Solar Eclipse Viewing – Lake Keowee, SC

A co-worker of my husband owns a lake house on Lake Keowee near Sunset, SC. What started off as a casual invitation ended up being a department-wide solar eclipse viewing party in the path of totality. Luckily for us, spouses and kids were also included.

Although the company rented a shuttle bus, we took our own car since there were four of us. Our stuff alone filled the trunk – camera, tripod, swimsuits, towels and school textbooks.

Traffic was jammed north of Atlanta so our mapping system took us on scenic country roads near Braselton, GA. Back on I-85, we entered SC where tailgate tents dotted the rest area. “Well it is free parking and free bathrooms,” my husband said.

Driving through Walhalla, we noticed a few campers and people stationed in front of a church and several spots alongside the road.

 

We were the first group to arrive at the lake house located at the Cliffs of Keowee Vineyards. We donned our swimsuits, walked down the stone steps past a cozy hammock nestled in the trees and another patio area about mid-way down before reaching the dock where red Adirondack chairs greeted us.

Refreshing! The water temperature varied from warm to cold. An hour later, the bus dropped off about 20 people. We ate fried chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, biscuits and the most chocolately, chocolate-chip cookies ever.

On the dock before the eclipse

The sky turned cloudy, but the sun still shone. Something was different. When have you been in an overcast situation but the sun is still shining above you. It wasn’t the clouds blocking the sun. It was the beginning of the total eclipse. Guests donned their solar eclipse glasses while I looked through my homemade “camera obscura” box.

The beginning of the eclipse (the blue crescent moon shape is just a reflection from the camera)

At first I could see the shadow of the sun with a tiny piece cut out. As the minutes progressed, the circle looked like more of a piece was cut out until it looked like a half-moon, then a crescent moon and finally a sliver.

A view from solar eclipse glasses

Another group of people arrived as we headed back down to the dock. “I keep wanting to wipe my eyes,” one guy said. “Yeah, it’s like things are hazy.” I was thinking this was pretty cool but quickly it became dusk and then evening. What looked like a sunset appeared on the horizon.

The solar eclipse is here!

“This is it!” somebody cried. I didn’t bother to look through my “cereal box” camera. It was dark with a sunset, but it was 2:37 in the afternoon. At the top of my peripheral vision, I saw a dot. Somebody could think that it was the moon shining overhead, but it was the sun.

Before we knew it, it started getting lighter. And in what seemed like just a few seconds, light filled the sky. Words like “surreal” and “eerie” don’t do justice to the phenomenon we experienced.

Just a few minutes after total darkness

People jumped back into the lake, others went back for more food. Ever the conscious time-keeper, I hustled my family back in the car so we could “beat the traffic” home. What is normally a 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive took 5 hours, but it was worth it.

 

 

 


Corn Festival at Hardman Farm State Historic Site – White County, GA

Mount Yonah serves as the backdrop for the Hardman Farm and gazebo-topped Indian Mound

Located at the intersection of Hwy 75 (Helen Highway) and Hwy 17 in North Georgia, lies the 162-acre Hardman Farm State Historic Site. It is one of the newer additions to the Georgia State Park system. The farm was built by Colonel James Nichols in 1870 and originally called West End. After discovering the Indian Mounds, he built the red-roofed gazebo on top of it. As a side note, the nearby Anna Ruby Falls was named after his Nichols’ daughter.

The farm was sold in 1893 to Calvin Hunnicutt who used it as a summer home for ten years. Then, Lamartine Hardman bought it and it became a working farm and dairy. Later, Hardman served as the governor of Georgia from 1927-1931 and his family donated the property to the state in 1999. The historic site is only open Thursdays – Sundays.

Who knew there were so many varieties of corn?

On this day in late July, they were having the corn festival. You could go out into the one acre and pick your own corn for the bargain price of 25 cents per cob.

Among the rows and rows of five-foot tall corn stalks were four varieties: Peaches & Cream, Ambrosia, Temptation and Providence. The volunteer explained that the first two are often the varieties found at local grocery stores. Temptation is a smaller corn and is the first to harvest. Because it was a bit after the picking time for Temptation, they told us the corn cobs would be a bit smaller than the rest.

We also learned that you look at the tendrils at the top of the stalk to determine whether it is ripe enough to pick. Once you find a ripe corn, grab it with one hand, pull down with other hand and gently twist. It readily comes off the stalk. After we spend a few minutes picking from the Ambrosia and Peaches and Cream area, we headed back to the visitor center for popcorn, music and corn tastings.

Outside the visitor center, volunteers served popcorn, refreshments and corn tastings

After trying several different types of corn, we decided that Providence was our favorite. It was amazingly fresh and crisp! We went back into the fields and picked a few more from the Providence section. I also saw small red flowers on some of the stalks. I had no idea corn stalks produced flowers.

Inside, we talked to the rangers about the farmhouse. Tours are given every hour on the hour from 10 to 3 pm. Each tour takes about an hour and encompasses many outbuildings as well. When we have more time, I plan to come back for a longer visit. Directly across the street is the Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mounds. Currently, you can’t walk on this site, but you can see the gazebo that has topped the mound since 1890.

For more information about the Hardman Farm State Historic Site, visit here.


