Livin’ the farm life and the coastal life

Bodie Lighthouse

I embarked on a “Griswold family vacation” this summer with my parents and brother across the beautiful states of Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Lots and lots of hours in the car, plus several fun stops and views of beautiful countryside, made for a successful road trip. It’s been a long while since my family has spent this much time together, and perhaps it helps that my brother and I have moved past the arguing, bickering and fighting stages of our sibling relationship, but we all got along pretty swell! My Family = 1 / Disastrous Road Trip = 0. Winning!

For me the road trip began in Louisville, Kentucky where I flew in from Los Angeles to meet my family who had driven from Kansas City. I learned a valuable travel lesson that you should NEVER book a layover during a holiday weekend in Las Vegas. So many flights coming into that airport! My flight was delayed over 2 hours, but I finally arrived in Louisville at 2:30am on Friday (or rather Saturday morning.) Since we had a good 12 hour drive until we reached my mom’s cousin’s home in Virginia, we got up and at ’em on Saturday and started driving East. I planned several stops along the way so we could stretch our legs and explore the country. Our first stop was in Salt Lick, Kentucky at Pop’s Southern Style BBQ about 2 hours from Louisville for lunch. It was some pretty good BBQ eatin’. The decor was hilarious and awesome! And the menu offered lots of fine Southern cuisine choices such as Fried Green Tomatoes, Friend Bologna Sandwich, and  Fried Frog Legs. Yum! lol. Actually I ate a BBQ brisket sandwich and it was very good!


Pop’s Southern Style BBQ in Salt Lick, Kentucky

Pop's BBQ

Pop’s had awesome decor! We got a gun-wielding squirrel and a fox and a beaver serenading on the banjo!

We walked off some of our lunch at a nearby antique store and mom bought a platter with cattails on it. Our next stop was about an hour away at Carter Caves State Park. The native Missourian in me loves spelunking and I was excited that Kentucky’s highest concentration of caves (in Carter County) was on our route. Located in Eastern Kentucky, Carter Caves State Park was established in 1946. The limestone cave system there includes more than 20 caverns, four of which are open for tours. There are also several natural bridges in the park. We visited Carter Cave Natural Bridge and it was very impressive! It’s also the only natural bridge in the state that supports a paved road on top.


Carter Caves in Eastern Kentucky


Since we were on a time crunch , we chose the shortest and easiest trail called the Natural Bridge Trail.


Beautiful mild hike to the natural bridge! Part of the trail followed a stream.


I could easily spend more time exploring Carter Caves State Park!


We found the Natural Bridge!


This impressive limestone natural bridge is one of the landmarks of the Carter County and is considered unique in Kentucky.


It is the only natural bridge in Kentucky that supports a paved road.


Coming out the other side of the natural bridge


A creek runs along the other side of the cave.


We were lucky it was just us visiting at this time so we could explore all by ourselves.




Just seeing this one incredible natural bridge proves this park has a lot of amazing sights to offer, and I look forward to going back some day.


Caves always fascinate me!


Spelunking around…


Kord posing in the tallest part of the natural bridge.


Dad used the panorama feature on his camera to showcase the enormity of this natural bridge!

After visiting Carter Caves, we continued on into West Virginia. Just across the border, outside of Huntington, WV, we hopped off the main highway for Historic Highway 60 (aka The Midland Trail National Scenic Byway).The Midland Trail offers 180-miles of pioneer history and beautiful scenery through West Virginia. The route passes through 41 towns and we stopped at Old Central City for some antique shopping. Old Central City is a historic manufacturing town that was later annexed by the much large city of Huntington. The town features over a dozen antique shops and several museums. Unfortunately we arrived there later than planned so many of the stores were closing, but if you continue on Route 60 (which runs parallel to Highway 64) you will pass through many small, charming towns that offer unique attractions, such as antique shopping, glass blowing, cavern tours, fishing, a ranch, a mill and even the famous tourist trap, the Mystery Hole.

