Happy Holidays 2007

These notes record the events of the period from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. This year's Christmas card featured us on our Transatlantic cruise when we crossed the Equator. Our insert was similar to the past few years.  


Our daughter Alex hosted the family Thanksgiving for this year. We were lucky to have all of our children and grandchildren in attendance. I was concerned about the cooking of the turkey because of our Pittsburgh rare bird in 2005, so I double checked the cooking time for a 20 pound stuffed turkey and found it to be 6 hours. We also had an oven thermometer and an electronic sensor to gauge the temperatue at the middle of the stuffing. I put together a schedule for the desired eating time of 5:00 PM. I went out for a very fast 4.5 mile walk and then drove to Starbucks to get caffeinated for the work of the day. I had to draft Cathy to cut bread cubes. She felt a little abused at having to be my gofer for the day, so I drafted Katie later so I could have two "half-gofers" to help with the meal preparation. The grandkids kept the day very dynamic as they ebbed and flowed all over the house. When I "flew" the turkey, only baby Garrett was in attendance to enjoy the spectacle. I put the turkey in the oven at precisely the scheduled time. We had a very informal lunch. During the afternoon, we took advantage of the warm day to play outside a bit. Tom rested up for the feast. We had two tables, the adult table in the dining room and the kids table in the kitchen, which was phased from a carving table to an eating table. The meal was excellent and was followed by some fabulous pies from a local ochard.

Friday, November 23

A front came through overnight, so it was very cold in the morning and didn't warm up much throughout the day. Son Bill, Katie, and families had decided to come down to our house in Cape May Beach, so we all got an early start. Traffic was extremely light because everyone else was out shopping, so we all made good time. Cathy and I went out to pick up a couple of pizzas at Italian Affair. We all enjoyed lunch in the cozy indoors since it was very windy and cold outside. After lunch, I finished de-winterizing the RV and hooked up the water. Cathy had to go to work at the bookstore for a while. The rest of us hung out and watched some football on TV. I took a shower in the RV around 5:00 PM. At 5:45 PM, we all piled into 2 vehicles and drove to dinner at Cucina Rosa. We had a very hearty meal; the grandkids behaved quite well and allowed us to enjoy it. We viewed "Slow Burn" - pretty dumb before turning in. Cathy and I needed both the furnace and the electric heater in the RV as the cold wind howled all night.

Saturday, November 24

I arose at 6:00 AM and went into the dark house. I put the coffee on out on the freezing deck. Sarah was the first child up at about 6:30 AM. I took her out to the RV to wake Cathy and then took her to the end of the driveway to get the papers. By that time, everyone else was up and ready for breakfast. It was too cold outside to go out and play, so the kids played inside and the adults watched Sports Center on ESPN and got ready for a big day of college football. Little Billy had a swollen eye, so Son Bill and Stacey took him to an emergency clinic where he got some antibiotics. Shortly before noon, Son Bill, Stacey, Katie, and Tom went to lunch at the Blue Pig in Cape May. Cathy and I fed the children lunch. After lunch, we played with the children in the solarium and introduced them to Cathy's keyboard (pic, video). We put Billy down for a nap and then the luncheon group returned and Cathy went to work for couple of hours. We enjoyed watching football games all afternoon and well into the evening. We enjoyed a fabulous grilled swordfish dinner, utilizing some of the leftover potatoes from Thanksgiving. I discovered a small stalagmite of ice under the RV where the water hose was hooked in and decided that it would be safer to drain all of the water pipes in the RV and outside of the house. I moved our stuff to one of the upstairs bedrooms. Katie, Tom, and Rachel left for home while I was taking over the bedroom that they vacated. Son Bill and Stacey went to bed early, anticipating an early start and a long day of driving on Sunday. We went to bed fairly early also.

