June 2007 Archives

Awake: 6:05am Temp 61 sleep 5+50 mostly sunny overnight @ Watertown, WI.

Kathy makes a sourdough pancake breakfast with all the trimmings. Then she climbs the ladder & helps Sallie wire up the Clematis vines on the back porch & refill the hanging bird feeder. I visit Larry upstairs in his office & admire the latest office organizing change & the bookshelves he put up last night by himself.

Then…..Larry & Sallie leave @ 12:45pm to drive to Chicago where Larry will take his 94 yr old mother grocery shopping & then out for dinner; they stay overnight with friends & the next morning, fly to Los Angeles to attend a wedding. They are scheduled to return early Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, back @ the homestead, K & I take care of Tigger & Massel, their (2) dogs. Massel is actually their daughter Carrie’s dog; Carrie & her husband Benji & their daughter, Molly, live in San Diego, CA.

Since Larry & Sallie spend over (6) months visiting their daughters, Carrie & Debbie, their husbands & (2) grandchildren in San Diego each yr, the dogs are part of the family as they move across the country in Larry & Sallie’s motorhome.

We make a few evening phone calls: Katrina in Denver & Gary & Grace “on the road again” driving I-81 thru West Virginia in their Newell motorhome.

Later, we take the dogs for a (20) min walk down past Bruce & Marsha’s place which is close to the Rock River. Then we fill up their water bowl, Kathy gives them more dog food & we watch some Planet Earth on TV together. Massel especially, pays close attention to the animals on TV.

Even later, I finish reading the Air & Space Magazine.

High temp=77 Lights out: 12:07am

Awake: 7:08am Temp 62 sleep 7+34 partly sunny overnight @ Watertown, WI.

Casual morning for us; magazine reading, some light filing, etc; Late morning, Sallie invites us for lunch. I bring a few house plans along for us to talk about.

After lunch, K & I + Sallie walk over to the Bruce & Marsha home; I bring my camera.
Great floor plan, especially downstairs: very nice game room with a full size Space Invaders machine; a full size Simpson machine; cocktail Mr. Pac Man machine; ole classic pool table with leather pockets; big screen TV; (2) good size bedrooms; an exercise room; & the “clock” room (contains a rather large collection of clocks of all kinds inherited from his father) which Bruce also uses as an office. Also downstairs, there is a small kitchen where meals can be prepared without having to go upstairs and a lounging/TV area; we thoroughly enjoyed seeing this game room.

Larry is very tired today & naps all afternoon. Meanwhile, K & I attend the 4:30pm vigil Mass @ Saint Henry’s church in Watertown. On our return, we stop @ the Pick & Save grocery store for milk & wine. Then join Larry & Sallie for wine & dinner: Chicken breast, chop salad, mixed salad & cold spaghetti. We talk until 9:00pm & the Shabbat is over @ 9:18pm.

I finish reading my FMCA magazine in bed. Kathy works a crossword puzzle & continues reading her novel.

High temp=74 Lights out: 12:15am

Awake: 5:52am Temp 59 sleep 6+19 cloudy overnight @ Watertown, WI.

Larry & I go to the factory. We discuss an easier & simpler method of getting all those hydraulic motors down from the 2nd floor parts storage. Larry finds a wire cutter & suggests that cutting a section of the wire fence out will allow enough open space for the forklift to pickup a pallet load of motors & bring them down to the 1st floor.

Much better operation; (3) more pallet loads were lowered to the 1st floor before 1:00pm. The inside of the factory is getting larger; using the forklift, Larry moved a Suburban auto with no engine, out to the “for sale” area near the highway & a lot of good steel to one dumpster + junk steel to another dumpster.

@ 1:10 we break for lunch; then decide to do the mowing around the factory. Larry was finished with his section in less than an hr; my area took 1hr 20 min. Sharp blades make a difference plus the grass hadn’t grown that much in a week’s time.

After the mowing Larry uses the forklift to move heavy “I” beams which had different size pipes stored on tiers & other solid steel bars. Pipes go into the junk dumpster & the “I” beams are set aside as good steel.

Back to the house, K & I both shower as she was working with Sallie & is dirty also. We have our wine time & then, the Shabbat begins: Sallie’s brother, Bruce & the boys, Jonathan & Micha, arrive & later, wife & mother, Marsha, who flew in from NC where she welcomed the birth of a grandson.

Dinner by Sallie: Chicken egg drop soup; chicken with chopped salad, suteed green beans & mushrooms + cake for dessert. Lots of lively talk until 10:00pm; then we retire to our respective homes for the night.

High today=74 Lights out: 11:34pm

Awake: 6:02am Temp 69 sleep 6+10 cloudy, then late rain overnight @ Watertown, WI.

Today Larry & I take the Alkota pressure washer to be repaired; it’s about an hr’s drive into west Milwaukee to the suburb of New Berlin. Jim, the chief repair guy @ Mid-West Service, says when he finds out if the leak in the hot water coil can be welded or needs a replacement coil, he’ll call.

Jim is an interesting fellow: besides being a hot water pressure service man, he is literally a Rocket Scientist. He & his teammates have to schedule a time in advance with the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency) to launch their rockets into the atmosphere. These are not small rockets; some are (8-10-12) feet tall & they can reach an altitude of over 20,000 ft.

Their rockets are recoverable & used again & again; on the return to earth, an onboard altimeter lets the rocket free fall to about 1000 ft; then the parachute opens & brings the rocket softy to the ground + they don’t have to travel miles to recover it. It was fascinating listening to Jim talk about his favorite hobby.

On our return to Watertown, we stop @ a V. Richardson Grocery store where Larry buys some pasta & a bag of potato chips for a snack & I buy some aged Gouda for later.

Back @ the house, Larry asks if maybe we should do another mowing around the factory grounds before the next rain. I agree but insist that the blades on both mowers get sharpened first. It took some time to remove all (6) blades, sharpen, & make sure they were balanced, & then torque the blades back on, but it will be worth it.

After that project, Larry suggests a casual (6) mile bike ride to get the kinks out. This time I accept the offer which turned out to be most enjoyable. I ride one of his light road bikes with the shifters on both handle bars that move outward in lieu of back & forth. Larry’s in great shape & a real gentleman as he waited for me to catch up on the small hills. Then we return to their house where we have our wine time.

7:00 dinner by Sallie: Kosher hot dogs, whole wheat buns, broccoli, baked beans & maple walnut pudding for dessert.

Evening entertainment; we watch a Tivo movie: “Designing Woman.” There was a lot of interference due to a late evening thunderstorm & precipitation.

High temp= 74 Lights out: 11:33pm

Awake: 5:20am Temp 57 sleep 5+43 sunny overnight @ Watertown, WI.

I wait until Larry gets the call from Dale regarding the starter for the Hyster; that happens around 9:45am & I am ready to roll. The rebuilt starter looks identical to our worn out one so Larry pays the bill & we are on our way to the factory. The starter installation went smooth & next, the battery is fastened down & terminals connected. Larry turns the key & then….vroom! Music to our ears; then we congratulate each other.

Before Larry begins using the forklift to move materials, steel, junk, etc, I ask him what can I do now to help out. He gives me the job of bringing down the unused & heavy hydraulic motors from the 2nd floor parts supply room; about a dozen steps are involved. Then stack the motors on a pallet so the forklift can easily move them to another location for inventorying &, eventually, selling.

For the next (2-3) hrs Larry keeps that forklift mighty busy, moving unwanted scrap iron, miscellaneous items of no further use, etc; all of that stuff gets fed into the dumpster just outside the building.

Meanwhile, my arms & legs are getting some good exercise; lifting & stepping. I use a plastic carrying tub to bring (1, 2, or 3) hydraulic motors down the stairs at a time; depending on how big & how heavy. I know there is a better & easier way to work this project, especially now that we have a working forklift & I’ll be talking with Larry about it. After (24) trips, I begin to think that I’ve carried enough of this heavy metal for today. About the same time, Larry wheels back into the building & parks the Hyster. It’s about 3:30 & we are both ready to call it a day.

Before we close the big doors to the building, Larry asks me: “what do you think is causing that overhead halogen light to make such a loud buzzing noise when the light bulb is already disconnected?” “I’m not sure” I tell him. “Maybe it’s the step up transformer.” “Can you get rid of it” he asks. “If I can borrow your small flashlight, the Leatherman & you turn off the circuit breaker for that electrical area” I reply. I climb the ladder, open the small electrical access panel, pull out a few wires & snip the black leads. Standing on the last rung of the ladder while holding onto a solid ceiling rail; then shinning the light inside the small open access area & snipping those wires was a little scary for me; but when Larry switched the circuit breaker on again, that noise was “gone.”

Back @ their house, Larry invites me to join him & his friend Bill for a (2) hr bike ride. After a few seconds of deep thought, I decline. “My legs already had a good workout for today but try me tomorrow” I tell him.

His buddy Bill comes whooshing in the driveway shortly thereafter; Larry introduces him & I offer him a quick bus tour; then they are off & peddling.

When Larry returns, we enjoy a quick wine time, then an 8:00pm dinner by Sallie of: (2) types of pizza; cheese & veggie. Quite good!

Late evening: K & I watch the O’Reilly Factor.

