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Road Trippin'

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

John and I have been on the road this past week, traveling up the east coast to see some friends and family. Our first stop was New Bern, North Carolina, to see our long-time friends John and Abby Gjertsen.

New Bern is a small town packed with charm. In fact, their downtown area is the way I wish all downtowns were: lots of fun boutiques, art shops, delis, and not a single chain-store to be found. Here's a shot I took on the street by a gorgeous brick church:



There was also this old hardware store, lit with gas lamps and stuffed to the gills with everything you'd need to restore a period house:

Sorry for the yucky iPhone picture; I forgot my camera.

They almost had to drag me out of there. (And if I tell you I bought a copper toilet float - with no intention of using it in a toilet - you won't judge me, right?)

New Bern's main claim to fame is that it's the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. Since John drinks enough Diet Pepsi and Diet Mountain Dew to bleed soda, we of course had to stop in to the little corner store:

I don't drink soda anymore - and when I did, it was Coke products - so my main highlight was the penny smashing machine. You can bet I got a couple of those!


On our second morning with the Gj's, they received some terrible news. After some tears and hugs, we left them in the care of their families and continued on to see my parents and grandmother in Williamsburg, Virginia. The weather was as miserable there as it was in New Bern, which is to say cold and rainy, so we spent our time prowling antique malls or playing PS3 at their place. (My dad is addicted to racing games, so we were up past midnight crashing into each other and shouting with laughter. Good times.)

And, because it isn't possible for me to leave an antique mall empty-handed, we currently have an old radio cabinet wrapped up and strapped in to our back seat. I forgot to take a picture, but while searching online I stumbled across this ad for it:

Via

Ok, so you can't tell much from the picture, but trust me: it's cool. The radio has been removed so we just have the cabinet, but it's in amazing condition - and it was only $45! Granted, I have no idea how much a 1931 radio cabinet is worth, but considering it originally sold for $142.50, I figure $45 can't be that bad.

We have some fun plans for it, too. I can't wait to show you when we're done!


Our final destination - and where I'm writing this post - is just outside of Washington, D.C. Our good friends Mat and Amy live here, so we're staying with them and their two little boys. We timed our trip to coincide with the cherry blossom festival, which means DC is crowded, but also well worth the crowds:

All around the city, pinkish-white cotton-top trees are snowing petals. It's gorgeous!

John and I walked around the tidal basin on Monday, and spent some time just sitting under the dense canopy of flowers:



We've always loved DC - we even came here for our honeymoon - but I tend to forget just how much walking it takes to get around. I guess I need to be logging more hours on the ol' treadmill desk.

Looking out across the water:


We also saw several painters out:


From there we walked to the Lincoln Memorial and the new(ish) World War II Memorial. It's hard to take an original picture of things so heavily photographed, but here are my best shots (pun intended [of course]):

Walking up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.


The ceiling inside.


Inside one of the two archways of the WWII Memorial.

It was a beautiful day on Monday - warm and sunny - but today we were back to the cold and rain. Plus all this yucky weather seems to have caught up with me, since I woke up this morning with a bit of a head cold. I packed my trusty neti pot, though, so here's hoping I'll be up for another spin around the city tomorrow.

We head home Thursday - wish us luck on the 15-hour drive! (Oy.)

Posted by Jen at 12:15 AM Labels:

66 comments:

  1. Awww the Cherry blossoms or Sakura (JP) are also in full bloom now in Tokyo. I ran this morning at dawn under the Sakura and I am pretty sure that a better way to start the day does not exist.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your friends loss, this is just terrible. I'll send them some happy thoughts from Tokyo.

    Love your posts and I can't wait to see what you do with that gorgeous radio cabinet.

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  2. What a wonderful trip so far. Well, perhaps bittersweet, since you found out about your friends' loss. How sad, but what an amazing tribute to her from her father.

    $45 for an old radio cabinet is a STEAL! But that's probably because it doesn't have the radio in it...but who cares!

