Summer Made it to Greenville!

I know is fall, the title reflects the visit we got from our friend Summer (a.k.a. Liping Xu); a colleague I worked with while in Suzhou, China. Summer loves to travel and has been in several countries, but this was her fist visit to the US; she loved everything about it, she said. We were really happy to host her for a portion of her trip and look forward to seeing her again on her next visit to Boston.

Sharing with you some of the great times we had with Summer…

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We took Summer to Downton Greenville and we stopped at a new art gallery (Greenville has so many great galleries). Summer enjoyed most of the art and struck a good conversation with the owner.

 

For a couple of weeks before Summer’s arrival, Greenville had several days of very hard rain. The falls shown here had so much water you could barely see the rocks. Luckily, Summer had great sunny and dry weather during her visit.

 

One of Summer’s favorite pictures…us three in the reflection.

 

The three of us again…cannot beat a dry sunny day in Greenville!

 

Summer was amazed at the wonderful exposed root system on this amazing tree. I can hear Summer say….you must come visit Greenville!!!

 

We had Summer going most of the time, here she is taking a well deserved break in our patio.

 

Summer cooking my favorite Chinese soup, yum. It came out so so good. Thank you Summer!

 

酸菜鱼 Simple and delicious, with a nice tangy flavor that is really amazing. Yum, too bad my wife does not like fish…or maybe not…more for me…lol.

 

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One of Summer’s favorite was the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Must admit never saw it before.  We were all a bit surprised by it, and judging by Summer’s mouth wide open, she was also, but really enjoyed it as it was an interactive play. Summer got to participate with the crowd and the actors. We had a good time and laughs galore.

 

On our way to Looking Glass Falls, we stopped before reaching Caesar’s Head summit. Amazing views of the Smokey Mountains on this spot. Summer really enjoyed them.

 

A view of the valley from Caesar’s Head summit.

 

We had to take Summer to Pretty Place. A very popular spot for amazing panoramic views. We are facing the chapel where many weddings take place; simple a majestic setting for a wedding.

 

Summer has not shrunken, she decided to climb on an oversized chair for another photo-op. Must say, Summer enjoys the little things as much as the big things. Great way to approach life.

 

Looking Glass Falls, one of 120 or so waterfalls in North Carolina.

 

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This nice Harley Davidson caught Summer’s eye so she asked the owner if she could take a picture with it. The owner had no problem at all obliging. When Summer sets her mind on something she wants, watch out!

 

Summer having her first Mexican food ever. She wanted to try all sort of foods and we did our best to meet her wishes. She really enjoyed her Burrito, new place for us; Don Quijote in Brevard, NC.

 

What? Not made in China??? Yep, not everything is made in China.

 

White Squirrels are the bomb in Brevard…there are many theories about how this unusual types of rodents come to Brevard, but one thing is certain they are not albino squirrels as they eyes are dark and not pink. This one is a big one and tried to get my wife.

 

Took Summer to the Flat Rock Bakery, our most favorite place for pizza in the Carolinas…actually, probably anywhere. It is that good!! There is a BBQ place next to it with several neat metal sculptures, here is Summer posing with Mr. Frog.

 

Ah, it does not get better than this for me…a delicious spinach, goat cheese, artichoke hearts and sun dry tomatoes pizza. The bakery uses a brick oven to cook them and the flavor/combination is awesome! So awesome that Summer had to freeze the moment for eternity.

 

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Summer visited us at the tail end of apple picking season. She had never been apple picking so guess what? Yes, we took her to a great apple grove near Flat Rock with many acres of apple trees covering several delicious varieties.

 

Summer did quite well picking some delicious ones we later enjoyed later.

 

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Had to give Summer a ride in the Miata. Of course, she had to take a picture of it.

 

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As we were zooming up Paris Mountain, guess who was taking pictures?

 

What a fantastic coincidence, the Fall for Greenville Festival was on during Summer’s visit…of course we took her to it. This festival showcases over 40 restaurants and several bands playing in six different locations. Here is Summer posing with a NASCAR type car…not sure who the driver was.

 

I think no caption is needed on this one.

 

Summer took hundreds of pictures, this is just one of them.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the three day festival features several bands that play in six different venues. We chose the TD Stage to listen to a great Army band that played some great Rock n Roll music.