Sunday, November 25

Son Bill and Stacey got up at 4:30 AM got ready to go. We got up at 4:50 AM and helped them get organized and with packing the car. Billy and Sarah were both coughing pretty heavily as the family got on the road at around 5:45 AM. We stayed up, ate breakfast and started getting the house reorganized. Cathy went off to work at the bookstore, while I worked on winterizing the RV. I finished that job and then moved the rest of our stuff back into the house. I wanted to test the TV cable connection before returning the RV to storage, so I held off on the return. After lunch, I walked for 6 miles. We viewed "Next" during dinner on an "On Demand" rental. I found the premise of the movie to be very interesting, but some of the details in the film were ludicrous. Since it had a good cast and was thought-provoking, I can recommend it, but with a credibility warning. Son Bill called to say that they drove all the way back home without their planned overnight stop. They were all exhausted.

Monday, November 26

We got up early, ate breakfast, and headed to the ferry terminal. We crossed as pedestrians on the 7:30 AM ferry to Lewes, DE. We read both of our newspapers and then I did the NY Times crossword on my Pocket PC. It was foggy the whole day, but the temperature stayed mild. Don and Bern Ernakovich picked us up at the terminal and drove us back to their house. Bern prepared wonderful cappuccinos for us all. Then she gave me a box of organic, shade-grown coffee and gave Cathy a pair of scissors. We got together with their daughter Megan for lunch at "Striper Bites". We had a great lunch and were able to catch up with the news with the three of them. Megan is expecting a baby boy in a couple of weeks, so they were pretty excited about the coming birth. We took the 4:15 PM ferry back. I worked on the Sunday puzzle and almost got it all by the time we landed. We went to ACME for some shopping. During dinner, we viewed "Breakfast on Pluto", which is a weird, but quite good movie.

Tuesday, November 27

I got up at 5:00 AM because I was slept-out. I worked on the computer for a while and did the Times puzzle. I dropped Cathy at the bookstore and drove over to Armada Motel in Wildwood. I met with Steve Tecco and showed him what I had done with the email enhancement to his "front desk" program. I set up his Outlook and configured it with a new email address that I had procurred from Google. I returned home for lunch. Then I went out for a 6 mile walk. I drove over to the bookstore a bit early so I could do some shopping at ACME. Cathy was feeling under the weather from infections she caught from one or more grandkids.

Wednesday, November 28

The wind blew pretty hard overnight, but I slept OK. Cathy went off to work while I worked on the Times crossword. My niece Lauren emailed a classic picture of her and our kids in 1977 when she was on her way back to Maine from Disneyworld and we were in Durham, NC on sabbatical leave. The wind died down, but it was too cold outside for me to want to do much out there. I did check out the TV cable and developed a work around until we can get the cable connector fixed when we're in Florida. I did some computer stuff that I'd been putting off for a cold day. I talked to both Alex and Katie during the afternoon. They reported that a baby shower, for a friend of Katie's, that Cathy was planning to attend, had been cancelled because the mother-to-be wasn't allowed to travel. I saw a most beautiful sunset, but it was way too early for my taste. During dinner, we watched the Republican "YouTube" debate. I was upset again at the media choosing who should get the most air time based on some perception of who are the first tier candidates.

Thursday, November 29

Another cold, windy day. I drove over to Steve Tecco's house to finish the installation and testing of the email enhancement to the front desk program. I had to make one adjustment to the email format while I was there. We deferred the installation for his desktop machine in the motel until April. I got home for lunch. Cathy headed out for a hairdresser appointment and I went for a 6 mile walk. We went to dinner at Lucky Bones, where we enjoyed a good meal. We viewed the latest "Die Hard" movie which offered a good dose of violence and exploding cars.

Friday, November 30

This last day of November was another cold and windy one. Cathy went to work at the bookstore. After lunch, I took a 6 mile walk as the wind abated. It remained cold, however.

Saturday, December 1

I started playing around with favicons and transparent favicons (you should be able to see a holly leaf icon up on the address bar of your browser right now). I was supposed to go striper fishing with our neighbor Tom, but it was way too windy to take a boat out. Tom went to fish on the Coast Guard jetty, but I chose to stay in the warm house and play on the computer while I watched football games. I took some time out to go shopping with Cathy at Peebles in Rio Grande, fortified with a cappuccino. The big game today for us was the ACC Championship Game where Virginia Tech beat Boston College and will go to the Orange Bowl. I had called the two upsets in the evening. I've never rooted for Pitt in my whole life, but I figured they could beat WVU, just out of orneriness, and they did. Katie called later to say that we have Orange Bowl tickets for January 3.

