Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My 80th Birthday Suprise Party (April 13, 14, 15 2013)

 My 80th Birthday Suprise Party (April 13, 14, 15 2013)


Table of Contents

1- Prologue 1

2- Saturday April 13th 1

3- Sunday April 14th 6

4- Monday April 15th 8

5- Tuesday April 16th 10

6- March 10, 11, 12 11

7- Wrap Up 11



1- Prologue

I was expecting a nice leisurely weekend for my 80th birthday. Nothing special, nothing significant. Patty said something about maybe going out to dinner sometime with my local brothers, but that was about it. Just another birthday, add another year. Although 8 is my favorite number so I might look at it slightly different . . . 8 years, 18 years . . . . . 78 years etc. Can’t hardly wait for 88. 88 means ‘love and kisses’ in Morse code language.

I am gong to try to write this as I was experiencing it. I will talk about the shenanigans that were going on behind my back in the last chapter (7 Wrap up).

If anyone thinks I missed anything significant, please let me know and I may update this story.

All of my pictures are at

2- Saturday April 13th

On Saturday morning, like any other morning a nice morning walk in the woods with my dogs Brandy (border collie) and Sport (westie). They love to go on the morning walk in the woods. Just a normal walk the woods. Unbeknownst to me the start of something totally unexpected.

The Beginning

1st - I did not have a clue that it any of this was coming or going to happen

2nd- After I did the chores I went on my usual morning walk with Brandy and Sport

I did not walk the pasture part as it was wet,

So I just walked the woods part

As I walked part of the woods I came to the split in the trail

Figure 1 Trail to Left or Right

Where I usual go left by the Huber Cabin (I call it)

But a tree had blown down across that part of the trail beyond the cabin and I had not taken my chain saw out to cut it yet

So I headed straight to go down the hill

I heard someone talking and noticed someone sitting in the corner of the Huber Cabin with a white hat and red jacket

Figure 2 Sport checking out he "Huber Cabin" to the Left

I had NEVER seen anyone on the trail before, however there is no reason someone could not be there.

So, I assumed they were talking on their cell phone and not wanting to bother them, did not go over

I gave a little wave and headed down the hill

Figure 3 Down the Hill to the Right

At the bottom I heard one of the dogs, Sport I think, give a bark

I figured I had better go back up and check things out

So went back up the hill and over towards the cabin

I hollered 'Hello there"

3 guys came out of the 'cabin'

Immediately recognized as son's Tom (Canton NC), Jeff (Terrebonne OR), Bruce (Bemidji MN)

I just about died, I was stunned, I was flabbergasted, I was numb

I stood there dumbfounded, as I tried to think of something smart to say or do

The only thing I could come up with was

To fall down clutching my chest.......

They came over and we all hugged of course

What an absolute total surprise for me.....

. . . . . Little did I know at the time - the party had started :) :)


My sons picked up their car, Tommy walked back to the house with me. Bruce and Jeff had arrived in the car. We talked for a while then they wanted to go shopping then over to the Tortuga Inn, where they had stayed Friday night. Tom and Jeff had airplained into O’Hare, Bruce and Ruth had driven down from Bemidji, MN.

The boys explained to me that Patty had called them on the cell when she saw me leave for my walk "the Target is on the move" she reported. That was their key. Patty had asked me before she left, if I was going on my walk that morning. Of course I was. Why is she asking? I should have suspected something then. She NEVER asks me if I am going on my walk. But it went right past me.

They wanted to go shopping before going to the Tortuga Inn. So we went to the local grocery store in Winamac. They were buying (and me) seemingly horrendous amounts of stuff, beer, wine, soda, chips, etc. Why in the hell are you buying all that? "We will be staying a while and will need it". We ran into Niece Carrie in the liquor section of the drug store and everyone got excited again. Especially checking out the Tito Hand Crafted Vodka. We didn’t buy it though. Finally we got to the Tortuga Inn.

The Tortuga Inn,, is an extremely neat B&B NE of Winamac buried along the Tippecanoe River, on the back side of a Horse ‘farm’. Gordon is the man in charge, usually. A very neat person. His wife drives a semi all over the country. We had used his facility before and have always enjoyed it. He is an artist. The place is LOADED with art. It is a great place to stay. Just one example-

Figure 4 Just some of the Art

Bruce’s wife Ruth was there. We socialized for a while then left to go visiting some of the near by relatives and niece Angies Refind, consignment store. Golfers Jeff and Bruce made arrangements to go golfing at 8AM Sunday morning with their cousin Alan. Then back to our house for some more socializing.

Now we were; Me, Patty, Tommy, Jeff, Bruce Ruth, 6 of us.

We finally headed back over to the Tortuga. The premise was that we would have some pizza from Tippy’s for dinner, some of the local relatives may come over, we would drink some beer some wine and play our standard card game, Horse Euchre. Just enough of us for a nice game of 6 handed Euchre.

Saturday at the Tortuga Inn

1st let me say that, Gordon lets us use the dinning room for ‘gatherings, small festivities, etc’, as long as there are not a lot of other guests. And there were no others at this time. My kids had 3 rooms.

