Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!!! Each year we try to visit a different region for the Christmas Holidays. Last year we spent the Holidays in North Conway, New Hampshire hoping to experience a typical New England Christmas. Well, it was typical, however, it was one of the warmest Holiday Seasons on record for that part of the White Mountain Range. It snowed once for about 2 hours on the evening we arrived. About an inch worth. Nice while it lasted. Was gone before dawn. Other than that, the Holidays were wonderful.

This year we decided to try again for a snowy Christmas Holiday. Where else can one find more snow east of the Mississippi than in Up State New York with all that lake effect snow? We picked the small college town of Ithaca, New York ( because of its proximity to the Finger Lake Region ( and other points of interest in that area.

We located and chose the small short-term lease community of Horizon Villages ( for our Christmas Holiday home. A great choice; very comfortable and cozy and very close to everything. We arrived Saturday afternoon after a leisurely five-hour drive from Baltimore. After immediately setting up house, to include our small Christmas tree, we prepared our agenda for the following week.

Ithaca is the home Cornell University ( and Ithaca College ( Both schools are very large and comprise a majority of the city’s land area. The city is located at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake, one of the region’s Finger Lakes.

While in the area we visited Niagara Falls ( where we, and thousands of other visitors, enjoyed the awesome experience of this natural wonder. Also, we dropped by the Anchor Bar ( in Buffalo where we enjoyed a platter of their scrumptious Buffalo wings and a cold brew. The Anchor claims to be the inventor of this tasty treat. Among the many of our day trips, the two that were the most memorable were Watkins Glen and Corning.

Watkins Glen (, also, is at the southern tip of one of the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake. The Glen has a beautiful state park ( within its city limits. It is also the home of the Watkins Glen International (, a road course racetrack that is host to many famous racing venues. Before the building of the racetrack, the races were held on the streets of the village and through the roads in the surrounding countryside. In addition, the Glen is the home of the International Motor Racing Research Center ( The highlight of this visit was driving the original racecourse from start-to-finish. All in all, a beautiful and interesting place to visit. This can be said for Corning, too.

Corning, New York ( is the home of Corning glass and one of its main attractions is the Corning Museum of Glass ( This museum is worth the trip to the city alone. If you’re into aviation, the Glenn Curtiss Museum, the National Soaring Museum, and the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center are located within minutes of one another. The city itself is nestled in a valley on the Chemung River and is filled with plenty of shopping opportunities.

This area was filled with so many waterfalls ( it would have taken us weeks to visit them all. So many photo ops available. But, the one thing we wanted to experience here was the snow and guess what…it was the warmest Christmas Season on record. Again…no snow, except for the day we visited Watkins Glen when it snowed, but did not stick. Made it a beautiful scene. Shortly afterwards,however, the area was inundated by snow for the rest of the winter. Timing, I guess.

This Christmas Holiday will be spent in Savannah, hopefully, in our new home. If not there then in our trailer where we will live until the house is inhabitable. Look for more on this.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Many years ago, Joyce and I started a Thanksgiving tradition. We would go to Ocean City, Maryland and spend Thanksgiving at the ocean. We would leave the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving and return home Sunday afternoon. The first year we stayed at one of the many hotels on the boardwalk (at a much reduced winter rate) and spend our time strolling it and the beach. We discovered a hotel that year with a beautiful Victorian lobby and restaurant, which turned out to be one of the oldest hotels on the boardwalk, Phillips Beach Plaza Hotel (<>). The thing that caught our fancy was the lobby and piano bar Christmas decorations. They were awesome. A huge 10-foot tree and dozens of antiquish Christmas decorations. From the next year on, we stayed in the same beach front room at Phillips.

This past year we knew this would be the last time we would spend time at Phillips over a Thanksgiving holiday. We made reservations for “our” room early and departed at the usual time arriving around 9 PM on Wednesday evening. Typically on Thanksgiving Day we would spend the morning reading either in the lobby or on the hotel’s front porch in one of their many rockers gazing out over the ocean. Weather permitting, and it usually did, there would be throngs of people on the boardwalk all day long. We usually would partake our Thanksgiving meal at one of the many local restaurants. Early on we found the best meal in town at Bruxy’s Salty Dog Saloon ( For a mere $9.95 each person would get a full plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, string beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and dessert. Plus, we could watch the football games on their multiple big screen TVs. What a deal!!!!

