Monday, December 30, 2019

Happy New Year to You!

Happy New Year!  

Before the year comes to a close, I want to send out some greetings.  I love this time of the year and look forward to getting some things done during the holiday lull before we get back into the regular swing of things.

I hope you had a really good holiday and are revitalized for the new year.  Someone posted that thought that the Roaring 20’s are upon us!

One thing I like about the holiday season is that I always manage to find some time for reflection and planning for the new year.  I love that.

By all measures this has been a momentous year.  We thought it would be big and it has turned out to be more epic than we imagined.
At the beginning of the year, we were into our “one last hurrah” with the Roadrunner in Key West. It was there we found out the possibility of selling the Roadrunner was actually turning into a strong possibility.  In a few short weeks we managed to systematically give the Roadrunner a deep cleaning while traveling through the Keys and up to the Tampa area.  It was wonderful seeing friends in Naples, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Tampa and St Pete.
After that, we traveled over to the Jacksonville area where we agreed to meet the buyer.  We left the Roadrunner there and  rented a small U-Haul and drove it to Kelly and Jon’s place in Virginia Beach.

It was a little strange as we got the price we wanted and then delivered the Roadrunner to a climate controlled storage facility outside of Atlanta.  After that, we drove to Virginia in only our Honda and on to new life.  We were able to stay with Jon and Kelly as we did some house hunting.

It took us a few weeks, but in March, we found a place 12 minutes from the grandkids. We signed a contract and had three weeks until closing, so we took a road trip in our F-150 out to Tucson.  Along the way we saw friends and family in Maynardville TN, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Fort Worth TX and Denver NC.

When we got back to Virginia Beach the first week of April, we started on major renovations to the house.  After three months of renovations (new bathrooms, kitchen, roof, windows, inside doors) and complete interior paint job, we moved into our new home in Norfolk the last part of June.

But even before then, Pam and I put in a 12’ x 25 garden that has been a real joy.  The boys helped with the spring and fall planting. It was fun watching them run to Grandma’s Garden every time they came to visit.  They wanted to see how the peas or corn or pumpkins were doing.

In August we took a road trip in the truck to Canada, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. While in Canada we were given a couple of bird feeders that were tucked away in a cabin.  We brought them back to life and have enjoyed watching cardinals, blue jays, finches, and hummingbirds off the back deck. The simple pleasures of life.

We love our house.  Our small house. It is perfect for us.  And we have some great neighbors. We also found a great church which we absolutely love. We’ve become fast friends with many folks and it has been a source of inspiration, a place to volunteer and has a very strong sense of community.

All of that was made even more evident when Pam went in for a routine mammogram the middle of October.  Two weeks later we learned she had stage one breast cancer. Thankfully it was caught early and slow-growing. The church surrounded us with help and support which was touching.  After surgery and 10 rounds of radiation, Pam was declared cancer free.  Hallelujah! Praise be to God!

We had a terrific time over Christmas watching Brooks (almost 5) and Harry (almost 3) enjoy the big day.  It was great.  Their sense of wonder is precious.

In the new year we hope to continue on getting more healthy and exercise more.  We are off to a good start with some effort in that direction that last few days.  Pam has plans on a little bigger garden with a different assortment of produce that is a little different than last year’s bounty.

We also intend to play a little more golf, dive into some tent camping, and will no doubt be taking some trips during the New Year.

“That’s a wrap!” as they say ` hope you all are healthy, happy and looking forward to 2020!

In the coming week(s) I should have a book coming for the details.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

A Hike in the Park

In September when friends Gabe and Bruce were here in October, we visited with them at their campground at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach.  It was at that time we decided to buy a yearly pass.  In addition to camping, there are also some great hiking trails.

Yesterday, Jon went to work and Pam and I went over to see Kelly and the boys and to go with them on a hike at the park.
The weather has been really great the last few days and it was a perfect day for a walk in the woods.  The trails are easy, well maintained and marked well.  We picked the yellow trail and the boys had fun spotting the 6” x 2” markers on trees along the trail.

