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Monday, September 22, 2014

It's Been A Month Since We Left Connecticut

It has been a month and a few days since we left Connecticut. We have actually been in our new home for three weeks now. And except for missing my kids and parents, and a few friends, I have never been happier to leave someplace. I have a lot of bad memories associated with that state and am glad to put them behind me. Chuck is having a harder time because he had more friends that he saw on a regular basis. But as time goes by, we are adjusting and having fun exploring our new community, town and state. We found a vet for the dog, and are getting used to the grocery stores. But we are in the process of finding a new church, doctor and dentist. The one thing about moving far away is that a couple relies on each other more. That can be good or bad. For us, for the most part it's been very good. We have gone through this experience together and feel good about our new home and how we have it arranged. It took a lot of work and compromise on both parts, but when we get up in the mornings and see the mountain view from our bedroom window, it has all been worth it.

Of course there has been some stress too. But for the most part, things have gone well. Now if we can only sell our house in Connecticut...If you know of anyone who wants to buy a beautiful house in a nice neighborhood in Connecticut, send them our way please!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 6 of Our Move To Big Canoe: We Saw The House!

Today we got up early and headed right over to Big Canoe to meet our real estate agent who had the keys to our new home. We went to the house and I was beside myself with excitement. Here's a better picture of the house and the garage than I was able to get before:

Apparently Reeses was excited too because she poked her nose in the door first and was the very first one in. We had so much fun looking around and discovering things that we hadn't noticed before, some good, some bad, but mostly good. These pictures are of the main living room of the house, and is the first room you see when you walk in the front door.

We spent a couple of hours here at the house. I used the broom on the beautiful hardwood floors and Chuck found a hose and watered the drooping Black Eyed Susan's which were growing in the front and back of the house. Although it was hot today, about 84 degrees, it felt cool on the back deck because it is all shaded. I was also excited because we have two rain barrels that collect water from the roof when it rains and have spiggots for us to get the water out and water the plants. It's very environmentally friendly and I like that.

We picked up our mail today and it was exciting to see that the post office is already forwarding our mail from Connecticut. We got a wonderful new home card from my niece (thanks Halley!), and Chuck got one from his wife...yes that does mean me! His HAPPY wife I might add! After going to the post office, we became members of the workout center that includes the indoor pool and we will start using it tomorrow.

I had forgotten what a beautiful view we have. In the far distance off of the deck, you can see about 4 or 5 high mountains. I can't wait to sit out there with Chuck and have a glass of wine to celebrate our new home.I think we will have a very peaceful life here in the mountains. Tomorrow we will be at the house because the Cable guy and the telephone guy are coming to set things up between 10 and 5. The following day the furniture will be arriving and we will spend who knows how many days setting everything up and unpacking.But we made it here safely and are embarking on a new chapter in our lives with excitement and enthusiasm!

Days 4 and 5 of Our Move to Georgia

Sorry I haven't updated this blog in a couple days. My Dad asked me why I hadn't been updating it, so at least I know someone's been reading it! On Monday morning we left Virginia for Tennessee. The mountains here were more beautiful than in Virginia. I saw a lot of horse farms on the way. We stopped for gas at one point and I was amazed to see it was only $3.11. When we left Connecticut it was anywhere from $3.77 to $3.85! What a difference a few hundred miles makes!

Each time we stop at a rest area or for gas we walk the dog. I did my best at this rest area to get the Tennessee mountains on the picture behind the dog! She has been wonderful on this trip, but she has been with either one of us or both of us for the past 5 days. She is clearly enjoying that and I hope she can adjust to staying alone in the new house sometimes once we get settled so we can go out for a romantic dinner without her now and then. Here's also a picture of my two traveling buddies. She looks so cute when she has her head out Chuck's car window as we drive down the road. Now I know why everyone on the highway smiles at her as they go by.

