Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Return to Ortley Beach and Sandy

A team from my church, Iron Faith Fellowship, travelled up to Toms River and Seaside Heights  in late 2012 and came back weekly through to May 2013. We weren't on extended vacations. We came up to work with Samaritan's Purse aiding the victims of Hurricane Sandy. We spent most of our time at Ortley Beach, which was particularly hard hit, being trapped between the ocean and the bay when the storm hit. Waves of waters rushed up there streets from two directions and flood out the homes up to the second floor, if they had a second floor.

This past Thursday, Rick Korwek and I finally revisited the area we worked in to see what had happened since. It the above picture, Rick is the second in from the right. My daughter, Laurel, is second in from the left and I am third from the left.

This is what places looked like when we arrived. Everybody's belongings were piled along the curbs and the inside of the homes were gutted.

Here is how Ortley Beach looked when Rick and I got there on August 1, 2018:

Rick and I tried to find places we had worked on, but could only identify a couple. This one we remembered well.
It was one of the first we worked on. Here you see our team beginning. We were inside taking down wall board, prying up floors and pulling nails everywhere.

The place was a mess.

The photo on the right is the place today.

Rick and I are fairly certain we found this place. It was not healthy to work inside, note the hazmat suits. The place was over in black mold. The lady who owned was desperately trying to save things inside. She had a little art studio, but it was not in good shape. She wanted us to keep all these folders that were in a file cabinet, but they were thoroughly waterlogged and ruined.

We are fairly certain this is the same house, but an upper story has been added. That was her art studio on the left, the area in front of the SUV.

We located the site of one of the other home, right down next to a canal or waterway. Their goods had been carried outside, then swept up in a wave, but finally redeposited in the front yard.

We are certain we had the right lot, but apparently the old home had been torn down and a new house built on the property.

This was the crew working at the place back then on the left. That is Rick in the blue jacket right in the front.
 On the right is the crew on that day.  We were join by another church group from Pennsylvania.

My daughter, Laurel, and I are in the front near the middle. She has long dark hair and I have a white beard. Rick is in the back to second from the left.

We finished our visit in front of this building that was then set up as a food distribution center by the Salvation Army. Today it is vacant. After we were done helping with Samaritan's Purse, we worked in this center for several weeks.

I'm on the left (I was only 71 then), Laurel, Rick and Deb.

On the way home last Thursday, Rick and I had lunch at a restaurant our crews had eaten at a couple times back during this Sandy Cleanup, Quaker State Lube.

These photos were from then. This is where my daughter got her Biker name, Boozer. Everyone else had ice tea or coke, which came in glasses. Laurel ordered a root beer and this is how it looked.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

2018 07 31 Ocean City Md. Trip with Brandywine Senior Center

On the last day of July, Lo and I took a trip to Ocean City, Maryland.There is a video compilation of the photos I took below. We traveled down to this site from the Brandywine Senior Center. We have come to a point in our lives, at least in mine, where this is my preferred way of taking long excursions. I just am not up to two and three hour's of car diving anymore. Not so sure I trust my 10 year old vehicle that much anymore either. I'd rather climb in the Center's bus and let someone else do the driving, specifically Kurt. Kurt is an older gentleman, too; but not so old as the rest of us. He's also a fun guy to have along on these adventures.

We left Claymont at 7:30, made a rest stop at a Wawa in Milford, Delaware and arrived in Ocean City just before 10:30 AM. I think the Senior Center bus might hold up to 17 people and is usually full for trips. You need to sign up near the time the month's excursions are posted or you miss out. That number probably counts Kurt and sometimes, as on this trip a young lady who accompanies us to see all goes well.

The weather forecasts were a big if'y, unsettled as the weather casters call it. It has been this way a couple weeks now and is predicted to continue so for at least a week more. About lower-slower Delaware, as we left Route 1 for 113, the sky was very cloudy and dark, and the rest of the way we drove through one shower after another. Strangely, once we made a right turn into Ocean City, things were very different. Blue sky and no rain over the Boardwalk, beach or ocean. Just had the sun, a very hot sun. We could have used some of the clouds. It was hot, hot, hot and it is a place with no real shade.

Look at the opening pictures and you will see a long stretch of desert. There may be benches along the way, but little escape from the recently heat. The amusement pier you see didn't open until 1:00, not that we planned to go on the roller coaster, or the bunchy ball drop or anything. I'm afraid such thing have receded into our youth. So we spent the remainder of the morning walking. Our risky amusements were dodging the many bicycles, roller skaters, and other faster moving contraptions whizzing by. I was almost taken down by a young lady police officer on a bike. These vehicles were allowed until 11:00, then it became safer.