This year, however, we decided to try the hotel dining room’s Thanksgiving buffet. We did so because we were in the middle of another Nor' Easter. Sound familiar? Glad we did, though. More than two-dozen items and excellent service. A bit more expensive, but since it was our last time here, what the heck! We finished out the evening walking off our meal on the boardwalk. A pleasant ending to a beautiful day.

The next few days were spent, primarily, reading, watching the removal of sand from the storm, walking, relaxing on our room’s patio with an adult beverage, and listening to the entertainers in the hotel’s piano bar. The duo playing each night was Rhonda Apple and Dale Britt: she a beautiful singer and he a fantastic pianist (<>).

Going home time comes quickly when you enjoy yourself. These long weekends always are enjoyable. We are sad that this tradition will be broken, but we will find a new one in a different place. That is what it is all about for us. Seeing new places, meeting new people, and enjoying our retirement. Photos are posted under Thanksgiving 2006.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

As you learned in our last posting, Joyce and I enjoy all facets of the automobile hobby. This includes auto racing, i.e. NASCAR, dirt track, drags, endurance and Formula 1 to name a few. We also restore classic cars and currently have a 1966 Mustang coupe and a 1973 Corvette Stingray coupe. The Corvette is a “show car” and we are constantly spending weekends, during the late spring, summer and early fall on the car show circuit in the local area. To this date we have collected over two-dozen trophies for the Corvette to include “Best in Class” at the 2003 annual Concours d’ Elagance held by the National Council of Corvette Clubs.

Each year the Freestate Corvette Club, located near Baltimore, Maryland, hosts a “Corvette Weekend” at Ocean City, Maryland. This year we had decided to participate one last time in its most cherished event, the “Boardwalk Parade of Corvettes.” It also gave us the opportunity to try out our new car trailer as well as renew old friendships made while we were very active in the Corvette Club scene.

The weekend was gorgeous. The trip there an back uneventful. The fellowship was endearing. And the boardwalk ride was as exciting as ever. Check out the photos labeled “Corvette Weekend 2006”.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Since Joyce and I are both gear heads, we seem to collect older motor vehicles that are not really daily drivers. Joyce’s project, a 1966 Mustang coupe, is a work-in-progress and is not really in road worthy condition. It has to be transported in a manner that does not require its internal power train to get it from point A to point B. My project, a 1973 Corvette Stingray coupe, is pretty much finished and although it can make it from point A to point B and back, we do not like to put too many miles it. It is a “show car” and when going long distances, it is easier to tow it rather than to drive it and then have to re-clean it for a show. Additionally, with our impending move to Georgia, we decided that a car hauler was the best way for us to get out vehicles and household goods to our new home in the “Low Country”.

I found a company on Ebay that sold a well know make of enclosed car hauler at a “very” reasonable price. It is manufactured in Douglas, Georgia, about 2 hours west of Savannah. We decided that this is what we wanted and promptly made arrangements for the purchase. We planned a trip to Savannah over the Columbus holiday weekend and arranged for the delivery to take place on October 9th, at the factory in Douglas.

We drove to Savannah on the 7th and stayed that night and the next morning at Berryoaks making notes. We departed for Douglas Sunday afternoon and spent the night there. The next morning we made our way to the factory and met with the owner of the trailer sales and the trailer manufacturing company. Once the deal was finalized, the owner of the factory gave us a tour of the plant. They have an assembly line where they manufacture the trailers as per individual order. We were very impressed by the handcrafting of these vehicles.

Once we had toured the factory we set about getting ready for the trip back to Maryland. This would be the first time I had pulled a large trailer (27 feet overall length) of this kind and I was hesitant about doing so. I had acquired an anti-sway hitch hoping this would reduce the problem large trailers of this kind experience on the road. It took a while to set the hitch up and connect the trailer to the truck so we did not leave Douglas until shortly after noon. We had hoped to be on the road by 10 AM.

