Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Grand Update

It's been awhile since we've visited with the grandkids in RI and PA. We're looking forward to seeing all within the next couple of months. (The photos are from their parents.) 

Grandson Bobby (almost 12) and granddaughter Ellie (newly 7) started 5th and 2nd grade last month. They posed for a "traditional" first day of class photo. Most of the time, these siblings get along well, but at other times . . .
Nearly 2-year old Lilliana will begin attending daycare within the next few weeks. She visited Tiny Town in Lancaster, PA recently. This indoor play space offers all-day play as children explore 9 playhouses including a salon, hospital, cafe, garage, library, market, theater and a firehouse. (Maybe she'll take after Grandpa Grenville, a retired NJ firefighter?)

Yes, they are growing up very quickly it seems and perhaps even faster for grandchildren. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Hot Roast Sunday Dinner

After nearly 50 days of road travel (and road food) it's good not only to be home, but cooking in our own kitchen again. Last week, there was a sale on beef eye round at the local supermarket, perfect for an at-home Sunday dinner on a fall weekend as Grenville watched a late afternoon football game.

Outside it was more summer-like than autumn with daytime temperatures in the mid-80s. Regardless, we craved a Sunday dinner at home, and a roast was on the dinner menu.

A traditional cooking method, and one I used for years, would have been 350℉ for about 20 minutes per pound, so a 3 lb. roast would take about an hour or so. Since dinner would be later due to the game, I wanted a recipe with a longer cooking time and found one.

The method below took nearly 3 times longer. But the results were deliciously amazing; it's now my go-to beef roasting recipe. YES, the oven was set at 500℉ degrees (at first).
The roast was taken out a half hour earlier and warmed to room temperature. While the oven was heating, it was seasoned with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, rosemary, and crushed garlic. Seasoning with garlic powder, salt and pepper would work too.
Another addition was the use of Gravy Master seasoning. It was brushed on the roast first with a basting brush. It was was a bit messy when brushed on. Here's the seasoned roast ready for the oven (fat side up). Use a metal pan and not a glass roasting dish at this high oven temperature. Do not cover or add water to the pan
NOW, lower the oven temperature to 475℉ and set a timer for  7 minutes per pound, which for this 3 lb. was 21 minutes for medium-rare roast. If you prefer it more cooked, set the timer for 8-9 minutes per pound.

When the timer goes off, DO NOT OPEN the oven door. Turn OFF the oven and let the roast sit in the hot oven for 2-1/2 hours. (Yes, I was skeptical too, but trust me on this.)

Remove the roast from the ovenThe internal temp should be at least 145℉. Tent with foil and let it sit tented for 20 minutes, before carving to serve with your meal. Our Sunday dinner menu included steamed vegetables and oven-roasted potatoes.

Cooking the beef this way left time for doing other things, and it was ready when the football game ended. (Unfortunately, the New England Patriots lost this week.) But, Grenville declared this meal a winner and gave it two forks up. Best of all, there were leftovers for a couple of meals this week.
The high temperature cooking method really worked out well for this cut of beef. Has anyone else used a similar cooking method — if so, were the results good?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Down a Rabbit Hole

The post title is not literal, but a figurative way to describe something that resulted from a stop in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Credit for the post title goes to author Lewis Carroll. It's a reference to his Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The rabbit hole is the place where everything starts. The phrase going down the rabbit hole has become a metaphor for many things and often refers to starting a process that's problematic, difficult, unusual and can become more complex as it develops.

In my case, the rabbit hole refers to starting my family tree. It's something long thought about, but never started. My grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are gone and, regretfully, family history was never discussed. Perhaps it's like that in many families?

So why did I suddenly get motivated? 

It's because we stopped at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on our recent cross country road trip. I wanted to visit the Family History Library operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's the largest library in the world that deals with genealogy and this was an amazing facility. Before I knew it, the very helpful specialists there were leading me down the path of starting my family tree to learn about my family ancestry; it hooked me into spending over 3 hours there.

Their FamilySearch website was previously called the Genealogical Society of Utah and is now the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch maintains a collection of records, resources, and services to help people discover their family history. You sign up with a free registered account to get access to what's become one of the most well used online genealogy sites. In addition, FamilySearch offers personal assistance at more than 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. There's a local family history center here in Nashua, NH and I'm going there soon. 

If your ancestors came to the U.S. from Europe, you can search immigration records online as well.  Both my maternal and paternal grandparents (shown below) immigrated from Italy.