High temp=81 Lights out: 11:52pm

Awake: 6:41 Temp 65 sleep 7+15 sunny overnight @ Watertown, WI.

Kathy & Sallie drive to Milwaukee this morning. Kathy has an appointment with an ear, nose & throat specialist, who, according to Sallie, Larry & a lot of their friends that have visited him, think he can help Kathy with her sinus condition.

Early this morning, I remove the (2) switches from the electrical panel, gather my soldering kit, paste, electrical tape, wire strippers & wire cutters, etc & I am ready for today’s adventure.

Meanwhile, Larry had some phone calls to make so we get started about mid morning @ the factory to get that Hyster running. During my switch wiring, I test the system (3) times by starting the engine with no problems. After I finish, Larry has trouble starting the engine; so much trouble that we both suspect that we may either be out of propane or that darn starter is acting up again. “It’s time to do the right thing” Larry says.

We take our (2) maybe empty propane bottles across town, have them refilled & return to the factory. Then we remove the troubled starter; it needs to be replaced anyway. I also took off the distributor cap, found a messy rotor & cleaned that up. Any or all (3) of these items could have bugged us to no end.

“It’ll be tomorrow before your starter can be replaced” says Dale. “It’s coming from Chicago & I’ll call mid morning when it arrives.” “Good enough” we reply. Then we return to the house where Larry warms us both a small bowl of Vodka pasta for energy to move on with our next adventure.

Larry hooks up the small wheels trailer to the Ford pickup that has the Alaota hot water pressure washer on it. We take it to the factory, back it into the building & under an overhead portable crane; lift the unit off the trailer, back the pickup truck under the pressure washer & lower it onto the truck bed. Larry would rather transport the heavy pressure washer on the back of his pickup rather than the small wheel trailer it usually rolls on. Tomorrow we plan on taking this high powered pressure washer to an authorized repair service to have a leak fixed on the heating coil or if it can’t be fixed, a new coil.

Back @ the house, Larry & Sallie have visitors: Moeshe & his wife, Marcy. from Milwaukee. They are interested in a bus tour so I give them a quick $2.00 special. Interesting fellow Moeshe, we talk @ length; then I must shower & later, join Larry, Kathy & Moeshe for wine time.

Outside patio dinner by Sallie: Steaks, coleslaw, French fries, potato slices, watermelon and other fruit for dessert.

Lots of talk about families: Israel, where Moeshe is from and still keeps a condo; Judaism and the situation in Israel/Pakistan; Moeshe’s real estate rental business; etc.

Kathy’s appointment with the ENT Dr. went very well; she liked his calm, kind, professional manner. Diagnosis: many nasal polyps. But the good news is, he feels with a short course of oral steroids and steroid nasal spray, the polyps can be shrunk and surgery avoided. Thanks Sallie & Larry for the referral.

K & I watch the O’Reilly Factor on TV.

High today=75 Lights out: 11:37pm

Awake: 5:18am Temp 71 sleep 5+34 cloudy, later rain overnight @ Watertown, WI.

Sallie & Kathy have a challenging shopping day planned: Home Depot to look at cabinets for the bathroom remodel to be started soon; the pool store to have the pool water tested and buy the necessary chemicals; 2 different kitchen stores to look at stainless steel sinks; & the Kosher store to order meat for the 4th of July festivities.

Early afternoon, Larry & I go to the factory. Today we are serious about starting the Hyster 8000 forklift. The present battery on the forklift is kaput so we substitute the new Caddy battery. Key on, turn key & nothing; Larry thinks the safety switch is shot. We jump the safety switch: starter not turning, not even a solenoid click. We jump both the safety switch & the solenoid terminals: still nothing. Bang starter with a crowbar several times: nada! Larry has an idea & a friend mechanic just down the road. By chance Pete will be coming this way soon & he’ll stop by.

About 20 min later, Pete arrives carrying a voltmeter. He tries the same tricks as we did with the same results. He also takes a voltage reading which was good. Then he asks for a hammer & gives the starter a few hard hits: the starter turns & the engine starts. We thank Pete a lot & he goes on his way. Larry & I are elated. Lesson learned: next time, use a hammer. We fill the brake reservoir with fluid, start the engine again & decide to call it a day.

Before we leave the factory, Larry asks me if tomorrow, I could wire another safety switch in parallel with the one that’s shot. “Sure” I tell him. Then I ask if he has any switches laying around in the parts bin that might work. We climb the stairs to the 2nd floor over the offices, find a defunct circuit board with (2) switches & take that panel along back to our bus to start the safety switch process.

Wine time was relaxing. We tell our ladies about our unsuccessful attempts @ starting the Hyster & how Pete’s hammer had a better ping. And they share their day’s activities.

Dinner by Sallie: chicken stir fry with brown rice & bread.

Mid evening movie: “The Uninvited” with Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Donald Crisp, Gail Russell, etc. Eerie ghost suspense about Russell disturbed by dead mother’s specter; Milland & Hussey, new owners of the haunted house, try to solve mystery. 1944. Kathy wasn’t too thrilled about this ghost stuff & I nearly asked for my money back. But for 1944, the cinematography was impressive.

High temp=82 Lights out: 11:34pm

Awake: 5:55am Temp 68 sleep 5:09 partly sunny overnight @ Watertown, WI.

"Happy Father's day to me!" I wear my cell phone all day in anticipation of hearing from our kids.

The Rabbi in Madison called Larry late last night telling him he was one man short for a minion (must be 10 men) on Monday, a time of special prayers as it is the beginning of the Jewish month of Tomas, & asked him if he could fill the spot. So Larry left @ 8:30 & will be absent for several hrs.

Meanwhile, Sallie is ready to start organizing the lower basement rooms; notice I typed rooms. Sallie’s brother, Bruce, has a dumpster just down the driveway that we can use. In prep for this next challenge, I detach the flat bed trailer from the Ford pickup & drive the pickup around to the back of the house for loading “stuff.”

Meanwhile, Kathy & Sallie have already lined up a bunch of miscellaneous “stuff” to be hauled to the dumpster. I make numerous trips from the basement to the pickup & from the basement to the toy/exercise room. We accomplished a lot before Larry returns. He arrived around noon time & he was impressed.

After lunch, Larry digs in; more rooms are cleaned out of “no longer usable stuff.” The photo developing room; electronics room; bookshelves are rearranged with more books destined for the library or filed in the dumpster; unwanted desks moved to the pickup truck; full size “Space Invaders” commercial game lifted onto the pickup truck, etc, etc. Larry & I filled that pickup with “stuff” (3) times, making (3) trips to the dumpster on Bruce’s property. Tough guy Bruce helped us with getting that Space Invaders game onto the dumpster; it was very heavy.

@ 4:45 we were pretty much worn out; next, showers for everyone & then wine time. Marsha’s Brother, Josh & his wife, Stacy, visit briefly & asks for a bus tour. Kathy complies but emphasizes that the bus is not for sale.

I did enjoy having "Father's Day wishes" from all our kids today @ various times. A proud father I am & so lucky to have such a wonderful & caring family. Had I known that our kids would have been so gracious & thoughtful as adults, I would have gladly given them more ice cream when they were younger.

Outside patio dinner: hamburgers, vodka pasta, American fried potatoes, mushroom & wild rice soup & bread.

We all felt good about our organizing progress that we made in the basement today.

Lights out: 11:44pm

Awake: 5:10am Temp 68 sleep 6+24 mostly cloudy overnight @ Watertown, WI.

Today is a casual day for Larry & Sallie; the Shabbat continues until around 9:18 tonight. They can do no work, including anything creative; no driving, no cooking, all food must be prepared before sundown Fri; make or take no phone calls; if they have a light turned on, they cannot turn it off & vice versa until Shabbat is over. There are many such restrictions of which we know only a few. But they can visit their neighbors & friends who live within walking distance & enjoy a day of socializing, reading, & relaxation.

We accept an invitation to visit Sallie’s brother, Bruce, & his wife, Marsha, a mere (5) minute walk. We find Marsha outside staining the wood on the back deck of their house; she’s allowed to work as their family does not follow the dictates of Orthodox Judaism, but rather those of Conservative Judaism, a bit more liberal.

K & I attend the 5:15pm Vigil Mass @ St. Bernard’s church; (7 min trip). Afterward, we stop @ the Pick & Save grocery store to check out their wine selections.

Then we join Sallie & Larry for a dinner of leftovers; the meal was just as delicious as the night before. We spend the remainder of the evening with them in their living room having some interesting discussions and joining them in the closing prayers and ritual of Shabbat.

Lights out: 12:46am

Awake: 5:55am Temp 66 sleep 6+33 sunny overnight @ Watertown, WI.

Around 9:30am, Larry & I gather (6) fuel containers (diesel & gas) & drive (2) miles toward Watertown & fill them up @ the Kwik….Service Station. Then a short drive to the factory to attach the double axle, flat bed trailer to the Ford pickup & haul that back to the house. After filling the John Deere Tractor’s tank with diesel fuel & the Bob Cat mower tanks with gasoline, those machines are loaded onto the flat bed trailer. Then we outfit our bodies with gloves, earplugs, respirator masks, & water bottles & head for that factory area again. Today’s project: mow the tall grass around the semi-retired production factory & frontal road area.

