Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A slow week ..........but enjoyed some time with friends.

Well  Dennis and the family headed out to dinner this week with Dalton's girlfriend, Sara, and Chauna's boyfriend, Ryan before Dalton heads off for collage.  This  family is so close, and does so much together, that I know it's going to be real difficult for Dennis and Crystal to  see Dalton leaving home.    And I'm sure that Miss Chauna will miss her brother, as well. 

As a member of the Iowa State, Hawkeye Marching Band, Dalton needed to head out a couple days early.  His good friend, who he is rooming with, and his girlfriend, Sara will be joining him  the following Thursday

Here's Dennis  at the University with Dalton, saying his "goodbyes"

Good Luck to you, Dalton...........Hang in there Dennis!!

As for Rich and I, this week has been pretty slow.  I had my follow-up with my Gastroenterologist - after my rotor rooter procedure.  All looks pretty good.  A couple of small pre cancerous polyps removed, and evidence of  Diverticulosis forming in the large intestine, so probably a good idea to maintain an even higher high fiber diet, so as to prevent diverticulitis!   They did not discover anything that may be causing the abdominal pain or back pain, but fortunately that has subsided significantly. 

Encountered some reception problems with the satellite for Direct TV, which required some cutting of tree branches from the tree between our house and the neighbors.  Probably as good a time as any for that to happen.  With the exception of the Olympics - not much good on TV - although Rich was having some problems with his news channels. 

With all the recent booking of hotels recently, we earned a couple of free $50 gift cards, so on Tuesday we met up with good friends Nick and Tonyia at the Red Lobster.

Been dark skies and rain most every day, and as we headed for Sebring the skies got very very dark and the lightening was flashing!  Pretty dark looking across Lake Jackson...............But the sun was out and we caught a decent rainbow on the way home. 

  Food was awesome at Red Lobster, and it was really nice just enjoying the atmosphere and catching up with what our friends have been up to.    Rich opted for the Create your own combination, of Garlic Grilled Scallops and Shrimp Linguine Alfredo. Nick went for the Admiral's Feast, Tonyia the Cajun Chicken Alfredo, and I had the Lobster Scampi.  And, of course, here we all are outside, saying our goodbye's. 

I got a very nice surprise phone call today...... Tonyia was heading here to Lake Placid so she made a stop to visit.  We pulled out the Mexican Train  game and she proceeded to beat my in TWO games.   Enjoyed playing and enjoyed the company. 

Hopefully, we can do this a little more often...............or maybe Bingo tomorrow???

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Donald Family HIghlights!

I am ashamed to say that I am so far behind in sharing those special moments,  happy days, celebrations, recognitions, accomplishments........about the family

First - going all the way back to early July when Dalton made the Iowa Hawkeye's Marching Band.   His dad, says it best:

"Proud is only one of many feelings for this moment!  You got mail Dalton....  it's official..... He Did it!!!!  He made the Iowa Hawkeye's Marching Band!!! Rah Rah!  OMG"

"Long story short that's been close hold, a couple weeks ago when he auditioned, he cut his playing hand finger on the music stand setting up for audition & still performed bleeding & overcame that setback & still nailed it!  Road trips for football games but halftime show it's ON!  Go Hawkeye's & Dalton.......Loves you Buddy!"

And on July 30th - my awesome daughter-in-law celebrated her birthday.  Happy Birthday Crystal!  Love and Hugs!  And that little tree is also celebrating - Crystal planted it two years ago, on her birthday!

Moving along to August 4th.  Dennis and Crystal celebrated their 26th Wedding Anniversary.  An awesome couple and super parents.  Love them to the moon!!!

And this year our beautiful grand-daughter is a senior in High School.  WOW... How quickly time passes.  Her Mom shared her senior pictures, taken recently by Aubrey Kall.  She did an amazing job!

That should bring everything up-to-date.......  So Blessed to have such a happy, smart, caring, beautiful family.

Safe and Sound - Back Home

Well, the rest of the trip home was nothing exciting.  Our last stop on Tuesday evening was at the Econo Lodge in Brunswick, GA.    I will say that after staying at the Econo Lodge in SC last year, and then again in Hollywood, FL , I had booked this hotel all three nights coming home.  Very disappointing.

