So many quotes celebrate the twelve months of the year … And in this New Year’s writing you’ll find thoughts and quotes for every single month of the year to help you get inspired and excited about the new year to come.  Enjoy a ramble through the coming year with quotes, thoughts, and photos. And decide right now that 2023 will be extra special and that you will do more and be more!


“January is the month for dreaming.” – Jean Hersey

The month of January is a month for beginnings and renewals. Renew your sense of purpose this year; take on some new challenges. Dream some new dreams.

“Welcome January. The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.” – Melody Beattie  


February is short; it is filled with lots of love and sweet surprises.” – Charmaine J. Horde

February is the month of love. Find a way to show your love to others in this month—and to yourself, too, by staying focused and by continuing to work to see your new goals and dreams come true.

“February is the border between winter and spring.” – Terri Guillemets


March brings breezes loud and shrill, stirs the dancing daffodil.” -Sara Coleridge

March brings a lift to the spirit, a skip to the step. Around every corner are the hints and beginnings of spring, filling the heart with new hope as the days warm and green.

“March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.” – Hal Borland


“April has a spirit of youth in everything.” – William Shakespeare

Let April be a lesson to you to bloom—where you are planted and in your own unique way. Get outdoors and be inspired by nature. Grow, bloom and spread your wings.

“April prepares her green traffic light and the whole world thinks, ‘Go’” – Christopher Morley


“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” – Edward Way Teale

May reminds us to be joyful, to be positive, to see life filled with promise and possibility. The flowering of Spring, the warming of the days, the greening of the earth, remind us of our responsibility to flower and to spread warmth, love, and inspiration wherever we go.

“Let all thy joys be as the month of May.” – Francis Quarles


“And since all this loveliness cannot be Heaven, I know in my heart it is June.” – Abba Woolson

June is the beginning of summer, firing in us a sense of youth, vacation, and holiday. The word June even means “young,” and the long warm days of summer lift the spirit and reduce stress. Relish June … and purpose to hold that spirit of youth all year.

“It’s better to be a young June bug than an old bird of paradise.” – Mark Twain


“July is hot afternoons and sultry nights and mornings when it’s a joy just to be alive.” – Hal Borland

Let July rouse a sense of excitement in you for the richness of summer, the richness of life. Savor it—and savor your life—like you savor an ice cream cone on a hot day. Never forget to live richly and well as July teaches.

“Life is better in flip-flops. Life is better in July.” – Anonymous


Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August.” – Denise Levertou

August is a sweet and satisfying month to savor as summer draws to a close. It’s a transitional month—for looking ahead.  August is a gentle reminder that the often lazy days of summer are ending and that it’s time to get motivated and back to work again to fulfill your goals.

“August creates as she slumbers, replete and satisfied.” -Joseph Wood Krutch


“In many ways September feels like the busiest time of the year.” – Brene Brown

September is the “settling back into school” month—and a reminder to value education and to always be a reader and a lifelong learner. Learning is your passport to the future, the creator of new ideas, the aid to fulfilling all your plans and dreams. September is a reminder to stay generative and to never grow intellectually stagnant.

“Let’s strive to be better in September.” – Charmaine J. Forde


“Ah, lovely October, as you usher in the season that awakens my soul, your awesome beauty compels my spirit to soar like a leaf caught in an autumn breeze and my heart to soar like a heavenly choir.” – Peggy Toney Horton

There’s a sense of change in the air in October—a newness that settles in, a time to relish the way the leaves change color, the air grows crisper—an energetic time and a time to conceive, believe and achieve.

Don’t waste October sunshine.” – Katherine Arden


“It was November—the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep sad hymns of the sea, and passionate wind songs in the pines.” – L.M. Montgomery

November reminds us that change can be a beautiful thing, even as it heralds winter coming. November is a month for gratitude and thanksgiving, to reflect on all we have to be grateful for. A time to reflect on all we have accomplished in the year and on all we can yet do.

“Don’t wait until the fourth Thursday in November to sit with family and friends to give thanks. Make every day a day of thanksgiving.” – Charmaine J. Forde.


“The lights are twinkling. The snow is flying. It’s time to say hello to December.” – Anonymous

It seems we are never ready for December when it comes. Yet, despite any concerns about all we haven’t accomplished in the year, or how unprepared for the holidays we are, December comes “twinkling” in and there is always something special in the month to be gained if we would watch and listen for it. Better to love December, as children do, and to leave a little sparkle and wonder wherever you go. And remember to spread that sparkle in the new year to come.

“Of all the months of the year, there is not a month half so welcome to the young, or so full of happy associations, as the last month of the year – [December]. – Charles Dickens


See you again in February!!!

Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act


Early celebrations of what we now know as Christmas had a mix of spiritual and worldly origins. The word “Christmas” means Christ’s Mass from the term “Christes Maesse” first recorded in 1038. Christmas then, and now ,is primarily about the birth of God’s Son, Jesus, and about how He came to give hope, love, and joy to the world.  The exact date of Jesus’ birth isn’t known, but one legend says that since Mary was told she’d have Jesus on March 25th (the Annunciation), that the date came from nine months after that date, December 25th. Other cultures, many pagan ones, also had festivals during this Winter Solstice period and the Jewish people celebrated Hanukkah in this season, too.  With so many holidays in the same time period, many ways of celebrating the Christmas season merged together over time and now the holiday holds many mixed traditions and meanings.

All cultures, and individual families, have their established traditions or customs for the Christmas season handed down through the generations. I thought it would be interesting to share a few of these in my blog this month and where the customs came from. Most all traditions have a multitude of origins and stories associated with them beyond the ones I’ve chosen to share but I hope you will enjoy these below.

LIVE NATIVITY SCENES – In 1223 St. Francis of Assisi created the first live nativity scene to bring Jesus’ birth scene to life. He got permission from the Pope to set up a manger scene. Today live nativities are set up in churches and communities during the holidays. Often the nativity is re-enacted with costumed figures, live animals, music, and a narration of the Bible story,

CHRISTMAS TREES – It is thought the first Christmas trees originated in Germany in the 1600s, and Martin Luther is credited for decorating the trees with lights or candles. Other decorations soon followed and the custom of putting up a Christmas tree was brought to England later and then traveled to other countries like America in the 1800s. In earlier times, of course, all trees were “real” and the “cutting of the tree” was a ceremony of its own.

