Monday, June 29, 2015

A visit to Chatham Manor, Fredricksburg, Virginia

Historic Chatham Manor 

Built between 1768 and 1771 in the Georgian style by William Fitzhugh, Chatham Manor has been witness to the historic events that surround this area during both the Revolutionary and the Civil War. FitzHugh was a friend of George Washington and entertained him and many others on his thriving plantation. During his time there was a racetrack where he could pit his blooded horse against those of the other wealthy planters in the area. Fitzhugh’s daughter Molly would later marry George Washington’s step grandson George Washington Parke Custis. Their daughter would later marry Robert E Lee.

In 1806 Major Churchill Jones purchased the house and his family retained ownership for the next 66 years. At the time of the Civil War it belonged to James Horace Lacy. As a plantation and slave owner, his sympathies lay with the Confederacy and he joined as a staff officer. His wife and children remained at home until they were forced to leave by the Union army. They established their headquarters here in 1862.  Chatham Manor has the distinction of having been visited both by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

In November 1862, the assault on Fredericksburg by river was launched from below Chatham. Today you can see an example of what the bridge looked like on the property. The resulting Union defeat turned Chatham Manor into a hospital. At one point both Clara Barton and Walt Whitman were working with the wounded at Chatham. 

Later in the war, the house was used as housing and when fire wood grew scarce, the paneling was pulled from the walls and burned. When the war ended, the house had bare walls covered with graffiti and blood stained floors and the grounds had been used as a burial ground. The gardens no longer existed and the Lacys, who were no longer able to maintain it, left in 1872.

In the 1920's Daniel and Helen DeVore took on the task of restoring Chatham Manor. We owe the present condition of the property to their loving care. The property’s last owner John Lee Pratt opened it to the public and in 1975, willed it to the National Park Service.

Today as with many Park Service homes, there is very little furniture. What you get to see are the bones of what is a beautiful house. Jane was our Ranger and she took us though the house and told us the story of its history. More time is spent on its Civil War period than on the Colonial period but there are many more famous people visiting here during that time. What we do find out is the entrance area door is original.  

 We enter through the rear door of the house, the front is the door that faces the river. We walked through the garden to get to the back door, even in October there was plenty of color still left. Take the time to walk the grounds especially the front toward the river, the views are beautiful.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Flashback Thursday: Dining in the center of Dijon

We stopped for lunch at Le Grands Ducs after our morning at the Beaux Arts Museum. It is usual in France for museums to close for lunch, and this cafe was just across the street from the entrance to the museum courtyard. It was packed with local office people also out on their lunch breaks. A word of warning -- this whole restaurant was smokey, I would assume today the rules on smoking are different. We stayed because we were cold, tired, and hungry.
The decor was unexceptional, wooden tables, paper place mats, and napkins. Our table was tucked into a back corner, but there were no others available, so we were happy to get it.

I started with vegetable soup; everyone else ordered the onion. The onion soup was excellent, redolent with onion and a hint of wine, topped with thick bread and cheese. The vegetable, on the other hand, was Knorr, or I'll eat my beret, not even good Knorr. It certainly had me wondering why I hadn't ordered the onion.

Al was the brave one in the group; he ordered the Jambon Bourgeonneis, which was ham in a green aspic with cornichons (little pickles). It looked really gross to me, but Al said it tasted good. It's supposed to be a local specialty. It was served with bread and frites.

I opted for a Crocque Monsieur, which is a grilled cheese sandwich with the cheese on the outside. It was served with a salad with a creamy Dijon dressing. It was very good.

