Saturday, June 26, 2010


Sixty three years old and my sweet bride thought it was time for this old boy to have his first pedicure. It is something I would have never thought of doing for myself but I will have to admit that it was an experience that I will repeat in time to come.
My employer recently told me that if I was not planning to get a pedicure or massage while on the cruise in October that he would give me the money to have it done. I can see now that I will probably indulge myself at least once during the journey.
As my wife reads this blog all I can say is thank you so much!!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

White Lake

When I think about the need to get away and slow down the pace of this sometimes too busy day to day schedule White Lake, NC comes to mind. This is a place my dad took the family when I was about 6 and I never saw it again until my sweet wife convinced me we needed to take a long weekend there. Since then we have been back a number of times.
White Lake is unique in that the water is crystal clear and you can walk quite a distance before getting in up to your chest and still see your feet. It has caused me not to want to get into any water that I can't see through.
The reason for this post is to try and paint you a picture of what is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Imagine sitting on one of the many piers that are there in the evening and watching the setting sun as it goes down on the other side of the lake reflecting across the water with a cool breeze blowing and the sound of ducks talking to each other. It doesn't get much better than that. All you have to do is go there once and you are hooked.
Even though it is a tourist attraction there is a limited number of places to shop which I really like. Of course for the kids there is an amusement park with the usual rides to keep them busy.
A trip to White Lake is never complete without making a 7 mile trip to Elizabeth Town and eating at the "Front Porch Restaurant". There you enjoy some of the most wonderful food that makes you feel like being at mama's table. They are famous for their fat back, biscuits and molasses on their buffet. They even have tee shirts with the 3 items listed on the back. The walls are full of photographs of noteworthy folks that have been there to enjoy a fantastic meal.
When it gets a little cooler I will have to convince my bride it is time to renew some precious memories of a gorgious sunset.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Four Months To Wait

I haven't been counting the days but I suddenly realized that I now have only 4 months until my bride and I board the Carnival Glory for our third cruise. If you have never been on a cruise you really can't understand how exciting it is to approach the departure time. So far we have been on all Carnival cruises. First it was the Celebration that visited Key West and Nausau. Key West is one of the prettiest places I have ever seen and will forever have the picture in my memory of looking down from the deck at the adorable town with roosters and chickens walking around doing their own thing. Nausau was not as memorable but we did have a good time touring the Atlantis Resort.
The next ship was the Holiday which is one of Carnival's older ships and interestingly enough was used off the Gulf coast for temporary housing after so many were left homeless after a hurricane. The ship was then rebuilt inside and took us to Mexico which was awesome.
All that was fine but the real joy of cruising is the "time on the ship". The crew always manages to exceed our expectations and have us thinking about the next cruise even before we finish the one we are on. As soon as I get on board thoughts of anything on the mainland leave me and a sense of peace comes over me. I get to our cabin which always has a window so we can see out. One of my joys is to place into the electronic safe all the "stuff" I carry around like keys, wallet, cell phone, etc.
Exploring the ship is always an adventure and of course snapping pictures everywhere for our photo albums that somehow never seem to be opened after we put the pictures in them. There is always a couple of days at sea so there is plenty of time to just sit and enjoy peace to read or simply do nothing. The food is always wonderful and is available in some form 24/7. Meeting interesting people is another great thing about cruises. I simply can't wait but must until October.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Simple Pleasures

It's Sunday afternoon and as I do most Sundays I was watching "In The Kitchen With David" at noon. For those who may not know I am referring to David Venable of QVC. He has a show each Sunday doing demonstations of kitchen tools, equipment or food that you can purchase. He also has a "Cookbook Corner" segment and today it featured a book by Jamie & Bobby Deen, sons of Paula Deen. Of course I bought a copy.

David was referring to his blog so I just checked it out and he was sharing about simple pleasures and made me think how important the simple things of life really are. We go to great trouble preparing elegant meals but forget how it is to enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and as I have said many time, I would love to have a quarter for every jar of peanut butter I have emptied.

There are other favorites that come back to me as I was thinking about my childhood growing up in my fathers little country store. One of the favorite things to do was to pour a package of Planters Peanuts into a small coke bottle or Pepsi and savor the flavor that came from mixing the two together. The salt had a way of changing the taste of the drink and I wish I had one this moment. A great lunch back then would have been a large slice of cheddar cheese or as we called it "hoop cheese" since it came in a round wooden box and the cheese was round. Paired with that would be a honey bun and a drink of your choice. Awesome and you have could purchase all of that combination for a very small amount.

