Friday, December 1, 2017

Christmas on the Beach

31 Dec: The place holder held.  Tomorrow is today.  Thank God.  Wasn’t it only yesterday, New Years Eve 2008, when Ron proposed, “Will you marry me?”   What a journey life has been with ups, downs and turn arounds in the 10 years since the surprising, “Yes!”  Another decade begins; 2018 breaks new ground.  We are at our healthiest, perpetually happy, continually surprised by joy.  Thank God.  With a 42 degree wind chill index we walked the beach twice to experience global freezing.  Ron’s brother Dean called from Lewes, DE boasting of running in 17 degree Brrrrr weather.  Dean wins.  After dinner we bundled up to see the fireworks and bonfires on the beach. So beautiful. Happy New Year!  Blessings on all your tomorrows, may you be blessed with a Merry heart, optimum health, and infinite wisdom.
Good Bye 2017
Some of the sunsets on the beach are wonderful, sunrises too.
30 Dec, 2017 Reflection: Thank God for today.  Many friends did not survive to see this year end; we are reminded to live for those who did not.  For those of us who continue on to another year, we do so with gratitude, relishing the simple pleasure of living fully, tasting joy as it flies.  Thank God.  A big Thank you to the 907 people who read our blog in December! Thank you!  On this day, we managed two beach walks in mild 60 degree temperature; too quickly, we started sweating and shed layers.  Dense fog moved in by 3 PM.  The evening has been quiet and peaceful, apart from firecrackers  popping  in the distance. Ron is working on a Stalcup Order while Cynthia reads, “The Experience of God, Being, Consciousness and Bliss,”. by her new favorite author, David Bentley Hart.

29 Dec., Crystal Beach, Texas at 51 degrees, after morning stretches and feeding our faces, we are ready to move.into action. Ron cleaned the kitchen and Cynthia, the Tasmanian Devil, cleaned and did laundry.  The pipes on this beach house are likely not wrapped; Global Freezing is scheduled to usher in the new year.  We walked 4 miles in WIND!
Low tide today was really low !!
Ron shopped and walked some more before we turned into Computer zombies.  Grandson Brett bought 4 new books for the baby and sent a photo of Jenn with their baby bump.

28 Dec: Cold?  YES!  But we bundled up and bounced to the beach for the first of two walks today. Well, we didn’t really bounce, but we looked bouncy moving fast to stay warm.  Ron is working on James Lea while Cynthia does DNA Projects on electronic devices.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner with Cynthia’s Texas friends, Gabby and Bob, Jr.

27 Dec: Oh, what fun! Oh, what fun! Oh, what fun!  We had FUN.  The San Luis Hotel was beautifully decorated with lighted trees and animated decorations, including a live parrot. We enjoyed a pleasant Breakfast together before everyone scattered.  The rain delayed our departure; by noon the rain stopped; Ron said, “ Let’s ride!”   The bike ride in 44 degree temperatures onto the ferry for 2.7 mile crossing with 20 mph side winds was bad.  Thank goodness we timed it to miss the rain/ drizzle.  Brrrr!  Fortunately, we did not have a long wait to board the ferry.  The wind was, well, windy. Very windy. Back at the beach house, we stuffed our faces with oatmeal. And popcorn (No butter and no salt).  Good night.

26 Dec, Awake and out of bed by 7:00 AM we quickly ate and packed the bike to arrive on Galveston Island before we were soaked by spurts of showers/rain forecast.  We made it to the San Luis Resort dry by ten AM.    Our beach house neighbor was in the car beside us while on the ferry. Another surprise was seeing Janeen from Ocean Grill Restaurant at the check-in desk. She did a double take when Ron appeared because she recognized him.  Everyone remembers Ron’s  smile or our crazy dietary restrictions. The foyer and hallway of the San Luis is gorgeous lined with huge Christmas trees.  Our family arrives this afternoon for our Christmas celebration. Daughter Roxanne received an ultrasound photo of her first grandchild for her Christmas gift from her son, Brett.  JOY, this makes Cynthia and Ron great grandparents.  Photos: Lauren and her BF Tyler; view from our room; Cynthia, Ron, Paul, Jon and Roxanne. Sad Julie could not attend.
Tyler and Lauren
View from our room, and the weather was nice
Squeeze together for the fambily shot

25 Dec: Merry Christmas!  A  birth cry pierced the silent night.  Ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, a baby about the size of a sack of sugar, God enfleshed.  Grandchildren (2004) tell the Good News  in their own inimitable way!  The beach is chilly and windy but we did a 4 mile trek late morning.  Ron is deeply immersed in SCS packages and counting his coins on a spreadsheet.

Cynthia's Grandchildren in Christmas Pageant

24 Dec: Ron awoke at 5:30 and commenced work on the SCS package.  Cynthia awoke at 6:45 to a gorgeous sunrise. The day holds bright sunshine and happy hearts.  See Galveston in the far distance:
Daily walks on the beach

23 Dec:  Ron arose at 6:30 AM followed by a marvelous sunrise. We are surprised at the vast number of empty beach homes along this 27 mile peninsula.  A few more houses are lit with cars parked outside for the week long holiday.  Evidently going to the beach is usually for hot weather?  The weather is perfect for us, not too cold and certainly not too warm. We are proud of  7.5 miles today in two trips.  The evening sunset was splendid.

This sunset was worth sharing

22 Dec: And Hello Sunshine at 70 degrees!  Happiness is finding joy in the mundane:  A neighbor disposed of a Christmas tree by the trash cans; Ron rescued the tree seconds before the trash collector would have swooped it up.  It is decorated with craft type hand made ornaments.  On our beach walk today, Ron was picking up trash;  Cynthia pointed to a piece of plastic, “Do you want to pick up that jug?”  Ron replied, “No, I would have to let go of your hand; I want to hold your hand.”  Awwwweee!  Mmmmm.  After our walk on this gorgeous, sunny day, Ron started lentil and bean soup in the crock pot. The next door neighbor brought us cookies that we will give to anyone but us.
We found a Christmas tree already decorated

And Cynthia is a better decoration than any other
No, she did NOT hit me with the new Gotham omelet pan.
21 Dec at Crystal Beach, TX, Ron is once again up at 6:15 AM and prepared a surprise for Cynthia by spreading some of our favorite smoochie photos around the room.  JOY!  She surprised him with an early Christmas gift just in time for him to prepare egg white veggie omelettes, and they were quite good despite new stovetop and new pan.  The forecast was rain, but it didn’t drip a drop as we walked our usual 4 miles along on the beach.  Ron has set aside "SCS packages" for a few days to work on other projects, starting with asset allocation and Minimum Required Distribution (age 70 1/2 don't cha know).  Cynthia opines that a nap might be nice, too, but we didn't do that  We walked the beach again after Ron made his financial phone calls.
Favorite Smoochie photo (Thanks to Lil' MAC)


Lookie all the fog - and it lasted ALL DAY
20 Dec:  Ron is up at 6:15 AM; the Big Store opens at 7 AM.  Cynthia needs Quaker old fashioned oats, yogurt and jam, so at 7:06 Ron is off on his shopping trip for his beloved WeeFee.  Oops, never mind; she’s awake.  Oh goody.  And so another fun day began with a magnificent sunrise and reached a perfect 70 degrees.  We tried the upper deck’s tall beach chairs and were rewarded with a panoramic view of the beach and of the ships offshore, approaching Galveston, which lies west of us.  The Pritikin frozen food package arrived a day late but still frozen mostly solid.  After filling the freezer, we managed a second beach walk, enjoying the sunset’s marvelous shades of orange, pink and violet and arrived home before dark.  A few more folks were on the beach with such a lovely day, but mostly we have 27 miles of quiet beach.  Today we totaled 7 miles.  Wooo Hooo!  Cynthia splurged by cooking soup and a Pritikin fish dinner from our frozen delivery.

