April 28, 2012: We have wine. Our wine. Linda's wine. We have wine. And there're binoculars, wands and soap for bubbles, a dozen beach towels. It's still a week before we leave, but we're starting to stage what has to be put into the Caynenne to transport to the celebration.

May 4, 2012:
Started the day off with a wonderful breakfast at iHop with Anna and family and friend to celebrate her 11th birthday. Lots of presents from The American Girl, naturally, for her gymnastics doll, McKenna.

Around 10:30, as weird black clouds were rolling in, we headed east. Heavy rain pelted us for much of the way downtown, but then let up and we were done with it the rest of the day. Drove about 350 miles to Lexington, KY. Passed through Louisville with all of its bridges across the Ohio. Even though this is Derby weekend, there was relatively no traffic to contend with.

Got to the Hilton Garden Inn near Lexington around 5:30. I used a new app I had called Foodspotting, which really uses diner input rather than a professional rating, per se. We went to Red State BBQ around 7 miles from here. Just a small white building in front of an old-fashioned motel, the kind that’s all in a strip with a door on the parking lot for each room. Very good ribs and brisket. Half-slab was way too much to eat.

May 5, 2012: We left the hotel around 8:30. The theme of the day was rain. Drizzle. Showers. Hard. Deluge. Build an Ark! And the joy of driving through the West Virginia and Virginia mountains in driving rain. Clouds hung down to drape over tree-covered slopes. Everything was like looking through gauze. So, we went 500 miles from Lexington, KY to Mechanicsville, VA (right outside Richmond). Ate dinner at a local Italian restaurant which was filled with those going to their prom as well as a big family celebration. But most of them were done shortly after we arrived and it was really quiet afterward. Staying in a Hampton Inn off of I-295.

May 6, 2012: Got up late. No need to hurry. Only under 200 miles to go today. Cloudy all day until we got to Duck, then it cleared off nicely. Easy drive and took a shortcut to avoid the Norfolk, Hampton Roads area. Picked up our keys at Élan and drove onto the Outer Banks. Ah, so nice to have light traffic! In season, especially on the day that rentals have check out and check in, it’s bumper to bumper up the Duck road. Had a nice lunch at Red Sky Café in Duck, a place where we’ve eaten in the past. Then to Tommy’s (think “Smoke House”) for some milk and, oh, groumet chocolate and strange mustards.

At the house, we made several trips up and down and up and down unloading our car. The house has been refurbished and refurnished by the new owners since we were last here in 2010. Very nice altogether. So, we went onto the deck in the wind to look at the Atlantic, unpacked, took pictures. Nice, nice place.

Had a very nice dinner at Blue Point, our favorite restaurant here. Came home and stood on the deck in the chilly, strong wind and took pictures as the moon rose and cleared the clouds on the horizon.

May 7, 2012: Sun came up about 5:40. I peeked through our bedroom blinds before it rose to see the colors in the sky, and went back to bed. The wind is still here, but not as strong as last night. You just get chilled instead of worrying about being blown over. In the living room, sitting alone, the only sounds are those of the waves coming ashore. I sat in the quiet and read the NYT, ate soe cereal, and had a cup of Joe, well, two cups. Ready for the day!

Today is Marian’s 70th, a special day in all ways. We’ll celebrate by going to Harris Teeter and buying staples and groceries for the days ahead.

Ah, the joys of grocery shopping. First, run around and get stuff that wasn’t on the list. Then start hinting for things that are. Do we need bottled water? More than a dozen rolls of toilet paper? How many boxes of cereal, kinds of milk, cheese? The bananas look a bit ripe, but let’s get two. And so on until we checked out with five filled bags and tote bags and other loose stuff like the toilet paper.

At the house, I made lunch and coffee. Then a wonderful basket of goodie arrived from Tommy’s sent by Jill, Janice, and Ira. Time to get on the deck to sun, wind or no wind. We kept in touch with Linda and Tom after they landed in Norfolk and they got here about 4:30. We had some snacks and talked until it was time to go to dinner.

Ate at Ocean Blvd. Bistro, same place we ate with the family for my birthday. Elegant dinner. Our waitress had just completed a boot camp over a couple of weeks, had run 6 miles today, and was full of energy. Good for her! Came back to the house. I consulted my app on when the moon was going to rise, and was outside with tripod and camera at the ready as it peeked over the horizon. Much more yellow-orange tonight than last night, but still almost a full moon, just an edge in shadow.