We sat around the dining tables and had some beers, wine and talking, having fun. Then. . . . more people started showing up, And more people – nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters in law, from nearby, from Greenwood (South of Indianapolis - a 100+ miles). Presents and cards started showing up. Then Patty shows up with a ‘truck load’ of Pizza’s from Tippy’s. Beer started flowing the wine started flowing, it was getting to be a big shindig. I was in awe. Totally surprised. What hell is going on? But of course by then I was starting to realize this was more than just a little get together. Later I counted about 22 people.

As I mentioned, the Tortuga is loaded with art. There is a very high backed artsy chair at the head of the table. I was forced to sit in it.

 Figure 5 Sitting in the Head Chair

I was becoming the target of happy birthdays, insults, greetings, ribbing, etc etc. etc.

We started eating the Pizza and maybe opening some presents…which included all kinds of stuff, vodka, beer, wine, honey, obnoxious coffee cups, crazy cards, etc.. With cheering and laughing.

Then- someone comes from behind with a big hug . . . . my little brother Earl from Brookline (Boston) MA, had come all the way to cheer me on. He is also the favorite Uncle of my kids, nieces and nephews. Holy cow, things are really big time now.

Everyone got done, pretty much, snacking on the pizza and the refreshments.

Then these 3 ZZ Top characters come in, dancing and lip synching to a recording.

Figure 6 The 'ZZ Tops' entering
Of course you could not see their lips as they were covered with their beards. They wanted hugs etc from me…

Figure 7 Are they realy real?

They turned out to be my brothers Carl, John, Earl. They started ribbing me about my life. All the problems I gave them, me the oldest and they got all the hand me downs. While I got all the new stuff. I took the 1st bath in the galvanized bath tub in the kitchen, the 1st with clean, warm water. They took their baths after me, Earl being last, got the dirty cold water. The 5 farms we lived on prior to coming to Winamac. Talking about the 6 schools I went to prior to coming to Winamac early spring of 1950. The 1 room 8 grade school house I started 1st grade in. The history of our lives as mom and dad struggled out of the depression, by share cropping before buying the 190 acre farm ENE of Winamac. Mostly humorous but some serious..

After these festivities we started playing the standard card game, played at all of our reunions and gatherings- 6 handed horse euchre. About 3 tables going with all kinds of boisterous shouting and crying and accusations etc. Finally winding down at about 1 AM. Brother John and Diane and Earl had picked up rooms so now we (they) had 5 rooms. I decided to stay with Jeff, rather than go home. Leaving Patty to do the chores. \

How many people were there, here is the ‘sign in list’ that I asked people to sign.

Bruce, Ruth, Jeffe, Tommy A, Kevin, Drew, Jeff, Julie, Carl, Jerry, Al, John, Cody, Earl, Matt, Becky G, Judy, Diane, Carrie, Patty. Sara, Derrick, Max (did I miss anyone?).

3- Sunday April 14th

Up at 7AM to help Jeff and Bruce get going to be at Moss Creek with Alan for golfing by 8AM. They seemed a little slow. Gordon had made us coffee and later his usual good breakfast. Jeff and Bruce must have done pretty well as they were bragging about how much money they made at the golf course.

By about noon we were enough recovered to leave and go out to the house. Patty had some soup for us for lunch. We walked the trail. I showed how Bruce, Jeff, and Tom had surprised me. We talked about the old days, Moms Bench on the west side of the pines where she would take a walk, sit on the little 2x6 bench and look, to the west, over the fields, the roads and the river bank of trees in the distance.. Also I complained again about Tommy Alan knocking down the big ‘Elephant’ tree just because it was rotting. Pointed out the area where Carl Freeman had his Christmas Trees. Dad had sold him Carl F’s area from the farm acreage in about the 1950’s or so, with the agreement that the family could take Christmas trees from him. So we (families) did that for many years. After thanksgiving dinner walk, usually through the woods covered with snow, pick out our tree(s) and carry them back through the woods. We did this for many years.

After a little rest in the afternoon,

Figure 8 At rest at our house


Patty fed us again, chili. My stomach was upset for some reason (I wonder why, from Saturday night?), so I could tell it was chili all that night. We loaded up with odds and ends and went back over to the Tortuga. More snacks and stuff and more cards. I had my camera this time so took a couple pictures.

Figure 9 The Horse Euchre game is underway

Figure 10  Bruce, Ruth, TomEA, Jeff, Tommy Alan

This was an early night compared to Saturday night wrapping up about midnight.

4- Monday April 15th

Monday morning, my birthday, several wanted to go to Vicky’s, in Winamac, for Biscuits and Gravy. Bruce and Ruth Checked out, as they needed to head home.

Figure 11 Loaded up to head north to the snow country

They were checking the wx diligently as there was lots of snow in northern MN and more snow on the way. Gordon’s wife, Lee, was also providing wx updates from driving her semi in North Dakota. We invited Gordon to go with us, to Vicky’s, Carl and Julie showed up so we filled up the table at Vicky’s.
Figure 12 Jeff is hungry 

I don’t think Jeff is having biscuits and gravy. After breakfast Bruce and Ruth took off, heading home. They made it ok. Lots of snow but roads had been cleared.

We went back to the Tortuga to check out. Jeff did quite a bit of running. He ran from the Tortuga to our house on Saturday, about 4+ miles, from our house back to the Tortuga, about 7+ miles, from the Tortuga to Vicky’s via a short part of the Panhandle Pathway, then back to the Tortuga. He had a hard time leaving the Tortuga as he was diligently watching the Boston Marathon. He was all signed up to run the Marathon in 2011, for his 50th Birthday year, but he injured his leg so did not make it.

