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August 2018

2018-08-21 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 3 – Albuquerque

Today’s adventure started at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Museum…

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This is a very nice museum that explains the history and culture of the Pueblo Indians.  There are 19 Pueblos in New Mexico today (historically, there have been more than 100 over the years…), with many more in Arizona, and other adjacent States.  While these cultures and these Indians tend to be grouped together, each Pueblo has a different language, different culture, and different religious traditions.  The museum explored the prehistoric years, the years under the subjugation of the Spanish and then the Mexicans, and finally life under the US, with treaties, broken treaties, lands being stolen, lands being returned, forced boarding school and forced assimilation, and the era of the casinos.  It was very informative.  We will visit many of the Pueblos on the caravan.  The museum even had an exhibit on how their adobe houses were built:

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Note the “logs” poking through the walls;  these are called vigas; we will discuss these more when we get to Santa Fe…

Following the Indian Pueblo Cultural Museum we traveled to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History…

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Another interesting place…

The museum has three areas: the history, the science, and the uses of nuclear energy.

The history section had exhibits on the early scientists, the Manhattan Project, and other military exhibits, including the cold war.  They had full-size models of the three atomic bombs tested and used in World War II.  This area was of the most interest to us.

Personal side note here:  In the exhibits describing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki they explained how Col. Paul Tibbetts selected 15 crews to train for these secret missions.  The crews were trained in the new B-29 bombers.  During each mission there were seven planes involved, including three weather reconnaissance planes, plus a back-up plane waiting on the runway on Iwo Jima.  Here is the personal connection:  Our family dentist back in the 1970s and 1980s was Dr. Raymond Biel.  Biel was the co-pilot of one of the weather planes over Hiroshima and the co-pilot of the backup plane on Iwo Jima during the Nagasaki mission.  He learned of the atomic bomb after returning to the base on Tinian… Dr. Biel wrote a novel and retired early from his dental practice…

After the nuclear museum we did a little grocery shopping, fueled the truck, and returned to the RV Park.  Thunderstorms were threatening, but they never materialized;  at 7:00 we had our first “Drivers Meeting”, where we discussed the activities of this location, driving instructions for tomorrow’s travel, and future activities in and around Santa Fe…

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Tomorrow we travel to another RV Park in Pojoaque, just north of Santa Fe… We will also attempt to drive by two Frank Lloyd Wright houses…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-08-20 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 2 – Albuquerque

Our first outing for the caravan is to the Turquoise Museum, in Albuquerque.  The museum has just recently moved out of Old Town to a much larger facility…

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We carpooled with our RV park neighbors, who are from North Carolina.  We drove about 20 minutes to downtown Albuquerque, to an area near the train station.  This is “skid row” according to the locals; it was clean, but shabby.  In the midst of this area is this “castle”, surrounded by a 12′ tall wall and iron gates.  We were let in and we met with the others in the front courtyard.

We gathered and sat in the chairs provided, and we heard all about turquoise, and the role the family that runs the museum has had on the industry.  The Zachary-Lowry family has been in the turquoise business for five generations.  They have amassed one of the largest collections of rare natural turquoise in the world.  In 1993 they opened their museum, in a strip mall near Old Town.  They have just moved into this facility, and it is not yet officially open.

As interesting as turquoise is, I was more interested in this “castle”.  Lynda and I had been in Albuquerque 4 1/2 years ago for a friend’s wedding.  The day after, as we walked around exploring downtown Albuquerque, waiting to board the return train to California, we came across this place.  There were no signs, and no indication what it was.  It just sits here, adjacent to an overpass across the railroad tracks, next to a row of power lines and adjacent to a run-down antique jewelry store and a dive bar.  Eventually we were able to Google it and found that it is, indeed, a house. Construction started in 2006 and was completed in 2008.  Today we learned that the owner/builder, who was also the owner of the adjacent  run-down antique jewelry store, lived here for about four years before she passed away.  The house stood empty until six months ago, when the Museum of Turquoise started moving in.  One of the interesting facts we learned today was that Mrs. Zachary, who built the house, had been briefly married to a member of the Zachary family many years ago – Zachary, the family that has amassed this fabulous collection of turquoise, and who now operates the museum here… apparently the museum leases the “castle” from the estate and descendants of old Mrs. Zachary.

