Life on a Sub-Tropical Island without Cars

Ever wonder what it would be like to stay on an island without traffic? Without the loud noises of a busted tail pipe, or the honking of an upset driver? Bald Head Island offers a retreat from life’s daily grind. An island without cars, traffic jams, and road rage – it offers a beautiful retreat for someone who just needs some quiet.

Bald Head Island used to be a pirate hideout, but has since become a vacation-home haven. A sub-tropical island having the best of both worlds – the woods and the beach. As there are many vacation homes, the island boasts 12,000 acres of conservation land making it the perfect destination for sightseeing, viewing wildlife, and taking nature hikes.

Even though the island doesn’t allow cars, just about every vacationer or resident has a golf cart to get from one end of the island to the other. There is a trolley, too for all you day-trippers out there or bike rentals. Different areas of the island offer shopping meccas as well as many sightseeing tours and opportunities so you will always have something to do if you decide to leave your beach-house.

Photo credit: http://baldheadisland.appycity.com/index.php/citybuzz/c/162/shopping

One of my favorite places on Bald Head Island was touring Old Baldy – the old island lighthouse. It is also the oldest lighthouse in the state of North Carolina. Paying a small fee to climb up the stairs and see the inside as well as the view from the top is certainly a must do. Although, I wouldn’t recommend it if you are claustrophobic.

The view from the top!

Something else I really enjoyed was doing the Bald Head Island ghost tour. It was such a unique experience to tour the island at night by flashlight and learn about the haunting history of the pirates and urban legends.

Our ghost walk tour guides in costume!

“Howl at the Moon” has been an island tradition since 2011 hosted by the Maritime Market, (your only market on the island!). This “Howl” party draws hundreds of people to the East Beach every month when the full moon rises. Attendees may BYOB and bring appetizers to share. You can also find bonfires blazing along the beach. When the moon rises, everyone howls synchronously before heading to the local bar, Mojo’s, for their “Moonrise to Midnight” bash with plenty of dancing on their extended deck.

I toured Bald Head Island back in 2012 with my family. We had such a blast – I hope to take Shane to show him this unique island experience. I hope you can experience it, too. Thank you for reading.

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Dinner at D & R Depot – Le Roy, NY

About to meet a friend from Nashville who was visiting her parents in Warsaw, I quickly looked up a place that we could meet half way. Noticing Le Roy was about the same distance for both of us, I researched restaurants online and came upon D & R Depot. Quickly reading that D & R was an old train depot turned restaurant, it intrigued me. We met for dinner and I was very pleased with my choice.

Photo credit: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/1d/6c/0e/le-roy.jpg

D & R Depot used to be the local train depot placing Le Roy on the map – before Jell-O of course! (Side note: Le Roy is the birthplace of Jello-O complete with a Jell-O museum now.) The depot resides right next to the train tracks and as you walk inside, they have pictures and memorabilia from long ago. They decorated the place as to keep that era alive; even the music is old fashioned. I also heard that if a train goes by while you’re there, you will get a free token for dessert! Sadly, we weren’t able to see that happen.

The Depot from the 1910’s. Photo credit: www.dandrdepot.com

The food was great, just like the reviews said. The price was a little high for the amount of food you got, but the quality makes up for it. This restaurant has a menu specifically for vegans, vegetarians, and those that are gluten free. This was a match made in heaven for my paleo self – they even had saltless salt! No matter what your diet may be, their menu is very accommodating and they also provide substitution ideas such as pot pie with no breading.

As we slowly left the depot, we signed the map in the entranceway to show where we were visiting from – my friend is currently the only one signed from Nashville!

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Our move: Nashville, TN –> Rochester, NY

No matter your situation, moving is ALWAYS stressful. I, myself since graduating high school have moved 11 times… 11 TIMES! You would think I would be a pro by now.
Since our decision to move to Rochester, NY in November wasn’t at all expected, we put my things into storage and left it in Nashville. We bounced from house to house staying with family and wound up getting jobs in Rochester as we’d hoped. We bought a house and have since settled down with only the essentials.