We finally got together at the house. Ate some left over’s for lunch and relaxed. Although Tom and Earl did get enough ambition to clean up the downed tree stuff, resulting from the storm just before our 2012 July Reunion. I had not got around to it yet. Jeff left a little after noon, heading to O’Hare on his way home to Terrebonne OR.

Of course we started hearing the sad and terrible news of the Boston Marathon explosion in the afternoon. The historic Church that Earl belongs to in Boston was just past the race end on Boylston Street. He was concerned about fellow members as they like to watch the end of the race. …Jeff said he started hearing it on the radio as he was nearing the airport. A sad occasion that will forever mark my 80th birthday.

John & Diane, Carl & Julie came over later. We started the campfire up, burning lots of wood.

 Figure 13 Getting the fire going at our house

There is still plenty more. Patty fed us some pulled pork, and birthday cake for dinner. Then another horse game. This was probably close to a record for the record books. The losers, the We’s -193 points (John, Julie, Earl) wound up with  and the winners the They’s +5 points (TomE, Diane, Carl) . 

5- Tuesday April 16th

Tuesday morning after breakfast we (Tom, Earl, Me) went into town. Went out to the cemetery to visit mom and dads grave, then to the town park across the swinging bridge. Meandered around town some then back home.

Figure 14 Visitng mom and dad's grave

Figure 15.16 The Family Bench in the Winamac Town Park

Earl and Tom left about 1 pm heading to South Bend Airport for O’Hare. Tom to Canton NC, Earl to Brookline MA.

Figure 17 The last 2 to leave

Figure 18 and there they go



It was after this that I wrote my "it is hitting me" email . . . .

Tommy and Earl just left

Heading back to Canton NC and Brookline MA

And it is hitting me

How just phenomenally GREAT it was

This past 3 days..... sat, sun, mon, etc.

it seemed so long

it seem so short

To see everyone

And such a surprise

I think my heart is recovering.....

Such a great birthday celebration

Thank you Patty

And thank you every one else

The rubber band is stretching tight

and it will take a while to break

I promise to collect the pictures and put them on my shutterfly site

and write the story

Tom E Anspach Thankyou all so much..


After Tommy and Earl left, the entire weekend seemed to be like a dream, a vision. Could it have really happened. But of course it did happen. Taking the time to write this brings back many of the memories. I have probably missed some.

6- March 10, 11, 12

As I went through the April 15th weekend, I was continually missing daughter Marie. Later, Patty and Marie told me that the extravaganza had actually started a month earlier.

About noon on Sunday March 10th, as I was getting ready to back up my computer, I glanced up and my Grandson Nathan was standing in the doorway. 

Holy cow!, where did you come from? A complete surprise. He is from Juneau AK and is going to Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken NJ studying Chemical Engineering. I was in shock and speechless, except for where did you come from, how did you get here. After a hug there was his mom, daughter Marie, behind him. Nathan was on spring break, and Marie came up with the plan to give me an an early birthday surprise (see below). Again, Patty knew all about it, but I did not have a clue. Nathan took the train from NewYorkCity, Marie flew into Chicago from Juneau AK. She drove down and picked Nathan up at the Amtrak station in South Bend.

Figure 19 Welcome Marie and Nathan

We had a very enjoyable visit. Monday while I went to an orientation for a possible Census Surveying job (I have since ‘resigned’) in Monterey. They were able to find a swimming pool in Plymouth. Nathan is a swimmer and on the Stevens swim team. We visited nearby relatives, walked my woods trail and Marie and Nathan 'ran' the Panhandle Pathway from the TRBridge to the 250S trail head. Using the term 'ran' loosely :)
Figure 20 The Panhandle Pathway

Nathan needed a suit for a visit with an industry gathering at school. We went to Refind and they were able to find everything Nathan needed. Suit, tie, shirt, shoes….. Nathan looked pretty sharp. 
Figure 21 Nathan looking sharp at Refined

They left on Tuesday afternoon, for Chicago where Marie, via air, headed back to Juneau and Nathan, via Amtrak, headed back to Hoboken.

7- Wrap Up

It is a good thing that Marie and Nathans visit was a month before the Bruce Ruth Jeff Tommy visit as I may not have been able to withstand these 2 surprise visits any closer together. I new Marie and Brian had sold their house and were moving into another house in Juneau during April. After everyone had left (Tuesday) and I was talking to Marie and Patty they explained to me that since Marie could not come to the April 15 gathering she planned the March 10th surprise visit. I do not recall that being mentioned at the time, and of course they could not mention it or the April 15th surprise would be in peril.

Patty was continually suggesting that get my hair cut and bear trim as I was looking a little scruffy. Also I should clean my junk off of the dining room table. Usually this is a warning that someone might be coming to visit. I wasn’t very motivated to do either. I should have suspected something the Saturday morning the 13th.. Patty, was heading into town to pick up a prescription 'she said', and she asked me as I was starting to head for my walk "you aren't walking this morning are you... inclement weather?" It was only cloudy, no rain .no snow ..??? why is she asking me that? She NEVER asks me anything about going on my morning walk. "Sure I said I am heading for the woods, by pass the pasture as there is probably water on it from the rain."

