Commencement Bay

One of the fun activities around here is to explore Commencement Bay with Destiny Harbor Tours. So when my neighbor abandoned his sister who was visiting from Arkansas and went to Europe with his wife, I thought it would be neighborly to entertain Carol for an afternoon.

The two-hour cruise leaves from the dock beside the Museum of Glass.

Carol on the Bridge of Glass with the Museum's cone in the background

Carol on the Bridge of Glass with the Museum’s cone in the background

There are several nice restaurants along the Esplanade to grab a bite to eat before setting out.

Al fresco lunch at the Social

Al fresco lunch at the Social

Destiny Harbor Tours uses a repurposed Navy launch.

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Leaving the Thea Foss Waterway under the Murray Morgan Bridge.

Originally opened Feb. 15, 1913

Originally opened Feb. 15, 1913

A houseboat

A houseboat

Two tug boats used for moving huge cargo ships

Two tug boats used for moving huge cargo ships

A couple of Tacoma's fire boats

A couple of Tacoma’s fire boats

The Port of Tacoma’s largest export based on tonnage is grain (corn and soybeans) that come by rail from the midwest.

A Cargill grain terminal

A Cargill grain terminal

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Stadium High School was originally built as a hotel in 1891 but has been operating as a public high school since 1906. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and was the filming location for many of the scenes of the 1999 movie 10 Things I Hate About You.

View from the water

View from the water

Carol enjoying the sunny afternoon

Carol enjoying the sunny afternoon

One of the Crowley tugs heading out to meet a cargo ship

One of the Crowley tugs heading out to meet a cargo ship

Seagulls

Seagulls

Harbor Seals

Harbor seals

Yet more harbor seals

Yet more harbor seals

Looking east toward Mt Rainier

Looking east toward Mt Rainier

Each year the Port of Tacoma handles between 9 and 13 million tons of cargo which equates to more than $425 billion in commerce. Major imports include automobiles and electronics.

More than 70 percent of all commerce moving from the Lower 48 to Alaska by water comes from Tacoma

More than 70 percent of all commerce moving from the Lower 48 to Alaska by water comes from Tacoma

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And with that, we head back to the dock. One thing about using a repurposed Navy ship: it was designed to transport sailors back and forth from ship to shore, therefore no head required. For those of us at a certain age who happened to have iced tea for lunch, a two hour tour was just fine!

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Bainbridge Island

Another adventure of the Retired Amigos. Several weeks ago Jeff and I drove over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and picked up Max in Gig Harbor. There are two ways to get to Bainbridge Island. One is by ferry from Seattle. The other is to drive up the Kitsap Peninsula and take the bridge over Agate Pass which is what we did. That put us close to the Bloedel Reserve which is on the north side of the island.

The Bloedel Reserve is a 150 acre estate that the previous owners had turned into a forest-garden with natural and landscaped lakes, immaculate lawns, woods, a rock and sand Zen garden, a moss garden, a rhododendron glen, and a reflection pool. Being the Renaissance Men that we are, we decided to check it out.

Max and Jeff angling for a senior discount at the visitor center

Max and Jeff angling for a senior discount at the visitor center

A two mile trail wanders through the property. Here are some photos of our stroll.

As we set off,  Jeff is describing to Max what a great day this is going to be

As we set off, Jeff is describing to Max what a great day this is going to be

Soon we are out of the meadow and into the woods

Soon we are out of the meadow and into the woods

One of those pristine lakes described in the brochure

One of those pristine lakes described in the brochure

The trestle bridge

The trestle bridge

A Banana Slug

A Banana Slug

A frog enjoying the sunny day

A frog enjoying the sunny day

Max and I contemplating the tranquility of it all

Max and I contemplating the tranquility of it all

The path leads to the Bloedel’s former residence, an 18th century French Country style home.

View of the front

View of the front

View of Puget Sound from the dining room

View of Puget Sound from the dining room

And a view of the back

And a view of the back

Coneflowers

Coneflowers

Lace Cap Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla)?

Lace Cap Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla)?

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A Birch tree

A Birch tree

The Japanese Sand and Stone Garden

The Japanese Sand and Stone Garden

Easy place to get your Zen on

Easy place to get your Zen on

Home of a very fortunate bird

Home of a very fortunate bird

All that walking worked up quite an appetite so we headed into the town of Bainbridge and Restaurant Marché where we were lucky enough to get seats at the chef’s counter.

