Sunday, April 12, 2015

Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio

We kind of stumbled on this park by accident.  We wanted to stay close to Lake Erie but were'nt familiar with the area so we took a chance on this park-not knowing what to expect.  The online description showed a lodge,marina,golf course,campground,and nature reserve.  We thought we would be checking into a concrete campground-but oh what a surprise.  We have encountered so many birds and and deer-this place is amazing.  Just walking listening to the frogs in the marsh areas and the birds all over-it's stunning.  We were only going to stay a day or two-now we are staying a week. Love this place-great hiking trails and nice level paved bike paths.  You can head for the woods or the beach of Lake Erie.  I don't think I would come here in the summer when we've heard it's quite crowded-but this time of year is perfect !  Going for our second hike today-enjoy my wanderings from last night and this morning.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Memories of Berea

It seems like months ago that we were in Berea,Kentucky enjoying the sunshine and wandering through  this sweet little college town.  It's only been weeks, but since we left, we have mostly been holed up in Ruby due to serious lightening and thunderstorms throughout Kentucky and Ohio. But before we ran into the weather problems we spent a wonderful day in Berea,Kentucky.

Berea is the home of Berea College, the first college in the Southern States to be racially integrated and co-educational.  It was founded by abolitionists and radical reformers. That spirit of respect for each other and that atmosphere of acceptance still lives on . The school is a Liberal Arts college and is free to those who qualify and agree to payback in some way by working on campus.

We were told by the guide at the Visitor Center to make sure we stopped at the Emerging Artists Building and talk to the students.  That is the best advice I can give you if you journey to Berea. You will get an incredible view of students/artists who care about their work and their environment.  We left feeling so good about the fact that our country was going to be in the hands of these people.

We met Jonathan Clark and James Bonta ( an outstanding baritone singer), both outstanding artists and both stewards of the earth. It felt actually reassuring to know these people were not "going quietly into the good night" while others tried to continue to destroy Kentucky's landscape with fracking and mining.

One of Jonathan's mixed media works-Oven Park,Kentucky,You can find more by clicking here

Jonathan is one of five Berea artists selected for the Emerging artist program-what a great idea this is-to keep artists in the community .  Here's a little description of the program :

Gallery 1-2-3, the flagship program for the Arts Accelerator Program, an initiative of the Berea Tourism Commission, opened its doors on Friday, October 3rd, after three months of active preparation and several years of development. “It’s been a lot of hard work getting to this point,” said Printmaker and 2014 Berea Alumnus Grace Wintermeyer, “We’re all exhausted, but really glad to be finally opening.”  The Gallery is located at 123 North Broadway in the Artist’s Village of Old Town Berea.
The Project is an extension of a burgeoning effort to increase Berea’s standing as a center for the Arts in Central Kentucky. “It’s a smart program for a number of reasons,” said Belle Jackson, the Executive Director of the Berea Tourism Commission. “It is consistent with the emphasis on art and support of small retailers we try to cultivate in Berea.”
Jackson said she has been trying to actively recruit young artists to the area since heading up the Tourism Commission, but had only recently considered Berea College as a recruiting option. “We suddenly realized that just half a mile from the Artists Village in Old Town, there were all these young Artists graduating from Berea and we weren’t reaching out to them. We did not have any reason not to, it just wasn’t happening.”  In the spring of 2014, it did finally happen.
Through contacts at the school such as Ray Gonzalez in the Ceramics Department, Jackson and the Tourism Commission began soliciting applicants. “We narrowed it down to ten really strong applications,” said Jackson. Of those ten, five were selected:  Grace Wintermeyer a printmaker, Silvia Calderon and Samantha Lyons, ceramicists, Tricia Taylor a Sculptor, and painter Jonathan Clark.
“This is a great opportunity to transition between the undergraduate and graduate level,” said Calderon. “It will help us build a body of work, explore and experiment with some freedom.  It is also good to see other artists working, we definitely feed off of each other.”
Beyond creative development, the Accelerator program and its gallery offers some of the harder, practical skills involved in an artist’s career. “The plan,” said Wintermeyer, “Is that when we are done with the program and are ready to start working in our own space in Berea, we will know how to set up a gallery, and have some idea of what our price points and production costs should be.”
Along with a chance to develop and work in their own gallery, the five artists are being offered classes with Danny Isaacs at the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) which will provide the business skills needed to engage in personal artistic enterprises.
Beyond a venue for personal artistic development, Jackson hopes that the Gallery and the program at large will be an economic boon for the community. Having a vibrant and productive support system for young artists, she believes, will be a draw for tourists, encourage young professionals to stay in Berea and be an attraction for investment companies and employers looking to settle in the area. She believes it also sustains a vital connection between the College and Greater Berea community.
The program has not been without its detractors. Both the investment return after startup costs and the economic benefit of developing an infrastructure for artists were called into question. Jackson and the artists know that they are under close scrutiny. “Their success is our success,” she said “There is not a lot of room for failure here. But,” she adds, “Whatever happens, they will come out of this with the experience of designing a studio, producing work, and learning how to sell it.”
“The most challenging thing”, said printmaker Wintermeyer, “was getting it open, starting from zero, we didn’t even have running water. But the only place you can go from zero is up.”

