Sunday, October 9, 2016

We were in the mountains--pictures included

We were in NC and VA

This is why I went dark on the net. Sorry, but I don't like to post when I'm away, lest we encourage thugs. We stayed with two friends who had been long-time Internet/email buddies, but this was the first time we had met either in person. I enjoyed long political and military focused conversations with both; what Marines call "Sea Stories." Both are first-class intellects who have thought deeply about these things. And both have a wealth of great anecdotes to tell.

We left on Wednesday, September 28, and 800 miles later arrived in Asheville, NC in time for dinner on Thursday, September 29. My friend R. J. "Del" Del Vecchio was kind enough to put us up until Monday, October 3. Del is a Marine Vietnam vet who was selected by the Corps to be a combat photographer, thus saw a lot of action. He has some very moving photos, as they sent him to areas where they expected action. I encouraged him to write a book with his pictures; they are an important piece of Vietnam and USMC history. He gifted me with a large one for our pub room wall. Readers of my blog will recognize Del's name. His background is in chemistry and statistics, giving him a scientist's perception of things like murder statistics, global warming and Agent Orange.

Bonnie feel in love with his tiny dog, Mitzi, and the affection was reciprocated. (Okay Mitzi loves everybody, showering them with kisses; I liked her too.) Unfortunately, we didn't get to meet Del's wife, Marilyn. A close friend had a family tragedy and she had to stay at their main residence in Raleigh to provide support.

The highlight for Bonnie was a visit to the Biltmore Mansion. I found it interesting, but a tad large and ornate for my tastes. The view was spectacular, naturally. The many staircases were a real workout for me.

Del also showed us around downtown Asheville, rather a yuppie community. Think Madison with mountains. We grabbed a bite in a coffee shop and cafe, rather like an upscale Starbucks. Del and I were amused to make a head call and discover there were three bathrooms. The first had the male/female figures sign and said "Restroom." The second had a family figures sign and said, "Family Restroom." The third had the male/female sign, but said, "All Genders Restroom."

(May have been another town the day before)

On Monday we left, taking two days to get to our destination in Virginia, as we spent six hours the first day going about a hundred miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was as lovely as we remembered. There was some fall color in the high areas, but not a lot yet.

In southern Virginia we stayed with LtCol Tom Kratman, a retired infantry officer, who is a military historian and theorist, plus being a very successful author of Military and Near-Future Science Fiction. I have read everything by him I could get my hands on and loved it all.

Tom's Amazon Page with all his books:

Free E-book from Baen: A State of Disobedience. By Tom Kratman
I recommended this excellent and timely future history novel on my blog sometime ago. Here's what I wrote: Tom Kratman, a retired Army LtCol, has become my favorite living science fiction author. (I have to say "living" because I have sat at the feet of Robert Heinlein since 8th grade, 55 years ago.) Kratman writes military science fiction, some set in the far future (see A Desert Called Peace) and some, as with this book, set in the very near future. Thus, having been published in 2005, means it is now in the near past. Never-the-less, it is still as timely as tomorrow's headlines. Briefly, the federal government has fallen into tyranny, with de facto suspension of freedom of the press, freedom of speech and wide spread police powers established in federal agencies. All for the "good of the people," of course. But one state won't go along. A State of Disobedience explores the dichotomy between government power and freedom. This is Kratman's first published novel, but it bears all the touches of the master: believable characterization, intricate plot twists and heart-pounding action. History buffs will delight in picking out the many historical allusions in the book. For my health, I need about nine hours of sleep a night--and with A State of Disobedience finished, I can start getting it again. I highly recommend this novel.

We got to meet Tom's lovely family, wife Yoli from Panama (a female Hispanic immigrant who is for Trump--"I don't want that woman in the White House."), daughter Julia and granddaughter, Juliana. She is 16, wants to be a vet and is delightful. We wished she could meet Britnye. Yoli is a wonderful cook; no wonder I came home over my weight limit.


Mostly I enjoyed long conversations with Tom. He lectures on military maters like the laws and principles of war; talking to him is like taking a college class.

We left there on Thursday, October 6. Made a stop at Dixie Caverns, but they told us it had 400 steps and was slippery in places from seepage. We decided to skip it, given my breathing and drug-induced osteoporosis.  Though the attendant let us into the first room before the stairs to take a few pics.

Then we drove home, 855 miles, with an overnight in Ohio. At breakfast a well-dressed black guy asked to join us. Turns out he is a pastor, or as he said, a "fixer," who goes around to churches where the pastor had been caught in sexual or fiscal irregularities and puts things right. He is also a Vietnam vet, Navy, who spent 27 months there, some with Marines. He didn't look 69 at all. In our discussion, I mentioned BLM. He looked me forcefully in the eye and said, "All lives matter!"

And we arrived home about 6:00 pm on Friday, October 7. ~Bob


  1. Bob, glad you and the wife had a grea time with friends and talked about the history that many of us have forgotten. It's great to see that you both are getting out whenever you can and enjoy life that God has given us. Bless you both, Joe Cascio, Melbourne, FL

  2. A great vacation...what a beatiful country this is.