December 2008 Archives

Awake: 6:46am Temp 29 sleep 6+53 mostly sunny overnight @ Indiana, PA.

Getting out of bed this morning was routine for me; I expected a few sore muscles or sore spots from skating last evening, but all is well….except my darn cold. Why even tough Kathy walked around as though she was a mere 66 yr old.

We arrive @ the Foote Castle just before noon time; not much activity going on that I could see; Jerry came around the corner from the playroom to greet us & Karina was laying on the sofa telling us she was hurting from the roller skating.

Before dinner, KT gave Matthew, Andrew & Jerry each a personalized carrying case for their Matchbox cars, trucks, etc & a new car to start off each collection; you should-a been there! Those (3) guys were mesmerized just by the thought of having a special box for their very own cars & trucks. Matthew especially appeared to be caught off guard; he quickly began to gather some of his infrequently played with cars & trucks to fill his storage box! Jerry, of course, had only a few cars that he brought from home, so all he could do was watch. Andrew kept his cool; he analyzed the situation carefully & moved cautiously toward his huge Matchbox collection. KT hit a winning target with those guys.

She also gave the girls each a braided scarf of various yarns & ribbons in their favored colors that she made; lovely. KT also brought her annual gift of chocolate covered pretzels & other homemade candies + a first time gift of "Apple Pie in a Jar," all the ingredients + love for a pie minus the crust. She & Zack & some friends picked a couple hundred pounds of apples last Fall which they turned into cider, sauce & pie in a jar.

Dinner: chicken& green beans in stewed tomatoes, oven roasted red potatoes, & salad.

My sister Corinne arrived promptly @ 3:00pm for a holiday visit; she was a cheerful addition to our group. Everyone had a chance to talk with her covering many subjects & she handled her questions well. I was especially proud to have her presence on the occasion of this occasion. The only downside to all of this: I couldn’t participate! My voice was down to a whisper & I had things I wanted to say.

Next, the furniture movers took over & opened a wide area for our family picture taking. KT had to deal with (5) cameras & we think she did a great job. Both shots from my Sony came out very good. We adults all wore our special sweatshirts.

KT’s stay with us was about to end; a good visit, but much too short. She said her farewells &, at 4:00, Zack & she left for the PITT airport.

Early evening, Katrina & Karina requested an Indiana Mall visit so Kathy & I agreed to provide the transportation. About this same time, I decided to call it a day @ the Foote Castle; we dropped the girls off @ the Mall & I dropped myself off @ our motel for the night. Kathy elected to meet up with the girls, help them with their shopping & transport them back to the Castle later.

@ the motel room, I did some word Skyping with Ray in Washington State until his boss came home & he signed off; then I transitioned to a few other computer exercises.

Zack returned to the Foote Castle @ 8:30 from his airport trip after gassing up the car & missing only one turn. Kathy had a chance to talk with Zack some more & to bid him farewell as he was due to fly out of Latrobe @ 6:30 am tomorrow.

She returned to the motel @ 10:30.

Lights out: 12:12am

Awake: 6:45am Temp 64 sleep 6+06 wind, rain…then sun overnight @ Indiana, PA.

K & I attend 10:00am Mass @ St. Thomas More Church with the Foote Family. Afterward, we go back to our motel, change clothes & join the rest of the group @ the Castle.
My bug is taking more of a grip on me everyday & today I am losing my voice; I continue to strive, with caution, to avoid passing the bug to someone I like.

Dinner: pulled BBQ pork sandwiches, twice baked potatoes, leftover green beans & salad.

Around 6:00pm, (9) of us leave the Foote Family to go rolling skating @ the Indiana Roller Rink; a short but quieter evening for the Footes. Most of us had not skated for yrs, especially K & I. It brought back memories of 1959, when we went roller skating in Chicago on one of our earlier dates; holding hands & rolling along together. It was great fun & our children & their mates took full advantage of that rink most of the time save for a much needed break now & then. Jerry was the only youngster with us & he tried his best to skate alone….a “no-go” but with Nick & Eriko’s help Jerry did circle the rink several times. I had (3) falls & (1) collision; not my fault & Zack was my witness. Kathy & Katrina physically supported Karina on many turns around the rink; this was Karina’s first attempt at skating.

We got back to the Foote Castle around 9:00pm; time for chatting with popcorn. Super server Jerry gave us unsurpassed service & kept us fed with pretend foods throughout our evening. The superb cook behind the new play kitchen (Nick) did wonders with combinations of different selections & little delicacies; all wooden of course; who could possibly ask for anything more.

Lights out: 11:58pm

Awake: 8:10am Temp 56 sleep 9+03 overcast overnight @ Indiana, PA

Mid morning, Kathy makes the traditional grocery run to Wal-Mart; after she returns, another grocery list came thru but we elect to speed straight to the Castle & later, walk to the Giant Eagle for exercise & to bring back those extra bags of goodies.

We weren’t in the Castle very long before K & I picked up (2) more healthy hiker volunteers to join us in “the walk:” Katrina & Karina. Giant Eagle is very conveniently located for the Foote Family; Kevin can easily run on foot over to the store, make a few purchases & be back within (15) min. Well, the (4) of us agreed that the long way around would be more interesting & healthier; besides, Kevin had coffee beans on his list also & Kathy had a plan.

Our trek took us thru the neighborhood of older, rather large homes on Grant Ave, past the construction on new dorms & continuing up the slope of the IUP campus (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) on one side & the brand new dorms on the other side. On the down slope of Grant Ave, Kathy guides us into a building where the Fullington Bus Line stops with service to downtown Pittsburgh & Pittsburgh Airport. Down the long hall to the end is: “The Commonplace Coffeehouse” where Kathy bought a bag of roasted coffee beans from the Sumatra area of Indonesia for Kevin & Katrina bought drinks for herself & Karina.
From here, we switch over to the north side of the campus & follow the sidewalk back to Giant Eagle.

Our sight-seeing walk took a little longer than we expected & lunch was over when we returned; today’s dinner was “everybody do their own thing” with leftovers so K & I ate some pizza, green beans, etc.

Zack was already en route to Pittsburgh Airport to pick up KT whose flight last night was cancelled out of Chicago-Midway. Today she departs out of O’Hara.

Meanwhile, we say our goodbyes to Jason & Billie Anne who are returning to Washington, D.C. They are a very nice couple & a nice addition to our group.

Meanwhile #2, someone noticed how nice the weather has become today; so the boys challenge their sense of balance, equilibrium, steadiness, etc while climbing up & on the huge tree stump graveyard leftover from the felled tree of last summer. The boys did well & no one, to my knowledge, got a scratch. Of course, little Nathan had a big hand helping him throughout the course. The “house for sale” next door was also an attraction that we all looked over closely on the outside & where the boys played in the leaves before going back to the Castle.

The evening passed quickly & then we hear Zack & Katie arriving @ the back door. She promptly briefs us on her experiences of last night & a few more on today’s flight. After Z & KT fill their bodies with nourishment & reclaim their casualness, they both join Eriko & me in playing the new game of: “Blockus.” I like this game a lot but every game I’ve played when Eriko is also playing, has seen her victory; my section of property was partially responsible for the sponsorship….without my approval.

Lights out: 12:39am

Awake: 6:40am Temp 30’s sleep 6+20 more clouds than sun overnight @ Indiana, PA.

To fill the request of (2) phone calls from the Foote’s, Kathy goes grocery shopping @ the nearby Wal-Mart for (1.5) hrs. After she returns, another grocery order came thru & this time, we fill that order en route to the Foote Castle. Luckily we have (3) grocery stores along the way to the Castle, with Wal-Mart being just across the parking lot from our motel.

