Sunday, May 30, 2010

Philly!! Cheesesteak!!

One week ago was a momentous occasion!!  I had my first ever Philly Cheese Philly! 

We decided that while in Philly we had to have a cheese steak.  We had heard that the two best places were Geno's and Pat's which were located across the street from each other.  So I was going to go to one place and Russell was going to go to the other.  Well....our plan went be the wayside when our bed and breakfast host told us that Jim's was the place to go.  He gave us directions and told us we couldn't miss it.....there was a long line out front.  He wasn't kidding.  This is what we found as we reached South Street. 

So, how was the first cheesesteak???  Pretty darn good.  I had my with provolone and grilled onions.  Russell had one with "whiz" and onions.  That would be cheez whiz for the amateurs!  The guys behind the grill and counter had quite a system going.  Very efficient!

Here was the the final product......

And here we are enjoying it!

The verdict was in...pretty good!!  But I really think it has more to do with the bread than anything.  That bread was awesome.  Wonder where I can find some :D

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Big Fish, er, Mammals and Even Bigger Houses

So, I have changed the name of this blog from Daily Observations to just simply "observations" for obvious reasons.  I have not exactly been very diligent in keeping up with the daily posts.  I'm about a week behind.  Sooooo....I decided to do one post on for the current day and another "catch-up" post and hopefully I'll get caught up!! 

Right now I am staying at a place where the only room that there is internet access is in a community room.  At this very moment there is a lot of very lively community going on.  A room full of very loud people routing for the Celtics.  It is very loud in here.  But I am trying to concentrate.    Focus. Focus. Focus.   :D

For the last week we have been staying at Cape Cod....or "The Cape" as I have been told all the locals call it.  I have to say it is as if we showed up a week early for a visit to a friend who is busy doing spring cleaning for an important guest the following week.  In other words, we showed up a week before "the season" begins. 

Today, the season began and luckily we are leaving tomorrow.....and leaving the crowds behind.  We decided to head to New Bedford, MA to visit the Whaling Museum and then head over to Newport, RI.  I was very leery of this because I anticipated a lot of traffic coming back.  I had reason to be leery....There was traffic.  But it turned out to be not too bad. 

The Whaling Museum was very interesting but it made me very sad.  I just hated the thought of killing all those whales.  They pretty much hunted them to extinction!!    And it was a really sad industry in which the crewmen were away from their families for years at a time!!  

Russell in front of a skeleton of a sperm whale.  This whale had actually washed up on shore in Nantucket in 2002 and the skeleton was preserved.
Not liking this photo of me.  I'm giving the whale some serious competition in the size department......

A view from of the deck of the museum of the fishing boats in the harbor. 

We next headed to Newport.  It was a very cool city.  I liked it a lot.  Of course we went and checked out the mansions.  Holy heck, those are some big houses!!  I got some photos of the outside of The Breakers.  We didn't go inside because I was too cheap to pay the $24 per person to see how rich people lived!!  Here are a couple of photos....

We went back to the waterfront area and had lunch.  I also got a big box of salt water taffy (which should make my dentist very happy!).  

And that was our day in a nutshell.  Hopefully I can get this thing caught up!  We'll see....Boston and New York are next.  I might be just a little busy!

Friday, May 28, 2010

House Hunting

So we were doing a little house hunting in in Rhode Island.  And a couple of nice
spreads caught our eye......

And both are beach front property :)  Hmmm.....I wonder which one suits our personality.  We have to make a decision soon because next week we'll be searching for our country home in the Berkshires ;D

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Officer Travis Murphy EOW 5-26-2010

For the last three weeks I have been on a vacation...a road trip.  I figured we could just go away and leave the real world behind.  It has worked really well especially in Gettysburg where our room had no TV.    It worked really well until yesterday.  The real world found us.  More specifically, the real world found me.  And I want to be very careful with this because it is not about me.  Not even close. 

I had just boarded the subway in Boston when I received a message on my phone from a friend back in Phoenix.  An officer I had hired had been killed in the line of duty.  His name is Travis Murphy.  He has left behind a wife and two very small children. 

In the 21 years that I was a Phoenix Police Officer, I will tell you that my happiest years were spent hiring others to be police officers.  I think because I had just completed the worst years of my career and it was so refreshing to interact with these eager kids who were so excited to get their careers started.  They reminded my of why I decided to do the job and each of them holds a special place in my heart.  That is why this breaks my heart. 

I have tried to find the words to adequately pay tribute to someone who gives so unselfishly of himself and words that could diminish the pain his family feels right now.  I just can't find them....probably because they just don't exist.  So, for now, an Irish Blessing I found will have to do.  Yes, an Irish blessing....because with a name like Murphy what better blessing could there be......

May you see God's light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness
Never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember
When the shadows fall
You do not walk alone. 

My deepest prayers and condolences to his family. 

Rest in peace dear man.....

Monday, May 24, 2010

Harper's Ferry

When we completed our tour of Antietam, we figured we'd head on down to Harper's Ferry (since it was only like 10 miles away!).  A few little tidbits about Harper's Ferry.....It is probably best known for the raid of abolishionist John Brown and his men in 1859 which got things very heated up and eventually resulted in the Civil War.  Meriweather Lewis came to Harper's Ferry to stock up on resources before he and Mr. Clark headed on their western expedition.  And, probably the one thing that interested me most..... the Appalachian Trail passes right through the town.  No kidding!  We were standing there watching a hiker all decked out with his big ole backpack mosying (sp?) on through this very old historic national park....just like he was walking through any normal old town.  Like he wasn't even taking in his surroundings....hmmmm.  The trail is of great significance to us because we wanted to hike some portion of this trail sometime during this trip.....and we did....right here at Harper's Ferry.  And we have photos to prove it! 

See, there is Russell...walking across the bridge over the Potomac River and hiking the Appalachian Trail ;D
By the way, he absolutely hates it when I take pictures of him from behind.   Anyways, we went..oh about 300 feet on the trail.  My hope is that we will eventually do a little more later on in the trip.


On our third day in Gettysburg, we headed down to another Civil War battlefield.   We went to the Antietam Battlefield in Maryland.   It wasn't raining but it was overcast and cold! Yuck!  It was, however, a beautiful drive now there.  Like I said before, if I wasn't so aware of the winter weather in this part of the country, I'd probably live here.  But I know that snow pretty much sucks!  

I really don't want to rehash the whole battlefield story so I'm pretty much just going to post some photos.  An interesting tidbit that I did pick up from this visit....Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross, was a nurse at this battlefield during the civil war.    Here are a few photos.  What can I say??  It's just a beautiful area.  Sad that there is such a bloody history here.   These first two photos say as much :(

In this photo is the Bloody Lane.  It is named so because of the massive casualties here. 

Here are a few other photos of the battlefield and various landmarks on the field. 

Next stop was Harper's Ferry......

Gettysburg Part Deux

After a very disappointing trip to the Hershey factory (more on that later) and a couple of wineries, we headed back to the battlefield.  Just so you know, it rained all day the first day and all day the second day....and I was cold.  Very cold and very tired.  So I was that thrilled about a second visit but there were places we had not seen. 

The first place we went to was the Cashtown Inn.  The Cashtown Inn was where the Confederate generals stayed on their way to Gettysburg.  It is an operating bed and breakfast and a restaurant.  We were hoping to at least dine there during one of our nights, however, it was closed while we were in town.  My husband, who is a big Ghost Hunter fan, especially wanted to see this place.  He actually wanted to stay there.  Anyways, we headed out to Cashtown and took some photos of the Inn.  It was actually a little easier since there was no one there. 

We next went to the Gettysburg Cemetery where President Lincoln made the Gettysburg Address.  Of course there is a monument where the Address was made.  The thing I found interesting about this is that there was much debate in the day about whether it was a worthy speech that would even be remembered....hmmmm...seems like things haven't changed over the years. 

The last location we visited was the Sachs Bridge.  Another one of the those haunted sites Russell loves ;)  It was actually quite a picturesque location.   Snapped a couple of photos there too (of course!). 