The area has its own special beauty with cypress trees and Spanish moss all around.
Pam and I want to do more of this and we are off to a great start with the holiday season and new year beginning.  We hiked (walked) for about half a mile before it was time to take a rest, eat some snacks and take a couple of pictures.
Harry decided early on it was better to grab a ride so he alternated between Kelly
and Grandpa.
The boys are at such a fun age.  Their sense of wonder and excitement is pure joy.  We are loving it.
 We did a leisurely out-and-back along the yellow trail which was a great little excursion for all of us.
 We made it back over to Kelly’s in time for their lunch, then Pam and I went to run some errands.  We stopped for our own lunch at Chick-Fil-A and shared our standard 4 count chicken fingers meal with waffle fries and a drink (half sweet tea, 1/2 regular tea).  It was fun to see Sarah and her kids along with visiting brother and girlfriend.  

After some after-Christmas shopping we headed home where I resumed mowing the back yard and bagging the leaves.  Just before dark, I tried out my 14” chain saw that did a good job on the regular sized firewood we got a few weeks ago.  Our small fireplace works better with smaller chunks of wood.

Then was another amazing dinner from Pam’s kitchen (shrimp) and we had a nice evening watching a good bowl game.  I also did a little reading.
I love this time of year to reflect, slow down and take a deep breath.  With a few more holiday days left, I hope you all enjoy some time off and have a great New Year’s celebration.

Wishing you all the best as this year comes to a close ~
Randy and Pam

Thanks for visiting on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Quick Update on Pam

We got some great news a few minutes ago I wanted to pass along.  Pam completed radiation on Friday and we just got a call from the doctor’s office that she doesn’t need to do chemo!
So that means we are done!

That is about the best Christmas present we could have!  Thanks be to God!  He is sovereign and we give Him thanks!  And thank you all for your prayers and concern.

I have trouble remembering what happened when so I jotted down a summary of the last 8 weeks: 

  • 18  - Mammogram
  • 23 - Ultra Sound
  • 28 - Biopsy
  • 1 - Met with Biopsy Doctor and Nurse Navigator discuss results and plan
  • 6 - Met with breast surgeon (Dr Reed) - identified as Stage 1
  • 7 - Genetic Testing to determine if close relatives at risk (they are not)
  • 13 - Breast Cancer Support Group Meeting (discuss surgery and aftercare
  • 14 - MRI
  • 18 - Surgery (lumpectomy)
  • 25 - Follow-up with Dr. Reed
  • 29 - Radiation appointment with Dr. Williams
  • 4 - Met with Dr. Reed to insert internal radiation device (catheter into her breast) 
  • 5 - Met with Dr. Williams/ MRI
  • 9 to 13 (Mon-Fri) - 8:30 am and 2:30 pm; radiation treatments 2 x a day
  • 13 - Remove catheter after last treatment
  • 19 - Follow-up with Dr. Reed/remove stitches from where the catheter was.
BTW - the catheter was quite an interesting device.  Friday after we were done, we talked with the nurse (Janette) who was in on every radiation treatment.  She answered all of Pam’s questions each day and showed us what the device looked like that had been in Pam’s right breast for the last 10 days.
Janette said the one she showed us was a little bigger than what was inside Pam, but not much bigger.

As I said -- this whole encounter has been very smooth and Pam has had very little side effects.  It just all went exceptionally well.  

It gives me an extra sense of gratefulness.  I know our experience is far different than those who have life-threatening (or worse) situations.  Thank you once again for your prayers.

Thanks for checking in today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

It That Time of the Year!

Seems as if the time has flown by and here we are almost in the middle of December.  Hope you and yours are warm and enjoying life.

Thanksgiving seemed like a blur.  It came and went very quickly.  We celebrated with Kelly and Jon and the boys. Jon cooked 3 turkeys (not all for the same meal) and they turned out great.
Jon’s parents were able to drive up from Georgia the day after Thanksgiving so we had another turkey then.

The next week we had appointments and did some decorating.

Friday night we got into the spirit and drove downtown Norfolk to the Roper Performing Arts Center.  We were treated with a great concert entitled “Across the Ages - A Celtic Christmas”.  It featured two Scottish performers and a local group of singers called “The King’s Choir”.
Shona Donaldson and Paul Anderson
 Donna Thomas leading the King’s Choir
We’ve also been able to tackle a couple of projects we’ve been meaning to get to.  The first one was in my office.  It only has dual prong electrical outlets so Pam and I installed a GFCI outlet and put a three prong in another outlet in the office.  It was not a big deal except I had never done it.
This is right up Pam’s alley, so she showed me how do it and life is better and I have lamps and printers and such much better organized.

