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Tour of southeastern U.S. is breathtaking

I hope you have enjoyed traveling along with us as I’ve taken you along on our April tour to the Southeast.

We said goodbye to Savannah and left for Beaufort, S.C. — "The Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands." It’s a destination we added as we talked with local people who already had experienced this beautiful site. It is overlooked on many trips taken to the area. It turned out to be a real highlight of our vacation.

As we arrived, a scenic marina dominated the waterfront, with historic homes beckoning all visitors. Jon Sharp’s leisurely walking tour was a history lesson amid some of the finest antebellum homes in America. Sharp, a former Hollywood actor, came ashore because he was shipwrecked in Beaufort and fell under the spell of Beaufort’s natural beauty and history; he continues to tell others the great part America played here as the Spanish, French, English and American Indians battled for Beaufort. The homes were incredible, as were the beautiful old trees. Wandering through the local cemeteries told a real story.

We made our way to Charleston, where another guide greeted us and continued the story of how locals survived the Civil War, a great fire in 1861, an earthquake and Hurricane Hugo in 1989. It showed the staying power and rich heritage of the citizens. Moss-covered, live oaks line the streets, which are filled with historic mansions, palmetto palms and flowers. We took a cruise to Fort Sumter National Monument, where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired in 1861. Back at the waterfront, we toured Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, home of the World War II aircraft Yorktown (named the "Fighting Lady").

The Boone Hall plantation, with its 730 acres of naturally preserved wetlands and more than 300 years of history, is one of the nation’s most popular historic sites. The spectacular approach of live oak trees arranged in two evenly spaced rows is an entrance used in many movies. The current plantation house, built with bricks produced on the plantation by slaves, is America’s oldest, working, living plantation. A tour of the slave quarters, with costumed guides, included stories of how the slaves lived.

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Spending the next two nights at Myrtle Beach wasn’t too hard to take. The oceanview rooms line the beach, and collectors are out when the tide comes in to collect shells, A trip to this part of the country would not be complete without a seafood dinner. Mussels, oysters in the shell and crab legs were to be had at Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood, where we dined. This buffet featured more than 170 items, and our group did its best to try the best of it.

Our tour to Asheville, N.C., included the fabulous Biltmore Estate. This 250-room home has many rooms that are as enchanting as the day George Vanderbuilt built this house. All of the rooms were decorated with lavish, live flower arrangements, as was the outdoor area. Set on more than 8,000 acres, the estate’s landscaping and formal gardens are breathtaking.

The Brookgreen Gardens is listed as one of the "Seven Wonders of the Carolinas." The gardens have more than 120 sculptures displayed in the more than 50 acres of landscaping. The extraordinarily beautiful combination of art and nature is difficult to leave and impossible to forget.

Nearing the end of our trip, we stopped at the Kentucky Horse Park as we entered horse country, seeing miles and miles of white fences in this open area. We visited Kentucky’s grand equine tradition at the Kentucky Horse Park, with its fantastic museum full of stories, trophies and memorabilia. A horse and wagon ride around the many areas included the draft barn, arenas, riding stables, grooming and cemeteries of famous contenders. It’s another place we could spend much more time.

Our country has many beautiful places to explore, learn about and visit. This was just one of what we could call "a place you have just got to visit," as was our joy April 8-20.

There are a couple of DVDs of this tour, and I also have a lot of information on the places we visited. It has been our intent to share with you some of the sites and history, as well as what they have to offer.

Contact the travel office if you want more information. There will be a travel show on this tour this summer. 

Just to mention: On Sept. 27, there will be a matinee of the "Little House on the Prairie" musical at the new Guthrie Theater. It’s the latest trip added to our travel schedule.

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Evie Mohrfeld writes a weekly column about upcoming travel with the Mower County Senior Center.

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