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Christmas 2021

by on Jan.01, 2022, under Family

TheThe fam­i­ly con­verged on Hilton Head Island for Christ­mas on Thurs­day, Decem­ber 23.  After get­ting set­tled in it was time for some fun with the grand Chil­dren. The activ­i­ty of choice was the Go Kart Rac­ing in Bluffton at the K1 Rac­ing Cen­ter. The rac­ers checked in includ­ing Mike and Gary for three races, the dri­vers posed for the group pic­ture then the rac­ing start­ed. Every­one had a great time com­pet­ing to see who could run the fastest lap.

Back at our home, every­one hung out, and then Gary made a trip to the Smoke House and picked up Bar­beque with all the fix­ings to top off a great day.

Christ­mas Eve, every­one did their thing then gath­ered to do a throw­back activ­i­ty of mak­ing gin­ger­bread cook­ies and hous­es. A lot of fun and cre­ativ­i­ty, Alexan­dra won a spe­cial prize for her “Let’s go Bran­don” roof. After Mom’s ham din­ner we took some pic­tures of the grand­chil­dren in the same pos­es as a past Christ­mas, they have grown up before our eyes.

Christ­mas morn­ing dawned anoth­er beau­ti­ful day in Hilton Head, the gift exchange start­ed prompt­ly at 8:30 the time nego­ti­at­ed the evening before. Lots of fun, with every­one get­ting more than they need­ed. Brenn got his tool­box for his truck (he has no tools), Caitlin lots of horse­back rid­ing things, Kin­sey sports clothes & a TV, Alexan­dra a new com­put­er, and the adults, adult stuff. After the gift exchange a big Christ­mas morn­ing break­fast, then the assem­ble and set up started.

Foot­ball on TV then a feast of Roast Prime rib with every­thing you would expect includ­ing pump­kin pie.

We are blessed, Mer­ry Christ­mas to all and to all a good night.

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Maine 2021

by on Oct.20, 2021, under Flying

Joyce and I flew to Rock­land Maine, on Tues­day, Octo­ber 12th to vis­it one of our favorite places and see the fall col­ors. The flight up was inter­est­ing in that weath­er forced us inland with a fuel and lunch stop in Mar­tins­burg, WV. We did an instru­ment approach, refu­eled had lunch then con­tin­ued to the Rock­land air­port. Head­winds all the way so the total fly­ing time end­ed up being 7.7 hours. We picked up a rental car and drove up the coast past Cam­den to our favorite B & B the Inn and Sun Rise Point. Matt and M.J. the own­ers wel­comed us, made a din­ner reser­va­tion, and made us com­fort­able. A glass of wine and din­ner and we got a great night’s sleep.

Wednes­day, after a fab­u­lous break­fast we head­ed back to the air­port to meet our friends Harold and Ellen Yanof­sky who flew over from their sum­mer home in New Hamp­shire. We had a delight­ful lunch at a restau­rant on the water in Rock­port and after drop­ping them off at the air­port did some leaf-peep­ing in the area south of Cam­den. Beau­ti­ful! The peo­ple at the Inn made a reser­va­tion at a restau­rant in Cam­den, called Natal­ie’s, which turned out to be out­stand­ing. Oys­ters, lob­ster, decon­struct­ed choco­late cake, yumm.

Thurs­day after anoth­er spec­tac­u­lar break­fast, we drove north up the coast to the town of Belfast to view the fall foliage and coast­line. We returned to Cam­den for a lit­tle shop­ping and sight­see­ing. We returned to the Inn to relax then were off to a local restau­rant for our last lob­ster and oys­ters of the trip.

The fore­cast for Sat­ur­day was pret­ty ugly so we decid­ed to leave Fri­day morn­ing. We took off and climbed through a low ceil­ing to enjoy tail­winds all the way. We stopped for fuel and lunch at George Town, Delaware, and were home in Hilton Head by 4:00 PM. Great quick trip in our mag­ic carpet.

