Sonny, Sonny, Sonny’s . . .

After Jan had breakfast here at the hotel (I slept in) we headed over to Claudia’s about 10am. First up, I took a look at a couple of door knob problems she was having, one an entry door with a malfunctioning dead bolt.

Turns out the strike plate had shifted so that the deadbolt wouldn’t pass through the cutout. And the cutout just wasn’t deep enough. So I’ll pick up a wood chisel while we’re out and about today.

The other one was an interior bedroom door that hung up and locked Claudia in the bedroom for a while until she managed to get it unstuck. Turns out that the locking mechanism had broken, so I’ll see if I can’t swap it out with one from a closet door.

Then about noon, we all headed over to Pensacola to have lunch at Sonny’s BBQ once again, a yearly pilgrimage of ours.

Although I say every time I’m going to get something else, I always seem to end up with the Pork 3 Ways Platter, with Sliced Pork, Pulled Pork, and Ribs. And there’s a reason for that.

It’s delicious.

Jan and Claudia both got the Jumbo Pulled Pork Sandwich with Fries and Beans.

And we all split an order of their really good Fried Okra.

Coming back through Gulf Shores, we made a Wal-Mart stop for a few things, including a wood chisel.

Tomorrow looks to be Lambert’s Throwed Rolls over in Foley, and then some beach sightseeing.

Thought For The Day:

Is everyone just getting more annoying, or am I just getting grumpier?
Or both?

Your Retro-Preview Highlights –

2009 – Last Day In Key West

2010 – Pelicans, Pelicans, and Sea Lions

2013 – Burgers in South Lake Tahoe

2017 – Huckleberry Shakes in Montana

2019 – Total London Tour

2020 – Memories Of Sam

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

May 20, 2009

Last Day in Paradise…

Today is our last full day here in Key West.

After lunch at the Eat N Grinn deli, we headed over to Mallory Square to catch the Conch Train Tour.


We had already taken the Old Town Trolley tour on Sunday when our friends were here, but we wanted to take the train since although there is some overlap, the Conch Train concentrates more on the historic Old Town part of Key West.

Old Town Trolley

One of the places we visited was the Southernmost Point of the United States.

Southernmost point of US

Another place we drove by was the old shrimp boat docks.

Key West Docks

Twice in the early ’60s I was on one of my father’s shrimp boats when we docked here at Key West for supplies. There wasn’t a heck of a lot in Key West then, except for the docks and the Naval Base, which closed down in the ’70’s.

After wandering thru some more gift shops, we headed down to the Old Town Mexican Café for our last Key West meal.  We ate here Monday and really liked it so we thought we would try it again. Still great!

After dinner we headed back to our rig at Geiger RV Park. We’ve been parked right on the water with a great view.

Geiger RV Park

When we got back, Jan was putting clothes in the washer to run a load. Right before she locked the door she noticed the clothes were ‘moving’.

A few seconds later, Mister popped out. He’s bad about crawling into places, and this time, he almost got washed and dried.

Mister in Washer

Tomorrow we head north to West Palm Beach to meet up with our friends again. It’s about 234 miles, but will take us 6-7 hours due to the slow speed limits getting off the Keys.

May 20, 2010

Pelicans and One-Eyed Crabs…

We picked up Al and Adrienne about 9 am and headed out for breakfast at The Fogcutter restaurant down near the beach.

After breakfast we walked across the street to check out the Gray’s Harbor Light Station, the tallest lighthouse in the state of Washington. Very picturesque.

Grays Harbor Lighthouse

Next, we walked down to the end of the road to check out the ocean. Certainly a lot calmer than yesterday.

Ocean 1

Ocean 2

Then it was on to the marina area to look for pelicans and sea lions. And boy, did we find them.

But this picture is just the beginning.

Pelicans 1

When we got to the marina itself, specifically Pier 21, they were everywhere.

Marina 1

The whole end of the pier had about 300 pelicans all lined up.

Pelicans 2

And some sea lions too.

SeaLions 1

And more pelicans.

Pelicans 3

It looked like a pelican convention.

Pelicans 4

Pelicans 5

And more sea lions. They kind of sound like dogs barking.

SeaLions 2

These guys look like they’re doing some serious thinking.

