Merced, California: So, Sweet Reader, we once again find ourselves in the boyhood hometown of DT. It is a three hour (or so) drive from Bakersfield to Merced on Highway 99. Straight. Flat. Boring. We only stopped once – at a rest area for lunch, but even in a barely-maintained rest area I was able to find something very interesting.

Well… interesting to me.

I think the yellow rose is just simply the most beautiful flower G-d ever created… except for the peony… or lilac… hydrangea… or maybe lavender. Okay. Obviously the jury is still out on my flower decision, but a yellow rose is pure beauty. This little rest area had gorgeous climbing roses clinging to a back fence. Stunning.

See? I’m not the only creature to enjoy a yellow rose.

The family gathered tonight to celebrate DT’s birthday. Brother Bill and Ginger prepared a feast for royalty! Ginger is not only a gourmet cook – she also keeps a gorgeous garden.

More roses! Notice the rain drops? Yes, it is raining in the San Joaquin Valley. I wore jeans and a sweater tonight for the first time since… gee… about six weeks ago.

No flip-flops tonight.

Dave’s only cousin on his Mom’s side is here from New York. Susan (in jean jacket) and her husband, Tim (far right) and their children – Samantha and Timmy – traveled cross-country in their RV!

Our niece, Kira, and Samantha are really hitting it off.

Bill grilled a roast he had marinated in Tuscan spices.

Ginger prepared fettuccini alfredo, roast asparagus and a caprese salad. The food was outstanding. We drank delicious wines too. Bill & Ginger’s daughter, Meghan, sang for us after dinner. Meghan sang “Think of Me” from the Phantom of the Opera.

Meghan is a classically-trained singer… and she also sang “Happy Birthday” to her Uncle Dave.

DT’s Mom baked a birthday cake!

Oh Oh. Looks like someone is the speed limit.

Wait a minute. How many days have we been celebrating his birthday anyway?

People of his advanced age can no longer blow out their own candles.

Uncle Dave needed help.

Until my next update, I remain, your “anyone notice the leg lamp” correspondent.

RV Park:  Castle Air Museum Family Camp (in Atwater, California). The only game in town. We always stay here. It actually used to be a parking lot – but the Air Museum added eight 50-amp full-hookup campsites. It floods during a rainstorm. No bath house. No wifi. We love it here. Dogs allowed off-leash. Very casual. Quiet.

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