Month: May 2022

Abingdon, Virginia Farmer’s Market

Saturday, May14, 2022

One of the highlights of the Virginia Airstream Club’s Silver in The Streets rally is the farmer’s market at the end of Remsburg Drive. It is one of my favorite farmer’s markets. Seemingly small, there is a lot of good stuff. One guy is so well-know for his strawberries, they are usually sold out within an hour. Some people order in advance. Martha was right there at 8:00 and there was a line behind her. People were buying cases! As I watched the show, a young boy standing in line told me there is a great bakery on the other side. “Is that your bakery?” I asked. He nodded and smiled. I went over and bought a few things and told the ladies of the little salesman. I think his name is William. They just raised their eyebrows and continued their busy orders.

Since we were traveling, we had to pass up lots of beautiful produce. A cider shop had all their varieties out. There was a great coffee stall with a line of people. A woodworker displayed butcher-block tables and cutting boards. At 8:15, the place was hopping. I spotted Martha talking to a man who made pork rinds. Behind her was William talking to a lady. I walked behind, listening to his great pitch. He was so nonchalant and engaging – the perfect salesman at 9 years old.

From 10-12:00 we had an open house, where anyone from town can come look through Airstreams. I was surprised by the turnout. Lots of people were asking questions and going through trailers. During breaks in the action, I went into other Airstreams. It’s a great opportunity to see how people do things. Mindy had a great solution for shoes, which are often stacked by the door. Pat McLemore did some great things with pictures. He has a similar solar system, also done by Lew Farber. I liked Jeff’s bedspreads.

In the evening we went with Gary and Lynn Brink to dinner at the Tavern, which started as a tavern in 1779. It is one of the oldest buildings west of the Blue Ridge. It has served as post office, bank, bakery, antique shop, hospital and once again, a tavern. Maybe I was still in New Orleans mode, but I ordered Jambalaya in Abingdon, Va! It was excellent! Everyone enjoyed their dish in a very pleasant, outdoor, environment.

The only available time for seating was 5:00
Martha ordered soft-shell crabs, also excellent

Then on to the Barter Theater to see “Kentucky Spring”. From https://bartertheatre.com/history/

June 10, 1933

Barter Theatre opened its doors, proclaiming “With vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh.” The price of admission was 40 cents or an equivalent amount of produce. Four out of five theatregoers paid their way with vegetables, dairy products and livestock.
To the surprise of many, all the seats for the first show were filled. The concept of trading “ham for Hamlet” caught on quickly. At the end of the first season, the Barter Company cleared $4.35 in cash, two barrels of jelly, and a collective weight gain of over 300 pounds.
Today, at least one performance a year celebrates Barter’s history by accepting donations for Feeding America Southwest Virginia. Barter Days happen in the month of June as a birthday celebration for Barter Theatre, and we will list those performance times on our Ways to Save page.

The theater is in great condition. We have been to another play across the street, a smaller, intimate venue. It was a very enjoyable play, receiving a standing ovation at the end. I hope to be back for many more. Maybe I can coordinate with Cadence’s softball games.

Abingdon, VA

Friday, May 13, 2022

18 Airstreams lined Remsburg Drive in downtown Abingdon for a Silver in The Streets Rally. Coffee and breakfast sandwiches brought everyone out on the street on a beautiful morning. It’s interesting to see how other Airstreamers do things. I enjoyed talking with Bruce Campbell and seeing how he had setup his bikes in the back of his truck.

Peter Davey has a great truck-top tent by IKamper, so I checked that out. It would be great for fishing the backcountry of British Columbia or Montana. He has also recently installed an impressive solar system.

We walked one block to the new Visitor’s Center, once a beautiful brick home, and now so nicely restored. A nice young lady gave us some history and advice on where to go and what to see.

One of the great attractions to Abingdon is the Virginia Creeper Trail, a wonderful rails-to-trails that follows beautiful Laurel Creek. The usual ride is from White Top Laurel down to Damascus or Abingdon, but Martha is getting ready to walk the El Camino Trail in Spain, so she opted for an out and back from Abingdon. It’s a beautiful trail that we have walked and ridden a number of times. My bike got a tune-up after this ride, and the technician advised me to clean the braking part of the wheels, as my brake pads had worn a lot. The cinder of this kind of trail will surely collect on it, especially in the rains we got.

That evening, after a shower and some rest, we walked two blocks too Greeko’s Grill and Cafe for a greek salad with chicken. Then to Anthony’s Deserts for some home-made ice cream.

