"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

December 15, 2017

This Boat

This song is by Howard Livingston & Mile Marker 24, a local group we heard about while in the Keys one winter. Some people have no idea how true these lyrics are...but if you're a cruiser, liveaboard, lover of boats or someone that enjoys the simpler way of life, you'll be able to relate to this song. Stan and I truly do and it's something that's hard to explain to land based friends. "Once those sails catch the wind, you can’t turn and go back again. It’s going to set you free and you can’t go back to who you use to be."

December 4, 2017

Biltmore Estate

Most of the time when we travel to and from the east coast we have a schedule...the urge to return to The Pearl or the tug to our heart strings to see our family, especially our grand children. This trip on our way home from spending Thanksgiving with our family in Pennsylvania we decided to take a side trip to explore Asheville, North Carolina and the Biltmore Estate...we had a wonderful time.

Biltmore Facts:
  • George Washington Vanderbilt built the Biltmore Mansion between 1889 and 1895. It’s the largest private home in the United States. 
  • The house took six years to complete and employed over 1,000 men during its construction.
  • The house was named Biltmore - from “Bildt”, the Dutch town where Vanderbilt’s ancestors originated, and “more”, an old English word for open, rolling land.
  • George Vanderbilt hired two of the most distinguished designers of the 19th century to create his dream: architect Richard Morris Hunt (designed the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Statue of Liberty base) and landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted (designed Central Park). 
  • The four-story stone house with a 780-foot fa├žade was designed to rival the surrounding mountains in grandeur.
  • To accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of building a European chateau in rural North Carolina, Hunt focused on efficiency. The land in front of the home site was transformed into a mini-town with buildings and small factories that produced materials necessary for the construction of the house. 
  • An on-site kiln produced up to 32,000 bricks daily, and a woodworking factory supplied oak and walnut for the house’s floors and walls.
  • Indiana limestone (almost 10 million pounds), Italian marble and other supplies were shipped into Asheville by rail. Vanderbilt built a private railroad track from the village depot up to the construction site. The 3-mile route eventually became what is now the Approach Road that leads guests to Biltmore House.
  • The Biltmore Estate cost approximately $5 million to build in the late 1800s, in today’s dollars that would be around $90 million.  
  • When the Biltmore House opened to friends and family on Christmas Eve in 1895 the home contained more than 175,000 square feet (four acres). It had 33 bedrooms, 65 fireplaces, 43 bathrooms, three kitchens, electric elevators, bowling ally, indoor swimming pool and a winter garden. 
  • The house had underwater lights in its indoor pool at a time when many people still used candles and oil and gas lamps for light. 
  • The house was wired with both AC and DC current because nobody was sure which would become the norm.
  • The Banquet Hall is 74’ by 42’, with a seven-story high ceiling and triple fireplace. The dinner table could seat as many as 64 guests. The meals served there were typically 8 courses and required 15 utensils per person to eat.
  • The Biltmore Estate was originally 125,000 acres. After George Vanderbilt’s death, according to his wishes, Edith sold 87,000 acres of the original Biltmore Estate to the U.S. Government Forest Services to form the Pisgah National Forest.   
  • In 1930, Cornelia (Vanderbilt’s daughter) and John Cecil opened Biltmore House to the public, hoping to increase local tourism during the Depression. 
  • In 1942, during World War II, Biltmore House stored priceless art from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. 
  • Today the estate covers over 8,000 acres and includes 75-acres of formal gardens, hotels, a winery (most visited winery in the US), several restaurants, a 250-acre deer preserve and a conservatory. It draws over a million visitors a year.
  • The Easter Egg hunt at the estate draws approximately 5,000 children each year.
  • There are more than 6,000 weddings on the Biltmore Estate each year.

The Biltmore at night
A few of the guest rooms 
Winter Garden: This glass-roofed room was considered stylish in the Victoria era and provided a place to display exotic plants.
The Library was designed around the gorgeous 18th century ceiling painting by Pelligrini. Titled “The Chariot of Aurora,” it was originally located in a palace in Venice, Italy. The painting is 64’ long by 32’ wide, consisting of 13 separate canvases, the central scene surrounded by 12 smaller paintings.
The Vanderbilt library houses 23,000 books. It also features 16th century tapestries.
At Christmas time approximately 15,000 strings of lights are used, as well as 100 evergreen trees, and 53 indoor trees to decorate...here are just a few of the beautiful trees.
The massive stone spiral staircase has 102 steps. 
In the center of the staircase, suspended by a single bolt is an iron chandelier containing 72 electric light bulbs. 
What an amazing view the Vanderbilts had from their estate
Biltmore Conservatory was full of beautiful flowers...many stacked up to look like Christmas tress. The outside gardens were bare, but inside the plants were amazing.
Trail to Bass Pond and boat house
Biltmore Floor plans 
Thanks for reading our blog and spending part of your day with us. The Pearl is also on Facebook - stop by and say hi or follow us on Instragram or Google+.

