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To TampaLessee, where was I in the Sun Seeker saga?  We had just checked into our luxurious villa, experienced a day of rain and were ready to set off on an adventure.

One of the staff who could be heard through the chaos recommended Clearwater Beach as the loveliest of beaches an hour and a half away.  We decided to go there on a fishing expedition – no not real fishing for real fish – just an exploratory run to see if we wanted to go back for more sunning or more of anything.  Clearwater is on the west coast of Florida.  I was born and raised on the east coast, so this was relatively uncharted territory.

Clearwater Beach Pier

And off we went for a delightful trip until encountering Tampa traffic, but eventually we came upon the loveliest of wide white sand beaches with a grand walkway and lots of things to look at and admire.  We walked and walked, stopped for lunch at a loud, crowded diner, and visited a tourist center.

Baby Bungee Jumping at Clearwater Beach

Baby Bungee Jumping at Clearwater Beach

“Yep, we said, we can come back here tomorrow and

change into our swim suits and bring a picnic, etc.  This is the life!”

“You have come at the absolute worst time of year to Clearwater,” said the volunteer at the tourist center, “Because it’s spring break!”  Uh oh!  We never thought of that.  No wonder everything is so crowded and the traffic is so bad.  “I would advise you to get out of town before 3:30,” he also said, or you will be in horrendous rush hour traffic going back through Tampa.”  Uh oh!  Never thought of that either.

“When is the best time to come to Clearwater Beach?” I asked. 

“April,” he said.

So my advice to you dear blog-us-fear friends is to consider Clearwater Beach, Florida as an ultimate destination, but only in April!

Stay tuned…..

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Heading South

Heading South

“Let’s go south,” said Bill.  It was a bleak frigid morning with yet another forecast for plow-worthy snow.  “Great idea!” I said, “But I don’t want to go to Disney World.”  And we agreed, “Been there, done that.”

And off we went on a car trip to Kissimmee, Florida.  Guess where that is!  Almost next door to Disney World.   But we could get a luxurious villa there via our timeshare exchange and with steeled resolve we set off driving to the sunshine state determined to avoid Disney.  Well, maybe we would go to Universal Studios.  Maybe.

We stopped en route at a recognizable motel in South Carolina.  The sign was welcoming but the room reeked.  The paint was peeling.  And the john only worked with 5 flushes!  “It has to get more magical than this,” I thought and asked Bill, “Are we there yet?”

Not our Motel, but the Next Door Neighbor!

Not our Motel, but the Next Door Neighbor!

Next day we arrived via hoardes of traffic at an enormous resort with thousands of people checking in.  Crowds tend to make me nervous.  A bit on edge, I managed to keep smiling and acting cooperative as we were  herded in bank-type lines from station to station, asked to produce identification and credit cards at least three times, were numbered and given official looking papers to sign.

 

Timeshare Check-In Place - Note Blue Sky

Timeshare Check-In Place – Note Blue Sky

The noise was so deafening from all those people it was hard to understand any instructions (if there were any). And in spite of pre-registering via email, the check-in process was something like going through Check Point Charlie before the Berlin wall came down.

Finally we were escorted to a beautiful villa.  And lo and behold, the weather was warm enough for short sleeves and I could feel the sun healing my frozen face.  “Ahhh, this is the life!”

Westgate Villas Reflections

It rained all day the next day.

Each day thereafter was filled with sunshine and blue skies and so began our adventure sans Disney.

Stay tuned…..

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Disney_World_-_Entrance_sign_-_by_inkiboo

Hello favorite blogger friends!

My apologies for an unremarkable absence from the blog-us-fear.

If I have been suspiciously silent it is because Bill and I drove south to escape the cold and periodic snow and ice storms plaguing Camelot.

We went to Florida and stayed very near to Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

Since Bill and I are now over the hill adults, we tried to forget Disney.

Imagine being so close to a child’s fantasy realm and not going!   Well, “been there – done that” (with and without the young-uns), so this time we were there for sun burning and grown up fun stuff.

The escape to sunshine was successful.

The rest requires a lot of sleep.

Stay tuned…….

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Golden Hibiscus

If I could “show and tell” about my Thanksgiving vacation that began in California, I would send you this golden hibiscus that simply glows on it’s bright blue background.  To me, this one little flower symbolizes the spirit of a state that normally boasts brilliant sunshine, things that grow and magnificent views of everything from stunning valley-scapes to astounding color.

Bill and I began our journey in La Mesa – San Diego – land of (almost) perfect temperatures, great people, food to live for, and stupendous views.

Just lounging on my brother’s deck I could see far far into the distance where the city dwellers bustle about and the lights twinkle along with the stars at night.   But that wasn’t all.

We were taken just “up the street” from their home to the top of Mt. Helix!  I could not even imagine how shockingly beautiful this view could be as I stood with my lovely sister-in-law ooohing and aaaahing in breathless wonder.

