Sunday, July 31, 2011

Perfect Providence

Wow. We are having a FANTASTIC time in Providence.  Yesterday was a crazy fun-filled day which included ukulele shopping, dancing, good food, and woodworking.  What a combination, eh? 

I love it here, and it's the first time I've really experienced big city life.  The architecture of the houses to the old mills just fascinates me.  I also enjoy the different cultures and people watching.  Love zooming around town in Melanie's Mini Cooper!

Breakfast at the Modern Diner.  During the week, this classic diner (in a rail car) serves up standard diner fare, but on the weekends...the menu explodes with items such as blueberry stuffed french toast, strawberry crepes, grilled polenta with italian sausage, and homemade hash folded into a fluffy omelette.  I had the philly cheesesteak omelette, and Emil opted for the lobster benedict.

We stopped in at Sylven's furniture workshop in a renovated mill.  Impressive space with mouth-drooling tools (thinking of you, Troy Wise!).

Sylven and Melanie at the shop.  Clamps galore behind them.

Lots of wood and a Powermatic 66 table saw with a Powermatic European-style sliding crosscut table
Next, we stopped in at Woodcraft to see Walter, one of Emil's longtime friends.  He does AMAZING carvings.  Yes, these are all made out of wood.

Basketball is regulation size and weight!

The jerseys have carved wrinkles
Shopping:  I did buy a ukuele, so I'll post pics of it later.  I'm thankful to Sylven for the lessons.  Looking forward to learning "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons and "You and I Both" by Jason Mraz.

Melanie plays flute in this super fun marching band, Extraordinary Rendition Band.  They played at Wooley Fair.  Theme was "To the Moon."  We helped carry in their "moon buggy" as we walked thru the crowd towards the stage.  Tons of people followed us to dance, sing, and boogy down.  Check out Melanie's costume!

Melanie and Sylven

Glitter Galore

Love their energy!
Big Nazo is the most unique bands I've ever seen, and they played on the main stage.  I can't even begin to describe the puppets.  Imagine a cross between The Muppets, aliens, and your wild imagination.

Pic is blurry, but you get the idea!

Today is Sunday, and we're in a food coma from The Modern Diner (yep, again).  I had an lovely omelette filled with pesto, fresh spinach, tomatoes, caramelized onions, tomatoes and feta cheese.  Emil opted for the blueberry stuffed french toast.  We are going mountain biking at Big River next.  MUST work off all this good food.

Friday, July 29, 2011

On the road again

Okay, yes I was a little burnt out on camping after the reunion in Kentucky.  There were so many flies all over every time we made a meal.  And, we saw skunks every time we ventured out in the middle of the night for a bathroom run.  AND, a raccoon tried to come over and join us for dinner.

But, we set out on Wednesday for another adventure, and I sucked it up.  On our way to Providence, Rhode Island, we saw lots of cornfields in northeastern Ohio and tall trees in Pennsylvania.  We camped at a nice state park outside Harrisburg with free hot showers.  Woo Hoo!  It was not crowded at all, so we had a nice campsite right across from the bathrooms.  Black bear warning signs were posted everywhere, and I was glad to wake up in the morning, not having been a bear's midnight snack.  No skunks were seen either.

We made a slight detour to Hartford, Connecticut to tour Mark Twain's home.  It was a good tour, and our tour guide spoke in a dramatic voice complete with gestures.

They had a museum with a special Norman Rockwell exhibit full of sketches that he did for Mark Twain's novels.  I highly recommend the tour.  Next to Twain's home is Harriett Beecher Stowe's home, available for tours too.  We didn't make it there this trip, but my Dad has been on that tour and really liked it.  Interesting factoid:  Twain went bankrupt, despite being an up and coming author.  He paid off his debts and made lots of money by moving to Europe and doing book readings.

Now, we are staying with friends in Providence, Rhode Island.  They have a GORGEOUS house with many thoughtful details.  Lots of beautiful flowers in their backyard. 

I've never lived in a "big" city before, so it's interesting to learn about city life.  Our friends have groceries (including fresh milk, local greens, and breads) delivered right to their house.  Last night, we had a wonderful dinner cooked by Matt, who is in Emil's circle of friends here.

The library

Grilled chicken, shrimp and potatoes!

Matt, the amazing chef.  His fav cooking show is Anthony Bourdain's.
After dinner, Matt strummed his guitar, while others played ukuleles.  It was great fun!  Their songs ranged from Sublime, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz to Ingrid Michelson and Iz's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

This morning, we worked on one of their properties to flip and tore out some steps.  It was fun skills needed (thankfully for me).