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Fourth Of July 2021

by on Jul.07, 2021, under Family

The pan­dem­ic is gone and the fam­i­ly tra­di­tion of gath­er­ing for the Fourth at the Chechessee Creek cot­tage con­tin­ues. This year we were joined by Joyce’s nephew and fam­i­ly (Brett, Juliana, Bri­ana, and Bruce Shugart). The Shugarts flew in from Las Vegas on Wednes­day and the rest of the fam­i­ly con­verged from South Car­oli­na. Flori­da and George. The Shugart chil­dren joined Kin­sey and Caitlin Pra­do for Sports Camp on Spring Island and enjoyed the great weath­er. Gary Pra­do brought his lat­est boat over and Brenn arrived in his new set of wheels a very hand­some Ford F‑150. The Shugart’s got the tour of Spring Island and Gary gave them a tour of the area by boat. We had lots to eat and gath­ered each evening lead­ing up to Sun­day’s Fourth of July cel­e­bra­tion on Spring Island.

The fes­tiv­i­ties start­ed with the tra­di­tion­al parade, led by a horse-drawn carriage,  with walk­ers in cos­tumes, dec­o­rat­ed golf carts, floats, some clas­sic cars, and lots of bikes end­ing with the singing of the Nation­al Anthem at the pic­nic area.

The parade was fol­lowed by a spec­tac­u­lar cook-out, with tons of food and live music. There were fun and games for the kids, pool time, and some­thing new an antique car show at the Tab­by Ruins.

The evening of the Fourth Juliana treat­ed the fam­i­ly to an authen­tic Mex­i­can din­ner includ­ing her famous home­made enchi­ladas. We took the oblig­a­tory group pic­ture before the sec­ond feast of the day.

At sun­set, we all pro­ceed­ed to the Chechessee Dock for the tra­di­tion­al Fourth of July Fire­works. Gary Pra­do is Chief of Fire­works and this year he out­did him­self. He was ably assist­ed by Mike and Brenn. Along the Chechessee riv­er, there are river­front homes (“the riv­er peo­ple”), and each year there is a friend­ly com­pe­ti­tion to see who can put up the biggest dis­play, and we all cheer as each year the dis­play gets more elab­o­rate. Our dis­play last­ed about an hour and capped off a great day on a per­fect South Car­oli­na evening.

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COPA Bedford, PA Weekend Fly-In

by on May.24, 2021, under Flying

COPA region­al week­end fly-ins are back in busi­ness. Rhon­da Tom­lin­son, NE Region Gov­er­nor, assist­ed by Bethany Wardrop­per and their spous­es, orga­nized a week­end get­away at the Bed­ford PA, Omni resort. It was attend­ed by over twen­ty COPA mem­bers, who enjoyed per­fect weath­er for the event. There were all Cir­rus mod­els rep­re­sent­ed includ­ing an SF-50, with par­tic­i­pants from as far away as Flori­da as well as many from the North East.

The group flew in on Thurs­day, with two local cou­ples join­ing the group for a wel­come recep­tion that evening. On Fri­day morn­ing the group board­ed a bus and trav­eled to the Flight 93 memo­r­i­al in near­by Shanksville. The memo­r­i­al and muse­um were very inter­est­ing and extreme­ly mov­ing. After the tour, the group had lunch at a local Inn, the Lin­coln Cafe. This was fol­lowed by wine tast­ing at the Bel­la Ter­ra vine­yard tast­ing room, then shop­ping, and brows­ing in his­toric Bed­ford. That evening the group dined at the his­toric Jean Bon­net Tavern.

Sat­ur­day, we took advan­tage of the Omni Bed­ford resort, some played golf at the Don­ald Ross golf course, some enjoyed the Spa, some went back into Bed­ford for more shop­ping and lunch, some did some hik­ing, but all had a great day. That evening we had the final recep­tion and din­ner at the hotel.

Sun­day, morn­ing the group scat­tered across the coun­try either back to their home air­port or extend­ing their trip. It was anoth­er great region­al event with friends get­ting togeth­er again and new COPA friends being added. Rhon­da received a lot of ideas and vol­un­teers to orga­nize more get-togeth­ers in the near future. It was obvi­ous, that these COPA mem­bers missed the per­son­al COPA gath­er­ings and thor­ough­ly enjoyed them­selves at this one.


