Friday, August 26, 2016

Somebody is looking out for you.

There used to be a house here.

Our son Matt and his fiancé Kelley live in a duplex near Madison, WI. Well, they used to live in that duplex. Just 30 minutes after leaving their house to meet us for dinner their home ceased to exist. The house next door to theirs exploded and disappeared. The blast also destroyed their home and trapped their two dogs inside. A wonderful fireman entered their home and dug the two dogs out from the debri and removed them from the cages which likely saved their lives. Thank you Chief Pulvermacher.

Matt and Kelley's house.

The living room and kitchen area of their home - where they normally would have been - was blown apart. Broken glass, debri, drywall and lumber were blasted right through their living area. Someone was looking out for them as just 30 minutes before (or on most any other week night) they would have been right in the middle of the mayhem.

The house that exploded was just to the right in this picture.

Thank you to all the amazing firemen, policemen and emergency workers for their quick and professional response. The house has been deemed unsafe, so Matt and Kelley are not allowed to enter it and retrieve any of their personal belongings. All they have is what they were wearing at the time. Friends have already stopped by with spare clothing, shoes, gift certificates for food and more. What amazing friends they have.

Brenda and I are just thankful that Matt, Kelley and the dogs are safe. All the rest is just stuff.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Visiting Family and Friends

Scott & Penny's Lake House View

We've really enjoyed our time visiting family and friends in Wisconsin. We stayed at Dee's (Mike's mom) house where we were spoiled rotten and fed like visiting royalty. As soon as we waddle home we plan to fast for at least one month to get back to reasonable weights.

Spending time with our family filled some our days (in between Mom's meals) with laughter and fun as we caught up on each other's lives. We had great visits with all three of our children (John, Tina and Matt) along with John's girlfriend Brittnie and Matt's fiancé Kelley. Mike's sister Kim and her husband Roy were in Wisconsin visiting family as well and we met up with them at Mike's younger sister Lisa's home. Lisa and her husband Mike deal in antiques and are in the process of remodeling the living area on the second floor of their building. Lisa has an artist's eye and an amazing ability to create a style all her own. It was fun to see her art in progress.

It is always great to get together with friends you haven't seen in a while and we did our best to see lots of them. Jim & Joni, Scott & Penny, Roger & Kay, Lori & Mario, Susan & Phil, Dan & Michelle, JoEllen & Lance, Kay (Kelley's mom), Carol & Dave, Barb & Jerry, Marcia, Justin, Lisa F., Marion and Helen. We're hoping to visit with a few more friends before our flight home. Whew!

Jim & Joni dancing at Sunset Bar
Kelley., Matt, Brittnie, John, Brenda, Mike, Joni, Dee

Mike's 40th High School Class Reunion was being held while we were in town so we attended that as well. Roughly 50 classmates spent the evening reminiscing and getting reacquainted. So many interesting people leading such diverse lives.

We certainly accomplished our goal of seeing family and friends after our first year of cruising. Taking the opportunity to visit everyone reassures us that we haven't "lost" our friendships due to our absence. It has shown us just how important our extended family is to us. We will certainly miss all of them as we prepare to begin the second year of of our adventure.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Planes, Trains, Buses and Automobiles

Tina and Brenda

I guess we don't do much in the way of "ordinary" any more. Given the fact that we don't have a car or even car insurance any more, we have to get creative when traveling. In order to get from the Carlyle Lake Rendezvous to Madison, we took a unique approach. Steve and Sarah kindly drove us from their house to the Amtrak train station in St. Louis. We stopped at a new brew house for lunch and a final chance to say thank you to our good friends.

Train Station
Boarding Gate

We hadn't taken an Amtrak train before and we were really looking forward to it. We boarded the train for our trip and settled into the quite comfortable seats. They offer more leg room and width than either a bus or airplane which Mike really liked. It was fun and relaxing - maybe too relaxing as Mike fell asleep within minutes of leaving St. Louis. The scenery was interesting and the train's ride was quite smooth. The train offers free wi-fi, but it is slower than our sailboat. Cornfields, trees, towns, graffiti and did we say cornfields kept us entertained as the trip quickly rolled by. Oh yeah, there were cornfields.

St. Louis Arch
Tina playing Giant Jenga

Once we entered Union Station in Chicago we hustled around to make our bus connection to Madison. We were taking the 9:30 p.m. Van Galder bus, so we only had 20 minutes to find the bus stop. We found the unmarked spot only because we remembered where we had picked up this same bus route a couple of years before. Once safely on the bus and crammed into their much smaller seats we relaxed knowing our next stop was back home in Madison, Wisconsin.

Dan, Michelle, Matt, Kelley, Tina

Mike's mom stayed up late to pick us up in her car at midnight. It seemed strange to be "visitors" in what has always been home to us. Mom whisked us home and we all slept like dogs.

Evening on Lake Mendota

Let the feasting begin! Mom is one of those gifted people that can cook and bake amazing food. Neither of us gets too excited about cooking, so it is fun to watch someone talented in the kitchen have so much fun creating food art. We are considering booking an extra seat on our return flight just to carry all the weight we are gaining while we are here.

We excitedly contacted friends and family to make plans for visits. We visited with Mom, our son Matt and his fiancé Kelley and our daughter Tina. We had great visits with several of our friends including Susan & Phil, Michelle & Dan, Penny & Scott, Kay & Roger, Carol & Dave and Joni & Jim. We will also get to meet up with our friends JoEllen & Lance tomorrow. Finally we will visit with Mike's sisters Lisa and Kim and their husbands Mike and Roy. Whew, we sure are making up for lost time.