Silver in The Streets, Abingdon, Va

May 12-15

Virginia Airstream Club hosted a rally in one of my favorite towns, Abingdon, Virginia for three nights. In an agreement with the town, we parked 18 Airstreams on Remsburg Drive, one street down from Lee Highway, or Rt. 11, which is the main street of Abingdon. It is easy walking access to restaurants, shops and the Barter Theater, a great venue.

Arriving Thursday, we went to see a high school softball game where our friend, Amanda Rose’s daughter was playing short stop. Amanda was working and she would be a bit late. We found the field in Bristol, pausing at the top of a hill above the field to try to determine the best spot to sit. We opted for a small bleacher on the third base line that was not quite filled. I am not used to doing sports photography, but I took a 70-200 lens on my Nikon D850. As Mark had told me, I set it to Auto ISO and Auto white balance and put it on shutter priority. I took a few pictures standing up in the bleachers to test my settings. I got a couple of Chad, Amanda’s husband and the assistant coach. Mothers and family were obviously wondering who we were. Martha asked the lady next to her if a young girl behind the bleachers was Ainsley Rose, Amanda’s youngest. She said yes, and Martha told her our story. Well the whole bleacher got the story, and all smiled. Soon we were right in the conversation and felt at home. Well, maybe right at home 60 years ago when all was right with the world.

The players were introduced from each side, and it was readily apparent the opposing team was a lot bigger. We were informed they were high school, but Cadence’s team was an 8th grade team. We were asked to stand for the national anthem. Every person stood, put their hand over their hearts and sang along facing the flag. I couldn’t help looking around. Even the younger kids behind the bleachers were doing the same. Brought a tear to my eye.

A heavy-set grandfather in front of us said the game was five innings, but it was a double-header, or two games. Sheez, I thought. This is going to go past my bedtime! At all breaks, music was played over the loudspeakers, and Cadence danced. Others sang along while they warmed up. As the game started, we could see Cadence was a very good athlete. Short stop is where the best athletes play, and she did a great job. She also seemed to be their best hitter, almost making a home run on her first time up. She hit a taller part of the fence. A couple of yards to the right and it would have been a home run.

Almost a home run
Chad and Cadence

The visiting team won handily in the first game. The break gave us a chance to talk with Amanda, who talked about living in Charlottesville for a while, and maybe the kids needed a bigger city. I said, “How can you beat this?! A place where all the kids hug each other and hang on the fence talking to their moms, where they sing the national anthem, and Cadence’s father is assistant coach; where Cadence also plays basketball, where her sister plays with her friends behind the bleachers; where a mother goes into the dugout to give her diabetic daughter something to eat, where the coach comes over to the fence to greet the families. There is no amount of money to replace this!”

The second game was a thriller where the home team jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but lost by a run in the last inning. The competitiveness of these girls was amazing. Sliding into bases, digging up grounders, their pigtails getting dirty. They didn’t care. It was so fun! By the end of the game, I realized Cadence is a gifted athlete with great form, balance, eyes and concentration.

Of course they were all distraught at such a close loss, It was also the last game of the year, so they were all crying and hugging, while Amanda handed out home-made cookies. Partly, they were sad they wouldn’t be together as school would be out. As Amanda said, “They’re girls with hormones. What do you expect?” If it wasn’t four hours, I’d drive down for all the games next year!

Ainsley wanted a hug too.

New Fresh Water Tank

May 9, 2022

Last summer, while fishing in the Smokies, my fresh water tank started leaking. All the Airstream dealers were busy and booked for months, so I ordered the tank and a new pan, thinking I would do it myself. Finally I made an appointment at Airstream of Virginia in Ashland, VA. Driving up, I could see it was a busy place. Lots of Airstreams were parked in a lot to the right and a bunch were parked in front of the service doors. Inside I talked to a very nice lady, Lauren Holman, who said it might be three weeks before I could pick it up! Whaaat?? She said they are selling a lot of Airstreams, but they haven’t expanded the service center. It is also very hard to find technicians, and when they do find them, they have to go to Ohio for training.

A peek into the busy service area
I had to go look at all the new models
Perhaps we should provide a Virginia Airstream Club newsletter!