Wouldn't it be great if every community had such foresight ? After talking with Jonathan and James for a bit we wandered around the campus and town. You can find arts and crafts near the Visitor's Center and if you wander over to the campus you will find more student work. But please, make sure you stop at Gallery 1-2-3, Emerging Artists and talk to the artists.

Happy Trails and  Safe Travels to my friends and fellow artists.....

Monday, March 30, 2015

Over the Hills and Through the Woods

The Civil War Trail, Kentucky

For the past 2 weeks we have been wandering through the mountains of North Carolina; the rolling hills and hollows of Tennessee and the rocky cliffs and blue grass hills of Kentucky. Our favorite so far has been North Carolina, probably because we could see the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains on any given day.  We pretty much have committed to avoiding the interstates and sometimes that adds hours to our journey, but after all we have nothing but time.  Today was the first day we entered the interstate and we were in traffic shock !  We took I75 north from London,KY to Berea,KY.

I love taking the road less traveled.  You see old farmhouses from the 1800's; ancient run down cabins from the pioneer days; fields of daffodils and wild creeks cascading along the roadway. Today as we left Tennessee we took what they had labeled as the Civil War trail.  We were a little edgy because before we came upon the road we passed house after house with the Confederate Flag displayed.

Then we stopped at a little market and when walked in the flag was all over the store for sale.  We didn't stay too long,being Yankees and liberal ones at that ! So when we took the road we both had some slight anxiety,especially after passing the warning " Caution, very narrow road with hairpin curves and no guard rails".  But it was so beautiful,it was narrow and a water delivery truck almost ran us off the cliff on a blind curve.  Once we caught our breath we continued on enjoying the beauty.  I think I told you once how I like to imagine the occupants of the houses and farms we pass and wonder who they are and what they are doing.  Today, with the sun shining quite a few people were outside getting the ground ready for their gardens or just cutting grass. The road was up and down and very winding but oh so pretty.  It started out as Tennessee Route 28 and then turned into Kentucky 200.  If you get a change take the route-but don't expect a welcome to Kentucky sign when you cross the border !

When we lift Symmes Chapel two weeks ago we stopped off at Dupont Recreation Area on the advice of Bob and Tracy who we met at the chapel. If you enjoy hiking (not killer strenuous but a good workout) stop and do the hike to the falls.  The water is beautiful even with the starkness of the bare trees.

