Saturday, 3 October 2015

Heading West

A long day of travel began at noon at Dulles airport, in the rain.  Very heavy rain is forecast for this weekend on the east coast so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the power stays on to keep the sump pumps going!

In Los Angeles as we waited to board our onward flight the skies were somewhat brighter and as we headed into the sunset, everything became tinged with a yellow glow.

We had a map on the wall in front of our seats to remind us just how far we were going..

(Note also the unintentional selfie).

Honolulu airport is somewhat larger than Kona where we flew into last year but has the same 'open air' feel.

This is the view from our balcony in Waikiki.  Now time to sleep...

Friday, 2 October 2015

Shenandoah Valley Life

The final part of our visit to Luray last Sunday was to the village museum.

This Swiss style traditional wooden building from the late 19th Century was apparently typical of farm buildings and dwellings on the Shenandoah Valley side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Inside the museum were items of locally made country furniture and artefacts which gave a little insight into the life of the people of the valley.

This extraordinary contraption was a dog powered tread mill for churning milk to make butter.  A contemporary photo showed it in action..

The quilts on the walls were very colourful and beautifully stitched..

Thursday, 1 October 2015

'We Make Reston'

As part of Reston's annual 'Multicultural Festival' which took place last weekend, black and white portrait photographs were taken of many different Reston residents and these were posted in various places in the town.  The project was called 'We Make Reston' and was described as a community exhibit.

We saw the above images, the size of large posters, in the windows of a hotel being built above the new metro station in Reston.

When we visited Lake Anne last week - the first part of Reston to be built 50 years ago - more of the individual portrait posters were on display around the walls by the lake.  The Multicultural Festival was held at Lake Anne Plaza on Saturday.

Also at Lake Anne, we saw these beautiful flowers and moving tributes to Robert Simon, the founder of Reston, who had passed away the previous day at the age of 101.  Many people were coming to leave small or large flower arrangements at his life-size bronze statue which sits on a seat by the lake.

Reston is named after Robert (E) Simon and from the age of 50 it was his life's work to create a planned community in the Virginia woods which could be a place for all generations and cultures to live, work and socialize together.  He was originally from a wealthy New York family and to raise the funds to purchase the 5,750 acres on which Reston is built, he sold New York's Carnegie Hall.

A resident of Lake Anne, it was clear from the people we met that day in the Reston museum and visiting his statue that he, as the actual 'maker' of Reston was a much-loved character who will really be missed.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Luray Car and Carriage Museum

When we visited Luray Caverns on Sunday, our ticket also gave us the opportunity to visit several museums.

This museum held a wide range of vehicles from the covered wagon and goat cart, above, to luxury classic and vintage cars, all tightly packed together.

This horse-drawn vehicle was used to transport visitors from the railway station to Luray Caverns - a major visitor attraction for over 100 years - at a cost of 25c per journey.

The cars were very grand and beautifully restored..

...even the Black Maria!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Change of Weather

Although very warm and humid today the weather has been going steadily downhill through the evening with torrential rain as we drove home and thunderstorms.

Now we are in darkness after a couple of loud bangs in the neighborhood.  The only picture on the tv is the reflection of a lantern which David bought after the first power outage that he experienced, several years ago.  The beams of light from the lantern are creating a lovely rainbow effect but it does not photograph well!

The lantern is doing a good job but we would prefer to have the power back...  It is promised for somewhere between 11pm and 4am at which point we will probably be woken up by all our power guzzling machines springing back into life!

PS. It is now 5am and no power expected until 10am....

(No doubt David's Mum and Dad are glad that they went home when they did!).

Monday, 28 September 2015

Last Day

After a busy two weeks it was time to say 'Goodbye' this evening as David's Mum and Dad headed for home.

We spent a quiet day close to home but had a look at the woods..

Made a visit to 'Michael's' the craft store, which was laden with Halloween items..

We did some bird watching..

Today was a very busy day for the hummingbirds with many visits to the feeder..

We wondered whether this is the same hummingbird making frequent visits or a series of birds, or even whether these are passing through at the start of their Fall migration south to Central America...

Safe journey to all!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Silver Lining..

Our plan for today was a trip to the Blue Ridge mountains.  Hence we had been watching the weather forecast, which waivered between cloudy and wet but never actually mentioned FOG!

At the first overlook, where it is normally possible to see the Shenandoah Valley laid out with mountain ranges as far as the eye can see and the river winding through the valley like a ribbon, we could see only clouds..

The visitor centre looked positively eerie but we visited and listened to a very interesting talk by a park ranger about encounters with black bears that we were clearly never going to be able to see.

After a quick photo call to prove that we were there, we crawled along to the nearest entrance station (a very slow 30 miles) and headed into the fog-free but cloudy Shenandoah Valley.  We had heard about the town of Luray and the caverns there and decided to have a look.

Well I think that it is fair to say that we were not disappointed!  At the start of our tour we were told that these are the largest caverns in the eastern US and that we would be walking over a mile through the caves and tunnels and more than 160 feet underground.  Some of the tunnels were barely head height, the largest caverns must have been 50-60ft tall.

It is very hard to convey in a few photos just how huge (but with tiny details), colourful, diverse and just spectacular these caverns are.

In this chamber more than 500 couples have married and there is an electric organ which 'plays' the stalactites.

The most mesmerizing part of the tour was the lake which was very calm and held an amazing reflection of the stalactites above..

So, although we were disappointed not to be able to share the beauty of Skyline Drive, it was a great find!