America's first official immigration center from August 1855 to April 1890 was Castle Garden. When it closed, the reception center for immigrants to the U.S. was relocated to the U.S. Barge Office on the eastern edge of The Battery waterfront. This facility operated until the U.S. Office of Immigration opened the newly built Ellis Island in 1892.

Castle Garden has a free database developed and funded by The Battery Conservancy that has 11 million records of immigrants who arrived at the Port of New York from 1820 to 1892. 
You can search for ancestors who disembarked on Ellis Island in NY by creating a free account at the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island website. It's where I found a record of my grandfather's arrival from Italy.)
(FYI - The entire collection of Ellis Island New York Passenger Arrival Lists from 1820 to 1957 is now available online at and the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation.) 
Another source to search is the U.S. Census Records in the National Archives. The first U.S. Federal Population Census was taken in 1790, and every 10 years since then. But, you won't find data from the most recent U.S. census because of a 72-year restriction. The most current year available is 1940. You will need a relatives name and state that he/she resided in to start a census record search.

It may sound spooky, but gravesites are another way to discover your family's history and you don't have to go to cemeteries, but can do that online too. 

Calling itself "the world's largest online gravesite collection," Find A Grave claims to have over 170 million memorials created since 1995. While I wasn't able to find all my deceased ancestors, I located the gravesite of grandparents and several family members and did not have to create an online account to search.

A similar site, BillionGraves claims to be the world′s largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data. I had to set up a free online account to search its free index. According to its website, located information can be copied into partner sites including FamilySearch, MyHeritage and Findmypast. 

Has anyone else gone down the same rabbit hole and, if so, please share any information. I have really become quite involved in this research the past 2 weeks.

    Friday, September 7, 2018

    Friday Funnies

    Mixing it up? 

    Grenville seems ready to do that at this oversize appliance. (This photo was not taken during our recent road trip. We suspect it was a destination someplace in New England, just can't recall where.) 

    Hi Everyone, nearly a week after returning home from our 7,675-mile cross country road trip, we're still catching up with everything in NH and I'll return to blog reading soon. 

    Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

    Sunday, September 2, 2018

    We're Home (At Last)

    We're (finally) back in NH to our apt home.

    Our cross country road trip from New Hampshire to Oregon covered some 7,676 miles through 20 states. In response to those who have asked us which place we liked "best" we have said "many of them." That said, we didn't find any place we would rather live than here in New England. we came home to clear and smoke-free skies, unlike many of the states we toured.

    BIG THANKS to everyone who followed our adventures and for ALL your comments too. We know that many others, like some friends and relatives, followed along but didn't comment. That's OK. It was fun to share and learn new things about where we'd been.

    Daily blogging was a challenge. We started our road trip on Sat, July 14, but I first posted week later we'd been been through several states. Afterwards. I created a post nightly, although the blog was never current with our location. We would often be in a couple of places in one day.

    Grenville was the designated driver. He did a terrific job keeping us safe on Interstates in the southwest where the speed limit was between 70-80 mph, many folks went even faster.

    I was the designated navigator, even though we have a GPS unit, "Richard." I referred to paper maps (courtesy of AAA ). Using these wasn't a duplication. A few times, the paper maps showed side-trips we might not otherwise have taken. There were also a couple of few times when "Richard" routed us off a main road onto rather desolate side routes. We ignored the route when the paper map showed otherwise, even if it meant a longer ride.

    Seeing so much of the USA was a wonderful experience and one we're glad to have experienced together. This was a double celebratory trip — we celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary on August 21 in Denver, CO at the famous Brown Palace Hotel. It was also to mark being "houseless" as of February when our VA home finally got a new owner.

    Weather-wise, we escaped any "bad" delay-causing weather, aside from prolonged rain in South Bend, IN. There were some hot days. While we were away many East coast states had very hot days and lots of rain. 

    We traveled the entire route in our 2007 Jeep Liberty, which celebrated a milestone of its own and cruised past 100,000 miles in CA. It's now a couple of thousand miles past that number and good to go for the next 100,000 miles (we hope)

    Renting a car was an option, but the $1600-$1700 cost for a 30-day timeframe was a downer. It didn't include "extras" like the GPS we own or Sirius satellite radio (extra costs). After weighing pros and (more) cons, we used the "newer" of our vehicles, a 2007 Jeep Liberty (the other one is a 2004 Jeep) . We had it serviced before leaving and it performed flawlessly despite high speed driving and daily a/c use. 