Later I find out she is calling my Son to say "the target is on the move". And it turned out she was headed to Francesville, meeting my local brother Carl and Julie there and picking up this humongous birthday cake from a small bakery.

Figure 22 The BIG Birthday Cake (delicious)

My brother took the cake to the Tortuga Inn and stored in daughter in law Ruth’s room till Saturday night. My sons parked their car in Carl Freeman’s woods south of my woods trail where I could not see it. Then they walked back into the woods to intercept me, which they did a tremendous job of doing.

It turned out Patty and my brothers and Kids had been planning this for months.... and I was too dense to catch any of it. It is impressive about how all of these people kept this secret from me. When I look back on it there were a few slip ups that were quickly recovered. I just never put them all together. I had ignored them.

I had told people that I might load up the little car with my camping stuff and go down to where the Ohio and Mississippi come together and camp for a few days on my birthday. No cell phones, no computers. Just me and nature. Of course they probably knew that I would not do this, but were probably a little worried. The biggest concern that Patty had concerned the internet. We had been having problems with our ISP. The ISP finally gave up. This caused us to switch to Century Link. While I was trying to get her lap top email hooked up she was worried that I would see the numerous messages she had while communicating with my kids and brothers. But, although I saw her long list of messages none of them caught my attention. Fortunately for her.

Also I answered a phone call from Earl a day or so before. He needed to talk to Patty. His cat was feeling really bad, and he needed to consult with the ‘vet’. He was BSIng me from the start as he needed to talk about some details of the next few days.

Bottom line, it was a total surprise to me and certainly a grand party, to be remembered forever. I am now about recovered. Thank you all for a memorable birthday.

In addition to it being my birthday, it was memorable for another reason. On April 15th 2011 we had the memorial service for Brother Ken who had passed away on April 8th, 2011. We did not speak of it, outright, this weekend but it was in all of our minds.
Figure 23  Ken’s memorial tree on the Anspach Memorial Hill




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My December Travel Story. Gene’s 70th birthday