November 13, 2017

Facebook Photo Challenge

Facebook has been full of black and white photos...part of a photo challenge. The instructions given to me were: Seven days, seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. 

I was also suppose to tag someone each day to invite them to join, but I decided most of my friends probably wouldn't take part, so I just posted my pictures. I followed the rules other wise and posted my photos without an explanation...although it was a little difficult not to add a caption.
My fellow blogging friend from The Cynical Sailer and his Salty Sidekick was the one that challenged me and then she posted a blog entry with the explanations she wanted to include in her Black & White Photo Challenge posts. I thought it was a wonderful idea...so here are the captions I wanted to add to my photos.

Day 1 - The Blue Crab has been a tourist and local favorite in Rockport since the late 50s. In 2011 an artist constructed the latest version that sat next to Little Bay until Hurricane Harvey blew it away. Now another artist has painted a large crab to take its place until a permanent one can be constructed...reminding everyone that Rockport will recover. 
Day 2 - The blue herons have returned to the posts by Texas Pearl...I love to watch them and I worried a lot about them and the other birds during the storm. They're one of my favorite birds to photograph.  
Day 3 - This is Little Harbor in the Abacos...can you spot The Pearl? It's a small remote place and it was one of our favorite places, surrounded by beautiful clear water and secluded beaches. We look forward to returning here one day. 
Day 4 - Sandpipers are another fun shore bird to photograph. They scurry along the edge of the surf, darting just out of reach of the waves.  
Day 5 - Blog readers know I love beach combing...lobster buoys were my treasure of choice in Maine and now they decorate the fence at our home in Texas.  
Day 6 - Our pool looks more like a pond than a place of beauty and relaxation these days, but the wild animals love to visit and I enjoy watching them. 
Day 7 - We don't see a lot of white pelicans in this area, but this flock seem to love the beach next to the causeway leading into Rockport. 
Thanks for reading our blog and spending part of your day with us. The Pearl is also on Facebook - stop by and say hi or follow us on Instragram or Google+.

September 29, 2017

Sept. 23 - Forks Farm Market

Orangeville, PA

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” —Pearl S. Buck
Regular blog readers know we love farmers markets...it's our favorite way to spend a Saturday morning. We've visited large and small markets all over the country and I know I've said we've found our favorite in the past, but I think we've found another favorite. The market we visited with our son and his family in Pennsylvania is a true farmers market...it was located on local farm. Forks Farm hosts a farmers market about twice a month with the local farmers in the area. 

The setting is amazing...it takes place on the shady road that leads to their home. The old barns and farm buildings houses some of the venders, entertainment and farm animals the children love to pet. They also have a food truck that offers wonderful choices for lunch and you're welcomed walk along the creek and enjoy a picnic lunch. Some days they offer wagon rides in their pastures. We purchased New York strips steaks, heirloom carrots, lima beans, tomatoes, apples, cheese and fresh butter. These ingredients along with the fresh herbs from Kyle’s garden made for a marvelous dinner.
Just a few of the beautiful offerings at the market 
It's apple season in upstate New York and Pennsylvania...and they are amazingly good
Graham really enjoyed this Honey Crisp apple
Wonderful entertainment to listen to while you shop or just relax and take in the activities at the market.
I love all the colors and photo ops a farmers market provides.
Cora and Graham really enjoyed petting the animals at the farm
Thanks for reading our blog and spending part of your day with us. The Pearl is also on Facebook - stop by and say hi or follow us on Instragram or Google+.

September 27, 2017

Anchored Strong

I saw this poem on a fellow blogger's Facebook page the other day...it's from a Hallmark card and seems prefect to share considering what so many of us have been through this fall. Things may be broken and out of place and lives disrupted, but we all stand strong with foundations that are deeper than the destruction on the surface. It's a time for reflection on what really matters in our life and be thankful for the family and friends we have. 

"A house stood near the salty shore
as storm winds whipped against its door.
The tide rolled in and clouds turned gray.
It tried to wash the house away.

The ocean roared with all it could,
the waves crashed down, but House still stood.

Then Storm let up, flopped on the sand,
and said, "Hey, House, how can you stand?"

The house said, "Storm, that's all you got? You know, I'm built to take a lot.
You've drenched and soaked me through and through, and ripped my roof and shutters, too.

You've chipped my paint and cracked each pane, but I can take a little rain.
See, I am anchored in the ground,
that's where my strong foundation's found. 

And from inside, my light shines bright, no matter if it's day or night.
Yes, even after all you've done,
You, Storm, have passed. 

Here comes the sun."

These two pictures were taken by John Martell, a professional photographer in Rockport. This picture was take the morning Hurricane Harvey come ashore
and this picture was taken about a week later...no matter how bad the storm...the sun and the sea look the same once it passes.
Thanks for reading our blog and spending part of your day with us. The Pearl is also on Facebook - stop by and say hi or follow us on Instragram or Google+.