Saturday, March 1, 2014

New Web Site

If you have landed on this page, please take a moment 
to visit my main web site:

A new travel link has been set up there and there are plans to start publishing travel tips, places, events, etc. very soon.

Patricia Montgomery

Find me on Facebook at Bucks Mountain Galleries

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tripod Travesty. Luggage Abuse.

"The story you are about to read is true. No names have been changed to protect the innocent.  It was Friday, April 1st.  No joke.  It was a rain/snow mix in New York City and we were booked on Delta Flight 2347 back to Atlanta.  We were traveling bunko..."

For the return flight from our awesome NYC trip, my best tripod was packed inside its case with all levers down and then packed with the clothing inside our hard case luggage. May I reiterate? It was a HARD case, not a soft piece of luggage.

While waiting inside the plane, the hubby and I watched through the window as each piece of luggage was thrown down the chute. Not laid on the chute, but thrown onto it which meant that each piece bounced roughly end over end. The handler on the ground then threw each piece of luggage up and through the air until it landed hard once again into the waiting metal baggage cart. Each piece would hit another piece of luggage and both would sometimes bounce one or more times before landing solid.

Even though we did not specifically see our luggage out the plane’s window, we know that it definitely received the same brutal treatment. One wheel of our hard case was barely hanging on, almost completely torn off!  My best tripod was a battle amputee with one of the adjustment levers broken off entirely! 

Although all travelers know this, it does bear repeating. Absolutely nothing inside a checked bag is completely safe! Remember this when you are deciding whether something breakable should go inside your checked bag or your carry-on.

Heads up on carry-on luggage:  If a flight is completely booked, the last zone of passengers to board the plane may have their luggage tagged and thrown below into the cargo area.  So folks, even your carry-on luggage is never really safe with an airline. 

* * * * *


Georgia: Autumn Apple Adventure
Kansas: Route 66
Tennessee: Dunlap Coke Ovens

* * * * *

Monday, October 18, 2010


TALE OF TWO RUNAWAYS  Sometimes Monty and I like to run away. Sometimes we plan ahead. Sometimes it is a spur-of-the-moment, can't-take-it-anymore, gotta-get-away runaway. This week we planned the night before to run away and buy apples in the north Georgia mountains. Yes, we could have gone to Walmart to buy apples. But where’s the fun in that?

A RUBY RIDE  On this October morning, the skies were a brilliant shade of blue, not a cloud in the sky. The air whipping around us was warm and as the scenery flew past we saw splashes of orange and red leaves, a preview of the autumn color that will burst forth in the next two weeks. It was a perfect day for “A Ruby Ride”, which involves the two of us with our hair whipping in the wind, riding in our little red Miata – we call her Ruby – with the convertible top down.

Carmen, our trusty Garmin, (Yes, we do have a habit of naming inanimate objects.) guided us with her soothing voice through the back roads to Blue Ridge.  With Monty at the helm, Ruby hugged the curves of the road over scenic Fort Mountain. It was a glorious day!  It is true that if you are lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough!

MEGA MERCIER  The 200-acre Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge is not just an apple farm – they also grow peaches, nectarines, blueberries, sweet cherries and blackberries. Since it was our first visit to Mercier we weren’t exactly sure what we would find.  We quickly realized that is is not your roadside farm stand.  The place was buzzing with so many people and cars that they had someone directing traffic into the parking lot!

Once inside the retail market we were pleasantly surprised at the size of the market, the variety of items, and the smells assaulting our noses! The aroma from the bakery was that of apples and breads and fried pies.

CIDERS, JELLIES AND JAMS  As we delved deeper into the market, we realized that Mercier offers so much more than the ½ peck of apples we had placed in our cart. There were bottles of fresh cider – we chose Muscadine Cider over the traditional Apple Cider. There were shelves of jams, jellies, honey, spreads, and other gourmet items in dozens of flavors and sizes. We finally settled on a jar each of Applesauce, Apple Butter, and Corn Cob Jelly.

BAKE IT  In the baking section, Monty planned a future Bucks Mountain breakfast by picking out a package of Apple Cinnamon Pancake and Waffle mix. Since I couldn’t decide which one we might like best, I added both a bottle of Apple Syrup and another of Maple Praline Syrup.

There were many choices of dessert mixes, but I finally settled on an Apple Crisp mix along with a No-Bake English Toffee Cheesecake Mix and Key Lime Cheesecake Mix. The smells from the mixes positively made my mouth water. Later at the checkout, the clerk confirmed that I had made good choices. She said the cheesecake mixes were the best!

