This file contains all newsletters for October 2004

Thursday 28 October 2004

Hi Everyone!

    The previous few weeks have been "action-filled". Look for lots of new pictures on our web site real soon. I'll upload them incrementally so you won't have to wait too long.

    Since the 17th of October we've been back at the condo in Florida, and a short trip to Las Vegas, but before we left Myrtle Beach I finished more plywood flooring in our attic (still need lots more!), cleaned out the garage and actually had space for Dale's Explorer and my Corvette. Then I emptied out the second 10x20 commercial storage unit and once again stuffed one side of the garage from floor to ceiling! Looks like I know what my next job will be when we return to Myrtle Beach! That'll be after I decorate the house for Christmas. Luckily I remembered soon enough so that I stacked all the Christmas stuff at the front of the garage where I can access it!

    We were at the condo for three days and then flew to Las Vegas to attend our niece Rene's wedding. We made a quick stop in Las Vegas back in 1989, on our way to our new assignment in Hawaii, but that wasn't enough time to understand just how much fun (and how beautiful) Las Vegas is! I'll add lots of digital photos to this web site, so take a look for yourselves!

    Our niece Rene (Wedge) & Jay Holderman were married at Victoria's Chapel on West Sahara the evening of the 23rd! Lots of friends and relatives came from all over the country (Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Hawaii, California, South Carolina, etc), flying or driving in for the occasion! Tracey & Alana came from Oahu with a young friend, Erika. Erika's father, Sho, let us use his fabulous Waikiki condo in Foster Tower on a couple of our previous visits. Susan and Dany drove in from Los Angeles, so we had a mini family reunion! Rene had arranged for a block of rooms at the Excalibur, right on The Strip! It was excellent! Great rates, nice place, easy walking distance to everything. We parked our rental car in their lot and had less than 30 miles on it when we returned it. Next time we'll just take a taxi. The airport is right "next door", although I never heard one plane disturb us when we were asleep!

    Rene originally planned to have Elvis (!) marry them but all the Las Vegas Elvises were booked solid ;-)   So it was a traditional wedding , very beautifully done (See Photos menu -October 2004)! The reception was outstanding, with everyone dancing and having a lot of fun.

    My aunt Evalyn (Bonney Lake, WA) phoned to tell us that cousin Marie and husband Tim Wright, along with their son Chris, wife Jessica and Jessica's sister & parents were all in Las Vegas at the same time! What a small world! I called Marie on her cell phone and we met in front of the Bellagio, a hotel that has spectacular water fountain shows day and night. We had a nice get-together at a little outdoor cafe at the base of the Paris Las Vegas Eiffel tower.

    Dale and I also celebrated our 42nd anniversary on the 22nd of October. We just roamed around Las Vegas with Alana & Erika that day. I waited too long to make reservations at the Stratosphere (the next available one was after midnight!) so we ended up at one of the older hotels, the Stardust, for dinner. We don't know how to play any card games so like suckers we ended up dropping money into slot machines. We didn't throw a lot of money away but, still, what a ripoff slots are. Even when you "win" it is mostly only what you just bet! They claim to return about 97% to the players. Tracey, Susan and Dany, on the other hand, all seemed to know how to play Texas Hold-Em, and we were watching them from the sidelines. Very enjoyable. At least you have SOME chance of winning. If we ever go back I think I'll take advantage of the free lessons the casinos offer around 2pm every day.

    We had originally planned to pay extra for a late checkout but decided instead to just dump all our luggage into the rental car and drive to the older, downtown Las Vegas area. I had last seen this area in 1958, when my parents took Paul and me on our first cross-country drive from Massachusetts to California (Michael would be born several months later (11 December)). On that trip we visited with Uncle Ray, Aunt Evalyn and our cousins Linda & Marie (I don't remember if Julie or Gary were born yet ??). Anyway, in those days the most famous casinos were on Fremont Street downtown. The mafiosi owned many of the casino resorts, especially on The Strip, and even today these places take "pride" in that history. The downtown area is now made into a covered pedestrian mall called the "Fremont Experience". All the original signs are still there: the cowboy waving his arm, etc. The Golden Nugget and other casinos are right on the main pedestrian walkway. At night the place is a wonderland of brightly colored lights!

