Life Part Two

The adventures of Fay and Bob as they move beyond the 9 to 5 life

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Top of the Rock Branson MO

This incredible private park can be toured with a quiet golf cart.   2 1/2 miles of beautiful scenery including a couple caves you drive through and about half a dozen waterfalls.  We have never done anything quite like this. It was a beautiful fall day and we had no carts in front or behind us.  Enjoy.

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Furman classes and National Tiger Sanctuary

I am taking two classes at OLLI this term and love both of them.   Both have excellent funny instructors.   The Greenville History of Textile Mills has 150 people.  Learning about the dozen or so mills and what life was like and the many ups and downs they have had over the years.  It is so interesting how things all fit together – what wars do to the economy in good and bad ways, how that affects how the people are treated.

The second class has 300 people and is “Interesting People in History”.   Have learned about Lindberg kidnapping, John Wayne, Wright Brothers, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings to name a few.  Filling my brain with lots of trivia.

I coordinated a Friday bonus event with the Greenville Police, a full day trip to Pendelton to see two historic homes and later this term a craft program where we will make an angel.

Also took a 4 hour guided tour, not through OLLI, that went to the Dark Corner which surrounds us.   I have had an 8 week class on the Dark  Corner and watched the DVD a couple times but it really helped to get out and actually see the places.

Just returned from Branson Mo. Fantastic trip and will write more on that later but for now am attaching photos from the National Tiger Sanctuary.   It is not a zoo.   Very restricted access to the beautiful animals.  They have about 47 cats and they rotate which ones you get to see so animals are not stressed.  Such horrible stories behind what brought them to the Sanctuary.   It was a couple hours very well spent.

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Fay and Bob’s First Cruise

A couple weeks ago we took our first cruise on the new Norwegian Escape.  We went to some Caribbean islands. The ship is immense. 1069 feet long, well over 4000 passengers and 1700 crew.   The cruise lived up to everything you hear and actually in some ways exceeded our very high expectations.  Although our balcony room was small it was big enough.  Bed and pillows were very comfortable, room was quiet and temperature perfect.   We slept beautifully.  Weather was perfect and a very, very calm sea.   Ship was gorgeous, food great, entertainment good, lots of activities.   Bob even tried the zip line and the two big water slides. Service everywhere was exceptional.  Three of the cruise executives liked us so much they kept sending treats like wine and chocolate covered strawberries.   Guess everyone loves a friendly face who is interested in what they do! This photo shows you just how big our ship was.   The other ship on the left is a regular very large cruise ship.


I had forgotten how beautiful the water is.  What a gorgeous blue.  We went to Tortiga and St. Thomas.   Were supposed to go to Nassau but ship got diverted to Puerto Rico for a medical emergency.


And of course I had to show you this photo.


So having said all this about the wonderful time on the cruise I have to say the original concern we had on taking a cruise was true.   We aren’t cruise people.  With about 6000 people on the ship there was no place we could find that was quiet.   The decks and pools were so crowded I never even put on a swim suit.  Plus it was spring break so LOTS of kids under 10.  I won’t say we will never go on another cruise but it will be quite awhile.  If Charleston ever gets its act together and brings cruise lines other than Carnival we might go.   Adding in the flight to Miami was just another thing that was not so much fun.

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New England Wine, Lobster and Food Motor Coach Vacation

We just returned from a six night, 7 day Road Scholar trip.   Road Scholar used to be Elder Hostel.  We left from Providence RI and traveled up to Main, across New Hampshire and into Vermont.   Absolutely great trip with 30 wonderful people.   Our guide was fantastic.   While we made the couple long coach trip she showed us Julia Child TV episodes on how to cook and open lobster, wine and cheese party and how to filet fish.

Experience the diversity of New England cuisine and the region’s beautiful scenery during a weeklong journey through Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Discuss with professional winemakers, lobstermen, fishermen and farmers the products they grow and harvest from the land and sea. Learn about specialty products created by local entrepreneurs and enjoy field trips to vineyards, farms, sugarhouses, markets and the ocean. At stops along the way, enjoy tastes of authentic New England foods such as johnny cakes, lobster, clam chowder, local cheeses and yogurt, cider doughnuts, and maple syrup.

