July 5, 2016: An Excursion on DART
May 17 - June 2, 2016: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
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June 13-15, 2016
A Visit with Jeffie, Judy and Ted


 

In early May, Jeffie emailed from Prague that she would be coming to the US for a three-day visit, and I immediately made plans to be with her, Ted and my sister for the visit. Jeffie had a very special airfare that allowed her to stay either three days or 14, and since she couldn't be away from her work that long, the three-day trip it was. I made arrangements to meet with Jeffie on Tuesday morning, June 14th and drive her up to Charlotte to her brother's house.

 

Our Trip to Charlotte

Jeffie flew from Prague via a circuitous route to Atlanta on Sunday, June 12th, spending Monday with friends of hers and visiting her horse, Logan, who is in retirement at a farm outside the city.

I flew to Atlanta on Monday evening. The story of that trip is one that many of you have become familiar with in the days since air travel became less of an adventure and more of a hassle. Having heard stories of TSA delays at DFW, I left home for my 6:30PM flight at about 3 in the afternoon; it is usually a 30-minute trip to the airport. The traffic on my usual route was worse that I ever remembered, and no sooner had I got into a stretch of Northwest Highway where there are no other routes to the airport but the one you are on that I discovered that the road was closed because of an accident. I actually had to climb a median, turn around and try to find another way to the airport. It was about 3:45 when I turned around.


I next tried going north to I-635 to the airport's north entrance, and I thought that would work until I discovered another accident that had closed three of the four expressway lanes. This time, I simply had to make the best of it, and I finally got onto the airport proper at 4:45. Next, I could not find any spaces in the parking garage, and had to drive back and for and up and down until I found someone leaving and was finally able to park and get into the terminal. The automated kiosk wouldn't read my credit card for some reason, and I had to get an agent to help me get my boarding pass printed. Here it was, closing in on 5:30, and I still had security to deal with.

Security was the ONLY thing that went right. The line was almost non-existent, and with my TSA Pre-Check status I was through security in 3- count 'em, 3- minutes! So I was at the gate just over an hour ahead of my flight. Sadly, my troubles were not over, as the flight crew had not arrived from their own delayed flight, and so our flight to Atlanta was delayed for almost two hours. I didn't get to Atlanta until well after 11PM, and by the time I got my car and found my way to the hotel, it was after midnight.

I'd already coordinated with Jeffie about picking her up on Tuesday morning. Before I planned to come, she was going to take an upscale bus from Atlanta to Charlotte, but with the times she would only have a few hours at her brother's house. With me driving, she'd have a much longer visit, and I'd get to visit with her on the way as well. So I picked a suburban hotel only a mile or so from where I picked her up at her friend's coffee-and-chocolate shop in the Dunwoody area of northwest Atlanta.

Together we drove up I-85 all the way into Charlotte, doing a lot of catching up on the way. We talked about everything- her Mom, her brother, how her job was going in Prague, US politics (her Czech Republic friends are always asking her what the heck is going on over here this year), what Fred and I have been doing, and so on. Together, we solved most of the world's major outstanding problems, although I don't think we got around to ISIS.


The conversation made the 250-mile trip go very quickly, and by 10:30 we were going through Charlotte and heading out Independence Boulevard towards Ted's neighborhood. When I was growing up, Independence was a large, four-lane road, with businesses lining it chock-a-block a third of the way to Matthews. Today, it's been converted into an expressway, and it goes almost all the way to Matthews now. The businesses are still there, but now there's a frontage road to get to them.

Ted lives in a nice neighborhood just a few blocks south of the Independence Expressway out Monroe Road off of Sharon Amity Road. The house I grew up in can be reached by going around south Charlotte on Sharon Amity, which takes you to Southpark Mall; then Park Road into the city for a ways and you are at my childhood home. My Mom's condo was also near Southpark.

Ted lives on a quiet cul-de-sac in a small house with a large back yard. With his job as an investigating officer with the Charlotte Police Department, he is not home all that often anyway, so the small, compact house suits him well. And the back yard suits his four large dogs- all of which are rescues. As it turned out, my sister and her son are dog people, while Jeffie and I are cat persons. I don't have a particular problem with well-behaved, small dogs. Judy's are small but they bark a lot; Ted's don't bark all that much but they are quite large. But to each his own. (My sister has barn cats as well.)

