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In Pursuit of Life's Purpose

Posts from the ‘Travel’ category

Horses of The Hermitage

The Hermitage is a plantation that was owned by Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States. It is located in Davidson County, Tennessee, 10 miles east of downtown Nashville and it is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

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While on my visit I was very taken by the horses I found along the property. I was able to contact the owners who informed me that the name of this breed of horse is Percheron. They informed me that this breed was chosen because they are well muscled, and known for their intelligence and willingness to work. These particular horses came primarily from the Amish.

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Percherons range in height from 15 to 19 hands high and can weigh up to 2600 pounds. The lower thighs are heavily muscled to give the horse enormous pulling power. They are wide and deep through the chest with a large heart girth and well sprung ribs. The croup is level, tying into a large round hip. Most Percherons are black or grey, but sorrels, bays, roans, and other colors are also seen. Many Percherons have white markings on the head and feet, but excessive white is undesirable.

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The breed standard states “The Percheron head and neck are typical of the most attractive draft horse character. Good Percherons have a large and full prominent eye, a broad and full forehead, and straight face. His strong jaw and refined ears attractively set and carried with animation, suggests his Arabian ancestry. Stallions should have a ruggedness about the head and mares should have a feminine look.”

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I have to say they are absolutely magnificent!

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Stones River Battlefield Murfreesboro, Tennessee

The Battle of Stones River was fought from December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863. It only lasted 3 days, however, in terms of Civil War battles, it had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. More than 83,000 troops took part in the battle and there were 23,000 casualties. Families’ homes were destroyed. Livestock was killed. Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s economy was destroyed for decades to come. It was a very brutal battle.

If you didn’t know this was a battlefield, you would never imagine today that so much blood and so many lives were lost here. Many believe the battlefield to be haunted. There are accounts of loud explosions like a cannon being fired, mysterious soldiers appearing and then disappearing, the sound of soldiers marching and even a headless horseman. Some believe that there are literally thousands of spirits roaming there. It is said that the spirits don’t know they’re dead due to the violent nature in which they died.

The Slaughter Pen, which is Stop No. 4 on the battlefield walking or driving tour, was given its gruesome name because a third of the Union division and three brigade commanders were killed in the cedar forest there after Confederate soldiers took them by surprise. Most of the accounts seem to happen in this area.

The park is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm and is free to the public. You can tour by car, bicycle, or on foot. It is an excellent place to go hiking.

The Stones River Battlefield is one of only 32 military parks or national monuments in the nation preserving Civil War history and it is an important tourist resource because of that.

There are several re-enactments throughout the year. For a calendar of events and more information about the battle go to https://www.nps.gov/stri/index.htm

Killer Shrimp: Marina Del Rey, California

While vacationing in California last year I was taken to a place in Marina Del Rey called Killer Shrimp. I had heard so much about this restaurant through the years that I was very excited to finally be going there. It wasn’t exactly what I expected. It was better!

The menu boasts an expansive array of tempting choices and the aroma that hits you when you enter is intoxicating. However, we were there for the Killer Shrimp.

I will say I was a little shocked when my dinner arrived. I wasn’t really expecting a huge bowl of what looked like shrimp soup and a loaf of Italian bread. Shrimp soup just didn’t excite me but I picked up a piece of bread and dipped it in the broth as I was instructed and WOW! Heaven!

Now I would be remiss if I only mentioned the food when describing a restaurant. To me a restaurant is more than just the choices on a menu. It’s also in the ambience. It’s about the sights and smells.

To dine on delicious food while sipping wine and engaging in stimulating conversation with good company is happiness. To do so while gazing at the sun glistening on the water and watching ships going in and out of the marina is nirvana for me.

I hope everyone gets to experience this wonderful place at some point in their lifetime!

The Getty Center, Los Angeles, California

Last summer I went to visit my son and meet his girlfriend for the first time. They live in Los Angeles and I went for Mother’s Day. Knowing that I love museums, they took me to the Getty Center which sits atop a hill overlooking Brentwood, California. Not only were the exhibits spectacular, but so was the building’s architecture and the views!  I also got to experience my first Uber ride!

