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2019-04-15 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Tallahassee, FL…

This morning we walked 1/2 mile down the road to the Tallahassee Automobile Museum.  We enjoyed looking at old cars; some of the other collections, not so much.

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There were row after row of cars, from the late 1890s to the 1980s…

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They had lots of Bat-mobiles, a Bat-plane, and a Bat-motorcycle…

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And then we had to scratch our heads at the collection of old, worn-out golf clubs… not to mention knives, dolls, medallions,and other things that people collect; this place is sort of a collection of collections…

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We had a fun hour or so – nothing earthshaking… We returned to the Villa and caught up on some errands…

That evening we went to eat at a Farm-to-Table restaurant called Backwoods Crossing that was very good!

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We were joined by two other Airstream couples from the area…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-14 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Tallahassee, FL, and Frank Lloyd Wright

All night long I heard and saw tornado warnings on the weather channel; storms were coming in from the west.  We were up at 6:00 am to hitch up and go; then ambulances and fire trucks rolled in, blocking all traffic lanes in the RV park.  Apparently there was some minor medical issue 3-4 trailers down the row…  But by the time we were ready to go they had all left, and we rolled out at 7:00 am.  We saw lots of lightning as we drove north 15 miles, then, as we turned east we started to get some light rain.  But no tornadoes, no hazardous wind (despite the large flashing signs warning us about hazardous winds…), and the rain soon stopped.  We heard of terrible storms in Michigan and Texas and Alabama, but I think the storm had petered out by the time it got to Florida…

We arrived safely in Tallahassee and set up in a nice RV park.  We walked around and found another Airstream – and found out that it was another couple that we knew from an earlier caravan, and who will be going on the Kentucky caravan with us!  Small world!

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We had an appointment at 2:00 pm to see the Spring House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright house built in Florida.  We had light rain as we approached, but the house itself was delightful.

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Obviously it is in need of repair and restoration… The daughter of the original owner, who grew up in the house, still lives here; she is trying to raise funds on behalf of a foundation (www.preservespringhouse.org) so that they can buy the house, restore it, and open it for philanthropic events…

We met Byrd, the current owner, and heard the story of the house.  Her parents, Mr. and Mrs Lewis, saw an article by Frank Lloyd Wright in a magazine about houses having “souls”, and they were impressed.  They had a chance to meet FLlW in 1952 and they said, “We have a lot of children (4) and not much money; can you design a house for us?”  At the time FLlW was 84 years old and was still excited about his “Usonian” houses for people of modest means, so he agreed.  After a 2 1/2 years the Lewises had found this five acre property with a stream running into a lake.  The house was designed and eventually built, with all the usual FLlW drama, even though he never visited the house…

The house is boat shaped, and it has three curved walls, the two exterior walls being convex, and the interior balcony being concave.  The ends are pointed.  There is a huge two-story tall curved wall of glass facing the forest; all the major rooms in the house face this wall of glass and have a continuous view of the wall of trees a few feet away from the house.  Spectacular!  Unfortunately, interior photos are not allowed…

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The little windows resemble half-portholes…

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The ship lap siding runs through the glass…

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So between talking to Byrd, the other docents, and other visitors, we spent a delightful two hours.

We then traveled to the home of the WBCCI Caravan Director, Jay Thompson, and his wife, Elna.  They were leaders of the Southwest Caravan that we did last year.  We had a nice time catching up, drinking wine, and batting around ideas about how the caravan experience can be improved…

We returned to the Villa about 6:30 and enjoyed a bottle of wine and some pasta…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-16 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Tallahassee, FL to Chattahoochee Hills, GA…

We left Tallahassee in the morning and headed north.  it wasn’t long before we were in Georgia; we pulled in to the Visitor Center for a brief stop…

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We continued on.  For about 4 hours Georgia looked like this…

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We arrived at Chattahoochee Hills by mid afternoon.  We drove down this dirt road…

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We ignored the Private Driveway signs and proceeded in, hoping we were in the right place and that we wouldn’t find a dead end…

But it was OK – we arrived at this large clearing with a lovely house and pool…

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We parked the Villa off to the side and called our friends, who live nearby…

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Our friends arrived and we walked about 1/2 mile to the village of Serenbe, more specifically, the hamlet of Selborne…

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Serenbe was designed and developed along the lines of Neo-Traditional Town Planning similar to Seaside.  Unlike Seaside, which is a holiday town, by the sea, Serenbe is a place meant for full-time living, on the outskirts of Atlanta.  While Seaside is relatively dense and compact, all on 80 acres, Serenbe is hundreds of acres, with four hamlets separated by rolling open space.