 

We had a great time with Summer, we were happy that the weather was great and we had time to share with her many of our favorite places. We hope you visit us again!

 

All things do come to an end however. Summer toasting the good times and wishing us all a great life! Cheers back to you Summer!!

Sophie LIU - November 8, 2015 - 8:06 pm

It is so cool, nice pictures~ Hope to join you!!!

camerapacker - November 7, 2015 - 7:39 pm

Some very nice px

Summer - November 7, 2015 - 5:46 pm

Really happy that I made my trip to US finally. I enjoyed every moment with you, dearest couple in my world, you are family to me!!! Looking forward to meeting you again next time in Boston. Cheers to our great life. 🙂

Massachusetts

Always great to visit Massachusetts and the many friends we have there. September is a perfect month to visit as the weather is usually very nice – sunny, passing showers here and there, very comfortable temperatures. While always great to visit old friends, we had a full agenda with our youngest daughter (Jocelyn) recent engagement to Kyle Nelson – very happy for the two of them. We also visited and helped Maria with some doctor visits and, on our way back (we drove this time) we stopped to see our good friends Jason, Christa and family in NJ. As always, I think pictures tell a better story so here we go……!

Family Camp

The church we used to attend while in Massachusetts holds an annual three-day end of summer event called Family Camp at a place called Camp Clear in Carver MA. We used to attend when we lived in MA, so going back after many years was a real treat for us. Here you have a panoramic view of the Sunday services. We had such great weather!

 

The camp has several buildings that include dorms, chapel, kitchen and a very good indoor dinning area. It also has many great outdoor areas such as this one where you can relax, eat, pitch a tent and spend the night.

 

What would a camp be without a body of water within it boundaries. Needless to say, the young ones could care less if the water maybe a bit cold; they have great fun regardless. Swimming, jumping off the platform, fishing and kayaking are the memory making activities most get into.

 

Church in the Pines is often called the “eating church”, yes, as many other churches, food and potluck luncheons are very popular. During Family Camp food variety and availability is kicked up a few notches. Friday night (official start of Family Camp) there is usually a big dinner. On Saturday, a hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner and large snack selection in between each meal is available to all. Here we have the Sunday cookout, another favorite – hey, this time they even had vegetarian patties that tasted really, really good!

 

Outdoor eating always seems to bring the flies out in force; good thing we have professional fly fanning gentlemen always at hand to keep the flying pests away from the food. Good job guys!

 

One of the true highlights on Family Camp is the baptisms on Sunday. Our daughters were baptized here and many other good friends also. Good seeing the tradition continues.

 

Here we have those who are getting ready to be baptized with their mentors and Pastor Joel on the far left. This is good old-time baptism in the pond.

 

Fireman Horse Shoes Tournament – an annual highlight of Family Camp. Talking about seeing very competitive individuals playing for the coveted trophy and t-shirt. Here we see Kim giving final instructions to the players ready to go.

 

Scoring is recorded on home-made tablets such as this one. Each family has their own customized scoring tablet and discs used during the game.

 

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen – the highly coveted CIP Firemen’s Horseshoe Cup!! Just like the Stanley Cup, the winner will keep it until next year, then turn it to the next champion.

 

You can only get the real intensity of what this game means to most by being there. Competition is fierce and Kim (right) show us how much concentration and precise style it takes to have a good chance to win the cup.

 

The road to the cup! My wife and I made it through four rounds before being beaten by Linda and Heather. Good job ladies! We will be back.

 

Hi there!

 

These young ones are playing some sort of games were they bet candy…not my thing, but hey.

 

Weather was cool and often wet. Missing South Carolina’s warmer weather a bit. This lady had a great getup to keep dry.

 

Jocelyn, our youngest daughter, got engaged and my wife and her spent a lot of time planning the upcoming wedding. Here they are checking out venues on-line. My wife a bit less high-tech, loves her paper based list. Must say, the media you use to keep the list takes a back seat as to how disciplined you are at completing it. Hard to beat my wife on that point.

 

We visited several wedding venues in a very short amount of time. This one was closed, but at least they could peek inside: it did not make the cut.