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A front row seat

A front row seat

Jeff and Max claim to have never had country pâté so we had to order one with three forks

Jeff and Max claim to have never had country pâté so we had to order one with three forks

Mussels & Frites

Mussels & Frites

Mussels steamed in Fennel, Cream and Pernod. Russet Potatoes with Aioli.

Mussels steamed in Fennel, Cream and Pernod. Russet Potatoes with Aioli.

Max getting the recipe for country pâté

Max getting the recipe for country pâté

Three happy campers

Three happy campers

On the way back to Gig Harbor, we went through the little town of Polsbo where Max had to make a couple of stops.

Boehms Chocolates

Boehms Chocolates

Sluys Bakery, home of the famous Polsbo Bread

Sluys Bakery, home of the famous Polsbo Bread

An so ends another adventure of the Three Retired Amigos.

The only thing the last photo has to do with the day is that I took it of a poster somewhere along the way. I’ve discovered that when I put a link to my blog on Facebook, Facebook always selects the last image from my post as the album cover. So, I’ll stick this here and see what happens.

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The Big Seven- OH!

It was more of a group birthday party than an official reunion. In 2015 everyone in my high school class from 1963 turns 70. Some of us have maintained contact via email over the years and starting about a year ago, an idea popped up in one of those conversational threads: would anyone be interested in celebrating our transition to the next decade? In looking back over the emails it was amazing to see how one small idea had enough weight to create its own gravitational field. Within a matter of weeks, enough critical mass had been generated to make The Big Seven-OH weekend a reality.

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Courtesy of Marion Redd

The Friday to Sunday party took place in Carrboro, right next to Chapel Hill where a number of my classmates have settled. Friday night was an informal gathering at the Hickory Tavern where we could reconnect with each other and rekindle old memories. For some of us, that meant a gap of over fifty years.

Dick Forbis, Sam Rankin and Steve Wainscott

Dick Forbis, Sam Rankin and Steve Wainscott

Sue Glasgow, Judy Ramsey Roberts and Candy Crumley Rankin

Sue Glassgow, Judy Ramsey Roberts and Candy Crumley Rankin

Sheryl Forbis, Rob Girard, Pam Hoyle, Marion Redd, and June Fortess

Sheryl Forbis, Rob Girard, Pam Hoyle, Marion Redd, and June Fortess

These people are not acting their age

These people are not acting their age

Saturday morning started with a stroll over to the Carrboro Farmers Market.

Ineke Wilson, Bob Wilson, Sig Huitt, Sue Glasgow, John Guy, and Patty DeLaney Horsch

Ineke Wilson, Bob Wilson, Sig Huitt, Sue Glassgow, John Guy, and Patty DeLaney Horsch

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Getting a morning sugar high: Sig Huitt, June Fortess and Sue Glasgow

Getting a morning sugar high: Sig Huitt, June Fortess and Sue Glassgow

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A neighborhood sculpture

A neighborhood sculpture

The agenda for the weekend was pretty loose but we did have a couple of educational sessions. Steve Wainscott, Director of the Honors College at Clemson University, has been taking students to Belgium since 2008 for a five-week study program. Steve gave us a mini-course on the battles of World War I that took place around Ypres.

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The Third Battle of Ypres lasted 102 days and resulted in over 500,000 casualties, nearly 5,000 a day

Our class isn’t short on people with interesting lives and stories to tell. Carter Heyward was among eleven women who were ordained as the first female priests in the Episcopal Church on July 29, 1974 in Philadelphia.

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The women became known as the Philadelphia Eleven.

The women became known as the Philadelphia Eleven.

Two years later, the Episcopal Church’s General Convention — under pressure from the events in Philadelphia and elsewhere — affirmed and authorized the ordination of women to the priesthood.

Carter at 29

Carter at 29

Carrboro and Chapel Hill have a vibrant array of dining options. For lunch some of us walked to The Mediterranean Deli.

Only a small view of the scores of options

Only a small view of the scores of options

Sue Glasgow, Gene Matthews, Pam Hoyle, Steve Wainscott, June Fortess, Patty DeLaney Horsch

Sue Glassgow, Gene Matthews, Pam Hoyle, Steve Wainscott, June Fortess, Patty DeLaney Horsch

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Ah, a healthy Mediterranean diet

Saturday evening’s dinner was graciously hosted by Judy Ramsey Roberts and her husband, Larry, at their farm in nearby Hillsboro. Thanks to Ineke Wilson for this group photo.