Beautiful scenery, very healthy flower gardens everywhere.


sugarhouse in Vermont’s beautiful Green Mountains preparing traditional Vermont maple-sugar treats, including “sugar-on-snow,” boiling maple syrup served over ice.
• Meet with local lobstermen and fisherman to discuss the challenges of fishing in the Gulf of Maine.
• Meet with experts on winemaking in both Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

6 nights of accommodations
18 meals: 6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners
2 Expert-led lectures
12 Field trips
1 Performances

A very pretty view - Ogunquit Main

A very pretty view

Live Lobster

Lobster on the Lobster Boat

Lobster Roll at McDonalds

Lobster Roll at McDonalds

Sugar on Ice

Sugar on Ice

Cider Mill

Cider Mill

Goat Milking

Goat Milking

Our lobster roll

Goat Milking Our lobster roll



Goat MilkingLobster BoatNE 7-15 015Lobster Trap  Beautiful flowers    Historic 200 Plus year old Barandon Inn NE 7-15 039Historic 200 Plus year old Barandon Inn Historic 200 Plus year old Barandon Inn Historic 200 Plus year old Barandon Inn NE 7-15 035 Our Whole Lobster Dinner Postcard Pretty Light House NE 7-15 025 Portland Portland• Visit a

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Renaissance Festival

One of the things Minnesota does so well is the annual Renaissance Festival.   I just discovered that NC has one too.  It’s a couple hours from our house.  I don’t know if we can make it this year but I already have it on the calendar for next year.  It is 6 acres, the MN one is 22 acres so quite a bit smaller but I’m sure it is still lots of fun.   Here is the link

It runs weekends from Oct. 5 to Nov. 24


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Inspiration House, Hilton Head, Daufuskie Island, Gullah people, Parties

Inspiration House is an 11,000 sq ft. new home (8000 sq. ft. living space plus basketball court) being built for a young family.   The family in cooperation with the builder and many contractors opened up the house to the public for 8 days.  The proceeds of all the tickets ($10 each) go to either the Humane Society (a charity Newcomers is supporting) or Susan B. Kormen Cancer fund.  Newcomers volunteered to be docents one evening of the tour.

Take your own guided tour through the house.   It’s really something, especially the 3000 sq. ft. basketball court with sky box. They would not tell us the price except to say “north of $2 million.  The home has 3 laundry rooms, a locker room to go with the basketball court , home theater, huge family/bar room and of course a swimming pool.   Enjoy the tour.

Before you can start the tour in the three boxes put in you name, email and  zipcode.   I’ve registered several times and so far haven’t gotten any emails from them.

So of course you want to know my favorite thing.   Because they donated money to the Humane Society I guessed they had animals.   They have at least one cat and dog.   This is why I know that.   They have a cat room. They have a room the size of a regular coat closet that has an opening for the cat so the cat can get away from the dog (who is too big to go through the hole) and this cat closet has a bunch of perches where kitty can feel safe.   I’m guessing that’s also where the litter box is.  Only problem I see is it’s dark and away from the family.   Don’t think my two fur children would hang out there but I don’t know their cat.   Anyway, an unusual space in this big house.

Last Tues., Wed., Thursday we met our friends Lynn and Bob in Hilton Head where they were using a week of time share at a Marriott property.  Lovely resort.   We had drinks at a waterfront bar and watched a beautiful sunset.   After a delicious Italian dinner cooked by Lynn and Bob we walked down to sit by the outdoor fire.   It was dark, the ground was uneven and I took a nasty fall.   We were all pretty worried about the bruise on my knee and the sore shoulder I had but after a couple days I improved dramatically.  Only a little sore now.

On Wed. we took a boat trip over to Daufuskie Island, home of a small community of Gullah people (only 17 left on the island) and private resorts and golf courses.  There is no bridge to the island so people come by boat from Hilton Head and Savannah.   The Gullah people are descendents of slaves who came from Africa and kind of got “forgotten” after the Civil War.   They have developed their own very distinctive language and culture and are on several of the barrier islands along NC, SC and Georgia. It is a real struggle for the people to preserve their culture.    We took a bus tour of the island so learned lots of history going back to early Indians at least 5000 years ago.  Before we left we had some famous Daufuskie steamed crab cake.  Lots of crab and not fishy.   We all said yummy. All very interesting.   I hope their museums and people can preserve this culture.

It was a beautiful day.   Both at the dock and on the boat trip we saw lots of dolphins and that is always a treat.   We sat outside at the dock and had some drinks and lunch and then being exhausted from such a day of fun most of us caught a nap.   We ended the evening with a nice dinner.   All in all a very pleasant way to spend a few days.   We know Lynn and Bob very well so there is no shortage of conversation.

Hilton Head is about 4 1/2 hours from our house and we had a fun book on CD that kept us entertained in the car and made the time fly by. The book we are listening to is  The Cat Who Lived High, the 11th novel in the Cat Who series of murder mystery novels by Lilian Jackson Braun We have read several in the series.   It features a millionaire bachelor and his two Siamese cats Cocoa and Yum Yum.   They all manage to get into some kind of murder mystery trouble.  Cocoa is also quite a little sleuth.  Since we are cat lovers we thoroughly enjoy the antics of the two cats.   Good character development and the plot isn’t too complicated to listen to in the car.   If you have ever read any of the “Midford” books by Jan Karon, these have a similar style.

