Google+ Followers

Follow by Email

Translate

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Change of Pace

     We are not going to Folly Beach for the Polar bear swim, and we do not plan to launch a bunch of New Years Eve fireworks.  So here is something a little different.  I have been rummaging through a bunch of old files looking for some old photos.  In the process I found a letter I wrote to my parents two days after the Alaskan earthquake of 1964.  I have told the earthquake stories many times, and like all 50 year old memories, they get distorted.  Below is the letter I wrote 48 hours after the earthquake.  It is a word for word, comma for comma, transcription of the letter.  Like any live, crime scene report, some of the details would profit by subsequent elucidation.  Nonetheless, here is the story as I saw it at the time with no editorial comment.  I hope you enjoy it.

Hello Folks,                                                                                                                   29 Mar 1964
     Well, not much to write about, but we did have a little earthquake over the weekend.  Seriously, we have had quite a time of it.  I was on my way home from work Friday, and in the process of running a couple of errands.  I was going to pick up an Easter egg coloring kit and an Easter lily.  Apparently the idea of my buying flowers for Durelle was an earth-shattering event, for suddenly I felt a weird, wobbling sensation as if a wheel were about to fall off.  I pulled over and stopped so I wouldn’t lose that wheel only to discover that my car wasn’t wobbling…the road was.  For an instant I was relieved because I was already anticipating car repairs.  Then I got things back into perspective.  After all, an earthquake can be at least as serious as a broken wheel.  That instant of relief to find that “it was only an earthquake” was a very transitory thing, but it still stands out in my memory because of its incongruity.
     I hopped back into the car and headed home; now only two blocks away.  The earth was still shaking, for the quake lasted over 5 ½ minutes.  For a few hundred yards it was quite a drive.  The road was even more slippery than usual and I saw one driver park his car and sit there minding his own business when the ditch on the side of the road moved over under him.  That is what literally happened.
     When I got home Cindy was still crying, but Durelle had everything under control.  A few lamps scattered some broken glass when they fell and bookcases fell over.  One kitchen cabinet disgorged some of its contents of baby food.  There would be a mess to clean up, but no real damage was done.
     I did decide that it would be a good idea to get out of the house, so we all got in the car and wandered over in the direction of a friend’s house a couple of miles away.  We did see a collapsed carport and some cracks in the road, but we still had no idea of the seriousness of the tremor.  After we had travelled down MacKenzie Drive a few blocks, I suddenly realized that the horizon had changed!  I turned the car around and parked aiming south away from the collapsed area and told Durelle to leave if she heard anything that scared her.  I ran down to the point where the road disappeared.
     My first impression was that it looked as if someone had dropped a giant box of peanut brittle.  The ground was frozen about three feet down and covered with 6 to 12 inches of snow.  Thousands of chunks of those three foot thick slabs were jumbled in unreal disorder.  These pieces varied in width from  5 to 100 feet.  About a block from where I stood I could see my boss’s house.  Major Jack Hornsby, his wife, four kids, house, car, and dog had dropped en masse about 40 feet and slid north toward Cook Inlet almost a block.
     I yelled to him to find out what his immediate needs were.  He said his family was OK and that there were many people who would need ropes, helicopters, wrecking bars and first aid gear.  I couldn’t get through to the Air Force Base by phone to call on my radar shop, but I briefed a mobile ham operator on what I knew and he started the wheels rolling.
     With Durelle and the kids at a neighbor’s house away from the most dangerous areas I changed clothes and headed back into the Turnagain area.  This area of about 400 homes ranging in value from $50,000 to $300,000 was the finest residential area I had ever seen.  It was located along a bluff a hundred or more feet above the ocean.  About 100 homes were flattened and tossed around.  Another 100 had settled, shifted and broken.
     It took about fifteen minutes to navigate the crevasses between the broken end of the road and Hornsby’s house.  Normally it is only a block.  He had gotten his family out and was commencing a house to house check for possible occupants.  I joined him, and in the next two or three hours we led several people out.  There must have been some panic at the time of the ‘quake, but while I was there, there was an amazing calmness and sense of purpose.  How those helicopters found places to land in those shambles is beyond me, but they must have made a dozen trips while I was there.  I crawled through one house that was actually upside down.
     We finally quit and crawled back to his badly worried family.  We all piled into my car, went home, settled the kids down with some hot chocolate (heated over a propane torch), and began to lay out some bedding.  Then that tee totaling Southern Baptist got himself outside about four ounces of bourbon just as if he knew what it was for.  I can’t say that I was surprised. Considering the state of shock, I’m sure it did a lot of good.
     When daylight came, we went back and retrieved his valuables, food and clothes.  Then I drove them out to the guest house on base.  We cleaned up some here, but without power and heat, we decided to spend the night with a friend with a fireplace.  We came back this morning, picked up some more of the mess and heated the house by leaving the oven door ajar.
     Alaska has been set back many years, but without exception everyone is digging in with optimistic enthusiasm.  There were almost no fires and well under a hundred fatalities, yet the ‘quake was actually stronger than the ‘Frisco ‘quake of 1906.  Coastal cities that have lost their “raison d ‘etre” will rebuild bigger than ever.  What I mean by that is that Seward, just named one of America’s “All American” cities by Look magazine, has lost its canneries, docks, and rail yards.  There is not much else in that town, but they are already floating bonds with initiative as their only collateral.
     Perhaps it is overly romantic to say that strong remnants of the Alaskan pioneer blood has made its presence known, but the way this place is bouncing back is amazing to me and yet taken for granted by the natives.
     I feel that my family will have profited by this experience.
                                                                                                                                                Frank
P.S.  Did that Seattle operator get in touch with you?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