19 Dec:  How fun to walk in the fog, but the dense fog prohibited delivery of our Pritikin food until tomorrow. Christmas is but a week away; is it time to post a Christmas card?  Ok.

19 December 2017

We arrived in Crystal Beach, TX a couple of days ago to stay at son Jon’s beach house.  It is a lovely, quiet place where we can walk the beach for miles with rarely a soul in sight.   We enjoy beach walking two or three times a day; joy comes when my Fitbit buzzes, signaling 10,000 steps.

2018 is approaching like a speeding bullet train bound to hit all too soon.  2017 has been a successful year; we are still alive, we wake up every morning thanking God for the blessings of “we,” our family, and the big and little ways God works in our lives.

WE: (Ron and Cynthia) left Texas the middle of March after attending an exciting Forensic DNA workshop in San Antonio where Cynthia had a breakthrough DNA discovery after 35 years of research.  She learned the identity of her great grandfather Harry King through an unusual set of circumstances; the results await publication as “Nancy Drew Does DNA.”

WE (2Rolling Stones):  visited friends en route and arrived April 1 at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami for Ron’s two-week Cardiac Rehab.  The holistic program is so impressive that Cynthia warbled, "I could live here."  We then rode north to  Philadelphia, where Ron was honored with an award from the Swedish American Council.  His sister, Carol, and brother Dean with wife Janina Beatty, proudly attended along with an MIT alumnus, Eric Clemons.  Our next plan was to hike south on the Appalachian Trail, but we needed to get fit first by hiking near Waynesboro, VA.  After 6 weeks, we were fit, but it was too hot to stay south.  Cooler weather beckoned in Killington, Vermont and the Inn at Long Trail is a favorite spot where we can walk out the door to several trails; they feed us really good, and they like us, too.  Cynthia returned to Texas for ten days; thereafter her daughter Julie joined us for hiking and to enjoy the fall foliage.  We followed fall south, visiting friends in Columbia, SC and in Florida en route to the Pritikin again where we stayed for the entire month of November.  That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

OUR family news:  Grandniece Erika (Illinois senior in HS) was honored with a second trip to New York to participate in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Eric Axtell (Erika's father, Carol’s son) sent a photo of himself and Kyle with the deer that Kyle bagged on his first successful hunt.  Ron’s brother Dean and wife Janina moved to Lewes, DE; biggest plus is that they get to see their children more often.

The Texas Grandchildren: Roxanne's children: Brett is change\ing fields and working towards a degree in physics; Austin is a UT graduate living in Des Moines, Iowa; Kiira is completing her final year for a MA in counseling.  Julie’s son Eric graduated from TX A&M in May and is living in Fort Worth; he is engaged to Emily, and a fall wedding is planned.  Corrie and Alan live in College Station.  Scott's children: Samantha is a MA counseling therapist working with autistic children; her special fellow Adam is really a keeper; her brother Steven (Eagle Scout) is an executive with the Boy Scouts of America.  Jon's girls: Rachel (in public relations) celebrates 3 years of happy marriage to Ryan Miller; Lauren is a MA counselor at a Roman Catholic Girls school part time and works part time as a private therapist; she is happily coupled with Tyler Goff.  Paul and Cheryl's girls: Zoe, 17, is a junior in HS and is college shopping; Fyn is 3-years-old, breaking all records for adorable.

18 Dec:  Only a tinge of pink indicated a sunrise behind overcast skies.  Rain is expected, 0% chance of snow or ice, 100% humidity; the high temperature will reach 66 degrees.  Before the first rain showers, we walked the beach, 9800+ steps.  Ron is working on Swedish Colonial Society packages with a promise to edit Cynthia’s DNA article for publication “soon.”  Cynthia bought Ron a Gotham omelette pan for Christmas, no oil is needed; Ron bought the egg whites, but computer work takes precedence over cooking.  Our Pritikin banana ice cream recipe was yummy.  Brother Dean & Janina called & inquired about the Pritikin; their new house is more convenient to their working adult children.  Ron is realizing that it will soon be time to cook another crockpot full of beans & lentils.  Our routine is becoming normal: oatmeal w/ berries, popcorn, computer stuff vs I-Pad communication, beach walks, comfortable & convenient.  We continue to maintain pelvic tilt while walking, our exercise goal after leaving the Pritikin.

birds & beach

more beach
17 Dec:  The forecast improved with highs into the upper 60s for several days.  We walked nearly 9 miles today in our shirtsleeves, enjoying good visibility and lots of wave action!  Niece Robin and her family were evacuated from their home in Summerland, CA because of the fierce fire.  The home is safe today, but evacuation mandate remains.

Cynthia’s Sunday Offering for Advent 3:
Are you fun to live with? Do you have joy? Really? 
“I (John) am the voice of one crying in the wilderness ... but (pointing to Christ) in the midst of you is one whom you do not know.”
This is Rejoice Sunday. If only things were different, I would rejoice. I have reasons to be unhappy. If only things were different, I would be happy. . Real joy is really missing from our world. In our desert, look to Christ. Only he can bring light to the darkness of our minds. Only he can forgive, deliver or bring hope. In these days before Christmas, prepare your hearts in prayer and guard your minds, for the true source of our joy is only found in Jesus.
RSV John 1:23

16 Dec:  Life is Good!  The sunrise was a brilliant orange.   We walked 4 miles of beach despite a chilly 51 degrees and wind.  Ron rode to the Big Store to shop for microwave safe bowls and returned with paper bags for making popcorn without oil or salt.  (They work well.)  The James Lea Book is put aside for now; tomorrow's project is financial asset allocation (oops, forgot that part).  At 3:00 PM we walked the neighborhood because the wind is strong enough to blow sand.  The beach is quite empty apart from a few folks in cars or beach carts.  A couple of guys were out on the beach in shorts, tending a campfire.  Tonight a storm is forecast, but we are very comfortable in son Jon’s beach house working on projects and exercising.   Reflection: this is our tenth Christmas together; time has passed so swiftly.  Life is INDEED very good.  Thank God. Thank God.

15 Dec:  Sunrise this morning was an awesome red !!  We awoke feeling rested, then breakfasted, and Ron resumed plotting plats for the James Lea book.  After lunch we walked the chilly beach, and Ron decided to walk to the Big Store for groceries, a 2.6-mile brisk walk each way.  En route he talked with the Gowdys and with Drew while striving to keep his pelvic tilt and maintaining aerobic speed.  More rolled oats, frozen berries plus jam & Can't Believe Its Not Butter for Cynthia.  POPCORN too, but we have no microwave safe popcorn bowl.  (The bowl we used is toasted, a large crack up the middle.  The popcorn was excellent.)  Ron kept plotting plats until midnight, and has now set James Lea to rest for several days.  Next project is Swedish Colonial Society packages - tomorrow.

