Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fort Boonesborough Facsimile

The Colonel and I could not wait to visit the Fort Boonesborough facsimile. We were among the first visitors at the fort's open gates.

As we paid for our tickets, we were told that a couple school buses were due to arrive within the half hour. The Colonel and I thanked the ticket seller for the heads-up and quickly entered the fort and began our tour. We wanted to see as much as we could sans schoolkids.

In a previous post, I wrote a little about the history of Fort Boonesborough. All that remains is a granite marker that bears the names of the settlers and marks the location of the fort. This facsimile of Fort Boonesborough was built here, above to original fort site and out of the flood plain of the Kentucky River. I will not go into the history of the fort here. This post is about experiencing what the original fort would have looked like and what life would have been like for the early settlers of Kentucky.

This is a drawing of the original Fort Boonesborough:

This is what the Colonel and I saw when we first entered the facsimile fort:

We saw a man in a felt hat who showed us how the early settlers started a fire with flint and metal.

He took the C-shaped piece of metal and struck it against some flint. The flint had a bit of char on top of it. A tiny spark was created when he struck metal to flint and that spark landed on the char. He put the spark-laden char on some tow.

He gently blew on the tiny spark that was nestled upon the tow material and flames jumped out immediately.

The Colonel and I were so impressed that we purchased a metal striker, flint, char and tow from the gift shop before we left and tried it at home. We made fire...just not as quickly as the man above.

There was a short video that was shown in one of the corner block houses. It was about Fort Boonesborough, Daniel Boone and the Kentucky Wilderness. Well, done and very informative.

After watching the video The Colonel and I began our self-guided tour of the fort in earnest (remember, busloads of school kids were hot on our trail).

The first cabin we looked into was representative of what pioneers would expect to live in when they arrived at the fort (dirt floor, no off-the-floor bed). The next two cabins showed improvements. The cabins' comfort levels increased over time as the early settlers made or bought furniture and other household goods.

As The Colonel and I walked around the fort we stopped inside other cabins where we saw artisans at work. We saw a spinner, potter, soap maker and candle maker.

We looked into the tavern/store. I could just see Cincinnatus from the Daniel Boone television show serving up some whiskey to a weary traveler.

We saw a painting in one of the blockhouses that showed what Fort Boonesborough would have looked like in the Kentucky wilderness. It was a nice painting.

It was even nicer to be able to walk through a replica of Fort Boonesborough and imagine what Daniel Boone lived like and all those who came into Kentucky after him.



Our tour of Fort Boonesborough was coming to a close and it was now time to say farewell to this leg of our trip. Our next stop in Kentucky would be at a famous restaurant for a finger-lickin' good lunch.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Historic Gasparilla Inn


I was reading the local paper one day and saw a little blurb about a free tour of one of America's historic hotels, The Gasparilla Inn. It is located in Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island. This beautiful inn is not too far of a drive from my house, so I proposed the idea of attending the tour to The Colonel and Darling-Sister-In-Law. They both gave a big thumbs-up to the outing.

The Gasparilla Inn was built in 1911. It was first named The Hotel Boca Grande. In 1913, it was enlarged and then again in 1915.

The tour was held on a Wednesday and the front doors were to open at 5 p.m. We arrived early to ensure a good place in line....and what a formed from the closed door, to across the street and down the block. This was a bigger event than the newspaper blurb let on.

We waited on the gorgeous hardwood porch, between the stately Iconic columns.

I noticed some interesting looking tables on the porch...they were covered with all kinds of shells (shells would feature in many decorations within the inn).

I would love to have had one of them, but where, oh where, to put it once I got it home (I am sure I could find a spot).

The doors opened on time and the flood of tour-takers trickled through. The small lobby was pretty. We did not go into the shop (I did not want sticker-shock to sully my free tour experience).

As most of the tourists slowly milled around the main hallway and into the next rooms, Darling-Sister-In-Law had us employ one of her Disney World maneuvers...quickly bypassing the things upfront and making a dash towards the furthest point of interest, thereby being the first (and hopefully only ones) there and then leisurely making your way back to visit the other points of interest you passed along the way.

We made a beeline to the suite at the end of the main hallway. It was the Presidential Suite. The Bush family spend some of their Christmas vacations here.

We walked through the double doors into the Presidential suite (we were the only ones there, we had beaten the crowd). Immediately to the right was a bar area.

The sitting room was pretty. We all liked the colors and fabrics chosen in the decorating of the suite (and entire hotel).

The bedrooms and bathrooms were nice too.

The yellow and white paint was a signature piece for the inn. The inn and all its outlying buildings were painted the same. Darling-Sister-In-Law and The Colonel and I live in yellow houses, so we really liked the color scheme.

We left the Presidential Suite behind and made our way down the hall and turned right to go down a short hallway that led to the Pelican Room. I could tell by the door that it was going to be an interesting room to tour.

The Pelican Room had a decidedly masculine feel to it. The Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and DuPont men probably sat in this room smoking cigars and sipping brandy, regaling one another with their Tarpon fishing exploits.

We toured the bar area, inside and out. The bar was a bit congested.

We peeked into the game room.

We went into the dining room where a very nice surprise was awaiting us. There were waiters with trays laden with all kinds of tantalizing treats. There was also a long table on one side of the room that was loaded with different delicacies and on the other side of the room was a table decked out with desserts and punch...all free for the taking! We did not know that this would be part of our tour of the inn.

We partook of lobster sandwiches, Asian pork in a cute wooden boat, chicken sliders and truffles in marinara sauce...just to name a few.

The lemon bars at the dessert table were pretty and delicious.

What a delightful and delectable surprise. We now could see why so many people were taking the tour of Gasparilla Inn. I heard that they do this every year...I know where I will be next year!

We toured more of the inn. I loved the huge salon with several fireplaces and seating arrangements.

Shells figured prominently in the decoration of the inn (got me to thinking...).

I really liked this little sitting area and nook. I had the urge to sit with a cup of tea and a good book.

There was a private dining room that we passed by without going into but we went into the writing room. It was a favorite of mine....I think I could almost write a novella sitting in that room. The Colonel liked the wallpaper and I liked loved the shell motif in the fireplace. I want that room in my house!

The Gasparilla Inn has other buildings, called cottages that can be rented. We toured a cottage as part of our inn tour. This particular cottage could be rented for around $2,000 a day. It was roomy and gorgeous inside.

There were several other cottages around the inn, but these were not open for the tour.

The Colonel, Darling-Sister-In-Law and I had planned on having dinner on the beach after the inn tour. We had not planned on the yummy, filling, finger-foods, even so, we all said we could eat a bit more and drove to the restaurant.

I had the very interesting and delicious Shrimpcargo. Succulent shellfish swimming in garlic butter! My dining companions both had the fried shrimp dinner.

This was the lovely view from our dinner table.

We all agreed that we had an excellent evening. I must make sure I read the paper thoroughly each and every day!