With Larry on the Bob Cat & me on the John Deere tractor, we figure a few hrs & we’ll be finished. What I didn’t realize, but have some recent experience with, was “dull blades” on both machines.We had to make (2 & 3) runs thru the tall grass for a clean cut & that took a lot of extra time.

After (3) hrs, the Bob Cat chewed up & tossed out the blade driving belt & that finished Larry’s productivity. Fortunately, the John Deere had plenty of fuel, & I have a lot of experience sitting in one place for a long time & continue smiling. My (5) hrs were dusty, dirty, soaking wet, etc, but we were finished. Larry didn’t just sit around while I continued to mow; he drove that Caddy out to the frontal road area, stuck a large “for sale” sign on it & also put a weight lifting machine alongside the car. I think he was busy the whole time but have no idea what else he accomplished. We close up the factory, load the equipment onto the flat bed trailer & head back to the house.

We have a mid afternoon lunch with the girls & share the fun things we’ve been doing. Speaking of the girls, they have been working in the basement, gathering some old photo equipment, suitcases, and other paraphernalia to be discarded + old paperback books, (256) to be exact, that Sally wants to donate to the Watertown library. After that basement experience, they continue painting the Jockey & Lackey statues out in front. Later, Kathy helps Sally with dinner by shucking ears of sweet corn.

After the mid day lunch, Larry would like to visit the Bob Cat dealer to buy a replacement belt today & Sally would like those 256 paperback books taken to the library before it closes. Looks like another mission for the guys. So now we carry those (5) large boxes of books upstairs & out the back door to the waiting Honda Odyssey & we are off.

An hr later, both missions are accomplished. Back @ the house, Larry prefers to replace the Bob Cat’s broken belt now, before Shabbat begins. He has replaced that same belt before so he’s familiar with the task. After driving the Bob Cat up on a set of ramps, he gets right with the program. With a little help from the manual, we are finished in about 45 min. A test drive by Larry & a follow up with my testing proves the fix is “A” ok.

The hot shower was the best part of our day. Just as K & I finished getting dressed, our door bell rang & in comes Larry & Sally with her brother, Bruce, his wife, Marsha, & their sons, Mika & Jeremy. They are interested in a tour & Larry is ready to see a slide extended. I purposely kept the # 4 side in to show Larry, so now we’ll have even more of an audience. They were happy to see more of our inside home.

We are invited to share Shabbat with them @ dinner time starting about 8:00pm. Without going thru all the details like we did last yr, I’ll simply say we had another great meal with the traditional blessings, prayers & wine, Challa bread, mushroom & wild rice soup, coleslaw with cashew-spinach, beef brisket, potatoes, sautéed green beans with Shitake mushrooms, fresh corn on the cob, and for dessert, pistachio chocolate chip pie and watermelon. Another delicious meal & good people to enjoy it with.

We talk & eat until around 10:00pm & then it’s time for us to return to our small home.

Today’s high=80’s Lights out: 10:46pm

Awake: 5:05am Temp 67 sleep 5+50 sunny overnight @ Milwaukee, WI.

After 8:00am, I walk down to the campground office & pay the fee for (1) night. After my breakfast, I call Larry & let him know that we are only an hr away. He says: “come on up but give another call when you’re a few miles out.”

I-94 between Milwaukee & Madison is fairly smooth & we find Larry & Sally’s hangout without any ado, so in lieu of calling, we park half off the shared driveway of (3) homes, detach the Suzuki & drive the remaining 400 ft to their house. Both he & Sally were working outside. We are happy to see them & they are happy to see us.

I talk with Larry about a different parking spot this time; instead of backing up close to his garage, would it be ok to park on the circular drive in front of the house. Larry liked that idea. He then showed me a septic clean out access pipe very close to where we will be parking; so basically we have a full hookup: water faucet from the front entrance of their house; 50 amp electricity from the Jacuzzi/exercise room, & sewer disposal unit inside the circular drive.

Kathy & I are here visiting Sally & Larry again because they did us a nice favor during 2005 in San Diego. Now we want to try & return the favor by doing a “work camp” program. Since we were here just last yr, we have a fairly good idea that we’ll be busy during most of the time & that’s just fine with us.

I walk down the driveway, get our motorhome & park it in the approved, designated spot. There are a few tree limbs touching the rear roof area of the bus so with Larry’s permission; I’ll trim those off later.

When we drove in this afternoon, Larry was in the process of changing a flat tire on his deceased father-in-law’s 1988 Cadillac parked close to the double garage. Larry wants to sell this car so I volunteer to vacuum the trunk, back & front seating areas, + under the hood. This Caddy was used by their son Alex for awhile but has been outdoors for the last (9) yrs & still looks good for that amount of outdoor time. During my Caddy clean up time, Larry mows the grass on the east side of their house with the Series 23 Bob Cat mower, & then repositions their Horizon by Itasca motorhome on that side where he has gravel.

Next, Larry drives the cleaner looking Caddy; I drive his (1) ton Ford diesel pickup & we both go to his semi-retired production factory (2) miles away. The battery in the Caddy is about (2) yrs old & not keeping a charge. This battery has the “Wal-Mart less than (3) yrs full replacement” policy so guess what our next stop will be!

Back to the factory we go with a new battery for the Caddy. Maybe tomorrow there will be a “for sale” sign on that beauty.

In the meantime, Sally & Larry are expecting a special guest & a long time friend for dinner. We met Arnie last yr about this same time. He’s quite a guy: (81) yrs young, very active, in great shape, sharp mind etc, but his wife, Mary, of 61 yrs had to be put into a care center about (6) months ago. He visits her nearly every day but it’s so obvious he misses her a lot.

Meanwhile, Sally & Kathy have been painting outside; restoring 2 very old yard statues, a jockey & a lackey. The girls are doing a marvelous job of making them look new.

While Sally & Kathy prepare dinner, Larry, Arnie, & I gather in the covered, screened in porch area, have some wine, & talk a little aviation.

6:45 dinner: Salmon, mashed potatoes, Caesar salad & bread.

Evening time; some interesting stories from Arnie: ranging from the war yrs onward to building and running a factory & raising a family. Then it’s time to say our goodnights & goodbye to Arnie for now. It was fun & a fair beginning for our work camping goal.

Lights out: 11:22pm

Awake: 5:22am Temp 57 sleep 6+30 sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

We leave Nicktown @ 7:17am. Kathy calls Kevin to let him know that we are on our way; (31) min later, we meet Kevin @ the off ramp @ 6th Street & US 422. It takes only seconds to transfer the sourdough pancake starter she had made for Kevin + a letter for Kevin to mail & then we continue on to the town of Kittanning, PA.

We know Kittanning has a Costco store in its Community Park but our Lady Garmin on (2) tries did not take us on a comfortable route with the motorhome. Going down narrow & curvy streets in residential neighborhoods does not compute so I aborted that mission; besides, we have many miles to travel yet today. On our return trip, we’ll simply park the bus & scout around using our tow vehicle.

We continue on R-422 to I-79 to I-80 to the toll road I-90 through the remainder of Ohio & all of Indiana. 1st time for us using toll roads; not so bad & the price was less then we expected. Maybe the girl missed seeing our small tow car behind our motorhome & only counted (3) axles. The roads were so-so in the smooth category but we sure made some miles without slowdowns or stops. Trucks, it was like, more trucks than automobiles.

Close to Gary, Indiana we make a Flying “J” fuel stop of 150 gal @ $2.54 per gallon & shortly thereafter, our average speed diminished considerably. We ran into the famous Chicago rush hour; big time! In our meager planning these last few days, we couldn’t arrive @ a bulletproof method to avoid the big city congestion, so we paid the hr or better price of slow moving traffic to continue to today’s destination.

Approaching Milwaukee, Kathy calls ahead to make sure a campground site is available; it is. Road construction with a detour on I-94 gave us a city tour we hadn’t planned on, but we still arrived @ the Milwaukee Fairgrounds Campground @ 8:02pm (CDT) with daylight.

Today’s travel: 649.5 miles 13+27 time 102.6 gal used 6.3 mpg 48.3 avg speed.

10:15 dinner: Leftover chicken & broccoli dish, brown rice & mixed salad.

I wore Kathy out today but she still had enough energy to make dinner, wash the dishes & watch the O’Reilly Factor on TV.

High travel temp=90 Lights out: 11:15pm

Awake: 5:40am Temp 56 sleep 5+16 sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

K & I walk to 8:00am Mass…..then we both skip the Koffee Klub meeting today. (5) of our distinguished members are absent & attending a more worthy cause. From here, Kathy walks to the church hall & spends about (4) hrs helping the ladies make more noodles for our homecoming picnic.

I walk back to our coach & program Lady Garmin GPS & the Princess Pioneer GPS to our new destination. Then trim some of the grass around our campsite’s electric, water, telephone utilities, etc, using a large pair of scissors. Then spend (45) min repairing the telephone wire that I inadvertently cut off while trimming the grass; splicing, soldering, & wrapping the wire with electrical tape. UGH!

Kathy finishes noodle making around 1:00pm; then we drive 1.5 miles & visit Rosemary & Herm @ their farm house. We sit & chat on the front porch for nearly (2) hrs. Due to arthritis & Parkinsonism, Herm is moving & talking very slowly but there’s nothing wrong with his sense of humor. Rosemary, his wife for 61 years, still has energy to help with noodle making and is his ever loving & constant care giver.

