Tag Archives: vacation

Making plans for a Thanksgiving visit

Greetings, readers. The bus tickets have been purchased and I am going to be on my way. Dave and family invited me to New Jersey for Thanksgiving weekend and I gleefully accepted. After checking out Zipcar and Hertz I figured out that Megabus was the way to go. For a modest price, I will be able to enjoy a five-day mini-vacation.

I am able to go because of generous friends who offered to take my work shifts on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. Two people offered and I hope my manager doesn’t schedule them both because one will be angry at me. If either one of you is a regular reader, you have just saved my weekend and I owe you a favor.

I’m going to have to look at the Megabus website again to see if I can bring a suitcase and a carry-on. If it is one or the other, the computer will be staying home. In the late evenings at David’s, after our brotherly chats are over, I like to go upstairs to my guest room, crawl under the blankets, and check my email or listen to music. The one thing I am worried about is that my body is programmed to wake up at 4:00am; that will not be happening at David’s house. I will be sleeping in.

I can’t wait to get there and enjoy the family’s hospitality. The Thanksgiving meal itself will be in the dining hall at Geri’s church and it is big enough for the entire family. I will probably ask David if I can say Grace or make a speech, as I always tend to do. I’m looking forward not only to the feast but also to be with family once again. I shall treasure every moment.

What are the things I am thankful for this year? With my life looking up at the moment, here is my brief list: I am thankful for my kitty-cat Keekee, who is in good health, besides perhaps a slight eye issue; she’s doing great for being almost 13 years old. I am thankful for my family and friends and the possibility to travel and see them. I’m also grateful and thankful that my job has worked out and that most managers think I am doing an excellent job … and making a little extra scratch doesn’t hurt either. Lol. Last but not least, I am thankful for Rebecca and Darren for their years of not only friendship but of hard work to help me put these various writing projects together. As I told my friend this morning, I don’t care if Darren’s book doesn’t put me on the map, I’m hoping it will put him on the map. Kimberly was a cute play. Was it polished? Not by any means. Darren took a good solid skeleton with some meat on the bones and turned it into a literary breathing human being.

I wish to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and readers. Your support over the last year has meant so much to me and has kept us going. The recent upswing in view numbers is continuing and we like it.

I said yesterday that this entry would be a top ten list, but other work earlier this morning took time away from our working hours here at the office, so the promised top ten list will come as soon as I come back from vacation. My mistake.

Next week Rebecca will post two blog entries, most likely re-posts of her choosing, as I will be on the bus and in New Jersey, cramming myself with turkey and trimmings.

So until next time, have a wonderful holiday, take care, and happy reading.

Advertisements

Bear Spring Camps opening day 2017

Greetings, readers. Although Bear Spring Camps has a relatively short season of only four and a half months, I do get excited on opening day. I’ve been going to this camp, located in central Maine, since I was five years old, and have truly loved every moment of it. As I get older though, and as my monetary situation changes, it is becoming obvious that my years at camp are numbered. I might only be able to go another three to five years. I have learned through inspirational videos to treasure every moment of life, which is how I am looking at the camp experience.

I saw on the Facebook page for Bear Spring Camps that Peg and Ron are beginning their 34th year of them running the business. The camp opened in 1910. Peg’s grandfather started it, and at some point her father and mother took over the day-to-day running of the camp. At the beginning, it was truly a fishing camp, with quite rudimentary cabins. Now they are quite plush and filled with modern conveniences like small refrigerators, and new wood stoves in some of the cabins. Last year my cabin got an upgrade with new wall insulation and a larger living room area. I really like it. I’m going to keep that cabin as long as I’m able to.

When I was younger, I would buy a calendar at a souvenir shop in Belgrade Lakes and number the days until I would be back at camp again. I was that obsessed with it. I don’t do that any more, but I do keep track of things like the camp’s opening day, closing day, and I still do get very excited about two weeks before I am to arrive for my week at camp in August.

I wanted to take Traci with me this year, and still might if I can talk her into it, as it will feel strange being engaged and not with her for 10 days. We will miss each other of course, and talk to each other every morning and evening on the phone. That is what we did last year and it worked very well.