In Old Central City, dad bought a WWII flashlight which was pretty cool, but too soon we were back in  the car and continuing our drive. We still had a long way to go! We spent the next four hours driving through gorgeous countryside. The Appalachian Mountains are beautiful and I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen so many trees! Everything was so green and abundant! I wish we had more time to stop at the various state parks and explore, but I will have to save that for another trip. We decided to stop for the night in Lexington, Virginia so that we could get a full night’s rest.


Beautiful West Virginia countryside!


Appalachian Mountain area at sunset.

From Lexington we continued on to Charlottesville, Virginia. We stopped for lunch in Charlottesville at Michie Tavern which was established in 1784. After returning home from Valley Forge to Earlysville, Virginia, William Michie was looking for a new mission in his life. Using the land his father bequeathed to him, William decided to open a tavern as a social center for the community and travelers. Michie Tavern was a more elaborate tavern than the typical country inns of the time and it was a popular choice for social gatherings for townspeople and visitors.


Time for lunch at Michie Tavern in Charlottesville, Virginia


Michie Tavern, est. 1784

Michie Tavern remained a public tavern until the mid-1800s when it became the Michie’s private residence. Stagecoach travel had significantly diminished by this time and Michie Tavern was no longer the social center it once was. The Tavern remained in the Michie family until 1910 when it was sold at an estate auction. In 1927, a local businesswoman, Josephine Henderson, saw the potential in re-purposing Michie Tavern as a museum for her antiques collection. With the growing popularity of visitors touring the nearby Monitcello Estate, Thomas Jefferson’s home, she moved Michie Tavern 17 miles to a more accessible site less than a mile from Monticello. After the tavern was moved and renovated, it reopened to the public in 1928 and Michie Tavern soon became a Virginia historic landmark.

Today Michie Tavern serves as a museum and a restaurant, and continues to welcome travelers to its doors. We ate a delicious Southern meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, green beans and lots more sides! Their biscuits were heavenly and the apple cider was so yummy and fresh!


This is not the original location of Michie Tavern. It was moved to attract the tourists visiting Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monitcello.


The part of the tavern where food is served.


Ready for fried chicken and biscuits!


The staff dresses in period attire at Michie Tavern.


There were several other buildings on the property reminiscent of 18th century life. This is the General Store.


The Metal Shop which is located in a replica 18th century traditional family home.

With our tummies full, we continued our trek for another three hours until we finally made it to Charles and Debbie’s home! We arrived in the afternoon and after greeting the cousins and playing with Legos and Polly Pockets with my cutest little cousins, we sat down for some delicious grilled chicken and pasta salad! Perfect summer food. And the weather could not have been nicer for us! Sitting out on the deck enjoying good food, good weather and good company! The definition of summer and vacation. After we ate, we jumped in the pool and then capped off the late afternoon with homemade ice cream. Yes, I said homemade ice cream. And it was very delicious and refreshing! That evening Charles drove us around the farm on the golf cart and we took in the beautiful sunset and countryside. It was a wonderfully relaxing Sunday.


Made it to Charles and Debbie’s 🙂

pool time

Pool time with my cutest little cousin Tallie! 🙂


Time for a tour of the farm!


The cows all have names and Charles knows every one of them!


Mom has a cow named after her. 🙂

Irene the cow

Here’s mom’s cow 🙂 ain’t she a beaut!


The chicken coop




Feeding the chickens


Baby chick!


Feeding the farm kitties


Smokey Joe was my buddy!


So peaceful on the farm…(well except for the rooster’s crowing lol)

On Monday we decided to hit the town! Charles and Debbie showed us the charming town of Smithfield, Virginia which was first colonized in 1634, and is the ham capitol of the world. Smithfield is located along the Pagan River and is near Jamestown. The Jamestown ferry allows locals and tourists to visit Williamsburg, Virginia as well and thus links these historic towns. Smithfield was officially established in 1752 as a seaport and it became a thriving river town. The town saw action from both the Revolutionary and Civil War due to its proximity to the James River.