The motorcyclist is mending. Pants were casualties of Irma cleanup.
14 Dec on Bolivar Peninsula near Galveston, Texas:  Ron mended while Cynthia wrote her class Christmas newsletter, then he made beans in a large crockpot and added lentils to the mix.  Skies were overcast with a cool, breezy real feel of 66 degrees, perfect for 4 miles of beach walking.  Cynthia learned how to make microwave popcorn without adding oil or salt;  if we had some kernels, we could pop popcorn.  After eating rice with beans & lentils, we walked again after dark, increasing our total mileage to 5.5.  Cynthia was not happy with the poor visibility that the inky, black night offered.

13 Dec:  We left Lafayette, Louisiana by 10:30 AM, riding west towards the Bolivar Peninsula on the Texas Gulf coast.  We were excited to eat at Jason’s Deli in Port Arthur, TX, but Ron was confused since we never actually found Port Arthur; we apparently got to within a quarter mile of the deli and turned the wrong way.  Instead we enjoyed a very yummy bowl of steamed veggies at an Italian Restaurant in Winnie, TX and arrived at the beach house in time for a long walk.  We loaded up on veggies at the Big Store and took another walk to enjoy the sunset.  We are exhausted.  Good night.

12 Dec, Gulfport, MS:  Today's scenic highlight commenced as we left Gulfport on U.S Highway 90 along the Gulf coast.  Temperatures were very pleasant despite previous forecast warnings of frigid weather.  We stopped at IHOP in Baton Rouge for lunch, but their cooks use oil or butter on the grill, no cooking spray, so we subsisted on a small house salad and a tiny bowl of fresh fruit.  After lunch, traveling west on I-10, the sun and glare strained our eyes all afternoon, the big disadvantage to traveling due west in the afternoon on clear days.  In Lafayette, Louisiana we discovered a new favorite restaurant: Jason’s Deli.  They serve humongous sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, and a terrific salad bar.  The nationwide chain has a location in Port Arthur, TX, where we will stop for lunch tomorrow.  WooHoo!

View from El Governor Hotel in Mexico Beach, Florida
11 Dec:  In Mexico Beach, FL the day dawned at 33 degrees; that’s one degree above freezing.  The sun is out, making our walk to Sharon’s Cafe not feel so cold.  Ron looked to see if they  had another Smiley Faces dew rag but without success.  We bundled up, packed up, and were ready to roll at 10:00 AM, heading towards Gulfport, Mississippi.  We again tried to find a coastal highway to watch the water rolling in and had a bit of success; today's scenic highlight was 7 miles of sand dunes that looked like snow banks from Navarre Beach to Pensacola on FL 399, the Emerald Coast.  The rest of the ride on U.S. highway 98 was less scenic although traffic was satisfactorily light. We were delighted to discover a Ruby Tuesday restaurant for our lunch and another Ruby Tuesday for dinner.  We stayed the night at a Hilton Garden Inn in Gulfport because they have an omelet chef to cook us egg white veggie omelets in the morning.

Sunset at the Sunset Coastal Grill in Port St. Joe, Florida

10 Dec:  We were so close to the El Governor Hotel at 5:05 PM, that Ron decided to stop for dinner at the Sunset Coastal Grill in Port St. Joe, FL, a great restaurant.  Frozen, he stammered, “We want two baked potatoes for appetizers.”  Brrrr!  We held them in our hands for warmth before ordering fresh cod, steamed vegetables and two more baked potatoes, enjoying a magnificent sunset from our dining window.  We started out this bright, sunny,  morning at a raw, 49 degrees on U.S. Highway 98 going north and west.  We didn’t have wind today, but we were cold,  despite Cynthia’s heated gear and our heated seats.  By late afternoon the temperature increased to a balmy 56 degrees.  Were we warm?  No.  Highway 98 follows the Florida panhandle providing lovely rural views and is almost entirely clear of traffic.  It was a short ten miles from Port St. Joe to Mexico Beach.  The remainder of this week promises to be just as cold as we ride westward to Texas.

9 Dec, Sarasota, FL:  We enjoyed breakfast with Jan and Dorothy (thanks for your hospitality) at a local restaurant, and we are ready to roll north towards the Florida panhandle that is 400 miles away. We won’t make it all the way today in this chilly weather.  The forecast high is 51 degrees.  Brrrrr.  After 200 miles on I-75, the high winds and cold convinced us to stop early at a convenient Hampton Inn.  The hotel was far from any restaurants, so we cooked sweet potatoes, from the nearby Winn-Dixie, in the microwave and ate lots of oatmeal with berries.  A warm thought for the day:

Take Care of Yourself
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR as yourself is part of the great commandment. The other way to say it is, 'Love yourself as your neighbor.' Love yourself not in some egocentric, self-serving sense but love yourself the way you would love your friend in the sense of taking care of yourself, nourishing yourself, trying to understand, comfort, strengthen yourself. Ministers in particular, people in the caring professions in general, are famous for neglecting their selves with the result that they are apt to become in their own way as helpless and crippled as the people they are trying to care for and thus no longer selves who can be of much use to anybody. If your daughter is struggling for life in a raging torrent, you do not save her by jumping into the torrent with her, which leads only to your both drowning together. Instead you keep your feet on the dry bank—you maintain as best you can your own inner peace, the best and strongest of who you are—and from that solid ground reach out a rescuing hand. "Mind your own business" means butt out of other people's lives because in the long run they must live their lives for themselves, but it also means pay mind to your own life, your own health and wholeness, both for your own sake and ultimately for the sake of those you love too. Take care of yourself so you can take care of them. A bleeding heart is of no help to anybody if it bleeds to death. 
- Originally published in Telling Secrets

8 Dec, Venice, FL:  Ron and Cynthia walked two miles in separate directions near the airport or into town from Drew’s home.  At 11:00 AM, we left for Sarasota, FL and stopped to have lunch at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant.  At Jan's house we discovered that Cynthia left her hearing aids at Drew’s, so Ron and Jan drove together 20 miles back to Drew’s to retrieve them.  The miles of Christmas lights in Sarasota are eye-dropping incredible.

7 Dec:  We rode to visit Drew in Venice, FL, but BD is in New Hampshire.  During the holidays, the shops in downtown Venice stay open once evening a week and entice shoppers with free desserts, lemonades, teas, and wine.  Drew will not miss an opportunity like that; we walked the festive historic district while Drew sampled wine and cookies in the shops.  To say the streets were packed can’t begin to describe the crowds dressed in reds and Christmas glitter.  After returning to Drew's, Cynthia and Ron walked all the way to “TURIN” Street (aptly named) and turned around.

view from top floor of parking garage near our hotel
6 Dec, Ft. Lauderdale, FL:  After a restful 8 hours we walked over to the nearby convention center to enjoy the long carpeted hallways and to the parking garage which has "good" views of the waterways.  (The picture (right) doesn't do the view justice.)  We used the Hilton fitness center, but the equipment was old and injured us both.  Ron rode the bus back over to the BMW shop and picked the bike up after its 30,000-mile service.

5 Dec.  The super moon was visible again this morning.  The packing is nearly completed. Check out time is a firm 11:00 AM.  After lunch, we will spend two days in Fort Lauderdale to get the 30,000 mile service done for the motorcycle.  Our time here at Pritikin has been filled to the max.  So many unfinished projects waiting for us to do in Texas.  Let’s ride.

