Category Archives: Uncategorized

Land Cruise!

We are finishing up a land cruise that took us down to look at our property and meet with builders in Yulee FLA.  If the house in Somerset ever sells we plan to build a new house from scratch.  However finding a quality builder is a challenge.  We think we have one and are currently under discussions on design and of course price.  More to come as things develop.  On the house selling front frustration rules.  We have one interested party but the house they are trying to sell is tied up in a divorce with two lawyers involved.  So not holding out any hope of a quick sale there.  Anyway back to the land cruise.  We drove down to Yulee / Amelia Island in our new Crossover.  We recently traded in our Volvo XC-60 for a Lincoln MKX.   Slightly larger than the Volvo and much better ride and gas mileage!  First day was from Somerset to Roanoke Virginia.  12 hours of driving…   long day.  Next day we were in Savannah GA.  We like it there an it is only about two and a half hours to Yulee.  So we got a nice room at the Savannah Marriott Riverfront.  As I am still a platinum member with Marriott they gave us a waterfront room and free parking and a nice breakfast.  We wandered around the waterfront and then found a great place for dinner where they make great individual pizzas.  This place was great, and reasonably priced which is a challenge in this expensive city.  Savannah is full of charm and a big tourist draw, and if you have never been there I can highly recommend that you go and enjoy the city with all its southern charm!  The next morning we drove the 2 and half hours to Yulee and went to Watermens Bluff to check out a house recently built by one of our prospective builders.  We were meeting with this builder the next day at their offices in Jacksonville (Jax) and wated to see their product in person before the meeting.  Good thing we did.  The finish construction quality was crap!  Plane and simple crap.  So seeing the house before meeting with them was a good thing.  In reality after seeing the house I would have canceled the meeting, but since it was Sunday and the meeting was on Monday morning we decided to go through with the meeting and see how they responded to all our disappointing findings.  Well they were surprised but made nothing but excuses, and said they would do better if they built our house.  Well I can tell you that that is not going to happen!  So alternate plan B.  More on Plan B as it develops.    The next day we visited our friends in Jax.  OK unfortunately we could only visit with Victor because Bill was in hospital again.  Fortunately he is better and last time we checked he was home!  All said it was great to catch up with Victor and hear all of what was going on.

On the way home from Victors house we drove through hurricane Hector, which was not  a hurricane or a tropical storm a few hours previously.  Bill and Victor live on the south side of Jax.  Yulee is above the north side of Jax.  So the drive home (our rental in Amelia Island) is about an hours drive.  As we drove northward the rain and wind were unbelievable!  Torrential does not even begin to describe how heavy the rain was.  I was glad we were in an AWD vehicle.  Safe to say we made it without any real issues.  Next morning we saw on the news that this tropical depression had quickly blown up into a category 1 hurricane over Jax and that is what we were driving through.  No warning or anything.  Go figure.  Glad we we were on land and not in Autumn Dream!

After that fun we enjoyed visiting with Beth’s mom and friends and eating some great food on the island.  On the Friday we were back at Watermans Bluff for a Low Country boil!  Once or twice a year the developer throws a community get together.  Since we were there we decided to attend.  It was a great chance to meet our new neighbors and have some good eats.  Here in New England we have clam boils.  This typically consist of soft shell clams, sausage, corn on the cob, onions, chourico ( a local Portuguese sausage), potatos and some times depending on budget lobsters.  All this is thrown in a pot for a few hours and boiled  A low country boil is similar but in place of clams they use shrimp.  In place of chourico they use anduli sausage.  Most of the rest is similar.   They then take everything and dump it on newspapers and you all serve yourself.  It was great!  I think when we move I’ll miss chourico but beyond that no worries!

While we were staying on Amelia Island I had some chance to play with my new lens and you can see some hand held examples of this new toy!  So they would be clearer if I had it on the tripod! For those of you who do not follow us on facebook you probably don’t know I recently purchased a new Nikon 200mm to 500mm lens!  This lens is unbelievable!  In the following shots you can see one of the US Navy’s nuclear subs putting to sea!   We were quite far away from as you can imagine!  But the photos with this lens are stunning!  Also included a few bird photos I believe these are Snowy Egrets!  Of course as there was a Nuclear Sub leaving the port all marine traffic was stopped and had to wait for the sub to clear the port. Note the machine gun on the USCG boat!  Pointy end pointed at any potential intruders!   One of the small yachts waiting so they could avoid the pointy end of the USCG boat was fun to photograph,  Gives you a minor example so you can see how strong this lens is as I zoomed out and in!

