Walking on Myrtle Beach

Over the years Diane and I have walked a little on our trips and vow to continue doing so when we return home. For many reasons that never seems to have happened. Mainly, I think, it’s because it’s easier to sit in our comfy recliners instead of walking. It could be, also, that it was raining a lot. Yeah, that could be it. We don’t walk in the rain.

Today, however, we walked almost 4 miles on Myrtle Beach this afternoon and didn’t cramp up even one time. Although we didn’t discuss continuing our walks at home, I think it’s understood that we really should. If it’s not raining when we get home, we will walk for sure.

The thing about walking on Myrtle Beach is that the beach slopes pretty sharply toward the water and the flat part is all soft sand which is very difficult to walk in. Plus, Diane’s fitbit doesn’t give her any credit for the extra effort involved with walking in soft sand. It doesn’t give extra credit for the wear and tear on knees and hips due to the slope one must traverse on the north and south trek.

One thing Diane learned, because of that slope, is that her right leg is shorter than her left. That revelation is based on the fact that walking north (left leg on the up slope) hurt more than walking south (short leg on the up slope).

I may have a similar affliction because walking north I was always wandering off to my right, toward the water. Now, in addition to the possibility that I have a short right leg, it could have been caused by my distraction with the water as it recedes away to my right. It’s very disorienting and causes me to lose my balance. On the trip south, however, my tendency was still to wander off to my right as I walked. I guess I’m just totally out of whack. I was happy that Diane found the trip back less stressful on her joints. So, all of our walks from now on, while we’re here, will be south bound only while on the beach. On the way back we can take one of many surface streets. Although they’re level, Diane thinks if she walked with her right foot on the sidewalk and her left on the street it might even things out for her. We’re going to give that a shot tomorrow. Don’t know why we didn’t think of the a lot sooner. I’ll let you know how that goes. If I remember.

After returning from our walk Diane warmed up some soup for a simple lunch, then we took another walk to our rental car, which is parked in a facility about 1 block away. There is no parking at the hotel for anyone. They do have a valet service but all vehicles are parked in the same building. The difference is valet is $10 a day and self parking is free. For me it’s a no-brainer to opt for free.

Anyway, we got the car and drove approximately 1 more block where Diane parked equidistant between a barber shop and a Dollar General store. The barber shop was for me because I agreed with Diane that I needed a haircut. She wanted me to get it cut before our trip but I refused. Today was the time, so I agreed. The Dollar General store was for Diane for two reasons; 1) she loves cheap stores and 2) we needed more bottled water. We apparently needed another bottle of wine, some chips, fruit, place mats, a cheese grater, and some spices, too.

Diane got all the stuff she wanted and I got a pretty stellar haircut from a guy named Enoch. Best haircut I’ve had in years.

Now, here are some photos that commemorate the day …

We moved up to the soft sand on the way north to sit a bit and drink water.
This is us resting.
Heading back south to one of those buildings. Diane went on ahead to blaze a trail
Back on our 17th floor balcony

After a bit of resting we went to the activity center to paint a picture. This was Diane’s first try at painting with acrylics and she did awesome. Now she wants to do it some more.

Diane’s
Mine

The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood and the Alabama Theater

Today (Friday) we ate quite well. Not that we haven’t eaten well on previous days lately, but today we ate exceptionally well. The Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort, where we currently reside, had a package for all of us old USS Cleveland sailors that included tickets to eat at The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood buffet. The web site shows the innards better than I can but here’s a quick peek at some of our group chowing down in our own private section of the facility.


Pretty much any kind of seafood you desire, especially shrimp, is presented in many different ways. Pretty amazing. Calabash, by the way, is a word that describes food in this way: Calabash seafood typically refer to seafood that is lightly breaded (usually dipped in milk & then a combo of flour & cornmeal) and then fried. Usually in a calabash-style restaurant you will get huge portions, oftentimes with a combination plate of several types of seafood – shrimp, various kinds of fish, crab, oysters, etc.. and hushpuppies. Calabash is also the name of a small town in North Carolina near the southern border north of Myrtle Beach. Driving on Myrtle Beach one is assaulted with all manner of calabash restaurants. It gets a bit confusing after a bit. Just remember, it’s all good. I’m happy to report, too, that none of it caused my blood sugar to spike. I think another reason it was OK is that Diane was very careful about what I ate. She takes really good care of me.

