Mrs. Working Stiff and I both love it when our travels take us past a movie location. We have never dedicated a whole trip to that pursuit but have taken a few side trips, added some extra miles here and there, to check out a place where scenes from movies were filmed. This past March I took a solo road trip out west to St. Louis to attend a retirement party for a co-worker. Knowing that St. Louis is the largest town on the old de-commissioned Rt. 66, (not counting Chicago and Los Angeles at either end,) I studied my Rt. 66 book for site-seeing opportunities. That led me to learn about the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River from Illinois into Missouri just north of the city of St. Louis. The bridge was opened in 1929 and closed to vehicular traffic in 1970. It is open to foot traffic but frankly is now so off the beaten path that you need to really want to go to it. (I did.)
We spent this past long weekend visiting family in Cape May, NJ, and it was a great time as always, though we endured a bit of a July heat wave. Rumored rain did not appear and it was HOT! I like the summer heat but Mrs. Working Stiff is not so enthusiastic in that regard. The first picture is a view of the marsh (the back yard in effect) from the deck.
Cape May is a beautiful town at the southern end of the Garden State Parkway and is in fact the southern tip of New Jersey. The historic center of town is frequently referred to as either the largest, or at least one of the largest – standing collections of Victorian architecture in the US. The concentration of these wonderful old buildings has to do largely with the aftermath of a huge fire that destroyed much of the town center in 1878. One result is that in the decade or two following, the town was largely rebuilt in the popular Victorian style of that era. Many houses are very ornate and have lots of fancy gingerbread trim and porches sporting hundreds of spindles. Brilliant and sometimes gaudy color combinations are common.
A brief post to point out some “Roadside Americana.” I have always enjoyed those books like “Weird America,” and “Weird New Jersey” that show all kinds of crazy local stuff and report on local folklore and legends, this happened here, people have reported seeing this there, etc.
Mr. Bill, on Rt. 73 south of Berlin, NJ (top.) Looks like the old ice cream joint is closed. Boy – for those of us who are familiar with Mad Magazine – Doesn’t Mr. Bill look a lot like Alfred E. Neuman?
Just sharing a few representative photos of Block Island from a family trip a few years ago. Block Island, RI, is about 12 miles south of the Rhode Island mainland. You get there by boat, generally a ferry service from one of a handful of locations on the mainland. (My family has always taken the ferry from Pt. Judith.) There is also a fully functional airport that serves smaller planes only.
My father always believed that the relative quiet and beauty of the island is due in part to the fact that the airport runway can never be made long enough for large jets and also there is no port deep enough for large cruise ships.
Last month I was in Florida for a few days visiting my sister. I had flown into Daytona which is about a half hour from my sister’s house so she picked me up there. Much easier for her than if I had flown into either Jacksonville or Orlando. What a great airport is DAB to fly into or out of if you can find a ticket that fits your needs! Basically, SMALL is what I mean, which generally equals great in my book when it comes to airports. Easy to get to, tucked just next to the famous speedway, parking is all on street level, and you walk right into the one terminal – easy as Florida pecan pie. You go through security and then there is just one concourse with 6 gates, 3 on either side. Sure, dining choices range from minimal to your stash of almonds and power bars, but I’ll take it!
We had a great long weekend in The Big Apple this past April. There is just nothing like the energy of a big city and we just love to be in New York when we can. This time, we did a wonderful touristy thing – a lower Manhattan “Architecture Cruise.” We boarded our boat at Chelsea Piers and it took us south from there down the Hudson and past Liberty Island (with pause for photographs of Lady Liberty of course.) Passing Governor’s and Ellis Islands, we rounded the southern end of Manhattan near The Battery and then North up the East River as far as passing under the Williamsburg Bridge. The theme of the tour was that it was hosted and narrated by a charming and very knowledgeable architect who told us all about the history of many buildings along the way, not only right on the water but in view within the city as well. It was fascinating to see the city from the water, which is not something I had ever seen before. (A very young Working Stiff probably took the Staten Island ferry long ago but we can’t be sure at this point.) It is fair to add that the fact that the small refurbished motor yacht on which we rode was serving wine by the glass was an important and welcome part of the overall experience! It was particularly nice to see the new look of the World Trade Center area up close and we took many pictures of the awesome Freedom Tower. Fortunately no planes did emergency landings on the Hudson while we were there!
St. John, US Virgin Islands – so much to say about that place and I will have numerous posts on the topic! I have had the privilege to vacation there about 10 times as of this writing. In general we have rented villas from an island realtor who has been super helpful and just great to work with. I have noted over the years that many people just don’t realize that renting a villa is an option in many places but it can be a great way to go. Essentially, you have a house for the duration of your stay, and that house may have a pool, or a hot tub, (sometimes both,) cable TV, gourmet kitchen, multiple bathrooms – all the comforts of home and probably more! There are plenty of villa rental firms that also offer maid service, chef or catering service, spa sessions, and other high end amenities. (The Working Stiff and his wife do not generally travel like that!) With a villa rental you can save vacation money by preparing some of your own meals to whatever extent you like. With a full kitchen for example you can make your own toast and coffee in the morning and then pack up the jeep and head to one of the spectacular beaches. On St. John, where the houses are largely up in the hills (not convenient to town,) we have found over the years that we eat most breakfasts at the house, most lunches out somewhere after the beach, and then dinner is either in town or on the grill back at the house.