Spam

Spam. It’s really good if you get it when it’s at least semi fresh. We fry it up with eggs once in a while and were thinking about doing it with this can Diane found in the RV during our last outing to Idaho.

The first clue that we should question this can is the foreign writing on the front.

It’s even more evident on the back of the can.

Then I opened it.

We both agreed that this Spam was not ready for the dinner table.

Now, I’m not saying that all Spam with foreign writing on it should be suspect, especially if you’re in a foreign country. In Diane’s defense, she had no idea where she got it and it had been in the RV for a very long time, but this is something she bought in St. Helens. Maybe at the dollar store.

Who knows?

All I can say after this experience is that I’m going to be checking labels a lot more carefully in the future before summarily yanking the lid off something.

Just sayin.

Small World Stuff

Considering all the not so good things that have happened over the last couple of weeks, this last week has restored a semblance of normalcy and happiness to our lives.

The good stuff started on Thursday the 14th when brother Jack had his aortic valve replaced and he came through with flying colors. He’s been waiting for this since he was about 9 years old, I think. That’s a guess, of course. I really don’t know when it was determined to be necessary. The point is, at this time, he got it done, he’s home, and it’s all good. Wynette didn’t actually say it but I’m sure she’s convinced he’s good for another 20-30 years. Makes me happy.

Then, on the 19th, sister Ruth had back surgery, not her first rodeo, and it also went well. Last I heard she was still in a little pain but at a lower level of normal than she’s experienced over the past many years. We’re happy she got some relief.

On the 20th it just kept getting better when we loaded up the RV and headed south to Keizer, Oregon to visit with our old Winnebago friends Terry, Carolann, Susie, Cliff, Les, Sophie, Pete, and Jeannie. We were invited to spend our time in Keizer at their Elks club RV park. Getting in was no problem and we submitted the required funds and got set up.

That first night we all gathered for dinner at Les & Sophie’s house for the traditional pot luck. We could do that because Les & Sophie actually live in Keizer, unlike the rest of us. Pete & Jeannie live just a short drive south, on the other side of Salem. Pete and Les are brothers. The rest of us are from other various parts of the country and aren’t, to the best of my knowledge, related to each other in any way. But, you just never know.

The next day we all went shopping. Diane took the girls, and Les took the boys. I would have driven the boys but before leaving home Diane forgot to remind me to put my wallet in my pocket so I drove the RV hundreds of miles without a driver’s license on my body. Thankfully, it was an uneventful trip, and no one ratted me out, so the police weren’t involved.

When we returned to our respective RVs from shopping, we discovered that during our absence Diane, me, Cliff, and Susie had been evicted from the Elks property because of a new rule that prohibits members from inviting guests to stay there. We aren’t Elks members. It was a little later in the afternoon when this happened, but Diane was able to secure a couple of spots at a nearby Good Sam park for about twice the price. But, we had a new home for the next couple of days. And it was a really nice one at the Phoenix RV & Storage Park.

That second evening we returned to Les & Sophie’s home to celebrate “Friendsgiving”. We did that since we knew we would be apart for Thanksgiving. It was a very good substitute, and one we can celebrate whenever we get together. We did it with all the normal Thanksgiving trimmings and it was terrific. I had to sit at the kid’s table for this meal. I’m not sure why. Apparently I was a little unruly at the pot luck the previous day.

On the 22nd we guys visited Harbor Freight to pick up some necessary “stuff” then went back to the Elks RV Park where Terry & Les raced their electric scooters. There was a lot of posturing and chest pounding leading up to the race about how Terry’s new seat cost more than Les’s shooter (which doesn’t have a seat). When it was all said and done the rig with a seat was the clear winner.

Sadly, that didn’t stop the chest pounding and only primed the pump for cheaper and faster scooters. This could really get ugly. Since we’re all connected I might know what’s happening and can share results.

Now for the small world stuff … after the shopping was done we all descended on a Taco Del Mar for lunch and had a nice visit. Men in one booth, women in another. Kind of like a high school dance. While listening to Terry relate a story to Less he mentioned someone named Pinkston which caused my ears to perk up.

Diane should have been closer because she loves it when my ears perk up. She says it makes me look like a little chihuahua puppy. Makes your heart melt a little, doesn’t it?

I waited for a reasonable pause in Terry’s story to ask about the Pinkston reference and to discover if he knew Adam Pinkston. He said “sure, He’s married to Alicia and they have a bunch of daughters.” I responded, “Huh” because I also know Adam … Alicia is my cousin.

Small World.

Compounding this baffling revelation is that Daniel and our daughter Jennifer invited me and Diane to lunch with Adam and Alicia in Warren just a few days ago. You see, Adam has applied for a job at Daniel and Jennifer’s church in St. Helens and they didn’t remember the family connection until the a little memory from long ago caused Daniel to ask me if Adam was a cousin.

Very interesting.

I love this small world stuff. In this expanding world it’s getting us closer and closer together all the time.

How fun is that?

So, I ask that you pray for the leadership at Grace Baptist Church in St. Helens to make the right decision to hire Adam. He’s the right guy.

Now, about the lack of photos …

I really did try to add them but, sadly, I upgraded my MacBook to the new operating system and when I open my photos application it initiates a procedure to update my photo library. It’s a brutal process. I let it run for 3 days and it got all the way up to 75% complete before I lost patience and terminated Photos. I thought that maybe if I turned my computer all the way off and did a hard restart something different would happen. But it didn’t. It was still painfully slow. Now I’m convinced there’s a bug in the bush that I must discover before I can access my photos on this machine. Once I figure it out I’ll revisit this post and add some color.

I’m sure there are other alternatives but they will have to wait until we return home.

That’s it for now. Hope everyone has a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving celebration. Keep us in mind when you think about all those other people who choose to wander around on potentially icy freeways at this time of year.

Till We Meet Again

Yesterday was a continuation of sadness for those of us that Nancy left behind. Stuffing the sanctuary and basement, over 300 people attended her funeral at our little church which definitely violated at least one fire safety rule but none of the dignitaries objected.

Many of those attending extended our parking facilities to include both sides of all the roads in the area and a large unused portion of Bethany Memorial Cemetery which Howard made available. The Columbia County Sheriff was notified about the expected overabundance of traffic so all was good. It was pretty amazing.

First Lutheran Church ladies showed up and took over kitchen duties so Bethany ladies could attend the service. That’s not a surprise because Bethany and First Ladies have worked with with each other for many years, serving each other as needed. Pretty special.

Everything was planned and replanned but as plans go, they don’t always play out correctly in the end. So it was for us. The one that went well was Rich’s efforts to wirelessly stream the service to a projector in the basement. He worked on it for days trying to work out problems with the sound to go with the pristine picture. He solved it about 30 minutes prior to the service and it worked perfectly. The easy part, playing a photo DVD in the sanctuary, didn’t work so well due to electrical issues. Actually, it was due to lack of electricity in AV corner of the church caused by the need in the basement to plug just one more thing into the overloaded circuits. I think it was another coffee pot but that’s a guess. Might have been a crock pot.

Since the service was in progress, and the basement was overflowing with people blocking access to the electrical panel I just warned those who were speaking that they’d have to talk a little louder since their microphones wouldn’t work.

They did, and it was good.

After the service Nancy was transported about 1/4 mile to her spot in Bethany Memorial Cemetery behind the church. It was appropriate that she was walked the entire way flanked by her pall bearers who all wore sneakers and had Nancy’s running/walking medals hung around their necks. They walked her home.

Then, most of the 300 attendees returned to the church for a pot luck lunch. Part of that was baked ham and turkey. I had the honor of slicing all of the meat on our handy-dandy meat slicer so I truthfully told everyone that I touched every piece of meat there.

Nancy approved.

We got home around 5:30 pm, watched a few recorded shows then went to bed. After about 20 minutes, before Diane had a chance to fall asleep, she jerked upright and asked me if I had turned off the heater in the lady’s restroom. Of course, I hadn’t even thought I made sure the door was locked. It didn’t occur to me to check the heater because Nancy always did that.