The young lady who checked us in at the first one was the worst I've seen.  Problem with not getting the room we booked; her response was to shrug her shoulders, and then to answer, "I don't know", when I had a question about the wifi!  Second one in,  Christiansburg, SC was a problem with the air conditioner.  It was SOOOOO loud, that we had to turn the TV up to 95 to hear it.  They let us move to another room.  That air-conditioner had only ONE setting  - very cold , even on the lowest setting and the low fan.  Needless to say it was a miserable night sleeping without the air!!! The third night in Brunswick - none of the outlets on the bedstand would work......

We hit the Florida/Georgia line early afternoon, and the only thing exciting that we saw was an accident on I-95 not far from Jacksonville.

Stopped for breakfast/lunch at Bob Evans, just outside Orlando, and then home around 2 in the afternoon.  It was a great site making that turn onto Heartland Rd, from 27 and seeing the lake - almost home.

The lawn was mowed, but the topiary in the front yard and all the palm trees
were in desperate need of trimming.  (Another day)    Lots of unpacking and putting stuff away and laundry to do..............and that took me a couple of days!  So, dinner on Wednesday was Chinese take-out!    But finally things were back to normal............ and the next two nights dinner was stuff that we had not made all the while we were gone.  I did a Chicken and Potato Bake on Thursday, and Rich made his pizza on Friday night.   And sleeping in our own bed was wonderful!

On Saturday we decided to see a movie, so headed to the B&B in Sebring where Hillary's America was playing.

Dinesh D'Souza, an immigrant from India, also wrote and produced the documentary "2016- Obama's America"  back in, I think, 2012.  While I personally did not think that this one was as well produced, the message was right on point.  This is a documentary that everyone should see before they vote this year, and more specifically those voting the Democratic ticket.  This was an excellent lesson on the history of the Democratic Party and their role/impact on minorities,  Indians, slaves, immigrants, woman's rights,  and radical racial groups ( KKK).  And it covered the life of the Clinton's  and their affiliations with people like Margaret Sanders, and the Clinton Foundation's role with Foreign countries.................Everyone in the audience clapped at the end of the movie after the playing of God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner.

It was pouring after the movie!!!!  After a short while, Rich waded in water, better than ankle deep,  to the car................ and picked me up at the front of the building - where I stayed very dry!


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The trip home..........

We were on the road early on Monday morning.  We'd called ahead to Light's Bake Shop and ordered a dozen coffee sticks.  Light's is another of those family owned businesses that are still open and doing well in the area.  Actually my mom had the wedding cake for Rich and I made here..........and I often stopped here to pick up coffee sticks for the people at work........... and to take them home for Rich..............Yes - this is only Tuesday and the WHOLE dozen is GONE!

We made our way through PA, Maryland, West Virginia and into Virginia, stopping in Christiansburg for the night.   And, I can not pass through Pennsylvania, or Virginia, or along the shores of Lake Norman in NC without taking a few pictures of the beauty of Mother Nature.

Had to share this picture of an accident and the backed up traffic in Virginia!

If ever you get to Christiansburg, VA you have to stop at a place called the Fatback Soul Shack!  Absolutely awesome.  Blues and Brews!!!!  And the food is great.  Rich had a beer and I had a freshly made Screwdriver.  We actually watched her cut and squeeze the fresh oranges!  And the people are so friendly.  The couple at the table next to us shared their bucket of pork rinds with us!!

Rich had the fried porkchops with hush puppies and french fries and gravy and slaw, and I ordered the popcorn shrimp with pups and slaw!    Sure wish we had one of these at home......Nick and Tonyia - you two would love this!

We were on the road early on Tuesday morning, and it was an uneventful ride. Arrived in Brunswick, GA mid afternoon.............and walked over to the Chinese Take out for dinner.  Should be on the road in the morning for the final leg of the trip - and arrive home early afternoon........ Sad to have this fun vacation come to an end.

Sunday - Some of the family get together ............

We had an absolutely wonderful time on Sunday at Harris Hill in Elmira, NY.  Brother Dave, on short notice contacted family members on facebook, and  booked a pavilion at Harris Hill Park in Elmira.   Somewhere between 20-25 of the "Benjamin" relatives joined for the day.  We had hamburgers and hotdogs and everyone brought a dish to pass, but the best time was just catching up with family members that we have not seen in years.

Below - Me with my nice Dawn Sewalt,  Rich with nephews and cousins, Brian Sutter, Jack Pelrah, Tim Benjamin/and son, Bill Bell and my Brother Dave.  Me and my baby brother,  and with my niece Tammy Sutter,  Rich  helping the guys with the fire, my niece, Cheryl Morgan Farr, Kathy Benjamin Bell, my cousin, Carol Benjamin Pelrah with me, Rich with brother Dave Benjamin, and cousin Bruce Thatcher.