So after we heard all about turquoise, we were able to tour the house.  And what a house it is… A huge mess of a building, typical of houses designed by old people with some sort of idea of what a 500 year old castle ought to look like.  I was intrigued, and I always love to see odd houses, no matter how ugly they might be… One of the more interesting things of this house is the site:

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The back yard features views of the highway overpass, her own billboard, and razor wire atop the back yard fence.

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The sign for the adjacent bar hovers over the back yard fence.

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And the power lines alongside the driveway that leads to the garage.

But the Museum of Turquoise really is a fascinating place, as is the family that runs it.  As we toured the museum there were five or six members of the family – three generations – were on hand to explain and answer any questions we had.

We learned that New Mexico actually has very few turquoise mines; in the US, the most, and best, turquoise mines are in Nevada.  Turquoise mines are also in Iran, China, and other countries with arid regions.  Since the Indians in New Mexico were great artists and crafters of turquoise, they had to trade for it.  This starts to explain the importance of trading posts in the history of New Mexico.

Turquoise is a semi-precious opaque mineral composed of hydrated copper and aluminum phosphate.  About 85% of turquoise is white, with a soft consistency and other characteristics much like chalk.  Only about 15% has enough color and hardness to be called “natural” turquoise.  The word “natural” is key here.  The US Federal government defines “natural” turquoise to be the one true indicator of semi-precious, gemstone  turquoise.  If you buy turquoise and you are given a “certificate of authenticity”, if it doesn’t say “natural”, you bought junk.  It may be beautiful junk, but it is not the semi-precious, gemstone-quality turquoise you might have thought it was.

Turquoise made from the softer, chalk-like substance, has been treated:  it has been dyed, reconstituted, stabilized, enhanced, oiled and/or waxed.  While it may make  beautiful jewelry, it does not have the enduring quality, or value, of natural turquoise.  Interestingly, the most rare and expensive natural turquoise is mined in the US.  However, some of the highest quality natural turquoise comes from China; because of the vast quantities of Chinese turquoise it is available at a much lower price.

There is also imitation turquoise, otherwise known as plastic.  Again, these pieces may be very beautiful, but they don’t have anywhere near the value of natural turquoise.

So how can you tell if the turquoise necklace you just bought is worth what you paid for it?  How can you protect yourself from misrepresentation?  Get it in writing!  Turquoise dealers are required by law to provide an accurate certificate or receipt, truthfully stating what you have bought.  If he tells you the jewelry you are buying is sterling silver and natural turquoise, and was hand made by  a Native American artisan, ask that this information be spelled out on your receipt.  Any reputable dealer will be glad to give you a detailed written confirmation.

After our morning at the Museum of Turquoise we needed a little lunch.  We drove to El Pinto, a New Mexican restaurant in north Albuquerque that is dripping with charm:

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The food was fabulous!

We returned to the RV park and had a leisurely afternoon.  At 5:00 we joined four other caravan couples for the first “Fandango”.  This caravan calls the traditional “Get Acquainted Meeting” (GAM) a Fandango, just for fun…

So we had happy hours, meeting and getting acquainted with these other four couples.  We will do this seven times, so that after about two weeks we will have had a chance to meet and spend time with all 60 caravaners.

And after the Fandango we returned to the Villa. And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

2018-08-19 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 1 – Albuquerque

Today we begin the Southwest Adventure Caravan.  Our itinerary is roughly this:

New Mexico:  Albuquerque, Santa Fe

Colorado:  Durango, Silverton, Mesa Verde

Utah:  Bluff (Natural Bridges, Monument Valley), Moab, Torrey, Bryce Canyon

Arizona:  Fredonia (Zion), Grand Canyon North Rim, Page (Lake Powell)

New Mexico:  Gallop, Acoma, Zuni, Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

 

But first we have a free day.  We have met some of the other caravaners, and we took several walks arounf the RV park.  I checked out the generators to make sure they were still in good order, and I shifted a bit of out cargo in the back of the truck.

