East for the Holidays

Arizona Sunsets

David and I flew to the East Coast for the holidays. We parked our rig in a campground south of Casa Grande, Arizona and, as it is our custom when we’re out west, we fly back to visit with friends and family. We also schedule our annual check ups and physicals with our doctors in Richmond, Virginia during that time.

Visiting the Wrightsville Beach

We had a great time at Thanksgiving in Wilmington, North Carolina where we gathered together with my brother and his family at my mother’s house. Due to COVID, many who came had not met the new additions to our family. It was a great time to get to meet and to catch up with everyone.

While in Wilmington, we also made a visit to the USS North Carolina Battleship. It had been years since we’d toured it so we were anxious to see it again.

On Deck with Wilmington NC in Background

This valiant ship launched in 1940 and was sent to the Pacific Theater during World War II. Even though the Japanese reported that the ship had been sunk six times, it never was. The crew of the USS North Carolina took part in all the major naval offensives and earned 15 battle stars. This battleship, nicknamed “Showboat”, is 728 feet long and 108 feet tall and is equipped with nine massive 16” Mark 6 Guns.

It was decommissioned in 1947 and was slated to become scrap metal until Governor Luther Hodges asked the Navy for the ship because he wanted to establish a Battleship Memorial in the port town of Wilmington, North Carolina. After much fundraising and significant repairs to the vessel, the Memorial opened to visitors in 1962. Twenty years later it was deemed a National Historic Landmark.

We had the best time climbing on the top of the ship and down into the various sections on our self-guided tour. It is truly amazing to learn about what life was like on this battleship and the many heroic deeds performed in defense of our country.

After a few days with family, we drove up to Richmond, Virginia, where we’d lived for 20 years, to see our doctors. Even though we were only there for a few days, we did go back and visit some of our favorite haunts while there.

When the air is crisp and Christmas is right around the corner, there’s one place that we love to go and that’s Williamsburg, VA. The historic area is decorated beautifully and you can get some hot apple cider and gingerbread to enjoy while you walk down the Duke of Gloucester Street.

We always enjoy seeing the one-of-a-kind holiday wreaths and entryway decorations. Each one must be made from natural items that were available in the 18th century, such as shells, pomegranates, coffee, cotton bolls, fruits (apples, oranges, lemons, etc.), and local greenery. These decorations must be designed to last for the entire two month season. It is amazing to see the creativity and variety of their creations. Williamsburg anytime, but especially during the Christmas holidays, is such a joy to experience. Many thanks to the Kellys and Medleys for making this excursion even better.

Another favorite holiday destination is in Richmond. Every year, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens hosts the GardenFest of Lights. Dominion Energy, the local electric company, sponsors this event which dresses up the gardens with beautiful lights and displays. You can stroll through and see not only the lights but also the special light displays. This year’s featured displays included butterflies, peacock flowers, a spider with its web, and others. There was also a model train display in one of the buildings. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Richmond in November, December, or January. Thanks to the Freemans and Medleys for a wonderful evening of wonder!

One of our favorite places in Richmond any time of the year is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. This state-owned museum opened in 1936. It is open 365 days a year and it’s free to the public. It has an outstanding permanent collection of art. They have galleries dedicated to African Art, American Art, East Asian Art, Ancient Art, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, European Art, South Asian Art, and Contemporary Art. The VMFA’s vast holdings allows it to loan works to many other museums throughout the world. On a regular basis, they host special exhibits of works from their own and others’ collections. For these exhibits there is an admission fee. When we were in Richmond this time, there was an amazing exhibit of Ansel Adams’ photography. Since David is a photographer and Ansel Adams is one of his favorites, we had to go see this special exhibit. It was the most extensive display that we have ever seen. Exhibited were photographs taken both early and later in his career. Some of his most famous ones were there as well. We were so thrilled to have seen this special exhibit.

The Tetons and the Snake River

A copy of this famous Ansel Adams’ photograph hung in David’s office for many years.

As a bonus, there was another special photography exhibit which featured some of Man Ray’s photographs. Man Ray was an American portrait photographer but he lived for many years in Paris. During those years, from 1921-1940, he captured images of many famous artists, composers, dancers, fashion designers, musicians, writers, architects, etc. who had also migrated to Paris. Along with the portraits exhibited, there was information about each subject that he photographed. His unique portraits of these famous people brought Man Ray great acclaim and notoriety.

We wish we could have spent more time at the VMFA but we were certainly happy that we got to spend some time there to see the artwork of some truly gifted photographers.

We had a great time during our visits with family and friends in North Carolina and Virginia. Thankfully all of our doctors’ appointments went well too. We left Virginia and headed south toward Florida to try and escape the chilly temps of the Mid-Atlantic this time of year.

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