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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Visiting Chapel Hill 

We've been in Chapel Hill, visiting Dick's family since Saturday evening. After all of the running around we did in NYC and Cullowhee, it was really nice coming here to just relax and visit.

Most of our plans this week revolved around getting together with family and eating. :) As always, we've had some great meals of great Southern Food and lots of Sweet Tea.

Dick's sister, Kathy, recently adopted two little kitties: Cricket and Maggie. They are adorable, and so much fun!

Trina and Peter with Maggie and Cricket

The weather has been gorgeous while we've been here. It's been in the mid-70s over the last two days! On Monday, Dick and I checked out a 9-hole golf course just outside of Chapel Hill. It was beautiful! We rented some clubs, and spent the afternoon playing golf. It was a beautiful course, and lots of fun to play! It was also very quiet - no one else was playing near us, so we never had to wait, and were never rushed at all. Very fun.

Dick playing golf

As I mentioned, we spent a lot of time with Kathy's new kitties, so I took several photos of them. :)

Cricket and Maggie hanging out on my lap

Dick meditating with cats

Today, we ate at "Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe", then walked around the UNC Chapel Hill Campus a bit.

Dick at The Old Well

It's been a wonderful vacation, but it's time to go home tomorrow morning. It's been such a nice, and varied trip! Hard to believe we've been away for so long. It'll be nice to be back home.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dick's Childhood Home: Part 2 

You may remember my post from August when we learned that Dick's childhood home was for sale. The house is in Cullowhee, NC, which is obviously quite far from San Francisco.

When we found out that we were going to be in Cullowhee, we checked to see if the listing was still up. It wasn't. :( We were a little bummed that we came so close to having a chance to see it.

Whenever we're in Cullowhee, we always drive around and go see Dick's old home. I know he's considered knocking on the door once or twice, but never did.

We drove by Thursday morning, and were surprised to see the "For Sale" sign still posted!

For Sale - Dick's Childhood Home

I wrote down the number of the listing agent to see if it would be possible to take a peek inside the house while we were in town. I left him a message, explaining the situation. I asked if it would be any trouble for us to see it - obviously, if it were a problem at all, we'd understand.

He was very nice - he said the house had sold, but would be closing in about a month still. The current owner still lived there, and she would be happy to have us come over at 9:30 Saturday morning.

Well, it turned out that the current owner (who is selling the house) is the same woman who had purchased it from Dick's father back in 1992. When we knocked on the door, she opened it with a smile, and asked if Dick was Richard Craddock's son. :)

Dick told him that he had lived in the house with his family from 1972 until he moved away to Chapel Hill in 1984. His Dad had stayed there until 1992.

She was very sweet - letting us walk around the house, taking photos to share with Dick's family. Dick told her stories about each of the rooms, and when the addition had been built. She showed us the different changes she had made, and told Dick how much she truly loved living there.

I took several photos (of course).

Dick standing on the new (to him) deck on the upstairs addition

This is the handwritten note that Dick's father had written and left for the new owner way back in 1992. It expains how various things in the house work. That owner had saved it all this time, and plans to pass it along to the new owners.

Dick standing in his childhood bedroom

One of the funniest moments of our visits happened when Dick was standing in the room which used to be his bedroom. The current owner's eyes lit up as she remembered something, and closed to door - on the back of the door was a decal from Duke University. It appears Dick was a Duke fan when he was a child - something he would never admit to now! :)

What a wonderful opportunity it was for Dick to have the chance to see his childhood house again. It's not something that many of us will ever have the chance to do.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Cullowhee: Day 2.5 

It was a beautiful day in Western Carolina today - literally beautiful! Low 60s, clear skys, and the leaves on all the big trees are all starting to turn to their gorgeous fall colors.

Dick and I woke up early so that he/we could sit in on a class in the computer science department at Western - it was on Internet Security and Ethics. Such a great class to offer - Dick told the students how relavant the topic is, and how fortunate they are to have the opportunity to take it in college. We listened to a bit of the lecture, then observed an arranged debate on software patents. Very cool.

We had a couple of hours before the next class that Dick wanted to observe, so we drove around the mountains of Cullowhee for a bit. I keep saying this, but it's SO pretty here! No rain today, and the skies were just a bit cloudy, but the trees are changing colors and it's simply an awe-inspiring site.

