Plymouth and Cape Cod

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Tuesday Jun 21, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, National Parks, Travel

It has been a wonderful day and we saw some fabulous things. We started at Jenny’s Grist Mill which is the oldest in America. The tour guide gave information about the mill and the the surrounding area. It was more informative than the talk we heard at Washington’s mill. The same guide gave us an hour tour of the historical area including the famous rock, Bradford statue, Pilgrim memorial and much more. You could tell he is passionate about history. I highly recommend starting with this tour when you come to Plymouth before you go to Plimouth Plantation. It gives you a great foundation to build on and shows you where everything actually was.


We then headed to Plimouth Planation which was also a great experience. It is a living history site which are often our favorites. We first went to the Wampanoag Homesite. They have actually Wampanoag people tell you about how life was like and thought of the arrival of Europeans. The next stop was the English village where Claire wanted to try every bed in every house and there where a lot!  We meet Governor Bradford and several other colonist. They were cooking, building, sewing and other chores as you walk thru the village and interact with them. We then went to craft center where you can see craftsman making items for the village. The last stop was a movie about the first Thanksgiving.

We then drove three miles down the road to the Mayflower II. A reproduction of the Mayflower. We were impressed with the size and learned what tonnage meant. Claire got to read from a Geneva Bible. There were colonist and museum guides on the ship. This was our final site in Plymouth and then we were off to the Cape.

We drove by and got our tickets for the a Harbor tour of Hyanis and then headed for the Cape Cod National Park. We thought we would do the Junior Ranger program in a hour then go back for dinner. We were so wrong. It was the most involved Junior Ranger Program that I have seen. He said it would take two to three days to complete. After looking at it, I would say at least a full day. We stayed and watched the movie on how the Cape Cod got its shape which was interesting. Then we went to the shore. Claire and Cobey loved playing in the sand and ocean for a few minutes. Claire collected rocks which were quite diverse in size and color. I really like the idea of collecting rocks on a beach. There were no dunes and the sand was not soft. It was very different from our beaches and I can see why they  all flock south now.


We had dinner at Spanky’s Clam Shack. The food was pretty good but pricey to me but probably par for the area. We ordered one entree, one appetizer, one side salad and two drinks and it was forty dollars before tip.

After dinner, we took our cruise which was at seven. The cruise was nice and better than the Mt Vernon one but not as good as the one in Hampton, Virginia. The biggest highlight was suppose to be the Kennedy compound with sun and distance you really could not see much. You did get to see some houses on the way out and a lighthouse in the distance but there was really not much to it. I have to say that I am not that impressed with “The Cape”. I guess I did not see the good parts but really not interested in returning so that may be my last visit unless George wants to invite me to Martha’s Vineyard.

The only bad thing that happen today was we ended up in a flip flop hotel tonight. We will be checking out early tomorrow. It took be an hour to find something else for tomorrow night! I am going to try and sleep now with the roar of the a/c it is going to be hard.

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After a great experience yesterday, we decided to forgo any tourist attractions today and spend the entire day serving at GAIN warehouse. I will be honest before this week I was worried about Claire actually working at all let alone an entire day without whining and driving me crazy. I am proud to say she did great both days. I expected Cobey would do great and he did not disappointment me. They were eager to serve. Claire even told another girl that she should be working even if she was tired. Claire did say she understood her not working because she was little.

We spent the morning packing seeds again and then after lunch we made Gospel bracelets. The bracelets were fun to make but lots of knots for me. After the afternoon break we helped for a little while with clothes which the kids said was their least favorite thing to do. I think they were getting tired.  They also have a meal packing station, sewing gospel aprons, making blankets and more. There is something for everyone no matter the age. This is a great way to introduce your family to missions and I encourage everyone to give it a try.

We took with us a kit to make 1000 bracelets so I hope some American Heritage Girls are ready to get to work. Cobey pointed out that we would be tying 4000 knots.

After we left, we ate at Bube’s Brewery in Mt Joy. I had the special which was beef kabobs and grilled veggies and the kids had chicken fingers. The service was great and food was delicious. The kids loved the atmosphere because it is a very historical building with lots of  interesting displays. We had a great time and would return.

