Donna’s English Channel

Donna’s English Channel

a journal of my eleven and a half days of living like a local in South England


I always feel so fortunate and blessed when I have a chance to travel anywhere.  But this summer I was feeling especially blessed when I had a chance to return to England, one of my favorite places, even if it was just my second time to go there. I joke that I have been a “closet” Brit since I was 12-years-old and I met my mom’s good friend, Jackie, who was from England.  I was fascinated by what I always thought was such a lovely accent.

On our first trip to England in the fall of 2004, we spent about a week in London and saw most of the typical touristy places: Buckingham, Kensington and St. Jame’s Palaces, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.  We strolled through:  Regent’s, St. James, Green and Hyde Parks.  We saw the Diana Memorial, Peter Pan statue, Serpentine Lake and Speaker’s Corner.  We went to the London Zoo, strolled through Harrods Department Store and enjoyed the Portobello Street Market and we can say we have been to Notting Hill. We took a tour of the city on a double-decker bus, rode on the Tube and waited on Platform 9 3/4 while waiting for a train at the Kings Cross station.

Back to England, summer 2018

So, for this more recent trip in the summer of 2018 I decided I wanted to see parts of England I didn’t get to see the first time.  I also heard that there were going to be two royal weddings in 2018 and wanted to plan my trip to be in between the two weddings.  My thought process was it would be a little less crowded.

Not that I would have objected to a royal sighting or two.  But  the odds of actually getting close enough to shake their hands or get a picture is so slim, it’s not worth the trouble of waiting for hours in a crowd.  I would rather be sightseeing and get better views of the royals on TV. (plus, I think they spend most of their summer in Scotland, so it was unlikely I was going to have any royal sightings, anyway)

On this trip, I was able to stay with friends.  Since I had seen so much of the city of London during the last trip, I asked to see and do things outside the city that I hadn’t done before.  By staying in their house, I was able to experience life as a local.

Living life as a local started for me on the way home from the airport when we stopped at a local garden center.  What an awesome center.  There were so many plants to buy and other fun stuff that I didn’t need.  If I had been at home I would have left with a cart full of stuff, so it was a good thing I was in England on holiday!  We stopped in the cafe for a cup of tea before we left the shop. Yep, I was back in England!

I got settled into my temporary home, freshened up and then we went back out to for some local sightseeing in my friends’ home town, Chichester, West Sussex. We toured the Chichester Cathedral and strolled through the city, browsed in some shops and topped off my first day with an ice-cream cone.

Thanks to the combination of lots of walking, fresh air, sunshine and staying up until a normal bedtime for England, I was able to fight off jet lag.  After a good night’s sleep, I woke up on Sunday morning refreshed and ready for a full day of adventure. It was raining, but that didn’t bother us!

Old Portsmouth

For this rainy Sunday morning we took a drive to Portsmouth.  As we entered Portsmouth my friends explained that after World War II many of the buildings that had been destroyed during the war were replaced by buildings that were faster and easier to build, which is why much of Portsmouth isn’t “pretty-looking.”  I didn’t think it was an “ugly” city at all. But, as we got into  Old Portsmouth I could see that Old Portsmouth was a little more picturesque and “English-looking.”

We found a parking place and began walking.  The rain was coming down at a pretty good pace by now and the extremely high winds pushed us along.  The spectacular waves were so high that they were crashing over what they call the “hot walls” by the beach.

Our walk took us to Spice Island, through the Round Tower and Square Tower, continued along until we were almost to the Emirates Spinnaker Tower.  

The weather apparently kept a lot of people at home for the day.  But of the few of us who were out, a few tried fishing and others were like us, walking and enjoying the views.  My friends pointed out that as you walk around Old Portsmouth, look down.  You can follow the chain link all around the city.  While we walked we also saw ferries going to and coming from the Isle of Wight. Our problem was that due to the gray, rainy day, we almost couldn’t see the Isle of Wight. 


43110936455_62bd4e214a_m    Emirates Spinnaker Tower

isle of wight ferry

Isle of Wight ferry


We did get out of the rain for a bit and ducked into a cafe for a tea/coffee break.  We found that our rain jackets had done very little to keep us dry.  We all were soaked.

