Sunday, July 26, 2009

Home again, home again jiggidy jig

The plane fills with the noise of pre-take off. Tray tables are stowed, the flight attendants start through their opening monologue, like a 7th grade algebra teacher, no one is really paying attention. My eyes shift to where the exit rows are located, the only part that ever really seems important to me anymore, and I watch out the window as the last of the suitcases are loaded into the belly of the plane. Seatbelts are fastened tight, water is stored in the pocket in front of me, book and laptop are out, ready for the hours ahead, and it’s time to go home.

The last four weeks have been filled with laughter and joy as I have watched the kids turn their new house in Jacksonville into a welcoming “home”. The rugs move around the rooms to find just the right place to live, and the books are gradually being unpacked and placed on the shelves. Most of the trees out in the back yard have been identified, and we even found a lime tree and some raspberries growing off to the side of the property.

Last week we watched in horror as a large piece of machinery started hacking its way into the forest behind their new home. Like a snake in the grass it wound its way deeper and deeper into the forest and started ripping out the large native Florida pines that made up the forest behind the house. Travis ran out and actually stopped the operator to see what was going on. The forest behind them had been a large selling point to Sara. After leaving the forests of Maine, this large part of greenery brought a familiar and welcoming site. It took about 10 minutes for Travis to make his way back to the house, Sara, Cash and I standing at the back door waiting to hear his news. Seems a local timber company was “harvesting” the trees for pulp. The fortunate part was that they intended to leave 50- 60 trees per acre, only taking the smallest and diseased trees. We watched over the next three days as they cleared deeper and deeper into the acreage, filling trailer after trailer with the trees, and with each tree – turning the area into a light filled, airy new forest.

Since Robert’s arrival last week, we have made many more wonderful visits to the Golden Isles of Brunswick to see his parents, visit the beach and even managed to not only surprise the little guy, but also Sara and Travis with a “Big 2” birthday party for Cash. Sharon had made the most amazingly creative fish party hats that we all enjoyed, including seeing his father Bob in his perfect match. My brother David and my niece Catie also made it up for another weekend visit, and I sat and listened as he and Robert regaled the kids with stories of fast cars, rock concerts and their short experience as roommates in the early 70’s. Where have the years gone?

It’s time to return to Fallon. Our gardens will be overflowing with tomatoes and basil, the flowers will more than likely be ready for a good pruning, and my little Boston terrier Chopper will be grateful tomorrow morning to have some company as he surveys his kingdom. The shops have filled my thoughts with new ideas as I traveled around to different garden centers and gift/wine shops on the east coast. ……….I have missed everyone and the times the slow days in July provide for good conversation , Friday salad luncheons and the opportunity to get caught up from the spring season, and Harriet – how I have missed sweet Harriet……….. It’s been a great adventure, but I am ready to return to the beauty of the desert. Thanks for joining me on this amazing adventure, see you in the garden soon, Susan

Monday, July 20, 2009

St. Augustine

There are trains in St. Augustine. When you travel with a just barely two year old you tend to look for things along the way that might bring on that squeal of joy "Oh boy!!!!" Boats, bridges, planes, helicopters, red trucks, white trucks, big dogs, and oh yeah - trains. Sara and I decided to take a short drive over to St. Augustine while Bob and Travis went up to Brunswick to install a new door for his parents. We packed all the necessities - water, snacks and bunny-bunny, and set off for the coast. Sara and I are both fond of taking local trams when available to learn about the history of the area and figure out where we wanted to walk around. The Virginia City one in our own area has always been a favorite "must take visitors to" site. We parked in the St. Augustine visitor center, purchased our tickets, and off we went. Cash was THRILLED. Mind you this was not a real train, but you sure could not have told that from his enthusiastic squeals every time the whistle blew. And blew it did, at every sightseeing stop along the way - 22 of them, and every start, 22 more. We decided to just ride the entire route he was enjoying it so much, and lucky for us, our on board conductor was filled with local lore and was very entertaining.

We found ourselves in the Bubble Room for lunch, a new establishment that also has a location in Captiva Island over on the west coast of Florida by Sanibel Island. This is a must see for anyone that enjoys 30's and 40's memorabilia, and I even had to call Lucia right after we left to tell her all about it. She would have been in there for hours!!!

St. Augustine is an absolutely breathtaking city. The old forts, the beautiful Victorian homes, the history of how Henry Flagler put his touch on so much of the development and a beautiful old church on every corner. It is a city to visit over many days, and don't forget, the train ride. It is worth every penny, even without a two year old in tow. Till later, Susan

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reading Material

Added feature of traveling from north to south via automobile: The ability to pick up newspapers and magazines from places we have stopped along the way. From the recipes that I found in New England ‘s “Yankee” , to the creative articles in the free copy of “Skirt” that I picked up in Charleston, SC, to the Countryside that I found amongst my daughters reading material , I have been finding treasures, including this great article on compost, as gardeners, can we ever get enough info on composting?