As a long time Bear Spring Camper, I wish Ron and Peg Churchill and family a successful 2017 camp season, and I can’t wait until August when I will get there for my week at camp. I will fish, swim, go on pontoon rides, visit with family and friends, and have my annual happy hour. As many of you know, I am a man of tradition.

Next week I am expecting a two blog work week. One of them hopefully will be a top ten list. Until then, I bid you a great weekend, take care, enjoy the warmth, and as always, happy reading.

Top ten list of things I’ll love about being married again

Greetings, readers. In June of 2018, I plan on tying the knot for the second time. My fiancé Traci and I are enjoying being engaged and our relationship is progressing nicely. There are a few bumps in the road as with any couple, but I feel we can work those out well before the big day. Here’s a top ten list of things I’ll love about being married again, in no particular order.

#10. Making decisions about vacations together. [Both of us hope to, at some point, take a cruise together. There are websites where good deals are on offer. A nice five to seven-day cruise to the Bahamas and back would be a lovely introduction for Traci to be on a cruise ship. I’ve been on them twice.]

#9. Companionship on a full-time basis. [I am so used to being able to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. As much as I enjoy this, there is a nice feeling of going to bed together, seeing each other the first and the last thing of each day, taking long walks, and enjoying stimulating conversation.]

#8. Partner for the tough times. [Undoubtedly, there will be tough times now and then where one of us will have to rely on the other. And also to discuss what is bothering the person and allowing the other to help. We can’t be so proud that we can think we can solve our problems by ourselves. In fact, having a partner means that we are not alone when facing life’s challenges.]

#7. Inspiring each other. [We have already begun to do this, even before the wedding. Both Traci and I have personal issues to overcome. We both egg each other on and are there for support of the other when times get tough or we have a setback. We have each other’s back.]

#6. Holiday visits with family. [For the last several years, I have celebrated holidays either by myself or have taken a trip to New Jersey to be with David’s family. Now we have the opportunity to spend time with Traci’s family and friends, as well as my buddy and brother’s family. This also affords the chance, if the opportunity arises, to have both families present on occasion, i.e. the wedding and reception.]

#5. Making up after a fight. [Neither of us like to fight, but it is inevitable that in close quarters we will disagree on something from time to time. I expect all of our fights to be verbal since I was raised to not put an unloving hand on a woman. I expect after all is said and done and the anger vented, we will come to a solution to our issue and make up. That is the part I will look forward to in this situation. Will I pick a fight just to make up? No. Although I’ve heard some people do.]

#4. Growth of relationship in close quarters. [At present, Traci and I only see one another when we eat out, run errands, or when we visit each other at her apartment or mine for coffee. When we are married, we will live under one roof and we will have to learn to accept each other’s quarks and habits. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do if we keep the lines of communications open and share our feelings.]

#3. Intimacy. [I shall admit to you, my readers, I was never one of those teenagers who had sex in high school. I was shy and awkward and so sex and intimacy came much later in my life. I’ve been divorced now for over ten years and have not had a serious girlfriend before Traci. So I am looking forward to making strides in our intimacy.]

#2. Sharing life stories and memories. [I know I have a gazillion stories from my childhood, and years with Dave, that can make Traci laugh and lift her spirits. People say laughter is the best medicine. She can also make me laugh, she has a good sense of humor. I’ll admit sometimes I can’t tell when she is kidding. LOL.]

#1. The wedding reception. [Every now and then, both families will be under one roof for a social occasion. The first one will be our wedding reception. We will be sending out the save-the-date magnets for people’s refrigerators approximately six months prior the wedding. With the reception that evening, both families will mingle. I see everyone getting along splendidly. Dave’s whole family adores Traci, and Traci’s sister Roni always gives me a big hug too when Traci and I are leaving our coffee outings.]

There is my top ten list of things I’ll love about being married. If anyone would like to add some that they experienced, please leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.