We continued our walk for a little while after our break.  The rain had subsided but the high winds continued on.  We stopped to see the Bonds of Friendship memorial to Australia and England.  We also saw a plaque on the wall next to the the Square Tower that is dedicated to the men, women and children who were part of the second colony sent by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587 to what was called Virginia at that time, but is now North Carolina.  And the final memorial we saw was the The Pioneer Statue. The statue is dedicated to the Europeans who left their homes and created a new home in America.

After we got back in the car, we drove along by the shore and soon realized it was not such a good idea, as did the visitors who had just gotten out of their car.  At that moment, a wave jumped over the wall and crashed on the street, soaking the pedestrians and splashing all over the car.

Despite the weather we had a great time.  But it was nice to get back home and out of the rain for the rest of the day.

Jane Austen’s House Museum

Our next outing took us to Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire.

We started our tour by watching a film about Jane’s life.  She grew up in a family with eight kids, six boys and two girls.  (like Jane, I also grew up with 6 brothers and 1 sister)

We took a tour of her house and gardens.  At the end of the tour adults and kids can play dress-up and try on clothes from Jane’s time.

Jane Austen’s House:


The Gardens at Jane Austen’s House:



Weald and Downland Living Museum

Our next journey took us to Weald and Downland Living Museaum located in South Downs National Park.  

The 40-acre museum has historic buildings for you to tour, including a 17th century watermill and a Tudor kitchen.  They have regular presentations and seasonal presentations of what life was like for the residents of South England that spans a 1000 years.

As you go into the buildings you might see a cooking demonstration or speak to the knowledgeable volunteers who are available in the buildings to answer questions and to explain in detail about what life was like for people who lived there.

The museum also has seven beautiful gardens that have been recreated to represent how gardens would have been from the early part of the 16th century through the late 19th century.  The vegetables and herbs are lovingly cared for by gardening volunteers.

I enjoyed views of the beautiful countryside as we strolled from building to building and we stopped to say hello to the cows resting in the pasture and to the horses, including the new foal that was sticking very close to its mom.  We had a lovely walk through the woods and stopped to explore along the way, including the Hambrook Barn, which offers activities for the whole family.  You can dress up in period clothing and play some traditional games.

The museum also offers classes on traditional crafts and rural trades.

After all the walking, you can sit and enjoy a nice picnic lunch near the millpond or enjoy lunch from the outdoor seating area of the waterside cafe. Watching the ducks as they scramble for bits of bread thrown into the water is fun entertainment while you eat.

Castle Day!

Before leaving the United States I told my friends that one thing I did want to do was to see a castle or two.  Sooooo, they planned a castle day!

We went to Arundel Castle, which is the home of the current Duke and Duchess of Norfolk.

It is in the town of Arundel,, in West Sussex.

After walking up tons of those narrow, winding staircases, we reached the Keep way up at the top of the castle.  The views of the river, the town and the countryside, are enough to forget about all the stairs you had to climb up, until you have to go back down!  As you climb up you also catch glimpses of the private part of the castle where the Duke and Duchess and their family live. I tried to picture what it would be like to actually live in a castle.  I probably would need one of those maps they hand out to tourists so I could find my way around!

As you stroll through the castle you will see rooms such as the Baron’s Hall, the private chapel, the room where Queen Victoria stayed when she visited and the library, which seemed to be a favorite among castle guests.  I overheard most people point out their favorite seat if the library was theirs. The library is so huge that it could have easily accommodated everyone who was touring the library at the same time we were.

Once we were back outside the castle we saw the gardens and took a walk through the Fitzalan Chapel.  We enjoyed a nice walk along the grounds as we made our way back to the town, stopping for a closer look at the fast-moving River Arun.  We walked through town and we stopped at the Tea and Biscuit Shop on High Street where I purchased some tea to take home.

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Pictures from Arundel Castle

Our castle day wasn’t over yet. After leaving Arundel, we went to Amberley Castle, in West Sussex.

The centuries old castle is now a hotel and they also can be booked for weddings, meetings and special occasions.  Enjoy a  nice dinner or traditional English afternoon tea.