The other one was a storm door in front of the house. We wanted to do it earlier, but ran into some complications after the renovations were done on the house.  Apparently the opening for our front door measured out to where it is not the standard 36" x 80”.  That means a custom door is necessary which is almost double the price of a regular door.  Hmmm.  That didn’t sound too good.

We already knew we were going to get the door from Home Depot so we talked with them about installation.  We figured that if something doesn’t work out, they would make it right.  Another plus was that it would be done by professionals and not by a guy who knows enough just to be dangerous...🙂.

The Home Depot guy said the door opening may be different because it was “wrapped’ with aluminum siding.  I removed the wrap and we had it  re-measured.  Sure enough, a standard sized door fit fine.

Today was the install day and we are happy with it.
Finished product.

The kids and grandkids are on the beach headed south for some beach time.
The boys having fun in a pile of leaves at home.
The boys enjoying warmer weather in Florida for a few days.

I’m very happy to report Pam’s internal radiation treatments are going well and she should be done by the end of the week!

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Pam Update - Going Well

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and some time off with friends and family.  We had a nice feast at Kelly and Jon’s with the boys a couple of days ago.

Now an update on Pam.  We’ve been to appointments since Pam’s surgery on November 18.  Everything is going well, we are grateful to report.  Key to her breast cancer diagnosis  is that the small tumor was found early during a mammogram.

That was a little over a month ago.  From mammogram to surgery was 30 days.  Lots of factors lead us to be cautiously optimistic.  They acted quickly, it was small, it was Stage 1. The surgeon is first rate and yesterday we met with the radiologist.  He too is very good.  Both are the kind of doctors you want:  at the top of their game, very highly rated technically, and have good people skills.  And they both communicate well so we can understand what is going on.  They are espouse confidence in our situation so we have confidence.

From the start, things have stayed pretty much on track. The original plan was for a lumpectomy followed by radiation.  Chemo is still TBD.  More on that in a minute. The doctors said Pam was a perfect candidate for partial breast radiation which we are going to do.

Basically, a catheter is inserted in the incision area where the tumor was removed.  It will remain there for the 5 days of treatment.  Two times a day doses of radiation are delivered to the tumor cavity and surrounding area.  We expect appointments to be something like an 8:30 AM and a 2:30 PM appointment. They are hoping to start Monday December 9 until Friday December 13.

Meanwhile the tumor is off to a California lab somewhere for oncotype testing.  This is how one website describes it:
The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test is a unique genomic test that helps women recently diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer. The test generates a score of 0-100 based on 21 specific genes in your breast tumor tissue that was removed during surgery. This unique set of genes predicts your response to chemotherapy as well as the chances of your cancer returning to provide personalized information that is not available from any other test or measure.

We are hopeful the tests determine that there is no need for chemo.  We will see.

Meanwhile, Pam is feeling almost normal.  Aside from her blood pressure being a little high at our appointment (I will be they see that a lot from patients), everything is moving along well.  She is sleeping like she usually does.  She rests a little in the afternoon but seldom naps.  She is eating normally and never had an issue with nausea.

That’s the latest and we appreciate checking in.  We are thankful for your prayers and interest.

Next post will be about a couple of small projects we are doing.  We are so glad to be here.  Especially with this on our plate and for this time of the season.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Big Weekend with the Boys

We get to babysit often and we love to be able to do that.  While Kelly and Jon were gone for the weekend we had the boys (Brooks and Harrison).
We spent some time at their house but the big deal was that they spent their first two nights with us at our house.  We let them know back in April when we first got out place that the extra bedroom with two twin beds was “their room.”

We weren’t sure how it would actually go because: 1) they were not in their own beds, and 2) they usually don’t sleep in the same bedroom.  We went through the ‘normal’ routine after dinner with play time, reading books and then getting baths.  Harry, being 2 years younger, goes to be 30 minutes before Brooks.

Usually he goes right to sleep but when it was time for Brooks to go to bed, Harry was still talking to himself and tossing and turning.  We had to turn on the light when Brooks went down so that didn’t help things.  Then they finally both were settled down.  I could hear them talking a little from the other room but I expected some of that.

