Knocked off a few more bucket list items this past weekend when we joined our friends the Heleans for a weekend in New York City. Planned events included the Yankees-Orioles game Friday night, MOMA and The Met on Saturday, and the World Trade Center Memorial on Sunday. Squeezed in a walk along the High Line as a bonus, along with several trips to Harry’s and several NYC dive bars: Maggies and Tim’s Corner. Another great weekend in the big city! Scroll cursor over photo for cutline.

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Palace @ Auburn Hills

Palace @ Auburn Hills

 

 

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Susie @ Myaaka Park

 

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Wiz-Magic Orlando

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Penny Crandall-Tallahassee

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Kerchevals-Holmes Beach

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Busch Gardens Tampa

Greektown-Detroit

Greektown-Detroit

Nipps @ Everglades

Nipps @ Everglades

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Venice Beach, CA, bike trail

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Volunteering in Venice

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Hammanns-San Clemente

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Busch Gardens Tampa

Roth @ Fins-Venice

Roths @ Fins-Venice

Vogels @ Marina Jacks

Vogels @ Marina Jacks

Hanlins @ O's game-SRQ

Hanlins @ O’s game-SRQ

JP @ O's game-SRQ

JP @ O’s game-SRQ

JP Lib at Lightning game

JP Lib at Lightning game

Amalie Arena-Tampa

Amalie Arena-Tampa

LA Coliseum

LA Coliseum

Getty Museum

Getty Museum

Griffith Park

Griffith Park

Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium

Rose Bowl run-walk

Rose Bowl run-walk

Jerry West-Staples Center

Jerry West-Staples Center

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Cedar Key, FL

Bama beach-Heleans

Bama beach-Heleans

Capitol-Tallahassee

Capitol-Tallahassee

Kercheval’s @ Big Top Brewery-SRQ

Chinese Theatre

Chinese Theatre

Post ride-Santa Monica

Post ride-Santa Monica

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Above Dam 5-Potomac

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Maryland Heights

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Arlington National Cemetery

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Trump hotel-Chicago

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Annual trip-Comiskey

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Architectural tour

I’ve spent a lot of time online this year. From December through May, I uploaded and managed my first online college course. It was a lot of fun, and like a lot of technical stuff, once you realize you can’t break anything, you can figure stuff out via trial-error. Student reviews were pretty good so I must have done OK.

The other digital project was managing the Facebook page for a non-profit that I’m involved with in Florida: The Friends of the Legacy Trail. Between learning the system, and finding content to post on the site, it nearly became the equivalent of a part-time job for about 5 months, but I loved doing it. Satisfied the editor and publisher genes that I have.

With HCC about to start up, I’ll be assigning the creation of a WordPress blog to my Media and Culture students. To that end, I better get on here myself and make a few entries.

To keep things at least relatively interesting, what follows is a pictorial tour of our life from January through mid-August. It’s been a great year so far, and you’ve just seen a bunch of photos to prove it.

 

What a holiday season! Seemed as if we started partying with friends and family at Thanksgiving and the party didn’t stop till New Year’s Day. [See some of our fun above.]
Tempering it all was a medical emergency (with a happy ending, fortunately) our friends, the Heleans, dealt with on New Year’s Eve. Also learned Monday that our friend and renter-house sitter Chuck would leaving us. We’ll miss him.
We are getting back in our southern routines again. I’ve got a volunteer commitment today and tomorrow. April spent yesterday doing long-distance legal work. And the sun shone brightly for the 13th out of 14 days here.
You cherish every day down here after a touch of the gray, cold northern winter. What’s not to love!

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Chuck, April and I hiked to the top of Maryland Heights on a spectacular September Saturday afternoon for a view of the Potomac River and Harper’s Ferry. It was also our 34th anniversary. Bravo!

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Kitty with the Burr girls and Buddy at our house in Shepherdstown in 1986.

 

It’s been a busy, productive yet invigorating fall. HCC has gone well; I’ve spent a ton of time outdoors in the lovely weather. And we’ve traveled a bit and reconnected with our friends. All good.
The bummer was Kitty’s quick demise. She broke her hip, and was dead three months later. The consolation: She lived a full, active and amazing life. She’ll be missed.
Here are a few photos of our fall.

