Sunday, November 1, 2015

November News With BMW Views

30 Nov: Mexico Beach, Florida, part of Florida's "forgotten coast." Breakfast at Sharon's as usual - you can assume breakfast & lunch there for the rest of our stay here. Ron tried sitting with the computer outside on the balcony but the sun made for too much over-eyestrain. We went for additional steps early today with a visit to the "Walk Under the Palms" city park which is sadly in need of a little TLC. If Ron could borrow a clipper and a rake, he could do some trail maintenance. Ron opted for more eye strain when Cynthia was sunbathing on the balcony.

Nov. 29, Sunday: go to meetin' and eatin'. We enjoyed breakfast & lunch at Sharon's again and walked along the Beach to Toucan's for dinner. It was surprisingly good with a good waiter, not like the obstinate waitress in a previous year. The big events of the day were changing from a ground floor room to a fourth floor room (more privacy/ security, more FitBit steps !!) and visiting the recycling dropoff (sadly over-full, needs attention). Also worth mention is that Ron is (again) finished with Volume 6; hopefully the replacement photos have satisfactory resolution. Cynthias's AliveCor EKG shows Ron's heart to be amazingly erratic; apparently he is just full of electrifying activity.

Nov. 28: We awakened to sunshine at El Governor Hotel in Mexico Beach, Florida, and Cynthia immediately drew the drapes aside to gawk at the sea. (Yes, it is THAT close.) Good Morning To You, Good Morning To You, we're all in our places with bright shiny faces. (So goes the song and our day.) Once again we became "regulars" at Sharon's Restaurant, the only good foody place in town for breakfast and lunch. Today Cynthia's iPhone heart rate monitor showed Ron's heart in a normal rhythm, forestalling Cynthia's buildup of symptoms.

A flashback to Nov. 2008's update on the calcium tomography tests: calcium levels in heart arteries doubled from the same tests five years ago. At that time they were at 90 percent for having a cardiac event in two to five years - now they have doubled across the board despite following a stringent heart healthy eating plan and hiking 440 miles last year and 1500 this year. (The nurse wanted Cynthia to take Ron to a cardiologist immediately!) All other indicators (C-reactive protein, total cholesterol and blood pressure) are excellent; but following the restrictive eating plan will continue: no meat, milk fats; no white flour, no sugar and lots of vitamins. Weight is being maintained at 175 with daily walking. (Little did we realize the heart was so ischemic).

Dinner tonight was a delight at Gary's Oyster Shack:

27 Nov 2015, sunset at Mexico Beach, FL, 10 steps from our back door
sCamille excaped before Cynthia remembered photos
Nov 27: We arrived in Mexico Beach, Florida shortly before sunset. First thing this morning we walked a mile to I-Hop for breakfast with Cynthia's lovely nieces, Danielle and Camille. A wonderful time was had by all. While showing off the ECG to the girls, Ron had a surprising and unsettling AFib result. The ECG test tonight is normal. (Cynthia breathed a sigh of relief - and Ron is happy to think that Cynthia might remain symptom-free.) We left Macon at high noon driving for an hour on I-75 before taking scenic back roads. The 297 mile ride to Mexico Beach, FL took 5.5 hours, and we arrived in time for a sunset photo at 4:38 PM (CST). Views en route were marvelous, of hundreds, maybe thousands, of acres of tree farms: peach, pecan and pine; vast cotton fields, some harvested, some still ablaze with millions of bright white dot; huge fields of tomatoes or peanuts. In contrast to the agricultural abundance, the towns appeared economically depressed with most shops and businesses boarded up. The restaurant pickings were very slim in these tiny towns, a Burger King, a few Pizza places, and an Oriental buffet. or two. After crossing the state line into Florida, residential properties improved but only fast food restaurants have survived here too. Ron's sole choice for dinner at Killer Seafood (here in Mexico Beach) was tuna grilled on an oily grill adorning a good fresh salad. Cynthia did not care for the American cheese (only choice) on her bun-less burger.