We stayed in Knoxville, Tennessee on Monday night at a very nice Red Roof in that had a suite. Tuesday we headed down into our new state of Georgia. We stopped at a Burger King for lunch and during our meal, Chuck got a call from the moving van driver that due to circumstances beyond his control (whatever that means) he can't get to Big Canoe till Friday now. That means one more night in the hotel in Jasper. We drove over the Georgia line and I soon saw the gorgeous mountains we were heading to. I let out a yell and got all excited and said to Reeses, "Look there are our mountains. We are going there. " Poor baby had no idea what was going on and was looking all around the car to see what I was talking about! The mountains are even more beautiful than I had remembered. We got into Jasper at the Microtel Inn around 3:00 p.m. We are staying right near the Jasper Walmart so it will be convenient to go there for house supplies. There is a Subway inside Walmart so we had that for dinner last night.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 3 of Our Move: Virginia/West Virginia

We left Newark, Delaware at 10:00 a.m. We drove for a bit and then once again hit traffic. Fortunately it wasn't as bad as yesterday. We finally hit the mountains of Virginia and they sure are beautiful. It's so nice to see something beautiful instead of just traffic on Interstate 95.

We stopped at a rest area just over the West Virginia line in a town called Charles Town. It was right after we crossed the Potomac River,and Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. That was exciting because we had heard about Harper's Ferry in history class, but neither of us had ever been there before. The place that we stopped for lunch was called, "Sheetz" and it was a rest stop. They seem to be all over the South. You can use the rest room and buy ready made sandwiches, drinks, chips, etc. or order a made to order sandwich, salad or pizza. You can of course also buy coffee here. We sat outside under and umbrella and it was the perfect place to sit with the dog.

An hour after that stop, we arrived at our destination for the night: a Red Roof Inn that was in Staunton, Virginia. This one had an indoor pool but I was too tired to use it. Chuck is SO disciplined that he did use the workout center and I took a nap. For dinner, we found a KFC with outdoor seating so we could sit with the dog. We discovered that KFC has buffets down here. You pay $7.99 for all you can eat and it includes a drink. Of course Chuck noticed that for seniors, the cost is $6.99! Tomorrow we are headed to Tennessee which is great because that's a state I have never been to before. I LOVE adventure.

Day Number 2 of Our Move To Georgia

On Saturday we had coffee and orange juice in the room and headed out on the road. The dog started in the car with me, and as we drove down the highway, stuck in a traffic jam, people were smiling at her as she stuck her head out the window and enjoyed the sights and the cool gentle breeze as we were only driving 5 to 15 miles and hour for a 60 minute period. It was quite frustrating, but it was better for me since she was with me making people laugh and smile. We stopped for lunch at a rest area and found a picnic table outside that we could keep the dog at as well.

Once we got back on the road, the traffic jam had cleared and we were able to make better time on the way to Philadelphia to visit Michaela. Before we actually met her after she got out of work, we had some extra time so went to the cemetery where Chuck's parents and other relatives are buried. It was bitter sweet to be there. We cleaned up a lot of the grass around the graves before heading into the part of Philadelphia that Chuck grew up in.

We had talked about going to Philly for years and Chuck was going to show me where he grew up. This trip seemed like the perfect time to do this. When we had talked about it, we were going to be in the same car, but me following him in my car with our cell phones on but on our legs, not in our hands, worked pretty well. It was really an eye opener for me to see where Chuck lived as a child. The streets were so narrow, and not in a very good section of Philadelphia. I am so proud of him for getting out of there and doing so much with his life. We made it there and it was raining so we were fortunate to find a wonderful Italian restaurant that had an awning out front with tables under it so we could sit there again with the dog. The restaurant was right around the corner from where Michaela works, so I walked there to meet her, and we had a wonderful meal together. I was so happy that we were able to see her on the way to Georgia because honestly I am not sure when I will be able to see her again since at this point we don't have any plans to be in Connecticut at the same time.

After dinner, Michaela treated us to chocolates from the oldest candy store in America, "Shane" and also ice cream from The Franklin Fountain, the ice cream parlor where she works. According to USA today, they have the absolute best milk shakes in the U.S. so we split a coffee milkshake. It was yummy but I am not convinced that it was the very best milkshake in the U.S. Here is Michaela's ice cream store!

After dropping Michaela off at her apartment, we headed south and drove about 90 minutes to Newark, Delaware. We stayed in a fantastic Red Roof Inn Plus there and although I had never stayed in a Red Roof Inn before, it was wonderfully surprising. There was even a goody box in our fridge that had a bottle of water, a bottle of orange juice, trail mix, and a granola bar in it. That was a nice surprise.