My December Travel Story.  Gene’s 70th birthday. (Tom E Anspach  December 11, 2012)
My little brother Gene’s birthday (70) was on Sunday December 9th.  1 year and 2 days after Pearl Harbor.  He was born at home, at our farm near the very small Indiana town of Headlee.  Us, his older 4 brothers were over at our neighbors playing ‘kick the can’. 
His Massachusetts family was planning on an afternoon dinner gathering at his house, Marshfield Hills, to wish him a happy 70th birthday.  Last week I was busy thinking up some odd way to wish him a happy birthday as everyone was gathered at his house. 
Thursday night, or better described as Friday morning, I woke up at 3:30 am with this thought in my mind that I could not get rid of.  I am sure we have all done that from time to time.  I was thinking, I should, I must fly out and surprise Gene on his 70th birthday.  A fast airplane trip, out Saturday back Monday would not interrupt things too much at home.  I finally got back to sleep, and woke up at dawn as usual. Before I went outside for my morning chores and my morning walk in the woods, I emailed my littlest brother Earl who lives in Brookline MA to see if we could set up a plan. 
By Friday night we had a plan and space available reservations-  3448 6:55 AM South Bend to Chicago, 282 8:59 AM Chicago to Boston.  Earl and I would drive down to Marshfield Hills and spend Saturday and Sunday at Gene’s.  Drive back up to Brookline Sunday eve and Monday – 574 8:59AM Boston to Chicago, 5984 1:28pm arrive South Bend 3:10pm, I would be home about 5 PM or so.  Nice schedules, good connecting times, to Massachusetts surprise and spend some time with Gene’s family and get back home at a reasonable time. 
I get up at about 4am Saturday morning.  It is drizzly on the 2 hour drive to South Bend as we go through deer country.  Only saw 1 deer, dead, alongside of the road.  Whew!, so far so good.
Through security easily, and out to the gate.  Uh Oh, 3448 seems to be having early morning trouble.  People seem to be in the cockpit with baseball caps and flashlights, not your normal airline crew getting ready to leave.  After several delays totaling 2 hours, the pilot tells us that an emergency light had a loose wire and the mechanics had to remove some panels to reconnect it.  Me being space available was among the very last to board with no seats to spare.  Made it to Chicago easily but a couple hours late.  It was about departure time for 3448.  According to the gate info that I had 282 arrived in the same terminal but quite a ways from arriving 3448
Will I make my connecting flight?  Fortunately I was in the forward area of 3448 and carrying my bag.  I got off quickly and started trying to figure out where 282 was. Just by accident I glanced at the sign on the gate next to our arrival.  Lo and behold there was 282 about ready to close the doors.  I rushed to the counter and they had a seat for me whew!.  It was a center seat, but turned out no one was in the aisle seat so I and the passenger next to the window had an empty center seat, always nice.  As they closed the doors and we were ready to go; the pilot comes on with a ‘we are delayed’ we have a weight and balance data issue we are trying to work out.  About 15 minutes or so later all seemed to be ok and we left.  As I looked out the window: wow is there ever a lot of airplanes at the Chicago airport. 
We made it to Boston about on time, contacted Earl at the cell phone lot and we were on our way to my Brother Gene’s place at Marshfield Hills about 40 miles or so south of Boston...
Monday; the return. 
Earl got me to the airport plenty of time to catch 574 9:59AM to Chicago.  Lots of people at security but flowing pretty fast, made it to the gate in plenty of time.  Near last on board, center seat, but in ‘elegant’ economy section with plenty of leg room and under the seat bag space.  Plane left the gate about on time. . . . . oops.  Plane stopped on the taxi way.  Pilot came on ‘we are having trouble with one of the pressurization valves.  Back to the gate.  Uh Oh, needed mechanical work.  Flight delayed till noon and that appeared to be iffy.  There is a plane leave for Chicago at 288 10:55 AM, can I make it.  By now the 574 had been delayed to about 10:30 or so. There was an immense amount of commotion.  There were several passengers with international connections in Chicago. And most of the others had business connections.  Here the smart phone users were extremely active.  Calling their associates and airline agencies to come up with work a rounds.  Certainly a dramatic example of the use of the modern cell, internet, smart, phone technology.
The gate for 288 turned out to be near by.  It was being delayed do to passengers from 574 coming over for boarding.  Those who had made reservations using their phones from 574 were boarded pretty quickly after some fast computer typing by the gate agents.  I was impressed with how calmly the agents responded to the great amount of turmoil.  The number of SA seats was rapidly declining.  Uh Oh.  I was standing by the counter.  They knew I was waiting for an empty seat.  As they are getting close to closing the door, they had an empty seat for me.  The last one to board the plane.  A center seat in the low cost economy end.  Hardly any leg room, I had to really squash my bag to get it under the seat in front of me.  It was not accessible during the 3 hour flight so I could not get my connection info for South Bend out of my bag.  I should have removed it and put it in my pocket. The plane was about a half hour late.  2 and a half hours later than my scheduled departure on 574.   I would probably miss my 5984 1:28PM connection to South Bend. 
The pilot had made up a little time.  We arrived in Chicago about 1:25.  I was well in the back of the plane.  They were trying to get the International connecting passengers off 1st from the back of the plane.  It seemed to take forever before I was able to get off.  What gate is 5984?  I had not been able to get my info out of my bag and forgotten the flight number.  I tried to find a schedule board… finally found one 5984 showed a gate, fortunately in the same terminal, but way down at the end from where I was, scheduled to leave at 1:28.  I hurried down as fast as possible.  To the counter…to find. .  ‘oh we are delayed’.  Flight delayed 1 hour, plane is not here yet.  Wow how lucky can I get….  But there were very few seats left and 3 SA’s.  As time went on 2 SA’s were booked.  I was not.  As they were ready to close the doors the agent was looking for, and calling for, 1 passenger who had not showed up.  Finally she said, well I guess you made it, stamped my seat number on my gate pass and I was on, Whew!!!.  This was a small plane and every one had to check the bags, the usual overhead bags, at the gate.  Mine had been fitting under the seat so I carried mine.  I walked down the aisle to the back of the plane to my seat… spotted my seat and someone was in it.  He realized he was in my seat.  The story came out fast.  Here we go:  He, will call him pass3, was in my seat because pass2 was in his seat.  Pass2 was in pass3’s seat because pass1 was in her seat.  Pass1’s seat next to the window was empty.  Pass1 was talking very emotionally on his phone with a hand over his unoccupied ear.  I said I can sit in pass1’s original seat which is empty.  By then a flight attendant arrive aware that there was some kind of an ‘comotion event’ going on.  She got the story figured out right away.  She got a hold of the pas1’s arm, who was still on the phone and not paying any attention, getting his attention.  What seat are you supposed to be in?  This one he said between his conversation words.  She said lets see your gate pass.  Oops you are supposed to be up there.  She told me to sit there in the empty seat . . . problem resolved.  Pass1 was still talking avidly on his phone.  Here the under seat was even smaller than before.  But I managed to get my bag jammed under it. 
South bend is only about and hour or so, depending on traffic, gate to gate from Chicago O’Hare.  The pilot being humorous as we taxied out to the strip “Ladies and Gentlemen, after we have taxied about halfway to South Bend we are now ready to fly the rest of the way”.  And there was snow, wet heavy an inch or so, on the ground and my car in South Bend and was misting rainy snow.  It was gone by the time I got home, 75 miles later.   After all of this, I made it home only about an hour later than my original schedule.  And my amazing journey came to an end.
I was on 5 different United flights; every one of them had trouble.  This is the 1st time that I recall from all of my flying, this much trouble in one trip.
3448 – Loose emergency light wire, delayed 2 hours
282 – Weight and Balance issue delayed about 15 minutes
574 – Pressurization valve  delayed 3 hours (I do not know if it met that schedule)
288 – Boarding turmoil and weight and balance issue. Delayed about half hour
5984 – Plane was late arriving inbound – delayed 2 hours.
It was great being at Gene’s 70th birthday celebration.  I got to surprise most everyone by being there.  Rena and Jasmine had surmised that I might be there because of some vague comments Earl had made.  As Gene came into his house from Mallory’s wedding he wondered who in the world was taking a nap on his couch.  Due to his regular walking and exercize he did not have a heart attack.  It was great seeing all of Gene’s family (except for a couple who were not able to make it).  Earl and I represented, as best we could, Gene’s brothers who were not there.  Gene and Rena may not invite me again though.  As Doug and Kerry’s girls, now a few years older, Abby and Grace and I got kicked out of the house as we revived our old Spit Ball war games.
That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. 

The Ride, The Tradition Continues.

The Tradition Continues.

My Annual Guinness Ride (4th). The St Patrick’s Day god’s were kind again. My 4th annual Guinness Ride to the Fiddlers Hearth Public House in South Bend for a little Irish celebration was a success.

This year my brother, John, from Logansport went with me, adding to the adventure.

Starting temperature was about 39 degrees. The thermometer hovering just below 40 and sticking there. We were bundled in several lagers and looked like puff balls. At 40 degrees, although I had my electric vest with me, and John did not have one, I did not wear it. I was just trying to be fair. We were cool but not cold. Temps were supposed to get up near the 50’s, with a rain and sleet coming in the evening. Things were looking good. We would be back well before evening.

I had been watching the gravel road from the house to the black top all week. Thawing out, covered with pot holes, water spots, and muddy spots. Concerned, will I be able to make it out. This morning an hour or so before I left, the county gravel/scraper truck came by. Wow!, I had just talked to the County Highway Superintendant last week on another matter and mentioned my annual Guinness ride. So out they came just special for me, and dumped some gravel and graded in some of the muddy spots and pot holes. At least that is my story, and I’m sticking with it. So it was not bad getting out at all. Coming back later it was back to close to its usual shape. Grading and filling doesn’t last long. But I made it in OK.

I was to meet my brother at a gas station in Rochester. I knew which one I meant, but ‘which one’ he thought I meant was garbled in the planning conversation and he was waiting at a different gas station.. Fortunately he came looking and after a couple of ‘what do you means’ we took off up US31 heading north to South Bend.

Arrived at the Fiddlers Hearth, about 11:30 or so, wearing as much green as we could find. (Don’t worry Gator, I was wearing your Irish sweater gift with pride). We received our shamrock as we entered the door. Found 2 side by side chairs at the bar immediately. From my past experience, this was very unusual. We enjoyed a nice lunch of Irish Stew (to ward off the chill), some fish and chips, Guinness, coffee, Irish and Celtic music, all blessed by the local Priest, and conversation. “Conversation’, especially with Jeff. Our bar neighbor Jeff only had to work a half day. His Irish wife had to work all day. So he was there celebrating for her. We all autographed a menu for her, wishing her a happy St Patrick’s day. I noticed that Carol ‘the lady of the house’ looked a year younger not older, said hello to Shawn bartender and musician. After a couple hours we were ready to head back home.

As we hiked across the street to the garage (free parking)- still overcast, cool wind from the east, thermometer still stuck on about 40 degrees. What happened to the high 40’s?. We headed south, nice ride on the state roads, IN23, IN10, IN17. I rode part way to Logansport with my brother. We decided to stop in Kewanna and break the chill. A little Yukon and a cup of coffee did it very well. After some more brotherly conversation we stepped out by the bikes right by the door. . . and low and behold. . . it was raining sleet!!. Fortunatetl the roads were still warm… and it was melting. . . and we were getting close to home. I headed home to Winamac, John to Logansport. I got a little damp but not bad. John said later that he got soaked. It had been and was raining harder in Logansport.

Happy St Patrick’s day 2008

Happy St Patrick’s Day


My Annual Guinness Ride, the 7th, St Patricks Day 3 17 2011.

Tom Anspach

Winamac, IN

The weather for the 1st ride of 2011 opened with a ‘bang’ this year. The predicted temperatures were in the low 60’s, they actually reached the low 70’s.

A couple years after we moved up to the north, in 2001, to Winamac, IN, from Florida, I realized one of the things I missed from living in the Tampa Bay area was celebrating St Patrick ’s Day at a good Irish Pub. No green beer, good Guinness, Irish food and Irish music. In 2004 I found the Fiddlers Hearth in South Bend, It turned out to be a great place. I called the trip my Annual Guinness ride. 3 years ago my brother John joined me. We would meet in Rochester, riding our motorcycles. It is about 60 miles.

This year the weather was predicted to be the warmest ever, low 60’s. The wx is usually in the high 30’s to high 40’s. On one of my trips it started snowing when I got there. Didn’t last though.

I dug out my Florida Gator gift St Patricks day sweater, and my old Hooks Drug Store green hat, and was ready to go. John and I met about 10:30 AM in Rochester. Took the usual US31 route up. We found a good parking spot in the city several story public lot across the street, taking up only 1 vehicle parking spot. In the ‘free for 2 hours’ area. Keep this in mind, as it is important later. As usual we arrived at the Hearth as the lunch crowd had the place filled up. Finally we worked our way to the bar area and finally found some seats at the bar. As you can expect everyone was celebrating and in good cheer. There were no ‘strangers’.

The Irish music was cheery


Food selection range was wide. . . what shall we have? Check the menu.
My Annual Guinness Ride, the 7th, St Patricks Day 3 17 2011

Tom Anspach
Winamac, IN

The weather for my 7th annual Guinness ride opened with a ‘bang’ this year. The predicted temperatures were in the low 60’s, they actually reached the low 70’s.

A couple years after we moved up to the north, in 2001, to Winamac, IN, from Florida, I realized one of the things I missed from living in the Tampa Bay area was celebrating St Patrick ’s Day at a good Irish Pub. No green beer, good Guinness, Irish food and Irish music. In 2004 I found the Fiddlers Hearth in South Bend, It turned out to be a great place. I called the trip my Annual Guinness ride. 3 years ago my brother John joined me. We would meet in Rochester, riding our motorcycles. It is about 60 miles.

This year the weather was predicted to be the warmest ever, low 60’s. The wx is usually in the high 30’s to high 40’s. On one of my trips it started snowing when I got there. Didn’t last though.

I dug out my Florida Gator gift St Patricks day sweater, and my old Hooks Drug Store green hat, and was ready to go. John and I met about 10:30 AM in Rochester. Took the usual US31 route up. We found a good parking spot in the city several story public lot across the street, taking up only 1 vehicle parking spot. In the ‘free for 2 hours’ area. Keep this in mind, as it is important later. As usual we arrived at the Hearth as the lunch crowd had the place filled up. Finally we worked our way to the bar area and finally found some seats at the bar. As you can expect everyone was celebrating and in good cheer. There were no ‘strangers’.

The Irish music was cheery

Food selection range was wide. . . what shall we have? Check the menu.

Pix 3

The fish and chips were great. Not many dishes to wash, served per custom on a newspaper. John had corned beef and cabbage, which he said was delicious. And, of course, the Guinness was fresh and just the right temperature.

Pix 4

A few days before Brother John had picked up some St Pat’s hats at a dollar store. He selected worthy people and passed them out.

Pix 5 6 7

We lost track of time a little and left about 2:30. Uh oh, a little more than 2 hours. Sure enough, we got back to the garage and we had the time marks on our rear tires and a ticket on the handle bars. We had overstayed our 2 hour welcome. The ticket was $10 if paid within 10 days or so, then bumped up to $20, and then there was a $35 fine. We walked down to the office where John could use his ‘used car and furniture salesman’ negotiation strategy “we were out of town guests, spent a pile of money supporting the local economy, only used 1 parking space not 2, etc.” to see if we could get some latitude. Nothing worked. As you would expect, the office people just work there. Once the ticket is created they have to follow the rules. A vehicle is a vehicle, using 1 space, apparently no different. Wonder what would happen if a vehicle took up 2 spaces? We could call next week sometime to the ‘bosses’ and talk to them. We finally decided, we just as well abide, and paid up each of our $10. Enough for a couple more . . . . ‘s. Oh well.

We took the usual ‘back roads’ US23, IN10, IN17 coming back. The weather had predicted brisk winds from the SSW, 15 mph or so with gusts to 30 mph or so. It was at least that. We were usually heading southerly. Sometimes we headed east and west. When that happened the cross winds coming across open fields had the bikes leaning at a good angle. You could feel the blast when coming from a protected wooded area into these open areas. It was good to be alert. By this time according to my bike thermometer the temperature was 75 degrees. According to TV weather later the official temperature was just a couple degrees below the all time high record. I had my winter coat on and was sweating.

Of course we had to stop at Kibtzers in Kewanna as usual. We told the Hearth barkeep that we stopped at Kibitzers, which of course they had never heard of, and the barkeep there would probably be expecting us. So they have us a green Guinness bead necklace, and John had save a hat for her. Which made her day. All of the local patrons were envious.

We made it home to Logansport and Winamac, after another enjoyable St Patrick’s Day and the beginning of a new year of riding.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

From Juneau AK to Hoboken NJ

My Grandson Nathan is graduating from HS in Juneau AK.  He is signed up to attend Stevens Institute of Techonology in Hoboken NJ.  He and his mom (my daughter) and dad went to Hoboken for 'new student day'.  Marie wrote a story of their trip.  I asked if I could distribute it.  She said I would be the only one interested because I was her dad.  So I decided to post it on my blog.  That way not to bother people by distributing them the story.  If they wanted to read it, they could come to my blog and find it.  If you want to send a message to Marie send it to me [tom42n]  and I will forward it to her. 

----- Original Message -----
From: Marie
To:  Dad ;
Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2012 9:28 PM
Subject: Oh Happy Day

Well, it was harrowing experience going to NJ, but Nathan loved it and is sure he wants to go to Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT)!!!!!

The flight was great!!! 4+ hours heading east and 5+ heading west. We rented two digiplayers. I sat in the middle seat and I had one ear listening to Nathan’s sitcom TV shows and one ear listening to Brian's tear jerker movies the whole time both ways. We arrived in Newark at 11:30 pm and called our free motel shuttle.

We decided to stay near the airport because we didn't want to try to find our way to SIT at midnight and the motel rooms were $100/night cheaper near the airport than the ones by school. We waited for a few short minutes when our motel van speeding and weaving in and around the other vans slammed on the brakes at the pick up point. We were tired from leaving Juneau on our 7:00 am flight, so I just told Nathan to make sure he fastened his seat belt. There was a little construction so our driver gave his spiel about how long it usually takes for pick ups and how the construction was lengthening his airport trips. He asked if we were planning to head into "the city" while we were visiting and told everyone the best way to get there.

Our room was very nice and even though the internet said they had reports of bed bugs, we didn't see a single one. Most of NY and NJ motels have reports of bed bugs on or some such site.

