Monday, August 29, 2011

Myrtle Beach May 2011

The boardwalk at Myrtle Beach. A long walk with lots of shops and places to spend money. First time I have ever had the opportunity to see and experience this.

Rayna and McKenna on the Boardwalk. It was very quiet during the middle of the week. This really changes on the weekends. Especially Memorial Day weekend and the motorcycle rally. Over 3000 motorcycles rolled in starting on Thursday.

On the boardwalk we found a great little spot for dinner. Between oysters on the half shell and mussels, and a pitcher of margaritas we had no complaints.

There are lots of games, rides and video arcades on the boardwalk. The newest Ferris Wheel on the boardwalk has a climate controlled capsule for you to ride in.

The beaches at Myrle Beach.

Dune fences to keep erosion down.

The motorcycles start arriving on Thursday night. There were some incredible machines.

The Holiday Inn Resort was a great place to stay. Nice pools and access to the beach.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A new home

Leaving Alaska caused a lot of things to happen. One thing is to have Oscar shaved before we arrived in a hot climate. He will be much happier then with 6 inches of thick fur. His brother has a different fur and doesn't have the thick undercoat.

Both cats flew in the airplane with me. That was an adventure in itself. From Anchorage to Charlotte through Chicago was a 12 hour day for 2 felines to stay confined. Fortunately there is a wonderful chemical spray that my vet said would 'put my cats in a happy place.' He was so right. Except for going through airport security it wasn't a bad experience. Oscar slipped his harness at the checkpoint and I ended up with scratches. Please tell me that having TSA ex ray a pet carrier will help keep America safe.
A dear friend and her daughter came with me; you can only have one animal per person. 2 cats, 2 people.

The first week back was a whirlwind. Between getting the cats used to a new environment, showing friends around and unpacking a few things there were a lot of long days. The first weekend back in the 'Lower 48' we had tickets for the Charlotte Speedway. This was a real first experience and I must say it's impressive. 150,000 people, cars, noise and races. The noise and air generated by a pack of cars all going through a turn at the same time has to be experienced to be understood. Even with earplugs the noise is unbelievable.

The entry into the racetrack. People. people, people.

The racetrack sponsored a salute to disabled veterans. Everyone on the track was disabled in some devastating way.

The track is so impressive.

Energizer battery company wanted to set a record for the number of battery operated lights lit at once. They handed out thousands of LED headlamps and at 830 pm everyone turned them on. The record was set and I have a great headlamp.

The following weekend we took off to Carowinds Amusement Park. It's been over 30 years since I've been to the park. There are more rides, lots more people and a whole lot more expensive.

The park has added lots of new roller coasters, ones that go upside down and sideways. No thanks. I rode Thunder Road which is a double track wooden roller coaster and about had my head snapped off. I really don't enjoy roller coasters anymore. The neck doesn't like being snapped.

But the park is full of fountains and streams and beautiful little places to sit and watch the birds. But there is way too many people to enjoy the park.

Ken's reaction to the whole thing. Take a nap in the shade. He didn't enjoy it at all. Long hot day in and out of the sun made him sick. Problem with having mobility problems; can't enjoy amusement parks.

Next trip Myrtle Beach.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Starting life over

Well, I did it. Retired. Sold the house. Moved. Threw out the old book, started another one. All those cliques apply. I'm sitting on my back patio, in NC, writing on a netbook, drinking a rum and coke and watching the birds. Where do I start? March, I guess. First week of March 2011 I put my little ranch house in Anchorage on the market. Wait, didn't somebody say the housing market was terrible? I'll never get my asking price. Blah, blah, blah. The realtor says it'll take between 60-75 days to sell, at best. That works. I retire in April, move in May, regardless. So 75 days is good. I'll have a place to live as I'm getting ready to move. Just have to keep the house spotless, not let the cats leave furballs in the carpet, and deal with house showings every day. I can do that. The house goes on the market on a Monday, I'm traveling that whole week so I don't have to deal with visitors, piece of cake. I get an offer via email on Thursday for the full price! 4 days! 4 frigging days! Now what do I do? Suddenly everything goes into over drive.

Now it's dealing with house inspectors, appraisals, signing a pile of paperwork and trying not to panic that it's all happening too fast. Plus work and the travel that goes with it. The job had been demanding that I travel just about every week since Feb. and it's not slowing down any. Cell phones and computers are the only way I'm staying on top of it, 24 hours a day.
The good thing is that the new owner isn't in any hurry to close and isn't going to force me to either move into an apartment for a couple months or pay rent until I leave. That's a plus on my side. I take a fast trip to Charlotte the last week of March and come back to Anchorage to really knuckle down and get ready to move. Oh, while I was in Charlotte a new car fell into the driveway. HAH! Fell in. In other words I (we, Ken and I) bought the new vehicle that will hold me, Ken, a folding wheelchair, tow a trailer with a scooter. Wasn't planning to, but there it was. What can I say.

Back to moving, which includes garage sales, craigslists, donations, sorting out books I can't give up versus books that a collector might want and packing, packing, packing. Little by little things start to disappear. My biggest concerns are the library and my artwork. I have lots of both.
April comes and the house inspector has a list of repairs I have to do so the buyer can get a loan. Some of the repairs I anticipated, others were just plain stupid. The one that really caused the most problem was the rebuild of the stairs in the garage. The new building code demanded handrails on the stairs from the door to the garage floor. Add the handrails and guess what, you can't park a car inside anymore. Can't open the doors to the car. How dumb is that? Guess I'm glad it's not my house anymore. Just throw money at it and don't think about it.