My sister, Corinne, arrives promptly @ 5:00pm. She is looking good these days; riding her bike & being more aware of what & how she eats. She realizes it’s a slow process & that is great that she is realistic about time. While Kathy is cooking the dinner meal, I give Corinne a slide show on the big screen covering some of our recent travels: Reading, PA & the WWII experience & touring Texas for (4) months. Naturally the slide show couldn’t be shown in its entirety.

7:15 dinner: Chicken/broccoli casserole with brown rice, mixed salad, & whole wheat pita bread. After dinner, I excuse myself & with the light of the evening still left, start doing the things necessary in prep for our early morning departure. I think Corinne felt that she should be getting back to Lilly as well, so we say our goodbyes & wishes for safe travels. It was a very comfortable visit with Corinne. We hope she didn’t feel chased out.

High temp=81 Lights out: 10:52pm

Awake: 5:53am Temp 55 sleep 6+02 sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

K & I walk to 8:00 am Mass…..then join the Koffee Klub for an hour. Kathy brought her homemade cake in for the Klub members to feast on & they loved it. Afterward, we visit Janet @ the rectory & give her our wallet size pictures for the church directory booklet.

Later, we leave @ 11:40 am, drive to the town of Saint Benedict, continue past the drive in movie theater to the Medical Center in the town of Carrolltown for our scheduled appointment with Doctor Brian. (2) hrs later, after each of us filled out paper work & individually spent time with the doctor, we both agree that we like this guy & their operation & look forward to having him as our local family doctor.

Next we drive to Johnstown & stock up on Italian sausage @ Conzettas; then return to Nicktown.

I talk with our near neighbors, Chuck & Shirley; they just replaced their outdoor carpeting on the back porch. It looks good. While there, I mention our travel plans for the next month & that we will be leaving sometime this week.

I pour the unused diesel fuel from filling the John Deere tractor into our motorhome tank. That should add @ least (3) more miles to our travels.

Kathy calls the Footes & talks with them about a potential plan to drop off the sourdough starter later this week on our way west by northwest.

7:05 dinner: Italian sausage from Conzettas, whole wheat noodles, tomato sauce, mixed salad & toast.

Early evening; K & I pick (4) quarts of wild strawberries taking us 1.5 hrs. The de-stemming took nearly as much time as the picking & reduced our volume to about 3.3 quarts; the wild berries have a lot more flavor but are smaller.

Late evening: we watch the “O’Reilly Factor.”

High temp=80 Lights out: 12:24am

Awake: 6:00am Temp 54 sleep 6+02 sunny overnight@ Nicktown, PA.

Ken & Theresa arrive @ 9:05am. After some casual chit-chat & sitting around, Kathy gives Theresa a tour of the inside of our motorhome & I give Ken a tour of the outside. Ken had many good questions & I answered as many as I could. I am still learning.

Kathy serves us (2) different kinds of homemade bread: cranberry orange & peanut butter chocolate chip that she has been experimenting with. I believe she was complimented on her successful baking by Ken & Theresa. Most of our talk centered around family activities so we got caught up on how their kids are doing & vice-versa. We chat until 11:00 & then they had to leave. We needed that rendezvous; Ken has been very kind to us: loaning his tractor & working with Melissa & Kevin on their wood flooring, etc.

Next, we scoot over to the church hall & have a breakfast sponsored by the Altar & Rosary Society: scrambled eggs, American fried potatoes with onion, bacon, sausage, Belgium waffles, coffee & juice. We join cousins, Ethel & Bernie, & neighbor, Mack S for ½ of our time; then move to another table & talk with Cyrus, Mary, & their kids: Fred, Ben, & Kate for the rest of our eating time.

Back @ our coach, we get a call from Nick in Seattle. He was not successful in getting his Sony camera back after unintentionally leaving it on the airplane. We felt bad for Nick & for us; that camera had some nice family & kid photos on the memory stick taken during our mini reunion in Norfolk, Virginia and photos of Jerry prior to that.

Then K & I drive to visit the Foote home; both boys were looking sharp & playing nice. Matthew was talking so much better; we both understood most of what he said. The Footes ate dinner @ 3:20; K & I simply have a smoothie; our stomachs were still full from our late breakfast. After they finish their dinner, we say our goodbyes for now & do some minor grocery shopping @ Giant Eagle, Martin’s, & Wal-Mart. Using a CD with pictures from our Asian Pacific Cruise, we copy (2) wallet size photos to make a print that we’ll give to the secretary to be in the Saint Nicholas Church directory book.

On our return to Nicktown, we make a stop @ Waterfalls Road to fill our (14) water jugs with drinking water if we need it during our travels.

Late dinner: Whole wheat English muffin with cheese & ham slices.

Lights out: 11:51pm

Awake: 5:35am Temp 61 sleep 6+29 mostly sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

K & I walk to 8:00am Mass, then join the Koffee Klub members. Today Donna K. makes an Angel Food cake & brings some of their homegrown strawberries + whipped cream to feed us all strawberry shortcakes for breakfast. Now hold on; yes there is more, homemade apple pie; all of this to celebrate Janet L’s 51st wedding anniversary. Throughout the year, Janet herself has been very diligent in sporadically surprising the Koffee Klub members with her homemade cinnamon rolls so they won’t be suffering starvation before breakfast. Father Job must have heard the rumor of the opportunity for an early breakfast as he too, joined us for the occasion.

Mid afternoon, Kathy experiments with our Advantium oven, making cranberry orange bread which did not cook through. Upon trying different settings, it wound up being dry. A second attempt also resulted in dry bread although the flavor of both was good. She says more practice with this new oven is definitely needed.

In my spare time, I look forward to reading more about the high tech systems in the manuals for our motorhome; today I took more time to do so.

K & I walk to 6:00pm Vigil Mass in Nicktown.

8:00 dinner: chicken broccoli casserole, left over fried noodles, mixed salad, & Pita bread.
Late movie: “Junior Bonner” with Steve McQueen, Robert Preston, Ida Lupino, Ben Johnson, Joe Don Baker, Barbara Leigh, etc. Totally captivating rodeo comedy-drama as an aging McQueen returns to his home & family to take part in a local contest. 1972. Even though it’s a lot of bull, it’s still a fairly decent show.

High temp=79 Lights out: 11:58pm

Awake: 5:42am Temp 65 sleep 6+01 cloudy, then evening rain overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Having mowed about (5) acres, our area looks good. K & I walk to church for the 8:00am Mass; then join the Koffee Klub gang for an hr. (4) of our distinguished members are absent today so the conference table talk is at a noticeably lower volume.

Back in our motorhome, Norm calls from Harrisburg, PA. He & his wife, Ann, are flying to Anchorage, Alaska for (2) weeks of touring; we give him the name of a good seafood restaurant near their hotel.

Our forwarded mail from Alaska arrived today so I spend the remainder of the morning sorting & looking thru the bulk of it.

Kathy does (3) loads of laundry today. Melissa calls to ask if I would like to look @ their inoperative DVD sometime. “Of course,” I tell her, “but it won’t be until we return from our Wisconsin & Ohio visiting.” She also mentions that her throat is sore.

Mid afternoon my 1st cousins, Florentz & his wife Anna, arrive. We both thought it was high time to have a gathering + a wine tasting event. Kathy serves the healthy snacks & I open our big bottle of Texas Merlot; only sold in Texas. 2.5 hrs later with lots of talk & a little of both our wines, Florentz wins glasses down with his dandelion homemade wine. They have another commitment tonight & leave @ 5:10 pm. It was a fun afternoon.

Heavy rain began @ 6:15pm; waves of rain with the works: thunder, lighting & wind.

7:15 dinner: Tuna steak with brown rice, creamed spinach & bean dish, mixed salad & toast.

We watch the launching of the space shuttle on CNN & the NASA channels.

Later evening: we started watching the movie: “The Last Angry Man” but our satellite signals had difficulty getting thru the layers of moisture; thus no report.

High temp=81 Lights out: 11:06pm

Awake: 6:02am Temp 53 sleep 6+12 sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

K & I attend 8:00am Mass & afterward Kathy joins the Koffee Klub members for an hr. I walk back to our coach, change clothes, eat a healthy Kathy muffin, & spend 2.3 hrs mowing more grass with the John Deere.

Today being Thursday, again I invite Kathy to our Rotary meeting & lunch; in the distance as I mow, I catch a glance of Kathy motioning me back to the coach for a clean up & change of clothes. En route to the Cambrian Hills Golf Club we stop @ Best’s Service Station for diesel fuel for the John Deer Tractor.

The Rotary meeting was good; lots of discussion relating to the Golf Classic of last Friday; how to improve the day & make the game move along a little faster. Some of the players were so late in finishing their game that they couldn’t stay for the dinner.

Speaking of food, our lunch today was very tasty: meatloaf, pasta, creamed cucumbers with onions & tomatoes and chocolate cake for dessert. Wait there’s more: Kathy also won the 50-50 chance for the 2nd week in a row. I’ll be inviting her for lunch more often. On our return to Nicktown, we make a quick stop @ the Giant Eagle for some groceries.