@ Wal-Mart, I bought myself a mask to wear & hopefully prevent others from catching my cold bug. This has been our 1st holiday reunion that nobody arrived really sick; Katrina thought that she would be….but it didn’t happen. Zack thought on several occasions that he was sick, but he doesn’t act it. So hi-hi oh silver, the masked man rides again; I think someone from Florida passed their bug my way & I don't like it! Plus it's tough wearing a mask all day; I volunteered to sit in a special out of the way corner & eat, drink water or blow my nose, etc.

When Andrew & Nathan came down stairs from their morning nap, they couldn’t take their big eyes off of me for the longest time & I was comfortable staring @ them.

Early dinner: Tacos with seasoned chicken & hamburger meat, plus all the other fixings that make tacos & a fresh fruit salad.

The healthy group voted for something different to do today: “Bowling.” @ 1st, I wasn’t going to attend….but when I saw the large building & the many lanes; I took my mask off & settled right in. We had (4) lanes total; (2) for the children with gutter guards & (2) regular for us adults. The kids were assisted by adults in bringing their balls to a moveable ramp at the fowl line; once the ball was set on the ramp, the youngster would give it a push &, with patience & tenacity, one could actually watch the slow ball knock the pins down. Our (2) hrs went fast & a good time was had by all.

Back @ the Castle, Melissa & Kevin shifted into 3rd gear to get the kids in bed & on time & without a shower; a rare incidence.

Jason, Billie Anne, Katrina & Kathy played a card game called: “Spoons” & they giggled a lot.

Later, I myself sat on the warm radiator without my mask & played a game of “Loaded Questions” with the spoon team + Melissa, Kevin, Eriko & Zack.

Lights out: 11:17pm

Awake: 7:25am Temp 29 sleep 6+59 mostly sunny overnight @ Indiana, PA.

K & I attend 9:30am Mass with the Footes + Katrina & Karina @ Saint Thomas More Church. The boys were a little sleepy but mostly pretty good in church. After Mass, K & I returned to our motel, changed clothes & then visited the Foote Castle & family for most of the day.

Interesting enough, all the presents were under the Christmas tree save for one big thing covered with a green sheet in the playroom (a wooden kitchen); none of the boys bothered those gifts & they had to wait until after 2:00pm to begin the gift opening ceremony. Jerry was sleeping in the living room when we arrived from our motel & continued to sleep until the opening ceremony. Nathan fell asleep on the way home from church & continued sleeping upstairs in the bedroom; Andrew took a very short nap in church, but awoke before they left church. Melissa gave Andrew & Matthew a snack & we waited for the sleeping Nathan & Jerry to wake.

Nathan awoke from his nap around 2:00pm but Jerry was still asleep on the living room couch. Nick let Melissa know that it was OK for the opening activities to begin even though Jerry was sleeping & thus, the distribution system began. Karina read the name on the gift & the boys took turns carrying it to the proper receiver. Melissa estimated that it would take another (2) hrs for the boys to open everything; I didn’t time it but it sure seemed a lot faster.

Then the kitchen crew came alive: Kevin was in charge of the turkey & potatoes; Melissa made the rolls & green bean casserole; Kathy contributed the salad & gravy. And the dishes & pans continued to mount!!

Dinner: turkey; apple, bread stuffing; mashed white potatoes; gravy; sweet potatoes; green bean casserole, not the usual mushroom soup/onion variety, much better; Melissa’s homemade rolls & salad.

Wrapping paper flew & mounted as gifts were opened. There were too many gifts to mention but from a causal observer’s standpoint, those young guys sure were excited to get new & different toys; just watching those youngsters open their presents & seeing the looks & smiles on their faces, brought joy to us adults for this Christmas season.

Lights out: 12:14am

Awake: 7:05am Temp 40’s sleep 7+13 steady rain overnight @ Indiana, PA.

Kathy goes shopping @ Wal-Mart for (1.5) hrs to help keep the Foote cupboards stocked thru the holiday season, & we make another stop @ Giant Eagle grocery store en route to the Foote Castle. We bring the groceries into the kitchen…..but wait; there is a mistake; Kathy bought non-fat milk in lieu of 1% milk. She volunteers to drive back to Giant Eagle, exchange the non-fat milk & get a couple of other things Kevin needed. Plus, Melissa realized she needed more insulin to cover Christmas day. Kathy got the needed items, but it would take (45) min to fill the insulin prescription so she elected to bring the groceries to the Foote castle & return for the 3rd time to pick up the insulin.

During Kathy’s round trips to Giant Eagle, the family fan was brought to my attention for another repair, the 3rd time. This time, Kevin finds some real grease to use on the sleeve bearings; now we’ll see how long this fix will last.

Last night I downloaded my memory stick of pictures onto the hard drive; usually when I transfer those pictures, the memory stick automatically deletes all, but this time it didn’t delete any. So within minutes, Nick refreshed my memory on how to delete the memory stick; it’s great having smart kids.

Early dinner: Kevin makes (6) whole wheat pizzas for our meal: plain pepperoni; spicy pepperoni; pepperoni with pineapple; plain cheese; ham with pineapple; onions, mushrooms & olives; & a special pizza for Karina with lactose free cheese & pepperoni. Kevin’s pizzas are pretty darn good, we have to admit.

About 4:30pm, Kevin’s sister, Billie Anne & her husband, Jason arrives from Washington, D.C. Last May, our family all witnessed their marriage in Virginia.

Late evening, we adults sit around & gab into the wee hrs.

Lights out: 12:26am

Awake: 6:22am Temp 10 sleep 6+15 overcast overnight @ Indiana, PA.

We were notified that both Katrina & little “sister” Karina landed in Latrobe around 2:00am; Zack picked them up & had them @ the Foote Castle about 3:00am. It was quite the different experience for both girls.

K & I drive to Nicktown & join the KK for a good (1.5) hrs of good talk. Then we drive to Barnesboro for our 10:30am dental appointment. Kathy had no glitches with her check-up; I on the other hand, had a chipped front tooth & lost a filling. Dentist Peter assures an easy fix on both for next week.

Then we drive over to Hastings, PA (20) min, so Kathy can give a blood sample in prep for her Dr’s app’t coming up next week. From here, we drive to Ebensburg & visit my brother & his wife.

Some time ago, I convinced Don to get Skype on his computer so today, Don & I download all the necessary stuff to make it happen. Josie helps out by offering some healthy treats & a glass of wine to keep our brains functioning properly. The video worked well but we couldn’t get the audio, since my time was running out to report in @ the Foote Castle I left my brother with the direction to call Logitech & talk to the experts.

Back @ the Castle, Melissa reports that their family fan has acted up again so for the 2nd time I take the unit down to the workshop, oil the sleeve bearings as before & the unit works great. I am suspicious however, that the oil I use is too thin & during a night of fanning, the thin oil evaporates & leaves those sleeve bearings dry. Luckily, their guarantee is still in effect.

My brother calls from Ebensburg. He talked with the Logitech experts about his camera & audio; they pointed him in the right direction to register his unit &, “bingo”, everything works as advertised.

K & I missed lunch & dinner today so we both scrounge around the refrigerator for leftovers; spaghetti with meat sauce is it & that’s good enough for us & taste good too.

Evening time: Zack, Kathy, Katrina & I play a game of “Blockus”; a very close game but Zack came out the winner. We like playing this game.

K & I return to our motel @ 11:10pm; I stay awake a bit longer & download some pictures to my hard drive from the memory stick.

Lights out: 11:52pm

Awake: 6:54am Temp 5 degrees sleep 6+58 overnight @ Indiana, PA.

After breakfast, K & I walk the Indiana Mall for (53) min of exercise. Then call my brother Don & arrange a visit for tomorrow to get his Skype on line. En route to the Foote Castle, we stop @ SoHo (Small office & Home office) & send a Christmas package via FedEx to a special girl, our Goddaughter Monica in the Northwest.