Sunday, December 2

I did some research on parking RVs at the Orange Bowl and called Katie and Tom around mid-morning. Cathy went to work at the bookstore. I went out for a fishing paddle in the kayak. It was 35 degrees out, but I was warm in my wetsuit and new boots. I didn't stay out too long because the wind started to increase. After lunch I finally finished the Sunday Times crossword puzzle.

Monday, December 3

Monday's crossword puzzle was as easy as it should be. The wind stayed at gale force all day. The highest gust measured at the ferry terminal was 55 mph. We decided to go over to Wildwood to walk on the boardwalk. We stopped for lunch at the Pizza Hut on Rio Grande Avenue and noticed that the wind was as bad as at home. So, we decided to forget about walking outside.

Tuesday, December 4

The wind was still blowing a gale all day. Cathy went to work. After lunch I did a 10 mile walk in the cold wind. I wore long underwear and was very bundled up. I stopped briefly at the bookstore en route.

Wednesday, December 5

Finally, the wind stopped blowing, but it was cold and snowing. The light snow cover was very pretty on the dunes and bushes. I dropped Cathy at the bookstore and felt bad for her on this cold day with no heat in the building. After lunch, I walked for 6 miles in the falling snow. I attended the December meeting of the Cape May County Pollution Control Financing Authority in Crest Haven. The roads were starting to get slick from the continuing snow. I picked up Cathy at the bookstore on the way to the annual banquet at the Lobster House. We sat at a table with Ed and Peggy Adgie and enjoyed talking about their and our travels. Out the window, we could see snow piling up on the outdoor tables where we have spent so many lunch hours basking in the warmth of summer. When we drove home after 10:00 PM, the roads were pretty nasty.

Thursday, December 6

The snow continued and the wind blew overnight. The temperature was 26 degrees at around 7:00 AM. A near disaster occurred when I discovered that the pound of coffee beans in the freezer turned out to be decaf. I went against all of my principles and made decaf. I went out and shoveled off the steps during late morning. It was still cold and breezy and no fun to be outside. After lunch, we drove by Starbucks so I could get some caffeine in me. Then we went to ACME and Ace Hardware for some shopping. We viewed "Brooklyn Rules" and enjoyed it.

Friday, December 7

The morning began at 22 degrees and no wind. The snow and ice haden't melted yet, but did melt later in the day. I dropped Cathy at work and then went to two auto supply stores and Starbucks before finally driving to Cape Camping on Route 47. I managed to buy a thermometer and ice scraper for the RV, but had to order a wide angle lens for the back window. I arranged to drop off the RV on the following Wednesday for repairs on the TV cable connector. It stayed cold and rained off and on, so I didn't go out for exercise. I picked up Cathy at work at 6:15 PM. We returned home to pick up the presents that I had forgotten to bring along and then picked up Linda Keech. I dropped Cathy and Linda at Carol Matthews house for her annual Chinese Polyana. I heard later that my choice, a jointed ceramic fish, held together by rope, was the party favorite. I did some shopping at ACME and picked up a hoagie at WaWa. I finished watching "Fight Club" for the nth time, and enjoyed it as always. I set two alarms for 5:00 AM before heading to bed.

