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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Trip East, Spring 2015

March 29, 2015

Carl & Merilee arrived to go East with us.

Went to Daniel’s for ribs, very good.

March 30, 2015

I was at the VA this morning to get my shot. We all ate breakfast at the VA and then hit the road.
We drove to Cheryl and Rod’s house in Mokena, IL. Spent the night there. Thank you Cheryl and Rod for your hospitality.

March 31, 2015

We decided to drive to Niagara Falls through Canada.  When we went through customs at the border, the young lady had no sense of humor, but we were able to get into Canada in spite of that. We drove to London, ON, stayed at the Hilton downtown, very nice hotel. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant, we had a great host, can’t remember his name but he was a lot of fun.

April 1, 2015

We had a short drive to Niagara Falls, ON, here we stayed at the Hilton on Fallsview Ave. We took this incline car, that is what they called it,  ride down the side of a hill to see the falls. We bought tickets to go behind the falls and got wet, not real wet but there was the mist coming from the water. All I could think of was what if the rock crumbled, we would get wetter. Actually we didn’t get wet except when we looked at the falls from above. We wanted to ride the Maid of the Mist but there was too much ice on the falls so they weren’t running the boat.

We were walking back from the falls and decided to find a place for dinner. We went into Ruth Chris Steakhouse, http://www.ruthschris.com/restaurant-locations/niagara-falls, great place to eat, expensive but very good.

April 2, 2015

Drove to Hershey, PA to visit Hershey Chocolate World. On the way to Hershey I bit into a frozen ice cream bar and broke a front tooth. I haven’t had this big a gap in my front teeth since I was ten or twelve.

Stayed at the Hampton Inn, they didn’t have our rooms ready, we weren’t the only ones they evidently didn’t have enough help, but they gave us a bottle of water and a candy bar for us having to wait. I would have rather had a credit on my room rate.

April 3, 2015

Went to a dentist, at 7am, to have them tell me what, if anything I could do to fix my tooth and what I need to watch for as far as infection etc. Since they couldn't help me I have to wait until I get home to get it fixed. So I called the VA to see if I could get my dental work done there. The lady in the dental clinic said I had to be verified, I told her I knew who I was, but she said the VA had to verify if I could get dental, I can so I will. I have an appt for June. The dental lady said to call if I start having pain. The only pain I have right now is the perceived pain I am going to have when they do whatever they will do. I wonder if they will give me NO2 when they clean my teeth? 

We visited Hershey World and ended up buying a bit of chocolate and some pens which smelled like chocolate. It was an interesting experience.

We drove to Gettysburg, PA and toured the battlefield. I had seen it in the mid-seventies and it is still very interesting. I look at the stone walls around the battlefield and think about the guys who were laying in wait behind them. I can't imagine being a soldier then it had to be a rough life. Over 600,000 Americans died in this war that is a lot of young men. 

After Gettysburg we drove to Ashburn, VA to the Hilton Garden Inn. We are going to be here for five days.

April 4, 2015

Went to George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon a must visit if you are in the Washington DC area. They are doing some rehab on the house so it isn't picture perfect but the grounds and the view of the Potomac are spectacular.

The rest of the day we relaxed and Sarah & Merilee did some laundry.

April 5, 2015 Easter Sunday

We went to church this morning at 8:45. I knew it being Easter there would be a lot of people at church so we arrived a half hour early. Two reasons, to make sure we could get a seat and also to make sure we sat in the back of the church, I want to be close to the bathroom. 

After church we headed for the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. This was a great visit, I was amazed that all the cadets are housed in the same building, 4500 plus. The grounds are beautiful and well maintained. It would be interesting to spend a day there to watch what the midshipmen go through on a daily basis.

For lunch we ate at McGarvey’s Saloon, great seafood. This place was recommended by our tour guide and he was right they had good food and very good service.

April 6, 2015

Took the hotel shuttle to the airport and the 5A bus to downtown Washington DC. It was an hour bus ride downtown but if you have ever driven in Washington DC, then you know you don’t want to drive there. It was a $7.50 bus ride each way , unless you are old like me then it is $7.50 round trip,  but we could not have driven into town and parked for that kind of money.

We bought tickets on Old Town Trolley tours, a great idea, thanks Lynne, we were able to see and learn about the different buildings along the mall and elsewhere in town. We did go into the Air & Space museum for a bit but the most interesting thing we saw was at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery.

We saw the usual ceremony of the changing of the guard. We also saw two laying wreaths at the Tomb by two schools. It was awesome, the young sergeant who played Taps was fabulous. I also got to see the World War II memorial, it was on my list, I didn’t get to see the Vietnam memorial but I have seen it before. Sarah wanted to go to the DAR building but it was too late to get there when we got back from Arlington. 

All in all it was a great day.

April 7, 2015

Yesterday did me in and today we rested.

April 8, 2015

We left the hotel about 8:15 for Santee, SC and the Hampton Inn. We wanted to go to Charleston ut there was a tennis tournament and all the hotels were either booked or the price was so high they were unaffordable to us. When we got to Santee we were hungry. The hotel recommended a BBQ place so we drove out to it. They were closed, evidently they are opened Thurs – Sunday. We did find a good place, Clarks Inn and Restaurant, good food.