The restaurant was recommended by the Innkeeper’s of where we stayed. Bruce and Jan Garrabrandt know where to eat in Lancaster County and make the best recommendations. They also have the best place to stay in the county.  Bruce (my Bruce) and I have stayed in the house several times over the years. Sometimes we make up reasons to go. The breakfast Jan serves is reason enough to make the long drive from NC. The house is nicely decorated and has great charm. Kids can not stay in the house which by the way I LOVE  so this time we stayed at the Carriage House next door. Cobey said it was much better than a hotel. It was nice to have a full kitchen and lots of room. It has three bedrooms and two baths. I even made Cobey eggs for breakfast. He said it was the first time I had cooked him breakfast. The sad thing is, he is probably right. The only drawback of the Carriage House is not getting Jan’s breakfast. I guess that means I need to go back soon. You should make plans to visit also. You can check out more about them at

I almost forgot, Bruce (Jan’s Bruce not mine) is a wonderful artist. I have several of his pieces at my house, the lake and my brother’s house. If you love art and have a sense of humor then check out his art while you are at it.



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Wilmington Weekend in Review

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday Jun 5, 2011 Under Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Politics, Travel

I am back from a weekend in Wilmington and I fall more in love with the city every time I go. It will always be a special because Bruce proposed to me there. The most amazing proposal I may add. There is just something about a town on water that I can’t help but love.

We stayed at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside. The hotel was nicely decorated and the staff was friendly and efficient. The beds were very comfortable and I slept great both nights. We had an amazing view of the river and battleship. We also had a good hot breakfast both mornings with a variety of items to chose from. The hotel is within in walking distances of the convention center, shopping, and restaurants. This is a definitely a barefoot hotel and I highly recommend it.

I had lunch on Saturday at The Basics. I had eaten a late breakfast so I only ordered a side salad but the homemade dressing was wonderful. Everyone else enjoyed their meal and they had good portion sizes. The service was fast and friendly. The prices were very reasonable. I would love to return when I am more hungry.

Another spot we really enjoyed was Live on Grace. It was only two blocks from the hotel. They have live local music most nights.  It has a great atmosphere and a wonderful place to hang out and have a few drinks. The owners and staff are welcoming and friendly. Stop by Live on Grace and say hello to Jeff and Chris for me.

And now for the reason I was even in town- the NCGOP convention. It was a good weekend. We elected Robin Hayes as Chairman and Wayne King as Vice Chairman. We passed a solid state platform and some good resolutions.  The highlight for me was the speech by Congressman Allan West. I enjoyed meeting Dan Forrest who is running for Lt. Governor. I always enjoy hearing from Pat McCory, the next Governor of our great state. He is inspiration and motivational. The real hope we have is that we can take back this country with great men like Pat McCory. We need to support people like Paul Newby for Supreme Court Judge, McCory for Governor, Gurley or Forrest for Lt Governor, and more. Find someone you can believe in and then work as hard as you can for them . 2012 will be here before you know it!

You can find out more details about the convention at my friends blog:


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Homeschool Field Day at Rockmont

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday May 26, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

Yesterday, we drove to Asheville to be close for today’s activities. We meet a high school friend of mine at Asheville Pizza and Brewery Company-  her suggestion. It has an outside patio and several different rooms inside. The kid’s chose the room with the HUGE screen and video games of coarse.  Some seats had some wear and tear but other than that it was perfect. I ordered a greek salad, Claire had a personal pizza and Cobey had chicken strips and fries. My salad was wonderful and the bill was only 15 bucks. The kids were entertained and staff was awesome. Check it out if you are in town.


Today we went to the first ever Homeschool Field Day at Rockmont. Rockmont is a Christian summer camp for boys but girls were invited for this day of fun.  In the morning, the kids had several skills to choose from. We chose air rifle (Cobey’s favorite), wilderness survival (Claire’s favorite) and Archery. We waited in line for tree climbing but we had to leave for wilderness survival before they got a turn.  Claire tried air rifle but she did not like it and would not even try the bow and arrow. The wilderness survival was a great hike that included building a shelter and showing edible trees. After lunch, we had free time on the lake.  I know the photos are not great but show perspective. The top photo is Claire on the gulley washer. (She is the blury dot.) She was the smallest one I saw on it! The bottom is Cobey jumping on the blob. They had three hours on the lake and it was great fun. It was well worth the 10 dollars per participant. They did a great job for the first time. Next time it would be nice to split people between skills and lake time so there is not long lines. They are having a water day later this summer. I will post in comments when I find out the date.