SANTA CLAUS – The story of Santa begins with St Nicholas, a Christian bishop, in the fourth century in Asia Minor. Many miracles and kindnesses were attributed to him. St. Nicholas sacrificially gave money and gifts to the poor. Legend tells that to save three sisters from being sold into prostitution, because they had no marriage dowries, Nicholas threw gold coins into the open window of their home in the night. This act of generosity, embellished over time in the telling, led to children hanging up stockings by the fireplace in hopes of receiving gifts from St. Nick. Early Santas, based on bishops like St.Nicholas, wore long robes of red or white.

CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS – Christmas stockings are linked back to the St. Nicholas story. The first stockings hung by the chimney or on a bedpost belonged to the children but over time Christmas stockings became much more elaborate and the gifts  tucked into them more luxurious than simply an orange, a few nuts, and a peppermint stick. In America, Clement Clark Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and the lines about Santa filling the children’s stockings and then rising up the chimney popularized the hanging of stockings all the more. That poem also solidified Santa’s image as a jolly man in a red suit, flying through the air on a sleigh. Artist Thomas Nest furthered these images in the U.S. with his cheerful paintings of Santa and Mrs. Claus on Cocas-Cola ads.

CHRISTMAS WREATHS – A German Lutheran pastor gets the credit for the Christmas wreaths we hang on our doors. Europeans had long been decorating with evergreens, but Joahann Wicern created a circular-shaped evergreen to represent eternal life. He hung it on the door during Advent with a candle in the wreath to represent Jesus, the light of the world. The idea caught on and many later added more advent candles to their holiday wreaths, with the idea soon spreading to other countries. Each part of the wreath holds a Christian symbolism, but  many simply hang up wreaths for decoration. Holiday wreaths can be hung on doors, placed on tables, or worn on the head like a crown.

CHRISTMAS CARDS – Christmas cards began with the same purpose they have today—as a way to stay in touch with friends and family. Back in 1843, as the holidays began, Sir Henry Cole in England wanted to send holiday greetings to friends but wanted to avoid writing individual notes and letters. So he had a thousand illustrated cards made, and then sent them out. His idea caught on and was quickly replicated by others. New advances in printing soon made the production of Christmas cards even easier. By the 1850s Christmas cards were in full swing in England and they became popular in the U.S. in the late 1800s – early 1900s when mailing became less expensive and when offset printing made cards much easier to produce.

MISTLETOE – The kissing tradition of mistletoe originated from an old Norse legend. When a Norse god’s son was killed by a spear of mistletoe, his mother decreed the plant would never be used again as a weapon and would become instead a symbol of love. She also vowed to bestow a kiss on anyone who walked underneath it, so naturally people would stand under the mistletoe to try to get a kiss – just as they do today. The writings of Charles Dickens in Victorian England brought the practice into even more popularity, making the mistletoe a widely used holiday decoration.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND CANDLES – In the late 1600s-1700s, Irish Catholics began the tradition of lighting candles in their windows at Christmas. it was a secret way, in a time of religious persecution, to ask a priest to visit the home. The practice of window lights soon spread, with the meaning of the lights inferring hospitality during the holiday season. Outdoor Christmas lights in the U.S are simply a happy accident, linked to the time when Thomas Edison, who had invented the light bulb, was looking for a way to advertise his new lights … so he strung them outside his laboratory to show them off to passersby. Now we see them everywhere—in windows, on the roofs of houses, on buildings and lining the streets. About 150 million lights sets are sold in America each year for decorating indoors and outdoors.

CHRISTMAS CAROLS – Music and song have always played a part in any celebration, and the first Christmas carols are said to be the angels’ songs at Jesus birth. The earliest carols after this were  hymns, with spiritual messages, like “Silent Night,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” These were later followed by more secular, fun-loving holiday songs and carols like “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Hall,” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Some carols, like the “12 Days of Christmas” have hidden meanings. One theory says this carol was used in a time when Christians were punished for worshiping openly and that each gift on the list symbolized a different aspect of the Christian faith … like the “4 Calling birds” representing the four gospels and the “10 Lords a Leaping” the Ten Commandments.

HOLIDAY MOVIES – Plays in the theatre were the first dramas enacted for the Christmas holiday season – nativity plays and spiritual performances, dramas, and song and dance productions. The first Christmas movie, a short English film, aired in 1898 called Santa Claus. The earliest Scrooge movie followed in 1901 and then others like The Bells of St Mary’s, Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Movies full of song and dance soon became popular, as well, like Holiday Inn, Christmas in Connecticut, and White Christmas. Movies in color and the invention of television brought even more Christmas movies our way. Each year new favorites emerge—How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Santa Clause, Home Alone, Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Scrooged, The Polar Express, and many more. The best holiday movies make your heart grow sweeter at a giving time of year and linger in your memory for the rest of the year.

CHRISTMAS SWEETS – No holiday season would be complete without special sweets and desserts and many have been long associated with Christmas, like the Fruitcake. This traditional cake dates back to ancient Rome, continuing into Europe, Many of our other traditional favorites came from the British, too, like Egggnog, a hot drink of milk, eggs, nutmeg and cinnamon. It evolved in England as “posset,” a drink for the wealthy but gradually became a tradition for all in the 1700s. Gingerbread Men came from England, also, and were introduced by Queen Elizabeth I. She used a mold to shape the gingerbread men which were then decorated. Soon elaborate gingerbread houses followed, like many we see today.

CANDY CANES – Sweet candy canes date back to 1670 Germany. An old legend says the choir masters at one of the German cathedrals handed out white sugar sticks, bent into the shapes of shepherds’ crooks, to keep his young singers quiet during the Living Creche ceremony. By the 1700s, pulled sugars and candy canes were all the rage in Europe. They made their way to America in the mid 1800s when a German immigrant decorated a Christmas tree with paper ornaments and homemade candy canes. When mass production took off in the 20th century, so did the production of candy canes—now the No. 1 selling non-chocolate candy sold in December.