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Gift Exchange with the Prado’s

by on Jan.07, 2021, under Family

We met at the Chechessee Creek Club on Jan­u­ary 2nd for a very nice lunch. The Pra­dos had just returned from the Green­bri­ar Resort and they shared their fun expe­ri­ences and their New Years’ cel­e­bra­tion. We then went to our cot­tage for the belat­ed gift exchange. We had lots of fun with San­ta get­ting high marks for this Christmas.

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Holidays 2020

by on Dec.30, 2020, under Family

What a year! The pan­dem­ic has changed a lot of things but we have tried to keep our fam­i­ly tra­di­tions and still be safe. We gath­ered for the Fourth of July as usu­al at Chechessee Creek, with most of the orga­nized activ­i­ties can­celed, how­ev­er, we had our own includ­ing a huge fire­works event on the river.

We all got test­ed and then gath­ered for Thanks­giv­ing again at Chechessee. It was a great fam­i­ly Thanks­giv­ing with the usu­al feast­ing and giv­ing thanks.

Joyce and I flew down to Fort Laud­erdale for Christ­mas with Jen­nifer, Mike and, Alexan­dra on the day before Christ­mas Eve. We again had all got­ten test­ed and trans­ferred from our plane to Jen­nifer­’s car with­out much con­tact with oth­ers. Jen­nifer had planned a great hol­i­day week­end with lots of great food and being with fam­i­ly. The gift exchange on Christ­mas morn­ing was lots of fun fol­lowed by brunch. Both Christ­mas Eve and Christ­mas day din­ners were eat­ing extrav­a­gan­zas, with a tra­di­tion­al prime rib of beef the piece de la resis­tance. On box­ing day we got to meet Josh Alexan­dra’s boyfriend, who joined us for din­ner. Our Forty-Nin­ers won their game so it was a great day cap­ping a great Christ­mas holiday.

Joyce and I flew back to Hilton Head on Sun­day after a ter­rif­ic fam­i­ly Christ­mas. This was the year that Hiedi’s fam­i­ly spent Christ­mas with Gary’s fam­i­ly. They then vis­it­ed the Green­bri­er for a fam­i­ly out­ing to return on the first. Joyce and I will cel­e­brate the New Year and then plan to meet the Pra­do fam­i­ly for our Christ­mas gift exchange on the week­end after New Year’s Day. Stay tuned for more images to fol­low. Hap­py New Year to all our friends.

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New Zealand 2020

by on Mar.10, 2020, under Happenings

On  Sat­ur­day, Feb­ru­ary 15 we left Savan­nah for a two-hour forty-minute flight to Hous­ton, then the fif­teen-hour flight to New Zealand on Air New Zeland. The Air New Zealand flight was very good or at least as good as a fif­teen-hour flight can be. We arrived in Auck­land ear­ly in the morn­ing where we were met by the Sea­sonz rep­re­sen­ta­tive who had us in the car in short order being dri­ven to the Auck­land Hilton. We had booked the room the night before so we were tak­en direct­ly to our room. We show­ered had lunch and met our guide for a tour of the city . The tour includ­ed a vis­it to the Auck­land Memo­r­i­al Muse­um which includes an exten­sive Mau­ri (Indige­nous peo­ple) exhib­it as well as the memo­r­i­al to the World War I New Zealan­ders who were lost. We then drove around the city as well as the quaint sub­urb of Par­nell. In the evening we dined at a water­front restau­rant called Soul and I had two of my New Zealand favorites, local oys­ters and White Bait then fin­ished with a Pavlo­va for dessert.

The City of Auck­land has grown and changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly since I had last vis­it­ed. Our stay was just one night and we left the next day which was Feb 17 since we lost a day trav­el­ing across the inter­na­tion­al date­line. The rest of our trip would take us to three Lodges on the North Island and One on the South Island over the next two weeks. Our next stop would be The Lodge at Kau­ri Cliffs which is on the East Coast (Pacif­ic Ocean) at the north end of the North Island.