The "Before" Picture

The "After" Picture
 After breakfast tomorrow at The Modern Diner, we'll finish the demolition, cut grass, and haul away all the debris.  I'm so glad the weather is a little cooler here.  They are calling for thunderstorms this afternoon.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ohio and Family Reunions

We're having a great time in Ohio!  Helping out with home projects (building supports in the old barn for firewood, installing towel racks, hanging a clothesline, splitting firewood), eating ice cream and visiting with family.  My brother and his family have an impressive garden, and I love harvesting vegetables and fruit from it.  When we came home from the reunion in Kentucky, I picked a bucket full of cucumbers, bell peppers and lots of huge zucchini.

In addition to the three fish tanks, bearded dragonl (Leo), two cats (Flash and Tiger), duck (Donald) and his wild duck companion, and gerbil (Whiskers), they have a new addition.  Bailey, the cutest dog ever!  He is half German Shepherd, half Rottweiler.

12 weeks old and absolutely adorable
The Jones Family Reunion was a good time.  It was nice to see relatives whom I haven't seen in over 15 years.  Everyone looks the same!  Emil said I was at a disadvantage (being Korean) because everyone knew who I was.  There are three brothers and three sisters on my Mother's side of the family.  I have 13 first cousins from their brood.  Most of the family lives near Ohio, so the reunion was held at Lake Barkley, Kentucky.

At breakfast on the last day, I asked Ted and family what their favorite part of the reunion was.  Everyone had a different answer.  My favorite part was swimming in the pool and playing board games.  Ted rented a pontoon boat for the afternoon, and we tooled around Lake Barkley and swam.

Kudos to Mother who did a fantastic job organizing the big group of folks.  

Sam doing a jackknife jump

Enjoying the warm lake water

Ted and Aaron

How many times can we hit the ball and keep it in the air?

Uncle Bill, Aunt Joyce and family

Playing Bocce Ball
Camping in a 107 degree heat index.  I didn't complain at all!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Best Ice Cream Ever

Yes, I've been complaining about the hot weather here in Cincinnati.  Typical me.  However, there is a silver lining to being here, other than hanging with my family.  Aglamesis Brothers Ice Cream.  We stopped in there on the way to pick up my Grandma for dinner the other day.  Then, we went back the next day.  I would've been there every day since, but my sister in law made a delicious Derby Pie that we've been enjoying.  And today, I made a Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake to go along with dinner, as my Uncle Ron is coming over.

My plan is to go there next week and the week after.  Actually, as much as possible.  My favorite flavor is the Banana Chocolate Chip.  Throw on some hot fudge, and just dig in.  Emil likes a scoop of the Fresh Banana and a scoop of the Dutch Chocolate.  Most folks go for the Black Raspberry Chip.

I'll have to sneak in some exercise between trips to Aglamesis Brothers.

Two Step Sundae (I splurged!)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

KOA - the Hilton of campgrounds

Near Mt. Rushmore is the fanciest KOA I've ever seen.  It should be...$46 for a tent site!  Goodness Gracious!  The check-in  building is two stories high, complete with a concierge desk and a huge gift shop.  Entry into the campground involves passing by two KOA employees and an automatic gate.  Out in the parking lot, there's a row of shops which sell fudge, wine, souvenirs, and food.  Pretty swanky! 

Fudge, wine, coffee and more at KOA Mt. Rushmore

Side view of Mt. Rushmore

We didn't stay here...too expensive for our taste.  Ended up at Horsethief Campground just down the road for $23.  No showers, no stores, no fudge.  *Sniff Sniff*

Here are the promised pictures from Little Bighorn Battlefield:

Site of Custer's Last Stand

Markers for fallen soldiers.  Indian bodies were taken away after the battle, so no accounts of how many perished.

Iowa is flooded in several places.  It's amazing the highway was still open in some places.

Now, we are having a grand ol' time in Ohio with my brother and family.  We've done some fun projects around the farm, eaten some delicious food, and fished in their pond for blue gill, carp, and bass.

Emil's first bass on a flyrod

Baby coon in the tree

My bluegill and Aaron

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spokane and More

We rode the gondola in Spokane over the falls.  It was a fun ride!  We both really enjoyed our time in Spokane...could easily live there.  Very friendly folks and a small town feel with all the amenities.

After two days in Spokane, we quickly moved on.  Our second night in Montana, we camped at the Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park and took the tour.  Quite interesting!  The caves were a lovely 50 degrees, which was a nice respite from the hot sun and camping on the grasslands.  We saw bats, stalagmites, stalagtites, and had a corny tour guide.

