Friday, August 30, 2013

Trip to Concord, Ohio

Last week we decided to take a trip to visit Gerry's relatives in the Concord, Ohio area.  The only time we could make the trip was over Labor Day weekend and that gave us a little concern due to holiday traffic.  Leaving on Friday made it a little easier, so we called and told them we were on our way.  

Most of the trip was on the PA & Ohio turnpikes and the PA portion had very heavy traffic all the way.  It was moving a little above the speed limit so it wasn't a problem except for the stray nuts who wanted to drive 10-15mph over the speed limit.  Thankfully the PA State Trooper "talked" to a number of them along the way.  One in particular blew by us like he was late for his wedding.  He was stopped and then about 45 minutes later he flew by us again.  I guess he didn't learn his lesson very well.

The east bound lanes around Pittsburgh were at a stand still for a couple miles due to an accident.  By the looks of things it would have been an hour or more delay for those folks.  Hope nobody was killed or seriously injured, but the fast lane had 4-5 cars tangled up when we went by.  The firetrucks and ambulances hadn't arrived yet, so it must have just happened a minute or two before we saw it.

We did run into some rush hour traffic around Middlefield, OH and that slowed us down a bit.  I thought I'd let the new Tom Tom GPS direct us to Gerry's cousin's house and that was a mistake.  It took us off the turnpike early and had us making left and right turns on country roads for almost an hour.  One such place they directed us through was Middlefield.  Check out the traffic mess below.

I could read the lips on the driver to the right of us and she was saying "come on buddy, move over I want to pass on the shoulder".

It's hard to detect, but there are 4 buggies right in front of us and then another one at the crest of the hill.  I will say they moved along at a pretty good clip.

This guy came careening around the corner to merge into traffic.  They seem to think they have the right of way even if you are going 35mph on the main road. 

Middlefield had a sign as you entered town stating that it is the 4th largest community of Amish people in the world there.  I believe it, since we must have seen 30-40 buggies all over the place.  It looked like a neat little town and we may stop there on the way back if we can find it again.

Joanne was waiting for us in the driveway and we said our hellos and got our hugs and then went in and collapsed.  It was a long day with getting up early and then the drive.  We chatted for a while and had some dinner and then chatted even more.  Finally about 11:30 both of us were showing the signs of tiredness and we headed off to bed. 

That was our day, how was yours?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Saturn is ready to roll

I lucked out this morning with the Saturn.  The wheel alignment went quickly and also the wheel balancing.  Three of the wheels were out of balance, so I hope it rides smoother now.  It turned out that the tires are fine and still have a lot of mileage left in them so they didn't need to be replaced.  That is a relief and also good for the pocketbook.

We are taking a trip to visit Gerry's relatives in the Cleveland Ohio area over the Labor Day weekend.  It's been a couple years since we've seen her 95 year young Aunt Mary and this is a good time for a visit.  It's a 300 mile drive mostly on turnpikes, so it should be a short trip time wise, but you never know.  If we were going to continue on out west, we would have taken the motorhome and wait until mid September to leave, but we aren't going that route.

This was sort of an impromptu trip, but should work out fine.  The grand daughter of Gerry's cousin is having a baby shower given for her, so Gerry will see a lot of the family at that time.  I think I will go geocaching and miss out on the baby shower.  

That was the highlight of our day, other than getting a lot of chores finished.  Gerry was busy as a beaver and is now dozing on the couch with her computer on her lap.  She is one tired lady.  I think it is time to hit the hay and call it a night.

Good night all!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Barbara left us today

It seems like just yesterday that we were driving down to BWI airport to pick up Barbara.  The old saying that "time flys by when you are having fun" really was true for this visit.  We were busy from early in the morning to late at night and still didn't get to see her that much.

She had a 7:25pm flight on Southwest Airlines to Charlotte, NC and we left Cassie's house around 4:15pm to make the long drive down there.  The trip was fast since we were going against the rush hour traffic for most of the way and there weren't any accidents or stops along the highway.  That isn't always the case with I-70 heading East with all the construction and crazy drivers out and about on the road.

