Never-ending bridge in Maryland!

My latest experience was to travel on one of the longest bridges in the world, the Bay Bridge in Maryland.  Here are some photos  The first photo is what it looked like to us, the others I got off the net so you could see how huge it is.   It actually started as one bridge but there was too much traffic for it…. so the big think American solution of course was to build a second one!

I got to go to this part of the world as Leisa had a commissioned painting to do there, so we figured we would make a day of it.

First we stopped off into Annapolis, the capital of the state, which dates back to the 1600’s.  A beautiful church  serves as a center-piece of the town.

Our next stop was the town of Easton.  Naturally we found ourselves a cute coffee house, called none other than “The Coffee Cat”.  Here we are giving a toast to your health!

On the way back another first for me was to see what a REAL traffic jam is like. We think we have problems in Auckland!  An popular annual festival was being held in Maryland that weekend (it was Friday) and we witnessed  bumper to bumper traffic for ten miles as we flew by constantly thanking the Lord that we were going the other way!

Catch ya next time.  Next you will see the sights of Washington DC.   love Melva.




Visit to the National Art Museum in DC

I took a second trip on the metro with an art student of Leisa’s, Maria. As a lover of the arts and a frequent visitor to the DC galleries, Maria proved to be the perfect tour guide!

The gallery has both old and new works. My favorites were the old masters,  Its a beautiful building. Everything is HUGE — even the gift shop is massive.   I thoroughly enjoyed the afternooon and I hope you enjoy my photo below.

That’s all for now folks! love Melva


Almost heaven, West Virginia. . .

As John Devver wrote in his famous song, West Virginia is high in the mountains and is definitely a heavenly place!  We took a slight detour and  travelled  through this state on our way back to Alexandria.

But first, we had a last chat with the family round the breakfast table with Bruce’s Mum, Dad and Grandmother. then it was time to hit the road.

West Vriginia is true hill-billy country. It’s like going back in time to the gun-toting, moon-shining days it is famous for.   Besides being one of the most beautiful states it  is also one of poorest.  We saw farm houses and crops and even some farm animals!

We found the ultimate in a general “everything store” with true “huntin’ – shootin’ West Virginia style!” It also reflected the strong Native American Indian influence in the region.  We had lots of fun looking at everything and didn’t leave the store without our hands full.

The day had been fairly overcast but later in the afternoon there was a lovely burst of sun. We pulled over to the side of the road and captured these shots.  It was just magical!  Then it was back into our little Honda hybrid and homeward bound!

Bye for now, love Melva.

Michigan Tour: Day Two

We stayed the night at the Lake Shore Hotel, situated in the little town of Empire. .  The hotel management have a world map in the reception area and they have their guests mark what countries they are from. There was only one marker in New Zealand (in the South Island) so I added my flag for Auckland!

In the morning we walked around Empire Village and we came across a couple of interesting things. One was a HUGE maple tree with a plaque claiming it to be the winner of the Biggest National Maple Tree Contest for 2010!  And Empire sure is an honest place. We noted that the items for sale outside a local antique/garden center are routinely left out all night!

The shores of Lake Michigan, one of the great lakes, was our next stop! I couldn’t believe I was actually standing on these very shores. The lake is so “great” that it is like being at the beach and looking out to sea.  As you can see below, the area is beautifully kept and the water was crystal clear!  And then it was back on the road again….

Heading to Lansing we traveled through orchard country.  We screeched to a holt at one of the roadside stalls.  I was amazed to see freshly picked apples at the end of their summer. We bought a big bucket of apples and some strange looking plums which I found out were the type that prunes come from.

The day would not have been complete without a strong coffee and we found another very creative cafe in the unlikely town of Luddington!

Catch you next time! love Melva








Exploring northern Michigan: Day One

It was a beautiful day as we headed north. Our first stop was River Stop Cafe in the artsy township of Newaygo.  Besides having delicous food and great coffee the decor was something else. Newaygo is famous for it hunting and fishing sporting events. The upturned boat over the counter was therefore very appropriate.