     Another Christmas come and gone!...a hundred much appreciated cards, one tree, a gallon of eggnog (a lot left), a standing rib roast, one lasagna, and rounds of golf for Durelle and Cindy on the 20th and 26th.  Everything was outstanding except the roast.  I guess I haven't yet mastered that new grill.
     Baxter got the new green snake that he asked for in the family Christmas letter.


     All in all, it was a very quiet Christmas.  Cindy had to work Christmas Eve, but they had an early deadline so she got home in time for the three of us to enjoy the remainder of the evening.  And she joined us Christmas morning at a civilized hour to open presents.
     Just before Christmas we received a picture of granddaughter, Melissa, taken in Australia moments before her marriage in a civil ceremony.  The church services will be in Vegas in June.  The early civil ceremony there was driven by visa issues as they will be returning to Australia after the June wedding until they have a sufficient nest egg to move back to this side of the world.  At least that's the plan.


     Here's hoping that you had a great Christmas, too.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Down Time

      As some of you have noticed, it is difficult to crank out an interesting blog every couple of days while we are not travelling and, therefore finding new things on a regular basis.  Nonetheless, I want to keep the blog alive because several folks check in frequently to see what we are up to and because I enjoy sharing our experiences.  Forgive me for not doing it via Facebook.  Repairs to the bus are proceeding slowly, but that's OK because so are we.  I do have a few pictures.  I recently got a pretty good result of trying to get a portrait of Baxter.  See what you think.
    
       As is the case with most of you, we are getting ready for Christmas.  For decades we ventured out into the snow to cut our own tree.  In New England, Alaska and Colorado we would venture forth in search of that perfect tree.  With a thermos of hot chocolate, a couple of kids and a pruning saw we gathered our trees.  Later we bought live trees from athletic booster clubs and other meaningful charities.  Alas, with age, we bought an artificial tree.  I must admit that it looks better than some of those for which we struggled so mightily.  Below is this year's version.  Modern though it is, it has decorations which date back to the forties.


     This is December in South Carolina.  It exhibits the weather for which we left New Hampshire in 2004.  As an example, the picture below shows our backyard Bradford Pear which displays our version of the Fall colors.
     If I may be permitted one more backyard picture, below is another shot of our resident eagle. I never get tired of watching him (or her).
     The post-op situation on the bunionectomy surgery is fine.  Healing is complete and comfort is restored.  There is the ongoing issue of physical therapy to restore complete range of motion, but I am pleased with the results.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bird Watching in the back yard