May 8, 2012: I got up at 5:30 and went up on the deck to take pix of the pre-sunrise colors. Not as dramatic as the ones we have seen, but still wonderful. Back to bed and up a bit after 7:00. After breakfast, Linda, Tom, and I took a walk on the beach for an hour. Empty. Just a handful of people, a couple of guys trying to catch fish in the surf. Tide was coming in, so we decided to head back home.

Lunch was at Red Sky Café. Then shopping at the hammock store, Wharfside Shops, and Tommy’s market before coming home to sit on the deck and soak up some more sun.

Dinner tonight is here; we’ve eaten out quite a lot and I’ll be glad to have food at home tonight. I did the cooking, Tom did the clean up. Mild night, so the doors are open to let in the ocean-scented breeze. Didn’t stay up for moon rise tonight.

May 9, 2012: Another lazy day. Some clouds have been rolling in, and there’s a chance of rain. Tom and Linda went to a bird sanctuary for the morning while we stayed here and mostly just sat on the deck or inside when we got too hot. Linda got some fresh clams for dinner on their way back. The four of us had lunch at The Duck Deli and BBQ. Then we dropped Marian back at the house and went to Harris Teeter for dinner supplies. The news continues to be upsetting with Lugar’s loss in Indiana and the amendment against same-sex marriage passed in North Carolina.

Jane and Jim arrived around 4:00. The six of us had a very nice dinner about 6:30 and Donna and Jackie rolled in about an hour later … we saved food for them. And they had driven through horrendous rain most of the way … which followed them east so it’s raining here now. Hopefully it’ll all blow out to sea by the morning. So, with Margie coming tomorrow we’ll be a full house. Wonderful to be with such great friends.

May 10, 2012: Eight of us now, nine later today. Some of the group went walking or running around 8:00. Donna and Jackie then fixed waffles for the crew. Lots of fresh berries, bananas, nuts, granola, too. We’re sort of off in different directions today. DK and JR are heading to Norfolk to pick up Margie. Jane and Jim will go to Harris Teeter for supplies for dinner. Marian, Linda, and Tom are out to the post office and some shopping.

 The storm is gone. It’s clear and sunny. Dolphins are feeding in the waves just offshore. Looks like a good day for a long walk on the beach. There’s a stiff wind blowing. In the afternoon, a man on the beach flies a kite that buzzes as he puts it through its paces. We sit on the deck or inside and read books, eat lunch.

The afternoon is filled mostly with reading. Donna and Jackie return from the Norfolk airport with Margie. Now the gang is complete. I finished “The Hunger Games” in one full reading today. Jim fixed dinner, a delicious fish stew. A jigsaw puzzle comes out and by the time the evening is over its edges are finished about 3” deep. We listen to music over the TV cable, the second day with no TV itself. Nice change.

May 11, 2012: Got upstairs about 8:00. Linda, Donna, and Jackie were working on the jigsaw puzzle, Jane and Tome reading, bright sun coming in the windows, calm sea outside. Donna fixed a wonderful frittata for all of us. About 9:00, LP, TK, and I headed south for our 170 mile round trip all the way down to where the ferry takes you to Okracoke Island.

We parked at a couple of spots along the way and hiked to the shore over loose sand only to find that the beaches were closed due to bird nesting. Found a few where one we could walk and Tom and Linda could look for birds. Stopped for lunch in Avon at Dirty Dick’s. Then headed farther south to Buxton and the Hatteras lighthouse. Didn’t climb it, though. Hey, $7 a person and it’s like climbing 12 stories. Yowee! Then back to a beach that Tom had found out was open for walking, birding. Next stop was Bodie Island lighthouse where they looked at birds and I wandered around the facilities. It’s still under renovation as it was two years ago when Robin and Mark saw it. Got back home about 5:30. Total driving time about 4 ½ hours.

Linda, Tom, Marian, and I went to Blue Point for dinner. Another great meal. And the sunset over the sound was beautiful. Back at the house, the gang had finished the first jigsaw puzzle.

May 12, 2012: I got up at 5:20 to go onto the deck to take pix of the pre-sunrise colors. Then back to bed until 7:00. Donna and Jackie fixed French toast with cheese on top. Yummy. Today, Jane and Tom are going birding. Others of us will go to the fish market at Harris Teeter to stock up on food for tonight and tomorrow night.