When we arrive, Nick is doing his 1st (30) min tutoring with Matthew; today it is a game of chess.

Early dinner: beef roast, potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, salad & rolls. Afterward, we all hustle & do a fast clean-up of the dining room, kitchen & getting those boys dressed for the cold outdoors. Today is Indiana Mall day: (2) vehicles & lots of big smiles; the boys love going to the Mall.

@ the Mall, our job as adults is simply: keep a good eye on the boys as they play on the electric car/motorcycle/rollercoaster/van, etc., no money is spent; it’s a make believe thing as we rock the vehicles & help make the motor sounds. Melissa & Eriko were the only (2) that shopped a little. We were @ the Mall for a good (2) hrs.

Back @ the Foote Castle, to enhance the mood & temperature, Melissa gives the thumbs up for lighting the fireplace. Naturally all small boys are mesmerized with fire so we had then all looking thru the double wire metal gates for quite awhile & the rest of us, nearby enjoying the extra warmth.

Evening time with boys in bed, except Jerry who fell asleep on the couch, we continue playing the board game of: “Loaded Questions.” After a full round of fun, we have a call from Katrina: the pilots are having difficulty starting the turboprop engines on their aircraft. They suspect cold turbines & low battery power. Numerous phone calls & text messages continue to flow back & forth. Again, Kevin is: “on call” for a pick-up @ the Latrobe airport if they do get those engines running. The saga continues….

We are back to our motel @ 11:30pm.

Lights out: 12:07am

Awake: 7:15am Temp-30’s sleep 6+14 light snow & wind overnight @ Indiana, PA.

We didn’t plan for iced up windows on our Suzuki this morning so it took us a good (10) min to scrape & defrost enough to get on the road & go to 10:00am Mass @ Saint Thomas More University Church. We were not the only ones; the Footes also spent time clearing the ice off their Mini Van windows. In fact, as Foote’s were driving into the parking lot, they came upon Kathy who was walking up to the church door & Melissa asked Kathy to save their usual front pew until they got there. Father Willy does a great job with his homilies & the choir members + musicians provide beautiful music throughout the service; this church is well attended by locals, students & visitors alike.

After Mass, Kathy & I return to our motel, change clothes & zip over to the Foote Castle.
Early dinner today: leftover stuffed peppers, breaded chicken, cheese corn soup & fresh salad.

After dinner, another deja vu day: the routine continues with the computer tutoring with Matthew & Jerry + spending time with Andrew & Nathan. Andrew & Jerry sometimes play well together; a scream or cry is usually the alert that all is not well & mediation may be necessary. Little Nathan is everywhere; he is alert to cabinet doors left open, unfinished games in view, anything the other boys might be playing with, etc.

Kevin gave me a fixer-up job mid afternoon; the family fan of many yrs ceased up & the fan blade stopped. So, in lieu of doing kitchen clean-up work, I take the fan apart down in the basement workshop, clean & lubricate the sleeve bearings & reassemble. It seems to be OK now & has a (2) week guarantee.

Kathy, in the meantime, along with Eriko is still on kitchen clean-up; rinsing/washing dishes, pots, & pans; loading & unloading the dishwasher; sweeping the floor. Kathy also
did a load of our dirty clothes, using the Foote’s machines.

Mid evening, Katrina calls: she & her little “sister,” Karina are due into Latrobe tonight around 10:30 pm. Now she informs us: the flight from Detroit has been canceled due to crew exhaustion. She & Karina are given a free room for the night & $20.00 for food. The next flight out will be tomorrow night…same time, same station.

Meanwhile, late evening, Kevin does his training & walking with Kinley in the back yard & down the back streets. He was “on call” for the pickup @ Latrobe using their Mini Van but now, that’s canceled.
Light out: 11:56pm

Awake: 6:16am Temp: low 30’s sleep 6+42 overcast overnight @ Indiana, PA.

After breakfast, K & I drove to Nicktown & visited the KK gang for over an hr. They gave us a nice warm welcome which we appreciated & try to return the same. Afterwards, we collected our mail from the post office & then made a quick trip to visit Lou Ann & Herk to give Lou Ann a ceramic collectable souvenir bell from Mississippi that she wanted; that was our exchange for her giving me a bag of butternuts.

Next, we attended the Funeral Mass for Andy Kirsch in Nicktown, my 3rd cousin. I didn’t know Andy very well but I’ve heard from many sources that he was a very popular guy in high school. Unfortunately, he developed a rare form of stomach cancer which surgery, radiation & chemo could not cure; he suffered for over (2) years but didn’t complain & was an inspiration for everyone who knew him. He was a member of the Volunteer Fire Department of Nicktown & only (20) yrs of age. Since he was a fallen firemen, (2) fire companies stood as honor guards & Andy’s coffin (which was made by his father) was carried atop a fire engine from the funeral parlor to the church & from church to the cemetery. Father Job gave a wonderful farewell homily. My sister Corinne + my brother Don & his wife Josie joined us in church. Afterward, we all went over to the grave for the final “rest in peace” prayer from Father Job. Then we joined the masses @ the Church Hall for a farewell luncheon in Andy’s honor. It was our chance to meet & greet many cousins & friends & to give our condolences to Andy’s parents & grandparents & share some “Andy” stories.

Back in our hotel room, we change clothes & then spend the rest of the day @ the Foote Castle. I’ve noticed that Matthew has been hanging out more & more with Nick & Zack & thus penetrating the high tech computer world; Nick has educational games downloaded on his computer while Zack has mostly difficult & challenging games downloaded; so both Z & N use Nick's computer for the boys tutoring; So far,only Jerry & Matthew have been steady students.

After all the young boys are in bed, we adults slowly & meticulously choose a board game to play: “Loaded Questions.” It was fun; however the late starting time was a disadvantage for us seniors who like to have more free time after the game is over & tonight, we had to stay up past midnight to get that free time in.

Lights out: 12:59am

Awake: 5:52am Temp 30’s sleep 6+20 rain….all day overnight @ Indiana, PA.

Kathy zips to Wal-Mart for exchanges & groceries while I text Ray in Ocean Park, WA. When she returns, we walk the Mall for (50) min of exercise. Then return to our motel, change clothes & visit the Foote Castle for the rest of the day.

Today is Matthew’s 5th birthday & he is pretty excited; the celebration will be held after our early dinner of: breaded chicken, rice, salad & broccoli. Next, the gifts: a nice pair of pajamas from Nick & Eriko, an Alaska shirt from his Godparents Denise & Mike, a Blokus game from Grandma & “G” Daddy & a (2) wheel bike with training wheels from Mom & Dad. That bike got his attention & he was ready to hit the road pronto….but his parents talked him out of that idea for today. Following the bike excitement was dessert: the traditional birthday cake with beautiful voices from the choir & ice cream; who could ask for anything more!

Later, normality returns; Nick spends quite some time with Matthew while Jerry & Eriko nap. Nick had downloaded a simple electrical series & parallel circuit for Jerry to learn but Jerry was not quite ready for this @ his age, but Matthew is. So @ times, Matthew was tutored by Nick, Melissa & a tiny bit from me.

Mid afternoon, Matthew & Zack played the first game of Blokus & Matthew understood how to play quite well. It is a game of strategy, trying to play all one’s differently shaped pieces on the board while preventing the opponent(s) from playing his. Matthew suggested Gramma, G-daddy & Eriko play the next Blokus game with him. Matthew played quite well for some time, but the game takes longer with (4) people & Matthew lost interest, leaving the (3) adults to finish the game…Eriko was the uncontested winner.