It was evident within the first few miles that my choice of hitches was a good one. The trailer towed like a dream. Almost like there was nothing there. The truck, being made to tow big things, hardly labored at all. My confidence soared. Before long, we were cruising at the posted speed (65 mph) like the big rigs, except they were going much faster. We made it to Brunswick, Georgia, up I-95 through Savannah and into Florence, South Carolina before we stopped for the evening. The next morning we left at 5 AM and drove the remaining 470 miles getting us home around 2 PM on the 10th. Made it!!!! Another step completed. Check out the photos labeled “Toy Hauler”.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

One of our major hobbies we intend to continue is travel. Our travel time now is limited to the weekends, some of which we extend so we can increase the travel radius of our trips. That will cease to become a factor once we retire. But, for now we will take long weekend trips of which many we go “au naturale” (this means camping and not in the buff). We have had many experiences on these kind of excursions and our last attempt exemplifies that.

We had decided to take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend and take a jaunt to the beach; Assateague Island Maryland State Park to be more precise. We had lucked out, due to a late cancellation, we secured a campsite in the dunes. Assateague Island Sate Park is a premier beach campsite located about 5 miles south of Ocean City, Maryland and is on the most northern part of Assateague Island. This barrier island extends form Ocean City, Maryland in the north to Chincoteage, Virginia in the south. More information on Assateague Island can be found at:

We had decided to extend the weekend by taking Friday (Sep. 1st) off and return on Monday (Sep. 4th). We rented a small hard-side pop-up trailer from the Ft. Meade Recreation Department and were due to pick it up at 9 AM Friday morning. We packed the pickup with all the gear we needed for the weekend and headed out at 8 AM. There was one monkey wrench, however, that both Old Mother Nature and Mr. Murphy (of Murphy’s Law fame) had thrown at all of us early holiday travelers. This wrench had the name of tropical storm Ernesto. Ernesto had hit the shores of North Carolina late morning on August 31st and was forecasted to proceed northerly into the mountains of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. That track would take it about 200-250 miles to the west of our destination. Well, we know how reliable these forecasts are.

Once we had picked up the trailer and headed towards Maryland’s Eastern Shore ( ), it had already begun to rain with the wind picking up dramatically. The weather reports still had the track of the storm heading towards the mountains, so we continued on. Just a short thirty minutes latter we began the crossing of the Chesapeake Bay via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge ( The winds were much stronger now and the crossing was a white-knuckle one. The radio said the winds were gusting 20-30 MPH. Not too bad, but when you are several hundred feet in the air, driving a large wind collector and pulling another one, that wind can get one un-nerved. We made it, however, without incident.

The remainder of the 120 miles to the park was filled with heavy rain and ever-increasing winds. We arrived at the park shortly after 11 AM. By this time the winds were quite brisk (30-40 MPH) and the rain was blowing horizontally. We had prepared for the weather by bringing our foul-weather gear so I donned the accouterments and struggled the hundred or so feet towards the park’s registration building. Those two minutes found me soaked to the skin by the time I reached the building. So much for the foul-weather gear. The wind was blowing so hard it drove the rain into every open spot in the clothing rendering the suit useless except for protection against the stinging rain and blowing sand.

We headed for our campsite and found very few campers around. Did they know some we didn’t? More than likely we were a bit more adventurous than they. We parked the trailer on the pad and disconnected it from the truck. We did not attempt to do anything else for the wind was too strong. The Ranger’s weather equipment was registering gusts over 50 MPH at that time. A Ranger, making his rounds, stopped and told us they expected the storm to subside in a few a hours and recommended that we leave the trailer and come back around 3 PM. We took his advice and headed a bit inland where we found a small restaurant/bar and waited out the storm. The problem now? The storm didn’t subside. At 3 PM we headed back to the park only to find the trailer had been blown off the pad and was now stuck in the mud that was once sand. I took the safety chains on the trailer, hooked them to the truck, and was able to drag it back onto the pad, but not without getting soaked again. In addition to the extreme discomfort of the cold rain, biting wind-driven sand and pure aggravation, we were able to get things situated for a quick deployment of the trailer once the wind eased up. But…problem two: the wind got stronger. We tuned in to a local station only to find out that the track of the storm had changed and was now heading up the coast. Now folks, even though the storm had been downgraded further to a tropical depression, it still was a force to be reckoned with. A storm traveling up the coast of the Atlantic becomes what is known as a Nor’ Easter. See'easter for more info on this kind of storm. To add to the problems, the storm was slowing down and decided to make its time over us a memorable one.