Enjoy!   More on the house to come!

 

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Mumbai, India

I promised that I would finish the trip log eventually.  This retirement thing keeps me going quite a bit so I have not found (made) the time to do an update.  So here it is.

Leaving  Cochin at 6:00 PM on Saturday April 9 we set a course northward toward Mumbai.  This was a 592 Nautical mile run so we would have a day at sea between the two ports.  Love sea days!

We arrived in Mumbai on Monday morning April 11 at 8:00 AM.  Coming into the harbor was very interesting as we saw a great number of ships of all size and shapes.  Many oil exploration and support vessels and Indian Navy vessels.  After the fun in Cochin and having our sure excursion canceled in Mumbai we decided to stay on the ship and not due an excursion in Mumbai.  We did visit the gift shops in the terminal but did not find anything we were willing to spend our money on.  This was a changeover day for the ship so it was interesting to see all the activity and supplies coming on and trash and recyclables going off the ship.  Unknown to us we had an unwelcome guest also come on board here in Mumbai.  Norovirus and idiots!  All the way from Hong Kong to Mumbai everyone was healthy and no Norovirus.  From Mumbai to Athens we had the virus and ignorant passengers who were confined to their quarters with Norovirus but were actually wandering around the ship infection others.  This issue lasted till we got to Athens.  Fortunately Beth and I managed to not get it but it was a real bummer for the rest of the trip for the healthy passengers and the poor crew went through hell trying to control it!   Hats off to the crew but they never stopped cleaning and cleaning.  Biggest problem was the idiot passengers who felt that they paid for this trip and dam to hell everyone else.  No matter if they were sick they could wander the ship contaminating all the others!  This really put a bad taste on the second half of the cruise for us!

On a positive side I did get to visit some Middle Eastern countries, pass through the Suez Canal and return to some of the Greek islands we have visited previously.  So here are a few photos of Mumbai and the remainder of the trip!

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Tug Boat in Mumbai

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Indian Navy in Mumbai

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Indian Aircraft Carrier  –  notice the ski jump at the far end of the runway!  hmm.

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Mumbai skyline at Sunset!

After leaving Mumbai we went to Salalah, Oman  –  first time in the Middle East!  Not very photogenic stop but very nice people, then on to Jordan where we visited Petra!   Stunning, stunning.  But very long bus ride to to get there from Aqaba,  Jordan.   From Jordan we went to Safaga Egypt where we chose to not get of the ship to join the 14 hour buss ride to the valley of the Kings under a military escort!  Next day was the Suez Canal  – 105 NM of sand and more sand with a waterway running through it!   Cool but very boring.   Did I mention we saw sand.  Oh also flies and guard post along the canal!

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Yup really in the Middle East!   A Hyundai in Jordan

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Entrance to Petra and the start of a long hot hike to see the city!

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On the walk to Petra!

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Pathway to Petra

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After a long walk the first iconic glimpse at the famous Treasury building

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Yup a camel!  My first on in their homeland!

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Famous Treasury in Petra!   No sign of Dr. Jones

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Much more to see in the City of Petra, a few hours are not enough!

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Friend along the way!

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Hmm  must have moved the canal, or the captain was drinking???

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A different Ferrari than you expect to see in Haifa

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This is a private yacht!  Not a cruise ship!  (in Rhodes Greece)

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View in Rhodes!

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Santorini, Greece

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Major dig in Santorini, exceptionally cool!

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Good Ship Nautica in Santorini caldera!

So after leaving Santorini we arrived in Athens to leave for home!  To total distance traveled on this trip was 9000 nautical miles, 35 days!  Hong Kong China to Athens Greece.  Great trip!  Trip never felt to long and only managed to put on 7 pounds after all the great food on the M/S Nautica with Oceania Cruises.  Obviously I have a million more photo but only wanted to bore you with a few!   Hope you enjoyed the trip with us!