    "The Strip" is like Disneyland! Gorgeous architecture, huge buildings, Times-Square-like electronic billboards and millions of lights everywhere. The New York New York hotel/casino complex even has a roller coaster wending its way around their buildings. The Stratosphere has a roller coaster at the top of the tower - hundreds of feet in the air!! Definitely not a ride for me! Each of the hotel/casino complexes have acres of colorful gaming tables and slot machines "flashing","binging", "whistling", "gonging" and making lots of other noises and music. Hundreds of Las Vegans are employed as dealers; lots of them look old enough to be retirees just making a few extra bucks (and probably are). The all-you-can-eat buffets aren't as cheap as I remembered from 1989 but the food was very, very good. Some of these places are so huge that their ceilings are painted in sky-blue colors with clouds, etc. and you actually feel that you are outside! You walk down isles that are set out like town streets, with hundreds of shops on either side. Caesar's Palace, Paris Las Vegas, New York New York and many others are all HUGE, with fountains, paintings and architecture created by hundreds of imported artisians from Europe! Entire walls are covered with 30 foot high and 100-200 foot long displays of large TVs and other screens showing sporting events and betting odds, etc. The Luxor has a giant pyramid and the inside is totally open, with hotel rooms all around on narrow, horizontal levels pressed against the four inside pyramid walls/ceiling, each level getting smaller as they rise up to the apex of the pyramid. Each succeeding level hangs out over the preceeding level, with a clear drop to the floor far below. The place is filled with replicas of ancient egyptian statues, gods, etc. Each hotel/casino seems to have their own, resident "big name stars". Wayne Newton, Celine, Sigfreid & Roy, etc. The shows are all expensive, and apparently you must have your reservations made a long time in advance. Maybe next time.

    Our flight to Tampa was uneventful, unlike the bouncing airplane weather we had coming in. Of course the three hour time difference meant that we got to our car in the Tampa airport remote parking lot sometime after 2am, and an hour's driveto the condo in Bradenton. We then unwound for an hour or so and got to bed well past 4am. That's the way it's been for the past two days. I've been a night owl staying up until 3am or so. I've been working on the web site pictures, etc. and also trying to get my old NEC 300Mhz computer to quit freezing up for 10-30 seconds at a time. I've tried updating drivers, cleaning out old files and a host of other diagnostics -- all to no avail. I hate to wipe out the hard drive and start over because I have a lot of programs and files that I want to keep, even if I don't access them all that often. I might need to do that soon, or even break down and actually buy a new, modern computer for the condo. Maybe a nice laptop!

    Well, it's almost 7:30pm so I'll quit for now and get back to coding the web pages for uploading our digital pictures. Saturday we plan to take the boat out and go down to the inlet between Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. There is a nice protected cove there, with a sandy beach, where I can bring the boat in to shallow water, jump overboard and clean the dang barnacles off my I/O motor drive and propellers!

All the Best to Everyone !!
Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale

Sunday 10 October 2004

Hi Everyone!

    It's been EIGHT months since we've been able to update this site, and it is actually a brand-new site. Son-in-law Chuck set us up with our very own internet domain name ( and made space on one of his servers for us earlier this evening. I have moved all my former web site files to his servers. My old internet provider,, still has the old web site ( on its servers but I expect that they will delete it sooner or later.

    In May 2004 we sold our home in Woodbine, MD and moved to Bradenton, Florida (permanent residence) and Myrtle Beach (Socastee), South Carolina (second/vacation home). Karen and Chuck live only 1.3 miles from us! We are now trying to learn to say "Y'all" and "All Y'all" to fit in with our new surroundings. We drive back and forth between these two locations fairly often, instead of spending several months at a time in each location. We plan to bother Karen for the next nine years or so, just like we did when we lived across the street from Kathy (Susan and Tracey - your turns are coming in 2013 and 2022!).

    We packed and moved ourselves to Myrtle Beach, on three separate trips in April and May, using rented 24'-26' U-Haul trucks. We drove in a "convoy", with Dale driving her Explorer (also full of "stuff") so that we had a way to drive back to Maryland to get ready for the next load. We stuffed each truck's load into temporary store-it-yourself units in Socastee, close to the back gate of the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. Our place in Florida is already furnished, and we just couldn't bear to get rid of everything in the Woodbine house -- so we needed another house to warehouse what we didn't throw away or give away. We purchased a beautiful home in Socastee and ever since we have been trying hard to stuff 6000 square feet of furnishings into a 2000 square foot home! We're now culling the remaining storage items into "keep" and "give away".

    Last week I was contacted by Northrop Grumman. My NSA clearance and badge are still active, and the company wants me to update my files. Who knows? They may come up with some short-term assignments that look inviting.