We managed to arrive at 5:30pm and dropped her off at the Southwest Airline curbside check in spot.  It wasn't that busy there and she said she breezed through the line.  We said our goodbyes at the curbside before the transit police ran us off.  BWI is very strict on how long you can park in the area.

Barb, we miss you and love you dearly.  Come back anytime and visit with us.  We had a great time.

Cassie, Barbara & Gerry worked on card crafting for three afternoons and made a ton of original cards.  They decided on a card design and each made the cards from the agreed upon design.  I did my part by staying out of the way and letting them do their thing.

Busy as busy can be.

Look at the mess in the motorhome.

Here are some of their creations.  I took the photos, but it was difficult to capture the color of the cards and also taking them on a flat surface with my digital camera wasn't that great.   However, you can get an idea of what they look like, even though this is just a few of the cards.  Maybe if you are lucky, one of them someday will be yours.

Thursday it will be back to normal up here on the mountain.  I have to take the Saturn down to have a wheel alignment and probably a couple new tires.  It turned over 125,000 miles today on the way back from the airport and it's time for the tires.  I think they have over 50,000 miles on them and are wearing out.  If I have time, I will also get an oil change while I am out.  Never an end of ways to spend your money it seems.

Once again it is muggy and foggy here on the mountain.  It seems that the rain has followed us from North Carolina and won't leave us.  We are getting too much rain and the Southwest too little.  Too bad there isn't a way we could send them a few inches of rain once a week.  It would help both areas.

I probably won't be blogging for a few days since we are taking a little trip.  We will be staying with relatives and they may think it is rude to put my nose in the computer all the time.  

That's what we have been up to lately, what about you?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday Picnic

We all decided on Saturday that it was time for a picnic and made plans to spend the afternoon at the Red Run Park in Rouzerville, PA.  It is a nice little park with a small lake, small stream (Red Run) running through it, pavillons, picnic tables, etc.  It is centrally located between Cassie & Jack's and our cabin.  

Since they had the Rouzerfest there last weekend, I figured it wouldn't be in much use for Sunday.  Ooooppss, wrong.  The place was packed with a Blue Grass singing group, family reunions, class reunions and other groups.  We managed to snag a couple tables in the back of the park and grabbed our space. 

This wasn't going to be a normal picnic lunch since we all were so busy in the days before the event.  I suggested we stop on the way and buy some Chinese takeout food.  Everyone thought that was great except for Lexi and they picked up a KFC lunch for her.  It sure saved a lot of work and preparation doing it this way and may be the new tradition for us.

The play area was next to us and Elizabeth decided to try out the slide.  Too bad we didn't have some wax paper to make the slide faster, but she still had fun on it. 

On the other side of the creek was a small train taking passengers on a circular run and it was busy the whole time we were there.

The girls and Cassie went down to the creek and played in the cool water.  Lexi managed to fall in the creek and get her jeans soaked along with her tennis shoes.  The creek kept them occupied for a long time and they enjoyed playing in it. 

Meanwhile; Gerry, Jack and I sat back and watched all the activities. from easy chairs and the picnic table.  It was a perfect day for a picnic with cool temps and low humidity.  Jack and I even managed to sneak in a couple adult beverages to help keep us cool.  

Later on the girls went over to the swings and were chatting and having a nice time.  I convinced Jack to walk over and get some nice pictures of the girls.  Two pretty redheads on swings drew a lot of attention from passerbys.   

 Cassie, Jack and the girls had to leave around 5pm and by that time we were ready to leave also.  Gerry had to have her ice cream fix and it was off to the soft ice cream place on Rt 40 in Maryland near Greenbriar State Park.  It is one of our favorite places to get soft ice cream and Barbara concurred that it was great.  The picture below reminds me of an old picture I have of Barbara as a 5 year old looking at the Good Humor longingly and waiting for us to buy her an ice cream bar.

Cassie and company joined us there and arrived just as we were getting ready to leave.  We joined them and hung around visiting for a while and then finally hit the road.

The Dogpatch Tavern is across from the entrance to Greenbriar State Park and is an institution around here.  It has been many things over the years and is presently more of a biker bar, but a tame one from what I hear.  They draw some huge crowds and there are bikes and car parked along side of the road for blocks sometimes. 