 

We had planned to go to New York City for Labor Day weekend, but we were just too tired to make the effort, primarily the drive, so we decided to plan a weekend closer to home. Good decision, as it turned out.

April had long wanted to photograph the C&O Canal, so we took–for us–an unusual bike ride on Friday, stopping repeatedly to shooting photos of vistas that struck April’s fancy. In all, we covered about 25 miles in about 3 hours. She got a lot of good pix. It was fun to ride AND relax.

C&O Canal website

Saturday began with a morning boat ride along the canal in Williamsport. The NPS offers free rides along with a historical presentation at a lock and lock house. We always wanted to do this, and finally did. The big event, though, was up next. We have lived close to the Appalachian Trail for most of our adult lives but never set foot on it. Saturday afternoon, we decided to hike a strectch just outside of Boonsboro, about 10 miles from our house. I thought it was going to be fun but a wasted workout. Walking? You’ve got to be kidding me. Boy was I wrong!

Appalachian Trail Conservancy website

Six miles and I was bushed and bruised. Felt like someone had beaten me on Sunday morning I was so stiff. Up one hill, down another, for more than 2 hours. One grade was like climbing a half-mile of steps. And the section we walked was considered easy-to-moderate! We loved it, though. Quiet and serene. A bit of a challenge given the rocky pathway and hills. Felt like you were away from civilization, though, even more so than the Towpath. We’ll return.

Saturday night, we went to Martinsburg where we watched with some old friends WVU beat Georgia Southern. Frank Keyser, an alum, and Rick and Teresa Feagans accepted my Facebook shout-out to join us at Buffalo Wild Wings. Saw WVU win handily, and caught up with the Feagans–they were unable to make the 60th party–who we had not seen for a long time. Old friends. Cold beer. Good game. Great time!

WVU-Georgia Southern highlights

Took Sunday off to recover from the Trail walk, but on Monday left early to head to Carderock Park along the C&O Canal just outside Washington. In 2012, April and I decided to ride the entire C&O Canal–all 184.5 miles of it–but do so in chunks of 10-12 miles. We knocked out all but 20 miles in 2012 and 2013. Still had the last 20 miles to do at the DC end. We decided this fall was the time to finish the job, so we knocked out the chunk between milepost 20 and milepost 9. It includes the most impressive area along the C&O: Great Falls. We took our time there and enjoyed the spectacular views near the falls, a string of Potomac River rapids that few first-timers expect to see along the mostly docile, unimposing Potomac. The only downside is that this area is the busiest along the towpath, especially during a holiday. For half our ride, we were darting in, out and around walkers and tourists. That added a bit of a challenge to an otherwise easy ride. Monday’s mission was accomplished, though, and we now have only the final 9 miles into Washington to complete. We will do so by mid-October, weather permitting.

NPS Great Falls website

I hate the word “staycation,” but this was one of the best home-bound holiday weekends I can recall. We got a lot of exercise, saw some beautiful landscapes, hung out with some friends and took advantage of the great weather, all for under $150.

Not bad at all!

It says something that a quiet Tuesday afternoon in mid-August is the first time I’ve had a chance to update my blog in nearly a month. Busy squared!

We left Florida about 2 weeks ago but it seems more like 2 days. Had an uneventful trip home, which included a stop in Summerville to visit family and make a quick dash to Charleston for lunch.

We got back to Maryland, then immediately began preparing and packing for our 60th party at Canaan Valley Resort. By the time we returned home from West Virginia and got a tad settled, it was back to college prep for me, and a seemingly non-stop legal sked for April. [At least she won’t have to fly home every few weeks to take care of her business.] Not complaining. It’s a great life!

Our Canaan party co-hosted with the Kerchevals has been our big event of the summer. It exceeded my expectations, and was one of those rare, renewing experiences that you look back on and savor. Nearly 20 of our old friends from high school and college attended, some of whom hadn’t seen each other in years. Lots of old stories, laughs, booze and fun. [Actually, too much booze and not enough sleep for me. Took me about a week to fully recover.] Over the years, our interests have changed, our politics have evolved; we’re not the same people we were when friendships were first formed many a moon ago. Yet, the deep bond–we’d still all have each other’s backs if it came to that–remains unfrayed. There’s a core connection about this group that we’ll carry with us till we die. That’s worth renewing every now and then.