From there we were headed to Davidson River State Park where Jim had planned on doing some fishing.  The park was nothing like I imagined-more of a fish camp which is okay for fisherman I suppose. And the funny thing was (not so funny for Jim) he was getting his equipment ready for fishing so he could get an early start when he discovered he had left his waders in storage in Florida !  And since we were basically in the middle of nowhere he had no place to go to buy a replacement pair.  Of course I had to gently remind him that my obsessiveness with list making didn't look so terrible now did it ? It pretty much rained the entire 4 days at Davidson for us and really poor Internet reception , even with the booster so we caught up on reading.  I've gone through about 12 of Michel Connelly's books and I feel like a partner already to his Harry Bosch character!

Our spot at Bear Creek
From Davidson we made a quick stop in Asheville at the Bear Creek RV park.  We caught up on emails and laundry !

Then we journeyed to Huntersville to meet some Roadtrek friends in person that we had met on line. Well I have to tell you, I felt like I met a true soul sister !  Yvette was even more warm and welcoming in person and her husband Paul was too.  We just clicked.  Of course we have so much in common-art,good food,music, adventure and traveling.  Yvette is a talented artist and just a bundle of energy.  She kept us enthralled with stories of Canada and her family and her adventures.  She has brought to life so many of the places we plan on visiting.  And I know I have a friend for life.
It was sad to say goodbye but I know we will see them in Ottawa during our travels.

 From Huntersville we headed to New River State Park in North Carolina.  We both fell in love with this campground. So beautiful and well taken care of.  We hiked a great deal down to the New River, the second oldest river in the world according to locals.  And they are quite proud of it and their efforts to keep it clean and pristine.

The park has a wonderful visitor center and one of the trails-the Dogwood Trail ends at an overlook where you can sit and watch the deer come out in the valley in the evening.  The ranger told us that in Spring you can go at sunrise or sunset and watch the mating flight and listen to the songs of the woodcock. We tried, but alas, it was too early to see any this time of year.

 But we did find wild onions and grilled them with our steaks for our goodbye dinner and they were delicious !
Our view downriver from our "premium" riverfront site

From New River we headed towards Knoxville with a TVA camp in mind-Douglas Dam.  We had heard that TVA campsites were pretty nice and not expensive.  We camped at the Tailwaters (there is also a headwaters camp) and we paid premium for a riverfront site-still only 18$ per night with the Access Senior discount. It's not a campground I would want to spend a week at, but it's a nice place for a 2 day layover R & R.

 The water was extremely low, normally that bank on the right is covered

 The lodge restaurant at Cumberland-was doing a booming business on Sunday and smelled so good !

If you Google Cumberland Mountain State Park you will see the difference in water levels, this is usually a gorgeous river shot but alas the water was too low.

We decided we really weren't ready for the big city so we chose not to go to Nashville, maybe on the return trip through the South. Instead we thought that the Cumberland Mountain State Park looked interesting.  It was also in the middle of nowhere-not a park you would choose for a quick overnighter because of the challenge of getting there-you know us we love those back roads. All the way up the curvy mountain road we kept seeing huge trees uprooted and tons of broken branches and couldn't imagine what had caused all of that damage. We quickly learned that they had a horrible ice storm followed by snow and more ice at the end of February-power was out for 19000 people and the kids were out of school for 2 weeks.  The park has just begun to clean up-the trails were still blocked by large downed trees and there were large branches still dangling in trees.  I just prayed that no heavy winds would come and cause those to crash down on us.  We escaped safely .

And now here we are in Berea Kentucky planning our walking tour of the Artisan area tomorrow. I'm so looking forward to it. From there we will head back into the wilderness of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

My favorite moment of this trip came to me one night while looking out the rear window of Ruby up at the stars.  It was so dark and so quiet and at that moment I felt a contentment so deep and so strong . I felt like the sky was my blanket and the twinkley stars were my nightlights and felt that all was good in the world and that I couldn't be more content.  I wish all of you this feeling at least once in your lifetime-I will cherish that moment.

Happy Trails my friends and wanderers and Safe Travels.