TREE ORNAMENTS – Christmas trees, since their earliest times, were decorated with lights and ornaments, usually candles, plus a few homemade ornaments, a string of cranberries or popcorn, and some sweets. Over time, ornaments became more lavish for those who could afford them. The first glass Christmas ornaments were created in the late 1500s in a German glassworks factory. The ornate glass ornaments came in the shapes of globes, animals, angels, birds, and acorns, often with special meanings. Popularity and demand for the ornaments grew over time, until other countries began to create their own tree ornaments. Eventually many types of ornaments became fashionable, made of glass, wood, plastic, and other materials. Now the making of Christmas ornaments, blown glass balls, collectibles of all kinds, strings of lights and beads, tinsel, angels and elaborate tree toppers is a huge international business.

THE CHRISTMAS PICKLE – Many humorous ornaments have also been created to hang on the Christmas tree as well as lovely collectibles. One I enjoyed reading about was the Christmas Pickle Ornament, a green, usually glass, ornament shaped like a pickle. According to the story, in the 1800s when a Woolworth’s retailer received a shipment of these pickle ornaments from Europe, he decided he needed a sales pitch to market and get rid of the odd ornaments. So he came up with a story idea that the “pickle” ornament should be added to the tree on Christmas eve night and that the first child, or adult if there were no children, to spot it on Christmas morning got to open the first present. The idea took off and the Pickle Ornament is still a loved tradition in many homes.

ELF ON THE SHELF – Every year new ideas begin, weaving their way into becoming beloved  holiday traditions. The Elf on the Shelf is one of those. Carol Aebersold used to entertain her twin daughters growing up with a story she’d made up of an elf hiding in the house, watching daily and then heading back to the North Pole at night to report to Santa about whether the girls were being “naughty” or “nice.” Carol’s daughters, when grown, encouraged her to write their tradition into a book for others to enjoy. She did, with their help, but after countless publisher rejections, Carol and her daughters decided to self-publish 5000 boxed sets of the book with an elf doll tucked into each. They traveled, marketing the books out of their car, and the elf on the shelf idea soon took off. Now Carol and her girls have a multi-million-dollar business, with more than one elf book released and with their story having been made into a a favorite Christmas season movie.

Almost every holiday tradition we observe at Christmas has a story behind it, if only one of our own family’s making. They are interesting to study and read about, and I hope you enjoyed learning about a few of these in this December blog post. You might also enjoy my Christmas newsletter, on this website, too.

Across the miles from our family to yours … have a blessed Christmas season and a wonderful New Year.

See you in 2023


Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act


Each state and every city in the U.S. has its own distinct history. Tennessee, and my hometown of Knoxville, is no exception, and J.L. and I have been reading lately about Knoxville’s early history. This last week we visited Blount Mansion, the home of U.S. Constitution signer William Blount, appointed by George Washington as the first governor for the Southwest Territory. The home, beautifully maintained, is now a National Historic Landmark.  Blount Mansion is also Knoxville’s only National Historic Landmark and the city’s oldest operating museum.

Backing up a little bit to earlier history, first settlers came exploring into what is now East Tennessee in the 1500s and 1600s. Then in the 1700s, English and French settlers began to venture into the area to settle. Following treaties with the Cherokee, more settlers soon  followed. The founder of Knoxville, James White (1747-1821) – a relative of mine through the Whites in my family line – came to the Knoxville area in the 1780s. Service in the Revolutionary War earned him a land grant of one-thousand acres along the Tennessee River in what is now downtown Knoxville. White built his home, a two-story log cabin, high on the hill above the Tennessee River on what is now Hill Avenue. He later added other structures around the original house and then enclosed all with a fort or stockade fence in 1786. The James White Fort became a central point for travelers and traders. In 1790 the fort was chosen as the capital of the Southwest Territory, which existed from 1790-1796.

Several candidates were suggested for governor of the new Southwest Territory, but President George Washington chose William Blount, a NC Constitutional Convention delegate and past NC state legislator, who had earlier promoted the settlement of the area. Blount was sworn in at Mount Vernon in 1790. William Blount chose James White’s fort as the capital of the new territory and in 1791 White’s son-in-law Charles McClung created a plat of lots for the new city, which they named Knoxville after William Blount’s superior in the war department, General Henry Knox. James White sold the land and donated the lots for the permanent city of Knoxville. He also donated land for the First Presbyterian Church and cemetery and for Blount College, which later became the University of Tennessee.  Also In 1791, the Treaty of Holston was negotiated with the Cherokee, encouraging further settlement of the new territory and capital. Supreme power of the territory rested with the governor, William Blount—a vast responsibility.

William Blount and his wife, Mary Grainger “Molsey” Blount, were both aristocracy in North Carolina, born of prominent families. The couple had nine children. Mary wasn’t impressed with the idea of moving to a log cabin in a primitive territory and insisted her husband build her a proper house if she moved to follow him to the new Southwest Territory. William heeded her desires and built her Blount Mansion, a fine two-storied home with beautiful glass windows. The Cherokee in the area had never seen windows like these and called the home the ‘house of many eyes.’

With time, the house grew and changed, expanding with need. William and Mary Blount brought a group of their slaves with them from their NC plantation. One, a man called Cupid, was a skillful carpenter and architect and he is credited for overseeing and building the Blounts’ house. His wife Sal was the family’s main cook. In past there was a slave cabin on the property which no longer exists today. …I imagine early settlers and travelers saw this home as impressive, so different from other early cabins and structures. The new home held gracious furnishings, cabinets of books and china, dishes, instruments like a harpsicord and dulcimer for entertainment, and fine paintings like the one of George Washington on glass in the main dining  room.

On our tour of Blount Mansion, we were led through all the downstairs rooms of the main house.  William and Mary Blount’s bedroom had a lovely draped bed which looked so small and narrow compared to our beds today. Our guide Patsy explained how servants tightened the ropes of the bed every day – which is where the words “sleep tight” came from. And because the mattress was stuffed with straw, that often needed to be refreshed, the term “don’t let the bed bugs bite” originated – not always in humor! A spinner’s weasel in the home that hanks of yard could be wound on would “pop” when full, giving us the term “pop goes the weasel.”