    The only "casualties" were the insects and butterflies that committed suicide by crashing into the windshield, front of the car and into the radiator grill. We went through 2 gallons of windshield-bug washer fluid plus 3 car washes with another one set for this week.

    Renting a car was considered, but the $1600-$1700 cost for 30-days didn't include "extras" like the GPS we own or Sirius satellite radio (already in our Jeeps). After weighing the pros and more cons, we opted to use the "newer" of our vehicles (the other one is a 2004 Jeep) and had it serviced first. The Jeep performed flawlessly despite high speed driving and daily a/c use. The only "casualties" were the countless insects and yellow sulpher butterflies that committed suicide by crash landing on the windshield, car front, and into the radiator grill. We used 2 gallons of windshield washer fluid plus 3 car washes with another one set for this week.

    The Jeep will go for follow-up servicing next week as we look forward to the next (shorter) road trips. In early October we're going to our home state of NJ for a family wedding; in November we'll spend Thanksgiving week in Lancaster, PA.

    The next LONG road trip could come after the holidays. We're considering another US road trip to visit family and friends who live in parts of the southern US. We'll keep everyone posted.

    The photo on the right is for John of The AC is On. We stopped at one of his favorite places traveling through New York state on the way back to NH.

    It's the final U.S. summer holiday of Labor Day . We wish fellow bloggers a restful and happy weekend as summer activities start to wind down. Best wishes to ALL. 

    We'll be enjoying some R&R as well and catching up on sleep too!

    After taking a blog break to catch up on all YOUR blogs, I'll be back in a few days. There's more road trip adventures to post about.

    Saturday, September 1, 2018

    Big Boots to Fill

    We're currently on a cross country road trip from New Hampshire to Oregon and posting about sites along the way. This post is about stop in MN and NV.

    If a giant even needed boots, the place to go would be the Red Wing Shoe Company. That's where we found this one-of-a kind boot, and it is just a single boot, no matched pair here, so a really BIG giant would be out of luck.
    The GIANT of a boot is the star exhibit at the Red Wing Shoe Company in downtown Red Wing, MN. In 2005, the Red Wing Shoe Company celebrated its 100th anniversary by crafting the world's largest boot which can be seen on the first floor of its flagship shoe store  on Main Street

    Aside from its enormous size, the world's largest boot was built using the exact same design and materials used to build the Red Wing Shoes classic style number 877. 

    Over 60 volunteers worked 13 months to design, engineer and build a 16-foot tall replica of the  company’s classic work boot. The giant boot took 4,000 hours to design, engineer and fabricate.  It’s even too big for the Statue of Liberty to wear. Here's the specifications of this oversize footwear:

    Size: 638 ½D (US), 638 (UK), 850 (EUR) 
    Length: 20 feet (6.096m)
    Width: 7 feet (2.133m)
    Height: 16 feet (4.876m)

    Of course, we had to take our photo next to this boot (who wouldn't?) It was a challenge to get the entire boot and ourselves in the shot, but we did.
    This wasn't the only oversize footwear we saw on our road trip. Not to be outdone, the Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum and the Western Folklife Center, both in Elko, NV, had these big boots — western style. These boots were on a smaller scale, but still very large.

    If you're wondering about that boot inscription, I was as well. Turns out there's a very big connection between crooner Bing Crosby and Elko, NV. 

    Crosby is said to have caught Western fever after starring in the 1936 B&W cowboy musical Rhythm on the Range. In 1944, he purchased the Quarter Circle S, the first of seven Elko cattle ranches that he owned until 1958.  Crosby made Nevada his "home away from home" in between records, concerts, movies, and radio performances. He developed a reputation as a seasoned cattle and horse rancher. In 1949, Elko named Crosby honorary mayor — the first one in Nevada history. Crosby has been credited with helping to raise the town’s profile by holding the world premiere of his 1951 film Here Comes the Groom in Elko.

    And now I know, and so do all of you.

    Friday, August 31, 2018

    Scene on the Road CO, NE and IA

    We're currently on a cross country road trip from New Hampshire to Oregon and posting about sites along the way. This post is about road scenes in CO, NE and IA.

    Interstate Highway 76 (I-76) runs from I-70 in Arvada, Colorado (near Denver) to an intersection with Interstate 80 near Big Springs, Nebraska
    The interstate was fairly scenic through parts of CO. The Colorado portion was planned and built first. We traveled from Denver CO to Lincoln, NE.
    Interstate 80 (I-80) in Nebraska runs east from the Wyoming state border across the state to Omaha. In October 1974, when it completed construction of the stretch of I-80 spanning the state,
    Nebraska was the first state in the nation to complete its mainline Interstate Highway System. Nebraska has over 80 exits along Interstate 80.