Next week, Rebecca will be here on Wednesday and my schedule for Thursday is still up in the air. If we don’t work that day, one of us will put the Thursday blog up so there will be two next week.

Until then, have a super-duper weekend, take care, and happy reading.

The last month and a half of Mr. Gotrocks

Greetings, readers. I was telling my accountant today how sick and tired I am of constantly being low on cash and stressed about my monthly finances. I told him I was going to come up with a plan by January 1st to rectify this problem. He told me that he has heard this story many, many times. Well, I have said it before. Times have changed, however, and it is a whole new ballgame.

I’m constantly talking to my therapist about how stressed out and depressed I am about my monthly budget. She and I talked about the idea of getting through the rest of this year and having a brand new self-imposed budget ready for the new year. I thought that was an excellent idea. I didn’t tell her, but I was already thinking about that idea myself.

After I get back from my mini-Thanksgiving trip with my girlfriend, Traci, Mr. Updagraff has given me the okay to have Meals on Wheels delivered 5 days a week instead of 3 days. This will take care of my weekday needs. Traci and I are going to have to just realize that any eating out we do will have to be done on the weekends and as cheaply as possible.

If I can get this plan to work, I think my stress level will be significantly lower and I will be much more of a happy camper.

Along with my new budget, I hope to have in place, by the New Year or soon thereafter, a new daily schedule to keep to. It will incorporate the early get-up time, which quite frankly I have become accustomed to. It is having the hours to write part and the going to bed earlier part that will need the most work. I’ve noticed one thing about myself over the years and it is this: I might take longer to get things done, but once I’ve ‘had it’ I do whatever I need to do and I don’t look back.

I asked my accountant to bear with me until the end of December, in case I need extra cash for the upcoming trip, Christmas presents for friends, and maybe a little something for me. Then Mr. Gotrocks dies. I will no longer be able to live outside my means and I no longer wish to. I think it would help my self-esteem if I got on a serious budget and stuck to it. I shall let you know the outcome. 🙂

Until Friday, when I’ll have a top ten list for you, take care, have a good couple of days, and happy reading.

P.S. Prayers go out to the families of the victims from the horrible terrorist attack in France. My heart goes out to you.

I’m back from Bear Spring Camps and feeling renewed

Greetings, readers. As always, I had a wonderful time at Bear Spring Camps this year. I saw family and friends, partook of all the delicious food, had gallons of coffee, and fished until my heart was content. My biggest fish was a 13 inch bass, but it sure did give me a good fight.

The weather, except for one day, was beautiful. I will admit it was not as warm as it usually is when I’m here. Low to mid 70s was the high all week. I chose to not go into the lake to swim this year. At night it was mid to upper 50s.

During one of the evening suppers, I stood up and made a toast to the family who adopted me all those years ago. It seemed to go over extremely well. Although I hadn’t practiced it per se, I was quite happy that I didn’t stutter or fumble over words. One of the points I made, and I will admit it choked me up a bit, was when I said, “I always go back to Pennsylvania, but when I go to Maine, I come home.”

This Bear Spring Camps season was a wee bit unusual in a good way. Best friend, Dave, had all his family with him, including his nephew Cole, and they chose to come up to breakfast around 8:00. Only I was up at the dining room right at 7:30. It felt a bit odd to sit at that big table all alone until one of the nephews joined me. That was usually Nick Carroll. Starting my breakfast first, meant that I was finished first. Sometimes I would have a third cup of coffee and talk to Dave about morning plans, but more times than not I would excuse myself and go down to the cabin.

On Wednesday, I did get a pontoon boat for three days. I made full use of it, including an early morning fishing trip on Friday. That is something I haven’t done in over 20 years. The scenery was amazingly beautiful. The way the fog and the mist lifted off the lake gave the shoreline, with its trees and houses, an almost otherworldly quality. Next year, if David wishes to go early morning fishing, I might just go with him every time. We’ll see.