From Mt. Helix in La Mesa, CA

Mt. Helix is evidently a photographer’s paradise, but even an amateur Dor can almost capture the fabulous long-range vision.

Sky-lit Cross at Mt. Helix

Sky-lit Cross at Mt. Helix

No doubt about it – California shines.  And the glow takes over even under cloudy skies as they illuminate an entire valley and fill observers with a sense of awe.

And in just a few days we felt drunk with the astounding sights and sounds in California.

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California Palm

Contrary to what you may have heard, California is cool.  Well, I don’t mean “cool” in the cool sense of the word.  I mean “chilly.”  At least it happened to be cool during the seven days Bill and I visited our family there just before Thanksgiving.

Now Californians like to pretend it’s always sunny and warm there.   This is undoubtedly true but when the temperature is in the 60’s and there’s a breeze off the mighty Pacific, well, C’mon guys – California is cool.

But it was our vacation so we happily dined in premier OUTSIDE seating at the local by-the-sea restaurant.  We  ignored the whipping winds and the fact that outside heaters were going.  We northerners donned jackets with our sunglasses and pretended to be regular old beachcombers albeit with slightly blue lips (and not just because we stayed in the water too long).

But yes, California is definitely cool.  And I don’t mean “cool” in the coolest sense of the word.  I mean California is also “hip” and a very fun place to be.  This only goes to show you can have it two ways.

Stay tuned for upcoming reviews of the sights, sounds and charm of Southern California, or How I Spent My Vacation in the Wild West.

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On the Road Again

On the Road Again

My friend, Nancy, of Not Quite Old, just wrote another of her hilarious posts.  This one was about sacrificing  her own time to do something with her husband; something he loves.  If you haven’t already found her blog I personally guarantee it will make you laugh out loud.

Anyway, Nancy was the inspiration to relate my own huge sacrifice, which I make at least once a year for the sake of marital bliss (and for stocking up on spousal IOU’s).

What is this Supreme Sacrifice?

 Getting in a car with Bill when the destination route is untried and unfamiliar.

Together we set off to explore uncharted highways and byways, but even an unexplored side street will qualify.

“What fun,” you say, “you must have an adventuresome marriage!”

Well, maybe not.

I think Bill thinks he wants to explore new places and discover new destinations and see the world.   And he thinks he will be able to accomplish this in our car.   And  he thinks he will know how to get wherever he is going.  “No problem Babe.  It will be fun!”  However, I know he is practicing the art of self deception and dragging me along with him down the rabbit hole.

Hope Springs 

We begin each journey with good intentions and hearts filled with good cheer and high hopes for a happy outcome.  After many years of marriage, however, I do have some mild concerns and downright jitters.

Sometimes I even break out in a rash.

My hero, Bill, is always the driver.  He is a wonderful driver.

There is only one problem though.

My hero gets LOST! 

And he does not get lost like normal heroes get lost. 

Sometimes he can actually see where he is going, but he still can’t get there. 

Other times, he is lost in a parking lot and goes around in circles, grumbling all the way.

He is even lost on routes once taken, like would you believe yesterday?

He inevitably overshoots turnoffs and winds up driving quite out of the way to make U-turns.

The grumbling escalates and he eventually resorts to profanity to help him find his way. (Note: this means I am failing in my assigned duties to navigate).

To prevent the escalation of frustration, I say yell, “NO, TURN LEFT!”

but he inevitably turns Right.

Then I say yell, “NO, STAY IN THIS LANE,”

but he is drifting onto an off ramp and hollering,

“SH–!&$%Xx!@o!”

Ask directions?   Ha!

Maps?  Ha! Ha!

“Don’t you have a GPS system or a smart phone?” you ask.

Of course we have a GPS system and it helps occasionally with astute concentration on my part. And we even have a smart phone!  But Bill is still always LOST, especially if I get complacent and file a nail or read something, or “heaven forbid” relax, even for a second.  Because when I look up, we are miraculously in unintended territory, and there are frustrated cries from the driver’s seat.

The Navigator

They say phobias begin when you are young.  When I was a girl and we went on family trips, my Dad appointed me The Navigator.  This great honor created anxiety in the effort to please.

Now, when entering a car with Bill, I am once again transformed into the Travel Leader, the Spirit Guide, the Person in Charge – ugghh – The Navigator!  Once again, I must get us where we are going and return us to familiar roads leading home, or back to the motel, or wherever it is we can disembark and feel safe again.

This is my durned duty.

And this is my ultimate sacrifice for marital bliss.

The enormity of the responsibility leaves  imagined heart palpitations, indigestion, bouts of worry, fear, guilt (if I can’t find the way), and finally exhaustion.  Definition of a phobia?  You bet.  I am terrified of getting lost!

Sometimes I think Bill notices the rash or if I am about to faint, because he agreed we should always take the same road to town, the same streets while there, and the same road back.  People wonder why we need directions to their homes or places of business in such a small town.  It’s because we are one-road-in-one-road-out folks.  Familiarity breeds contentment.

Well, not always.

