Visiting David!
April 11 - 29, 2022

David, Shirley, Bob and Derek

Monday, April 11

We flew from San Francisco to Atlanta to Huntsville. No problems on flight and, the best part of the day, David was waiting for us at Huntsville! Yay! (there was a bit of miscommunication and David came early).

Our luggage arrived on time and David drove us back to his home, where we got to meet his friend Derek. We stayed there for the night. Shirley, as she would do every night of the trip, prepared a very nice dinner, this time a chicken dinner.

Tuesday, April 12

Today we moved into our very nice 2 bedroom cottage. It is quite comfortable and we will totally enjoy staying there for the two and a half weeks. Moving into the cottage we were introduced to the cat who often came to the porch, the chickens in the backyard (no roosters!, so quiet), and, briefly, the goat owned by Maria, the homeowner.

Wednesday, April 13

In the morning when we walked out to the car, the chickens came rushing over, we assume they were hopeful we would feed them, but we disappointed them.

We went to lunch with David at Epic Tacos. Things got exciting that evening as we were visiting David at his home shared with Derek. A strong thunderstorm that would last through the night hit. We all went out on David's back porch to watch the lightning strikes and hear the thunder. When things calmed down a bit, Shirley and I drove back to our cottage. Throughout the night rain and thunderstorm continued, not clearing up until the morning.

Thursday, April 14

By the morning the rain had stopped. We looked out the side window of the cottage, and that was enough to draw all the chickens over - ever hopeful.

Later in the morning we drove over to see David and Derek. They had decided to look at potential houses to rent, so we all hopped into David's car (Derek is a motorcyclist with two motorcycles in the garage). Before checking out houses, David and Derek wanted a chance to see our cottage. In the following picture we are near the newly built fire pit.

As these two pictures show, Derek and the cat got along very, very well.

We drove around Madison looking at various houses for rent, getting a chance to visit several neighborhoods. Although many were nice, none was exactly what Derek and David were looking for. At lunch time we drove into Madison and ate at the Brickhouse Sports Cafe, sitting at a table outside next to a fountain. The weather could not have been more perfect, sunny, but comfortably cool. Derek and David took the opportunity to find more potential rental homes, which we visited after lunch.

For dinner Shirley prepared deviled eggs along with salad, other vegetables and fruit. Delicious. After dinner was time for another couple of dart games for David, Derek, and Bob.

Friday, April 15

Shirley and I drove into Huntsville to run some errands, then on the way to David's place we stopped at a Walmart, where Shirley went in to do shopping and I napped in the car. Suddenly I heard "Hi Bob", opened my eyes, and there was Derek. Completely random timing. Not only were we at Walmart at the same time, Shirley had actually parked our car right near Derek's motorcycle as seen from the next picture I took from our car as Derek was getting ready to head back to David's.

Once David got back from work, we all went looking at more rental houses, again not finding one, but have a great time looking at more neighborhoods.

In the evening Shirley prepared her wonderful Spanish rice dinner and then cut a pineapple. She and David wanted to see if they could actually grow another pineapple, so Derek brought over a glass. If it does start to grow in the glass, David will then plant it.

Saturday, April 16

Had some more rain and thunder overnight, but woke up to another nice day. Shirley had a cup of tea in the living room. The hostess has provided us with granola bars and as I walked outside the chickens came scurrying up to the fence. What could I do! I shared the granola bar with them. They also liked it.

Then Shirley and I went walking in a very nice nearby neighborhood with great street names: Memory Lane, Real Road, Delete Street. We also passed a car with a different design along the bottom. On the way back we passed Bumper Crop Road. But before returning we had to deal with the cat who chose to sit on the top of our parked car. I did persuade him to get off.

Next we visited David. Shirley helped around the house, David put on some music, and Shirley and I danced for a minute.

Dinner time! We decided to get carry out from Taco Mama's in Madison. After going on-line and choosing what the four of us would get (David decided for Derek who was out at a movie), Shirley and I drove over to Madison, got the take-out, then walked around Madison, which is very pretty and includes both a park and many homes that seemed to be fashioned from a different era. We had walked in the park in the past and were surprised how a creek now looked almost like a river - the rains of the last few days have made a big difference.