After supper was my time. I sat in my cabin, did a lot of thinking about the upcoming year, and hosted story time for all the little nieces and nephews that enjoy that so much. This year I actually sang songs for them. I think they were impressed. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. I must admit the kids threw me a curve ball when they did not want to hear camp stories, but instead asked for ghost stories. It took me a while to get into it, but towards the end of the evening, I had Ava and Kennedy on edge. When the propane heater kicked on, everyone jumped. That’s when I knew my stories were effective.

My side trips to Portland, Maine were wonderful. I wanted to drive on Commercial Street in the Casco Bay area of Portland. The reason might sound silly, but there’s a Train Simulator run that goes right down that street. It was a surreal experience passing all of the businesses portrayed in that simulation. Everything was exact. Farther down the road, and purely by chance, I found Benny’s Famous Fried Clams, a seafood shack-type eatery with a delicious lobster roll and tasty clam chowder. It’s going to be my new stop for when I go to Maine. I have to give Rebecca’s father’s GPS back, so I’ve written down all the addresses for next year.

I feel completely recharged with new ideas for writing, which is exactly what I hoped to have accomplished, and there is a slight chance that I will be able to go to camp for two weeks next year. Time will tell.

This blog entry will be linked to my Facebook page and to the Bear Spring Camp page as well. I have decided to make it a policy that only blog entries that deal directly with Bear Spring will be linked there.

Lastly, special thanks go to Rebecca for taking good care of Keekee and to Rebecca’s father for loaning me the all important GPS.

Until Friday, take care, have a great couple of days, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: The blog is all mine – for a week and a half

Braa-ha-ha! (evil laugh, in case I wasn’t clear.)

Hi, Joe’s readers. Regular readers, you know that Joe goes away to Maine every year in August and that I update the blog while he is gone. New readers, you may not have seen one of my entries yet, especially the new influx of Bear Spring Campers we welcomed recently, but I am Joe’s assistant Rebecca. I do about a dozen blog posts throughout the year, though I haven’t done one in a while.

Usually my posts while Joe is away are updates on how he is doing on his trip or how his cat Keekee is doing back here. She misses him so much when he goes away; I come in on my work days and a couple of other days to feed her and give her some company, while I do a little work. Some years during this time, I manage an entry with a good topic that will be of interest past the vacation, and I will try to do that at some point this year, too.

Joe and I were surprised that one of my vacation posts that was pretty much an update has been viewed a bit more than we expected over the years. Regular readers know that Joe and I are fascinated by the viewing statistics for this blog, which show which posts are viewed each day. From Rebecca, a little bit in a hurry will show up occasionally. It is a nice piece I wrote in August of 2012, but I don’t know how it can be compelling after all this time. Oh, well, it makes me feel good that people like my work. Another post that keeps coming up in the views, a lot, is the Top ten list of modern conveniences. It has been viewed 940 times since it was posted on February 22, 2013, including 5 times this past week. Our best guesses for its popularity are that a lot of people in the world are curious about modern conveniences, or that it is being used in a class exercise to teach search techniques on a computer. Though really, who knows?

So, if you are a regular reader or a new one, I will be the one posting on this blog until Joe comes back from Maine in a week and a half. Until Friday, as Joe would say, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

Top ten list of things I like about Bear Spring Camps

Greetings, readers. This top ten list will be composed of wonderful experiences that have happened to me at Bear Spring Camps, which is located in central Maine. I’ve been going there for the better part of the last 45 years, and have loved every second of it. If there is a heaven on earth, that is it. And away we go with our countdown.

#10. The trip itself. [From the moment I leave the parking lot of my building to the moment I arrive at camp, I consider it to be part of the yearly experience. I truly savor every second.]

#9. Great Pond. [The lake is eight and a half miles long by three miles wide. There are plenty of great places to catch fish for those who like to do that. It is also very good for taking a pleasure ride in a boat, a kayak or a canoe, to explore all the nooks and crannies of the lake. Campers have lots of fun swimming by the shore, playing King of the Raft, and throwing a tennis ball around.]

#8. The shops in Belgrade Lakes. [Small town shopping in the general store and picking up souvenirs in the Maine Made Shop is a truly delightful experience. Both places have sweatshirts, hats, mugs, and other collectables dealing with the state of Maine. Day’s Store also has several aisles of groceries items.]

