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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Change of Pace

     The whole theme of this blog is our travels.  When we are not traveling, I try to find some photo ops of other things that we are doing.  Sometimes it is a stretch.  Today's will not be about us, but it will be about a couple of topics that may interest many of you...barbecue and grandkids.  Our Maine camping group is fortunate to have among us the nationally ranked barbecuing team of Tim and Wendy Boucher.  What you may not know is that they have been providing advice to a pair of newbie barbecuers; our granddaughter, Melissa and her husband Illia Zotos.  The advice is strictly by email because the Zotoses (Zoti?) live in Sydney, Australia.
     Australia does a lot of backyard grilling.  "Throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate."  Lately, however, there has been an increased interest in the barbecue competitions following the rules and formats of American (KCBS) barbecue.  After burning a few ribs in practice Melissa and Illia took their show on the road to the Blues BBQ Festival at the town green in Port Macquarie, NSW, AU.

     These were their entry, and they took first place in the ribs category and 13th overall out of fifty competing teams.

     You know, she doesn't look like she's been standing over a hot smoker all afternoon!  Congratulations to you both...there are a lot of folks who share your pride in your achievement.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Estelle Anderson

     Estelle is a wonderful lady who has been connected to our family for 76 years.  When Durelle's mother and father were  bringing her home from the hospital in 1938, Estelle was the teenager next door who actually carried Durelle into the house.  She was a faithful babysitter and friend as Durelle grew up.  Being a renowned cook, Estelle made our wedding cake, AND fifty years later she made a replica for our 50th anniversary.

     This spring (?) she and her two daughters, Peggy and Karen, rented a seaside place in Pawleys Island.  Today we drove up for a visit and lunch.  The house is a wonderful, sprawling place with a nice boardwalk out to the ocean.  It could stand a little facelift, but it is on the market for a million bucks.  Location, location, location.  It would be easy to spend the winter months there.

     This view is looking northward up the beach.  As Durelle and Estelle walked out the boardwalk to the landing at the beach, I snapped a number of candids.  I will show you three.

     By the way, Estelle is 92!  For lunch we made a return visit to Bistro 217, and we were not disappointed.
     So here we revert to a food blog.

     This is Durelle's club sandwich.

This is Estelle's Philly Cheesesteak.

     This is Karen's BLT.

 Peggy had an extensive salad topped with a pecan-encrusted piece of trigger fish.

     Finally there is my Pad Thai with lots of cilantro.

     We went back to the beach house for hot fudge sundaes with homemade fudge.

                                    Does it get any better than this?

Making do between posts

     There are times when I just don't feel like I have the pictures to put with my elegant, Churchillian prose.  The other evening I was sitting out on the screen porch armed with a camera and a martini.  It was the pre-sunset phase of the day, and I was waiting for some colors.  There weren't any, but there was a blue heron across the way standing on one leg.  I assume that it was voluntary.

     I was sprawled out in the chair looking at the contrails through the screen.  I said to myself, "Self, there's nothing wrong with taking a picture of the contrails, even if it is through the screen.

     The contrails were mixed with a bunch of alto-cirrus clouds that signify that rain is on the way, but not for a few days.  Tim and Wendy will recognize the Traeger in the foreground.  I took another shot as the light faded.

      At this point in life it takes less and less to make one happy...a pleasant sky, warm climes, and a cold martini will do it every time.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Pecks are here

     As I mentioned back in February; lo, so many days ago, George and Duane Peck are using our bus while it is idle and waiting for us to head north.  It sure seems like a win-win.  Yesterday they went to the Isle of Palms and got some warm sand between their Brunswick, Maine toes.  Durelle and I went over this afternoon for an almost happy hour.  Duane's meds preclude alcohol, so George and the Cloutiers drank water, too.

     This shot is taken at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station.  The Charleston Navy Base closed forty years but the Weapons Station remains.  The Navy school for the operators and maintainers of the nuclear engines for the Navy's subs is here.  They have extensive dock facilities and a transportation squadron that is also serving as a port for returning military vehicles. It also manages the infamous "Hanahan Brig' which housed terrorists such as Padilla, for example.  A few years ago, in the interest of DoD initiated consolidation efficiencies, the Weapons Station combined with the larger Charleston AFB to form Joint Base Charleston.  The Air Force side also has a campground.  It's nicer and newer (as USAF facilities seem to be) but it did not offer the eight weeks without moving that the Navy did.
     I can't speak for the Pecks, but, without putting a cuff on his arm, George's BP seems to have  dropped over the past week.  They are kicking back, enjoying the 80 degree temperatures and doing some light sightseeing.  It may be grim returning to Maine in April.
     I would be remiss if I did not include a picture of "our" eagle that provides frequent and spectacular photo-ops.

     Remember and support our Wounded Warriors.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Has Spring Arrived?

     After a cluster of "Let's bring the plants in" nights, today was in the mid seventies and sunny.  I've been doing PT both at home and at "Sports Plus" to improve some original and some non-OEM parts.  We are doing a little everyday to get ready for the trip north.  The bus is set up at the FamCamp at the Naval Weapons Station here.  It is awaiting the arrival of the Pecks who are wending their painful way south from Maine to spend a few weeks thawing their bones.  The bus is awaiting a new inverter.  The inverter has two functions: it turns 12 volts DC into 120 volts AC when you are not plugged in and it provides DC to charge the coach batteries all the time.  The alternator on the engine charges the two 12 volt chassis batteries.  As we await a new one, my regular external battery charger is keeping the four coach batteries charged.
     As usual, we have been blessed with a pleasant assortment of wildlife.  Hey!, you didn't want to see pictures of inverters did you?  First there is a shot of "our"eagle in the sweet gum tree.

     He looks a little frazzled, but he is nice to have around.  On a smaller scale, we have the birds that consume great quantities of birdseed from the feeder.  Durelle keeps it full and brings it in at night to thwart the ravenous nighttime critters.

     Here is an Eastern bluebird that we hope got a favorable pitch from the local realtor regarding my birdhouse.  There are other feeders at the Cloutier trough.  Here's one.

     Here's another.

Then there are the visitors that we usually see on the far side of the pond.  Almost daily we see two or three deer.  Recently there was a group of eight.  I went out to document the event and captured five as they bounded away.

     We also have a blue heron that wanders around the edge of the pond.

     We are doing just fine.  Our biggest dilemma is one of scheduling.  My 55th West Point Reunion will occur on the weekend of May 1st.  That's too soon to head for Maine for the summer.  It has messed up our planning to a fair-thee-well.  If you have some great ideas about where to stall, I'd love to hear them.