    Inga, thank you for reminding me what Sakura means. I was singing the old Japanese Sakura children's song the other day. We learned it in 6th grade, along with the dance that goes with it, to impress some Japanese dignitaries that were coming to our grade school that year, for what reason I don't know. I was selected to sing and dance with a few other girls. We learned the English and Japanese lyrics, and I remember both. Cherry blossoms everywhere / clouds of glory fill the sky / mist of beauty everywhere... The Japanese started singing with us when we sang the song in Japanese. It was really cool. I wish cherry trees could survive here in Arizona, but it's too dry and hot for them.

    The Burton Inspiration

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  3. how sad for the GJ's.....I will keep them in my prayers, I love sakura so much, it's my favorite flower and I am so jealous that you get to be in DC for the festival...Inga, I'm even more jealous of you

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  4. I had plans to go down to the National Mall today, but the cold and rain kept me home. Tomorrow should be in the 60s so maybe we can both try again.

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  5. Wow these pictures are just amazing! I so wish I was there! The Cherry Blossoms are my favorite tree in the world and just looking at the pictures you took made me smile!

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  6. We moved to DC a year and a half ago, and I could hardly WAIT for the Cherry Blossom festival, and it did not disappoint. I'm glad you got a chance to see some blossoms before the wind took them all away!

    Enjoy the rest of your stay here, the weather is supposed to get a little better :)

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  7. My heart breaks for your friends... I've been in a similar situation. It hurts more than most anyone can ever understand.

    The cherry blossoms are beautiful-- there's one in the parking lot of my apartment complex here in northern VA. It's very pretty site to see leaving and returning home... I dread the day when the pretty flowers are all gone...

    There are several downtown areas like New Bern in NC, SC, and VA. I've been known to take day trips just to look for them. Problem with finding them is that you find so much you WANT to buy... I've said before, I'd rather shop in a quaint downtown area and potentially spend a bit more than I had shop in a box store, if I have a choice...

    Have a safe trip home... Breezy and rain again in this area today. Mid-60s. Thursday upper 60s and clearer....

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  8. New Bern is also the setting for a lot of Nicholas Sparks books ;)

    And a *wave* from Leesburg, VA!

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  9. If you have time while you are in the DC/NoVA area, go have dinner at The Peking Gourmet Inn located in Falls Church, VA. Order Peking Duck. You can thank me later. :)

    This place has been open for more than 30 years and is famous for their Peking Duck. It's been a favorite of several Presidents and their families.

    I grew up in NoVA and I still like to go to The Peking Gourmet Inn when I'm in town.

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  10. I'll be sure to wave at you Thursday morning as you drive around my not-so-little town...I do not envy you that drive though!

    I have family in New Bern...and I agree, it is a most adorable little town! Can't wait to see what you're going to do with the radio cabinet...

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  11. Did you just get the new issue of ReadyMade Magazine? Are you making a bird feeder with the toilet float?

    We have an old-ish record/radio cabinet as a night table. Not nearly as classy as yours, but it does have sparkly speaker cloth covering the entire front.

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  12. Hey, you're up in my neck of the woods! (Sorry, I can't help commenting, even though I realize how lame that is.) Come back to Williamsburg -- it's pretty again today. We went through New Bern on our honeymoon, although, since my husband is a history geek, we went to Tryon Palace rather than the Pepsi store. Now I want to go back and visit the hardware store. Love to see what you do with the toilet hardware. :-)

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  13. We've lived in New Bern for about 6 years now and just love it. I'm a city-girl at heart, but am totally charmed by New Bern's downtown/waterfront area. If I'd have known you were coming, I'd have baked a cake!

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  14. I can't wait to see what happens to the toilet float! My mother and father in law have a light fixture (early sixties lodge-aren't-we-clever period) that raises and lowers with the help of a brass ball that contains spring wound pulleys. every time i see it, however, my DIY brain identifies it as a tank float. some things are just that iconic!

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  15. That old time store seriously looks like the place where I work! It looks like that they have more antique stuff though. The one lamp in the picture is almost like this one http://www.lehmans.com/store/Lamps_Lights___Oil_Lamps___Wall_and_Shelf_Lamps___Silver_Handled_Oil_Lamp___360?Args=

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  16. Jen, y'all should have stopped by Raleigh on your way to New Bern!