Other simple pleasures that come to mind were Van Camp Beanie Weenies, Cracker Jacks, Armour dried beef that came in small drink glasses that you could use forever, Super Bubble Bubble Gum, a couple of large Jacks Cookies that sold for a penny or any number of items that were always in dad's candy case.

Back in the day I actually enjoyed working in my dad's store stocking shelves or simply organizing drink bottles in the wooden crates. Back then you got money back from returning empty drink bottles and it was my job to keep them separated into brands. Working with shelves of can goods has followed me into my adult life as I remember back to when I had a pantry and would always try to keep it organized with corn behind corn, etc.

Some of the more fulfilling simple pleasures were spending time with my dog "Poochie" or fishing and I don't necessarily mean catching fish but simply watching the cork float and enjoying just being outside and watching the water flow down the creek or river. Times like this can be so valuable being totally void of stress.

I said all that to say this, take time this week for the simple pleasures that used to bring you joy. Relive those moments and slow the pace down a notch.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Paula Deen

I have shared that I have a passion for cooking and have really enjoyed being able to view the Food Network for years now.

A few years ago my wife and I decided that we like Paula Deen so much that we should take our vacation in Savannah, GA and eat at her restaurant. I might add that this was prior to owning a navigation system so it was a little intimidating getting around in Savannah.

The drill for eating at The Lady & Sons Restaurant is to get there early, about 9:30, to get in line and believe me the line gets quite long. I did get an opportunity to meet and have a picture taken with Bobby outside the front door which was awesome but didn't see anymore of the family while there. The restaurant has 3 floors and it stays full 7 days a week.

We got seated and they bring you their signature items, cheese biscuit and hoe cake. The buffet was awesome and the service was great. Everyone should try it at least once. We left there feeling like would need no supper after all the fried chicken and vegetable we consumed.

Later we ventured into the country and stopped at Uncle Bubba's Seafood Restaurant which is much easier to access and has a parking lot vs the parking deck we had to use for Paula's place. If we get an opportunity to return I would like to try his restaurant.

Continuing on our journey towards the coast we ended up at Tybee Island. It has a beautiful beach but the sand was surely too hot on that late summer day. I understand that Paula has opened a B & B there called Y'al Come Inn with lots of items included to make the stay a very special one.

The one recipe of her's that I enjoy the most would have to be the pumpkin gooey butter cake. The flavors and textures are unbeatable and you can get her recipe on along with other great mouth watering recipes.

After completing our "Paula" time we did get to go out on a boat to watch dolphins and really enjoyed that experience. If you get a chance you need to visit Savannah.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Birch Beer & Bratwurst

If there is one thing I really appreciate my sweet wife for it would have to be introducing me to the fun of traveling. In my previous life I really never took time off to go anywhere in particular and it was a pretty dull existence. One of the places we both love to go is Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and we have been there numerous times. We feel a peace there that I have found nowhere else in our journeys and I have been thinking about it a lot lately. Of course when you talk about Lancaster County you immediately think of the Amish and we have the deepest respect for their way of life and so appreciate the way they make us feel everytime we are near them. In the little community of Bird-In-Hand there is a farmers market that offers everything imagineable from fresh fruits & meat to packaged, prepared bake goods, crafts, canned vegetables, etc. One of my "have to do" events on every trip there is to sit at the counter and order a bratwurst sandwich and a birch beer. Birch beer is kind of a cross between a Dr. Pepper and Root Beer and is red in color. Not really one of my favorite things to drink but when I am there it makes me feel like I am experiencing their culture in a more real sense. I have an empty Birch Beer can sitting on my desk at work to keep their memory close. I can almost smell the "exhaust" from the horse & buggys that fill the streets and have fond memories of the cute children riding in the back of the buggy smiling and waving to us. It was a fun memory the first time I spotted a metal rail at the only supermarket in the community where the Amish would tie up their horse while shopping. For anyone who may be thinking about visiting Lancaster they have other attractions that they are noted for. One is the awesome Sight and Sound Theater that has spectacular performances throughout the year. People come from long distances to enjoy their shows. In Lancaster there is a full scale model of the Tabernacle that is truly amazing. On the road leading to Bird-In-Hand there is a home on the right side of the street with a carving of a bear holding a baby bear carved out of the trunk of a tree with the roots still in the ground. It is large and beautifully done and well kept. Seems to look better every time we go there. One of the fun things you can do there is take a tour of the Amish countryside on a buggy. Most of the horses they use are former race horses that are living a calmer life now. One last thing I will mention is the largest "flea market" I have ever seen in Ephrata called the "Green Dragon" and only open on fridays. It is so large that the first time Linda and I went there we got lost and had a hard time finding where we parked our car so it is a good idea to remember well where you parked. It isn't what most folks think about flea markets in that the sites you see are beautiful vegetables, crafts and unusual items that will make you want to shop until you drop. Try Lancaster County, Pa. you will like it, I promise.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Yard Sales

