N-N-1 again

It has been about three months since the last N-N-1. Rather that let it fade in to a mere memory we’re doing it again. One of the things that I love about N-N-1 is how people from different parts of the world connect electronically to share brief moments of their life. We see differences and recognize similarities. To me, it shows once again that while there are billions of people in the world, humanity is a singular noun.

The first participant is Pins n Ashes.

Poori-masala
Poori-masala

I was at one of my favourite restaurants, lunching with friends enjoying one of my favourite meals. Poori masala as we call it.

 

Next is Her Royal Highness Princess Butter with a picture and story dear to hearts of many Princesses. Oh, and thanks to the Princess we now call this process N-N-1 rather than just sticking in numbers that change with the number of contributors. 

Gowns
Gowns

We wondered about them when they had accidentally ‘disappeared’ during the Halloween party. We were almost sure when we saw them bonding in the research lab. We had called them out during the Christmas Secret Santa party when they both went to the room ‘tired’. K5 and I had ended up as neighbors in my last year at SDSU and CT was there a lot! It all became superbly clear after he moved in. Chadillac Thrills thought he was being sneaky! Haah!  After 5 glorious years of friendship, love, game nights, Grad school, traveling, pizzas and boba tea, parties, camping, hiking, they are getting ready to spend their lives together, officially as a married couple. The anticipated engagement did not happen during their Europe trip, although there is an adorable picture under the Eiffel Tower tagged #didnotpropose. But it happened in true Chadillac style, calmly and sneaky-ly, where they started playing Sunday night games and there was the diamond in the Lego sets. I am glad to have witnessed the making of this amazing couple, right from the inception of their relationship. I am even happier that they consider me close enough to be a part of this beautiful journey. Last Saturday afternoon, at David’s Bridal, I helped K5 try on different shades of white, as she took on her role of a bride-to-be. There were tulle and organza, sweetheart necklines and mesh capes. There were pearls, lace and sequins. There were Zac Posens and Vera Wangs.

And, so it begins…

PS : Please pray that I can RSVP “Princess Butter + 1” for this August 2017 wedding…

From the happiness and dreams invoked by Princess Butter, Cupitonians turns us to the forces of nature and humans in a great metropolitan environment.  

Bangkok trafic
Bangkok traffic

While things are not as severe in the slightly posh area of Bangkok where I live, the country has been suffering from a triple whammy of massive thunderstorms, high tides, and a run off from the North causing some chaos in our day-to-day lives. The other day, we were stuck in street floods where the water came up to our waists. So if you were hoping to take a leisurely drive out of Bangkok into the suburbs or maybe to the scenic countryside, or that lovely turquoise beach you had been planning your once-in-a-lifetime holiday around, may the force be with you because the traffic in Bangkok sure as hell isn’t.

From the hectic city life of Bangkok, we turn to a placid Saturday afternoon in my life.

A quiet day in a city park
A quiet day in a city park

Trying to decide what I should capture in my picture was not easy. I mean I could have taken a picture of restoration work in our house. Or I could have driven down town to get a picture of our non-bustling city. Or I could even have gone into the country to get yet one more picture of a barn..I love barns. But instead I went to a nearby park to see what was happening. The answer was “not much.”There were a few men fishing, a few people walking, a few people talking on their phones (Do they never stop?). If you look very closely at the rock to the right of the fountain, near the bank, you may see a turtle sunning itself. Good luck.

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To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 19

The kitchen we came home to
The kitchen we came home to

We started the day by having our last complimentary continental breakfast at our motel. We were in a rush to get on the road, so we got onto Interstate 44 and headed northeast. Cindy started out driving. We planned on her driving through St. Louis, and then I would take over for the rest of the way home.

As we drove through Missouri, we noted once again that there seems to be more billboards with signage selling knives and other cutlery than in other states that we have visited. You also see more signs for walnut bowls. I wonder what type of signs people find unique when they drive through Indiana.

