Monday, July 25, 2011

Ocean Isle.................AKA "Heaven"

I love Ocean Isle, North Carolina.  It's the beach where I saw my children blossom.  It's where I talk with God openly and freely.  It is sand, shells, sounds, and the most calm ocean experience still available, I think.

The town itself consists of a small ocean museum, a town hall, a church. There are three restaurants and bars. (There IS a new restaurant/bar at the far west end of the island these days, but it's far enough away from the traffic circle that I don't consider it part of the town.)

There are three little shops for tee shirts and beach gear, a coffee/food shop, a gas station that sells bacon, eggs, shrimp, and bait along with the gas, multiple real estate offices, and a couple of non-chain motels.  Only one highrise blights the view, and with a little practice I have come to not see it at all. All the other buildings are beach houses of varying sizes and values. If you want a Waves store, you have to drive over the causeway, off the island, to find that kind of (tacky) shopping experience.

We've just returned from a week in Ocean Isle.  Our little house was supposed to sleep eight, but the three of us, Randy and I and my daughter Meredith, fit in nicely.  One more person might have been too many, actually.

I didn't write Ramblings of Roamers all week because we didn't have Internet service.  I did, however, religiously sit down and hand-write my travel journal each morning.  It is all documented.  I found out that I write more and do better detailing when I type. (Next beach house will have Internet.......)

I don't plan to copy my handwritten journal onto this site, but will just tell the major events, if I could call them that.

Picture me, no make-up except for mascara, a worn blue floppy hat covering my head, a bathing suit from the 80's,  tired beach umbrella hovering over my head, book in hands, sitting in my also aged red and white striped beach chair (with the broken part barely hanging on.....),  and you have the BEST part of the whole week.  Silence, except for the sounds of waves, wind, and an occasional bird call.  I sat just like that for most of the week.  (The NEW swimsuit was in the suitcase waiting to be worn with people who might CARE what I was wearing........................)  A few dips into the ocean each day, a few rides on my old boogie board, feet dug deep into the sand,  I was in my element.  Almost Heaven.

A shrimp boat or two went by throughout the week, and once I even lifted up my binoculars to get a good view of one called the Predator, only because it looked awesome from the shore.  A one-footed sandpiper modeled for me at daybreak one morning. I photographed him because he wanted his picture taken, I could tell.  It was only when he hopped away that I realized he really only HAD one leg.  I went ass-over-tin-cup, as we used to call it, when one humongous wave shoved my boogie board and me upside-down on a very windy day.  Those are the  highlights of day beaching.

Sunrises were seen on two occasions, and sundowns were witnessed each evening.  There are no words for either..................

Shrimp by the pounds, from the grocery on the mainland or from the shrimper himself at a roadside stand, were steamed and grilled at our little beach house.  There were no leftovers..............

We ate dinner at Sharky's twice:  Once with Meredith where we ate a white pizza, and once just Randy and I ordered the "World's Famous Sharky's Vegetarian Pizza," which I have been copying in my own kitchen since about 1984.............the banana peppers are key to the thrill of this pizza. I was pleased to find that mine tastes just like theirs.

We had dinner at The Giggling Mackerel once.  I've called that place everything except its name, as I find it hard to remember, for some reason.  I think I ate an appetizer there............chicken fingers.  At some point, I realized that I was not hungry at ALL...........probably because we seemed to be eating nonstop. Meredith asked, occasionally, "When is the next feeding?"........which sort of sums it up.

Aside from three separate orders of fried calamari, (one at each restaurant), we went through two bags of salt water taffy, a bag of soft licorice, two packages of Oreos, a package of Vienna Fingers, two Pop Tarts, a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, a small carton of ice cream, 24 bottles of water, many bottles of 55 calorie Budweiser, and a loaf of bread which we used for tomato sandwiches, tuna sandwiches, and toast.

One night we had a "luau" on our little front porch.  Meredith assembled a kite that looked like a parrot, I produced beach art from the walls of our abode, we strung up some Christmas lights, brought out the low coffee table from the living room, and sat on beach chairs around the table while we ate grilled vegetables and shrimp from Chef Randy.  Reggae music completed the scene. For dessert, we opened up Oreo cookies, used Randy's blow torch to roast marshmallows, smooshed them into the Oreos, and created what Meredith named "Smoreos."  Yum.

Two days to get there: you know we don't do power driving. On the way we stayed in a Comfort Inn in Winston-Salem, NC, and on the way back Meredith and I stayed in a Red Roof in Wytheville, VA. Randy left the beach at the same time we did Saturday morning, but took his truck north to Nags Head to pick up his mother, who had flown there with his sister, from Texas.  Fran will be visiting in Akron for three weeks before she flies home August 16th.