So, Diane got up and went back to the church to check. I offered to do it or to go with her but she refused so I stayed in bed and fell asleep before she returned. This morning she told me the heater was indeed still on so it was good she returned. Diane’s convinced Nancy reminded her to check it. I’m not surprised.

Nancy

I’ve been struggling with this entry since last Tuesday when the light in our world dimmed with the passing of our good friend Nancy Conner. She left far too soon but God deemed her mission complete on this plane of existence and called her home.

What makes it most difficult for those of us left behind is that she was healthy and happy. She worked tirelessly for the past three years to keep our small congregation going without the guidance of a full-time pastor. Included in her efforts was guiding us through a difficult two vote process to change our affiliation from one of neglect to one of unconditional support. Also during that time our congregation found and hired our new pastor. It was not easy, but she kept us all going.

The reason many of us feel that God called her is because last Sunday we installed our new pastor then on Tuesday, as she was walking her 5-mile route to our church, something she regularly did, she was struck by a vehicle. She subsequently expired from severe head trauma later that day.

She is missed. She will be missed forever more. Thankfully we all have the memory of her guiding example to lead us forward.

God Bless Nancy and her family.

The End

It’s been a few days since we returned from Myrtle Beach and I didn’t honor the last statement in my last post about “more tomorrow”, so this is to get you up to date and share with you the end of the trip.

Getting out of Myrtle Beach was a breeze. It’s nice there, but we were ready to be home. There’s stuff we need to do there.

The trip to Seattle was just fine and we didn’t have any problem getting to our connection to Portland in plenty of time. As a matter of fact, we could have been an hour late and still made that flight.

That’s true.

Remember on our trip where Alaska wouldn’t hold our connecting flight for 10 minutes so we could make that flight, because our uflight was kept on the tarmac for 30 minutes after landing? Well, after missing it we discovered that they didn’t have any problem delaying every flight we were on thereafter. After landing in Seattle coming home, the Captain told everyone that we’d be at gate D-5 as he pulled the plane between terminals D and N.

Then he stopped. And we waited about 5 minutes.

The terminal we wanted was on the left of the plane and I told Diane I bet he turns right into N. That’s exactly what he did.

Doing this, of course meant we’d have to catch the underground train to D terminal and walk lots further than we wanted to. As we debarked, the Captain was waiting the door to the flight deck greeting to people and I said, “D-5, huh?” to which he replied, “it looks a lot like D-5. I was lucky to get what we got.” That pretty much sums up the mass confusion that seems to affect Seattle’s ability to keep track of how many gates they have and how many are open to receive planes. It’s pathetic, in my opinion.

Oddly enough, our connecting flight to Portland was leaving from, gee, D-5. It was empty when we got there. We chose to just park ourselves in the area and wait the hour required for it to show up.

About the time we were scheduled to board the plane the pilot, copilot and all the flight attendants showed up but the plane still wasn’t there. We waited for an entire hour more before they changed the time to delayed, then it was most of an hour more before it actually showed up. No reason was provided for our delay so I suppose it was just something we were expected to endure. We were, after all, at SeaTac International. That seems to be the way it is.

We eventually made it back to Portland and vowed to never, ever again make a connecting flight through Seattle. I don’t think I’d fly into Seattle even it that was our destination. The train would be faster, and more reliable.

Now, having shared all of the foregoing, I will add that I don’t think Alaska Airlines was the only one at fault for our delays. Not having a berth at a terminal for incoming flights seems to be a theme at SeaTac which I think is due to mismanagement some where up the chain. I don’t think traffic controllers are the ones calling the shots for where planes park, they just relay the information. Maybe.

Now I’ll share a photo form Joint Base Charleston where we found a Navy Uniform Shop. We wanted a new hat.

