Thoughts and assorted philosophical musing about: Family, Friends, Fun, Hobbies, & other everyday things.
My continuing efforts to serve as a First Sergeant (Top) in the Army of God.
My latest interest is in Letterboxing.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Keeping the Home Fires Burning

42 years ago Donna and I were married overseas in the small African country of Eritrea (Then a province of Ethopia) where we met. Our official/legal marriage was conducted by the Asmara city mayor on July 14th. Although it would have no legal status we wanted to have a church wedding and did so about two weeks later on the 30th of July. We normally celebrate the 14th as our Anniversary. This year we were on our way down to the beach for vacation on the 14th so celebrated by having a nice dinner.

I enjoy trying to keep romance in our relationship, and so this year I decided to do an additional something special on the church wedding date which we normally pretty much ignore. I told Her only to keep her calender open for Tuesday and Wednesday in order for us to enjoy a mystery mini-vacation. Donna enjoys being pampered so I booked us into a nearby Bed and Breakfast, "The Emerald Necklace Inn", which includes a Tea Room and a Day Spa.

Tuesday morning we packed a bag, and departed the house. I drove a roundabout route through "The Emerald Necklace" Cleveland Metro Park and arrived at our destination just before noon. After checking in I relaxed while she was treated to a manicure with wax treatment and a pedicure, Followed by a light lunch for just the two of us. After lunch we had some quite time which she spent on the patio deck overlooking the park. Then She was given a full body message which lasted over a hour. The service and food were both excellent.

On our first anniversary I was in Vietnam, so 40 years ago, our second anniversary was the first that we enjoyed together. We had Chateaubriand for dinner that night at "The Old Anglers Inn", alongside the C&O canal just outside of Washington, DC. In keeping with my romantic theme I scheduled Tuesdays dinner at one of the areas nicer restaurants "Swingos on the Lake" where we once again enjoyed Chateaubriand.

A Cleveland tradition is that the desert of choice for special occasions is "Cassada Cake" (The spelling varies). This cake, often used local for weddings, is an adaptation of what was original a Sicilian treat. Similar to a Boston cream pie, It is a white or yellow layer cake with filling consisting of a generous layer of sliced strawberry and a pastry cream custard between each layer. It is usually frosted with whipped cream and topped with large whole strawberrys. On our way to Swingos I stopped at a branch of "Corbo's", the bakery most acclaimed for their cassada cake, and picked up a cake which I had ordered.

It was not quite dark as we headed back to the Inn after dinner. Donna suggested that we stop on the way to look for a letterbox that I had told her about which was only slightly off of our most direct route. We did that and found "The Cats out of the Bag".

Tuesday morning as I was blogging on my other site and checking my email very early in the morning I was notified that a new letterbox "Buffalo Sighting" had been planted near our home. As soon as it was daylight I drove over and stamped into it. I was the first finder and found that in addition to a "First Finder Certificate" the planters (Trailnames :The owner "Front Range Hiker" and helpers "Mini-Mickey" and "DreamSearcher") had left what is know as an Easter egg. An Easter egg , is a prize or trinket secretly left for the first finder. That was really neat and I was able to acquire two new letterboxes in addition to all the other great things for the Day.

The reason I had arranged for Tuesday night instead of Wednesday is that we already had tickets for an Indians Game on Wednesday night. I had arranged for Breakfast at 9:30 to allow Donna to sleep in, so I puttered around Wednesday morning, then we got up, packed up, ate a great breakfast, and began our journey home. It was nice to have an opportunity to express to her that even though several years have passed she is still my bride.

The drive home was only about half an hour, so she suggested that I might want to look for more letterboxes. I was aware of two in the Emerald Necklace Metro Park on the route home. The first one appeared to require a longer walk than I could be comfortable with on that humid morning. The second one "Cleveland Films - Spider Man 3" seemed less challenging so we looked for and found it so I now have 36 finds.

Not wanting the remains of dinner (especially the cake) to stay out of refrigeration for long we came on home after quick stops at the bank and at the local coffee bar, Ah-roma, for an Iced Mocha. Then I napped and kicked back until time to leave for the game.

All in all it was a really nice and romantic two days and dinner and it was a real delight to spend them with Her - I look forward to her retirement! - next year?

In the mean time I must do more things like this to keep the Home Fires Burning.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Meandering Link Trails, Letterboxing and Campmeeting

Yesterday I started my day in the usual manner. I got on the internet and began reading my email, checking my financial accounts, then checking my blog faves. It was my intent to go from that to posting here and on my other blog. Instead I allowed myself to get suckered into meandering down the link trails. I did read a lot of interesting healthy, inspirational, and educational articles but ran out of time. I really have to be more disciplined in my surfing.

Rather than food talk today I will return to letterboxing. While on vacation I did really enjoy planting a box along with my daughter and grandson. I have elaborate plans for planting several more boxes both here and at the beach. Here we have a photo of the six (The train is a series of three) boxes I located in in North Carolina.

Last week Donna and I spent a few days at our annual church district assembly and camp meeting. The government of our denomination, The Nazarene Church, is a representative democracy much like our National Government. There is an annual gathering attended by elected representatives of each local church to make decisions and conduct the business of the church at large and several departments within. Also an old fashioned "Camp Meeting", sort of a mini-revival, is held in conjunction with the assembly. Donna was a delegate to part of this, so we drove down and spent a night.

While there we did locate one letterbox on the Grounds of Mount Vernon Nazarene University where this years meeting took place. I now have over thirty finds which I am keeping track of here.

