Wanderings and Wrong Turns

the places you'll go and the things you'll do

Growing up in Virginia, I never really ventured far from my roots.  Once I got into college and the military, my horizons began to broaden.  Since then I have had the good fortune to visit many interesting places, both within the US and abroad.  The goal of this page is to share some of these great locations with you, as well as reflect on my personal experiences with all of them.

United States | North & South America | Europe | Asia

United States of America

bwalnut.jpg (41330 bytes)Black Walnut Farm

Might as well start with the family homestead.  Not exactly where I grew up, but this farm in southern Virginia, near the town of Clover has strong family ties.  My grandfather purchased the property while I was still in high school, and ever since leaving for school, I always look forward to coming back and spending time there.  In fact, my wife and I recently held our wedding reception there.  The house and land date back through the revolutionary war, and the site is on the Virginia and United States registers of historical places..

annapolis.gif (25531 bytes)Annapolis, Maryland

By nature of having attended the U.S. Naval Academy, I was exposed to this lovely little town on the Chesapeake Bay.  Although I cannot admit to being a huge fan while I was attending school there, my appreciation for the beauty and history of Annapolis has grown since my departure.  When I visit the area, I spend much more time actually visiting the city than visiting school.  The rich nautical ties that Annapolis maintains are part of what gives it unique charm.

spoleto.jpg (26181 bytes)Charleston, South Carolina

Where the Ashley and the Cooper Rivers combine to form the Atlantic Ocean, Charleston is a city that has never lost the charm of the old south. Since first visiting in the summer of 1986, I have returned repeatedly to bask in the history and relaxed lifestyle that permeates this town.  In addition to the historical district in downtown Charleston, there is easy access to a wide variety of beaches and resort islands.  Personally, I like to spend my days on the beaches of the Isle of Palms or Folly Beach, then take an early evening stroll down along Rainbow Row to the Battery.   The Market is a great place for nightlife with many restaurants and taverns in a small area.  I recommend staying at a local bed & breakfast downtown if you ever have the opportunity to visit.

pcola.jpg (21831 bytes)Pensacola, Florida

I spent 1 1/2 years living in Pensacola right after college and enjoyed every minute of it.  Located in western Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola is famous for the white sandy beaches and its ties to naval aviation.  The beaches of Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key are not highly commercialized by todays standards, and offer a relaxing place to enjoy the oceanside.  I shared a place on Perdido Key with two friends, and was treated almost nightly to brilliant sunsets over the gulf.

navavmuseum.jpg (41419 bytes)Naval Air Station Pensacola is known as the cradle of naval aviation, owing to the fact that ALL Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviators begin there aviation training there. The base is also home of the National Museum of Naval Aviation, one of the best military aviation museums I have ever visited.   Of the local nightlife, of which I conducted extensive research, my personal favorites are the Flor-A-Bama, McGuire's Irish Pub and Trader Jon's (the unofficial museum of naval aviation). Pensacola was the place that I have enjoyed living the most in recent years, and I venture back often.

rudee-thm.jpg (15987 bytes)Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is where I have lived most of my adult life.   Despite the fact that the Tidewater area is home to the largest military community in the country, the diversity of the community masks this, allowing many to wonder if the military is even here at all.  The biggest events of the year are the East Coast Surfing Championships in August and the Neptune Festival in September.  Tourism is a major industry in the summertime, but there is enough here to keep the locals happy and busy throughout the year.

desert2a.jpg (21786 bytes)El Centro, California

I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here or anything.....   Not the first pick on a whirlwind tour of southern California, El Centro sits in the Imperial Valley, just southeast of Palm Springs and the Salton Sea.  While not exactly a metropolis, the town is as much Mexican as it is American.  The desert landscape, as well as the mountains around it offer many oppotunities for outdoor recreation.  It is also the winter home of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

vegas.jpg (56824 bytes)Las Vegas, Nevada

What could I possibly say about Vegas that hasn't already been said before? The town is really the city that never sleeps, I have personally checked out that claim on more than one occasion.  While the casinos are the biggest attraction, one musn't forget that Lake Mead and Hoover Dam are both a short drive away.  Vegas is also a favorite launch point for aerial tours of the Grand Canyon.  Finally, if you are convinced that aliens do exist, a short drive to the north of Vegas will take you to Rachel, Nevada.  This town is the self-proclaimed alien central, home to the ET Cafe and numerous "unsolved mysteries" programs.