After taking a nice driving tour through Smithfield and seeing the many beautiful Victorian homes, we hopped on the Jamestown ferry to go explore Colonial Williamsburg! Williamsburg, Virginia is one of America’s oldest cities and was founded in 1632. It was the capitol of the Virginia colony from 1699 to 1780 and was a political center for Virginia leading to the American Revolution. We spent our time in Colonial Williamsburg which is the historic district of the town comprised of original and reconstructed colonial buildings. It’s an historical landmark and a living-history museum representing life in 18th century America. It was a great day for walking around the beautiful architecture. And we also stocked up on peanuts! The area is known as the peanut capitol.


Boarding the ferry! We barely made it on to this one. 🙂


Happy Memorial Day!


My family 🙂


The James River


Shopping in Merchant’s Square in Williamsburg


I love the Colonial look they maintained for this shopping area!


So charming!


Memorial Day


Entering Colonial Williamsburg


Colonial Williams is the restored historic area of the city. Today this is a major tourist attraction for Williamsburg.


Many of the Colonial structures were reconstructed on their original sites during the 1930s.


But some are the original structures as well and have been restored to their original state.


Today Colonial Williamsburg occupies 173 acres and includes 88 original buildings and more than 50 reconstructions.


The Colonial Williamsburg Magazine – where the arms and ammunition was stored. So it’s an Armory.


Setting up for a reenactment in front of the magazine.


Debbie and I are in trouble!


uh-oh 😉


Some old cannons


The Governor’s Palace, and its very very long front yard.


It was constructed in 1706 and served as the official residence of the Royal Governors of the Colony of Virginia, until the capital was moved to Richmond in 1780.


The Governor’s Palace was reconstructed in the 1930s on the original site, as the original burned down in 1781.


Bruton Parish Church, established in 1674 in the Virginia Colony.


This is not the original church, which was a fairly small brick structure constructed in 1683. In 1706, the parish began plans to build a larger church and it was completed in 1715.


The church still uses a bell cast in 1761. This same bell rang in 1776 celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence and in 1783 for the signing of the Treaty of Paris, marking the end of the American Revolutionary War.


In 1755 the church received its first organ.


Today the church remains an active Episcopal parish with about 2,000 members and five Sunday services.


Bruton Parish Church has been restored to its colonial origins, and there are name plates on the pews that commemorate famous parishioners, including George Washington, James Madison, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.


The Bruton Parish Cemetery


The name of the parish derives from the English town of Bruton, which was the home of several leading colonial figures.


Charles is resting against this monument to Colonel John Page, who donated the land for the original church which was located just a few feet from the current church.


Late lunch on the pier in Newport News, Virginia!


View of the beach from our patio seats at lunch.

After touring Williamsburg, we headed back to the farm for dinner and relaxing!


Charles took us out on the golf cart to see the cemetery on the farm.


This is where the cows hang out.


This little family plot dates back to 1908.

The next day, Charles and Debbie took us out on the Pagan River in their pontoon boat! We were blessed with another gorgeous day, so it was perfect to be out on the water and soak up some sun. We got to see Smithfield from the water (as we saw it from the land the day before), and it was pretty to see all the Victorian homes right along the water. I could imagine the Victorian-era woman of these homes waiting in the cupola for their husbands return home from sea. Debbie (the best host!) packed sandwiches and snacks for us to enjoy on the boat. What is it about the water that makes you so hungry? A yummy ham sandwich was the perfect lunch on the boat!


We put-in at Jones Creek before connecting to the Pagan River.


Gorgeous sunny day!


Kord and I on the boat.


A marina on the Pagan River.


There were buoys along the water where birds made their nests, and boy, the mama birds definitely did not like it when we got to close to their nests on the buoys! But we wanted to see the baby birdies. 🙂

And it’s a good thing we had full tummies from lunch because on the way back our boat broke down! Thankfully there was a strong enough current and wind that we were able to steer the boat to a nearby dock at a restaurant. We received some advice on what the issue could be from the restaurant owner, and it turns out that was the problem. Luckily it was an easy fix and we had Papa Kyle as our hero! With the engine fixed, we made our way back to shore and got on the road back home to our waiting dinner.


My last night for farm chores. 🙂




If you feed them, they will follow. The chickens recognize me!


Collecting fresh farm eggs


Feeding the chickens one last time.