J.L. was fascinated, too, with a deck of cards on the table with the suits shown, that we know, but with no numbers as we are used to. I read later that numbers weren’t added to cards until the early 1900s. The home was filled with items, like these, that all held a story of past times. We were surprised to see how many clever tools and gadgets were created, even in that time, for snuffing out candles, lighting a cigar, tightening a woman’s stays, or helping with a shave.

In addition to the main house and its rooms, a separate kitchen for cooking stood behind the main house, furnished as it might have been in the 1700s. All cooking was done in the fireplace and a fire was kept burning all day long there. I’m sure William and Mary’s slaves didn’t have an easy life taking care of all the meals, laundry, cleaning, and care with so few conveniences as we know today. Yet in the kitchen, as in other rooms of the house, were many clever gadgets and tools to help get the work jobs done more efficiently. All of these like candle molds, roasters for meat, elaborate cookie molds, and a clever gadget for toasting bread were fun to learn about.

J.L. and I really enjoyed our tour of this beautiful old home and so enjoyed learning about its history. As well as serving as a home, Blount Mansion was an office and headquarters for the Southwest Territory. A building outside was William Blount’s office with chairs, desks, an early American flag, decanters for liquor, old quill pens, ink pots, spectacles, and framed documents of importance on the wall.  There is a big copy of the Constitution in Blount’s office … and you can look and find his, and others, signatures there.  The desk in the photo was especially significant as this is the desk where the papers were signed to later create the state of Tennessee which became the nation’s sixteenth state on June 1st, 1796.

Over time, as often happens with historic homes, the Blount Mansion became neglected and in the 1920s was scheduled to be leveled and demolished for a parking lot.  Mary Boyce Temple (1856-1929) was responsible for saving the structure.  Mary, a prominent woman in Knoxville, was also the founder and regent of the Bonny Kate Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at that time. She helped launch the preservation movement to save Blount Mansion and raised $35,000 to purchase the home in 1925 and save it from destruction. The women of Knoxville have had a lot to do with preserving and keeping Blount Mansion for all to enjoy and most of the volunteers who give tours of the historic home are women.

In 1934, the Knoxville Garden Club worked to develop a garden at Blount Mansion. The Garden Club engaged Alden Hopkins, Williamsburg’s garden landscaper and later William Pitkin, an early landscape artist, tp create the plans for the garden and to finish the work of the gardens to be like Blount Mansion’s gardens would have been in the 1700s-1800s. The Knoxville Garden Club has continued to care for the gardens at Blount Mansion ever since, for over ninety years, and Blount Mansion’s gardens are a little green oasis in Knoxville’s downtown. Weddings and special events are often held here and the Knoxville Garden Club also does educational programs here.

In 1957, the city purchased and saved the 1818 Craighead Jackson House, that sits adjacent to Blount Mansion on Hill Avenue, renovated it and opened it as the new visitor center and event arena for Blount Mansion. This is the first stop for visitors who come to see this historic site. There is a fee to tour the historic home, its out buildings and gardens, and the tour begins at the Visitor Center, starting with a film and look around a small historic room.  Then the tour guide leads everyone from the visitor center to the front of the home, saying goodbye to them at the end of the tour at the back gate of the house.

If you live in or near the Knoxville area and are interested in its history, I would encourage you to visit Blount Mansion—and perhaps the James White Fort, also on Hill Avenue just down the street. Both are interesting …J.L. and I have visited and toured both and learned a lot about our city in its early days and its leaders. The address for Blount Mansion is 2oo West Hill Avenue in downtown Knoxville and you will find information about the home’s hours, tour times, fees, and directions at the Blount Mansion website at: https://blountmansion.org/

{Dear Readers: I am not a historian or an expert on area history, so if I have made a slight error in my account, please overlook it. Also realize that different sites often argue about the precise dates and exact accounts of historical events. Thank you.]


Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act


“What better way is there to know a people than to study the everyday things they made, used, mended, and cherished … and cared for with loving hands.” – John Rice Irwin

The Appalachian Museum in Clinton, Tennessee, about 16-20 miles north of Knoxville, is not just a single museum building but a 65-acre historic property containing an authentic Appalachian village, display buildings, a museum, and farm grounds. The wonderful collection of early 1900s Appalachian artifacts and pioneer buildings were collected by John Rice Irwin over much of his lifetime.  We’ve always admired the legacy John created to let people walk through and enjoy a historic mountain village and farm and to come for events throughout the year to see how life was lived in earlier days.

I met the founder of the Appalachian Museum, John Rice Irwin, many years ago when bringing our young children to the annual school days at the Museum’s Tennessee Fall Homecoming event. Later J.L. and I attended the Homecoming as regional authors—sitting under the big outdoor tent with author friends like Sam Venable and Bill Landry. We always enjoyed the old-time demonstrations, Bluegrass music, and mountain crafters. We also loved the costumed historic characters at the event—like General Robert E. Lee in the photo. Many of these wonderful traditions continue in the Museum’s Fall Heritage Days.

John Rice Irwin (1930-2022) was a historian, storyteller, musician, and educator, as well as the founder of the Appalachian Museum, He lived his early life on a farm taken by TVA to build Norris Dam, then near Oak Ridge until the government also took that land in the Manhattan Project, and finally, for most of his life, on the family farm in Norris. From an early age John held an interest in old things and old ways. His grandfather told him stories of past times and suggested he should collect and ‘keep the old-timey things that belonged to our people and start a museum someday.’

After high school and time in the Army, John went to Lincoln Memorial University on the GI bill and later to the University of Tennessee for his masters. At LMU, he met and later married Elizabeth McDaniel, and they had two daughters, Karen and Elaine. John taught public school and college for a time before becoming the youngest superintendent of schools in Anderson County, a position he held for thirty-eight years. In his free time John remembered the words of his grandfather and began traveling the backroads of Southern Appalachia collecting “old-timey things” and the stories about them. In the early 1960s John bought his first historic cabin, the General Bunch House, and placed it on his farm property. Soon he was adding more structures, cabins, and barns and more and more artifacts.