After the boys have their showers, mid evening healthy snacks, story book reading time & then to bed, some of us adults sit around & have some casual gab time while Kevin gets with Kinley for continued training in the back yard & then they both go walking for (30) mins or more. K & I are both tired out from all the high level excitement & activity so we choose to call it: “a great day @ the Foote Castle” & return to our motel.

Lights out: 11:34pm

Awake: 7:30am Temp: low 40’s sleep 7+48 low clouds overnight @ Indiana, PA.

We have our exciting breakfast @ the motel; then drive to the Indiana Mall (1) mile & walk (45) min. Then it’s back to our motel, change clothes & visit the Foote family + Nick, Eriko, little Jerry & Zack.

When we arrive @ 1:00pm, Melissa was the only one downstairs; the rest of the gang was upstairs. Eriko, Jerry, Andrew & little Nathan were taking naps on the 2nd floor; Nick, & Matthew were on the 3rd floor playing with the Brio train system & castle; & Zack, why he was still sleeping!

Soon, the little Foote boys woke & came downstairs followed by Nick & Matthew from the 3rd. After only 2 hours sleep on the plane, Nick looks very tired & his voice is fading.

It’s soon time for dinner, but where is Zack? Oh yeah, he’s still sleeping! Kathy, Andrew & Matthew have the distinguished job of waking him up. He awakes in good humor.

Early dinner for (9): stuffed peppers & mixed salad; excellent meal with lots of talk with both children & adults; Eriko & Jerry slept longer & ate later. After dinner, Andrew & Matthew lured Nick & me up to the 3rd floor to spend time with them while playing with the Brio train setup. They & we lasted a long time up there & it was a fun time together.
Kathy, in the meantime, had kitchen detail. (11) people & a big meal make for lots of dirty pots & dishes.

Then we return to the 1st floor where Zack spent a lot of time in the dining room teaching Matthew & Andrew how to play Master Mind. About this same time, Eriko & Jerry woke up from their nap & Jerry was ready to have fun playing with Nick using the matchbox cars. I couldn’t help but notice how tired Nick was looking so I offered to play with Jerry so Nick could take a much needed nap himself. He did & Jerry & I had an amusing good time together. The remainder of the afternoon & evening went well; after the boys were all settled in bed, we adults did get some more adult talk time in before K & I returned to our motel @ 10:10pm.

Lights out: 11:45pm

Awake: 5:52am Temp: 40’s sleep 6+14 light rain overnight @ Indiana, PA.

K & I have the light Continental breakfast downstairs & then we walk the Indiana Mall for (3) complete rounds which took (33) min. Next we scrutinize several stores for hrs looking @ potential Christmas gifts for our grandchildren.

About 12:00 noon, we drive ¾ mile to the Valley Dairy for lunch; K & I have separate meals & end up asking for doggy bags. En route to our motel, we make a quick stop @ Wal-Mart for a Christmas item check.

About 3:30 EST, I call Nick on his cell phone; he & family just arrived in Cincinnati, KY. Nick describes his travels so far: “I woke up @ 2:00am PST, Eriko & Jerry woke up @ 3:00am; we took a taxi to Sea-Tac Airport arriving @ 4:00pm, waited (30) min for Northwest Airlines desk to open & then they sent us over to Delta for check in. Our departure was delayed a little. Jerry & Eriko took good naps but I could not sleep.”

From Cincinnati, they are scheduled to fly to Detroit & meet up with Zack & then continue on to Latrobe, PA where Kevin will meet & bring them into Indiana.

Later this afternoon, I call Zack on his cell phone; he had just arrived in Detroit & has been texting Nick so he knows where to meet him.

Meanwhile: Flash News! This just in, announced tonight @ 8:00pm: Melissa is pregnant with # 4. She tells us “I’m feeling good!”

Before leaving the Footes, Nick calls from Detroit; their aircraft leaving for Latrobe has been delayed about (30) min. The next morning we find out….it was a (3) hr delay & a switch of aircraft.
Lights out: 11:42pm

Awake: 6:07am Temp-low 30’s sleep 6+32 mixed rain/snow overnight @ Gassaway, Kentucky.

A good night’s sleep for me; our room was small but well designed & very comfortable. And our continental breakfast was better than usual so that made our stay even more delightful.

We waste no time getting back on the road again. Kathy however, elected to forgo driving today with the weather forecasted to continue deteriorating @ the higher elevations. Always looking out for my comfort…much more when I’m driving!

About an hr or more up the road & a higher elevation, we encountered some fog along with our mixed rain/snow. The radio announced more county school closings and/or delayed school openings.

I did some quiet complaining regarding those passing semi-tractor trailers & their bundle of mist/water blown smack into our windshield. It would take a least (15) seconds for the wipers to clear my vision again. As we glanced outside, seeing the white stuff covering the fields, trees, etc, I nearly failed to realize…those trucks were keeping the roads watered down & probably delaying the accumulation of snow & black ice. Maybe having our windshield all messed up frequently is in our favor after all? Twice we had a slow down due to (2) recent accidents along the way.

Entering Pennsylvania, we make a Welcome Center stop for a new PA map & nature call. Then continue north on I-79 to I-70 to SR-30 to Costco @ Robinson Town Square. Here we do some grocery shopping & afterwards, some Christmas shopping @ nearby stores.

From Pittsburgh, we follow US-22 to Blairsville, then US-119 north to Indiana, PA arriving @ our motel @ 3:35pm. Total mileage: Bushnell, Florida to Indiana, PA= 1270.

The Foote family is having their annual family photos taken this afternoon so we elect to just relax in our room this evening & will visit them tomorrow.

Lights out: 11:38pm

Awake: 5:02am Temp…approx 48 sleep 5+17 overcast overnight @ Cartersville, Georgia.

I misread the clock & thought it was 6:00am; once Kathy was up, she stayed up & I was glad for that. Our continental breakfast was a sham though: about (7) of us waited patiently for the breakfast setup that was already (15) min late to begin with. The young lady was brewing hot coffee; then brought out the bread, muffins & uncovered the Rice Krispy’s & frosted cheerios &, after a long delay, the milk. Ok, so we ate but the milk was gone & we wanted more; we rang the bell & we called to no avail. She was in the back room but didn’t come out. Just as we gave up & began to leave, another customer opened the door which causes a loud bell to dong & that brought the girl out. Hmmm, in the future, we’ll try that.

We leave the Howard Johnson motel @ 6:50am. Kathy takes the 1st shift behind the wheel; this is the same girl who doesn’t like driving in the dark, or rain or multi-lanes with fast moving tractor-trailers. Well, this morning she had it all for a good hr or longer & drove like a pro; she can do it when she wants to.

After her (3 +) hrs & 170 miles, it was time for a fuel stop for the Suzuki, an early lunch break for us & a different driver. Kathy’s tuna salad, Triscuits, etc made up for that measly breakfast we had earlier. A few hrs later through Tennessee, we had rain, lots of rain; problem was….those trucks & the water spray they give off. Our wipers were working overtime the rest of this day.

With Kathy using the cell phone, she couldn’t find a suitable motel/hotel for the night around Huntington, West Virginia or Charleston so we kept on trucking northbound on I-79. So it’s deja vu for me as well; dark, rainy & those big trucks. Commercial services are sparse going north on I-79 through West Virginia but Kathy dug out a phone # for Microtel a mere (100 +) miles up the road. By the time we arrived in Gassaway, our Suzuki was thirsty, we were hungry & a little tired after 547 miles for the day. This Microtel was the cleanest & most organized we’ve ever experienced. Dinner was delivered: a small pizza & (2) salads from Giovannis’ just down the hill & it was surprising good.