The service here was spotty. We got our drinks pretty quickly, but after that, nothing ever seemed to go quite right. Now, in all fairness, it was busy, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

The food was not worth coming here for; it was very ordinary, but the location is excellent. Sometimes we sacrifice the exceptional dining experience in favor of a short walk, especially on long days. The reviews of the restaurant pretty much share the experience that we had so don't expect much except convenience.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What's Happening In Nashville this Summer

Summer in Nashville

Summer Time in Nashville - Nashville Summer
Nashville is having a hot time this summer and is putting together a soundtrack of everyone’s summer favorites for Music City visitors. Live music, unique festivals and events, culinary excursions, family fun and new exhibits all combined with summer sunshine and the great outdoors makes Nashville the perfect place for your summer getaway.
Also, make sure to check out what new things Nashville has to offer while listening to the “Summer Fun in Music City Playlist” and plan your trip to Music City!

Summertime concerts, festivals, and series

Nashville July 4th - Nashville SummerHope you have your calendar cleared, because you're not going to want to miss this summer in Nashville. It's back to back festivals, weekly series, fireworks, GRAMMY nominated artists, legendary acts, bucket-list concerts, and outdoor amphitheaters. To get you started, mark you calendar for CMA Music Festival, Music City July 4th: Let Freedom Sing, and Live on the Green.


Free Music, Free Nashville

CMA Music Festival in Nashville - Nashville SummerMusic City boasts a live music scene blasting out your favorite tunes each and every day for free. Why would we do such a crazy thing? Because music should be shared - we know that, and now you know that. Plus all the other free events, art galleries, and more that don't cost a thing to visit.


Experience Something New

Kings of Leon Nashville's Walk of Fame Park - Nashville SummerNashville's growing. New restaurants, new museums, and new festivals are popping up everywhere and we mean EVERYWHERE. The good news is that means there's even more to entertain your eyes, ears, and taste buds in Music City.



Music City Wine and Food Festival - Nashville SummerNashville doesn't just enjoy food, we celebrate it. During the summer months almost every week offers a party for the culinary arts inside Music City's eclectic neighborhoods. From beer festivals to full out wine celebrations there's something, in Nashville, for every type of foodie, wino, or craft beer enthusiasts. And at anytime enjoy the beautiful weather, a bite to eat, and a great drink at the many restaurants with awesome patio seating in Music City.


Family Fun in Music City

Nashville Shores Lakeside and Resort - Nashville SummerSchool's out for summer! And Nashville is the place to be to ensure you don't waste a second of all that freedom. There's one amazing zoo, multiple water parks, museums, exhibits, and more that will make both the kids and adults happy this season.



Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art - Nashville SummerThe talent in this town is not limited to music. Venture to any art gallery or performing arts event and you will see that Nashville holds something that no other city can match: a creative spirit bringing breathtaking performances and stunning visual art on a daily basis.



Defiance Flyboard - Nashville Summer Your next summertime adventure is in Music City. Here, in Nashville, we have rivers to kayak, lakes to swim, and parks to explore. Plus you can dust off the cobwebs on your bike to cycle the Music City Greenways! Don't forget to check out the new shiny, and OH! so pretty First Tennessee Park home of the Nashville Sounds. AND U.S. Men's National Soccer Team will play Guatemala at LP Field on Friday, July 3, at 5:30pm.


Still looking for more?

No worries. Music City has you covered. Feel free to browse through things to do, explore our neighborhoods, or check out must-see in Music City! If you have any questions, just ask us on Twitter: @visitmusiccity.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Photo Friday: New Britain Museum of American Art

Last weekend was Open House in Connecticut. I took advantage of the free entrance from 10 a.m. to noon to visit the Museum of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut. Here is a little of what I saw. 
Exterior of the museum

Your first view of the galleries

Shaker furniture

Chihuly sculpture

Collection of early photos

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Flashback: St Michel Church Dijon

In Dijon, we visited St Michel Church which has a remarkable Renaissance front, it looks totally out of place in Dijon except it has the usual Burgundian triple entrances. It is obviously a favorite meeting spot because there were lots of young people hanging around the front and sitting on every available space. 

Inside, we spent quite a bit of time praying, actually. They have a local saint in the making Blessed Elisabeth Catez, and they have a whole area set aside to tell her story and for people to learn about her devotion to the Blessed Trinity. She died young (26), and her casket can be seen through a grill in the wall of the church.

