Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Today our plan was to go into Indianapolis and catch some of the ConocoPhillips National Championship trials at the Natatorium at IUPUI. We had some difficulty the night before finding information on getting tickets to the trials, so we decided to just drive up to the Natatorium and buy tickets there for the day.

Unfortunately, when we finally got there, around 1 p.m., the ticket booth was closed and wasn't due to reopen until 4 p.m. for that evening's finals. Luckily, I had looked at the map of Indianapolis again and had figured out how to get to the White River State Park. We decided to go to the zoo, that way we could get something to eat and entertain the boys until we could go back and buy tickets to see some swimming.

While both boys whined about going to the zoo, they ended up having fun. While the Indy Zoo is on the smaller side, it is a nice zoo with good animal exhibits and very clean. Aidan liked touching the sharks.

We also rode their roller coaster. Here's a shot of the boys in a vehicle like the ones on the roller coaster. You can see the tracks of the coaster itself behind them.

After getting some ice cream, we went back to the Natatorium to get our tickets. Kelley's gotten into swimming in a big way and was very excited to see such great swimmers live. After we got our tickets and went inside, the swimmers were warming up in the pool before the finals started at 6 p.m. I have never seen so many people swimming laps in a pool at the same time - such discipline!

We saw Michael Phelps, even though he wasn't swimming in any events today. There were several girls behind us in the stands who were calling out to him, which clued us that he was down by the water. He finally waved at the girls to get them to quiet, finished talking to his coach, and then walked down to the other end of the pool.

We stayed to see the finals of the women's 100m butterfly and the men's 400m freestyle. We saw Christine Magnuson win the women's event and then Peter Vanderkaay win the men's event. Both will automatically go on to represent the U.S. in the World Championships. The boys were pretty antsy at this point, so we called it a night and drove back to my uncle's house and warmed up some leftovers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Today was our travel day back to Indiana, half in Ohio and half in Indiana. We had a pretty relaxed morning, having breakfast and then lunch, and slowly packing up all of our things, looking all over Grandma Carole's house to make sure we didn't leave anything behind. We finally got on the road around 3 p.m. and got to my uncle's house in Indiana around 5 p.m.

We had dinner at my uncle's house and just relaxed. It was too cool to go swimming. The weather in Indiana had been pretty much the same as it had been in Ohio; it had rained all day on the Fourth of July here too. Aidan was disappointed that we couldn't go swimming in the pool. It was just about all he talked about.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

We all slept in late today. Even Aidan woke up just before I did around 8 a.m. It was another lazy day. We didn’t really have anything planned. We did want to go swimming in the lake again, but it was still cool and there were a lot of clouds this morning.

Grandma Carole suggested we go to the local flea market, which is open every weekend. Kelley had mentioned how much she liked the funnel cake she had at the Rush County fair, and they had funnel cake at the flea market. Of course, when we got there, we found the funnel cake place was closed. Grandma Carole and I had popcorn, while everybody else had some ice cream. We bought the boys toy cars and called it a day.

While the weather got better, it was getting warmer and the sky was beginning to have some blue in it and some white fluffy clouds, we just went back home and napped.

For dinner, Kelley had some chicken and dumplings that Peggy had made for her and brought over the day before. Carole made me some spaghetti with puttanesca sauce.

We caught up with The Next Food Network Star and watched tonight’s new episode, as well as Iron Chef America.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Another lazy morning. Grandma Carole was putting together a Fourth of July dinner and needed us out of the house for a couple of hours so she could finish preparing food and doing a little cleaning before company started arriving. Kelley wanted to go back to Lake Cowan and swim in the lake some more, but it wasn’t that warm and rain had been forecast.

We ended up driving to the mall in Beavercreek and taking the boys to Build-a-Bear Workshop. Liam got a Jack Russell Terrier he named Barky, and Aidan got a scruffy puppy he named Alicia. He was very particular that she was named “Uh-lee-see-uh” and not “Uh-leash-uh.”

We got a bite to eat at their food court, and got into a photo booth for some fun family pictures. Kelley got her eyebrows threaded. On our way out, we stopped at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and bought some ice cream for the boys and some dark chocolate for Kelley and me.

By this time, it had started raining. It was an unusual rain. Every other time it’s rained out here, whether in Indiana or Maryland, it’s been a storm that passed quickly. There was lightning and thunder, some rain, and then the storm moved on. This was different. This was just rain, drizzling all day, with no thunder or lightning.