I would have liked to stay a little longer at the buffet but we had to leave in order to make it to the Alabama Theater before 7 pm to see ONE The Show. It was truly a great show and is highly recommended by all of us who attended.

We weren’t allowed to take photos of the show so this is the only picture I got of the inside. It’s special because it has Diane in it.

The host of the show, Greg Rowles, who won Ed McMahon’s Star Search Show as the Best Male Vocalist 25 years ago, honored all of us USS Cleveland sailors and even provided a lot of the ship’s history. Pretty special evening.

After the show we all headed back to the Sea Mist for our last night at that facility. After breakfast Sunday morning we packed up and drove all the way north to Hilton’s Ocean 22 high rise. It took 11 minutes. We fiddled around a while, driving north to an enormous RV park, with a very small dune that one must traverse to access the beach. It looks like a place we should visit.

From the looks of things, fishing off the beach is a requirement.

See you tomorrow …

A Wedding in Kihei, Maui

Yes, we came to Maui to attend a wedding for Jason and Sarah. For those who don’t know the family history, Sarah is our Grand Niece who was originally from Connecticut. Then she discovered Jason and moved west, to Hillsboro, to be with him. Then they got married the day before yesterday (the 21st). I believe that was the last day of summer in most parts of the world.

That’s the happy couple. In case you ever wind up in St. Vincent’s Hospital you’re in good hands. Sarah’s an RN and that’s where she works, and she works a lot.

The road to Maui was, I’m told, a year-long planning event for Sarah and Jason, Sarah mostly. Seems like I heard Jason mention something about finally being able to relax, not having to write any more checks, once the event was over so suspect he wasn’t as involved in the planning as was Sarah. I won’t dwell on the planning because I really have no firsthand knowledge of those efforts beyond what we experienced on the receiving end.

We arrived on Maui last Wednesday, the 18th, mid afternoon. Joined a bunch of people at the Budget Car Rental kiosk, got a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and headed for Kihei. It’s a simple drive south from the airport about 15 miles or so. That’s actually all the way across the isthmus between the two volcanoes that make the island. I find it interesting that only the east volcano has a name – Haleakala. The western volcano is only labeled “volcano” on the maps I’ve looked at. digging a little deeper in the narratives available, I found this:

The eastern volcano is Haleakala, a 10,000 foot shield volcano whose name means “House of the Sun”.   Haleakala’s elevation means that it sometimes – briefly – has snow on top in the winter.  The western part of the island is home to what geologists call Mauna Kahalawai, an eroded shield volcano commonly called the West Maui Mountains.  Hawaiians also refer to the West Maui Mountains as “hale mahina”, or “house of the moon”.

I’m so happy I could resolve that dilemma for everyone, whether or not you were concerned. I was, but no longer am.

On Thursday, the 19th, we joined the Connecticut contingent of the wedding party fora little shopping on Front Street in Lahaina. This is Ruth, our Sister-in-Law and grandmother of the bride, her son Larry, Father of the bride, Valerie, Step Mom of the bride, and Diane, Grand Aunt of the bride.

There were others from the east coast but these are the primaries. We had a good day and only lost Larry for a little while when he went back to the car for a camera battery,

After shopping we returned to Ruth’s (and Larry’s & Valerie’s) accommodations to await the appointed time for a group supper at the Aloha Mixed Plate. Excellent food!

On Friday, the 20th, we decided to see if the Road to Hana is really all that bad. I’m happy to report that, thanks to Diane’s excellent driving skills, and her willingness to embark on such an adventure, that road is pretty much everything you may have ever heard about it. We did it and we’ll never have to do it again.

Hana, Maui is located on the south eastern part of Maui and is accessible only by air, boat, or a grueling drive on Highways 36, 360, and 31. It’s actually the same road all the way around Haleakala but some parts are considerably better than others. The Road to Hana is legendary and Diane got me the T-shirt to prove it:

A great deal of the road is single lane, especially over the dozens of bridges. It’s an exciting drive and Diane did every inch of it. It was truly amazing.