We had  a reservation for  afternoon tea that included finger sandwiches, scones, sweets and of course a nice selection of tea. The food and service were excellent and after tea we enjoyed a couple games of croquet.

amberley castleAmberley Castle


Beach Day!

Well, by this point it was Thursday.  I had arrived on the Saturday before, so I was inching up on being in England for a week.  My friend suggested maybe a nice long walk out on the beach, if I would like that.  If I would like it?  Yes, of course, I would love a nice long walk on the beach!

So, off we went, to the beach!

We went to West Wittering and there was a big, beautiful, sandy beach!

We parked the car in the village and after a nice long walk through the countryside, we arrived at the beach. The tide was way out, which created a larger beach than normal.  We started off on the dog-friendly part of the beach, with  plenty of dogs taking advantage of the friendly beach.


Dogs playing at the beach

We spent most of our time walking on this beach, enjoying the beautiful, sunny day.  As I do with any beach, I searched for shells, sea glass and good skipping stones.  No luck finding sea glass or good skipping stones, but I did find one shell to take home.

We walked to the end of this part of the beach, did a sort of circle around the back of the dunes and eventually came out to the people-only part of the beach.

The beach was filled with a brightly colored mix of towels and umbrellas.  There are a dozen or so tiny beach huts that sit up on the hill, overlooking the beach.  Visitors can rent the huts for the day to store their beach gear.  No sleeping in the huts, please!

Excited toddlers looked like world-class sprinters making a mad dash across the sand, toward the water as parents heroically raced to catch-up and grab their children before they got to the water. Some parents and children worked together to build the perfect sand castle while other families splashed happily in the sea.  Some folks were content to read a book or people watch.

We gradually made our way uphill toward the tiny huts and out to the parking lot, where we got back on the path that led us to the village and our car. As we walked away from the beach we noticed a never-ending line of cars heading to the beach car park and passed plenty of pedestrians and bicyclists on their way to the beach.

We drove a short distance to a local yacht club for a nice, relaxing lunch.

On the way home, we stopped in Chichester at the Novium Museum to see the Moments in British History exhibit with all the display items made from Legos.  The Big Ben was my favorite piece.

My solo trip

I ventured out on my own for a solo trip from Chichester to Stratford-upon-Avon.

My friends helped me buy the right train ticket and made sure I knew all the stations where I would switch trains. With warm hugs good-bye, and a confident, “You can do this,” they dropped me off at the station.

I rode the first train to the London Victoria station where I switched to the Victoria Line going north on the Tube. (light blue line) I rode that for 2 stops, getting off at the Oxford Circus station.  I switched to the Bakerloo Line going north.  (brown line) I rode that for 2 stops and got off at the London Marylebone station where I switched back to a regular train.  I rode that train to Dorridge and then switched to another train that was going to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Since I was unfamiliar with the system, I was a little nervous at the thought of riding trains and switching so many times.  But I also was excited and looking forward to my solo adventure and stayed positive as I told myself I can do this. After all, I reasoned, if my mom was able to hop in her car while she was in her 50’s and 60’s and drive from Michigan to Texas or wherever her grandchildren were, I knew I could manage a train trip.

I am not afraid to ask for help when I need it, and I certainly asked a lot.  Everyone I asked was so nice and helpful. And I asked everyone from fellow travelers to conductors and station employees.  Many went out of their way to help and to put me at ease.  It also helped that the trains all announced the next stop and the stops also scrolled across the electronic information board inside each car.

Once I was on board the first train and relaxed a bit, I enjoyed the trip through the countryside. My friends told me I would see both  Arundel Castle and Amberley Castle from the train.  And, as promised, I saw both castles, lots of sheep and cattle.

Since I am a “people watcher” by nature, I found myself wondering about the people getting on and off the train as we stopped at the stations along the way.  Who were they?  Where were they going?  Were they visitors like me, visiting friends and family or were they locals heading out for a day’s adventure or had their adventure ended and they were on the way home?