    I-80 through NE is considered by many as the most boring stretch of interstate in the country. (And, having driven it, we can agree with that consensus.) According to a couple of internet sites, there was debate over putting I-80 through scenic parts of the state vs. the cheapest way to build it which would place it in a totally flat location in the Platte River flood plain. Apparently, the bargain plan won because it is a very flat drive.

    In Iowa, construction of I-80 took over 14 years. The first section opened in September 1958, in the western suburbs of Des Moines. The final piece of I-80 in Iowa, the Missouri River bridge to Omaha, Nebraska, opened in late 1972. 

    Interstate 80 is the longest Interstate Highway in Iowa. It extends from west to east across the central portion of the state through the population centers of Council Bluffs, Des Moines and the Quad Cities (Davenport, Moline, Rock Island, Bettendorf, East Moline). 

    The majority of the highway runs through farmland, and roughly one-third of Iowa's population live along the I-80 corridor. We saw a lot of cornfields along this route.

    We also saw some of these windmills along the route. These windmills may not appear very large when seen along the interstate. However, but at a couple of rest stops, we saw separate tractor trailers carrying the components. Each windmill blade was being loaded on a separate trailer; the upright post or stanchion was usually loaded onto several tractor trailers.

    Thursday, August 30, 2018

    Second Tallest Capitol

    We're currently on a cross country road trip from New Hampshire to Oregon and posting about sites along the way. This post is about a stop in Lincoln, NE.
    This was the most unusual state capitol we'd seen in our travels thus far — the Nebraska state capitol in Lincoln is often called the "Tower on the Plains.” Its 400-foot tower can be seen up to 20 miles away. It was the first state capitol to incorporate a functional tower into its design and it's the tallest building in the city.

    Measurements list the capitol at 400 feet, making it the second-tallest U.S. statehouse. It's beat by the Louisiana capitol which is 450 feet tall with 34 stories and is the tallest building in Baton Rouge and the seventh tallest in Louisiana.

    The Nebraska capitol is anchored by a three-story square base. This square base houses offices most visited by the public. The main floor (second floor) houses the office of the Governor of Nebraska, the Nebraska Supreme Court, the Nebraska Court of Appeals, and the Nebraska Legislature.

    The Nebraska Legislature is the only state unicameral legislature in the U.S. In government, unicameralism is the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber.
    Legislature Chamber
    Supreme Court
    There are 15 stories in the capitol (three mezzanines exist within the tower between the third and fourth floors). The Memorial Chamber on the 14th floor is the highest publicly accessible level, has four observation decks that offer views of the city from 245 feet above ground. (Unfortunately, it had rained the morning of our visit and the observation area was closed to visitors due to possibly slippery tiles.)

    The capitol was the product of a nationwide design competition won by NY architect Bertram Grosvenor. The present building, the third to be erected on this site, was the nation’s first statehouse design to radically depart from the typical form of a state capitol and to use an office tower instead. It was built in 10 years (1922-1932) in four phases. The building, furnishings, and landscaping was completed at under the planned $10 million budget and was completely paid for when completed.

    Constructed with Indiana limestone, the capitol has a low, wide base in the plan of a “cross within a square” which creates four interior courtyards. The square base is 437 feet on a side and three levels in height. The building’s exterior stone carvings represent historic events in the 3,000 year evolution of democracy. From the center of the base, a tower rises 362 feet, crowned by a gold-tiled dome with a sculpture

    "The Sower" is a monumental sculpture on top of the 400-foot tower. This symbol of agriculture is shown as a barefoot man wearing a sun hood, shirt sleeves and pant legs rolled up as he works. The 3/8 inch thick bronze sculpture is reinforced by an interior steel framework and weighs nearly 9-1/2 tons. It was created by NY sculptor, Lee Lawrie. (His most prominent work is the 1937 free-standing bronze Atlas at Rockefeller Center in NYC.)

    The ornamental interior features numerous marble-columned chambers with vaulted polychrome tile ceilings, marble mosaic floors and murals depicting the natural and social history of Nebraska’s Native American and Pioneer cultures.