4 Dec, We want to stay at Pritikin!  But, we must depart tomorrow, leaving behind so many wonderful new friends.  Joe and his delightful wife brought a lot of laughter to our dinner table with their repertoire of jokes and magic tricks.  Cynthia is especially fond of Candace and Donald.  The moon is gorgeous tonight.  And now we pack.
another Moon over Miami evening

3 Dec, Sunday:  Our day started Merry, became merrier, and ka-boom! During dinner Cynthia’s cell phone rang and immediately went to voice mail. Checking out the call later, she discovered the call was purportedly from her own cell phone.  How puzzling.  How scary.  Verizon security said hackers get hold of phone numbers and use third party software to make calls making it appear as though the phone call was from someone else.  It’s called ID Spoofing.  Thankfully, Ka--boom ended on a Merry note.  The Moon over Miami is marvelous.  Good night.

Super Moon over Miami
2 Dec:  Many Pritikin guests are departing today.  Two Pritikin guests, Harry and Mary Ann, were married at Miami Beach today.  They were at Pritikin before and after the ceremony.  Our day was once again filled with getting fit, fine food and fun!  The super Moon over Miami was lovely, although the photo doesn’t do it justice.
Here is a marvelous article to make Christmas merry:

Pritikin from the rear
1 Dec, Friday:  We enjoyed a delightful dinner with Joe and Terry, a very funny 92 year old and his bride of 30 years.  He is fit and first came to Pritikin 30 years ago after a triple bypass.  Our day was stellar with excellent lectures, cardio, yoga.  We managed another successful FitBit day, recording 21,000 steps. WooHoo!  Notice the Poinsettias which grace the walk to the Pritikin Center (left).

The Pritikin keeps us busy.  Breakfast is an all-you-can-eat buffet with an egg white omelet chef (Doreth or James) and lots of oatmeal options, lots of fruit.  Next Ron goes to yoga for 45 minutes, then cardio (on machines) for 45 minutes, then weights for 45 minutes, then a lecture for 45 minutes before lunch.  Lunch is another all-you-can-eat starting with a huge salad.  (It takes Ron 45 minutes to eat his salad.)  There are two more lectures after lunch and an optional cooking class in the cooking cove.  Cynthia and I often go for a long walk on the jogging trail in the afternoon.  Dinner is served at 6 PM, with a choice of salad, soup, entree, and desert.  There is usually one more lecture after dinner, and Cynthia and I go for a final long walk to end our day.  Tally that all up and you will understand that we have no free time while we are here.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Nov: A Pritikin Thanksgiving

30 Nov, Thankful,  we are thankful for our month long Pritikin experience.  It is hard to describe the wealth of educational benefits, the outstanding medical staff available to us one-on-one, the nutritional knowledge we have gleaned and fitness we have achieved.  Next time, God willing in 2019,  we will stay three months.   A large group of people from England checked in last night for the four day stay.  Our day was perfect in every way. Great labs.  Cynthia had a reflexology massage on her feet she described as painful, but helpful.  Her foot pain isn’t plantar fascitis, just tight tendons. WOW! 20,000 steps today, 8.5 miles, yoga, free weights and cardio.

29 Nov, Another Pritikin Perfect day.  It is fascinating to meet folks like 93 year old Joseph who came to Pritikin 30 years ago as a big bellied 63 year old with a bad heart.  He is an amazingly fit and trim fellow who turned his Pritikin experience into 30 more years of quality life.  Ron is in his sixth pain free day.  No more knee or back pain.  Cynthias foot pain is alleviated by staying off the treadmill.

28 Nov, Tues. This day next week we will have to leave this awesome place.  We love it here enough we will plan to return for another month next year.  And we hope to return every year.  Ron experienced extra heart beats doing Rock and Roll during high intensity cardio on the elliptical machines today. This means the end of rocking out in cardio to keep that heart rate about 90 at full speed.  Cynthia had her own injury yesterday with pain in her left foot.  She has racked up nearly 20,000 steps every day this week.  I wish there was a way to summarize all of the lecture information for the blog. There is no one like Frank, former physical therapist for the Miami Dolphins who always has time for us, yet he is so incredibly busy.  Keep the pelvic tilt walking to keep the spine fit for a long, healthy life.

27 Nov, The day was cloudy and much cooler.  After four lectures, yoga,  cardio, free weights and awesome food we are ready to sleep early for our 7:00 AM labs.

26 Nov,  a stellar day at Pritikin.  Ron has NO pain. Pritikin is amazing.  All knee, back and shoulder pain is gone.  Our workouts are successful.  The morning was successfully spent doing the routine workouts. We bought the Yoga DVD for hotel room continuity. The magnificent coral sunset is kissing the earth while the palm trees dance in the balmy breeze.

25 Nov, We see why people travel to south Florida for vacations. The weather is glorious.  Our routine includes an hour of  yoga, cardio, free weights, lectures  and walking.  Of course, the food is fabulous at Pritikin.  Another group is leaving tomorrow, but we have 9 days to go.

24 Nov, Is a Pritikin perfect day in Doral, FL following an awesome Thanksgiving dinner last night that left us filled and healthy.  Ron ate sea bass, Cynthia ate turkey with sage dressing made of Ezekiel bread, a cranberry relish, mashed sweet potatoes with pineapple chunks and bread pudding.  Cynthia’s labs are almost as perfect as Ron’s.  Her total cholesterol is 117.   This beautiful, sunny day, Ron had yoga class,  Cynthia worked out with a trainer. We both did cardio, and core with a long walk after lunch. Ron believes high salt on pretzels may have contributed to AFib.   The new pretzels are fat and salt free.  Half a bag helps fewer nocturnal trips to the Necessary Room.  Yesterday we learned high salt causes brittle arteries but the Pritikin plan will reverse the brittle arteries to normal elasticity. Our niece Erika Axtell performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City with her high school drill team.

23 Nov, Happy Thanksgiving!  Thank God, thank God, thank God for life’s abundant blessings that includes you, our family and friends.  We are especially grateful to friends we met in Scotland who sent marvelous news this morning:

“Many thanks for sharing information on Prinikin food menu. I have subscibed to their Newsletter and have been eating your way. I am making the sweet potato pancakes to night. 

I was given medication for high blood pressure several months ago. Since eating plenty of fruit & veg and cutting right down on butter, etc, my blood pressure was normal to day. I am so pleased. You have given me and Fred inspiration to eat  the Prinikin way. I swim several times per week and do Pilates and Fred plays golf and exercises with me. He has diebetes and his sugar level has come right down. 

Thankyou so much for your facebook posts and blog.

You and Ron are a wondeful couple. so glad we met you.

Kind regards,


22 Nov, A stellar day at Pritikin despite afternoon rain.  Ron went to yoga straught away while Cynthia endured an extensive phone call to LifeLock because of an identity theft alert that was nothing more than our address change showing up on a credit card. Once that was resolved she joined Ron doing cardio intensive interval workouts. Ron had free weights next and Cynthia had core with the personal trainer. After a lecture by Frank on foot and ankle pain we did water aerobics. Ron is too tall for the 4’ pool; additionally, Ron was unsuccessful in testing his body composition by going to the bottom of the pool to let all the air out if his lungs to see if he would stay on the bottom.  He chickened out. We walked to our room in the rain.  Now it is dinner time!