HOME DECOR AND GIFTS GALORE   Over at the far end of the market, I was pleasantly surprised to find a home décor and gift section to browse. There were kitchen items, farm toys, garden items, walking sticks, bee skeps, tee shirts, hats, and so much more.

BAKERY / DELI DELIGHTS  Once we filled our cart, we made our way to the bakery/deli – the source of all those tantalizing aromas. There were sandwiches and wraps made to order with Premium Boar’s Head meat and a variety of cheeses. To satisfy the sweet tooth, one could choose from fried fruit pies, donuts, pastries, and fresh breads. The fried pie flavors ranged from apple, peach, cherry, blueberry, sweet potato, dried apple, blackberry, apricot, to pecan cranberry apple. Did I mention the muffins, cookies, cupcakes, scones, and homemade cream horns? Oh, and the ice cream – cup or cone – with lots of flavors to choose from!

CIDER 'N PIE  At the deli Monty ordered a cup of hot apple cider and I chose cold apple cider. We took our cups of cider to a cozy little table in the café where we shared one of the delicious fried apple pies. We did our best to keep the moans of pleasure to a minimum at each delectable bite.  It might be illegal to go to Mercier and not eat a fried apple pie.  We're not sure, but that's the rumor.

SPOOF!  The last two weekends in October Mercier Orchards will be hosting their first annual S.P.O.O.F. – which of course stands for Spooky Pumpkin Old Orchard Fest - a Halloween Festival and U-Select Pumpkin Event!

Sat-Sun, October 23-24, 2010
Sat-Sun, October 29-30, 2010
10 am – 4 pm – U-Select Pumpkin Event - $6 for wagon ride and to selection your own special pumpkin!
4 pm – 8 pm – Halloween Fesitval - $6 for a wagon ride to select your own special pumpkin; or purchase a ticket for other Halloween activities that will be available such as Apple Fishing, Buncy House, Face Painting, Spook House, and more!)

HOW TO GET THERE  If you haven’t been to Mercier Orchards, you should plan to visit in October. It’s a great day trip and getaway to the north Georgia mountains!

Here’s what you need to know to get there:

Mercier Orchards
8660 Blue Ridge Drive
Blue Ridge, GA 30513
Phone: 706-632-3411
Toll Free: 1-800-361-7731
Fax: 706-632-2685
Web Site:

OPEN ALL YEAR LONG! Mon-Fri 7:00 am TO 8:00 pm; Sat-Sun 7:00 am TO 8:00 pm; CLOSED New Years Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day

From Atlanta: Take 575 north to 515 north; follow all the way to Blue Ridge. Turn left on HWY 5 north, Mercier is about a mile and a half on the left.
From Chattanooga: Take US 64 Ocoee road to TN 68; turn right on HWY 5; Mercier is about 12 miles or so on the right.

Happy Apple Pickin' !

Monday, October 4, 2010

Route 66: Galena, Kansas

The hubby and I just returned from a road trip down Route 66, visiting three states along the The Mother Road. The state of Kansas boasts 13 miles of Route 66 at the far southeastern tip of the state. First stop:  Galena, Kansas.  (Click on images to see larger version of photos)

The highlight of our stop in this old mining town was at a renovated service station on the north end of Main Street (Route 66). There were two beautifully restored gas pumps out front. The Kan-O-Tex name represents three states where the gasoline was once sold – Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Now called “Four Women on the Route”, this old service station had a retro facelift that transformed it to a gift shop and café. The name is the clue that it was renovated and now run by four women from Galena. Inside the store we met Melba “The Mouth” Rigg, a woman that my hubby, Monty, declared talked faster than he could hear. She was very friendly and happily shared a wealth of information about her town and this new venture that she and the three other ladies hope will revitalize their hometown of Galena.

Inside the gift shop are vintage relics of days gone by. On one wall was one of the first televisions purchased in Galena, on another sat an old cigarette machine that Mabel plans to sell post cards out of. There was an old top-loaded Coca Cola chest, vintage gas cans, an old wooden cash register, route 66 neon signs, and much more.

The café serves hamburgers or hot dogs, Frito Chili Pie, Ruebens, Phillies and other sandwiches. For the sweet tooth, the menu boasts funnel cakes, snow cones, and smoothies. The café is so spotless that it is hard to imagine that it is located in what was once the mechanic/garage area of the old service station.

There is a big, rusty 1951 International tow truck parked out front that has obviously seen more than his fair share of towing.

The unlikely star of Galena is none other than the original old mining boom truck that inspired the animated character from Radiator Springs - "Tow Mater" - in the Disney/Pixar movie, Cars.  Once stardom hit, Tow Tater began spending leisurely days greeting Route 66 enthusiasts or starring in parades and other special events in the area.