The end of April is rapidly approaching. I'm going crazy between work travel, work, packing and trying to stay on top of logistics. Have to buy plane tickets, get 2 pet carriers that will fit under an airline seat, get the cats health certificates. And then there is the retirement thing. Somewhere in all of this I'm going out to dinner, lunch, brunch, drinks, saying goodbye to people I've known for a long time.
April 28 rolls around and I'm done working. I cleaned out my office, gave a bunch of stuff away, handed in my building key and left. A party is planned for the 29th at Lonestar. Turned into a good party.

Couple of interesting and unexpected retirement gifts. One, the Deputy Commissioner for Aviation managed to have a State flag that actually flew over the Capitol Building given as a retirement salute. First time it's ever been done. Has a certificate and everything. I'm the only person to receive one. That in itself is very neat. Guess the new Deputy Commissioner thought I was okay.

Then there was this; a lovely piece of metal with an airplane and plaque. The metal is aluminum that has been heated to create the colors. The plaque is just a salute for 29 years to the State of Alaska.

This was a real surprise. The guys out in the field at the rural airports got together and bought this. It's a big piece of jade with bears fishing. While lots of things happened over the past 29 years I never thought that the guys in the field thought very much of me. I was the one always in their face about rules and regulations, problems and issues. I got very little feedback from them on what they thought.

I got a nice plaque from FAA which surprised me too.

The party at Lonestar was lots of fun. I spent the whole time talking and never did manage to eat more then a couple of shrimp. I was drinking my favorite; lemon drop martinis. Every time I sat the glass down it would disappear and another one would be in its' place. Over the course of the evening I think I got to drink 2 drinks while I bet you 5 floated around me. Glad it wasn't my bar bill.

I dressed for the occasion. First time several guys ever even knew I had legs.

Me, my former boss (Troy) and Becky Cronkite (dear friend). Troy looks so good in my hat.

Me and David Cummings from Bethel. Doesn't he clean up nice!

Now that chapter is done. On to Charlotte

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dillingham in winter

My job takes me all over Alaska. Sometimes I go places in the middle of winter when it's clear and cold. Last week of February took me to Dillingham which is about an hour west of Anchorage in a small plane to spend a couple days at the airport with some consultants. I didn't take these photos because I was driving a Tahoe on the ice. I don't think Jesse will mind me borrowing them to share.

Arriving in Dillingham at the small terminal. Small airport equals small planes and small terminals. It actually has a coffee shop now. Welcome to Dillingham.

Driving around the airport means dodging drifts, berms and concentrate on what you're doing. Roads are pretty bad. Maximum speed 15 mph.

The airport perimeter road. You could go faster on ice skates. Jesse was busy with the camera; I was keeping the Tahoe under control. Studded tires, 4 wheel drive in low.

Part of driving on ice roads is dodging the plows taking care of large drifts.

Of course the local waters are full of ice. Doesn't matter if it is fresh or salt. So if the ocean is covered with ice boats can't be there.

So boats of all size and description spend the winters high and dry in a boat yard, waiting for the spring thaw.

Rows of boats sit in a boat yard. Come spring they'll be launched looking for fish.

The mountains on the other side of the bay. Wood Tikchik Mountains.

Miles and miles of miles and miles. Frozen tundra in the winter, bogs, swamps and shallow lakes in the summer.

If you want to explore this country make sure you have a GPS and emergency supplies. There aren't any villages or 7-11 for miles around once you leave Dillingham.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Villa DelPalmar Flamingo PV Mexico

January 2011 my girlfriend Leah and I took a week and went in search of warmer weather. We landed in a nice little resort called Villa DelPalmar Flamingo on the north end of Purteo Valarta, Mexico. We spent the week lying by the pool, walking the beach, shopping, riding horseback and taking little tours.

I highly recommend the location. It's far enough from PV that you need a bus or cab to get there, but close enough to enjoy it. There's a little village north of the resort with a great flea market.

Leah and I on the beach.

Walking the beach every morning seems to be a normal past time. It's peaceful and soothing, letting the stress peel away with every wave that washes over your feet.

Horseback riding is another great past time. We rode the beach and into the town, clopping, clopping on the cobblestones as we wandered down the streets with a guide.
Bucerias is directly north of PV on Banderas Bay. It's a tiny little village to wander on horseback and on foot, exploring and shopping. Many of the restaurants are decorated with murals inside and out.

We had a lovely lunch on the beach, watching the surf and dodging the beach vendors.

The view from our room. Villa Del Palmar Flamingo is a fairly new resort, all inclusive with 3 great restaurants and wonderful tiered pools.

The children's wading pool had wonderful sea turtles painted on the concrete.

Each pool contained a waterfall that tiered into the next pool.

And fountains to splash in.

Wed. night was a pirate show on the beach with a great buffet, bar and live entertainment.
Each table had its own ship centerpiece.

Leah enjoying a hammock on the beach.

The nicest guy in the resort.

Sunset over the pools. What a lovely way to spend the week.