14. August 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

We took a long weekend and headed up to Atlanta. It’s about a 5.5 hour drive with no stops, plus we have a time zone change. We had nice seats at a Sunday afternoon Atlanta Braves game, and we booked a hotel room at a Comfort Inn right next to Turner Field, so we didn’t have to deal with (or pay for) parking.

Other than the Sunday afternoon baseball game, we had all of Atlanta to explore with our sons — but admittedly they were mostly interested in the baseball. We ended up taking advantage of a same-day ticket promotion the Braves Baseball club has for military members: 2-for-1 Upper Box tickets. So we will see two games this weekend.  More about that later.

Last night when we rolled into town, I dragged the family to one of Atlanta’s most famous restaurants, The Varsity. Those fans of Rick Sebak documentaries will recognize this restaurant from his 1999 A Hot Dog Program.

Tangent: That documentary fascinates me.  I’m not a huge fan of hot dogs, necessarily, but I will admit that I enjoy a hot dog on occasion, and more than the food itself is the culture and the people that go into all the unique hot dog stands/restaurants across the country.  Not that I’m necessarily keeping a list, but The Varsity is the 2nd of the restaurants featured on the program.  We visited Gray’s Papaya in Manhattan in November 2005.  Cheapest lunch in Manhattan!  And a trip to the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island is on my bucket list.  Really, it is!

But back to The Varsity: Dave and I will be the first to admit, the food isn’t earth-shatteringly good.  You aren’t going for gourmet cuisine…you’re going for the fast, cheap (dinner for 4 = ~$25!), consistent food.  And the atmosphere!  Folk who’ve been there before will all warn you: at the front counters where you order is a cacophony of “Whaddaya have?  Whaddaya have?” from the dozens of employees all wearing their trademark red paper hats (which are available to the customers).

The drive-in was put near Georgia Tech and on a GT football game weekend is one of the busiest spots in Atlanta — the brick building in the background is on Georgia Tech’s campus, in fact.

A good old fashioned drive-in — America’s largest, in fact!  The drive in part is a cash-only operation as you are paying and getting change from the bellhops directly.  The food is brought to you on one of those trays they clip to your car door.

I didn’t get a picture of the front entrance, but this is the just-as-retro side entrance.  Here’s a picture of the street-side entrance.

There isn’t much to the menu.  Hot dogs, burgers, and that chicken sandwich in the lower right corner.  There are a few other things, but really…not much.  They have this orange frosty drink that I wish I had tried, supposed to taste like orange sherbert!  You can also get a feel for how (relatively) cheap meals are — this is downtown Atlanta, where McDonald’s combo meals cost the same!

The paper hats are available to anyone.  The kids enjoyed wearing them with dinner.

This was my dinner….the #1 Combo.  No points for presentation, that’s for sure.  But lots of points for the look and taste of a classic chili dog dinner!  You probably can’t see through the chili and mustard, but the buns are sliced down the center instead of split side-wise like buns you purchase at a grocery store.

Timmy got the #6 combo: Two “naked” dogs.  He loved that!  You can see better the unusually-split hot dog buns on his plate.  Timmy devoured his dogs and called them the best dogs he’d ever had — and he’s had a lot of hot dogs in his life!

Dave and Jacob had burgers…and Jacob had this chili-cheeseburger that was REALLY a heart-attack on a plate!  Jacob loved the hot-dog style chili so much he asked if he could get a bowl of it in addition to his dinner combo.  Sadly, they only come as side condiments, but being the ever-doting mother that I am, I bought him two little cups of the chili (for $0.80 total) and he ate those.

And then I bought a can of it to take home.  It’s clearly hot dog chili, not really meant to be eaten by the bowlful.  Jacob’s still not convinced of that…after we have that can, I found this Crock Pot recipe that I’ll be trying out for sure!

Jacob wants to go back before the end of the weekend, but Dave and I aren’t sure our GI systems will ensure two trips in one weekend.  We still are planning a trip to Dwarf House before we go home on Monday…

The verdict?  The Varsity is full of history, and their classic chili dogs are an Atlanta tradition that’s worth trying.  It’s cheap, family friendly and close to Atlanta’s biggest tourist attractions.  Worth a visit!

08. July 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,
Easter 2011.

I’ve gotta admit it — my boys travel VERY VERY VERY well. From Jacob and the Amtrak Auto Train to see family at 9 months old, to Timmy and a trip up to North Carolina to find a new house at 4 months old, our boys have learned that long automobile trips are part of the military lifestyle…

I also have to admit that I really enjoy traveling and I like to think that I travel pretty well. But probably not as well as I used to travel, when I’d work a full Air Force day and then hop in the car and drive from Fort Polk, LA to Keesler AFB, MS to spend the weekend with Dave while he was TDY.

(Oops, did I say that out loud?)

Right after Christmas 2006, I took the boys on a 2-week trip to New York and New Hampshire to give Dave some time to prepare for his comprehensive exams while he was at NC State. People thought I was CRAZY, but it turned out to be a really great trip.

January 2006.  Jacob has always been such an angel in the car!

Last month Dave and I parted ways about halfway through our vacation.  I continued northward to Vermont, while Dave caught a flight out of Harrisburg back home since he had to return to work.  Again, folks commented about how brave I am…or how crazy I am to make such trips on my own.

I love driving.  I guess I get it from my Dad.  My sister is the same way — after all, she and her husband drove with their THREE sons from North Carolina to Nevada, taking a “southern route” westbound and a “northern route” (including our house in Nebraska) when they returned eastbound.

In every other way, traveling solo with my sons was great.  I only had one issue: rest stop restrooms.

I’ve put up a blog poll about this before: At what age is your child old enough to go into a public restroom on his/her own?

I believe most of my responses were in the 7- to 8-year-old range.

So here I am, stopping on I-81, the New York State Thruway and I-65 rest areas and was just sending my sons into the restrooms.  But I was GLUED to the exit door waiting for them…my ears were really close to that doorway listening for them making sure they weren’t abducted.

Since I made it back to Florida with both boys in tow, it’s safe to assume that my sons survived the rest area restrooms.  But this leg of the trip certainly got me thinking about how single parents do it — traveling and trusting their babies in roadside restrooms.

Some other tips on how we handled the 50+ hours in the car with two young boys:

  • I will admit, we have the built-in DVD player.  But we put some planning into how much the kids use it.  For starters, we have a “30-minute rule” in our SUV: no movies unless we’re traveling more than 30 minutes.  But on longer road trips, I insist that the boys put some space between their movies, especially of there are particularly scenic parts to the trip (such as driving through downtown Atlanta or crossing the Hudson River on this last trip).
  • I will also admit (boy, I’m doing a lot of “admitting” here, aren’t I?) that my boys have Nintendo DSi’s (pardon the apostrophe, not sure whether it’s used here like this or what….).  On the first day of our road trip, I didn’t give much thought to Jacob having played his DSi for nearly the entire day’s worth of driving!  And that was a long day!  Oops…
  • Don’t rule out good-old fashioned road trip games: The License Plate Game, Auto Bingo, and I Spy are all family favorites!  
  • I’ve heard of other families doing this with success, you could try using the rest area or fuel stops as break points between media: perhaps 2 hours for a DVD, then 2 hours of Nintendo, then 2 hours of “looking out the window”.
  • With young kids, don’t forget to try to work in some activity time to make the hours of sitting less terrible.  Stop for lunch at a Chick-Fil-A with a kids’ play area, or find a rest stop on your route with a playground and pack a picnic lunch.  Dave and I used to frequent the Amtrak Auto Train station in Lorton, VA as a rest area when we’d make our drives from North Carolina to Pennsylvania or New York: there’s a nice playground, and at lunchtime the kids would enjoy seeing the vehicles getting loaded onto the train cars.
08. July 2011 · Comments Off on Road Trip 2011: Wanderlust Yoga and Music Festival · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,
This is our just-finished-packing-on-the-first-warm-day-of-our-campout-pooped picture. 

Meet Megan, who was my college roommate for my last two years at PSU.  She has a son about Jacob’s age.  Every couple of years we try to get together to hang out.  We aren’t formal about it or anything, but in recent years we’ve been able to take turns with visits and the last time we spent time together was at Dave’s family reunion in 2008 (I think it was 2008….).

So this time it was the Vollmers’ turn to make a trip up a bit closer to Megan; we discussed getting together for a mother/son campout somewhere between Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.  The Poconos and Catskills came to mind.  Megan found out that her favorite music group, Michael Franti and Spearhead, were headlining the Wanderlust Yoga Festival near Stratton, Vermont at the same time we were planning to get together.  We decided to go!

Michael Franti’s uplifting music is a lot of fun to listen to, his most recent album, The Sound of Sunshine, is so full of fun and happiness.  His band is well known for their Top 20 hit “Say Hey (I Love You)“.

We met up at Bald Mountain Campground near Townshend, Vermont.  The weather was pretty rainy and cool most of our time there, with high temperatures near 60F.  I wrote more about the camping itself earlier this week.

I will be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest yoga enthusiast!  I have gone to classes before, I know the basic moves, and I guess I’m okay at it.  When I saw the other music groups involved there turned out to be a couple of bands that my sister really likes and have heard before and cinched even more that it would be a good time.

Because of the kids (and our lack of enthusiasm for yoga), we didn’t sign up for any yoga classes but there was still plenty to do before the music.  I think it was in part due to the rain, but the concert went later than we thought, and I have to admit my kids were pretty tired by the time it started.  And they were wet.  But when they broke out several dozen beach balls to toss around the crowds during the song “Sound of Sunshine“, the kids suddenly got pretty happy!  Enjoy some pictures from our day!

The festival was held at the Stratton Ski Resort village, these stilt-walkers were roaming the festival.

I thought these pop-up recycling bins were cool.  One of the openings was actually for compost!

A circus performer was teaching the kids to spin plates, use “diabolos“, and juggle beanbags 

An acrobatic act was going on right in front of us while the kids were enjoying their juggling lessons.

Another stilt-walker.  Note the low clouds coming over the mountain — it rained off and on all day.

Michael Franti led a yoga session.  We stood at the back of the tent and listened.

These are the Mayapuris, a Krishna-inspired kirtan band from Alachua, Florida.  Their music was so wonderful!   

I only had my iPhone camera on this trip, so it was working extra hard to capture concert pictures after sunset!  Here’s Michael Franti himself!
04. July 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

This week we have friends from North Carolina visiting: Maryann (AKA Fotomom), Joey and Johnny.  Jacob and Joey were in the same preschool from 2005-2008 and were two peas in a pod, while Timmy and Johnny were best buddies as the respective little brothers.  We took dozens of great road trips together!

Joey and Johnny obviously knew about the trip (they were getting on a plane, how could they not?) but we kept the visit a big surprise from my boys until they saw their friends in the baggage claim area at Pensacola Airport last night.

Johnny couldn’t get over how short Timmy’s hair is!

It took Jacob a few minutes to sink in that his friends are really here!

On the way back from the airport, I gave Fotomom a challenge: to photograph the famous Pensacola Beach sign in the dark.  I slowed down the truck to about 30 mph and Maryann gave it a shot with a “sports” setting on her Canon camera.  I love it!

It’s so incredibly gaudy I LOVE IT!  Photo: Maryann G. (Fotomom)

I love that sign because it reminds me of Vegas.  The yellow emblem’s lights radiate outwards, and the lights in the words “Pensacola Beach” sparkle.

It reminds me of those old-fashioned Holiday Inn signs:

02. July 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,
This is what much of my drive up I-59 and I-81 looked like last month.

If you’re unfamiliar with the southeastern U.S., you might have never seen this.  Having lived in North Carolina for 3 years, there were areas where we came to expect it.

So…what is kudzu?  You can read the details, from the taxonomy to the history, on Wikipedia.  To summarize, kudzu is an Asian-native vine that was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s and was encouraged as a soil-erosion control near interstate highways.  Today, the vine is significantly invasive, covering complete mountainsides throughout the Appalachians.

I saw it all over the place on our drive up I-59 and I-81…and it was disturbingly fascinating seeing it in its prime after living in non-kudzu-infested Nebraska for 2 1/2 years.  The vines allegedly can grow one FOOT per day…and there are even legends of folks hearing the vine as it grows!  It covers hillsides, meadows, trees, buildings, power poles and even electrical lines like an enormous plush green blanket.

