Friday, June 23, 2017

Another Life Cycle Event

So this Grandparents thing is fun and getting easier. June 15, 2017, a day that will live in our hearts for a long time. Grandson number 3, grandchild number 4, all in one little package. Henry Louis Dubreuil (yes, he shares his Mother and big sister’s last name) was born in record time. We had places that day to meet Logan and Maureen at an apartment they had rented for us so we would be closer to their house and then go out for Thursday dinner. We went to lunch with some friends that had come down from Portsmouth, NH, and got a message from Logan that Maureen had gone home early not feeling well! (the exclamation point was Logan’s.) After lunch, we heard from Logan again that he was heading home and we headed their way as well, planning to be there about 4. On the way, we took a little time and stopped near the shore where the water was very active.

Windblown HairAngry WavesLynn, MA

When we got to the house, Maureen was pretty obviously in labor. After about 20 minutes, she and Logan were out the door and we were sitting down to dinner with Simone. Later that evening, after Simone had gone to bed, Ellyn called Maureen’s mother, whom we are good friends with, and she blurted out that the baby had been born and was a boy before she realized that we had not heard yet. Logan called us while we were on that call with the news. It turned out that Henry was born about 2 hours after they had left the house.

Watering the flowersPlaying with GrandmaHenry Louis

So, now we knew it was a boy but it would be a couple more days before we would find out his name. Simone was a little weepy sometimes when she had to come home without Mama and Papa, but she was mostly very good for us. Logan and Maureen came home with Henry two day later and we were able to go back to our own bed. Maureen’s parents also came and the whole family was able to get together for a picture.

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So now we come by to help entertain Simone and get some baby holding time and will be in the area for a couple of months before heading West.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Beginning the 2017 Travel Season

On May 31st, it was time to get going again on the road. This would be the latest we have stayed in Sarasota in the Spring since we started coming here in 2010. In the past, we have been on the road by at least the first week in May, but this year we have a slightly different schedule. Our fourth Grandchild is due in Boston around the 20th of June, and we want to, for once, take a more leisurely tripGamble-Rogers North. So we headed out and drove North and East a few hours to Gamble-Rogers Memorial State Beach north of Daytona Beach. The weather was not as nice as it had been on the “Sun Coast”, and we only stayed for one night before continuing on to Charleston, SC. In Charleston, we met up with Rich Giblin, a good friend of Geoff’s from his days in the US Navy. The three of us toured the city and had some good meals. He took us on a personal tour of the church he has been attending and we also took a tour of the local Synagogue, the old continuously operating one in North America. Ellyn and I later came back and attended services there on Friday night. They were hosting a choir from Atlanta. It was also the anniversary of Geoff’s Father’s death in 2008. Ellyn, Rich, and Geoff

Charleston Architecture
Charleston Architecture
Charleston Architecture

After two nights in Charleston, we continued up the coast to Virginia. There, we stayed at the campground at Fort Monroe, an old Army post that is now a recreation park. There we visited with Ellyn’s Cousin Susan and her husband, Paul. The last time we were there, they lived at Fort Monroe but now have moved to a townhouse in Hampton.

Paul and SusanSusan and Ellyn

Our next stop was New Jersey, via the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel and Maryland and Delaware, totally bypassing the Washington DC and Baltimore traffic areas. We stayed the first night at Timberland Campground (recently changed to a KOA) and then went to visit with another of Ellyn’s Cousins in Monroe Township. One of her son’s has a big plot of land and a new house where we were able to park the RV for our visit. If we had known that the where we were going to park was so nice, we would have skipped the campground and come directly to their house.

David and Heather's HouseRV Parking

From there, we continued north to New York State and our traditional lunch with Ellyn’s former coworkers from IBM. Then about a 5 hour drive to Salem, MA. This is our favorite camping site in the Boston Area, as it is right on the water where we can watch boats entering and leaving Salem Harbor. From here, we will wait for the blessed event, and also get to visit with our granddaughter, Simone.Logan, Simone, Maureen and "plus one"Ellyn shows Simone some pictures

Salem HarborWinter Island Light

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Home Again, Home Again

After Houston (see the post before last for how we got that far, we passed out of Texas, through Louisiana, and into Alabama. Our stop there was near Mobile and way after dark. No satellite available because of extensive tree cover, but we put up the TV antenna and watch some local TV. From there, we had 590 miles to home. Too much for one day, or so we thought. We had done a long push home before but it got us in really late (actually early) and we had to wait until the next morning to get settled. However, another night on the road was not something we were looking forward to.