By noon we were ready for a little adventure… We drove down the original Route 66 and made our way to “Old Town” Albuquerque and strolled around the plaza.  There is a 200 year old church, a band playing in the band stand in the plaza, and hundreds of trinket shops that spread around the plaza and throughout the blocks all around.  While we have no use for trinket shops, we did admire the architecture – most buildings have deep verandas facing the streets, providing much needed shade.  Most building have courtyards, again with the shaded areas that made walking around and “shopping” very pleasant, despite the 90+ degrees heat.

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We stopped for a small lunch at the Back Street Grill…

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And we returned to The Villa, ready for a nap…

We had our first orientation meeting where we reviewed the “rules and traditions” of the caravan and went over the drivers manual.  We took a break for happy hours with some of our neighbor caravaners.  At 7:30 we reconvened for dinner and a celebratory cake for dessert…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

2018-08-18 – Traveling East – Day 3 – Gallop and Albuquerque

We pulled out of Williams, AZ, this morning at about 7:30.  We are headed to Albuquerque today to meet up with other Airstreamers.  The caravan officially starts tomorrow, but we wanted to arrive one day early. (Many caravaners arrive several days ahead of the official start…)

The drive was uneventful across the rest of Arizona.  We are in the mountains of Flagstaff, Winslow, and Winona, with elevations from 5,000 ft. to a maximum of 7,275 ft.  The countryside was beautiful – so much more green than it was last year when we came through here in June…

The good news!  Many of the worst roads that we experienced last year have been repaired, or were being repaired as we detoured past the construction zones.

As we approached Gallop, NM, we saw billboard after billboard advertising the El Rancho Hotel .  Since we wanted to stop for lunch, we pulled off onto another remnant of Route 66 and drove through Downtown Gallop.  Our GPS led us to the hotel; it has obviously seen better days…

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We soon realized that we had come in through the rear… The front looks a little better…

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The hotel was built in the 1930s, and for the next 20 years was heavily used by the Hollywood film industry as headquarters for various movies being filmed in the rugged areas around here.  The lobby was very “old west”…

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We had lunch in the restaurant… Not quite the same scenic view as yesterday…

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It was a fascinating place.  We peeked into the bar and also the “49er Room” – a night club type of space that must have been really  hopping in the olden days of the 1950s.

After lunch, as we walked back towards The Villa, it started to rain.  For the next 2 hours or so it continued to rain, with some extremely heavy thunder and lightning showers and amazing cross-winds blowing across the freeway.  A trailer traveling ahead of us was being blown all over the road, but The Villa held firm – sort of like an anchor.

The rain stopped, the skies cleared, and we pulled into American RV Park in Albuquerque.  We beheld a wondrous sight:

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We parked The Villa and set up – we are here for 4 nights…

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We had a little Happy Hours and met a few of the other caravaners.  We also received our Drivers Manual, so we now know where we are going to be for the next 51 days.  We watched the sun set…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-08-17 – Traveling East – Day 2 – The Grand Canyon

Exciting day ahead!  We are in Williams, AZ, and we are boarding the train bound for the Grand Canyon!  I’m not sure if I’m more excited about the Grand Canyon, or about the train trip…!  (Full disclosure:  I saw the Grand Canyon in 1961 when I was 10 years old… I was not impressed with a big hole in the ground…  On the other hand, Lynda has not seen it, so this will be a first for her…)

The day began with a corny “wild west” shootout…

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Then we boarded the train; we were seated in the full-length dome car.  We thoroughly enjoyed the panorama view of the beautiful countryside…

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What’s better than a train ride!