About 20 minutes after Brooks went down, they sheepishly presented themselves into the hallway and announced they had to ‘go to the bathroom’. Hmmm.  One begins to wonder if this is the first of many ‘up and downs’....  They did their business, got a drink of water again and went back to bed.

Another 20 minutes, I checked on them and Harry was still talking to himself a little and Brooks was out.  Harry followed shortly after that!  Yay!  We all got a good night’s sleep.  Brooks was up earlier than usual the next morning but we went with the flow.  It turned out fine.

We pulled out all the stops with Donut Day, Chick-Fil-A playtime and lunch and then we went to their house (12 minutes from our house) for naps.  We followed by going back over to grandma and grandpa’s house for the rest of the day and night.  We prepped them for the idea of going to our church the next morning.

On Sunday we arrived on time and both were in the same class which helped.  Ms Karen met them and they had a great time.  Unbeknownst to us; the 8 member children’s choir was scheduled to sing “Jesus Loves Me” at the morning service.

We pushed the envelope and decided to stay for that and let the boys participate and it turned out great.

I got permission to share this with you.  After several attempts at different school and such, we hoped for a good video of the kids at their best.  This is it.  Brooks was going for it! And little Harry was trying to keep up with the hand motions the older kids learned that morning.  

It was fun and a milestone weekend.  Kelly and Jon returned on Monday and things got back to normal quickly.

Meanwhile, Pam had some appointments in the last couple of days and we are ready for her breast cancer surgery on Monday Nov 18 at 10:30 AM.  We are very thankful it is Stage 1, it is small and it was caught early.  We are expecting great things.  Thanks for your prayers and interest.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner(less) Chronicles!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Change of Plans - Nov 2019

We were planning on tent camping in Florida for 6+ weeks this winter (Dec-Jan).  We even bought a few supplies including a tent and screened in canopy.  My USAF training told me we wanted to do an “Operational Test and Evaluation”, so I  set it up in the back yard to check it out.
We made reservations at Pinellas County Campground at Fort DeSoto and at Key West for some tent camping.  And we accumulated some supplies and equipment for our next adventure.

Meanwhile we have been also fixing up the house with one project after another and throughly enjoying it.  And watching Pam’s amazing garden grow and product a never ending supply of jalapeños, and some kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, carrots, lettuce, and collard greens.

And we’ve enjoyed some house guests recently and always have fun with the boys.  It is such a delight to see them and spend time with them.  It is really great to be able to drop by their place or have Kelly and Jon and the boys swing by for dinner or dessert or hang out time.

And we’ve been catching up on doctors appointments and such.  One that we’ve been “getting around to” finally, was Pam’s yearly isn mammogram test.  She got it scheduled for October 18 and things have been happening pretty quickly since then...

Rather than belabor the point -- testing (subsequent ultrasound then biopsy) confirmed she has breast cancer.  Stage 1, estrogen positive, HER2 negative, invasive, ductal carcinoma.

Ugh.  OK -- With that news though we have plenty of good news from the testing and are very encouraged by our hope of a successful outcome.

Here’s how we got here and where we are at the moment.

  • Mammogram/results - Oct 18/21
  • Ultrasound/results - Oct 23/24
  • Biopsy/results - Oct 28/Nov 1
  • Appointment with the surgeon - Nov 6
  • Genetic Testing Appointment - Nov 7
  • MRI appointment scheduled for - Nov 14
  • Surgery date scheduled for - Nov 18

After surgery (lumpectomy and probable radiation), it will be sent off for further testing.  There are a number of treatments possible with different chemo and depending on the risks, % and likelihood of re-occurrence, they may proceed with some kind of chemo.  

If that occurs (and with the possible loss of hair) Pam adamantly let it be known she will not be wearing a wig.  🙂

How is Pam doing? She’s doing well and handling it all admirably.  Kind of makes her head spin with the news and all the followup with the doctors and such.  But she is positive her faith is strong.  Still - this could kill you and something that will weigh on her I’m sure.

It’s a little weird being the object of other people’s concern, or sympathies (or whatever you call it).  Sometimes it is very uncomfortable “being out there” but we have to remember to let other people help us even if we may not think we need it.  It that makes any sense?

Our overall take is that God is merciful to us. Pam’s life/our life is in his hands. We don’t want to be over dramatic about this -- but this is serious stuff.

At the same time we are quick to remember so many people who have suffered greatly and for a long time with this disease.  In that way it is far different for us.