The names are left to right:
Jane O’Brien Fellows, Candy Crumley Rankin, Judy Huitt, Peter Bridge, Sara Dorton Threat, Sig Huitt, Robbie Miller, Jean Lemmon Hunt, Patty Delaney Horsch, June Fortess, Marion Redd, Gene Matthews, Patty Daniel, John Guy, Carter Heyward, Judy Ramsey (partially hidden), Susan Weston Scercy (Carter’s partner), Rob Girard, Bobby Threat, Sheryl Key Forbis, Sam Rankin, Sue Glassgow, Steve Wainscott, Pam Hoyle, Jane Lynch, Dick Forbis, and Bob Wilson.

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A perfect evening for reconnecting…

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Patty Daniel channeling Vanna White

Patty Daniel channeling Vanna White

The other end of the Chevy was the bar

The other end of the Chevy was the bar

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BFFs

BFFs

Candy Crumley Rankin, Brenda Matthews, and Gene Matthews

Candy Crumley Rankin, Brenda Matthews, and Gene Matthews

Gene as Master of Ceremonies and Judy as hostess extraordinaire

Gene as Master of Ceremonies and Judy as hostess extraordinaire

Well, somebody has to be first!

Well, somebody has to be first!

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And just as dinner was winding down, along comes an evening shower.

Pam Hoyle must have brought her umbrella from Boston

Pam Hoyle must have brought her umbrella from Boston

However, the ever insightful planning committee had thought of everything.

A tent. A very large tent!

A tent. A very large tent!

Gene goes way above and beyond the call of duty

Gene goes way above and beyond the call of duty

It would seem that New Yorkers are impervious to rain

It would seem that New Yorkers are impervious to rain

Everyone else was happy to be nice and dry

Everyone else was happy to be nice and dry

Judy and Larry's cabin

Judy and Larry’s cabin

Happy Birthday to us!

Happy Birthday to us!

Sunday morning was an informal drop by the hotel lobby for coffee and good-bye’s. Here are some parting people shots…

Bobby and Sarah Dorton Threat

Bobby and Sarah Dorton Threat

Sam and Candy Crumley Rankin

Sam and Candy Crumley Rankin

Jane O'Brien Fellows and Sue Glasgow

Jane O’Brien Fellows and Sue Glassgow

Gene Matthews, Peter Bridge and Patty DeLaney Horsch

Gene Matthews, Peter Bridge and Patty DeLaney Horsch

Sig Hewitt, Marion Redd, Dick Forbis, and Ineke Wilson

Sig Hewitt, Marion Redd, Dick Forbis, and Ineke Wilson

Carter Heyward and Pam Hoyle

Carter Heyward and Pam Hoyle

Robbie Miller and June Fortess

Robbie Miller and June Fortess

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Steve Wainscott, Susan Weston Scercy (Carter's partner), John Guy, Marion Redd, and June Fortess

Steve Wainscott, Susan Weston Scercy, John Guy, Marion Redd, and June Fortess

Robbie Miller and Gene Matthews

Robbie Miller and Gene Matthews

Sig Huitt and dick Forbis

Sig Huitt and Dick Forbis

Sheryl Forbis an honorary member of the class of 1963 because 1) she married Dick, and 2) our class is better than her class

Sheryl Forbis is an honorary member of the class of 1963 because 1) she married Dick, and 2) our class is more gregarious than her class

For some of us that didn’t have to drive home or have early flights to catch, there was one last goal to accomplish for the weekend: locate the perfect Shrimp and Grits.

Crooks Corner's signature recipe for Shrimp and Grits has been written about in the New York Times

Crook’s Corner’s signature recipe for Shrimp and Grits has been written about in the New York Times

A Sunday Brunch Bloody Mary

A Sunday Brunch Bloody Mary

Unfortunately, in North Carolina, Bloody Marys can't have alcohol in them before noon on Sunday. It doesn't matter if you are from out of state.

Unfortunately, in North Carolina, Bloody Marys can’t have alcohol in them before noon on Sunday. It doesn’t matter if you are from out of state.

The last meal with friends

The last meal with friends

In search of the perfect Shrimp and Grits

The perfect Shrimp and Grits?

For me, it was back to RDU for my connecting flight to ATL and the flight back to Seattle/Tacoma. Unfortunately, about 3:00 PM a thunderstorm parked itself over the airport and the incoming flight I was supposed to catch for Atlanta had to land somewhere else.

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Delta’s computer figured out that I was going to miss my connection and rescheduled me for the following day so I found a Hyatt Place near the airport. Arrived grumpy for the delay but Ms Lisa had a way of making it tolerable. Plus it provided an opportunity to reflect back upon the weekend and realize what a special time it had been.