Tomorrow we are off to National Parks and then the beach. I hope to post from the beach but don’t always have a great signal so till next time.

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Caffe Phoenix – Wilmington

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday May 22, 2011 Under Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Travel

I just got home from the big weekend in Wilmington to celebrate Cathy’s birthday. I already reviewed The Bridge Tender which was wonderful. Yesterday we went to lunch in one of my favorite locations downtown Wilmington. I love the charm of downtown with great shops and restaurants.

Cathy suggested Caffe Phoenix which I had not been to before. We were seated right away. The restaurant is very bright with artwork on the walls and a nice bar area. The staff was very friendly and helpful. They were attentive throughout the meal and we were served in a timely fashion. I had salmon, rice and roma tomatoes. The salmon was cooked perfectly and had a wonderful tasting glaze. Cathy had the Cubano and Cindy had the chicken salad. They both also enjoyed their meal. Great atmosphere, service and food. I hope to be back – maybe in when I am back in a few week….

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The Bridge Tender- Wrightsville, NC

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday May 20, 2011 Under Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Travel

I am in Wilmington for the weekend for my good friend- Cathy’s birthday. Today, we had lunch at The Bridge Tender on the Intracoastal Waterway. We were seated right away on the deck. The atmosphere is awesome being on the water. I ordered shrimp and grits- one of my all time favorites. The waitress was very attentive and checked in with us appropriately. The shrimp and grits were some of the best I have ever had. They had  great seasoning and lots of cheese. The other two ladies had a crabcake sandwich and coconut shrimp and both enjoyed their meal. The bill with non-alcholic drinks was 42 less than the Mellow Mushroom with the kids.  I think it is a great value. I will  definitely  be back.


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Mellow Mushroom in Southern Pines

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Tuesday May 17, 2011 Under Good Eats/Not So Good Eats

I was going to add this review to my post about our field trip today but I decided the experience warranted a post all of its own. I was excited to hear about a Mellow Mushroom opening in the nearby town of Southern Pines. I have eaten at the chain restaurant  before but not since I have gone gluten free. I was anxious to try the gluten free pizza since I have not found one that I like yet. After we finished our field trip to House in the Horsehoe, I told the kids I would take them to a special treat. (It was really a treat for me.)

We got there a little after 12 and there was no where to park. We finally made our own parking place. I was worried there would be a long wait but it was not that crowded. We were told fifteen to twenty minutes so we decided to wait.  There seems to be many more tables than parking places because the place is quite big. It is bright, colorful, and has great decor.   After we had waiting for about ten minutes, we discovered we could be seated outside which is where Claire wanted to sit. It would have been nice to have been given that option in the beginning.

We were taken to a table on the patio that barely came to my knees. It would have been nice to sit around and have a drink with friends but not for my nine and six year old to eat at. We later asked if we could move to a normal size table and we were accommodated. The waitress asked if we wanted cheese bread to start that would only take five minutes. The kids were hungry so I said okay. It took fifteen minutes just to let you know.

I ordered a gluten free pizza, Cobey ordered the Mighty Meaty and Claire ordered a slice of cheese.  The kids enjoyed the cheese bread and then we waited for pizza and waited and waited. We asked for a box for the leftover cheese bread to get it out of our way. It took at least twenty minutes for the box to come. I got my pizza first then Cobey got his pizza shortly after. We ate and finished our pizza and Claire had still not gotten her slice of cheese. It was over an hour for them to bring a slice of cheese pizza. I knew the place had just opened and they needed to work out some kinks but an hour for a slice of cheese pizza.

