Think about this ... "be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A history field trip

No, not the photo above.  That was after Sir played so much celebrating his birthday.

On Saturday (I think it was) Rick and hopped on the bikes and went to Valley Forge.  I "rested" under a tree and chilled (well tried to, but it was too hot to chill) while Rick rode around the grounds.  Gorgeous huh!  Very typical of this area, that I am loving so much.

These are "huts" at Valley Forge.  I imagine they do reenactments in them - do you think?!
That is the brief history post for today!  

Now I will get back to defrosting the freezer.  Too much opening the door to get ice has created quite a mess on the ice side.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A day late and ....

Yesterday was CAMELOT'S SIR ARLO'S fourth birthday.  People often ask us how old he is and Rick's reply is ... "He will be four in April If I let him" ... well Rick let him, and Sir turned four yesterday.  I am delighted that we were in an area where he (Sir NOT Rick..) got to run around and let his ears flap.  Rick was very displease with Sir and I the other day though.... The Moose Lodge where we are at has two ponds with geese and ducks in ithem and I allowed Sir, on a 90+ degree day to romp in the ponds.  I do understand why Rick was upset - it is the territory of the geese, but jeez Arlo was hot hot hot and needed to cool down.  Anyway, I am unable to load pictures of Sir, but we all know how darned handsome he is!

With that all said ... On Sunday we all (yes including Sir ... UGH)headed into Philly - (about 45 or so miles away) to do the Philly cheese steak challenge!  In "south philly" there are two "famous" cheese steak joints directly across from one another - Geno's and Pat's.  Well with the help of "smartie pants" (our GPS) we headed out (first we did have to detour to a Harley dealer along the way to purchase a new battery for a 2003 bike which is ridden WAY more than a 2001 bike!!

Above is, obviously, Geno's ... below, obviously Pat's.  Our intent was to buy a cheese steak from each - cut it in half (DAH) and compare ... well the line at Pat's was so flipping long and it was so flipping hot and we had Sir with us so.... yeah we only had one ... and it was GREAT ....  

We are still in the Coatesville, PA area.  It is so beautiful here I am not sure I want to leave. We do have a "schedule (man I HATE schedules now, but sometimes schedules happen) to be in NH around the 20th of May (or maybe the first of June?????).  

People have asked us many many times along the way what is the best area we've been to. I've always said Utah (in spite of the people there, I thought the country side (mountains) was just beautiful).  Next to that would be Tennessee (although there are far too many dry counties there - seriously, what is up with that?  Jack Daniels is in a dry county for heavens sake ... UGH don't get me going there).  Well Utah just took third place (at least) for me.  I just love this area of Pennsylvania.  It is so beautiful and the people are so warm and welcoming.  Although the Amish seem to be much much more commercialized here (a bit distressing) than those we came across in Iowa.  Also, Kimberly, you were correct with your Mennonite, Amish info.  I found a fabulous website from the Lancaster County Tourism  (I believe) It is a plethora of information ... and goes on forever.  In all our travels, I think this has been the most welcoming, informative, easy to use website for those of us "passing through".  If you find yourself with "too much time on your hands" check it out .... it goes on forever with so so so much information.

I so admire this culture.  Their lifestyle must be such a struggle as the years go by.  I remember watching a PBS documentary about the culture and my friend Maureen told me about a book she had read about the "young people coming of age" ... unfortunately Maureen could not remember the name of the book - calling all readers..... who has read it?  I want to read it also, but what is the title?
Yesterday I went out for some "retail therapy" ... it is Rick's fault ... on the way into Philly the other day, he pointed out to me that we had passed a Christmas Tree Shops.  Well heck, I've been having CTS withdrawal since 10/2007 (with the exception of when we were in NH for Princess Paige's arrival in February this year).  Seriously, friends what the hell is the attraction with that store?  I know I can always count on them to have good "tacky" flamingo stuff and napkins etc for a great price.  Other than that ....... hmmmmmm

Above, and some below, are photos from that trip ... sorry, I can't do  commentary on them 'cause I haven't a clue!