When I went to pick up the Airstream, I met a gentleman and his wife with a very cool truck. He told me their names, but now I can’t remember. They were very nice in showing me around their Dodge Ram 3500 diesel dually with a 115 gallon gas tank on the flatbed and a 55 gallon underneath. He has a generator and battery on the back, but I didn’t want to sound too stupid in asking what he used those for. Certainly they can be used to charge the trailer batteries, or the truck batteries. Their job is hauling trailers all around and across the country. They haul 5th wheelers and all kinds of trailers, but they love pulling Airstreams best. They have a bed in the back, so one of them can sleep while the other drives. After someone ran into them last year, they had some back issues, so they installed air-cushion seats, wrapped in leather at $2100 each. They let me sit in the driver’s seat, and man was it comfortable. Then the wife turned on the vibrator and I thought I had gone to heaven. They use a Rand McNally GPS due to the size of some big trailers they haul. He changes the oil every two weeks, and they have 740,000 miles on it. They hope it will make a million miles. While we were talking, a salesman came out and put a “sold” sign on the Airstream they had just brought in. I hope we cross paths again, as I know they have a bunch of stories to tell, but we both had to get down the road.

Now those are comfortable seats!

World War II Museum, New Orleans

Friday, May 6, 2022

Ed Brownfield told me not to miss the World War Ii Museum. Then several other people told me the same thing. On a rainy morning, Mark and I decided to go, and we were not disappointed. But be sure to get fueled up before you go.

“We have faith that future generations will know that here, in the middle of the twentieth century, there came a time when men of good will found a way to unite, and produce, and fight to destroy the forces of ignorance, and intolerance, and slavery, and war.” Franklin Roosevelt
Makes you feel you are in the middle of the scene

The World War II Museum is a great place where you walk through history, following the arrows through the war, in rooms set up to make you feel like you are in the war, on the beach or on a ship. Like most museums, you can’t take it all in. Like Ed said, you have to come back many times.

Lunch was at Port of Call on the corner of Esplande and Dauphine, known for their hamburgers and steaks. We waited for 45 minutes, but it sure was good.

The walk back was good. Walking in New Orleans is always good. Well, I go to bed early, so I don’t see the city in the middle of the night.

My thanks to Mark for all the planning, scouting, teaching and expertise. Great job Mark!

New Orleans Walking Food Tour

Thursday, May 5, 2022

We are on a Photography/Cultural Tour of New Orleans with https://www.markzphotoworkshops.com. After a great swamp boat tour this morning, we were scheduled for a walking tour of New Orleans. We grabbed a quick lunch before getting to the tour, so I had this delicious smothered chicken and rice dish that I didn’t quite have time to finish.

We got to the tour inside a restaurant with eight other people seated at tables with white linens and settings. Our guide told us he was going to take us to eight places to sample signature dishes of New Orleans! Soon a lovely, dark bean and pork stew was delivered as we sat staring and smiling at each other. We had no idea!

Between restaurants, we would walk a few blocks, so we got to see some places we hadn’t seen before, and one we had just been in the day before – The Pepper Palace!

We had visited yesterday. Every hot thing imaginable!
Cool place making brass gas lights
Every kind of praline
Passing shops with decorative costumes
Decorative beads of Mardi Gras
Love these open air restaurants
Love the porches and iron works
All kinds of Po’Boys, a sandwich on crusty French Bread
Thankfully, small samples of a usually large sandwich
St Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square

It was a fun tour. If we just hadn’t eaten lunch before we started 😊

Airboat Tour in Jean Lafitte National Park

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Sunrise on the Mississippi from my hotel room

On a photography workshop with Mark Zablotsky (https://www.markzphotoworkshops.com), our adventure of the morning was an airboat ride through the swamps of Jean Lafitte National Park. There are a lot of swamps, waterways and lakes at the end of the mighty Mississippi. How our guide found his way around must have come from many years experience. Pretty amazing where these boats can go and how fast they can go.

I enjoyed the whole trip and liked our guide, Rocky, a fitting name for this guy. He was barefoot, sometimes getting out of the boat to push off or walk on the shore. I told him I would be worried about cottonmouths, but he said you can smell them! He threw marshmallows to the gators, which I’m sure they get on a daily basis. They just swim right up to the boat. I don’t know how he a perfectly camouflaged barred owl sleeping on a limb as we cruised past. Also surprising that the owl didn’t move as he pulled the boat right beside the tree! In my past efforts to photograph owls, they are quick to leave as I approach. Like the alligators, they must be used to boats and people.

At the end of the trip, he said he was going to see a big alligator, and he knew right where to go, even calling the gator. From under a tree, it came toward the boat. Our guide pulled the boat onto the shore and got out a package of chicken. The gator walked right beside the boat and up to the front where our guide sat barefooted with shorts on, coaxing the gator to get right into the boat! Like old friends they met, our guide petting him on the nose, head and scratching his throat! Amazing!

