Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mint Museum Uptown - 5/28/15

Mint Museum has two locations in Charlotte, NC, Mint Museum Randolph and Mint Museum Uptown. Between the two are hundreds of collections with pieces from around the world. We visited the Uptown location on 5/28/15 and the Randolph the next day.

There are two fabulous special exhibits on display now:

  • Halston & Warhol: Silver and Suede unites the work of the two on intersections in their lives.
  • Body Expressions is an innovative artistic expression of the human body focusing on jewelry, tattoos, nail arts, and fashions.
Photos were not permitted in these two exhibits but were in most of the rest of the museum. There are also specific pieces with "no photography" signs in the museum collections. Here are some of our favorites.

Dale Chihuly, Royal Blue Mint Chandelier, 1998 (glass)

Saint Clair Cemen, Car II, 1990 (Belgian glass marble)

Danny Lane, Threshold, 2010 (glass, steel, mirror, wood, stone, LED lights)

Eva Hild, Flutter, 2005 (stoneware)

Susan Point, Salmon Spawning Run, 2012 (Western red cedar)

David Sengal, Fishmonger, 2002 (ebonized fir, sassafras and walnut wood, rose and orange thorn, lacquer).

Nacho Carbonell, Wood Branches, Diversity Collection n.17, 2012 (steel armature, oak, willow branches)

Albert Paley, Chairs, 1992 (steel)

Cristina Cordova, Prelerdios y Partida, 2012 (ceramic, concrete, steel, resin)

John Kuhn, Pacific Rose, 1997 (glass, stainless steel)


Three desks:

  • Unidentified cabinetmaker (Maryland), Desk and Bookcase, c.1790 (mahogany and cherry veneers inlaid with satin wood over walnut.
  • Unidentified African-America cabinetmaker (South Carolina), Plantation Sideboard, c 1845 (white and yellow pine).
  • Kimbel & Cabus, Desk, 1876 (Walnut with nickel-plated hardware)

Earthenware Corn Pitchers, c. 1850s (New Jersey [left] and South Carolina)

Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, 1967 (screen print on paper)

Bob Troutman, Cover Up, 2008 (wood, tempura, and wax)

Paul Jenkins, Phenomena Turn of the Tides, 1973 (acrylic on canvas)

This is a signature piece that can be seen from all floors of the museum; it is pretty amazing.
Sheila Hicks, Mega Footprint Near the Hutch (May I Have This Dance?) 2011.

Admission to the Mint Museum is $12/adults and $9/seniors. The special exhibitions are an additional fee. When you purchase tickets at one of the two Mint Museum locations you have free entry to the second one the day of purchase and the day after. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit here...many very interesting pieces. Check out their website for information on special exhibits, hours of operation, etc.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cowpens National Battlefield - 5/25/15

Prior to visiting this park managed by the National Park Service, I never knew anything about the Revolutionary War battle that occurred here on January 17, 1781. The battle lasted only about an hour and resulted in a resounding victory for the American forces even though the British outnumbered them and had greater fire power.

This monument is positioned near the entrance of the Visitor Center, our first stop when we arrived.

Plaques can be found on the monument providing details on the forces for both sides. The Americans were led by General Daniel Morgan (who proved to be a tactical genius in this battle) and the British by Banastre Tarleton (who was known to be ruthless in battle).

Morgan's American Army was comprised of three groups:
  • The Militia, who were basically untrained volunteers who lived with a days' ride of the battlefield. They used their personal hunting rifles with great accuracy to 500 yards. A major disadvantage for them, however, was that they could not affix bayonets to their rifles which proved deadly in battle for some.
  • The Continental Army was comprised of well-trained, professional solders. They were issued flintlock muskets (not very accurate up to 150 yards) and bayonets.
  • The Cavalry was led by George Washington's second cousin, William Washington. Known as the American Dragoons, the troops were trained to fight on horseback and on foot. 
Here is a display of the weapons used by these groups during this battle.

Tarleton's British Army was comprised six groups:
  • The Legion Cavalry at Cowpens was a mix of American loyalists and prisoners of war from Camden, SC, who were armed with sabers and pistols.
  • 16th Light Infantry had crack troops who had been fighting since the beginning of the war with America.
  • 7th Royal Fusiliers were new, untested recruits and only partially trained.
  • Royal Artillery were responsible for the two light cannon that accompanied Tarleton's army. 
  • 71st Highlanders was an elite regiment who served extensively in the north until being transferred to Georgia and South Carolina to fight.
  • 17th Light Dragoons were a regiment of model soldiers for other cavalry troops. They were known for their discipline and served gallantly in most important battles during the Revolutionary War.
Here is a display of some of the weapons used by them during the Cowpens Battle.