What caught my eye, and the reason I took the photo, is the “68” in the bottom right. It’s the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), the oldest nuclear super carrier in the fleet. It’s stationed in Bremerton, Washington and our grandson, Cedric, is currently serving aboard her. Looking closely you can see a sailor shoveling snow off the flight deck of this carrier. I’m pretty sure it’s not Cedric. It’s just struck me as very interesting that the Nimitz was part of this east coast collage.

Here are a couple more photos I took when we finally got home.

Our dogwood tree was shedding
Diane, Jennifer, and Lydia at paint night.
This is the first time Diane ever went with us and she loved it.
A Mt. Hood sunrise with a partial moon.
The same sunrise that I blew up a little. Lower, and to the right of the moon is a tiny little white dot. It’s the International Space Station and we just happened to be looking when it made it’s pass. It really moves along quickly.

That’s it.

On The Move, Again

We left Myrtle Beach this morning around 10 am, headed for Charleston where our assigned airplane will be flying from Monday evening. Before leaving town, however, Diane was curious to see a house she had spied for sale that’s only about 4 blocks from our hotel. We found it, and I took a photo which I will add later. The home is brick but one end is missing because a tree obviously fell on it. The tree is still there, but a little bit of the house isn’t. I think she said it’s been on the market for a year and can be had for only $78,000 even though they say it’s worth $140K. After seeing it from the street, we figure that doing a $100K renovation would probably make it worth $140K. Possibly.

We decided not to buy it.

Most of the way out of the beach area it rained on us. Not really hard, just steady. So, tropical storm Nestor is still exerting its influence in areas we had to cross. Diane had weather alerts on her phone the reports tornados in Georgia that were spawned by the storm, but nothing in our path. Then, once we made it to Joint Base Charleston she got one that said Myrtle Beach is currently under a tornado watch so we bailed out of there in the nick of time.

Before checking in to our quarters on the base, we stopped at the Long Point Grill for lunch. You may remember that place from the first entry on this trip because we stopped there on our way out of town before heading for Myrtle Beach. Good food and good service.

Because of the stop we arrived at the Inns of Charleston, on the base, a little later than planned so our room was ready and we were able to move right in. The desk clerk was very helpful and was only momentarily confused when I asked where the spa was. I can do stuff like that with a straight face, but I always come clean in the end. Still, she looked relieved when I told her I was kidding.

It’s still early here (1451 hours) but we had a rough time last night due to eating so late at the Pirate thing, so I was given the option of staying in or going out to investigate Charleston. I chose to stay in and Diane was totally OK with that. She only got 4 hours of sleep last night so needs to power down early.

That’s about it for today, unless something interesting happens. The main thing we need to do is repack all our stuff so we can get under the 50 # weight limit without having to send stuff home in a box. That’s the other alternative. I still think that’s a good idea, as does Diane, so we’ll probably do that just to make our bags as light as possible.

On the trip we talked about the things we learned while here in South Carolina. Here’s the list, as best as I can recall:

  1. Apparently a rule that every third building you encounter is a church.
  2. All bank buildings must look like either a church or a mansion.
  3. Even the bad roads in South Carolina (at least the ones we drove on) are pretty darn good. Most are great.
  4. The Nissan Rogue we rented is a good little SUV. Very comfortable, and a spectacular metallic green. (see below)
  5. There are Waffle Houses everywhere.
  6. The are Dollar General stores everywhere.
  7. In general, anywhere there are 4-5 homes within a 1/2 mile of each other, there are shopping malls to accommodate them.
  8. Most businesses along Highway 17 are shielded from view by 3 rows of pine trees. If you don’t know where they are, you’re going to miss the turn.

I’m sure there are more, but I think my brain is empty.

It’s dry and warm here in Charleston and we’re safely tucked into a large brick building.

More tomorrow.

Loris, South Carolina

Today was our last day in Myrtle Beach. It startedout like this …

Pretty nice, huh?

We’ve been here for two weeks and it’s been terrific. Apparently we visited at the proper time of the year because it was just great. I say that even though we’ve made attempts to visit this time of year for the last five years but little things, like hurricanes, prevented us from making the trip. Until now. And, we’re really happy about that.