As the number of interested visitors grew, John created the Museum of Appalachia in 1969, setting hours and charging a small admission. The Museum and grounds continued to grow as people contacted John about donating or selling old structures and artifacts to the museum to preserve them for others to see. The Museum of Appalachia has now grown to include over 35 original mountain structures and three large buildings, containing hundreds of thousands of artifacts, on 65 acres. The property also includes old barns, gardens, farm animals, an old mill, a small chapel, a one-room schoolhouse, entertainment stage, and an event room – all spread around a scenic property.

John Rich Irwin operated the Museum himself until 2003 when it became a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization and later a Smithsonian Affiliate. Besides amassing the collections of the Museum, John lectured and shared about historic subjects, wrote books on Appalachian history, and was the recipient of many prestigious awards. John, who passed away in January 2022 at 91, dedicated his life to preserving the rich heritage of Southern Appalachia’s people, and now his daughter Elaine Irwin Meyer and her husband Will Meyer, along with their family, continue to carry on his legacy. John called it ‘only natural that he should want to preserve the history and background he knew’ …’believing it important to safeguard the memorabilia of the people who represented a passing culture.’ So often we don’t realize how following a dream, with hard work and effort, can leave a legacy.

You can visit the Museum as we did and enjoy a morning or afternoon exploring the Museum’s grounds and buildings, shopping at the gift shop, and even eating lunch at the Museum’s café. You can also plan to come to the museum’s colorful events held throughout the year—Sheep Shearing Days in the spring, barn dances and antiques shows, and the annual Independence Day Anvil Shoot Celebration.

Coming up is the Museum’s Heritage Day event Friday November 3 and Saturday November 4, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm with dozens of old-time activities and demonstrations and in December, the annual Candlelight Christmas Event with old-fashioned Christmas decorations, and demonstrations, a live nativity, and holiday fun – where you also might see Santa! Tickets to all events can be found on the Museum website at: https://www.museumofappalachia.org/events/

A visit to the Museum starts at the red Entrance Building, where you’ll also find the gift shop and café. Pick up a tour map here, which will give you a guide to all the numbered buildings and places you will see on your walk around the Museum’s grounds.

Heading out the Entrance Building’s door we started our tour walking from the east end of the Museum’s property at the Cantilever Barn and Hacker Martin Gristmill.

Ponies were in the field at the barn, who trotted over to the fence to greet us, hoping we might be carrying an apple in our pockets.

Beyond the barn, we wandered along the main path past the Smokehouse to the pretty Peters House. Nathaniel Peters lived here in 1840 and later his daughter raised nine children in this house, reminding us that big families often lived in small homes in early pioneer times. Walking past the garden led used us to the Irwin’s Chapel, where we’ve heard many old-time Shape Note Singers at events in the past. At this visit, it was the Museum’s peacocks who were having “church” wandering in and out of the chapel—a sight we laughed over.  Not far from the chapel sits the small one-room schoolhouse, furnished as in the past when children learned and studied there together.

Our journey moved on past barns, an outhouse, corn crib, hen house, and around a loop past the old McClung House and on to the General Bunch House, the first cabin John Rice Irwin brought to the Museum property in the early 1960s. General Bunch, who visited the museum later in his life, remembered growing up in the two-room cabin with eleven brothers and sisters and having to walk twelve miles over the mountains, when a young boy, to the nearest store. Now a nice store and gas station sits less than a mile down the road from the Museum.

It’s hard to grasp sometimes how much times have changed since the early 1900s. My mother, born in 1913, told me stories about her young years in a large family of twelve when there were no phones, few to no cars, no central heat or air, limited electricity if any, and when families grew most all of their food and made their own clothes and household needs.

Starting back east on the Museum’s pathway, we passed another big garden, the Blacksmith Shop, a few more outbuildings and then came to the Mark Twain Family Cabin. This is one of two buildings on the Museum grounds now on the National Register of Historic Places. The cabin once belonged to Mark Twain’s father John Clemons, who actually built the cabin, and in 1835 Mark Twain, or Samuel Longhome Clemons (1835-1910), was conceived here before the family moved to Missouri in 1835. Although Twain was born in Missouri, the state of Tennessee can claim he was conceived in this cabin in Jamestown where his family lived for a long time. However, the Clemons’ family’s times in Tennessee were, overall, not happy or prosperous ones.

We next stopped to look in the door of the Leather Shop and then headed to the big People’s Barn to look at all the exhibits. In the front of the barn and inside are many of Harrison Mayes 2000 concrete crosses he erected all across the country and abroad on his travels. He was a coal-miner whose heart was simply to spread the gospel and he never asked for contributions when he traveled. His signs are reported to be in 46 states and 45 foreign countries. His jacket covered with crosses hangs in the exhibit barn with his photo and information about his life.

Next on our list was the big red Display Barn, crammed full of pioneer memorabilia, tools, folk art, old quilts, spinning wheels looms, and metal toys. I enjoyed the display of an elaborate country store’s interior, complete with old Coca Cola sign, and a replica of an old leather works shop with a mannequin working inside it. More interesting buildings followed—like old jail cells, the historic Arnwine cabin on the National Register, Cassidy’s tiny bachelor house – far different from the “Tiny Houses” being built around the U.S. today. We also enjoyed a small exhibit building commemorating the homes, churches, and farms covered by the floodwaters form the buildings of Norris Dam, plus a little playhouse saved from those waters that sits by the big Appalachian Hall of Fame.

When John Rice Irwin won a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1989, he used the money to build the Hall of Fame. This big two-storied museum building houses a wealth of exhibits commemorating men and women of Appalachia—politicians, crafters, singers and musicians, early doctors, dentists, midwives and more –plus displays filled with artifacts in tribute to their lives and interesting commentaries telling about them.

Our journey at an end, J.L. and I took a last look through the Gift Shop and then headed home, feeling like we’d taken a step back into a time in history, little known to us or almost forgotten. We both came away rich with new memories and a deeper respect for the Appalachian people who settled this area, persevering through good times and bad, to make East Tennessee what we know and love today. Lamar Alexander wrote: “John Rice Irwin and his family have taught us an important lesson: You don’t have to go outside your own backyard to find something interesting…We should be grateful that for 91 years we had someone very special in our own backyard.”