Melissa called @ 9:40pm to give Kathy her list of desired items from Costco. She also reported that Laura, Kevin’s older sister had, though with complications, recently delivered her a baby by C-section; her third boy. Due to his low birth weight (4.5#) & prematurely, he & Laura remain in the hospital.

Lights our: 11:35pm

Awake: 5:04am Temp 53 sleep 5+34 overnight @ Bushnell, FL.

With slides retracted, blinds all down, temperature sensors set, suitcases & other winter clothes in the Suzuki etc, we leave the campground @ 8:10am with a destination of Indiana, PA.

Kathy takes the 1st shift following I-75 northbound for (180) miles & then we pull into the Welcome Center in Georgia. After a healthy snack of tuna salad, Triscuits & crudités, plus a new map of Georgia & a few hotel/motel Room Saver coupons, we are “on the road again” & it’s my turn to add the miles….we finish the day @ 460 miles which brings us to a Howard Johnson in Cartersville around 6:30pm. Kathy used a coupon from the Room Saver & $10.00 was deducted from our motel bill.

While we were en route, John from Nicktown, PA called to update us on their local weather. Later & several miles further up the road, Nick called about 2:30pm & gave us an update on their activities; he reports snow in Seattle & also tells us he will be going on a one day business trip to San Jose, CA tomorrow.

After our check-in & while searching for a suitable restaurant, Zack called @ 6:31pm wanting some info on his Camry; “my rear hydraulic strut is not working like it should” he says. We discuss how that system works & what would make it fail; but he was more interested in knowing if it would be safe to drive the car? “Yes, but not on bumpy roads or/and @ high speeds” I told him. We agreed to talk more about this in a few days.

Then we drive ¼ of a mile & share a Reuben sandwich with a bowl of beef stew @ the Country Pride Café. Actually it was quite good & filling.

About 8:30 Melissa called: she talked about how difficult it is to get organized for the family gathering as she wants everything to be just so & only has late evenings to work.
The boys are fine; Andrew’s tongue is healing.

Lights out: 10:45pm

Awake: 6:25am Temp 36 sleep 6+42 sunny overnight @ Bushnell, FL.

Shortly after our “Hot Coffee,” this morning, K & I get right with organizing our winter clothes & finish packing the suitcases with other items. It’s that time of the yr again; our rendezvous with our kids/grandkids @ the Foote home in Indiana, PA for the holidays. Last yr we flew from Las Vegas; this yr we are driving from Florida.

After loading most of the items in our Suzuki for now, we set the barbershop up outside in the sun & give each other a haircut. Kathy gives me the usual scare tactic talk beforehand: now this side needs to be thinned out; the other side shortened; do something with the top….blab, blab & blab. The end result: she complimented me on another good haircut…..# 23.

Then we drive to Saint Lawrence Catholic Church for the 4:00pm vigil Mass; afterward, we top off our Suzuki fuel tank with 10.4 gal @ $1.52 per gal @ Wal-Mart.

Back @ our home on wheels, Kathy calls her good friend Marge in Grand Junction, CO & they talk for (58) min.

Dinner: a combination of (4) different meals….all leftovers & a fresh salad.

No movie tonight; instead we watch the history channel comparing the 1929 stock market crash to the 2008 economic crisis…what led up to both; what solutions were tried or not & what solutions are being proposed today; & the outcome & length of time it took to fully recover from that first dramatic crash along with musings & projections of how this crisis is/might be handled & the ramifications for the future.

Lights out: 11:30pm

Awake: 6:35am Temp 63 sleep 6+21 sunny overnight @ Bushnell, FL.

Kathy takes a solo walk around the campground for (30) min of exercise while I spend some time on our computer.

We leave @ 11:50am, drive our Suzuki about (30) miles northwest to the city of Inverness, FL & visit my 1st Cousin, Anna Mae & a couple of her children & one of her grandsons. We arrive to find a long table stretching across their covered driveway, with many odds & ends of stuff; it’s a yard sale day for Anna Mae’s son, Rick & his wife, Amy.

Amy didn’t recognize us & I didn’t recognize her when we parked our Suzuki along the roadside but surmised that she was someone belonging to the family; so we started scrutinizing the items spread upon the long table & concrete floor. Kathy wasted no time in spotting a set of dumbbells that she’s been wanting for exercising, but instead, exercised her “cool demeanor” & continued perusing the rather neat & organized layout of many, many pre owned shoes of young toddlers & loads of clothes for the same.

Amy began to follow us closely so I thought I’d better come clean & let her know that I am a 1st cousin of Anna Mae. “Oh, you’re the ones we are expecting today” she replies.

For the next (2) hrs or better, we were talking with Anna Mae, Amy & her husband Rick while both Rick & Amy monitored the store off & on. Rick & I have something in common called: RVing. They also have a motorhome & love touring & camping, sometimes even motoring to PA for a few weeks during the summer.

Anna Mae knew we were coming today so she baked a pie & by chance, also had some day old chocolate cake. I chose the cake & Kathy the pie; both excellent. I will say, yard sale business was rather slow during our visit but Kathy bought the dumbbells & we both enjoyed the camaraderie of Amy & Rick + grandson Christopher, who popped in mid afternoon from school.

We were about to leave when Anna Mae reminded us that her daughter, Lucy, wanted to see us; she is a 1st grade teacher & would be waiting for Anna Mae to pick her up from school. Lucy had recent surgery for bone spurs on her left foot & is recuperating using a wheelchair for the next (3) wks. We say our goodbyes to Christopher, Amy & Rick & then follow Anna Mae to the elementary school where Lucy will be waiting for her Anna Mae to pick her up. When we arrive, Lucy is just coming out of the door of her school. Upon seeing us, she stops & insists that we have to come in & see her classroom. She is very devoted to “her kids,” & takes great joy in showing us what they have done. It’s obvious that Lucy loves teaching; in fact, she was chosen “teacher of the year” after only a little over one year of teaching. After an exuberant tour, it is time for us to say our farewell. We return to our coach around 5:00pm.

Dinner: Italian sausage & pepper stoup with noodles, & broccoli.

Kathy’s choice for DVR movie tonight: “Meet Me in Saint Louis” with Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Lucille Bremer, Tom Drake, Mary Astor Leon Ames, etc. Captivating musical based on Sally Benson’s slice of Americana about a family’s experiences during the year of the St. Louis World’s Fair, 1903. Margaret O’Brien steals every scene she’s in as little sister Tootie. (In fact, she won a special Oscar, as the year’s best child actress.) 1944. Musicals are not my favorite but Kathy was kind of excited to see this because she knows all the music but has not seen the movie. Within (20) min, she is OUT! Fortunately, she recovered & saw 85% of it…an enjoyable movie.

Lights out: 11:43pm

Awake: 7:22am Temp 72 sleep 7+39 rain, heavy @ times overnight @ Bushnell, FL.

Kathy does (1) load of laundry & then we discuss which way would be more economical for us to dry the clothes: use our own dryer & pay for the electricity or dry them @ the campground laundry. Seconds later, we choose using our own dryer & record the wattage usage afterwards. We recorded (5) KW @ 11 cents per KW costing 55 cents. Using the campground laundry would have cost at least $1.00 (.08 for 25 min) or more.

I bring in our suitcases in anticipation of getting a head start on packing. Then I check out the Suzuki: add oil, add a little coolant, add some windshield cleaner, check fan belt, add a little water to battery & check the tire pressure. Kathy washed the windows all around inside & out, the tail & head lights, & the dashboard & console.

Mid afternoon, using our atlas, I plot our intended route north; suggesting max miles for a day’s travel, overnight stays & approx arrival time.

Late afternoon, I call a 1st cousin who lives in Inverness, FL & ask if we could pay her and her family a visit tomorrow? Anna Mae tells me: “it’s going to be a busy day but come on over.”