Seals

Here is a post that was lost and is now found and published!  From the March 2016 time-frame!  enjoy

 

We had a pair of red tail hawks visit a few weeks ago.  They spent an hour in the back yard.

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Red Tail Hawk

We had some nice weather last week and drove down to Narragansett RI with Dave and Pat to see the seals.  A hike down to the shore and along the beach, and there they were; harbor seals grunting and calling on the rocks.  The photo was taken with my new camera on the PHD (point here dummy) setting, using the max (digital) zoom.

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Seals

On the way back Kevin and Dave found a “classic car”.

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Classic Car

We have a showing of Autumn Dream this weekend.  Kevin has been putting things back together- replacing hoses, adding anti-freeze, etc.  Pretty soon it will be time to take the cover off.  If she doesn’t sell, she will move to Florida with us.

We found the oven & cook top for the new kitchen – Blue Star.  Nice stuff!

 

April 9 2016, Cochin (Kochi) India (otherwise known as Incredible India)

On the morning of Saturday April 9 after cruising 1,529 nautical miles through the Bay of Bengal and the Laccadive Sea we arrived bright and early into our first port in India.  The sail in was stunning.  Thunder storms all around with extensive cloud to sea lightening strikes and tropical rains.  However as the sun came up and we got closer to land the skies cleared up and we left the nasty weather behind us in the Laccadive Sea.  The entrance to Cochin is pretty in its own right.  We were escorted into the harbor by 100s of dolphins and met by fisherman setting to sea and on the beach.  Once inside the harbor entrance we had a short cruise to the dock passing by the famous Chinese’s fishing nets.  Even from the comfort of our luxury cruise ship you could see the extreme poverty that is India.  The harbor was full of overloaded ferries that should have been put out of their misery 30 years ago.  I know this is part of the charm.  Also part of the charm was the filth of the waterway.  Did I say the waterway was full of trash and filthy, yup!   Not even sure what was in the water besides plastic, but as we saw later in the day I’m sure much of the brown floating stuff was human shit!  However this place was still very intriguing.   You could still see the old buildings and old Imperial British structures.  If you looked beyond the grime and the filth you could see some very beautiful things.  Since we have never been to India before we decided to do a shore excursion called “Tranquil Backwaters” in Alleppey located in the Kerala region of India (aka. the Venice of the east).  This excursion you cruised through canals by houses and had a nice lunch in a 5 star  (ok 2 star)  resort hotel.  You did get to see how folks live.  We had about a 2 hour bus ride to the boat boarding location.  This was eye opening.  Traffic rules do not apply in this part of India.  We also saw more people that I ever expected taking a shit or leak by the side of the road.  Rather disgusting if I say so.  Last time I saw this was several years ago in the Peruvian Andes.   Makes you watch where you take a step when you’re walking.  I was doing that anyway out of fear of stepping on a cobra but human excrement was more likely an issue than the cobra was.  The bus ride was also very interesting.  The actual bus was a trip.  The passenger space was air-conditioned and ok as far as comfort goes.  The bus driver however was in his own cabin that had 50-1 AC   (50 MPH and one open window!).  I felt sorry for him as after all this is India and it was 95 degrees F and 95% humidity.  Once we made it to the boat for the trip down the canals we had to board the boat.  To do this you had to cross the street from the parking lot.  Even though this is a side street as I mentioned earlier rules of the road are made up on the spot and pedestrians are a fair target.  They must get extra points for hitting white tourist!   So you dashed across the street and hopefully you made it to the gang plant to get on the boat.  Now in India I think there is strong penalty to the tour guides if you lose a guest, as they did try to get us all aboard safely.   Once aboard I was glad to see that they had something like a life preserver for every guest on the boat.  Now about these tourist boats.  Once again the USCG  (United States Coast Guard) would never allow them to be in the water never mind take paying passengers on board.  However shore was always nearby and I’m still a reasonable swimmer.   However I am not so sure about some of the other guest on board.  Fortunately everything went without any real problems.  The actual boat trip was nice.  You got to see how people actually live in this area.  Some very large nice houses could be found on the canal side and also some real hovels.  Once again the water quality left something to be desired.  Everyone who lives here goes to the canal to wash up and they also wash their clothes here.  Oh they also get their water for cooking from the canal and catch fish.  Guess what the canals are also used for?  Yup it is used as a bathroom.  Go figure!   You put it in the garbage you’re going to eat it someday!  Only approved bottle water for me thanks!   Once again this area is pretty but sanitation has a long way to go!  I and very surprised how long some of these people live.  Maybe we have it all wrong, maybe the dirtier the better???  Before we headed back to the ship we had a nice lunch and none got sick!  Back on the bus we returned to the city of Cochin.  In the city of Cochin we drove around to see some sights and ended up at the Chinese fishing nets.  These are basically enormous dip nets.  The best view was from the ship on our approach that morning.  So we did not get off the bus at this stop.  The people who got off the bus were quickly jumped upon by the local street vendors who were very very aggressive.  Everyone back on the bus said we made the best decision to wait on the bus.  From here it was a 20 min. ride back to the ship and our on-time 6:00 PM departure from Cochin.   As we were leaving the harbor the ship stopped.  We were informed that they had to evacuate a passenger for health reasons.  So a big harbor tug came by and the games began on how to get this person of the ship and onto the tug.   I felt so bad for the person in so many ways.  First just the fire drill to figure out how to get them off the ship onto the tug, and then I wondered about the quality of health care in this area?  All this said after about 1.5 hour delay for this activity we were off for Mumbai which we would reach after a sea day spent cruising the Arabian Sea.  More to come!