Saturday, December 8

I awoke at 5:00 AM with the two alarms blaring. It was raining and 35 degrees, not a promising start for a day of fishing. I got breakfast and organized my gear. I wore many layers of clothing, topped by a rainsuit. I walked over to Tom's house with my bag and two fishing poles. We headed down to the marina in the rain and fog. There were lots of other men there, getting their stuff loaded onto their boats. Women are way too smart to go outside in the rain and cold for any reason other than shopping. We were out on the surprisingly smooth ocean around 7:30 AM. The rain continued for a couple of more hours. We went to the north along Wildwood, looking for bird play. We saw lots of Northern Gannets flying and diving over a large area. This indicated that there were lots of baitfish. The lack of seagulls working over the water meant that there were no bluefish. We fished with bunker, clams, and bucktails off of the ferris wheel. There were other boats scattered around, including some charters. We had no luck, so after a few hours, we headed for Middle Shoal in the rips. Again, there were boats scattered around, but we fished fairly close to the Miss Chris party boat and some charters for a while. We fished with clams and bucktails. We located an excellent area of rips and tried several drifts. On one drift, we both felt hits, but that was all of the action we got. Meanwhile, the day cleared and the sun came out. After a few hours, we headed back to the area off of the ferris wheel. The Gannets were diving all over the place. We caught a couple of big sharks with our clams, but no other hits. I got the idea of trying a lure that I'd brought along at the last minute. This lure was given to me by my fishing buddy Paula and was intended for trolling behind my kayak. I thought that any stripers in the area would be expecting to see baitfish, so the lure might fool them. I tied on the lure and cast it, but the line snagged on the front hook, so the lure didn't swim properly. I reeled it in, unsnagged it and cast again. This time, the lure dove and swam as I reeled it back. Almost immediately, I felt a hit that could only be a striper. The fish must have been a feisty male, because he ran out some line before I could get him to the boat. The fish measured 28 inches to the fork, so it was a keeper! We fished for another half hour, until the sun was almost down. We motored in and headed home. Tom filleted the fish and we shared it. Cathy and I had a wonderful grilled striper meal. We viewed "Alpha Dog" - disturbing, but well done.

Sunday, December 9

I spent a good part of the day working on the crossword puzzle. In the afternoon, I went out for a 2.5 hour paddle in a very gray and dismal-looking, but calm, Bay. Cathy worked at the bookstore.

Monday, December 10

Another gray, chilly day. Cathy was supposed to have the day off, but the boss called with a sick kid, so Cathy had to go to work. I spent most of the morning trying to find a campground for us to stay in during the Orange Bowl. I finally got a site at Grice RV Park in Hollywood, FL. I worked on the Water's Edge Motel's version of the email enhancement of the motel registration program. In mid-afternoon, I walked to the bookstore via the canal, picked up a check for Grice RV Park from Cathy and then went to the post office to send it via priority mail.

Tuesday, December 11

I got up a bit before the alarms went off at 5:00 AM. The morning was cool, in the mid 40s, with a light wind. I brought my fishing stuff to our neighbor Tom's truck at 7:00 AM and we headed to the marina. As soon as we had loaded the boat with our gear, Tom discovered a gas leak which ended our fishing trip before it started. Tom and I were ready to fish, so Tom suggested that we try a party boat. Tom had never been out on a party boat, so I recommended the Miss Chris as a boat that I'd had several good trips on. We went over to the dock and climbed on the boat with about 12 other anglers. The mate, Jim, told us to buy 4 eels each in the store and said that he had clams, but that we should rig a casting rod with a bucktail. I had to rerig both of my fishing rods because I had chosen to put a bucktail on my drifting rod and a "sand eel" metal lure on my casting rod. The captain decided to spend the 8 hour trip chasing birds on a 48 mile cruise. This was a great fishing trip, second only to to a trip on the same date seven years earlier. The trip was constant fishing action all day long. There were lots of birds, Gannets and gulls, working over large schools of Peanut Bunker with stripers feeding on them. The boat must have landed over 100 stripers, with 8 keepers and most others in the old "slot" range of 24-27 inches. I had a great position on the boat with room to cast my bucktail into the masses of diving birds and thrashing fish. I didn't count, but I must have caught a dozen stripers, including one 28 inch keeper. I caught a few under the boat, right near the bottom. At one stop, I had 3 fish flopping on the deck before we headed to the next location. When I got home, I called Jim and asked him if he wanted the striper filets. Cathy was working until after 9:00 PM, so we couldn't enjoy the fish while it was fresh. Jim came over to get the fish and to take a look at some pictures of our grandkids. I prepared lentils and rice for my dinner and view the "Bourne Ultimatum" with the sound up high so that I almost thought I was on the run with Jason Bourne. Cathy came home for a late dinner.

