Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


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U.S. National Arboretum

On our first full day in D.C., we started out with a visit to the U.S. National Arboretum, which is in the NE quadrant of D.C. There is plenty of parking or you can ride the Metro. The grounds are open Friday-Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and pups are allowed.

We walked around the majority of the 446 acre park. It was pretty cool. I really liked how many of the gardens weren’t overly formal and many areas were allowed to grow naturally. The sky looked like rain most of the morning, but the drops held off until the very last leg of our trip. The overcast morning was a welcome change from our hot, muggy day at Harpers Ferry.

There are several gardens throughout the park, but we chose to only visit a few. We made it to the National Capital Columns, Fern Valley Native Plant Collection, Washington Youth Garden, the Asian Collections, the Gotelli Collection of Dwarf and Slow Growing Conifers and the Conifer Collection and the National Herb Garden. We also walked by the Dogwood Collection, the Holly Magnolia Collection and some research gardens. There are more gardens, including the State Tree Collection and the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum (dogs aren’t allowed in the bonsai garden and museum), so there is tons more to see.

Besides education, the park also participates in research. The research gardens were comparing native and non-native plants’ susceptibility to pest damage. The hypothesis is that native plants would attract more native insect predators to help control pest damage. It would be interesting to learn the results! Other research plants included crepe myrtles.

One of two research gardens comparing native to non-native plants.

One of two research gardens comparing native to non-native plants.

Though the whole park was amazing, the herb and youth gardens were my favorites! I’ll share more about each of the gardens and pics in upcoming posts.

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Harpers Ferry

On our way to D.C., we made a stop at Harpers Ferry, W.Va. This historic site is famous for the slave uprising led by abolitionist John Brown. It’s a 2 1/2 mile walk from the park entrance to the historic part of Harpers Ferry. The lady at the entrance said it takes her only 30 mins to walk.

“Ugh, I don’t think she’ll let us walk that fast,” I told her, indicating Sidney’s reluctance to walk. It’s tough being an old dog!

The woman told us about the River Access parking lot that was a lot closer to the town. We thanked her, did a U-turn in the drive and headed to the lot. What a blessing the woman was!

We started out walking around Virginius Island. It has several historic sites where homes and mills used to stand. No one has lived on the island since a flood in 1936. The island sits between the Shenandoah River and Shenandoah River Canal. The coolest part was the water tunnels along the shoreline.

Where the Shenandoah Pulp Company mill used to stand.

Where the Shenandoah Pulp Company mill used to stand.

The Shenandoah River

The Shenandoah River

Water tunnels on Virginius Island.

Water tunnels on Virginius Island. The Shenandoah is behind it.

Next up was Lower Town, which represents 19th century Harpers Ferry. It includes abolitionist John Brown’s Fort, which is a historic armory fire engine house where Brown was caught after his raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. There are several small museums and historic sites in Lower Town, including Storer College, a Meriwether Lewis Exhibit, an African American history museum and Jefferson Rock. We spent a long afternoon walking around the historic district and took a short drive through neighboring Boliver.

View of St. Peter's Catholic Church and Lower Town.

View of St. Peter’s Catholic Church and Lower Town.

The main street in Lower Town. The town was filled with small restaurants, stores, living history sites and museums.

The main street in Lower Town. The town was filled with small restaurants, stores, living history sites and museums.

The armory fire engine house where John Brown was captured in 1859.

The armory fire engine house where John Brown was captured in 1859.

St. Peter's Catholic Church

St. Peter’s Catholic Church

historic building

A tour group and interpretive guide next to John Brown's Fort.

A tour group and interpretive guide next to John Brown’s Fort.

Another street in Harpers Ferry.

Another street in Harpers Ferry.

There are miles of trails in this national park, including the Appalachian Trail (AT) and a place where three national park trails meet — the AT, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal trail and the Potomac Heritage Trail. Harpers Ferry sits on a peninsula that juts out into the meeting of two rivers — the Shenandoah and the Potomac. Lots of breathtaking views from many areas around the town!