When our children were young they always looked forward to going to camp meeting where they would often spend a full week with there grandmother. She had a small cabin on the old Columbus Ohio, Morse Road, Central Ohio District campground in use at that time. They still have fond memories of those times.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vacation Memories - Food

This morning I was reflecting on our recent vacation at Topsail Island, NC. I am a foody -- My fondest memories of events often center on food and vacation is no exception.

Some time ago I discovered a company that started as a pecan orchard with a local farm stand. Over time it has expanded to include a variety of nut related products. The founder passed away a few years ago leaving the operation to his family. His widow is presently the CEO. They have a long and favorable reputation of operating the way folks did 50 years ago. They employ most of the local community and contribute generously to it. Their helpers are often lifetime employees and are considered family. I fear that unpleasant changes will take place to this Southern American company from yesteryear when Jane is no longer at the helm. They have a great little catalog which includes local interest news articles and they send a wonderful recipe book with nut orders. Among other things "Sunnyland Farms" makes and markets some of the best chocolate that you will ever find on earth, but they stop shipping on Mother's day to avoid it melting in transit. Early each year I get some of there fantastic toffee to share at the beach. This year after several days in the car we found a chocolate goo when we unpacked at the beach house. It was stuck in the fridge long enough to re-solidify then cut apart as desired. It didn't seem to effect the flavor as it was all eaten by the end of the week. Donna likes to get fudge at "Topsail Trading Co". I also get saltwater taffy locally and we enjoy several meals out. I will have to tell you about the cake we had with our 40th anniversary dinner a couple of years back.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Normal Life as we know it.

Well it seems that I left off over a week ago while on the way to a fun filled beach vacation. As I said, on Saturday morning we did the Farmers Market in New Bern NC, Then drove to Jacksonville where we shopped leisurely at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corp Base Exchange. Early in the afternoon the rest of the family caught up with us, we stocked up on groceries for the week at the commissary, and moved on to Topsail Island. There was still time after unpacking to take a dip in the water so off went our hoard. I was very hot and uncomfortable so I stayed back at the house. I really did not spend much time at the beach, instead catching up on rest, reading, and doing nothing in particular. I did go down to the shore on Tuesday, but it promptly rained.

Wednesday I drove up the coast with my Son-in-law Matt and Grandson Payton to meet my eldest Son Loren and his wife Jennifer. They had planned some adventures for Payton through a service in Beaufort NC. These included searching on a local island for sand dollars and a Pirates Treasure Hunt. While they were doing that I did some letterboxing, then we all returned to Topsail for dinner at a local Seafood House. After dinner we planted our own letterbox "The Gold Hole" on Topsail Island, you can read about letterboxing and our Gold Hole box on Atlas Quest. Payton seemed to have enjoyed his week at the beach almost as much as his Mommy. I think he will grow up to be a real beach bum.

The first few days were hot and sticky and I am no longer able to play in the waves so I stayed off of the beach most of the time. From Tuesday on, the temperature was milder and the humidity was pretty low.

Friday I ventured down to discover that it was really quite comfortable for me if I just sat in the sand at the waters edge and let the waves wash over my legs. I must try to spend more time in the water next year.

The week went too quickly. I really enjoyed, and now miss, having the family around. The trip home was long but uneventful. Now we are settling back into our normal mode for a few days, then off to our church's annual business and camp meetings.

I did not get many pictures, The two above were stolen from Ellisa's on line album. I am hoping that Loren and Ellisa have many more.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


On Thursday we had a leisurely breakfast, then drove to New Bern NC. Again our son Loren who has had frequent occasion to prowl the local coast had suggested that we try the fried chicken at "Kings Chicken" in Washington NC. He said that it was worth driving half an hour out of the way to get and that it was good hot or cold. So we did stop and got a couple of boxes to have for dinner that night. Then we went to New Bern, checked out the downtown, and found another letterbox at a coffee shop. The chicken was as good as he had suggested. New Bern turned out to be a very pleasant town which we meandered around both Thursday and Friday. Last night, the forth, we drove 40 miles to watch a baseball game by the Kinston Indians, a Cleveland farm team.
They won the game putting them in a tie for first in their division, and the fireworks display after the game was super. This morning we piddled around a bit, went to the Farmers Market for produce, drove to Jacksonville to shop at the base exchange and commassery, then on to the beach. We are looking forward to a fun week with the family

Thursday, July 3, 2008

It is morning on our first vacation day of the year in NC. Tuesday we were out of the house about 10, stopped at the local coffee bar for breakfast, then hit the road shortly after 11. We took one short break after about 2-1/2 hours, then arrived at our first nights stop in Berkeley Springs, WV at about 3:00 pm. Berkeley Springs, also know as Bath, is the first Spa know to have been used by the European settlers to North America. It was surveyed by George Washington.

Of course we both had a soak in a hot springs bath, Donna also had a message. This was followed by dinner at the "Corner Land and Sea", a local place that has great Crab cakes. Then we went letterboxing. Yesterday morning We had breakfast at a nearby Coffee house "The Fairfax" which has a great private blend, then Donna repeated her Spa experience, while I checked out a few more letterboxes. The terrain around the boxes called for more endurance than I have so I ran to the Post Office then picked Her up. We were on our way here (Roanoke Rapids, NC) by 11:30 and arrived at 4:30. We wanted to eat at Ralph's, a local BBQ which was highly recommended by our son Loren, but found that it was closed this week for vacation. So it was Cracker Barrel for dinner, then back to the Hilton. We have a short drive to New Bern planned for today so we might get in some sightseeing and more boxing today. So far it has been a very good trip despite the small car.