With a stop 1/3 of the way to Hana on the east side, the trip took about 4 hours. It’s only about 52 miles (according to the T-shirt) so that means we had to go pretty slow most of the time. Neither of us is prone to car sickness but we both got a little nauseous before reaching Hana.

Our stop was at a botanical garden. They call it that be, in truth, the entire trip was like driving through a huge botanical garden. Very lush, green, and humid.

Here’s one flower you’ve all seen at one time or another. I’d include more, but you’ve probably seen them, too.

OK, here’s another one …

The next one I don’t think is a flower. It’s a pod of some sort hanging in a tree. Don’t know what it is but it’s pretty and got my attention.

Diane toughed out the remainder of the trip to Hana but I could tell she was getting tired. I would have driven but we never allow Jerrie to drive rental cars. Besides, as Diane said, if she hadn’t been driving she would have been puking her guts out. I guess that was a left-handed compliment to me because, though a bit nauseous, I never once puked. Believe me, there was plenty of opportunity to do so.

Finally, we reached our goal just as I was on my way down to a diabetic crash due to lack of food. We stopped at the first eatery we saw, the Ranch Restaurant, and took a seat. When the waitress, Natalie, arrived Diane asked for a glass of orange juice for me which she got very quickly. We both had very good hamburgers and drinks and it only cost $51. Considering our situation, it was well worth it and it helped me maintain a vertical position.

While eating we discussed the return trip. Should we go back the way we came, or continue on around the mountain. Neither of us could remember if the rental car agent had warned us off the southern portion of Route 31, and Natalie said ‘Pshaw. It’s not raining and it’s a beautiful drive.’ We believed her. Before leaving, however, we took advantage of their restrooms because we knew there were none on the road. It takes a code to get in the door so if you’re ever in Hana, at the Ranch Restaurant, remember this number:

You actually don’t need to remember it because they freely hand out little slips of paper like this to anyone who asks.

Not long into the return trip I was pretty sure we had tipped Natalie too much. The north eastern segment, though very curvy, was actually pretty good road. The south western portion was just as curvy but the road varied from asphalt to gravel to dirt to broken asphalt, continue. It was a mess. But, it was a pretty drive and we were generally going slow enough that we could see stuff.

We finally made it back to our condo in time to watch the sun go down behind Molokai.

On the way back to our condo …

… we encountered this drill team practicing for a parade …

When the sun was all gone we had this view from our porch …

We did nothing the rest of the day and went to bed very early. The next morning we were presented with this little snippet of a rainbow. Never seen one like it …

There will be more about this day in my next post. I’m tired now.

Aloha

I’m Listening

I’m listening to my lovely wife, Diane. She told me a couple days ago that I haven’t posted anything during the month of July. I checked and, by golly, she’s absolutely correct. I haven’t. I can only attribute this lack of posting to old age or, perhaps I’ve simply used up most of the words available to me in a given period of time. I’ve heard that’s a ‘thing’. Diane has a cousin who, when she’s at a loss for words, says “…I must have used up all my nouns.”

Considering the amount of time that’s passed I’m pretty sure I can’t possibly remember things in proper sequence, if I can remember things at all, so I’m just going to ramble and see what happens. That way I can be just as surprised as you when something profound sneaks out.

Let’s see … on July 15th Jerrie Anne Diane Cate celebrated her 8th birthday which means the school district has no choice but to allow her to attend 3rd grade when school resumes in September. She’s pretty stoked about that. Matter of fact, she actually cried when the school year ended because she likes school that much. Her older sisters love school, too, so it’s apparently a genetic ‘thing’ that comes from their mother’s side of the family. I guess it could be from Diane, too, but it’s surely not from me. I was perfectly OK when summer showed up and I was still wearing little boy clothing.