     There are enough things flying around in our back yard that the camera is always ready.  Most often I'm in such a hurry to catch a good photo op that I'm not holding it steady enough.  I did catch one of the eagle a couple of days ago just as he was about to lift off from a branch.  A half second later I would have captured the spread wings.  Oh, well.
     This morning Durelle yelled at me to get the camera, and I caught another large bird in the back yard.
     This big bird is a C-5.  It routinely carries multiple armored vehicles to and from the "sandbox".  It has made million pound takeoffs and has a very distinctive engine sound.  That is what gave me the lead time to catch this picture.
     No news or progress on the bus.  Parts are on order, but the other six damaged rigs are needed before ours is, so I'm letting Wayne McCoy manage the schedule.
     Remember Pearl Harbor...seventy years ago today.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Back on line

     Thanksgiving has come and gone.  I have been off line for four days.  I did not dare to go over to Best Buy on Black Friday.  On Tuesday my wireless card stopped working.  It is astounding how much internet access has become so integral to our lives.  Today I decided to take a chance and found the service desk idle.  The fellow that helped me had a physical appearance that was the antithesis of the prototypical geek.  Six-two, black, cornrows, and looked as if he had been a middle linebacker in a previous life.  He spent an hour with me decluttering my laptop, resolving by deletion some competing anti-virus programs, and uninstalling and re-installing drivers.  When he was done, I was back in business.  He declined an offer to pay AND declined a cash tip, saying, "A handshake will be just fine."So, I am back on line.  
     I mentioned that I was going to be grilling the Thanksgiving turkey.  Below is a picture.
     You can see the temperature probe that goes to a transmitter that sends the temperature to a remote receiver.  It was cooked over pecan pellets.  My new Treager grill operates like a auger-driven/thermostatic pellet stove and is the best grill I have ever had.  
     We only had Cindy with us for the meal, but it was a classic New England Thanksgiving dinner.  There were no yams or turnip greens or collard greens...mostly because I haven't yet learned how to cook 'em.
     I'm glad to be back on line and hope you had a great holiday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

     There's nothing new to report on the burglary, or on my big toe for that matter.  But, as you have probably heard me say, "I haven't been in a hurry in fourteen years".  I am including a picture I took in the back yard this morning.
     As you know Ben Franklin made disparaging remarks about the moral character of the eagle and thought that the industrious, practical turkey would be a better national symbol.  I like it better this way.  Can  you picture huge eagle farms butchering 70 million eagles for Thanksgiving?
     I hope your bird of choice is done to a turn tomorrow and that you have a wonderful meal with family.  This year I am not going to fry the turkey.  I'll be roasting it on my new Treager grill using pecan pellets for fuel...Thanks, Tim and Wendy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Burglary


     The motorhome lifestyle can be exciting even when you are not on the road.  We got a call this morning from ProTech, Inc.  They are the local RV maintenance folks whom we have depended on for several years.  It seems that last night a professional crew came through their lot and burglarized seven Class A motorhomes including ours.  Entry was gained by taking a tire iron or equivalent to the driver's side window.  They ripped out the main TV and satellite receiver and generally ransacked the place looking for anything else they could fence.  A bunch of trim molding was destroyed in the process.

     The next picture shows my spare parts container dumped out on the couch.
     The last picture shows the broken glass outside the driver's window.  Please note that the rig is nice and shiny from ProTech's recent wash and wax!


     Ironically, they had finished the repair of the slideout and cleaned the rig and called last week to tell us it was done.  I was going to pick it up and put it in storage at Charleston AFB.  We were then going to make our annual pilgrimage to Red Bay, AL after the holidays.  This time we were going to upgrade from the the combination washer/drier to a stacked pair of units.  Since that was now the only reason to go to Red Bay, I asked Wayne McCoy, the owner of Protech, if they could handle the job.  They could, so we left it for them to do some research and come up with an estimate.  Oh, Well!
     Now the matter is in the hands of USAA, the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office and ProTech's insurance.  We had no immediate travel plans so I guess the inconvenience will not be a major one.  I'm sure there will be some out of pocket expenses, however.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11