We passed a fireman statue at a memorial to first responders. There was large banner along the way announcing Jesus at the Beach. I don't think that was the Lord himself putting it up. The is a music and ministry festival, probably similar to the Jammin' for Jesus in Rodney Square later this month.  As you know, I like to take snapshots of scenes about, like the two terns perched, one each, on a couple of poles, and the sand sculptures of Jesus Crucifixion, Last Supper and Resurrection.

After a while and me having a cheeseburger at a ridiculous $10 (didn't even come with fries), we bought all day passes to the tram ($12 for us both, really not a bad deal since you could get on and off and ride until 4:00). You didn't even have to put up with that annoying, "Watch the Tram Car Please" warning every other minute.  The woman ahead of us with the crocheted pick head band was with the group that came down with us.

I don't know why, but in the selfie I took of Lo and I on the tram, I have my right eye closed. I'm not winking at you. Maybe the sun was in my eye.

The gulls and terns were very busy. It was like the Hitchcock's "The Birds". They were along the roofs watching everything and sometimes shrieking loudly. If some dropped something they would swoop down. When I was eating my cheeseburger, a tern stood front of me and stared, trying to make me feel guilty. Sorry, I ate the whole thing.  A young woman in one picture was trying to entice a single tern over to take something from her hand, but soon there were three then four and then more. You'll see in another picture a young girl by the sand surrounded by these bird as she is feeding them something.  One woman came along and had a small piece of bread sh was giving to a small bird. I said, "You get a crowd". She said, Yes, they have been following us along, but I but this beneath these cans and only the little bird can get it."

We were sitting down by the Ferris Wheel and Lo was boiling. I was fearful she would suffer heat stroke. As I noted, no shade anywhere. I went off and found a stand selling bottle water and bought one. It was nice and cold, but cost $2.50. I buy a whole case here at home for around $3. Anyway, Lois liked rubbing the cold against her face, but I could not get the cap open.  I saw a couple coming down the boardwalk and he looked pretty muscular. I walked out to him and asked if he could open the bottle. He probably was thinking, "What's this white guy up to?", but he got the bottle open and his girlfriend or wife explained how to work it. See, very nice people all over the place if you trust them. I am often at the mercy of the kindness of strangers there days. Lots of people reached to help me on and off the tram.

Speaking of the tram, this proved embarrassing. Lo said," It might be cooler if he rode the tram." Yes, it had a roof that provided shade and when it was moving there was a fine little breeze. We had all day tickets, so we hopped back on and off it went. We figured to ride to the end of the line and then back to catch the Senior center Bus at 2:30. It was just after 1:30 when we climbed aboard.

Okay, the Ocean City boardwalk is 2.5 miles long. We got on and road out to the end, at 27th Avenue where there is a station and it turns around. It became two o'clock at about 20th. Lo was getting nervous, but it only had 7 more avenues. We stayed on.

We are in the station, but now it is after 2:00 and it is just sitting there, waiting for people to board and for a break. A man with a cane, not me, got off to go to the restroom, and so we waited. It is getting near 2:15 and no movement. Lo thinks we should get out and walk. We do. We hadn't walked too far ( and neither of us walk very well theses days) when the tram caught up to us, thank goodness. We jumped back on board. I knew there was no way we could have walked 2 or 2.5 miles in 15 minutes.  A couple years back I averaged 15 minutes a mile, but that was pre-ALS. I could even run some then, but there would have been no way I could have made 2.5 miles in a quarter hour. We could only sweat it out.

"Our only hope is not many people want to get on," I said.

We got our hope. Somewhere near 2;30 we were coming up on the amusements. I signed to get off. I clambered down, but Lois was staying on. "No, no, get off," and I tugged her from the car. The tram was about to go up a amp and circle the amusement pier. What Lo didn't understand was the tram did not stop anywhere on the ramp, up or down. I got her off and canned ahead as fast I could through a tunnel on the pier labeled Jolly Roger and waved red-faced to Kurt and the bus. Everyone one was aboard but us. I told Kurt, "She's coming."

We took a bit of razzing, but we didn't get left in Maryland. We may have been 10 minutes behind schedule. I hate to be late for anything. Usually I am early, so this was especially upsetting to me.