To get to the Museum, take Exit 122 off Interstate-75 near Clinton and travel east on Andersonville Highway for one mile until you see the museum sign and entrance on the left.

For more information and directions from other nearby cities, go to the Museum of Appalachia website at: https://www.museumofappalachia.org/

Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act

September 2022 – LET’S DO THE ZOO!

I’m sure you’ve loved the words “Let’s Go To the Zoo” ever since you were small.  As children, it was a joy and a wonder to see animals, birds, and other creatures “up close” that we’d only read about in story books or seen on television or in the movies.  Even today, most of us enjoy a trip to our local zoo.

The first zoos, or menageries, were private collections created for rulers and aristocrats, but in the 1800s zoos for the public, like the London Zoo, began to be established. In the United States the first zoo was the Central Park Zoo, opened in 1864, followed by the Philadelphia Zoo in 1874 and the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in 1889.

Early zoos, especially small ones, were not always kind to the animals that inhabited them, but in the early 1900s zoos began to be built with more natural habitats for the animals, and over time public education and protective laws helped all zoos to become more humane. Some species of animals might have become extinct without zoos. Also, specialists in many fields have learned a lot about animals through studying and working with them in zoo environments. Many of our early zoos in America were actually established to care for abandoned pets, to tend to orphaned wildlife, or to prevent animal species from going extinct.

Today there are about 470 zoological facilities in America, licensed by the US Department of Agriculture. Most of us visit the zoo closest to our home, but we might also visit a zoo or aquarium in another town while on vacation. For example, when visiting our son and daughter in New Orleans, Louisiana, in past, we loved going to the city’s beautiful Audubon Zoo. Almost every large American city has a zoo. Some are huge like the Bronx Zoo in New York and others are small, like the zoo in Cincinnati, Ohio. Many zoos have unique attractions, like theme parks or aquariums within them, playgrounds, lakes with paddleboats, petting zoos, and myriad opportunities for hands-on learning. Omaha Nebraska’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is often listed as one of the most fun zoos in America to visit, covering 170-acres with over 17,000 animals across 962 species.

The majority of zoos charge admission, from $10 to $25, and even $50, for adults, less for seniors and children. A number of zoos are also free to the public like the Cape May Zoo in New Jersey,  the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago,  and the Smithsonian National Zoo in DC.

Zoos are expensive to maintain so any fees you pay help to keep the zoo you visit alive, vibrant, and a safe place for the animals. If you do a little searching, you can often tap into “free” admission opportunities or discount days to your local zoo. J.L. and I took advantage of a “free visit” opportunity here in Knoxville where we live, to go to our zoo last week, so I could write my September blog post about it.

Every zoo has its own unique history. Here in Knoxville, In the early 1900s, a four-acre children’s park was established on a hillside at Chilhowee Park, one of the city’s earliest public parks. The little Birthday Park had a playground, wading pool and a shelter. There was talk of starting a zoo at that time, but nothing came of the idea. In 1946, the children’s park on the hillside closed but in 1948 an initiative to relaunch the park as a zoo began in earnest, and in 1951 the Knoxville Municipal Zoo opened. The park started small, with an alligator its major attraction. Later the Ringling circus donated an elephant named Old Diamond to the zoo, who kept tearing up his enclosures. Then Guy Smith, a television executive, and his wife Patty bought a lion cub for the zoo, Dr. Bill Patterson helped to found the Appalachian Zoological Society as a further help, and, finally, the beginnings of a much larger zoo kicked off in 1971. I still remember some of the “Save Old Diamond” campaigns that helped to bring in funding and support in that era. Later, as the zoo grew, Old Diamond was successfully mated to two younger female elephants, making the Knoxville Zoo the first to successfully breed an African elephant in captivity. I visited the zoo in its early years as a child and then later with my children, and with school and scout groups, as the zoo grew.

Today the zoo has grown to cover 53 acres and is home to about 1,200 animals. The Knoxville Zoo, although small, has been listed among the 10 best zoo exhibits by USA Today. The zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums; it works with several programs to save animals from extinction and participates in efforts to return animals, like the red wolf, to the wild.  In addition, the Knoxville Zoo is the Red Panda Capital of the world because more red pandas have been born at the Knoxville Zoo than anywhere else in the world. As the zoo brochure states: “By visiting Zoo Knoxville, you are supporting the mission to save wildlife and wild places.”

The Knoxville Zoo is spread out over a pleasant campus, with easy walkways, beautiful landscaping, rest benches, water fountains, small cafes and restaurants, and many family-friendly activities. During the year, the zoo also offers special events, like at Halloween and Christmas and hosts special “after hours” events.

To walk every pathway from the zoo’s entrance plaza and back is about two miles… but I’d add to that mileage, as you’re often walking in and out of the same trails more than once to backtrack to an exhibit you missed. There is also a Nature Trail at the zoo, which can add extra time if you walk it. In general, a visit to the Knoxville Zoo, to see everything and not be rushed, takes about two to three hours – a pleasant morning or afternoon of fun.

If you have children with you, add more time to the visit.  There are several play areas the kids may want to spend extra time to enjoy. There is a Zoo-Choo Train they can ride and a Safari Splash area they can enjoy in the summer—where they’ll get a thorough soaking, so you might want to bring extra clothes for this! There is also a large Kids Cove area with a playground, slides, a “zoo animals carousel,” and a petting zoo.

Following our “zoo map”, we started our adventure winding west from the entrance, to the Black Bear Falls exhibit. This multi-level exhibit covers three-fourths of an acre. Inside is a natural bear habitat that holds four to five bears with three pools, a bear cave, a grassy terrain, trees, climbing logs, and three viewing areas for the public.  This is a pretty exhibit and the bears are very active and play –  especially in the early mornings –  with growls and bear-talk, a treat for zoo visitors to enjoy.

We next passed Grasslands Africa on the right with the zoo’s big elephants, stopping to also check out the rhinoceros, hornbills and foxes on the left. Next was the Giraffe Encounter exhibit with lovely, long-necked giraffes taking a stroll around their habitat and next to it the Zebra area. The landscaping throughout the zoo was much prettier than I remembered … with big spires of pampas grass, ponds and rock formations, and colorful  flowers in tubs.

