stationed in DC.  So we rode for a bit and then jumped back in the RV to head on to New Bern.

We had an absolutely fabulous weekend with Bill and Mary, catching up, relaxing, laughing, playing lots of cards and learning several other new board games from them, and reveling in the fact that we've all been such close friends for so many years.  They were so sweet to go all out to find vegan recipes for meals, since neither of them are vegan, but they cooked up some super delicious food.  Saturday we went downtown and had a wonderful time walking around this charming town, visiting the farmers market and lots of wonderful little shops.  New Bern has several wonderful galleries downtown and we had fun in this one gallery, housed in an old bank building--all of us and the docent were swapping interpretations of this one painting.  Amazing how different people can see such different things in the same painting!  We had a delightfully leisurely and late lunch at this fabulous Indian restaurant owned by some friends of Bill and Mary's--always love to go to Indian restaurants, since there are so many vegan choices.  We had the best yellow lentil soup we've ever tasted!

After returning to their house for a few more games in the afternoon, we went back downtown for the annual Ghost Walk, the theme this year was the Haunted Wives of New Bern.  They've been doing this for several years, with local actors and volunteers taking on the personas of the "ghosts" of various New Bern residents.  They did little vignettes about their lives and the times in which they lived, and it was really interesting.  We started in the cemetery, where we were first greeted by the Grim Reaper--we were joking with him about being nice to us since we were getting older and he responded, "Fine, I'll see you Tuesday!"  What a hoot!  Several other ghosts in the cemetery were very entertaining, including a young couple who had been in the Civil War--telling their story of how the woman didn't want to be separated from her new husband, so she cut her hair and enlisted under a man's name.  Their ruse was eventually discovered when she was shot and, as she described, "When the doctor went digging in my shoulder to find the bullet, he found something else too!"  As we had learned on our Civil War tour with Mickey and Sharon, it was not uncommon during the Civil War for women to disguise themselves as men to enlist, something I had either not learned during my school time study of the period or had completely forgotten.  Then it was off on a walking tour of many of the lovely old homes in downtown New Bern, many on the Historical Register, to hear from some of the original owners.  It was a lovely clear evening, cool, but not so cold as to be uncomfortable, and we just had the best time.  Sunday we had a leisurely morning, reading the paper out on their lovely sunporch, playing more games and then taking a nice long walk through their neighborhood and a Civil War battleground park near their house.  Just a wonderful time with old friends--hard to beat these last couple of weeks!

Monday we said our goodbyes to Bill and Mary and drove to Asheville.  It is one of our favorite places, and we just wanted to come this way through the mountains with which we're so familiar on our way home.  We spent the night in a wonderful RV park--Wilson's Riverside RV Park--recommended by fellow View owner and blogger Suzanne--and her recommendation turned out to be really super!  It's a small park, but all the sites are on nice, roomy, level concrete slabs, and we have a site right on the French Broad River.  Can't beat that at all!  This morning we got up to nice brisk weather, and had a wonderful 10 mile ride along the French Broad River Greenway and Bikepath, which connects three different municipal parks.  The path is not really that long, but we did several out and back laps, since it's all paved and off road.  Some of it goes through some lovely woods, mostly along the river, and into  one park where there is a super outdoor velodrome-style track for biking.  It was great!  Then we drove into downtown Asheville for a fabulous lunch at Rosetta's Kitchen, fast gaining ground in our minds for our favorite vegan/vegetarian restaurant.  We have always loved the Laughing Seed, but we discovered Rosetta's Kitchen in June when we were here for Trisha to do Tilly and Dave's wedding.  We were planning on splitting our eating out between Rosetta's and Laughing Seed, but the Seed was closed today, so we had both lunch and dinner at Rosetta's.  One of the really cool things about this place is that they have a program called Everybody Eats--each day they offer the rice and beans plate, which costs them $2 to make, to enable them to buy the local ingredients and pay their employees.  But here's the neat thing--they sell it on a sliding scale for $2 to $6, based on whatever you are motivated to pay, and the balance over $2 goes to a fund for hungry people.  So someone who can't afford the $2 meal can get a voucher for the meal from this fund.  Really a wonderful way to pay forward.  I really like this idea, so even though we didn't have the rice and beans plate, we made a donation to the fund.  We had this wonderful spicy tomato/avocado/coconut soup, with a blackeyed pea tempeh burrito for lunch, and tonight we had pad thai, sauteed kale and tempeh on rice with gravy--and a couple of absolutely out of this world totally vegan cookie/crumble desserts!  Figured that for our last night out on the road, we could splurge a little.

