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Justin & Becca

Currently enjoying our new baby, Angelo

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May '10

Pic-a-nic baskets at Jellystone

We bolted through the rest of Canada and then through Michigan, Wisconson, Minnesoda, North Dakota, and half of Montana to get the first national park in the world, Yellowstone.  There are quite a bit of tourists but there is SOOOO much room to move around the park that you don’t notice it that often.  Coming from Reno area, we are fairly accustomed to untouched mountainous beauty, but what makes Yellowstone so special is the wildlife.  We saw herds of bison, elk, deer and antelope, as well as a bear and a wolf.  Also, there’s HUGE waterfalls, gigantic peaks, thousands of geo-thermal wonders and water everywhere!  We only had 3 days, which worked pretty good, though we would have liked more if we could.

As of this writing we have already left Wyoming and made it to Seattle, on Uncle Ricks ship in Oak Harbor…. we’re on the final stretch.

May '10

What New Orleans wishes it could be

In stark contrast to the nasty streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter, Montreal’s French Quarter is stocked full of eclectic eateries, funky clothiers, exotic chocolatiers, playhouses, fantastic breweries and actual French speakers.  It really is another country though, so don’t go thinking crossing into Canada is a walk in the part.  There is HEAVY security, passports are required, and Cher got completely search BOTH going into and coming out of the Canada.  To top that off, once you’re in Quebec, everything is in French and not everyone speaks English.  These might be two very obvious statements to most people, but for us, we had NO CLUE what to expect, we didn’t even know we were going to Canada until we decided to see what Vermont looks like…anyway, its a cool place…we made it a point to try the crazy foods…Becca had veal hearts and Justin enjoyed a llama steak; we almost had a horse steak but the restaurant we went to had just ran out before we got there.

May '10


An interesting tidbit learned during our visit to Boston was that Justin’s great grandmother, Elsie, used to tell the Boston relatives  how much she missed the seafood on the east coast.  Naturally, we pointed the motorhome to the sea and made a b-line for the first fishing town we could find.  About an hour later we found ourselves on the sparsely populated Cape Ann in the touristy, but authentic, fishing village of Rockport.  The people are as interesting as they are friendly and business owners are chatty and generous as if we were their first customers at their grand opening.   We found a Lobster Pound with outdoor seating so we could share a little with our dogs…and there was plenty to go around as we gorged ourselves on four HUGE lobsters (not like the California ones, these had whopping claws…plus they were only $10 bucks each, so that was a nice bonus too).

We poked around the Northeast, hanging out on pristine beaches, trying the local beers and of course supporting the local seafood markets.  At this point we were wishing we had our fishing gear and crab nets, but the fresh seafood prices were so fair and our stay was so short that it didn’t make sense to buy the equipment to catch it ourselves.

On the suggestion of the gift shop owners in Rockport, we travelled to the northern coast of Maine to see Acadia National Park.  Upon arriving, Becca had a realization that we arrived at the place she had been dreaming about…except in all her dreams, Justin’s Dad, Peter, was showing us around the place, excited because he had just moved there.  She stood at the end of the dock in Bar Habor with amazement; she’d seen these boats, these mountains, this bay, everything was to an exact image from her dream.  We’re still trying to figure out what it all means; maybe my Dad should go there.

Acadia is gorgeous, but due to a computer glitch, we lost all our pictures of Maine and Acadia, so here is a little “Virtual Tour” put togeather by the National Park: http://www.nps.gov/featurecontent/acad/eCruise/eCruise.htm

and here is a pic of one of our lobster feasts (in Rockport, we lost the pics of the Fresh Lobsters we bought strait from the docks and cooked up in Cher).

May '10

The infamous Boston relatives

For years growing up I remember hearing about an entire branch of our family living in Massachusetts.  My Great Grandfather, Arch Angelo, came to Boston from Fratiminore, a suburb of Napoli (Naples) back in the early 1900’s.  It was here that met whom was to be my great grandmother, Elsie Tarantino, a beautiful Italian girl that just so happened to be from the same neighbourhood back in Naples.  They started a family but hated the Boston winter, plus one of my uncles had allergies, so they moved to Los Angles where the youngest brother, my Grandpa Angelo, was born and the rest is history.

