Monday, January 19, 2009

Charlestown, South Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia

Jan 19
We departed this morning from the Turko’s home. Bob cooked up breakfast for all of us, rivaling the Fred McMuffins and omelets at the Cunningham’s! Thom and Bob completed a project together yesterday putting up 6 mirrors in their gym. Janet was thrilled, since she uses the gym daily. Thom was glad to utilize his handyman skills….any opportunity to work with power tools make him happy. They invited us to attend their beautiful new Catholic Church, and the boys helped with a service project. All the kids brought food to donate to needy people and families, and they assembled food bags in Sunday school. This trip is giving us many opportunities to attend many different churches. We’ve attended Baptist, Episcopalian, non-denominational Christian, and the United Church of Canada in addition to Catholic. Some are small, while others are huge. Everyone always makes us feel welcome.
Thom just gave us a driving tour of Ft. Benning, GA where he lived for 3 years as a 2nd Lieutenant and Captain. It’s fun hearing him describe to the boys exactly where he trained for parachuting (airborne), and what is was like jumping out of planes at night. He talked about Ranger school as well. Thom was a West Point cadet at the time. Here he is 26 years later driving his motor coach, wife, and 4 boys through the Home of the Infantry.

Jan 17
It’s snowing in Atlanta! We keep heading south in search of warm weather, and record lows instead are experienced everywhere we go. Perhaps we’re the ones responsible for the cold that we’ve brought from Alaska.

We’re now in Roswell, Georgia visiting Bob and Janet Turko, and their boys Robbie (10) and Chris (9). We won’t get a chance to meet their daughter, Mary, who’s on a ski trip, but all the boys are getting along famously. Bob is another classmate of Thom’s from West Point, and we’re enjoying this long weekend together in their stunning home. The boys stayed up until 1 am, and then their boys had basketball games the following morning! From there, we had a great lunch at The Five Seasons (thanks Clipper and Dennis!), and drove out to Stone Mountain. The latter is an enormous chunk of granite, and we all hiked 30 minutes to the top. The boys all crashed much earlier in bed the second night!

Before arriving in Georgia, we visited many friends in South Carolina. First, we visited with Miles and Laura Huff, who Thom worked with about 15 years ago in NY. Laura’s now retired from the Air Force, and Miles is a culinary instructor at Trident Technical Institute in Charleston.
Miles gave us a tour through the impressive classrooms and kitchens, and showed us how to make an apple bird as an attractive garnish. Ben’s already made one for our host in Georgia! We also had a chance to meet Laura and Miles first grandchild, Ethan, who is now 8 months old and absolutely adorable.

After that, Thom took us out to Patriots’ Point and Ft. Moultre. This historic fort protected the port of Charleston back in the days of the American Revolutionary War through the Civil War, and up past World War II when we worried about German subs. It was here where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Confederate Army soldiers fired from Ft. Moultre upon Union soldiers who had given up command of Ft. Moultre and retreated to Ft. Sumter. We could see the tiny island of Ft. Sumter across the narrow harbor.

Next, we met up with our Alaska friends, the Brady Family, who have relocated to the Charleston area also. Mike, Cindy, Nicolaus, and Adam treated us to dinner and a fun visit. The boys headed for the nearest park, and later played Risk while the adults shared stories about life since Alaska. We wish we could have spent more time with all our dear South Carolina friends.

Prior to that, we stayed in Fayetteville, NC where we worked hard at school, and Thom made contact with two friends he hadn’t seen in quite awhile. Dennis Callahan, another West Point classmate, was astounded when he received Thom’s call. They caught up over lunch, and later, he and his wife Karen had us over for a delicious spaghetti dinner. Their children, Adam (14) and Hope (8) were terrific hosts and shared their electronic games with the Besch Boys. We continue to be overwhelmed with so much hospitality!

Thom also spent time with longtime Army buddy, Bob Clausson. Bob and his friend, Holly joined Thom for breakfast and they caught up with what’s happened over the past 20 years.

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