My 1st cousin, Florentz, is picking wild strawberries in the lower field when we arrive. My mowing of the tall grass helps my cousin not only find the berries easier but also the berries will ripen faster by getting more sunshine. Today he picked (2) quarts in (2) hrs.

Melissa arrives with the boys @ approx 2:00pm. I change back to my grass mowing attire & ask Matthew if he would ride with me on the tractor to finish up mowing the lower field. He does, but not for long; he wants to get off & says: “It’s too bumpy!” About (30) min later, I am finished. Total time for all of this mowing: 8 hrs 15 min. Next time, I will ask to have the blades sharpened before using the tractor.

Melissa suggested that Andrew might like a tractor ride also so I stayed on smooth ground & did not use the noisy mower system & Andrew seemed delighted.

Next, I fill the John Deere’s fuel tank with onlookers Melissa, Matthew, Andrew & Kathy. After 8.3 hrs of mowing, it took only (4) gallons to top off the tank. Pretty thrifty I thought. Oh yes, Kathy helped by holding the fuel container & the boys were watching both of us closely. Could they be watching for a spill? Then I call Ken & let him know that I am finished with his mower.

After that we all take a rather long walk down the quad runner trail & into the woods for a change of scenery. Matthew found a tree frog and was delighted when the little guy let Matthew pick him up and rode in his hand for a while. With some encouragement, he let the frog go and then spent the rest of the walk looking for another. Then the Footes visiting time was up & they had to leave. We say our goodbyes, do the wave, & away they go.

Without the boys, I clean the mower, tractor, & then myself. About an hr later, Ken arrives to retrieve his John Deere. We talk for a spell & I invite him & Theresa over on Sunday for a visit after their 8:00 Mass time. He will talk with his wife & let us know.

Late dinner: Popcorn with the movie: “Bound for Glory” with David Carradine, Ronnie Cox, Melinda Dillon, Gail Strickland, etc. Life of folk singer-composer Woody Guthrie, superbly played by Carradine, with great feeling for 1936-40 period as Guthrie travels the country fighting & singing for the underdogs, victims of the Great Depression. 1976. A moving story, no pun intended, but beware of shorter prints.

Today’s high=81 Lights out: 11:41pm

Awake: 5:58am Temp 48 sleep 6+15 mostly sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

No morning Mass today, but it’s important that we join the Koffee Klub meeting. When we return to our camper, I call Ken & ask him about using his John Deere tractor to mow our golf course. “When would you be using it?” he asks. “As soon as you deliver it” I tell him. Ken isn’t sure but he’ll check his schedule & give a call later.

I call Larry in Wisconsin. He called off his hernia operation for now & will have it done later this summer.

I take time out to read more tech info in our manuals about our motorhome systems. In (6) yrs, they have made many changes & a lot of high tech improvements.

In prep for our future travels, I ask Kathy nicely & (in her spare time), if she would make copies of the toll road prices in Ohio, Indiana & Illinois off the Internet from the Department of Transportation. She agrees.

Mid afternoon: Ken calls; he will bring the mower over today. Hot diggity!
Kathy is walking over to the church hall to help the ladies bag those noodles they made yesterday. Then they will go into the big freezer until picnic day early morning. She reported that they made & bagged 67.5 lbs of noodles this week; 167.5 lbs now made toward the 275 needed for the chicken soup on Picnic Day.

I start mowing the golf course @ 4:25. A lot of this grass is over three feet tall, especially inside the circular driveway. I hesitate to cut this tall grass right now as Matthew was having so much fun making trails last Wednesday but Ken did mention that he would like to have the tractor back when I’m finished as he has immediate plans to use it again.

So I mow for about (2) hrs around the outside of the circular drive & west of our motorhome; being careful to keep the platform as high as possible & not mow the strawberries down. About (5) inches will clear most of the wild strawberries; this yr we have an abundant crop. Al K. drives his quadrunner over to check my progress. We chat for maybe 10 min & then, back to mowing. Eventually that tall grass had to go; like Kathy says about some of her hair cuts: “it’ll grow!”

I mow straight through to 9:35pm. The time was ideal: cool & very few bugs. Even using the tractor’s headlights, it was difficult in the dark to see everything I felt necessary to see, so that was enough for today. Maybe another (2) hrs tomorrow will finish the job.

After a good hot shower & then some wine, cheese & Snyder’s pretzels, my 2nd wind never kicked in & we both zonked out in bed.

Today’s high=66 Lights out: 11:50pm

Awake: 6:02am Temp 59 sleep 6+50 clouds & rain overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

K & I attend 8:00am Mass &, afterwards, chat with Bill M. for awhile. From here, I drop Kathy off @ the church hall to help the ladies with more noodle making.

After my breakfast, I spend some time re-organizing my file cabinet.

Gary C. calls from the town of Saint Augustine; we discuss their future travels & our future travels. In their town, they also have a well attended meal & picnic so we fully intend to compare theirs & ours this summer.

My sister Corinne calls: we are checking each others schedules, looking for a time to have Corinne over for dinner next week.

I call Anchorage & ask to have our mail sent to our Nicktown address.

Kathy calls & makes me an offer: if I drive over to pick her up, she will bring along a bowl of chicken noodle soup for my lunch. I pondered over that deal for a millisecond & then agreed. After all, it’s raining & she doesn’t have the umbrella. Gosh, that soup was s-u-p-e-r!

Grace J. calls for Kathy from Landenburg, PA. They discuss hair & hair coloring + a few other subjects. It’s amazing; guys would never do that!

7:05 dinner: Leftover pasta with spaghetti sauce, leftover corn & peas dish, fresh mixed salad & toast.

Al K. returns my earlier call. I had a series of questions & he had a series of answers. Most of our talk revolved around the Rotary business.

Call Ken P. He wasn’t home so I leave a message with his daughter that I will call him tomorrow.

Late movie: “They Drive by Night” with George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart, Gale Page, etc. It is a Marvelous melodrama of truck-driving brothers, Bogart & Raft battling the dangers of the open road as well as a murder frame-up by Lupino. 1940. If the story holds some validity of the earlier truck driving industry, then we’ve come a long way.

Today’s high=63 Lights out: 11:43pm

Awake: 5:20am Temp 59 sleep 5+59 clouds & rain overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

K & I attend 8:00am Mass & then join the Koffee Klub meeting.
Back in our motorhome, Kathy does the Galad, FitTV exercise while I look @ (3) bigger & closer pictures that Ed sent over the Internet showing his 55 Chevy. Wow!

After breakfast, K & I do some strawberry picking on our property. Those berries are plentiful this season.

7:05 dinner: Pork chops, peas & corn dish, fried noodles, mixed salad & toast.

Call Zack for his birthday. During our talk time, he was riding with Nick, Eriko & Jerry en route to the Outback Steakhouse in Seattle for a “Happy Birthday” meal treat from his brother. Lucky guy!

Later evening: We watch the history channel on Budapest & about their underground caves & tunnels. That was especially interesting for me because our friends, Mark & Joan, are visiting the country of Hungary all this month &, for all we know, they may be exploring those tunnels & caves in Budapest as we speak.

Today’s high=72 Lights out: 11:12pm

Awake: 6:40am Temp 66 sleep 6+42 overcast, then afternoon & evening rain overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Kathy adds an extra story to Kevin’s carrot birthday cake building this morning. While she is doing that, I begin culling out the out-of-focus, repetitive & just plain bad photos from yesterday’s coverage of the WWII activities.

Gary & Rosemary C. arrive @ 1:10pm to ride with us to the Foote estate. They want to visit with their godson, Andrew, to help us celebrate Kevin’s 32nd birthday &, of course, to enjoy the rest of the Foote family. We sit around & gab for awhile. It took some time for Andrew to warm to Rosemary & Gary; naturally, they haven’t see Andrew for months; but he finally did get fairly comfortable with them.

Matthew wasted no time in checking out the cassette player to make sure it was working again.

Meanwhile, the birthday man was outside preparing the dinner: grilled hamburgers, grilled potato slices & corn on the cob. Melissa had already concocted a bowl of fruit salad & Kathy’s carrot cake is in waiting.

A surprise visitor: Corinne. She was invited last week but indicated she wouldn’t be able to make it due to another wild party commitment. How she could smell that fresh fruit salad & carrot cake is a mystery to me.

Before we know it, Kevin gives a (5) min notice for dinner; & after a quick prayer, let the eating begin. The cake and the traditional “Happy Birthday” song followed. It was another terrific birthday gathering & another great meal. We didn’t hang around too long after the food was consumed due to the boys showers & bed program. We, Gary & Rosemary, thank the Footes for their invitation & hospitality + a very good meal & then attempt to stay ahead of hot rod Corinne as we speed along on Route 422. I didn’t see her approaching in our rear view mirror, but our car shivered a little as she whizzed past us with that NASCAR look on her face.

@ our motorhome, we ply Gary & Rosemary with some cheap wine, then trick them into watching some of my repetitive aircraft photos from the WWII experience in Reading, PA. It was fun being with them for the afternoon; they are very kind, thoughtful & gracious people. Next time, we’ll have to be even nicer to them.