Kudzu is indeed edible, and on Alton Brown’s 2006 television special Feasting on Asphalt, Brown stopped in Cashiers, NC and demonstrated how you can cut the youngest leaves for salad.  Kudzu is also used to make jelly, soaps and lotions.  The Asians have claimed kudzu’s medicinal benefits.

There’s been recent research about letting cattle graze on kudzu, both as an attempt to control the plant, but also for the benefit of the cattle, since it would be cheap, nutritious feed.  Others have come up with ways to profit from kudzu.

This biking blogger offers some more history and perspective on the weed.  In particular like the map he cites showing the kudzu growth areas in the U.S.

02. July 2011 · Comments Off on Road Trip 2011: A Test and a Cute Picture · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

This is a test to see if my e-mail customers are getting my posts.  Meanwhile enjoy this picture of the boys shoveling coal at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania:

02. July 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

Yes, these posts are hideously out of order, but I’m writing them in the order of ease of collecting my thoughts.  Sorry about that 🙂  Maybe I’ll force the dates around some when I’m all done.

We started out in Greenville, SC on the last day of our road trip.  It was about 2 1/2 hours to Atlanta and I had the kids think nice and early about what they’d like for lunch.

Tangent: I learned this nice and early in our roadtrip — I let the kids choose at one point and the request was for Taco Bell.  I plugged “Taco Bell” into our GPS and we had passed one about 20 miles back…and there were NO MORE Taco Bells on our route for the next couple hours.  So I learned to have the kids decide at least an hour in advance.

Anyway, since we were going through Atlanta, I figured we’d have no problem finding what the kids were looking for…

…and then they requested Chick-Fil-A!  Seriously!

For my non-US readers, the Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich was invented in Atlanta.

(Okay, actually it was invented in Hapeville, GA, but that’s right outside of Atlanta).

A light bulb went off in my head!  Why not take the boys to the “original” Chick Fil A restaurant.  And that’s what we did.  Luckily, The Dwarf House is less than a mile off our interstate highway route.

The Dwarf Grill was opened by S. Truett Cathy and his brother in 1946.  It was essentially a basic short-order grill diner, serving basics such as burgers and sandwiches.  In 1967 Chick-Fil-A restaurants began to appear in mall food courts, featuring the chicken sandwich that was made very popular at the Dwarf House.  The restaurant chain has grown to more than 1,500 retail outlets, in malls, airports, hospitals and stand-alone restaurants.  It’s one of my kids’ favorite places to eat.

We got to The Dwarf House right at 11am and we chose to eat in the diner area right in front of the Seven Dwarves animated mural.  By the time we left 45 minutes later, there was quite a line to be seated.  This restaurant is across from the Delta corporate offices and I’m guessing a lot of the patrons were from there.

Note the short front door.  There’s a regular sized door on the side, but most customers use that little red door, which is about as tall as Timmy.
It’s a full service diner, made for a nice lunch experience.

Along with the other diner fare, you can get the full Chick-Fil-A menu as a “platter” with two sides.

This is my yucky iPhone picture of the animated Seven Dwarves.  The dwarves are moving along a bicycle-chain-type conveyor from home to the mines.

Jacob loves the Spicy Chicken Sandwich.  Everything (except the milkshake that you see on the far right) was served on china with real silverware.

Timmy got nuggets with waffle fries.

The waitress we had was so sweet, I meant to take a picture of her with the boys, but I didn’t, sorry.  She brought little stuffed cows for the boys after lunch.  I asked for a bunch more for Dave’s squadron (they use the Holstein cow as their mascot).

01. July 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Last weekend the boys and I bid farewell to Dave in Harrisburg headed up to the Stratton, Vermont area for some camping with my dear friend (and former college roommate) Megan and her son Aidan. Some mother/son bonding time was had by all 🙂

We had a great time catching up — we last saw Megan in 2008 and Aidan had grown up so much!  Literally, he must be a head taller than Jacob, and they’re only about 3 months apart in age.

It was chilly and rainy most of the weekend. Every day the forecast called for clearing the next day, but then it remained drizzly and cloudy. Ugh! It cleared up our last evening there, and by then the firewood was too wet to burn.  Were it not for the lousy weather, I’d have called it a perfect weekend! The kids got along very well together.

Our trip to the Wanderlust Yoga & Music festival will be saved for another post, but for now here are some pictures of our camping trip, and then enjoy my semi-made-up dump cake recipe for the Dutch oven.

Our set up for 3 days.  No complaints about our tent or the temperatures.  At least it wasn’t a cold rain.  The canopy was a godsend for  keeping the table dry for meals.

This is a white admiral butterfly fluttering near the fire ring.  Common in New England.

Jacob and Aidan were teaching Timmy how to play catcher.  We purposefully chose a tent site near a field so the boys could play baseball.  They played for hours all weekend…this was a game they were playing as soon as they woke up, they’re in their pajamas still.

Our one and only hike at Townshend State Park, which was cut short due to the trail crossing a creek that was running so high and fast I didn’t trust Timmy making it across.

Dave had the good camera, all of these camping shots were taken with my iPhone.

Since the hike was cut short, the boys could spend extra time skipping stones across the creek.

Since it was too wet to make a fire for the hot dogs, we used our camp stove.  Corn steaming on the left, dogs/brats and rice pilaf (cooking on the backpacking stove on the right) for dinner.

Now that you’re drooling from our camp dinner, let’s talk about what we did for dessert.

I had brought along my Dutch oven. I have a 10″ Lodge footed Dutch oven with a brimmed lid.  I’ve owned it since 1997 or so, it’s been great for Civil War reenacting meals and with enough care, I’ve been able to use it to cook on modern family campouts too.

Because of the lousy weather, Megan and I weren’t sure whether we’d use the Dutch oven at all, but on Sunday at the grocery store, I quickly grabbed some cake mix and pie filling and decided to throw together an easy dump cake.

I recalled this popular dump cake recipe, which I’d seen variations of many times, so I brought it up on my iPhone while in the grocery store and did my best to remember the ingredients after I lost the signal.

Except I forgot about the pineapple.  That’s okay, because we had strawberries and blueberries.

Coleman now makes these nifty Dutch oven liners that are essentially large circles of parchment.  No more crazy cleaning!  I put 1 can of cherry pie filling, 1/2 pint of fresh (local) strawberries cut up, and 1/2 pint of fresh blueberries into the pot.  I considered stopping here and just serving fruit for dessert, this looked so pretty 🙂

Take one box of yellow cake mix…

And cut one stick of butter into 8-12 pieces.

“Dump” the cake mix on top of the fruit.

Then dot the mix with the pieces of butter.  Like my berry-stained hands???

Do your best to even things out, but I was seriously winging it here so pardon that this isn’t very pretty.

Now what?  Before I “dumped” the ingredients into the pot, we had fired up a pile of charcoal briquettes.  This website provides some great tips on how to convert the amount of heat you need into the number of greyed-over briquettes.

Since I’ve baked cobblers and biscuits in this Dutch oven many times, I remembered that I needed 24 briquettes, with 14 on the top and 10 on the bottom, to replicate 350F for 30-45 minutes.  Set that in your campsite fire pit and go enjoy your dinner!

The parts of the Dutch oven right over/under charcoal briquettes will become local hotspots, so it’s important to rotate the oven every 15 minutes or so for even baking.  Turn the lid 90 degrees AND rotate the oven over the top coals by 90 degrees in the OPPOSITE direction.

Here is the finished product after 45 minutes…there were some areas of dry cake mix remaining, and that’s my lack of even butter distribution, sorry 🙂

A nice big closeup pic for your enjoyment.  The butter melts and combines with the cake mix and fruit juices to make this super-sweet gooey dessert!

Now I wish I had at least picked up a tub of Cool Whip or a can of Redi-Whip….this was SO SWEET!  But delicious!

Sadly, this was our leftover cake.  It’s very very rich…a little goes a long way.  Megan was able to pick up the whole piece of parchment and plop it into a storage container to take home the following morning.
01. July 2011 · Comments Off on Road Trip 2011: A Few Hours at Penn State…. · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

We had an invitation up to visit a famous (in N-scale model railroading circles) basement model railroad in Lewistown, PA, while we were in Hershey for the N-Scale Convention.  I asked if we could “swing by” Penn State at least for lunch and some souvenir shopping.  Lewistown is about 1/2 hour southeast of Penn State.

We had a good time, with lunch at The Corner Room, stops at our favorite souvenir stores (Student Book Store, Family Clothesline and McClanahan’s), and of course pictures at the Nittany Lion!

The boys had fun posing all over the lion.  Then we used a nearby garbage can as a poor-man’s tripod to get a nice family shot.  I was quite impressed!

We wrapped up our short visit with a trip to the Creamery*…yum!

I’m a bad bad Penn State alumna — I didn’t bring PSU clothing for the boys on our trip.  They didn’t get new t-shirts until about 2 hours after this picture.

This fine photo is courtesy of a well-placed garbage can near the Lion.
30. June 2011 · Comments Off on Road Trip 2011: Tornado Season 2011 Up Close… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

The route we planned from Florida to Pennsylvania took us right across some of the destruction paths from this past spring’s Tornado “Superoutbreak” of April 25-28.  On this trip I crossed three of this past spring’s tornado paths, each are discussed below.

While part of me as a “weather weenie” finds a fascination in getting to see a tornado in action (I’ve never seen one…but that’s for another discussion), I also find incredible sorrow in seeing what can get left in it wake and the pure helplessness society experiences about it.  You rarely can get more than 10 minutes’ notice once landfall has been detected, and if the tornado is large enough (such as with Joplin, MO), even 10 minutes won’t help save your valuables; the best you can do is protect yourself.

The pictures here are not mine, we proceeded so quickly through each of these areas I didn’t have the time to get the camera ready.

This experience also had me thinking about those poor folks who were innocently driving on I-59, I-81 or I-91 and suddenly a tornado screams across in their path!  I also thought about all the victims, dead and alive, and the families dealing with the aftereffects.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

About a week before I left for my vacation, a college friend had sent me some pictures from his trips to Joplin, Missouri to help clean up.

Joplin, Missouri.  This isn’t my friend’s picture, but his are VERY similar!
After this once-in-a-generation awful tornado season, here’s hoping for a safe and effective cleanup and recovery.
The Red Cross is still working with victims of all these storms — please take a moment to consider helping out, either by donating supplies through a local charity collection, or else via the American Red Cross website itself.  You can also text “REDCROSS” to the number 90999 for a quick and easy $10 donation to be added to your cell phone bill.  This is a contribution to their generic disaster relief fund, which is also supporting the midwest flooding and southwest wildfire relief efforts.

Trenton, GA

Remnants of home swept off a ridge overlooking Trenton, GA after an EF-3 tornado on April 27, 2011.  Photo: National Weather Service

We weren’t expecting it, but as we proceeded northeastward up Interstate 59 in Georgia, we pass through the small town of Trenton that’s abuzz with bulldozer and crane activity.  The trees that lined the interstate were destroyed.  We see piles of rubble on top of foundations.  Zipping by at 70+ mph, we saw it all so fast, it was tough to process what we had seen.

Two were killed in Trenton, GA.

I had a little bit of Fujita-scale forensics education in college, so I remember that piles of rubble on foundations being indicative of strong EF-3/weak EF-4 damage.  I looked up the details of the storm and the National Weather Service, Peachtree, GA office actually tracked not one but TWO tornados through Trenton, GA during the April 2011 superoutbreak.  Look for the “Dade/Walker” tornadoes in the far northwest corner of Georgia on the interactive map.

Glade Springs, VA

On I-81 in extreme southwest Virginia, as the sun was setting, the family was admiring the orangeish glow on the mountains to our east as we drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Then we see a swath of dead trees cut into the side of the mountain.  And again with the bulldozers!  This was the town of Glade Springs, VA, which experienced an EF-2 tornado the night of April 27th.

Another tornado damage path across the interstate???

Springfield, MA

This one really took me by surprise, since I made a last-minute decision to take I-91 straight south through Massachusetts out of Vermont on Monday.

On June 1st, a tornado struck downtown Springfield, killing 4 people.  The National Weather Service confirmed it as an EF-3.

Reminiscent of the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane season that our family experienced, just south of downtown Springfield, blue tarps dominated the rooftops.  Once again we were greeted with the telltale broken tree trunks and blown over road signs.  The track of the storm was nearly perpendicular to I-91.

I was thinking about how old the town of Springfield, Mass. is and how old many of those buildings must have been.  Statistically, such strong tornadic thunderstorms are rare in New England.