Wild strawberry or COVID virus??

Took a picture of a couple of mushrooms yesterday.  Within the image was a little red wild strawberry. Once the photo was enlarged and the red berry zeroed in, the details of the berry came into focus.

That looks eerily close to COVID

Immediately the  shape of the berry looked very familiar. Yes, that shape has been displayed just about everywhere since, oh, sometime around March 2020. It does look way to much like the renderings you see of that damned COVID-19 virus.

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

Philly steak

It has been over a year since we were able to see Maj’s sister. That changed when we met for lunch at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Noblesville, Indiana. Noblesville is northeast of Indianapolis but is really part of the Indy Metro area. BJ’s is part of a national chain.

We had a wonderful time “catching up” on the news from my sister’s family and we shared our family news too. It’s amazing how much has occurred in the past year and a half in our families.

 

 

 

 

The restaurant is spacious, and when seated we noticed extra partitions between booths. The food and service was excellent. The menu featured tons of options, and many different beers. We ordered something we had never seen before: a flight of margaritas! Served like a flight of beers, it had four different margarita samples.  We agreed the strawberry sample was our favorite.

The flight of margaritas

The food and service were both excellent. The portions were very generous, and all three of us enjoyed our meals. The most enjoyment of this luncheon came from our being together again. Now that things are at least somewhat back to near normal, we hope to get together each month.

 

At Bob Evans we felt safe and enjoyed our meal

Sher and I had been running errands, shopping and visiting a winery in Indianapolis, and it was time for a stop for a light supper. We have not been to a Bob Evans since before the pandemic hit, but we knew their menu featured items we both liked.

Extra partitions installed above booth benches for patron separation

The Bob Evans at the intersection of I-65 and Southport Road, just south of Indianapolis, was on our way home. The restaurant was fairly busy, but not packed. Most of the staff wore masks and about half of the customers we saw also were masked up. We watched staff clean a booth in preparation for the next patrons. The effort that went into the cleaning was impressive and very thorough.

Our food was delivered in a short time, and the service was excellent at this Bob Evans location. We did felt safe and comfortable here, and were able to really enjoy our meal and each other’s company.

Getting ready for the sale

This shows the beginning of our set up for the Highway 40 yard coming this week. The sale is an annual event and it follows old US 40. Hundreds of folks set up and thousands shop along the route.

We’ll keep you posted as the week goes on. Sher and I always enjoy this event. We missed it last year due to Covid-19.

Back to a casino

Sher and I always enjoyed casinos either at home or while traveling. COVID-19 stopped that for over a year. Being vaccinated, we’re slowly getting back to “doing things”. After some discussion, we figured it was time to try the Indiana Grand casino near us. (Indiana Grand is a casino and thoroughbred race track, part of the Caesars’ gaming company.)

We hoped a weekday afternoon visit might avoid having to face a big crowd. That strategy worked well, as the parking lots and garage were not filled as we remembered from pre-covid days. The first change we noticed was the requirement to show your driver’ license, the information of which was recorded. The Security fellow said it was for ‘contact tracing’ if needed. Hmmm…

Masks were required, except when you are eating or drinking. The self serve coffee and soda stations have morphed into refreshment stations where an employee serves you your free coffee or soda. Bottled beer was also available for purchase.

Sher enjoyed Great Gorilla slots. By the way Gorilla was very generous this session…

The slot machines were spaced further apart than before. A set of 3 machines had only the two outside positions open. Basically, at any machine you were 6 feet away from the closest player. The blackjack table games had limited seating as well. The only place we saw folks not social distancing was at the Roulette and Craps tables.

Things are definitely different: the buffet is a thing of the past with food available at a snack bar and one restaurant. The noise level is much less. The volume on the slot machines seem to be much lower than pre-covid. With the slot spacing you don’t feel as “crowded”. Oh, and people watching isn’t nearly as much fun with everybody in masks! All in all we did feel comfortable being out in the casino. Good to have that back.

Want to visit NOLA again

We’re 15 days away from our second dose of the COPVID-19 vaccine. Shortly after that it should kick in and offer us a measure of protection from the virus.

Bourbon Street in New Orleans, known for music, food and revelry. Note the famed balcony iron work in the background

Red beans and rice with smoked sausage

The band at Bamboula’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are standing in front of the tomb of Marie Laveau, the famed Voodoo Queen. This is reportedly the most visited tomb in New Orleans.

We are not sure exactly when we’ll decide to travel again. But one place we do want to visit again is New Orleans. Sher and I both so enjoyed our last visit there back in 2018. We loved the food, the music and the atmosphere of this exciting  place. There is so much to see and do in NOLA.  It will definitely be on an upcoming itinerary  of ours.

A clever sign


This old wagon has a very appropriate and humorous sign attached. This is at the La Hacienda RV Resort near Lake Travis in the Hill Country out side of Austin. We wintered there prior to the pandemic.

The king of the sea

King Neptune on the Virginia Beach, VA Boardwalk

Compare Neptune’s size to the bike rider!

Neptune and his turtle

The octopus

The bronze statue of King Neptune is the spectacular creation of artist Paul DiPasquale. It was dedicated in 2005 and to this day reigns over the sea (and the boardwalk). Neptune holds his trademark trident with a hand on a sea turtle. He is also surrounded by many other sea creatures on the statue base.

We lived in Virginia Beach in the 90’s and loved the beach and boardwalk, spending hours and hours enjoying the ocean waves. Imagine our surprise when we returned in 2016 and saw Neptune as we strolled north along the boardwalk. Photos do not do him justice. Virginia Beach is a marvelous vacation destination with year round activities. Hopefully the city will be getting back to post pandemic conditions sooner than later.

We miss this

Sher and I have been waiting, like most, for the vaccine. One of the things we miss since we’ve been “in isolation” is going out to eat. Such a simple activity that tons of people used to do before COVID. One place that we really miss is Cheddars Restaurants.

Famous potato soup


Legendary onion ring tower

 
Cheddars is really our favorite casual restaurant, followed by Olive Garden. It will be really nice going back out for a nice meal even if the tables are spread out and everybody is in masks. I guess we’ll all have to get used to that, it’s gonna be the norm for a while.

We have received our first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and our second dose is already scheduled for March 15th. Shortly after that we’ll have what the experts are saying is a high percentage of immunity.