I learned a little background about the Center while there. It began as a museum in the late J. Paul Getty’s home in Pacific Palisades, California in 1954. After his death in 1976 the entire property was turned over to the Getty Trust for museum purposes. Eventually the collection outgrew that site, which has now been renamed Getty Villa. In 1983, Management purchased the land where the museum sits in the Santa Monica Mountains for a cost of $25 million dollars. The site rests 900 feet above I-405 and on a clear day you can see the Los Angeles Skyline, the San Bernardino Mountains, the San Gabriel Mountains to the east. To the west you can see the Pacific Ocean.

 

The Center was designed by architect Richard Meier and the Central Gardens were designed by Robert Irwin. The campus is also home to the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, and the J. Paul Getty Trust.

The Center features antiquities, drawings, manuscripts, paintings, photographs, and sculptures. There are also sculptures displayed on terraces.

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Angel of the Citadel by Marino Marini

The Central Gardens are breathtakingly beautiful and are home to more than 500 varieties of plants.

After a full day of exploring all there was to see we headed back down on the tram. As you can see from the pictures, it was pretty cloudy that day. However, to me it was a perfect day! When you’re with the right company who cares about a few clouds.

You can find more detailed information about the J. Paul Getty Museums at

http://www.getty.edu/museum/

 

Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga

Not too long ago I took my granddaughter to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga for the day. We had the most wonderful time! If you ever find yourself in that area, I would recommend taking a day and visiting. Here’s what you can expect to see!

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When you enter the aquarium the first thing you’ll do is take an escalator up to the top floor. It goes way up creating a feeling of excitement right from the start. You then make your way down through a series of exhibits.

The fun exhibits you’ll see are the River Journey, Appalachian Cove Forest, Discovery Hall, Mississippi Delta, River Giants, Rivers of the World, Tennessee River Gallery, Seahorses, Ocean Journey, Tropical Cove, Lemur Forest, Stingray Bay, Secret Reef, Boneless Beauties, Jelly Fish and Undersea Cavern.

 

Two of our favorites were the Butterfly Garden and Penguins’ Rock!

Here’s a link to their website with additional information like a calendar of events, prices and hotel packages. Have Fun!!

http://www.tnaqua.org/plan-your-visit/ticket-information/

 

What Moving To Florida Has Taught Me

Back in January I moved from Tennessee to the State of Florida.  I couldn’t stand the idea of living through another cold winter. My plan was to check out Florida first and then head to Arizona if I didn’t find any place in Florida to settle. I’ve always liked the idea of living some place for a little while then moving on to another town or city. I think I have a short attention span. It takes me about a year to see all there is in a particular area. After that I get bored. I wonder if there are other people out there like me.

Step one was to pack up all my stuff and put everything in storage.  Step two was to pack up the car with what I thought I might need and head south. It was just me and my 14 year-old dog, Lucky. I felt kind of bad uprooting him at his advanced age, and yet, another part of me felt happy and excited that he was going to get to see the ocean. I wasn’t really sure how he was going to to do on a trip like this but he actually turned out to be an excellent traveling companion. After a week on the road I could see he was getting fatigued, but every morning he was ready to hop right back into the car and do it again.

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I learned things about hotels on this trip. The rooms are different when you travel with a pet. I wasn’t aware that most hotel chains have two sets of rooms. One for people without pets and one for people who do. I wasn’t really used to the pet type of room. Our first night in a hotel, all Lucky could do was smell the carpeting. That made me extremely uncomfortable.  I knew I wasn’t going to get one wink of sleep there so we left and slept in the car. Maybe I’m overly protective. I don’t know. I just didn’t like the idea of my buddy smelling who knows what. I worry about his health. I will never stay at another one of those hotels again. It was what I call the “Three D’s” – Dark, Dirty and Depressing.

That experience was eye opening and after that I sought out LaQuinta Hotels. They don’t have separate rooms for pets like most of the other hotel chains. Their rooms seemed to always be clean and smell nice and Lucky didn’t walk around smelling the floors. This made me feel that the rooms were clean. In addition, they have a points program where you can earn free nights. Here’s a link to their website if you want to check it out http://www.lq.com/en.html

I also learned that Florida’s a state that you can zig zag across pretty easily. It only takes about 2-3 hours to get across. It’s not like Texas where it takes a day and a half!  It’s a very flat state and there’s not much to see once you leave the coastlines except for orange groves.