Thanks God for whatever still works
Nov 26: Ron & Smoochie are in Macon, Georgia. Today, the 5-hour, 200-mile ride was delightful; it was "warm," the skies were a bit too sunny as we were heading south and west, looking directly into the glare most of the day. Tomorrow promises more of the same. Thinking positive, our facial suntans should be in great shape for the Florida beaches. We were delighted to catch back up to fall foliage with several trees still wearing golden or scarlet leaves. We kept to the back roads and enjoyed views of rivers and lakes, including a crossing over Russell Lake. Ron was as surprised as Cynthia when we entered Wilkes County, Georgia, home to her ancestors. The Talk of the Town Restaurant in the heart of downtown Washington was open and served a tasty Thanksgiving Dinner with turkey, beans, cranberries, and salad with which Ron gorged himself. Our Thanksgiving Dinner was indeed special in the ancestral city of Cynthia's early Georgian ancestors. The Georgia moon is most magnificent, romantic even...

Nov. 25: Ron has gone to the Hughes Library, Greenville, SC to research, leaving both poor little Smooches (one is white, the other is green) at the hotel to starve. Afterwards Ron located Staples downtown and attempted to exchange his gift Fitbit (THANKS Margie) for one with a heart monitor. Apparently these are on some "best Christmas gifts" list since this is the third Staples to have none in stock. Imagine his surprise upon returning to the hotel to discover Smooch Smooch eating a hamburger in the restaurant, a mere thirty minutes after he phoned her to say he would be back to take her to dinner. Oh well, Ron decided to walk to Trader Joes to move his Fitbit counter over 10,000 again for the 8th day in a row. He returned with chicken, a boule and red roses, all for under $10. We are packed and ready depart for Georgia bright and early with good temperatures forecast.

Nov 24: Greenville, SC. The bright, sunny day was deceiving because it was chilly riding with the temperature in the low 40's departing Columbia. After lunch we did research in the Hughes Library where Techie Ron was fascinated with the ingenious book scanner that places OCR searchable copies on his new 128 GB flash drive. Surely there is a portable ultralight book scanner that will fit into the motorcycle top case??? By 7:00 PM we were famished; we opted to dine at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Ron relished Sorbet for an appetizer, swordfish entree and Sorbet for dessert. The restaurant alarm went crazy because a dump truck ran into overhead power lines with the truck (sans cab) flipping over a bridge landing on the hotel and restaurant power terminals.

Cynthia found a news article online about her son from years ago:

Zzzzzz Good Night!

Nov 23: Columbia, SC: Bright, sunny morning here, but we've wasted all that beautiful daylight by staying indoors working on computer projects. Ron is nearly done replacing photos/ images in the Word document (Volume 6) and is going over to his friends' house to look for a book that might be there. Dinner with Tom and Cheryl at Ruby Tuesday's was so fine.

Nov 22, Sunday: Oh, no! Rain??? Yup, raindrops were falling at 7:55 AM when we exited the hotel; it stopped raining by the time we arrived for breakfast with Clark and Elizabeth at Lizard's Thicket. The usual crowd is out of town: Donna, Greg, Dick! It didn't rain again, the sun is out, and it's time to exercise. Ron walked to Staples to exchange his Fitbit Charge for a Fitbit Charge HR (with heart rate monitor). Unfortunately they did not have any, nor did WallyWorld. Ron is such a sucker for special deals on jump drives that he bought a 128 GB drive from Staples for $24.99. Walmart was out of the 64 GB miniature drive for $19.99 or he woulda bought one of those also. The tragedy of the day was that Ron's fitbit (repackaged) missed recording ALL THOSE STEPS returning to the hotel. Cynthia thought we had dinner planned with Clark & Elizabeth, but Ron was absolutely certain that we would see them tomorrow, so we walked to Ruby Tuesday and gorged ourselves --- about two hours before Elizabeth called and asked if we were on our way. Ron was WRONG. Fortunately Clark drove over and chauffeured us to a very enjoyable dinner where we conversed more than we ate.

Nov 21: Ron has 100 images to resize and replace into Vol.6. Ohmy. We walked to RT for a very late lunch that worked for a very early dinner. Cynthia exercised in the hotel's fitness room, Ron walked and talked on his phone for an hour. And we had another very late night on our computers.

Nov 20: Columbia, South Carolina is where we are this evening, prepared to go meet Clark & Elizabeth at Ruby Tuesday - and we need to leave NOW. Our day started with packing the motorcycle luggage and riding to breakfast at Happy + Hale, followed by goodbyes to Del & Savannah & our newest acquaintance, the girl from Leasburg. The ride this morning on U.S. 1 was splendid. Traffic was light and fast, but the early morning sunshine and crystal-clear skies worked magic with the trees still decked out in fall colors. One small yellow tree and several with red-brown leaves were truly remarkable. After a while, Ron became puzzled: Why does this extensive stretch of 4-lane highway exist? What purpose does a lightly used 4-lane road serve here in this remote, underpopulated part of southern North Carolina. Then we passed closeby the Rockingham Speedway, a NASCAR venue. AH-HA, follow the money. NOooo, NASCAR did not pay for that expensive stretch of highway, but everyone profiting from NASCAR revenues needed that highway built to encourage attendance and bigger profits, so the taxpayers state-wide and nation-wide subsidized NASCAR profits. The rest of U.S. 1 to the South Carolina border was much narrower and not nearly so well maintained, and the road became quite lumpy and bumpy through a couple of South Carolina counties. Entirely too obvious that South Carolina has no vested interest in the Rockingham Speedway. We stopped for dinner in the small town of Cheraw, SC at the River's Edge restaurant. (No river to be seen anywhere in the neighborhood.) This is a Mennonite restaurant, and Cynthia really enjoyed the quilts hanging on the walls, seeing, not eating, the HUGE cakes for dessert, and a good hamburger withou a bun. Ron made two trips to the salad bar and ate a baked sweet potato. As we neared Columbia, traffic became very congested until we exited onto Interstate 20. At 3:45 on this Friday afternoon, "Malfunction Junction" lived up to its name. We checked into the usual Hilton Garden Inn and arranged to see Clark & Elizabeth for dinner. A good conversation was had by all. Cynthia and Ron walked to and from for nearly a half hour each way. Ron's Fitbit recorded 16,790 steps today (Thanks to Margie). One of the big draws drawing us here was the thought of daily walks with Dick. Imagine my surprise to learn that Dick is in Connecticut until after Thanksgiving. Similarly disappointing is the news that Vince and Mary may be unavailable since the SCE&G nuclear power plant is still shutdown for maintenance (known as an "outage.") No telling who we will be able to see or when or how long we will stay here before moving on. (And no telling just what the next destination might be since Ron is in charge of travel "plans.") Now that this blog update is in order, it is time to move on to locating the original photos used in Volume 6, the book that just won't go away.

Nov 19: The rain didn't stay in Spain, that is plain. At 9:18 AM, we exited the hotel with plans to take the city bus downtown, but, as we rounded the corner, we watched bus # 7 passing. Surprisingly, the rain, forecast to last all day, had ceased. Should we wait 30 minutes for the next bus or walk and risk encountering a downpour? We waited for the next bus and got off conveniently close to Happy and Hale for our veggie and egg white breakfast. Our day at the Archives was busy and productive. We are very pleased with our research in Raleigh, but it may take a month of Sundays to get the few thousand photos reviewed and labeled. Thankfully the skies had cleared allowing us to walk home dry after another dinner at Rye's. Now we pack.

Nov 18, Wed: WooHoo! On this bright, sunny, warm day we rode the bike to Happy and Hale for breakfast and on to the State Archives (brief stop) before we rode to Yanceyville to photograph the court cleark's deed books, unclear on Archives microfilm. The rain forecast for tomorrow will delay our departure to Columbus, NC until Friday AM. Oops, when Cynthia texted Duncan with a revised schedule, he was shocked to realize that we would be arriving imminently, especially since he was in Ashville with commitments to be in Winston-Salem over the weekend. So, once again the domino effect changed OUR plans also, so we will miss visiting Duncan and head straight towards Columbia Friday. (No telling how far that is or when we will actually start, etc., etc.)