The early run was Donna, Linda, and me for gasoline, soft shell crabs and crab meat and a tomato pie, gelato, and coffee drinks. Then back for reading. The sea is very still today. Even though it’s only in the mid-70s, it’s really hot out on the deck. Then lunch here. Jackie and Donna headed out to Harris Teeter while the remaining folks sat reading or playing with their devices. Yes, we are left to our own devices.

Puzzle #2 starts around 3:00 with Linda, Jackie, Marian, and Donna sorting out the pieces – Voice of the City – Great White Way Interpreted. While the water remains quiet, it’s cooler as the day goes on.

When Jane and Tom came back, Donna and Jackie started preparing dinner with help from others. Around 6:00 we congregated on the deck for group portraits. Then it was a crab cake dinner followed by gelato and puzzle assembly. It was an early evening for all with the living area cleared out of all but Margie and me before 10:00.

May 13, 2012: Jane beat me to the deck at about 5:30 AM, but I was followed closely by Donna and Jackie, and, when Jane pointed out lots of dolphins in the waves, Margie ran up – her first sighting of dolphins. Got some really nice sunrise shots – clouds today to give some texture to the colors and to reflect them upward and down onto the sea.

Linda, Donna, and Jackie went for a bike ride. Tom walked on the beach past the Corp of Engineers pier. Jane went to church. I worked on pix, brewed coffee, ate breakfast, and read the NYT. When all returned and it was approaching noon, Donna and Jackie fixed eggs and pancakes. Yum.

About 12:30, we piled into two cars and drove north to the Currituck Lighthouse. Always fun to climb up its steps and stand outside … today quite windy. Wandered around the grounds for a while. Then headed north to where the road ends and onto the beach (at least I drove onto the beach, while DK/JR didn’t) to see if we could find wild horses. Pretty beach. Soft sand. No horses we could see.

Back at the house, it was another afternoon of leisure. Linda fixed most of dinner. Tom and I grilled the soft shell crabs. Wonderful! What a treat. Then it was puzzle time for most of the crew trying to finish puzzle #2. Dessert is Linda’s fresh short bread biscuits covered with strawberries and blueberries and vanilla ice cream. And the puzzle is finished … it was a hard one. Again, all to bed fairly early. Tom, Linda, Margie leave tomorrow.

May 14, 2012: 
We all got up around 6:30 to be with Linda, Tom, and Margie before they left for the drive to Norfolk. Everyone congregated on the deck to watch several dolphins rolling and feeding near the shore. Mid morning, DK and JR fixed eggs with leftover crab, potatoes, pancakes, French toast, veggie sausage … it was enough to eat!

Marian went out shopping and I took a two-hour walk on the beach down to the Corp of Engineers pier and back. While I ate a late lunch, Marian, Donna, and Jackie worked on a picture board for AA’s 80th party when we get back. After processing my morning’s pictures, I had a long talk with one of the people going to NZ in the fall. Others read or napped.

Dinner was at the Roadside Bar and Grill, just to the south of Red Sky Café. Really nice dinner and pretty reasonable … and they have vegetarian entrees. Then puzzle #3 got started.

May 15, 2012: Hard rain overnight, then clearing this AM (hot and steamy), and then clouding over. All morning the puzzle gang of four were clustered around the dining room table working. No one is going to do much today given the chancy weather. And it’s Jane and Jim’s last day here as well. The group continues to dwindle a few at a time.

Spent some time on the phone with Intuit regarding QuickBooks. I received an email from them that our subscription had run out, but knew it hadn’t. So, after a futile try at logging in online, I called customer service. First time it was the wrong department. Then I had to sort my way through a confusing set of “push x if …” choices. Finally got a nice representative (after a wait) who told me faulty emails had been sent out and they were aware of this, trying to fix it, and our account was fine. Whew.

Heavy rain starting midday. The puzzle people work on, undisturbed by the weather – perhaps encouraged since being outdoors is fairly soggy. Jane and Jim headed out mid-afternoon to the fish market and Harris Teeter for dinner fixings and supplies. That’s about as exciting as anything today, besides the fixation on puzzle #3.