Wednesday, December 12

It was another cool, kind of windy day. We picked up our RV from storage and brought it to Cape Camping to get our TV cable connection fixed. I did some chores outside the house because the weather is supposed to turn worse soon. I decided I better finish up the work on the Wildwood motels' registration program and did complete it by around 7:30 PM. Cathy was working at the bookstore. I faxed Dolphin Stadium to reserve a parking spot for the RV at the Orange Bowl. I prepared red beans and rice for my dinner. When Cathy came home a bit after 9:00 PM, we watched the Republican debate. It was a weak performance for everyone except Ron Paul.

Thursday, December 13

We finally got back to the gym for a step aerobics class. Katie was subbing for Gloria and did a great class. Our former aerobics instructor, Carol Ann, was there and I asked for a hug. After class, I talked with Ed Kline about the fishing trips on Saturday and Tuesday. When we got back home, we got a call that the RV was ready, so we went to pick it up. I hooked it up with power and positioned it for loading. Tim, our exterminator arrived to look things over. He promised to set up some bait boxes to help keep mice away this winter. After lunch, I went out and washed the RV in the rain. I was bundled up and didn't mind the cold and moderate wind. We picked up Fran and Jim Lewis and then met Joy and Tom Brozka at Alfe's in Wildwood for our annual meal out with the neighbors.

Friday, December 14

We went back to the gym where Cathy did an interval class while I lifted weights, walked the treadmill, and rode the stationary bike. I talked with Paula and Ed Kline about fishing. When we got back home I made some phone calls: Grice Campground, to see if they received our check (yes); Dolphin Stadium, to see if they received my fax (yes); Water's Edge Motel, to set up a visit (Tuesday at 10:00 AM); and Imperial 500 Motel, to set up a visit (call Jim Johnson at 9:00 AM Monday). After an early lunch, I went with our neighbor Tom down to his boat. He and I removed all of the lines and moved the boat to the Lower Township boat ramp where it was trailered by the place that provides winter storage for it. I was back home by 2:30 PM. I went into the RV and scraped some paper residues off of the windows. Then I wrapped Christmas presents for Phil. I ate red beans and rice for dinner and watched TV until Cathy got home a bit after 9:00 PM. We both spotted a mouse running around the living room. I set a trap overnight.

Saturday, December 15

I got up around 6:00 AM and dumped the dead mouse over the steps onto the driveway. Later in the morning, we went to the gym to repeat Friday's workouts. We stopped at Big Lots on the way back to pick up some plastic storage containers for the RV. When we got back home, I put on the furnace in the RV to ward off the cold temperature and headed out to Ace Hardware to buy 4 more mouse traps and some other items. For several hours, we worked on packing and organizing the RV. I installed an outside thermometer so we can tell when the roads will be treacherous from ice. Also, I reinstalled the Sirius Radio and our GPS navigator. During dinner, a mouse ran between my legs. I happened to be looking down and saw the mad dash for the couch. I laughed and laughed and then set the other 4 traps for a total of 5.

Sunday, December 16

I got up at 6 and checked the traps. The mouse or mice had cleaned the peanut butter off of 4 of the 5 traps, but didn't trip any of them. I rebaited and reset the traps before breakfast. I dropped Cathy at work at 9:45 AM and went to Big Lots to get a shower caddy for the RV. We were in the light rain, light wind phase of the nor'easter. I moved the RV to the back of the house for protection from the heavy wind to come. I was able to load the grill into the storage area of the RV before the heavy wind started. I drove to the gym shortly before 3:00 PM and did a weights, bike, and treadmill workout for an hour. I picked up Cathy at 4:00 PM. We bought me a replacement Bluetooth headset at Radio Shack to replace the one that I seem to have lost. Then we shopped at ACME. We went to dinner at the Blue Pig in Cape May and enjoyed some good seafood. We caught another mouse while we were out. Later, we viewed "Super Bad" - a great opposite of a chick flick. I McLoved this film, which reminded me of a male-oriented "American Graffiti."