While the rain put a damper on the fireworks, it certainly didn’t stop us from eating or having a good time. I snacked on too many chips and salsa, and then ate two Boca burgers and some vegetarian baked beans. I didn’t have any room for corn on the cob. I ate way too much!

The kids played with sparklers, and we and the neighbors shot off a few fireworks, but it seems the next door neighbor, who has a reputation for a big fireworks display, is waiting for better weather. We’re hoping it won’t rain tomorrow night and he’ll shoot off the rest of his fireworks then.

Aidan ran around all evening with his “cousins,” the kids in Grandpa Jack’s extended family, while Liam mostly stayed inside and watched TV. He did play with them a little bit, but wasn’t really interested in the fireworks. He wanted to see them but thought they were too loud and went back inside.

Kelley and I both nodded off watching The Food Network downstairs in the family room. Grandma Carole woke me up because Liam had fallen asleep sitting up on the couch in the living room, snuggling with Barky. I got him and Aidan upstairs into bed, and then woke Kelley up to go to bed. I stayed up for a while longer reading, then went to sleep myself.

Friday, July 3, 2009

This was our travel back to Ohio day. We stopped at The Fractured Prune to get donuts and coffee. I couldn’t bring myself to drink more of that bad hotel coffee, so I waited until we got to the donut shop. We drove west from Baltimore, which is pronounced by the locals as “Bawl-a-mer,” on interstate 70, then north into Pennsylvania.

Even though I looked at a map online and got directions, I got lost trying to find Maggie’s Mercantile. I finally found it – and it was worth the unnecessary detour and the frustration of not finding it initially.

I ordered barbecue tofu, chicken with wild rice, buffalo chicken, curried lentils, and mock tuna salad. Everything was vegan, organic, and delicious. We were both especially pleased with the mock tuna salad, which we ate with blue corn tortilla chips. In fact, we liked it so much we bought some more to take with us on the road. I also ordered two different flavors of their soy ice cream: pecan brownie and ginger cinnamon. Both were great, though I must say the ginger cinnamon was inspired!

The rest of our trip was uneventful. A couple of stops for gas, bathroom breaks, and something to drink, and then we were back at Wilmington.

It was really good to see the boys. I missed them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Slept in after our late dinner last night, then drove over and picked up Jen at her house. We drove to Hampden to eat brunch at the Golden West CafĂ©. At Jen’s suggestion, I ordered a Toddy, cold-brewed espresso, simple sugar, and soymilk; it was awesome! I ordered their vegan burrito, made with soy chorizo, beans, and salsa fresca surrounded with a green chili sauce – it was delicious! I’m eating so well in Baltimore. We also ordered the sweet potato fries with cinnamon and sugar.

They had two vegan cakes on the dessert menu: Carrot Cake and Coconut Lime. They were out of the Coconut Lime, but they had a Cherry Chocolate Cake. I was stuffed from my burrito, so I got the cake to go and another Toddy so sip while we walked around the neighborhood.

We walked around The Avenue there in Hampden, checking out a few shops here and there. I bought a used book on the American Revolution. Kelley bought a couple of dresses.

Then we drove over to Fell’s Point, where we did more of the same. Kelley didn’t find anything, but I bought two CDs at Sound Garden: Verve Remixed 4 and Jazz Impressions of Japan by Dave Brubeck.

We dropped Jen back at her house after finding some ice cream, and then we drove back to our hotel. Kelley took a nap. While I read, I ate most of my Cherry Chocolate Cake. It was quite good, nice and rich. Then I napped.

We went out for dinner at P.F. Chang’s by ourselves to give Jen and Joe some family time, then we went back to their house. We talked and talked until one in the morning.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Slept well, had bad hotel coffee, showered, then went to meet Joe and Jen at Hopkins. Jen had moved to a new floor, so we saw where she works now and went over to see Joe in Photography. Before Joe had to leave for another Hopkins location for the rest of his workday, we went for good coffee. I got a soy latte - and I didn't have to pay extra for the soymilk, which never happens!

Jen had to finish up some work with Dr. Nguyen, who we talked to for a bit first. He's the nicest person, and we caught him a litle off guard, because he wasn't expecting a visit from us. We walked around Hopkins for a while, seeing the new building for The Wilmer Institute, while Jen was finishing up her work for the day.

We went to the One World Cafe for lunch. I had a vegan Maryland Crab Chowder, which was one of their soups of the day, and a Philly Steakless Cheese Steak, which they veganized for me with some soy cheese. It was a great lunch. We spent quite a while there just talking to Jen, catching up with her with everything that's been going on in her life, particularly all the changes since she and Joe got married.