Late evening: we call my sister Mary Jo; she was busy making dinner so we talked with Ed about his new toy: a 1955, highly souped up Chevy. Ed directed us to a web site to find a picture of his toy to no avail. Later Mary Jo came on the line & talked only (5) min due to dinner prep. We’ll talk another time. Shortly after we hung up, I found a picture of Ed’s Chevy on the Web site. “Nice!”
Lights out: 11:21pm

Awake: 4:45am Temp 62 sleep 5+05 overcast overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Barry & Bonnie pick us up @ 5:30am. Barry reminds me to bring our own lawn chairs. Next, to the Krumenacker farm to pick up Barry’s sister, Susie; then the Buick La Saber responds to Barry’s gentle accelerator foot & the miles wiz by. Our 1st stop: Middletown, PA for a bathroom break & coffee refill. 2nd stop: breakfast @ the Frangakis Family restaurant in Shillington, PA. Another some 40 miles slide by, on then off the PA Turnpike, & we arrive @ today’s destination @ 9:30am; the 17th annual WWII weekend in Reading, PA, approx 200 miles.

There are lines for everything: 1st getting a parking spot; 2nd getting on the bus to take us to the entry point; 3rd standing in line to enter the airport grounds; & 4th paying the entry fee, getting our hand stamped, & entering through the airport gate. That probably took a good (45) min.

The French, German & U.S. troops are represented here in period uniforms, military equipment, automobiles, tents, artillery, (20 ) different types of aircraft, etc. The military ladies & civilians were also dressed in their 1940’s style dresses & hair-dos.

Kathy & Bonnie enjoyed the old radio shows: the Shadow Knows & Abbott & Costello. That’s when the guys would make all the background noises & sounds into the microphone to make it like the real thing. They were invited to enter the 1940’s style house complete with period furnishings and women, men, & children wearing period clothes and engaging in activities of the day; i.e. listening to the radio, playing the piano, ironing, crocheting lace doilies, etc. There were so many things to see….so little time.

Barry, Susan, & I were completely consumed by the aviation activity: flying demonstrations of fighters, bombers, transports, seaplanes. We were close to the active runway by the fence taking photos. The temperature was HOT; humidity HIGH & the sun BRIGHT; perfect conditions for dehydration, sunburn & sweat. But hey, it was more than worth it! Kathy & I were here with Bonnie & Barry in 2003 but we got rained & chilled out all that day. Today was so much better. Next time though, we may have to hang around for (2) days to be able to tell: “the rest of the story.”

We attend 5:00pm Mass as it was said in 1942, from a tent & in (Latin), but the Priest did face the people instead of having his back toward us. There were over (40) people @ Mass. Barry told us that when he 1st visited this operation, about ½ dozen people attended 5:00pm Mass.

On our return trip to Nicktown, we make (2) stops: Hoss’s Restaurant for dinner: K & I share a Philly Steak & the salad bar; & a fuel stop @ Bedford, PA. We are back in our camper @ 11:15pm.

Lights out: 11:58pm

Awake: 5:37am Temp 62 sleep 6+00 clouds & rain overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Kathy & I attend 8:00am Mass &, afterwards, drive directly to the Cambrian Hills Country Club to help prepare for the Golf Classic tournament starting @ 11:00am. Joe, one of the long time members who has a lot of experience knowing what needs to be done, had me & Eric (a very amiable teenager & son of a Rotarian) moving long tables out of storage & setting them up outside under cover to be used as long desks. Inside the building, we set up chairs on many long tables & covered each table with a wide & thin white plastic making them look (from a distance) somewhat formal; this is where dinner will be held around 6:00pm.

Joe was only getting started: next Eric & I worked on organizing the donated gifts & cash prizes that will be raffled off; listing sponsors to make sure they are being appropriately advertised outside on the big board where everyone can see them &, then, separating the small sponsors & donations from the larger ones.

Meanwhile Kathy is helping with the outside Nesco Roasters: filling them with hot dogs, kielbasa & sauerkraut. This was a very popular corner. During some idle moments, Kathy made a quick trip to Barnesboro, where she found a nice children’s cassette tape so I can thoroughly test that tape player & a very nice pair of shorts with extra pockets for me.

Around 10:00am the players are signing in, paying their fees &, then, checking out the free eats & drinks before before it's time to climb into their golf carts & tee off.

My other job, which I was honored to be assigned, is to be "the Ice Man.” Keeping the keg of beer sufficiently surrounded with ice & making sure the (4) types of soda & the bottled water are submerged in cold icy water. (3) different types of potatoes chips were also available.
Today’s weather: hot, humid & threatening rain. In fact, twice those players were chased under cover to the club house due to heavy waves of rain. There were 18 teams all total.

Kathy & I had told the Rotary members that we could only stay until 4:00pm due to another commitment. They were fine with this & appreciated our dedicated help.

We were getting into our Suzuki when the 2nd rain wave came rolling in; just then, Larry from Wisconsin calls: he tells us about his recent hernia & a possible operation sometime soon.

En route to Don & Josie’s place in Ebensburg, we take time to tour the new sub-division of Emerald Estates, approx (3) miles from Ebensburg. Nice size lots & beautiful large homes. Next, a quick stop @ the West End Market for groceries & then we arrive @ my brother’s place @ 5:35pm.

Don & Josie greet us as we pull into their driveway. Don tells us they have finally found some landscapers, who after all these years do such a great job to meet their high expectations, that they signed a contract with them. “Who are they?” we ask. “Josie & me!” Don replies. Indeed, their lawn, trees, bushes etc, looked professionally tended; even with rounded sawdust mounts throughout.

Within minutes, my sister, Corinne, with her roommates, Patty & Jane, arrive from the town of Lilly. We are gathered here this evening to help celebrate Corinne’s 60th birthday. We’ve come to the right place: Don & Josie are excellent hosts; they know what you like & they serve it well. We snack & drink wine (except Corinne who has a non-alcoholic beer) & gab for nearly 50 min before Don begins the grilling of chicken, kielbasa, & hamburgers. Josie adds the potato salad, deviled eggs, baked beans, & rolls. The delicious meal is devoured, the traditional “Happy Birthday” song is sung, & then, the Ice Cream Cake with after dinner spirits rounds out the feast. How can they top that? Well, they did.

Down in the music room sits the old family player roll piano; Corinne selects the songs (it’s her birthday) & pumps the pedals & the girls all sing to the beautiful selected music. It brings back such good memories of us playing this roll piano so many times for many occasions on the farm. Tonight was a special night for Corinne & her plan of how she wanted the celebration to be; Don & Josie fulfilled that plan; it made for a casual, fun, & memorable occasion. We are delighted to be a part of the celebration and wish Corinne many more happy birthdays…don’t forget to include us in future festivities!

Lights out: 11:58pm

Awake: 6:13am Temp 61 sleep 5+44 sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

K & I walk to 8:00am Mass this morning & then join the Koffee Klub for 1.3 hrs.

Later morning, Melissa calls; we talk about the cassette player & what could possibly be wrong with it. She tells me that nothing works. I let her know my intentions of looking @ it today.

Again, I invite Kathy out for lunch & thus, we both have a small breakfast.
@ 11:30am, we start driving to the Cambrian Hills Country Club where we have our weekly Rotary meetings @ noon time. Today, there was a lot of talk & planning relating to the annual Classic Golf Tournament held tomorrow. All the things yet to do by 10:00am tomorrow nearly wore me out just thinking about it. Fortunately, the good lunch of scalloped potatoes, cooked ham, fresh tomatoes with cheese, a bean & corn dish & a pineapple upside down cake with nuts for dessert, helped to rejuvenate my almost depleted energy.

We make (2) stops en route back to Nicktown: the State Liquor Store for wine & Giant Eagle for groceries.

While Kathy is @ the church hall helping to bag the noodles they made yesterday, I spend over an hr taking that cassette player apart & replacing a thin wire that had corroded off its solder post. I didn’t trust the idea of just re-soldering the wire back on because as I moved the fallen thin end wire, the other end easily fell off its solder post also & it too, was corroded. So I got rid of that ugly solder on both posts, applied some lovely solder paste, & affix some new, mighty good looking solder on both posts, found a piece of telephone wire suitable for the replacement & soldered both ends to their respective beautiful looking posts. With (4) double “A” batteries in the battery compartment & the play switch on; I could barely detect a small motor running inside. We have no cassette tapes to thoroughly check it out.

Perhaps I could have easily simplified that process a lot but what the heck, when Matthew is old enough to read these old memoirs, he’ll probably laugh @ how his ole “G” daddy made something simple sound so complicated.

Our Rotary lunch was our dinner, so we have fresh popcorn while watching the Script National Spelling Bee on TV. Heavy rain began @ 7:30 & continued off & on beyond our bed time. Satellite signals were also lost quite a few times during our viewing. During the spelling bee contest, Kathy makes some chocolate chip cookies to add to the other dessert items for the Rotary dinner tomorrow after the golf classic. Isn’t she the best!

High temp=81 Lights out: 11:37pm

Awake: 5:46am Temp 55 sleep 5+20 sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

K & I meet with the Koffee Klub members @ 8:30am. After the meeting, Kathy helps make noodles for the Nicktown Homecoming picnic on September 2nd.. I return to our motorhome, have breakfast & then begin going through my memory stick pictures on the big screen from our Texas touring time. Kathy returns from noodle making @ 11:45.

