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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Charleston, SC

     OK, OK, so it has been two weeks.  We've been busy, plus an unauthorized user on my Verizon air card pushed me over my 40G limit.  Today was "reset the counter" day.  I dealt with a thousand emails (spam and regular).  A few days ago, in the early evening, Durelle announced a photo-op in the back yard.  She was right.  See below:

     That's our back yard with unedited pictures.  Since we've been back, there have been visits to: an orthopedist (for both of our right shoulders), our primary care physician, my opthamologist, audiologist, hematologist/oncologist, and rheumatologst.  Next is the dentist and the neurologist.  It sure is tough when the warrantee expires.  We all got clean bills of health including Baxter.  
     Today for lunch we wandered ( that's a euphemism. We had to get reservations well in advance.  It's six to eight weeks for supper) down to The Husk.  We started with an order of wings.

     If those look special, they were.  I had the catfish, Cindy had shrimp and grits, and Durelle had a cheeseburger.  Cindy conjured up a great analogy from when she was covering the national swimming and diving championships in Bartlesville, OK and reporting for the Tulsa World.  Greg Louganis, perhaps the best diver ever, was competing.  She noted that, while he had to have an extensive repertoire of complicated, semi-impossible dives, rules required that an assortment of basic dives had to be demonstrated first.  She said that the simple, forward dive off the ten meter platform was a thing of beauty.  Her point was that even though he could do a triple somersault with twist and a half, he could do the simple forward dive better than anyone.  Her point was, "I bet that The Husk can do a cheeseburger better than anybody.  Durelle says that she is right.
     We had a wonderful lunch, and we took a few pictures on the bench under the Husk sign out front.

     Since we were parked on the roof of the parking garage, I shot a couple of pictures from that vantage point.  The one below shows some Charleston rooftops and the Ravenel bridge.  A couple of the big cranes that enable the Port of Charleston to efficiently unload container ships are also prominent.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A New Morning

     We are safely back in Hanahan, SC and ready for a new day.  No, the picture is not mine...I don't do sunrises, especially after four consecutive driving days.  This is Cindy's picture, taken on one of her morning four mile walks.  This one was on the Isle of Palms.
     We're home and we're pooped.  Now we  are busy (with a lot of help from Cindy) unloading in near 90 temperatures and humidity.  It's always surprising how much "stuff" a forty foot motorhome can hold.
     Thursday we drove a piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway and stopped for a visit with cousin, Nikki and Bob Chevalier.  As a part of the visit I got a guided tour of the National D-Day Memorial.  It is extremely well done and is beautifully sited.  It was a golf cart tour and tourists may not get out of the cart, so picture opportunities were restricted.  Below are three representative pictures.  There are many great stories originating here, but I'll save them for another forum and another day.

     So, we are back after 134 days.  We averaged $130 per day, and many of those expenses such as groceries and eating out would have been incurred at home.  We have often been taken to task by Durelle's brother, Mart, for violating the two thirty rule.  It dictates the one should stop at 2:30 or 230 miles, which occurs first.  I think that next year we may be more inclined to abide by that rule.
     It has been the best summer yet.  The camaraderie of old and new (!!) friends with whom we camped this summer made this trip special and worth every bit of effort we put into it. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Headin' South

     Today was day two of our four day jaunt south from Brookline, NH to Hanahan, SC.  We travelled from Pine Grove, PA to Monroe, VA.  We did so the hard way, or the pretty way if you prefer.  We did the northern 45 miles of the Skyline Drive, bailed out and went to I-81S for 80 miles or so, then did a dozen miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We could have made almost the whole day on those two roads, but at 35 mph we would have eaten late.  As it was, we got into the KOA at 1800.
     The scenery was long distance views of the Shenandoah Valley with blue, hazy mountains in the distance.  Quaint villages occupied the low points.  Here's an example:

     Here's one that shows the bus to prove we were there.  This, by the way, is the Gimlet Ridge Overlook.  Durelle wanted me to get a picture of the sign for my roommate, Dick Daniel...a gimlet drinker, but I didn't want to walk back to get it.