     It has been two weeks since I have posted, so I thought it was time to let you know that I am alive and well.  The foot surgery is now a couple of weeks past, and the PT has started.  Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a therapist?  You can negotiate with a terrorist.  Seriously the fine folks I am dealing with are doing a great job.
     Cindy asked me yesterday if I would join her at the the local (Hanahan) Veteran's Day memorial activities.  I, of course, accepted.  There is a nice courtyard and memorial site in front of city hall.  It was your typical small town festivity...small, unpretentious, and intimate.  There were probably less than a hundred people there, but it was done professionally.  I am glad I went.  The three flagpoles shown below carry the flags of the country, the state, and the city.
     As you can see, the weather was ideal.  The colors were presented by the high school JROTC color guard.  They stood at attention behind the podium for an hour.  It must have seemed like an eternity for them.  I have seen many color guards, but these four high school guys were excellent.  The program was well organized and limited to an hour.  It contained the usual elements including a few words from the mayor, a legally blind, retired schoolteacher named Minnie Blackwell.
     There were a couple of other speakers who were brief but effective.  The main speaker was an 88 year old, long time resident of Hanahan who told us about the at sea capture of a German submarine on 4 Jun 1944 off the west coast of Africa.  It was the first such capture of a man of war on the open seas since 1815 and resulted in a crucial capture of German submarine codes.  His five kids and several grandkids and greatgrands were there.  We should all be so active and positive as he is at 88.
     The conclusion of the ceremonies involved a Charleston Police Officer with a bagpipe.  I can assure you that no one made any disparaging remarks about his "skirt".  The guy is at least 6'2" and looks as tender as a roll of barbed wire.
     After the ceremonies, Cindy said, "Can I take a veteran to lunch?"  I, of course, accepted again.  We went to a local Greek place and had a nice lunch.  
     As a non-combat type, I have some difficulty sharing in the good will being extended to veterans these days.  Still, I know I have done my part and that I have made a difference.
     Happy Veterans Day

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Confederate rose


     Since I am barely ambulatory these days, Durelle has also become the photographer.  Our "Confederate rose" has started to blossom.  As a plant it is a rather ungainly and inelegant critter, but the pink blossoms are really quite pretty.  I'll have to find out the proper name.  It's almost a weed and propagates easily from cuttings. I suppose it would benefit from some well-timed, judicious pruning.
     On another note, recovery from the foot surgery is proceeding.  We did have an unscheduled return to the surgeon because an infection raised my temperature to over 101.  This morning it was 98.5 and I felt up to cooking the bacon and eggs.  Next, I'll slip on a waterproof sleeve/sock and take my first bath in five days.  There are some advantages to not having a sense of smell.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bunionectomy

     In a world full of friends with serious ailments, bunions are a relatively minor inconvenience.  Nonetheless, when the big toe grows toward the second toe far enough to deflect the second toe upward, complications arise.  The range of motion on my big toes is about 20 degrees versus the normal 60.  This makes balance more difficult, and renders my gait something less than graceful.  In the hope that the resulting domino effect is partly to blame for stiffness in my back and hips, I elected to get those bunions removed and toes straightened...one foot at a time.
     While I occasionally succumb to the temptation to turn a travel blog into a food blog, I d*** sure am not going turn this into a clinical discourse.  This turn of events will, of course, restrict my participating in "bloggable" events and photo ops.  It will be a few weeks before I regain normal mobility  and then it will be time to do the left foot.
     As the picture shows, we can adapt.

     The next picture shows that Baxter can adapt, too.  I suspect that Durelle will have little trouble reclaiming her recliner when she wants it back.
     Durelle will be taking on the unaccustomed role of nurse, and I shall make every effort to be a good patient. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Treager Grills