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  17. You had the PERFECT day to walk around the tidal basin! It was beautiful out. I live in Southern Maryland and a friend and I made the hour and a half drive up there Saturday and it was cold and even rained a little. However it wasn't very crowded, so that was nice. The WWII memorial opened in 2004; I actually was there for it's opening Memorial Day weekend that year. The entire mall was filled with the Rolling Thunder bikers which was slightly scary for my friends and I (we were only 16) but were the nicest people I have ever met while in D.C.

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  18. You're in my neck of the woods! If you have a moment, you all should check out King Street in Old Town Alexandria if you haven't before. Go to the Cosi's. Order the s'mores. Be happy.

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  19. Aw, man! You guys were in Williamsburg and I didn't know it. Wish I'd been able to meet you.

    And I'm so sorry about your friends... My prayers go with them.

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  20. You make me want to decorate my house more. Its still fairly barren as we have trouble finding the "right" thing.

    I left a note on your friend's blog post.

    I'm glad to hear that you're having a pretty good trip and the pics are cool!

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  21. As you may know, March 27th was the 99th anniversary of the gift of over 3000 Japanese cherry trees by the mayor of Tokyo to the city of Washington, D.C. The is an excellent opportunity to remind everyone to return that generosity by making a donation the the Red Cross or other suitable organization to help the people of Japan recover from the earthquake and tsunami that occurred on March 11th.

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  22. For good antiquing, you should stop by Fredericksburg, VA (about an hour south of DC- halfway to Richmond on I-95). Old town has a really cute couple of streets, with delicious restaurants and some great antique shops (as well as tea shops, art galleries, and the must-visit, Hyperion Espresso). Just wandering around Caroline and William streets is one of my favorite things to do on a nice saturday (I go to the University of Mary Washington, which is also pretty pleasant to wander around and just a medium walk or short drive from downtown) :)

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  23. I recently spent my spring break road tripping through some of the same areas. Unfortunately for me, every time I found one of those beautiful downtown areas full of shops it was on the one day of the week they were closed. It was still wonderful taking in all the scenery of the area though.

    I also came home with a bad cold and spent my final 9 hour drive suffering through the achey phase, so I hope you feel better before your long journey home.

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  24. I grew up just outside of DC in Arlington (now living in Southern MD - all of our cherry blossoms just got taken out by a huge storm).

    If you're on the VA side of the Potomac and like beneigh's there's a bakery called Bayou Bakery you should try out :)

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  25. Neti pots rock!!!

    Thank you for sharing. I lived in DC when I was an intern in college and loved it. We'll be going back in June because my husband has a show opening at the Kennedy Center and I'm so excited to take my kiddo and show her all my old haunts. Although the Sakura will be long gone by then. Color me jelly.

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  26. Why WHY didn't you say you were going to be in New Bern?? It's my hometown and I would have moved my trip to visit home up a smidge just to show you the sites. I even reenacted at the palace. And KNOW the owner of that awesome hardware store (and isn't it an awesome hardware store?). And would have given you the names of good hole-in-the-wall-find-cool-things antiquey places.

    It was nice to see pictures from home. :)

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  27. A) So sorry to hear about your friends loss :(

    B) Is it a little funny that I live in Hagerstown MD (a little over an hour from DC) and was like OMG JEN AND JON ARE SOOO CLOSE. Yea. You're a celeb in my eyes :)

    ~Katy
    www.peacocksndahlias.blogspot.com

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  28. Dear Jen and John,

    If you come down the I-81 on your way home, make a stop in Staunton, VA. There is a beautiful downtown, lots of great shops and the world's only recreation of Shakespeare's indoor theatre. Go to www.visitstaunton.com and www.americanshakespearecenter.com for more info. And, if you decide to stop by, let me know - I'll show you around!

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  29. My husband and I honeymooned in DC too!!! Oh man, I thought we were alone in our nerdiness--I mean, we opted out of going to some tropical locaton in favor of museums and monuments :D Yayyyyy for being honeymoon twins!