Pelicans 6

And this old guy is just catching some rays.

SeaLionBig 1

I think he knew we were talking about him. Note the one eye open now.

SeaLionBig 2

I think this one’s kind of old too. He was the last one to fly away when we came down on the pier.

Pelican 7

They had some really nice boats here, like this trimaran.


But this one looks like something you’d take a “3 hour tour” on.


Next we drove over to Grayland to check out the clam beach.  Here’s Al, Adrienne, and Jan walking out to the waterline.

BeachWalk 1

The sandpipers were running around too.


The surf was still pretty rough, Note all the sand still stirred up in the waves.

BeachWalk 2

This is a razor clam which is what everyone goes clamming here for. They’re called razor clams for a reason. The edges of the shells are razor sharp and it’s very easy to cut your hand just picking one up. Don’t ask Jan how she knows.


We didn’t realize how far we had walked until we looked around for the truck.

BeachWalk 3

On the other side of the main road from the beach there are cranberry bogs everywhere.


After getting back to the rig, about 2 pm we headed over to Aberdeen for the 3 pm showing of Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe. Although it changed the story up from the conventional telling, it was really good.

After getting back from the movie, we headed over to have dinner at The One-Eyed Crab again. And it was worth the 2nd trip. Just as good as last night.

We got home about 8:30 pm, just in time to watch the season finale of “Fringe”

May 20, 2011

Resting Up . . .

My day started a little later than usual, about 11 am. But then I didn’t get to bed until almost 3.

I fixed coffee and had a banana for breakfast.

Yesterday our daughter Brandi sent over this Landon photo of his daycare class. That’s him on the far left in the checked shirt.

Landon Day Care Class

What I want to know is how they got all those kids to sit still at the same time. Hypnotism, powerful drugs, what?

Later for lunch, Jan heated up the last of the pizza from the other night. Once again, adding some basil and oregano made all the difference.

About 2:30 I headed into Coarsegold to the Post Office. I wanted to check for some mail via General Delivery. But I’ll have to try again tomorrow since it didn’t come in.

Coming home we stopped at the Coarsegold Feed Store to get Jan some raw peanuts to feed the squirrels, but they were out. Said to try again next week.

Next was a stop at the Coarsegold Market for some cream cheese to have with the Raspberry Habanero jelly we got the other day.

About 5:45 we headed into Oakhurst for dinner. We ended up going back to Todd’s Cookhouse BBQ where we ate a couple of days ago. And once again it was really good. Hopefully, we’ll go back again before we leave here.

Coming home we again stopped off for a cappuccino. I think we’re hooked on these.

May 20, 2013

Jan was lucky . . .

Apparently, Jan was really lucky she only got nipped by the donkey while we were at Oatman, AZ about 10 days ago.

Oatman Burro Bite

Here’s a guy in Hungary who was attacked and killed by two donkeys who apparently didn’t like him riding his mobility scooter through their pasture.

Note to self: Don’t make donkeys mad.

After a quiet morning, around 1pm I drove down to the office to check for any mail, and also to ask if we could get a picnic table brought to our site. All the sites around us have one. I want mine.

While I was there someone else was checking in and I saw they were given a hanging tag for their power pedestal. I guess we didn’t get one since we arrived after hours, but everyone else has one. I want mine.

When I asked if they expected the park to be busy this weekend, the young lady said, “Oh, Yeah”. So it looks like our semi-isolation may not last too much longer.

A little before 4pm Jan and I headed out for supper, planning on trying one of the casino buffets in town. But after driving all the way back down to Stateline, NV, we found none of the buffets at any of the 4 casinos here were open. Right now they’re only open on weekends, at least until this upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.

So we ended up at Big Daddy Burgers, voted the Best Burgers in South Lake Tahoe.

Big Daddy's Burgers 1

And if it’s not the Best Burger here, it’s certainly in the top 2 or 3. One reason they are so good is the fact that they have a very limited menu. Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheeseburger, and a Hot Dog. These, plus two sizes of fries, and the drinks, wrap up the menu.

Concentrate on what you do and do it well.

Jan had a Cheeseburger, and I had the Bacon Cheeseburger, both really good. We shared a large fry, which was more like a GIANT fry, with more than enough for both of us.