Fortunately, the way was clear and we were able to get in by 10:30 PM EDT. Even with a quick stop in Crestview, Florida to pick up the last of our forwarded mail and top off on fuel. We parked the RV in a site near our home unit and we were there. However, since it was late, the TV was still in the RV, and the bed in the house was covered with Ellyn’s materials from the lanai, we slept one last night in the RV.

We then had a couple of days to get things we needed out of the RV and into the house. Then, our original plan had been scraped, and we moved the RV into storage, and we headed out yet again. This time we took the car and an, ugh, suitcase and went off to Disney World for three days with our friends from New York. Jordy stayed behind with our friends Dave and Myra, who were also the couple we traveled to Yellowstone with, and who now own a house down here near Sarasota.

And now we are back for another 6 months (at least) in our house here in Sun-N-Fun RV Resort. We will enjoy it, getting back together with all our friends and enjoying the season’s activities. Geoff has already been throwing horseshoes and Ellyn is looking forward to her sewing.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Where It All Began

Geoff is feeling nostalgic. He is visiting a place where one of the biggest adventures began 46 years ago that set him on a path that would determine the rest of his life. This place is out on the end of Point Loma in San Diego, California. The submarine base there Third Class ETwas where Geoff was sent by the US Navy after he completed his initial training. He was a third class Electronics Technician and was sent to the head quarters of ComSubDevPac (Commander Submarine Development Pacific) for eight months before nuclear power school would start. Little did he know, but he has come to realize many years later, that this was a test. He and the other six young men who were sent here were being evaluated to see if they would be right for undergoing the year of training to come. The short story is…he passed, and went on to that year of training and then three years as a reactor operator on the USS Snook (SSN 592) also stationed out of that same port in California.

After arriving in San Diego, it became apparent that the job these men were sent here to do was somewhat menial. Essentially, they were janitors in the command building high up on the hill overlooking the base. Unbeknownst to Geoff and his mates there was a secret underwater vessel also attached to this command, which was manned by a small crew on a floating drydock ship. After about a week of somewhat depressing mopping and sweeping, the bunch of them were called into a meeting and were told about the other crew. Turns out they had heard there were seven third class petty officers up on the hill and, this crew, which consisted of second class and above, wanted to share in the bounty of pee-ons. They wanted two volunteers to come work on the ship instead of in the command building.

Geoff and one of the other guys jumped at the chance. At least that is how he remembers it. There may have been a bit of a hesitation. This was passing up a pretty easy shore billet and converting to ship life, which could contain a lot of unknowns. But, as he looks back he thinks, this was what he had joined the Navy for. Not to sweep floors in a building but to, probably, sweep floors on a Naval vessel. It became much more than that, and the entire story is one for another post.

It turns out, it was the best decision of his life. The secret vessel, the Trieste, has been long ago declassified and retired to Bainbridge Island in Washington State and the Point Loma sub base has changed a lot since 1968, but that decision affected the rest of Geoff’s life. He put in the year of nuclear power training, three years of duty on a submarine in the South Pacific, and then was able to get into a BSEE program in a top level university (Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI). He is pretty sure that his Navy service gave him an edge as his high school grades were not very good.

He excelled in college thanks to his training in the Navy. He had learned how to learn in the total 20 months of school he had attended in the Navy. His service and his good grades helped him get an excellent job in his career field. There he met his wife, which led to two wonderful sons and three even more wonderful Grandkids. It has been a wonderful life and the turning point occurred right here, on hallowed ground.

So this place calls Geoff back at times and, although he cannot get as close as he would like, it is nice to see again.

Bathyscaphe TriestePoint Loma 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

And Away We Go!

The reason for staying in the Northwest beyond the Birthday of our Grandson, was for the Wedding of our Niece, Sarah, in Tacoma, Washington. That happened on October 9th and our entire immediate family was there, meaning our two Sons and their families, including our three Grand kids. It was amazing. A picture was taken by the wedding photographer and we can’t wait to see it.

Jason and Sarah

Oliver and Simone

We stayed on one additional day to see our Grand Daughter one last time before heading out. Now we are on a marathon run back to Florida to meet up with our friends, Marie and Dave, in Walt Disney World on October 23rd. Our first stop is in San Diego to see Geoff’s Brother, Wes and his wife and our Niece, Angela and her husband. We were going to take three days getting there and just stay over night, but, after one 400+ mile day, we decided to split the rest of the distance into two 400 mile distances and get in a day early, so we can have a whole day to visit before heading East.

Day one was easier than expected. After a cold start, the sun came out and it was a nice, warm drive. Both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood made appearances in the distance and we stopped off in Portland near the first RV Park we stayed in to have lunch. We knew the layout there and knew it was easy in, easy out with the RV. With only one more rest stop we made it in about 5:00 PM.

I will try to make updates to this as we go over the next two weeks.

Day 2 and 3 passed without incident and took us all the way to San Diego, a day ahead of schedule, so we decided to stay the whole next day and do a little sight seeing before joining with Geoff’s Brother, Wes, and his family. We went out to Point Loma and the Cabrillo National Monument. It is a great day of checking out the tide pools in the Pacific Ocean and then overlooking the Point Loma Submarine Base (a special place for Geoff. See the next post for more about that) and a great view of San Diego.

Point Loma

Family!

Now begins the week long marathon to Florida. Days 1 and 2 of that journey have gone uneventful. The first was a bit shorter than our target because we wanted to stop before sunset. The next day, we started earlier and made a longer than expected trip. Now we are one day from San Antonio, where we hope to see our Niece, Karen and her family, and then drive on to Houston to see Ellyn’s Cousins. A whirl-wind journey. To be continued after the next post.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Summer’s End

Our summer has been an eventful one, even though we have spent nearly all of it in Portland, Oregon. We arrived here in late June to begin waiting for the arrival of our second Grandson, Martin. We didn’t have a long wait. He was born on July 9th. The real highlight of being here though has been getting to know our other Grandson, Oliver. When last we saw him in person, he had just turned two, and was not yet calling us “Grandma” and “Grandpa”. He started doing that while our only communication with him was on the computer via video chat. (Google Hangouts). Now we were able to get real hugs and kisses from him and read to him and play with games and toys with him. It has been great!

We took off for about ten days to visit with friends and family in California and see a some sites in Oregon on the way back. Once back in Portland, our jobs have been two-fold: to occupy Oliver when his parent’s needed a break, and to sit with Martin when Katherine had a doctor appointment or just needed to get some well deserved rest. Both have been less than jobs however. We have been picking Oliver up at his day-care school and taking him to dinner on Fridays and the two months since Martin was born we have seen him change a lot. He is getting noticeably bigger and is smiling and cooing at us a lot more than being fussy. If he does fuss, it usually because he has a wet diaper or it is time to go back to Mom. We have had a couple of opportunities to give him a bottle too, when Mom was not around. We also got to celebrate Oliver’s 3rd birthday while we were here. It was great fun!

Now it is Autumn. We still have another month before we get back to Florida, but only about 10 more days here in Portland. Then we go up to Washington for more family and the wedding of our Niece. Then we will travel to southern California to visit with even more family before heading East. Hopefully we will return to our winter cocoon in Florida before any seriously cold weather sets in. We will have friends waiting for us there in Disney World and even more in our “happy place”, Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota.

Meanwhile, we will be keeping close tabs on the Boston Red Sox as the continue their dominance on the American League East and see how far they can get into the post-season. All the way to the World Series would be cool.