Monday, December 17

It was blowing a gale overnight and in the morning (and all day). I went over to Jim Johnson's house to install the email enhancement for his motel, Imperial 500. Because he has Vista on his laptop, installation was an adventure in Microsoft's bad engineering and configuration management. I got the job done after almost 3 hours. When I got home, I drove Cathy to work. After lunch I made phone calls and online arrangements for mail forwarding and newspaper stopping. I went over to the gym for the 5:30 PM step aerobics class taught by Katie. I had a good sweaty workout. I stopped a WaWa for a hoagie on the way home. During dinner, I watched the "Extras" special. I liked it much better than the show. The wind abated during the late evening.

Tuesday, December 18

It was 31 degrees when I got up at 5:15 AM. I took out the trash before breakfast. I drove over to Water's Edge Motel to meet with Diane Rainelli and install their version of the email enhancement. She informed me that they've decided not to do it. This was after they had agreed to the enhancement and I had done all of the work. So, $1200 down the drain for me. When I returned home from the futile trip to Wildwood, Tom from next door was there, delivering plug-in coffee mugs for us as a travel gift. Cathy worked at the bookstore. I went to the gym for a late afternoon workout and then picked up a hoagie.

Wednesday, December 19

I got up early and began a long day of work preparing the RV for the road. I dropped Cathy at the bookstore and then tried to pick up our double kayak from one of Cathy's coworker's house, but she was asleep. I went back home and flushed and filled the fresh water tank and dumped the waste tanks. Then I went back to pick up the double kayak. I attached it securely to the XTerra, and taped the straps so they wouldn't bang around while driving. I attended to the scores of details around the RV and the house until it was time to pick up Cathy at 5:00 PM. We did a few more chores and then went to pick up Jim and Linda for our annual dinner out. We enjoyed our meals at the Blue Pig in Congress Hall. We got home at about 10:00 PM.

Thursday, December 20

I got up early again, ate breakfast, and put on the dishwasher. When I checked my email, I had an unexpected surprise (sorry, Doug Hofstadter), an email from 2 of my first and best ever students from Shippensburg University, Tom and June Cook. They are into kayaking, so maybe we'll get together on the water someday. We made final preparations for our exit for the winter. We left at 10:15 AM with me driving the RV and Cathy following in the XTerra. We ate lunch in Commodore Coffee Shop up near the bridge. I left the steps out, so when I went though the toll booth, I could hear them scraping. After the bridge, I found a hatched area to pull over and put in the steps. We made it the rest of the way to Katie and Tom's in Doylestown without incident. We settled in and then picked up Rachel at daycare. Katie and Tom were in NYC for the night. We took a photo of Katie and Tom's Christmas tree. We took Rachel to dinner at Roman Delight. She was very well behaved and enjoyed dinner. I ran the tank heaters overnight since it went down to 28 degrees.

Friday, December 21

We three were up by 7:00 AM and off to Starbucks for breakfast. After breakfast, we dropped Rachel at daycare. Then we went to Alex and Phil's to take Bridget out for a few hours. We went to Concord Mall for a bit of shopping and then to Panera Bread for lunch. I finished with a Cappuccino from Starbucks. We dropped Bridget back at her home and then drove back to Katie and Tom's after a bit of shopping at Giant. Katie and Tom had returned from NYC and they picked up Rachel at daycare. We all went for a spicy dinner at a local Thai restaurant. After dinner, we strolled around Doylestown for a bit, looking at Christmas lights and buying a couple of presents.