It was delightful.

We met up with our friends and hung out at the pool for awhile.  Dinner and wine was consumed, and we ended the day on the balcony, overlooking the streets below…

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We were transported back to the Villa on their golf cart…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-13 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Seaside, FL, and a shocking discovery…!

We spent the day in Seaside, FL.    WARNING:  Architectural rantings and discussions approaching!!!

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Seaside is an unincorporated master-planned community on the western Florida panhandle.  One of the first communities in America designed on the principles of New Urbanism, ot Neo-Traditional Town Planning, the town has become the topic of slide lectures in architectural schools and in housing-industry magazines world-wide, and is visited by design professionals (like me…) from all over.  

The idea behind Seaside came in 1946, when the grandfather of future founder Robert S. Davis bought 80 acres of land along the shore of Northwest Florida as a summer retreat for his family.  In 1978 Davis inherited the parcel from his grandfather, and aimed to transform it into an old-fashioned beach town, with traditional wood-framed cottages typical of the Florida Panhandle.  Davis, his wife Daryl, and architectural partners Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company did painstakingly detailed research; they toured the south, studying small towns, armed with cameras, sketch pads, and tape measures; this became the basic for the planning of Seaside.  While a few houses were built in 1982 to “test the waters”, the final master plan was complete around 1985.

The developers used the master plan to write their own zoning codes.  Seaside’s commercial hub is located at the town center.  The streets are designed in a radiating street pattern with pedestrian alleys and open spaces located throughout the town.  There is a mix of uses and residential types throughout the community.

Individual housing units in Seaside are required to be different from other buildings, with designs ranging from styles such as Victorian, Neoclassical, Modern, Postmodern, and Deconstructivism.  Seaside includes buildings by many different architects, including such notables as Robert A. M. Stern, Daniel Solomon, and Samuel Mockbee.  Architect Scott Merrill designed the Seaside Chapel, an interfaith chapel and local landmark.  Seaside has no private front lawns, and only native plants are used in front yards.  The picket fences, required to be in front of all houses are all different from each other…

The result of all this work and planning is a remarkable little community.  Streets are designed first for pedestrians, and secondarily for automobiles.   We walked for hours, and every time we turned the corner a new delight was seen.

We arrived at about 9:00 on a Saturday morning.  The farmers’ market was in full swing; we stopped by one of the many Airstream “Food Trucks” for a breakfast crepe and coffee…

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We then headed out for a stroll along the beach.  There are seven access points to the beach, each one with a tower-type structure to mark its presence, each tower designed by a different architect.  This tower and stair is the ONLY public access to this stretch of beach…

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Yes, that’s right.  The beach is private, and all the other access points have locked gates.  Not only that, but there is a solid wall of buildings lining the Gulf Coast Highway (30A), so that as you walk or drive along the highway you wouldn’t even know the beach and the gulf are there!  I think Florida could learn a thing or two from other States which treat the beaches and oceans as a public resource to be enjoyed by all…

But, in any case, the beach is beautiful, with the same powder sugar sand like we saw in Mississippi…

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Lynda tested the waters.  Cooler than what we expected, but warmer than any beach in California… (You did not know that California beaches and the Pacific Ocean there are cold???)