With all that said ~ our "intent" was to leave here tomorrow.  However, I be havin' a difficult time finding a reasonably priced place to be for four or five nights.    We don't need (nor want) swimming pools, playgrounds, seven hundred "planned activities") all we want is a spacious, full hook up ~ preferably pull thru ~ site reasonably priced .... DAH wouldn't think that would be difficult huh!  Trust me, in these parts it seems to be.  We had decided to opt out of interstate 95 this time ... been there done that too many times.  Seems all "campgrounds" are along 95 and foolishly priced no matter what "discount club" you belong to.  I would have no issue with a truck stop if it weren't for the fact that Sir is with us and I do the morning (7:00 AM) walk with him or if I stay up late ~ Umm 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00 AM ~ reading or facebooking etc. I will take him out before I "retire" ... NOT going to happen in a truck stop!  So we will be here for at least another night.  Then I noticed a flyer in a local restaurant today about a rock and blues fest this weekend here ~  so really, what the heck is a few more nights?  We have a month to travel, at the most 500 or 600 miles!

Decisions, decisions.  I will, hopefully, post photos of the great homes around here.  I've been trying to figure out the source and significance of the rocks that many older homes are built with.  They are just gorgeous.

Speaking of homes ~ Chad (and Amy) chill a bit ... it will ALL be fine and there truly is NO hurry.  Like I said Chad, that one wasn't meant to be, but there is one out there that IS meant to be.  I know you hate my "preaching" but sometimes, I do have a clue.  Just be thinking "parlez vous francais" right now.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Here we are in PA

We arrived in Coatesville, PA on Tuesday.  I had intended to upload some photos of our journey here (all 130 miles or so of it - I don't really remember exactly how many miles it was) but that wasn't to be and the complaint department aka/King says to stop mentioning issues with photo loading and how many days between posts ... so I won't go there)

We went into Lancaster  ... which is pronounced differently in these parts than we/I have pronounced it (but then again, what the hell do we/I know about PA pronunciation of these towns??  Actually, they are "townships, which I don't understand but will try to figure it out before we leave) The locals pronounce it with a soft "a" and I guess the emphasis is on the second syllable??? - HELP me here Maureen.  Anyway, we went "there" yesterday.

This is such beautiful country side, so it was a marvelous ride - all 25 or so miles of it through "Intercourse", "Bird In Hand" and "Paradise" ... Unfortunately "Blue Ball" was north of the route we traveled .... perhaps we will be there before we leave the area.  Aren't you so glad there aren't photos of each Township we went through!?!?

The photo above is a "side" street in Lancaster ~ it so much reminded me of Chelsea, MA (is that where Al Fresco stopped the duck for our loved ones to run in and get a celebratory beverage ... these great "side streets" with beautiful old "brown stones" ... nicely kept, so clean, neat and welcoming....

The photos below are of the Elks Lodge in Lancaster ~ what a treasure it is (no we are NOT staying there) but we sort of stumbled upon it ... what a marvelous old building - originally a "house" on one of those terrific "side streets" ... The lodge has four stories ... the lower most being the "bowling alley" (shown in the fourth photo below) the next is the main bar area and a terrific dining room off the bar (that dining room probably seats 100 or 125?), and an awesome "library" room (the photo directly below) the next level has two function areas ... probably seating 200 each ...

Check out the window where we did the tourist stuff in the photo - which was my first attempt at self timing on this new camera (or any camera for that matter --- I tried to observe Kimberly doing self timer at the "sister weekend" October 2007)  This photo doesn't really do the Lodge justice ~ the window is so much MORE beautiful than this photo shows ... I've done a bit of stained glass work and I DO appreciate what is involved, and this photo is NOT a good representation of the skill involved in THAT window.

A beautiful stairway, with a lovely window above the door ~ wish I could have eliminated the "exit" sign and still kept the integrity of the stairs and door area of the photo...... Chad, will you teach me some of these skills when I am north..... not to mention PLEASE give me a ""dummies version" of HTML so I can move around this blogger site with a some ease....  

Our travels here, including our journey from Maryland, (with the insane, aggressive drivers - THANK YOU KIMBERLY FOR CONFIRMING THAT) have been so "scenic" and calm (calm once we got the heck out of the suburban DC area - UGH that was awful) I had no idea how beautiful Pennsylvania is ... but then again, my Pennsylvania travel has only been on our return from either Daytona or Myrtle Beach in about 2006 or 2005 on the way back from a rally (either M.B or Daytona obviously) from vacation.  On that trip we stopped in Gettysburg for a few days - do I need to remind anyone how much I dislike "history" but I dutifully followed along (but NOT singing a song, day by day).

This area of PA where we are at (Coatesville) is just great.  I will try to post a photo or two of this lovely property ...

As is often the case, we thought we'd be here for two or three days, but we are going on our fourth night (I think) and I would be very happy to be here for another week.  