That was day two in Gettysburg.  The next day we drove down to Maryland and visited the Antietam Battlesite and Harper's Ferry (actually that's in West Virginia)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We Bet Away the Kids Inheritance or How we Lost Our Asses at Churchill Downs

Actually there really wasn't much of an inheritance anyways (but I think the kids already know that).  And we really didn't lose our asses because we are, by some people's standards, very cheap wagerers.  But I hate to lose and that is pretty much all that happened when we went to Churchill Downs.  We went on Preakness Stakes Saturday.  It was a pretty hopping place and it's not quite like Turf Paradise in Phoenix. 

After walking around for a while, we planted ourselves in the bar (go figure!).  That in itself was very interesting.  For one thing, there are a lot of regulars who sit there at that bar.  I did get a good chuckle out of the guy who kept returning to the bar for his foo-foo frozen strawberry margarita.  I would really have taken him for a whiskey shooter.  LOL.  As for me .....Since I was at Churchill Downs, I had to have a mint julep.  And I had it in a 2010 Kentucky Derby glass :) 

It was, well, okay......It tasted like bourbon with a little mint and a lot of ice! 

We hung out for quite a while and place some bets on the Preakness.  I was very disappointed!!  I just want to know why Lookin at Lucky and First Dude didn't finish in the money when I bet on them before!!  Of course, they came in when I pretty much gave up on them!! 

It was a long day and, of course I made sure I got some photos of Churchill Downs.  As much as I'd like to go to the Kentucky Derby, I'm not sure I'm willing to pay the money.  I wonder if I'd even be able to see anything!!   Probably better just to go to the nearest OTB to watch it.

I'll just close with a few photos from the day....


And I did have to get a hat since I was at Churchill Downs!


The day after we went to Churchill Downs, we started on the 560 mile and 9 hour journey to Gettysburg.  This was a gorgeous drive.  Very green and needless to say many trees.  I don't know if I can come up with the right superlatives to describe it that would do it justice.  And Pennsylvania is just awesome.  If I didn't have an idea about how awful the winter weather can be there, I would probably live there!! 

We arrived in Gettysburg at about 5 o'clock.  It was a very nice day and a very nice drive.  Not at all what we were expecting.  The forecast said rainy weather all the way.  Well, we did get rainy weather....the next day.  The very day we were going to the battlefield :(  Not good.  I went to WalMart and picked up a cheap umbrella.  I needed it!  

Gettysburg is a huge battlefield.  I can't remember all the particulars off the top of my head but you might get an idea by the fact that we spent eight hours there.....and we ended up going back the next day!!  On the first day, we went to the visitors center.  We started off by going on a 90 minute informational talk/walk with one of the park rangers.  This guy really knew his stuff.  The last time I really paid any close attention to the Battle of Gettysburg was in high school American History (and I don't think I paid very good attention then....).  The guide really did a good job of bringing it all to life.  Really a wonderful storyteller.  The only drawback was the weather.  It would have been much more enjoyable if it didn't start pouring rain.   I do have to give it to him.....he was in short sleeves with no jacket or umbrella (and it was cold!!).  He said that as long as people showed up he would do the full tour.  I will say that we were probably the most ill informed in the whole group.  These people really knew their Civil War history! 

After the guided tour, we purchased the CD tour from the gift shop.  We were told that this was really a good way to go in seeing the whole battlefield.  Of course, we could have paid $55 for the personal tour guide to ride around in our vehicle with us.  This probably would have been the best way to experience the battlefield...the only thing was that our vehicle was packed with stuff for our trip so there wasn't any room.  The auto CD was really good and took us around to most all of the sights.  There were a couple of places we have to seek out on our own the next day but otherwise we got a pretty comprehensive tour. 

I could go through all the good stories I heard but it's probably better to pick up a good Civil War history book!  But here are a few photos from our day.  Enjoy!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bottoms Up!

Now when we planned this road trip, Russell and I decided that we would try a little taste of whatever the local cuisine/drink was....well, except for clam way I'm going near that! yuck!
So, in Louisville the drink of choice is bourbon.   I've never had bourbon....well not straight anyways.  Does a mint julep a few weeks ago count??  Probably not.  We got the lowdown on a pretty good restauant not far from our hotel.  The restaurant was located right in the Louisville Slugger complex which was pretty cool.  This was where we decided we would take the plunge.  We asked the waitress for suggestions on the best bourbon to shoot.  She informed us that the absolute best was Woodford Reserve.  She also suggested Maker's Mark. 
So we ordered up a shot of each.....and this was the result.

