Feb 6, 2008

Big Weekend

I knew I'd be heading back to Tennessee after the weekend. I wanted it to be special. It turned out to be more than wonderful.

Mary Ann flew to Westchester County Airport in an absolute downpour. The night before, the same weather front had dumped several inches of rain on Lincoln County, Tennessee, and she had spent several hours battling water leaking into our basement. She was ready for a relaxing weekend. When her plane landed about an hour late, she was famished. We headed east on the Merritt Parkway toward Stratford and went to Vazzy's Italian Restaurant. We then proceeded to my motel, where I had upgraded to a suite for the weekend, and we crashed.

Saturday morning was beautiful as we prepared to meet the Bolingers for a big day in the Big Apple. We got dressed and had breakfast at the Homewood Suites and then proceeded to the Stratford train station to catch the 10:07 train to Grand Central Station. Everything ran on time and we proceeded to the Oyster Bar Restaurant for a relaxing lunch. A short walk and subway ride followed as we went uptown to the Neil Simon Theater on 52nd Street to see Hairspray.

I had gotten tickets on line several weeks ago, and we had great seats. The show was fantastic! The costumes, lights, and sound were overwhelming. And the day was not yet over.

The four of us proceeded down Broadway to 44th Street, where we had been told that Carmine's Restaurant was the place to eat. After being told of a two-hour wait, we called the Carmine's on Broadway near 91st Street and were told that they could seat us much more quickly. A ten-minute taxi ride later, we entered that fine establishment and were seated within a few minutes. The wait was worth it. The meal was served family style, so we ordered a salad, a pasta dish, and a dessert. The servings were gigantic and the food was wonderfully prepared. Our waiter was great and made the meal even more enjoyable. And the company was superb.

After dinner, we went back to Grand Central by taxi and caught the train back to Stratford. We kept the goodbyes to a minimum, since I know we will go out of our way to see Paul and Camille soon. They have become very treasured friends.

Mary Ann and I awoke Sunday and prepared to catch the 10:30 AM Bridgeport to Port Jefferson ferry. The day's plan was to visit Ron and Dorothy Gray and a dinner together at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor. We caught the ferry on time and drove out to their home in Bridgehampton. After a too-brief chat to give Ron and Dorothy a chance to get acquainted with Mary Ann, we headed out for a short tour of the area, including one of the exquisite homes that Ron had built. Then it was on to dinner. As before, the American Hotel was a good choice for a late afternoon meal.

We returned to the Gray's home, exchanged our goodbyes and returned to the ferry and to the Homewood Suites for a good night's rest before the 1,000 mile drive home.

Feb 3, 2008

The End of An Assignment...

I went to work for Humphreys & Associates in July 2007 and immediately went to Stratford, Connecticut. I have been working on Sikorsky Helicopter's CH-53K program, the Marine Corps' new heavy-lift helicopter. It has been a wonderful assignment -- working with some great (and very dedicated) people, learning a lot of new skills, and able to use my background and previous experience to good advantage. My boss, Paul Bolinger, is a joy to work for -- knowledgeable, reasonable, well-organized, fair, patient, and congenial. I could not have asked for a better opportunity. But, as with all good things, the time comes to move on and bid farewell.

So it was that last Wednesday, the group gathered after work to bid me farewell (or was it an excuse to drink and eat unhealthy food?). We gathered at the Bar and Grille at Oronocque, a well-known local watering hole. I was moved by the number of people who showed up to wish me well in my next venture. My sincere thanks to all who joined in...

Then Paul and Camille took me to the Beach House in Milford for a most memorable meal (here comes that food thing again...). We decided to try the Chef's Tasting Menu, a selection of delights chosen by the Executive Chef Todd Lauterio. We were not disappointed! Try these on for size:
-- To whet our appetites, a perfectly-grilled jumbo shrimp with a dollop of mango salsa served on a spoon,
-- A cup of wonderful Beach House clam and corn chowder, filled with tasty morsels of fresh clams in a super-light cream broth,
-- Handmade fettucini with grilled shrimp and shaved black truffles - Wow!,
-- Marinated hanger steak with mashed potatoes and homemade onion rings - tender, rare, marvelous,
-- Creme Brulee of the day

-- The Bar at the Beach House --

I'm still trying to recover. Thanks Paul and Camille, and to all my co-workers -- I will miss you.