There are vacations – fun filled adventures via automobile.  Our next trip is in the fall to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where there are really only two main roads and if you go down a side street, you wind up in the ocean.  Chances are good for a peaceful trip too, because we have been there – in the ocean – before.

Can anyone recommend a non-drowsy tranquilizer for a self-sacrificing Reluctant Navigator?

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Daily Prompt – Seven Days

You wake up tomorrow morning to find all your plans have been cancelled for the next seven days and $10,000 on your dresser. Tell us about your week.

beach2

What would I do with a whole week of no appointments, no obligations, no worries, and $10,000 to spend?  I would drive myself (and my husband) to Dulles Airport and book the first flight to a sunny beach!  Never mind packing!

The fact is, we have just come through a horrendous winter storm and have been left with no power.  It’s cold because winter is not yet over, and the landscape is even muddier and bleaker than it was before the 10 inches of snow.  It looked so beautiful at first though.

Better  is Better

We are fortunate indeed to have a little generator to turn on and off for water since our well pump is dependent upon electricity.  Flushing is important after all, and paper plates are running out.  And we are even luckier to have a wood stove that keeps the whole house cozy. We can cook some things on top (well, warm some things anyway).   Some people around us had to go to shelters and there are still thousands without power or any supplemental resources for survival.  So I am grateful.  Really I am.

O.K., so I should not complain!  I know.  I know.  But, even from this advantageous position, and thanks to WordPress (%&Xo!!$XXoO#*!),  I secretly find myself dreaming of barefoot strolls along the ocean, waking up to the sound of gentle waves upon the shore, relishing the soft breezes of a warmer clime and experiencing the ultimate luxury of being served breakfast in ultra luxurious accommodations. Add shopping, strolling, dining, and dancing on  balmy nights beneath the stars, and, no, it would certainly not take me long to go through $10,000 in a short seven days!

Selfish?  Yes.  But I told you this was a WordPress Dream didn’t I?

Mainly, with just a few add-on amenities, it’s a simple dream really, and I am simply a simple woman looking to escape winter.

It’s only for seven days!  What’s the big deal anyway?

And if you are now seeing me in a negative light for being un-philanthropic with the $10,000, please blame the Daily Prompt at WordPress!

 

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The Natural Bridge
Rockbridge County, Virginia

“I sometimes think of building a little hermitage at the Natural Bridge (for it is my property) and of passing there a part of the year at least.”   ~Thomas Jefferson, former owner of the Natural Bridge to William Carmichael, 1786

It has just occurred to me that the name of this blog is Virginia Views and I haven’t developed any posts with a touristic flavor.   I never tried my hand at travel writing, so this may be a challenge.  It’s definitely a departure from memorable meanderings around the countryside.   Well, “What the heck!” That’s an old fashioned way of saying, “Take ur chances.”  So, here goes!

Not far from me in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia is the awesome Natural Bridge.  The Bridge is an immense overpass formed by nature over hundreds of years ago.  It’s old!  Very Very old!  I still go there (and not just because I am THAT old!).  If you come for a visit, I will surely take you there too.  Ha!

Popular with Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries, the two biggest sights to see were Niagara Falls and you guessed it – Natural Bridge.  The latter has even been listed as one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World” and is one of the oldest tourist destinations in the U.S.  I repeat, “This bridge is OLD.”

EARLY BUNGEE JUMPING

To illustrate my point, note that guests at The Bridge (before the horseless carriage – the automobile) rode on horseback or by horse drawn carriage to explore the country side.  Braver guests could be lowered over the edge in a hexagonal steel cage to the accompaniment of a violinist!  Talk about an exciting vacation!  This could be the earliest precursor of bungee jumping!

GEORGE DIDN’T SLEEP HERE, OR DID HE?

AS the legend goes, in 1750 young George Washington surveyed The Bridge for Lord Fairfax.  They say he even carved his initials on the wall of the bridge and yes, by golly, you can see them from across the creek – “GW” – Gee Whiz!  That’s an old saying meaning “Wow!”

JEFFERSON OWNED A BRIDGE?

And this is not a legend.  This is true.   In 1774 Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres of land including The Natural Bridge from King George III of England for 20 shillings.  Wouldn’t you love to own a bridge?  It would be almost as good as owning an island.  Jefferson was a brilliant fellow, that’s for sure.

BUT NEVER MIND THE HISTORY,

PICTURE THIS…

A serene nature trail along Cedar Creek goes right through and underneath the great stone archway of the Magnificent Natural Bridge! You can amble along this trail that eventually leads to the waterfall that once helped to form the bridge.  It’s a lovely walk and when you look up, the tendency is to stop in awe.  Like a physical blow to the gut, there is a stunned, almost overwhelming reaction to the sight of this enormous structure.  You see, the creek carved out a gorge in the mountainous limestone terrain to form a natural arch 215 feet high with a span of 90 feet!

How’s this for my first travelogue?  If you come this way for a visit, don’t miss The Natural Bridge!

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