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  30. I laughed at your neti pot comment since that is always my first suggestion when someone has a cold - yet I hate that thing. :)

    So glad that you were there with Abby. It was painful for me to be so far away. It made me feel better to know you were there.

    Feel better soon.

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  31. So excited to hear that you're in my fair city (DC)! Enjoy!!

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  32. Oh, if I'd known you were going to DC, I would have pointed you to my favorite little-known monument, and you could have sat on Einstein's lap!

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  33. Heh, I was thinking about heading down to DC to see the cherry blossoms. I might just grab the toddler, the grandma and a stroller and go tomorrow. Or I might just leave the toddler and the grandma to play and go myself.

    My heart goes out to your friends. I'm thinking of them very much.

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  34. I wish you had said you were coming to Williamsburg! I would have driven up and said hi!

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  35. As crazy as it is 15 hours does not seem like very much.
    My family is a road tripping family and we drove from Minneapolis MN to Tampa Florida. We also do the hour and a half drive to our cabin in Wisconsin.
    Glad to head your road trip is great! Its a great way to travel the country for less money and more of an experience.

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  36. Ooh, the absolute BEST time of year to see DC!! I haven't seen the cherry blossoms there since I was a young girl. Enjoy your time with friends.

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  37. I would totally buy a copper toilet float with no intention of using for its original purpose. Oh, the potential!

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  38. Wow! So cool to see pictures of New Bern. I just recently moved from there. We lived there for 9 years and loved it. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of our old home. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  39. Ellen "Tiny Tim" TimmermanApril 6, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    I can't believe you were in New Bern! I'm stationed just down the coast and love escaping there on the weekends for some needed R&R and antique shopping!

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  40. ZOMG I just had to show you this http://www.etsy.com/shop/weelittlestitches it's soooo cute and I instantly think it would be up your alley..just not sure if you can cross stitch lol

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  41. I saw that you went to New Bern and spaced on the rest of the post when I commented since I'd lived there until recently.
    Abby was in my mom's group. So very sorry for them. Will be saying a prayer for her and her family.

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  42. Hi from DC! We hope you enjoyed your stay :)

    I used to live in Williamsburg. Tell me you were at the Williamsburg Antique Mall on Lightfoot road. That place is amazing!

    Safe trip home!

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  43. I'm sorry to hear about your friends. There really isn't much more to say.

    Speaking of non-franchised downtowns, if you ever get further north, Montpelier is the only state capital that doesn't have a fast food restaurant. Why would they need it, they have the New England Culinary Institute. Hey, have a Cake Wrecks talk and come visit! Maybe visit the American Precision Museum on your way back.

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  44. did you get to the Air and Space Museum, like I suggested? See both Enterprises? C'mon, geeks like you and me love this stuff. Also, I second the suggestion of taking I81 to Staunton. But they left off the visit to the very old and now abandoned Mental Hospital. Right out of a Hollywood Movie. Check out these pics/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/will_ludwigsen/sets/72157604110428368/
    and here
    http://www.matthewwarner.com/photo.htm

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  45. i lived in new bern while my husband was in the military! i miss it so much! its beautiful there! well except for the ghetto apartment complex we lived in.. you should have stopped in at the pottery painting place, i went there at least once a month! ah memories!

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  46. Drive through MIDDLEBURG, Va on your way home - if you love little towns with tons of cute shops, this is the place for you to swing through!!!! Lunch at Dank's Deli or Salamander, a stroll through the Fun Shop, deep in the heart of horse country will fill your camera with glee :-) Just 45 min from DC, you can hit it on your way out of town :-)

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  47. @timepiece: !!!!!!! Einstein is my favorite!!! I went to school in DC and whenever I was having a bad day, I'd wander over and sit on the steps over there. Always had so much fun telling tourists (especially with kids) to stand on the dot and talk to him.

    Jen, one of my favorite places in the city is the National Botanic Gardens, but since it looks like it's nice out today, I'd save that for another trip. BUT if you want an AWESOME meal, hit up Zed's in Georgetown where Pennsylvania hits M St NW. Awesome AWESOME Ethiopian place. All of the walls are covered with pictures of the owners and celebrities/politicians (the celebrities of the district).