But somewhere in there (before they moved to LA), my great grandfather persuaded his older sister, Melinda, to move to Boston; it was from her that our Boston family branched.  I was able to meet three of her children, Uncle Mike, Aunt Ellie, and Aunt Gloria. We talked about old storied from my grandfathers youth for hours, and I learned quite a few things about my roots on my mom’s side.   A few years ago I visited a small branch of the family that still lives in Fratiminore today, another Arch-Angelo and his family.  (My mom’s side of the family has a tradition of naming the first grandson after his grandfather, so we have tons of Angelo’s and Llelo’s in the family…in fact, if my parents would have followed the tradition, my name would be Angelo…and the first one of my siblings to have a boy, should name him Peter, like my father…I like traditions, and I think my fathers side might have a similar tradition as the name Peter occurs over and over on his family tree).

Pictured from Left to Right:  Uncle Mike, Aunt Gloria, Justin the Hairy Animal, Becca the Beautiful, Aunt Ellie and Uncle Jim

May '10

Jersey and NYC

The thought of living in New York has always made us cringe…8 million people crammed onto a little rock playing king of the island is not our idea of fun…but we had the wrong idea.  We’re not saying we want to drop the idea of living on our own healthy slice of land, but we finally understand New York’s appeal…We love the city!  Anyone with a desire to move out there, go for it!  We put up like a hundred pictures with comments if you want to see NYC, but the real attraction was the Mazzacca family.

It only took to a few minutes to feel at home when we met Aunt Diane and Nia at the Mazzacca family beach house in South Jersey.  Aunt Diane has got to be one of the best designers in the world, she had Becca running around the house like a Bill Nye at a science fair….”how’d you do this?”, “where’d you get that idea?”, “oh, I love that!”

Becca caught up on everything while going though what seemed to be thousands of old photos.  We have a couple hundred that we’ll be scanning to show the rest of the family back home.  We got to know Uncle Gary pretty well on the car rides into the city, he’s a video editor for CBS and makes driving in the city look like a walk in the park.  Nia just graduated college with a job offer lined up the day before graduation.  Giovanni reminds us of Ryan; we have a theory that if the two of them went out drinking that a cosmic super nova would be born…or it’d be like LOTR part 4…. hopefully we’ll be able to test the theory soon.

Just before we left Jersey, Aunt Diane shared several old family recipes,  which we are sure will go over well with the Barbato families’ taste buds.  Once we are established again, we’re having the BIGGEST,  ITANIAN~EST, CHRISTMAS PARTY EVER!

May '10

Vote for planning ahead

Everyone should take a trip, at some point in their life, to see our nations capital.  The surrounding symbolisms are captured in every glance in every corner of your eye.  Whether that’s a good thing or not, I don’t know, but it does force you to ask many important questions to yourself, some that you might find surprising.  But the good thing is that it gets you to really think about your country and your government, and regardless of your political opinion, its better that we don’t fall apathetically into a localized world full of distractions.

Aside from the numerous memorials of past presidents and veterans that really get your mind pumping are the dozens of world class Smithsonian museums, chalked full of amazing artifacts, specimens and famous artworks that inspire an urge of greatness in your future plans; using a little common sense, I believe this to be true regardless of your gender, race, sexual orientation and especially, regardless of what age or what stage of life you are experiencing now.

We were only there for a day, and we saw a much as we could as we basically ran from one attraction to another.  We both decided that we need at least a week to see DC.

IMPORTANT FOR ANYONE THINKING OF SEEING WASHINGTON DC: One thing that we did not know until it was too late, contact your state representative several months before your trip, they’ll be able to get you into a tour of the White House, plus they’ll have a visitors packet that will come in handy and you might even be able to arrange to have lunch with them near the end of your visit so you can discuss some of the MANY ideas you’ll have by then.

May '10

The Greens that are Boring

Greensboro, commonly referred to as Greensboring by former resident, Justin, since he graduated high school here.  Though wisdom tells him that no matter what town you live in while you are in high school, its always going to be considered a drag.  But it was MUCH more fun this time around!

Susan Brogan took us out for Margaritas and showed us the old stomping grounds; its amazing to see how much the city has grown since 1998.  We enjoyed getting to know Jeremiah and Danny, both have turned out to be really good young men.  Jeremiah is moving to New York City for an exciting careers in brain surgery, he’s not holding the scalpel but we’re still impressed none-the-less having been fans of Grey’s Anatomy for all 6 seasons.   We had a great time with Susan, talking till well past mid-night.  We were bummed that Sarah and her new husband were out of town, but they are at a destination wedding in Cancun, Mexico…so we were happy for them as they must be having a great time!

