Friday, November 15, 2013

Dad's 89th Birthday

It's been a little over a year since my mother passed away.  My Dad has had a series of challenging physical problems to deal with during this year, but has recuperated amazingly well from each one.  The last one, open heart surgery to replace a valve and in addition two bypasses, set him back for a few months, but once again he has rebounded and is residing at an assisted living facility near my sister in Franklin, NC.

I flew down to see him for two weeks in October and to be present, along with two sisters and a two brothers, for his 89th birthday.  It was a grand reunion with much of the family present.  The weather was warm and sunny for the most part and we even had a touch football game on Dad's lawn at his Franklin, residence.  Dad sat in a wheelchair on the sidelines enjoying watching his children and grandchildren play a rowdy game ending in a tie.  Dad was one of the first quarterbacks for the FSU Seminole team in Tallahassee, FL.  This was when they first admitted men to the school.  He wasn't able to remain on the team because he was working three jobs to put him and his sister through college.  In high school, he was the quarterback as well and he greatly loves the game.

When we were children, he would come home after work each day as a State Farm Ins. agent to play touch football with all five of his children.  Even neighborhood kids loved to come and play with us.  My sister Nicki and I played on a sorority flag football team at UCF when it first began and was called Florida Technological University.  Our team always won first place with Nicki as the quarterback and me as the running back and end receiver.  Eventually all the other teams formed an all star team to try and beat us, but we still won.  Dad would come out to watch us play which really meant a lot to us.  So, football has been in our blood so to speak.

My youngest sister Wendy, who lives in Franklin, NC with her husband and family, kept us busy with all kinds of fun activities during our time together.  She and I went Zip Lining for the first time ever in the beautiful fall colored mountains.  That was a thrill.

When I was in high school, Dad became part of a small group of men who built the first condominiums on New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  What a wonderful experience that was for our family.  My sister Nicki and I became devoted surfers and entered quite a few contests.  To this day, our whole family loves spending time at the beach from the years we spent there during our childhood days.  We met and became close friends with other high school boys and girls, especially those who enjoyed surfing.  One of those young men, Fred Baker, has become like a brother to us and a son to Mom and Dad.  He is pictured above standing behind me in the picture of Dad and my other two sisters and brother.

Nothing is more important than families spending time together and staying connected in bonds of love.  It provides a network of stability, encouragement and hope for each member.  I feel so blessed to be a part of our extended family.  And it keeps on growing....:)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Tribute to Bartalomeo D'alimonte

Bartalomeo D'alimonte,  (standing on left in picture just above) who was part of our wonderful Italian group of moose hunters from Southern Ontario, recently passed away.  It was an extremely sad event for the group and totally unexpected.  Bart has come with his friends to hunt in our area for some 12-13 years and they said he always enjoyed his moose vacation getaways.

We told his hunting buddies we'd like to post a tribute to Bart on Our Blog.  Frank Vitale kindly emailed us various pictures of Bart with his friends so that we could share them with you.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they walk through this difficult time.  He will be greatly missed.

Our 40th Anniversary Getaway

John and I took our first trip away together in over six years on our anniversary September 15th.  Joanna held down the fort along with John's mother who was here visiting.  We've now been married 40 years.  I can hardly believe it.  My heart is full of gratitude for the wonderful man God gave me who has filled my life with adventure beyond my wildest imagination.  I just fasten my seat belt and hang on tight. 

We both love to explore new places, so we decided to simply launch out on a trek following the North Shore of Lake Superior, north of Thunder Bay.  We spent the first night in Thunder Bay after walking along the harbor and eating a delicious meal of beef ribs at the Montana restaurant. 

The next day we headed north, stopping briefly at the Terry Fox Memorial overlooking Lake Superior.  Just a few miles up the road we turned into the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.  Looking at the hills of this park from the side view, it looks a lot like a sleeping giant...thus the name.   It is a beautiful park which is a peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior and reaches 20 miles back toward Thunder Bay.  There are quite a few smaller lakes in the park as well where you can camp, along with miles of hiking and skiing trails.  We drove all the way out to the tip and took a hike ourselves that brought us to a beach on Lake Superior. 

We pressed on to Red Lake, stopping briefly at the harbor to view the red rock cliffs and and islands out front and then on to Nipigon.  We found the nicest motel to spend the night, that had been recently renovated.  It was called the Beaver Motel.  Our spacious room had all new log furniture and a full kitchen.  It was cute and cozy.  For our anniversary dinner, we purchased a frozen Delisioso pizza and some root beer at a small local grocery store.  Believe it or not, that was our favorite meal of the trip.

We had a delightful time hiking along the Nipigon River and driving up to two dams on the way to Nipigon Lake.  Just to see Nipigon Lake, we drove a back road to the south landing.  It is certainly a huge lake.  

Later that afternoon we headed further on down the road to Rossport and then on to Terrace Bay where we spent the night.  Terrace Bay is a neat little community situated on a large beach of Lake Superior.   A natural point of interest in Terrace Bay is the Aguasabon River Gorge and falls.  Both are accessible by trails and are unbelievably gorgeous.  We were also impressed with what is called the Casque Isle trail system which runs from Terrace Bay to Rossport.  Some of it is right along the shores of Lake Superior and some it runs further inland in the woods.  We explored a part of it along the shores and came upon such cute little bays with sandy beaches where you felt like you were the only people in the world.  Stunning.

We decided to head back to Rossport to spend the next couple of nights.  It truly is a unique little spot with the Nichol Island peninsula and a series of large islands right out front.  I would say it was the most picturesque place we stayed.  We heard about a boat tour that was offered and immediately signed up for it.  The guide for the tour used a 24 foot zodiac to motor us around the islands while giving a commentary on the history of the area.  It was very interesting.  It happened to be extremely windy that evening and when we got past the islands and out into the open water of Lake Superior to get a close up view of the Battle Island Lighthouse, the waves had reached a height of eight to ten feet.  Our guide said the zodiac was the best vessel he had used in maneuvering through large waves.
What  thrill it was to sit in the front of the boat and zoom up and down those big waves.  It made me think of my surfing days back in Florida, except the water is a bit more chilly here. 

Our final day we traveled about fifteen minutes up the road to Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. They had built stairs all along the falls and a walkway across them to get a better view.  Such tremendous natural beauty everywhere we went.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the time to just relax and hangout together.  We're both so thankful for the years the Lord has given us and how our love for each other has deepened.   Who knows what we will do for our 45th???