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Many thanks to the planning committee who made this all possible:

Judy Ramsey Roberts and her husband, Larry
Sheryl & Dick Forbis
Marion Redd
Sue Glassgow
Jean Lemond Hunt
Jane O’Brien Fellows
Gene Matthews
Pam Hoyle (from Boston-who handled hotel logistics online)
Patty Delaney Horsch (from Chicago-who helped Sue with arrivals and welcome bags)

Columbus

Columbus was actually the beginning and the end of my trip to Georgia with Serenbe and Lakemont in between. So, even if it’s not chronologically accurate, I thought I’d start with the flight to Atlanta.

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After driving back to Columbus from Lakemont, Ena had a package waiting on her doorstep. Remember that ‘art’ that was hanging on the wall in the old family house on Lake Rabun? When Helen had discovered it earlier and posted it online, Ena commented that it was one of her favorites. (Or did I just make that up?) Anyway, another copy had been sitting in my garage gathering dust for fifty years so I had it re-matted and sent it to her as a present.

Looks better on her wall than in my garage

Looks better on her wall than in my garage

The heat index each day during my visit was over 100 degrees so we elected to stay inside as much as possible.

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Columbus is home to Fort Benning where I went through Officer Candidate School in 1968. I thought I’d never want to see the place again but, after so many years, checking out the National Infantry Museum had some allure (not to mention, it was air-conditioned).

The National Infantry Museum

The National Infantry Museum

One of my favorite parts was the Imax Theater which was showing a 3-D film about the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II. It was especially meaningful for me since Lorette and I had just spent time in that part of France last fall and had visited many of the sites shown in the movie. Unfortunately, single lens cameras don’t capture images from 3-D movies so there are no photos to show.

However, here are some shots from inside the museum which is a walking timeline of our country’s military engagements.

The main exhibit called The Last 100 Yards contains life-sized dioramas depicting significant battles in the Infantry’s history, including Yorktown, Antietam, Soissons, Normandy, Corregidor, Soam-Ni, LZ X-Ray, and Iraq.

The main exhibit called The Last 100 Yards contains life-sized dioramas depicting significant battles in the Infantry’s history, including Yorktown, Antietam, Soissons, Normandy, Corregidor, Soam-Ni, LZ X-Ray, and Iraq.

World War I

World War I

World War II

World War II

Vietnam

Vietnam

And one from the OCS section.

Good thing a tach officer didn't ask me to drop and give him 50

Good thing a tach officer didn’t ask me to drop and give him 50

I’m pretty sure that everyone who visits the museum has their photo taken with the Follow Me Statue.

Landscape

Distance

Closeup

Closeup

Adjacent to the museum is a three-quarter replica of the Vietnam Memorial.

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The wall has the names of more than 58,000 that were killed or missing.

25,000 were under twenty years old.

More than 17,000 were married.

Nearly 1,000 died on their first day in country.

More than 1,400 died on the last day before they were scheduled to come home.

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Columbus must be the chicken salad capital of Georgia. Or maybe even the entire south. Because we had lunch out twice and both times were at chicken salad restaurants.

Chicken salad at Chicken Salad Chick

Chicken salad at Chicken Salad Chick

And for dinner, Southern Fried Chicken at 11th and Bay with people I see only every couple of years but who are the kind of folks that make me feel like I’m a neighbor just next door.

John, Linda, Ena, Sherry, and Tom

John, Linda, Ena, Sherry, and Tom

Columbus used to be a mill town and the Chattahoochee River was dammed to generate power for the mills. Several years ago the dams were removed and a whitewater section was created along with a beautiful river walk right in the downtown core.

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A few more photos of downtown Columbus in the evening light.

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For my last lunch in Columbus, Ena took me to, you guessed it, another chicken salad place.

Lunch at Plucked Up Chicken and Biscuits

Lunch at Plucked Up Chicken and Biscuits

I found this sign to be helpful guidance.

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And to close this post, a photo of some tomatoes from one of Ena’s friends. I guess that’s one advantage of having temperature’s consistently in the 90s.

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Lakemont

When I was a kid, my family occasionally visited our Atlanta relatives at their summer place on Lake Rabun in the mountains of north Georgia. After I was old enough (maybe 10?), I got to take the train from Charlotte to Toccoa where my aunt Florrie would pick me up for the drive back to Lakemont. When I think back to my childhood, those are some of my fondest memories.

Fastforward sixty years and, thanks to Facebook, I was able to reconnect with my cousin Helen. When she learned that I was going to be in Georgia, Helen invited my sister, Ena, and me up to Lakemont following the Serenbe weekend to get reacquainted with her and her two sisters, Allie and Florrie.