It is an attractive and interesting place to visit if you happen to be in Dijon. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Perfect Lehigh Valley Guys Only Getaway

Spring into Lehigh Valley for some guys-only adventures
Cruise in to Lehigh Valley for some guys-only adventures.
Hey, guys! Looking for a weekend of fun? Lehigh Valley, Pa.’s the place to find it, with everything from gambling, golf, go karts, laser tag, and paintball, to great food and, of course, really great beer. So, hit the road for all kinds of adventures with just you and the boys. After a long, cold winter of shoveling snow and chipping ice, you owe it to yourselves.
6 ways for guys to act like boys again.
Sands® Bethlehem.
We bet you’ll have a great time in Lehigh Valley. For starters, there’s Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. Built on the site of the historic Bethlehem Steel plant, it offers over 3,000 state-of the-art slot machines and 200 table games, including a 30 table poker room, as well as a 302-room hotel and over 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Sands Bethlehem
Sands Bethlehem
Dine at three signature restaurants from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse: Emeril’s Chop House, Burgers and More by Emeril, and Emeril’s Italian Table. Hungry for more? The casino also features the Carnegie Deli, St. James Gate Irish Pub and Carvery, Steelworks Buffet and Grill, Croissanterie, Chopstick, Joli Bakery and CafĂ©, and The Market Gourmet Express. Sands Bethlehem is also home to the Coil bar, Infusion lounge and Molten lounge, which features live entertainment seven nights a week. And don’t miss Lehigh Valley’s hottest nightclub, Vision Bar, located inside the Sands Bethlehem Event Center.
Lehigh Valley Grand Prix.
Get your heart racing with go-karts that attain speeds nearing 45mph on an indoor quarter mile road course style track with more than 10 turns! Whether you’re an experienced racer or a first-time driver, LVGP is the place to go for indoor racing excitement guaranteed to give you and the guys an adrenaline rush. After your turn on the course, settle down refuel at Octane, the bar located inside.

Lehigh Valley Grand Prix
Lehigh Valley Grand Prix
Lehigh Valley Laser Tag.
You’ll have a blast at the premier laser tag arena in Lehigh Valley. LVLT has the area’s only multi level, state of the art arena. Its billowing fog, glowing barriers, arches, and pathways, ultra modern black lighting and exciting sounds combine to create a mesmerizing event you and the guys will never forget.

Skirmish Paintball.
Welcome in spring with a round of paintball! Play in castles or in the woods, with a team or as an individual, and test your strategies, aim, and tactics to find out if you’ve got what it takes to win. Enlist with Skirmish for the day, forget everything else, and immerse yourself into the game of survival—be the hunter, not the hunted! After 27 years of building their own playground and sharing it with you, Skirmish has become the most exciting and fun paintball fields in the world.

Lehigh Valley Ale Trail.
If craft beers are your thing, check out the Lehigh Valley Ale Trail. The Ale Trail bars and pubs have upwards of 60% of their taps consistently dedicated to craft brew. Just please, don’t visit all these places at once!


What’s a beautiful spring weekend without a round of golf—or two? If hitting the links is part of the plan, Lehigh Valley has you covered, with seven spectacular courses to choose from.
Architects Golf Club
Architects Golf Club
The Architects Golf Club.
Owners Dennis and Larry Turco partnered with golf course architect Stephen Kay and Golf Digest Architectural Editor, Ron Whitten, to create New Jersey’s only legacy course. The Architects embodies 70 years of great design styles and is the only course of offer a history lesson in golf course architecture as you play through your round—each hole is named after an architectural great and highlights their signature designs. The course is a Par 71 with yardage of 6,863, a rating of 72.5 and slope of 131 (if going off the black tees).

The Club at Morgan Hill.
The Club at Morgan Hill is one of Lehigh Valley’s most talked about golf courses! The scenic layout has quickly garnered high praise from local and regional golfers along with many golf publications. Its unique design features include six split fairways, four bunkerless holes, four holes with seven or more bunkers, over 300 feet of elevation changes, and panoramic views of everything from farmlands and neighboring towns to the Pocono Mountains and the Delaware Water Gap.

