Exterior Illumination - Saturday - November 26, 2011

Anyone who has seen the movie “Christmas Vacation” starring Chevy Chase, knows that exterior illumination is the art of displaying Christmas lights on the outside of one’s house.  Our son Brian and his wife Chris (to some degree) really get into the Christmas Spirit every year when it comes to decorating the outside of their home with lights.

Today was the day he needed help.  With the weather cooperating, a balmy 65 degrees, Brian recruited me, his in-laws and a couple of friends to string a few lights on his house in Columbia, SC.  A few lights is all relative to Exterior Illuminators ;o))  When it was all said and done he had somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 lights.  I lost count of the number of strings we hung.

My initial job was to get out all the strings of lights and test them to ensure all the bulbs were working. If they were not, I repaired them by replacing either the bulb or socket until they did work. This little task took about 4 hours ;o(( 
01 - Brian

While I was doing my task, Brian was on the roof covering it with white lights and spelling out “NOEL” with colored lights.
02 - On the Roof

After a short lunch, we had the entire crew putting up lights for another few hours.

Bill working around the windows.03 - Bill

Chris and Rhonda working on the tree.04 - Chris and Rhonda

Mark and Samantha working on another tree.05 - Mark and Samantha

Santa’s Helpers admiring their work !!!06 - Santa's Helpers

Brian attached all the plugs to a music “computer” which control the lights.  They will flash at different times to the beat of the music. It was about 5:30 and almost dark enough to test things out.  I had difficulty taking a still picture of moving lights, but you can get the idea ;o))
07 - Finished House

Click here CHRISTMAS HOUSE to see the video Brian sent us :o))

After our hard work, we had a great spaghetti dinner and most of us were ready to call it a day.  It is hard work putting up Christmas lights ;o))

Thanksgiving Memories - Saturday - November 26, 2011

Nancy here:  Well, I survived “Black Friday” working the register at Home Depot ;o)  I have been at HD for almost 10 years (too long) and you would think I would be ready for the craziness, but every year I am blown away!!

Why in the world would someone be willing to get out in the middle of the night and early dawn in all those crowds to save a few dollars on stuff they probably don’t need anyway!?!? It just does not compute in my brain!! But then, of course, I am trying to get rid of ALL my stuff and make my life simpler;o))

Hope all of you had a special holiday!! 

Today, I finally downloaded my Thanksgiving photos. 

Bill, my mother and I had a wonderful day. 
We were invited to my son’s in-laws house for dinner. 

Mark and Rhonda are very special people and
sure do know how to prepare a feast and throw a party!!
03i - people
First let me say how fortunate Bill and I are. 
Both of our children have married into families that we truly love!! 
No in-law jokes from us.
We really enjoy spending time with these wonderful people we call FRIENDS :o))

Now, back to our Thanksgiving….

The table was set and looking beautiful. 
There would be 12 of us for dinner!!01c-The Table

Lots of snacks and drinks while we waited
for the turkey to finish cooking.
02a - Food

It was a spectacular day and we all enjoyed some time
in the beautiful Carolina Sunshine!!

Bill and Rhonda
03d - people

My mother, Elsie and our DIL, Chris03e - people

Jimmy and Sharon, Chris’ God-parents03g - people

My mother and our son, Brian
03h - people

Finally, the TURKEYS were cooked!!

Yes, there were TWO turkeys…

One was fried...
02e- Food

One was roasted...
02d- Food

The carvers got busy!!
02f- Food

The Thanksgiving Feast was ready :o))

Mom, Jimmy, Sharon, Scott, Samantha, Rhonda, Mark, Maureen, Brian and Bill.01d-The Table
Chris and I were taking this photo. 
Really need to learn to use the timer on my camera;o))

The meal was wonderful and of course, we all ate way too much. 
So following dinner we headed back outside for a little exercise before dessert.

5e - The Game5f - The Game

Looks like Bill has a NEW friend!!5h - The Game

As the sun set, the temps dropped which meant it was time to head back inside for DESSERT!!

Not one, but THREE pies…
Apple, Pumpkin and Pecan
02c- Food

What a beautiful day and
wonderful way to spend our Thanksgiving!!

A Few “To Dos” Are Done - Wednesday - November 23, 2011

Nancy and I spent the last week catching up
on some of our to-do list items.

About a week ago we bought a Kayak cart for our Sea Eagle kayak. 01 - Cart Label

We needed to blow up the Sea Eagle and
figure out how this little baby works!!02 - Cart Assembled
There were no instructions. 

My first attempt worked,
 03 - First Attempt too far back
but I will move the cart closer to the middle next time.

We figured out how to store the cart on the kayak. 