We have much to be thankful for:

  • Detected early
  • Small (6mm)
  • Slow growing 
  • Stage 1 
  • Not in her lympnodes or spread anywhere else
  • Great care/top notch doctors and nurses
  • We are not on the road RVing somewhere 
  • We are settled into a home base
  • Have an excellent small 100 church (people or so) that is wonderful
  • Surrounded by a supportive and helpful group of Christian friends
  • Our daughter Kelly is right here and a big help
  • Prognosis is very good.  
  • There are many treatment options vs “being a mystery or something they have never seen before...”  
I wanted to let our larger “family” of friends and acquaintance know what’s happening (with Pam’s concurrence) since many of you would like to know.  Feel free to reach out and ask anything you like.

In summary, more camping adventures to Florida can wait.  We cancelled our reservations at Fort Desoto and Key West. We need to be here this winter and take care of this.  We have a terrific network of family, friends, neighbors, and church folks.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner(less) Chronicles

Monday, October 21, 2019

Making More RV Memories

October seems to be a fun month in the RV world.  Folks are making plans or even already traveling south for the warmer weather.  I love this time of year.

We are also making plans for camping in Florida this winter, but I’ll save that for another time.  I was struck how fun it has been the last few weeks seeing RV friends.  First we had the pleasure of meeting up with Bruce and Gabe and we also got to spend some time with George and Marge.  Fun fun fun.  We talk about our times together and figure a way to meet up again in the future.

Our new RV memories happened this time with Gabe and Bruce.  We met them while on a Habitat for Humanity projects in Macon Georgia.  I believe we first met in November 2014.  It was so much fun with the group we had that we tried to repeat and all signed up for another gig in 2016.  Over the years we have kept in touch but never managed to hook up again until this recent visit.

They are living in Georgia but had lived on the Eastern shore and also spend time in Richmond raising their family.  We got together this time for a few minutes at First Landing State Park where they were staying and we also had them over to see our new digs.

They left and saw friends on the eastern shore but we found we still had one more chance to see them on their way back from the Eastern shore.  They were pulling their trailer so we found a convenient shopping center where they could park it for a couple of hours while we all went to lunch.

We arrived at the appointed location on time and they were locking things up.  I pulled up in the truck which were taking to lunch and Pam pulled up in the Honda, having spent the morning with Kelly working on a project.

Our F-150 has a push button start thing with a FOB which I keep in the tray.  The great thing about that is one doesn’t have to worry about pulling out your keys to start the truck.  Also, the truck beeps if I leave the FOB in it so I never have to worry about locking it in the truck.

So I drove up, left the truck running, locked over to see that Gabe and Bruce were finished up, got out of the truck when Pam drove up.  The truck was still running and she parked and locked the car (can you guess where this is heading ???) and then put her purse (with her truck FOB) in the truck, closed the door and locked the truck.

Then realized the truck locked.  With the engine running.  What?? No -- wait a minute, it never locks with the FOB in there.  Not possible.  Or is it??

With two FOBs in the truck apparently so!  😳  Now what?  Hmmm.  There must be a way out of this.  I noticed the keyless entry on the driver side of the truck and though, “I sure wish I had set that up.  It would come in handy at a time like this!!”

Hmmm.  Maybe the Ford dealer had the keyless door code.  I called them and they did not.  Hmmm.  Maybe CarMax had the info and I called them.

Nope.  Did I mention the truck was still running?  I had the thought that we could probably go to lunch and get back in an hour and it might be still running since it has a 35 gallon+ gas tank.  It was an option but not a good one.

I asked CarMax about our service warranty and if it covered towing and they put me in touch with the service people.  I went through my long sad story of locking my keys(FOB) in the truck and they said no problem, we can help.  After another 10 minutes or so I had the presence of mind to ask if this was free or was there a charge and how much?

The lady said I had $100 toward the cost of the service to unlock the truck and she did not know how much the vendor charged.  Hmmm -- that did not sound like a good option either and I knew we were covered with USAA.

I thanked the lady and said I had made a mistake and should have asked earlier but we had a free service with USAA and were going to call them.

I contacted USAA and it was all automated.  I never actually talked to a person, but I got a service call scheduled and verified our location on a map.  Then the wait began.