Cindy became increasingly frustrated with all of the semi-trucks on the highway. As the day progressed and as we got closer to St. Louis, the number of trucks increased. In St. Louis we got onto Interstate 70 and crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois. We pulled into a rest area and I took over the driving.

Illinois was kind of a blur. We took I-70 to I-57 and headed in a more northerly direction, At Champagne, Illinois we caught I-74 east and drove it the rest of the way across Illinois, and into Indiana. We got off of I-74 in Crawfordsville, Indiana and took US 231 north to Lafayette. And then we were home.

The picture is of part of our kitchen. As you can see, the vinyl flooring has been removed so that we were walking on the underlayment. The green piece of equipment you see is an air scrubber. There was also a dehumidifier in the kitchen, as well as another set of equipment in another part of the ground floor, and another in the basement.

Our vacation was over, and we were back in the world of trying to get our house back into a livable mode. That journey continues.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 18

Pops in Arcadia
Pops in Arcadia

We left Shamrock, Texas early the next morning and returned to Interstate 40 heading east. Fifteen miles later we were back in Oklahoma, though further south when last we were in the state. From there we drove to Oklahoma City. And there we took Interstate 35 north, searching for an exit that would lead us to Arcadia, Oklahoma. Trina and JR had told us about Arcadia and suggested that we stop there to see the Round Barn, and to eat at Pops. We had originally thought to stop there on our way out to Las Vegas, but we got sidetracked north to see the Will Rogers Museum Memorial. So we decided to stop and see the sights of Arcadia on the way home.

Well, we missed our exit and drove many miles north of where we needed to be, so we stopped for gas, turned the car around, and headed south on I-35. I thought I saw our exit and got off of the Interstate only to find th road was closed for construction going in the direction we needed. So once more we got onto I-35 south. At the next exit we got off and headed east. This road also led to Arcadia, so some of my self-directed anger faded. The road we were on, in fact, was the road that lead us to Pops.

Cindy and I had both assumed that Pops was a roadside diner that had good, home-cooked food. We were not prepared for the restaurant that we found. In fact, we drove past it before we realized that we needed to turn around once again. Pops was actually a large metal and glass building with hundreds, probably thousands of bottles of soda pop glued to glass shelves in the main window. This picture is of a very large sign? lit statue? in front of the building. We were there in daylight, but pictures taken at night show the pop bottle to be colorfully lit after dark. This was the only picture I took this entire day.

We ate our lunch at Pops, and then got back onto the State highway, not the Interstate. We were now on historic Route 66. We drove to the Round Barn, but neither of us was inclined to stop. We have both see round barns in Indiana (there are more than 100 of them in Indiana), and were more inclined to move on. When I was young I heard it said that round barns were designed to keep the devil from getting you into  corner. I love that story, but I’m wondering why, if that is true, I have never seen a round farm house to go with the round barn. What types of devilish mischief was a farmer liable to get up to in a barn that he wouldn’t in the house. Hmmm.

But we drove on eastward on state highways all of the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma. In Tulsa we got onto Interstate 44 because home was still beckoning to us, and we drove to Springfield, Missouri to spend the night. We found a nice motel and a Ruby Tuesday restaurant a couple of doors down from it. They had a good salad bar. We went back to the room to get a good night’s rest before driving home the next day.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 17

Early evening in Shamock, Texas
Early evening in Shamrock, Texas

Today was a day to just drive homeward. We didn’t stop to see anything interesting, though I’m sure we came close to many interesting sites. Our drive heading east was not the reverse of our drive towards Las Vegas.