We took the scenic back roads back to the cabin and Barbara marveled how beautiful the countryside is in Maryland.  There are some pretty drives along curvy roads among pastures, woods, streams and a number of fantastic homes.  

We finally made it back to the cabin and watched "Interview With A Vampire" and Barbara and Gerry thought it was very good.  I'm not into those kind of movies and worked on preparing last nights blog.

It sure was a nice day and we all had a great time.  I hope you all were as fortunate and had a good time.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dumplings & Dill Gravy

We had a special dinner on Saturday to celebrate Barbara coming up for her visit.  One of our favorite meals is homemade soup, dumplings and dill gravy.  Gerry got the recipe from her mother who received it on from her mother-in-law and it originally came from Bohemia.  I guess you could say it is a family recipe passed down from daughter to daughter and maybe to son this time. also.

Soup preparation

Gerry started off by making homemade noodles from scratch and they really set off the meal.  She prepares the noodles, cuts them into strips and then cooks them with the soup.  The soup has carrots, chuck roast, celery, cabbage, tomatoes and other secret ingredients mixed in to make it delicious.

She also makes homemade dumpling with another secret recipe and starts out from scratch on the dumplings.  The noodles are at the top of the table and beginnings of the dumplings on the bottom.  The table seats six adults, so you can get an idea of the size of the ingredients.

 Once the soup has been made, the dumplings go into a pot and are prepared.  At the same time, she makes the dill gravy that goes over the dumplings.  All of the above works takes the better part of one afternoon and morning.  It truly is a labor of love.

The dill gravy above is cooking on the stove and smells wonderful. Next to the gravy is some of the meat and cabbage taken from the soup.

 I almost didn't get a picture of the soup before it was all devoured, but when I went back for my 2nd bowl of soup, I noticed how much had disappeared.  You can get an idea of the size of the soup pot by seeing the ladle on the right. 

This is the 2nd batch of dumplings and they also were going fast.  We used the same soup bowl to place the dumpling in and then cut them into bite size pieces.  The dill gravy was spread over the dumplings and were fantastic.  I also went back for a 2nd helping of the dumpling, so I managed to fill myself up with the great food.

While I was making a pig of myself, others were doing the same.  There wasn't a lot of talking going on, just eating the great food.

Gerry and Cassie having their dill gravy.

Barbara said it was divine

I was too tired to move, but happy.
Cassie, Jack & Lexi joined us, along with Gerry's sister Darlene and bil Tom.  They had a 2 1/2 hour drive up from Annapolis and made it without hesitation to enjoy the meal with us.  Yes, it is that good.

We all gathered on the porch before the meal and had some adult drinks and a coke for Lexi.  The picture below has all of us in the picture except for Gerry.  Darlene and Tom are at the top, with me, Lexi & Jack.  Cassie has her back to the photo and Barbara is in the upper right top of the photo.

After dinner they played Boggle for a while and had a close game decided by one point.  I am not that much interested in these kinds of games so I sat this one out.

Around 10:45 PM everyone began getting ready to make their long drives back home.  For Cassie, Jack & Lexi it was a 30 minute drive, while Tom & Darlene had a 2 1/2 hour drive ahead of them.  They wound up getting back to Annapolis around 1PM.  Tired, full and happy I hope.

That was our happy day, how was yours?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Son

Today is a special day for our son Larry Jr on his 42nd birthday.  He entered our life on August 24, 1971.  He has grown into a fine son, great father and husband and we are proud of his growth as a person.


I've included a pictorial of him from his early years through today.

Larry at 1 month old

10 years old

20 years old

30 years old

40 years old

July 2013
We wish we could have been there to celebrate with him, but just knowing he had a great day will have to suffice for now.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Happy Birthday & Card Making

Our good friend Mann celebrated his birthday today and I hope he had a great time.  He is at the age where he doesn't divulge how old he really is, but I do know his real age.  Or, at least what he says is his real age.

Happy Birthday old buddy and may all your wishes come true in the upcoming year.

Gerry, Cassie & Barbara worked on homemade soup today and that took a couple hours.  After that they went out to the motorhome and worked on card making.  They were out there a long time and got a lot done so that made them all very happy.  I haven't seen any of the completed products so I will withhold judgement on what they accomplished.