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Chinese Fishing Nets

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First Class Ferry

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Cool Building

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Sample of Trash by the river

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Stuck in traffic for a religious festival  These pop up without warning!

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Better tour boats than we had!

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Canal side wildlife!

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Dinner from the canal!

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Drying laundry that was washed in the canal (every house has a step down to the canal to use as a general purpose step)

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Rice Paddy watered with canal water  (think about that)

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Local boats and more trash!

Incredible India!  I think not!    Someday maybe if they can clean up their sanitation!

March 30 to April 3 or from Singapore to Phuket then Myanmar

Continuing on with the trip.   We set sail from Singapore at 8:00 PM Wednesday evening bound for Phuket Thailand.  To get to Phuket we would have a day at sea and we would be cruising through the Strait of Malacca.  Beth and I were having dinner in the main dining room Wednesday for the sail away from Singapore.  Singapore is an amazing port to sail into and out of.  Ships all around of all types and sizes, plus the cityscape all lit up, it was something to see.  Dinner like always great!  The next day at sea was relaxing or as busy as you want it to be.  As we were in the Straits of Malacca there were fishing boat everywhere.  Also as these are considered pirate waters so we had our first (and only) pirate drill.  Basically it is a get inside away from the windows and down low so you don’t get shot.  So we sat in the hallway while the crew did their anti pirate stuff.  Such as deploy water cannons and other exciting toys.  At 8:00 AM we were tied up in the harbor in Phuket.  Unfortunately we were not at the typical cruise ship dock but at the commercial shipping dock.  Not a big deal for us as we were going on a shore excursion to James Bond Island.  There were two James Bond movies shot at this location.  Very pretty area and I’ll let the photos tell the story.  We had a long bus ride, and an interesting boat ride to see this area.  Unfortunately this is a very big tourist area and it has in many ways been degraded with too many tour boats and trash in the water.  I know we were part of the problem, except I did not throw any trash into the water.  Still a stunning area, but long term tourism is going to kill this area.

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Sunrise on a Sea Day

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Now that’s an outboard motor!   (Chevy small block 454?)  Notice no silencer on the exhaust 🙂

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Local village on the water

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Stunning sights on the way to James Bond Island

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Another  village!

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Local boats  (love the engines)

 

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Tourist At JB Island

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Yea more tourist at JB

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Tourist boats at JB waiting for their guest.

 

 

On Saturday   April 2nd we had another sea day while we cruised on the Andaman Sea making passage to Burma.  On April3 we arrived in Burma at the early time of 10:00 AM.  Since we actually arrived at the scheduled time of 10:00 AM we had decided to stay on the ship this first day in Burma.  Our second day in Burma we went to the ancient Mon capital of Bago.  This excursion sounded good but was reasonably average.  We visited a WWII war memorial, a Buddhist temple, had a good local lunch, and went to another temple (Wat) and before returning to the ship visited the rundown Mon village.  Meha!