We drove to Bear Lake, which, apparently, is where Dick and his friends used to play hookey from school when the weather was nice. :) I could go on and on about how pretty it was, but I suppose a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll spare you from having to read 3,000 words. :)

As Dick went to his next class, I had a chance to have a nice lunch and a great visit with a dear friend, Kim Gruelle. Kim and I met through the Raggedy Ann community in 1992. We met at the Raggedy Ann and Andy Festival in Arcola, IL, in 1992, and at two more festivals over the next few years. We became fast friends. Kim lives near Cashiers, NC, which, in another example of serindipity, is only about 30 minutes away from Cullowhee - the small mountain town where Dick grew up! Each time Dick and I have come to visit the mountains, we have made it a point to visit Kim as well! Kim has also spent some time with us in San Francisco, on route to Hawaii.

We haven't seen each other in 5 years, so it was so nice to have a chance to get together and catch up.

Trina and Kim

I made it back in time for the Awards Ceremony for Western Carolina's College of Arts and Sciences' First Annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony - of which Dick was one of 8 recipients.

Dick was amongst very good company - the accomplishments and careers of the other noted alumni were most impressive.

Dick being presented by the Head of the Mathematics and Computer Sciences Department

The awards ceremony was followed by a nice reception where Dick had a chance to see and speak with some old professors and friends. What a very nice event and experience. I'm so glad that we were able to attend!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

So proud of my Hubby 

Actually, I'm always proud of my hubby, but I'm especially proud of Dick today.

We're in Cullowhee, North Carolina, where Dick grew up from 3rd grade through completing his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Western Carolina University.

Several weeks ago, Dick received an email from the department of Mathematics and Computer Science of Western. They were honoring him with the first annual Outstanding Alumni Award for their department.

Dick was surprised and honored to receive this award (and even confirmed with me that it wasn't SPAM). He was asked to come to the school during Homecoming week to attend an awards ceremony, a banquet and to give a presentation to the Computer Science students.

We had already planned our vacation to go to NYC, followed by a trip to Chapel Hill to visit his family. We had to switch some dates around, but we were able to rearrange our plans to include a side trip to the mountains to visit the school.

I'm so glad that we were able to do this.

Dick gave his presentation to the computer science and faculty this afternoon. I thought it went very well. He has been working on this presentation for a few weeks, and worked quite hard on it. Everyone seemed very engaged during his talks, and had lots of good questions afterwards.

We got a nice tour of the campus before Dick's presentation, which was very nice. Dick's father taught at the University, so Dick and his sisters practically grew up there. There were several new buildings and many changes since he attended, and it was very interesting talking with the professors about the department.

Tomorrow afternoon we will attend the awards presentation and banquet. In the morning and early afternoon, Dick will have an opportunity to attend some of the computer science classes. I know he's really enjoying this.

I'm so proud of my hubby. :)

PS: Dick is very humble, and would be embarassed to know that I'm blogging about this. I'm too proud of him not to!

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NYC --> NC 

Greetings from the Smokey Mountains of Western North Carolina!

Today was our travel day - we flew from LGA to CLT. Good flight - everything was on time... very nice. First thing we did when we landed in Charlotte was what Dick always does when he flies into North Carolina - we stopped at the nearest Bojangles! Yep - sweet tea and fried chicken. (well, in my case, sweet tea and a garden salad with chicken strips)We're definately back in North Carolina!

Sweet Tea!

Our day was going swimmingly until we were in the middle of Shelby, and Dick noticed that the tire pressure warning light had turned on. Luckily (and I'm not kidding) we had just passed "Tire Kingdom" in a strip mall, so we were able to turn back. The guys at Tire Kingdom were so nice! They lifted our car, checked each of the tires for punctures, etc., (didn't find anything), filled the tires with more air (they were all a little low) and didn't charge us anything. Super nice! When we turned the ignition back on, the warning light had turned off, so it looks like we're okay - we'll just keep an eye on it.

Minor detour at Tire Kingdom

We drove from Charlotte westward towards the mountains. It's roughly a 3 hour drive, which is quite beautiful this time of year. The trees are all starting to turn their gorgeous fall colors. So pretty!

We decided to stop for dinner in Dillsboro. We weren't quite hungry enough for dinner yet (see Bojangles stop earlier in the day) so we decided to take the time to walk around Dillsboro a bit. I thought this was a nice photo showing the early stages of the trees turning color.

