After our debacle in Venice, and with Holly in a rehab hospital back home for several weeks, we were blessed with visits from my two sons, their wives and kids, and from Holly’s son John and Holly’s sister Constance and her cousin Lonni.  Their company was wonderful, as was all their help with running an extended family.

Note: For some reason, my blog program insists on placing this post out of order.  It should have come after the post about our Venice debacle.

Of course, if we were still in St. Lucia:





Above: Pictures of our home and back deck, the Priest Range,
Three Ridges, snowscapes in front of our home and along Blue Rock Lane.







In August we took our annual summer trip to longtime friends along the Delaware shore.  We shucked and ate lots of crab, along with other delicious dishes prepared by our hosts.  I (Bob) spent an interesting afternoon exploring the local state park at Holts Landing.  Note: the spider is a “zipper spider” in the bushes outside the house.


  Early August brought a lovely visit from my sister Eleanor.  Here she is at the Ravens Roost Overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Good remembrances, conversation, and Chardonnay also blessed her visit!

Our Home in Saint Lucia: Villa Beach Cottages








We stayed at this lovely place a few miles outside of Castries, the capital city.  The location was stunningly beautiful and the personnel extremely able and helpful.  One can check out its website at  The staff were extremely helpful in arranging private tours anywhere we wanted to visit on the island. The long beach was a friendly place.

Traveling by Boat to the Pitons


Instead of a two-hour drive to the Pitons, our hotel staff helped us hire a boat and a crew to take us there in about 45 minutes.  The crew stayed while Holly enjoyed the beach and I hiked up Gros Piton, seen from the boat in the last picture above.  In the previous pictures, Petit Piton appears higher than Gros Piton, but it is not.  It is, however, considerably more difficult to climb.

Climbing the Gros Piton




In many ways the hike down was much more difficult than the hike up: a wet, rocky trail inviting slips and slides.  The boat ride back to our hotel was mostly in pouring rain with the roof tarp blown off, and we were quite chilled by the time we got there.  In contrast, two days later we returned to the Soufriere area and had lunch at the elegant Ladera Resort, with spectacular vistas, food, and wine.  Quite a contrast!



Botanical Gardens and a Drive-In Volcano Mudbath








One wall of this ancient volcano in Saint Lucia collapsed years ago, making possible the world’s only “Drive-In Volcano.  We tried out the hot mud bath and had a blast.

Pigeon Island and Castries




The British and the French fought over possession of St. Lucia for 140 years between 1674 and 1814, with each exercising dominance for seven times.  Pigeon Island was a critical surveillance and control point, with extensive military fortifications on its two peaks.  We hiked in the morning and then settled down on the lovely beach.

Castries is Saint Lucia’s capital city, and we spent time at the food and craft market, as well as the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, with its lovely murals reflecting both African and Caribbean influences.










Heading South on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mabry Mill



We spent our first night at the Little Switzerland Inn along the Parkway





Click here for more pictures of our trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway and on to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and then to honky-tonk Gatlinburg in Tennessee

Then on to Mobile Alabama, which impressed us as a very livable and attractive place.  Of course, it was Felix who really stole the show…


Click here for more pictures of our wonderful visit in Mobile with Felix, Nic and Alison, including a tour of Spring Hill College, where Nic is now an Assistant Professor of History

We also found time to take a day trip down to Dauphin Island in the Gulf, where we soaked up the sun and both marine and bird life…and found Pirates for lunch!

Click here for more Dauphin Island pictures

On our way home the next day, we stayed overnight in Athens, Georgia, to visit Holly’s longtime friend Inga at the University of Georgia.  A lovely evening.

We drove the rest of the way home the next day–for a total of about 2200 miles altogether.



In early October, our new friend Sue G. hiked with me from Crabtree Meadows to Spy Rock, looking for an alleged new trail which turned out not to be.  A lovely hike anyway.


Holly’s friend Cate and I hiked the old Hotel Trail in the George Washington National Forest in Amherst County, which loops around through abandoned  orchards and then first ascends Cold Mountain and then gradually descends across the inclined plateau with gorgeous views in all directions.  Early fall colors were in evidence.











click on images above for panorama views along the summit plateau

In late September, German visitor and hiking companion Hasse and I climbed both Spy Rock and Humpback Rocks in a single half day!






On a separate early fall hike, I joined a friend for 15 or so miles who was at the end of the day just 20 miles short of completing the entire Appalachian Trail (which is 2200 miles long)!  The forest colors and views were beautiful, but the highlight of the day was when we encountered a mother bear and her cub, who promptly scampered up a tree.  Mom kept a careful eye on us, but was not aggressive.

It was interesting to see my friend, who has hiked the AT in sections over several years, keep running into AT through hikers that he had met months earlier.


Our neighbor and friend Sue and I recently hiked the St. Mary’s Falls Trail in the St. Mary’s Wilderness Area.  It is an absolutely beautiful trail, combining fascinating rock formations, late season flowers, lovely forest vegetation, great views, and gorgeous deep pools and falls along the way.  I’d been here several years earlier with my my son, Nic, who terrorized Alison and me with his repeated jumping off a ledge into the emerald pool below (bottom left photo).  (I was sure he was going to smash himself on the rocks, but fortunately that didn’t happen.)  Sue and I settled for a quiet lunch amidst this beautiful setting.

click here for more pictures of our hike along the St. Mary’s Trail


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