24 Braxton St NW, Huntsville, AL 35806

Zillow Description: [4 bd, 6 ba, 4,630 sq ft, $995,200]

23 Meeting St NW, Huntsville, AL 35806

Zillow Description: [3 bd, 3 ba, 3,439 sq ft, $824,200]

27 Meeting St NW, Huntsville, AL 35806

Zillow Description: [--bd, 2.25 ba, 4,683 sq ft, $966,300]

Sunday, April 17

Woke up, snacked, turned on the TV and watched for a while, then went over to David's place because a guy was coming over to wash down areas of the house outside where there was mold/mildew and stuff on the walls. Even though it was Sunday, David went into work, returning in the early afternoon. We hung around the house, reading, watching computer videos related to painting, throwing darts, talking. Shirley prepared yet another wonderful dinner - vegetable stew, cranberry sauce, pineapple, apples. Derek ordered a half dozen donuts. Shirley and I split one donut. Later split another one. Neither of us could remember the last time we had eaten donuts, it's been at least several years. We enjoyed all the food. In the evening we watched Ghost Town, a favorite movie which Derek had never seen.

I realized early in the day I could no longer find my camera and now late at night still do not have it. Hence, no pictures today.

Monday, April 18

Shopping day - at least in the morning. Visited Walmart, Sprouts, and Kroger. Before leaving the cottage we spoke with our hostess Maria, who was out feeding the chickens. She asked if we could use more eggs. When we said yes, Maria said she would leave some more on the porch. Sure enough, when we returned in the evening there was another basket of eggs.

After shopping we drove over to David's. He was still working, but when he returned home Shirley and he did further clean up on the driveway and garage door. I did Sudoku, read, and snacked. David also completed his tax returns (they were due today). Shirley cooked another marvelous dinner - red lentil stew, rice, and apple crumble (I politely left a little of that dessert for the others - it was so, so good I thought they should at least get a taste), along with pineapple, blueberries, sliced apples.

Upon returning to the cottage, Shirley looked in my suitcase for the lost camera and found it! In all fairness, I had only looked in the suitcase twice myself. So I took some pictures of items in the cottage that reflect our hostess Maria's faith and joy:

Tuesday, April 19

Shirley and I go to the Huntsville Museum of Art. Shirley had a favorite artist who was doing an exhibit, but when we arrived we found out the exhibit had been closed. Nevertheless we toured the museum and saw some interesting work, including work by children (sixth photo below is by 9th grader).

Afterwards we came to David's place. When David returned from work we heard the big news. He had told his boss he was going to resign and tomorrow would submit the formal papers! He intends to take a few months off, visit friends in Colorado and other friends and us in California. Yay!

Moving on to animals of the day, I threw a bit of sweet pepper to a mockingbird in a parking lot; yesterday we had put carrot pieces out in the back yard and today we got to see a bunny rabbit munching on the carrot; and later I took a walk in David's neighborhood and saw a rabbit and two ducks.

Shirley prepared yet another wonderful meal and later we watched more episodes of Better Call Saul (season 5).

Wednesday, April 20

The morning began with Shirley going shopping and Bob reading and doing Sudoku. Then we drove over to David's. Shirley arranged for a new door knob to be put on the front door, then she and I had a very nice walk around the neighborhood and through the adjacent corn fields (long since harvested, with old cobs - no corn on them - here and there).

After David came back from work he, Derek and I went to the nearby gym and worked out. It was the first time I had been there and, in fact, the first time I had been in a gym for years, maybe decades. We tried out various exercise machines (I walked a mile on a treadmill and tried some other easy stuff, the two others actually worked out hard). I left early.

Since Shirley took her on-line art class that lasted into the early evening (in California it is in the late afternoon), we ordered carry out from Four Leaves Asian Restaurant. We thought the food was pretty average, not nearly as good as Shirley prepared dinners. David was the only one to use chopsticks.