Walking around Dillsboro

We had dinner at the Jarrett House - a local favorite that's been around since 1884! Dick used to eat here with his family when he was growing up in the mountains.

Our dinner was amazing - Dick had the Chicken & Dumplings and I had the catfish. What astounded me was all the additional food that came with our meals: cole slaw, biscuits, green beans, pickled beets, mashed potatoes and candied apples.

The best part: each of the entries offered "refills" for an additional $3.00! We did not partake in that offer (too much food!) but I loved that it was there.

The Jarrett House

The Menu

We'll be in the mountains for a few days. Dick has a presentation to make at his old university - Western Carolina, in the small college town of Colluwhee where he grew up. :)


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

NYC: Day 6 

Today was our last full day in NYC. We both feel like we've seen a whole lot of great things while we've been here, yet at the same time, we haven't been rushed, and have really enjoyed it all. There's still plenty to see, but that will have to wait until the next trip out!

We had a lighter day today. We wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time to come back and pack, and most importantly, have a nice leisurely dinner with my sister. (we won't be seeing her again until Christmas!)

We started our day in Chinatown/Little Italy. It was fun to walk around. We had a fantatsic lunch at a restaurant called "Angelos" on Mulberry Street. I had a the lobster ravioli with shrimp that was delicious!


We walked down towards lower Manhattan, and took a peek inside the Court House. Such pretty architecture everywhere!

Since we were down this far, we decided to take the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge! I had bought our tickets to "A Steady Rain" a few weeks ago by calling the box office. The woman that I ordered the tickets from was very friendly, and told me that walking the Brooklyn Bridge was the one thing that she recommended to us. It didn't disappoint! What an amazing bridge - great design, amazing technology for the time, great views!

We've really lucked out with the weather while we've been here. We haven't had any rain at all (the forecast just kept pushing it back) and it's been nice and sunny or just a bit overcast. Perfect weather for walking around.

Trina and Dick walking across the Brooklyn Bridge!

We walked the length of the bridge and back, then explored around a little more before we took the subway back to our hotel.

We had a really nice meal at our hotel with my sister. We ate at "Triomphe", which is the restaurant inside our hotel - it was fantatic! Highly recommend. :)

We fly out tomorrow morning on our way down to North Carolina for the second part of vacation! From the street of NYC to the mountains of NC!


Monday, October 12, 2009

New York: Day 5 

another GREAT day!

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I've never been to the Guggenheim Museum before. This is mostly because I've only been to NYC twice (and one of those times was only for a day), but still....

This month, the Guggenheim Museum celebrates its 50th Anniversary. For the occassion, they have put together a very special Kandinsky show. Kandisky was the artist that Guggenheim was primarily collecting, and he needed a larger venue for his vast collection. He commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a new museum, and the rest is history. :)

First of all, the architecture of the Guggenheim is simply spectacular. It is a must-see destination in and of itself. I've been a Kandisnsky fan for a long time. I've always enjoyed his work immensely. Seeing the building for the first time, along with the Kandisky exhibit was mind blowing. I don't say that lightly. The Guggenheim is now probably my favorite museum, and this exhibit is one of my most favorite that I've ever seen.

If it's a possibility at all, I highly recommend making your way out to NYC to see it before it closes in January.

I would have loved to have taken some photos of the exhibit, but alas, no photography allowed within the building except from the very bottom. Bummer. Not that I don't understand, it's just that the view of looking over the spiral to a wall of Kandinsky paintings was so unbelievable.

The one photo I was allowed to snap from the bottom floor

The outside of the museum

After spending a few hours in the Guggenheim, we strolled some more through Central Park. It was cooler today, and I swear some of the leaves have begun to change from the last day we were here on Saturday. :)

We needed a snack, so we sought out the Boathouse. We found out that they have a side take-out/quick food option aside from the regular restaurant. Handy tip of the day: the chicken pot pies ($6) from the take out counter of the Boathouse are really, really good!

The Boathouse Restaurant

We walked back to mid-town, right around sunset, and decided to go to the observation deck of Rockerfeller Center. It was a lovely evening, and not too crowded. A really neat way to see the City. :)

The Empire State Building, as seen from the top of Rockerfeller Center

As I was at the Guggenheim, an old friend from high school, Greg, noticed that I was here in NYC (he lives here!) and suggested that we try to meet for drinks. Luckily, he works in mid-town, and worked late, so we were able to meet for drinks at the Algonquin. So nice to see an old friend! (thanks, Greg!) I'm sorry that I somehow managed to forget to take a picture of us together. :(

The night was capped off by a Red Velvet Cupcake from Magnolia Bakery (of Sex and the City fame). Yum-O!