But despite this and despite the terrible heat, we still enjoyed the trip.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Our Trip to Maine and Back, 2006

In 1961 Lois and I drove off on our honeymoon. We went through New England, crossed over Ontario, Canada to Niagara Falls, then returned via New York and Pennsylvania. There were no digital cameras at the time. All I had was a Kodak Box Camera and since it was expensive to purchase film and have it developed, I didn't take a lot pictures.

Although we stopped nights in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Canada and New York, we never went into Rhode Island or Maine.  In 2006 we took a second honeymoon and specifically targeted Maine as our main destination, but also made certain we hit Rhode Island. No Canada this time.  By now, of course, I did have a digital camera, so many more times of photographs long the way and back.

You can look at the videos at your leisure.

We had lunch at The Corner Pug, Elmwood, Connecticut. This time on our first day out, we stayed at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. We had stayed in this resort on our honeymoon. This is where you see Lois in a pillory on our honeymoon. No such device this trip.

We left Sturbridge the next day and stopped at Mark Twain's home in Hartford, Connecticut. Twain lived there from 1874 to 1891. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin lived adjacent to Twain's house from 1873 to 1896.

We left the Twain property and had lunch in The Hamptons at  Master McGrath's, Seabrook, NH. Master McGrath's was named for a champion Greyhound. From pug to greyhound, it was like we were going to the dogs.

In the afternoon of the second day we arrived in Maine and toured The Desert of Maine. Did you know Maine had a desert? As evening was coming we headed for our next stop and immediately got lost. I feared we would be sleeping in the car somewhere in a woods, but we came across some golfers who directed us. Seems my AAA map had taken us off the main entrance road back into some scrub country.

We stayed the next several days at the Sebasco Resort on cask Bay. I booked us into the lighthouse apartment right along the coast of the bay.  The lighthouse stands out in several photos. It was also right next to the restaurant called The Pilot House.

On the next morning we drove to Boothbay, Maine to go on a whale watch, but no whale showed up during the cruise. Saw some seals.  Back at the resort we took a trip in The Ruth all about the bay. Met a friendly lobster fisherman while there.

Later we drove to the art museum in Farnsworth. There are a lot of Wyeth paintings on display here. Andrew Wyeth had a second home here in Maine. Of course, Lois bought a print of one of his waterscapes.

After our stay at Sebasco, we drove down into Rhode Island and stayed at a Marriott in Providence. I was out and about photographing the city.  From there we went into Newport, ate at a restaurant next to the Tennis Hall of Fame and then toured the mansions along the ocean highway, including the Breakers, home of the Vanderbilts. A few years later we would tour their home, Biltmore, in North Carolina.

That night we stayed at the historic Hawthorne House in Salem. Salem has a lot of witches museums to visit. The House of the Seven Gables, which Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote of is also there. After Salem we toured the Mystic Seaport in Massachusetts. Back in boats again. I really love bring out on the water. Fist we sailed in a sailboat and then in a steam boat.

We headed home after that, stopping over night in East Haven in a not so nice area. We drove several miles to find restaurant, which turned out to be great although the clientele looked straight out of the Sopranos. The owner was also the waiter and he was hilarious. Soup of the day was Tomato Florentine, but it was right at the height of the spinach scare and no one was buying. He was running about saying we could take a galleon home.

At the motel, my wife wakes me at 1:00 AM in a fright. "A gang in in the parking lot slamming shopping carts into cars," she tells me. "I want to leave. Put the luggage in the car."

"Say what? You tell me their is a vicious gang in the parking lot and you want me to go out there?"

I did go. I didn't see anyone, but she was adamant that we escape, so I loaded the car, dropped the key on the nightstand and we fled. Immediately I was lost searching for I-95. Here it was the middle of the night in a strange place. We couldn't get back in the motel and I was lost.  Finally, by chance, I stumbled upon the ramp to I-95.  At 2:00 in the morning we were driving through Spanish Harlem in New York, where everything was in Spanish, which I do not know. Oh no, this may become the Bonfire o the vanities!

We press on. There is no one else on the road but the drunks, weaving across lanes. I avoid them as best as I can. We arrive home by 4:00 in the morning and almost scare Laurel to death. She thought someone was breaking in.

By the way, it turned out some teenage baseball team in a tournament was staying at the motel. They were running about the place making a lot of noise, but not smashing cars with shopping carts. When I contacted the motel chain, the owner apologized and gave me a free night at any on their lodging. So far I have never went back to that chain.