Nov 27

A Beef and Boards Christmas celebrates the season

Rudolph really can fly!

Rudolph really can fly!

One of the favorite holiday shows in Indiana is back on stage at Beef & Boards on Indy’s northwest side. This beloved variety show, celebrating a 24 year run, is known for its consistent quality. I think the 2016 version of the show actually raised the bar for the overall quality of the production.

Once again the show is hosted by Deb Wims and Kenny Shepard. This will be the last time you will be able to enjoy the heartwarming performance of this marvelous duo as Deb will soon be relocating with her family out-of-state.

The extremely talented principal singers this year is a quartet including Peter Scharbrough, Kyle Durbin, Betsy Norton and Cara Statham. Returning as the featured vocalist for the show is Kendra Lynn Lucas. Kendra brings an amazingly strong voice to all of her many songs. Music director Kristy Templet leads the B&B Orchestra, placed center stage. Several numbers feature just the orchestra which is a real treat.

Fancy costumes, great dancing and exciting song!

Fancy costumes, great dancing and exciting song!

You will be immersed in the spirit of the season during the show. The costumes are, well, stunning. I am still in awe of the number of costume changes! (Hats off to costume designer Jill Kelly Howe) Director/Choreographer Ron Morgan has put together a fabulous production. The action is nonstop and exciting.

Kendra Lynn Lucas center stage singing "O Holy Night"

Kendra Lynn Lucas center stage singing “O Holy Night”

My favorite numbers? I have to say I loved them all. OK, I loved the Grinch, Alvin and the Chipmunks and flying Rudolph. Each year I cherish Kendra Lynn Lucas belting out “O Holy Night”. Her passion flows out and envelopes the entire house with the Spirit of Christmas.

A Beef & Boards Christmas runs through December 23rd. Chef Odell Ward’s holiday buffet is a true culinary delight and is a great way to start your fun filled and joyous evening at indy’s beloved dinner theatre. For reservations you can call the box office at 317.872.9664 or visit the Beef & Boards website.

Nov 23

WWII Gun Emplacements Once Protected Puget Sound and Seattle

The Army had plans in place to upgrade the Puget Sound harbor defenses when the Japanese attacked Pearl
Harbor on December 7, 1941. The attack prompted a feverish scramble to implement those WWII plans.

Fort Ebey was constructed from 1942 to 1944. It overlooked the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the open Pacific
Ocean. It was the first of a series of defensive positions that also included forts Casey, Worden and
Flagler, also on Puget Sound.

One of the gun turret foundations

One of the two gun turret foundations that still look over Puget Sound

Historic Fort Ebey State Park on Widbey Island is home to the remains of Battery 248 of the Coast Artillery
Regiment of the Washington National Guard. The guns are gone, having been melted down for scrap at the end
of the war. What remains, however, are the two circular gun emplacements and the supporting large concrete
bunker where ammunition, powder bags, and other equipment was stored.

The bunker is open to the public. A flashlight is a good companion if you venture into the bunker, as the
rooms are not provided with any lights. You will see the massive steel doors on the powder rooms as well
as the concrete pads where the three large generators were placed.

In front of the bunker towards the edge of the steep cliff you will see the forward observation bunker. A
narrow slit provided a panoramic view of the waters. No ships could enter the Sound without being spotted.

Forward observation post

Forward observation post

Date on the main bunker entrance

Date on the main bunker entrance

The main armament of the fort was provided by two guns on swivel turrets. These guns fired a 108 pound
shell with a range of 15 miles. The 26 man gun crews could fire a round every 12 seconds.

Take a step back in time with a visit to Fort Ebey State Park. Walk where the artillerymen walked. Explore
the bunker. Stand near the forward observation position and imagine being on the lookout for enemy ships
trying to invade the Puget Sound.

Day passes are only $10, with a yearly pass available for $30. More information about Fort Ebey State Park may be found at the park website.

Nov 06

The Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky


The Museum building


The working carousel

Early "Armored Horse"

Early “Armored Horse”

Sandusky, Ohio is home to a fascinating museum devoted to the history of the carousel and merry-go-round. You will be amazed at the history of the different styles of animals used throughout the years. There are so many subtle variations within the different styles.

Another feature is a full sized and working carousel within the building. Go ahead, enjoy a ride on this marvelous piece of history. It was purchased in the 1990’s. No animals came with the ride, and museum staff lovingly added animals from the onsite collection as well as loaned animals from private collections.

The museum is in the old Post Office building and there have even been some paranormal activity reported within the museum! Here is the museum website with all information including open hours, etc.

Oct 29

Pie at Blue Springs Cafe

If you are driving on Interstate 70 around the St. Louis, Missouri or Highland, Illinois area you will want to be sure and stop at the Blue Springs Cafe. We saw their signs advertising their famous foot high pies as we were traveling on Interstate 70 from Indianapolis to St. Louis. We couldn’t resist stopping for a middle of the afternoon treat and we are so glad we did. The pie is delicious. I had blackberry pie with a scope of ice cream and my husband had the coconut cream pie. Of course we both had to sample each others and both were worth stopping for.