Here we are 8 months later and we finally took the trek to retrieve my things that I’ve been missing. We booked our plane tickets, reserved a moving truck, and a hotel during 4th of July weekend as to not take too much time off for work. What was expected to be a stressful trip ended up being the “vacation” I’ve been needing – despite us throwing our existing 4th of July party plans out the window.


We flew into Nashville early Sunday morning and instantly asked ourselves, what food have we been missing? As soon as we picked up our Budget moving truck, we headed for Edley’s BBQ. Oh how I missed their brisket plates and banana bread pudding! If you want to eat BBQ in Nashville – we highly suggest this place. I’ve been to multiple Edley’s BBQ joints and each one has a great atmosphere, so no matter what area of Nashville you may be in, have no doubts.

Photo credit: https://hugginsgroupblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/edleys-bbq.jpg

We packed up my stuff from the storage unit with no problem and then we made it to our sleazy, but cheap hotel before getting ready for a night out in the city. Since I picked Edley’s for lunch, Shane picked Clyde’s on Church for dinner. We’ve always loved the easy going vibe of this bar restaurant with it’s ping pong tables, shuffleboard, and laidback seating. We met up with some of my friends and had some candy shots (a popular Clyde’s favorite) and played ping pong of course!

Photo credit: http://nashvilleguru.com/officialwebsite/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Clydes-on-Church-Nashville-42.jpg

Before heading back to the hotel, we had to go to our favorite park for a stroll before crashing – we had been up since 3am! We walked from Clyde’s to Centennial Park which boasts the ah-inspiring Parthenon. I love this building in Nashville – it was my first park I ever visited when I moved to the city and after this night, it was the last. (Read more about the Parthenon in one of my previous posts here: http://datesinthestates.com/2016/12/11/nashville-tn-parthenon/)


To tour and eat our way through a little bit of Nashville in one day was a fun experience. The next day, we rolled out of bed and took off to Knoxville – a pit stop on our way back to Rochester to see friends. Knoxville has been a popular stop for us passing through – it really is a neat city to visit with it’s “Old City” and it’s “New.”


For our friends birthday – a little bar hopping was on the agenda. We ate dinner for the first time at Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe – their veggie gyro was delicious. We made our way to downtown for a drink at The Library – my favorite speakeasy bar in Knoxville. (Read more about The Library in one of my previous posts here: http://datesinthestates.com/2017/02/12/super-fun-day-trips-knoxville/).

The menu – an old encyclopedia
A fake fireplace surrounded by books and creepy old-time photos

 

 

 

 

The entrance

There are no signs for this bar so you must walk down an alley way near The Oliver Hotel and enter through the door with a red light above it. May seem sketchy at first, but inside you will find a hidden gem.

After having a few drinks at The Library, we then hopped to the next bar in the same building, The Oliver Royale (part of The Oliver Hotel). Both bars feature one of a kind, fancy drinks so be ready to pay a pretty penny. Try a Grendel at The Library or a Friend of a Friend at the Oliver Royale.

Photo credit: https://i0.wp.com/www.kandradventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Oliver-Royale-Knoxville-Restaurant-Review.jpg

Tuesday, on the 4th of July, we made our way back to Rochester. After our 12 hour + drive we quickly greeted the animals and went out for a walk in our neighborhood to see fireworks. Every year for the 4th of July I would be somewhere watching fireworks whether it was in Conesus, NY or Millville, PA – I never missed them! So I was damned if I was going to miss them this year. We went to the lookout near our house and watched fireworks in the surrounding towns circling the bay. We walked through smoke and watched our surrounding neighbors light off fireworks one at a time. Even though it wasn’t spectacular, it was good enough for me.

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Hiking Chimney Bluffs State Park

Photo taken by yours truly: Crystal Rock Photography

A beautiful Sunday afternoon hiking Chimney Bluffs was a usually lazy Sunday well spent. Chimney Bluffs was on our “travel goal list” that we created in the beginning of this year during our Storm Stella snowed-in-day  – read post here.
It was an easy hour drive for us to the state park. FYI – if you park at the main entrance you must pay a $5 parking fee during the busy season. Before we chose which direction to hike, we studied a map located at the entrance showing the different hiking trails and how many miles each trail was.