Here is a diagram of the positioning of the troops at the beginning of the battle. It ended with an American victory with a "double envelopment" of the British.

The best way to see the battlefield here is via a self-guided, 1.25 mile Battlefield Trail that begins and ends at the Visitor Center. Interpretive signs are located throughout the tour providing insight into the positions of troops and the actual battle. 

A monument erected in 1856 to honor Washington's Calvary.

  • Killed in battle:
    • 110 British
    • 24 American
  • Wounded in battle: 
    • 220 British
    • 104 American
  • 600 British captured or missing
This battle helped turn the tide of the war to an American victory.

This park is dog-friendly and we were permitted to bring Sadie with us on the self-guided tour (which  we always love!)

There was a large picnic area where we stopped for lunch.

The journalist-historian Bernard Lessing came to the Scruggs farm to research the battle and write about the famous battle. This is a restored version of the log cabin that was here at that time. Work is currently underway to replace several logs and repair mortar in some parts of the house.

Admission to the site is free. Be sure to check out the displays at the Visitor Center prior to the self-guided walking tour. This place is definitely worth a stop if you are in the area.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Oak Plantation Campground - May 18 to May 22, 2015

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Location: Our visit to Charleston, SC, was a special situation. My older brother had undergone cardiac surgery a week earlier, and we came here to help him out after he was discharged from the hospital. Therefore, we selected this RV park because of its location near where he lives and works. It also proved to be a convenient location from which to find grocery stores, restaurants, and many historical attractions in the area.

Lot size:  We had a pull-through lot on a gravel pad that was an adequate size to accommodate our  RV, tow dolly, and car. A picnic table was provided and we were able to lay out our outdoor rug and chairs to enjoy the outdoors.

Amenities:  This park provides cable TV and wifi at not additional charge. There are modern, clean showers and restrooms (Bob took a shower there) and a laundry room with 3 washers and 2 dryers (we did our laundry off-site). There is a lovely outdoor pool (near the road) and a fresh water fishing lake that requires no license. In additional there is a pavilion for group gathering, a playground for kids, and a fenced-in dog park as well. The campground maintains a lovely, quiet atmosphere.

Cost:  $223.17

Management: The folks in the office had everything ready to go when we checked upon arrival. Some RV supplies can be purchased here and information about the area is readily available. We found this place to be a very well-maintained and well-run operation.

General Comments: There are 200 sites here accommodating both RV, pop-up and tent camping. The park is well laid out providing both shaded and sunlit sites with lots of green meadows throughout. This place is a great base camp for exploration of the attractions in the area. We will likely stay hear if/when we visit Charleston, SC, in the future. There are a lot more sights of interest here. For additional information on this campground, check out their website or the Good Sam's website.


La Fontana Restaurant (Charleston, SC) - 5/21/15

Our last night in Charleston, we continued with our tradition of going out to dinner the last night we are in town. This night was special, though, because my brother, Bob, took us to the restaurant where he works, La Fontana Authentic Italian Restaurant. It was also his first outing since his cardiac surgery so we were all looking forward to it.

We arrived for an early dinner knowing the place would not yet be crowded. This restaurant has a lovely, old-world, Italian ambiance. There is also a bar area that is separated from the dining area by a partial wall. All in all, a very cozy place. 

But the best thing about this place is the food! Delicious bread made at the restaurant was served right away with seasoned olive oil. I ordered the shrimp scampi that was divine. It came with soup or salad (I order the salad that was very nice and fresh with blue cheese dressing). John had the meat lovers pizza ... advertised as a personal pizza, there was plenty left over to take home. That's Elena, our server, with Bob. She was awesome!

We also had fun meeting and talking to the owner, Veronica, and other staff and friends. Although we were stuffed after eating our dinners she convinced us to try some desserts. John got the tiramisu and I had one (don't know the name) that was a custard like dessert topped with fresh fruit. It was fabulous. Here's a picture of the three of us.

It was fun to see this restaurant where Bob spends so much of his time working (he will be off for a couple of months due to the surgery) and meeting the great folks there. But, go for the food, as you will really enjoy it. La Fontana is 2014 Certificate of Excellence Winner from Trip Advisor. It's a very nice cozy place great for a romantic dinner or to hook up with friends.

For information on their menu and hours of operation, check out their website: