Vacation 2012 – Avon – Day Eight – “The Departure”

Day Eights itinerary:  load vehicles, pull chocks, head home

Caeli and Jameson('s nose)Kelsi and Juliet
We got up not much after the normal “vacation time” of six and took the dogs out, put some coffee on, and went to work finishing up packing.  That didn’t take long since we’d started the night before so while the final things were being packed, like the refrigerator stuff, toiletries, etc., I began to load up the van and my father in-law began loading his truck.  Once everything was just about loaded, I quickly took a shower (it’s how I start my day and I had a decent sweat going from loading the van in the heat and humidity), dressed in the clothes I’d kept out, and got everyone in the van.  About eight, we told my wife’s parents that we’d meet them at the Morning View Coffee House & Roastery and then headed out  with them only a minute or so behind.

As we headed out, in a light rain, but foreboding clouds on the horizon, we were greeted with a rainbow.  It was like Mother Nature saying “Hope you had a good time, thanks for visiting, safe travels!”
Rainbow

One last sign of Mother Nature showing us some love…as we headed across the last bridge from the Hatteras area into Nags Head, the dark clouds parted, letting the sun shine down along our path.

Exploiting The Breach

  A few minutes later and about an hour after leaving the cottage, we’d passed the rain and clouds completely and pulled into the Morning View Coffee House…perfectly timed for a fill up with great coffee.  We were back on the road within ten minutes and were home before noon.

We had a few issues with spiders bites, burns, and dogs getting sick from eating unknown pills, but overall, we had a great trip.  The bouts of rain and thunderstorms were brief or late so they didn’t interfere with our activities.  The food, for the most part, was very good, and the company was superb.

Vacation 2012 – Avon – Day Seven

Day Six’s itinerary: early departure (maybe), pool

As I mentioned in my Day Six post, Juliet, our little girl wiener dog, threw up around one-thirty in the morning, but went back to sleep and slept until just after six.  I took her and her brother out and fed them.  He got the normal amount and I gave her five kibbles.  She kept them down so an hour later, I gave her five more.  She kept them down, as well.  She drank a little water and it also stayed down.  We thought this was a sign that maybe she’d turned the corner on her problem so I convinced my wife to stay rather than pack and head home.

Because she seemed a little better, after breakfast, we all got ready and went to the pool at the Beach Klub at Koru Village to enjoy the beautiful day.  We stayed about an hour and a half and then popped back into Food Lion for more water.  [I guess I haven’t mentioned in any of these posts that the spigot and water in the kitchen was so foul that we’d been buying water to drink and use for coffee.  It’s amazing how much water you can go through doing that.]  We got back to the cottage and I got busy making lunch while everyone got cleaned up.

About three, we’d eaten and cleaned the kitchen, and I’d gotten cleaned up.  The girls were trying to talk their grandfather into taking them to see Ice Age 4 at the theater around the corner from the cottage and, since Juliet was still punky and not drinking much, my wife had called the vet she spoke to the evening before and we were waiting for a call back.  Out of the blue, Juliet threw up again.  I’d been in favor of staying through the next morning all day as Juliet had been throwing up and had been near her old self when we got back from the pool, but this changed everything.  My initial thought was to pack everything up and head home so we could take her to our vet on Saturday (the next day) morning, but the girls had already left with their grandfather to go to the movie.  My wife found an animal hospital in Nags Head that was open until six, so she, her mom, and I hopped into the van with Juliet and made the hour drive to take Juliet to the vet.

We arrived at the Animal Hospital of Nags Head around ten after five.  By five-thirty or so, we’d been moved into the exam room and had spoken to the vet tech or assistant or whatever the equivalent of a nurse is in an animal hospital.  She weighed Juliet, took her temperature, and listened to why we were there, symptoms, etc. and then left the room.  A few minutes later, Dr. Shae entered and shook all our hands and asked what had happened.  [On a side note:  Why do all vets seem so stand-offish the first time you meet them? Are they afraid you’re going to bite?]  He asked a few further questions and then said we needed to do an x-ray to make sure Juliet hadn’t eaten foam or something else that was still in her digestive tract causing the problem.  He was fairly blunt when he said that if this had been a fairly toxic pill, she’d likely already be dead.  After the x-ray, they would do blood work to make sure the drugs were out of her system and that all her levels were normal.  He would also give her some fluids and anti-nausea medicine.  We asked whether we’d be better off getting the blood work done back home at our vet or if they’d fax the results to our vet when they got them to which he replied that they run the tests there at their facility in about fifteen minutes.  We agreed and in a few minutes, Juliet had been x-rayed and we were being shown the image on a computer screen…much cooler than the old way.  Everything looked normal, so he told us that he’d now take her and do the blood work and give her fluids to hydrate her.  We were escorted back to the lobby.  My wife and mother in-law sent me out to go find coffee while they waited.

Good Views Coffee ShopOn the suggestion of a guy picking up his dog from the hospital, I headed north about three miles and found an awesome little coffee shop, Morning View Coffee House and Roastery.  Yes, they roast their own beans right there on the premises.  I got there just before they closed and was able to get the last cup of coffee they had, a double Espresso con Panna with a shot of peppermint, and a Salted Nut latte.  I also got a bag of coffee to go.  The drinks were great.  Very well made.  I knew where I was stopping for coffee on the way home.

Last sunset of the tripI got back to the animal hospital as the vet had just finished explaining that the blood work came back fine and that we needed to not feed her for somewhere between twelve and twenty-four hours.  Apparently, the three of us all heard a different length of time.  Since it was late, and they wanted to go home as much as we did, they injected all of the fluid they would have used in an IV drip behind Juliet’s right shoulder which made her look like a camel or The Hunchback.  Not surprisingly, she slept the whole ride back to the cottage.

We got back to the cottage just after seven, fed the dogs, packed everyone into the van and headed out to get dinner.  We called Ketch 55, one of the few restaurants at which we’d not eaten, and they had an hour wait so we called Oceana’s Bistro.  They told us it would be a thirty minute wait so we had them put our name down.  We got to the restaurant and waited out front on their couches.  It took less than thirty minutes and we were seated.  Again, we all enjoyed our meals, and we got an order of funnel cake fries to go.

Back at the cottage, we had coffee, funnel cake fries, and finished as much packing as we could before turning in.

Coffee! Coffee! Coffee! COOOFFFFEEEE!!!

I have coffee just about every day, usually multiple times a day.  Since I’m also currently reading “Onward” by Howard Schultz, ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company, I have the yummy beverage on my mind a lot.  Turns out, there are a few songs about it.

“Coffee Song” by Jars of Clay pretty much describes my state of mind right now…Love me some good java!

“Black Coffee” by Ella Fitzgerald is a bluesy number about a lady drinking coffee alone because her man left her.  Didn’t Ella just have one of the most beautiful voices ever??!?

“The Coffee Song” by Frank Sinatra is just a silly little number about how big popular is in Brazil.  Frank could make just about anything into a catchy little ditty!

mmmmm….gotta go…time to go make a pot of one of my favorites:  Starbucks’ Caffe Verona.

What Starbucks did for New Orleans…

Currently, I’m reading “Onward” by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon.  This book is (mostly) about how Mr. Schultz ended up back in the position of CEO of Starbucks and is an account of all the many initiatives, changes, etc. that he had to lead Starbucks through to bring the company that had become obsessed with rampant growth through massive cuts and tough years of declining sales, even periods of monetary loss, back to its core values and profitability.

Traditionally, Starbucks holds its leadership conference in Seattle, its home, but in 2008, they took it on the road…to New Orleans…a city that was still trying to recover from hurricane Katrina, a city that represented, to a certain extent, Starbucks struggle to course correct, rebuild itself, and get back to focus on what mattered:  providing the perfect cup of coffee every time and helping build and foster a sense of community in each store.

I am a huge fan of Starbucks and Howard Schultz.  I’ve told my wife that if we strike it rich, I’m going to work for Starbucks.  I think she thinks I’m kidding.  😉

Excerpt from Onward:

“Each day of the conference, from Monday through Thursday, about 2,000 partners joined one of six organizations for five hours to do whatever needed doing in New Orleans.  In City Park–a 1,300-acre public sanctuary that had suffered millions of dollars in landscaping damages from Katrina and had to reduce its 260-person staff to just more than 30–our partners planted 6,500 plugs of coastal grasses, installed 10 picnic tables, and laid four dump truck load of mulch.  At Tad Gormley Stadium, a popular venue for high school football games, partners scraped and painted 1,296 steps, 12 entrance ramps, hundreds of yards of railing, and a half-mile-long fence.  In the Gentilly neighborhood, two playgrounds were constructed.  In Broadmoor, 22 city blocks of street and storm drains were cleaned.  In Hollygrove, partners did construction and leveled dirt for New Orleans’ first urban farm.  We collaborated with the Crescent City Art Project to paint, in one day, 1,350 murals at 25 public school grounds, and with Hike for KaTREEna, we planted 1,040 trees.

“I spent my volunteer hours helping more than a dozen store managers whom I’d never met paint a house, one of the 86 homes our volunteers repaired that week so families could move back in after three years of displacement.  While there was laughter and a sense of camaraderie as we climbed ladders, painted front stoops, and caulked and raked and planted and dug and drilled and sawed and hammered and fixed doors and laid down floors, there was also a heartwrenching pang.  Many of us spent time talking with men and women who had lived through Katrina, and we heard stories of not only individual sacrifice and loss, but also of neighbors taking care of neighbors.  The power of community was so evident in New Orleans, and when people’s appreciation of out efforts was tough for them to put into words or a smile was not enough, they expressed themselves with quiet tears or a hug.  Incredibly emotional.