Photo credit: https://emilyberkson.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/chimneybluffsparkmap-web.jpg

We decided to hike the whole loop starting at Garner Point Trail to follow the Bluff Trail along the edge of the lake’s coast. The Bluff trail gives you incredible views of the bluffs and allows you to walk up above them. You may also choose to walk along the coast line down by the water to see the bluffs from below as we saw some people doing although it is not recommended.

Once we approached the end of the Bluff Trail, we turned onto Drumlin Trail. Drumlin Trail takes you through the woods (and mud). We were actually the only people around – no one else in sight – which made it seem as though we were lost. Thankfully when we got to an intersection, we noticed a small sign (facing the wrong direction) showing we had made it to the East-West Trail.  We turned onto the East-West Trail and eventually to our delight we made it back to the parking lot.

Our Old English Bulldog Nova came along with us. She loves to hike and explore. Although, I think she was happy for the hike to be over as she was exhausted!

After our long hike, we stopped at Orbakers along the way for some food and ice cream. We had Buffalo Chicken Burgers (so messy, but so good!) and some ice cream. Even Nova had a doggie sundae. P.S. – Their pistachio ice cream was amazing!!!

Photo credit: http://s7d2.scene7.com/is/image/TWCNews/orbakers_gag_3917jpg?wid=640

Thank you for reading!

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A Dog Named Blu

We are so excited to announce a new addition to our family – Blu.

Blu is a rescued senior Coonhound mix who lived in a neglected home. He’s been through a lot, but he has adjusted to us very quickly.
His previous home consisted of living outdoors his whole life in a wooden dog house with holes in the floor boards and the roof, a 10 foot long chain wrapped around his neck so tight he had sores, and stagnant water. His owner was an elderly lady who just couldn’t take care of him, so we approached her and pitched the idea of taking him. Happily she accepted.

Shane trying to fix his coop to make him comfortable

He was located in Pennsylvania, so as soon as we closed on our new home in New York, we drove down and picked him up. Before making the four hour drive to our new home, we of course took him to the groomer! He was one smelly dog and as you can see – very overweight! The groomer did an amazing job and he did very well for his first time. He also did very well in the car – no accidents!

When we first picked him up to take him to the groomer.

When we arrived at our new house, he was so ecstatic. It was as if a new dog had already emerged. For people who don’t believe dogs smile, he will change your mind! Seeing his face when he was tied to the chain and then looking at him now – it’s incredible.

His first day at his new home.

He now has a fenced in yard to run around (chain free), a new doggie friend – Nova, a safe and clean dog house, and always clean water and fresh food.  He also has love, something he had never experienced before. We take him for daily walks and play with him. He is pretty clueless when we try to play, but he is catching on. He’s learning a lot from Nova as well as us teaching him how to sit and stay. Who said an old dog can’t learn new tricks?! We’ve had him for about 4 weeks now and has been losing weight – getting down to a healthy size.
Recently, we took him for his first trip to the vet. The vet was very understanding and courteous. As we are unsure if he had ever been to a vet, she treated him as a puppy. He received his vaccines, a puppy health check, heartworm tests, and a few others I lost track of! He also had a cyst under his belly that we had to take a sample of to make sure it wasn’t cancerous. Thankfully, it seems to be benign. He tested Lyme positive, had a few different kinds of worms such as whipworm, and his physical exam showed stiffness in his legs – which may be from the Lyme. He doesn’t have a lot of strength in his legs either; both of which may be caused from being on a chain his whole life and not getting proper exercise. When he breathes he snorts, this may be caused by the chain being wrapped around his neck causing a collapsed trachea. His teeth showed that he may be younger than we think (10 years). Unable to determine what type of Coonhound he may be, she called him a mutant beagle (because he’s 102 lbs!).