#7. Hearing crickets at night. [On the rare hot evening, I will leave the wooden cabin door open and listen to all of nature’s beauty.]

#6. Rain falling on the tin cabin roof. [It is a most relaxing way to sleep, unless you are afraid of storms. The only thing I get upset about is that fishing will be rained out the next morning.]

#5. Morning fishing excursions. [From the days of fishing with Cy Greco and Bob Smarz, to more recent excursions with Dave Trost and his family, I’ve always enjoyed going out to catch the big one, though I rarely do.]

#4. A good land day. [I learned this expression from my mother and it refers to sunny warm conditions, with too much wind over the water to make boating safe. It allows me to listen to music, to go on visits, or to go to town.]

#3. Bonfires. [Even though the wind can make them too smoky, I do like to sit around a good campfire and tell stories. I’ve been told I’m a good storyteller, and my little nephews and nieces just love it.]

#2. All the delicious food. [Since I was a youngster, I’ve looked forward to the delightful and delectable three square meals a day made from scratch. The breakfasts are my favorite and usually I will partake either of eggs or pancakes. The noon meal is what most of us call dinner, and Sunday chicken dinner with all the trimmings is number one with me. The evening meal is supper and consists of hot dogs, burgers, or perhaps yesterday’s dinner left-overs as a casserole. I have never been disappointed with BSC food.]

#1. All the wonderful people. [This is truly a generational place. The original owners’ granddaughter is now in charge and doing a great job. Also, the campers are multi-generational. I’ve known some folks since I was five years old. Others, I’ve known their whole lives.]

Well, that’s our list. I hope you’ve had as pleasant a time on your vacations as I’ve had on mine.

Until Friday, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

Getting ready for camp is filling my brain

Greetings, readers. Another Thursday blog entry. With all reservations made early this year, I find myself wanting to dig out the list and begin to put things for camp in a special spot in my apartment. When I was little, my mom would always put everything by the closet doors in the foyer. That was her special spot. The night before the car got packed, that area was so full of stuff that we couldn’t even open the closet doors. With my small apartment, I don’t have that big an area, and it is a little too early anyway.

I do have my list on the computer and it’s already updated. Things I’m taking include a flashlight and batteries, an umbrella, a radio, and a GPS unit. And, of course, my clothes neatly packed.

This year’s side trip, if I can find it, is going to be a certain street in Portland, Maine called Commercial Street. I have seen a representation of that street all year in the Train Simulator computer game. To my happy surprise, when I did some research on Google Earth, everything was exactly as the computer game depicted. I can’t wait to see it. I’m going to purchase at least two disposable cameras. I’ve been keeping up to date with the weather in Maine and it has been good. Hopefully that trend will continue through my vacation. Something I’m going to add to my list, which I’ve never brought before, will be books from the library in case it rains.

Speaking of books, unfortunately no new pages of the Dickens book I’m reading were read this morning. I wanted to try to read some of it every morning. But my sinuses said no. I told Rebecca to come late so I could have a nap. I am 50 years old, I’m entitled.

Yes, there will be a blog entry tomorrow, but I had this idea and I thought let’s do it. I realize we have been blogging a little bit more than usual the last couple of months, but inspiration strikes. Rebecca and I continue to set aside Wednesday and Friday as our blog days.

This morning I awoke to a wonderful sight. It was something called blue sky and no clouds. It had been cloudy and rainy pretty much since this past Sunday. After work hours, I’m going to go run a couple of errands and fully enjoy the sunshine.

If you have good weather then enjoy it, do take care, and until tomorrow happy reading.

Darn it, I broke my Bear Spring Camps mug

Greetings, readers. For those of you that don’t know, I go on vacation every August to a place called Bear Spring Camps in central Maine. In the office, the owner sells a few souvenirs, shirts, and hats. For the last two years I have purchased for myself a Bear Spring Camps coffee mug. The first one came home with me and got cracked in transit. I didn’t even get to use it once. Last year I bought an identical replacement and happily used it until the morning of my birthday just a few days ago. I knocked my cup of coffee off the table and I heard a clink. I knew the handle had broken off. Unfortunately I was correct. I’m 0-2 with BSC coffee mugs.