And right across the road was evidence that the art of knitting is still very much alive!  It wasn’t just a “wool shop” but catered for the modern creative knitter and quilter and their every imaginable need!  Michelle, please note the wonderful aray of ultra large and colorful buttons.

I had really been looking forward to our next stop which was to visit the family farmhouse where Bruce’s great grandparents settled after migrated from Germany. No one lives there permanently now,  however they have kept the house in the family and it is pretty well in its original state.  We had thought of spending the night there but Crystal, Bruces Mom, commented that it might be a little “too rustic.”  Once there, we had to agree with her.  Note the old coal range stove, the original iron bed and dressing table as well as the two milk-can looking containers in the basement which were used for making sauerkraut.

We made it up to Traverse City around sunset.  I loved the city which is right on the water. I could have lived there quite happily if it wasn’t so far away!  After walking around the main city center we headed for what has now become the largest cultural and art center in the region. But what we found so astonishing was that this HUGE complex built in the early 1900’s (the buildings cover a total of 200,000 square feet and extend for 1/4 mile) formally housed the primary mental asylum for the state of Michigan!  About 10 years ago the government was about to tear it down howver the public and developers intervened. It now consists of beautiful apartments as well as restaurants, galleries and community projects. We found a “before” photo as well as the current ones.

The day would not have been complete without stopping into “Joe’s  Friendly Tavern” (even though it was around 10pm.) A typical American restaurant come bar, I was surprised to see that Joe had included healthy vegetarian fritters on quenoa on the menu especially for me!  Yummy!

Good night from the northern hemisphere!   love Melva xx

Hi from Lansing.

It was wonderful to meet Bruce’s family and stay in their home. They made me very welcome and  I soon felt like one of the family. My first day was spent getting to know the place. Leisa and Bruce took me on a tour of Lansing. It is the state seat of government and the Capital Building is most impressive.

Leisa and I went and explored the Old Town Lansing area that dates back to the early 1800’s.  The area ia undergoing a artistic revitalization and there are a number of interesting art galleries. We stopped into a few of them.

You would think the photo above was a plant shop however it is a new theatre that has opened in the area.

I got to see the architecture of some of the local homes. Check out the one below. This one is especially for Paul Conole.   It has a wrap around cedar shingle roof which the home owner spent three months building.  This was one of the homes that Leisa selected to paint as part of her Lansing series.  She chose  another really interesting brick one which is also below.

After a couple of days we headed north to the Great Lakes district of Michigan. Believe it or not, there are close to 9,000 lakes in the state of Michigan!  But that’s another post….and right now I’m off to bed.  Good night!   Love Melva

On the road to Michigan

We travelled through five states to arrive at our destination 13 hours later!  Lansing Michigan is the capital city of the state of Michigan where Bruce’s family lives.  We passed through some interesting towns and countryside.  As you probably have guessed, I have been very taken by the style of homes here. Some of the main ones being Victorian, Queen Ann and Craftsman/bungalow style, which I particularly love.  It’s quite a contrast to NZ. Below are some examples on our first stop, the quaint town of Middletown in the state of Maryland. 

As we travelled on we were looking for a rest stop to eat our lunch, but I soon learned that rest spots as we know them in NZ are few and far between.  We ended up settling for a grassy area next to one of the many antique shops along the way. No bench of course so we improvised and had a very healthy lunch at least.

Being that we still had a long way to go, we left the small country roads and jumped onto the turnpike  (toll roads) to speed things up. On these main routes one finds “rest stops” that seemed to me to be more like airports! But there was no time to waste as we made a bee-line for Starbucks for a final brew before driving the last leg.  We drove off into the sunset. . . this is obviously the last photo of the day. We arrived in Lansing around 11.30 pm. 

I’ll sign off here. In my next post I will give you a taste of Lansing.  Otherwise, it’s good night from me…. this is Melva, reporting live, from Michigan. love M