I am one of those people that enjoy the selections to be found at the doctor’s office, but this is so much better because I get to take them with me. New York Times in the morning, USA Today for the afternoon, and the local paper from whatever city we found ourselves in along the way - it has been a treat to have this extra time to read. Even the SKY magazine provided by Delta on the flight out here had such great travel info on New York and London that it found its way into my backpack to take back for a friend in Fallon who visits those cities often.

It doesn’t seem to matter where we get it from, this almost insane need to read everything around us, just that we get it. Personally, for me it came from my Mom. She always had books, magazines, newspapers piled up on every available space in the house. We read box tops, can labels, billboards – you name it, we read it. We made trips to the library monthly, and enjoyed the fact that in the mid 60’s there was still enough money in the Miami budget that the bookmobile visited our suburban neighborhood twice a month. Do they even have bookmobiles anymore?

This morning’s read is the Jacksonville Folio, a local tabloid similar to our own Reno News & Review. We are looking for some small local shops to visit, and information about children’s programs in the area. And later today, who knows………but you will more than likely find me on the back patio of Sara’s new home, looking out over the forest of pines that make up her backyard, and yeah, I’ll be reading. Till later, Susan

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Boston Crusaders.......& Rain!!!!

Last weekend found us traveling further south to Orlando where my niece Lauren was scheduled to perform with the Boston Crusaders, a nationally competitive Drum and Bugle Corp. We met up with my brother David, and his oldest daughter Catie at a beautiful resort on International Drive, and after a quick visit to the train museum that was just down the road, we headed over to the field where practice for the evening performance was taking place. We watched as the members ran through their last minute drills, and then had some dinner and a short visit with Lauren and Arlene, my sister-in-law who is traveling with the corp as chaperon & team crew this summer also. Our group then made it's way over to a park in the historic area of downtown Orlando to kill some time before the evening performance at the Citrus Bowl.

We arrived at the Citrus Bowl with plenty of time to spare before the evening event, found our seats and waited for the teams to start. My niece Catie had traveled with the Crusaders the previous two years, and was our official "event coordinator" filling us in on all the rules and what we should expect to see. This was all new to us, but let me tell you, this is BIG on the east coast, and the south especially. The first team took to the field, and then.........................the rain started. This was not ordinary Florida rain, you know, the kind that comes rolling in every afternoon about three and last for a half an hour or so.....this was FLORIDA rain. The kind that starts like gang busters, and just does not quit. When the lightening and thunder started to take on the same rhythm of the drum corp that had preceded it, they asked us to leave the stands. My brother had smartly purchased rain ponchos for us on the way into the stadium, and while they were handy, they certainly were not going to make us "lightening proof" also. We carefully made our way down the now wet rusty stairs. Yes, RUSTY, the Citrus Bowl is an old stadium, built in the 40's we found out while waiting in the tunnel. Amazing how you can make fast friends with people when you are standing in the tunnel of the stadium waiting for the rain to end. David, Catie, Travis and Cash had made their way down the stairs ahead of Sara and I, so she ventured off to find them, and I tucked under an eave to wait out the rain. And wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. In the mean time I listened in on conversations that predicted "the event won't go on, to much rain on the field", "the judges are back in the bus, they have left the building" (this one had me laughing inside, the reference to - Elvis has left the building", to "they will perform "standstill". This is what eventually did happen. The rain ended, or at least abated down to a light drizzle, the announcer came on and said that the judges, who we watched inspect the field, had decided that the teams could perform "standstill", which meant that we would hear the bands, but that no one would be moving, marching or otherwise performing. What this amounted for to us was a huge disappointment as it meant that we would not see Lauren performing after all. We made our way back up the rusty stairs, found some seats that were actually under a nice covering, hoping that the people that actually had reserved those seats had gone home, to watch the bands perform. And then the rain came again.......................we sat this one out though, no lightening with this round, and the covering was sufficient if not scary, as the we watched a waterfall of rain fall through the rust areas just 6 feet to our left.

What we did have: an Adventure! Cash was a trooper, sitting wrapped up in his little poncho, watching the event take place down on the field. We stayed until the Boston Crusaders played, and then ventured back down the stairs to head for the hotel. Another adventure in itself as we traveled down International Avenue at close to midnight, and it seemed like S. Virginia Street on cruise night during Hot August Nights!!! It was crowded, bumper to bumper traffic for miles, the sidewalks filled with tourists out in the cool of the evening to experience all that the "City that Disney built" has to offer.
I am attaching the link for the Boston Crusaders, so that you can see this amazing team. While it wasn't the evening we had planned on, it was a great time none the less. Anytime I am surrounded by family it is wonderful evening. We spent the hours late into the night visiting and talking, stretched out in the connecting hotel rooms waiting for a late night pizza delivery. The next morning it was out to the pool for the kids, and David and I had some more time together to just sit and talk before he headed back to Miami.

Oh, and when I mentioned to Robert on the phone where we had been the night before, he reminded me "you have been to that stadium before, don't you remember". Yep, the fall of 1981, we had won the lottery (which is how they used to sell big event tickets ) and we went to see, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Van Halen, the real Van Halen, not Van Hager, and THE ROLLING STONES! and that time, it hadn't rained. Till later, Susan

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Golden Isles

Another of the benefits of the kids move from Maine to Jacksonville is the added bonus of being closer to all of our family. After the last week of movers and unpacking, we were ready to hit the road again and head back north. A short hour north found us in the Golden Isles, my first visit in a few years, and it brought tears to my eyes as we pulled up into the driveway of Robert’s parent’s house. It has been too long since we have been to Brunswick, and in that time Sharon & Bob have moved from their roomy loft apartment in the historic downtown area, to an even roomier home on the water. Sharon grew up here in Brunswick, and has always dreamed of living back on the water, the peacefulness of the marsh land calling to her. Brunswick is located about an hour south of Savannah, and while it may not be as well known, I find it a much prettier city filled with historic parks and homes, and just a short drive from St. Simon Island, a breathtaking place to wander on the white sand beaches of the Atlantic coast.
This was also the first visit between Cash and his great-grandparents and after a few moments of shyness on his part - the smiles and giggles that only a two year old can make filled the room. He helped Grandpapa pick cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine, and then walked with us out to the marsh to see the hundreds of fiddler crabs scatter out to the water’s edge. He fed the goldfish in the pond, and ate ice cream with Tutu, and when it was time to go he melted into their arms. With promises of a return visit next week we headed back south to Sara’s new home. Tomorrow we are on the road south to Orlando where we will meet up with my brother, David and his family. My niece Lauren has been traveling with the Boston Crusaders Drum & Bugle Corp all summer, and we are excited to finally get to see her perform at the Citrus Bowl. It has been a great vacation, filled with wonderful moments around every turn. Till later, Susan

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jacksonville at last

I am not sure where the last few days went. Last post we were in Richmond, Virginia and that seems like weeks ago. After an actually relaxing drive on the 4th of July spent on the road to Charleston, we watched from our hotel room as fireworks lit up the sky all around us. We were on the eighth floor and from harbor to harbor it seemed like the entire city was lit up. We got up the next morning and headed for the Battery area downtown. We drove up and down the narrow streets, some made of beautiful cobblestone, and gazed at the antebellum homes that lined the river, the gardens - oh my the gardens - that filled every square inch of the properties. We only had a few hours to spend, so after a quick visit to show Sara where I used to work at the library, we headed out of town towards the Magnolia Plantation property. It seemed like it would fit exactly what all of us were looking for. What could be better than gardens, history, nature trails and animals all rolled into one breathtakingly beautiful piece of property. After the Nature Trail train ride that took us through the back woods of the plantation , and yes! we did see an alligator, we wandered through the gardens and visited with the peacocks. (

We left Charleston and headed for Jacksonville arriving a little after four in the afternoon. Travis and his brother Chris who was visiting from Colorado met us at their new house and I was given the grand tour. Any thoughts of Cash being upset with having new surroundings were quickly dashed when he ran from closet to closet exclaiming that this was "Cash's New House......Cash's New House...." We settled into a very nice nearby hotel, thanks again Hotwire!, and then waited the next day for the movers to arrive. As the huge Mayflower truck pulled in the driveway I took advantage of some private Cash time and we headed to the Jacksonville Zoo. Seemed the perfect way to stay out of the way, and have some Nana time. What a special time to stand with your grandson as he sees a giraffe, up close - and personal, for the first time.

Fast forward a couple days, the movers have come and gone, everything is unpacked and put into its place, and the kids are settling into their new home. We have found the best grocery store, the hardware store, and of course - the library, just a few blocks away. With everything pretty much unpacked except for all of the boxes and boxes of Sara's books, it feels great to sit and watch as the kids figure out their new home. The thunderstorms have been amazing every day we have been here, something that this transplanted Florida girl is really enjoying. More later, Susan.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July

We are traveling south at a pretty good clip now. After leaving New York City, Baltimore and Washington DC behind us, the road opens up and trees fill the view. We entered Virginia by crossing over the Potomac on yet another massive bridge. (I had forgotten living in the desert of Nevada how much I don’t care for the huge bridges back east) I don’t think I have seen this many rolling green hills since I left the island of Hawaii 29 years ago. It is breathtakingly beautiful and the weather has cleared so we aren’t dealing with the pouring rains anymore. We found a deeply wooded park to have a picnic, and watched as Cash expended his pent up energy from being in the car all morning climbing metal spirals and working his way to the slide. We stayed in Richmond, Virginia last night, and we were treated to an early fireworks display off in the distance...and our own private one on the patio as the lightning bugs swirled around our heads. The hotel Bob found for us on Hotwire was an amazing reproduction of Jefferson’s Montecello. That is if you ignored the sand volleyball, tennis courts, golfing and gold embellishments everywhere. We looked past all that to gaze on the views of the rolling hills, the perfectly manicured boxwood and brick paths that threaded their ways through the blooming trees. After a look at the pool, we sat outside and had dinner and then turned in for the night.

Got up this morning, had a nice early morning dip in the pool and we are back on the road once again. It’s the 4th of July and we have a lot of miles ahead of us today. Tonight we will stay in Charleston, South Carolina and I am looking forward tomorrow to showing Sara and Cash where I used to work downtown at the historic Charleston County Library, and where Bob and I lived on Folly Beach back in the early 70’s. This journey has been an easy one with Cash, so I guess I didn’t jinx it after all. He is a happy guy, as long as “Blue Bunny” is in his seat with him, there is a small box of raisins whenever he asks for one, and we get to go swimming every day. On the latter part, he is sure a lot like his Mommy. Till tomorrow, Susan

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Life in the FAST lane.....

Actually, today's journey should be called "Life in the SLOW........ lane, at least for part of it. I will never, ever complain about traffic on W. Williams Ave. again. Ever. Today we left the quiet peacefulness of my Aunt Sue's house in Duxbury, and headed south towards New York City. The first hour or so was spent lost in the wooded areas around southern Massachusetts in a torrential downpour. Getting lost/misdirected didn't help the situation. Don't believe that a GPS will always direct you correctly! However during a brief break in the rain we did find a very nice garden center on our new found route. We made a short stop to stretch our legs and see what plants sell here vs. Fallon. Back to the traffic.....we were actually the lucky ones. We were headed towards the while we were traveling down the highway at a pretty good pace, we watched as the north bound traffic went from slow moving turtle pace, for over 60 miles. We kept looking for construction, for accidents, for what could possibly causing that much traffic to sit at standstills for miles at a time. Apparently a four day weekend out of the city can cause it. Sand Mountain traffic has NOTHING on millions of people trying to cross the Tappan Zee bridge. Luckily, we are traveling with the world's greatest two-year-old. Yes, I may be biased, but in all reality, I don't know many other children who will sit in the back seat for 6 hours perfectly content with the sights, a few books, and a movie. Let's hope my praise hasn't jinxed the rest of the trip.

We are settled into a very nice hotel, and after a great dinner and a trip to the swimming pool for Sara and Cash, we are turning in for the night. Tomorrow it is on to the Washington, DC area with a few more side trips planned along the way. Thanks for joining us on the journey. Till tomorrow, Susan

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Where's Susan?

Today we set off for the coast of Massachusetts, by going out the front door, and walking down the path about 100 yards. We - Sara, Cash and I are staying with my Aunt Sue in Duxbury. Located about an hour south of Boston, she lives on the same bay that was the childhood summer home of her and my father. I have been to visit three times now since Sara moved to the Northeast, and each time it is more beautiful than the last. This morning we all set off for a walk down to the beach. The path takes us past the site where Myles Standish first settled, one of the founders of Duxbury in 1632. With storm warnings forecast for later in the afternoon we wanted to get in some outside time while the sun was still shining. The temperature here is in the mid 60's, but with all the humidity it felt much cooler. I know that all of you reading this back in Nevada would love this cool weather as you are suffering through the heat of summer. I will try my hardest to send some your way. We walked the shoreline picking up shells, watching the birds flying overhead, and the sailboats already out on the water. It was a beautiful morning, and Cash spent the majority of his time picking up the best rocks and tossing them towards the shore.
We decided to take advantage of the sun that was still peaking out at noon and headed over to Plymouth so Sara could see the beautiful town and soak up some of it's history. We visited the Mayflower, and pitched a penny or two at Plymouth Rock. On the way back to Duxbury the clouds were forming, and the thunder was starting to sound off in the distance. It was an hour or so later that the skies opened up with all the fury and the thunder and lightening put on a show. For me, a child from Miami ~ who now lives in the desert, this was a welcome treat. For those that live here, who haven't seen two consecutive sunshine filled days for over three months, it was a bit much.

Tonight, we are settled into a comfy warm room, and tomorrow Sara, Cash and I will head off on our journey. Traveling another 1000 miles or so south until we reach Jacksonville, where Travis has already arrived with their household goods. Of course there will be many stops along the way, after all we are traveling with a 2 year old, a garden lover, and a history buff! See ya soon, Susan


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