Following  the zoo walkway continuing west brought us to see the Baboons and then the Lions. You can see from the lion photo below … that, like most cats, the lions had nap-time down to a T.  Walking back, we cut by the Safari Smokehouse, one of the zoo’s cafes, with cute outdoor tables and fabulous landscaping, to walk up a hillside trail to see the red wolves and then to check out the African Painted dogs. On a pavilion on the walkway to the red wolves is a nice area with picnic tables for those who want to bring their own lunches to enjoy at the zoo – or to stop and rest.

We next followed a winding walkway through tall bamboo and a forested area to the zoo’s Gorilla Valley and Chimpanzee Ridge. J.L. and I were both impressed with the creative landscaping at every point and with the cleanliness of the zoo. It’s also a great place to get in a good walk in at a beautiful place while seeing all the animals.

Several of the gorillas at Gorilla Valley were playing and putting on a show for the kids watching, while this guy in the picture at right seemed to be pensively watching. Nearby on  Chimpanzee Ridge, the chimps have a wonderful play area  with all sorts of toys and many trees to climb. All the chimps were napping at our visit … but I’ve always enjoyed watching them at other zoo visits. I admit I missed seeing the little brown monkeys I remember from visits at the zoo with my kids.

We’d been exploring the West Zoo and now walked back toward the entrance to head over to enjoy highlights in the East Zoo.  Along the way we passed a play zone adventure area for kids, a lovely pond with tortoises and waterlilies, and the snakes and reptiles houses which we skipped going through. The Knoxville Zoo does have one of the top reptile collections in the country and the zoo just opened its new Clayton Family Amphibian and Reptile area in 2021 … so if you like reptiles and amphibians be sure to check this new exhibit building out! We did stop, though, to watch the Otters swim and play before passing by the Red Panda area.

Next we went to see the Gibbons in the new Gibbons Trail Enclosure, and. we both really enjoyed that exhibit. One of the zoo workers was there, who told us all about the gibbons.  Gibbons are gymnasts and entertaining to watch at play. They leaped and jumped through the tree branches and over the play equipment, seeming to love putting on a show for all the zoo visitors. Gibbons are one of only a few species of primates that mate for life and you might get to see Georgie and Malay grooming each other affectionately. Gibbons are very vocal, too.

Before leaving the Gibbons area be sure to also see the wonderful Williams Family Tree House. A fun wooden swinging bridge leads across to it … and from the high tree house you can catch views across the zoo grounds and Chilhowee Park. Beyond the Tree House the walkway loops around to the Kids Cove Play area where you’ll find play structures, a petting zoo, the pretty carousel,  and beaver and tortoise exhibits.

From the Kids’ Cove area, we headed back toward the entrance, stopping at the Tiger Temple  in the 2-acre Asian Trek area. Malayan Tigers are critically endangered species, and the Knoxville zoo has two Malayan Tigers named Basdhir and Arya. There are also White-Naped Cranes playing in the ponds and forest area, and in the indoor pavilion colorful interactive exhibits teaching more about the tigers. When the tigers are feeling playful you may get to see them swim in the waterfall and ponds. The Knoxville Zoo once had a white tiger,too, Kaliyani, who died of old age in 2018.  He looked much like the Audubon white tiger -whose picture I posted earlier – and I remember him well from earlier zoo visits.

Tired from our walk on a warm August day, we stopped to enjoy the 20-foot Bear Falls again before leaving but were glad then to head back to our car. It had been many years since J.L. and I last visited the zoo and we really enjoyed our adventure seeing it all again. If you haven’t visited a zoo before … find one near your home to explore!

See you again in October … and enjoy the last days of summer.


Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act

August 2022 – OUTER BANKS

One of the places I looked forward to visiting again, as J.L. and I began to work on our new North Carolina parks guidebook was the Outer Banks. J.L and I frequently visit the South Carolina coast for vacations but I had not been to the Outer Banks since visiting with my parents as a girl. We had gone to Virginia Beach for a summer vacation to see my Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Aubrey and they took us down the coast to drive along the Outer Banks one day, stopping to play on the beach for a time, and then driving into Manteo on Roanoke Island to see the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony” one evening. J.L. had never visited the Outer Banks at all so both of us looked forward to seeing the beauty we’d always seen in photos and movies.

The Outer Banks is a string of barrier islands along the upper coast of North Carolina, stretching for over 120 miles from the Virginia border to Okracoke Island in the south. Unlike in the 1960s when I first visited, more than five million visitors now come to the Outer Banks every year. The island had certainly changed from those sleepy years long ago. I would have to say, with honesty, that the descriptions I read about the Outer Banks … that ‘one would find no main street tourist traps, no hotels blocking the view of the ocean, no boardwalks, and only pristine, quiet beaches’ to be a “slightly off” description, except in the areas protected by the state park and national park system and by organizations like the Audubon society. Please know, if you visit, that some areas have become highly commercial and crowded with beach homes, hotels, restaurants, and amusements with little conscientious effort made to preserve the natural ecology

In its earliest days, the Outer Banks were home to Native Americans and many place names still give remembrance to them, like Kinnakeet, Manteo, Ocracoke, and Hatteras. The first English settlers came to Roanoke Island, in 1587, to establish a permanent English settlement. Sir Walter Raleigh helped to persuade the Queen to send the settlers and he helped finance the venture, which was led by John White, governor of the new colony. With a need for more supplies for the fledgling colony, John White returned to England, but problems prevented him from returning for three years. When he did return, he found the colony had simply disappeared with no trace. To this day no one knows what happened to these first settlers, called “The Lost Colony,” like the name of the long-running outdoor drama held on the grounds at Fort Raleigh.

After the failure of the Lost Colony Europeans tended to avoid settling the island, but pirates loved them. Eventually settlers did move to the Outer Banks but they lived very isolated simple lives, mostly working as fishermen. These “Bankers” had only boat access over to the island, with no roads or bridges built yet. But gradually in the late 1800s and then more so in the early 1900s after the automobile gave Americans more mobility, people began to come to the area for recreation.  The Outer Banks separation from the mainland always limited the island growth but Highway US 12 was paved in the 1920s -1930s, transforming the Outer Banks. Blessedly, the Federal Government designated large tracts of land in 1937 for the Cape Hatteras Seashore, followed by the creation of the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge.

