Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Back Home

The trip from Jacksonville home was uneventful.  We stopped for gas just outside Orlando, and the at Denny's for breakfast in Haines City.  It was early afternoon when we arrived home.

We were gone for just about 8 weeks.  So during that time, the yard was enjoying lots of rain and hot sunshine........... and so the weeds flourished and the bushes took on a life of their own.  We have someone mow and edge the yard, and we thank them so much for trimming the large hedge in the front of the house and the large azalea bush in back.    BUT............... here are a few shots of the topiary in the front, the overgrown bushes and palm trees............ Given Rich's back and my hating this hot summer weather - this is going to take quite a while to get looking anywhere near good again.

And until today we could not even spray the weeds........been rain most every afternoon/evening.......an when it's not raining it's just too hot.



So the yard remains pretty ugly!!!!


It was just a few days ago that we were visiting family and friends in NY and PA, and then driving on home through Virginia, NC, SC, Georgia...............and it seems the good Lord has been on our side.  Rain, storms, and flash flooding have hit pretty hard.  A few pictures from the past couple of days in our home state of NY, near our home town of Elmira.

Top left is of Seely Creek, Lower Maple Ave where Rich and I often swimmed when we were younger.  I have family that lives on Lower Maple Ave, not far from here.  The top right is a picture of Taughannock  Falls, in the Finger Lakes area - with as much mud as water falling... Bottom left is the Moose Hall, where a lot of our Elmira friends hang out, Bottom right is Harris Hill Road, where we recently visited for our family reunion, and the middle photo is our friend Renee Torrence's house in Pine City, NY just outside of Elmira.  Unfortunately she suffered quite a loss inside, and vehicles etc. outside because it flooded so quickly.   So sad..........our hearts go out to our family and friends.


And below is a  link to a video near where we used to live in Beaver Dams........  This is Montour Falls, near Watkins Glen where just recently the Watkins Glen International was taking place. .

https://www.facebook.com/JohnKuckoDigital/videos/274936173237178/

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Fort Mill to the Sunshine State

Wednesday morning and we were on our way to the Sunshine State..  We made it all the way there with no rain, and no traffic jams!!   So we started in SC,  and made our way through Georgia, and crossed into Florida at 12:21 PM. It was a 6 hour drive, and we only stopped once.  Stopped at the Pilot Station for gas ($2.48/gallon), and grabbed a quick breakfast at McDonald.  Total time for the stop was 20 minutes.

Not a whole lot to take pictures of in Georgia.  But I always remember the State for lots of rivers .............and creeks!  There seem to be on after the other as you travel along I-95, and most of the time they are dry!   This trip we actually saw some water!


And before we knew it - we arrived in Jacksonville!


We stayed at another Comfort Suites, here in Jacksonville, just off I-95.


And once again, the hotel had a room service and so we decided to order in.  This time it was from Sel Vino's Pizza.  Rich selected the stuffed shells, and I took the Baked Ziti.  Both came with salad and garlic bread.  And we had Cannoli's for dessert.  Delicious ...... and we were stuffed!!


And our drive tomorrow should take us home! 

Harrisburg, VA to Fort Mill, South Carolina

Tuesday morning and we were on the road to the Comfort Suites in Fort Mill, SC.   It was just a little past 8:00.  Traveling through the state of Virginia is just beautiful and I was able to get some pretty good pictures.   Below are just a few of the rolling hills, the Blue Ridge mountains, and one of the Rivers in Pulaski.  Notice the bottom right photo..... Wish I had grabbed my camera sooner -  There were several police cars, and probably 8 or more cars pulled over.  The drivers in all of the cars appeared to be Black. ( not that that makes a big difference). Rich and I both commented, actually wondered, how the officers happened to get all the vehicles stopped in the same area......we thought it appeared to be drug related.  


A little further down the road is one of those places that every time I pass, I say that some day I would like to visit.  That is Lake Norman in NC.  It is such a beautiful lake.  Lots of construction in this area - and so we were once again in bumper to bumper traffic for about 25 minutes.


Nothing else exciting on the way - just a stop for gas in Pulaski ($2.55/gallon) and then to Cracker Barrel for Breakfast.  Rich had the pancakes and sausage, and I had the French Toast.

And then we arrived at the Comfort Suites in Fort Mill, SC.  Looked like the rooms had bee updated and remodeled.........but it was not hard to tell that this was a very old building.


After the long drive - we just did not feel like going out to eat, so we ordered in Chinese.  Rich enjoyed his Chicken Lo Mein, and I enjoyed the Sesame Chicken.


Off to Jacksonville, Fl tomorrow.

The Trip Home - From Pennsylvania to Harrisonburg, VA

We had such a great visit with Dieter and Helen........... wish we could have stayed longer.  But we set out for our first stop on the way back home, right around 8:00AM.

