Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023
Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Earthquakes, tsumanis and home, oh my! - Sunday, March 13, 2011

Three hours sleep Thursday night/Friday morning--stayed up watching the news from Japan. An 8.9 earthquake, 5th largest in Japan's history struck mid-day when people were working. 

Inconceivable devastation in the northern part of Honshu--Sendai, and multiple other towns torn apart, boats tossed about over land like toys in a messy mud puddle which a car has driven through and disrupted. Watching the tsunami sweep over cars fleeing it, knowing that lives were being extinguished. Then came the fires, in some places, but not others. Nuclear power plants in danger of meltdown. How much can the survivors endure? How many are alive but trapped in the rubble? How many have lost their homes, their relatives, their pets, their possessions? Where will all of the displaced people get food and shelter?

My mind has trouble comprehending what I was watching on TV. Thousands of people's lives were disrupted, uprooted or lost. Mother Nature is terrible on one hand, and wonderful on another. In our lives, we never know which way the dice will roll. 

Tsunami warnings were broadcast for so many nations and also Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. But that seemed insignificant in comparison to what we watched transpire in Japan. 
For us, it was a mere inconvenience--where Bob worked, it involved moving work trucks to higher ground. At our work, our IT administrator went to the office in the middle of the night to collect the company's server in case we had a tsunami. (Our office is across the street from the ocean.) 

For Japan, it affects their lives, livelihood and morale.

I wish I could physically go there to help, but I feel so helpless in a catastrophe of such magnitude. I will donate to charitable causes who are already on the front lines and who can respond and help immediately.

Here at home, we are fine. The weather is beautiful. We have so much to be thankful for. There was tsunami damage in Kona on the Big Island and some damage on Maui. Marinas and harbors throughout the islands had a bit more damage, but overall, Hawaii fared pretty well. 

Our mundane lives go on. Yesterday, I got my hair done, Bob played basketball and worked, we went to Zippy's for dinner. This morning was the farmer's market and now I will garden. This afternoon we plan to see "Rango."

Our thoughts and positive energy are with our friend, Bob Neary, who will undergo heart surgery tomorrow. Go, Bob! 

Travel bug out.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friday, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, March 5, 2011

Last day of Bob's convention was today. I got to go with him to the exhibit hall to learn about what he does. We looked at trucks, accessories, pipes, and software.

Trade show: Bob explaining something to sis-in-law, Nancy.
High-tech electronic camera (robotic).
Salesperson talking to Bob's brother, Steven.

Amanda getting a pic of me getting a pic of her.
Cutaway of pipe showing a high-tech camera inside.
Next on the agenda was the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. Major league baseball bats are made with either maple or white ash wood. On the factory tour we saw billets, shaped pieces of wood, from which baseball bats are carved. They are sent through carving machines which can mill a bat in 30 seconds, much quicker than carving by hand (in the past) which took about 30 minutes. Louisville Slugger baseball bats are used by 60% of major league baseball players. Computer specifications are kept for each player's baseball bat. The ash bats have the Slugger logo burned into the bat, but the maple is more fragile and metal decal logos are attached to those bats. 

Photos from the museum...

Ken Griffey, Jr. and me.
Honus Wagner, The Flying Dutchman
The Big Glove made out of Kentucky limestone.
It was raining outside and I just couldn't get a good picture of the Big Bat at the entrance. Luckily, there was a sign inside showing the bat and telling about it.

The big bat stands outside the museum.
Bat mobile (not to be confused with Batman's car).

Explains the "Bat Vault."
After the museum, we rode a trolley around downtown as the temperature had dropped to 47 degrees with a stinging rain, otherwise we would have walked. 

Impressions of downtown Louisville...

Originally the Bank of Louisville.

Artistic bike racks around downtown: my favorite.

Lunch was at O'Shea's Pub and was really good. I had lamb stew with carrots and parsnips over real mashed potatoes. Bob had chicken prepared with a local blackberry jam and mashed potatoes. We highly recommend this restaurant.

The warm ambiance of O'Shea's Pub in Louisville, KY.
Looking forward to our comfort food on a cold, dark day.
We returned back to the room and packed for our flight home tomorrow. On the news, the weather forecast is predicting temperatures of 33 degrees overnight with possible snow flurries early in the morning. We'll see what the morning brings.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Schimpff's Confectionery, Jacksonville, Indiana - March 4, 2011

I got up and went to breakfast around 8:30 am. Came back to the hotel, picked up Nancy and Amanda to go to Schimpff's Confectionery, a candy company that has been in Jeffersonville, Indiana for 120 years. It's about 15 minutes from Louisville airport area.

We had a tour of their candy-making facility and candy museum. The owner gave the tour.