Big Daddy's Burgers 2

Coming back home we stopped off at the Sno-Flake Drive-In for a soft-serve cone. Sno-Flake looks like one of those old-timey drive-in from your childhood.

Sno-Flake Drive-In

And, as it turns out, the Sno-Flake Drive-In is also well-known for their burgers, and especially the fries, both with garlic and pesto seasonings.

We’ll have to give them a try before we leave.

May 20, 2014

El Maguey . . .

I woke up about 8 with a really bad headache, so I took some Advil and went back to bed. By the time I woke up again, my headache was gone, but by then it was after 10:30 so I had missed the class that started at 10.

Yesterday when I made a Martin’s run for a few grocery items, I also got some of their wonderful Cranberry Orange muffins that we remembered from past visits. And after having one for breakfast this morning with our coffee, we both agreed that we may like them better than the ones we get from Buc-ee’s. The ones from there are delicious and larger, but they’re also more than twice as expensive, I.e. $2.19 vs. 89¢. But the ones from Martin’s are actually a little better, taste-wise, with an orange glaze on top. So, even if they’re not better than Buc-ee’s, at least they’re a good replacement while we’re up here in Indiana.

Later I worked on some things around the rig before a nap seemed like a good idea. By the time I woke up it was almost 4 and close to time to head out to have dinner at the El Maguey Mexican Grille, our favorite local Mexican place.

Coming back to the rig about 8:30 I took time to let in the awnings. We’re expecting very heavy thunderstorms during the night and didn’t want to have any problems. If only from the noise the awnings can make in high winds.

Wouldn’t want to disturb my  beauty sleep, now would we

May 20, 2015

No Real Blog Today . . .

Arrived in Amarillo about 10:30 pm after an ‘interesting’ and long day.

On to Illinois tomorrow.

I will try to do a full blog tomorrow night.

May 20, 2016

It Works!

I spent most of the afternoon working on client webstuff, trying to set up an online MySQL database and link it to a webpage so the customers can search for their orders and their status.

But since the website is done in GoDaddy’s Website Builder, which does makes some things much easier, but restricts my access to the bare code, I’m having a problem setting up the programming I need. But I’ll get it figured out eventually.

Later in the afternoon, while I was letting some ideas percolate, I decided to take a little time and check out the Winegard Carryout Satellite Dome that I found by a park dumpster last Sunday. You can check it out here: Kitty Road Trip

The dome looked in good shape, and since whoever left it at the dumpster didn’t actually throw it away, I was hoping it was in working order. But there was no power cord with it. So since Jan was reading, and we weren’t recording anything, I took the power cord off my dome and plugged it into the new one. And I heard it immediately start running.

So I took it over to where my dome was sitting, and replaced it with the found one, and plugged in the signal cables. And by the time I got back inside I had video on the screen. I decided to just leave it in place, so I stowed the old away in the truck. That way I can double-check that there wasn’t a long-term problem with the new one.

So my dumpster-diving pays off again. And I have no idea why someone would throw away a perfectly good satellite dome. But I still need a power cord for it. Checking online, I found prices ranging from $30 to $52, for the same cord. But then I remembered something I think I might still have tucked away

Three years ago or so, the power cord on my dome broke off at the dome end of the plug. So I called Winegard and they sent me another one for free. But I’m pretty sure I saved the old one. Of course, I would need to replace the plug on the cord, but since it’s some kind of proprietary connector, I’ll just replace both ends with a generic one.

Miss Karma is pretty much back to her old self and her old ways, and seems to have recovered fine from her operation.

Miss Karma

A little before 5pm Jan and I drove into Conroe for dinner and Wal-Mart. Our dinner choice was another visit to the Asian BBQ & Grill, Conroe’s version of Little V Vietnamese Bistro down in Katy. Not quite as good, but very close. And a lot nearer than Katy. And actually cheaper too. By about half. Nice.

Jan had her usual Grilled Lemon Grass Chicken Bowl with Vermicelli, while I went with the Grilled Pork and Shrimp Bowl with Vermicelli

Asian BBQ & Grill Bowl

After our usual really good meal, Jan and I went across I-45 to pick up some things at Wal-Mart, and then we headed home for the night.

Tomorrow we’ll head out about 9:30 to travel down to Brandi’s in Katy for Chris’ family birthday celebration.

May 20, 2017

Garrison . . .

We were up about 7 this morning wanting to get on the way by 9 or so. I said in yesterday’s blog that we were going back into Pacific Time today, but I meant from Pacific Time back into Mountain Time.

Actually, we’ve essentially been in the Pacific Time Zone since we entered Arizona on March 14th. Since DST had started two days earlier, and Arizona doesn’t observe DST, they’re the same as PDT. But another thing is that Idaho is in two different time zones, but not divided east and west like some states, but north and south, with the north, skinny part in the PDT and the south is in MDT.

united-states-time-zone-map 2

We were out of the park and on US90 by about 10:15 MDT. It was sprinkling slightly when we left and that continued until we entered Montana. One thing noticeable was how much snow was still on the ground, not only on the surrounding mountain tops, but alongside the roadway also.

After we entered Montana we started seeing billboards for the St. Regis Travel Center and their signature ‘Huckleberry Shakes’. So a little over 30 miles in Montana we took the St. Regis exit. Although the billboards didn’t say anything about RV parking, I was hoping that being a ‘Travel Center’ meant we could find a place to park.

St Regis Travel Center Parking

And we did, about a block away in a big rig lot with a couple of other trucks.

The place turned out to be a casino, a bar, a restaurant, a snack bar, and to Jan’s delight, a very large gift shop.

St Regis Travel Center

By the time we left 45 minutes later, Jan had a new moose ornament, a bag of Huckleberry Taffy, and we each had a Huckleberry Shake.

Huckleberry Shake

We pulled into the Riverfront RV Park in Garrison, MT about 3:45pm and were met by a camp host in a golf cart who verified my name and led us right to our long pull-thru.

Riverfront RV Park 1

Riverfront RV Park 2

We’ve stayed here twice before, once in 2010, and once in 2008. And in fact the 2008 visit in early April still holds our record for the coldest night we’ve ever encountered while RV’ing.

It went down to 6° that night, but with both propane heaters running, as well as our three electric heaters, we stayed nice and cozy. And our next lowest was 17° and strangely enough, that was at Galveston RV Park in Dickinson, TX, south of Houston.

But tonight;’s only supposed to go down to the high 30’s. Much nicer.

Tomorrow we’ve got a 270 mile day over to Billings, MT, and dinner at Famous Dave’s BBQ.

May 20, 2018

Peeves . . . Pet & Otherwise

I spent the morning working on the Knife website until I ran out of things I could do. I finally stalled out with a bunch of questions that I need answers to before I can go any further. But my client is at a knife show this weekend, so he hasn’t been able to answer me.

So I started back on sorting stuff into GO/STAY piles for the storage room, and then sub-sorting the GO stuff into STORE until needed and STORE until next winter. Then the STAY stuff I’m trying to sort into TOOLS, PARTS, RIG PARTS, etc..

All I can say is it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. Well, maybe just off the streets. Seems like I still manage to get in trouble, no matter what.

As far as my Peeves, I’ve got a bunch of them, and seem to be gathering more all the time.

First up is Software/Apps that seem to be maintained and updated on the “Peter Principle’. From a book written in the late 60’s, it’s formally written as “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”

Putting it in simpler form, a guy does a good job at work, so he gets a promotion. Then if he does a good job in that position, he gets another promotion. But eventually he’s going to be promoted into a job that he’s not very good at. Of course, he’s not bad enough at it to be fired, especially since he has all those promotions on his resume. So there he sits until he retires or dies, doing a crummy job.

Now think about it. Doesn’t that explain what’s wrong with pretty much every organization, government or corporate? But it seems to happen with software too.

My first example is an app called ‘Flixster’ A touch of a key would show you all the theaters in your area, the movies they were showing, and the times they were showing at. You could even buy your tickets through the app.

And if you wanted to see a particular movie, another touch of a button and you’d see a list of movies showing and then the nearest theater that was showing it. All there in big bold tabs. But now you have to hunt around trying to decipher tiny little icons, and it now takes several extra steps to buy your tickets.

They’ve basically ‘improved’ it until it’s not as useful anymore.

And then there are useless products.

The first one is a car backup camera called Zus. I saw it at Sam’s Club the other day priced at $99.00. Its big attraction is that it operates through and displays on your cell phone so it doesn’t need a monitor. But since it’s short range, it disconnects from your phone as soon as you leave the area of your car.

So when you come back to your car, you have to get out your phone, start the car, connect up with the camera, and then hold it or place it so you can see it while you’re backing out.

And making things worse, according to the reviews, it can take as long as a minute or two for your phone to connect with the camera.

So exactly how is this useful?

The last one I’ve only seen on TV, but it still looks stupid. And it costs a lot of money extra. It’s the LG InstaView Refrigerator.

On the commercial a kid goes up to the refrigerator, knocks twice on the door and the inside lights up, showing the contents through the normally darkened glass. Then the kid opens the door and gets out what he wants.

Now your first thought is that this ‘saves energy’ right?  But not really. Unless you keep the door open long enough for the food inside to actually warm up, it only takes a few cents to cold down the little bit of warmer air that got in. And the kid still had to open the door anyway.

And how much does it cost you to save these few cents? According to online, maybe as much as $1000. The retail on one of these fridges starts at $4299.


I’ll save the rest of my peeves for another blog.

May 20, 2019

Total London Tour 5/20/19

Today was our first full day in London and we did it up right by taking the Total London Tour, a whirlwind, 9 hour extravaganza hitting the major tourist highlights of the city.

So we were up at 5:45, downstairs at the restaurant for breakfast when it opened at 6:30, jumping into our booked last night Uber ride at 7:00, and at the Victoria Coach Station by 7:20am. As it turns out, Coach Station is just the fancy British term for Bus Terminal.

Our tour bus pulled out right on time at 7:45am, and James, our tour guide, launched into his detailed description of pretty much every building we passed.

Our first stop was at St. Paul’s Cathedral, but something was going on inside the prevented us from touring it. Designed by Christopher Wren, this present building was begun in 1675 after the previous one was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. But there has been a church on this site since 603 A.D.

London Total Tour St Paul's Cathedral

The tallest building in London until 1967, it has been the location of the Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilee services for Queen Elizabeth II, and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

After passing by many other locations, like both the Old and New Scotland Yard buildings, and the Houses of Parliament, our next stop was Westminster Abbey, the coronation site of every British Monarch since 1066 A.D. And here we did get to tour the inside.

London Total Tour Westminster Abbey 1

London Total Tour Westminster Abbey 2

Like St. Paul’s, there has been a church on this site since the 7th century, but unlike St. Paul’s, there are over 3000 people buried here, including, not only people like Mary, Queen of Scots, and a bunch of Edwards, Williams, Charles, Henrys, and James, but scientists like Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and more recently, Stephen Hawking. And even actors like Sir Lawrence Olivier.

And supposedly there is another relationship between Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s. When it was under construction, St. Paul’s ran out of money to finish up the building. So other churches in the area were dunned to contribute to their ‘building fund’.

And since Westminster Abbey, officially titled “The Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster”, was a major ‘contributor’, this gave rise to the old saw, “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

At least that’s the way the story goes.

Unfortunately, they don’t allow any photos or videos inside, so no pictures for the blog. However I must say that this was the second abbey, the other one being the one in Melk, Austria, that we’ve visited that was so ‘sacrosanct’ as to not allow even ‘non-flash’ photography, but not so ‘sacrosanct’ as to have you exit the church on your tour through a ‘GIFT SHOP’. Just sayin’.

Next up was a stop at Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard.

London Total Tour Buckingham Palace

After a short walk from where our bus was parked outside the palace gates, we lined up just in time to see the Coldstream Guards leave their post and their replacement regiment march by on the way to take up their positions.

London Total Tour Changing of the Guard

Then it was all back on the bus for a drive across the Tower Bridge,

London Total Tour Tower Bridge

to our next stop, The Tower of London. But first up, we were given an hour for lunch, so Jan and I chose the nearby Wagamama location, an Asian-styled fusion place, that turned out to be excellent.

First up was an appetizer order of Bang Bang Cauliflower,

London Total Tour Wagamama Bang Bang Cauliflower

crispy wok-fried in firecracker sauce with red and green onions, and topped off with ginger and coriander.


Jan got the Chili Chicken Ramen,

London Total Tour Wagamama Chicken Chilli Ramen

while I got the Chili Steak Ramen.

London Total Tour Wagamama Steak Chilli Ramen

After our break, we met up with our guide who passed out our Tower tickets and we were left to explore the area for several hours.

This is the White Tower, the first building in the fortress.

London Total Tour Tower of London White Tower 1

London Total Tour Tower of London White Tower 2

Constructed between 1078 and 1100 by William the Conqueror, it was very formidable for its time.

Next up was the building that holds the Crown Jewels,

London Total Tour Tower of London Crown Jewels

but again no photos were allowed.

So I just took a photo of MY Crown Jewel.

London Total Tour Tower of London Selfie

Jan was also interested to see the memorial placed at the site of the execution of Anne Boleyn.

London Total Tour Tower of London Anne Boleyn

A historical group keeps fresh flowers on the site.

As we were leaving, I took this shot contrasting one of the oldest sites in London, and one of the most modern.

London Total Tour Tower of London and the Shard

The 1000 foot tall building, called The Shard for its broken glass-like top, is now probably the most recognizable thing on the London skyline. Here’s a better shot of it.

London Total Tour The Shard

Then after a 45 minute cruise along the Thames, we finished up our day with a ride on the Millennium Eye.

London Total Tour Eye 3

At 443 feet, the Eye is the 2nd tallest Ferris Wheel in the world. The tallest one, at 550 feet, is the High Roller in Las Vegas, and we’ve been lucky enough to ride both of them.

London Total Tour Eye 2

London Total Tour Eye

And of course the obligatory selfie.

London Total Tour Eye Selfie

Then it was an Uber ride back to our hotel, where we collapsed without even getting dinner, just had some snacks in the room.

Tomorrow, thank goodness, is pretty much a do-nothing day, before we start again on Wednesday with a day-trip out to Stonehenge.

May 20, 2020

More Memories . . .

Here’s another compilation of two related blogs from the past.

A week ago last year, when we were passing Buckingham Place, we saw a lot of fancy-dressed women wearing big hats getting out of limos, and Jan wondered if Sam was among them.

London Total Tour Buckingham Palace

I’ve talked about Sam, though not by name, a couple of years ago in a long blog post called The Pixelization Of Memory. Here’s some of what I wrote back in 2017.

Believe it or not, Jan and I were recently talking about an old girlfriend of mine this morning. Now Jan’s pretty good about this. She has been known to point out an well-proportioned young lady in a bikini, and I’ve been known to point out a well-muscled guy in tight biker shorts.

I guess you could call it ‘tit for tat’. Or maybe ‘tit for lats’, maybe. Anyway, we’ve always had a ‘You can look, but you can’t touch’ philosophy that’s worked for us for over 50 years.

I’ve mentioned in the blog before, how when we visit my relatives in north Alabama, part of me is looking around for old girlfriends when we’re in a restaurant or store. But then it dawned on me that I’m looking for them as they were at 14, 15, or 16, not as they would be in their 60’s now.

But we were specifically talking about a girlfriend I had when we were living in Colombia, South America and I was 13 and she was 14. Though actually she was just about 9 months older than me.

Yeah, I know. What kind of girlfriend can you have at 13? But we were close, considered ourselves boyfriend and girlfriend, and spent a lot of time together.

I told Jan, No, I had never followed up on her, or any of my other past girlfriends for that matter. I don’t want to find out they were killed by a drunk driver while in their 20’s, raped and killed by an intruder, or even died in the World Trade Center.

I prefer to keep my memories of them intact, when they were beautiful young teenagers in the prime of life, and not possibly moldering in the ground somewhere. But that’s when I discovered the pixelization problem.

I found that, although I could visualized her generally, wavy red hair, bright green eyes, I could not zoom in on her face in my mind. As I said it was like zooming in a digital photo, with her face becoming more and more blocky and distorted the closer I got. I couldn’t see any details. And it wasn’t just her.

The rest of them were the same way. I could see them generally, but not in detail. Now it’s different with Jan. I met her when I was 18 and we’ve been together ever since. And I can see her, see her face back then, with no problem.

But then she hasn’t really changed all that much. I swear she has a picture in an attic somewhere.

And this is what we were talking about in London. And that’s why Jan brought up Sam as we passed Buckingham Palace.

It all started here.

Beginning when I was 13 we lived in South America for a while, mostly staying at a large old hotel that had both nightly guests, and also long-term residents like us.

Turns out there was a very cute British girl, about 14, also living there. Soft red, curly hair and bright green eyes. Since we were the only English-speaking kids our age around, we naturally ended up hanging out together. She told me her name was Sam (Samantha) and that her father worked for the British government.

After we had been together for a month or so, one day she showed up where we usually met on the large landscaped grounds, all dressed up for a party, frilly dress, hair piled up on her head, the works. A big change from the shorts and T-shirts she usually wore.

She told me her mother wanted to meet me for afternoon tea at 4pm. Told me in no uncertain terms that I was to dress nice, wear long pants and a nice shirt, and comb my hair. (Yeah, I had hair back then)


As she left, I asked what suite she was in, and she said, “6th floor”. And when I asked what room, she smiled slightly, and said, “You’ll figure it out.” And I did.

When I got off the elevator, there was no hallway, just a vestibule and a set of ornate double doors with a pull rope for a door bell.

A few seconds after I rang the bell, there stood a butler in full regalia, but young and very fit looking, and about 6’6” tall. Looking down at me, he said, “Ah, Master Gregory, right on time, wonderful.”

Then, after he closed the door behind me, he said, “Please follow me. The DUCHESS and LADY Samantha are waiting for you in the library.”

Wait, What?

When I followed Andrews into the library, I found Sam standing behind her mother who was sitting at a writing desk. And I could tell from the look on her face that she was terrified that I was going to screw this up. And knowing me, she had good reason to worry.

After Andrews introduced me, I said, “I’ve never met a Duchess before. Am I supposed to bow, or curtsy?”

Sam blanched white as the proverbial sheet.

Her mother looked at me very seriously, and said, “In this informal situation, neither is required. Then with a big smile she said, “But I would like to see your curtsy sometime.”

With that, the ice was broken, and Sam started breathing again.

After that, I was regularly invited for tea. The only time the Duchess ever got mad at me was when I made the mistake of referring to Sam as ‘Sam’ instead of Samantha in front of her.

Her eyes flashed black and her voice got cold as she said, “Sa Man Tha”

Turns out that Sam’s stepfather was Consul General, and Sam would inherit her mother’s title someday, a title that had been in the family since the late-1600’s. And with that title came, not one, not two, but three ancestral estates.

But when I asked, Sam said only one of them was really a castle. Well, that was good to know.

And if that’s not bad enough, it turned out that both Samantha and her mother were actually royalty, and in line for the throne, though in the double-digits position.

But I didn’t tell her, mainly because I didn’t know then, that I also had a close brush with English royalty. This photo is from our visit to Hampton Court, the home of King Henry VIII.

Hampton Court Kateryn Parr Marriage 1000

And this is where my ancestor Katheryn Parr married King Henry on July 12,1543, and became his sixth, and last, wife. With Henry the 3rd of her four husbands, she was married only two less times than Henry.

And also, like Henry’s wives, Katheryn’s husband’s didn’t fair well, either. Her first two died, and Henry only lived for about 3-1/2 years after they were married.

Then about 4 months after Henry died, she married Sir Thomas Seymour, a somewhat scandalous marriage since it was so soon after Henry’s death.

However, since Katheryn’s father, Sir Thomas Parr, was a direct descendent of King Edward the III, I guess I do have a little royalty in my blood.

Where all this comes down to me is that my father’s mother, Sara Anne Parr, was born in England and migrated first to Canada and then to the States in the late 1800’s, where my father was born in 1909.

So, getting back to where this all started, was Sam among those limo passengers at Buckingham? I’ll never know, and I don’t want to know. I prefer to remember her when she was 14.

And I never did learn how to curtsy . . . or bow.

May 20, 2022

And Now Another One . . .

First there was Immersive Van Gogh last year,

Immersive Van Gogh

then Immersive Monet next month.

Immersive Monet

And now there’s another one.

Immersive King Tut
Immersive King Tut Placard

No firm date yet. Just later this Summer.