The waitress sent over a manger and all he said was he would talk to the kitchen staff. He did not offer a percentage off or free desert or anything. That is when the benefit of the doubt ended and I decided I would not be back. I asked for a box, drinks to go since we NEVER got our refills we requested and the check.  The box, refills and check came quickly but it was too little too late. My check was almost $50 for myself and two kids. We do have leftovers but pricey for a pizza joint with poor service. It did have a nice looking bar and I you may need a drink after trying to eat there. The food was good but not worth putting up with the service. We will not be back.

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Day in St Augustine, FL

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday May 15, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

On the way down to our  Disney Cruise a few weeks ago, I decided to spend a day in St Augustine because of its rich history. We drove from North Carolina Friday afternoon and spent the night in Jacksonville. We picked Jacksonville because it was cheaper to stay than St Augustine but still close. We had a full day spend and we needed it. There are two places operating tours and transportation- the Old  Town Trolley and Ripley’s Sightseeing Train. Both had good reviews but we decided on Old Town Trolly because of the packages. We got the Fountain of Youth Package which included admission to Old Jail, Fountain of Youth, and Oldest Schoolhouse. Many suggest you go thru the whole loop once and get an overview of the town then go back and jump off at the sites you would like to see. I do think this would have been helpful but we were limited on time and worried we would not have time. We started out by taking a tour of the Old Jail. The tour guide did a great job and it was very informative and interesting. We then got on the trolley and rode to the Old City Gate stop. We hopped off there and took a photo at the gates then went on a short walk to the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse. The house has wax figures and you press a button to learn more about the school. The kids then went in the school yard to see the well and ring the bell. You can easily visit this

site in a twenty minutes. You receive a diploma as you leave. I don’t know that I would pay to see it if it was not included in a package. We then left there and walked to Castillo de San Marcos. (see previous post on review of this fort) After the fort, we had a nice lunch across from the fort at  Mill Top Tavern. We ate outside and they had live music playing. It was good food, friendly service, and reasonably priced. We then caught the trolley and got off at the stop for the Foundation of Youth. This place is the Spanish version of Jamestown.  We agreed Jamestown was better but this place is worth the admission. Claire liked the white peacocks which we had never seen before. We each tried the water from the fountain of youth. I don’t think it helped me much. Our next stop was the talk and the Discovery Globe. Don’t miss this part because I think the guide was very good and the globe was interesting. After this another guide takes you to the water giving you more information. Along the way you will pass a small Indian Village. My favorite part was the canon firing because they used a magnifying glass to light the cannon which I thought was neat. We walked around the park a little more then headed out. I highly recommend the park because it gives you a totally different historical perspective. We often learn about our English heritage but not the many other countries that explored here. It made me leave thinking what would have happen if the Spaniards  would have kept their claim to America. After we left there, we had time to take the entire loop of the tour. It worked out fine to do it last and I recommend that if you only have a day and have several things on your must do list. I think the trolley did add to the day. We did not have to stress about finding places and parking which I think could have been a problem. It also gave us a good overview of the history of the town. I would like to go back sometime and spend at least two days. I would like to see Fort Matanzas (not far from St. Augustine), the Lightner Museum, Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum, the Pirate Museum and more. I would love to splurge and stay at the Casa Monica Hotel because it would go along with the history of the town.

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We started the day at St John’s Church. This is where Patrick Henry gave his famous- Give Me Liberty speech. The colonial leaders met at the church to avoid Lord Dunmore in Williamsburg, Va. in March 1775. We paid for the tour which includes a map with explanations of the buildings on the the grounds and tombstones. For the guided tour portion, you sit inside the church as he gives you history of the church. Cobey was disappointed in the talk and said he already knew all of it. The church is beautiful and with it’s rich history is  still worth the admission price. You will only  need to plan to spend an hour or so there. I think it would be even better to go to during one of  the reenactments that they do in the summer.

We had extra time so we stopped into the Chimborazo Medical Museum. This is one of the thirteen sites of the Richmond National Battlefield Park.  It has a small visitor center with one room of artifacts, a model of how the site looked, and a movie.  The story of the Chimborazo Hospital was very interesting. There was only one volunteer who had to start the movie, answer the phone and give the talk.  It was very busy while we were there and he could have used some help but  he did an excellent job. The kids did the Junior Ranger Program here which I thought was okay. The page where they had to label the map using the model was the best. Overall, I think it is a good stop because it gives you a different aspect of the war than just the battles.