And, yes, folks, this (Tuesday) is our last night on the road--tomorrow we'll drive to Chattanooga to stop by Camping World to get an estimate on some work we need to have done on the RV, and then back home to Cherry Log.  This has been an incredible, beyond-words adventure the last seven months--37 states and over 23,000 miles, a trip of a lifetime for us!  Looking back on when we first started, we knew it would be fun, but it has exceeded even our wildest expectations.  Not only have we been able to see so many stunningly beautiful sights, including many places in this awesome country we'd never seen before, but we've also been able to visit with many, many friends across the country.  We've met some really wonderful new friends along the way as well, folks I feel sure we'll keep in contact with going forward.  But more than any of these things, this trip has been like a new beginning for us--the first pages in this new chapter of our lives, that of being retired together; an opportunity to have a second honeymoon, to be able to spend so much time together and find that, contrary to the skeptical thoughts of some folks (LOL!), being in this cozy little carhouse has brought us even closer together,   realizing that the love we've shared for these past 45 years of marriage is stronger now than ever before; and beginning a new and healthier lifestyle, committing to a plant based diet and lots of exercise, seeing just how much more full and enjoyable our lives can be.  I'm reminded of the sentiments expressed by Alan Shepard, the first US astronaut to travel to outer space on his return--"Man, what a ride!"

I've thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog, chronicling our adventures along our way, and for all of you who have posted supportive and complimentary comments, I deeply appreciate it.  We've enjoyed having you along on the trip!  So I'll sign off for the time being, as Santa has a busy couple of months ahead back home, delighting in the smiles and joy of so many children with the magic of Christmas! We'll so enjoy having all of our family together at Thanksgiving, especially with Jeremy being home from Cambodia, his first Thanksgiving and Christmas home in 5 years!  But sometime next year, Trisha and I will again climb aboard HAPPYX2 for more adventure and I'll fire up the blog once again.  Until then, may the road rise to meet you, may the wind be at your back, and remember boys and girls, when you share love, it's Christmas every day!!

Some sights on our bike ride on Chincoteague

Downtown New Bern--haven't seen Spanish moss in quite a while!

 They go all out with Halloween decorations

 One of the beautiful old houses, site of one of the ghost tours

 Hey, not so fast, we're not ready yet!
Okay, I'll see you Tuesday!
 The first two greeters in the cemetery

 Mary, listening to the ghost of William Gaston, a local lawyer in the mid-1800's
Mary and Bill
 The ghost of William Gaston--later we visited his old law office, hosted by another ghost, his mother!
 I haven't forgotten you!!
 The Civil War couple
 Trisha always love to find angels in cemeteries
 A WWII veteran, who lost his leg in the war
 A young firefighter, who died trying to rescue a young mother and her son on a boat burning out in the river

 This lady was so funny--a real social climber back in the day, so jealous of the neighbors just down the street, who had a much bigger house!
 The object of her envy
 The backyard patio of the women's bridge club gathering from the 1920's
Leaving New Bern--so beautiful by the water!

 On the drive to Asheville

 Gorgeous trees in Wilson's Riverfront RV Park, along the French Broad River in Asheville

 View of the river from our campsite

Selfie on the Greenway bike path
 Just a gorgeous ride on this paved path along the river
 Outdoor velodrome in Carrier Park

 Wednesday morning, Trisha just had to take pictures of me doing this necessary RVing task for the last time on the trip!!

 Driving home through the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains
 We saw some incredible mountains all over the country, but, ya know, there's just nothing like the sights of home, wherever that is for each of us--just love these North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia mountains!

And here we are, home sweet home--these are the views we have outside our breakfast room window

 And this one is the view from our sunroom, off the kitchen, where we love to sit and enjoy our morning coffee
 Looking out over the back deck

 And one last shot in the sunroom