Because of this successful trip, we both feel that visiting Myrtle Beach is preferable to visiting Hawaii. The weather is pretty much the same, the people here are super nice everywhere we’ve been, it’s not expensive, cheaper to get to, lodging is reasonable, and gas costs about $2.30 a gallon. It was only $2.19 when we got here but then came the weekend when gas prices magically increase. Still, compared to Oregon, $2.30 is acceptable.

This morning we got out of bed early (me at 0530 and Diane at 0730), had a bit of breakfast, then hit the road for Loris to check on the 37th annual Chicken Bog-off. Diane came across an advertisement for this and it caused her to go, “Hmmmm.”

What the heck is a bog-off? Sounds a lot like something that takes place in a swamp, doesn’t it? With motorized vehicles that have really big tires. After a little research we discovered Chicken Bog is simply a kind of food. Like calabash is a kind of food. Look it up. The reason we didn’t know about it is because we’re from Oregon and those things just don’t show up on menus there. Nope. It doesn’t.

Only in South Carolina, apparently. Loris took it one step further when the mayor decreed that each restaurant in town will serve Chicken Bog one day a week as it’s main dish.

While making our way to the massive crowds we passed the Backstreet Cafe where management had a table set up outside to sell chicken bog in addition to many other food choices. A young man standing there offered us some bog stating it’s the best in town. We begged off, wanting to see what was going on, and stated we’d be back.

The booths were simple, everyone was friendly, and there was a school choir performing.

Small town stuff and just plain fun.

We didn’t stay long before heading back to the car, stopping by the Backstreet Cafe on the way. We got one order of chicken bog and this is what it looks like …

It’s rice, chicken, and sausage in a very tasty mixture. It came with enormous green beans and coleslaw. It was pretty awesome, all of it. Diane is going to find a recipe and make it when we get home and force all the Littles to eat it. We’re betting they will eat it voluntarily because it’s just plain good. I suspect there are a lot of versions of chicken bog so she will have to search for the right one.

We left Loris after that brief visit then headed for Conway to see what their River Walk is like. We were going to do that when we visited Conway a few days ago, but forgot. Since Conway is on the way to/from Loris we took advantage and stopped to check it out.

It’s not a big river walk, but it’s nice. We met a nice guy on the visit who gave us a little history about the area. My question was what makes the water black? He told us it’s the leaves from the various trees that fall in the water.

From Conway we returned to our temporary home on Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach.

I wanted a nap but Diane insisted that I eat something, so I ate the two remaining chicken thighs from last night and Dane ate the remaining tuna salad. I only had an hour because we had tickets to attend Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show.

We had absolutely no idea what to expect at this venue. It was intriguing, though.

When we left our hotel it was raining. The first rain we’ve experienced during this entire trip. The cause is the tropical storm Nestor in the Gulf of Mexico. It wasn’t bad and we actually didn’t mind since were very good Oregonians.

Turns out the Pirates Voyage is quite an elaborate venue. They have a pre-show for a couple of hours before people are seated for dinner. The crowd was enormous and we thought we were going to wind up standing for the entire event. But, the pre-show was just that. All hundreds of us were shortly ushered into the next room of the venue where we were fed while watching a very elaborate pirate show consisting of very talented young people who danced, sane, dove, and tumbled. It was very much like a Cirque du Soleil show.

While the show was going on each section of about 20 people was being served their meal, one piece at a time. First there was a biscuit, then a cream of vegetable soup, half a small chicken, corn on the cob, pulled pork, and an apple turnover for dessert. Due to the ongoing show, we were eating in the dark quite a lot.

To start the show two very large yellow and blue parrots were release and they flew all around the set numerous times before swooping down to land on their handler’s shoulder and arm. That was followed by two red and black parrots that did the same thing. I tried to get photos of them but none turned out. Trust me when I say they were quite magnificent to watch.

The photos I took don’t do justice to the entertainment. You had to’ve been there.

Now we’re ‘home’ powering down for our last night here. Tomorrow we head back to Charleston.

It was another good day, even with the rain.

Cheers.