We finally went out for a late dinner at the Rolling Mill restaurant in Rouzerville, PA.  It's a nice friendly place with good food and service.  I managed to tease the waitress, but not enough to get her mad and do something to my food.  We didn't get out of there until after 10pm and we are worn out to say the least.

The owner of the restaurant has race horses and also a Clydesdale horse that he bought from Budweiser.  He stopped by and chatted for a while and filled us in on his latest horses.  The two thoroughbreds will be running at Penn National soon and he has high expectations for them.  The restaurant has pictures of horses all over the place, along with some saddles thrown in for good measure.

The back section of the restaurant carries on this theme even more and has a couple tables with saddles on them.  I think they are more for kids, but we convinced Barbara to get back in the saddle once again.  You can't see the saddle where she is sitting but across from her is an English saddle.  Neat idea.

 The saddle idea doesn't look like it would be that comfortable to me, but to each his own.

That was our day, how was yours?

Interesting and long day

Our daughter Barbara made plans to spend a week with us at the cabin while we were in North Carolina in June.  We checked our schedule and hers and this week was the best time for all of us.  Southwest Airlines is flying between Baltimore Washington International (BWI) airport now so she booked a flight there and arrived this morning.

Her flight was scheduled to arrive at 8:35am this morning.  We are 90 miles from BWI and it's about a 2hr + drive for us.  We went to bed early last night so we could get up at 5:30am and get ready for the long drive there.  Plenty of time to get some sleep and still make it there on time.

Except for one small problem.  I was lying in bed and started to itch in different places and thought it might be because I was in the sun a lot yesterday burning old branches and leaves.  Moldy leaves in most cases and a lot of smoke was swirling around.  Then the itching got worse and I took a benadryl and went into the bathroom and noticed some red spots.  Oh Oh!  Yep, it was a case of the hives breaking out and I took another benadryl and jumped into the cold shower and ran water over me.  That is the solution I came up with when I first had a case of the hives.

For some reason, it seems to help if I drive and run the a/c in the car to wait for the hives to go down.  So, we were out on the roads at midnight cooling down.  We wound up at a Rutters convenience store and gas station and picked up a foo foo drink which helps clear my sinus canals.  We wound up getting back to bed around 1:30am and the two benadryls took effect and I was sleeping within a few minutes.  

Then I heard the most dreadful sound.  Gerry was calling me to get up to drive to the airport and it seemed like I had only been sleeping for 10 minutes.  I don't function very well on 4 1/2 hours sleep, but we made it to the airport on time.

We picked up Barbara and her 49.5 lbs of luggage and headed for a nearby Bob Evans for breakfast.  We usually stop there when we are in the area and always seem to get the same waitress who gives us great service.  We had a nice breakfast and drank about a gallon of coffee and that woke us up enough to function.

Corridor Wine & Liquor is in the same shopping center and we headed over there to pick up a good supply of wine and beer for the next couple weeks.  They have the best prices in the area and have a great selection of both products to choose from.  Choose we did and went out of there with two carts of booze.  Canadian Club whiskey is about $24 for 1.75liter in North Carolina and $16 at Corridor.  We are set for those liquid refreshments until we leave here in late September.

Barbara hasn't been back in the area for a long time so we took her on a tour of old places and some new ones.  One place in particular used to be a quaint country road with pastures and woodlands a few years ago.  Now it is 5 acre estates with multi million dollar homes all over the place.  I liked the old scenes better than the new ones.

We used to live off of New Hampshire Avenue in Montgomery County, MD and have seen the number of churches grow by leaps and bounds over the year.  There are churches, synagogues, Muslin temples, Hindu, and just about any religion represented in a 10 miles stretch of highway.  I would guess that there are at least 40-50 churches along this stretch of highway.  Something for everyone.

Here are a few pictures of them that we took along the way.

 Amongst all these huge & beautiful places of worship sits this simple little building.  Yes, it is a prayer stop and we see people stopping there all the time.