I'm not sure I've mentioned this, but we are headed to New England ... we had planned to be there for a few (three or four) weeks at some point this summer, but we may be there a bit longer)  There is a "sister weekend" planned for the Peck girls mid July and a Peck family Christmas bar-b-que  and Yankee swap - I can't wait  ~  and  Rick thinks he will be doing Laconia bike week with the "Amigos" ... not to mention doctors and scan appointments in July .... and we HAVE to be in Middleboro for "old time's sake" ... for campfires and vacation drinks with umbrellas etc.    

Monday, April 20, 2009

sometimes it just isn't what you had hoped ...

Do you think?  

My mother once told me that the anticipation of an event was far greater than the actual event .... hmmm ... Mom often had this dark sense of reality ... (truth be told, that quote was when I had a new sofa and love seat delivered, after a wait of about eight weeks, and I was so so disappointed).  

With all that said, we are leaving the DC area in the morning.

There are so many things we didn't do while we were here and actually, if it hadn't been for the time we spent with our niece, this stop was a HUGE disappointment!  And as everyone who has ever been in this area knows, something is very wrong if a "visit" to DC is considered a disappointment.....

Yes, I was glad to have seen the memorials I saw, and delighted to enjoy one rainy, raw and  cold day and one fabulous, gorgeous "foot loose and fancy free" day with Elisha, Rick and Arlo seeing some sights and Georgetown (yeah yeah yeah, and again Elisha thank you for that suggestion) but I had NO idea that I wouldn't see anything inside any building (unless dogs are allowed - DAH do you think that would happen - dogs in any of the buildings - NOT!!) - all the history, the Smithsonian's (and in all fairness I wasn't all that excited if I couldn't see the Smithsonian with the Hope Diamond and Ruby Slippers - which was "closed in preparation for renovations"!!) but I had no idea that all the trips into DC had to include Sir Arlo because making use of the "dog walker" here at the "campground" wasn't an option for the Whelan family.

So we truly should have left here on Saturday - because anything beyond that we have been in a very expense state of limbo .... I guess we need better communication in the future (do you think) on any destination/event that is suppose to be one of the "major highlights" of a lifetime or if there is another over the edge priced stop.  Live and learn and that is all part of this journey Rick, Arlo and I are on.

On top of that I haven't found the people in the area particularly friendly and the drivers - oh god, forget the drivers ... people say New York and Boston drivers are rude ... I have never, in all the travel around this country in the last year and a half, seen ANYTHING like these drivers - they are rude and aggressive and it is ALL ABOUT THEM - imagine that in an area so full of us "tourists").  

Plus the fact that it can take up to an hour to travel ten flipping miles by car - not only into DC, but in the suburbs where we tried to get to a Trader Joe's on Saturday (finally finally got in the Trader Joe area again)!!!  I so love that market and have had Trader Joe withdrawal/anxiety for months.  And when we got there I suppose the chaos of the journey was "worth it", but they hadn't put the daffodils in water for heavens sake (and there must have been 400 bunches of them in that water deprivation) - all these gorgeous dafs at $1.29 for a bunch of 10 not in water - how long do you think those lasted?!?!  When I got the three bunches home (yes I did put them in water when I got to the  car) it was "too little too late" I guess because I just "tossed" them ~ about 50 hours after they came into the coach .... UGH that shouldn't be and I should have known better - if they weren't in water how long could they possibly last?  Heck I go through how many (maybe five) 16 ounce bottle os H2O in a day ....

So, it is pouring outside, I am headed to bed shortly.  We are thinking we will head to the Amish country in PA tomorrow for a few days (then either east to Atlantic City or North to NY, neither areas we've seen along the routes we are considering) ... I loved the calm when we were in the Amish country in Iowa .... we shall see, but I am fairly certain most places in PA will be calmer and gentler than where we are at now.  

A trivia question as I close this out .... the "travel guides" for Lancaster County, PA (where I believe we will be tomorrow evening) refer to it as the Pennsylvania Dutch Country ... what is Pennsylvania Dutch compared to Amish or Mennonite?  If you look at Chamber of Commerce type info it refers to the area as both?  So for those in the know - what is the difference?  At any rate, I am hoping we wont get run off the road there by aggressive drivers ..

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yup, we be tourists for sure!

We have been doing the tourist thing in DC this week.  Our niece Elisha arrived Tuesday evening to spend some time with us (unfortunately she left yesterday).  I had a blast with her here.  So easy going she is.