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We were also surprised to see the waves, which were non-existent in Mississippi…

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These are some of the houses that block off the beach from the highway…

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We had a lovely walk on the beach, but we came here to see the town…

All buildings appear to have the form of this type of vernacular, although there are many different styles of homes…

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The streets are delightful…

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This tiny house is set back far from its neighbors…

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Not all the houses are traditional…

 

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These townhouses surround a courtyard just a short block from the business district, and many have businesses on the ground floor…

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This is the interfaith non-denominational chapel.  We wished our schedule would have allowed us to attend services on Sunday…

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More streets – each one more delightful than the next…

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Finally, by mid afternoon, we were ready for a break.  The beach was much busier now, and the patrons of the restaurants were hopping…

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We had a lovely lunch on the terrace overlooking the beach…

We walked around the business district and did some shopping…

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The troubadours were playing adjacent to the farmers’ market…

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There is this large central park shaped like a amphitheater.  On Friday evenings they show movies on the lawn…

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The farmers’ market…

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We returned to the Villa.  Happy Hours ensued.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-12 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Four States!

We woke up early in the Villa, in a parking lot in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

We took a walk in the early morning light…

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After about one mile we arrived at the famous Cafe Du Monde…

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We took a table inside, and ordered Beignets and cafe au laits…  (They are famous for Chicory coffee, but I don’t understand why; chicory is a cheap substitute for coffee that doesn’t taste like coffee nor does it have much caffeine in it.  It is used where people can’t afford coffee, of when coffee supplies are rationed, such as during WWII…  No real coffee drinker would touch the stuff.  Leave it to the South to romanticize and popularize bad food, like chicken fried steak, or grits, or biscuits and near-rancid gravy…)

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But we had a great time, watching the early birds come in for their coffee and beignets… After scraping about two cups of powdered sugar off the beignets they were quite tasty…

We walked over to get a better picture of the Basillica.  It sort of reminds me of Cinderella’s castle…

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We caught a few more early morning street scenes on our way back to the Villa.  We love early mornings in big cities…!

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We returned to the Villa and prepared for travel.  We headed out, found the 10 freeway, and pointed ourselves east.  It wasn’t long before we arrived at a new State:

 

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We pulled into the Visitors Center.  It looked like the inside of your grandmother’s house, with some grandmotherly women offering us coffee and assistance.

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We asked how to get to the scenic Gulf Coast Highway, and maps were supplied.  We returned to the truck and soon we were on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico…

 

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The sand is like powdered sugar – just like what we scraped off our beignets earlier this morning…

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I put my feet into the gulf waters, the first time since I did it in Galveston in 1984.  This time, when I pulled my feet out of the water they were not covered in tar and oil…

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There were thousands of seagulls on the sand.  Probably because there were millions of sea shells on the sand…

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Other than the seagulls, the beach was deserted.  We don’t see deserted beaches in California at any time, day or night…

Across the street from the sand are these houses, fronting on the highway.  They are built up on stilts to protect from flooding and storm surges…

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A house under construction – note the brick columns…

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We eventually left the coast and drove through several swamps and other wetlands…

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Soon we arrived at…

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We stopped in for a minute, and continued on…

Alabama is a lot like Mississippi… until it doesn’t.  Mobile is a big city!

 

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Mobile has a tunnel under the bay!

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And then Alabama looks just like Mississippi again…

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We stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel.  Our first visit to a Cracker Barrel.  It seems to me that almost everything Cracker Barrel represents or espouses are things that I dislike.  But they are RV friendly, they are located at every major interstate interchange (usually right next door to a Waffle House), and we are meeting fellow Airstreamers at a Cracker Barrel in Tennessee in a few weeks…

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We able to find a few items on the menu that we could eat, and the portions were only double what we can handle, not the 4x they usually serve… The food we had was pretty good, and I think if we eat here once or twice per year the food won’t kill us… Don’t get me started on why we, as restaurant diners, should have to stand in line behind trinket-buying tourists in order to pay our check…!

But soon we were in Florida!

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We will stay four nights in Florida… Tonight we are outside Freeport, on the western portion of the panhandle.  It amazes me that we still are not yet in the eastern time zone…!

The RV Park is quite nice.  There is even a boat launch; this river gives access to the salt water bays and the freshwater lakes…

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The Villa is set up and Happy Hours occur…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

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