After dinner we watched more episodes of Better Call Saul, season 5, then Shirley and I drove back to our cottage. Another very nice day here in Alabama.

Thursday, April 21

We went early to David's house to be there when a guy came to install new front door handle and keys which Shirley had purchased. We then went for a hike of about 3 miles on the Indian Creek Greenway which was beautiful - so much green, so many flowers - and saw a heron take off from the creek when we got too close. We also saw ladder steps built into a tree leading to a rope overhanging the creek, but we decided not to try it out.

And I got pictures of a couple of wild animals actually on the same path we were hiking.

That afternoon after finishing our hike we went to Kroger's, bought some food, and went back to David's to eat a late lunch. For dinner Shirley prepared her wonderful sweet potato dish along with tuna fish salad and lots of fruit. Then David, Shirley and I watched Better Call Saul, season 5, the last three episodes. Shirley and I got back to the cottage around midnight after having had a truly wonderful day.

Friday, April 22

Today was feed the animals a granola bar day! It started out when we saw one of the chickens had left the backyard of the cottage and was wandering around in the front yard when we were leaving the house this morning.

Shirley had a granola bar, so she walked over to the fence, broke the bar into pieces, and threw some of the pieces to the chickens. The front yard chicken then demonstrated how quickly it could get into the back yard again.

Shirley and I walked around the neighborhood where our cottage is located. Then we drove over to David's and walked around that neighborhood, including along the border of the corn field and then beyond to an old shed.

We had noticed lots of ant hills on previous walks, so Shirley brought along a granola bar, which she broke into small pieces and left on 4 of the ant hills. When we returned from walking to the old shed, about 20 minutes later, sure enough, the ants enjoying the candy: Ant Hill Video

After returning from our walk, Shirley got on-line for her community garden meeting being held back in California and I went out for a further walk, this time in David's neighborhood and another neighborhood on the other side of the corn field. As I was starting the walk there was a chipmunk down the street. The other neighborhood had a small pond with very loud frogs croaking away. As I was returning to David's neighborhood I could see 8 horses across the white fence, of which I got a picture of four of them.

We still had granola bar pieces left, so I put some down near the chipmunk's hole in the ground.

This evening, David and Derek joined a couple across the street and went to downtown Huntsville. Shirley and I returned home.

Saturday, April 23

We drove to David's in the morning and he then drove us to Harmony Park Safari, where we got to drive through slowly and feed many types of animals from the car windows: zebras, emus, antelopes, goats, giraffes, etc.

He then drove us to a wonderful outdoor lunch at Epic Tacos at Bridge Street and then we came back to his place. While Shirley rested, David and I walked the neighborhood and a nearby neighborhood, crossing the corn fields a couple of times (during this walk I took photos and managed to lose the small red cloth bag I use to protect my camera when I'm not using it). Then Shirley prepared plantains to go with the left overs from last nights dinner. We ended the night watching more episodes of Better Call Saul.

Sunday, April 24

We drove to David's in the morning and then the three of us went to the Huntsville Botanical Garden, which has miles of trails, so many trees and flowers in blossom, a pond, a creek and so much more including an outdoor piano which Shirley played - see video.

In the creek David saw and pointed out to us an alligator snapping turtle (head is in upper right corner of this picture, shell fills most of rest of pic, going diagonally down to left).

We also saw crawdads in the creek. There was a butterfly house with lots of butterflies. A very, very fun visit. We then drove to our favorite restaurant, Connor's, where we met Derek and had a very tasty lunch. And then - we visited Le Macaron French Pastry and ate a lot of their incredible Macaron's (along with ice cream and milkshake) - totally decadent and wonderful.

The rest of the afternoon was spent back at David's resting and walking around neighborhoods. David and I walked across the corn fields to one neighborhood before returning home, then Shirley and I walked David's neighborhood and for the first time saw 5 deer out on the nearby corn fields. After our walk we went to Kroger's to pick up some fruit and vegetables, dropped some off at David's, then headed back to our cottage.