Europe Itinerary – 14 Days and 8 Countries

It was a very ambitious itinerary and I’m happy to say we did it all! The cruise encompassed days 4-11. Detailed posts and pictures soon to follow!

 

14 Days in Europe 

 

Day 1: Arrive in Klagenfurt, Austria

Flight into Venice via Amsterdam, rental car to Klagenfurt, Austria

 

Day 2: Day Trip to Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Poertschach au Worthersee, Austria

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Dinner Klagenfurt

 

Day 3: Drive to Venice

Explore Klagenfurt

Gorizia, Italy

Arrive Venice

Grand Canal Tour

St. Mark’s Square

 

Day 4: Venice and Cruise Embarkation

Frari Church

Embark on Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas

 

Day 5: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Walk the City Walls

Private Tour of Old Town

 

Day 6: Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor

Hike to St. John’s Fortress

Tour of Old Town Kotor

 

Day 7: Day at Sea

Relax!

 

Day 8: Mykonos, Greece

Platis Giolos Beach

Mykonos Town

 

Day 9: Katakolon, Greece

Ancient Olympia

Kremasti Monastery

 

Day 10: Day at Sea

Relax!

 

Day 11: Cruise Debarkation in Venice, Drive to Tuscanny, Cinque-Terre & Genoa

Lucca, Tuscanny, Italy

St. Martin’s Cathedral, Bell Tower and museum

Bike the city walls

Riomaggiore, Cinque-Terre, Italy

Manarola, Cinque-Terre, Italy

Genoa, Italy

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Day 12: Day Trip to Cinque Terre, Italy

Explore Genoa Old Port area near hotel

Park in Levanto for all-day train pass to Cinque Terre

lunch in Corniglia

Hike to Vernazza from Corniglia

Train ride to Monterrosso al Mer

Dinner in Portofino, Italy

 

Eze, France

Day 13 – Day Trip to French Rivera

Eze, France – Old City, lunch and Exotic Gardens

Drive through Monaco

St. Jean Cap-Ferrat – promenade walk

Nice, France – promenade des Anglais, Old town

Genoa, Italy – late (10 pm) dinner

 

Day 14 – Lake Como, Italy

Verenna, Lake Como, Italy – lunch

Ferry to Belagio, Lake Como, Italy

Mestre (mainland Venice) – dinner and hotel

 

 

Day 15 – Flight Home

 

 

 

 

 


Boston/Maine Itinerary

This is the trip that started it all for our family. My spouse and I had enjoyed travelling, but with the birth of our children we did a lot of trips to visit family and an annual trip to the beach. We decided it was time for the 4 of us to go on a true vacation.

There are many styles of travel. In my family (and maybe because I grew up in a city of about 150,000) we tended to take city trips – New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Montreal. On these vacations, I wasn’t allowed to do things I could do at home – like see a movie. We pounded the pavement to see everything there was to see – museums, walking around, eating local cuisines — definitely no sleeping in or hanging out.

Other people like to go to one place – maybe for an entire week. These trips are meant for relaxation, but after a while I tend to get bored. It was time to do the type of vacation I had grown up doing and to show our children the world. It was fun, exhilarating and now we’ve tried to incorporate at least one trip like this per year. This was our itinerary from June 2011.

Thursday

Fly into Boston Logan airport, stayed at Omni Parker House

Lunch at Ye Olde Union Oyster House in Faneuil Hall

Boston Common, Boston Children’s Museum

Boston Children’s Museum

Friday

Toured the Old State House, took Old Town Trolley Tours seeing the Boston Library, the USS Constitution, the North Church and afternoon cruise.

Lunch at Durgin Park in Faneuil Hall

The Boston Public Library

 

Boston Waterfront

Saturday

Toured Harvard and Harvard Museum of Natural History, lunch at Au Bon Pain across from Harvard

Dinner at Legal Seafood near Boston Common with friends

Harvard – now you know why its called Ivy League!

Sunday

Drive to Maine

Breakfast Becky’s Diner – Portland

Stopped at L L Bean

Lunch in Wiscasset at Red’s

Pemoquid Lighthouse

Camden – stayed at Camden Riverhouse Hotel

Camden at night

Monday 

Windjammer cruise

Drive to Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park

Penobscot Observation Tower

Bar Harbor – stayed at Bar Harbor Motel

Dinner – West Street Cafe

Camden from the windjammer

 

View of Camden from Mount Battie

 

Penobscot Narrows Bridge

Tuesday

Acadia National Park – Thunder Hole, Cadillac, swimming Echo Lake Beach, Jordan Pond House, Cadillac Mountain

Dinner – Cafe This Way

Thunder Hole at Acadia National Park

 

Cadillac Mountain

 

Jordan Pond House

Wednesday

Shopping downtown Bar Harbor – it was cold and bought sweatshirts!

drove through Portland, ate lunch

Prouts Neck to see Black Pointe Inn

Kennebunkport – stayed at Rhumb Line Resort

Ate dinner at Federal Jack’s

Hung out at Kennebunk Beach and drove by the Bush compound

Foggy morning in Bar Harbor

Kennebunkport

Thursday

Hung out at Kennebunk Beach

Drove to Boston

Ate at Boston Logan airport – Legal Seafoods

Flight Home

Kennebunk Beach