Baby cows!


Goodbye Charles and Debbie! Thanks for an awesome time!

That evening I feed the chickens and farm cats one last time before we packed up our car to head to our next stop. Charles and Debbie cooked an amazing pork butt for us to enjoy for dinner. Yum! We then crammed ourselves back into the car and drove to Manteo, North Carolina to see Gregory and Judy! The great family road trip continues!

We were a bit behind schedule, and even though it was late, Greg and Judy had a Cheerwine float waiting for me when we arrived at their home in Manteo! They know me well!


I think this might be my favorite part of visiting North Carolina 😉

After a great night’s sleep, we had a very relaxing and lazy day. We ate a delicious lunch, and then the girls headed into town and the boys went to the Kitty Hawk to explore the Wright Brothers’ history. Judy, mom and I shopped around Manteo and it’s a very charming little town! There’s a lot of history there with the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the first American-born English child, Virginia Dare.

Manteo is located on the eastern side of Roanoke Island and is part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The area was settled by the English in 1584, and was later named for a Native American called Manteo of the Croatans tribe. Manteo had returned to England with the original settlers to act as a liaison, and he struck up a favorable relationship with John White. Thus when John White sailed to the Roanoke Colony in 1587 to reestablish the settlement, he hoped his interactions with Manteo would help form a relationship with the Native American tribes. And although White was able to establish a friendly relationship with Manteo’s tribe, he was met with hostility from other tribes. And as the story of the Lost Colony goes, when John White returned to England for supplies he was delayed for three years due to England’s war with the Spanish. In 1590, White eventually returned to his Roanoke Colony to find it deserted. There was no trace of the 150 colonists he left behind, except for the word “Croatoan” carved into a post of the fort. There was no sign of struggle, a battle or a rushed departure, so White took this clue to mean his settlers moved to nearby Croatoan Island, but due to heavy storms he was not able to look for his colony and was forced to abandon his search and return to Plymouth with the ships. White never discovered what happened to his family and the colony, and lived out the rest of his life in Ireland never giving up hope that his family survived.


Entering downtown Manteo


There’s lots of English settlement history here to explore!


Love the architecture here


We found some antique stores and lots of cute shops in downtown Manteo!


John White’s granddaughter, Virginia Dare, became the first American-born English child in 1587.


Manteo was incorporated in 1899 and is named after a local Croatan chief who became well renowned for helping the first English colonists in the New World.

After we returned from touring downtown Manteo, I spent the rest of the afternoon reading on the porch swing. It was pretty windy, but the weather and view was incredibly lovely. We then had another delicious home cooked dinner followed by a Cheerwine float of course! After dinner we took a beautiful sunset walk along the walkways.


View of the the canal and marshes from my porch swing.


Wonderful afternoon to be outside


Greg and Judy’s walkway to their boat.


Reading a book and enjoying the weather on the upper deck porch swing.


Taking a sunset walk after dinner


Perfect clear evening to watch the sun set.


Walking out to the canal


Greg and Judy’s beautiful home


The Pirate’s Cove neighborhood


The sun sets late on the East Coast…it’s about 8:20pm. I love the feel of long summer days!


The end of May is probably one of the best times of year to visit. We were spoiled with great weather!


A mama duck and her babies 🙂


Sunsets are the best


Approaching the Roanoke Sound


Captured a bird getting ready to take flight.


Goodnight, Manteo!

Thursday morning we got up early-ish, and Gregory took dad, Kord and I out on the boat to the Roanoke Sound. It was a beautiful and peaceful morning on the water, and we saw dolphins!! Gregory also took us to the marina where the boats are repaired and where the fisherman bring in their catches for the day.


Taking the boat out to the Roanoke Sound on this gorgeous morning! Hoping to spot dolphins!


Leaving the canals for the sound.


A sound is a stretch of water forming an inlet or connecting two wider areas of water such as two seas or a sea and a lake. The Roanoke Sound separates Roanoke Island and Bodie Island.


Perfect morning for boating


We found Flipper!


Exploring the marina


This is where fish is brought in and boats are repaired.


