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.

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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.

Who Let the Dogs Out? Who?

My birthday this year happened to fall on a Sunday (Feb 8); very thankful it was a day with great weather. Even for South Carolina, having a sunny day with temperatures reaching 67 degrees F by 4:00PM was out of the norm. So what to do? We decided to go to downtown and visit Falls Park; we were not alone. Downtown was packed with people enjoying the warm weather and you saw people wearing from thick coats to shorts and t-shirts. Yes, some South Carolinians consider temps in the 50’s freezing, but many others (probably Northerner transplants) the temps felt like a nice summer day.

One thing that really caught our attention was the large number of dogs we saw. I focused my lens on them so lets take a look at a small sampling of them below.

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Dogs everywhere, several times a dog jam in the spot we sat for a while.

dane1

We saw a total of 5 Great Danes; this one was the first. They seem such gentle giants. Here you see him allowing this little one very close without eating him whole.

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Like I said, all types. This particular Pitbull type has such a distinct look. I am not a dog expert so I hope I am not mislabelling any dogs. If I am please leave a comment with your correction.

bigones

This lady seems to be wondering if the Great Dane is a horse…she is probably thinking…I will need a shovel instead of a pooper scooper…lol. Actually, she was not even look at the Great Dane, just added her here as it played well. So much for truth in reporting…hey, I came clean before publishing it.

wifey

My wife could not resist petting this little Maltese, Poodle and Yorkie mix. She really wants a dog now. On the right, well sometimes the dog takes the owner for a walk.

hello

Some dog owners have no problem dealing with more than one dog at the time. Good to see a Red Sox fan in the mix! Bottom left; she really posed for me.

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A great looking Boston Pit-Bull sticking his tongue it seems. Looks like a powerful medium guy; he was very sure of himself prancing like all must stop and pay tribute to him. A couple each with their pair of dogs; not sure about this; looks like a lot of work to me.

huge

Some dog owners with heavy coats think their dogs are also cold, even though is in the mid 60’s. On the right you see a couple of Great Danes; one hairy…never see one like this.

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My second most favorite image of the day. He said it is a dogs life? For the most favorite image see below.

 

_K3A2429

My favorite picture of the day! How can you argue with this face and eyes?

 Thank you for visiting!

 

Vicky Fang - February 9, 2015 - 9:34 pm

Happy birthday, Carlos! The dogs were out to celebrate your birthday. 😛

That was fast!

We had a jammed packed December with dinners and family events, visits and celebrations as I am sure you also had. The weather in Greenville was good considering up North the temps were finally taking a dive and cold started to set in. As our two girls could not join us in Greenville for Christmas, we joined them in Indianapolis (so glad Jocelyn could fly from MA to join us). I have not been taking too many photographs over the past couple of months; been spending quite a bit of time riding my bike with different groups and exploring many great roads offering a mixture of beautiful mountain views and some good climbs. Below I am sharing a taste of late November and December.

Being in Greenville, SC means that fall colors hang around a lot longer than in the North. But all good things come to an end. This is one last picture I took while walking along the Swamp Rabbit Trail before all the leaves fell. Spring is not that far away though…Yeah!

 

It was not going to last forever. When we moved into our new home in August 2013 we knew that most of the woods that we had in front, left side and beyond of our property would be taken down to fit many more homes. We did have a couple of summers with really nice privacy, but no more. These pictures show most of the woods around us have been taken down. The good news is that we still have good distance between our neighbors and the back will remain wooded as there is a stream close by. Will post same scenes again once the new homes are finished.

 

We finally made it to Larkins on the River restaurant  for brunch; high recommended if you are in the area. This place is very nicely decorated, the food is really good and the service excellent. Usually we do not have dessert, but when we saw a Warm bread pudding with caramel, blueberries and craisins we had to share one. It delighted at every level – wow was it good.

 

This was the sign of the month for us. We saw it while walking in Main Street Hendersonville, NC. Funny and puzzling at the same time.

 

One evening during Christmas many in our neighborhood place alongside the front of their property Luminaries (a white bag with some sand and a candle inside of it) to complement their decorations. The selected day to showcase them seems to be a big deal; you see a large number of homeowners walking around the whole neighborhood enjoying the lights. Of course, there is a competition involved; we did not win this time, but will try next year.

 

My wife just hanging with our oldest daughter Sarah. As usual, Sarah is not too thrilled I am taking her picture -kids.

For the second year in a row we attended the Christmas Eve service at East 91st Street Church on Indianapolis. A very large church, but it has a small church feel to it. The Christmas Eve service was very nicely done.

 

As we wait for midnight, Sarah got us hooked on Master Chef Junior – initially I thought it was silly, but after a couple of episodes I realize that this young people really get into food and are really very good at it. Still, seems like a lot of pressure to put them through, but they seem to thrive in it…well, almost all…some do breakdown and cry. Actually, not much different than the adult version…lol. In this picture, the kids had to fillet a large salmon and cut the fillet into specific portions. It was quite a difficult task for some of them as the fish was really large, but most did amazingly well.

 

Nicholas, the wonderful boy we fostered in China sent Bethe a Happy Birthday song; you can only imagine how happy Bethe and I were to see Nicholas doing so well. See short video by clicking HERE

Nicholas also made Christmas cookies for us…they we delicious Nicholas!!! Thank you

 

Indianapolis was very cold during most of our visit. Here is my wife trying to keep warm by hugging Jocelyn really tight. It did not work. This area is a canal located in the center of downtown Indy; never heard of it, but its been here since the mid 1800’s. Originally conceived to promote commerce throughout a wide area from Peru, Indiana to Evansville, Indiana. However, money problem stopped it original design that would have made it 296 miles long. Today it is 8 miles long and the city had done a very nice job revitalizing the area to include restaurants, gondolas, games for kids, etc. A very popular attraction in the summer I hear.

 

Next to the canal there is a very nicely done September 2011 memorial. Will never forget…lets hope and pray we will indeed never forget.

 

Cold evening walking around Monument Circle in the center of downtown Indy. Time for a hot chocolate!

 

Monument_Circle,_Indianapolis,_1907

This is how Monument Circle looked in 1907. Until the early 1960’s, no building in Indianapolis could be higher that the Soldiers and Sailors monument.

 

 

Too cold for a carriage ride.

 

A quick snapshot from us after Christmas Eve service. Wishing you all a happy 2015!

 

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