Next time we travel on I-70 we are going to plan our trip so we can eat dinner at the Blue Springs Cafe. The food looked so good and is served family style.

The Blue Springs Cafe is open daily from 11:00am until 9:00pm. They are located at exit 30 in Highland, IL. For more information the website is They get a 5 star rating from me on the pies and am looking forward to dinner on our next trip through the area.

Oct 28

The colossal statue of King Neptune on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Compare Neptune's size to the bike rider!

Compare Neptune’s size to the bike rider!

September of 2005 saw the grand unveiling of an awesome sight on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Where 31st Street intersects Atlantic Avenue, a 34′ tall bronze statue of the famous King Neptune gazes over the city as he emerges from the depths of the sea. Well, OK, he maybe isn’t coming out of the sea but he is sure impressive!

The artwork is the masterpiece of artist Paul DiPasquale’ a well known sculptor from Richmond, Virginia. Neptune grips his trident in his right hand while he “palms” a huge sea turtle in his left hand. He is surrounded by many other seas creatures, including dolphins and a massive octopus. The details in both Neptune and the sea creatures are breathtaking. This statue is adjacent to Neptune’s Park, site of many events held on the beach during both the summer season and the off season as well.

Neptune and his turtle

Neptune and his turtle

The octopus on the statue base

The octopus on the statue base

A trip to meet King Neptune is a must when you visit Virginia Beach, Virginia. You will be impressed!

Oct 26

Bardstown, Kentucky’s old jail is a real trip back in time

Thick walls and narrow windows of the jail

Thick walls and narrow windows of the jail

Bardstown, Kentucky is in Nelson County and is in the heart of the Kentucky Bourbon industry. Bardstown is also home to one of the oldest jails in the area. The original jail structure (now called the front jail) was erected in 1819 and was used until 1874 to house prisoners. In 1874 the “back jail” was built and held inmates until 1987. During this time the front jail was the jailer’s residence. The facility is now a Bed and Breakfast using the rooms in the old residence.

The history of this place is fascinating. You can (for a fee) take a tour of the back jail, with many of the jail cells untouched since the last prisoners left in 1987. There are original photos, some of which show the last hanging that took place in 1894 in the yard in back of the jail.

The structure is quite the fortress! The walls are every bit of 30 inches thick with large metal bars covering the narrow windows. There are mason’s marks on the huge stones where hooks were used to move them into place during the construction. The original wall surrounding the back yard is complete with massive solid metal gates.

There are some nice RV parks in the area, including My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Be sure to check out the old jail and the other attractions in and around Bardstown.

Hood and shackles for the 1894 hanging

Hood and shackles for the 1894 hanging

Back of the jail where the gallows were for the last hanging in 1894

Back of the jail where the gallows were for the last hanging in 1894

Oct 25

The haunted Willard Library

Willard Library reading room

Willard Library reading room

Evansville, Indiana is home to one of the most documented haunted structures in the country. The library,  a private enterprise, opened in 1881. The beautiful building is filled with period furnishings and some magnificent interior wood work. Here is the main library website. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

The Willard library started its journey as a haunted site in the 1930’s. A custodian was greeted one evening by the vision of an apparition that is now known as “The Gray Lady”. This translucent form has made many more appearances throughout the decades and has been seen by many. No one knows for sure who this ghost is nor the reason for her continued presence in the library.

One thing for certain is the fact that strange and unexplained happenings have and continue to occur in the building. Water faucets have mysteriously found to be opened, books have been moved and other objects have been found in new places. No one feels that the lady is malevolent but her identity remains a mystery.

2nd floor conference room

2nd floor conference room

One of the "Ghost Cams"

One of the “Ghost Cams”

Some feel that other spirits other than the Gray Lady also haunt the library. Interest in the hauntings have resulted in many paranormal investigations. Photographic evidence abounds that shows what many think can only be apparitions.

The library has installed several “ghost cams” that are functional 24/7/365. A trip to the ghost cam website allows you to participate in anytime ghost hunting!. Go ahead, open up the Willard Library Ghost Cam website and maybe you’ll see the Gray Lady!

Oct 18

Some nice fall Indiana festivals

Our set up at Atlanta Earth Days

Our set up at Atlanta Earth Days

Indiana offers some really nice fall festivals that are suitable for the entire family. Depending upon your home location, many of these will be a great event for a one day outing.

Atlanta Earth Days has been a tradition in central Indiana for years. Entertainment and hundreds of craft and merchandise vendors set up all over town. You can find anything for sale at this exciting shopping event. Bands also perform, and there are tons of food vendors scattered throughout the town. Thousands of folsk take advantage of this iconic festival each year.

