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Saturday, March 10, 2018


     We have recently enjoyed a brief but wonderful visit from our youngest grandson, Kevin. He has two real claims to fame that would seem to be impossible to exist in the same person. He had vascular surgery at six weeks and he played on his University's national championship rugby team! Here's a shot of him and Durelle.

It was taken at Poogan's Porch where they had lunch after a Cindy-guided tour of the city.

     During his visit we had a spate of unusual avian activity in the back yard. Here's a shot of our eagle acting like a duck.

     He didn't land in the water. He landed on the shore and waded in. He does not have webbed feet, so this is a very unusual position for him. He stayed around for quite a while, wandering around the bank of the retention pond.

      When he left, I tried to get a shot of him in flight. With a moving eagle, a moving camera and a slight delay in the auto-focus, success is unlikely. I'll show you one, anyway, if only to demonstrate the difficulty.

     As I was putting the camera down and walking away, there was an explosion of feathers and water almost under my feet. I whipped around, aimed the camera in the general direction of an osprey who had just dive-bombed a fish. The shot was quick and reflexive, but the result was almost a good wildlife picture....Just luck.

     A retention pond would not be expected to generate all the wildlife activity that we have. The real attraction and habitat is the hundreds of acres of the Goose Creek reservoir and its surrounding marshes that abuts our lot. We are fortunate to have it.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Angel Oak

     Quercus virginiana. You've all seen them when wandering around the southeastern U. S. or while watching scary movies. Their gnarly, twisted limbs dripping with Spanish moss, are stage setters for Hitchcock Well, perhaps the biggest and oldest has a place of honor on the list of places to visit in Charleston. It's called the Angel Oak.

     So, when out of town friends drop by and the day is ideal for touring, it makes a great stop. Yesterday, Bill and Diane Russell and their slightly neurotic but handsome Collie, Oliver paid us a visit. Cindy had a day off, so she could be our excellent tour guide. Oliver does not not walk on concrete, hardwood floors, or tile! He stayed with Durelle and Mocha in the back yard and screened porch.
     It is impossible to take a picture of that tree which does it justice. If you capture the magnificent old trunk, as Cindy did here, then you don't show how far it is spread out. It is much wider (288 feet) than it is tall. The age of the tree is disputed, but the youngest guesses are 400 to 500 years. 
     A cute fact about the Cloutiers and the Russells is that when we met for lunch one day in Massachusetts, it was our fifth meeting but the first one that was planned. We both owned Allegro Bus motorhomes and had met at Red Bay, AL, Tiffin rallies and campgrounds. After bumping into them at four assorted RV venues we decided to "formalize the relationship" with a lunch. Yesterday's lunch spot is a favorite of Cindy's. Hey, she was driving! It's a small, pleasant restaurant that outgrew its food truck beginnings. Would you believe I had a calamari taco, red rice, and a beer?
     In case you are wondering what your favorite blogger looks like these days, Cindy took a shot of Bill and me.

     There is a little side story with the picture. If you look closely, you will notice that I am barely leaning against a 4X4 that is used as one of the supports for the tree. I can't stand unaided very long, and I did not want to lean against the tree itself. That would be poor etiquette and was forbidden by numerous signs, so I chose the man-made 4X4. Nonetheless, Mr. Ranger came over and chastised me. He didn't want me leaning on the supports, either. Oh, well...I've been corrected by tougher folks than him. 

Friday, February 9, 2018


     Well, we both had dental appointments and I had PT to squeeze in in the morning before we met Cindy at the "Fleet Landing" for a birthday lunch. It's a building that at one time, I think, was a ferry terminal. Today it is one of those dockside eateries specializing in local fish. Their oysters weren't nearly as good as I had two days before at Bistro-217 in Pauley's Island with Myrt and Debra. Emphasizing local fish that do not usually appear on a menu, their catch of the day was "sheepshead". It was good...a flaky, white fish.

     They do have a good view of the Charleston harbor which is dominated by Fort Sumter

      So, I'm starting my 80th trip around the sun. Although hindered by serious mobility issues, I'm feeling pretty good.
      The picture below was taken last week and doesn't really fit here, but I have a nice shot of "our" pair of bald eagles.

     I have seen eagles all my life, although there was a dry spell in the 80's. But we have never lived for an extended period with a nesting pair in our vicinity. We hear their distinctive whistling shriek on a regular basis, and they provide convenient photo-ops when I'm having trouble drudging up some blog fodder.

Sunday, January 28, 2018


     Some of you know that high school and NCAA wrestling has intersected with the paths of our lives many times over the years. It started with my modest success in both the intramural and JV ranks at West Point. It continued during our three years in Norman, OK as the University of Oklahoma is a perennial leading contender in the NCAA rankings. From there we went to the Air Force Academy where I was on the faculty. I quickly began volunteering with their wrestling team and became the "Officer Representative" from '72 to '74.
     That meant that I was the faculty assistant coach for all matters  except coaching. Our kids fondly remember having the cadets on the wrestling team coming to our house after a Saturday home match and making homemade ice cream with our hand cranked ice cream maker. Many folks were puzzled by the several perfect circles of brown grass in our lawn where a bit of spilled brine had done its thing. I accompanied the team to all the away games and paid bills, arranged post weigh-in training meals etc. 
     When we made it to Nashua, NH in 1977, the kids were in high school and both of them became deeply involved in the sport. No, Cindy did not wrestle. She did, however, start her journalism career as a stringer for the Telegraph providing the results and game stories of the NHS wrestling team. She became the the official scorer for home matches and even for the state championships on occasion. Most matches had at least one "discussion in front of the scorer's table involving: the referee, opposing coaches, and scorers. Nashua's long time coach once told me that, "Cindy was never wrong." Mark, nicknamed "the baby-faced assassin" by the Telegraph's sportswriter, had a successful wrestling career for NHS. I volunteered where I could, and one year was the Meet Director of the State Championships. Mark returned to the Air Force Academy as a cadet and rejoined the USAFA team of his youth with modest and occasional success.
     In subsequent years we remained fans of the sport. I still receive a weekly newsletter from the Army coach.
     So where in the world is this rambling recollection leading? 