Shortly after Jerrie’s birthday we fired up the bus and returned to Paradise Cove for a few days of R&R, by ourselves. You may recall we took The Littles there in June for about a week. We had big plans to spend a lot of time in the hot tub but I don’t remember doing that even one time. Instead we spent our time either sitting on or walking along one beach or another, watching the waves. The high light of the sitting part was when we parked ourselves on a tall dune above the remains of the Peter Iredale which has been a fixture on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park my entire life. We were there to watch the sunset and saw some whales playing along the shore spouting a few times, showing us their tails, then disappearing. It was pretty special which is good because the sun went behind some clouds and there was no proper sunset. It just got dark and chilly. Be we had whales!

We returned from that trip on Monday and had a few days days to recover, we thought, until Diane discovered that we had reservations at Big Eddy County Park near Vernonia on Wednesday. This was another trip with The Littles because it’s a yearly Family Camp for Jennie’s and Daniel’s church. We’re always invited and we almost always go because it’s great fun. The Littles went last year for the first time and loved it. They got to spend days, literally, in the Nehalem River, and they made lots of new friends. The great thing about this is that the church rents the entire park so the kids can be free to go wherever they want with no fear of something bad happening. They just had to check in with their home camp on a regular basis so we knew where they were and they could not venture into the river without adult supervision. All we adults had to do was sit around our campfires talking and eating snacks. Once in a while kids would show up and we’d have a meal. The big deal with food culminated in a dessert social where I cut Jerrie a piece of very rich chocolate cake that was far too large. She savored every morsel but wound up giving it all back, plus, later that evening. I suspect it tasted much better the first time it passed her lips. She recovered nicely the next day and was able to spend lots of time with her friend Lilly.

The bigger Littles (Gilligan & Baylee) put dozens of miles on bikes, riding all over the park with their friends. Most of the bike riders were careful but we had to be wary of the smaller ones with training wheels. They weren’t overly concerned about who was in front of them as they pedaled around, talking to whoever was riding next to them. Diane was almost run over many times because she either didn’t hear the rattle of those training wheels or she thought they actually knew about the rules when encountering old people. Like, don’t run into them. They tend to tip over and break things. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

I exercised our small little BBQ for one meal by cooking hamburger and chicken patties. I don’t use it often, and only clean it when I do figuring that whatever bad things may have grown on it since the last use would surely be consumed during the warm-up phase. It’s worked so far and has provided us with some tasty hotdogs with a hint of steak and old hamburgers. They are a culinary treat. Now that we’re home I’m reminded that I need to remove the 4 chicken patties I left on the BBQ when I put it back in the RV. I have no valid reason for doing that. It just seemed to be OK at the time. I can already hear Diane calling my name, in large capital letters — “JEROLD BRADLEY CATE” — when she reads this.

In case you’re wondering about the danger of little kids playing in the Nehalem River, fear not. It’s not a big river. It’s more like a large creek. And there are always lots of people around lounging on a variety of different kinds of floating devices. It’s pretty safe.

That’s about it for this time. Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

Don’t Mess With Stuff You Don’t Understand !

Last Friday I was watching The Littles (our granddaughters) play with slime on the kitchen counter, fascinated by how the stuff just oozes between their fingers and drips all over the place. Then they just roll it up into a new ball, dabbing the drips into the ‘Mother Piece’ where all slime eventually goes prior to being stuffed back into the small plastic container from which it came. 

As I watched I couldn’t help but feel an urge to join in the fun but withheld myself until I couldn’t stand it any longer. Grabbing a fairly large piece of this jello-like material, stretching it, wadding it up, just letting it kinda melt, and then impulsively reached over and slapped it on Gilligan’s head.

Everyone got real quiet as Gilligan shrieked, “Grandpa, what did you do?” I thought it was obvious … I was playing a prank on Gilligan. That’s what I thought, anyway, until I tried to remove the stuff from her hair. 

Turns out that slime, at least the version I used, sticks to, and is easily removed from every known substance EXCEPT hair. Who knew? Apparently all the kids did from past experience, but they didn’t share that with me when they decided to let me play. That was a terrible mistake.