Meredith and I arrived home on Sunday afternoon about 3:30, and I've put everything away, done the beach laundry, grocery shopped, and caught up on my email.  The bills are calling my I know that I am not at the beach anymore, Toto...................

I have a "tan"............I have "Beachwoman" Hair.............that look that screams "naturally curly" to anyone who sees  it....................and I don't plan to tame it until the spell of Ocean Isle seems to fade away........
which I hope will be awhile yet................

copyright: KP Gillenwater

Friday, July 15, 2011

To the Beach, to the Ocean Isle, NC

At 5:00 this morning Randy and I were up and putting the finishing touches on our house and ourselves.  Meredith arrived at 5:30 on the nose, and by 6:10 we were out the door, everything dead-bolted, and we were on our way. Randy is driving his truck, and I am driving my Rendezvous.  The reason for two vehicles is that we will not be driving home together. Now, while that may sound ominous, it's not! It's really a matter of creating the easiest way to get Randy's mom home from Texas, via North Carolina.

On the way home next week, Randy will be taking a side trip to Nags Head, in the Outer Banks, to pick up his mother, Fran.  Fran will be flying north from Texas with Randy's sister's family, then be coming home with Randy to visit in Akron, where she will visit for three weeks, staying in the homes of all three of the Gillenwater siblings, sort of like a time-share event.

We have a reservation tonight at a Comfort Inn in the north part of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and we had to drive approximately 450 miles today to get here.  We made exceptionally good time, but as two of us had not eaten breakfast, by about 9:45 AM we were ready to stop for lunch/brunch.  We ate our picnic of egg-salad sandwiches and fruit on the banks of the Ohio River in Marietta, Ohio.  We sat on the concrete tiers that face the river arena for the stern wheeler boats during the Stern Wheeler Festival Days that we have attended when my sister and her husband lived near Marietta.

We used the restroom at the historic Lafayette Hotel, then we were out of town and back on the road.  We had a few gasoline stops and bathroom breaks, notably one at Beckley, West Virginia, near the Tamarack West Virginia Arts building.

On we drove.  Our GPS unit, Thelma, is so wonderful.  I don't know how we ever got anywhere without her.  At exactly 3:50 PM, just as Thelma had predicted, we pulled into the parking lot of this Comfort Inn. (The funny thing is that Randy has borrowed his brother's GPS unit, Thelma II, and they have actually disagreed on the route to take!!!)  Thank goodness for cell phones car to car.

We ate dinner at La Torrendos, a real Mexican restaurant which is fairly close to our motel.  We have a bit of motion sickness from riding for more than nine hours. (You know that Randy and I don't like "power driving." We're more the ambling type........the "roamers.")

We anticipate a lovely evening and a good night's sleep here.

 We have rented a beach house in Ocean Isle, North Carolina for a week, starting tomorrow. It's the beach town where my former husband and I used to take our kids for beach trips when they were little.  Meredith actually selected the house online and we did the entire rental by computer.  It's a house that sleeps more than the three of us, but we couldn't convince Stephen to leave home with us.  (Meredith's little Yorkie, Boogie, is staying with a friend.)  I cannot believe that I failed to mention the destination.............except in the title...........

.............but I guess that's because we so infrequently HAVE a "destination!"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Columbus, Revisited

Randy and I went to Columbus for my STRS appointment, to investigate retirement, for me.  We arrived early and took a walk several blocks to stroll around the state capitol building. We've decided that of all the state capitols, Ohio's is the least good-looking.  It just doesn't have that regal look that others, with domes, do.

The meeting went well, was well-understood, and we left STRS to go to German Village to The Book Loft, the bookstore with 32 different rooms full of books.  I bought a book about ghosts and a WW cookbook and a pile of greeting cards. Randy bought some construction books.

Then we went to North Star Cafe in Clintonville, north of Columbus, to meet up with Janet Lipkin Fish, who I truly have not seen since 9th grade. We've struck up a friendship via Facebook over the past two years. She is retiring right this minute and had steered me to the counselor I met with.  I had a 6 dollar bowl of soup and Randy had a 14 dollar hamburger. Then we had four 3 dollar cookies..........egads.

We then went to "Short North," which is in the northern part of the city. Lots of galleries and cute little boutiques are there. We strolled around, checked out a few shops and galleries, and decided it was too hot to be there.

Since it was July 1st, Columbus was celebrating what is called "Red, White, and Boom!" and half of the city was not even at work (which is probably why we had no trouble driving around.....) and at night there was to be a huge fireworks display.

Randy and I ordered a big pizza and ate that in our suite at the Comfort Inn, then stood in the parking lot and watched what we could see of the fireworks, rather than be in a huge crowd.  We also took a very short dip in the hotel pool.