We started our tourist jaunts on Wednesday (in the pouring, bone chilling rain).  Elisha and Rick have both been to Washington before, I had not.  I did want to see Arlington National Cemetery and the Mall.  We saw the cemetery and "changing of the guard" on Wednesday.  It was quite impressive.  It would have been nice to be there on a sunny day, but I imagine that's what the guard was thinking also, about every five steps he took.

Anyway, the first photo is Elisha, Rick and Arlo in front of, you guessed it, the Washington Monument.  Below is a shot of the White House in the distance.  That is as close as we've gotten to it. 

Above is a photo of the eternal flame at JFK's burial site, below is Bobby Kennedy's site.

Above and the two below were, obviously, taken at the "tomb of the unknown" and during the changing of the guard (the two below).

Above, the monument and the "mall" looking down from the Lincoln Memorial.  

The three below were taken at the new World War II Memorial.  The middle one was taken as you approach it from a distance.  They were taken on Thursday, which was bright, sunny and just a perfect day to be a tourist in Washington, DC.

Below, two of the Korean War Memorial and one of the Viet Nam Memorial.  Surreal places to be .... thought provoking and surreal.

Next are two from the Lincoln Memorial.  One with Chad and Patrick (no public comments boys!) in mind.  It was absolutely mobbed when we were there.  

We ended our tourist day in Georgetown.  Elisha had only two things on her "I want to do/see list" and Georgetown was one of them (thank you Elisha).  We had lots of fun there ~ having a terrific little lunch and people watching, and a little bit of shopping (it was too high end for this shopper).  Great people watching the entire day, but Georgetown was especially good for it!

Is that a cherry tree in the photo below?
Today (Saturday) looks to be another beautiful day here.  Rick and I thought we'd try to take in a Washington Nationals game (would be a great day for it too) but I don't think it will work out for us.  I had called a dog day care (Paradise 4 Pets) place down the road a couple days ago, but apparently they don't return phone calls.  There is a "dog walker" here at the "campground" but Rick has issues with someone coming into the house to take Arlo for a walk so with those two things I think we won't be doing much in the way of site seeing for the remaining time we are here, unless Arlo can go with us.  So much for a ball game or any of the Smithsonians.  With that said, it may be time to move on.

This has been a great "campground" for doing the DC thing.  Yes, as Rick points out, the sites are very close together, but the place just really seems to have "their act" together and the staff is a wealth of information and very helpful.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I know I know

It's about flippin' time ~ I know.  I am getting very very lazy with this blog aren't I!  It seems to me that we don't do much that is "blog worthy" these days ... we just sort of putt putt along singing a song.  When we were out west we did something exciting every day, we met people every day who had terrific stories (remember Matthew in Pahrump, NV! - he WAS the best) and I have really "longed" for a good people story lately.  Which is not to indicate, in any way, that I am bored, but we just have NOT had a good people story in a long time.  

So, with that said, above is a photo of an out of the way National Forest beach area we found when we were in NC visiting Joshua, Trisha and Connor (not to mention Mickey and Thunder).
While we were going down the mile and a half road to the beach area mentioned above (we were truly headed to find the ferry to "the other side" - and NOT on the road to this beach) the dirt road backed up against a "development" of fairly new (10 years or less?) homes.  One home had children (well I assume it was children, fortunate enough to have this great "tree house" behind their home - can you imagine having this place to escape to when you were a kid?  I hope they realize at some point how fortunate they are/were!  I had a great little house (aka "playhouse") behind my home in Montpelier, VT when I was much younger (oh so much younger) that I have very very fond memories of, so I guess I have a special place for kid's escapes like the one above.  I think every kid needs such a place ... I was fortunate enough to have one, way back then, when times were oh so very different.  Come to find out (my "baby sister" lives not too far from there now) that "playhouse" was torn down many many years ago ... 
Anyway, enough with that trip down memory lane ...  While I was getting my gray covered ("only her hairdresser ~ and anyone else who reads this blog, knows for sure) last week, Rick took Sir down to the beach in the first photo for a bit of R&R .... thankfully, Rick took some pictures ~ one above!

While we were in NC it included the Easter weekend.  As I may have mentioned earlier, we stayed at a fabulous, terrific and wonderful Moose Lodge (our first Moose Lodge stay ~ what a great one to "start" at! Newport, NC).  