21 Nov, Happy birthday, Julie.  Early morning labs are a challenge, but the news from the scales brightened our day.  We each lost two more pounds.  Ron’s blood pressure was 78/60. Cynthia’s was 92/70.  The Pritikin attendance is very low over Thanksgiving, hence the experience is different from the hustle and bustle of a full dining room, fitness center, etc.  Ron did yoga, we both did cardio, stretch and tone, plus walking an additional five miles and listened to three lectures on aging, stress, biomechanical means to alleviate pain in the back, neck and knees. The photos was taken from the upper patio looking towards the golf course.

20 Nov, Monday Fun at Pritikin included visitors from their winter home in Naples, FL. We gave them a tour of Pritikin and Ron arranged a golf car tour of the magnificent five golf courses.  We dined at the Pritikin Center so they could experience the food, too.  Geoff said the sweet potato was like dessert. Yes, it is.  Ron managed getting in all of his cardio and yoga.  Cynthia worked with the trainer.  Our lectures were on atherosclerosis and nutrition.  Cynthia’s Fitbit recorded 49 miles last week. Wow.

19 Nov.  The sun is shining in Florida again.  Imagine that.  We loved the brunch, especially the sweet potato pancakes with blueberries.

18 Nov, The sun is shining, we are happy and extremely well fed with a break between lectures to make it to the Running Co. for Hoka Shoes.  Cynthia bought the Hoka Clifton 4; Ron was fitted and learned his  Hoka Bondi5W are what he should have,  so he doesn’t need to buy another pair for ten more years.  The evening was glorious.

17 Nov,  The weather could not be more perfect.  After cardio, core, yoga, eating again and Again, plus a lecture on “Sitting is the New Smoking,” we walked the jogging trail.  Ron hustled off to cooking class to eat food samples.  We greatly enjoy our new nam, “The adorable couple.” Amazing that we have a long enough afternoon break to take showers.  On our evening walk,  via the jogging trail,  we met some golf club maintaince guys who asked, “Where are you kids going?” Ron replied, We’re going to get into trouble.”

16 Nov: D-Day.  Doctors said we hit home runs on our test results.  Ron’s total cholesterol is 107, Cynthia’s is 123.  WooHoo. Perfect in every way.  Our workouts are going great, too.  The food continues to be awesome.

15 Nov, Craaaazzzyy busy. Cynthia was tested for sleep apnea testing positive. Physician will discuss tomorrow. Ron went to yoga cardio, free weights, two lectures, and a 3 hour appt with the biomechanical physical rherapist who loves motorcycles.  We accomplished our evening walk on the jogging trail and we are ready for sleep.  Zzzzz

14 Nov:  We arose early for blood draws, had breakfast and returned to our room to write and shower.    
Cynthia had a 2.5 hour appointment with the biomechanical therapist to follow up on the treatment prescribed when we were here last April.  He and Ron enjoy motorcycle discussion.  Lectures today were on nutrition and relationships. Someone suggested we could lead that group.   Exercise discussion from yesterday:

13 Nov. dawns with gratitude to our veterans.  After five lectures on nutrition, cardio, walking and delicious food, we are ready for sleep.  A lecture on anger was most interesting. Myth: people and events make make us angry. Fact: our expectations and beliefs make us angry.

12 Nov., On our way rejoicing, thankful for the gift of this day, each other, our family and the opportunity to improve our health.  One of the guests at Pritikin arrived with type II diabetes and sudden vision loss; he is now able to stop insulin and his sight is expected to recover.  Another fellow came because of high blood pressure; yesterday he was able to stop blood pressure meds.  The Important number for daily tracking is keep sodium under 1200 mg day if over 49 years of age.  Recommended diet is to eat 5+vegetables and 4+ fruits, oatmeal, and 4ozs fish 3 times a week. Dairy is two fat free servings daily. No Oils, butter, cheese.  The only nuts allowed are walnuts. Forget dry foods, eat low calorie dense, high fiber food.   We enjoyed a lazy afternoon.  We walked after dinner.

11 Nov., really happened yesterday, we know we woke up and participated in Saturday doing exercise, walking, lectures on reading labels, asking questions about exercise and medical issues; we overate at usual, visited with friends, and dropped into bed exhausted.  We just ran out of day forgetting to remember to blog.

10 Nov, we love the food!  It is almost vegan but far healthier because it doesn’t include sodium or fats, including butter or oil which is the most calorie dense of all.  The morning was spent in cardio, yoga, free weights and a personal trainer for Cynthia.  The AM lecture was on metabolic syndrome. The afternoon lecture was success when leaving.  Ron attended cooking school to eat extra food. Yummy sorbet today.  We had an afternoon walk followed by an evening repeat.  How fun to have people say our love makes them happy

9 Nov., another day raced past without a single item crossed off our to do lists.  Cynthia had an appointment with her doctor on staff at 8:30 AM to go over test results, all good but triglycerides were a little bit high.  Ron met with Dr. Scheib who approved fat and sodium free pretzels in the evening. Ron did the stretch class with a cardio class. Cynthia did cardio and lined up a daily personal trainer instead of the free weight/stretch class. Great lectures on hypertension epidemic and metabolism.  We walked the jogging trail after dinner.  Zzzzzzzzz

8 Nov, another terrific Pritikin day.  Ron went to yoga, Cynthia walked.  During morning cardio, Ron didn’t think his rowing was intense enough despite having to stop out of breath.  Cynthia did the high intensity interval training on the treadmill, followed by free weights.  On this gorgeous day, the morning lecture topic was reading labels by Dr. Gomez.  Frank, the biomechanics therapist, lectured on foot and knee pain.  We went to cooking school, then attended the lecture on supplements before dinner. Dr. Arvon led the evening lecture on relationships and said she loves us. After a walk on to the end of the jogging trail we are exhausted and ready for sleep with zip time to respond to messages. Good night.

7 Nov, was a stellar day in every way. The Pritikin food is delicious, the exercise great, and the lectures by notables in the medical field on aging are stimulating.  Ron held people at our dinner table spellbound telling stories of the AT, motorcycle riding, and falling in Love.

6 Nov, 5:40 AM, we don’t like such early mornings, but we had to rise and shine for blood draw, medical appointments and later, an exercise evaluation.  Ivan, the head trainer, placed us together in the red cardio grouping.  Neither of us have blood pressure issues, but Ivan gave Cynthis strong warnings to have blood pressure evaluations before, during and after cardio per Dr. Fruge's orders.   Overachiever Ron hustled onto the elliptical machine for 10 minutes and weights for 10 minutes while Cynthia joined the yoga class. The morning lectures were centered on exercise, nutrition and diabetes.  (Cynthia is celebrating 14 years insulin free.)  We walked the jogging trail before Ron boogied onto the sleep disorder lecture.  Cynthia is indeed happy Ron has returned from the Keys; the lecture hall is cold, and he is so wonderfully warm and cosy-able.

5 Nov,  5:41 AM at the hotel associated with the Pritikin Longevity Center:  We were awakened to a loud fire alarm.  Ron had heard soft knocks on the door preceding the alarm and wasn’t concerned about a fire.  Cynthia threw on a robe and hustled outdoors to discover a delusional, incoherent man; Ron pulled on shoes, pants & shirt before following and listened to the guy ramble incoherently, obviously delusional, and asked him if he set the fire alarm; he did acknowledge he had the second time Ron questioned him. The police took him to a hospital. At breakfast, we learned he had accused (to others standing outside) Cynthia, and others, of breaking into his room.  We were able to return and rest for another couple of hours. Today we check into the program and move to our scheduled room  for the remainder of the month in the program.