This was one of the favorite venues we visited. An old mill that has been converted into a very nice venue with a Navy motif. Hanging over most of the main hall are some of the crew boats that won the Rowing gold medal in the 1952 Olympics. Really cool place.

 

Many will not know what Jocelyn is looking into in this picture or have used one before; do you?

 

While in Massachusetts, we visited our good friends Carl and Ilda. Happy to see their new barn is almost done. Carl has a problem thinking or doing anything in a small-scale; this barn is no exception. But, it’s the berries!!

 

Carl loves his toys…sorry, tools. He had to show us how high this lift was. Good thing he has such “tool” as it would be really difficult to replace any of the overhead lights with a ladder.

 

One of Carl’s favorite toys…sorry, tools. Carl designed a custom-made finger to do some funky lifting and rearranging he had to make. It is now offered by JBC heavy equipment as an option…that is Carl!

Jocelyn & Kyle Engagement Party

Some of the many picture I took during the event… Great job Lynn Nelson putting this party together; it came out great!

Bride and groom to be. Congratulations!

Bride & Groom to be and parents.

 

Our oldest daughter, Sarah, could not make it to the party, but through the wonders of technology (Face Time) she was able to participate at least briefly.

 

The rain held out until just about the time all the guests had left; thank you Lord.

 

We visited Maria (Maria is like family to us, she has known me since my first day on this earth). We were happy to help her during her eye surgery. So far so good, but more surgery will be needed.

 

While in Cambridge MA, we took Maria to a great Indian restaurant. Maria was not sure if she liked Indian food, but that changed quickly as soon as she tried her Tiki Masala. Actually, she loved everything she tried. A new Indian food fan!

 

Just a building in Boston I have always liked.

 

While walking around in Boston we went through China Town. We felt like we had traveled back to Suzhou for a few minutes. Check those eye brows!

 

China Town main entrance.

 

On our last night in Boston, we decided to have dinner at the oldest pub in the city. This pub has been in continuous service since 1795. Many of the surrounding building date from those olden days.

 

On our way back to Greenville, South Carolina, we stopped to visit our good friends Jason, Christa and family. They have a beautiful house and we had a great visit sharing what is going on in our current lives, and also remembering many of the good time we had while in China.

Until the next post!

Summer - November 4, 2015 - 9:19 pm

Great photos and articles always, miss you and Bethe a lot!!!

Vicky - October 29, 2015 - 10:17 pm

Congratulation to Jocelyn. She looks great and happy. Glad to see recent Jason from your picture. :)

Looks like…

…I am into a quarterly updates with this blog. Finding less time to take pictures and the motivation to sit down, process pictures and write a post. My wife says that I am all about my bicycle and photography has taken a back seat. Well, there is some truth to that, but photography is still important to me. Hey, just going through a cycling phase and having a lot of fun with the people I ride with. Finding there is a sort of addictive element to climbing the same hill or mountain faster than the last time you rode it. Some will find this crazy, but I know some others will understand and even relate to it.

So, we have been busy with several guests and happy to say, more to come in October. Not much around trips lately, but we have several planned for the last quarter the year and first half of next year. For now, here is as brief summary of the past three months.

Salvation Red2

My wife volunteers with the Salvation Army and was very busy helping with the Paint the Town Red Auction event that provides most of the monies to fund the Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary Greenville Chapter. Many ladies put in a lot of work making this event a success. Happy to report that they raised more than last years event. The place was packed by the time the auction started; picture above was taken before it was open to bidders so it does look sparse. Way to go ladies!

 

Another activity the Women’s Auxiliary helps with is a monthly dinner to those in the shelter. The theme this time was Mexican and great it was. Here we see some of the volunteers cooking and getting ready for the crowds soon to come.

 

Some of the volunteers and …????

 

Our daughter Sarah and her boyfriend Jeffrey visited us in May. Of course we had a great time with them, even though it was a very brief visit.

 

Sarah and Jeffrey

 

Whenever in Chicago, a must stop for us is Smoque BBQ Restaurant. We think they have the best brisket we have ever had. We were attending a wedding close by so we were very happy to be able to visit Smoque’s once again. You can see the address right on the awning.

 

No bread for us…all meat, coleslaw (nice vinegar version) and beans. Bread fills you up unnecessarily, prefer eating more brisket instead. Take a look, moist and very tender…yum. Highly recommended!