Winter Solstice

I awoke at 6:00 AM and went downstairs to work on the computer until the others got up. All of us except Tom went to Starbucks for breakfast. After we returned, we got ready and drove to Alex and Phil's house for present opening. I got a photo of the tree. We spent a very nice few hours there (pics: 1,2,3,4). Everyone seemed to enjoy their gifts. Tom gave me a 3 month subscription to NetFlix, which will be handy in Naples. He also bought me a new Hempy hat for hiking and kayaking and a Virginia Tech sweatshirt for the Orange Bowl. We left shortly after 2:00 PM and headed west and south toward Winchester, VA, where we stayed overnight in the Candy Hill Campground. We had a good drive with moderate traffic and arrived at 6:00 PM. We had a very nice meal of tortellini in the RV. After dinner, we friend a 15 AMP circuit breaker by running the electric heater and the hair dryer (and the computer and TV) at the same time. I thought we had learned this lesson last winter in Shreveport, when we fired the GFI circuit, but I guess we didn't learn anything. The solution for us is to stop using the electric heater at all. Now we have no electrical outlets until we get a replacement for the circuit breaker. Luckily, everything else works.

Sunday, December 23

We knew we were in for a rainy day, so we were in no rush to get started. We finally got on the road, in the rain, at about 7:00 AM. We had breakfast at a Cracker Barrel with the slowest service we've ever. We had rain and fog for most of the day, but made good time regardless. We stopped for lunch at a Subway and ate in the RV. The sun and a clear sky finally emerged when we were entering South Carolina. We stopped for the night at a KOA just north of the Georgia border. I finished the campsite chores as the sun went down and a beautiful moon came up. I rigged up an extension cord through the driver's door to give us 3 electrical outlets, using the splitter I had bought in Doylestown. We had very clear cable TV.

Christmas Eve

We got started back on I85 South after I dumped the gray water tank again and put away the hoses and wires to break camp. We stopped at a Starbucks in Georgia for breakfast. Then we had a leisurely ride to Son Bill and Stacey's house in Cumming, GA. We arrived around 10:00 AM and backed into the driveway. We had some fun with our grandchildren Sarah and Billy for a while and then all of us went out to lunch at Atlantic Seafood. We had a couple of shopping stops to make on the way back, including a visit to the drive-thru window of the largest Starbucks in Georgia. For dinner, I made pasta with onions, raisins, and pine nuts. After dinner, Son Bill bathed Billy, Cathy and I did the dishes, and Stacey and Sarah made placeholder cookies for Christmas dinner (pics: 1,2). I went outside to take a photo of the neighbor's house, with its garish decorations, and a photo of Son Bill and Stacey's house with its more moderate display. The kids set out cookies and chocolate milk for Santa. Then, son Bill read "The Night Before Christmas" to Billy and Sarah. The kids went off to bed and we got out the presents. We watched some of "The Christmas Story" to really get in the mood.

Christmas Day

The day started in a relaxed way. First, we noted that Santa had been here last night. Then, Sarah and Billy found a treasure trove (pics: 1,2,3) under the Christmas tree. Billy's Diego doll decided to take a turn babysitting Bootsie the cat. We had a small breakfast and then brunch later on. I was able to get a great photo of Sarah and Billy in front of the Christmas tree after the turkey flew on its way to the oven. The day was a rainy one, but it didn't matter because nobody wanted to leave the house anyway. The adults all pitched in to help with the kids and with the meal preparation. At 6:00 PM, we sat down to a splendid feast, complemented by a flashy dessert. Clean up of the kids and the meal took a long time, but everybody helped again, so it didn't seem bad. We had a great Christmas celebration!

Wednesday, December 26

I awoke at 6:05 AM and did Monday and Tuesday's crossword puzzles. Then I updated some things on the computer and joined the rest of the folks upstairs for breakfast. I called Twin Lakes RV Park and then Cathy and I drove the RV over there to get propane. The owner showed me how to access the circuit breakers in the RV. We filled the gas tank on the way back and also stopped at the liquor store at Elmo Road. I pulled the back circuit breaker pair and noticed that the switch on the breaker seemed normal. I reinstalled the breaker and it worked! I don't like magic cures, but I'll take this one. Billy got dressed in the "cammos" that we bought for him. We all went to lunch at a pizza shop in Alpharetta. On the way back, we stopped by Lake Lanier and walked around a bit to see how desperately low the water level is (pics: 1,2). We stopped for a bit of swinging on the path. We returned to do some chores around the house. We had a good leftover turkey meal, finishing the holiday victuals. Cathy and I walked around the neighborhood a bit after dinner. Most folks were done with Christmas and kept their outside lights off.