After his vet visit, we took him to Petsaver (his first pet shop trip!). We self groomed him in their wash room which he didn’t seem to mind. It was our first time using one of these rooms, too and we actually had fun! They supply everything and clean up the mess after. So much better than using your own bathtub. Another plus – he got to go shopping after!

He loves getting any kind of attention! Look at that smile!

Currently, we are treating him for the worms and Lyme disease. Hoping he will make a successful recovery to live on to be a happy old man. Stay tuned for more updates as we will be going back to the vet for a follow up in the next few weeks!

I set up a GoFundMe account in his name to help us with his vet bills and care – please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/dog-named-blu

Thank you everyone for your support.

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Rochester Lilac Fest 2017

The first few beautiful weeks of Spring always smell so nice. Pause for a moment and take a deep breath. What do you smell? Grass clippings, budding trees, blooming flowers…

One of my favorite smells of Spring are Lilac’s. At Rochester’s Lilac Festival, you can walk the paths smelling the Lilac’s fragrant smells. At the end of the paths you reach a smorgasbord of food trucks and vendor stands. Grab a carnitas taco or a sushi garbage plate while you watch the band of the night play over the noises of the roaring crowd.

Photo found on: http://keywordsuggest.org/gallery/830729.html

 

Photo credit: https://www.rochesterevents.com/lilac-festival/current-lineup/

Lilac Festival is one of the largest free festivals in North America. You won’t find another one like it in our country. Many of the festivals’ Lilacs reside in Highland Park, a park that has about 150 aces of rolling hills and botanical delights. The first lilacs planted here date back to about 1890 when several thousand shrubs were planted. 8 years later, a random festival broke out and around 3,000 people traveled to Highland Park to see these magnificent flowers. Today, the Rochester Lilac Festival draws in about 500,000 people annually to this ten-day FREE event.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the beauty and smells of Spring.

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BIG NEWS!

First off – we want to apologize that we have not been posting as much as we’d like.

Life has gotten away from us this month in the best kind of way. We’ve begun a new adventure and I am so excited to see where it takes us. Since graduating high school, I’ve never stayed in one place for too long. I was living in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Pennsylvania again, and Tennessee while he was living in Texas and Montana. Finally, we are beginning to plant our roots in New York – certainly a new experience for us both.

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Take a Hike at Corbett’s Glen

Upstate New York is full of beautiful state and local parks featuring different terrains (plains, hills, rocks, water…) and I want to try them all! Moving here has opened up my mind to so many possibilities and new areas we could travel to and I am so pumped as the weather is finally starting to become Spring!


This past weekend we took a very short drive to Corbett’s Glen and spent a few hours hiking the main trail through the woods and to the glen. It was a beautiful, sunny, and crisp Spring day. We were able to get up close and personal to a small Doe who didn’t seem to mind people as well as see some flowers starting to bloom. As we hiked through the woods, the sound of the rushing glen was starting to become more apparent. Before we knew it, we arrived at a clearing near a house and a tunnel where the glen came to meet us.

Above the tunnel lies the train tracks – while we were there we saw a train whiz by.

Down a little further from the tunnel resides a small, but beautiful waterfall. This area also acts as a swimming hole for many locals.

The park itself consists of 52 acres with about 2 miles of hiking trails – I believe we did all of them this past weekend! The trails are wide – mostly dirt until you get to the viewing area of the waterfalls where it is pavement and gravel. There are multiple entrances to the park – we parked at the end off of Penfield Road, but the main entrance is on Glen Road near the tunnel.

Throughout the woods you will find a fort made out of branches – not sure if there is any history behind this. We also found a little gnome hidden near a tree along the trail. We kept our eyes peeled for more that may be hiding throughout the park – if you find any be sure to let us know!

Photo credit: https://www.ahealthierupstate.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Corbetts-Glen1.jpg

All in all, this state park was the perfect way to spend a Saturday with the love – the terrain made it for a great workout, yet I had so much fun I didn’t realize how many miles we actually walked. Can’t wait to hike the next park on our list!