We have decided to shoot for 250 miles per day as that is about four hours of driving, with a break in between for lunch and switching the dog between cars which is a good change for all of us. The dog is doing amazingly well during this whole trip and that makes things easier for us.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Moving From Connecticut To Georgia, Day 1

I haven't mentioned in this blog that we have our greatest adventure yet going on right now, and that is that we have bought a house in Big Canoe, GA and are currently in the process of moving down there from Connecticut. We are driving 2 cars, and bringing the dog. We each take shifts with the dog and things so far are going very well.

But I am jumping ahead. First let me say that it was a tough week last week because the packers from the moving company were at the house on Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday the movers actually came and loaded the truck. It was quite odd to see the house bare of all furnishings. Harder for Chuck than for me because I have lived here with him for only the past 2 years and he has been in the house since 1998. See the pictures below of the living/dining room area and you will see what I mean about the house looking bare! Unfortunately I didn't get the shot of this area from the same direction, but I stood in the living room looking toward the dining room/kitchen.

One crazy thing that happened to us this week was that a reporter for Real Money With Ali Velshi read an article I wrote about moving south and called us to see if she could film us for the show. Apparently people are leaving the Northeast and heading south so they wanted to interview us on the actual moving day. So we spent some time on Friday being filmed and interviewed. Pretty wild huh? If it comes out okay, I will post the link to the video of it on another post. All of this was happening while the movers were going in and out of the house with our things!

The movers thought they would be done by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, but they didn't actually leave till 6:00 p.m. After we checked out the house to make sure they didn't leave anything behind (such as the towels we found in the top of the master bedroom bathroom closet), and cleaned up a few things, we were on the road by 7:00 p.m. I am following Chuck in his car. My daughter told Chuck that he will have a tough time with me because I drive too slow. She will think it's funny that we were not on the road even 20 minutes and he called me to tell me I needed to drive faster! Since then things have been fine and I have been doing my best to keep up with him.

The first night we just drove about 2 hours and stayed in New York in a little town called, "Nanuet". We stayed at a hotel that is new to us, "Candlewood Suites" that night. It was wonderful and we were quite pleased with it. Even the dog made herself right at home in her own bed, on the floor snuggled down right next to my side of the bed, just like at home.

And so we are off on the greatest adventure in our marriage yet...the move from Connecticut to Georgia. I will keep the blog updated along the way.Stay tuned for more...!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Day 8, Our First Port Stop on The Transatlantic Cruise

Sunday, May 4th, 2013 Day 8

Our first cruise port on the cruise:

We needed to get up at 6:30 a.m. in order to get up to breakfast and then meet with the rest of the passengers going on our excursion on the island of San Miguel in the Azores today. I woke up at 6:10 a.m., very unusual for me, and decided not to go back to sleep for only 20 minutes. Instead I got up and looked out the window and just saw land as we were coming in to the port of Ponta Delgada. The morning started off as fairly foggy with a bit of rain which was disappointing because the last time we were here at this same port for a cruise, it was so foggy we couldn’t even see the lakes on either side of us which are one of the highlights of this island.

As soon as we finished breakfast we arrived at the Princess Theater just in time to be escorted off the ship and onto our waiting tour bus. The tour was scheduled to be from 8:30 a.m. till 1:30 p.m. We set out driving to the middle of the island and on the way saw many of the small villages with very narrow streets that were originally designed for horse and buggies which makes it challenging for a tour bus to drive through. The homes are all close together with many of them joined together with doorways and tiled roofs. Many have a ceramic picture of Jesus Christ either above the doorway or to the right of the door. The Azores consists of 9 islands and is 97% Catholic. Outside of the villages, there were many green fields filled with cows. Milk production is one of the most prevalent businesses on the island along with pineapple and tea production.

Our first stop was to the village of Ribeira Grande, a colonial town with many old buildings that still stand. From the steps of the church you can see the town and the sea behind it. It was an amazing sight to behold. It did start to drizzle on us as we followed our guide around town, but I had brought a rain jacket and was fine. Here's a picture of part of the town from the church steps, and the church itself.