The wheels fit nicely behind my seat and
the cart folds down flat on top of them.  04 - Cart Storage
We decided that we need a carry case
to protect the kayak from the nuts and pins. 
Wouldn’t need a kayak cart to transport a deflated kayak ;o((04b - Cart Storage

This week we purchased some material
so Nancy could make a carry case for the cart.
Nancy measured and sewed the bag. 04c - Cart Storage Bag
It can be tied to the kayak.
If we ever tip over, we won’t lose the cart.
Hope we never get to test the ties ;o)))

We spent Nancy’s off day doing our Christmas shopping.  We really do not buy much.  We keep trying to get the commercialism out of Christmas and focus more on having quality family time.  Neither one of us are shoppers, so getting our shopping done before the mad rush is a real plus for us. When necessary, we actually enjoy shopping together, especially for fun things!! Christmas gifts for the Grandchildren means fun things. Shopping at Toys R US is right up our ally.  We are still kids at heart:o))

As if we didn’t get enough walking in yesterday shopping, we decided to go to Huntington Beach and walk the beach with friends in the afternoon. It was a spectacular 80 degrees and sunny. Great weather for the end of November! It was certainly a day to spend outdoors.

Bill, Bill and Cris heading toward the jetty 01 - Beach walking

Shore Birds
02a - Shore birds02b - Shore birds- Sanderling02c - Shore birds- Gull06d - Pelican on the hunt

Approaching the Jetty, we could see lots of fishermen.03 - Approaching the Jetty

As we walked out the jetty,
there was a sunken sailboat ;o((
05 - Sunken Sailboat

The mullets were jumping!! 
 05b - mullets jumping

Guess that is why the fishing is good
for the guys and the birds ;o))
06 - Fisherman and Birds06b - Fishing Birds06c - Fishing Birds
What a wonderful afternoon with friends!!

OK, not everything that happened recently was FUN -- Our large screen TV video went blank on Sunday with the word “tube” flashing on the front. I made the brilliant deduction that the one and only tube in our 46” TV finally went out. After making a trip to Best Buy (we bought it there 7 years ago) I learned that the tubes typically last 5 years and Best Buy doesn’t stock the tubes in any store – you have to order from a separate company on line. I ordered the $165 tube and it’s supposed to ship in about ten days. Yuk! Nancy just shrugged her shoulders as she really could care less if we have a TV, but I like my TV. I’m just hoping that it will arrive in less than 10 days.

While we accomplished a lot this week,
there is still one BIG item on our to-do list...


I’m at a loss for what else we can do to accomplish that task ;o(
I guess the right buyers will come along,
but I’m getting antsy about that.
Oh well, it will happen when it’s supposed to happen.
At least that’s Nancy’s take on the subject.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we are fortunate
to be able to spend it with some of our family. 

We have so much to be thankful for and
hope each of you know how much we appreciate
your friendship and encouragement!!!
Hope you have a special day :o))

Happy Thanksgiving!!

A Visit with RV Dreamers - Thursday - November 10, 2011

This week we had a pleasant surprise when Lee and Martha, blog name Beach Lovers, called and said they were stopping in Myrtle Beach on their way home to the Wilmington area and wanted to get together with us.

Nancy here: This photo is from their blog…Bill took the photos and
never took one of them together ;o((

Lee and Martha were going to be staying at Huntington Beach State Park. The park is only about 10 miles from us so naturally we made arrangements to get together.

I drove down to Huntington just after 2 PM. As I was pulling in I saw a 36 foot Cambridge Cameo coming in at the same time so I knew that had to be them. I watched Lee professionally back the fifth wheel in (of course with Martha’s help) and within minutes they were set up.
 01 - Back in02 - Set up

Nancy had to work until 6 PM so we came up with a game plan for dinner – we’ll stop at Subway and pick up hoagies and then go to our house and eat them when Nancy gets home from work. That way she can spend a little time visiting with them.

We swapped stories and had lots of laughs including reliving Lee’s family feud “thimble” answer to the question, “What do RVers save?” I’m sure Lee will never live that one down (I won’t let him).

We first met each other at the RV Dreams rally in Longs, SC and got together again at the Tennessee RV Dreams rally this year. After the rally, they headed to Texas to work-camp. They have been on the road for 8 or 9 months and are ready to spend some quality time with their family over Thanksgiving and Christmas. They told us that they are going to work-camp in Maine starting in May and are really looking forward to that.

As expected, we had a fantastic time visiting with them and hope to see them as we travel. Lee and Martha fit the perfect RV Dreamer mold – fun, friendly, ready for a good time and enjoying the RV lifestyle. We’re glad to call them our friends:o))

As all good things must come to an end, our time together was over in a flash. We wished them well as they pulled out of our driveway in route back to the campground for the night. What a pleasant surprise! Good Luck to them in their future travels.

Nancy here:  I so enjoyed catching up with Lee and Martha.  One funny note, the next morning on my way to work, I saw Lee and Martha stopped at the same light I seem to see all the RV-Dreamers that pass through Murrells Inlet.  Not sure they saw me, but if you pass through the light at Home Depot in Murrells Inlet, be sure to wave:o))

A Visit with the Grandchildren - Monday - November 7, 2011

Nancy was off from work Monday and Tuesday this week so we drove up to Raleigh after she finished her shift Sunday. We haven’t seen Julie, Steve and the grandchildren in a while. This quick trip would give us a chance to catch up with all their family.