Red Velvet cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery

Another great day in a great city!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vacation: Day 4! 

Another great and beautiful day in NYC!

Today was my sister's day off from work, so she was able to spend the entire day with us. Fun!

We started the day in Chelsea/Meat Packing District where we went to High Line Park. This was the one destination that Jason told me we absolutely had to see while we were here. It was so cool! Basically, High Line was originally an above ground subway line that has not been used since the 80s. Earlier this year, it was reopened as a public park! It's fantatic - the best use of pre-existing public space that I've ever seen. The design of the park kept the original tracks, but used them as design elements amongst the plants. Really cool. It was such a unique view of the city. Also of note is the Standard Hotel, which stradles the old track. Apparently, it's turn into a Peep Show venue for people walking the park. Guests of the hotel have gotten into the habit of keeping the shades of their rooms open, and um, frolicking in front of them for the enjoyment of the pedestrians below. Hilarious. We did not see any peep show action today. :)

High Line Park from street level, with the Standard Hotel in the background.

Close-up of the plants amongst the old train rails

We had a great lunch at The Rocking Horse cafe in Chelsea - GREAT mexican food!

After lunch, we walked down 6th Ave all the way to Macy's. (I needed some lipstick!) ;)

We walked to Washington Square Park, which was just beautiful today. Lots of people out milling around, singing, dancing, etc., Very nice.

Dick and Trina sitting in front of the fountain in Washington Square.

The big treat of the evening was seeing "In the Heights"! My sister got us fantastic seats - it's her favorite show on Broadway right now. We really enjoyed the show - loved the music, the set and the choreography! Great show! Thanks, Sis!

"In the Heights"

We capped off our evening at a Cuban Restarant called "Havana Central", near our hotel. Delish! The meal was topped off by a fantastic dessert of fresh, hot churros. Mmmmm....

Dick and Tiff, enjoying the evening!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Vacation: Day 3! 

Welcome to Day 3 of "Dick and Trina's Vacation, 2009!"

Today we went to Grand Central Station, the Chrysler Building, and Central Park.
Lots of walking. I love that. (plus, it's flat here!)

We walked from our hotel to Grand Central Station - I had been once before, but it's been so many years. What a gorgeous building. I keep saying that about all of the buildings here. :)

From there, we walked to the Chrysler Building. We had seen a special on TV about the history of it a few years back, and we both wanted to be sure to see it while we were here. This is an amazing building. Dick and I both love art deco buildings, and this is like the pinnacle of that era. We were only able to walk through the lobby, which was gorgeous, in and of itself. Apparently, when it first opened, it did have an observation level for visitors, but it was closed decades ago. :(

the reflection of the Chrysler Building from a neighboring tower

We jumped on a couple of subway lines, eventually ending up at Columbus circle. We spent the rest of the day walking around Central Park. It was the perfect day - sunny, mild temps, clear, not too busy, and such a lovely walk. (did I mention how flat everything is here?!) ;)

Strawberry Fields

the view from the Belvedere Castle

Dick, relaxing in the park

We walked back to our hotel, and hooked up with my sister after she got out of work. We chilled in our hotel for a bit, then went to her favorite pizza place in the city - John's Pizza on 44th. Yum!

Me and my Sis!

We're turning in a little earlier tonight. Planning on another full day of walking tomorrow. :)


Friday, October 09, 2009

Vacation: Day 2 - Happy Anniversary! 

First and foremost, today is our 4th Wedding Anniversary! Yay! What better way to spend it than a fantastic day in New York?

What a great day it was. We slept in (always nice) then had a nice little breakfast at a local cafe.

