Puget Sound, Tennessee, Texas and More
When we returned to the States in July to see family, friends and doctors, Paul and I didn’t have many plans other than a wedding in October. Paul had a hankering to do the overnight train ride from LA to Seattle, the Coastal Starlight. After experiencing the excellent Spanish train system, this Amtrak experience left a lot to be desired. The train was late leaving and arriving; there was not communication from the engineers. It also turned out to be a smoky ride, with much of the scenery obscured by smoke due to the devastating northern CA fires.
We took the Kingston Ferry to the home we rented on the Kitsap Peninsula in Kingston. We especially enjoyed having the run of the huge patio and lawn with a view of the Sound. We spent our days reading and touring Poulsbo and Port Gamble, visiting the famous Sluys Bakery, the SEA Discovery Museum, the Folksong Festival and the Suquamish Museum. Unfortunately, the smoke from the Canadian fires interfered with our view and our breathing for several days.
Two Weeks in Tennessee
Road trip!!! Those were the operative words for the rest of our adventure. Neither of us had visited Tennessee. We spent two weeks touring Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, The Great Smoky Mountains and the Fall Rod Run in Pigeon Forge.
National Civil Rights Museum—Definitely was the highlight of Memphis. Beall Street, not so much.
Chattanooga—We toured the Civil War Memorial on Lookout Mountain, the first National Park we visited with our new lifetime passes (a great investment, by the way). The mountain is beautiful and it’s easy to see how that vantage point played a vital role in the Civil War. Once the North was able to take Lookout, the war began to turn in their favor. Ruby Falls is an underground waterfall with guided tours. In spite of the cheesiness factor, neither of us had ever seen anything like it and enjoyed the experience. Onward to the Smoky Mountains and Pigeon Forge for the Fall Rod Run. Paul loves old cars and it was a fun day of viewing people’s personal vehicles in the sweltering heat! Sadly, the day we had planned for hiking in the mountains was interrupted by the remains of Hurricane Michael. We skipped Asheville, NC, because of the forecast of continuing rain.
Finally escaping the rain, we ended up at the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg. The tour was interesting and then we were off to Nashville, where we had a great time. We enjoyed the nightlife downtown, including Nudie’s. A bus tour one morning, although steamy, took us past the most interesting points in the city. We also toured Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, a very well designed historical monument. Our visit to Belle Meade included a wine tasting, sweet wine is the southern way. We loved having live music at every meal, and even spent time with some newlyweds one day while enjoying the music of Zack and Mandy. Once again, the rains caught up with us so we headed to Little Rock. The President Clinton Library was a great experience. I especially enjoyed the American Crafts 25th Anniversary Exhibit.
Tripping in Texas
We were in and out of Dallas several times. Initially, we visited with Meredith, Joe and Bradley, enjoying an afternoon in the heat at the lake. Next, we attended our niece Madeline’s wedding to Calum Fletcher. Finally, we took a trip to Big Bend. Unfortunately, I had bronchitis and an upper respiratory infection that kept us from hiking the 12 trails I had planned. Sweet Paul drove me to all of the romantic overlooks and train heads in the National Park. We booked a rafting trip in Big Bend Ranch State Park, which went rain or shine. Unfortunately, the remnants of Hurricane Sergio greeted us on the river. It was a chilly, wet, ride. A short ride away, we spent a couple of days in Marfa at the Hotel Paisano, where the cast of the movie Giant stayed during the filming. The tail end of Hurricane Willa also visited south Texas on the night we had tickets to the McDonald Observatory Star Party. At ground level, we could hardly see the front of the car from the fog and rain. Imagine the vision at the top of the mountain! We’ll have to return to do that one day. All in all, in spite of my health and the rainy weather, it was a great tour of Texas.
Paul gave Chelsea and me a wonderful gift by offering to care for Rufus solo for a week while we went to Hawaii. Chelsea, Chelsea Macor Photography, was shooting a wedding and I lounged around reading and listening to books. We went to the beach, saw giant sea turtles, had an indoor rainy day, ate at Leilani’s twice and generally had a very great time. Thank you, Paul.
The End of 2018
Splitting our holiday time between Dallas and Seattle meant that we got to see 4 out of 5 of our children. Christmas with a three year old who knows that Santa loves him is very special. Now we are off to Ecuador and Chile for a grand entrance into 2019. We have been Vagabonds for 14 months now, and we are excited about our adventure in South America. Quito, here we come!