Then we headed back to her house in Towson, where Joe soon joined us. We talked for quite a while, until about 8 o'clock, when we finally headed into Baltimore for dinner. Jen and Joe took us to this fabulous Ethiopian restaurant, Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant, where we had the best meal. Both Kelley and I love Ethiopian food, but we haven't had any for quite a while now, which I think made this taste that much better. While we were eating, a big thunder and lightning storm let loose right on Baltimore. Some of the lightning was very close, and the rain was pouring down for some time. It let up by the time we finished dinner, so our timing was lucky.

Addendum: I had forgotten about it, but we saw a billboard for Maggie's Mercantile while traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I looked them up on HappyCow to get directions. I want to stop on our way back to Ohio. They're at 1262 Route 711 South outside of Stahlstown, Pennsylvania. The posting on HappyCow says that Donegal is the name of the stop on the turnpike that most people will take to get there.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aidan woke Kelley and me up around 6 a.m. today. He wasn't feeling well; he also said he had a nightmare about a wolf. I couldn't get back to sleep so I just got up and turned on the coffee pot; Grandma Carole gets it ready each night so all we have to do in the morning is turn it on. I tried sitting downstairs in the family room to read What Really Matters, but then Jack got up and turned on ESPN. I finally gave up and sat outside on the deck on the swing. It was actually cool out. I just read and sipped my coffee until Kelley got up.

Had some cereal with banana and blueberries this morning for breakfast. While I ate, I pulled out the maps to plan our route. I must have had a print-out from Mapquest or something two years ago because I don't have any notes in my travel journal.

Went upstairs and packed everything up for our drive to Baltimore, then went downstairs to read. At one point, I got tired, set aside my book and even took off my glasses. Kelley thought I was sleeping, so she let me be. Unfortunately, I never did actually fall asleep - and we got a late start for our very long drive. We didn't leave until 10:30 a.m., and didn't reach Baltimore until 8 p.m.

It was a pleasant enough drive through Ohio and Pennsylvania - but long!

Stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Cambridge, Ohio for lunch. Took a picture of Kelley using her cell phone (the only picture I took all day) sitting in one of the rocking chairs out front of the restaurant, which she sent to a couple of friends.

I put together some music for our trip. Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" came on while we were in Pennsylvania, but The Pretenders' "My City Was Gone" didn't play while we were in Ohio; it came on in Maryland.

Checked in to the Ramada, then went over to Jen and Joe's house for dinner. Joe grilled up some vegetable kabobs and some corn on the cob. Delicious! It was good to see them again. We looked at some of their wedding pictures after dinner.

Addendum: Called Grandma Carole to let her know we arrived safe and sound and to check on the boys. Aidan was feeling much better. They went to the park today and fed the ducks.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A very lazy morning. I was the last one up today. We had definitely decided to go back to Cowan Lake State Park with swimsuits, towels, and goggles. We also were going to grill up some hot dogs and Smart Dogs for lunch. So we spent the morning just lazing about. I watched a little television to catch up on the news. I also spent some time reading What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America by Tony Schwartz.

The four of us swam in the lake, then we had our picnic lunch. Jack and I had a heck of a time getting the gas grill to stay lit because of the wind. We finally moved the grill to another picnic table near some trees that blocked the wind. Hot dogs always taste better when they’re grilled. Eating outdoors also somehow makes food taste better. On top of that, we were hungry after our swim. I quickly downed two Smart Dogs and about half of another that Aidan didn’t finish.

After lunch, Kelley went back in to swim some “laps” by herself. I got a couple good shots of Grandma and Aidan playing and being sweet on each other.

We got to the park around 11 a.m.; before we knew it, it was nearly 4 p.m. and we decided to head for home.

Showered and relaxed some more. We had plenty of leftovers from the other night for dinner. Sat outside on the deck on the swing as the sun was getting ready to set, Kelley with her glass of wine and me with a Cherry Coke. It was much cooler today, which made sitting outside much more pleasant.

Going to try to go to bed earlier tonight because we’re driving to Baltimore tomorrow. Grandma is keeping the boys for us – we’ll be back on Friday, in plenty of time for the 4th of July. Grandma is planning to take the boys to King’s Island on Wednesday.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Slept really well. We had a nice queen size bed with a feather-top mattress. Slept in until 8:00 a.m. The boys were already awake, and Grandma was busy making them breakfast. Liam was already playing his PSP.

Aidan was much more interested in getting in the wading pool Grandma and Grandpa got for the boys. And he was pretty soon asking Grandpa Jack to go for a ride on his mower. He likes it because he can actually steer it, sitting just in front of Grandpa.

