Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Myrtle Beach, South Carollina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a major center of tourism in the United States due to the warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches, attracting an estimated 14 million visitors each year. This year as we made our way south to Florida, we decided to spend a week in this coastal city, staying in an RV Park situated right along the beach. Our RV site was a 5-minute walk to the beach, and also walking distance to the Myrtle Beach State Park. All we had to do was step out the door and onto the beach, or meander over to the park to get in hours of walking and sightseeing. We saw many varieties of birds who didn't appear to be overly shy of humans, allowing us to get some great pictures. For several days during our stay, the RV Park filled up with visitors participating in The Beach Ride, an annual event sponsored by the American Heart Association. This event attracts over 1000 participants (and their horses!) annually, and is the largest trail ride on the beaches of South Carolina. We were literally surrounded by horses and their companions for a few days, while the RV Park was transformed into a staging ground for parades, vendors, campfires, and horseback riding. Myrtle Beach is a beautiful part of the Atlantic Coast, which explains why so many people flock here, and is also why we will probably be content with this one visit.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library

Not every United States president has his own library, but we have made it one of our goals to visit the Presidential Libraries that do exist when we are within striking distance of one. Such was the case when we were staying in Spout Spring, Virginia this year and discovered that Woodrow Wilson's library was only 80 miles away in Staunton. Although that was somewhat of a drive, it allowed us another trek through the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we really didn't mind at all. As always when visiting a Presidential Library, here I was able to deepen my knowledge of American history, and learn more about the man himself, both in his role as president, and as a human being. As the 28th President, Wilson was responsible for many social and economic reforms including the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, the Child Labor Reform Act, and legislation that supported unions to ensure fair treatment of working Americans. The 19th Amendment was ratified during his second term, guaranteeing all women the right to vote.  Wilson is best remembered for his leadership during World War I, and his attempt to establish the League of Nations. At the Paris Peace Conference, Wilson proposed “Fourteen Points” as the basis for the peace treaty. The final Treaty of Versailles included many of Wilson’s ideas, but the Treaty was voted down by Congress, and the United States never joined the League of Nations. While touring the country in 1919 to boost public support for the League, Wilson fell ill from exhaustion and suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered. After leaving office in 1921, Wilson and his wife moved to a private residence in northwest Washington, D.C. He died there at the age of 67 on 3 February 1924, and is buried in the Washington National Cathedral. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia)

The Blue Ridge Parkway, part of the Appalachian Mountains running through Virginia and North Carolina, was in the final throes of Autumn glory the week we spent in this part of Virginia. Stretching 469 miles through 29 counties, one cannot hope to experience it all in just a few days. Taking it slow, stopping often to enjoy the stunning views of rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands, and taking pictures make for slow progress, but this experience dubbed "America's Favorite Drive" shouldn't be rushed. We spent several hours on two separate days taking in portions of this breathtaking drive and still couldn't get enough of it. Our visit to this area added to our growing love and appreciation of the beautiful state of Virginia. Below are pictures we took in late October.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Natural Bridge, Virginia

On the last day of October, while still in Virginia, we drove to Rockbridge County to visit the Natural Bridge. Centuries ago waters from the James River carved out a gorge in the mountainous limestone terrain, forming a natural arch 215 feet high with a span of 90 feet. Although the Natural Bridge has been designated a Virginia Historic Landmark as well as a National Historic Landmark, it is not under the auspices of either the State or National Park systems, and it cost $18 per adult to access the 6-acres it resides in. Dan and I grumbled about this, it seemed like quite an unfair gouge to the public, but in the end we spent the money, and a few hours, checking it out. Autumn, and a noticeable chill, were definitely in the air that day, making for a brisk walk along the paved path that ends at Lace Falls. The color changes were pretty, and the reflection of the trees along Cedar Creek made for some interesting pictures. Even though the designated "hiking" trail isn't very long, there are some decent climbs up and down a set of stairs, and we ended up working our legs some. The arch itself is very impressive, and I'm glad we decided to take the time to see this natural wonder.