Well, yesterday the Citadel hosted the "All Academy Wrestling Championships" at their field house in Charleston. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the Merchant Marine Academy were all there. To complete the eight teams necessary for a filled out bracket, the Citadel also invited Norwich and VMI. Cindy was kind enough to bring me to the semi-final round (where the greatest number of points are at stake).

     The top three finishing teams were Navy, Army and Air Force in that order.

     To wrap up this atypical narration, let me complete the bookending of this blog post with a picture of me taken sixty years after the one at the beginning.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

My Street Hasn't Been Plowed!😆

     When it comes to conversations that contain questions like: "How cold was it?", "How deep was the snow?" and "How bad was the blizzard?", I usually win. Three years in Alaska, five years in Colorado, three years in Ohio when the Ohio River froze, a quarter century in New Hampshire, and a childhood in north central Massachusetts all conspire to give me more than enough winter anecdotes.
     So we belatedly smartened up and moved to Charleston, SC in 2004. We maintained our ties to the great white north via the motorhome in the summer. So, what did I find when I crawled out from under our down comforter at 0730, 4 Jan 2018??? 

Six inches of snow and 17↯↭⇟ degrees! We don't have a windshield scraper much less a snow shovel. Plus we are going to go through several cycles of daytime melting and nighttime refreezing before it melts away this weekend. Our bird feeder has never been more popular.

     Of course, Mocha was unaffected...four wheel drive, you know.

     This was taken on Wednesday before there was any accumulation. Here's the front of the house...again a yesterday picture.

     This, too, will pass.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas 2017

     There are no grand children or great grands within a thousand miles, but we did get to share Christmas with Cindy. As a matter of record, it is the 57th consecutive Christmas she has spent with us. We had an assortment of rather pedestrian and practical gifts wrapped under the tree, but there was one spectacular framed photo from Jackie Fare.
     For many years the traditional meal on Christmas Eve has been lasagna. Here's Durelle nearly ready to put it in the oven.

     One of Cindy's gifts was a white Poinsettia.

     The lasagna was as good as it looks.

     When I went out to get the paper on Christmas morning, the sun was doing a nice job of illuminating the big holly bush in the front yard. It'll soon be a tree rather than a bush..

     Of course, calendars are a popular gift at Christmastime; and, of course, in our house they will feature pictures of golden retrievers.

          It was another fine Christmas. We hope yours was equally enjoyable.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

We are hanging up the keys

     Well, I guess, after that title, I don't have to write a blog. We started RVing in Alaska (Elmendorf AFB) with a tiny Apache pop up in 1964. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture from those days, but I do have a picture of the Coleman pop-up we used in Colorado around 1970.

         This was taken at 11,000 feet in the ghost town of Animas Forks in southwest Colorado. Note that it does have a propane bottle. The Apache didn't even have that. This combination made several memorable excursions into the Colorado high country including a few with chains on all four corners.
     Just before leaving USAFA in '74, I sold both the Jeep and the Coleman, and bought a used, iconic 1972 Winnebago Brave. It was an 18 footer with a small Chrysler V-8. We put 120,000 miles on it, finally selling it in NH ten years later. I even commuted in it. From then until '96 we did without as I was immersed in my civilian career with several companies. In '96 we went to an RV show in Boston and bought a 36 foot Bounder at the show. I then retired for the second time in March 1997. We put a lot of miles on it until we traded up to  a 2003 Allegro Bus. It was our first diesel pusher, and I loved it. Here it is in a friends backyard ("We have plenty of room."). I found a spot where the two passenger side slides straddled a tree.

     In December of 2006 we traded up again to our current and final rig, a 2007 forty foot Allegro Bus with all the bells and whistles that were available ten years ago.

          We used 2007 to be sure it was broken in and that any bugs were resolved. Then, in 2008, we did our lap around America. It was a wonderful 11,000 mile adventure that also prompted the start of a travel blog so that family and friends could tell where we were. That was 760 posts ago. The blog was a piece of cake in the early days with land mark sites occurring on a regular and frequent basis. As travel slowed, so did the blogs. Blog writing came to be like making gravy with nothing more than a cup of water and a bay leaf. What follows are some of the more memorable pictures.

The Badlands near the Black Hills


Caption not required

Devil's Tower

Little Bighorn

Caption not Required

Up Close and Personal

Crater Lake

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs


Decisions, Decisions

          Obviously, the logistics of this blog do not permit an endless array of "What I did on my vacation" pictures. These were all just from 2008. Although there were many more travels (We accumulated over 350,000 miles on four motorhomes.), we gradually transitioned to spending the entire summer comfortably ensconced on the shore of Penobscot Bay at the Moorings RV Resort. Here there were day trips galore and many photo-ops. But the iconic institution here was the daily "Happy Hour" at five-o-clock.

"What do those folks talk about for all that time?"

     So, what do you think we are going to miss most; Mt. Rushmore or that little afternoon circle of chairs on the edge of the bay? You're right, and it isn't even close. The camaraderie and sense of close-knit community engendered there will always be the most pleasant and most important memory in our half century of RVing.
     I choose not to go into an "organ recital" of all the medical factors that drove the decision to hang up the keys. I'd rather not, however, hang up the keyboard with the keys. It remains to be seen what the transition will be like. That said, I hope you have enjoyed the decade documented here.