Driving through PA is very very slow when not on a major highway, and this trip was just that!   We had a good distance to drive before getting on I-81, and while I love the scenery...........the traffic was a royal pain!!!

Here are some of my favorite pictures show the beauty of the area.  The Susquehanna River, Farmlands, Stone/Rock Cliffs along the roads,winding roads and rolling hills.......



We stopped about 10:00 o'clock for about a half hour for  gas at Sheets ($3.05/gallon) and at McDonald's for breakfast.......and then the stop and go began!   First traffic jam wasn't too bad......that was the exit off PA 15 to PA 22, but only about 10 minutes.  Then at 11:00 o'clock the bumper to bumper traffic began as we attempted to merge on to I-81 S. It took us 10 minutes to merge on.  About 11:10 - bumper to bumper again for about 1/2 hour...... and then again for a third time a little bit later that lasted again for just over 1/2 hour!   And to top it off - just before 2:00PM in Virginia we encountered a heavy thunderstorm!


We made it to the PA/Maryland State Line around 12:50, the West Virginia State Line at 1:00, and the Virginia State Line at 1:19, where we always stop at Exit 323 for Cigarettes and Gas. ($2.61/gallon).  And finally, we arrived at our hotel, Quality Inn, in Harrisonburg, VA.   Very nice stay - recently remodelled!


And IHOP was located just across the street where we enjoyed a delicious meal.  Rich selected the Philly Cheesteak Sandwich, and I had the Fish n Chips!


Good night's sleep was in order!!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Visiting Dieter and Helen....

After the family reunion in Elmira, we drove about an hour to our friends home in Columbia Crossroads, PA.   Dieter and Helen used to spend 2 or 3 months in Florida, near Northport.  We always tried to get together at least once, and most years we drove once to Northport, and they drove once to Lake Placid. But two years ago, they sold their Florida home, and we have really missed seeing them. 

They invited us to stay at their home.  So on Saturday after the reunion we arrived.  Stayed with them Saturday and Sunday night.  They have a beautiful home in a beautiful location with several acres, and beautiful views of the nearby hills.


When we arrived we were welcomed with Palm Trees!!  Helen had them hanging on the side porch - to make us feel at home!  Saturday evening we just sat an caught up .......... laughed a lot ( mostly during our political conversations).  Helen had made a huge fruit salad and a strawberry rhubarb cake..........which we enjoyed for lunch along with cold cuts, chicken salad and egg salad .  For dinner we went into Sayre, PA to a Chinese Buffet...........and then we all enjoyed a few adult beverages back at the house ( Scotch for me and Dieter, Gin and Tonic for Helen, and Rich was drinking Ouzo - a Greek Liquor.


Above - the deer in the top left picture was standing on the side of the road, just a few yards from the driveway.......  the ones on the bottom right -were right in the yard off the side porch. .  Rich and I are standing under one of the Palm Trees on the side porch - but the porch continues on the front.  And the other picture is Dieter and Helen at the Chinese Buffet.

It was tough saying good-by!  And we were on our way home about 8:00am on Monday morning.

2018 Benjamin Family Reunion - Harris Hill Park, Elmira, NY

On Saturday morning, August 4th, we left Cortland, NY and headed to the town where Rich and I both grew up.  A quick stop to run the car through the car wash, McDonalds for breakfast, and then the supermarket to pick up water, a variety of chips and a dozen Dunkin Donuts, etc. to take with us to our family get together.

Our 2018 Benjamin Reunion was held at the Harris Hill Park in Elmira, NY.  Elmira is known as the Glider Capital of the World - and the soaring takes place at Harris Hill and so it is the home of the National Soaring Museum.


Not sure of the exact number of people who attended.......... but I do know that 127 of them RSVP'd.  It was a wonderful turnout, and I was able to visit with cousins, 1st second and 3rd.... with my Aunt Frannie who turn 98 this month (she was married to my father's brother Mark (aka Popeye).  My father, and all of his brothers and sisters and their spouses have passed.  Aunt Frannie is the last.

Much of the family is still in the Elmira area, but others came from as far away as Florida, North Carolina, and even the NW State of Washington. And yet my brother did not come, and there were still several nieces and nephews who were not able to attend. 

Below everyone finds a seat to enjoy the pulled pork, hot dogs, burgers, and everything else imaginable...except alcohol, which is not allowed at the park. 

 And while many of us found a seat at the table...... many, many more were seated in the shade in their lawn chairs!


The next two pictures are of my nieces and nephews and their families, all descendants of my Dad and Mom, John L and Marjorie Benjamin.  Top left: My sister Sandy's daughter Cheryl Morgan Farr with her family.  Her four siblings( from Arizona/California) and their families are missing.( Top right:  Rich and I joined my brother Jim's Daughter Kathy and Son Tom.  Missing are their siblings and family, Glory, Carol, and Marty.Bottom photo is my brother Don's family.  While nieces and nephews from Florida, North Carolina and Arizona made it there are a good number who could not


Below on the left is my brother Chuck's family (Kathy and Kenny are missing), and on the right is my brother Mick's family. Missing are Bonnie and Kevin & their families.