Bodie Lighthouse in the distance


The bridge for Highway 64 across the sound

That afternoon we ventured on a short drive to Bodie Lighthouse. We bought tickets for the tour and Kord and I climbed the 214 stairs all the way to the top. What a view! It was incredibly windy that high up and I was afraid to take my phone out for pictures, but I did brave a couple haha. It was truly amazing to be that high. And the park ranger gave us history trivia about the lighthouse at each landing so there was time for resting on the way up all those stairs.

This is the third Bodie Lighthouse, built in 1872, that has stood on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The first Bodie Lighthouse was constructed in 1847 but was no longer useable by 1859. In order to save money on the construction, an unsupported brick foundation was laid and that whole building on sand thing apparently did cross the engineer’s mind as a future problem. After a few years the lighthouse became an imitation of the leaning tower of Pisa. So in 1859, a second much sturdier lighthouse was erected. But it was destroyed in 1861 during the Civil War by the Confederates who did not want the Union troops to use it as an observation post.

In 1872, a third and final Bodie Lighthouse was constructed and remains standing today. Miraculously the original Fresnel lens was saved by the Confederates and was reinserted into the lighthouse. In the early 1930s the light was then upgraded to an electric lamp. It was again upgraded in 1940 to a fully automated light and the lighthouse no longer needed to be manned. Then in 1953 the lighthouse and its property were given to the National Park Service.

Bodie Lighthouse is still a functional navigational aid and every night you can watch the beacon turn on and provide light across the dark water known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The park keeps the grounds open, though you can’t go inside any of the buildings, and you can watch the sunset and the light turn on. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit at night but I imagine it is a beautiful setting to watch the sun fall beneath the horizon and watch the lighthouse guide ships safely to shore.


This is the third Bodie Lighthouse erected in 1872.


It’s located on the Roanoke Sound of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and is just south of Nags Head, North Carolina.


The keeper’s home has undergone two restorations. The building serves as a ranger office and visitor center for Cape Hatteras National Seashore.


There’s a walkway through the marshes for visitors to use and provides a beautiful view of Bodie Lighthouse.


Bodie Lighthouse is actually pronounced “Body”. Originally it was named Body Lighthouse after the Body family who owned the land that was purchased for the lighthouse. And then at some point people started writing “Bodie” lighthouse and thus the pronunciation began confusing people for all time.


The tower is 156 ft with a first order Fresnel lens that made its light visible for 18 nautical miles. The light first illuminated the waters on October 1, 1872. The keepers’ quarters duplex was completed soon thereafter.


Very windy day at Bodie!


I’m eager to see the view from the top!


214 stairs to climb…


The dedication sign inside the Bodie Lighthouse with the original spelling.


View of the Roanoke Sound from the top


View from 156 feet up


View of the Inn Keepers’ house from the gallery of Bodie Lighthouse


On days where tours only include about 5 people, the park rangers will take visitors into the tiny beacon room.


View from the stairwell in the lighthouse.


Kord making the descent.


I definitely would’ve read in these alcoves if I lived at the lighthouse.

After walking up 214 stairs to the top of  Bodie Lighthouse, we returned to Manteo and Gregory took us to where the fisherman bring the fish in and trade with the locals. We watched as fish were thrown into wheelbarrows and people struck deals for fish they wanted. I felt like I was watching some underground drug deal lol. We then drove to a local market to get fish for ourselves for dinner. And I of course had to have a final Cheerwine float afterwards. Sadly the next morning we had to get up early and head out for our long drive back West. We spent about 12 hours driving on Friday and stopped for the night in Lexington, Kentucky to prepare for the next day at Maker’s Mark Distillery! To be continued…


Fresh fish auction


Goodbye, Manteo! Thanks for being amazing hosts, Greg and Judy!


Beautiful countryside!


Train bridge in the Appalachian Mountains


The Appalachians of West Virginia


Awesome sunset somewhere in West Virginia or Kentucky

2 Comments on “Livin’ the farm life and the coastal life

  1. Dear Kayla,
    As always, your accounts of your adventures are amazing! Thanks for sharing.

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