Some more of the same people............and more neices/nephews, cousins, and even a few Great neices and nephews and their families.

A few more group shots...........

Feel so blessed to have been able to spend time with family.

You would think that we'd had enough to eat............but by about 7:00 we were feeling a bit hungry and ordered a medium pizza.  When we lived in Elmira, one of our very favorite places to go for pizza and subs was Pudgies Pizza.  We'd left the Elmira area in 1985, so we were surprised to see that this family owned store was still in business, and had expanded the number of their stores!   The pizza was as good as we remember.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Good-Bye Black Lake.

Well, what's that saying?  All good things come to end????  It been a real good thing, and a real good time..............and today is our last day here at Black Lake.

Thursday was another "no fishing" day.......but we were able to get out for a short time Friday morning, before we began our cleaning and packing.  We caught 23 fish;  Rich getting 11 Crappie, including one, well over 10 inches, and a small mouth bass - but at just over 14 inches, not a keeper.   I caught 11 - 10 crappie and one perch.   At the end of week 7 - we'd caught 79 more fish, bringing our total over the seven weeks to 437.  Not as good as last year - but still pretty good - and a lot of fun!

We got the majority of stuff packed into the car on Friday afternoon, and took all the left over food over to Bill................  Finished packing early Saturday morning , said our good-byes  and were on our way to Elmira just a few minutes after 8:00 am.

The rain started about 9 o'clock and continued on and off for the rest of the day.  Took route 13 from 81 south that goes through Cortland and through Ithaca, NY, then over to route 14 that took us just south of Watkins Glen.  Despite the rain, I managed to get a couple of pictures of "old memories.   The Hickory House Restaurant, which used to be a very popular place for drinking and dining, looked so old.  We spend many many a night here after working on building the garage.  Our dinner most often consisted of a Brandy Alexander, and a bowl of French Onion Soup!  Rambling Brook was a place to enjoy a few drinks and dancing, and where they often held the wild game dinners.

We headed up Johnson Hollow Road, to see the first single family home that we lived in after we were married.  After all these years, it looked very much the way we remembered it.  The house on the bottom left was the Besley's, our next door neighbor, and the second house our neighbors down the road on the other side.

The house actually looked about the same as when we left back in 1985. They had replaced the roof, and built that little shed off the side of the garage.  That's the garage that Rich and I built back in 1982.  They also have planted some trees in the front yard, which hides the brick on the lower part of the house.   Off to the left of the house was the path that Rich always kept cut and plowed that went up the hill behind the house.  And the bottom left picture is pretty close to the view across the road, from the living room window.

We still had some time before we could check in to the hotel, so we wandered around Elmira for a while, checking out the Murray Athletic Center/aka The Domes, where Rich, in the past had done some HVAC work, and where we went to see Donna Fargo!!!  Yes, there really is a town called "Horseheads".  We checked out Brand Park Pool, where all the kids used to go and swim, and we'd all lay up on that top deck to get our sun tans.  Rumor has it that they may be refurbishing the building!   And we had to make a stop at Dunkin Donunts  on the corner of Church and Madison Ave.  Spent a lot of time here - but it's a whole new building now.  Back then they made the donuts right it's a combination Baskin Robbins.

Not far from Brand Park Pool is Riverside School,  Both Rich and I went to school here.  Rich from kindergarten through 6th or 7th grade.  Me - only kindergarten, then I went to Catholic School.  The other building, is Dun Field Park, where the Elmira Pioneers always played.  Pioneers were a farm team for the Red Sox and the Orioles.

Of course we had to check out a few of the places we used to live.  Top left, is where Rich and his first wife lived, and where Dennis was born.... the next one is Rich's Mom's house, and where Rich lived until he married.  The next one is where I lived with my brother Dave and Mom during my high school days.  The house on Church St, and Harriett St, where I grew up were no longer there!!!

The building on the bottom left used to be the Fairway Spring Factory, and is where Rich and I first met......The last picture is one of my favorites in Elmira, the Christmas House.

Saturday afternoon we visited my sister-in-law, Gloria Benjamin ( my oldest brother Jim's wife).  She's well into her 80's, and starting to fail a little bit, but she was doing well that day.  With her is my niece (her daughter) Kathy Benjamin Bell and her husband Bill.  Kathy lives just across the street, so is close by to keep an eye on Gloria.  Enjoyed our visit so much with her.

