Sunday, September 9, 2001

September 2001


The Summer is almost over, and the height of the hurricane season is
only a
couple of weeks away, so we decided to take a vacation. Of course, we
actually go anywhere to stay the night because the dogs don't have
anyone to
look after them in our absence, so we decided to be tourists at home.

We had a lot of fun. The weather was not completely cooperative but we
got rained on whilst in the car, so we can't complain. Since Lisa has
spending most of the last month reading books about plants and
we decided to spend our first vacation day at Orton Plantation, which
is an
old rice plantation near Wilmington, NC. The house is not open to
but the gardens are. There are some beautiful traditional formal
gardens and
other wilderness areas but the live oaks were the most impressive. Some
them had trunks over 6 feet in diameter. The highlight of the day for
was when we watched a Black Racer snake (later identified from pictures
the library) slither around the edge of a fountain. He suddenly reared
up to
catch a frog. The motion pushed him into the fountain but he quickly
slithered out and raced off into the bushes with the frog hanging by
its leg
from his mouth. We were about 5 feet away. Soon after we saw another
but this one was just basking in the sun.

Another day we took the ferry from Southport to Fort Fisher which was
fun. You drive the car onto the ferry and you can walk around the deck
the 20 minute trip. The seagulls follow the ferry and do some amazing
acrobatic stunts to catch breadcrumbs. We also saw a group of pelicans
skimming along the ocean. They fly as a pack about 6 inches off the
occasionally flapping their wings. Fort Fisher was built by the South
the Civil War to protect Wilmington, a major port for blockade runners,
including British ships, which delivered vital supplies to the
According to family legend, one of Lisa's distant relatives likely
sailed on
some of those ships! After a quick tour around the fort, we took the
back to Southport.

For our last big day out we decided to familiarize ourselves with Myrtle
Beach. We checked out the beach, which is incredibly long, (hence the
"Grand Strand"), found a huge amusement park with a gigantic roller
checked out the brick showroom (we have to choose a brick for our
house) and
then went to Broadway by the Beach. This is an area similar to Pier 39
San Francisco. There are all sorts of specialty shops and restaurants
other amusements like an IMAX theatre, aquarium and butterfly pavilion.
were most excited to find a Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop selling

We spent some time at the beach, both with the dogs and without. The
is still very warm. One afternoon we took a kite and had some fun
dive-bombing the ground. We have also had our first golf lesson. When
we hit
the ball we can get it to go a reasonable distance, and sometimes it
straight, but sometimes we can't even hit it (particularly Lisa). We
need a
few more lessons and a lot more practice!

Possibly the most exciting thing that has happened to us in the last
was meeting Bob and Elke. They are also building a house here in
Plantation, about 8 lots away from ours. At the moment they are living
Silver Creek in San Jose. We found out about them from our friend Lee,
is a marshal at Silver Creek. Anyway, they came out here for a vacation
couple of weeks ago and we finally met them face to face. We had dinner
together and tried to catch up on our family histories, and of course,
spent a lot of time talking about building houses and planning houses
We can't wait to have them move out here permanently.

Now a quick progress report on the house. We have finally received the
survey of our lot. We have several oak trees of two different types,
plus a
lot of pines and a triple gum. They will not all survive! Jack, the
designer, gave us a preliminary plan which was similar to the things we
given him but bigger. Too big. We are in the process of culling 400 -
square feet. We also suggested some changes to get us a full two story
house, instead of having the dormer windows that are so popular here.
just have to wait and see what Jack thinks of that. Meanwhile, Steve
persuaded Jack to buy a new Macintosh computer which we hope will speed
things up a little. Randy, our builder, is hoping to start in October
finish by the end of May 2002.

Steve will be in Cupertino from September 9 to September 14. Thanks
again to
Lee and Marie and Aubrey and Emily for entertaining and feeding him on
last visit. Lisa was very envious but she did have a nice surprise when
got her belated birthday present from Steve - a very pretty haberdashers
swivel table which will soon have pride of place in the pool room and

Take care everyone.