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We arrived at the Grand Canyon.  Yep – it’s still a big hole in the ground…

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We did enjoy the various rock formations…

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And the buildings are certainly worth looking at… Above is the El Tovar Hotel…

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And this (above) is one of the many gift shops, and it is also a great place to take photos…

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We even tool pictures of the picture takers…

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We had lunch at the El Tovar Hotel, with a lovely scenic view…

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After lunch we walked and looked at more rocks…

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And then, just like that, it was time for the return trip on the train…

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This time we were seated in the parlor car, at the very end of the train; it even had the outdoor viewing platform.

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Riding backwards was a great pleasure – watching 270 degrees or a panorama of the mountain landscape…

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Also, from the observation platform we could get a good shot of the entire train…

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As we approached the station in Williams the train made a “Y” turn so that we could back into the station.  Standing on the open air observation platform was a lot of fun – we could watch the conductor step off the train and throw the switch, then we proceeded to back into the station…

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So we returned to the Villa and enjoyed Happy Hours.  We turned in early, because tomorrow is another long travel day…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-08-16 – Traveling East – Day 1

Our departure to rendezvous with the 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan came early today – we rolled out of Redlands at 5:00 am. It has been a busy few months and we are looking forward to two months of un-interrupted Airstreaming.

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Since we moved to Redlands in early May we have been living in the constant chaos of construction and remodeling and rehabbing and repair.  We are finally able to put two cars in the garage, the wine is secure and protected against the ravages of 110 degree temperatures, John’s lift is installed and the automatic opening gate is automaticly opening just fine.  John has a raft of very nice and capable caretakers (more than he needs, according to him…).  But the deck isn’t finished, the construction clutter has not been hauled away, and the garage still needs to be reorganized.  And my workbench and tools need to be cleaned up, sorted through, and alphabetized, organized, and categorized…  But all that can either happen while we are gone or when we return.

We are heading to Albuquerque to meet up with other members of the Airstream Club for the Southwest Adventure Caravan. We will leave from Albuquerque, NM, travel for 6 weeks through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, until we reach our final destination of Albuquerque, NM.  In between, we will see Sante Fe, Moab, Mesa Verde, Zion, Bryce, and many other National Parks and historic and scenic Indian sites.  The grand finale will be the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.

So we are off…

Our first excitement of the day happened as we exited the 10 at Desert center, as we attempted to drive north on Hwy 177 towards Needles:

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Apparently Hwy 177 is closed.  The officer didn’t tell be why it was closed, only that it was going to closed for a long time… Our only choice was to continue east on the 10 to Blythe, where we turned north on Hwy 95.  After checking on the internet we found that Hwy 177 was closed to an accident – an overturned truck carrying many crushed cars…

Not that this area along Hwy 177 doesn’t have interesting features…

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And this convenience has all the essentials:

 

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So onward we go.  The 10 east towards Blythe.  Attention!  All people who think Bend and Eastern Oregon, or Spokane and Eastern Washington, are “deserts”… You are wrong…

THIS is a desert:

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At Blythe we turn north…  Hwy 95 parallels the Colorado River, and it runs through a watershed for the river. Thus the road has many ups and downs as the various washes allow water to make its way to the river.  It must have rained recently, because there was standing water alongside the road and there were road maintenance workers with heavy equipment clearing mud and debris off the road.  But the road was smooth and there was NO traffic, and we had a lovely drive through the Mojave dessert. And the scenery is beautiful…

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As we approached the 40, my GPS led us off Hwy 95 onto a very small road for about 1 1/2 miles.  Just before the on-ramp to the 40 we saw a roadside attraction that begged us to stop.

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We found that we had been travelling on a short portion of “The Mother Road”…

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The maps and descriptions of the area were very interesting.  I had traveled Route 66 along with my family in 1961, when I was 10 years old, from Arcadia to Oklahoma City…

We headed east on the 40.  My GPS tells us our exit, in Williams, AZ, in 156 miles away…  We stopped about halfway there to stretch our legs…

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It’s amazing how green this area is.  We are at about 4,000 feet elevation, and we are going higher.  It really is beautiful, despite the horrible condition of the Arizona roads.