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WWII Cemetery 

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1 of thousands of Wats

Buddhist Monastery

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Ginormous reclining Buddha! 

Myanmar (Burma) has much potential but I think we did the wrong excursion, but we did get to see the countryside but had a ton of ass time on the bus.  Traffic is unbelievable.   It is so bad that we had a police escort for the busses.  Also I can only describe the area and how some of the folks live not as 3rd world but as 5th world.  Sanitation is relatively unknown; they just piss and shit where they are and throw their trash everywhere.  This we would see again in India.  If you throw it in the river you going to eat it someday!  The people are very friendly and want to engage the tourist but they need to pick up their trash!   Plastic Plastic everywhere you turn.  I can see the potential and I’m glad we came but……

Next Stop Kochi India, but not until we spend 3 days at sea cruising the Bay of Bengal and the Laccadive sea!  All very cool and part of Kevin’s bucket list!

Clean Shaft

Don’t go and try to take anything away from the meaning of this blog title except that here are some photos of the now cleaned propeller shaft and propeller!  I know some of our readers may take this title the wrong way and you know who you are!

Cleaned Propeller!

Cleaned Propeller!

Clean shaft and Prop

Clean shaft and Prop

So much for regularly posting!

WE’ve been busy. It’s no excuse but it’s true.
Yes, we’ve done quite a bit on Autumn dream and will post about that work…
We’ve also done quite a bit of work on the house and will post about that too.
Pictures will be shared.

Just received an interesting comment regarding an old post – so we must have turned up in an online search about the bridge over the river Kwai or some such topic.

New posts to come in the next week or two.

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Finally – remodel photos, part one

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TO recap for you … When we bought this house we knew from the start that we were going to remodel the kitchen and put on an addition on the back of the house so we would have a room with a wall of windows to take advantage of the water view. What’s the point of having a house on the water if you can’t sit in a comfy chair and enjoy the view!
It took much longer to start the remodel than we wanted – we had to wait until the contractor could get us on his schedule, so destruction and construction started in October – just as Kevin was leaving on a business trip of course!The remodel project consisted of the following:
-replace first floor radiators with in-floor radiant heating
-gut and remodel the kitchen
-gut and remodel the 1/2 bath
-Build an addition over the garage (existing Deck) and also leave partially covered deck outside dining room.
-Add additional deck off existing deck and relocate stairs down from deck.
As part of this of course it meant replacing some of the plumbing, removing the old iron radiators on the first floor, repairing the walls, upgrading the electrical from 100amp to 200amp service, and replacing/rewiring where necessary.

BIG JOB!
Originally we were going to start with the addition, and then ‘move into it’ as the kitchen was worked on. This was not to be. The kitchen/bath was started first, and the outside work started a week later.

The bathroom job was kind of an ‘add-on’ to the kitchen & addition jobs. We were already pulling out the radiators and the flooring, and the window had to go – or people in the new room could look in at you when you were on the toilet…

This bathroom is TINY – only 4’x5’…  So here’s what we (and our contractors) did in the bath:
Removed the window/reframe and replace with a small, frosted window to let in light. Added an exhaust fan/light (panasonic- super quiet!) Removed the radiator and repaired the wall. Removed that ugly wall hung sink and medicine cabinet. Replaced the flooring with the tile continued from the kitchen. Painted – of course! Added lights on either side of a new medicine cabinet (and an outlet- there was none!). Designed & built the new counter with a georgeous copper vessel sink that we bought from mexican home art (http://www.mexicanhomeart.com/) – this is the same company we bought our copper dining room table from.  The sink/counter had to be very narrow to allow you to be able to get to the toilet.

Gone from Posting for a year

What a year it has been. Between moving, crazy work stuff, house remodels, and family stuff we just haven’t had time to post.
I promise I will put some photos up for our Kitchen renovation, bath renovation and the addition we put on the new house. We’ll start talking boat too!

We love it here, life is good, all is well, we are healthy, and we haven’t spent nearly enough time using Autumn Dream.

Stay tuned.
-Beth

In Memory of Walter January 1930 – January 2013

In Korea, with his tank.

 

Graduating from college

Rest in Peace Dad.