Dinner: leftover stuffed pepper, spinach salad & pita chips.

Late DVR movie: “To Be or Not To Be” with Jack Benny, Carole Lombard, Robert Stack, Lionel Atwill, Felix Bressart, etc. Benny has the role of a lifetime as “that great, great actor” Joseph Tura, whose Polish theater troupe is put out of business by invading Nazis….until they become involved in espionage & find their thespian skills being put to the ultimate test. Lombard’s final film, released after her death by plane crash. 1942. Very funny; add it to your watch list.

Lights out: 12:14am

Awake: 7:24am Temp 67 sleep 6+30 some clouds overnight @ Bushnell, FL.

K & I walk the campground for (30) min of exercise. During & after our breakfast, we watch yesterday’s recorded: ABC news, Jeopardy & the O’Reilly factor.

Later, I e-mail our architect some info that he requested.

Mid afternoon: I clean (60) more butternuts for a new total of: 188.

Late afternoon: K & I walk the campground again for (30) more min of exercise.

Dinner: Ahi tuna, broccoli, 4-rice medley & a spinach salad.

Nick calls while walking home from work in Seattle: we use our headphone splitter & catch all the details of his recent trip to CA.

We finish watching: “A Thousand Clowns” with Jason Robards, Barbara Harris, Martin Balsam, Barry Gordon, Gene Saks, etc. Faithful adaptation by Herb Gardner of his Broadway comedy about society dropout who’s being pressured to drop in again for the sake of young nephew who lives with him. 1965. Heartwarming story; we liked it.

Lights out: 11:43pm

Awake: 7:01am Temp 54 sleep 7+00 mostly sunny overnight @ Bushnell, FL.

K & I walk the campground for (30) min of exercise; then eat a small breakfast & leave @ 10:55am driving to the Villages to visit Karen & Steve who also spend (6) months in FL & the other (6) months in Michigan.

Our Garmen GPS wouldn’t take their Villages address so when we were close to their area, Kathy called Karen & she did a fast job of pinch hitting navigation. The final check point was their blown up “Santa riding on his tractor” in their front yard. It’s been over (4) yrs since experiencing the Villages; now they have a finished 2nd town square with a total of some 75,000 residents. One can’t help but admire the groomed lawns, contoured hedges, beautiful pro golf courses, organized subdivisions, smooth roads, adequate commercial stores, hospitals, schools, plenty of activities, exercise buildings, etc, et cetera. It’s a dream of a city where a high percentage of the occupants transport themselves by golf cart mostly on their own special roadways.

Karen begins our visit by giving us a tour of their 2nd home & then, a (2+) hrs of touring the new 2nd downtown square via a gasoline driven golf cart. We have lunch, walk the promenade part way around the man-made lake & then continue with our golf cart tour thru some of the subdivisions of the 2nd phase of the Villages. Steve is my personal tour guide as we both sit looking backwards seeing where we went. Outstanding, fantastic, amazing & all that jazz; we’re told that phase (3) is soon to be on the way.

Back @ their house, we sit & talk for awhile….until Karen suggests a game for us to play; boys against the girls. “Sequence” is the game; winning is our aim. Steve & I quickly realize: competition is evident; these girls have known each other for yrs & think alike. After some (12) rounds, Steve & I finally realize….after wining a grand total of (2) games to their (10), maybe we won’t have time tonight to catch up & win. It is a fun game & I’m confident that with proper lighting & flashing colored lights for their chips, we could & would have trounced those girls severely.

Steve & I lead the way & the girls follow us to the Longhorn Steakhouse where K & I share a filet dinner. The meal was great with the company even better. We pretty well close down the restaurant, say our goodbyes for now & head south to where our home on wheels is parked. En route, we make a quick stop @ the Wal-Mart to pick up our Christmas photos & a ½ gallon of organic milk. Time only 10:35pm so Kathy talks me into starting a new movie for tonight.

We watch ½ of DVR movie: “A Thousand Clowns.”

Lights out: 12:54am

Awake: 7:18am Temp 33 sleep 6+35 sunny overnight @ Bushnell, FL.

After our coffee, K & I tough it out & walk the campground for a cool (40) min of exercise.

Dick, from Goodyear, AZ Skypes; he had difficulty getting his audio working at first; using both our cell phones, we had the system working as usual but still, no audio for Dick. Finally I asked him: “by any chance would your computer be muted?” “Oh, wait a minute” he says. “I think it is!” Bingo & from there on we enjoy a good (26) min total; then Dick was called for breakfast by his wife, Christine.

I discovered a recently repaired glitch: the water tube feeding the ice cube tray has, again, sprung a leak. I closed the valve for that unit & will get after the repair later.

Late afternoon, K & I again walk the campground for (30) min of exercise.

For us Catholics, today is a Holy Day of obligation: Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. We make our (12) mile round trip journey & attend Saint Lawrence Catholic Church to adore our Lord & honor Mary. During our absence, we recorded our usual TV programs & watched them when we returned.

Dinner: Kathy’s chili with noodles & chips. No movie tonight; we ran out of time.

Lights out: 11:59pm

Awake: 7:35am Temp 51 sleep 7+20 sunny overnight @ Bushnell, FL.

My buddy, Ray & I Skype for (25) min with good signals.

We leave @ 12:40pm, drive about (42) miles one-way & visit (2) couples we used to hang out with over the yrs in Alaska; Jeri & Gene + Jackie & Ben. They usually spend (6) months in Alaska during the summer & (6) months near the Villages (where they used to live) in Lady Lake, during the winter. Jeri gives us a house tour; much larger (about 2,000 sq. ft) than their place in the Villages with (3) bedrooms each with a walk-in closet. Ben & Jackie, who have bought a house just a few blocks from Jeri & Gene, arrive & we do some reminiscing, some updating & family talk, etc.

Jeri has a late lunch prepared & serves all (6): pork roast, corn, potatoes au gratin, coleslaw, apple sauce & brownies for dessert. Afterward, Jeri brings out a picture calendar that their friend Ann made & the ladies spent many moments identifying, naming, & reminiscing about each & every person they could find in the photos. We guys were simply dazzled & rendered speechless.

Later, Gene gave us a tour of his Stained Glass-making workshop; very impressive. Gene has been working with stain-glass for (20) yrs or more & he’s very good. He has a separate building for his workshop now rather than just a corner of the garage. Then Ben let me drive their Hybrid Prius; my 1st experience with an electric-diesel auto & I couldn’t help but be impressed. Then it’s time for our goodbyes for now; we haven’t seen each other for over (3) yrs so it was wonderful being with them again. We are back in our coach by 7:00pm.

We start watching DVR movie: “The Count of Monte Crisco.” Then I take a planned break to continue Skyping Ray in WA for another (20) min & a good signal.

Back to our movie for (25) min & then we decide we better call Gary J for his birthday before we forget; we plug in our splitter head set so we can both talk & hear @ the same time….only to find out: both his & Grace’s cell phone…no answer, so we left a message.

Back to the movie; it wasn’t but (10) min & Grace returns our call. Gary is in Chicago with their motorhome getting a replacement new awning. Grace will let him know we were thinking of him on his birthday. We did have a short but nice chat with Grace.

Back to our movie: about (7) min later, Melissa calls; we plug in our splitter headset to get the latest adventurous news. Last evening, Andrew was doing his falling on the living room couch routine when he fell too close to the other side of the couch & cut his tongue in (3) places; they rushed him to the ER & the doctor stitched his tongue in those (3) places. Melissa also reports: Kevin still has to manually start the furnace when they begin getting cold. We talk & listen for nearly an hr of mostly good stories after that. It was great having such a long, uninterrupted phone conversation with Melissa.