This past saturday Linda and I were in the "yard sale" mode. My daughter Rachel and her mother in law Terri was having their yard sale so made an appearance to help them out and arrived at, can you believe this, shortly after 5 AM. We know from experience that if you want to find special items you have to get an early start. I sure hope they did well as we felt that we did really well by the time we got back to Halifax. I throughly dislike "having" yard sales but enjoy participating in them. To give you an idea of how it can be beneficial lets take inventory. We discovered a "like new" toaster oven for Linda's office for only $5, a pop up kennel for Rocky to use on trips that fits in a neat round case but opens up large enough to accomodate a 70 lb. dog for only $3, a twin basket deep fryer, also like new for only $10, numerous turtles to add to Linda's collection for only $1 each and I save the best for last. I saw a bag that had $15 marked on it and the nice lady indicated it had a camcorder inside and sure enough it was a Sony Handycam with all the accessories. Linda asked her if she would take $10 and she agreed so now I have a camcorder that actually records videos on a DVD for only $10. Awesome and I have already tried it out and it works great. Sometimes it takes a little effort to find the sales but when y0u do it can be rewarding. It's monday so have a great week.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Shatley Springs

It's truly amazing how someone, like my wife and I, could drive 4 1/2 hours just to eat a meal but we have done just that. Shatley Springs is located in Crumpler, NC which is only a few minutes from West Jefferson. It stays so very busy during the summer months and serves the best food family style and you leave knowing you have been fed like a king. They have found the secret to doing something exceptional and doing it again day after day. However, it really isn't just the food that draws us, it's the experience. There is a wide front porch with a long row of comfortable rocking chairs where you can rock and listen to usually a gospel group singing for their meals. So you sit there enjoying the breeze, the singing, the company and the thought that you are in the mountains all at the same time. It doesn't get much better than that. A little more about how it all came to be. Many years ago Mr. Shatley was in the area suffering from a number of illnesses, it was very hot and he was in need of some kind of relief. He happened on a spring and decided to refresh himself with the cool water and noticed later that he was feeling better so he went back and used the water all over and before long he was feeling great. That same spring is still in use and on the left side of the building there is a recessed area you can walk down a couple of steps and the spring is running out of a pipe 24/7 where you can fill water containers at no charge to carry home. They even sell gallon size jugs in the restaurant office if you don't have any available. Today there are little cottages down the left side of the property that you can rent, a trout pond that is stocked to have fun fishing and a gift store with lots of must have items. People arrive by the bus loads and I am sure many are repeat customers that make the pilgrimage as often as possible. The restaurant is noted for one thing that has just about vanished from this area and that is "Red Eye Gravy". For those of you who may not know what this wonderful substance is, it is gravy made from cooking country ham with coffee added and is simply wonderful on a home made biscuit or in grits. The last time I was there the nice waitress even put me some in a carry out container that I enjoyed as long as I could when I got back to the flatlands. They usually close just before Thanksgiving for the winter and reopens on April 15th. Hope to see you there soon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Healing Time

Linda, Rocky and I were understandably tired from the 6 hour journey home but at the same time we were rejuvenated at the same time just for spending time in the beauty of the mountains with it's lush summer growth. Rocky made a new friend while there. A white Jack Russell Terrier, who seems to just make his rounds to all the cabins during the day was very friendly and naturally they had a good time checking each other out. Sad to say business is down in Maggie Valley and lots of merchants are suffering, going out of business or lowering prices trying to survive. I made a new friend, John, at Smokey Mountain Gifts who closed for 3 months last winter but plans to close 6 months this winter as they spend time in Florida. The only place that seems to unaffected by the slow down is Joey's Pancake House who was loaded with business each morning. He does one thing very well and only has to be open until 12 noon each day serving breakfast items. It had been dry in Maggie Valley but the rains sure came this weekend. It was raining when we left Monday and I felt sorry for the many bikers that were there and probably heading home. We finally ran out of it about half way home so I know it must have been a miserable journey for them. We passed some headed west on I40 that would have run into the bad weather. Aside from the limited negatives we are better just for spending time there and can relive in our minds the many memories we accumulated to keep us going for some time.