We decided even if we got the situation solved quickly, by now the lunch hour was in full swing and we didn’t want to hold up Bruce and Gabe from continuing on their trip.  There was a Subway in the shopping center and Bruce and I went over and brought back lunch.  They opened one of their slides on the travel trailer and a we sat down to eat our lunch there.

Not exactly what we had planned but it worked out great.  Before we knew it, a car pulled up and they ran  their tool down the window and unlocked the car in about 30 seconds.  That was a little scary to think all one needs is the tool to gain access to all our stuff.

We were elated to get it open, turn off the truck and that was that.  No charge and I realized I should have called USAA first.  From the time I hung up with the automated system to the folks arriving on the scene was 16 minutes.  Timely service indeed!

We were well satisfied.  I made a mental note to get the keyless entry set up (and did that two days later after going back to CarMax and have them extract the factory code from the vehicle).

We continued on with lunch and had another nice time with Bruce and Gabe.  And we added another episode to our RV memories!  And it wasn’t even our RV... 🙂

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner (less) Chronicles!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Where the First Thanksgiving Really Happened and Other Interesting Things

Coastal Virginia is a historic area and we took advantage of a beautiful day to visit the Berkeley Plantation.
Williamsburg is about 45 minutes away and then the plantation is about 30 miles from there.

I think I may have heard about the Berkeley Plantation but I was reminded of it about a week ago while talking with a new friend at a group gathering we attended.  Wiley said, "The Berkeley Plantation is where the first Thanksgiving happened!"  Really?

I said I hadn't heard that one and he said, "Oh yeah, it's well documented."  Over the years I learn that  Christopher Columbus didn't really discover America and now this.  Hmmm.  Pam and I hadn't had a day trip in a while, so we drove out to see what it was all about.

Perfect day for a drive!  The major highway road construction near Newport News/Yorktown/Jamestown/Williamsburg is now complete and it was a great drive.  Especially the stretch from Williamsburg to Berkeley Plantation.

We arrived right when they opened up at 9:30 and had 25 minutes to mull around and see some things on our own at one of the little museums.

We joined a tour of the property led by a well-informed docent who was dressed up for the part.
Early settlers from England arrived at what would become Berkeley Plantation and observed the first Thanksgiving in America on December 4, 1619.  This was 13 months before the celebration and feast at Plymouth Rock.
Here is how Wikipedia makes the distinction between the two.
Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. The modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is traced to a well-recorded 1619 event in Virginia and a sparsely documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1619 arrival of 38 English settlers at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia, concluded with a religious celebration as dictated by the group's charter from the London Company, which specifically required "that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned ... in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God." The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest, which the Pilgrims celebrated with native Americans, who helped them pass the last winter by giving them food in the time of scarcity.

Other noteworthy facts associated with the Berkeley Plantation:
  • The first Bourbon Whiskey in America was distilled there 1621-1622.
  • Plantation purchased in 1691 by Benjamin Harrison III, ancestor of two U.S. presidents.
  • Was the first commercial shipyard on the James River, building 18 gun battleships for the Revolutionary Navy.
  • Tobacco was the cash crop on the 1400 acres, making the Harrisons wealthy.
  • The original plantation was built in 1726 when Benjamin Harrison IV built the mansion.   
  • The three story brick mansion is said to be the oldest 3-story brick house in Virginia.
  •  The eldest son, Benjamin V, operated the farm and became active in Virginia politics and was governor three times.  He also was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • William Henry Harrison, son of Benjamin V, became the 9th president of the U.S. in 1841. He holds the distinction of holding the office only 31 days, dying of pneumonia after his long-winded inaugural address in freezing cold weather.  
  • He served in the Northwest Territories with John Tyler who became his vice president and later  president after his short tenure.
  • John Tyler’s plantation is just a few miles up the road from Berkeley Plantation.
  • William Henry Harrison’s grandson, Benjamin, became the 23rd president of the U.S. in 1889. They are the only son-grandson duo in history to become presidents.
  • George Washington and later the succeeding 9 presidents all visited the Berkeley Plantation.
  • By 1862 the estate came upon hard times and was abandoned.  Union General George McClellan retreated here after the attempt to take Richmond from the Confederates in 1862.
  • During that encampment in July, Union Major General Daniel Butterfield tinkered with “Taps”, changing it into what it is known as today.  It has been played at the end of the duty day since then at military bases and at military funerals throughout the world.
  •  Later in 1862, President Lincoln visited Berkeley Plantation and visited McClellan’s Army 140,000 troops.
  • The grave sites of presidents William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison are on the property.  Truly modest by most standards.