Oak Alley Plantation

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

We are on a photography workshop with Mark Zablotsky (https://www.markzphotoworkshops.com) in New Orleans. Driving north, we crossed the Mississippi River, that always impresses me. It is big, appears to be rather fast and is heavily trafficked by barges shipping products.

We visited Oak Alley Plantation. Oak Alley is.a beautiful place with its oak-lined drive, gardens and slave quarters. Turning away from the house, I saw a ship making its way up the Mississippi. The plantation has rooms and cabins for rent as well as an excellent dining room, where we had breakfast.

After some initial shots, we went into the restaurant for a good breakfast.

Picture on the wall of he restaurant

Back outside, we walked the grounds and gardens.

Heading back, Mark had found an eagle’s nest with a young one taking short flights.

Then on to Middendorf’s Manchac Restaurant at the Manchac Swamp Bridge, known for its thin-sliced catfish. A lot of other things also looked good on the menu.

Back at the hotel, Mark reviewed and helped us with our images, pointing out ways to improve and showing us editing techniques and sequence. In the evening, we took a ghost tour, but it was rather disappointing, so we dropped out.

New Orleans School of Cooking Class

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Next up on our photography workshop (https://www.markzphotoworkshops.com) was a cooking class. I didn’t know what to expect as we waited in the store part of the School of Cooking. I did see some interesting books, spices and goods.

We went into the class, in which were round tables with place settings. Things were looking up when they brought us a beer. Our instructor was Harriete, a little lady loaded with personality and local knowledge. She first made corn and crab bisque and gave served us a bowl which was excellent. Although I had heard the term, roux, I didn’t really know what it was. This one was butter and flour and took maybe 15 minutes to make. She emphasized staying with it, stirring or it would burn and you would have to start over. She used Joe’s Stuff seasoning, claw crab meat, chopped green onion, corn and parsley.

Next up was Chicken Étouffée. I had already seen that Étouffées were a common thing. One might have a fish covered with crawfish Étouffée. I learned that an Étouffée is dish of shellfish simmered in sauce made from a roux, usually served over rice. Rice, Harriette told us, was brought by Africans to the area, and it grew well here. She made here dark roux with butter, flour Joe’s Stuff seasoning with onions, celery, green pepper and garlic. It was another excellent dish.

In another pot she heated chicken stock, added it to the roux gradually, cooked 10 minutes, added chicken for 30 minutes adding green onions and parsley and served over rice.

Then she was on to making pralines, a signature desert in New Orleans. I learned it is pronounced “prahlines”, like you are having your throat examined by a doctor.

Harriette was a treat. You just wanted to give her a big hug!

We went back to the hotel for some quiet time, well actually to upload our images and edit them before venturing out to dinner. We walked most places, which is always interesting. The more I walked the streets, the more interesting it became – the people, the street art, the ever-present music and the shops.

We couldn’t get into Superior Seafood, so we went to Carmo where our Cemetery guide, Taylor, used to work. It was quite good.

New Orleans Cemetery Tour

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

We were on a photography workshop with Mark Zablotsky (https://www.markzphotoworkshops.com) After walking the streets for a while, we had breakfast at Cafe Beignet’s, a popular, very efficient little restaurant that moves people quickly, and the food is good.

We then took a cemetery tour with Taylor, a very knowledgeable young man. He had been a chef for 12 years, but finally decided to make a change, to work outside and do tours, so he does the cemetery and a ghost tour at night. There is quite a unique history to the cemeteries of New Orleans since it is below sea level, so at first bodies would float up, especially if it was in a coffin. There is also limited space, so a unique way of doing things was developed. The graves had to be above ground. To keep the bodies in place, the plot was often capped with concrete. The Masons were prevalent and the Catholic Church strong. Rules were made and fees charged for maintenance of each site could be quite expensive. Whole families could be buried in one plot. As many as 35 bodies would be uniquely placed. We visited St. Patrick Cemetery that was started by Irish Catholics in 1841

Mosquitoes being prevalent in the area, Yellow Fever epidemics in 1847 and 1853 were devastating. As many as 1300 people died in a week! There were so many people buried so fast, the sites are haphazard, not in their usual neat rows.

Maintenance fees were high and some families couldn’t keep up. There was an eviction notice on one

The soil being so soft, the tombs would sink, cracking or even bending marble doors.

The wealthy had some very ornate tombs with brick and marble, but most impressive were the crosses and statues on top.

In August of 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, causing 1800 fatalities and $125 billion in damages, the costliest tropical cyclone in US history. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina). A memorial and the dead are in Charity Hospital Cemetery. The horror would strike again with Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Adjacent to the memorial is a huge field where where the poor or unknown were buried
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