Discretion being the better part of valor, we decided to pack up and head farther inland. By this time it was close to 6 PM and we began looking for a place to stay near Salisbury, Maryland, about 25 miles west (inland) of Ocean City. We found a motel, dried ourselves off, got a fast food burger and settled in for a very windy, rainy night. So much for our first night of camping. Oh, by-the-way, the park did not close. If they did, they would have had to refund everyone for that night. Pure economics.

The next morning started cloudy with winds blowing 20-30 mph. This was not too bad considering the day and night before. We headed back to the park and found a line of campers waiting to register. Since we registered the day before, we continued on to our campsite and began setting up. The wind subsided a bit more, but it was still strong enough to blow sand everywhere. This made it difficult to work outside because the sand felt like tiny needles on the exposed skin and it was getting into everything. The camper we had didn’t take long to set up (5 minutes) and we proceeded to make things comfy inside. By mid-morning the wind calmed considerably, however, it was still quite strong. The waves were enormous and kept everyone out of the water save a few brave surfers. Regardless, it all made for a beautiful scene.

The next few days progressively got better and by Sunday evening the sky was cloudless, the wind calm, the temperature warm and the ocean like glass. One would never have known, except for the sand all over the place, that a huge storm had passed here a few days ago. We were able to get some relaxing time in the sun which included some surf fishing. Nothing was biting though. The ponies even returned and gave the campers great photo opportunities. What hams.

Regretfully, on Monday we packed up and headed back to Baltimore. The experience was sure different than any of our previous camping trips. Bad weather is not something we shy from, but there is a limit. Next time we will prepare accordingly and watch the weather more closely. Check out the photos "Labor Day Camping".

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Retirement always seems to allow one the opportunity to do things they have always yearned to do, however, one does not need to be retired (as many think) to dabble in genealogy. I started my dabbling after my father passed away in early 1990 and I learned of a Berry reunion in Georgia that following summer. My brother and I had very little knowledge of the Berry side of the family and I found this an opportunity to meet some family I new nothing of.

I found a lot of information back then and kept in loose contact with some of my newly found cousins. I did some research on my own, but had very little resources living so far away from the Georgia homeland. As the years passed, I kept my interest in the family past, but was not very active in pursuing it. Then I received an email from another distant cousin who had learned of me through one of my cousins that I had met in 1990. She introduced me (through email) to another cousin who and they asked if I was interested in attending another family reunion in Cullman, Alabama. Seems like quite a few early Berry families settled in Alabama and stayed there. I asked my brother if he wanted to go and we both ended up attending. More Berrys than a berry patch.

As several more years and reunions passed, a “grand” reunion was organized in Roswell, Georgia for June of 2006. Again my brother’s family and my family decided to attend. I do not believe I have seen more Berrys together in one place anywhere. The event started on Friday evening in the host hotel’s conference room. After the social hour, which included great finger food and several Berry genealogy “stations” around the room, a more formal program began. Much of it was the agenda for the weekend, stories of Berrys past, and introduction of all the Berrys in attendance. Wow! We are one large family.

Each separate line of Berrys had their own colored T-shirt. It was like a rainbow when we met in the hotel lobby the next morning for breakfast. Our Saturday began with a bus tour that took us to the early family cemetery then to several of the original home sites of our ancestors who settled the lands around what is now Atlanta. These ancestors took advantage of the Georgia Land Grants of the late 1820s. After seeing the palatial homes that were now built on the original sites we moved on to tour the Smith Plantation. This was a beautifully restored example of an “Old South” antebellum plantation. Before our formal tour of the property we lunched on sandwiches and soft drinks in an open air dining facility close to the main house. After this tour we traveled a short distance to Bulloch Hall, another restored antebellum home. Both were breathtaking and provided all of us a peek back into the time of our ancestors (although our Berrys were not quite as wealthy). After returning to the hotel, we all freshened up and walked next door to a family-style restaurant for dinner. Every one was full, exhausted, and tired. Needless to say that it was an early evening for most (except some of the younger cousins who trekked into Atlanta for some night life---ahhh…to be young again).