We return to our movie; then Katrina calls: she is on her way to her condo after spending some time at a neighborhood Christmas party where there were mostly “old” people. After picking up a bag of pretzels, she was on her way to another party where there would be mostly middle aged people

Back to our movie; Katrina calls at 10:50 once more on her way home. This time she will stay home, do some laundry, clean her room, & get ready for school tomorrow. She has had quite a busy weekend, spending Fri, Sat, & part of Sun, snow-shoeing up to the 3,000 ft mark & back down & camping in between,

We have no problem with incoming phone calls; we would rather hear from our kids/cousins/friends, etc then watch movies….so do call anytime (within reason). We like our splitter & the ability it gives us to both hear & speak during a phone call.

We end up watching about ½ of our movie & then….lights out: 12:43am

Awake: 7:55am Temp 58 sleep 7+27 light rain overnight @ Bushnell, FL.

Call my bro in Ebensburg, PA; we brief each other on what’s new with our respective families during the last few weeks.

Mid morning: Kathy & I walk the campground for (30) min of exercise.
Next, I clean another (36) butternuts & taste a few in the process; total cleaned so far=128.

Yippee! The 12 volt motor tested good using low, medium & high speeds. I’ll save this motor as a back-up replacement or find another practical use for it.

K & I leave @ 3:40pm, drive the Suzuki (6) miles & attend the vigil Mass @ Saint Lawrence Catholic Church in the town of Bushnell. After Mass we attempted to tour the town but couldn’t really find it; their downtown is very limited. En route to our campground, we stop @ Wal-Mart for fuel: 11gal @ $1.63 per gal & also purchase a few groceries. We return to our bus @ 7:00pm.

Dinner while watching Huckabee: stuffed peppers & whole grain bread.

Watch DVR movie: “Kings go Forth” with Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Leora Dana, Karl Swenson. Soapy but well-done three-cornered romance set in WW2 France. Two GI buddies both fall for same girl, unaware that she is half-black. 1958. “Interesting,” says Kathy.
Lights out: 12:15am

Awake: 6:46am Temp 45 sleep 7:02 sunny overnight @ Bushnell, FL.

During our pit stop @ the Newell Service dept October 30th, one of our motorhome glitches was a (12) volt blower motor that froze up; after Roger replaced that motor, I asked him if he was going to toss our old motor? “Yes unless you want it” he replied.

Today I hauled it out, pull it apart into (3) pieces & then, took a few continuity readings which all checked good. One thing I finally noticed: the motor shaft was gummed up near the sleeve bearings. Using my Emory cloth, I clean up both areas of the shaft, lubricate & reassemble. Now the shaft turns freely. I have no time to apply power to the motor today but will save that for another day.

Mid afternoon, Kathy & I walk the campground for (30) min of exercise.

We watch our usual TV shows before, during & after our dinner of: Tilapia fish, 4-bean salad & 4-rice medley.

Late evening, I call & talk with Kevin about his furnace ills & the small motor that may be the culprit. Melissa talks briefly & then one of the boys awakens; end of our call.

We finish watching: “Destination Tokyo” with Cary Grant, John Garfield, Alan Hale, John Ridgely, Dane Clark, Warner Anderson, etc. Suspenseful WWII account of U.S. submarine sent into Japanese waters & interaction among crew. Commander Grant, seamen Garfield & Clark ring true. 1943. I liked it but my 1st mate would rather it to be a musical.
Lights out: 12:23am

Awake: 5:28am Temp 44 sleep 5+43 sunny overnight @ Ocala, FL.

We leave the Wandering Oaks RV Resort & Campground in Ocala @ 10:30am…continuing I-10 south to exit-309 & Saint Catherine Road to Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, Florida; arriving about 11:30am.

Today’s Travel: 1+24 time 55 miles 9 gal used 6.0 mph 39.2 avg speed.
Although the campground is big rig friendly, our assigned parking site was a little tricky getting into; there is a water drain with grate & a sewer PVC that had to be maneuvered around on one side….plus a concrete patio with a ledge of (3 to 4) inches that restricted my turning radius on the other side. However, with the watchful eyes of Kathy & a few good hand signals, we avoided all the hazards.

This campground was a former mobile home park &, in 2002, was converted to an RV park; thus the unusual parking sites.

Finally, a place where I can freely check on my black walnuts & butternuts; there are (99) sites altogether in this campground with most of the clientèle being seniors, doing anything & everything. With chagrin, I find that my black walnuts are all….bad; after doing a random check, I had to dispose of them into the nearby dumpster. These were given to me by Pat & Frank. Maybe it’s my fault, I don’t know.

However, on a brighter note, I have found no bad butternuts yet from the crop. Further drying & flaying of the outer shell does take some time; I devoted about (2) hrs today & I am not finished yet.

Kathy & I walk the campground for curiosity & (30) min of exercise.

Then the usual TV: ABC news, Jeopardy & O’Reilly….before, during & after our dinner of: lamb chops, 4-grain rice medley & a pepper & apple sauté.

Evening DVR movie: “Destination Tokyo.” We watch ½ tonight.

Lights out: 11:44pm

Awake: 7:19am Temp 39 sleep 7+43 sunny overnight @ Tallahassee, FL.

We leave the Big Oak RV Park @ 9:07 am; following US-27 to I-10 to I-75 to exit 358 & then follow State Road 326 to the Wandering Oaks RV Resort & Campground in Ocala, FL arriving @ 12:14 pm.

Today’s Travel: 181 miles 3+24 time 29 gal used 6.2 mpg 53.3 avg speed.

After lunch…a shopping we will go, which means driving to downtown Ocala; fortunately the stores & mall are within a comfortable (15) min. (Toys are us) is 1st & what a huge selection we have to pick from; we cover each & every aisle without fussing. Kathy was amazed as was I. After making a few careful purchases, we checked out & proceeded to the next commercial area: “The Paddock Mall.” Big, new, busy & lots of stores.

For some odd reason, we both continue having unlimited patience with each other….not that we are sometimes impatient, but this was different: we’ve been shopping for hrs, “together” & Kathy’s not grumbling, fussing, complaining, etc about how I have to look @ anything & everything; comparing, analyzing, inspecting, touching, smelling, etc. In fact, she was so impressed with ourselves that she offered to buy us both a Starbucks & celebrate this unusual twist of fate. En route to our campground, we again test our patience by checking out a Target store. We return home @ 5:30.

Before, during & after our dinner of: leftover meat loaf with fresh gravy, leftover spaghetti & fresh 4-bean salad, we watch: ABC news, Jeopardy & the O’Reilly Factor.

Flash News! This just in on e-mail: Zack has Chuck’s blessing to marry KT. He didn’t want to call us; he has taken (3) days off of work to finish his UW masters homework.

We finish watching: “The Roaring Twenties” with James Cagney, Priscilla Lane, Humphrey Bogart, Gladys George, Jeffrey Lynn, etc. Army buddies Cagney, Bogart & Lynn find their lives intertwining dramatically after WWII ends. Cagney becomes big-time prohibition racketeer largely hackneyed script punched across by fine cast, vivid direction. 1939. Very entertaining & edge of the seat adventure; add it to your list.

Light out: 11:45pm

Awake: 6:26am Temp 39 sleep 5+55 sunny overnight @ Tallahassee, FL.

We leave @ 9:20am for a self tour of Tallahassee downtown. 1st the new Florida State capital building, which was started in 1977. Modern, (22) stories tall, etc; but we were not impressed. We were not alone with those impressions; a few employees also expressed the same. In fact, one fellow told us: “just ride the elevator up to the 22nd floor & see the 360 degree view; that’s the best we can do.” He was right; we toured the downtown simply by walking around on the 22nd floor, identifying universities, banks, churches, power plants, et cetera.