Monday, April 25

David worked some in the morning, then drove to our cottage (Derek was starting a new remote job today so we decided not to bother him by going to David's). David got the chance to see the chickens and the cat, do some remote work himself, then we piled into our rental car and drove around doing errands (o.k., Shirley and David did errands while I napped in car), then we went to the Dublin Memorial Park in Madison and walked around (David helped Shirley become yet more fashionable with back decorations).

The park has facilities for all sorts of activities (soccer field, basketball, swimming pools, tennis, pickleball, etc) and sidewalks we walked around. Later in the afternoon we did stop by David's, visited Derek for a bit, then drove back to the cottage. The rest of the day was watching movies, eating pizza, feeding chickens, then David drove back home.

Tuesday, April 26

David worked until the early afternoon, while Shirley and I, after meeting with chickens, ran errands (returned library books, mailed a package of books to California, donated items to a charitable thrift store, etc), went to David's where Shirley cooked a vegetable stew we would eat later for dinner.

I backtracked along the walk David and I had taken on Saturday, looking closely for the red camera bag I had lost. Crossed the corn field, went through the nearby neighborhood and as I went by a pond just before re-crossing the corn field, suddenly saw the little red bag next to the sidewalk! Re-crossing the corn field I saw again the many pretty yellow flowers.

We then met David for lunch at Brick House in Providence, then went to his house for a bit, then all three of us headed to our cottage. In the evening we totally enjoyed watching the stand up comedian Jim Gaffigan on Netflix.

Wednesday, April 27

Went to David's house, Shirley ran errands, and I went hiking around corn fields. On the way back as I hopped over a small stream, I slipped on a muddy incline, totally covered one leg of pants in mud, then found I was in brambles and had a lot of scratches and little needles stuck in my arms and hands. Quite a mess. Back at David's I was able to clean off the mud and wash off and clean the scratches.

Then Shirley came back from errands and we met David at Connor's for one last wonderful meal there.

In the evening David came over to our cottage, we looked through all the photos/videos he had taken of our visit (and transferred ones we liked to my computer), ate fruit and rum raisin ice cream, and watched more of Jim Gaffigan.

Thursday, April 28

Our last full day in Alabama. Met with chickens, fed them breakfast bread, cleared out the cottage and packed our car, then headed to David's. After a short walk (and visit with one of the local chipmunks) we took all our stuff into David's house and drove to Enterprise rental car, where we turned in the car.

David then picked us up and drove to work and we took his car for the day. We drove back to his house and had breakfast and Shirley vacuumed inside his car. We then took it to a full blown car wash facility where they washed off the outside and we used their strong vacuum hoses to thoroughly vacuum out the car - including all the food not eaten by the zebras and other animals.

We picked up David at work and drove over to have lunch at Connor's Restaurant (OK, yesterday's lunch was not our last there) which we all think is really, really good. Then all back to David's, where he and Bob each did 20 push-ups, each won a game of darts. David went for a run as Shirley continued to clean up and prepare for our trip back to California.

We drove with David to Four Points by Sheraton hotel which is located in the same building at the airport as the airport terminals themselves. David visited us in our room for a while and it is a very nice, quiet room.

We will be getting up at four thirty in the morning, then go down to catch our 6:24 AM flight to Detroit, Michigan and then on to San Francisco, California.

Friday, April 29

We got up around 4:30 (this is 2:30 AM Pacific time, just sayin'), went downstairs to terminal, checked in, then boarded the jet. Flew to Detroit, went to boarding area, shopped around while waiting about 3 hours, then boarded jet and flew home. Bob took random pictures from plane window during flights. He was particularly interested in seeing Mono Lake in the eastern Sierras, then snow in the western Sierras.

After landing at about 2:30, we got our luggage and caught the 3:30 PM bus to Santa Rosa, getting to the bus stop with about five minutes to spare.

In Santa Rosa our good friend and neighbor Reenie picked us up (as she has done in the past) and drove us home, presenting us with a very tasty soup she had prepared to welcome us home. Thank you Reenie!

Other Websites
By Bob:

Bob Phillips [phillips bob 27 at yahoo dot com - no spaces]
Santa Rosa, CA
April, 2022