About 2:15pm, the senior Footes arrive in our driveway transporting Melissa, Matthew & Andrew. As Matthew entered the motorhome, he handed me a cassette player to fix. I told him I would do my best to make it work again. I also tell the young boys that I have a surprise for them & so, for the next (5) min, they were actively interested in my surprise & then, suddenly, zilch; boredom set in. Most kids like to see themselves or watch movies that they are in; I thought a slideshow on the big screen about the Christmas activity @ their house with lots of pictures of them would captivate them. Not a chance!

After that, Matthew wasted no time in telling his grandmother: “I’m hungry!” Usually grandma melts, jumps with joy, dances, rolls over, & feeds the boys cookies, candy & other sweets that she concocted in preparation for this special moment. This time however, getting tougher. grandma tells Matthew: “not yet!” Then she & Melissa enticed the boys back to the playroom (Murphy bedroom) where they spend some good time together playing with their Matchbox trucks, cars, tractors, airplanes, etc.

Later, she suggests the outdoors & brought the crumby cookies with her for the boys to eat outside. Kathy directed them to wild strawberries growing along the driveway which they enjoyed picking and eating for a few minutes. After which Matthew entertained himself by making maze trails through the tall weeds; Andrew tried to follow but was soon tripped by the fallen weeds and pleadingly looked to his mama and grandma for help. Then the boys saw the dogs that belong to our neighbor, Chuck, and quickly ran to pet & play with them.

Meanwhile, the senior Footes graciously requested more of our travel slideshow & I graciously complied. We spent hrs looking & talking about the places we’ve seen & explored around Texas. The slideshow could have lasted all afternoon but, @ 4:50 Melissa opened the door & announced: “we leave in (5) min.” I didn’t get to spend much time with the boys today but I hope it’ll be ok & I can do better the next time. It was nice however, spending some quality time with the senior Footes.

Dinner: Cooked ham with pineapple, baked potato, mixed salad & toast.

Late movie: “Quartet.” Superb movie with Sumerset Maugham introducing (4) of his tales, each with different casts & moods. 1948. We liked these short stories very much; each one introduced a valuable lesson to learn in life.

High temp=81 Lights out: 12:29am

Awake: 4:14am Temp 53 sleep 5+48 sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

K & I attend 8:00am Mass & then join the Koffee Klub. Lots of talk about the Memorial Day parade in Nicktown & the TV coverage they finally had. Both times: the 5:00pm & 11:00 pm news on Monday had coverage. Had we known, we could have watched it.

After our breakfast, K & I walk over to Al & Donna’s place to see the 1930’s Street Rod Truck that Donna’s nephew (Bob) & his wife (Kim) are traveling in. They were here for a few days, visiting Al & Donna & taking part in the Memorial Day parade, etc. Today Bob & Kim are expecting a few of their Street Rod friends from Michigan to pull in any minute with their classics. The wait was short; the (3) Street Rod sedans were absolutely beautiful as well as Bob’s truck. Also the couples that drove & rode in them seem to be very talented & nice people. They showed us what was under the hoods (some were 350 & 500 + horse power engines) & all the other customized changes they made from the original sedan. I took pictures but I should have taken notes. Later today, they will be on their way to York, PA for a Street Rod show.

Back @ our motorhome, Kathy does (3) loads of laundry while I wash a little more than half of the motorhome on the passenger side with slides extended + the front cap & rear cap. Some other time maybe I’ll clean the driver’s side. Then I affix our new Alaska license plate on the rear license plate holder.

7:10 dinner: Chicken stir-fry, brown rice, spinach salad, & toast.

Late movie: “Wide Awake” with Joseph Cross, Timothy Reifsnyder, Dana Delany, Denis Leary, Robert Loggia, Rosie O’Donnell, etc. A (10) yr old Catholic school student has loving, affluent parents, but since the recent death of his beloved grandfather, he’s been trying to figure out the meaning of life; warm, quirky & sensitive comedy/drama/parable. 1998. This would be a great movie for parents who might need to explain the sensitive time of losing a loved one in life.

High temp=77 Lights out: 12:26am

Awake: 5:41am Temp 70 sleep 5+12 mostly cloudy overnight @ Newport News, Virginia.

Before breakfast, I climb up the telescoping ladder, get on the roof & clean the tree debris off all (4) slides. Then we have coffee with our healthy Kathy muffins & leave the City Park Campground @ 7:50am.

Reversing our course back to Nicktown & about (2) hrs later on I-64 toward Richmond, we come upon a slower moving Ford Van that looks just like the one we used to own. What a coincidence, it’s Kevin, Melissa, & the boys. We honk, wave, & pass them up hoping they will follow us to the next rest stop for an unplanned visit. About 40 min later, we are talking with Andrew, Matthew, Kevin, & Melissa. The young boys were thrilled @ seeing our home on wheels actually moving down the highway. Before leaving, I remind Kevin about the possibility of avoiding traffic tie-ups by taking route 17, I-37, route 522, etc; he says he’ll think about it. It was a casual & nice 20-30 min visit with the Footes & then we continue on our journey.

Just on the outskirts of Winchester, VA, a dark cloud began spitting a little precipitation on our windshield; about that same time, we began heading in a more northwesterly direction so we were able to skirt that potential home dirt maker.

We arrive @ our parking circle in Nicktown @ 3:20 pm in sunshine & blue skies.

Today’s travel: 351 miles 7+30 time 61.1 gal used 5.6 mpg 48.4 avg speed

After expanding our home & providing electricity, I ask Kathy to wash both filter cartridges so I can replace both the main pump house filters. “It’s no problem” she says. During my filter changing, our near neighbor Chuck visits & is carrying a box; it’s my camera. It arrived the same day that we left Nicktown.

Late afternoon, Melissa & Kevin call; they also took the same routing we did but made a few extra stops for the boys comfort. Kevin liked that route & when they visit Billie Anne & Jason in Maryland again, that route will work the best. So Gary C., we all thank you very much for that splendid routing tip.

7:05 dinner: Penne pasta in spaghetti sauce, mixed salad & toast.

Evening movie: “A Soldiers Story” with Howard E. Rollins, Jr., Adolph Caesar, Dennis Lipscomb, Art Evans, Denzel Washington, etc. Electrifying drama about a murder of a black officer @ Southern military post in the 1940’s; a solid who-dunit + a probing look @ racism within the black ranks. 1984. Watch closely or you may be misled.

Travel high temp=81 Lights out: 10:26pm

Awake: 8:15am Sleep 7+45 overnight @ Norfolk, Virginia.

We slept a little longer than planned so we both had to scramble & take showers before attending the only Catholic Church in downtown Norfolk. The Basilica of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception, an historical church, was founded as a Black mission and still serves a predominately African-American population, thus the Mass celebration was a little different from our usual Mass program.

To start with, there are no kneelers & they sing & chant a lot more. Since this is Pentecost Sunday, many female parishioners were dressed in red and a lot of girls, young to old, were dressed in beautiful white dresses with a wide red sash. At certain times, these girls danced in the aisles while using a wand & twirling a streamer of red velvet. Meanwhile the church members would be clapping their hands & swaying to the music. Before the Mass began, visitors were asked to stand up; we counted (5) white people including ourselves, out of a total of maybe 200 plus. Everyone however, was very, very friendly & made us feel most welcome. The Mass lasted 1.5 hrs. Kathy says: “That’s one way of turning a slow & boring Catholic Mass into a lively & cheerful Black revival.”

Back to the hotel for breakfast with Katie & Zack; after breakfast, we gather our things & check out of the hotel around 1:00pm. A phone call from Melissa suddenly gives us the opportunity to avoid starvation. She tells us they need help @ the Tony & Evan house with the extra food left over from last night.

Nick maneuvers the big Dodge Durango; now transporting only (6) people & follows our Suzuki back to the house of extra food & a few less party goers. We spend some of the afternoon trying to get a decent up-to-date family photo, but our timing was a bit off and we were not very successful. However, most of the afternoon was spent chatting with Bob & Diane, Tom & Marne, Melissa & Kevin, Matthew & Andrew, Evan & Tony, & a few more family members. Oh yes, we did our best to help reduce the overloaded freezer & refrigerator of some still mighty delicious food. That phone call should have come sooner & we would have skipped breakfast!

At one point, Kevin & I excused ourselves, went outdoors & finally found the right plug to temporarily disconnect the Ford van’s horn which, a few days ago, started beeping intermittently when making left turns. I had spent a little time pouring over the manual before going outside.

I also volunteered to help make repairs on an old doll house of Tony’s by super gluing (2) windows in place, replacing a stairway & a wall section.

We thank Tony & Evan and Bob & Diane for their hospitality & for including us in so many of the wedding activities on this special occasion. It was a good reunion for all of us.

Evening time; we return to the hotel & hang out with the kids until 9:45pm. It was really nice being together with our family & Katie again. We wish each other a safe & comfortable journey. Then we drive our Suzuki back to Newport News, stop @ a Wal-Mart for groceries & a Seven Eleven for fuel & arrive @ our campsite @ 11:55pm.

Lights out: 12:29am

Awake: 6:34 Inside hotel sleep 7+20 overnight @ Norfolk, Virginia.