Before Joe returned to Arizona, we did a morning bike ride from Shepherdstown to Williamsport via the towpath. We have since made a commitment to ride across Iowa in 2017, a 450-mile challenge that I’m confident we’ll both complete as long as we remain relatively healthy and upright.

Otherwise, April and I have been re-acclimating ourselves to Maryland. I’ve spent most of my time prepping for school and working out on the towpath, intentionally taking a low-key approach to life until things pick up next week with the start of school. She’s off to see Marsha in Deep Creek this weekend, then we may leave town for Labor Day weekend. Trying to gauge our energy level for that, though.

Finally, I have an MRI scheduled tomorrow for my shoulder–I believe it’s a rotator cuff injury. Been bothering me since February. We’ll see if that leads to rehab or surgery. {I assume it’s in part caused by 6 years of high school football and several years of throwing a FB to JP in the driveway every day before school, and, perhaps, one too many bike wrecks!}

As much as I love Florida, April was correct: It’s a good time to be here. During the next few weeks, we’ll really head full steam into fall: HCC opens Monday. WVU’s football season begins the following weekend. We’ll begin getting together with our Maryland friends after Labor Day. We can drive right down the road for the world’s best corn and apples. Fall here usually means sunshine, low humidity and temps in the 60s and 70s, just about perfect for long weekend bike rides and perhaps a 5k. Also hope to tee it up with Chuck and hit some local golf courses if the MRI provides some good news.

And just when the cold weather becomes borderline unbearable, we’ll pack it in and be on our way to Florida.

All good!

As soon as John Phillip arrived for a long weekend in Florida, it seemed as if he was boarding his plane for the flight home. We tried to shoehorn a lot of activity into a relatively brief period of time.

JP flew in Friday, July 17, and his goals were to relax a bit in our new home and play some golf. Friday afternoon we returned to Venice and ate lunch at Bogey’s, a sports bar we enjoy. That evening it was a trip to Lib and Manu’s house for pizza and cards.

We awoke Saturday morning to a steady Florida rain. We waited till mid-afternoon for the rain to subside. Most of the courses were closed because of the soggy conditions. But we found one in Rotonda that was open, and squeezed in 9 holes between storms.

Rotunda is an interesting place. It was the site of the Superstars Competition, one of the first exclusively made-for-TV events. I watched the show as a kid. It featured famous athletes competing in different sporting events, sort of a makeshift decathlon. [I remember former heavyweight boxing champ Joe Frazier nearly drowning in the swimming competition.] The TV show was intended to publicize the massive new development called Rotonda West. But the Superstars program eventually left, and Rotonda went through a number of owners before finally going bankrupt. The ambitious-for-its-era development was never completed. Much of Rotonda West is open fields with barren streets and roads leading to nowhere. The golf course we played was actually quite scenic, but many of the single-story homes abutting it were either falling down, unoccupied or in pretty rough shape. Not exactly the prototypical Florida golf course community. Pretty sad, actually.

Our round of golf included a soaking, 20-minute storm that we endured under a palm tree after playing the first hole. But we got in 9 holes before threatening skies chased us off the course. After golf, it was Valenti’s for dinner.

Sunday was a better day. Hot and humid but sunny. JP wanted to see the Gulf, so we went to the Jetty’s Sunday morning. Manu met us at Calusa Lakes, and we played 18 holes that afternoon. I came close–102–to breaking 100 for the first time. Manu shot a 98. JP was around 115. None of us are ready for the Tour, but it was still great fun.

Sunday night, April cooked a great dinner, and we concluded the day with a game of pitch, won by John Phillip, whose suddenly become unbeatable.

He had an early wake-up call Monday a.m.: an 8 a.m. flight from Punta Gorda to South Bend. By 11 a.m., he was at his apartment in Indiana.

It was a quick but action-packed visit. It’s always great to have our family together. Shame it couldn’t have been a longer stay, but we take what we can get and make the best of it, which we surely did. I’ll stamp the weekend mission accomplished!