4 Nov, Big Pine Key, FL, Ron awoke refreshed with energy for another day of chain saw maneuvers. At 9 PM, with a full moon to light the way, he will ride back to his beloved bride at Longevity Center in NW Miami.  Cynthia awoke late to breakfast with a lovely, gentle rain that ended with a marvelous rainbow overhead.

3 Nov. Cynthia is at the Pritikin Longevity Center, Miami, FL.  Ron is running a chain saw in Big Pine Key, FL where he notes the hurricane damage  is greatly improved.  By evening, the chain saw enthusiast is feeling his age.  Imagine.  Cynthia walked 6 miles and enjoyed a haircut.

2 Nov,  The Pritikin Center would make a great  permanent residence.  Ron figured up the cost and Cynthia is ready to decorate.  Well, maybe someday.  Ron rode 120 miles to Big Pine Key to help Greg and Cindy with Irma repairs for three l.o.n.g. days, leaving Cynthia in a spa without adult supervision.  The ride into the Keys was very familiar and very different.  Traffic flowed along steadily at the speed limit of 45 mph, 50 mph or occasionally 55 mph.  There were passing opportunities which advanced Ron to the next group of cars going the speed limit or less.  What was different were new businesses and surprisingly more views of water alongside the roadway.  The hurricane pruned enough vegetation that new water views were revealed in the final 50 miles to Big Pine.  Ron attempted to bypass the stop light in Big Pine and instead wandered through "The Avenues" section to see huge piles of discarded everything lining the streets.  It was an impressive evidence of massive destruction from the storm.  Coconut Highway looked much cleaner, but evidence of destruction was still close to the road.  Greg and Cindy seemed not to be home, so Ron rode back to Winn-Dixie to acquire vital frozen fruit bars to fortify himself before returning to Greg's house where he found Greg in time to share a frozen fruit bar.  Greg gave Ron the choices of 1) sanding door jams, 2) shoveling sea muck from the yard, 3) clearing twisted, torn, tattered, tangled tree limbs & debris from the "back 40."  Ron chose options 2 & 3 and spent the rest of the day and the next two at those tasks, making a noticeable improvement but still leaving a staggering amount of work.

1 Nov:  The 200 mile ride from Sarasota, FL to Miami took 3 hours and 15 minutes; it took 45 minutes to drive the last 15 miles to the Pritikin Longevity Center because of traffic.  The Everglades have much more development since last March, although we didn’t see any alligators hawking business.  Sunset was beautiful; the sky turned a luscious lavender and the fields were sun-kissed gold.  Two majestic great blue herons flew over us   At least we arrived in time to have dinner.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Following a gorgeous Fall into October

31 Oct, Crystal River, FL enjoying a most pleasant visit with friends.  Happy Birthday Brother Dean! Congratulations on being born on Reformation Day!  We don’t do Halloween but Cynthia celebrates Reformation and All Saints Day BIG!   Our departure at 1:30 was cut short by an immediate need to eat lunch. Welcome to sunshine in Florida and heavy stop and start traffic.  The coastal highway was too slow so we opted to take highway 75 south to 275 south  with-heart- in-stomach travel over the Sunshine bridge. Gulp.  We arrived in Sarasota at 6:00 PM to spend the night with MIT alum Jan W. and his vivacious wife, Dorothy,  who invited us to their community Halloween party.  Ron was disguised as a biker and Cynthia as the Grim Reaper.

30 Oct., St Simons Island, GA to Crystal River, Fl was a lovely drive on a bright, sunny day.  We arrived at 5PM to overnight with TOM and Dot K.
Daughter Julie as renaissance royalty:

29 Oct,  Columbia, SC.  The temperature dropped five degrees from 8 To 9.  The wind chill was 20 degrees on our ride from Columbia, SC to St. Simons Island, made worse because Cynthia lost the splitter to heat both jacket and pants. Even just the jacket with extra layers it was very cold. By 1:30 we were super hungry for warm food when we spotted a restaurant in rural east Georgia. The buffet only Offering was Deep South GA fried and buttered everything. Ron found white rice and turkeY.  Cynthia ate the fried chicken and yams.  We walked 1.5 miles to the St. Simons Pier where the wind was so strong it blew Cynthia back a few steps. The island is charming with a lot of historicity. 

28 Oct, means the end of the month is approaching like a bullet train.  Walking Columbia SC continues with Dick R. and the mall walk.  Marvelous dinner with Clark and Elizabeth. Astros lost.

27 Oct, Friday, Columbia, SC: We arose early to meet Dick R. for breakfast followed by walking the Hotel floors and steps twice; then we met Dick at Harbison Mall for 45 minutes of fast walking.  Ron walked Cynthia to Ruby Tuesdays for lunch and he continued on to Donna’s to find CDs for a computer program; Cynthia walked to Verizon to preorder the IPhone X with 256 GB storage. It won’t arrive for several weeks. Ron walked halfway to meet her after a girlie time at the nail salon.  Lovely fleurs arrived.   7:00 PM Dinner with marvelous friends to include walking the 2 miles round trip.

 26 Oct, Thurs. 49 degrees and very cold, our departure was at 10:00000002 and 3/8 of 2/5ths of a nanosecond, up the drive, right turn onto Kelly Brewer Road south, Go left or east onto Solomon Lea Road, then right or South onto Ridge Road.  From there I couldn’t keep track of winding small roads. Ultimately we were on 40 West, then 220 South, and 64 west past Ashboro, NC where we  turned south on 109, SC 20 to 26 North to west Lake Murray Road for the trip west to Irmo, SC.  The day warmed up; it was pleasant and interesting to travel through historic ancestral counties written about in the Rambo books.  We stopped at Cox Motorcycies where Cynthia lost a lens from her sunglasses, but we did not find it.  We enjoyed dinner at Ruby Tuesdays with Dick R. And now plan to sleep.

25 Oct, Wed.  Our last full FALL day at Hyco Lake will be spent packing, making a trip to Roxboro for lunch, mailing a package, dropping off recycling. Oh, I should mention the wildlife.  Several or maybe two times we saw very skittish deer in the distance, additionally,  three deer were very near the house a couple of nights later.   Two wounded praying mantis were lovingly assisted off the highway.  And a Daddy Long Legs crawled up the screen door. A few gnats were unpleasant company, too. The scariest and wildest wildlife faced us in the bathroom mirror this morning. What fun to see a deer on our way home from Roxboro tonight. Ron too photos of a gorgeous sunset. Good night!

24 Oct, Ron’s pacemaker test is completed and auto delivered  by cell phone to the electrophysiologist in Houston.  Modern technology is marvelous. Ron will ride to Raleigh to research now that the dense fog is lifted.  Cynthia’s replacement Venture Heated pants arrived after dark last night and sat outdoors in the rain only to be discovered this morning. Wet.  A peaceful day passed with a pleasant sunset:

23 Oct, Happy Monday on Hyco Lake.  Silently, the leaves are falling like a gentle rain.  Silence.  There are only 12 places left in the world that are totally silent.  It is hard to tune out the noisy world.  In silence we find the difference between sight and insight.  Silence helps us hear Gods voice.   “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’” Psalm 46:10a (NIV) 

The pacemaker tool phones in the three month report tomorrow.