We arrived at their house just about bedtime. 
But first, each child had something very important
to share with Grandpop. 
 01 - Grandpop seeing everybodies stuff
Of course, it was all at the same time ;o))

After a good nights sleep, Julie had planned a nice day trip to one of the children’s museums in Raleigh. We loaded up the Dodge Caravan with all of us (except Steve, he had to work) and headed to the museum.

Emily and Samantha were showing off their sparkling sneakers
 to Grandmom during the ride.
 02 - Serious Sneakers
I think Grandmom needs a NEW pair of sneakers!!

When we were paying to park in the public lot next to the museum,
Nancy noticed a sign that said the museum was closed on Monday’s. 03- Parking Pass

But just in case, we walked over to check.
Emily showing us the way!!
04 - Emily and Marbles Sign

Definitely closed, but we got to see some of the garden.05 - Checking out outside06 - Nice Garden to explore next time

Now what?
We had already paid to park.

Julie came up with a great Plan B.
Just a couple blocks away was the Raleigh Science Museum.
It was within walking distance.

What made the walk even better was that we walked by the capitol building and viewed all the monuments and statues on the grounds. 07 - Heading towards the capitol
07b - Heading around  the capitol

Andrew and Grandpop checking out the BIG gun!08 - Guys and Guns

Capitol Building and WWII Memorial09 - ww2 memorial and capitol building

View of downtown Raleigh from Capitol.10 - downtown Raleigh

Almost there,

Art Museum on the right, Science Museum on the left.11 - Almost there

What a great plan B.
We ended up spending a couple of hours in the Science Museum.
Our oldest grandson (Andrew) and I even watched a 3D movie about tornadoes.

Andrew in the Shark’s Jaws!!
12 - Science Museum - Andrew in Sharks Jaw

Emily and Samantha, just like their Big Brother…
12a - Science Museum - Like brother like sister

Wonderful poem as we entered the Sea Life exhibit.12b - Science Museum - Bryon Quote

Andrew and Daniel enjoying the Pelican display.12a1 - Science Museum - Pelican Diving
It was SO life-like!!

Above our heads was this HUGE Blue Whale skeleton.12c1- Science Museum -  Blue Whale Skeleton12c- Science Museum -  Blue Whale poster

From the second floor we could look down on the head of the Blue Whale.12c2 - Science Museum -  Blue Whale Jaw

Nancy here:  Not sure what Grandpop and the girls were listening to,
but it got them all dancing ;o))
12d - Science Museum -  Grandpop and girls dancing

While Andrew and Grandpop went to the Tornado movie, the rest of us did story time.  The story teller has a really cool hat and lots of live animals for all of us to touch!!12e - Science Museum -  Guinea Pig Storytime

We had a great couple of hours. 

As we were leaving, Daniel (who has always feared escalators)
decided he was ready to tackle this one without assistance.
12f - Science Museum -  Daniel on Escalator
Way to go, Daniel :o)))

We drove back to their house for a quick lunch and then off we went to Durant Nature Park, only a few miles from their home. We hiked through the woods, along a stream on a marked trail which led us to a playground with swings, jungle gyms, sandboxes, etc. It was neat to spend time with the grandchildren and watch them run and play on all the playground equipment. We all got plenty of fresh air and exercise!

Through the woods and along the stream…15c - Durante Nature Park - trail

Across the plank…
15i - Durante Nature Park - Bridge in woods

Stop for kids photo…
15a - Durante Nature Park - Kids on the Tree

Add a couple Grandparents…
15b - Durante Nature Park - Kids on the Tree

Go past the lake…
15d - Durante Nature Park - lake and trees


There it is….

15e - Durante Nature Park - playground

A Swinging Duo ;o))
 15f - Durante Nature Park - Swings

15g - Durante Nature Park - Samantha in Tunnel
Samantha hiding in the tunnel ;o))15g2 - Durante Nature Park - Samantha in Tunnel

Daniel laughing about something !?!?!15h - Durante Nature Park - Daniel laughing

It was a great way to spend a beautiful day!!

We capped off the day with a spaghetti dinner
 followed by coffee cake and ice cream for my birthday!!16 - Happy Birthday Grandpop

Now I get to make one wish before I blow out the candle.16a - Happy Birthday Grandpop
Can’t tell, but I bet you can guess what I wished for ;o))

Nancy and I left early Tuesday morning for home.  Before leaving Raleigh, we stopped at the Whole Foods Store for some groceries. After that, we went to REI where we bought a kayak cart our Sea Eagle Kayak.

The visit was short, but filled with fun. We’re looking forward to the next family gathering – I guess that will be Thanksgiving with our son, DIL and her family.

Nancy here:  Had to share these photos taken on our trip back to Murrells Inlet.  This red Mini Cooper, towing a mini Air Boat, passed us as we headed south on I-95.
17b - Mini Cooper - Air Boat
Never saw a combination like this before.

 I got Bill to pass it so I could get some better pictures.

17 - Mini Cooper
Notice the red propeller on the car roof!!

17a - Mini Cooper - Air Boat
Perhaps he is headed for the EVERGLADES!!!