tahoe.jpg (35038 bytes)Reno & Lake Tahoe, Nevada

What a great combination!  All of my trips to this area have been in the winter and what great trips they were.  Tahoe offers both exceptional skiing and casinos (South Lake Tahoe).  I have only yet begun to make my way around the different slopes in the are, having only skied Heavenly and Squaw Valley thus far.  I have found Lakeland Village, in South Lake Tahoe, to be a great place to stay.  I am still looking forward to visiting the area in the summer, when I hear that golf, boating and even SCUBA diving are popular activities.

North & South America

stthomas.gif (12023 bytes)St. Thomas, USVI

Probably the most populous of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas offers the convenience of extensive shopping with the solitude of quiet beaches.  I have had the opportunity to visit the island twice in the last five years.  The first visit was exceptional, and it was during this trip that I discovered the beautiful beach at Maegan's Bay.  My return to the island was cut short unexpectedly, but not before I had the chance to sample the facilities at Bolongo Bay, another resort I highly recommend.   I am looking forward to getting back to St. Thomas in the near future, perhaps taking advantage of their extensive charter sailboat fleet. 

Ponce_Hilton_Photo.jpg (42437 bytes)Puerto Rico

The 51st state?  Maybe, maybe not.  Nevertheless, Puerto Rico is a beautiful tropical island well within the reach of the continental United States.   I am ashamed to say that in two visits to the island, I have yet to make it San Juan.  Instead I have confined my adventures to NAS Roosevelt Roads and the southern town of Ponce.  During my time there, I have had the opportunity to snorkel in the clear waters and go hiking in the El Yunque   national rain forest.  I am looking forward to getting back and SCUBA diving near Vieques Island.

bermuda.jpg (14950 bytes)Bermuda

It has been a few years since my one and only trip to the island of Bermuda.  I arrived via sailboat and moored in St. George's harbor. Touring the island (by moped) was quite exciting.  The town of Hamilton is the biggest town on the island and is the home of much of the commerce.  St. George, on the eastern end of the island, was much quieter and much more reminiscent of a small English village.


iceland.jpg (42445 bytes)Keflavik, Iceland

I had the opportunity, in the summer of 1988, to spend a month in Iceland.  Although most of that time was confined to the Naval Air Station, I did have the opportunity to tour the south coast of the island, to include the capital of Rekyavik.  The country itself is both beautiful and barren, and offers many contrasting environments and landscapes.  In one afternoon's drive, I saw lush green pastures, gigantic waterfalls, steam geysurs and a plain that resembled a moonscape.   Just make sure you visit in the summer!

naples.gif (31953 bytes)Naples, Italy

Nestled in the shadow of the infamous Mount Vesuvius, Naples is western Italy's gateway to the Mediterranean.  Naples is centrally located, allowing convenient access to Pompei, Sorrento and the island of Capri.  The city itself offers abundant shopping, great food and some hair-raising taxi rides.  It is a maritime town as well, hosting merchant shipping from throughout the Mediterranean and the world.  Personally, I took advantage of Naples as a stepping off point for another great trip to.........

rome4.jpg (20220 bytes)Rome, Italy

What a spectacular city!  I spent two days in Rome and it was not nearly enough.  The religious and cultural history that permeate this city take the visitor back to the very beginnings of western civilization.  The Colesseum and the Forum offer unique glimpses back in to the lifestyle and architechture of the Roman empire.  Similarly, the Vatican and St. Peter's reveal much of the history of the Catholic church in society.  From the Sistine Chapel to the ancient ruins, I was spellbound throughout my visit.

marseil2.jpg (23832 bytes)Marseilles, France

I once spent Christmas and New Years in Marseilles.  While not the optimum time of year for our visit, it was easy to see why the south of France has appealed to many throughout the year.  The locals took very good care of us during our visit, even those who did not speak English.  One of my favorite evperiences there was an evening in a cafe, myself and three friends, where neither the French nor American contingents spoke the others' language. 

Trieste, Italy

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Venice, Italy


Dubai, U.A.E

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Doha, Qatar

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