So, here’s Allie, Helen and Florrie as I remember them.

Allie on the left, Florrie on the right, and Helen next to Florrie

Allie on the left, Florrie on the right, and Helen next to Florrie

And here they are, all grown up.

Florrie, Allie and Helen

Florrie, Allie and Helen

So, after the drive through Atlanta traffic…

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…and arriving at…

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…the first order of business was to go on a tour of the lake.

Did I learn to waterski behind this boat?

Did I learn to water ski behind this boat?

First class passengers

First class passengers

Coach cabin

Coach cabin

Now I know why none of my cousins has ever come west to visit. Who would ever want to leave this place?

The porch

The porch

Walkway out to the boat house

Walkway out to the boat house

View from the boat house

View from the boat house

Ena brought along some old family photos for poring over.

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Another excursion was to see the house I visited as a boy. It has been in the family for decades and was owned by my great uncle Sam and great aunt Allie. It’s still in the family so we got to take a look around. But first a stop for gas and a souvenir hat at Hall’s Boat House which is almost as old as the lake.

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The boat house has been rebuilt fairly recently but still retains the charm of the original

The boat house has been rebuilt fairly recently but still retains the charm of the original

Not much has changed with the house

Not much has changed with the house

A lot about the living room is just as I remembered it

A lot about the living room is just as I remembered it

The Mountain Goat now looks more like a unicorn with socks

The Mountain Goat now looks more like a unicorn with socks

These same pictures were on the wall in the 50s and 60s

These same pictures were on the wall in the 50s and 60s

This is a linoleum cut I did in high school art class and must have given to Aunt Allie. (Remember it for another post.)

This is a linoleum cut I did in high school art class and must have given to Aunt Allie. (Remember it for another post.)

The boy's sleeping porch. A similar one for the girls. Not much has changed!

The boy’s sleeping porch. A similar one for the girls. Not much has changed!

My Uncle Candler really loved this place

My Uncle Candler really loved this place

Ena and I from the top of the boat house. The view hasn't changed, just the participants.

Ena and I from the top of the boat house. The view hasn’t changed, just the participants.

Back to Helen, Florrie and Allie’s place for the next adventure, a hike to Minnehaha Falls.

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The beginning

The beginning

The destination

The destination

And one of just the two of us

And one brother-sister photo

What a great two days! Allie, Helen and Florrie are each bright, engaging, talented women that have led interesting lives. The kind of people that, even if we weren’t related, would be fun to have as friends.

Their mom was famous for saying, “What’s your problem? Oh well, too bad.” So Florrie memorialized the quote in a plaque on which people can list their problem.

What’s your problem?

We have to go.

Oh well, too bad!

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Serenbe

It happens every two years. My sister plans a weekend not too far from the Atlanta airport for us to get together with our kids and grandkids. It’s a great way for the east and west coast cousins to stay in touch and a fine way for Grandpa John and Beba to watch the grandkids morph from babies to children to pre-teens.

The New York Times calls Serenbe,“a utopian experiment in New Urbanism being molded out of Georgia red clay.” There is an urban village but we stay on the farm in the large Lake House and in the smaller Magnolia Cottage which serves as the quiet zone for the older members of our party.

The Lake House on the right and the Magnolia Cottage on the left.

The Lake House on the left and the Magnolia Cottage on the right.

The nice screened in poarch

The nice screened in porch

The pool is a popular attraction when the temperature is in the 90s.

A rare moment when no one is in the pool. Must be lunchtime

A rare moment when no one is in the pool. Must be lunchtime

Oh, wait. There they are.

Oh, wait. There they are.

A couple of more shots from around the property…

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Eating is another popular activity.

Jake, Avery, Huck, Townes, and Griffin

Jake, Avery, Huck, Townes, and Griffin

Bess

Bess

The grownups table

The grownups table

One morning I went for a stroll before breakfast.

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Turkey Vultures

Turkey Vultures

If you just can't get enough of Turkey Vultures, here are two more

If you just can’t get enough of Turkey Vultures, here are two more

The farm provides a morning hay ride for guests. Who would want to pass up a free hay ride?

Head 'em up. Move 'em out!

Head ’em up. Move ’em out!

Abbey

Abbey

Like mother, like daughter

Like mother, like daughter

Townes

Townes and some of his truck collection

A couple of friendly donkeys

A couple of friendly donkeys

Breakfast time

Breakfast time for critters

Hummm. Leg of lamb or a wool sweater?

Hummm. Leg of lamb or a wool sweater?

