Wednesday, June 25, 2014


One of our ambitions while being retired here in Virginia is to get together with family members, friends and present as well as former co-workers that we just haven't had the chance to see easily enough when working full time.  I admit we have spent many weekends at Lake Anna these past few years, and so, if we didn't have friends visit here, we just never saw them.  This summer Ray especially has made an effort to get together with those really great people that he hasn't seen in years.  It is not like we won't see them when we are back in the States, or that we can't, it's just that time will be more limited.  So when asked "why are you still here and not in Panama", the first answer is that we are waiting for our daughter to get done with her job, for Pete's Sake (!), so we can hang out with her a bit (today is her last day of work until summer school in a few weeks), the second answer is "hello, I only just retired three weeks ago", and the final answer is that we just wanted to enjoy the lake house and play time in Virginia.

This past week had us really busy up and down the road early in the week.  We first drove to Richmond to go to the Apple Store to check out Apple TV and Ipads.  And drop a little bit of money there.  While there (it is about forty-five minutes south of here), we had dinner with the same friends we had previously enjoyed a weekend with on the Piankatank River.  The following day we had some banking to do north which took us about two hours to get to, of course.  And about banking, we recently watched Chris Powers "Panama for Real" video about opening a bank account in Panama.  We have since asked Clyde and Terry Coles ( to refresh our memory of their banking experiences, and also our attorney which bank is recommended and to get a reference letter from him.  While north, we visited this new shopping district that our friends had told us about and grazed our way through the chocolate shop and gelato cafe.  We had dinner with a former co-worker of Ray's from the law firm (she left the firm about five years ago).  I haven't had the opportunity to be with her often, and it was a treat to get to know her.  Hopefully, she will want to discover Panama and come visit us someday!  Still in Northern Virginia, we made our way to another restaurant to play Trivia Night.  We knew we would be in Falls Church to play trivia with our lake roommates and our daughter (yay!), so we made all of the other plans around being UP THERE in Northern Virginia.  We nibbled on chips and queso, drank margaritas, and had great fun even coming in third place.  And no, I don't remember the questions asked that night, but I was glad we had a team of awesomeness coming through with some correct answers!  Thinking we might be home in about ninety minutes since we left at ten pm, but knowing that the highway has many lanes shut down due to late night construction, we were thrilled when we were just three miles from the house, and we hadn't slowed down...yet.  The electronic signs that let us know if there are any troubles along the road failed us.  As we approached the cars stopping ahead, we were directly under the electronic sign that read "one lane ahead, 3 mile backup" or something like that, so we crawled merging from three lanes to one for the last three miles of our trip.  It took us two and a half hours to get home that night.  I did love the day, but that drive is taxing!  I was grouchy, and not in my bed until one am.  Payback to me for all the years Ray made this commute daily!

The next day was rest day, it was going to be a bit cloudy, so we went to the movies to see "Chef".  Loved it!  And while out and about on Wednesday, Ray got a text asking if we would be around the house Friday or Saturday.  His former Giant Food co-workers (going back to when he was eighteen years old), two wonderfully sweet women, were going to pay us a visit at the lake!  We chose Friday, since I was super busy Saturday, and while we were out on Thursday we bought lots of yummy food and drink to enjoy with these women.

Friday we did our usual walking, our core exercises (I am super proud of Ray for sticking this out with me!), I had already made Caramel Brownies (which we had just finished up from the week before when I made them for another get together), and around ten am, our guests arrived.  We showed them the house, we showed them pictures of the house we will live in in Panama, we chatted, lotioned up and hit the kayaks first.  What a smooth day it was on the water in kayaks.  Our kayaks were just gliding along the surface.  After a little more chatting on the water while kayaking, we then did what we do best here--floated for about two hours. During our chats, one of them happened to ask me what was on my bucket list.  I told them that while in the States I would like to see Nashville (which I am seeing in two weeks), and then I recently told them that I never made it to Niagara Falls last year, and I would like to get there soon.  We talked about traveling to Europe, and my mind wandered to food.  So I shared with them where I wanted to go before heading to Panama, and what road trips I would be taking until August.

Which brings me to this--Al's Steak House restaurant has been around since 1956 in Alexandria and supposedly has the best Philly cheese steak.  John Severson has owned it since 1965, and this is who we met yesterday. So the main reason we ventured up I-95 north (again, will we never learn!) is because Al's has been on my list of places to go to put down a cheesesteak sub.  I never eat steak and cheese subs (always substitute chicken when I even have a sub for that matter), but I knew I would just get myself ready for the big day, and go for it!  The Dairy Godmother for frozen custard is right down the street, but alas, it is closed on Tuesdays. Maybe another day.  As usual, we were stuck in traffic traveling up the highway, but the chatter was good.   We were lucky to be able to pull right up to the restaurant, park the car, and, with only three tables in the place, we luckily had our pick.  We placed our order, and I sunk my teeth into the best bread ever!  And the steak and cheese wasn't so bad either.  The restaurant was warm, but I need to get used to this!  The drive home took no time at all, the ice cream was good but not like Sweet Frog, more chatter, and another great day had passed by.  I could check Al's off my list!  We will be seeing these friends again soon, too!  They want to take adventures with us!
Infamous Al's

My sub (I forgot to add lettuce and tomatoes!)

A few ice creams with lots of sauce poured on top!

 After more walking, exercising and, today, kayaking in the rapids (okay, the water was not smooth as glass today, and it was not the rapids, but it was so choppy!), Ray and I went to another movie (storms were supposed to move in--not yet), shopped, dropped some more of our fixed income money, and are taking the day off from Duolingo.  I think I need to take some days off of subs, ice cream and popcorn, too!  I might be a totally different person (I could be two!) when I arrive in Panama!

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