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The lodge at Kauri Cliffs, North Island NZ

by on Mar.10, 2020, under Happenings

We flew to the Bay of Islands air­port from Auck­land the after­noon of Feb­ru­ary 18th arriv­ing at the lodge late in the after­noon. Kau­ri Cliffs is a Robert­son Prop­er­ty devel­oped by an Amer­i­can who pur­chased 6500 acres and in addi­tion to the lux­u­ri­ous lodge, cot­tages and a cham­pi­onship-lev­el golf course oper­ates a sheep and cat­tle ranch on the property.  There are three Robert­son resorts in New Zealand and we will vis­it two. The Lodge and cot­tages have a spec­tac­u­lar 180-degree view of the Pacif­ic Ocean and over­look the golf course. Dur­ing the tour of the beau­ti­ful facil­i­ty, we learn that there will be a beach bar­beque that evening, so it’s time to unpack and then we are trans­port­ed over the graz­ing land and hills down to a stun­ning beach that reminds us of the Mon­terey, Cal­i­for­nia Coast. Cock­tails and great din­ing at sun­set on the beach, plus a chance to inter­act with the oth­er guests from around the world is a great way to start our New Zealand Lodge experience.

The next day we have a pri­vate char­ter to cruise the near­by Bay of Islands. After a great break­fast, we scur­ry around get­ting all the things we were told we should take, tow­els, swim­suit, sun­screen, etc. etc. and show up at the lodge with half of the list. The staff hands us a bag with every­thing need­ed when we get to our car and we real­ize we need to stop think­ing and let these great peo­ple take care of us. We arrive at the dock and are met by our Cap­tain (own­er) Alan and his first mate Jen­nifer and wel­comed aboard “Buck­et List”. We are get­ting over jet lag and our instruc­tions are we look for­ward to a relax­ing day explor­ing the Bay of Islands. This is exact­ly what we expe­ri­ence, cruis­ing through islands, see­ing the spot where Cap­tain Cook the first Euro­pean land­ed, anchor­ing in a cove and hav­ing Alan and Jen­nifer pre­pare fresh snap­per fil­lets, bar­be­qued rack of lamb served with fine New Zealand wine, topped off by a Pavlo­va for dessert. More cruis­ing and final­ly back at the dock ends a per­fect day. Again, the New Zealand theme con­tin­ues, Alan and Jen­nifer make us feel like fam­i­ly, not char­ter customers.

The evening after the cruise on the Bay of Islands dur­ing cock­tails we were treat­ed to a per­for­mance by a local Mau­ri trib­al group.

The final day at Kau­ri Cliffs includ­ed a round of golf. The course was stressed by recent droughts, but still beau­ti­ful with great holes along the coast. We enjoyed our golf and had anoth­er great din­ing expe­ri­ence then it was time to pack.

We rose to see a beau­ti­ful sun­rise then enjoyed anoth­er great break­fast over­look­ing the golf course, and ocean. Then we were off to the air­port bound for the Huka Lodge.


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Huka Lodge North Island NZ

by on Mar.08, 2020, under Happenings

On Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 21 we trans­ferred to the Bay of Islands Air­port from Kau­ri Cliffs Lodge. Oops the flight to Auck­land was fine, but the ongo­ing con­nec­tion Taupo air­port was can­celed, so instead, we flew to Rotarua and were dri­ven the one hour trip to Taupo where the car from Huka lodge was wait­ing. On our dri­ve, we saw exten­sive forests that were being har­vest­ed and replant­ed and a lot of geot­her­mal activ­i­ty. This part of the island was formed by vol­canic activ­i­ty. The lodge is sit­u­at­ed on the Waika­to Riv­er that flows out of Lake Taupo New Zealand’s largest lake. Our suite had a great view of the riv­er gen­tly flow­ing by. Just below the lodge is the Huka Falls, which gave the lodge its name. It orig­i­nal­ly was a fish­ing lodge. Fish­ing is still a rea­son to vis­it but of all the great din­ing expe­ri­ences we had in New Zealand, Huka Lodge had by far the best. We start­ed our first night with a gourmet tast­ing menu served to us at our pri­vate table in the wine cel­lar, paired with a dif­fer­ent New Zealand wine with each course. We fol­lowed this reg­i­men every din­ner while at Huka Lodge.

It was driz­zling a lit­tle on the sec­ond day at Huka Lodge but that did­n’t stop us from going fly fish­ing for trout on the Waika­to riv­er, with super guide Chris Bren­nan. Joyce had nev­er fly fished and it had been years since I cast a fly, but we lit­er­al­ly got tired of catch­ing nice large Rain­bow and Brown trout. We had a great time, catch and releas­ing well over 20 fish and enjoyed a pic­nic lunch on the riv­er for a great day.