    Soooooo jealous.

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  48. You're in my backyard! I'm about 12 blocks from the Lincoln right now...sadly, at work.

    Glad you're enjoying the sights...sorry our weather hasn't been nicer, but today is supposed to be lovely. You should stick around and leave after rush hour.

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  49. thank you for the Pepsi trivia... it's good to keep in my back pocket. but as a Coca-Cola fanatic and collector, i'm happy to know that ONE of you has good taste ;)

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  50. Wish I knew you were so close!
    :waves: from Baltimore!

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  51. I LOVE NORTH CAROLINA! My sister used to live in New Bern, so I have visited many a times! Glad to know that there are some other young people there. I live near Raleigh so if you ever come up to the Piedmont region, you have a place to stay!

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  52. So sorry for your friend's, Jen. :o(

    Love those cherry blossoms, though...DC is one of my favorite places on Earth!

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  53. That cabinet is an excellent find! I picked up a 1930s tombstone type cabinet recently for a homebuilt "internet radio" project. I probably paid a little more than I should have, but it was empty, so I didn't have to worry about ruining an old radio.

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  54. I am so very sorry for your friends loss. They are in my thoughts!

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  55. willimasburg!? you were in my back yard- sorry it was icky. but at least the weather cooperated for the cherry blossoms, right?

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  56. You were so close to my museum, you should have stopped in! We actually have a Radiola Super Heterodyne radio on display, albeit an older version than in your photo.

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  57. Copper Ballcock...(he he he)

    Love the cabinet too. I also love towns that embody that bygone era of Main Street. Main Street in Disneyland is still one of my favorite places in the park. I want to retire there. :)

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  58. I'm totally geeking out--I moved to New Bern 11 months ago from Atlanta (funny, moved from the birth-place of Coke to the nest-egg of Pepsi)with my family and fell in love with this area. Isn't it just the perfect little town? Right on the water and only 30 minutes from the nearest beach! Had I known you were around town--seeing Christ Church and going to Mitchell Hardware--I probably would have gone all stalkery and tried to find you (with a CCC in tow).

    I had no idea the Gjertsen's had moved here--didn't even realize they had a new blog. Turns out, they live quite close to me. So sorry to hear of their loss--such sweet people shouldn't have to endure such pain.

    Hope you visit our little town again soon--perhaps a second book and a new book tour? We'd love to have you back!

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  59. Thanks for the photos from a different perspective of the Lincoln Memorial. I live on the opposite side of the country and have never been there myself. I had no idea the ceiling was that color! Love reading what you have to say, just thought I'd come out of hiding and say thanks. I hope you have/had a wonderful trip.

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  60. @Lim: Hi neighbor! I thought about Montpelier as well, though it does have a few "chain" stores (Subway, the drugstore and the hardware store).

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  61. eep you were in Williamsburg, VA! This is my home and I would have loved to have met you and geeked out a bit. Hope you enjoyed your family and the trip (despite sad news). Can't wait to see what you do with the cabinet. Keep up the great blog!

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  62. On a totally unrelated note, I saw a cuff/watch that just seemed like it was screaming your name: supercool

    And I really hope I did that link part right!

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  63. @Pamala - It's been a while since I've been (I'm down in the southern part of the state), so I didn't know about the Subway, and I guess I just didn't notice the hardware stores. I just remember the hot cross buns and croissants!

    It's time for lunch.

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  64. What a coincidence: we were visiting DC at the same time, and we walked around the Tidal Basin on Monday afternoon. We might have walked right next to you without knowing it! Nice photos.

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  65. I am so excited to see the photos of New Bern! My mother lives there, and I am absolutly in love with the town. I have T-Shirts from Mitchell Hardware, and I have some beautiful photos of that Methodist church. I used to dream of being married there, when I was younger. I don't know if it interests you, but the cemetaries in New Bern are a great place to do tombstone rubbings. I have some beautiful ones that I want to get framed, but my husband says they are morbid. Maaan, now I wanna take a trip up there, just for the food!

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