Gus, the Pot Belly Pig

Gus, the Pot Belly Pig

A llama. OK, you get the idea...

A llama. OK, you get the idea…

Serenbe has a small Saturday Farmers Market with local entertainment.

Townes channeling Townes Van Zandt?

Townes channeling Townes Van Zandt?

Jen, Dave, Griffin, and Huck decided to take a horseback trail ride to a waterfall.

This horse REALLY liked Dave

This horse REALLY liked Dave

Cowgirl Jennifer

Cowgirl Jennifer

Cowboy Dave

Cowboy Dave

Wrangler Griffin

Wrangler Griffin

Wrangler Huck

Wrangler Huck

After all that physical activity, people need a little down time.

Dave and Huck

Dave and Huck

Jennifer and Huck

Jennifer and Huck

Joe and kids

Joe and kids

Avery and Townes

Avery and Townes

Abbey and Bess discussing Tarheel basketball

Abbey and Bess discussing Tarheel basketball

Our definition of 'emergency' was pretty loose

Our definition of ’emergency’ was pretty loose

Just a little power nap

Just a little power nap

And what trip to Serenbe would be complete without a bonfire, S’mores, bubbles, and sparklers?

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My blog consultant says I make these things way too long; nobody wants to scroll down. So, if you have made it this far, permit me to post a couple of food photos. Our last meal was Sunday dinner at the Farmhouse before everyone went their separate ways.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

The kids table

Mostly well behaved children at the kids table

The official family photo from Serenbe 2015

The official family photo from Serenbe 2015

THE END

THE END

 

My Most Expensive Meal Ever

Last weekend we splurged to celebrate Lorette’s first step toward retirement: going from full time to four days a week. We ate at Cafe Juanita in Seattle and opted for the chef’s tasting menu along with the select wine pairings. If you are wondering what a REALLY expensive meal looks like, take a gander at the following photos. Then be sure to read my comment at the end.

The first course wasn't even on the menu but those are salmon eggs with an edible flower on top

The first course wasn’t even on the menu but those are salmon eggs with an edible flower on top and Prosciutto in the background

This would have been an interesting photo of the bread... if it had been in focus

This would have been an interesting photo of the bread… if it had been in focus

Australian +7 Wagyu Carne Cruda with Lardo Crostini

Australian +7 Wagyu Carne Cruda with Lardo Crostini

Octopus with Chickpea, Salsa Verde, and Smoked Bone Marrow

Octopus with Chickpea, Salsa Verde, and Smoked Bone Marrow

Local Porcini: Roasted with Thyme, Raw with 30 month Aged Parmigiano Reggiano, and Cream Porcini Soup

Sylvia's Spot Prawns with Favas, Fennel and Smoked Salad Onions

Sylvia’s Spot Prawns with Favas, Fennel and Smoked Salad Onions

Risotto Manteca with Carmelized Strawberry and Reduced Brodo topped with a 36 year old Balsamic Vinegar

Risotto Manteca with Carmelized Strawberry and Reduced Brodo topped with a 36 year old Balsamic Vinegar

Guinea Hen with Seared Foie Gras, Crisp Veal Sweetbreads, English Pea Crema, Morels and Pickled Turnip

Guinea Hen with Seared Foie Gras, Crisp Veal Sweetbreads, English Pea Crema, Morels and Pickled Turnip

Not pictured is the before-dinner cocktail of a rare Sweet Vermouth with a twist of orange peal and generous pours of wine to perfectly pair with each course. Maybe that’s why I missed taking photos of dessert which was:

* Vanilla Panna Cotta with Cardon Blossom Honey and Vanilla Salt

…. and ….

* Chocolate Bonêt with Coca Crumb, Rose Langues de Chat and Blue Elderflower Cordial.

As I said at the beginning, this turned out to be the most expensive dinner that I have ever had. The service was knowledgable and professional without being stuffy. The chef was obviously talented in selecting, preparing and presenting the dishes. As I think back on the experience, I’m glad I took some photos in order to retain the memory of a remarkable meal.

However, I can’t help but think about a term I remember from economics, Marginal Utility, which is defined as the additional satisfaction or benefit (utility) that one derives from buying an additional unit of a commodity or service. In this case, how much more satisfaction did I receive from enjoying this very expensive meal than I would from a meal at half the price? Or even from my own homemade Mac and Cheese straight out of The Joy of Cooking?

I’m not sure where the answer lies but since this meal was to mark the end of a full-time paycheck, I guess I will be looking for satisfaction in a lower stratosphere from now on!