And so we arrived in Williams, AZ, elevation 6,766 ft.  This is another remnant of Route 66, and I’m sure we drove through here in 1961.  Not much has changed,  except that what once was essential services for weary travelers is now very touristy and “nostalgic”.  But is is fun to see an historic place still being active and prosperous…

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We parked The Villa in the local RV park, and walked the town.  We stopped into the Red Raven for a quick and early dinner…

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We even enjoyed a nice bottle of Arizona wine…

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We returned to The Villa.  Despite the threatening skies, it did not rain.  And so an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-08-04 – Summer 2018 at San Clemente – Moving Day

The day dawned beautifully!  Those of us who wanted to walked along the beach path about 1.25 miles to Bear Coast Coffee, where we enjoyed coffee and a little bite to eat… Others stayed in their Airstreams….

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This is the “Pier Bowl” area – a natural cove where the Pier is located, and around which all other beach related activities occur.  We can watch the trains go by, watch the trucks delivering their early morning supplies to the retailers, and we can watch the surfers, Jr. lifeguards, walkers and joggers come and go.

After our walk back we began the arduous task of packing up.  Each year we vow to keep things simple, but we still bring so much stuff.  On the other had, we’re pretty organized, and we’ve done this a bazillion times, so it only took a little over an hour.

We headed off to drop the Airstream one last time at C&G in Bellflower for semi-annual maintenance and to have them give it a once-over before we depart for our caravan in a few weeks.  We learned this week that C&G is closing, so we will need to find a new fixit place…

So we arrived home again in Redlands in the afternoon, and settled into our usual chores of un-packing, doing laundry, and catching up with the mail…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-08-03 – Summer 2018 at San Clemente – Day 7

The day dawned beautifully!  Those of us who wanted to walked along the beach path about 1.25 miles to Bear Coast Coffee, where we enjoyed coffee and a little bite to eat… Others stayed in their Airstreams….

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This is the “Pier Bowl” area – a natural cove where the Pier is located, and around which all other beach related activities occur.  We can watch the trains go by, watch the trucks delivering their early morning supplies to the retailers, and we can watch the surfers, Jr. lifeguards, walkers and joggers come and go.

After our walk back we settled into our usual pattern.  Phil and Mark worked (or played) at the computer, Steve read in his Airstream, and Lynda, Jane, and Connie (with an occasional assist from Steve or Mark) worked on the jigsaw puzzles…

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Putting in the last piece…

About 4:00 or so we dispersed, then reassembled about one hour later at our campsite for Happy Hours.  We rarely cook dinner – hors d’oeuvres are usually plentiful, and we are well satisfied by the time the sun is setting…

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After dark we turned in… And an enjoyable time was had by all… Tomorrow we head home, and start to prepare for our two month Caravan through the Southwest…

2018-08-02 – Summer 2018 at San Clemente – Day 6

The day dawned beautifully!  Those of us who wanted to walked along the beach path about 1.25 miles to Bear Coast Coffee, where we enjoyed coffee and a little bite to eat… Others stayed in their Airstreams….

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This is the “Pier Bowl” area – a natural cove where the Pier is located, and around which all other beach related activities occur.  We can watch the trains go by, watch the trucks delivering their early morning supplies to the retailers, and we can watch the surfers, Jr. lifeguards, walkers and joggers come and go.

After our walk back we settled into our usual pattern.  Phil and Mark worked (or played) at the computer, Steve read in his Airstream, and Lynda, Jane, and Connie (with an occasional assist from Steve or Mark) worked on the jigsaw puzzles…

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About 4:00 or so we dispersed, then reassembled about one hour later at our campsite for Happy Hours.  We rarely cook dinner – hors d’oeuvres are usually plentiful, and we are well satisfied by the time the sun is setting…

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After dark we turned in… And an enjoyable time was had by all…

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