We were more interested in getting home as expeditiously as possible, so we got back on Interstate 40. We left Arizona and stayed on I-40 all the way through New Mexico. Instead of driving through the Oklahoma panhandle as we did on the way out, we drove through the Texas panhandle going home. For those of you who are not familiar with U.S. geography, the Oklahoma panhandle runs east/west. The Texas panhandle runs north/south. Why is the term panhandle used? I don’t know if panhandle is a term used outside of the U.S. When used in a geographical sense it means a thin (relative term) strip of land projecting from one area into another area. Think of it as a peninsula surrounded by land rather than water. If you look at a map of Oklahoma, it becomes more obvious.

At any rate, we crossed the Texas panhandle and stopped in Shamrock, Texas for the night. I took this picture from across the street from the restaurant we chose, Big Vern’s Steakhouse, for dinner. The food was good. I had one observation that evening. I remembered that most of the men I saw in Oklahoma and New Mexico were wearing cowboy hats; but in Texas they all wore baseball caps. What’s the significance? I don’t know.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 16

Rough Rider monument
Rough Rider monument

We started the morning in Prescott by partaking of the free continental breakfast offered by the motel. At least it was in an area where there was plenty of sunlight. As we ate, we (maybe just I) couldn’t help overhearing a group of four young people having a conversation while they ate. They appeared to be part of a wedding party; perhaps including the bride and groom. I honestly wasn’t interested in what they were saying until one of the women started talking about her father, and how embarrassed she was by his pride in using old-fashioned (her term) software to create digital art.Her fiancee/husband chimed in to say how her father was also using outdated software in his work. And they all laughed. I really wanted to say something snide about them, loud enough for them to hear, but it was a beautiful morning and I played it cool.

We drove into the historic downtown area of Prescott and parked on the courthouse square. I was impressed by the number of beautiful sculptures on the grounds. The sculpture in this picture memorializes the Rough Riders from the Spanish American war. The sculptor was Solon Borglum, brother of Gutzon Borglum who designed Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

From Prescott we retraced our drive, north this time, to catch the 89A turnoff to Sedona. Once we got on 89A we settled in for a scenic drive. Cindy, of course, was driving because there were mountains on the route. In fact, we pulled off the highway to follow a road, much of it dirt, to the top of Mingus Mountain. It was worth it! There is a launch point for hang gliders on the mountain, and we walked over to it to look down. It is not a sport that I will be taking up. Do you ever go up to such a precipice and have the urge to step off? No? Me neither. Plummeting to my death is not how I want to go out.

We dawdled for a bit, and then got back into the car to return to 89A. The two lane dirt road was just as spectacular going down as it was going up. (Ignore your phone, Cindy! Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.)

A ways further north we came to Jerome, Arizona, where the main street is a series of switchbacks going through town. I thought it would be a good place to visit; Cindy felt otherwise. So on we went towards Sedona.

Let me take a short break from the travel narration to update you on what was happening back in Lafayette. You may remember that the insurance claims adjuster told us that there was a $5,000 limit on our Gold Star homeowners policy. When we heard that, we had immediately called home to stop the work being done on our house. The estimate we had been given for the cleanup was $10,000 and we at least wanted to pause things until we got home. When we called we were told that $6,100 of work had already been done. Fine. But stop work now.

Well at some point, I don’t recall when, we got another call from the adjuster saying that after reviewing our policy she realized that there could be more available for repair and replacement. We both breathed sighs of relief and gladness brightened our hearts. Now we were torn between taking our time to enjoy the trip and rushing home to see how bad things were. 

Back to the travel narrative: As we got to Sedona we were both impressed by the beauty of the red rock formations. Trina had also been to Sedona and thought that it would be a good place for a family vacation. She thought that she and her family, Michelle and Lee and Wyatt, and Cindy an I should spend a week there some time. As we drove through the town on the main thoroughfare we started looking for a place to eat lunch. Nothing we saw amid the tourist attractions and jeep tour establishments caught our fancy. We decided to stop at one of the visitor centers to get a better idea of what was available. Let me say here that I am used to a city or town having a visitor center, but there seemed to be a number of them in Sedona. We stopped at one that was in a small outdoor mall. The lady working in there was quite helpful. She gave us maps on which she marked some sights that she thought we might like. She also gave us coupons for discounted meals. And she really wanted us to go to the office of a timeshare where other discounts could be had. We smiled politely, thanked her, and went in search of a nearby restaurant where we would get a 10% discount. We did some window shopping as we walked to the restaurant. The stores seemed pretty upscale; but everything in Sedona seemed pretty upscale. We found the restaurant and had a good lunch. The bill, with the discount, came to $10 more than we had paid for dinner in Prescott. I wasn’t sure that it was that good of a lunch.