Nov 17, Tues: Christmas lights and decorations brighten downtown Raleigh; an ice skating rink is set up next to Happy and Hale, change is in the air. Cynthia's hat fell from her coat pocket during the morning walk downtown and wasn't to be found in the evening.

Ron's desktop, Cynthia's delight (and Cynthia is delightful)
Nov 16: Walking to the State Archives on Wilmington increases our exercise distance to 3 miles each way with the route far better than walking along the heavy traffic on the interstate. Happy and Hale is certainly our favorite foody place, breakfast was yummilicious, and the staff is a happy group, too. Their enthusiastic joie de vivre is contagious. The Caswell and Person County wills and estate records are all photographed. 490 photos were taken today of books about the Leas of Caswell County now to be run through OCR. Dinner at Rye's Restaurant (in the Marriott) was a treat.

Ron at "work"/play at the Archives
Nov 15: Brrr@31 degrees@eight AM when we began our hike to IHOP for breakfast, and on to the Dollar Store for pretzels, Lowe's for a buckle they don't carry, IGA for Sorbet, a BPGas station for Cynthia to use the restroom while Ron walked to another food market, and sweating by 1:30 return to our hotel. Ron's Fitbit shows 16,000 steps for 7.5 miles. Do you know IHOP uses pancake batter in omelets??? Tripps is the newest restaurant that works for our dinner. Good Night zzzzzzz

Nov. 14: The 3 mile walk to the State Archives was the equivalent of 8000 steps on the Fitbit. Cynthia's MyFitness Pal on her IPhone6 tabulated 7500 steps. The Fitbit even records restlessness in the night rewarding Ron's success with gold stars. We saw many lines of men walking to and from a Soup Kitchen for the indigent. The panhandlers are out downtown in the afternoon and evening, but we are safe. We ate at Happy and Hale, amused by interesting transportation downtown Raleigh (a 14-16 passenger "bus" was moving by virtue of people pedaling like a bicycle). We hoofed it for another 3 miles back to the hotel at 3:00 PM where we worked on computer stuffs followed by a 3 mile roundtrip hike to Capt. Stanley's Seafood Restaurant for a yummy delicious dinner.

Nov 13: Yanceyville, NC, A Mini Lea reunion began at Briggs BBQ. Ron brought his own lunch and ate bananas and vegetables. Leas from William of Cobbs Creek and James Lea Country Line were present. We stopped at the Historical Society and the courthouse to get directions to Leahurst. The 1840 plantation home was lovely, the owner so kind and gracious. The cemetery is in ruins. Susie and Austin dropped us off at the hotel; we ate leftovers from Happy and Hale before Ron walked to Batteries Plus and got lost but counted 10,000 steps on his new Fitbit gift from Margie. Cynthia's granddaughter Kiira went to ER and was admitted for kidney stones.

Nov 12: Oh my the time does fly! The 4.5 years anniversary celebration started out mighty fine with a walk to downtown Raleigh for breakfast at Happy and Hale and on to the State Archives. Ron photographed estate records while Cynthia read Oange County records. Cousins Susie and Austin Lea arrived from CA for the mini Lea reunion tomorrow; we enjoyed an awesome dinner at Death and Taxes. Ron ate a whole fish.

Nov 11: After Monday's experience walking to and from the State Archives in the rain (returning after dark along the interstate) we opted not to try that again. We rode the city bus into downtown this afternoon and home again tonight. There is a day and night difference. During the 45 minute wait at the bus station a window was opened into a different factor of the human experience. Cynthia was overwhelmed at the pathos. Yet,our early evening in downtown Raleigh was fine: we ate at Happy and Hale, checked out the restaurant "Death and Taxes" where we are eating tomorrow night, walked ten blocks to the Yellow Dog Bakery and back downtown where we had our adventure for the day. Maybe a taxi would be good the next late night???

Nov 10, Smithfield, NC, thirty miles from Raleigh, we are at Ruby Tuesday's Restaurant to meet newly engaged Sweet friends for a congratulatory lunch; with the name Sweet they may receive a lot of candy gifts. Cynthia was teary-eyed when they asked her to officiate at their 2016 wedding. We arrived back in Raleigh at the State Archives by 3:00 PM where a professional genealogist suggested TurboScan for IPad Nd IPhone, $4.99. It scans, runs OCR and creates PDFs of multiple documents. Cynthia downloaded it from the App Store onto her IPad. It will sync to her Iphone6 but not to Ron's thousand year old flip phone.