Three Retired Amigos

Jeff, Max and I are retired. Several months ago we decided to start a ‘Boys Day Out’ to explore the local landscape. So far this has included visits to the Museum of Glass, the western art collection at the Tacoma Art Museum, America’s Car Museum, a retirement planning seminar, and the opening of a new Whole Foods Market. Here’s a report on last week’s adventure.

Karpels Manuscript Library Museum

Jeff and Max at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

David Karpeles made his money in California real estate and started collecting documents in the ’70s. By 1983 he had one of the largest private document collections in the world and decided to distribute them to museums he established in eleven cities across the United States. This is truly an eclectic assortment. For example:

* The original etchings from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist

* The official report of the Titanic rescue by the captain of the RMS Carpathia

* A paper tape of the first message sent by Morse Code

* The navigator’s log of the Enola Gay when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima

* The written confession of Japan’s War Minister, Tojo, who ordered the Bataan Death March

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Just across the street from the Karpeles Manuscript Library is the W W Seymour Conservatory, a Tacoma icon since 1908, and one of only three Victorian-style conservatories on the West Coast.

Max and John at the Seymour Conservatory

Max and John at the Seymour Conservatory

Jeff and Max admiring the tropical foliage

Jeff and Max admiring the tropical foliage

Hungry fish

Hungry fish

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Not native to the Pacific Northwest

These adventures always involve food. As you can imagine, looking at documents and admiring tropical vegetation works up quite an appetite. Next stop, the Parkway Tavern.

My favorite neighborhood watering hole

My favorite neighborhood watering hole

Where beer pull handles go when they die

Where beer pull handles go when they die

A mushroom swiss burger. Not pictured: a pint of local IPA.

A mushroom swiss burger. Not pictured: a pint of local IPA.

Still time for one more stop so we head for the Foss Waterway Seaport. The Seaport is in a century-old wheat transfer facility, one of two remaining wooden warehouses originally built as a mile-long complex in 1900 to accommodate square-rigged ships that frequented the port during the early years of Tacoma’s history.

The Tacoma was part of Puget Sounds Mosquito Fleet

The Tacoma was part of Puget Sounds Mosquito Fleet

Jeff and Max

Jeff and Max

One of the many displays showing the nautical heritage of the area

One of the many displays showing the nautical heritage of the area

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Boston

Ah, the joys of being the retired tag-along spouse of someone who has to be in meetings all day. So while Lorette was getting smarter, I was free to explore the city.

The Boston Convention Center

Boston Convention Center, site of the three-day conference

First stop for me: Boston Common, America’s oldest public park.

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Tadpole Playground

Tadpole Playground

Grown up tadpole

Grown up tadpole

Massachusetts State House

The ‘new’ Massachusetts State House, completed in 1798

Monument to the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry, the first African American regiment formed after Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation

Monument to the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry, the first African American regiment formed after Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation

I had the opportunity to have lunch with Pam Hoyle, a friend from high school who lives in Boston, and catch up on the past fifty years. So how did I manage to not get her photograph? Rest assured, she is not in the photo below.

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We ate at a place called Carrie Nation Cocktail Club where I got to try another Lobster Roll.

A lobster roll BLT

A lobster roll BLT

One of our stops was the Granary Burying Grounds, founded in 1660.

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Some of America’s most notable citizens rest here.

Paul Revere

Paul Revere

Sam Adams

Sam Adams

Irish Famine Memorial along the Freedom Trail to commemorate the 1845 Irish potato famine.

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The Old State House built in 1713 to house the colony’s government.

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The Institute of Contemporary Art was close to our hotel and provided an interesting diversion with its eclectic galleries.

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A collection of 36 horn speakers made from newspaper and dryer lint and numerous tube amplifiers playing a fifty minute piece by violinist Andrew Bird

A collection of 36 horn speakers made from newspaper and dryer lint and numerous tube amplifiers playing a fifty minute piece by violinist Andrew Bird

I bought a pass for the T, Boston’s Metro, and spent some time just riding around. Couldn’t get the Kingston Trio singing the Charlie on the MTA song out of my head. A couple of random photos:

The Red Line station at Park Street opened in 1897. Could use a little sprucing up

The Red Line station at Park Street opened in 1897. Could use a little sprucing up

The Silver Line goes by the cruise ship terminal

The Silver Line goes by the cruise ship terminal

Snow shovels at a Metro station on May 1

Snow shovels at a Metro station on May 1

And speaking of snow, there was still some around from the winter’s record of 8 feet.

Snow pile still melting

Snow pile still melting

The John F. KennedyPresidential Library and Museum is definitely worth a visit.