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Church ruins on way to Jefferson Rock.

Church ruins on way to Jefferson Rock.

View over Lower Town.

View over Lower Town.

View of hills and rivers surrounding Harpers Ferry.

View of hills and rivers surrounding Harpers Ferry.

Sidney was quite the star, as usual. A few people stopped us to ask about her eyes, of course, and her breed. Some even snapped a few photos. One guy, who said he was taking photos for a marketing campaign for Jefferson County (W.Va.), snapped a few shots of Sidney drinking lhassi at a local cafe. So if you see a Jefferson County marketing campaign in the near future you may see a photo of our little dogher!

Sidney enjoy a lhassi.

Sidney enjoy a lhassi.


Shelley Lake Park, Raleigh, N.C.

Shelley Lake Park in Raleigh, N.C., is a great place to take a stroll or, as many people were on a recent visit, jog.

The small lake is surrounded by trees and a 2+ miles of trails, including sections of a greenway. Walking around the lake we saw ducks, geese, turtles and, possibly, cormorants. The cormorants could also have been herons; the birds were far away and hard to see.

There are also basketball courts, a playground, a boat house and an art center (Sertoma Arts Center) located in the park.

Great place to take a stroll with the family on a weekday afternoon!

(Sorry, no photos to share this time!)


Riverfront Park and International Friendship Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

I’m going to begin this year with a sampling of photos from our final vacation/trip last year that I never got to. We didn’t do much in the fall for various reasons, but we vow to do much better this coming year as time allows.

First up, here’s just a handful of photos from our walk at Riverfront Park and International Friendship Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, late last summer.

Bridge we walked across to the Riverfront Park

Shot of the bridge again

Riverfront Park

Some of the beautiful flowers and greenery we saw at the International Friendship Park.

After walking several miles across the bridge and through Riverfront and International Friendship Parks, we finally reached the end. We sat down and rested near this sculpture lated at the end of the International Friendship Park before trudging back to our car.


County Parks, Charleston, S.C.

One of the features that impressed us about the Charleston, S.C., area were the many county and municipal parks and their quality. I swear the county parks were like being in a state park. Awesome!

We visited Mount Pleasant Palmetto Islands County ParkNorth Charleston Wannamaker County Park and Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park (where the Mount Pleasant Pier is located). And, in the next county over in Monck’s Corner, Cypress Gardens, which I’ll blog about later.
If we would have had time (and less rain), I would have loved to visit James Island County Park and Folly Beach County Park.
Here’s some photos from Palemetto Islands County Park:

There was a large marsh between the park and neighboring subdivisions.
The park is located among several housing developments.

Sidney on a boardwalk across part of the marsh.

A combination bird-watching tower and playground.

You cross this pond using a bridge to get to the visitors’ center.


Charleston, S.C.

Recently we took a trip south to spend a few days in Charleston, S.C.

I was expecting a place similar to Savannah, Ga., but it was nothing like that. There is still a lot of history and historic places in the Charleston area, but the look of the city was decidedly different.

Instead of feeling like we were stepping back into time in the historic downtown area, Charleston felt very modern though there were certainly older buildings and homes mixed in.

We did see one cobblestone street and the area near the Battery had many historic homes.

I guess I was just expecting streets and neighborhoods to be more intact. My expectations were too high and kind of tainted my view, I’m sure.

It rained, no poured, the day we walked around the city and visited historic sites. So we didn’t walk down too many side streets, mostly sticking to Meeting and King Streets and exploring just parts of Bay (Battery), Church and Tradd Streets.

Over the next several weeks I’ll introduce you to a few things we did and saw during our trip.

First off, here’s a smattering of pics from the downtown area, in no particular order:

Pretty sure this is S. Battery. If I’m not right, please correct me!

White Point Gardens, near the Battery.

Chris thought this was neat.

I believe this is E. Bay Street.

The rain didn’t slow pedestrian traffic, though I bet it’s more crowded when it’s not raining.