Taking the map that we had been given, we set out in our car to drive to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The Chapel is built in the rocks above the town, and is well worth seeing. I stayed busy taking photos of the surroundings while Cindy went inside to explore the gift shop. She emerged and took some photos of her own before we got back in the car and headed back towards the center of town. As we drove we talked things over and decided tat we didn’t really want to spend the night in Sedona. Speaking only for myself, I found all of the upscale glitzy touristy stuff built around all of the natural beauty a bit off-putting. Cindy and I both felt the pull of the road back towards home inviting.

So we got back on 89A and headed north through more natural beauty. We were anxious to make some time so when we reached Interstate 40 we got on and headed east. As we passed through Winslow, Arizona I wanted t get off and find the corner mentioned in the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy,” but Cindy wanted to put more miles behind us. Lost opportunities. Finally, when we reached Holbrook, Arizona, we stopped for  room and dinner. Cindy pulled into a gas station, and I as I pumped gas she did an online search for a reasonably priced motel. She chose one that was just down the street from us. When we pulled into the court, I could see why it was cheaper than most of the others. It seemed run down to me, but it suited Cindy. I went into the office and got us a room. When we pulled the car down to the room, I saw that the door to the room was open. As I approached the door, a man walked out and said that the room hadn’t been cleaned yet. Could we come back in an hour? I hesitated, but said sure, we could go eat dinner first.

We found a nice Italian restaurant about  mile away and had a good meal. When we returned to the motel we found that the door to the room was still open. I walked into the room and found one man sitting on the bed and another on a stepladder, peering up into a hole that had been cut in the ceiling. The cheap carpet squished under my feet. The guy on the bed turned to me and said “A pipe burst and flooded the room. You should tell the people in the office not to rent this room tonight.” Ya think? Plumbing problems seemed to b following us. I decided that I didn’t want to stay at that motel no matter what room they gave us.I went back to the office and told them I wanted our money back even though they had a policy of no returns after 15 minutes. They evidently had quite a trade in short-term transients. They complied without arguing. I had seen a number of motels near the restaurant where we had eaten, so we drove to one of them. We got their last vacant room. And I was pleased.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 15

At the Lake Meade Recreation Area
At the Lake Meade Recreation Area

This was our last day in Las Vegas for this year. Well, it was our last half day because we were getting anxious to start homeward. We weren’t so anxious that we were eager to say goodbye to Lee, Michelle and Wyatt. That is never easy. If only they were unlikable; but such is not the case

We packed the car and checked out of the time share. From there we drove again to Lee and Michelle’ s home. We chatted a bit and then followed them to a restaurant for a farewell meal. As usual, the food was very good.

Lee and Michelle encouraged us to visit Sedona, Arizona on our trek home. I had wanted to visit Prescott, Arizona and they weren’t very far apart. I have to admit that I had no interest in Prescott until I watched the movie Junior Bonner and the location caught my fancy. I know it sounds silly, but there you are.

Eventually, however, we did have to get on the road, so we said our goodbyes and hit the road for Arizona. Shortly after we crossed the state line, we came to the Lake Meade Recreation Area. We stopped there to explore the gift shop and to use the facilities. We both bought fluorescent lime green T-shirts. Then it was back on the road. where we headed east and south towards Sedona and Prescott.