Sometimes from the snippets of conversation you can’t help but overhear, you can figure out if they are locals or visitors and why they were riding the train that day. Based on the tidbits I overheard that day, the most common groups of passengers were Moms with their teen-age daughters and friends, shopping for back-to-school clothes.

When I arrived at the London Marylebone station, I had to watch the board that would announce which platform my train to Dorridge would depart from. While I watched the board, I saw an elderly woman sitting near me on a bench.  My first thought was that she looked like a “real-life” Miss Marple.  Just as that thought crossed my mind, “Miss Marple” pulled an actual china tea cup out of her suitcase and she began sipping what I hope was tea!

Our platform was announced and I hurried to the train along with my fellow passengers.  I found a seat and as I got comfortable a woman from Queensland, Australia sat next to me.  We chatted most of the way until her stop at Warwick where she was going to visit her long-time friend.   I changed trains one more time at Dorridge and boarded the train bound for Stratford.

I checked into my hotel, then walked to the downtown and the waterfront.   I walked along the River Avon, took some pictures and then I noticed a small boat getting ready to board passengers for an evening cruise on the river.  I bought a ticket, climbed on board the boat, and settled down for a nice relaxing evening cruise.

With about 14 or so passengers, our captain took us on a nice slow ride on the river.  Ducks and geese swam up to the boat, in the hopes of maybe getting a treat thrown at them from the boat.  People on shore waved to friends and family in the boat.  I enjoyed the views of the buildings and private homes along the river.  On both sides of the river were what I found out later are called narrowboats.   The owners live on the boats. And they also take small groups on river cruises. On the day I was there I saw dozens of the boats tied up on either side of the river.

Most of the houses along the river were beautiful.  Some had almost a whole wall made of windows in order to enjoy the view of the river.

Pictures from the river cruise


Fountain in the park

I took another walk by the river on Saturday morning after breakfast, then I went back to the hotel to pack and get ready for my return adventure on the trains.

I received a warm “welcome home” from my friends and they pointed out that I am a pro now and proved that I would do very well traveling on my own.

I had been in England for a week.  My trip was winding down, but we still had plenty of more adventures planned.

Sunday, a day of rest

Sunday was a day of rest for all of us.  It was a very hot day and we decided to just stay in the house and take a break from all the walking in the heat.  We read and watched TV and movies and just enjoyed a relaxing day “at home.”


On Monday we set out for Brighton. Energetic. Busy. Beautiful. Fun.  I have heard some people describe it as the “Coney Island” of the United Kingdom.

My friends told me a lot of people come down from the northern counties to spend their summer holiday in Brighton at the beach and I certainly could understand why.  I even saw Darth Vader, apparently spending his holiday there like everyone else.


Darth Vader.jpg

I loved the views as we strolled along the pier.  There is a funfair at the end of the pier  with rides for all ages.

Brighton has what appears to be hundreds of narrow streets and I believe we walked down them all.

We did some shopping, stopped for lunch and of course, ice-cream.  Then it was time to go home and rest up for our next adventure.

A few pictures from Brighton


Back to Portsmouth and Southsea

Tuesday.  My last full day in England.  We spent the day back in Portsmouth and Southsea.  The weather certainly was a lot nicer than the first time we were there with all the rain and high winds.

We stopped briefly at the Canoe Lake Leisure Limited for a cold drink.  We sat out on the terrace where we were able to watch some tennis matches.  As a matter of fact, my friends were able to watch some of the female tennis players play at the Leisure Club before they went on to Wimbledon.

From the leisure club we took a short stroll to Canoe Lake where we stopped for a few minutes to watch families out enjoying a beautiful day at the park.  With a playground, picnic areas, benches for people watching, boat rentals and a nice, wide path with lots of room for pedestrians and bicyclists, there is something for everyone.

We continued our walk and soon we were to the sea. We stopped at the D-Day Memorial, built to honor the young men who left from that area and headed into battle on the D-Day beaches in France.


D-Day Memorial, Southsea

We strolled out on the Southsea Pier, bought the requisite order of chips and found a comfortable seat on a bench that offered great views of the beach and people. We saw fisherman, couples and families all enjoying the beach and the pier.  We saw a man drying out his money by laying it out on the pier after successfully retrieving his wallet from the water after he dropped it there.