April 9, 2015

Today we had lunch with Carlene Reece, a friend of mine from my days at Ruan. Carlene is the same as when I last saw her fourteen years ago, she is funny and hasn't aged a bit.. We had a great visit and lunch. She recommended a carriage tour of Charleston, we had never been here before, Old South Carriage Company, http://www.oldsouthcarriagetours.com/. What a great choice, we had a very good guide, can’t remember his name, but the horse’s name was Dave. We saw some very interesting buildings and architecture. 

After the tour we found the “market” and ended up buying a few things. We then had dinner at Bubba Gump’s and bought more things there. 

April 10, 2015

We left Santee for Asheville, NC and had to stop in Orangeburg, SC to ship the things we bought yesterday to the kids and some things home for ourselves. We were running out of room in the car. It is amazing how much you can accumulate in such a short time. 

We arrived here in Asheville a little after one, our rooms weren’t ready so we drove a round and found a quilt shop for Merilee and Sarah.

April 11, 2015

Saturday we headed out to Biltmore Mansion, http://www.biltmore.com/visit/. If you have never been there it is worth the trip to see. We toured the mansion, it is a self-guided audio tour, and there were also a lot of signs with detailed information on whatever room you were in at the time. When we got to the second floor I was beat so I sat down and let the others tour the second and third floors. I did go to the basement with them. I had toured the house before many years ago so I didn’t care if I saw the upper floors or not. We ate lunch in the Stable Café, as the name would indicate it was the stable for the mansion, the hay/alfalfa salad was great. Just kidding I had a burger, very good. I did end up spending a bit of money on souvenirs etc. I also found the candy counter, actually it was a store unto itself and was the candy ever good and pricey. 

After lunch we went to the winery. Now this has changed a lot since I was here years ago. They have expanded the wine shop and added a Bistro and a few other shops. They do produce a lot of wine here but I thought it was a bit over priced for the quality. Sarah and I did a tasting and I didn’t think the wines we tasted were as good as some cheaper ones I have had in the past.

We ended up having pizza for dinner, it was good, I think we had it delivered from Pizza Hut.

April 12, 2015

Today Sarah & I went to church at the Basilica of St Lawrence, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_St._Lawrence,_Asheville, it was packed, we got there early enough to get a good parking spot. It is a smaller church on the inside compared to what it looks like from the outside.

Carl & Merilee went to the Mother Earth show at the agriculture center, they said it was worth the money for it.

We then headed back to Biltmore, we had purchased tickets for a carriage ride of the property. We were a bit early so we toured the Biltmore Hotel, very nice place and quite a bit more than I want to pay for a hotel room.

Our carriage ride was ok but really not worth the money except that you get a spectacular view of the backside of the mansion. This time we remember the driver’s name Marty and the horses, Pat & Jesse.

Dinner was at the Bistro located next to the winery, good food and not to expensive.

April 13, 2015

We headed for Nashville, TN today and the Wyndham Hotel. We arrived early afternoon and our apartment wasn’t ready. This is a time share location and the rooms are nice apartments. To kill time we drove around and stopped to get tickets for the Opry Tuesday night. Went back to the hotel and was able to get into the apartment. Later we went over to the mall and ate at Macaroni Grill and walked around for a while.

April 14, 2015

Remember this a time share resort, so they have all sorts of activities. This morning they had a breakfast honoring veterans, you had to be a registered guest and sign up for it. The lady in charge of it did a great job. All the veterans stood and told a little something about themselves and their military career.

I ended up taking a nap this afternoon. When I woke we went to Logan’s Roadhouse for dinner, not too bad but we have had better.  

Then it was off to the Grand Ole Opry. I didn’t know exactly what to expect but it was interesting. I didn’t know any of the performers except for the Gatlin Brothers, and they were not that great. It was fun to watch the audience and the stage hands as they prepared the stage for each performer. Late night though didn’t get home until after midnight.

April 15, 2015

This morning we went to see Merilee’s sister Susan and her step daughter Mary. We had a nice visit and lunch with them.

This afternoon we took the hotel shuttle bus to downtown Nashville. It was interesting but unless you like to drink and listen to LOUD country music it isn’t the place to be. We did eat dinner at Jake’s BBQ, it was recommended to us by another guest, it was good but Smokey D’s in Des Moines is better.

Tonight it is early to bed so we can get an early start in the morning.

April 16, 2015

Ok, up at six and out the door and on the road by 7:15. GPS indicates 760 miles and a bit over ten hours, I figure twelve hours or more depending on how often we stop and for how long.
It was an uneventful drive, Carl and I took turns behind the wheel and the weather was good with only a few showers in Tennessee. We arrived home about 8:45 pm, long drive, 4000 miles, but it is nice to be home and to sleep in my own bed.

April 17, 2015

Carl had and appt to get their car in for a warranty item before they headed home to South Dakota. We dropped the car off and went for breakfast, then took them back to their care and said our goodbyes until next time.

We had a great trip, we saw a lot of country and only one mishap, me breaking a front tooth. Carl & Merilee were great traveling companions and we would do it again.

Until next time, that’s all folks.

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