Jill Schimpff (owner) took us outside the building to show us flood lines from 1813 (about 4' deep) and 1814 (about 6' deep), and the granddaddy flood (don't remember year) when the floodwaters went halfway up the second floor. Her grandmother had to be rescued by a boat from her second floor window. In the big flood, Jill said the floodwaters extended 27 miles in each direction from the river.
When we returned to the candy kitchen, we watched her husband make cinnamon red hots. He heated the candy to 320 degrees in an antique copper pot. When it reached that temperature, he poured the mixture onto an antique steel table with a frame to contain the liquid candy solution until it cooled. Once the candy cooled enough for him to handle it, he removed the frame, then kneaded the candy mixture.

Once the candy was malleable, he poured on cinnamon oil and kneaded it into the mixture. (FYI, cinnamon oil is expensive, about $50.00 for approximately a quart-sized bottle.) We watched him take the candy mixture to a warming table which keeps the candy flexible until it is put through the press. But it can't be too warm or the candy won't take the shape of the mold. 

He cut the large blob of candy into pieces to feed it through the mold machine by hand. The red hots come out in sheets of about 100 pieces of candy. Once the candy is cool, to separate the candies into individual pieces, they take a sheet of molded candy and drop it on the table. All the individual pieces separate out. We got to sample warm cinnamon red hots--so yummy. [Note from 2012: I bought a couple of bags of cinnamon red hots while we were at Schimpff's in 2011. Normally, I do not care for red hots so they were supposed to be for Bob. They were the best red hots I've ever tasted and I ended up eating a whole bunch of them. I would happily buy them again!]

The tour also included watching chocolates and caramels being hand-dipped in liquid chocolate, then twirled and put on the candy sheets with a swirl signature for each type of candy.

The end of our tour was of the small candy museum. We ate lunch at their deli/soda fountain. They serve real, flavored cokes: vanilla, cherry, chocolate, and today's flavor: cinnamon coke. 

The candy museum:
Antique candy dispenser.
Amazed Amanda.

Antique candy mold hanging on the wall.
The candy store--one of each, please.
Front view of confections.
After the tour, we drove for a while on the Ohio River Scenic Byway. A very interesting detail we saw is the wall and dike they put up around part of the residential area of Jeffersonville. The wall was about 15' high and 3' thick. If the river floods, the gates can close off the roadway and pedestrian gates to keep the water out of the neighborhoods. The Ohio River was getting pretty high and was covering walkways, topiary and trees along the riverbank.

When we came back to the hotel, Amanda and I went swimming. We played Marco Polo, Dunkin Donuts (we got sprinkled and dunked), motorboats (I pulled her through the water), saw how long we could hold our breath, she rode on my back around the pool. We did somersaults and handstands, swam, made whirlpools, got dizzy and did it all again. I think we were in the pool for about two hours.

After the pool, Bob and I drove up to Jeffersonville, Indiana so I could show him the scenic drive, Falls of the Ohio State Park, the statue of Lewis & Clark (because this is the location they started and finished the Lewis & Clark Expedition). 

For dinner, I took Bob to the the King Fish restaurant overlooking the Ohio River. We rated it about a B-.

One more day of convention (trade show only). Bob is going to take me to see the trade show tomorrow.

Time to say goodnight.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Louisville, Kentucky - Thursday, March 3, 2011

This morning, I really slept in--woke up at almost 10 am. By noon, Nancy, Amanda and I headed out to Bob Evans restaurant for breakfast. Then off to Target and Wal-Mart. Amanda got a bathing suit so she could swim at the indoor pool at our hotel. I bought some apples and tangelos (need more fruit!).

When we returned, I caught up on e-mail and wrote blog entries. Tomorrow we have a reservation for a 45-minute tour of a candy factory, Schimpff's Confectioners, which has been in business for 120 years. They will demonstrate candy-making and give free samples. They also have a soda fountain and deli, so we will eat lunch there.

Louisville, Kentucky - Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Today Bob and Steve went to their convention. I slept in, then went to breakfast in the hotel cafe with Nancy and Amanda, did laundry, relaxed.

Around 2 pm we ventured out to find North End Cafe (I think that was the name of it) in the Frankfort Ave. area. It was the first time I had ever used GPS, so I didn't trust the directions it gave me. Well...I should have listened to it. As soon as we got on the freeway that looked most direct, the GPS guy said, "Severe traffic ahead, recalculating." But he never gave a new route. We sat in construction traffic that was at the intersection of three freeways for at least 1/2 hr. It should have taken us 10-15 minutes.

We found the restaurant which was very good. I had yellow curry (cooked with carrots, red peppers, broccoli, summer squash and spinach) over basmati rice. Nancy ordered Soba noodle salad with salmon and Amanda tried the tuna salad sandwich. Amanda didn't like her sandwich so she ate most of Nancy's salmon, then we ordered goat cheese ravioli for her, which she liked just fine. The tuna salad sandwich was boxed up and we took it to the hotel for Steve, her dad.