Nov 9: Raleigh, NC with normal EKG. Woohoo! Yesterday's inconclusive reading was emailed to Walter who reassured Cynthia the even spacing between beats was more important than the erratic reading. We change hotels this morning to a $79.00 Comfort Inn near the Archives because the rates at the Hiltons are increasing to $220.00 minimum a night. It is raining lightly about 9:30AM with heavy rain forecast by noon so we will pack up and roll. Speaking of rolling, here's a great article, "Wanderlust is "genetic": Traveling in the rain is not by choice, but born of necessity. By mid afternoon we managed an 18 mile ride in the rain to our next hotel, checked for cleanliness, walked 2.4 miles in light rain to the State Archives with a lunch stop at Happy and Hale to eat and drink our veggies. Happy and Hale's was a repeat for dinner followed by a 2.4 mile sloppy, wet walk in rain and mud back to our hotel. Photo: Ron's Shakedown Cruise, Sept 15 2007 in Staunton, VA, posted with fond memories:

Nov 8: Warrenton, VA to Raleigh, NC was a six hour ride that started out on highway 15 west from Warrenton until we missed a turn and discovered ourselves on highway 29 south through Amherst where we stopped for lunch at the Travelers Restaurant; the back country roads through Danville, VA into Person County, NC were not scenic. The day was cheerful and sunny, but the temperature did not get over 60 degrees. We met a lovely young girl named Bailey in Brookneal, VA but failed to get her last name. After we arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn (about 4:30), we kept on our warm clothing to ride to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Ron ate tuna and Cynthia had a filet. The hostess expressed delight seeing us cuddled up on one side of the table and smiled at our explanation, "We are newlyweds." (After we have been married 30 years can we get away telling people we are newlyweds?") We haven't felt rested after last nights late hour and awakening at 6:00 AM. Another cold is coming on. Zzzzzzz

Nov 7: Yup. West Chester, PA has certainly been a good place to visit. The Classic Diner serves hiker portions, perhaps because this is a college town, albeit expensive. We were packed and off early for a two day ride to Raleigh, NC. Today's ride on scenic back country roads had marvelous views of vivid, intense autumn foliage. Picturesque Amish farms, complete with black buggies behind horses, was indeed a sight to see near Lancaster, PA. Charming stone houses on smaller farms, and the variegated hills in Maryland, offered compelling comparisons. A late lunch at a diner was sorta ok. The day was nice so we continued riding longer, past Mt. Airy forsaking a night at Jim's house, arriving in Warrenton, VA at a Hampton Inn about 6:00 PM quite tired. Sleep sounds good after editing photos to see how they will work run through OCR.

Nov 6: 5:30 AM, WakeUp Ron! This will be a heart changing day. Why is it always difficult to leave morning cuddles?? The driver was waiting for us promptly at 5:57 whisking us to the Chester County Hospital twenty minutes before the Heart and Vascular Center opened; the staff immediately whisked Ron away which is unusual. So I (Cynthia) am left alone and thinking. Thankful. The world needs more Ron, the consummate King of Kindness, the ultimate balcony person who lifts people up, leaving others better and happier, the living expression of God's kindness in his eyes, kindness in his smile. Thankful. I am. See the top and middle sets of lines on the EKG; this is a15 second flatline before the heart converted causing the doctors to hold their breath. Ron was hungry upon return from the hospital so we walked five blocks to Nudy's restaurant (suggested by Nurse Nancy) for delicious omelets. The Chester County Historical Society was a good choice to spend the afternoon shooting 266 photos. Kim-Eric and his lovely friend Ruth joined us at the Iron Hill for dinner. We walked them part way home.