I have breakfast downstairs with Nick, Eriko, & Jerry in the hotel. Jerry is quite the guy; he knows what he wants & knows what he doesn’t want. Zack & Katie join us a little later. Kathy & Katrina are attending the 9:00 am Bridal Shower/breakfast for Billie Anne on the 2nd floor.

Later, Katrina & Kathy both shop @ the Mall for special bras for the evening occasion. Not to be outdone, Zack with Katie shop in the Mall for the perfect shoe laces for Zack’s dress shoes.

The votes are in: all in favor---yes, another day @ the beach! We arrive @ 12:45 & finish @ 4:00pm. Today the Virginia Beach was more crowded with warmer temps. 30 min @ the beach & the girls were hungry! I volunteered to buy (4) big muffins, banana/nut and blueberry. I heard no complaints.

Time went fast & we soon found ourselves in a traffic jam en route to pick up Zack’s suit @ the dry cleaning store. It was close, within (20) min of closing. Zack must be living right; new shoe laces & now a clean suit!

Next, the girls are hungry again, but so are us guys. Katrina has a good idea; a stop at “Panera Bread,” a delightful café & sandwich shop in the same area as the dry cleaner. We all arm ourselves with a takeout lunch to eat @ the hotel while getting ready for our next adventure: the Billie Anne & Jason wedding. Nick, the skillful driver, has us @ the reception house of Evan & Tony in no time flat. We were advised to park here, then walk the (3) short blocks to the Ghent United Methodist Church; thus avoiding a parking hassle.

While the center row of pews was already ¾ full when we arrived, the side rows were less filled. Matthew, one of the ring bearers, looked very cute in his tuxedo and did his stint well, as did the flower girl. Since Kevin, one of the ushers, was standing at the altar with the wedding party, Melissa brought Andrew and Matthew to us while she honored the bride and groom with a clear and meaningful reading from I Corinthians: 13. She retrieved her boys after the reading. The solo singer had a beautiful voice. The bride & groom were very happy throughout the 45 min service. Once outside, bird seed was tossed on the happy couple as they ran toward their nest! Oops, I mean get-away-vehicle. The rest of us, who were invited to the reception, walked with the wedding party the (3) short blocks to Tony & Evan’s house.

There was a large crowd (@150 people); even though there were (4) floors, it was difficult to get around in the big house. We heard no complaints however, as there was plenty of wine, liquor & good food to go around throughout the evening. A “DJ” had the bride & groom dancing by the time we slithered into the main part of the house with our drinks.

Jerry handled all of this wild action & loud audio extremely well for his age; we were proud of him & his parents for such fine & resilient baby sitting methods. Melissa & Kevin had their boys upstairs in bed soon after returning from the church service as they are usually asleep around 8:00pm anyway.

Kathy & I danced a little; then Katrina honored me with a modern dance + I was coerced into a few other dances with some of the other young & senior smoothies.
Later, Katrina & Kathy volunteered to give Eriko & Nick a break from Jerry sitting & they enjoyed some time on that dance floor as well; they looked mighty good together. It was a fun evening. We are back to our hotel close to midnight.

Lights out: 12:30am

Awake: 5:54am Temp 60 sleep 6+03 sunny overnight @ Newport News, VA.

Kathy packs a medium size canvas tote bag, I pack a small backpack + we each take a hanger full of semi-formal wear for our (2) nights stay @ the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Norfolk. We’ll be in the same hotel as our kids & other wedding guests saving us the (60) mile roundtrip + time in running back & forth to our motorhome. I used some of my Marriott points from many yrs of frequenting the Marriott hotels in my earlier travels; basically it’s a free stay not counting meals or valet service.

Melissa calls while we’re en route to the hotel: she wants to know how we will spend our time today & also would like Katrina’s cell number. “@ this point we have no idea how we’ll spend our time” Kathy tells her; then relates Katrina’s number.

Nick greets us as we arrive @ the hotel. 1st we check in, organize our things in our room & then join our kids about 11:30am. I express an interest in using my Starbuck’s card that Melissa & Kevin gave me for Christmas which I have little opportunity to use; the kids buy on that idea & the (7) of us sashay over to the nearby Mall. Along the way, much to our surprise, Nick & Zack have a slight disagreement on the pickup time @ the airport for Zack’s girlfriend, Katie. Nick, the would be driver, preferred to wait for Katie’s cell phone call, then drive to the airport while Katie is picking up her luggage. Zack on the other hand, wanted to be early & be waiting for Katie to arrive & have some personal + quiet time with his girlfriend. As a result, I end up loaning our Suzuki to Zack for the pickup @ whatever time he chooses.

Meanwhile on the 2nd floor of the Mall, besides having Starbuck’s coffee, the Food Court, etc, there is a carpeted kid play area where Jerry really enjoyed playing & hanging out with the other little people. That made it nice for us; we drank our coffee, Eriko had lunch & Kathy, Katrina & I shared a Philly Cheese Steak on a whole wheat bun from the Steak Escape. Later, Nick had lunch while Eriko watched Jerry. Also, Zack & Nick kept in touch via text messages on their Blackberry’s. When Zack reported that he had picked up Katie & they were on the way back to our hotel, we left the Mall to join them.

After greeting Katie warmly & catching up on her summer job, parents’ health, etc, somehow the discussion led to body ailments of our family & which parent had handed down to what kid what was good & not so good. It was a good time for Jerry to nap as our discussion was lively with variable volume. Nick reveals his foot, back & knee pains as a teenager which we parents had not taken as seriously as we perhaps should have. Katrina brings up her foot problems also. Zack, however, had little to say as he & Katie were busy doing some computer stuff & Zack would be sneaking in a little nap time to keep up with Jerry. This discussion could have gone on a lot longer but we were all aware of other commitments we had for this evening.

The (8) of us get into the Dodge Durango, make a stop for Zack to take his suit to the dry cleaning store & a stop for Katrina at a nearby grocery store. Then Lady Garmin guides us (8) to Lafayette Park where the rehearsal BBQ dinner given by the family of Jason is held. Pulled pork, baked beans, hamburgers, coleslaw, etc, etc. It was all very good & the evening weather was perfect for this pavilion type of gathering. Some 40 people were present + we met a few more of the wedding party & other special invited guests. After most of the food was consumed, the younger crowd tossed the Frisbee & football around while most of us seniors gabbed with other seniors.

With Nick’s encouragement, I tossed the football some, & later, threw the Frisbee with Katrina, Kathy, Nick, Zack, Katie, & Eriko until darkness discouraged any further game time. We were back to our hotel @ 8:45pm.

Nick and Eriko retired to their room to put Jerry to bed while Kathy and I spent more time talking with Katrina, Zack, and Katie in their room before returning to our room.

Lights out: 11:14pm

Awake: 6:31am Temp 55 sleep 7+01 sunny overnight @ Newport News, VA.

Katrina calls from the Atlanta airport questioning where we are & if we’ve heard from Nick & Zack. She couldn’t talk long as her plane was beginning to board. A few minutes later, Nick calls from the Norfolk, VA airport. They have arrived & are waiting for Katrina.

We drive our Suzuki into Norfolk using our Lady Garmin & she guides us straight to the Courtyard Marriott. There are many one way streets in downtown Norfolk but our GPS makes it look easy. With street parking meters downtown being so expensive & limited on time, we opt to use the day parking @ the Marriott for about ½ the cost.

Inside the hotel, we take the elevator to room 810 & greet our kids who arrived shortly before we did. Nick, Eriko, little Jerry, Katrina & Zack all looking good & healthy and maybe a little tired.

The only scheduled event for today is the rendezvous @ Virginia Beech behind the Ramada Hotel @ 1:30pm. Nick rented a Dodge Durango making it possible to transport all of us around in one vehicle but 1st; the kids want something to eat. Directly across the street is the Macarthur Mall & on the 2nd level, a food court. Most of us have large slices of pizza except for Zack who ordered a Bourbon chicken meal. This eating & talking took some time so we may be late for our meeting with the other folks.

Switching the Lady Garmin over to the Durango was quick & the programming easy so we’re on our way with Nick & his (6) passengers. (2) blocks away from the beach, Eriko feeds the meter many quarters giving us (3) hrs to enjoy the sand, sunshine, & water.

We found our party right where they said they would be: the Senior Footes; Melissa, Kevin, Matthew & Andrew; Kevin’s sister, Eileen with friend, Justin; the wedding couple, Billie Anne & Jason; and a Foote grandchild, Brennan.

The grandchildren loved playing in the sand; the older kids enjoyed wave jumping & throwing the Frisbee & us seniors enjoyed catching up on each other’s lives + seeing the kids having so much fun. It was a great (3) hrs @ the beach.

Nick returns us (7) to the hotel, but now, everyone is hungry. We begin walking up Granby Street, the street of many restaurants. After covering (3 or 4) blocks, the group voted to give “Kelly’s Backstage Tavern” a try. It was a good choice. Kathy & I share a Tuna steak dinner & everyone else enjoyed their selections. Back to the Marriott, we say our goodnights to the kids, & now, they are really tired & ready to get some good sleep.

It takes K & I a good 40 min to return to our campground, but today was a good start on our mini Monte & Kathy family reunion + meeting some of the wedding party members.

Lights out: 11:51pm


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