Now a self tour of the old Florida state capital fronting the new Florida state capital.

In its present location since 1845, Florida's historic old capitol was expanded several times, but it retains the original floor plan in the center of the building. In 1978, the last state employees vacated the stately, time-worn structure, which, after selective demolition, was restored to its 1902 appearance and opened as a museum in 1982. Today, The old capitol's special exhibits interpret the state's political history, constitutions, and the history of the building. Artifacts and reproductions are displayed in the Governor's suite and in the Senate, House, and Supreme Court chambers. We have a tendency to admire the old classic State Capitals of yesteryear & before the demolition of this old capital, it too had the charm, sophistication & eloquence that we have learned to expect.

So much for covering downtown; now we check out the new Governors Mall which is about a mile from our current parking spot. This G M is busy & loaded with potential shoppers. Our shopping is by window only; then it’s back to our campground.

Dinner: Ahi Tuna, 4-grain rice medley, leftover sweet potatoes & a 4-bean salad.

We watch the usual TV shows before, during & after dinner.

Nick calls while walking home from Isilon; it’s Kathy’s turn to talk. He will be going to CA for a (2) day business trip for Isilon.

Evening DRV movie: “The Roaring Twenties.” We watch ½.

Lights out: 11:36

Awake: 6:36am Temp 42 sleep 6+34 sunny overnight @ Holt, FL.

We leave the Eagle Landing RV Park @ 8:01am following I-10 to Flying “J” in Midway, FL. (101) gal @ $2.77 per gal; then continue to Tallahassee on State Road-27 to the Big Oak RV Park arriving @ 11:55am.

Today’s Travel: 3+02 time 159 miles 24 gal used 6.6 mpg 52.2 avg speed.

The Big Oak campground hosts reserved a long, big rig pull through spot for us since yesterday & we do appreciate that; easy in-easy out. After a quick lunch snack, we drive our Suzuki to Costco, about (7) miles & casually peruse their relatively new store with all the latest Christmas holiday gifts & displays & sample snacks. By the time we got back on the road, rush hour was not rushing anymore. Sightseeing back to our campground @ slow speed was not what we expected.

We watch the usual: ABC news, Jeopardy, & O’Reilly Factor….before, during & after the dinner & dishes are finished.

Dinner: leftover church made chicken noodle soup from Nicktown with oyster crackers & whole grain bread.

Kathy calls Katrina while she is shopping @ REI in Denver; they talk about the shoes she might purchase and her upcoming snowshoe weekend.

We finish watching: “The Red Shoes” with Emeric Pressburger, Anton Walbrook, Marius Gooring, Moira Shearer, Robert Helpmann, etc. A superb, stylized fairy tale. Young ballerina is torn between (2) creative, possessive men, one a struggling composer, the other an autocratic dance impresario. Landmark film for its integration of dance in storytelling & a perennial favorite of balletomanes. 1948. The longer we watched, the more fascinating the story became.

Lights out: 12:31am

Awake: 6:22am Temp 56 sleep 6+57 early fog overnight @ Holt, FL.

Call John in Nicktown; we discuss a number of subjects of interest, including the weather.

We sign up for another night’s camping here in Holt, FL due to bad weather @ our next destination further east.

Call fellow Newell owner Darrell near Tampa, Florida; he tells me they are having bad weather as we speak: gusty winds, heavy rain, TRW’s, etc. During our Branson rally, Darrell & I talked about a rendezvous in Florida….but not yet, maybe early next yr.

K & I walk the campground for (30) min of exercise.

Call my buddy Ray in Ocean Park; it’s been a long time since we’ve talked so we have much to catch up on. Their son Nathan is spending a few days with them over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Dinner: Tilapia fish, brown -rice medley (brown rice, black barley & daikan radish seeds), broccoli & a mixed salad.

Melissa calls & it’s Kathy’s turn to talk: their mini van is all fixed from a slight accident & the boys have received more clothes from Carlene & Bob.

We watch ½ of DVR movie: “The Red Shoes.”

Lights out: 12:02am

Awake: 6:20am Temp 67 sleep 5+47 overcast overnight @ Holt, Florida.

K & I both pay our credit card charges on line; then we do the hunt for the next campground further east in Florida & make a reservation for Tallahassee, FL for tomorrow.

Our forwarded mail from Alaska arrived yesterday; today I scrutinize my share of the goods.

Later, I call my youngest sister Mary Jo & wish Her & Ed a “Happy Anniversary” & a belated “Happy Thanksgiving.” We talk for nearly an hr covering both our families’ wellness & activities; plus their daughter Jen is recovering nicely from her auto mishap.

Next, I call a campground in Bushnell, FL for future information on camping.

Today we are having rain, lots of rain; a good day to stay indoors. However, we leave @ 4:35pm & drive (13) miles east to the town of Crestview & attend the 5:00pm vigil Mass @ Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church. It’s a new church & rather small in relation to the many huge & larger churches we’ve attended in our travels. Good thing we brought our umbrellas though; heavy, heavy downpour as we left the church & wallowed through the water to our car.

Dinner: leftover meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy & a fresh spinach salad.

Melissa calls: we discuss their thanksgiving rendezvous @ my brother Don & Josie’s home. She reports: “it was wonderful!” Nathan woke up so our talk time was over for tonight.

Tonight’s DVR movie: “Crossfire” with Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Gloria Graham, Paul Kelly, etc. Engrossing film of insane ex-soldier leading city police in murderous chase. Anti-Semitic issue handled with taste & intelligence. 1947. You sleuths out there, better be awake for this flick, it could be a challenge.

Lights out: 11:25pm

Awake: 7:20am Temp 63 sleep 6+51 mostly cloudy overnight @ Holt, FL.

Kathy does (3) loads of laundry this morning.

Try as I might, I am unable to get our site up on the computer this morning. I wait until 9:00am West Coast time to call Nick; he checks the site & finds nothing out of order. Our air card signal is fluctuating from (1 to 6) bars with no data downloading.

Next, I call Sprint; the young lady starts out by asking for our mailing address & zip code. I comply with her request & after a long silence, she tells me the system is operating normally. “Let’s go into your air card & check out the properties & settings” she tells me. With her guidance & knowledge, we scrutinize just about everything one could possibly think of…..& finally, it dawns on me! I interrupt her by asking: “when you requested my mailing address & zip code, I gave you our Alaska residence but we are not there now; we are touring in a motorhome presently in Holt, Florida, zip code: 32564.” The next thing I hear from her is: “oh, my gosh!” “Your area is overloaded with cell phone usage; air card downloading, texting, etc + you might be experiencing some weather with heavy rain & maybe thunderstorms.” She advised we wait a few hrs & try again later.

We also had no signals from the direcTV satellite for ABC news, Jeopardy or O’Reilly.

Dinner: leftover Thanksgiving turkey dinner from Jane’s meal; Kathy adds broccoli & gravy, still an excellent meal.

After cleaning the dishes, I try our computer again; signals are normal & all is back to status quo. How about that!

We finish watching DVR movie: “Bonjour Tristesse” with Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Jean Seberg, Geoffrey Home, etc. Teenager does her best to break up romance between playboy widowed father & his mistress, with tragic results. 1958. Slow, methodical & probably best seen by teenagers. Not recommended for adults except the active “soapers.”

Also watch DVD movie: “All my Sons” with Edward G. Robinson, Burt Lancaster, Mady Christians, Louisa Horton, Howard Duff, Arlene Francis, etc. Arthur Miller’s compelling drama of returning soldier (Lancaster) discovering that his father (Robinson) cheated on a war material order, with tragic results. 1948. Good story&, who knows, it could have happened in many of the factories world wide.

Lights out: 12:33am


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