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A campaign poster from 1960

A campaign poster from 1960

Part of the 'Main Street USA' exhibit: an appliance store from the era

Part of the ‘Main Street USA’ exhibit: an appliance store from the era

On January 20, 1961, Kennedy became the youngest person, at 43, to be elected President

On January 20, 1961, Kennedy became the youngest person, at 43, to be elected President

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That is a lot of windows to keep clean!

That is a lot of windows to keep clean!

Exterior of the building designed by the architect I.M. Pei

Exterior of the building designed by the architect I.M. Pei

View of Boston from the library

View of Boston from the Library

And for a bit of culture, we attended a concert of the Boston Symphony in Symphony Hall which opened in 1900. Wonder who else sat in our seats over those 115 years?

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Lorette checked to see if the orchestra had any flute vacancies

Lorette checked to see if the orchestra had any flute vacancies

Our flight didn’t leave until 6:00 PM so we had time for one last taste of New England.

Wellfleet oysters

Wellfleet oysters

And the last lobster roll of the trip

And the last lobster roll of the trip

Despite the livery on our Alaska Airlines plane, our pilot was able to find Seattle with no apparent difficulty.

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Cape Cod

Lorette had a medical conference scheduled in Boston for the last part of April so we decided to travel several days early and explore Cape Cod, a place neither of us had been to before. For the most part, the weather was sunny and brisk. The restaurants and other businesses that had been closed for the winter were just beginning to open for the season but the hoards of tourists that descend on the Cape in the summer had yet to arrive so we had the place virtually to ourselves.

After landing at BOS in the evening and staying in the city the first night, we headed out after an amazing Sunday Brunch at the Seaport Boston Hotel. First stop was Plymouth and the National Monument to the Forefathers, an 81 foot monument completed in 1888.

National Monument to the Forefathers

National Monument to the Forefathers

The monument honors the ideals of the Mayflower Pilgrims. It is thought to be the world’s largest solid granite monument and is the third-tallest statue in the United States. It was the site of the first sock picture of the trip.

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One can’t be in Plymouth without seeking out The Rock. So, here’s a rock with 1620, the year the Mayflower landed, inscribed on it. However, the first written reference to this particular rock was in 1715 so the rock is more of a symbol than a real part of history.

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock

Debunking myths tends to work up an appetite so we found a harbor side seafood shack recommended by several locals.

Wood's Seafood

Wood’s Seafood

In search of the perfect lobster roll.

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The Captain’s House Inn in Chatham was our home for four days.

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Wild Pigeon

Wild Pigeon

Complete with a cozy fireplace

Complete with a cozy fireplace

A different breakfast each day

A different breakfast each day

For me, a highlight of the trip was a visit to the Cape Cod National Seashore.

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Nauset Light

Nauset Light

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Guglielmo Marconi erected a large antenna array here and completed the first transatlantic wireless communication between the United States and Europe in 1903.

Built in 1902; abandoned in 1920

Built in 1902; abandoned in 1920

Back in town, there is a terrific little museum called the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center. In 1914, Marconi built a high powered wireless station in Massachusetts. The receivers were in Chatham and the transmitters were forty miles west, in Marion. The station was paired with a station in Norway to provide wireless communication between the two continents, using Morse code. During World War II the station was taken over by the Navy and played a roll in tracking German U-Boats in the Atlantic. A visit here really made the movie, The Imitation Game, come to life.

A code breaker

A code breaker

OK, the next photo is cheating. It’s a photo of a photo. But I need to include it since it beautifully conveys the scenery around the cape with the many bogs.

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As you can tell by the next photo, it could be windy and cool, even with the sun shining.

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Which is a good reason to find a cozy spot for some clam chowder and another lobster roll.

Warming up by the fire

Warming up by the fire

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

This one was more like lobster salad on a roll

This one was more like lobster salad on a roll

Chatham turned out to be a great home base for exploring. The next photos were taken right in town.

Chatham Lighthouse,  established in 1808

Chatham Lighthouse, established in 1808

Part of the National Seashore near Chatham

Part of the National Seashore near Chatham

Seals snoozing on the beach

Seals snoozing on the beach

And to end this post, a few pictures of perhaps one of the best meals we had on the trip: Twenty Eight Atlantic at the Wequassett Resort.

View as the sun was going down

View as the sun was going down

A cucumber Martini to start

A cucumber Martini to start

Appetizer

Appetizer

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Goodbye, Cape Cod, it was fun getting to know you!

Lorette back at the Captain's House

Lorette back at the Captain’s House