Thursday, December 27

I got up a bit before 6:00 AM and worked (ha!) on the computer for a while before everybody else got up. After breakfast, Cathy, Sarah, and I went to Publix for a shopping expedition. After lunch, I walked 2 laps around the neighborhood. It was warm when the sun came out and I ended up sweating while wearing just a T-shirt up top. Later in the afternoon, we went to a park/playground to kick a couple of balls around. Then, the kids climbed and used the slides in the playground with me providing some high support. I slid on the slides a couple of times. We stopped at Starbucks on the way back home. Stacey and Cathy made lasagne for dinner.

Friday, December 28

I slept in until 7:00 AM. It was supposed to rain most of the day, so we didn't make any outdoor plans. I went with Son Bill to take Billy to the doctor's. He was given another antibiotic to try to clear up his runny nose. Meanwhile, Stacey went for a spa appointment. Cathy and Sarah held down the fort at home. After lunch, I took advantage of the rain to do a waterless washing of the RV. Son Bill and Stacey went out for a casual dinner and a movie. Cathy and I had a good time with the kids, who behaved very well for us.

Saturday, December 29

I got up at 6:30 AM and worked on the computer for a while. We all ate breakfast and noticed that the day was clearing. We loaded the minivan and headed for the YMCA for some swimming for me, Stacey, and the kids. Son Bill walked on the indoor track and Cathy watched the swimming. After the Y, we went to the Mexican Restaurant Cinco for lunch. Then a couple of folks had gelato and I had a cappuccino. We piled back into the minivan and drove to Amicalola Falls while the kids took naps. We stopped at the top of the falls where Tom Leitch and I started our hike to the top of Springer Mountain a few years ago. I walked down the 425 steps and met the other folks at the parking lot at the bottom. We continue the drive back home. The afternoon was lovely so I hauled both Sarah and Billy around the neighborhood in their wagon. Cathy accompanied us for most of the way. Then I filled our fresh water tank in the RV. The four of us went out for a great meal at Killer Creek Chop House in Alpharetta while a couple babysat the kids.

Sunday, December 30

I got up at 6:15 AM and worked on the computer. It was raining pretty hard, which is very good news for this parched area. We all took a ride to Wal-Mart and shopped with 3 carts. Bill and Stacey were resupplying for the week and we were getting the RV ready to roll. When we got back and unpacked everything, I called the Lake Park, GA KOA and made a reservation for tomorrow night. After lunch we worked on taking down the Christmas tree and putting away all of the holiday decorations. Son Bill, Billy, and I went for a men's trip to Dick's Sporting Goods so I could buy a new rainsuit. My old white Columbia suit simply fell apart after years of use. We also stopped at Starbucks while we were out. We had takeout from the Rice Restaurant for dinner. Cathy and Stacey watched an infinitely long DVD of "Pride and Prejudice."

New Year's Eve

I got up at 5:30 AM and put out a mountain of trash at curbside. It was a very foggy morning. We spent a good bit of the morning packing the RV and straightening out the room that we used. All of us went to lunch at the About Thyme restaurant in Alpharetta. We had a good lunch and a last conversation with everybody. We gave Stacey and Billy a quick tour of the RV and then drove south at a little after 1:00 PM. We had light to moderate traffic and made it to the KOA in Lake Park, GA, right above the Florida state line, just before 5:30 PM. Cathy was still suffering with her cold, so we ordered pizza delivered to our RV. Cathy went to bed pretty early. I made use of the free wireless at the KOA and spent some time on the Internet. I watched TV until about 10:15 PM and headed for bed. We were both awakened by a bright flashing light. The rednecks in the trailer next to us were out at the back of their rig, next to our rig, setting off fireworks at 12:30 AM. We slept fitfully at best the rest of the night.

We had another eventful year in 2007 and anticipate an exciting 2008. Read about the beginning portion of the new year in "On the Road 2008".

William G. McArthur