May '10

Oh Atlanta!

What was originally planned as a one or two day stop in Atlanta to see Cindy turned out to be a week of good times, exploring the surrounds, playing baseball, hanging out with family.  Big Hank and Cindy made us feel right at home thanks to a particular sense of humor that we share, and Little Hank  and Justin played baseball for most of the days we were there.  Little Hank is quite the catcher, but wants to be a pitcher; in steps Justin.  Keep throwing EVERYDAY little Hank, work on accuracy by trying to throw through a milk crate sized box, after you master that…start throwing the heat! A little adult-supervised weight lifting will help with that.

Cindy somehow knew the kind of stuff that we’d like to do.  First she brought us to the Yellow River Game Park to see Deer, Buffalo, wild boar, and a slew of other animals that were all after our Graham Crackers.   Then she brought us to an amazing place called Stone Mountain; its like a mix of Ayers Rock in Australia, Mount Rushmore, Squaw Valley and Knotts Berry Farm all rolled into one perfectly executed park.  Then it was time for some authentic Jamaican cuisine.  Lastly she brought us to the in-door Farmers Market….this is like NO OTHER market ever.  If Grandpa Angelo were still alive, he’d be happy as winning Lotto ticket.  I’ve never seen such an extensive selection of FRESH seafood, such an extensive selection of  FRESH veggies, fruits, breads, meats, beer, wine, spices!!!!  it was like Christmas in the Kitchen. We were so sad that there is nothing like this in California; hopefully we can find a couple million dollars to open a massive farmers like this and show California how real cooking is done in Atlanta.

This place is a chef's dream. In fact, many of Atlanta's most respected Chefs buy ingredients here

Apr '10

Down on the Bayou

Louisiana is a surprisingly beautiful. As we drove on our way to see grandpa and grandma we couldn’t help but notice the lush green Bayous and waterways all around us. They stretched from corner to corner and act as a haven for all kinds of life.When showed up at my grandparents, with  Blue Crab Sauce from Galveston, TX (note to Barbato family: try using blue crab) and Louisiana beer in hand, we were are sure to ask how to get to the best Bayous in the area.

Grandpa and Grandma were lovley to see. They were very excited to hear about our Australia adventures and we got to enjoy hearing about grandpa’s past adventures as well, one of which was very notable, that being the time he was in Navy during WWII and accidently sunk up a whale. Him and his piolet spotted a large dark mass in the waters bleow, they called it in to find out there were no American subs in the region, and they were given the go ahead to destroy it. They quickly realized it was not a sub when many amount of carniage, namely blubbler, floated to the surface.

After a day of laughing, reminiscing, and looking through photos Justin and I ventured out to the Blue Bonnet Swamp, Grandpa’s reccomended Bayou. It was even better than anticipated and we would need a few pages to list out all of the animals we spotted. Some of the highlights were baby alligators, a red cardinal, dozens of snakes (it was mating season), and brilliant dragonflies.

Apr '10

That’s one small step for Cher, one giant leap for Cherkind.

We were just driving though Houston on our way to see Grandpa Gene and Grandma Bette in Baton Rouge when we saw a sign that pointed towards NASA Space Center.  The child inside me remembered how excited and envious I got when the kids on “Double Dare” would win a trip there, so we had to stop.  We toured the property and got to see inside MISSION CONTROL!!!!  Its looks just like you’d expect, you can imagine the energy of people cheering when Niel Armstrong stepped foot on the moon and the mass nail-biting when Apollo 13 announced, “Houston, we have a problem.”

We also got to see the training ground used by Astronauts that are going to the international space station, they have a full blown replica of the entire space station and space shuttle.  We caught a glimpe of some NASA engineers testing the legs of robot astronaut.

The Space Center was full of interactive exhibits that let you try your hand at a space shuttle flight simulator and space station equipment and lots of learning interesting stuff. did you know that the soil on the moon is made up of 41% Oxygen? and there is enough Helium 3 in 1 ton of moon dirt to power the United States for an entire year!!!!

p.s. Space food sucks

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