In the 1960s the building of the Herbert Bonner Bridge and other New Deal Highway provisions began to provide more links to the mainland. Today you can drive across to the Outer Banks from several points, and access to the islands has brought a mixed blessing to the area. The tourism industry began to flourish and grow, with development pushing rapidly into all areas of the Outer Banks not protected by the state or national government. The growth continues today, still basically unchecked. In a 1973 speech author David Stick said: “In our quest for growth and so-called progress, it is possible that we are gradually destroying the things which made us love the Outer Banks and attracted us here in the first place.”

The Outer Banks today has three main sections:

(1) The Northern Beaches – which includes the five oceanfront towns of Duck, Southern Shore, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head;

(2) Roanoke Island and the Dare Mainland – with the town of Manteo, Fort Raleigh, the village of Wanchese and access to the Croatan Sound and Roanoke Sound.

(3) The Southern Beaches – with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Pea Island, and the towns of Hatteras, Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, and Frisco.

Despite commercialism, there are interesting things to see in all three sections of the Outer Banks and if you wish for spots of peace, quiet, and beauty, you can still find them if you seek them out. Visitors who want to stay at the Outer Banks can choose from motels, inns, campgrounds, or rental houses in the busier areas or the quieter spots.

Here are some of the special places you might want to visit at the Outer Banks, most of which we visited in June on our exploration.

At the Northern Beaches:

  • In Corolla is the first of four lighthouses, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, a red brick lighthouse, 162 feet tall, that opened in 1875. Because so many shipwrecks occurred along the Banks, often called “The Graveyard of the Atlantic,” the Federal Government built all these lighthouses to try to warn ships of the danger of the long string of barrier islands and reefs jutting out into the Atlantic.
  • Also in Corolla is the Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary and Center, with its mission to conserve a 2600-acre preserve for beauty and wildlife. There are nature programs there and a nice nature trail.
  • A special treat to see at Corolla are the Corolla wild horses, a wild herd originally brought in 1500s on Spanish ships and probably left behind from shipwrecks. Their lands are sadly being more and more invaded by tourism. You can learn more about the horses at the Wild Horse Museum in Corolla and perhaps take a tour to see the horses, too.
  • At Duck, a more commercial spot, is the one-mile Duck Soundside Boardwalk passing by a park, amphitheater, boat launch, piers, playgrounds, and a multitude of cute retail shops and restaurants while winding alongside the scenic beauty of the Currituck Sound.
  • At Kitty Hawk, moving south, plan to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial where the Wright Brothers built and flew their first plane. The visitor center there is exceptional and an interesting place to visit to learn about the brothers and early aviation. There is a fee per car and at our visit  they would  only accept credit cards.
  • At Nags Head, don’t miss visiting Jockey Ridge State Park. It’s tucked in the middle of a hustling tourism area but the park is spacious and beautiful and we loved exploring the high dunes and trails and learning about the history of this interesting park.

At Roanoke Island on the Mainland:

  • We greatly enjoyed our visit to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. We learned there about the  first English settlers to the New World, saw the earthen remains of Fort Raleigh, walked the trails, checked out the fine theater where the “Lost Colony” outdoor drama is held and visited the Elizabethan Gardens.
  • It’s fun, also, to walk around the historic downtown of Manteo with its scenic old buildings, restaurants, and shops. In season, you can stroll through the downtown farmer’s market with its artisans and vendors, produce and flowers, check out the Roanoke Maritime Museum, and visit the Roanoke Island Festival Park. Another treat is walking along the boardwalk on the historic Manteo Waterfront.

At the Southern Beaches:

  • At the Southern Beaches you will find less commercialism and more natural beauty, starting with a visit to Bodie Island and the Bodie Island Lighthouse. A marvelous nature trail and boardwalk leads out to the black-and-white striped 156-foot lighthouse, opened in 1872. For a fee you can also climb the lighthouse if you wish.
  • Beyond the Bodie area, after crossing the new bridge, you move into the protected land of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. As you drive along Highway 12 you can look to the left to see the dunes and the ocean or to your right and gaze across the Croatan Sound – and with no motels or commercial development for miles and miles. The park has created designated parking spots to stop and enjoy the beaches. Do use them as we saw a tourist with his car mired in the sand for trying to park where he shouldn’t.
  • As you enter the 6000-acre Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, do stop at the wonderful visitor center with its exhibits and learn about the refuge from the knowledgeable staff there. There is also a nice crossing to the beach right across the street from the center for a little time by the ocean.
  • Further along, we found spots of interest to stop and explore. We moved through the towns of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo  rather quickly, glad to get back into the National Seashore again. We did enjoy stopping in Avon to see the huge 665-foot Avon Fishing Pier. You can spend the day fishing there for a fee but for sightseers you can also walk out to enjoy the views for only two dollars..At Cape Hatteras, we went to see the third of the Outer Banks lighthouses, The 193-foot Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is a black-and-white “barber-shop” striped lighthouse. It’s important that all lighthouses look different in color, for recognition by day, and by night with different flash patterns to identify them to guide ships safely in the dark. Due to time limitations, we didn’t take the long ferry to Ocracoke to see the fourth Outer Banks Lighthouse … but if you have a lot of time, a visit to quiet Ocracoke is nice to add to your Outer Banks travel list.
  • For one final treat before leaving Hatteras, drive down past the ferry terminal to see the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum with its interesting maritime exhibits. And stop in Rodanthe on the way back to visit the old Chicamaconico U.S. Lifesaving station and learn about sea rescues.

Even though the Outer Banks have grown more commercial—and I’m aware many people like that type of vacation spot best—it is still a beautiful place to visit. At the Welcome Center after crossing the bridge onto Roanoke Island, stop to pick up brochures and maps that will help you enjoy your visit more. We visited in June, one of the Outer Banks busier times, but if you visit in the “shoulder seasons” rather in the summer you will find the area somewhat quieter and less trafficked.

See you next month! … Lin

Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act