Saturday, May 21, 2016

Blessings of the Heart

When I posted a few weeks ago, we were preparing to leave Delaware heading to New Jersey.  We shared about our visits with Jim and Tanya, 

and Jim and Joella

Jim showed us where to board the ferry that took us to Cape May, New Jersey and the start of the next leg of the journey back to New England. (A model of the ferry in front of the terminal.)

Cape May was a location where we would meet with friends of mine of over fifty years - Harriet, Nick and Janet. When I was in Philadelphia in the 60s, going to school at UPenn Veterinary School, I had student employment in a lab with these women. They have been dear and valued friends through all the years of our adult lives. Now they are embraced as special friends with Latona and I.

Harriet and Nick purchased a vacation home in Cape May and we finally had a chance for a visit to see this spot.  Janet planned to join us, so we had quite a reunion.

Harriet and Nick


Cape May Home

Although the weather was rainy and cool we had lots of great food to share like the Cape May scallops that Harriet broiled for us, and the Ratatouille she prepared.  We visited the Cape May State Park and had a real surprise on the way. A pond full of Mute Swans. I got a close up of this one.

I loved getting this picture of other birders on the other side of the pond.

Another fun time in Cape May came when we joined friends Joe and Marian from Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge who live in New Jersey,  All the friends had a chance to meet each other. Some places that we have lived seem to generate lifelong friends and BPKFL seems to one of those places!

Before we left Cape May, we had a visit from a female Bobwhite...right on the front lawn. Looking for a nesting spot I assume.  Cape May is on the flyway for many birds so had good birding there.😍

Too soon it was time to hug goodbye and head toward visits with my siblings. One sister, Sherry, and her husband Jim, live in Stockton, New we headed north from Cape May. We had been anticipating this visit and were so happy to see her and Jim, and to enjoy the beauty of there home.


Sherry made this beautiful afghan for us and added the pillow and some of her coveted cherry jam!

She also made homemade tomato soup and this heart-shaped crouton made especially for Latona.
We are so spoiled, and love every minute of it.

Sher and Jim have lots of bird houses and here is one of the Bluebird couples on top of their home.
    And one of the Tree Swallows that call the place home.
A Pileated Woodpecker who came by when we came out of the stream from our fishing.
The Rhodedendrons started blooming the day we left, filled with peace and joy and knowing that we would see them in a few days at a family gathering at my other sister's house.

Spotted Towhee in the hedges along the back yard.

Their home is so comfortable and provides many opportunities to see blooming trees, birds, deer, turkeys, AND lots of movies! They also took us to a wonderful dinner at the historic Clinton House, and Jim took me to chase the trout at his fishing club. He caught some beautiful rainbows and I enjoyed seeing him do it. I batted zero on the fish but won on the birds. When the sun hit the colours of the Sacrlet Tanager, I was "raptured" witnessing this spectacular natural beauty.

So, again, it was time to hug goodbye and head along into Pennsylvania and Dotty and Forry's house.
They had recently acquired some pulleys so,we had FRESH eggs often.

Back view of their house.

First stop was Longwood Gardens.  We decided to head toward the fields and look for more birds.  A footnote here.  I have been trying to get pictures of as many birds as I can and hope to make a Birds - 2016 book at some point. My sisters have joined in with me on the search.

We saw both Orchard and Baltimore Orioles here as well as several sightings of the Indigo Bunting. So very beautiful and special.
Orchard Oriole

Baltimore Orioles

American Goldfinch

Indigo Bunting

Another day we took a day visit to New York City.  We have a tradition of a visit to either NYC or Washington DC. Dotty takes her vacation from her job so these days trips are wonderful for all of us.

New York Skyline from,bus window.

Visit to Hugh Jackmans coffee shop.

A big part of our trip this year included a visit to the National 911 Memorial. Overwhelming.

We also visited the Irish Hunger Memorial Park where my sister took a picture of Tone and me. This park is very special and worth a look on google.  It is really dedicated to world hunger awareness and a focus on this global issue.

The day after our visit in New York, Dotty had a family gathering so that we could spend time with my nephew Hank ((Google artist Hank Buffington), his wife and children.  We played scavenger hunt and pictionary and ate barbecue chicken and so much more and blueberry cheesecake from Sherry! It was a great day together but I failed to capture us all on the camera.😩

Another day we traveled through the farm country and visited a potato chip factory! We enjoyed the tour and tasting the warm chip only six minutes old.  

Wonderful to be able to see the Amish and Mennonite people living the dedicated lives they have chosen.  I admire much of their beliefs and certainly admire the work ethic displayed in the farms and homes.

We happened upon a pasture filled with mares and their new foals.

The next day we ventured into Philadelphia.  Dotty took us to the Mutter Museum at the College of Physicians. We saw medical oddities and some very sad displays.

We were also able to walk through the Rodin Museum and saw one of his statues - The Thinker.

The goal was a visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary, the first prison built in our country. It aimed at reform rather than punishment. It was built in in 1829 and closed in 1971. Al Capone was jailed here for a while in quite luxurious surrounding compared to other prisoners.