On Sun­day we drove back to Rotarua to vis­it a Mau­ri Trib­al meet­ing house (Marae) and learn about the Mau­ri peo­ple. We were treat­ed to the wel­com­ing cer­e­mo­ny which made us hon­orary trib­al mem­bers, we watched tra­di­tion­al dances and saw how a feast (Han­gi Meal) was pre­pared then cooked under the ground on heat­ed stones. While the meal was cook­ing we took a short excur­sion to near­by falls hiked through the for­est then watched white water raft­ing. Again, the New Zealand hos­pi­tal­i­ty pro­vid­ed by the two Mau­ri fam­i­lies made us feel right at home wel­com­ing us and treat­ed us like family.

One last incred­i­ble din­ing expe­ri­ence, then time to pack and in the morn­ing after anoth­er great break­fast we were off to Cape Kid­nap­pers by car.

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Cape Kidnappers North Island NZ

by on Mar.08, 2020, under Happenings

On Mon­day, Feb­ru­ary 24 we were dri­ven the two-hour dri­ve to the Hawks Bay Region stop­ping for lunch at the Clear View Win­ery. This is one of the wine regions of New Zealand with the largest city in the area Napi­er. Napi­er is inter­est­ing in that it was destroyed by an earth­quake in the 1920s and rebuilt in the art deco style. After lunch, we con­tin­ued the short dis­tance to the Farm at Cape Kid­nap­pers, which is a 6000-acre work­ing ranch with approx­i­mate­ly 2000 sheep and 500 cat­tle. Over­look­ing the bay is the world rat­ed top 100 Cape Kid­nap­per golf course and lodge where we stayed. Our suite had a great view of the prop­er­ty and Hawks Bay and was only a short walk from the beau­ti­ful lodge. This is anoth­er Robert­son resort so we knew the evening rou­tine, cock­tails, and canapes served in the lounge area fol­lowed by a gourmet din­ner with fine NZ wine and out­stand­ing service.

Our first day of explo­ration start­ed with a Kiwi dis­cov­ery walk. Lau­ra our nat­u­ral­ist guide took a group of guests into the woods to find a Kiwi, which is the nation­al bird of NZ and an endan­gered species. To help pre­serve the Kiwi pop­u­la­tion a num­ber of Kiwi sanc­tu­ar­ies have been estab­lished to increase the sur­vival rate of young birds. Cape Kid­nap­pers Farm is one of the sanc­tu­ar­ies and Lau­ra used a radio direc­tion find­er to locate one of the chicks that had a radio tag. We got a brief­ing on the Kiwi and saw the humon­gous egg of this species. The full-grown Kiwi is about the size of a chick­en and does not fly. Kiwi’s are noc­tur­nal feed­ers so the Kiwi was awak­ened from his sleep so we could observe it. Lau­ra weighed the bird, checked its health then placed it back in a bur­row with some food. It was an inter­est­ing and edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ence and helped us work up an appetite for lunch.

After lunch, it was time for a Can-Am (All-Ter­rain Vehi­cle) tour of the prop­er­ty. This includ­ed a vis­it to the fur­ther­most reach­es of the farm through old creek beds, across expan­sive farm­land and down to the ocean.  We also vis­it­ed the rook­ery of the Gan­net, the chicks first flight is eight-day non-stop to Aus­tralia. This is the largest rook­ery and it is esti­mat­ed that these birds con­sume eleven tons of fish per day. We observed the par­ents feed­ing the chicks.

On Wednes­day we played the Cape Kid­nap­per golf course. This is a stun­ning set­ting and the design­er Tom Doak took advan­tage of the sea­side cliffs and rugged ter­rain to pro­duce a visu­al­ly spec­tac­u­lar and dif­fi­cult test of golf. We enjoyed our round and had a “small world” expe­ri­ence on the 16th. hole. A sin­gle caught up with us so we let him play through and low and behold it was Will May­hall a fel­low mem­ber at Chechessee Creek Club.

Anoth­er nice evening enjoy­ing the great din­ing expe­ri­ence and ser­vice, then pack. Tomor­row after break­fast we leave for the South Island.

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