We spent the early part of the afternoon at the MOMA. What a wonderful permanent exhibit they have! We were also lucky enough to catch a special Monet Exhibit which featured 3 gorgeous and huge panels of Monet's water lilies arranged as a triptych. It was amazing. Can't capture it at all with a camera, but I tried. :)

Monet's Water Lilies

We had a late lunch (3:00) at the touristy, yet incredible Carnagie Deli. I went in with pretty high expectations, and was not disappointed! It was, hands down, the best hot pastrami sandwich I've ever had. Dick and I shared one sandwich - they are huge! Dick doesn't eat cheese, so wanted to make sure that the sandwich wasn't served with cheese. When he asked our server what comes on the sandwich, she replied, "Nothing but pastrami on bread". It simply didn't need anything else. Except for the brown mustard on our table which we added. Spectacular!

Pastrami Heaven

We strolled around Midtown for a while, eventually making our way to Rockerfeller Center. We only walked through it, and observed the ice skating rink. It was pretty cool.

Rockerfeller Center

On our way back to our hotel, we made one more stop to the NYC Public Library. What a gorgeous building, and what an incredible resource!

The big treat of the night was seeing Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in "A Steady Rain". It's a 2-man show which only opened last week, and has a 12 week run. We had the most amazing seats: 3rd row, center. That's right, we were sitting less than 10 feet away from Wolverine himself. :) The show has received mixed reviews, so we weren't sure what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised, and we both really enjoyed it! Daniel Craig was very, very good, but Hugh Jackman was absolutely mesmorizing! That man has amazing charisma. What a treat it was to see both of those men on stage. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I feel so lucky that we were able to see it.

Happy Anniversary!
Helloooooo..... Wolverine Nurse!

We capped off our evening at a little French Bistro on Restaurant Row.

What a wonderful day, and a great way to spend our anniversary together.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Vacation: Day 1 

Yay! Vacation! With the exception of two quick jaunts to Vegas to visit my Sister and Graham, Dick and I haven't taken a vacation together this year. It's long over-due. :)

This trip has gotten off to a really great start. We flew from SFO to JFK on United. We were able to get upgraded to business class using miles. Always nice. So, there's a newer type of plane that only flies the legs between SFO to JFK and LAX to JFK (and back, of course) called P.S. - standing for Premium Service. They are actually old 757 planes that have been renovated with new seats and seat placement. It's target to business travellers. They have a first class section with 3 rows, a buisiness section with another 8 rows and 10 rows of Economy Plus. We were in row 10, which put us in the middle of the plane, right at the wing.

The flight was pretty fantastic. The seats comfy, with tons of legroom, and the food was delicious! Not only were we fed appitizers/salad, and a nice main dish, but we also had ice-cream sundaes, and even a hot chocolate cookie right before landing. Yum!

They also passed out portable/personal DVD players which were preloaded with about two dozen movies to choose from. We both watched "The Hangover" which is a movie we had been wanting to see.

Salmon cakes and a movie

Hot fudge sundae!

By my sister's suggestion, we hired a car to pick us up from the airport, and take us to our hotel. Very convenient. Our hotel is lovely, and in a great area. We were two doors down from the Algonquin Hotel, so we went in for drinks.

drinks at the Algonquin

After drinks, we walked around Times Square for a bit. It's all a little overwhelming - like a cross between Fisherman's Wharf, Tokyo and Vegas. (I didn't need to stay too long)

Times Square

We finished the evening at a little Indian restaurant, and eventually made our way back to our room.

It's been more than 13 years since I'd last been to NYC, and over 9 years since Dick has been here. Remarkably, we've never been together before, and have been meaning to do this for years! My sister is here working for the month, so we timed our trip so that we could spend some time with her.

Many thanks to Uncle Christopher who is staying at our place while we're away, and taking care of Noe and the birdies. Thank you, Bro!


Friday, September 04, 2009

Harry Potter Exhibition! 

We went to "Harry Potter: The Exhibition" at the Museum of Science and Industry this morning. What a cool exhibit - it had displays of sets, props, and costumes from all of the movies so far in the Harry Potter Franchise.

We weren't allowed to take photos inside the exhibit at all, but we did take this one photo in the lobby of the museum.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tapas in Chicago 

We're in Downtown Chicago for the night, and hooked up with Jason for dinner. Jason is a wealth of information for all things Chicago, and had plenty of great suggestions of places we could go to.

He mentioned a good tapas restaurant a few blocks away, which sounded good to all of us. Once we walked there, we all recognized - we ate at "Cafe Iberico", a place we had all been before with my sister when she lived here! (this is the same place, right, Sis?) It was really yummy!

Standing outside the restaurant, taking a photo for my Sister!

Jason and Tammy, contemplating the menu

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