The ride home had just begun for Barbara since we stopped at a Costco to pick up more items and by this time the back of the Saturn Vue was full and also 1/2 of the backseat.  What a load for the poor old car, but it rose to the task and got us back home safely.

We stopped by Cassie's house and visited for a while so the sisters could see each other again.  No matter that they were together from Wednesday to Monday of the past week, they still needed some sister time.  By now I was falling asleep in the chair and decided it was time to head back to the cabin.

Now to get to bed early tonight and catch up on some much needed sleep and get ready for the upcoming week.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tom Tom Charger

I wrote about the charger for our Tom Tom XXL GPS failing while we were on our trip with Grant.  I've gone through a number of them with this unit and it was getting rather expensive buying new ones.  My Son-in-law Jack mentioned they sold chargers at Lowes Hardware for around $6.00 that would work with the unit.

I had a number of errands to run today and stopped by Lowes and picked up a charger for $6.00 and plugged it into the GPS.  It worked fine and was charging the battery like it's supposed to.  It will be interesting to see if this one lasts any longer than the previous more expensive units.  I would imagine that they are all produced in China and of the same quality, so I am not that optimistic.

There was a 2007 Jeep Commander parked in a driveway with a for sale sign on the window.  I stopped to check it and from what I could see it looked like it was in good shape.  It has 96K miles on it and looked like new.  I was sort of interested in it for a tow car, but when I found out the estimated gas mileage was in the 12mpg range, that put an end to that.  Too bad, it looked really nice.

Not much exciting going on around here except that I saw three deer fawns with their spots quite visible along side of the road.  I didn't seen the mothers around, but that isn't unusual since the fawns have to keep up with mom and they like to wander off.  We see it all the time in the meadow in front of the cabin.  There are about 7 fawns around the immediate area, so it must have been a good year for increasing the herd.

There are some old barns up here on the mountain and they are neat old buildings.  There was a really nice one along side of the road, however someone bought the land and tore it down so they could put a double wide on the property.  

South Mountain Barn
 That was our exciting day up here on the mountain, how was yours?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Double Header Saturday 90 & 56

Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men don't go as planned.  Today was one of those days.

We were invited to help a good friend celebrate his surprise 90th birthday.  His wife Lynn had been working on setting up this big event for the past 3 months and everything was in place for the big day.  There was a room full of people at the Woman's Club of Hagerstown reception hall.  Everyone was there except the guest of honor, who was almost an hour late.  No problem for us since we arrived 30 minutes late and thought we'd missed the grand entrance.

Bud finally arrived and was quite shocked to see a room full of friends and relatives waiting to celebrate his birthday with him.  He was overwhelmed and was visibly shaken, but he recovered and was his same old self.

Bud was a veteran of WWII and was in the flying corp.  He was scheduled to take part in the invasion of Japan, but the war ended before he actually had to fight there.

He is the most active 90 year old person I have ever known except for Katy Starr who rivals him in energy.  He still does wood working and makes all repairs and modifications around the house.  

The 56 part of the day came about as we celebrated our 56th wedding anniversary.  We didn't think the birthday celebration would last as long as it did.  Then we started thinking about our anniversary dinner and where to go.  We've been to all the nice places nearby and didn't want to repeat going to any of them, so we had to find a new one to try.

It was my turn to pick the restaurant and I remembered an old restaurant in Greencastle, PA so it was off to find it.  It took a while, but find it we did and were able to be seated at a nice table in the dining room.  

 The interior of the restaurant was extremely nice and had a number of separate eating areas.  The meal was great and the company even better.  Since we had eaten lunch just a few hours before, we tried to order a light meal, but wound up stuffing ourselves again.  

By this time we were worn out and decided to call it a day.  We had a nice ride back to the cabin and have settled in for a glass of wine and a movie.

It's hard to believe that we've been married for 56 years, but they have been great ones.  It seems like just yesterday we got hitched and were driving back to our homes in Illinois.  Just two crazy and happy kids.  Still crazy and happy, but a little past the kid stage.

That was our day, how was yours?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tom Tom GPS map download

Our old Tom Tom GPS power supply has been acting up the last year or so.  The original power supply lasted 3 years and the next ones lasted less than 6 months each.  The one I just bought in June lasted 2 weeks.  What is it with these power supplies?  I did notice the last few power units were made in China, so that may be one of the reasons they don't last that long.