Immediately, I noticed a big difference between the Southsea Pier and the Brighton Pier.  Both Southsea and Brighton offer a lovely beach, a pier for strolling and rides.  But if peace and quiet is what you are looking for, then Southsea is where you want to go for your summer beach holiday.  If you are looking for excitement and energy, head to Brighton.  I think if I were going to choose one for a week, I would choose to stay at Southsea, but maybe take a day trip to Brighton. The rides on the Southsea Pier are geared for young children while the rides at Brighton offer rides for all ages.

After we finished our chips, we started walking again.


 Pictures from Southsea boardwalk and pier.  There is a ferry arriving from France.

We walked from Southsea to Portsmouth, back along the hot walls, to the Spinnaker Tower like we did the first time. What a difference a few days makes weather-wise.   On our second walk the water was calm and the waves were not jumping over the hot walls.

Pictures from our second visit to Old Portsmouth

The sea was much calmer than on our first visit.  On our first visit the waves were so high that they were jumping over the walls you see in the distance.


One more trip!

Wednesday morning, time for one more trip before going to the airport

Playing “Poohsticks” in the 100 acre wood, a.k.a, Ashdown Forest

Wednesday morning we set off in search of “Pooh Corner” so we could see the 100 acre wood and play “Poohsticks.”  The 100 acre wood is located in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex.

Since we only had the morning available for exploring before I had to get to the airport, we concentrated our visit on Pooh and the Poohsticks Bridge.

We started off at “Pooh Corner,”  a shop dedicated to Pooh and his friends. The shop is located in Hartfield, the home of A. A. Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh books. I found some gifts for my grandchildren and for myself, too!  Before heading out to play Poohsticks you can get a “a little something” and tea from Piglet’s Tearoom and Garden.

We picked up our instruction sheet with the rules for playing Poohsticks, then got back in the car for the short drive to the car park near the bridge.  We read that you’re supposed to provide your own sticks, so, you will see many people walking around in the woods, searching for a stick that is sure to be the winner in Poohsticks.

The bridge is about a 20 minute walk from the car park.  The path was mostly shaded, which made it comfortable for walking on a hot summer day.

poohsticks bridge.jpg

Poohsticks Bridge


Well, after our great walk to and from the Poohsticks Bridge and after all three of us lost the game because all of our sticks got caught up on a support beam underneath the bridge, we were ready for lunch on the way to the airport.

Over fish and chips, we chatted about all the places we went over the last 12 days. It was a great holiday for me.  If I had been on my own I’m not sure I would have seen as much because much of it I didn’t know about and also because although there are trains to take you almost everywhere, I think getting around by car probably was the better choice.

We started off with a long wish list of things to do and see but we all knew time wasn’t going to allow us to see everything on the list. I am always flexible while on holiday because even the best plans are subject to issues that come up.  But, that is okay.  I am not disappointed at all with the trip.  I always file the things I don’t see under the heading, “Next time.”

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to travel to England this year and super blessed to have such good friends that they were willing to take time off from their schedule to take me around south England.






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Lake Anna State Park in Virginia and a weekend getaway

We spent Easter weekend camping with family at Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania, Virginia.  It was the first time we had been there, but it won’t be the last time we go.  It is a beautiful park, and an easy two-hour drive from our home.

The park is located just about 25 miles southwest  from Fredericksburg, Virginia and about an hour northwest of Richmond, Virginia.

Since the temps were predicted to stay between chilly during the day and cold at night with chances of rain, we opted to rent a camper cabin instead of using a tent. We definitely were grateful for the solid walls and a roof at night, and glad we thought to bring a space heater. I was pleasantly surprised, though, when the daytime highs were a little warmer than predicted and we enjoyed plenty of sunshine.

Our group had three cabins rented, all next door to each other. That was perfect for the kids to be able to run back and forth between all the cabins.

The camper cabins don’t include bathrooms or kitchens, but they do have electricity and it was easy to bring small electric cooking appliances and use the table to set up a small functional kitchen area.