Jim fixed a wonderful dinner that included a homemade fruit tart. Between dinner and eating the tart, puzzle #3 was finished. Jane brought gifts for the three birthday girls. And all went to bed quite early.

May 16, 2012: Jane and Jim left about 9:30. Now it’s Jackie, Donna, Marian, and me. Gray day, drizzling. Morning spent writing postcards, for those of us who still use the USPS for communication. And, of course, dolphin sightings. Jackie said they saw a mother and baby earlier this AM.

The ladies went shopping midday while I had lunch here. Sun came out around 2:00 although it’s still hazy. Then it was reading most of the afternoon – even me, a book narrated by a dog – part terrier, too boot.

Dinner at Lifesaving Station at Sanderling Inn. It’s Jackie’s birthday! Lovely evening. To bed early again. Seems like a pattern.

May 17, 2012: Misty, rainy morning. Stayed gray almost all day. More predicted for tomorrow. Donna and Jackie headed south to Roanoke Island. We stayed here for massages from the same therapist we had in 2010 – wonderful! After lunch here, we went food shopping for tonight. I have been reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” Yes, two books in one trip (other was “The Hunger Games”). Wonderful book. I cried a lot. Dinner here. Either ate or pitched leftovers.

The sea is very high. Waves are coming ashore up the to the dunes to our south. No rain here, but heavy wind and big surf. It’s foamy white well away from shore.

And Donna and Jackie leave tomorrow AM. So, we’ve gone from two to four to eight to nine to six to four and now to two.

May 18, 2012: Still windy and chill this morning. Lots of bright sun reflections on rows and rows of waves. Not as wild as last night, but still quite a sea. Donna and Jackie were up early to pack and left here about 9:30. Marian is on the side deck out of the wind doing word games while I wander in and out to take pictures.

Around noon, we went into Kill Devil Hills for lunch at Awful Arthur’s and then did some minimal shopping in Duck before coming back for more trying to sit outside, wandering in and out to take pictures, and then one of us took a nap on the sofa. The wind and waves continued all day. There were gusts that hit the house so hard it shook.

Nice dinner at Aqua. Good food, a bit noisy. Then back for some TV and bed.

May 19, 2012: Got up at 5:20 and froze out on the deck to take some pix of sunrise. I had to retreat into the house several times. Oh, I was barefoot. Did have a jacket on over my robe, though. Slept for another couple of hours and then a HOT shower. First day I’ve had to wear a sweatshirt. Wonderful leftovers for breakfast. Needed to break out the small coffee maker since the big one went kaput.

Went out on the beach around 11:00 with Marian and her beach chair. Not the best day for sunning, but perfect for the ocean with its waves. Ate leftovers and chix salad for lunch. Got some soft shell crabs for dinner along with balance of leftovers. Everything perishable has to go down our gullets or into the garbage before we leave.

Even though it’s been chilly over the last couple of days, watching and hearing the waves and surf from dawn through darkness has been a wonderful treat. There are waves and waves and waves going out a hundred yards or more and then whitecaps all the way to the horizon. The colors keep changing with sun and clouds and time of day. Sand has been stirred up the first couple of hundred yards from the beach giving the water a brown tinge while farther out it’s green/blue and then just blue. And tonight, after dinner, as the sun set, the whites of the waves turned pale yellow.

Off to Durham tomorrow AM. Been a wonderful two weeks in this house. Want to return!

May 20, 2012: Got up at 7:00 and cleared out of the house by 9:00. Lots of last minute getting things out of the refrigerator and deciding what to take, what to trash. Seems somehow that we have more stuff to take home than we did coming down. The trunk area is filled. Overflow is on the back seat.

Took 158 north to drop off the keys at Elan and then west towards Durham. The car’s trusty GPS with its 2005 or 2006 database got confused when it showed we were driving where the database thought there were no roads. This happened around Rocky Mount and then again as we approached the Raleigh-Durham area. I had also programmed an app on my iPhone to take us to Pru/Richard’s house so had Marian consult it from time to time when the GPS thought we were lost.

I loved its instruction to “Follow the arrow on the display” when the display showed we were not on a road and the arrow pointed in the opposite direction than the way we were heading. Would be nice to get an updated database, but they want about $500 just for the DVD! Forget about it.