While there we wandered around the grounds and had a picnic lunch on the river.  As things would turn out, Jamestown was doing a test run of the ship “Godspeed” which added to the interesting things of the day.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Berkeley Plantation and recommend it!

Thanks for joining us today!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Road Trip Aug 2019 - Canada

From Fairfax, VA we went north toward the Niagara Falls area - Williamsville NY - to be exact.
We stayed with long time friends Jon and Barbara.  It was great to spend the evening with them and to catch up.
They're retired also and have three daughters who are married with lots of grandkids.  They are involved in their church and quite active in their local pickleball scene.

Our visit was too short, but then again, it was great to spend a little time with them.  We left early the next morning and made our way across the QEW./Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.  We were prepared for a busy time but instead it was early and Civic Holiday Weekend in Canada and the traffic had not picked up yet.

Going through Toronto was not too bad and we continued north toward North Bay before taking the turn to Rutherglen and Talon Lake where our friends Jeff and Tiffany have a cabin.  We parked our truck near the campground office and called Jeff, who arrived a few minutes later in his pontoon boat.

Their cabin is only accessible by water and we loaded a few things on the boat and were off to the cabin!
 Its a great location among 4-5 other cabins and buildings owned by them, Tiffany's brother and Jeff and Cheryl who live a couple hours away in Canada.
It was fun just hanging out and talking, relaxing and enjoying a great couple of days.  Jeff and Tiffany have 4 kids, three of whom are still teenagers.  The youngest two girls were there with us along with there three kids, and we all had a nice time relaxing.

They played board games in the evening, or read or put together puzzles.
One night we had a campfire.  A couple of days they rode across the lake a ways and anchored the boat for some fishing and swimming.  They have a jet ski and the kids hopped on that pulling a raft.  It was great fun and against all odds I caught a couple of small mouth bass.
It was great fun and relaxing and a perfect few days.
Once again and all too quickly it was time to say goodbye and Jeff taxied us over early in the morning to our truck and returned to the cabin for a few more days.
It was early in the morning and the rains came as we drove into North Bay for some fuel and got some ice.  We traveled south and east in the direction of Detroit.  We were going to Petrolia, Ontario to see Meghan's parents Marg and Bill.

Jeff and Tiffany told us about Weber's Charbroiled hamburgers on Highway 11.  We drove right by it, so decided to stop for lunch.
By now the rain had mostly stopped and we got there before the crowds.  We were eating under an umbrella at a table while the folks were starting to line up.  The burgers were the best in Canada and a real treat.  Glad we stopped.

Next, we travelled on to the Sarnia/Petrolia area and a couple of days with Marg and Bill.  We had another fabulous time with them, having seen them in March when then were returned from their winters stay in and came to see us in Virginia.

Bill had a golf tournament on Friday so Marg, Pam and I hung out and went over to the waterfront near Sarnia to Skeeter Barlow's for dinner.  I tried pickerel and vegetables with a baked potato.  It was  fantastic.  Don't know that I've ever had that fish, but it was great.
Somehow I missed taking a picture of us so I snagged this off the restaurant web site.

Pam opted for pasta in a mushroom and shrimp sauce which was good also. Bill was still at his golf tournament later finding out that he had prime rib.

Saturday morning Bill and I played a round of golf at the local golf club in Petrolia. It was a great day for golf and we had some fun.  In between all the rest of the round, we each hit a couple of good shots.  We had dinner back at their place and then went to a local play.  It was great!

The comedy was "the New Canadian Curling Club".  It was entertaining and very well done.
 The local theater is the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia (VPP) and every summer they fill the seats with local theater goers who enjoy great music and acting.
The facility retains the old architecture of the early 20th century and has been completed renovated recently.  It was originally built in the 1889 in the midst of the region's oil boom.  It is a great facility and a perfect setting for the evening.
The next morning we left early, made a quick stop at Tim Horton's in town for coffee and some Tim Bits and made our way about 20 miles over to the Blue Water Bridge/border crossing back into the U.S.A.

Our week in Canada was filled with great memories of friends and all we hoped for this trip.  Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!