After the movie came out, Disney contacted the Four Women and for copyright/trademark reasons asked them to rename their truck. The ladies held a contest and the winning name was “Tow Tater”.  Needless to say, Tow Tater is leading the good life now.

Another stop in Galena is the old Viaduct just east of Four Women on Route 66. Built before Route 66 was commissioned, the old bridge now is in a state of disrepair and you can no longer drive over it. We went around the detour signs for a short distance and then walked up the road bed, which still has Route 66 emblems emblazoned on asphalt. The detour signs will take you onto a gravel road where can drive beside the Viaduct and enter Galena. The town is trying to accumulate enough donations to save the bridge from destruction and begin restoration. Drop your donation in the plastic jug inside Four Women.


Further west on Route 66, be sure to stop at the Howard Litch Historical Mining Museum. This is an old train depot that houses many vintage items related to the town’s history. There are mineral samples, including galena which is a mineral composed mainly of lead. Inside the museum are old mining artifacts and equipment, vintage photographs, antiques, an old horse-drawn hearse, retro television station equipment, and more. Outside you will find a lovely park with restored train cars and a separate area for vintage military equipment.

On the day we were there, there was an old Ford Model T parked out front. Two of the volunteers working at the museum were nice enough to share some information about the old Ford and it proved to be a great photo opportunity.

NEXT BLOG STOP: Baxter Springs, Kansas

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ultimate Georgia Vacation Contest

Win a 7-day Georgia vacation package!  Go to the site and use their Trip Planner to create your own personalized trip to Georgia.  Save your trip in the planner and you will be automatically entered to win a Georgia vacation for a family of four!  Sweepstakes ends July 31, 2010.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Seeing Red

In the May 26th post called Seeing Dots Green Dots, I started answering the question I hear most often, "How do you and Monty find these places to visit?"

We start with green dots and then look for red ink.You can find unexpected and fun destinations on the maps by looking for a tiny red square with itty bitty red words written beside it. Itty bitty letters. Big destinations!  The red ink strewn about the map always indicates a location of interest for the traveler - parks, caves, museums, mines, ski resorts, national monuments, just to name a few.

Now that I'm of a certain age, I can't see the red ink without my glasses on. So now when I'm looking for red ink, I'm not only wearing my trifocals but holding a magnifying glass over the map, too.  Here are just a few examples of red ink destinations:

  • Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado) 
  • Kitt Peak National Observatory (Arizona) 
  • Writing Rock Historical Site (North Dakota) 
  • Old Sturbridge Village (Maryland) 
  • National Baseball Hall of Fame (New York) 
  • Turtle Mound State Archaeological Site (Florida)

On one of our travel adventures, we were coming home from a trip to Colorado.  Monty had been driving for hours through the plains of Kansas and I was killing time by scouring the map for green dots and red squares.  I'm always looking for ideas for the next travel adventure.  That's when I spotted something that made me sit up straight in the seat.  We were close to a red ink destination.  I told Monty what I had found and he was game for the adventure.  A break from the driving was just what we both needed.
Located only a few miles off I-79, the Wizard of Oz Museum was an unexpected surprise.  We spent a couple of hours there and it was definitely one of the most fun afternoons we have ever spent.  We highly recommend it if you are ever near Wamego, Kansas. 

We would never have experienced the magic of the Oz if not for a magnifying glass and an itty bitty red square on a map!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Seeing Dots. Green Dots.

I've been asked many times, "How do you and Monty decide where to go on your road trips?"   We first ask ourselves two simple but important questions.

How much time do we have?
How much money will it cost?

Green Dots

If there are time constraints and we only have from a few hours to a couple of days, I usually will get out the trusty Rand McNally Atlas and start searching for nearby green-dot roads. That is almost always my first tactic in looking for nearby destinations.

Whoa, wait a minute. I can almost hear voices in unison crying out, "What in the heck are green-dot roads?"

Green-dot roads are scenic roads. Most all atlas maps will mark the scenic byways with little green dots. I have been a fan of love green-dot roads for more than 20 years!

In the days before digital cameras, my mother used to travel with us. I would pull out the Atlas and announce that I was looking for a green-dot road. Mama would moan because she knew it meant a long day with a lot of stops so that I could jump out of the car to photograph the scenery. On one of our trips, she groaned and told me that every one of those green dots stood for another roll of film that I would be shooting. An exaggeration, of course. But only slightly.

If you are looking for a adventure on a scenic road, travel down a green-dot road!

In my next blog, I'll talk about planning a trip by spotting red ink.