Another one going on the list, I guess.

Tomorrow it’s lunch at Gator’s and then Jan’s getting a haircut.

After that, who knows?

May 20, 2023

We Were Worried . . .

First off, Happy Birthday to our son Chris. We love you, kiddo.Red heart Red heart

To recap yesterday:

We left our motel in Athens about 12:30 heading south on I-65 to Birmingham about 100 miles away. We wanted to spend some time checking out our old haunts before meeting up with Bill & Carol about 5pm.

Jan and I lived, went to college, and worked here from 1972 to 1975 before we moved another 100 miles south to Montgomery, before we moved to Texas in December 1978 when I went to work for NASA.

We spent a couple of hours just driving around before making a Trader Joe’s stop so Jan could pick up a few things. Then it was on over to our friend’s house only about 20 minutes or so away.

After snacking on some nice hors d’oeuvres, much appreciated since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and catching up, we headed out for what for us was the 3rd leg of our Southern BBQ Tour, Jim and Nick’s BBQ.

While Jan had her usual Pulled Pork Sandwich and Fries,

Jim and Nick's BBQ Jan Pulled Pork BBQ 2

I got the 2 Meat Combo Plate, with Beef Brisket and Pulled Pork, along with Beans and Greens. Really good.

Jim and Nick's BBQ Two Meat Combo

Jim and Nick’s is the only place so far whose Brisket looks (and tastes) anything like Texas Brisket.

Getting back to their house, we spent a couple of more fun hours talking and laughing, before Jan and I had to head back to Athens, about a 90 minute trip.

Bill and Carol Alverson 20230519

A really fun get-together, and we’re already planning next year.

Now For Today:

After getting gas, we were back on I-65 heading south for Prattville/Montgomery, about 175 miles away. But our first stop was for lunch at the Golden Rule BBQ in Irondale. My family has been eating here since the ‘50’s, and the place has been in pretty much the same location since 1891.

I say ‘pretty much’ because it’s been moved around a number of times to make way for the paving of the original dirt road in front to the building of 4 lane Crestwood Blvd, to I-20 right up the hill.

But we were worried since Bill told us that the chain had recently been sold by the founding family, and that some people didn’t think that it was as good as before. We’ve known several places in the past where someone bought a successful restaurant, and then ran it into the ground by making a lot of changes.

When we got seated Jan even asked Tammy, our server, about it, and she quickly assured us that the recipes had stayed the same.

And our Jumbo Sliced Port Sandwiches and Fries confirmed that.

Golden Rule BBQ Jumbo Sliced Pork 20230519

From this angle it’s hard to tell, but the bottom bun has a thick pile of sliced pork with a lot of Bark, or Outside Cut, the crunchy outside crust of the pork shoulder.


And the Fries are different, but for the better. At least for us. The original ones were thicker and not as crispy, A nice improvement.

And you can’t come to Golden Rule without getting a slice of their homemade pies. Jan got her usual Chocolate Cream, while I always get the Lemon Icebox version.

Golden Rule Lemon Icebox Pie

Really, really, really good.

The only other real change we noticed was that the servers now take orders on iPads, and you check out at the front on one of those computer work stations.

So we can breathe easy now and look forward to next year’s visit.

Back out in the car, we made a Happy Birthday call to our son Chris, and then we were back on the road to Prattville, where we were staying at the Day’s Inn, which just happens to be right behind the Longhorn Steakhouse where we met Kathy for dinner at 5pm.

So yes, we did have two meals today, very unusual for us.

Kathy and Jan worked together at Jackson Hospital from 1975 until December of 1978 when we moved to Texas, and we always get together when we’re in the area.

The place was really busy, with a number of high school graduation dinners going on, but our food came out fast, and was as good as always from Longhorn.

And Amanda, our server, had no problem with us talking for a while, even though it slowed down the turnover of the table that she could have been make other tips on.

But I did slip her an extra $10 to somewhat make up for it.

Kathy and Jan 2022

Finishing up and getting our hugs, it was nice to just walk back across the parking lot to our hotel.

Tomorrow we’re getting together with Fred and Susan, Fred a former coworker of mine, down in Montgomery, about another 15 miles south of here.