     Today, while on I-81S, I got a phone call from Buck Braun.  It was a cell phone call from Homer, Alaska.  When I reported to Alaska in the radar maintenance business in 1963, I was a 24 year old Lt.  My NCOIC was Chief Master Sergeant Laverne A. (Buck) Braun.  He was 35.  In one of those wonderful inversions he mentored his boss.  I called him "Buck".  He called me Lt Cloutier.  Our respect was mutual.  I left Alaska in '66 and have not heard from him since.  I made a couple of unsuccessful attempts over the years.  Today he reached me while we were on I-81.  He's 86 but sounds like yesterday.  What a great afternoon!
     The views sometimes extended a hundred miles or more, but the mountains (hills) were rounded, green in the foreground and blue in the distance.  To traverse the two parkways in a motorhome would require shifting the big rig into 3rd (out of 6th) and driving up and down left and right switchbacks for well over a hundred miles.  It could be done, but it seemed not to be worth the effort.
     Tomorrow it will be the D-Day Memorial and a visit with my cousin, Anika (aka Nikki).

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gone to the Dogs

     We are comfortably settled at the Field and Stream RV Park in Brookline, NH.  Friday night most of the Cloutier clan assembled at Smokey Bones for supper.  As Durelle was getting ready, she closed the slider door to the bath and bedroom so she could take a shower.  Unable to be with her, Baxter got up into her chair and sulked.

     He's a gentle old soul, but he's not too smart.  In the picture below look for his nose buried deep in one of my well worn sandals.

     Saturday Mark and Heather (and great granddaughter, Brielle) drove to Connecticut to pick up a five month old pup from a rescue league.  Eli, his name for now, is part Husky and part Great Pyrenees.  Next year he will be a 120 pound, mostly white, gentle and loyal shedding machine.  Right now he's a 45 pound, timid pup who's trying to understand what's going on.  In the picture below daughter-in-law, Heather, is providing continual human contact.

     Leo, the German Shepard, doesn't seem to have any objections to the new guy in town.  The two dogs are likely to be good for each other.

     It hasn't been all dogs, however.  Two of our favorite Lab owners (and barbequers), Tim and Wendy Boucher joined us for supper in downtown Nashua.  As we approached Michael Timothy's from the south, we saw them walking towards us down Main Street from the north.  Since it is Oktoberfest time, the entre special was a plate with sauerbraten, bratwurst, schnitzel, spaetzle, red wine cabbage plus squash and zucchini.  Getting prudent in our old age, Durelle and I decided we could split one order.

     It was one of our better decisions.  After supper the waitress was good enough to take a picture of the four of us.

     The summer is winding down, but there are a few more fun days still on the schedule.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Leaving Belfast

     Well, summer's over.  Our last evening was spent with eight of us at Papa J's.  Here's the crew.

     Going clockwise around the table are: Hilda Brann, George and Duane Peck, yours truly, Debra Donnahoo, Myrt Crowe, Durelle and Dick Brann.  Below are a couple of shots of the two of the entrees.  First the lobster scampi.

     Next is my leg of lamb, medium rare.

     It was a very special evening, but all of us will get together again next year in the same place.
     As we were leaving, the "Low Fuel" indication came on.  I wasn't surprised because I had gone 800 miles on that tankful.  We found fuel in Belfast for $3.629, and I bought 108 gallons which got me real close to that $400 fill-up milestone.  It was overcast, and occasionally drizzly as we drove to Brookline, NH.  Nonetheless Durelle captured some nice foliage pictures through the windshield.

  The last photo for today is one I took here in the Field and Stream Campground.  The blue spruce lends a nice contrast.

     We arrived and set up in a light rain.  Again everything worked...especially the sewer.  Durelle has both the washer and the dryer spinning merrily away.     
     So, the summer of 2014 is coming to a close.  Like life in general, it had both pain and pleasure.  I think I speak for the majority when I say that this was the best summer yet.  The lobsters, the barbequers, the two hour happy hours with a dozen or more folks (What do they all talk about?), but most especially the first-timers to the Moorings (and to the happy hours) all combined to make for great after day.  The old-timers all appreciate the fresh contributions from Debra, Myrt, the Hansens and the Fares.