“‘When you give up,’ said a slim older man whose home we rebuilt, ‘you might as well lay down and die.’  It was obvious that we weren’t just giving people back their homes, but also restoring a sense of dignity.  No doubt, our community contribution reinforced what it meant to work for Starbucks, and I knew that the experience would be difficult to adequately describe to people who were unable to attend.”

Here’s a short version (about 6 minutes) of a 20 minute video that shows some of what happened at the 2008 Leadership Conference

Here’s the link to the (approx.) 20 minute highlight video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBop1BuWqRU

Mmmm…chicory

Trader Joes NewOrleans style Chickory coffeeMany, many years ago, before nifty gadgets like the Keurig, my wife and I had a friend who, like us, enjoyed a good cup of coffee.  He introduced us to chicory coffee.  It is yummy.  I’m not really sure what chicory is, but it makes for a good cup of joe.  [realizing how silly that sounds in the days of the Google Empire, I just did a search on it –please see the bottom of this post for an excerpt from the wikipedia page on chicory]  As I mentioned, this was before Keurigs and K-cups, and chicory coffee wasn’t readily available on grocery store shelves…it still isn’t, as a general rule, but our friend liked it enough that he’d buy a case of Cafe du Monde’s Coffee and Chicory and give us a can.

Fast forward a to a few (four, maybe) years ago and our friend and his wife get a Keurig and get rid of his regular coffee maker.  No more chicory…until yesterday when my wife and I were shopping in Tree Hugger…err, Trader Joe’s and I spotted the can pictured above-right on a shelf.  We have made three pots of it since getting it home.

Other than to say it tastes much like I remember Cafe du Monde’s Chicory and Coffee, I can’t compare and contrast and say one is better than the other.  I can say, though, that this won’t be the last can of Trader Joe’s Chicory that we’ll be buying.  And to our friend, whenever you stop by, we’ll be happy to make a pot of it to share.

 

**Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia’s entry for chicory:

“Root chicory (Cichorium intybus var. sativum) has been in cultivation in Europe as a coffee substitute. The roots are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive, especially in the Mediterranean region (where the plant is native), although its use as a coffee additive is also very popular in India (see Indian filter coffee), parts of Southeast Asia, South Africa and southern United States, particularly in New Orleans. It has also been popular as a coffee substitute in poorer economic areas, and has gained wider popularity during economic crises such as the Great Depression in the 1930s. Chicory, with sugar beet and rye was used as an ingredient of the East German Mischkaffee (mixed coffee), introduced during the “coffee crisis” of 1976-79.”

Starbucks is Good Morning Love

Popped into Starbucks this morning on the way to work for a refill of my travel mug (being eco-friendly saves 10 cents).  It was still dark when I entered the store.  Not quite five minutes later, I exited the store to a much brighter sky.  Silly as it may seem, my coffee in hand and the dramatically brighter sky lightened my mood.

If only it were that easy every day…

Ahhhhh… Coffee

Have you ever had one of those long, draining days at work?  Not necessarily a bad day, just one that seemed to drag on with meetings, or your butt stuck in a chair in your cube, or even behind your big executive desk, working on some tiresome paperwork (aside: isn’t it funny we still call it that?), or both?  By the time you’re able to shuffle out the door, you’ve simply got no energy.  There are a lot of folks who work on their feet all day who think that a desk job is easy and that it isn’t tiring.  It’s really a “grass is always greener” situation, but I digress.  So you get home or stop by your favorite place for coffee, get that cup of hot joe (season/temperature is irrelevant) fixed as you like it, and take that first sip…

Ahhhhh…

Everything is right as rain.  Those life leeches are flushed and you can almost feel the energy and vitality flowing throughout your body as your swallow that one sip.  At that point, it doesn’t matter if you get another sip or finish the cup, the first one is the key.  The interesting thing is that it doesn’t matter how many cups of coffee you’ve had during the day, even if you have access to quality coffee at work.

I know there are lots of folks who don’t drink coffee and look forward to their first glass of wine, bottle or mug of beer, Coke (or other soft drink), tea, water, etc., but none of these have the same effect.  I’m not sure what it is about coffee.  It’s not the caffeine, because lots of drinks have that and they don’t have quite the same energy replenishing effect.

To describe it as an energy thing isn’t quite right, either. It isn’t about providing energy.  I’ve had plenty of XS Energy Drinks at the end of a long day and they do a great job of providing energy to keep going, but they aren’t coffee.  It’s like coffee resets your brain.

“The moment” is visible if you’re paying attention.  It goes back to that first sip:  The cup goes up to your lips, the coffee gently spills in, rolls around and over the tongue, is swallowed and there’s a half second pause, eyes closed, half-smile on the lips, followed by a short exhale breathing out the days fatigue.

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