Nov 5: West Chester, PA, the Warner Hotel; it is the closest hotel to the hospital for Friday's very early trip to reset the heart. The Warner Hotel was once the Warner Theatre now converted to an Art Deco themed hotel. The rooms are lovely, spacious and the enclosed parking garage is a terrific plus. We have a 10% discount card for the Iron Hill Brewery. After lunch and yogurt at Kiwi's we walked the streets for an hour and a half stopping into the Chester County Historical Society briefly giving Ron ample time for his favorite pastime, telling stories. Cynthia had not yet heard the Chester County Mechem stories. The hospital called with the cheery news we are to arrive at 6:45 AM; we secured a driver to take us there departing from the hotel by 6:00 AM, and a wake up call at 5:30 with No food or liquids after midnight. Kim-Eric met us at the SideBar for dinner:, followed by frozen yogurt at Kiwi's. Good Night.

Nov. 4: West Chester, PA, Echocardiogram at 11:15 AM. The Echocardiogram went fine; the technician said it would sound like an old wringer washing machine. It did. Lunch was at the Iron Hill Brewery, one of the 150 trendy restaurants in this charming, historic community. After lunch, we returned to the seminary instead of researching for Kinchen Rambo at the Historical Society. The ride through the historic Main Line region ( was breathtaking with magnificent, fanciful stone mansions. Indian Summer is fully present under a cloudless, azure blue sky. Autumn. Abundance. The view of Autumn from our motorcycle brings to mind God has more colors than Crayola. We said our good-byes to Jim Z.; Kim Eric met us at Scoogi's for dinner. Now we are very sleepy! Zzzzzz

Nov 3: Yup, we are still in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, an outskirt of Philadelphia, still awaiting to see the cardiologist, but this time the wait is for a scheduled cardioversion. Finally, Volumes 6A and 6B of The Wrangel Years are being published; and Vol. 7 Goransson-Hultgren Years template was sent to Ken P who almost fell out of his chair because it appeared completed. Foodified, we enjoyed the beauty of Indian Summer walking to the Fort Washington Post Office. After dinner at Scoogi's in Flourtown, Ron is elated to discover Alma Mechem's death date and burial information amongst seven pages of old notes being transcribed into the computer (Cynthia's over-abundance of joy is exceedingly excessive).

Nov. 2th: Ft. Washington, PA, a suburb of New Sweden (AKA Philadelphia) where Cynthia has been waiting the past ten days to have Ron see a cardiologist. Our 3:00 PM appointment today is to see if cardioversion to put the heart back into normal sinus rhythm can be scheduled yet this week. SURPRISE, it will be done Friday, God willing. Believe it or not, the bill for TWO heart procedures, including doctors and hospital days was received with a great feeling of thanksgiving: $20.76. Medicare plus Mutual of Omaha Supplemental paid the remainder of $66,000.

WooHoo! Surprise! Neither of us believed it was possible to arrange a cardioversion yet this week; Doctor Warnick was very friendly and personable, but a little perplexed that we want to have cardioversion HERE, but once he understood that our Houston cardiologist wanted it sooner rather than later, he arranged it for this coming Friday morning. It will be a very early day, but Ron will not be in the hospital overnight. On Wednesday we return to West Chester for a diagnostic echocardiogram. (Dr. Warnick says he likes to know the condition of the heart before he cardioverts.)

Tonight, we enjoyed a lovely walking tour through historic West Chester with Kim-Eric as our tour guide. He took us to look at the Waverly Hotel. Impressed, Cynthia immediately booked a room for Thursday and Friday nights. It is the closest hotel to the hospital for our very early check in on Thursday. Dinner at the Iron Grill Brewery was excellent; Cynthia enjoyed swordfish, Ron had salmon on a salad.

Nov. 1th: All Saints Day: "For all the saints from whom their labors rest... !" Our sainted and not so sainted ancestors make up a very lengthy list; thanks for them all. Some hotel guests at breakfast looked like hungover/leftovers from a wild Halloween party, but they were from two different weddings. Living saints John and Emily T. picked us up for a lovely lunch at Scoogi's; John had good news about two family group sheet sales. Photo: Beatty Saintly duo, doncha think?

Awwww, lookie the litttle "angels" Photo from years ago in Hawaii