On Saturday morning, it was raining, but we had planned to attend "The Gallery Hop" at Short North. Unfortunately, the rain kept a lot of people from going there.  We went in and out of galleries, not buying anything.  We found The North Market, on Spruce Street, (I think) and enjoyed a very leisurely walk through this old city market.  (It is a small version of The West Side Market of Cleveland.)  We ate a couple of samples, and I bought 6 large square screaming yellow dinner plates for summer entertaining at one great little kitchen shop.  A farmer sold me some wheatberries at half what I've been paying at Giant Eagle, also.

We walked back to our car, parked on High Street, and ate coney dogs at Phillip's Coney Island, while we watched Retro TV.....Fess Parker in Daniel Boone, then Robin Hood.  Across the street, at Jeni's fabulous ice cream shop, we had 2 scoops of ice cream for $8.................delicious, cold, and we needed it at that moment.

Home in the late afternoon via Lodi Outlets.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lily Dale, New York, Where "Nobody Dies," and The White Turkey Drive-In

Meredith and I have been to Lily Dale, New York, for two days. We've been to Lily Dale before, you may remember. Actually I went there twice last summer. I didn't tell you much about Lily Dale, because I wasn't sure how you would react to knowing I go there to find some spiritual peace, and connect with others.

Lily Dale is a community which was organized in 1844.  It is just over the New York state line from Erie, Pennsylvania.  It is a home for Spiritualists.  This includes mediums.  Lily Dale has had its share of bad press over early years, but recently it has had mostly good reviews, including an HBO movie about it in 2010, titled "Nobody Dies in Lily Dale."  This movie presented objective reviews from visitors to Lily Dale, and reactions to the mediumship practiced there.

In 2010 Randy and I were in Lily Dale on our summer vacation. You can look back and read about it. I was vague in my coverage of that day, but it was wonderful. The daily schedule does not deviate much.

Visitors first attend a "healing service" in the  Healing Temple.  This is a laying-on of hands and spiritual healing service.  As one who believes in the spiritual existance of all people, this was very easy for me to accept, attend, and come out  feeling refreshed, and indeed healed of some problems I was having.

Throughout the day, we attended some "Message Services" at various locations around Lily Dale. These are led by mediums who take turns going to the front of the groups and delivering spiritual messages from the Other Side to persons in the audience. Many of these deliveries are more than amazing.

If you are not a believer in Life After Death, you might as well quit reading here, but I assure you that I have had many lovely signs from my son in the years since he passed over. Part of the grief counseling that has helped me to grow has been acceptance when I relate these to others who believe.  This, for me, is not a "religion," but a way of thinking and believing. (And for anyone who is scoffing at this, isn't this what we were taught to believe in Sunday School: That part about "life everlasting?")

Randy and I went to Lily Dale in the early part of last summer, and Meredith went to Lily Dale with me the next month.  She and I stayed overnight on the grounds at the Maplewood Hotel, which dates back to 1880. This year, she and I made reservations at the Leolyn Hotel, which is just outside the Lily Dale gate. This is the first year that the Leolyn will be open full-time, due to the influx of visitors who came after the HBO presentation last year. We also wanted a private bathroom, which the other hotel cannot guarantee. Many guest homes have sprung up since last year to deal with the increase in visitors.

Lily Dale may be the most peaceful place one can visit. Our hotel had no TV, no air conditioning, no internet server, and no ice, either.  It didn't matter.  Lily Dale is quiet. No one is walking around yelling into a cell phone or even speaking loudly.  Everyone there is "like-minded," and quietly seeking answers.  The few stores are filled with books, tapes, music, and other items that promote peace, goodwill towards others, and acceptance of everyone. The whole message is love, acceptance and eternal life. I told Meredith that I thought it was a little like going to summer camp.

I had a reading with Janice Dreshman, and Meredith had an art-reading with Bonnie White.

We came home yesterday afternoon via Rt. 20 which is north of the interstate we travelled on our way. There was much construction on I-90, so the unbeaten path called to us.  We followed Rt 20 west to The White Turkey Drive-In in Conneaut, Ohio.  When my kids were little they used to go to Camp Fitch, in North Springfield, Pennsylvania.  Our route to camp went right by The White Turkey, and we always stopped for a turkey sandwich and a drink.

The White Turkey Drive-In was built in 1952. It has roll-up canvas sides that surround the serving arena where young ladies take orders, serve root beer floats, and place orders via the microphone to the kitchen.  Juke box machines are on the countertops so we can order up fifties tunes such as "Twilight Time," or "A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation."  The bathroom floors are painted bright red and decorated with white turkeys stencilled onto the floors.  The entire drive-in is immaculate and friendly.  We sat on stools around the counters to eat, as the wind blew and Patsy Cline sang sad songs.

I came home refreshed, rested, and renewed.  Lily Dale is only open during the summer.  That's a shame, because I could use a little peace during the winter.....................