We ended up settling in a place called Palm Harbor which is on the west coast of Florida. It’s near Clearwater and Tampa. It’s a pretty little town and I enjoy being close to the water. The only downside I’ve encountered so far is that there seems to be an abundance of rude people here. It’s hard to ignore them on the roadways and in the stores. If you’re driving down the road here and turn on your blinker to change lanes, people will speed up so you can’t get in! Hell No!! I’m amazed to see people riding on motorcycles without helmets, especially on US Highway 19. That’s taking your life into your hands!

It’s the same in the supermarkets. People will run your ass over with their shopping cart just to get to the deli section before you do. I want to say,  “Calm down! It’s just bologna!”  People take their cold cuts very seriously down here. I’ve never encountered this level of rudeness before. It makes me laugh but it makes me angry too. For this reason I’ll probably move on from this state once my lease is over. I don’t want to become like that and that’s probably what would happen if I stay here. I think it’s fun though to see how different people are in different parts of the country.  I’ve always been the quiet one observing people so this is perfect for me!

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Florida Botanical Gardens

These Florida Botanical Gardens are located in Largo, Florida.  With lush green pathways and visually stunning gardens, it is a lovely cool reprieve from the hot weather. However ……

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are DANGER signs posted everywhere cautioning not to feed or molest alligators…. (I’m not sure who would be molesting alligators)

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My advice to future visitors would be to go and enjoy the beauty of the gardens but pay vigilant attention to your surroundings. Do not let children or pets wander too close to the water’s edge because there are no fences or walls to prevent an up close and personal interaction with the wildlife.

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For me this was a little too close for comfort !!!

Gatlinburg Tennessee

There’s a magnificent place on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and Cherokee, North Carolina.  It’s called Gatlinburg.

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to get invited to go and spend a weekend there with a friend of mine.  Looking back I’m so glad I said “yes”.

 

Our trip began on a Friday morning. We both decided to take a vacation day so we could get an early start.  It was a good thing too because we stopped and did some sight-seeing along the way.  We arrived at around 3pm to our little chalet and unpacked before heading out for a short ride through the town and mountains.  There’s just something so unexplainably wonderful about riding a motorcycle up and down mountain roads.  The smell of the fresh mountain air.  The winding and curving of the roads.  The way the air cools under the shade of the trees and then warms up in the sunshine.

 

We had a delicious dinner at a place I can’t remember the name of before heading back to the chalet for the evening.  Most of the chalets have pool tables and jacuzzi’s overlooking the valley.  We played pool and drank some crown and coke …   laughing and talking of days gone by.  I’m pretty sure I kicked his butt at pool but that could be the crown talking.

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In the morning we got up, geared up, and headed out to a place called Deals Gap, also known as The Tail of the Dragon or simply The Dragon.  Designated US 129, the road is bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest with no intersecting roads or driveways.  It got its name because it’s 318 curves in 11 miles. That’s not a typo.  It is America’s Number 1 motorcycle and sports car road and one of the Top 5 rides in the world!  It was a phenomenal ride!  We rode back and forth a couple of times before calling it a day.  If you’re a biker this should absolutely be on your Bucket List.

The ride back to the chalet was quiet and peaceful … stopping a few times to take some pictures and just enjoy the moment and all the beauty around us.  We stopped for a bite to eat somewhere.

For me, spending the day outdoors like that is Heaven.  As wonderful as it is, it’s equally wonderful to take a nice long shower after being outdoors all day sweating under a helmet.  I’m sure I had bugs in my hair!  And teeth!!  And even though you’re sitting, it makes you tired.  Maybe it’s not tired.  Maybe it’s just relaxed, happy, content.  I know I didn’t want to go out anywhere!

We spent that night sitting out on the back porch of the chalet listening to music, sipping wine and dancing in the moonlight.  I kept hoping to see a black bear walking around in the woods below us but didn’t.  Oh well.

There are some pages in everyone’s Book of Life that jump off the page.  For me this little trip was one of those pages.

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