    The city of Lincoln's Municipal Code places height restrictions on structures within the designated Capitol Environs District, which maintains the capitol's title as the tallest building in Lincoln. It was also the tallest building in Nebraska for many years, but is now the third. (Two Omaha buildings surpass it; the 634-foot First National Bank (2002) and the 478-foot Woodmen Tower (1969).

    In 1976, the National Park Service designated the capitol a National Historic Landmark. The designation was extended to include the capitol grounds in 1997.

    Our personal opinion was that this capitol was certainly the most unusual one we visited  in terms of architecture. However, it was our least favorite in terms of the interiors compared to previous state capitols visited in Wisconsin, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. 

    Wednesday, August 29, 2018

    Rocks That Rock

    We're currently on a cross country road trip from New Hampshire to Oregon and posting about sites along the way. This post is about a stop in Morrison, CO.

    The Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO, 10 miles west of Denver, gives a whole new meaning to the term “classic rock.” This place really rocks, both geologically and musically. It's a pity we were not able to attend a performance here.

    At 6,450 feet above sea level, the 738-acre Red Rocks Park is a transitional zone where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. The natural amphitheatre of Red Rocks was formed over 200 million years. 

    The area that Red Rocks now includes was once an ocean floor many, many years ago. Gradual earth movement slowly raised great sandstone ledges from the prehistoric ocean floor, to form the "walls" of the amphitheater. The walls of the amphitheatre contain records dating back to the Jurassic period of 160 million years ago. Nearby dinosaur tracks have been discovered as well as fossil fragments of the 40-foot sea serpent Plesiosaur.

    Amphitheatre is the Canadian and British spelling of the word; however it's part of the Red Rocks official name. The amphitheatre was was modeled after the Theatre of Dionysus (amphi is around in Greek). The Roman Colosseum is an early example of an amphitheater, as is the present-day Hollywood Bowl. The U.S. spelling is amphitheater. 

    Red Rocks is a geologically formed, open-air concert venue not duplicated anywhere else. With Mother Nature as the architect, the design of the amphitheatre consists of two, 300-foot monoliths, Ship Rock and Creation Rock, which provide a perfect acoustic backdrop for any performance. Both of these monoliths are taller than Niagara Falls and almost as tall as Big Ben in London. 

    Red Rocks is a part of the Fountain Formation, a thick stripe of pink sedimentary rocks that stretch along the Front Range’s eastern edge. These colorful rocks form Balanced Rock in Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods and Boulder’s fabulous Flatirons.

    The area of Red Rocks, originally known as the Garden of Angels (1870s-1906) has attracted the attention of musical performers since the early 1900’s. Entrepreneur John Brisben Walker, called it Garden of the Titans (1906-1928) and envisioned artists performing on a stage nestled into the acoustic surroundings of Red Rocks. He produced a number of concerts between 1906 and 1910 on a temporary platform, and so began the history of Red Rocks as an outdoor entertainment center.

    In 1928, the Denver Parks manager convinced the City of Denver to purchase the area from Walker for $54,133. The park long called by its folk name "Red Rocks” officially became known by that name. The city worked to make it a public concert space by enlisting help from the 1933-1942 federally-sponsored Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the Work Projects Administration (WPA), labor and materials were provided. (WPA was the largest American New Deal agency, that employed millions of people to carry out public works projects. Almost every U.S. community had a park, bridge or school built by the WPA.)

    The amphitheatre was designed by Denver architect Burnham Hoyt, who modeled it after the Theatre of Dionysus at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, with an emphasis on preserving the natural beauty of the area. Plans were completed in 1936 and the amphitheater was dedicated in June 1941; however actual construction spanned 12 years. 

    The highest seat at Red Rocks has an elevation of 6,435 feet. The amphitheatre has a total seating capacity of 9,525.  Red Rocks Amphitheatre was once listed as among the Seven Wonders of the World.

    The amphitheater is owned and operated by the City and County of Denver, CO. The first performance each season is a non-denominational Sunrise Service held on Easter Sunday, a tradition that started in 1947.

    A concert was scheduled for the evening of the day we visited and the area was being  while the band rehearsed in the afternoon. Fortunately. we were able to spend time looking around before it closed. We heard the group to appear that night, Nathanial Ratliff & the Night Sweats, rehearse for awhile. (From what we heard, it's not a concert we would've wanted to attend.) Concert attendance is not inexpensive; general admission tickets start at $50 and upwards depending on the popularity of the performer (remember the seating here is stone, no padded seats or backrests). We were OK with admiring the area's natural beauty, which was completely FREE.
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