Above is a photo of one of the Lodge members "hiding" eggs for the Easter Egg Hunt on that Saturday morning ~ gosh it was fun ... I loved watching the "hiding" and I really enjoyed watching the kids "hunting" for them - especially the younger (4 years and under) - they were so cute!
On Saturday, we had "Easter dinner" with Joshua, Trisha, Connor, Larry and Sheila (Trisha's parents and the greatest grandparents I've ever seen).  After dinner we colored Easter Eggs.  I never did coloring eggs like this with my boys when they were young, but I did question Joshua about it and he reminded me that when he and Chad were young we put some plastic sort of sleeves on the eggs and put them in hot water to shrink the sleeves and that was their version of coloring eggs "back then".
Anyway, this is how eggs are colored "these days" (how the heck did I get so old that I use terms like "back then" and "these days"?).  You put water and vinegar in these little plastic "cups" with a tablet of whatever that turns the liquid to a particular color, then you put the egg in the "little plastic cup" for a few seconds and ..... TAH DAH ... a colored egg!  Imagine that!!!  WOW - how did this happen to me?  I LOVE IT (by the way)!

Richard, in his photographic mastery, took the one above ~ isn't it TERRIFIC .... a pair of "thinkers"!  I loaded about 150 photos from our stay in NC from the camera to iphoto a few days ago, then loaded a couple more days of photos from Washington DC and just went back through the NC Easter ones to do this blog post and came across this one ~ I just LOVE it (thanks Honey).

Above is, obviously, the Master of egg coloring himself ~ minus tonsils and adenoids but with the addition of (is that proper grammar Moelicious??) tubes in his ears ... Is he just too darned cute or what!  I can not, just can NOT, believe how big he is getting ... he is truly  being his own person, just so himself, with this great (well to his parents maybe not always so great) independence .... I love to see the changes, but it so distresses me that we see him only two or three times a year.  He is such a joy and so, so much fun ~ I love to watch Connor and Rick together .. such "free spirits" just hanging out and enjoying each other and the "challenges" each sets.

Okay, onward we go .....  when we left Newport (Havelock), NC area, we headed north towards Washington, DC. ~ we stopped for two nights in Petersburg, VA because, among other things, it was about the 200 mile "marker" from where we left NC, and heaven knows we can't travel much more than 200 miles in a day.

Along the way we passed the building above (among others) that just "worked" for me - remember that tin roof thing I've got?  One might ask why the heck I live in a "house" with a rubber roof, but what the hey .. I've just got this "thing" for tin roofs, small buildings with tin roofs!  The one above just needs someone to truly LOVE it ..... Sadly, I'm afraid someone would not love IT, but perhaps love the land and tear "it" down ........ UGH ...
All along the journey on Sunday, and all the while we were in NC, we kept coming "across" all this gorgeous wisteria.  I never realized how invasive this plant is.  I just thought it was a beautiful spring "vine" with fabulous blossoms that smell just terrific.  Check this out ~ I figured out that it is truly a vine, a creeping, crawling vine ~ DAH, do you think? ~ and is really invasive ... well down here anyway.  Is it this invasive in New England or is that such a different "zone" that perhaps it doesn't have a chance to be so invasive?  All I remember about it there is that one of the mechanics at the elevator company I worked for (about twelveteen lifetimes ago) would bring it into the office and it smelled wonderful, and when I would go for walks in the evening (those were the days and about 20 pounds ago) when Rick was "napping" before heading off to work, I would go by a property that had a couple wisteria trees (what I thought were trees anyway).  But look at these photos, the stuff is growing all over and all up the surrounding trees (who knew)!

So with ALL that said .... we got to College Park, Maryland on Tuesday ~ where we are scheduled to be for a week (much to Rick's displeasure, because the sites are really close together and the "campground" is so congested ...).  But since I've never been to Washington, DC he is being very "tolerant" .... 

Our niece Elisha (Flo) flew in from upstate NY on Tuesday evening to spend a few days with us (sadly, too few) .... Rick and I are thrilled to have her here with us ... Sir Arlo, on the other hand, is just beside himself .... 

He has a new "best friend" ... he has to check (I am serious) where Elisha is before he will do anything ~ eat, go for a walk, turn left, turn right  ..... follow ..... whatever ~ none of it matters unless he knows where HIS Elisha is ... if he has that squared away in his "brain" well then he will do what he is "suppose" to do .... but it is ALL about his new best friend Elisha right now.

Flo, I am so glad you were here with us ... see you in Dec/FL!

As for the blog ... stay tuned ... I've loaded about a gazmillion Washington photos ....