They look small from the outside, but they are more spacious on the inside than you are expecting them to be. On the inside there are two sets of bunk beds a table and four chairs and two rocking chairs.  We moved the rocking chairs to the covered porch, creating a pleasant place to sit and watch birds, chat with family over a cup of coffee, read a book, and maybe catch a glimpse of a deer or two.

The outdoor picnic table was large enough to accommodate at least six to eight people and the large outdoor fire pit was perfect for building a cozy fire.


IMG_4430 cabin at lake anna

Our cabin


The community bathhouse was just a short walk across the street which was convenient to get to.  The full moon worked well as a night-light and did an excellent job of lighting up the road between the bathhouse and the cabins at night, but I did carry a flashlight, in case.  The flashlight was handy to have as I came out of the bathroom one night and saw about four deer having a late night snack just outside the bathroom door! The bathhouse is also the location for the washers, dryers and for a small fee, you can pick up firewood for your outdoor fire pit.

This was camping as I remembered from my childhood, with lots of trees, big camp sites with plenty of room for tents and campers of every size.  And plenty of space between camp sites for privacy.

The park offers larger cabins with kitchens and bathrooms and other camping options.

I appreciated the fact that for a reasonable pet fee we were able to bring our cat, which saved us the concern of trying to find someone to watch him for a few days.  And I saw plenty of happy dogs taking their owners for a nice walk.

The kids had a great time riding bikes up and down the street in front of our cabins.  The cars that did drive through the campground were few and far between and were careful to drive slowly.

Getting to the beach by car was easy, but we opted for the pleasant walk along the path through the woods. (there is a bit of an incline along the path as you walk back to the campsite) With boating, fishing, swimming, trails for hikers and bridle trails for horseback riding, (bring your own horse) the park offers activities for everyone.

The woods behind our cabins offered a great place for the Easter Bunny to hide the eggs.  Once the eggs were found, the kids had a great time running between the cabins, showing the adults the treasures they found in each egg.

Be sure to find out if there are going to be any special events or activities during your visit.  While we were there we all went to the scavenger hunt and I think everyone, kids and adults alike, had a great time with that.  After the kids were done finding everything on their lists, they were able to go into the park store where tables were set up for kids to create pictures with the treasures they found.  The hunt was also a very clever way to get people to help clean up the park, as “trash” was on the list of items to find!  I did notice one girl added an old flip-flop to her work of art.

I think we all enjoyed the opportunity to escape from the usual routines and spend a few days relaxing and just spending time together as a family.  I know for myself, it’s amazing how much more time I will make for activities such as reading when I am not at home.  When I am home, I want to spend time reading, but I am constantly interrupting myself.  Oh, the laundry!  Oh, the dishes!  And so on.

Spending a weekend away gave me a real chance to recharge my batteries and when I got home on Monday doing chores like laundry and dishes didn’t bother me like they normally do.  I think by taking the time to get away for a few days and really relax, I felt like all of me, mind, body and spirit were recharged and I felt more energetic while doing the usual chores like dishes and laundry.

Ahhh…now I am planning my next weekend getaway!



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Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean

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Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean

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Hello, my old friend, Atlantic Ocean!

Bob and I recently took a nice relaxing vacation and visited my old friend, the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach, VA.  I love any beach, any time of year, but for me there is just something special about the ocean and being at the beach in the summertime.  I love to dig my feet into the sand, close my eyes and as the water splashes over my feet and legs and then rolls back out into the sea, my stress goes along with it. I took my requisite walk on the beach, looked for sea glass, shells and rocks.  And, I always bring a camera to capture the sights of the ocean and beach and no trip is complete until I get my sunset and sunrise over the water pictures.




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World’s largest bottle of catsup

Why am I posting a picture of a catsup bottle?  Well, several years ago I rented a documentary video from Netflix that told of the the history of the old Lincoln Highway.  And in the video, they showed some “odd” roadside sights that could be found along sections of the highway.  Some of them could be gone by now, but I found it very interesting and amusing.  About that same time was when we made our decision to start getting off the big highways and to use the smaller byways for parts of our road trips to help us on our quest to explore all of the United States.  During one of our trips through Pennsylvania we got off the main road and traveled along part of the Lincoln Highway.  Our mission for that trip was to see the giant shoe, the Haines Shoe House.