 

Corey and Brooke’s wedding was such a beautiful event. We have known Corey since he was eight months old. We have seen him grow into a wonderful and caring young man. We felt very privileged to attend their wedding ceremony.

 

Corey … you may now kiss your beautiful bride…and so he did!

 

the happy newlyweds!

 

Tula, Charlie and Maci hamming it up for the hired photographer. Attention getters extraordinary lol.

 

Us right after the wedding.

 

Ok, so sometimes I take pictures for what may appear to be crazy reasons…this maybe one of those times…, but maybe not.

 

Barry and Cathy, good friends we met in China visited us in June. They really liked Greenville and we had a chance to catch up after the last time we saw each other in Suzhou.

 

We had to show Barry and Cathy out mini Fenway Park; home of the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox’s Single A baseball team. Notice the mini Green Monstah!

 

We also had Alison and Devyn visit. We were thrilled to see Devyn’s little bump; she is expecting her first baby…YEAH! She looks a lot bigger now – well, that is in Devyn’s proportions.

 

We were finally able to take a picture of the very elusive white squirrels we have around our neighborhood. Many just did not believed us, now we have proof. No, the squirrel’s color has not been Photoshopped.

 

July 4th! My sister and her two granddaughters spent July 4th with us.  We had several days together and we enjoyed their visit; Valentina and Victoria had fun. In this picture, we see Valentina posing for her picture. In the past, Valentina hated her picture taken, so I figured I would have a tough time taking her picture, but not this time. As soon as I pointed the camera at her, she would say…”wait” then strike a pose and say…”non”. we all laugh and laugh at her complete unexpected behavior. What happened, we wondered that changed her attitude toward pictures? Regardless, we all had many good laughs about he new-found modeling poses.

 

We took the girls to the Greenville Children’s Museum; they had fun, but I think I enjoyed the place at least as much as they did (if not more)…they have a very cool construction sections where you can use an electronic driven crane to move building blocks – fun.

 

My sister with her two beautiful and very active granddaughters.

 

Billy Graham Library – Charlotte, NC

We finally made it to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. What a place, if you plan on visiting you need to set aside at least two hours, three to four would be best as the place is really full of great information about Mr. Graham. The house you see on the left is were Mr. Graham was raised. This is not the original place, as the house has been moved twice (brick by brick, and board by board). On the right you see the barn like structure where Mr. Graham’s library is housed.

 

Billy Graham as I will always remember him. I remember seeing one of his tele- evangelistic meetings in Peru. His message was translated into Spanish and it was very powerful; as most all other that I saw after that.

 

 

A few years ago I read one of Mr. Graham’s autobiographies -“Just as I am” – highly recommended. His life was filled with purpose, but he was very aware that he was truly no different than any other human being. In view of this, he took several precautions and assembled a group of men he was accountable to at all times. I truly admire Mr. Graham and thank God for sending men like him to share His message around the world.

 

 

 

A very unusual picture of Mr. Graham. Just a regular guy like you are I.

 

The most striking thing for us, was the library was all about the gospel – not only about his life. Yes, it had Mr. Graham memorabilia, but the central message for anyone going through it was to get a comprehensive explanation of what the Gospel is and what it will accomplish to those who accept it.

 

 

In one small exhibit there were several letters addressed to Mr. Graham by children. All of them had unique ways used by the sender to address them. One said ” Sent to Billy Graham. Do not know his address. Make sure it is sent at once” the hand writing clearly indicated that the sender was a small child. This one was my favorite… notice on the right…”In case of Rapture (never mind this letter)”

 

At the Home Front

Phase three is finally under way next to our home. We enjoyed thick woods for over a year right next to our house, but now the woods are gone and the work is underway to start building the roads for phase three.

 

It took almost three months to get everything in place before the black top (base cover) was added. We will be next to a construction site for quite a while…bummer, but we knew it was coming so we will live with it.

 

Jocelyn and her (at the time) boyfriend Kyle visited us in July. They got engaged in August and are in the thick of planning their wedding. We are happy for the both of them as they make a very nice couple in many ways.

