1349 Gunbarrel Road, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Summer Vacay Road Trip, Berries, & Whales

Nicole and Caroline, two moms from Chicago, and their children Nicholas, Josephine and Jacob, spent two nights with us on their way to Disney World and took some time to explore Lookout Mountain and the Scenic City.  Our grand-dog Mini loved playing with Josephine (a true animal whisperer), and we were elated that they chose to stay with us again during their long trip home to Chicago.  We enjoyed hearing about their exciting week conquering the Disney megaplex and learning about the new Orlando attractions.  Since we’re pretty much glued to home these days, it’s always a treat to hear about others’ travels.

Just a friendly reminder that St Francis Cottage is conveniently located less than 1.5 miles from Interstate 75 (Northern Michigan to South Florida) and 3.5 miles from Interstate 24 (Pulleys Mill, IL to Chattanooga).  

Great North Carolina Getaway

SFC Guests Todd and Lisa told us about their spectacular mountain retreat listed on Airbnb near Asheville, NC.  If you’re interested in a quality, yet economical vacation in the North Carolina mountains, check out their rental on Airbnb.  Their airstream is adjacent to a meandering, rambling brook that will serenade you to sleep.  Todd and Lisa are fantastic people and hosts, and you won’t regret booking with them.  Click on their link, and take a look at all the photos!

 You can go Airstream Glamping in North Carolina! Click HERE to visit the website!

Garden Therapy and Wendell Berry

Wallace learned many years ago that his wife requires regular gardening time.  Upon arriving home from work, I do a beeline to the gardens for my daily therapy sessions where I can unwind amidst nature.  Whether it’s planting, watering, weeding, composting, mulching, picking fruit, vegetables and berries, or just roaming about the gardens, enjoying my passion brings peace to my soul and enables me to commune with God.  

While working his work-study job at University of California Press at Berkeley, our son Michael bought The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry (Organic Farmer, Poet, Philospher, Author) for my Mother’s Day gift, which is now in the St Francis Cottage library.  Then we found out that SFC guests Jean Ann Martin and husband, Gary, from Kentucky (Wallace met them while filming the Great Race for several years), are life-long family friends of Mr. and Mrs. Berry!  Now, how cool is that?!

Wendell Berry & JeanAnn Martin (A few years ago)
"The miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes."
- Wendell Berry

Berry Pickin’ Time

The year-round TLC involved to keep blackberries, raspberries, 40 blueberry bushes, gogi berries and grape vines producing is well worth the harvest that begins in June and lasts until September.  Since we use no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or other inorganic products, we often enjoy lunch or dinner right there in the gardens feasting on berries, which are full of antioxidants and other nutritional vitamins and minerals.  Having nature’s medicines in our backyard (along with Divine assistance), keep us healthy and moving.  We’ll be serving plenty of fruit salads and cobblers this summer at St Francis Cottage since the bushes are loaded with berries this year.


When we received the invitation to our nephew's June wedding, we already had a reservation at the Cottage for that weekend.  Although it was a difficult decision, we decided that  Nancy would stay and hold down the fort while I flew out to attend the wedding in Woodside, California, south of San Francisco.  Our son Michael lives about 20 minutes from the event space where the wedding would take place.  Our daughter Hannah decided to fly in from Winnipeg, Manitoba since she hadn't seen Ryan or his brother and sister-in-law, Stephen and Jen, for quite a while.  Ryan is the son of my brother, Bruce, and his wife, Barbara, who live in Maryland.  Friday was spent getting to the west coast; picking up Hannah at the airport in San Francisco; finding our accommodations; picking up Michael at his office in Palo Alto; then scurrying off to the wedding venue.

What a venue it was!  The huge lawn where the wedding took place was lined with huge Redwood trees, past which you could see the bay and the mountains in the distance.  After the wedding, we spent some time talking with our family and some of the guests inside the elegantly rustic facility where there was dancing, cake, and more conversation.  

The next day Hannah, Michael, and I attended a post-wedding picnic at Mountain Lake Park, near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  There we had some of the best picnic food ever . . . a feast of Chinese food!

We then had an opportunity for some sightseeing on Saturday, including a hike through some of the Muir Woods.  The redwoods were enormous, and we were surrounded by trees, dense foliage, fennel, and beautiful vistas.  It was still quite chilly until we got down inside the trees.  Breath-taking!

Muir Woods Overlook

Son, Michael Braud & Daughter, Hannah Cavey
On Sunday, we took a train ride from Forest to Beach beginning at Roaring Camp and ending on the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz and then back again.  LOTS more Redwoods, cliff-side views along the tracks, a wonderful conductor host, and riding down the middle of busy streets in Santa Cruz to get to the beach!  It was wonderful.  After making the return trip to Roaring Camp, we drove about 45 minutes south and went Whale Watching!

If you haven't ever done this, it is well worth the expense and the time.  We were blessed to see many humpback whales, bottle-nosed dolphin, sea lions, and a multitude of sea birds.  Even got to see one good "breach" as a humpback propelled itself into the air!  Magnificent!

The BEST part of the whole weekend was getting the opportunity to spend some quality and fun time with our two children!  This would not have been possible if Nancy had not stayed to keep the doors open at St Francis Cottage, which was a blessing to me and our children . . . and to our guests! Also, SPECIAL thanks to Phil, Hannah's wonderful husband (and our son-in-law) for having stayed in Winnipeg and taken care of their four children!  THANK YOU, DEAR WIFE & PHIL!!  Best Father's Day gift ever!