Saturday, October 31, 2009

"All Aboard:" A Visit to Wilmington's Train Museum

Wednesday was overcast and sprinkly so, after browsing through our collection of brochures, we decided on a trip to downtown Wilmington's Train Museum. It was located near the river boardwalk and had an engine and caboose outside. Inside were a number of interesting displays as well as an incredible model city with several railroads running through it. The museum had a scavenger hunt sheet and there would plenty of things to seek and find in the display.

We enjoyed exploring the caboose which was a little apartment on wheels with two benches that could serve as cots for sleeping. An interesting fact we discovered is that the engineer wasn't in charge of the train, but the conductor. And back in the caboose were two seats at the top where the railroad men could sit and keep an eye on the tracks and let the engineer know what was happening. Dad and I are still spry enough that we climbed up the ladder for the conductor's eye view out the caboose windows. Tomorrow: the miniature train city...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wrightsville Beach: Not a warm welcome!

The first thing we did after arriving at the Wilmington, NC KOA was head out to the nearest beach. Wrightsville Beach was about five miles away, but when we got there we were in for a rude shock. There wasn't a free parking place in the whole darn town. It was ten dollars a day to park, the machines only took bills, and gave no change. All Larry had was a $20.00 and we weren't interested in staying for more than an hour or two which was a couple of dollars, but we had no singles for the machine and no change for the street meters.

Ironically, the place was pretty empty. We considered parking in one of the driveways of the empty houses, but if someone showed up we might get towed so we didn't. When you visit the beach in October you don't expect to be gouged for parking, but the $10.00 a day fee extends through October 31st - not even a reduction for the off season. (As cold as it was, it should have been the WAY OFF SEASON.) There wasn't a single free parking place in the entire town. It looked like even going for dinner, unless you were lucky and the restaurant had a lot, you'd pay for parking.

The town is clearly wealthy, but that doesn't keep them from exacting exorbitant fees for parking even in October. Larry said it was the way they keep the riff-raff out of their swanky resort.

A few days later we met a gentleman who said years ago he visited the beach and parked in a legal spot on the street. When he returned he found a police officer writing him a ticket. Why? The gentleman whose house he'd parked in front of had painted a yellow line around his car. Seriously! When he complained to the officer (who could see the obviously fresh paint), the cop just shrugged and said the man was an important person in the community. Talk about small town corruption, eh?
Makes you want to run right out and go to Wrightsville Beach doesn't it? After the first day we never went back and Wrightsville Beach is off our list of vacation spots EVER.

We finally found a meter that took credit cards and paid for two hours. But the entire experience left us with a sour taste. The elitists in Wrightsville can keep their resort to themselves which is obviously what they want to do. We'll head to warmer communities.

So here's Wrightsville Beach. Enjoy the photos because I'll never be back there to take more!

It's not too late to make this for Halloween. Get busy, Mom!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

40 Years, but who's counting?

As of October 4th (Feast of St. Francis) Larry and I were married 40 years! Wow! What young couple thinks about reaching that milestone on their wedding day? I was too starry-eyed to think about anything but my handsome new husband.

We decided the event merited a second honeymoon, so we packed up our camper and headed out for ten days of fun in the sun. Well, not exactly. Our original plan was to go north into the Hudson Valley and visit the Shrine of the North American Martyrs and Niagara Falls. The weather report (highs in low 50s, lows in 30s) gave us a reality check and we decided to go south instead where the temps were about 20 degrees below normal, but not nearly as cold as the north. Good thing we shifted gears because the weather was bad, bad, bad in the northeast including the first snowfall of the year.

We headed to Wilmington, NC where we set down our temporary roots at the KOA for a week hoping to spend lots of time vegging out at the beach. Our trip down was pleasant. We spent the first (rainy) night at a KOA near Rocky Mount, but the weather next day was sunny and beautiful. North Carolina has some nice rest stops and I was shocked to see an azalea abundantly blooming when we stopped for a picnic. Does it bloom twice a year or was it just mixed up?

After a pleasant picnic lunch, we moved on to Wilmington. And yes, I did some of the driving. That's what I love about our Trailmanor. It's so easy to pull I'm comfortable doing some of the driving (as long as I don't have to back up). We pulled into the campground around 3:00 o'clock and set up. (To Be Continued...)

Friday, October 9, 2009

U.S. Army Golden Knights "Drop In" on Massanutten Academy

Living in a small town has its charms, not least of which is that you often hear about special events going on in town via the grape vine. Like last month. A teacher at Massanutten Military Academy who goes to our parish called to let us know the Army's Golden Knights parachute team would be visiting the school and the community was invited. It sounded fun so off we went at the last minute to sit in the stands and watch the show.

It started with the man on the ground marking the drop spot with a big X. All of the parachutists were within a few feet of the X. We watched the plane circle a few times and then the first parachutist dropped and we could see the smoke marking his path. Soon they were all in the air.

One paratrooper, a woman, unfurled the American flag during her descent. The last two connected up inflight for a tandem descent. They detached just before landing.

The students had a chance at the end to help the paratroopers repack their chutes and ask questions. The team was doing a drop later that evening at the Shenandoah County Fair. I happened to be taking a walk and saw them in the air again later. What fun! They said when they drop at night, they use flares and it's really spectacular. I'd love to see that.

The Golden Knights began in 1959 and are celebrating their 50th anniversary. Hit the hotlink in the first paragraph to visit their website.