     This blog will be about the saga of our new Treager Grill, but first, let me start with a picture I took over our fence this morning.
     Now that we have that out of the way, you may enjoy my story about our new smoker/grill.  As I set out to figure out what I wanted, the most obvious source of information for me were our friends, Tim and Wendy Boucher who are presently at Lynchburg competing at the nationals sponsored by Jack Daniels.  Based on their recommendation I checked out the website for Treager Grills, an Oregon firm.  I liked what I saw and was pleasantly surprised to find a dealer right here in North Charleston.  I went over to Ferguson Enterprises on Rivers Ave and bought one of the smaller units, a cover, a digital controller, a dome thermometer and three bags of pellets: an apple, a mesquite, and a pecan.  Yes, I said pellets.  It works like one of the increasingly popular pellet stoves for heat.  There is an auger that feeds the pellets into a firebox under the control of a thermostat.  Although half the size of my natural gas grill, it weighs at least twice as much.
     Saturday I assembled the unit and replaced the existing analog controller with a digital one.  I had to work on my back lying down under the unit.  I followed the instructions and even marked the connectors with a Sharpie for safety sake.  I rolled the unit around the house and into our screened porch...not easy.  I filled up the hopper with apple pellets and turned it on as recommended to burn off any manufacturing odors.  Having done that, I next attempted to check it out regulating at a lower temperature.  Here's where the difficulties started.  It regulated at 450 degrees no matter where I set the thermostat, and the fire was smoky and smelled bad.  I shut it down and Sunday I emailed their service department and got a reply in five minutes!  They (Frank Carson) said to call 1-800-TREAGER.  I figured it was an automated response (it wasn't) so I waited until Monday to call.  Frank explained that I had swapped the wires to the auger and the fan.  Well, I fixed that and then had to clean up a very sooty grill.  The auger is supposed to run at a minimum of 15 seconds on and 65 seconds off.  The fan is supposed to run continuously.  The opposite was happening.  Once I got it wired correctly, everything worked fine.  On the "smoke" setting it will now cook at temperatures as low as 130!
     As a graduate electrical engineer and long time radar maintenance guy, I was more than sufficiently embarrassed at mis-wiring the controller.  Now that it is ready to go, I am looking forward to trying some new things.  I'll send some pictures of my successes.  The failures we will eat, but not advertise.
     

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Georgetown, SC


     This was a Saturday in the mid 70s, dew point in the low 40s, and no clouds all day.  Cindy, Durelle and I decided to make a long overdue visit to Georgetown.  We drive through the industrial section on route 17 every time we go to or from Huntington Beach State Park.  After decades of driving by, we needed to visit the historic part of the town.  Do not expect me to know much about the history, but I took a picture of a well-preserved house that was built in 1737.  There is a bronze plaque that proclaims that Marquis de Lafayette first stepped ashore on this continent in Georgetown on June 13, 1777.
     Our intention was to take advantage of the weather and Cindy's vacation to drive up, walk the waterfront boardwalk, have lunch at one of the many seaside venues, and drive home.  Lo and behold, we walked into a maelstrom of activity.  Front Street, the main drag through the historic district, was shut down and occupied by the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show.  As if that weren't enough, there was a wildlife art exhibit, and a local church was having a fall festival.  Given the weather, the scene was chaotic.  We parked a mile away.  While walking to the center, we saw part of the art exhibit and (pay attention, Ann Dunn) some "Redneck Wineglasses".

     On the way to the center we saw some river front homes whose decks were over the river.
     We eventually got to the center and put our name on a waiting list for lunch.  It promised to be more than an hour.  I had a beer while the ladies nursed their soft drinks out on the deck.  After a while we changed our plan.  We took our name off the list, walked through the display of elegant wooden boats, walked back to the car and drove to a good restaurant away from the historic district.  There were wooden boats of all sizes, and the craftsmanship was impeccable, stunningly so.  Look at the seat in the picture below that reflects the wheel.  It looks black, but it is varnished mahogany as you can tell at the starboard side of the picture.
     I will include a couple more (while apologizing for abusing your bandwidth) including a classic old Chris Craft...can you say,"On Golden Pond"?

     The restaurant was the "Land's End" on 17 on the north edge of Georgetown.  The next picture was taken through the window from our table.  These boats were almost all sport fishermen.
     As they say about blind pigs and acorns, we stumbled into a very pleasant afternoon.  I would be remiss if I didn't report on Durelle and Cindy's round of golf yesterday.  After struggling all summer and getting pretty discouraged, Durelle (after a long layoff) shot an 88.  The front nine was a model of consistency: seven 5s followed by two 4s.  The back was less consistent, but she had a 45 with a couple of 3s...one on a fairly long par four.  I guess we won't be selling the clubs after all.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Re-adapting to South Caroliona