    So, here's an attempt to catch up with our news. We flew to Nova Scotia in early August, staying with my cousins Deanna & Claude Bourque in Sluice Point, just down the road from Amirault's Hill where my mother's family (Amirault) has roots going back 400 years! The Third World Congress of Acadians was hosting family reunions and Acadian activities throughout the region. It was wonderful! People came from all over the world - descendants of french Acadians who were forceably removed in the mid 1750's by the english King George II (a german, actually: he didn't even speak english!). Anyway, this was the time of the French & Indian War and the english didn't believe that the french(acadian)-speaking populace would be loyal to the Crown, so many of the acadians were moved south into "the Colonies", with lots of them eventually ending up in Louisiana. That's why we have "Cajuns" there today. I first visited Amirault's Hill when I was about 7 years old and much of it still looks the same - the houses, the school, the church, the roads, etc. We have met so many cousins there, and they have all welcomed us as part of the family. We'll be going back there for the rest of our lives.

    On August 14th we were hit by Hurricane Charley. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as it was in Florida but I described it "as near to terrifying as I have ever experienced!" It was the back end of the hurricane that was the most powerful! The wind was blowing the rain horizontally, like a continuous wall of water, smashing and flattening bushes and trees almost to the ground! I was videotaping it when one of my Bradford pear trees blew over. Several neighbors' trees also blew over and one crashed down on Karen & Chucks backyard fence. In subsequent weeks we also experienced "Gaston", "Frances", "Ivan" and "Jeanne", either when we were in Florida or back here. What a hurricane season!

    Dale hit the "BIG SIX OH" (60) on 04 September. She chose a night out at the Carolina Opry and Joe & Sharon King drove down from Maryland to surprise her for her birthday. We all had a great time at the "Opry", which surprised me because I've never liked musicals. This one was excellent. Now that I've said that, I'll probably get dragged back for more performances ;-)

    In September Claude & Deanna took the Yarmouth, NS - Portland, ME ferry and drove down to visit us here in Myrtle Beach arriving on Friday night, the 17th. The weather was great, although a bit "hot" for them. On the drive down they were caught in remnants of Hurricane Ivan, with tornados all around them near Martinsburg, WV. What a great time it was showing them all around here. At Surfside Beach Pier, Deanna was the hit of the fishing pier -- she talked to all the fishermen and they let her use their fishing rods, etc. We drove to North Myrtle Beach to meet a HAM operator that Claude had contacted before coming to Myrtle Beach. Nice old gentleman in his 80s, a former private pilot and electrical engineer. Then it was back to Myrtle Beach where we attended a Greek Festival. Barry recognized a lot of the Greek instrumental music and had a lively discussion with the musician, who invited us back for the live performances. Then it was off to a local tourist destination called Broadway-at-the-Beach, a huge tract of well-landscaped restaurants, nightclubs, lakes, fountains, specialty shops and entertainment halls. Claude and Deanna got to pose atop Elvis Presley's motorcycle. On the 22nd we drove down to old Charleston for the day. Excellent! On the 25th we headed to Bradenton for a week of sun and fun. First stop was St Augustine to see the spanish castle, then on to Daytona, and then Orlando, then Tampa/St Pete and Bradenton/Sarasota for the week! The surf was so high at Daytona that we couldn't drive on the beach - the first time that's happened in over 40 years. That was the day before Hurricane Jeanne hit, and the clean-up from the previous hurricanes was still evident everywhere: carpeting and other debris piled high on the sidewalks waiting to be carted away; blue tarps on many roofs (and being shredded by the advance wind from the outer edges of the incoming hurricane Jeanne). We hunkered down in the condo during Jeanne, and watched our boat being lashed by the wind and rain all day long (26 Sep). The condo lost lots of shingles off the roof, and a couple of trees split in two, with lots of debris splattered on all the walls (bits of leaves etc). The maintenance crew was out in force the next few days and cleaned everything up. Lucky for us our dockmaster had installed a new flipper switch for my boat's bilge pump, so every time the water level went too high the bilge pump turned on automatically -- otherwise I'd have a sunk boat! A few days later we took the boat out along the canals and Intracoastal for a nice run. We were at the Sandbar restaurant on Anna Maria Island the day before Jeanne hit, and the next day there was over two feet of sand on the restaurant's wooden deck where we sat! We also drove north to St Petersburg to visit their world-famous pier (it has an inverted pyramid built at the end of the pier - with shops and restaurants. We had a snack and drinks on the top/roof). A visit to Sarasota (a few miles south of Bradenton) took us to the Jungle Gardens and the Car Museum, and a few additional beaches too! Back to Myrtle beach on my birthday, 02 October, and then mini-golf the next day. All too soon they had to leave, on the 4th.

    We leave for Florida again on or about the 16th. Then head out to Las Vegas for Rene's wedding. Susan, Dan and Tracey will also be there. Will be back in Florida by the 25th and plan to remain there till early December.

    I've been building plywood flooring in our attic, and finally finished enough to clean out our garage. We can now fit two cars in it (yippee!). The rest of this week I'll be working on more flooring so that we can move more things out of the commerical storage units.

All the Best to Everyone !!
Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale