Oh I O - Sweet Caroline A - Like A Virgin IA and West

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July 9th 2016
Published: July 11th 2016
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Friday 1 July 2016. After our terror taxi ride to JFK we boarded our delayed Delta Air fright flight complete with frosty mist to keep us guessing. Once we took off our frost bitten toes began to thaw out. The air conditioning was acting up. We were on the honour system with our seat belts as the flight attendant could not see them to check

Gee whiz Christopher Columbus we have arrived in Ohio, Columbus, Ohio. Now 1hr late we race off back to Angie's home town of Lancaster about 1 more hr drive away. We drop off Cindy and then go quickly unpack freshen up jump in the car and back to Columbus to meet up with Mike Nolan, Angie's beau.

It's the night of Red White and Boom 2016 fireworks for 4th July celebrations about 400 000 people lined the river banks and wandered the blocked off streets around the river district.

Food vans, hard lemonade (alcoholic) beer, happy people, fireworks and us. A great night.

Back in Lancaster at around midnight. We decided we needed to catch our breath so the next day we skipped going to Amish country. In other words we skipped their best pie and cheese farm.

Saturday 2 July Mike arrives in time for lunch and we decide it is a must to head off to the iconic Tom's Ice Cream Bowl for afternoon tea. Francine agrees she must partake in all things Ohio and unselfishly indulges in 3 flavours of ice cream, caramel peanut butter fudge and cashewsand surrendered by only eating half. Angie and Mike were victorious in the challenge. Tom's has been open since 1948 and has remained traditional.

Sunday 3 July. Thanksgiving is here only 5 months early. A special treat for Francine as being Australian they do not celebrate Thanks giving, onlt Christmas. They do have Australia Day, similar to 4 July.

So with Angie with Mike Nolan they started cooking the turkey, seet and mashed potato, gravy and cheese salad.

Wonderful friends and family brought along all other dishes, beans, noodles, pumpkin pie, strwberry pie, choc brownies. Cindy, brother Mike, June, Brian, Marie, Son Mike, Becky, Haleigh, Samantha, Jeff, Amy, Emily, Mary, Jeff, Patti, Tom, A GREAT BIG THANK YOU from Francine. It was so wonderful finally meet you all after 11 years of knowing via Angie. Family Friends Food, Frantasic.

Home to pack up the car for a 4am start to head south.

Monday HAPPY 4th July. And we're off. First stop Mt Airy North Carolina via West Virginia and Virginia.

Through the Smoky Mountains and they were smokin' mist this morning. Francine was holding onto the OS bar (oh shit handle above the door window) as Angie negotiated all the corners and mist. Lucky to see 50 metres 90ft ahead.

We arrive in Mt Airy at 10am, 1 hr before the 4th July Parade starts. We stop for breakfast at Nanna's Place. We asked if they had a breakfast or just the lunch menu. The nice young man said" well if you eat early enough you could call it breakfast" Accurate.

The parade is a few pick up trucks a fire engine local groups, the largest group is a family reunion, what a family dancing in the streets with matching family reunion shirts. We declined to stay for the pie eating contest and drove on over to Franklin, North Carolina.

Early the next morning we pack up our lunch and drive to the mine to hunt rubies and shaphirres. Angie has been here twice before, Francine is a quick study and finds the first ruby of the day. It's tedious work sluicing for gem stones covered in dried hard dirt. Our hands are raw by the end of the day.

Angie is able to find the biggest gemstone of the day, a 22.5 ruby in a magenta/purple color, it will be beautiful. Francine's is able to capture a total weight of 25 k and Angie has a total weight of 77. To put it in layman's terms, Francine will get a new ruby ring and earrings. Angie will have 2 new rings, a pair of earrings and a pendent.

However the day is far from over, we drag our sore bodies, stained and wet from washing rocks to the local lapidist to get those gems cut for our jewelry collection. We entertained him with our humor and our credit cards, making sure we got good deals.

The next morning we visited Cherokee Village and the town of Cherokee, interesting to learn about the five clans and the history of these intelligent native Americans.

The drive through the Great Smoky Mountains left Francine in awe of the green mountians and the rambling river being very picturesque.

Driving to Nashville proved challenging as we approached a huge thunderstorm made driving difficult and Angie was on alert, Fran was hitting her brake quite often on the passenger side, and holding on for dear life. But all ended well. Our hotel was serving drinks and dinner when we arrived, yes all free. Never encountered such a thing ever. We had already made arrangements to meet a mutual friend downtown for drinks and dinner. Needless to say, we ate and drank twice this evening.

When Francine and Angie sailed the Greek isles we meet a wonderful gal, Laurie Parker from Nashville so we made plans to reunite with her and her fiancee, Dayshawn Porter. We had a fabulous time with drinks at Printer's Alley and dinner at Pucketts.

Up early the next morning and on our way to GRACELAND. We loves every minute even though it was very hot and humid. The king still lives in the hearts of millions of people, and definately ours. We can't leave Memphis without a quick trip to Beale St., but to eat the best ribs in Memphis we visit the Central Barbecue. They were yummy and messy. We were able to waddle across the street to visit the Civil Rights Museum, the Lorainne Motel where Martin Luther King was shot, a chilling reminder of volatile times.

Driving South and staying in Canton, Mississippi.

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15th August 2016

I can walk to Tom's Ice Cream Bowl in five minutes; sorry to miss you all there! My family & I were returning this day from our own vacation in Florida.

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