While watching that video, I also learned about the world’s largest bottle of catsup.  (I usually say ketchup)  The catsup bottle is located in Collinsville, Illinois.   The catsup bottle is a water tower and it was built in 1949.  So, while we were in the St. Louis area on a recent trip, we took a short detour and went to Collinsville, and now I can say I have seen the World’s Largest Bottle of Catsup.


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Road Trip in pictures

Here are a few pictures from our recent road trip from Maryland to the St. Louis area.  Just a few shots as we traveled through Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.  We have always loved the long road trips.  We love the scenery, no matter if we are traveling through the countryside or the city.  The countryside offers hills, mountains, farms, animals, twists and turns in the road, and views that go on for miles.  The city offers energy and excitement, tall buildings, streets jammed with cars and people walking briskly on the sidewalks, absorbed in their lives, unaware that they have allowed travelers a glimpse into their lives for even a few seconds. I  especially love to travel past a city when it is dark, or nearly dark and the city sparkles with lights.


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Historic St. Charles, Missouri


Bob and I recently visited the St. Louis area on a road trip.  While in the area, we stopped to visit historic St. Charles, MO. We loved it and were glad we took the time to stop and stroll through the charming town.  I wish we had allowed more time to spend there, but we will remember to build in more time to visit on our next trip to the area.  I am hoping to go see it during the holiday season so that we can take in the sights and sounds of the Christmas Traditions Festival.   During our visit, we did see plenty of antique and specialty shops and had a fabulous lunch at the Mother-in-Law House Restaurant.   It was a very relaxing afternoon.

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Road Trip!

Bob and I took a fabulous trip to the St. Louis area over the last weekend of August.

It was a driving trip — what we love to do.

We started in Maryland,  and drove through my favorite part of the state, Western Maryland and the mountains.   We stayed in the mountains as we continued through Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  Ohio also offered some beautiful scenery.  Our drive also included my other favorite thing while driving– we drove through or past some cities, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis and right through St. Louis.   I love the peaceful countryside, but also love the city.  A city is so invigorating!

As we left St. Louis and once again were in the countryside of Missouri,  I never grew tired of taking in the cliffs and deep green grass.

The drive reaffirmed my belief that every state has wonderful things to offer and every state is worth exploring beyond just a quick glimpse  as you travel along the interstates.

One thing we started to do several years ago was to get off the interstate highways as often as we can and travel along some of the byways. The interstates are great and of course they offer access to the cities, museums, parks and other attractions.  But the byways also offer access  to parts of the United States that you don’t see from the bigger highways.  Scrolling between both the highway and the byway offers the opportunity to discover things “off the beaten path.” You might see the cool stuff or the odd but interesting stuff that only the locals know about.  Using the byways for part of your trip also offers your eyes and brain a rest from the busy and sometimes stressful highway.

We like the smaller roads because often that is where you find the great farmer’s markets, antique stores and the locally owned restaurant or cafe with the great home cooked food.

On this most recent trip, we got off the main road a little bit, and stopped in Collinsville,  Illinois to see the world’s largest bottle of catsup.   (we say ketchup but they call it catsup)  It’s just a water tower so all we did was take a picture and then got back on the road.  But now I can say I’ve seen it!



Categories: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland travel, Missouri, Ohio, Overnights and weekend trips, Pennsylvania, Road trips, Southern Maryland, West Virginia | Tags: | Leave a comment

Sunset over the Patuxent River

These pictures were taken from Solomons Island, Maryland.  I was strolling along the boardwalk at sunset and took these pictures.  This is a wonderful place to be on a summer evening if you like to people watch, stroll on the boardwalk, have dinner, watch the sunset, get some ice-cream, etc.  If you continue your stroll to the other side of the island, past the marina, you will come to the spot where the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay come together.  That is the place to be if you want to catch a gorgeous sunrise or see boats just heading out for the day.

Categories: Day trips, Maryland travel, Our own backyard (or very close), Southern Maryland | Tags: | Leave a comment

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