Atlanta is just minutes north of Indianapolis. Here is their website.

The Cataract Bean Festival is held the first weekend in October in the tiny town of Cataract, Indiana. Home to the Cataract Falls State Recreation Area, the site is perfect for a fun event. The Cataract Volunteer Fire Department puts on the event which is their fundraising project each year.

Over 700 pound of beans are cooked over open fires in huge cast iron kettles. Served with cornbread, the firefighters always sell out each day! In addition to local entertainment, one of the highlights is the huge open air market. Crafts and flea market vendors fill nearly every open spot in the town. In addition you’ll find the full range of food concessions set up. Here is the VFD website.

Fort Vallonia Days in Jackson County is also one of those huge festivals set in a tiny town. Each year this festival continues a decades long tradition of providing a wholesome family event. The normal crowd size reaches nearly 30,000 people! Running for two days, Saturday is the day of the large parade that is fun for kids of all ages.

Hundreds of vendors are set up selling all kinds of goods. You can find inexpensive new merchandise, great antiques and lots of beautiful handmade crafts. Food? You bet! There are all the usual food concession trailers scattered around the town. Here is the Fort Vallonia Days website.

Oct 09

Beef & Boards takes you Into the Woods

Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci), right, asks for a loaf of bread from the Baker (Don Farrell), left, and his wife (Meaghan Sands), center, in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Photo courtesy B&B media

Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci), right, asks for a loaf of bread from the Baker (Don Farrell), left, and his wife (Meaghan Sands), center, in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Photo courtesy B&B media

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre ventures into new territory this fall with its production of Into the Woods, the Stephen Sondheim musical version of classic Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. This production first hit the Broadway stage in 1987 with multiple Tony Awards to its credit. Disney made a movie of the tale in 2014.

This striking production takes beloved fairy tales through two different stages. The first act brings the familiar story lines to the audience with music and clever comedy. Cinderella wants to attend the “festival”, Little Red Ridinghood is off to Granny’s house with a basket of goodies, Jack (of beanstalk fame) wants his cow to give milk and the baker and his wife want a baby. Rapunzel is also looking for a suitor to save her from her life in the tower. Happily ever after comes at the conclusion of Act 1.

Act 2 explores what occurs after “Happily Ever After”. Decisions have consequences is the theme of the often dark side of the continuation of the story lines. Let me just say that events that occur in Act 2 do not always fit into a “Happily” ever after definition.

The live orchestra brings vibrant music to the many songs performed for this production. The acting is superb with realistic character development. The set design for the woods is moody to fit, including the moving turntable that gives the illusion of the characters covering long distances as they weave in and out through the trees. You’ll feel the impact of the footsteps of the giants as well!

The Wolf (Timothy Ford) encounters Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci) as she journeys to her grandmother’s house. Photo courtesy B&B media

The Wolf (Timothy Ford) encounters Little Red Ridinghood (Jaddy Ciucci) as she journeys to her grandmother’s house. Photo courtesy B&B media

The costumes both set the stage and fit the characters. Of special note is the incredible makeup for the Witch. Her face will bring an unsettling vision to your eyes. Likewise the frightening presentation of the Wolf as he stalks Red Riding Hood will both delight and scare.

Please note that this performance is recommended for audiences age 13 and above.

Into the Woods is on stage through Nov. 20 in the intimate space of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. Tickets range from $41 to $66 and include Chef Odell Ward’s dinner buffet and select beverages. Parking is always free. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664 anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays. Go to the Beef & Boards website for complete details.

Jul 27

Virginia Beach Steak & Shake falls way short in quality of service

We were very disappointed with our stop at the Steak and Shake at 1676 General Booth Virginia Beach, Virginia. Sher and I were with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter looking for a place to grab a bite of lunch. Normally we enjoy Steak and Shake. This restaurant fell far short of the usual good service provided by this chain.

The problems began with the “host” who thought our party of five was a party of two, thus giving two tables to larger parties who arrived after us. Once seated (rather crowded in a booth designed for four) our waitress took our drink orders. After a long wait, drinks arrived. Two of our four shakes were not even close to what was ordered. The waitress took the drinks  back after she took our food order.

As served, very thin patties, no lettuce, tomato or onion

As served, very thin patties, no lettuce, tomato or onion

The food took a long time to arrive, and our son’s double came plain without the fixings as was ordered. He said bring the tomato, lettuce and onion on a plate instead of sending the sandwich back. The meat patties were also very very thin, much thinner than normal. (See picture)

Sher never did get her shake during the time we all ate. The waitress said that she had to get the reorder in line and it took that long. Hmm…You would think that a mistake would be corrected first.

This restaurant opened in September of 2015, Management better sharpen things up if it wants to stay open. As of now, I would have to say avoid the Steak and Shake on General Booth Blvd. in Virginia Beach.

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