I worked really hard at removing  what I could all the while listening to many versions of how they’ve all seen it done on YouTube. I even watched a few of videos of people practicing this new art. Feeling a nervous breakdown coming on I decided I had to make a decision and settle on the Mayonnaise Solution. I would have taken photos but my hands were all sticky and no one else thought to take any so that moment was lost. Just trust me that I made a mess, all the way down to her tender little scalp. The example provided is a milder mess than mine.

Getting the Mayonnaise out and got a handful and glopped it on Gilligan’s head. and started kneading it around the assaulted area. As I worked the mess, it started turning pink, taking on the color of the slime. This gratified me because it was apparent something was happening. I continued rubbing it on the affected hairs for about 30 minutes and magically it all kind of disappeared, just like in the video. I found it was amazing and was able to regain my composure with this new knowledge.

After it was all said and done, Gilligan forgave me for being stupid and was pleased with the final outcome. 

I went to bed happy and slept nicely right up to 0500 Saturday morning.

The dogs don’t observe weekends. 

Nashville

Nashville. What is there about Nashville I can share that you haven’t heard before? Probably nothing, unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life.

OK. That was rude. Or was it? There might be something positive about living under a rock for a long time. I can’t think of one right now but something might come to me later.

We got here yesterday (Tuesday). By the time we got to the hotel it was 8-ish local time and well past our normal dinner time of 4-ish. We’re staying at The Inn at Opryland, a Gaylord hotel. That’s what’s on my room key … “The Inn at Opryland, a Gaylord Hotel“. It’s even on their website that way which leads me to believe that someone named Gaylord owns a bunch of property in and around Nashville and wants everyone to know it. That’s an opinion, of course, but that name is attached to a lot of different kinds of businesses in the area. So, I think I’m correct on at least half of my stated opinion.

In case you’re wondering about why Diane and I are in Nashville, I’ll tell you. We’re attending the 2018 gathering of the USS Cleveland Reunion Association. Yes, another reunion of crew members of a ship I served on. A gathering of the survivors. The last one of these we attended, in Bremerton, just a few weeks ago, for DD-808, one of the crew members died at the reunion. Turned out it wasn’t the festive event it was supposed to be. Hopefully, that won’t happen this time.

Our friend, Yolanda, was in the lobby talking with a few who had arrived earlier. Yolanda is the widow of one of our members who passed away a number of years ago but she continues to attend these gatherings. Maybe you’ve seen her as Anne Betancourt. She’s an incredibly nice lady.

Now, where was I? We had just arrived, and we were hungry. And the hotel, Gaylord’s hotel, conveniently has a restaurant on the main floor called the Opryland Backstage. So, we paid it a visit and learned a couple of things. First, the food is really good; Second, they have excellent live entertainment. A fellow who called himself Jeff Dayton picked and sang for the room throughout our meal, playing pretty much any song requested by the crowd in the room. He was pretty awesome. After reading his bio on Wikipedia I understand why.

Our waitress last night was Maria who is from Rochester, Minnesota. She is not tall, blond, and obviously a hard worker. After watching her scurry around for a while I asked her if she was a singer and she said she was and wanted to know how I knew. It was just a guess. I figured an attractive young girl from Minnesota, working as a waitress in Nashville, probably had aspirations of a musical career. She told us she sings in the restaurant once in a while and we let her know we hoped we might have the chance to hear her before we leave. Interesting evening and a great hamburger.

We slept in a little bit today and missed breakfast so mosied across the street to the Cracker Barrel thinking we might encounter some of the crew we came to see. That didn’t happen, but we had a pretty good meal then jumped in the SUV that Diane rented for us, a Nissan Pathfinder, and went looking for Belle Meade Plantation. It was #1 on a list of places to see in Nashville that Diane found someplace.

It wasn’t difficult to find and we both really enjoyed the tour. A young lady named Kellan led a group of us through the mansion and explained the history of the family who lived there and how they started out on the property. It was a lovely story that covered a great deal of ground and I was totally blown away with her presentation. It was just fun listening to her share her incredible wealth of information in such detail. True, she’s no doubt done this dozens of times, but still, she was really interesting.