 

One of the things we really like about our neighborhood is the activities the Social Committee has throughout the year. In July,  we had a food truck over -“Thorough Fare” – the best one I have had so far…anywhere. The quality of the ingredients and the taste was way above average. I had amazing fish tacos, my wife had a very tasty empanada; the pulled pork sandwiches looks also very good.

 

We also had a guest musical group “The Trapfire Brothers” that provided really nice entertainment for us all.

 

Our very good friends, Linda and Joel visited us in August; we took them to many fun places and they enjoyed the area a great deal. Here they are looking at potential purchases at The Pickens Flea Market – the largest one I have ever attended.

 

Pickens is an old South Carolina town named after Andrew Pickens (1739–1817), an American revolutionary soldier and US Congressman for South Carolina. Population – about 3,120 in 2010. Here we have a gentlemen that may represent some of the locals in the area.

 

On the right, meet Robert Perry the Mountain Man, playing the bucket base. Mr. Perry holds a weekly pickin’ meet at his home nearby. At his right, we have a lady signing some gospel songs while an appreciative onlooker enjoys them both.

 

Have you ever wonder what would Elvis might have looked like by now? Well, as soon as I saw this gentleman I wondered if Elvis would have looked just like this (minus sideburns). Hey, you never know, maybe the king is still alive and well at Pickens Flea Market!

 

Joel and Linda calling the Thompson grandchildren to Skype.

We took Linda and Joel on a hike at Table Rock State Park. The really enjoyed the chosen trail and we saw many interesting looking mushrooms on the way. I really like hiking, especially the many beautiful sightings found in the micro world like this mushroom cluster; abut 3 inches in total width.

 

We are still active in the Miata Foothills Club. We went on club ride to Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Our Miata is the second on the right. We have a lot of fun riding with other like minded Miata enthusiasts.

That is it for now. Hope you all had a great summer and are getting ready for autumn. Thanks for visiting!

 

Way Too Long…

…without a post on this blog. Yes, many think retirement is all about getting up late every day and just sit around, watch some TV and wait for the next day to come to do the same all over again. Fortunately, actual experience is way, way different for me and several other retirees I have befriended in Greenville. The most important advice I can give anyone considering retirement is to assure you have other interests/hobbies outside of work.

Must admit that over the past few months I have been obsessed with improving my cycling endurance, particularly climbing the many mountains around the area, and being more comfortable when riding with some seasoned riders in the area. Noticeable improvement has been achieved, but more will be necessary. Photography has been relegated to the background lately, but need to change that. While I have not taken as many pictures as usual, below I am using some to summarize the last few months.

My niece Nati and her family came for a brief visit in March. While walking around downtown, I saw Lucia walking pass this pink bike and looked like she wanted her picture taken. Isn’t Lucia super cute? She is really a very sweet little girl.

 

Greenville downtown is home to a very nice train museum. Since Luca, Lucia’s twin brother, loves trains, we had to go into it and see what they had. The place did not disappoint us at all. Here you see a detail of the massive model that include mountains, towns, factories, etc. Really nice.

 

Luca watching the trains, seems like he just cannot believe what he is seeing…the biggest train collection ever! He did not want to talk to anyone; just look, watch, study it all.

 

Detail of the industrial section. There were three gentlemen manning the exhibition and they were having a blast. I spoke to one of them and it just sounded like this whole museum is their personal playing ground that happens to make some money to keep it going. Good to hear that they will be moving to a bigger building as they have plans to expand beyond the current walls.

 

The attention to details is truly remarkable.

 

Closeup view of Main Street… really awesome!

 

Different angle of Main Street.

 

Last view. We will keep our eye on this place and look forward to visiting again after they move later on this year.

 

Lucia having some fun at the childrens park next to the Greenville Zoo.

 

Whatever Lucia does, Luca must follow…and try to do better. Sound familiar?

 

Francesca, Lucia and Luca’s older sister spent sometime with Bethe making some cookies. They came out really good. Very few things are as good as a just baked chocolate chip cookie!

 

The kids are ready for bed, but must check the giant puzzle one more time.

 

We have continued to hike this year. Not as much as we would like, but we will keep at it as it is really great exercise and provides with some beautiful views of the surrounding area. This image shows a very unusual stream that seems to come out from the bottom of the tree. Never seen anything like it so had to take a picture of it. Have you seen such before? Nature has so many surprises.