Shortly I’m going to contact Peg Churchill at camp to see if they are still selling them this year. If they are, I am going to ask her to hold one for me and I will try once again to make it last more than a year.

I’m not usually a klutz. Maybe the Bear Spring Camps cups are jinxed. I don’t really believe in such things, but you never know. I don’t think I would be quite as upset as I was if it hadn’t happened on my birthday.

The rest of my birthday was flawless. I did exactly what I wanted to do and heard from all my Facebook friends. As I replied on FB, I was feeling the love. For dinner, I cooked myself a mac ‘n cheese and had some ice cream.

Now here is something you don’t know about me. For me cooking is burning water and I nuke everything. I just decided last week that I was going to get a chicken pot pie and use my oven for the first time in almost 10 years. Many of you will have to read this sentence twice – like I said, I don’t cook. Besides burning a finger a little bit, everything turned out perfectly. And it is true what they say, food cooked in an oven tastes better than food cooked in a microwave.

Do I have any reflections on turning the big 5-0? Actually I was a little melancholy that day. There are more days behind me than are in front of me. But if I worry about that, my hair will just turn grayer. I have decided to live every day to the fullest, deal with what life throws my way, and enjoy it as much as I can. A friend of mine once told me – and he was correct – that life is too short for bullshit. In other words, don’t worry about what you can’t fix.

Well, kitty cat Keekee is hungry, so I’m off to feed her, then Rebecca and I will edit this post and publish it. Until Friday, take care, enjoy your day, and happy reading.

Back from camp renewed and energized

Greetings, readers. After a wonderful vacation in Maine, I’ve come home with an entire new outlook on writing. It is so positive I can’t even begin to tell you. But I will try.

For several months now I have been playing around with the idea of a third and final camp book. But I wasn’t sure how to proceed. Then the idea hit me. Over the next several weeks I am going to create from scratch two fictitious characters, a man and woman, both probably in their mid-20s. They will be the newbies at Bear Spring Camps. Not only will this third camp book contain true stories from my camp life, but also it will have fictitious stories told by the new Bear Spring Camp’s couple.

I started to think of all the stories I could tell and in my mind I already have several that I can expand on. If I put my nose to the grindstone, we could have a new book out by next July. That is my goal.

Now, about the vacation itself. It was one of the very best ever. I was completely calm and at ease, laughing, telling jokes and stories, eating like a horse, and making people happy. The camp menus changed very little, thank goodness. I did everything I wanted to do and more, including renting a pontoon boat for two days. I am going to do that next year for the whole week. It was much easier for me to get in and out of, as well as a better area for fishing; as you know I need all the help I can get. Five stars for the pontoon boat idea.

The first few days were long and filled with fun and good times. The last couple of days seemed to go by very quickly. I guess we all knew the end was near. Friday afternoon, of course, was packing day. I thought to myself I’ll wait and do it after supper. Well, a thunderstorm came and knocked out the power for two hours. So much for packing. Still, the next morning I was packed and ready to go, and on the road, by quarter to ten. I had told Rebecca, and I might have mentioned it in the blog also, that I thought this year might be my swan song at Bear Spring Camps. Well, I’ve got news for you. I enjoyed this year so much that I’ve already decided that I will be back next year. My arrival date is August 8th, and boy I can’t wait.

I’ll be keeping you up-to-date on my writing projects, as well as what’s going on in State College, PA. I can tell you already that students are beginning to flood back in. Classes start in two weeks. Where did the summer go?

Finally, Keekee was one happy kitty-cat when I came in the door. She missed her daddy. She was literally underfoot for a day and a half. She seems to know now that I am home and she’s gone back to her regular routine.

Until next time, have a great day, happy reading, and stay tuned for more details about my trip and about my up-coming musical performance at Addison Court. 🙂