We did learn that Ben Franklin was part of the group that were the first to promote prison reform.

In addition to our visits to so many interesting sites we commuted by this farm where we could enjoy the new piglets and their antics. This sow was keeping a close eye on us.

Finally got a fairly decent shop of a house wren for the bird book!

On our final night, Dotty and Forry treated us to a wonderful dinner at the Ugly Oyster.  This authentic Irish Guiness pub had been built in Yorkshire England and then reassembled in Reading Pa by the same craftsmen.

What a wonderful time we had that night! But once again, it was time to move along and say goodbye to Dotty. But we had one final trip to share - a stop at our fathers grave in the National Veterans Cementery in Indiantown Gap. 

We hugged Dotty goodbye, always with a joyful heart for our visit but a sad heart having to say goodbye. We arrived soon at my brothers house and I wanted to add this pictures of the hands that represent all the years of his hard work. It is wonderful to be here now with Nancy and Joe.  We also get to see friend Hoppy!

Here we are now after seven months of travel, only a few days from seeing our children and grandchildren, but so very blessed by the rich times we have shared with our friends and family. It is difficult to express how grateful I am for all the riches I am given in my life. And, of course, I am so grateful for the love of the wonderful woman who spends each day of my life with me.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Heading North Along the Atlantic Coast

After visiting Mom, spending a day a Merritt Island, and walking on our beloved Cumberland Island (the last blog), we headed along the coast and landed in Savannah. A friend in the Keys told us we could stay overnight at the visitor Center and use it as a hub for walking around the city. It was a great stop and allowed us to walk along the river, visit the Cathedral of John the Baptisit and explore the home of the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Lowe.

A statue on the River Walk. This woman saluted the ships as they passed in and out of the Harbor.

Cathedral of John the Baptist.

Her birthplace home. I was a Girl Scout. For several years, this group gave me positive self-esteem.
I am grateful to her and her vision.


There were so many things to see and experience.  We visited the Savannah Historial Museum and shared in the reanactment of the Battle of Savannah, and.

saw the statue of Johnny Mercer (Moon River fame) near the cafe where we had lunch in the City Market.

We walked the lovely streets to visits the squares and parks that are part of the unique plan used to design the city by James Oglethorpe.

After two days in Savannah, it was on to our next stop, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Gallardia Plants along the beach

Our heart leaf

And we saw these lilies everywhere.

And we found beaches devoted to the Piping Plovers for nesting. This one was walking outside the ropes.

Leaving South Carolina after a few days, we stayed at Walmart in Morehead City and rode the Cedar island ferry to reach the Outer banks of North Carolina.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. 

Here we had a chance for a very moving visit to the site of the beginning of aviation.  

The National Park provides sites so we camped on one side of the dunes of the barrier islands and then walked over designated paths to the beach.

Another light on the island, Bodie Island Lighthouse. This gave me a chance to hike up inside a lighthouse.  What a rush! 

I waved to Latona on the ground below!

We participated in the Friday morning bird walk on Pea Island NWR.

In addition to Dowitchers and Terns, we saw this Palamedes Swallowtail.

After a wonderful week on the Outer Banks we headed north across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel to arrive at Marion Station, Maryland, the home of our friends Jim and Tonya.

The weather was wonderful for our first day, and we had a chance to go trot line crabbing. 
We used chicken necks on a thousand foot line and had so much fun learning how to get them in the net .

We managed to catch 40-50 for the feasting ahead.

The crabs were steamed. Jim cleaned them and we sat down for our most delightful meal of Maryland Blue Claws. What a treat from A to Z!

There were some lovely birds to photograph as well, like this Brown-headed Nuthatch
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird

And the Carolina Wren.

Another day, Jim took us to visit Smith Island and to see this lighthouse in the bay.

The last day of our visit was special and included a visit to Assateague Island to see the wild ponies. 
I had dreamed of owning one of these ponies since I was a child, and had read Misty Of Chincoteague. 

The final stop I want to tell you about was to Indian River, Delaware.  When we left Jim and Tonya, we moved toward Delaware. Our other friends from the Keys, Jim and Joella had also invited us to stop on our way.  When we are invited, we visit if we are in the area!

They took us to visit a craft brewery, the Dogfish Head...

And another day, they treated us to pizza at Grottos in Rehoboth Beach.  They also showed where we needed to go to get the ferry to cross to Cape May.

A final visit was to the museum of the original life saving crews along the coast. This group of amazingly brave people led to the formation of the US Coast Guard.

So after this wonderful trip from Georgia to Delaware, it was time to move along to move along to Cape May, New Jersey.

Our next stop will be Cape May for a visit with some longtime friends and then on to visit my siblings.
Soon it will be time to see the children and the grandchildren.  How very blessed we are for all the safe miles, and also that each mile is filled with surprises of nature and the blessings of friends and family.

As a note, a special wish for Happy Mother's Day!