Heading back to our hotel from the restaurant we were in Louisville's rush hour traffic, made a wrong turn (because we had a very short distance to go from one freeway to another and couldn't get over in time), and ended up in downtown during rush hour. Driving in Louisville is scary. Some people drive super fast then cut in on you, almost hitting your bumper. Plus, they honk a lot!

After Nancy, Amanda and I spent time at the hotel, Bob and Steve returned from the convention and were hungry. They wanted to drive downtown to see the city, which we did. As we were driving down the street looking for a place for dinner, I saw Third Avenue Cafe which looked very cute and like it might be good for dinner.

We parked and went in. Once we looked at the menu we knew we were meant to eat there. Nancy and Steve like vegetarian food and the menu had vegan selections and regular food.

We found out that food we expect to be prepared one way isn't the same in other places. Nancy and I ordered spring rolls which we thought wouldn't be deep fried, but they were. Bob ordered a curry dish, but when he got it, it was actually teriyaki. Weird. The salads were excellent as were the desserts.

For dessert, Bob and Nancy had key lime pie, Steve had a dreamsicle cupcake, and Amanda and I had a flourless chocolate torte which was like a chocolate truffle with chocolate ganache shell. Amanda and I were extremely happy with our choices.

End of day, back to hotel.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky - Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We spent the night at the Cave City, KY, Comfort Inn so we would be close to Mammoth Cave N.P. Very comfortable lodging and free continental breakfast. Bob made use of the exercise room to run because outside temperature was 34 this morning.

On our nine-mile drive to the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center, we saw four does and a one-point (?) buck. Aaron (Bob's second youngest brother) and his eight-year-old daughter, Emily (our niece), were at the Visitor Center. We said our hellos and talked while we waited for Nancy, Steve (Bob's youngest brother) and Amanda (another niece) to arrive. The day was absolutely gorgeous...not a cloud in the sky. Cold though, 37 degrees.

When the rest of the family arrived, there were plenty of hugs and how-do-you-dos. Emily and Amanda had never met each other. The two eight year olds were soon giggling, laughing and talking with each other.

Emily and Amanda.
Tickets for the New Entrance tour were purchased and we boarded buses to take us to the New Entrance. The "cool" people (Nancy, Steve, Amanda) sat in the back of the bus. I told them that was okay because the "hot" people sat in the middle.

On today's tour, we had a different tour guide than we had two days ago. It was good to hear different stories and a different perspective.

I volunteered to be last in line to make sure everyone was accounted for and to keep the end of the tour group moving. That meant waiting for people to take photos and "ooh" and "ah," which was great because I had more time to take photos and look at what I missed two days ago.

Emily & Amanda had a great time hanging out with each other. Not only that but they experienced and learned about geology, caves and the surrounding area.

Brothers: Bob, Steven, Aaron
Looking down where water has eroded the cave.
Draperies, stalagmites, travertine, and dripping water--an active cave.
Bob enjoying the formations.
Looking up at what Bob sees.
When we finished our tour and returned to the Visitor Center, we took a short hike to the Historic Entrance. The waterfall was still coming down next to the entrance trail and the girls wanted to get a little wet, so they stuck out their hands and caught some drops from the waterfall.

Bob, Susan, Nancy, Steven, Aaron, Em and Amanda.

Nancy and Steven.
Em and Aaron.
Lunch was next on the agenda after that two-hour, two-mile tour, plus about 1/2 mile hike to the Historic Entrance. El Mazatlan Mexican restaurant in Cave City was the restaurant of choice. Good choice! Four baskets of chips, four small bowls of guacamole, and seven lunch specials later, all seven of us were satisfied and ready to move on.

El Mazatlan. Steven, Bob, Aaron.
Beautiful restaurant and wonderful food. Everyone happy.
Next stop, Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where my brother in law, Aaron, works. He took us into his building, stopping to show us plaques about a man who was on the 9/11 flight that crashed in Pennsylvania, about 9/11, and about the Ardennes campaign. We then followed him to "cubicle city" which is what he calls the area where he works. He explained his job to us and how interesting it is.

From Ft. Knox, we continued to Rineyville, Kentucky to see their home, visit with Claudia (sister in law) and eat dinner. They have a very nice home in the country with about an acre of land. We saw an absolutely gorgeous sunset. The two girls went riding on a mini-motorbike and had a blast. Claudia cooked sauerbraten and canoodles (sp?) for us, plus made a beet salad and a 3-bean salad. The sauerbraten was so tender and moist. It was an excellent dinner. We brought Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mints and Tagalongs) plus some Gewurtzraminer wine for dinner/dessert. It was nice for everyone to spend time together.

Cousins, Amanda and Em, proceeded to entertain us with their "Top Model" poses.

Getting revved up for the modeling.

Call with Grandma Louise!

Because the next day Emily had school, Aaron had to work, and Bob and Steve had a convention to go to, we left around 8:30 pm to head to Louisville and our hotel for the next five nights.

I went to bed about 9:30 pm, exhausted.