Last night we went to a dinner party at the home of one of our Newcomer friends and the six of us had a great dinner and exchanged a few Christmas gifts.  Of special interest were a beautiful paduka tree ornament made by our host, a black bottle of wine in the shape of a cat and a great wine book.  Pictures to come later.   We need another memory card for our new camera so we can take more than 10 photos before unloading them.   Tonight is Cocktails R Us with probably 50 Newcomers at the home of a member in a very nice subdivision here in Greenville.

Sunday we will go swimming and then to “Miracle on 34th Street” at Centre Stage which is being done as a radio show.   Should be interesting.

Other than that we have been busy making Christmas gifts.   Pictures to follow.   There are a couple new things this year that I think you will enjoy seeing.

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Chateau Elan weekend girls trip

I am behind on writing about my adventures.   Kind of hit a month or so when I just didn’t feel like doing much of anything so I didn’t.  My theory is I was just so tired of the heat and being cooped up inside with the air conditioner.   I really miss being outside and having the windows open.   I did get a couple books read which I haven’t done in a very long time.   Steven King’s 11-22-63 and Night Circus.   Thank you friend G. Ann for loaning them to me.

Quite by chance in August I got an opportunity to go with my friend from Newcomers, Cindy, on a two night trip to just north of Atlanta GA  to the beautiful Chateau Elan Resort, Spa, Conference Center, Golf Course Winery and Vineyard.  Cindy is also a big cat lover so we spent a good amount of time talking about our kitties.   I didn’t even know Georgia had much wine making going on so it was a very educational trip.

We left on Sat. morning.  It is only a 2 1/2 hr. drive.  Sat. night they had this spectacular wine and food paring meal out in the vineyard with dessert under the stars.  I had a meal like this on my bucket list and it was fabulous.   There were only 40 people there, two long tables of 20.  We sat with some really interesting folks so it was good company, a beautiful setting, wonderful music and of course great food and wine.   All the wine was from Chateau Elan.  The pictures tell the story.  Each course was a work of art.

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Georgia is known for its Muscadine grapes and wine.  The southern US is the only place in the world that these grapes grow.  I have to be honest and admit that I am not a fan of Muscadine wine.   It is usually quite sweet and has an unusual flavor.  The food and wine paring brought one very unexpected combination.   We had a salad with quite a bit of gorgonzola cheese and it was the perfect combination with the Muscadine wine.   I was really surprised and liked it quite a bit.   We had three of their white wines, a couple red wines and port with the chocolate dessert.  By the time we got to dessert it was dark outside and all the stars were out and there was a big full moon.   It was perfect.

Our room was on the bottom floor and overlooked the golf course so I could read my book out on our little patio.   On Sunday we attended the food and wine festival in the winery.   The winery is huge.  Tens of thousands of square feet on three levels.  Includes a large gift shop and demonstration cooking kitchen.  I had a great opportunity to collect info on some wineries in north GA which isn’t far from us.   There were also quite a few beer breweries.   Did you know there is peach beer, orange beer, chocolate beer, coffee beer, vanilla?  I didn’t try any of these.   Just give me the plain simple beverage.

Click here to get to a map of all the wineries.  Some are up in the mountains.  Bob and I hope to get to visit some of these when the fall colors arrive in Oct.  In addition to tasting wine and eating we went to one cooking demonstration on a yummy pork dish  and one wine lecture on Muscadine grapes.   Really interesting.  Although GA is known for the Muscadine grapes they also grow many other so there is a good selection for everyone.

Sun. night I went for a swim in the pool and soak in the hot tub.   It was a great day.

On Sunday we had the brunch at the hotel and took a short tour of the spa, which is in a separate building with its own small hotel.  Definitely Chateau Elan is the full package of things to do.  The resort is in Braselton GA.  Here is an interesting tidbit about Braselton: In 1989 Kim Basinger  paid $20 million to buy the entire town of Braselton, Georgia, about 60 miles from Atlanta. Four years later, she was sued for backing out of a film she had agreed to star in, and was forced to sell Braselton for just $1 million.   Here is my question – How and who do you buy a town from?

I think this is only my third girls weekend in my life plus I have gone on several weekend retreats but this was different from a retreat.  Hope you enjoyed the story.   I would definitely recommend visiting the property.

Still to come another time-

Bob and I had a weeks vacation in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in early June which I haven’t told you about yet.  Let me just say that Virginia is an absolutely beautiful state.  They have mountains, wineries, scenic wonders and Monticello as well as a lavender farm!