So when we pulled up, we saw that Judy was just getting out of her car and going in to Ted's house. No one had told Judy I was coming; I wanted it to be a surprise. And when Jeffie and I rang the doorbell, she was that. Judy's brother-in-law, Jon, arrived an hour or so after we did.

 

Our Visit in Charlotte

It is always a pleasure to see my family; all that's left are my sister, niece and nephew. My sister and I, of course, are senior citizens by now, and Ted and Jeffie are full-fledged adults, halfway through their careers. As you might expect, we all had a lot of catching up to do.


For the first hour or so, it was just the four of us, and I wanted to get at least one picture of our family. I had neglected to bring my little tripod, so all I could do was set my little camera on Ted's kitchen counter. This meant that with the flash, the back of one of his living room chairs obscured the front nearground, but that was the best I could do without trying to get creative.

When we first arrived, Ted's dog Lucy and maybe one of the others barked a bit; Ted says they do so whenever someone comes to the house, like the mailman, a meter reader or the like. But once they know who you are, and particularly if you are inside, they quiet down. Unlike the dogs of some other friends, they remain quiet, even if you get up and move around; once they know who you are, they seem to remember that you are "safe", and don't need to be alerted to.

Ted has some kennels in the kitchen and a gate so that when he needs to, he can sequester the dogs there. They can still hear and see what's going on, but their natural friendliness, expressed in a fair amount of nuzzling and jumping, can be controlled. Ted has done a good thing in taking these dogs in; they would otherwise be in shelters and might even have been euthanized. We feel kind of the same way about all our cats.

We had a lot of nice conversation before Jon arrived; we were all very interested in hearing all about Jeffie's experiences in Prague. She has been there for a couple of years now, teaching business English to people in the Czech Republic. I think we were all under a bit of misapprehension about just what her job involved; I thought, for example, that she taught classes of Czechs who didn't speak any English at all. Not so, as it turns out; most of her work as an independent contractor, is to help business people hone their English skills, and she works with them one, two or three at a time at their own offices.


Jon arrived about 11. He lives up towards Asheville, which is about 125 miles from here, but he makes good time because it's all downhill (grin). Jon was one of three brothers; Judy's husband and a second brother have already passed away. Jon was another surprise for Judy. At right is my group picture including Jon.

Again, we spent a good deal of time so that everyone could catch up with Jon; Judy, Jeffie and Ted, of course, were much more familiar with him than I was, since he was in Burlington while they were growing up. But I enjoyed hearing the stories he had to relate. About 12:30, we went over by Cotswold Mall to have lunch at a Thai place Ted and Jeffie knew about, and their I had our server take a group picture. Here are some of the pictures from our morning visit:

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We had a nice lunch; both Ted and Jeffie are fond of Thai food, and Jeffie can always find something vegetarian. We returned to Ted's house and were able to talk a lot more.


I was happy to meet Jon again, but I was also happy to have him available to take some better pictures of the four of us (since I'd neglected to bring my tripod; I didn't think to ask Ted if he had one). I took a couple of other good pictures this afternoon, including this one of Jon and Ted. I also got a nice picture of my family.

I also made one movie out front of Ted's house a little while before Jon got ready to leave and head back to Asheville:


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We continued to visit for the rest of the afternoon, until about six. About then, Judy needed to head back to Elon and Jeffie and I needed to start on the road back to Atlanta. This was a really neat family visit, and I hope that Jeffie is able to return to the States more frequently.

 

At Halfshire Farms

On Tuesday evening, I dropped Jeffie at her friend's house up in Dunwoody and I returned to my hotel. On Wednesday morning, I returned to her friend's house, had coffee and danish with them, and then drove Jeffie out to Halfshire Farms where Logan is stabled.


I will freely admit that while I think I am pretty good at directions, and pretty good at finding my way to places I have been before, and even pretty good at following my nose to find places when I am getting there by a different route, I do not think I could duplicate the route that Jeffie and I took from north Atlanta, around and down I-285 and then cross-country to Halfshire Farms.

Jeffie had lived in Decatur for years, and had gone back and forth to the stables so many times that she knew all the back roads to take to avoid traffic and minimize the distance. I had only been to Halfshire Farms once, in the dark, following directions she'd given me from a different direction, but this time I simply had to put myself entirely in her hands and follow her turn by turn directions. We made so many turns on these rural Georgia roads that I am pretty sure that if I tried to retrace that path I would get hopelessly lost.

We did get to the stables, though, and as soon as we got close then I recognized the route, and I certainly recognized the stables themselves from our visit some years ago.


From the road, we came up the long drive to the stables where we parked. The last time I was here with Fred, Logan had been inside; this was when Jeffie was still riding him frequently. He is about 25 now, and his riding days are pretty much over, but Jeffie feels such an attachment to him still that she keeps him boarded here, even though she tells me he usually stays out in one of the pastures- even at night.

We saw a couple of Jeffie's friends in the stables, and then she and I walked out to the far pasture where Logan and a couple of other horses were grazing. Halfshire Farms is a beautiful place; I hope the horses appreciate it. If I were literally being put out to pasture, it would be a great place for the pasture to be.

We walked out to Logan's pasture and entered it, where I took the first few pictures of Jeffie and her horse:

(Click Thumbnails Above to View)


I am constantly amazed how animals can recognize humans that are important to them; I see that every day with the cats that we have, and how they treat Fred and I as opposed to guests they don't know. Logan was no exception; he came right to Jeffie as soon as she called to him.


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As soon as Logan came over to Jeffie, she gave him a hug and started giving him a few horse biscuits. Jeffie had already been out here the day before yesterday, but since she flew back to Europe this afteroon, today was a farewell visit. I made my first movie of Jeffie and Logan right after he came up to here.

Not all of the pictures I took of the two of them or of Logan were really great, but I am going to include almost all of them here, so that Jeffie can show as many of them as she wishes to her friends in Prague:

(Click Thumbnails to View)


There were some other horses out in this pasture, and they began to come close to try to horn in on the biscuits, so Jeffie took Logan out the gate to the path between the pastures so she could give him individual attention.


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Outside the gate, Jeffie was able to feed and brush and pay attention to Logan without hindrance from the other horses. Jeffie has taken very, very good care of him for as long as she has had him and wherever he has been- and that includes is time here in Dallas when she lived here and worked for BMG Music.

I was not quite sure how many pictures to take, but I erred on the side of taking more, rather than less, figuring that even if I didn't think them good enough, Jeffie would have access to them online. So out here in the pathway between pastures I took another picture of Logan grazing and another picture of Jeffie and her horse.

As I said, the countryside around here is very pretty; much more so than outside Dallas where it is much less green all the time. I stood down the pathway a bit and took a series of pictures in a complete circle, intending to put them together into a 360° panorama. It turned out well, and it is in the scrollable window below:

Again, I took rather more pictures than I really needed to, but these were more for Jeffie's benefit than perhaps for the casual visitor to my photo album.

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A you may have done with other slideshows in the photo album, you can move from one picture to the next using the backward and forward arrows in the bottom corners of each picture. The numbers in the upper left of each picture will tell you where you are in the show.

I also made one final movie out here in the pasture, the poignant one of Jeffie saying farewell to Logan. Neither she nor I can be sure when she will be back here again; it could be another year or more.


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(Click on Thumbnails to View)


After Jeffie said farewell to Logan, we walked back to the stables. There, Jeffie stopped to talk with other friends of hers, and I wandered around taking a few final pictures inside and outside the stables. I do not know who everyone is, but Jeffie probably does. If you want to see those final pictures, you can do so by clicking on the various thumbnails at left.

Around noon Jeffie and I left the stables and drove back into Atlanta and directly to Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. My own flight was at about 2:30, while Jeffie's overseas flight didn't leave until about 5. I said goodbye to her and headed off for my flight. It was a really nice visit, and I hope Jeffie returns again soon. It is also possible that Fred and I might visit her in Prague sometime next spring.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.



July 5, 2016: An Excursion on DART
May 17 - June 2, 2016: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
Return to the Index for 2016