 

While in Amelia Island in Florida, we stopped at the beach to relax for a while. Well, it did not take long to be surrounded by hungry seagulls. My wife could not resist and shared some of her cookies with them. As you can see, they seemed to form a queue.

 

While in Amelia Island we stopped at Pi Infinite Pizza (located in Fernandina Beach). Wow did they have some great and different pizza. Here you see a breakfast pizza with Canadian bacon and a couple of fried eggs on top. Really good!

 

In late March we visited Massachusetts to spend sometime with our youngest daughter Jocelyn and visit some friends and family. We heard of a Peruvian restaurant in Providence, RI. so we had to check out. We took a couple of friends with us that had never had Peruvian food, so it was a real gamble as we never had been there. WOW, were we thrilled with this place!  The name is Los Andes – located in 903 Chalkstone Ave, Providence. A MUST visit – even if you never had Peruvian food before. The service was exceptional and the food; simply the best Peruvian food I have had in this country. A nice sample of what we had can be seen in this image (Ribeye perfectly grilled with some savvy sauce on top, Jalea, Causa, Anticuchos, Lomo Saltado and ceviche. Yum, yum and yum.  For a look at their menu click HERE

 

 

Just a table at a restaurant in Plymouth, MA waiting for customers.

 

Massasoit ( leader of the Wampanoag tribe) who saved  Plymouth colony from  almost certain starvation that the Pilgrims endured during their first winter in the new land. The statue overlooks Plymouth harbor. On the lower left you can see a portion of the building that houses Plymouth Rock – must say the structure is a lot more impressive than the rock. Check it out and you will know what I mean.

 

We spent a couple of days in Boston; a great city to walk and explore the new and the old.

 

Maria, had some eye surgery and we assisted her with transportation. The surgery went very well and the latest news is that complete healing is well under way. They truly do not come sweeter than Maria.

 

While in Cambridge, MA we had to have lunch at S&S. A really good restaurant that opened in 1919 and still delights all their patrons. We are fans and visit whenever there. The picture frame in this image shows how the restaurant/street looked in the 40’s.

 

We visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Art Museum in Boston; always wanted to go there and finally made it. You may remember this museum where 25 years ago it was the setting for one of the largest property thefts in US history. Two robbers wearing Boston police uniforms gained access to the museum and stole 13 pieces of well know artist worth $500 million. So far, not one piece has been recovered. Amongst the stolen painting there were Rembrandt, Manet, Degas, Flinck and Vermeer. We could only take pictures while inside the museums courtyard for security reasons. Their courtyard is very nice; it made us feel like we were back in Venice.

 

A popular restaurant in Quincy Market is called Dick’s Last Resort. Looks like a tourist trap, but maybe not. Patrons are given rolled up paper hats with names or sayings written on then, which are then placed on customers. Looks silly and reviews are not to complementary, but they seems to be busy.

 

Quincy Market is a very nice place to visit while in Boston. We had a crisp sunny day- perfect for a walk and watching some of the popular street performers that always draw a good crowd.

 

While in Boston, we decided to go to the North End for dinner. The North End is very well know for amazing Italian food and several bakeries with wonderful desserts and espresso. As we walked towards our chosen restaurant we saw the Connah Store…now this is Boston.

 

We chose a new restaurant for us called Comodoro. We were very happy we made reservations as the place was very small. I mean, at most they could sit 30 people. After a brief wait we were seated and had one of the best Italian dinners in recent memory. When I said the place was small, we could see the cook from our table as he seems to check the patrons reaction to his dishes. If he saw us he could clearly see we were enjoying every bite. The dishes were prepared to order. My grilled cod with a delectable marinara sauce was simple, but so good. My wife got a mushroom risotto, Jocelyn got a Chicken Marsala and Kyle got a linguini with a white sauce. Everyone was a very happy with their choice.

Dessert came and went before I could take a picture of it. Jocelyn and Kyle wondering how it went so quick.

 

As we walked back to our car, I came across this very Italian bike setup; how do I know it is Italian?

bruce schlein - May 25, 2015 - 10:28 pm

A really interesting blog post.

F o l l o w   U s