From there we headed over to Curley's Chicken House in Elmira Heights, to meet up with Rich's cousin Tracy La Deu  and her husband.  They both had the famous Chicken and Biscuits, and Rich and I had the 1/2 Chicken.   Just as good as we remembered!   Again - so nice to be able to get together with family, even if it's just for a short while.  As we were leaving the restaurant - we were very surprised when we say my niece, Cheryl Benjamin Farr!  Have not seen her in probably 25 years or more - but recognized her right away.  She was there with her grand-daughter, Sage.  ( That would make Rich and I her great, great aunt and uncle.

Wow - a long day, but lots of fun.............Tomorrow is the Benjamin Family Picnic at Harris Hill.  Not expecting a real big crowd, as it was last minute planning...........and some were out of town or working..............but even if it's only 10 or 15 people, it will be wonderful to spend time with them.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Our Last Week at Black Lake -

This week has passed by so very fast!  Can not believe that tomorrow is our last full day here.  But it's been a very good week.   Below are some pictures from the past several days.   The weather has been pretty funny this week, windy with very very choppy water, and the fishing has not been very good.  Our biggest fish, caught by Rich was an 11 or 12 inch bull head.    One more day to fish, tomorrow - and we plan on heading out in the morning, and then cleaning and packing in the afternoon.  So far this week - 55 fish, with Rich in the lead with 32.

Today Roger and Gloria invited us to ride along with them and take a cruise down the lake.  They have a beautiful pontoon - and know that we are considering trading in our boat for one. We were gone for about an hour and a half.  Thank you Roger and Gloria - it was a beautiful ride, and we had a great time.

  Some sights along the way..........

Some nice homes along the shoreline.

And the last leg of the trip - That's Pleasant View Camps - where we go for ice cream - and the other is Rogers Old Oak and the camp next door - Butternut Cove.

After the boat ride and before dinner, Roger and Gloria and I played a game of Mexican Train,................and after dinner Rich met up with the guys to talk politics!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Week 6 Ends - Only ONE More Week!!!

On Thursday Gloria and I did a short day trip.  Heuvelton is a very small town about 20 minutes north of here, almost to Ogdensburg.  Typical NY country roads where you can enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature..  We headed here to stop at Picken's Country Store -

 Gloria wanted  Cheese Curd!    Now I have never had cheese curd, and I did TRY it,  Took a very very tiny piece and spit it out as soon as it hit my tongue!  She took home THREE POUNDS!

The store is very very unique in that it carries so many of the products Amish craftsmen and artisans.   Here are a few of the items that you can find in the store...............One  of the things not showing is the artwork, most of which are country scenes of corn fields, rivers and streams.............which were absolutey beatiful.

We spent a good amount of time checking out the two very large rooms full of beautiful woodworking , handmade candles.........and of course the well recognized Amish hats!

I took home some hand pained coasters, and  a couple of hand made wine stoppers,

Before heading home we took a detour out Bishop road through the small country town of De Pyster, to find the Amish Vegetable stand.  Gloria was hoping for some fresh picked tomatoes - and I was hoping for some fresh yeast risen Amish bread.......... While it was a beautiful ride -  tomatoes not quite ready to pick, and the fresh bread and biscuits would be available the next day!

Friday - once again, was way too windy to get out on the lake.  All day long!  But this morning while sitting out at Roger and Gloria's, Paul dropped by and played some bag pipes for us again.  The crowd gathered with camera's in hand to enjoy the entertainment. Even the guys in cabin 10, packing up to leave, stopped to enjoy.  

And since we will be heading in to our last week here, it was time to start using up some of the fish in the freezer.........Five or six days getting home is just too long to try and travel with food!.   So we made a little egg wash and some Italian Bread Crumbs and breaded about 30 crappie.  Bill made some awesome potatoes on the grill and  Gloria made dessert ( Pineapple Delight) that was just delicious.
 Sat around outside until about 7:30 hoping the winds would die down, so we could fish..........but it just did not happen.  So we called it a day. 

Fish Count  - This week Rich  - 44, and Me - only 13
Total Fish count to date: 358

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Week 6 - Continued

Monday was a very windy day with scattered thunderstorms, and laundry day for me!  The forecast here in the North Country - called for severe storms, with damaging hail and winds at 30 miles/hour.    We did not get enough rain to even mention - but the winds kept us from fishing all day.