     We are well into the change of modes.  The bus is emptied and at the shop for a wash and wax as well as a repair of our main slideout.  The washer here has been going almost continually, and Durelle has completed all of the ironing.  There have not been a lot of photo-ops but I thought that a blooming magnolia in mid-October was interesting...especially with Baxter in front.
     Cindy is on vacation this week, so I am enjoying some cooking for the three of us.  But, first, we had to get the disposal replaced.  It "threw a rod" yesterday and made a dramatic demise.  I have replaced them before, so I went to Home Depot and bought a replacement.  While the replacement had the locking collar with which I was familiar, the failed unit did not.  I was forced to call a local plumber this morning in hopes that he could come today.  Like Ann, washing dishes in the bathroom is something to be avoided.  Steve Dyson showed up two hours later.  My attempts stalled at the removal of the mounting collar of the old one.  While I hated to admit defeat, I was somewhat vindicated as Steve had to break out the old one in pieces in order to proceed.  Once that was done, everything proceeded smoothly.  We were back to normal with grilled steaks, a salad and Durelle's rice pilaf.
     The doctor's and dentist's appointments are behind us, and we are settling into a different routine.  Durelle and Cindy are watching the weather to determine some golf date(s).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

No longer on the road

     Well, I don't have any dramatic or colorful pictures, nor do I have any tales of great escapades.  We arrived in Hanahan on Wednesday.  Since then. Durelle has done over a dozen loads of wash and several hours of ironing.  In comparison, I have done little.  The bus is at the shop to figure out why the main slideout won't completely close.  They will also do a wash and wax.  We have done a few walks around the neighborhood, and the Corvette's battery has been recharged and the tires re inflated   It is ready to go.  It seems to take us longer each year to recover from five months on the road.  Tomorrow we both go in to see our primary care physician, Dr. Amy Fairfax, to see where we stand.
     Tonight Cindy joined us for supper: ribs plus a special mac and cheese.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Safely Home !!

     After nearly five months and 6,302.6 miles, the bus is once again parked at 1435 Cooper's Hawk Drive.  For your interest, fuel consumption was 730.188 gallons at $2857.93.  That's $3.913 per gallon and 8.6 miles per gallon or about 45 cents per mile.  Camping fees were the big ticket item at $5,099.76.  Groceries were $2,487.36 which was just slightly less than eating out which totaled $2,762.82.
     The bus will go into the shop Friday to take care of the slide.  We had to stop twice in four hours today to heave it back in, and we arrived with it extended about five inches...not fun, but we traveled carefully and safely.  Fortunately there was no rain.
     No pictures, and it is time to go out with Durelle for one more load until we crash for the night.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lumberton, NC

     This our last night on the road for our Summer '11 excursion.  We should be home by noon tomorrow.  We had a wonderful, no-notice visit with the Wegners in Fairfax, VA and got away this morning exactly at nine.  Monday morning, as we were getting ready to mount up in Williamsport, MD, the main slideout (driver's side, forward) declined to retract.  By going outside and heaving upwards  and inward while Durelle used the rocker switch we had some success.  By alternating on the front and back corners we got it almost all the way in.  It lacked less than an inch, but it wasn't far enough to latch.  We actually had a precursor to the problem the day we left Maine on 14 September.  There were no problems until Monday.  The slide stayed put until Fairfax.  We couldn't use the street side slides while we were parked in front of their house anyway.   The next morning it was a different story.  An hour down the road it started to drift slowly out.  We stopped a few times and repeated the process to get it almost in.  When we stopped for lunch a burly fellow RVer gave me a hand.  With the two of us on both ends of the slide and Durelle on the switch, it almost seated.  It wasn't until the end of the day at nearly four that it started to slide out again...perhaps three or four inches.  By then we were stopping in Lumberton.  We will heave it back in tomorrow, stopping as necessary, and get it fixed in Charleston.  If ProTech can't fix it, they will at least be able to secure it until our next trip to Red Bay, AL.  Such is life on the road.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Army 45 - Tulane 6!