22 Oct, GO ASTROS!!! Another fall day on Hyco Lake, this one filled with expectancy for the Astros to win the World Series.  The fall weather is forecast to stay almost perfect.  The lake is a vision to behold.  Jim and Joni’s twin grand babies arrived today, a boy and a girl, Anna and Mark.  We walked to Dockers for lunch and cooked in the afternoon sun returning home. Now, we ride to Roxboro for oatmeal and to mail letters. 2 Happy hearts. Thank God.  Enjoying a talented 3 year old granddaughters artwork.

21 Oct, Hyco Lake, NC on a stellar fall day with bright sunshine and a 70 degree forecast.  Boats are out early, even in the morning fog.  Our stretches done, the tummies are full, togetherness is happiness!  We walked to Dockers for lunch.  Cousin Michael J. and his young son Micah visited about 5:30 PM into evening.  Cynthia reported the interesting facts about their common ancestor James Lea of Country Line Creek: this Lea family is in the book, Roots.  Chicken George Lea was a ggrandson of james Lea; his niece Margaret Lea married Sam Houston.  Witty daughter responded, “Kiiras’s in grad school at Sam Houston, so it comes full circle.”

20 Oct, Raleigh, NC Archives: How fun to see our friend Gaye, the smiling receptionist.  We had to wait to ride to the Archives in Raleigh until the fog lifted at ten AM; the ride took 90 minutes and 63.4333 seconds.  The research is productive. Cynthia needed the 1771 Petition to form Caswell County out of Orange.  The signatures are key to proving which James Lea married the Bankston daughter.  Ron forgot to move the motorcycle after an hour, but four hours later there is no ticket and the bike is moved.  We started the ride to the Hyco Lake at 5:06 PM and arrived at 6:33 PM, dark-thirty.  The weather was warm, and the day was Pleasant.  The roads are not nice. Ron called the UNC Medical Center in Chappell Hill and learned an echocardiogram was indeed done with the reports sent to our cardiologists in Houston. Ron does not need to repeat the test.  Good night

19 Oct, Hello Fall on gorgeous Hyco Lake.  The fog lifted early, the sun sparkles like trillions of diamonds on the blue waters.  Ron cooked egg white veggie omelets.  The master suite jacuzzi is really huge and awkward to enter; it had to be designed by a huge guy or for a party of six in the bathroom.  Cynthia's cousin Randall is visiting us to discuss plat maps from 1755-1830 for Cynthia's book about the Leas of Caswell County.  We ate lunch at Dockers Grill and walked home.

18 Oct, It is a very Foggy fall morning at Lake Hyco, NC.  The dense, eerie walls of mist didn't lift until 10:00 AM. We waited for the temperature to rise from 49 degrees before we ventured forth on a five mile walk. Happy US! Thanks be to God.

17 Oct, Tues: Fall on Lake Hyco, North Carolina.  Once again we are enjoying the Lake Hyco house with off season rates; it has a marvelous view of the lake from most rooms of the  house.  We do need food! This meant a ride to Roxboro, NC where we thoroughly enjoyed spinach and strawberry salads at the Brookfield Grill.  On to the library for research and to Walmart for a food buying spree.
View from the house
Add caption
16 Oct:  We left Waynesboro, VA and enjoyed a lovely ride driving south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to US Hughway 501 and turned SE to Lynchburg, following the James River.  The Ruby Tuesdays in Lynchburg was closed.  We continued on to Danville with anticipation of the Ruby Tuesday's there; talk about disappointment... it was closed, too.  Oh, well! There was an IHOP not far away.   By 5:30, PM we arrived at Lake Hyco in Person County, North Carolina to resume working on the James Lea book and enjoy lakefront views for 10 days, God willing:

15 Oct, Thr Appalachian Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains of VA.  Yes, Virginia is for lovers and hikers, too, especially us on a gorgeous day like this one.  We hiked from Beagle Gap over Calf Mountain and towards Jarmin Gap.  Just when we thought we wouldn't see another thru- hiker, we met three of them.  Flip has 160 miles to complete his thru-hike by the time he reaches Harper's Ferry, WVA.  A couple was southbound this late in the season, possibly hitting cold and snow in the smokies next month.  The female of the two will be a freshman at MIT.  We had a super filling lunch causing a big stomach ache for Cynthia; Ron eagerly hopes it is morning sickness.    Happy Birthday nephew Benjamin!

14 Oct, Waynesboro, Virginia:  Staring out the hotel window at thick fog at noon thirty, we are thinking about walking about to Ruby Tuesday and Walmart.  The forecast promises us better visibility by mid-afternoon. Ron rode to Skyline Drive and hiked 6 miles.  Cynthia worked on DNA.

13 Oct:  Friday the 13th before Halloween, but we are not superstitious.  We extended our stay in Waynesboro, Virginia until Monday.  The forecast is for cooler weather and very humid; the fog is very thick this morning, so Ron is blogging while we wait to see if it will ever clear.  Always rejoice, always.  Ron snacked on shredded wheat all morning, then we went to Ruby Tuesdays, and he is now stuffed to the gills - uncomfortably full, and checking the forecast to decide when to ride to ALDIs and Safeway for groceries and fat-free, salt-free pretzels, his miracle absorbing-water-to-sleep food.

Photos don't begin to do justice
12 Oct:  Singing in the rain, just hiking in the rain!  Jarmin Gap Trail was an enchanting place to hike and sing in the rain:
Why am I smiling
And why do I sing?
Why does October 
Seem sunny as spring?
Why do I get up
Each morning and start?
Happy and head up
With joy in my heart
Why is each new task
A trifle to do?
Because I am living
A life full of you.
to the beauty of the fall fog
Although we had to ride a little farther through intermittent fog (Isn't it strange when you round a curve in the mountains and the fog suddenly disappears - or suddenly re-appears?), we stopped at the Jarmin Gap trail head in order to have an easier hike to reduce bodily distress, ... and it apparently worked.  Cynthia was hesitant to commense hiking in the least little drizzle that greeted us as we parked and wondered for most of the hike if we were actually being rained upon, but Ron steadfastly held that it was just cloud and dripping trees, as it appeared to him.  Since we carried our ponchos, we had nothing to fear except running out of trail food (jelly beans).  It was amusing to discover several somewhat large branches that had fallen onto the trail since our previous visit three days ago.

Ron waving goodbye as the fog enshrouds
11 Oct, Waynesboro, VA:  Today as we started riding towards our hike, Ron noticed that the top of the mountain was in the clouds, entrancing to see the cloud decapitating the forested mountain - no top just a clean line of cloud.  Along the parkway we encountered pea-soup fog and were quite startled to come upon a new vehicle with inadequate taillights; is seems so strange that the newbee designers can embrace form over function without enough seasoned supervision to catch their inappropriate designs.  Since the fog was thick, we stopped short of our intended hike and started at Beagle Gap, enshrouded in thick fog (as you can see to the right).  The hike to the top of Beagle Gap was delightfully colorful, but when the cloud started actively wetting us, Cynthia voted for turning back because of the rain; Ron contended that it was just a wetter part of the cloud.  (Truth be told, it was a light rain.)  We continued to the rock pile at the "summit" and congratulated ourselves on our 10,000 steps hike.  We got off the mountain by 4:30 and dined at our favorite, Ruby Tuesday, where Ron can happily eat salad until over-full.