The old GPS also has 2 gig of internal memory, however the newer map downloads are too large to fit into memory.  So, we are stuck with maps that are a couple years old and out of date.  The GPS still works fine and I hate to give it up.  My plan is to take an old Verizon power unit and modify it to fit the GPS.  

In the meantime, we bought a new Tom Tom 1535 GPS and have been using it lately.  It accepts voice commands for just about everything and works fine.  As soon as I used it the first time the message came up saying the map was out of date.

 Since the files are so large to download, I waited until we could spend some time at Cassie & Jack's house and use their FIOS high speed internet service.  I thought it would take a couple hours and was surprised to see it still running after 3 1/2 hours.  Boy, was it ever slow and took forever.  At least we were able to watch episodes of King & Maxwell that they had recorded for us.  Three episodes to be exact.  Finally around 10pm the downloads finished and also the third episode at the same time.

See, we do live an exciting life up here on the mountain.  What about you?

Monday, August 12, 2013

200 mile trip

We knocked off two of our doctor appointments today and it was a 200 mile roundtrip.  We went to our family doctor and also one of my doctors.  We got the results back today and all is well so we are finished with them for the year, except for getting the prescriptions filled and back to us.

We really like our family practice doctor and it was worth the drive to see him.  He recently joined a medical group and gave up his private practice due to the overwhelming government forms and regulations that he had to file.  It required him to buy a new computer system for &70-90K and that was the last straw.  He sold his practice, office building and said that was it last year.  I don't blame him.  One benefit for us is that he is closer to us now than he was at his old office.

We had planned on joining a couple friends for dinner while we were in the area, but he couldn't make it at the last minute.  He's had some medical problems and they were acting up on him.  We will reschedule for early September and see if he can make it then.

I avoided the infamous rush hour traffic in the DC area by taking a less traveled road and had a pleasant drive back up here.  Cassie called and invited us for a lasagna dinner with garlic bread and a salad.  I couldn't pass that up.  Gerry makes a delicious lasagna, however with just the two of us it is too much food, so we don't have it very often.

We got back to the cabin after 9pm and were worn out from all the sticking, driving, walking and those thing associated with a long day.  It was an early evening for us to go to bed and recover.  I don't know how the people up here can drive to the DC area each morning, work all day and then drive back in the evening and do this for years.  Must be something to do with age.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Recent Happenings

This will be a very short blog today to reflect on what we have been doing interesting lately.  I think the highlight other than finishing some tasks from the "to do" list is sit on the newly screened porch and watch the world go by.  Up here that consists of watching two neighbors come home from work.  Other than those two, we haven't seen a soul up here since Larry Jr. & Grant left on Tuesday.

We did go down to the Washington County library and pick up some movies from their lending library.  They have a liberal check out policy of 6 movies per customer and have recent movies available.  Since we don't have tv reception other than NBC ( which is the same as no reception ), we rely on movies to keep us entertained in the evenings.

It has finally stopped raining every day and hopefully we can get some dryer and warmer weather to clear up this humidity.  The trees hold in the moisture and reluctantly give it up, so it may be a while before we get down to comfortable humidity ranges.

We did go to Australia the other night for dinner.  Well, sort of.  We had some gift cards from Outback Steakhouse and decided it would be a good time to use them.  We arrived early and requested a table and they obliged by putting us at a table for 8 people.  Everyone walked by and looked at us like we were crazy or at least waiting for a large group to appear.  Our meals were excellent and as usual Gerry took part of her steak home for later consumption.  I ordered the 6oz steak and the waiter said that they had larger steaks if I was interested.  Humm, I wonder if there was a message there for me? 

When it came time to pay the bill we used a $50 gift card and I told the waiter we would wait to make sure there was enough funds to cover the meal.  He was very thankful that we waited since there was only $2.18 left on the card and he would have been stiffed big time.  Out came a couple more cards and we were on our way out of there after they cleared the computer.

We drove by this little stream on the way home and took a picture, but it was hard to really show it as it was.

That was our last few days, how were yours?