Yep, and that's exactly what I thought of the taste of bourbon.....written all over my face.  Not so good.  I was informed that what I was drinking was a nice smooth bourbon. Hmmm....I think I'd much rather have tequila.   Well, at least I can say I tried it :)


A couple of months ago I watched the movie "The Blind Side".  There was a scene where the Sandra Bullock character is interviewing the Kathy Bates character for a tudoring job.  At one point Kathy Bates told her that there was something she had to tell her up front...."I'm a Democrat" to which Sandra Bullock just shrugs.  Now as I am watching this I'm trying to figure out what her political affiliation has to do with anything.   Well, after driving through Kentucky, I now understand.  We drove from St. Louis down to Mammoth Caves and then up to Louisville.  While I was driving I spied the following bumper stickers:   "Charlton Heston for President" (I'm certain that is an old bumper sticker),  "SARAH.....Girl Power!", and, my personal favorite, "Nancy Pelosi is an idiot"...Not because I necessarily think that (although it can be open for debate), but because it made me laugh out loud.  I didn't realize there could actually be someone to manufacture such bumper stickers.  Anyways, I got the point!!! 

I will say I do love Kentucky.  It's is a very beautiful state and there is so much history there.  I really wish we would have planned for more than two days!!  For our first day, we headed to the Mammoth Caves.   It was rainy and humid as we drove down.  When we arrived at the caves, we decided to take one of the shorter tours.  It was an hour and fifteen minutes.  Outside of the caves, it was roughly 70 degrees and 100% humidity....inside the cave it was 54 degrees.   We could feel the cool air quickly as we approached the cave.  Here is the entrance to the cave.

Now, our tour guide was very witty.  He talked about the fact that the cave "calls" to some people and how those people feel the feel to explore the cave whenever they have the chance.  He then said he was not one of "those people".  You had to be there to see how he said it.  Totally cracked me up.  It is, however, a good thing the cave "calls" to people because roughly, oh, about 400 miles have been discovered.  Pretty cool, huh? 

The lighting wasn't really good but I did manage to capture a few photos.  It was very interesting to learn that the cave was used to mine salt peter in the early 1800s.  The salt peter was used to make the gun powder used during the War of 1812.  We also learned that the cave was later used in experimental treatment of tuberculosis patients.  A doctor thought the cool air might help to cure the patients.  The experiment lasted only 10 months and didn't render a cure :(   Anyways, here are a couple of photos from inside the cave. 

By the time our tour had been completed, it had started raining outside.  And, wow, did it make a difference!!   We went from 54 degrees to really awful humidity. You could really feel it coming out of the cave!!  This was really disappointing because I wanted to take photos along the path we walked.  It really was so beautiful.  However, because of the humidity this was how my photos turned out.

Hmmm.....not very good!!  We look very misty.  And I don't know if photoshop will work. 

After this, we were on our way to Louisville and my first taste of bourbon.....

No Cheering for the Home Team

Anyone who knows my husband knows he is a big Chicago Cubs fan.  Soooo, when we went to Busch Stadium to see the Cardinals play the Houston Astros....well he just couldn't bring himself to root for them.  Just couldn't do it.  And imagine his reaction when I went and got this.....

I think his response was "What the F***!!!!!"  LOL!  I don't harbor any ill will against the Cardinals ( I reserve that energy for the Yankees and the Giants!) I had no problem with this. 

The game we attended was a day game and there was a threat of thunderstorms.  Luckily they never materialized but it sure was humid.   I did take my usual walkabout of the stadium to take photos and such.  I made one observation while I was here that I felt necessary to share with Russell....
Budweiser is the beer of choice here.  You know...just in case he was confused ;)  

The stadium was really pretty cool.  What I found interesting about it was that you could not see it on the skyline of the city.  It's kind of sunken down into the ground and you just walk up on it.  Interesting.   Here are a few photos from my walkabout.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering....the Cardinals lost.   And Russell was very happy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Silver Arch

Yes, we went to the Arch.   And we took these goofy pictures. 

We also went to the top of the arch where I took these pictures. 

Pretty cool, eh?  Despite the fact that I'm claustrophobic and scared to death of heights I survived the ride to the top :)   Amazing!!