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The Most Scenic Drive in the USA

As someone who has driven all over the country in almost every state, I must say the most scenic drive I ever took was both on the coast and through the forests of Oregon. I never imagined a drive could be so breathtakingly beautiful!

Past the Klamath National Forest, Route 101 is no longer red lights and tourists crowding the highway as you may find in California. We avoided California’s 101 on our road trip due to traffic and our time constraints. We found once you cross the border into Oregon, you begin to drive on the open road with Oregon’s colorful coast in view and it is simply incredible.

On our drive we found Florence and Newport to be beautiful small towns to go exploring in. This historic town Florence, has incredible sand dunes jetting off the river that is a must see. Walking around the town is probably the best way to tour it’s colorful art galleries, the famous Siuslaw Bridge, and fun shopping centers.

Photo credit: https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/05/7b/8c/b4/sand-dunes-florence-oregon.jpg

 

Under the Siuslaw River Bridge

Aside from Newport’s beautiful ocean views, gorgeous beach homes and cute boutiques add to the towns allure. As you will come to find out many towns in Oregon have famous bridges, Newport’s Yaquina Bay Bridge being one of them.

Photo credit: http://discovernewport.com

Cape Perpetua is the perfect area to pull over and gaze out over the ocean with the wind in your hair. (Be sure to see Thor’s Well while your there!). Once you reach Newport going North, you may take Route 20 and jump onto Route 5 to take you through the middle of the state leading North to Portland. Portland is a beautiful city to spend a day in – tour the incredible famous bridges while discovering its’ eclectic vibe.

Photo credit: https://tealswan.com/

Lastly, once in Portland, you can drive down Route 30 towards Oneonta Gorge. On this Route you will discover so many parks, waterfalls, and vast wilderness – your mind and your soul will thank you.

*This is only one of the many scenic drives and my personal favorite I’ve discovered while traveling around the USA.*

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Throw-Back Thursday: The Petrified Forest

When I was a kid, my parents took me to The Petrified Forest in Arizona. Standing in the desert, I would pick up these rocks and admire them wondering how on earth they became these beautiful and unique pieces of art. Actually, I probably thought of them as just awesome rocks! But now as an adult, I still stand in the desert with the wind in my hair, admiring them.

The Petrified Forest isn’t really a forest as some may think. It is a vast desert full of fossils dating back to the Triassic Period about 225 million years ago. The fossils are sacred and should not be taken away from their site – because if everyone did there would be none left to enjoy. Many of these fossils are of large rocks and tree logs now composed of mineral deposits which give each one their unique colors. Long ago, the trees were covered by water from the rivers and volcanic ash sediment. This mixture created silica formed quartz crystals giving the logs these colors.

The visitors center in the north-end of the park is one of the best I’ve seen. It’s almost like a museum showing real fossilized Triassic animals that have been found in the park on display. You can learn a lot just by going on a self-guided tour through this building. The park itself has a long scenic road that takes you from one entrance to another making it the perfect drive to take it all in. We didn’t have a lot of time for hiking or other activities, so we took this road through the Painted Desert and Crystal Forest. We were also able to see part of the historic Route 66 route which cuts across the park and the routes’ most popular photographed car. Near this area, just outside of the park resides an older gas station still in use today with tons of Route 66 memorabilia for sale.

As mentioned above, along the scenic road there are many pull off spots to stop and take photos as well as take short walks/hikes through the desert. The drive is certainly scenic from the painted desert to the plains, it’s hard to NOT stop in AWE!

At the North entrance there are two large gift shops. Both offer you a tiny petrified rock as a welcome gift or a gift with purchase. We both were able to get a tiny one to take home with us as a keepsake. The gift shop area also has some cute areas to take photographs at.

Every time I write a blog post, whether it’s throw-back Thursday or not, I get such a sense of wanderlust and longing to go back and relive it all again. Just like the other National Parks we’ve seen, I can’t wait to go back eventually and experience it over again and even more. Petrified Forest is certainly a beautiful park that everyone has to experience at least once. ☮

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