RV Driver Grandma's Phone Dinner Out A New Car
Grandma and Martin Grandpa and Martin Sleeping With Big Brother
Big Truck Day Big Truck Day Big Truck Day Big Truck Day
Oliver's Birthday Fun Oliver's Birthday Fun Oliver's Birthday Fun Oliver's Birthday Fun

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Whales and Craters

We spent a week on the Pacific Coast in Pacifica, CA. Ellyn’s Sister, Laura, lives just a couple of blocks from the ocean and from the closest RV Park to San Francisco. The RV park is slowly disappearing as the cliff erodes away with each passing storm. The weather there matches with Mark Twain’s statement that “The coldest winter I ever had was a summer in San Francisco”. It was mostly in the 60’s with lows in the 40’s while we were there. Also, the fog was prevalent while we were there and except for two afternoons of the week we were there, it was overcast. We did venture “over the hill” into the sun a few times and then it was much warmer.

One of the great things about spending some time on the coast this time was that there were whales feeding right off the shore. Just about any time you went down to the edge of the cliff and looked out to sea, you would see whales. Geoff just had to go out there with his camera and tripod and he got some of what Laura said were the best whale pictures she had seen taken there. They were ok.

Feeding 2 Feeding 1 Feeding 3

Ellyn’s Father and his wife also live nearby. Geoff went out with Jerry for lunch one day and Jerry showed him some of his latest tech ideas. Jerry has not been able to really retire but his brain is definitely still right in the game with ideas for increasing computer security. We also went out for a couple of meals with Jerry and Liz and had a very nice time. Geoff and Laura’s Husband, Jay, took in a few games of bowling one afternoon. Ellyn’s Brother, Howard, and his wife, Giants BaseballLiz, came down from Gig Harbor, Washington for a few days to see their favorite baseball team, the Washington Nationals (from Washington DC, near where they used to live, not from Washington State) play at the San Francisco Giants. We went with them to two of the games. The first one was in the evening and it was not warm. Yipes! We have not been that warmly dressed in July since we went to Alaska and wore our winter coats on the Fourth. The second one was better, being in the afternoon, with the sun shining down. Geoff was almost able to wear shorts.

Stately PinesOn the way back to Portland, Oregon to see our Grandkids, we decided to do a little extra sight-seeing. One popular stop, that we never visited before, is Crater Lake National Park. What a treat. The surrounding lands are covered with old-growth forests of beautiful pines. We climbed hundreds of feet up theBlue Water sides of the crater caldera (in our car) to the rim. The view of the water is amazing. It was a clear, sunny day and the water reflected the blue sky at an amazing hue. The water in the lake is fed exclusively by snow and rain with no water flowing in from streams or runoff so the water is pure and clear. The only damper on the day was the forest fire that was raging to the west of the park and growing closer. This caused a haze across the sky for some of the pictures and, at the end of our day there, fire had made its way into the caldera of the crater.

Smoke

Fire

Three SistersThe final stop before landing back in the Portland area was near Sisters, Oregon, in view of the Three Sisters mountains, Mount Bachelor and Mount Jefferson. Ellyn really wanted to come here to visit a quilting store that she had visited 5 years before when we were here for an FMCA Rally. The town of Sisters is really nice and obviously geared for tourists. It was a lot of fun just walking around and stopping into the stores. They also have a lot of really good food.

Leaving Crater Lake, we had some engine trouble with the RV. It is a reoccurring problem of the engine stalling shortly after initial start that happened last in Connecticut. We thought the problem had gone away but it looks like it is back so we will have to get some work done in Portland. We had it stall out after leaving the RV Park and it took a while to get going again, then it stalled again going onto a major highway on the ramp. Geoff got it off the road but we called for roadside assistance. The person who arrived checked out the fuel filter and the fuel supply to the injectors and it all seemed good. We got it restarted and it seemed to be OK after that. At our next stop, Ellyn suggested we give it another dose of Howes Lubrication, something we have added at fuel stops in the past, that seemed to alleviate similar problems, and that Geoff had been adding regularly. So we did that and things seemed OK to the next fuel stop, where he added the rest of it. The rest of our trip to Portland seemed to be OK. Between this and the generator problems we’ve had, we will have a lot of work for Cummins.