     We just got back from Michie Stadium. As many of you are aware, Army's football prowess has declined in the past half century.  There have been some bright spots, but the results have been rather dismal of late.  Today gives us hope like a golfer who has just birdied the 18th.  Tulane received the initial kickoff and scored three plays later at 13:56 of the first quarter.  I figured we were in for a long day.  Would you believe Army responded with 45 unanswered points?  
     We had a couple of opportunities to met with friends at the level of the plain, about halfway from North Dock to the stadium, but we did not want to forego the door to door service of the shuttle buses.  Those of you who have been here know that the geography that made it an effective fort 250 years ago also made it a difficult venue for aging football fans today.
     Happy hour will be on the banks of the Hudson under pleasantly clearing skies.  The picture below was taken out the windshield of the bus looking north from West Point toward Newburgh.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday night at North Dock

     Well, here we are at West Point, parked at the North Dock on the Hudson River looking north up towards Newburgh.  The river at this point is, according to some knowledgeable folks, the only fiord in North America.  The banks are steep and high and the river is deep (350 feet).  It is still tidal up here, fifty miles from the ocean.  The storm surge from Irene flooded the lot in which we are currently parked.  On one of our dog walks we saw debris deposited at a high water mark several feet above the level at which we are parked.
     During most of the afternoon a helicopter landed at a nearby landing pad and picked up a half dozen sky divers who dropped onto the plain (parade ground).  The chopper must have made eight trips.
     Our trip down from Foxboro was uneventful.  We stopped in Stonington and visited two different groups.  Bonnie and Carl Banks came over to clean up some business that resulted from the Cloutier reunion.  We also wanted to visit Skip and Donna Anderson, some Maine camping buddies.  We visited with Skip, but Donna was on her way back from Maine where she was attending to her mother.
     We got set up here by two, so we had time to make an excursion to the Association of Graduates where I had some modest business to attend to, and Durelle found a cross stitch while I picked up a stemless wine glass with a West Point crest.
     I have a few pictures (all of which were taken from a lawn chair with a martini in close proximity) taken on the Hudson plus a shot of the "skydiver express".


     Tomorrow promises some rain.  I sure would like to see Army beat Tulane.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 2 of the Foxboro Rally

     After a week or so with a dearth of blog material, I now have more than I can use.  Yesterday was a bunch of so-so technical seminars, a large supper and a line dance instructor... NOT!  The best part of the day was a trip to Benjamin's Restaurant in Taunton where we had a very nice lunch and Durelle enjoyed a two hour visit with her UMass roommate, Marcia (Smith) Dudley.  Today the organizers pulled out all the stops.  Busses took us on an expertly guided tour of Providence, RI.  The streets were more of a challenge for the bus driver than the tour guide.  I won't begin to summarize the significant history of the area, nor can I show all of the pictures I took.  I edited down from the original 55 to about three dozen.  There were a few of the buildings in Providence.  Then we boarded the largest sightseeing catamaran in New England, a 400 passenger, three deck vessel.  The tour showed us ten of RI's 22 lighthouses, and we cruised slowly through the Newport harbor.  I got a nice picture of eight of the ten lighthouses, a number of impressive yachts, six or eight 12 meter class sailboats which had competed in (and sometimes won) the America's Cup.  Upon the completion of the boat tour we ended up at the long-closed Quonset Naval Air Station at the "O-Club" for lunch.
     The pictures of the capital and some other classic buildings in Providence are nice, but I think I will utilize my available bandwidth for the pictures taken in Narragansett Sound and the Newport Harbor.  The second of the ten lighthouses was the Plum Beach Light.
     The third was the Dutch Island Light.  Nearly all of the lights were less than 50 feet high...hey, RI is a small state.
     Perhaps the classic RI lighthouse that often shows up as an icon on annual reports and such is the Castle Hill Light.
     There were many more attractive scenes of waterfront estates that I have not included.  The harbor shots started with the Queen Mary II.  She was too big to go into the harbor.
     Next I will include shots of some of the more impressive yachts.  Then I'll show some of the America's Cup boats.


     The narrator identified all the America's Cup boats we saw and which ones won in what year.  I did not take notes.  Some of you aficionados (Ann) may recognize some of the names.  If you want more shots, drop me a line.



     The Columbia, the Intrepid and the Waverly (Westerly?) were all present.  As I mentioned, we ended up at the "O-Club" for lunch.  I took a picture of the plaque on the front of the building.
     Believe it or not, I have one more picture for you.  While parked in Providence and waiting for our tour guide to show up, I took a picture of a bird in a tree.  I think it is either a night heron or a bittern (Duane?).