Had lunch in Rocky Mount at a modern diner. Good food. Pulled into the Meyer driveway about 2:30. Gorgeous neighborhood and wonderful house. They have recently sold all of their old furniture, much of it from her mom’s houses, so the house is especially bare of chairs. It’s why, I think, we’re going out for dinner each night we’re here.

As we got out of our car, a got a call from American Express security who wanted to verify a charge that their system thought bogus. It was. Someone had used my number to charge a bit over $100 at a Home Depot in New York about 15 minutes before the call to me. An agent read down the list of other charges, but they were all ones I had made. But, as usual, they had to cancel my current cc number and send me a new card. I don’t use my Amex card online at all. So, I wonder what database from where I’ve charged something has been hacked or how the number was harvested. Good security system to pick this up with one odd place/charge.

Laura, Pru’s older daughter arrived a bit after 6:00. What a treat to meet her. 25 and living on her own with a job waiting tables. Doing well. And so we drove off in one of the Meyers’ new Priuses, the station wagon model.

Dinner was at Fearington House, where we had stayed in 2002. It’s about a half an hour from home. As we were sitting in the bar area waiting for our table, we saw two brides outside. After first thinking it was a double wedding, we realized (and it was confirmed by staff) that the two women were being married. Nice to see that in the face of the horrible amendment the citizens of this state just passed regarding same-sex marriage.

Three-course price-fixed feast ensued. With the wine and food, we were stuffed. We “dined” – about 3 hours overall. Don’t know how Pru held it together to drive us home. I slept in the back seat.

It’s really special being here with Pru, Richard, and Laura. As always, being with them is so natural and pleasant. And there are three dogs and a cat. And it’s cool enough that the windows are open all day and night.

May 21, 2012: Didn’t do much in the morning. Left house with Pru near noon to go to Phidoux, a dog store nd a nearby vinegar and olive oil store.. Then a drive through Chapel Hill ending up at the Mediterranean Café for a nice lunch, although a bit late given our dinner reservation time tonight. We walked a bit and then Pru took us way south of town where she first lived here with Peter. Then back to the house for a rest before dinner.

Nice dinner at a French restaurant in Chapel Hill. Then home where we all looked at the OITF site and Pru and Richard booked tickets for them and their children to join all of us in the Louisville area in October. Yeah. Anther family event.

 May 22, 2012: Lovely breakfast conversation with Pru. Around 10 something, we left with her to get cat food, litter, go to her art workshop to pick up some of her ceramics that had been fired, and lunch at a traditional NC BBQ place. There a plate of BBQ is pulled pork. And a vinegar-based sauce. Really good stuff. No ribs. No chicken. BBQ is pulled pork. Drove around and saw Durham Academy where Richard teaches. Then home for the afternoon. Made some reservations for OITF in the fall. Always like to plan ahead!

We’re going to eat in tonight. Nice soup Pru made and a chopped salad from Richard. Had planned to eat at restaurant where Laura works, but just been out too much for everyone.

May 23, 2012: Got up at 7:00 and were on the road by 8:20. Nice ride through North Carolina. Had lunch at the Corner Kitchen in Asheville (Robin and Mark recommended) and looked at the art in the old F. W. Woolworth building downtown – stalls of local artists. Then off eastward through the mountains, past Knoxville, and a bit south to Kingston, TB and the Whitestone Country Inn.

Beautiful, large grounds with a chapel that seats 200 but only 22 guest rooms. Since this is in the middle of nowhere, interesting place for a wedding. So, a school house to check in. Then the large Farm House (which has most of the accommodations, dining room, spa. There’s a pond. And the property sits on the shores of a 1,000 acre lake.

Dinner is promptly at 6:30 and the innkeeper gives some welcoming remarks and a prayer before the food was served. Very friendly. Visited each table to talk. Sat outside for a while after dinner until near sunset and then retreated from the mosquitoes. Very nice room, well equipped. 

May 24, 2012: Breakfast is at 8:30. There is a huge buffet table with biscuits and gravy, fruit, cereal, turnovers, oatmeal, muffins. Then the serve you a plate from the kitchen with French toast, omelette, and sausages. Yikes. On the road about 9:15 but gain an hour today. Lunch in Clarksville, TN at Logan’s. Clear driving until we got near Mt. Vernon and then had two half-hour construction delays and another one in St. Louis right after crossing the Mississippi. Picked up some dinner. Wendy brought Sabrina home. We unpacked. THE END


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