View from hiking one mile up before entering the caverns

Inside the caverns
The campground was nice and big, but no hot water for showers.  Took us two times to learn this fact and lost $4 in the interim.  Finally used the sink outside to wash my hair.

I am really looking forward to an untimed shower that doesn't cost $2.  Three minutes in a shower goes by so quickly!

We camped the next night at Yellowstone River Campground, outside Billings, Montana.  It was the most expensive campground yet...$30, but clean untimed showers.  Our site was overlooking a flooded river usually 15,000 cubic feet per second.  It was running at 51,000.  Yikes!  Saw tons of deer, bunnies and pheasants by the river.  The campground was located next to the very first KOA Campground.  We did a quick tour there, and it had a restaurant, two pools, hot tub, huge gift shop, mini golf and more.  All for $36 a night.

Along the route, we stopped at Little Bighorn Battlefield.  I was hesitant at first since I'm not too keen on history, but it was really good.  Ken, the park ranger, gave a fantastic talk about General Custer and the battle.  It is one of the most studied battles in history, and there are 5,000 books written about it.  I'll post some pics later.  Definitely could have spent the morning there, but we were anxious to move on.

Next on the list:  Mt. Rushmore.  We arrived around dinnertime to Custer, South Dakota.  Knowing Mt. Rushmore was only 30 minutes away, we drove up to check it out.  Saw three mountain goats and kids on the backside of Mt. Rushmore.

For those of you who haven't been to Mt. Rushmore, it's impressive, but not very high off the ground.  I pictured something really high that we could see as we drove up.  Anyway....

I have more to tell you about Mt. Rushmore...actually the KOA there, but I have to download a picture to go along with the story.  Will wait till the next post.  Growing up, we camped mostly at KOAs.  Well, this KOA ain't your Daddy's KOA.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Yes, I know the 4th was several days ago, but we haven't had time to log in for awhile and catch up!  We spent the 4th in Forks, WA.  Their celebration is HUGE and lasts four days.  On Day Two, we watched a frog jumping competition.  Pretty entertaining.  The frogs jumped three consecutive times, and then the organizers pulled a tape on the distance.  The little frogs jump much farther than the big ones.  Especially if you place them in the sun on a hot paved tennis court.

That evening, I entered a cribbage tournament.  We played seven games.  It was FAST playing!  I didn't have time to check the counts of my opponents' hands, so I just trusted them.  I won three games out of seven.  Grandpa would've been proud of my breaking up runs, keep an eye on what the other person is playing and always have an ace to hit 31.

For the 4th, we fished for steelhead on the Sol Duc River.  No such luck for either of us, but a friend did give me a casting lesson.  My casting has improved, but I still need lots of practice.  We ended the night with 25 minutes of fireworks and a spectacular finale.

Casting lesson with Gerry Byrnes (Thanks, Jens!)

We hit the road on July 5th and stopped at the Hoh River.  Absolutely gorgeous!  Then, we headed to Clearwater River to fish.  Caught a few super small trout.

Emil at the Hoh River
Hoh River
Ruby Beach

Lighthouse at Ruby Beach

Clearwater River

Now, we are hanging out at the Spokane Library, which has a beautiful view of the Spokane Falls.  They have a tram ride for $7.25 pp, so we may do that tomorrow if time permits.  Our plan is to head east tomorrow and settle down for a few days in Montana to fish.

Our bikes were feeling neglected, so we did a seven mile ride this morning along the Spokane River right by our campground.  It was fun to ride again, despite the 75+ degree temp.  I am melting and mentioned to Emil that we cannot go anyplace where it's warmer than this.  He laughed and rolled his eyes.

Here's our campground:

If you're following this blog, you may have noticed we are still in Washington State, and we left on June 20th.  Do the math for how long we've been gone and factor in the 1000+ miles driven thus far.  It's just too hard to leave!  We enjoyed the San Juan Islands, visited family in Everett, visited a friend in Seattle, drove almost the entire Olympic Peninsula, AND fished four major rivers (Bogachiel, Calawah, Sol Duc, Clearwater)!

Welcome to vacation and no schedules!  Only a few confirmed dates on our upcoming calendar:  A quick hi to all at my Mother's Family Reunion in Kentucky (almost all the family lives in Cincinnati), visit friends who are moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan in August, visit friends in Providence, Rhode Island, catch up with my brother, Tom, on R and R who is coming to Cincinnati to visit my other brother, AND a wedding in Estes Park.

As much as I love the air conditioning at the library, we need to go shopping and restock our supply of tuna, ravioli, peanut butter, and fruit.  Enjoy the day!