We then made our way to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It is the final days of the Picasso Exhibit so it was quite crowded. I had prearranged a group tour on America’s Beginnings. I found enough people to make a group through homeschool yahoo groups in the area. I was so pleased that everyone showed up and they were very well behaved. Jan Carroll was our guide and she was awesome. She was very knowledgeable and you could tell she loved her job. The tour gave a great variety and taught about history and art. After the tour, we went through the museum. I forgot how much I love this museum. It has so many great pieces. Claire loved the section with all the horses. I would love to go back without the kids and spend some time there . I hated not to go the Picasso Exhibit but I knew the kids would rush me so I did not want to spend the money. And he is not my favorite anyway.

After we left the museum, we headed to Bottoms Up 1700 Dock Street for a early dinner/late lunch. It was recommended by a FB friend- a great place to get tips. This place was awesome. It had a friendly staff, great food, cool atmosphere and was reasonably priced. I had the salad supreme which was huge. Cobey had a slice of the Chesapeake which had crab meat on it and Claire had cheese.  I saw a plate of Nachos going out as we left that was huge and looked great. Cobey liked it  even better than Y Not? in Norfolk. We will definitely be back.

I will be home for a few days so I hope to blog on some trips in our recent past and on the book I just finished.


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We had a great day visiting three plantations between Richmond and Williamsburg along the James River. We started at Shirley Plantation because they were having Homeschool Days which they hold each Spring. We arrived at Shirley a little before 10 and we started with the House tour. The guide was very knowledgeable and enjoyable to listen to. He included information on unique features of the house like the “flying staircase” – the only one of its kinds in North America  and on how the plantation was saved from Union troops. But he mostly talked about the many people who had lived in the house including General Robert E. Lee who was schooled in the laundry house. Claire especially loved the story of the girls who carved their names in the glass of the windows after receiving their engagement rings to see if it was real. The names were still there. After the tour we went to several special workshops they had prepared for the children. Down by the river,  they learned about the importance of being on the river and sorted items into categories of business, recreation, communication and food. In another area, Claire spent a long time making a butterfly while Cobey played several colonial games and wrote with a quill. We all enjoyed a game of lawn bowling.  And we ended at a program where we learned all about chickens. I was very impressed with how well Homeschool Days were put together with a nice variety of hands-on activities. We ate lunch in the car as we went on a short drive to our next stop- Berkeley Plantation.

Berkeley Plantation claims to be the most historical plantation. The history is interesting while the furnishings (none original) are disappointing after Shirley.  Two presidents and a signer of the Declaration of Independence lived there which was interesting to Cobey. They claim to be the site of first official Thanksgiving. I am not sure what makes them “official” because we heard a few weeks ago the first Thanksgiving was in Florida which was settled many years before this area. “Taps” was composed by General McClellan’s bugler while they were encamped at Berkeley. When we were purchasing our ticket at the gift shop, the lady asked if they were good children. I did not know rather to be upset with the previous families with children who were obviously not good or with the woman asking. I purchased our tickets and we went on our way. After the house tour, the guide gave each of the children a bullet from the civil war. (maybe they liked children after all) We then walked the grounds and down to the river to the site of the “first official Thanksgiving”. On our way out, we went through the gift shop and the lady who we purchased our ticket from redeemed herself my giving both of the kids a very nice coloring book about the plantation.

We then went down the road a little more to our final plantation the Westover Plantation. The house is not open but the gardens and outbuildings are. It was only $2.50 for the three of us to enter and it was on the honor system. The most interesting part of the grounds was learning about the secret passageway that they believe could have been used to escape from an Indian attack. The entrance was a dry well and it came out at the river.  You can not go thru the passageway which is disappointing.  I would love to learn more about the history of this plantation. Be sure to pick up the brochure at the entrance because that does give you some insights. If you have some extra time, I suggest stop but otherwise you will not miss much.





We ended the day with dinner at Dockside Restaurant, 700 Jordan Point Road, Hopewell, VA 23860. It is on the James River which was a fitting end to our day. The people were super nice, the food was good, the prices reasonable and the view was beautiful.  It was the perfect ending for our day.

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