We arose around 9ish and headed downstairs just before they put away the free breakfast that came with the room. In fact Nathan just made it through with his doughnuts and fruitloops when they shut the door behind him. We went back to our room and packed up and got ready to head to the school and our next motel near the school. We got a ride from the motel driver who dropped us off at the airport and told us to take the airtrain to some transportation hub and to catch the train to another train to Hoboken, NJ. Nathan could probably tell you the exact names of the trains and stops as I wanted to make sure he could make it from the airport to the school without our help. His trusty smart phone knew the way pretty much and the airport had lots of information people giving directions.

After the train which I think was an Amtrak dropped us off at the subway/train station, I was inline to get our bus tickets and the train was expecting to depart in 2 minutes. The guy in line behind me told me I was wasting everyone's time because I was trying to figure out what the machine was telling me to do. And he started punching buttons for me and he kept punching that I had a debit card when I actually had a credit card. Needless to say the transaction would fail because I didn't have a pin number. Well, we all made the train even all the people in line behind me whose time I wasted.

The train dropped us off right in Hoboken, NJ about 1/2 mile from SIT. We dragged our rolling bags through downtown and passed by Carlo's Bakery home of "the cake boss", we had rented one of the seasons, so we were familiar with the store. There was a crowd of people waiting to get in. The motel says the show brought a lot of tourists to Hoboken. We continued on, dragging our bags along the Hudson River between the campuses.

There's an old cave at the school which apparently had some toxic water in the 50's or so and the community cemented the cave closed. I read they were talking about reopening it. Our next motel, a little less than a mile past the school, was beautiful which must've been why it was over $200 per night plus $50 per night per extra person. We had an awesome view of "the city".

After we got settled Brian and I headed out to a local deli and brought back sandwiches to the room. I then saw why the guy kept asking if we wanted half a sandwich. In our ignorance we kept saying no, because after all it was only being made on two pieces of bread. How big could a sandwich be? Well I swear it was at least 3 inches of deli meat between those two little slices of bread!!! Everything seemed very reasonably priced, so maybe everything was in fact expensive since we are used to Juneau prices.

We decided to venture out to the city. Our hotel was situated right at a little ferry dock that headed over to the city every hour or so for a 6 minute ride across the Hudson. Very fun ride. Lots of people all dressed up in suits and gowns for the evening. I think there was a wedding party staying at our motel. We didn't really know where we were going. The ferry had some free bus rides from the ferry terminal into the city streets. We got off the bus at Madison square gardens a landmark we'd heard of before. We walked around aimlessly trying not to let the crowd force us off our street so we could catch the return bus back to the ferry. We were overwhelmed with stores, restaurants and people, people, people everywhere!! If we weren't careful the crowd would drag us with them across a street. We couldn't decide where to eat until we spotted a KFC something familiar and since we don’t' have a KFC in Juneau, we dined at the NYC KFC.

After buying some specialty popcorn and a new backpack purse, we tried to find a place to catch our bus back to the ferry. I had been searching for a backpack purse for months and haven't found anything and NY had numerous leather stores with any kind of leather clothing and bags you could imagine and the cost was half the price of one I almost bought at one of the west coast malls. I noticed everyone was wearing leather in NY. Funny I had a leather coat in Juneau that I got at a garage sale and just recently gave it away because I never wore it. In NY everyone had leather. We found a ferry bus stop, but there were two big cross country busses and a van without a driver blocking the stop. The busses were yelling at the cops to get the van out of there, but there was no driver. I think the busses were for the entourage of someone famous. We were right outside a fancy hotel. Needless to say our ferry bus just flew around all the commotion and didn't see us in the crowds trying to wave him down. We walked down another half mile or so until we found another bus stop without so much action. We were exhausted.

We arrived at the campus for the accepted students luncheon and met the head coach for a tour of the school. He planned to meet us to give us his personal tour. He took us through the pool and talked a lot about the swim program at the school. He said varsity swimmers get their laundry done and Nathan's HS swim times are varsity times!! He will have to keep up those times. The coach said no trip home for Thanksgiving because Nathan has to be in the pool on Wednesday and Sunday that weekend. The coach said someone on the team works for Macy's so the ones that live far away usually man the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloons, so maybe we will see him on TV. Other than that, we went on lots of tours and sat through lots of speeches. There were 4,500 applications for a 650 freshman class.

It was pretty interesting as we got to talk to the Chemistry professor there. Nathan's interest is chemistry, so we talked to him for a while about his research. He works with pharmaceutical companies developing drugs. The work includes simultaneously solving numerous differential equations which is right up Nathan's isle. His two favorite class’s calculus and chemistry. We also talked to the PHD computer majors on their projects, pretty interesting they are doing a lot of research work for some of the major computer companies. They threw out a lot of names, but I don't remember any. They put out tons of candy and sweets for the reception as the SIT jazz band played. Very nice although there was a NY storm out that night. We walked back to our motel.

The next day was the professor luncheon and an appointment with the financial aid office. They are really giving Nathan a good deal. At the luncheon, we met another chemistry professor and some other students planning to attend SIT. Afterwards we walked back to the train and headed back to our airport hotel and then back to Juneau the next day. It seemed like a whirlwind and an expensive experience. I don’t' think I will be visiting Nathan too much while he's there. He will be able to come home for Christmas and maybe the summer if he doesn't get a job there somewhere.