There are more plans for more reunions in the near future. We will be there. The genealogy bug has deepened its grip on me. Looks like I will have a very time consuming hobby to look forward to very soon. We are blessed to have so many wonderful cousins in our extended family. I hope we can get to know them better as well as our ancestors who carved out a portion of this country to make a home for their families. See the Photo Album named Family Reunion for pictures of this event. For more information on the Berry family roots, go to these web pages:

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A big part of our retirement plan is to travel. We intend to take advantage of the military hops and see parts of the world we have not yet visited. We also plan to see this wonderful country by schlepping campground-to-campground across North America (and maybe even parts of Central America). The mode of travel for our American journeys will be a travel trailer.

We wanted something that would pull a 30-foot trailer without problems so we looked for a very long time and decided upon a Chevrolet 2500 HD (heavy duty), diesel powered pickup truck. We searched almost every dealer on the east coast only to find one that would get us what we wanted. Except……they wanted $2,000 over MSRP. “Find another sucker, pal”.

Having made several trips to San Antonio, Texas, for business and to visit my brother, Don, we started looking in that area for we had noticed the car lots abundant with pickup trucks. They seem to be the preferred method of transportation in that part of Texas. It did not take long to find a dealer who had the exact vehicle we were looking for with all the options for $8,000 less than the MSRP. Folks, that is over $10,000 less than the east coast dealer wanted to sell it for. A no brainer. And to beat it all, my brother found a dealer who would get that truck and sell it to me for $300 less than the dealer who had it on their lot. What a deal. That paid for the airline tickets to San Antonio.

Don picked up the truck and was gracious enough to drive it for several weeks to put some mileage on it before we drove it back to Baltimore. The trip was 1660 miles and it took us two and a half days to make it. We did not push ourselves and we stayed off the main interstates until we got to Memphis. Didn’t get any of their good B-B-Q, but we did see Elvis (see Texas Trip picture album).

Our next step is to find the trailer that suits us best. We do not expect to get that until spring of next year (2007). This trailer is where we will live for however long it takes for our house to be built. We are expecting up to six months. Sooner would be better. Christmas 2007 is our target date. Stay tuned. There is more preparation that we are planning for this summer.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

We needed to determine whether the house plan we had picked would fit in the clearing on the lot. To make this determination we needed to travel to Savannah and measure the area. We left Baltimore early (5 AM) Saturday morning (Feb 18th) and headed south on I-95 to Savannah. We arrived that afternoon at 5 PM. The next morning we went out to the lot and began the survey.

We started at the front corner on the road and marked the two driveway entrances. We then plotted the driveway as it curves into and out of the lot. Once locating the driveway we marked the clearing where the house will set. We continued to plot the larger clearing where the garage will be located. The final result was the house would fit into the clearing. This confirms the house plan we will go with. All of our work is documented for you too see in an album called "Will it fit"?

We returned to Baltimore on the 20th after another 12-hour drive north on I-95. The result of this trip helped us make a major decision and now we can continue to move ahead. Our next step will be working with the county to make sure the location of the septic field and the water well will be acceptable and with the electric company to determine their right-of-ways. Things are getting serious now. More to come.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

People have asked us why we want to move so far south. Today was a re-affirmation of our choice. Mother nature dumped 14" of snow on us via a Nor'Easter that came up the coast. Savannah is far enough south that snow rarely ever falls and if it does it doesn't not accumulate. Snow was not our primary choice for going south, but it was one of the major considerations. Ask my muscles and bones tonight if we made the right choice.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Well, we have finally, we think, picked out a house plan. We have some minor mods to make to it, but all will compliment our living there. We are not sure, at this time, how it will fit on the lot, so we will have to travel to Savannah to check it out.

It is not very large and with one steps...yea!!!!! Once we decide that this is the plan, we will really begin our efforts to get things rolling. Stay tuned!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

We have started this journal so we can share our lives with our family and friends while we count down to retirement and on to the building of Berry Oaks. If all goes well we will continue this as we go on through our retirement years. Our travels, fun, hard work, hard times, and anything else we can post will give you an idea of what full retirement is like (or not). So.....buckle up...this can turn out to be a long and wild ride. We hope!!!!!! :)