Our next stop was to the summit of Pico de Ferro from which we could see the beautiful green tinged Furnas Lake, and a bevy of Azalea bushes that were mostly pink but there were also some purples and a few red bushes mixed in. Apparently the ginger plant grows wild on San Miguel and is taking over the countryside, making earth slides more prevalent. They have tried to get rid of the plant but it continually grows back. It had stopped raining at this point so we had a better view of everything from the summit.I am including a picture of me and the lake from the view from the top.

On the way to our next stop, we hit a traffic jam consisting of about 50 dairy cows and 2 cattle herders walking down the middle of the road to switch pastures. The guide says this happens often on the island. Our third stop was to the Terra Nostra gardens which included a mud bath with water heated to approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit. There are changing rooms there for people who need to change into swim suits before stepping into the muddy waters. Apparently this bathing area helps people with arthritis. We walked along the gardens and were treated to more Azaleas, Camelias, ferns natural to the area, palm trees and cork trees. It was a beautiful area.

The last stop of the day was to the Furnas Hot Springs. The town of Furnas was originally well known for producing charcoal. The hot springs there though are amazing. There’s a sign that warns people to be careful as the steam that comes from the hot springs is boiling hot. In some area, you can see pools of bubbling hot water with steam rising. In other areas, there is just a round hole where steam comes out. The whole area smells like sulfur. This area used to be known as a spa area, but not anymore. I'm including a picture of Chuck sitting in front of the hot springs.There are homes in a small village around the area.

It was about a 1 hour ride back to the ship after we saw the hot springs, and both Chuck and I took a brief nap before we reached the ship.Once back on board we had lunch and then took a real nap. As always, he went to work out in the gym and I went to the walking track on the 17th floor. I had already logged in 8,000 steps by lunch time because of all the walking we had done on the tour. But my goal is a minimum of 10,000 steps each day, and 30 minutes worth need to be aerobic steps so I wanted to walk again. Today while I was walking I did 6 times around the track (7 laps is equal to one mile) and was about to stop because I was tired from walking earlier, but a woman from Brooklyn, NY started talking to me and asked if we could walk together for a bit. I was glad I said yes because I got 3 more laps in and found her very interesting. She and her husband are from Brooklyn but now live in Florida. She had recently had knee replacement surgery so had to walk slow but I was fine with that. We compared notes on other cruises she and her husband have been on and before long he joined us as well.It's always fun to compare notes with other frequent cruisers.

After showering and getting changed for dinner, we had a very delicious dinner (Chuck said it was his best on board so far) in the Concerto dining room. One of the entrees was Lobster tail with a side of 2 crab cakes. Chuck had the whole meal and I just asked for the crab cakes which the waiter said he found interesting because most people do the opposite and ask for 2 lobster tails and skip the crab cakes. I guess I just like to do things differently! For dessert, Chuck had Jamaican coffee ice cream and I had the most delicious dessert I have ever had on a cruise ship. It was called chocolate pudding pie. It was basically the most delicious chocolate mousse I have ever tasted, baked in a small dish atop a chocolate graham cracker crust and topped with dollops of fresh whipped cream with chocolate shavings sprinkled on top.

After that delicious dinner, we went to the atrium whose 3 floors were crammed with onlookers to watch the International show. This was various members of crew musicians who entertained us with singing and dancing of music from various countries. The highlights for us were when 2 of the entertainers sang a song from our wedding called, “The Prayer” and did a wonderful job on it, and a trio of Greek dancers who came out in full costume and got a few audience members out of their seats to dance with them. One of them was a 3 year old little boy who was absolutely adorable when he tried to do the dance moves and clapped his hands and walked in a circle with the rest of the dancers. It was so sweet it brought tears to my eyes. I guess I am just a sucker for a cute kid! At the end of the program when all of the entertainers came out and took their bows, he ran out to join them. It was very sweet.

We came back to the room and watched the movie,”Playing For Keeps” starring Gerard Butler, Catherine Zeta Jones, Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman and Jessica Biel before going to bed. It had been a wonderful day, and getting off the ship after 7 days was a nice change of pace.