Tuesday  was a good fishing day - at least for Rich!!    We drifted on the other side of the lake near "The Pimple"  (photo below).    I think I ended the day with a grand total of four........... but Rich had 20.  17 crappie ( 14 nice keepers), 2 perch - one that was a nice keeper AND a really nice Small Mouth Bass - over 16 inches!  The other fish is a great fighter - a 24 plus inch Cat that he caught on Wednesday evening.

Both Monday and Tuesday nights the campers gathered around the campfire.   And on Tuesday night the folks in cabin 7 set off a few fireworks ( sparkler type) for the kids.  Nice group of people.    Pictures ( except for the fireworks) were taken on Monday - Tuesday, the temperatures dropped and we were ALL (including ME) in our long pants and sweat shirts.

Pictures of the moon over the water never come out very good for me.  It was so beautiful on Thursday evening ----------------

Monday, July 18, 2016

Week 5 Ends - Great Start to Week 6

Week 5 just continued to be a "bad weather" week.   More rain, and lots and lots of winds.    Needless to say the fish count for week five was absolutely embarrassing!!!   Grand total of 15 fish; 8 for Rich and 7 for me.  So the total to date at the end of the week was 301.

But when the white caps were gone, and the sun came out - the view was beautiful!

And so week 5 came to an end - but not before my baby brother David arrived along with his best buddy Jake about 3:30 on Friday afternoon.  Jake and Dave got familiar with the camp, the lake and met a few of our friends that were still here.

We had a great fish fry (crappie and perch), french fries, slaw and later shared some cheesecake for dessert.  Spent some time next door with Roger and Gloria  and sat around just catching up/talking till bed time.

Brother Dave is not a big on Saturday (Week 6 Begins)  he and I and Jake left the US mainland, taking the Thousand Island Bridge to the Wellesley Island State Park.  Located in the Thousand Island region along the St. Lawrence River.  We hiked the trails for over 4 miles, enjoying  the beauty of mother nature.

The trail were very well marked - some easy going others ( indicated by the red markers on the trees) steep, rocky and narrow.   Some great views of the narrows along the River and Eel Bay, the slabs of Sandstone, and along the pothole trail - the two glacial formed pot holes.   There were several lookout points - where you could stop and rest and enjoy the beauty of the lake.

Jake is a beautiful chocolate lab - who loves to hike as much as his Dad.  He minds very very well, so unless there were a lot of people around, Jake made his hike OFF the leash.   He'd always stop to see where we were, and frequently, took a dip in the river, when the trails led that way.

Below are a couple of shots of Davis and I taking a rest along the trails.   You can see here, how steep the trails became at times.

And - some of my favorite "scenery" shots..............and yes that includes the "outhouse" along the trail.  

And a few more of my favorites.  The one at the lower left - was taken at the Butterfly House near the end of the trails.

When we returned to the cabin  - Rich was still out fishing, ( He ended up getting 5 crappie and 5 perch)... but left us a note that we were invited to Bills for dinner.
Bill had a couple dozen burgers that he wanted to use up.  I had some coleslaw left from the day before, and one of the campers leaving, had given us a big dish of pasta salad, so we took that over with us.  Others did the same.............. We had lots of food!  Brad ( the owner - top left) joined us as did Gloria and Bill, Bills visiting guest Brad, and the folks from Pennsylvania who arrived in cabin 2 today ( can't remember their names - but remember them from last year).  Great get together that ended with Rich and I and David and Jake, and Gloria and Brad making a trip up the road for ice cream!  Even Jake got a treat - his own little dog bone sundae - that he really really enjoyed!!!    Bottom right -  picture of baby brother and I saying goodbye on Sunday morning.   It was a great visit!

After Dave and Jake left - we were undecided as to whether we wanted to go out fishing or head to Ogdensburg, where the NYS Bass Tournament was ending, and see the big catch of the day and check out the vendors......We decided to go fishing!

It was a pretty good day.  Rich caught 12 fish - 2 Redear (Shellcracker), 5 Perch (including one nice keeper, about 10 1/2 inches. ) 2 Crappie, a 13" small mouth bass, and 2 nice Catfish ( 16" and the other over 20").  I caught 2 Perch, 4 Crappie and  15 1/8" small mouth bass.   We took in the one perch, my bass, both the catfish and three nice crappie about the size of the perch.    Oh yeah....... Rich lost a big one!

 So - I hope the rest of week 6  continues with good weather and good fishing.  So far this week our total is only 29.............but it's only Monday!