10 Oct:  Our favorite color is October.  Today's 4 mile hike wasn't difficult, but it was very humid.  We hiked from Jarman Gap to the the designated sitting rock at the top and on down to Sawmill Run Overlook on Skyline Drive.  This was one of the longer hikes we did in June, so it was reassuring to find that we are in better condition now than then.  Cynthia loves her gift of roses.  Our granddaughter Lauren said she misses us and sent a photo with her aunt Julie, our newest hiking pal.

fleurs fer de feme
little Lauren & auntie Julie
foliage underfoot, notice flesh tones 
fall colors in Virginia (Virginia is for lovers)
9 Oct, Waynesboro, VA:  Forecast calls for a high of 82 humid degrees, but the rain has stopped, so we will go hiking sooner rather than later.  Our five-mile hike felt like twenty; we hiked from McCormick Gap up over the mountain to Beagle Gap and back.  It was hot, humid, and the little gnats were obnoxious. Lookie at the photos, Mother Nature used every crayola in the box, even flesh tones!  We have a jacuzzi suite, so Ron filled the jacuzzi with water before discovering that the jets don't jet.  He enjoyed a nice soak and fell asleep before Cynthia finished the laundry.  Later he slept five continuous hours without awakening.  That doesn't happen often any more.

8 Oct:  Oh oh!  Rain is forecast for 3 days.  Will we make it to Waynesboro, VA dry??? No?  At 10 AM, it is raining, with increasing thunderstorms forecast.  Will we ride today?  We did!  Ron watched the color radar and the predictions faithfully and decided to leave about 1:42:37.  Frequent isolated raindrops damped us and stung Ron's eyes en route to Frederick, MD and south to Leesburg, VA on US Highway 15.  Our GPS discovered a multitude of charming smaller roads to cross over to VA highway 7, where we turned west on 7 until it intersected US 340 south.  It was amusing to find ourselves on the same road again after detouring south on 15 to avoid the increasing rain on 340 west.  Ron was content to follow 340 all the way to Waynesboro until he saw the sign for Skyline Drive, whereupon we detoured for 60 miles of gorgeous yellows of all shades from BRIGHT to purple and rust.  At higher elevations the clouds laid on top of the mountains and provided a surreal experience, driving through patches of heavy fog.  The K1600GTL has fog lights, but I cannot say that they helped at all.  Ron slowed down to the speed limit in the fog, not at all concerned about vehicular traffic, but quite concerned about four footed traffic, especially deer and bears.  Unfortunately we saw neither.   After a scenic and very enjoyable twisty excursion, we exited onto US Highway 33 westbound and turned south on US 340 for the third time until we arrived in Waynesboro before dark and DRY!   Fall!!!, Mother Nature used every Crayola in the box!  We checked into a jacuzzi suite at the Comfort Inn and enjoyed seeing our friends at Ruby Tuesday.  Ron ate Sooo much salad, partially because the final set of DARK clouds arrived to deliver a real cloudburst after we had walked to Ruby Tuesday and were seated and eating, Thank God.  Cynthia's Accuweather said that Ron, already full, needed to eat one additional small plate of salad before the rain would stop.  Ron walked to Martin's Grocery to buy salt-free, fat-free pretzels which absorb lots of water from the system, allowing him to sleep several hours at a time.  We slept very well indeed.

7 Oct:  We are in Mount Airy, MD, celebrating fall, plus Jim and Joni's first wedding anniversary; Cynthia officiated at their wedding a year ago October 16th.  A crew was here filming a mystery movie on Jim and Joni's pond.  We were filmed returning from a long walk; hopefully it won't end up on the cutting room floor.

6 Oct:  Matamoras, PA, bound for Mount Airy, MD to visit Jim and Joni for the weekend.  The window view of Fall in her colorful finery is marvelous.  We drove south first on PA 209 and 225 south, 100 east before I lost track of the numerous highway changes. The traffic was extremely slow near York, PA, and it was very warm sitting in traffic.  About two PM we found a Ruby Tuesday's for lunch, pigging out so much we thought we didn't need dinner.

5 Oct:  We departed eclectic Brattleboro, VT where every third person has green or purple dyed hair and one in five is an old hippy; people watching has been fascinating.  The temperature forecast is a blessed 72 degrees; with sunshine on our shoulders, we ride towards the Delaware Water Gap; VT Highway 9 west, although slow because of construction, featured fashionista Fall in an extravaganza of eye popping color between Brattleboro and Bennington.  We stopped just before Bennington at Papa Pete's for a huge second breakfast/lunch that was beyond delicious.  Oh my goodness, 14" pancakes!  Ron ate a stack of two besides his egg white veggie omelet, which was also large; he was full for the entire rest of the day & night.  Crossing into New York, VT 9 becomes NY 7 south we soon turned west onto NY 22, thereafter turning onto the Taconic State Parkway for a short distance.  We wiggled west and south around New York City until we reached US 209 south to Matamoras, PA and the Hampton Inn for a good night sleep. We are still full from lunch. Good night!

4 Oct, Brattleboro, VT:  Lunch with Eddie and Beanie at Whetstone on its patio overlooking the Connecticut River.  The huge salad was delicious.  Our hearts are heavy over the hurricane disasters that have affected thousands including friends. The senseless massacre in Vegas is gut wrenching.  Equally insane is politics instead of compassion.

3 Oct:  On the road again! We departed for Brattleboro, VT by noon thirty plus thirty.  The ride on VT 100 south to VT 103 south to 11 east and I-91 south was spectacular.  Cynthia particularly enjoys the views of the several lakes which border the roadway.  Eddie and Beanie are not available until tomorrow, so we plan to meet them for lunch.  Left to our own devices for dinner, we tried the Brattleboro Food Co-Op and enjoyed huge, fresh, yummy salads.

2 Oct:  We delivered Julie to the Rutland Airport, packed and ready for her return trip to Houston.   She laughed heartily as we waved kisses at her while she was going through security.  After returning the rental car we visited Patrick, the former ILT chef, at his new business in Chittendon.  We spent our afternoon packing and doing laundry.  Our room smells fresh like New Tide.

Julie & momma on toppa Killington in Vermont
1 Oct:  Fall colors aren't peak yet, but brighter reds are peeping.  What an exciting day!  The forecast is  62 and sunshine by late afternoon.  We took the local bus up to the Killington Ski Resort, rode the gondola to the ski lodge, took the short trail to Killington Peak for a photo op (as shown), and then hiked 7+ miles down to the Inn at Long Trail for Julie's big adventurous hike.  Julie and Cynthia did great on their hike; Ron, on the other hand, sprawled once onto a flat rock without injury, but mis-stepped onto leaves covering nothing beside the trail and dropped onto his left hand and right knee hard, damaging both; they still hurt ten days later.  Julie has taken to trail maintenance with pleasure; we moved several large logs off the trail following her suggestions.  By late afternoon, the sun sent slender rays of sunbeams into the forest and onto the golden leaves now carpeting the trail.  It was spellbinding.  We were so tired and happy to be back at the inn in time for dinner.
photo from Julie, tail gating

Cynthia feelin' fine at the Van Trapp Lodge

daughter Julie