After touring the mansion we walked around the grounds for a while, got all sweaty from the humidity, and called it a wrap, got in the rental SUV, cranked up the A/C and headed back to the hotel. Of course at this time it was rush hour in Tennessee so it wasn’t a quick trip. We didn’t mind. The scenery is quite nice here when you slow down and look around.

Tomorrow the reunion officially starts and I may have more interesting stuff to share. But, for today, this is it and it’s time for bed.

Buona notte

Camping at Big Eddy

Last Thursday we took “The Littles” Camping at Big Eddy Park on the Nehalem River near Vernonia, Oregon. It’s a small place but full of fun on hot days. Even I found the water to be pleasant in the 100 degree temps. “The Littles”, by the way, are our Grand Daughters Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie. I’m using that now because it’s easier to type.

We attended this outing thanks to Jennifer’s & Daniel’s willingness to let us join them for their annual Church Campout at the park, even though we don’t attend their church. Guess Jennifer figured I wouldn’t cause too much of a commotion this time and the who attend the last time we went had plenty of time to forget past offenses. I don’t think there were any, but you just never know what might trip someone’s trigger.

This was the first time The Littles went camping with us so it was and exciting time for them. Since the church pretty much rents the entire park for the weekend the kids (lots of them) were free to roam all day and into the night. The big attraction was the big eddy in the Nehalem River for which the park is named.

With inner tubes of various sizes, and life jackets, the kids assaulted the river and had a spectacular time just floating around, visiting, making new friends, and for some, catching crawdads.

In line, front to rear, are Jerrie, Baylee, and Gilligan under Daniel’s watchful eye.

 

Living large in the deep water, about 20′ deep, middle of the eddy.

 

Even the dogs get to play. This is Ziva.

 

There was some down time allowed for river rock art.

 

Jerrie in a brief moment of inactivity.

 

Jennie minding the tubes. This is about as wet as she got.

 

Gilligan coming in for a pit stop.

 

Gilligan giving her Mosh Pit greeting.

 

Mocha just floated around all over the place, lurking kinda like an alligator. She loves the water because it sets her free of her aching joints.

 

Open fires are not currently allowed in any Oregon camp grounds unless they had a way to turn them off. So, before leaving civilization we made a trip to Lowe’s and got a propane fire pit that fit that category.

 

It works quite nicely, throwing a rosy glow on everyone who sits around it.

 

It was even used to produce vast quantities of s’mores for those who like that kind of thing. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of s’mores. I think that makes me kind of unpatriotic, or something, and I’m sorry if it does. But, I still don’t care for them. The kids love them, however.

 

Lots of time people showed up from other families to join in with Jeran, Lydia, Joey, Jamie, Sofie, and Ceiarra. I caught this one sitting still so took her photo. Also, got a fairly good shot of Daniels T-shirt, Save the Chubby Unicorns.

 

Most of the girls are wearing their hair longer, young and old, so braiding it was a full-time job. Jennie loves doing it and fixed up all comers. She’s a pro braider. So, I guess that means she’s Pro Braider Jennie, or PB&J for my acronym book.

 

Jennie and Jerrie posing after Jen gave Jer piggies, my personal favorite hairdo.

 

Diane contemplating something while relaxing.

 

Jennie relaxing.

 

Older kids gathered for lunch.

Sunday morning we attended an outdoor church service then everyone packed up to leave. For me, getting ready to go involved driving our motor home around the narrow, wiggly, tree-lined roads to get in a spot where I could reattach the tow dolly and mount the car on it. I’d done it once to drop the dolly and didn’t have a problem. This time, however, I cut one corner a little close and brushed an old, rotten stump. It left a mess on the driver’s side near the rear wheel that I was sure would signal the end of the world.  But it didn’t. Neither I, nor anyone else with a camera, thought to capture the moment and the damage, so there’s no proof that what I’m relating really happened. Therefore, you can just chalk this up to a big lie if you wish. I really did swipe the stump, though, and the visible damage appeared to be permanent.

Once we got home I got out the polishing compound and rubbed 98% of it away. I was amazed. And happy. Now I won’t be ashamed to take it out again next week for a trip to Nehalem Bay State Park. This is the bay where the Nehalem River joins the Pacific Ocean.

How odd is that?