We went to Cowan Lake State Park and had a picnic lunch. We sat close to a beach and ate lunch. There were plenty of trees for shade and a constant breeze coming right off the lake. It was only in the low 80s so it was pleasantly warm.

We strolled down to the water, which was also quite warm. We’re thinking of coming back tomorrow with towels and swimsuits. Earlier, we had discussed going to Caesar Creek State Park to go swimming in the lake there, but we may just come back here.

There were also a lot of sailboats on the lake as well. By the time we left there were many more boats than when we arrived and quite a few more people swimming as well.

We went back to Grandma’s house. Kelley, Aidan, and I ended up taking naps. Liam, of course, played with either his PSP or his DS or both; I don’t know – I was napping.

We drove out to Beavercreek, just outside of Dayton, to eat at the Golden Corral. Peggy and Don treated us to dinner, which was most generous of them. On the way home, we stopped at their house and Don drove us around their property. Don, Jack, and the boys sat in the Gator, while Peggy, her granddaughter Kaya, Carole, Kelley, and I sat in the wagon/trailer attached to it. They have acres and acres, including some woods on the back of their property. It was an amazingly red sunset we saw as we headed back to their house, with the fireflies coming out over the soybean fields.

Before we knew it, it was dark. We got back to Grandma’s around 10:30 and it was definitely time for bed.

Addendum: One of the things I’ve noticed in both Indiana and Ohio is the lack of fences. I noticed this in Rushville as we drove to the fair, and it struck me again as we drove through Wilmington this afternoon. There are fences, of course. Some businesses have them for security reasons, and there are fences to keep animals penned in. But there are very few fences separating one person’s property from another’s. In fact, when you see a house with a fence, it seems odd – out of place. It makes you wonder what kind of people live there.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Aidan was the first one up, as usual. I woke up to Aidan and my uncle talking. I hadn’t gotten halfway through my first cup of coffee before Aidan was asking to go swimming. He remembered we were leaving to drive to Ohio today so he knew if he was going to go swimming it had to be in the morning. My uncle said we’d have breakfast, clean the pool, and then he could go swimming.

Little by little, everyone else woke up. My aunt made Aidan a ham and cheese omelet. Apparently, he greeted her with, “What are you making me for breakfast?” when she woke up. Oh, she’s a kind and generous soul, and really good with kids!

I came inside from the back porch to write and to post yesterday’s journal entry online from my laptop. Just as I was finishing, Kelley told me Aidan was already in the pool. She went to put her suit on to take the first shift with him. I made some oatmeal for my breakfast so I could relieve her in the pool. She wanted to shower so we could get started on our drive to Ohio.

I checked with Liam one last time, to see if he wanted to go swimming before we left my uncle’s. He didn’t swim at all; he stayed inside watching Nick. I went out and played in the pool with Aidan for an hour or so.

My uncle showed me a lot of old pictures from a photo album his great aunt had put together before she died. He had scanned them and was showing them to me on his Apple. He had a lot of pictures of my grandfather, his father, as a child that I’d never seen before. He said he’d burn them onto a DVD for me. I’ll have to take notes so that I remember everybody on that side of my family. I’ll have to put together a family tree for my mom’s side of the family.

I showered and then helped Kelley pack up our stuff in the car. Finally, around 1:30 p.m. we got on the road to Ohio. Both boys fell asleep in the car and didn’t wake up until we got just past Cincinnati. We made great time and soon enough we were at Grandma Carole’s house. It took us about two hours but it certainly didn’t seem that long.

It’s almost all highway, and traffic was light. We didn’t have a single slowdown. And it’s such a pleasant drive. There are so many trees and everything’s green, so different from summer in California.

The boys were excited to see Grandma Carole and Grandpa Jack. Grandma, of course, had surprises for the boys, a Nintendo DS for Aidan and a Sony PSP for Liam. Aidan was so excited; he knew he’d eventually get a DS when he was a little older, but he didn’t think he’s get one so soon. Liam was beside himself; he’s been inseparable from his PSP today.

We had a nice dinner. Peggy, Jack’s sister, and her husband, Don, had dinner with us. Carole made a pasta dish just for me. Also had a nice salad and fresh corn, right off the cob.

Jack also rented a golf cart so that we can drive around their property and neighborhood. Aidan talked several of us, Grandpa, Grandma, Peggy, Don, and me, into taking him for a ride. He just couldn’t get enough. No sooner did we park the golf cart just outside the garage than he was asking to go again.