Below are a couple of pictures of my cousins and their families.....That's my cousin Bruce Thatcher in the center.........My dad babysat for him and his brother Mike when they were very young.


And the kids all had a great time as well.........My niece Tammy made sure they had lots of games to play.

Also in the picture is my Aunt Frannie - the oldest attending, and her great great grand-daughter - the youngest in attendance. !
 We arrived at 11:00 in the morning, and it was after 5:00 in the afternoon when we cleaned up and headed home, promising that we would do this again next year.   And so, we were on the road to visit with our friends in Columbia Crossroads, PA.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Final Days at Black Lake, Overnight in Cortland, NY

Our last week at the lake just flew by.  Our last weekend was once again either thunderstorms or high winds. So we only got out fishing about three times.  You can see in the picture below that even the few days we were able to get the boat out - the wind and waves were still pretty fierce!

We didn't get a whole lot of fish, but we both pulled in a nice Bass!


Our (Benjamin) family reunion is taking place on Saturday August 4th.  We had hoped to extend our stay at the Log Cabins another week or two, but unfortunately there was not a cabin available.  So rather than clean and pack and drive 4 hours to Elmira on Saturday - we elected to leave on Friday.  Because it's race weekend in Watkins Glen - it was impossible to get a hotel room anywhere near Elmira.  So we booked a night at the Econo Lodge in Cortland, NY - which is about an hour and 15 minutes from the reunion location. 

Cloudy day...... a little rain and quick stop outside of Syracuse for a quick breakfast and we arrived at the Econo Lodge in Cortland around 2:00 PM.  I swore that we would NOT stay at an Econo Lodge again.  Usually very old and not well maintained.  But we were very pleasantly surprised that this one was well above the normal.  Obviously, recently renovated, very clean, excellent staff/service and quite comfortable.


We couldn't decide what we wanted for dinner, so the owner here suggested we try the Cortland Diner.   We have always been fans of Diners..... everything just seems to have that homemade taste!  This place was excellent.  Everything on the menu from breakfast, hot and cold sandwiches, soups,  burgers and wraps, Hot sandwiches, full dinners, pasta, and fish ( the Fried Haddock was very tempting!)
Rich ordered pancakes with strawberries & whipped cream - I went for the Reuben sandwich. My sandwich was so big I had to cut it and eat it with a fork! And there was enough french fries for THREE people!  And Rich said his hotcakes were Excellent!


And so we're in for the night!  Getting excited about seeing so many of my family tomorrow.  Last count for the number of family members attending the reunion is 127!  I'm sure there will be more people there that I have never met - than people that I know!  I've lost count of how many 2nd and 3rd nieces an nephews I have....let alone the children of my cousins!!  Hope the weather is good........

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Rain, Wind and Storms - Fishing, Eating and Festivals

Trying to conserve our data use, so not spending a whole lot of time on the computer.  But a quick update!

It was not until July 13th that we were able to get back out fishing, and enjoy some decent weather and some good fishing.   Then it was about a week of nasty weather.  Caught some nice fish again around the 25th and again today the 28th.  Lots of crappie and perch and red ear too and finally a good number that were keepers.

Rich -  A monster Catfish 36 inch, 9 3/4 lb!!  I enjoyed watching him bring this one in, as much as he enjoyed the fight!

 

My 25 1/2 inch Northern Pike!


 My 18 inch 4 lb. Small Mouth Bass


Rich - 14 1/2 inch Small Mouth Bass


Rich - 15 inch Small Mouth Bass


When not fishing - we were still having a good time, despite the weather.  One night was a trip to Pleasant View for ice cream -  where Rich enjoyed a Peanut Butter Cup Sundae, and me - a dish of my favorite - Butter Pecan.



And while we were there we stopped at the Amish stand, and took home  some goodies and a loaf of yeast risen bread!  Delicious!


We took another trip into Ogdensburg one night for dinner at Little Italy!  We were here the first time, last year, and really enjoyed the food and atmosphere.  A bit tooooo much sauce on the pasta - but other than that very very good.  And another day was to Redwood and then to Alexandria Bay for grocery shopping.

On the 21st there  was the Scottish Festival, Chicken Barbeque and visit to the Hammond Museum........A few pictures from the day...












This one is a replica of the old Rossi Hotel.  Rich and I used to visit the Hotel Restaurant and Bar back in the 70's and 80's!


And I have to share a few pictures of the sunset, the stormy skies etc.....

A view from the porch!



Sunset



Even the water changes color.....


Another sunset


Another storm on the way - heading back to the cabin. 


And..........the geese in the yard next door!


We were out fishing around 6 this morning, as the forecast is for wind and thundershowers..........which is exactly what it is doing now!