Cindy had decided that we should spend the night in Sedona, and perhaps all of the next day based on the kid’s recommendation. (So technically they aren’t kids, they are adults, but to me they will always be kids.) It started to sound like Prescott was going to be crossed off of our itinerary. Ah well, it was only a whim of mine.

As I drove south on Highway 89, watching to turn onto Highway 89A, Cindy started an online search for motels in Sedona. I have to admit that the prices she was finding were a bit stiffer than we expected. We discussed our options and decided to drive south of the turnoff and go on into Prescott for the night. It wasn’t that much farther, and I would get to see Prescott.

Once the decision was made and we were approaching Prescott, Cindy proceeded to fall asleep. I made it to Prescott without any problem, but left to my own navigation, I got lost within the city limits. I drove around, saw some lovely scenery, and then gave up and found a place to park while I searched for a motel on my smart phone and employed the GPS navigation. Cindy awoke and helped me find the motel. We checked in as dusk was approaching.

I asked the clerk for a recommendation for a place to eat dinner. He told us about a place, Bill’s Grill, about a mile from the motel. The place didn’t look like much from the outside, but the food was some of the best we had while on the road. Cindy had the Teriyaki Chicken with Jasmine Rice, and I had The Baked Hoki in an almond/parsley sauce with the Jasmine Rice. Both were excellent and the price was reasonable.

We returned to the motel, watched a little TV, and had a good night’s sleep.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Days 9 through 14

Taken on a morning walk
Taken on a morning walk

As I said in my post about Day 8, I made no notes about our week in Las Vegas; and my memory of that week is jumbled (to say the least) and fuzzy. So I am doing just one short post about that entire week. I’m afraid that will have to suffice.

I did manage to get up each morning and go for a walk. Mornings before the heat became unbearable were the best part of the day as far as the weather was concerned. Spending time with friends and family, not talking about what was happening in our house was the truly best part of each day. It was tough getting through an hour or two without a phone call or a text or an email about our house.

So during the week on the insurance front there was:

  1. No return phone call from our insurance agent.
  2. An insurance adjuster called and said that our Gold Star (that’s their name for it) policy would only cover $5,000 dollars of damage.
  3. We were told that if we found evidence of a broken valve somewhere we could file a separate claim for more coverage, but at that point the insurance company would drop us.
  4. The insurance adjuster told us that we should stop trying to contact our agent because she would not be returning our calls.
  5. That is when I decided that when this is over I shall be writing a scathing letter to our agent and the president of the company telling them what I think of their so-called customer service. They won’t be winning me back with a mass produced Happy Thanksgiving Day card.

There may have been other insurance developments, but those are the ones that stick in my mind and in my craw.

On the happier side, we were able to spend a lot of time with Lee, Michelle and Wyatt. I think we celebrated Wyatt’s birthday three times that week. One of the celebrations was at a pool at our timeshare. At that rate, Wyatt is going to grow up to be like his Grandma Cindy who celebrates a birthmonth rather than a birthday.

One night Cindy cooked dinner at Lee and Michelle’s home. Mary brought along a bottle of wine. I didn’t know that Lancers was still available. Mary seemed to think that it was an excellent vintage. She also enjoyed Cindy’s and Michelle’s selections. Mary once again tried to prove that in vino veritas is a constant. I was glad on the drive back to the timeshare that we kept the paper towels in the car.

We usually take in at least one show when we’re in Vegas, but this time we didn’t make it. We attempted to see a play, but it was sold out. So, we went to the movies twice. First we saw Sully, in which Tom Hanks put in another fine performance. Later in the week we saw Hell or High Water. I hadn’t heard anything about that movie, but I really enjoyed it. Cindy and Lee expressed displeasure at the lack of a concrete ending, though Cindy later changed her mind. I liked the open-ended conclusion.

Mary and George left on Friday so they could get home to spend time with Mary’s son who was on leave from the army. We drove them to the airport and bid them farewell.

That’s about all I remember from Monday though Saturday of that week.