Lehigh Valley Golf
Lehigh Valley Golf
Iron Lakes Country Club.
Constructed in the late 50s and early 60s, Iron Lakes Golf Club is a mature Lehigh Valley course located on the grounds of an old iron ore mine. Iron Lakes has been recognized as one of the Top Public Courses in the area. It’s home to the Top Instructor in the Valley, as well as the Best Par Three Water Holes and holds the distinct honor of the toughest hole in the Valley.

Olde Homestead Golf Club.
Olde Homestead’s 18-Hole golf course features a restored 1910 farmhouse (now the Clubhouse), a 1700s summer kitchen with a bake oven, a one-room schoolhouse, and drive-through corn cribs. You’ll feel right at home on this four-star daily-fee course nestled in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, where history and tradition are part of everyday life. Olde Homestead is also one of the first courses in Lehigh Valley to offer state-of-the-art GPS capabilities. Not up for 18 holes? Work on your short game at the nine-hole Executive Par 3 Course, swing over to the driving range with four target greens and three hazards, or practice at the USGA spec putting green.

Riverview Country Club.
Riverview is set along the scenic Delaware River Corridor and offers an upscale 18 hole championship golf course that has quickly established itself as one of the areas premier public golf facilities. Designed by local golf course architect Jim Blaukovitch, Riverview offers a variety of different challenges, including 76 bunkers and 5 ponds, including an island green complex on the par 4, 17th hole. Also unique to Riverview are its eye-pleasing primary bent grass fairways surrounded by a secondary bluegrass fairway. With four sets of tees ranging from 5,170 to 6,505 yards, Riverview invites golfers of every skill level to enjoy this beautifully manicured course.

Southmoore Golf Course
Southmoore Golf Course
Southmoore Golf Course.
Golf Digest gives a 4 star rating to Southmoore for “Best Places to Play”, and it’s easy to see why. Southmoore has established itself as the premier public golf course in Lehigh Valley and Eastern Pennsylvania, offering a country club experience at public club prices. It features 6,183 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71. The course rating is 71.2 and has a slope rating of 126.

Wedgewood Golf Course.
Wedgewood offers you 27 holes in the heart of Lehigh Valley. Located in Center Valley, it’s easily accessible from Reading, New Jersey the Poconos, and Philadelphia. An expansive 40-acre driving range with all-grass hitting areas and target flags will get your game ready for the challenges of this gem of a public course.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Photo Friday: San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio has so much to offer visitors. The Alamo is one the of most popular tourist destinations in the country. The Riverwalk offers something unique and the mission church is a great place to enjoy a mariachi Mass.

Remember the Alamo

Riding on the Riverwalk

Performers from the mariachi mass perform outdoor's after.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Flashback: Vercingetorix

In 52 BC, the Gauls under Vercingetorix, a chief of the Arverni tribe, revolted against the Romans. Vercingetorix was an able leader and held off the Romans for quite some time by strategically retreating and burning the villages behind him to keep the Romans from living off the land. He made his final stand at Alesia. His strategy, however,  was no match for the wiles of Julius Caesar and he was carried off to Rome as a trophy of war and was put to death there in 46 B.C.

The exact location of Alesia was a matter of debate for many years and Emperor Napoleon III decided to end it once and for all by putting up a statue of Vercingetorix on the hillside in Alise Saint Reine. He commission Aimee Millet to produce the statue and it now looks out over what turned out to indeed be the site of the Battle of Alesia. This statue is very impressive and there is a look on the face of Vercingetorix that makes you hope that he will win the battle, he has that defiant Braveheart kind of look.

The Battle of Alesia was not quick. It involved a long siege and there were fortified earthworks erected by the Romans. Evidence of these as well as a museum full of artifacts was recovered. These can be visited at the Museum of Alesia in Alise Saint Reine.

Of course, since it was January when we visited, the museum was closed but we walked up the hill to appreciate the view and the amazing statue.  You can see how large it is compared to the live person next to it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Jamestown and Yorktown June Happenings



1600s-Era Clothing Highlighted in June 27-28 Fashion Show Weekend

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., June 1, 2015 — Clothing, from single thread to whole garment, will be the focus of interpretive programs June 1-30 during “Fashion in Colonial Virginia” at Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center living-history museums. The month’s activities will culminate in “A Stitch in Time” period fashion show June 27 and 28 at Jamestown Settlement.

Throughout the month, visitors can explore how apparel of the period was fashioned from leather, linen and silk, and examine types of clothing worn by 17th-century English sailors and colonists, Powhatan Indians, 18th-century Virginia farmers and Continental Army soldiers — doublets, slops, cassocks, bodices, petticoats, coifs, leather aprons, metal helmets and breastplates, waistcoats, breeches, shirts, regimental coats, and tricorn hats.

Theme month highlights:

·         “Defending the Crown” Exhibit – British military uniforms depicting soldiers from 1607 Virginia militia to Afghanistan will be on display at Jamestown Settlement throughout the month.  Original and reproduction uniforms will be on display, highlighting key military victories over the last 400 years.

·         National Tailor’s Day, June 3 – Honor the legacy of the tailor as Jamestown Settlement historical clothing tailors will show period techniques used to design and create period clothing.

·         Dressing Founding Fathers, June 21 – Families can visit the Yorktown Victory Center to dress up dad Revolutionary-style! Try on military and civilian clothing from the Revolutionary War and learn what rebellious dads wore in the 1770s.

·         A Stitch in Time, June 27 and 28 – Take a special look at 1600s clothing styles as historical images in the museum’s exhibition galleries are brought to life at Jamestown Settlement through weekend fashion shows depicting the English, Powhatan Indian and west central African cultures.  Behind the scenes tours of the museum's shop will be offered twice a day during the weekend.

Visitors can assist with processing plant fibers for cloth, learn how dyes were made from plants to produce an array of colors, watch as clothing is laundered with boiling water and lye soap, and observe the stitching of simple apparel from pieces of cloth and deerskin. Types of implements used in cloth production will be on display, including bone needles in the Powhatan Indian village at Jamestown Settlement and, at the Yorktown Victory Center farm, a flax break, scutch and hatchel, and spinning wheel.


In Jamestown Settlement’s Powhatan Indian village, historical interpreters will explain how Powhatan Indians fashioned their clothing with shells and bones and adorned their bodies with paint. At the ships’ pier, visitors can learn the types of clothing that sailors would have packed for an extended voyage, such as the 144-day journey across the Atlantic to Jamestown in 1607. In the re-created colonial fort, visitors can learn how dress reflected a person’s social status and occupation.  

Interpreters in the Yorktown Victory Center’s re-created Continental Army encampment will tell of George Washington’s efforts to develop a standard uniform for his troops. Visitors also can learn how to make an epaulette, an accessory soldiers wore on their military uniforms to indicate rank. At the re-created farm, historical interpreters will show visitors how families took great pride during the Revolution in recycling worn clothing by repairing and re-dying to avoid wearing English goods.

Visitors are encouraged to share their experiences on social media channels, including Facebook at and Twitter @historyisfunorg using the hashtag #‎colonialfashion.


“Fashion in Colonial Virginia” is included with admission to Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center. A combination ticket to both museums is $21.00 for adults and $10.50 for ages 6 to 12. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $16.75 for adults and $7.75 for ages 6 to 12; Yorktown Victory Center is $9.75 for adults and $5.50 for ages 6 to 12. Residents of James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, receive complimentary admission with proof of residency.

Hours & Location

Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and until 6 p.m. June 15 through August 15). Jamestown Settlement is located on State Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg. The Yorktown Victory Center is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. The museums are a 25-minute drive from each other along the Colonial Parkway. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838, or visit