The top pic. is my sister, my brother, my mother and me at Calhoun’s restaurant on Lake Melton in Oak Ridge, Tennessee – having a rather long dinner Thursday night – Friday is the BIG DAY when my mother turns 100 years old.

We started the day at a motel in Lexington KY. I got up early (for me) for the free breakfast and got the most gigantic banana I have ever seen. Here it is next to my room key. After that I went down to swim in the pool. My wife and I found 3 gigantic bees. They looked like bumble bees but were about twice the size of a Michigan bumble bee. They were extremely lethargic and walking around by the pool. My wife dispatched them by stepping on them and then moving then off to the side against a wall. We didn’t want someone (kids) to step on one of those. While I was swimming a paper wasp landed in the water close to me. It swam around for about 30 seconds, then just flew away. We departed the motel around noon (which was checkout time).

driving south of I-75

It was hot…the temperature on our car thermometer reached 92. We stopped to get gas. You can use the GasBuddy map to find the cheapest gas. We stopped at Renfro Valley to see if Punkin the cat was at the old cabin. The cabin was being renovated, so Penkin had gone to someone’s home to live for the summer. As we continued south, the clouds got thicker and it started to rain. By the time we drove the ridge in NE Tennessee, we were in moderate to heavy rain and fog and the temperature had dropped to 70 (quite a drop for driving south in summer). We passed two accidents. We continued into Knoxville to pick up two gigantic (theme of the day) carrot cakes for the Saturday party. We had a discussion as to whether we should actually do 100 candles (50 on each cake) or just put a one-zero-zero. The latter won out.

This is a gigantic (again, theme of this post) flower on a tree. There were a dozen of these trees planted in a row…some with pink flower clusters and some with white flower clusters.

This flower was on a tree with waxy leaves…they had several kinds of trees like this with waxy leaves. This was another relatively gigantic flower.

Eating at Calhoun’s in Oak Ridge

We had dinner at Calhoun’s on Lake Melton. It rained off and on, but there was a big overhang and we stayed dry. It was humid, but temps. were in the 70s. Mom had chicken and she got a big sundae on the house for her birthday dessert.

rowers in the rain on Lake Melton

Lake Melton is actually the dammed up Clinch River. This is one of the best rowing venues in the world. The lake has about a 1.5 miles “straightaway” and is surrounded by hills that block the wind. Oak Ridge is one of the least windy places in the U.S. Here’s a couple rowing in the (light) rain Thurs. evening. I took this pic. while I was having dinner.

Rainbow at Lake Melton

During dinner we saw a rainbow…kind of faint, but it counts! We ended dinner by singing “Happy Birthday”. Everyone at the tables around us just joined in. Next to us there were 6 Hispanic women having dinner and they sang “Happy Birthday” to mom in Spanish. We finished the evening back at my sister’s backyard, talking about the days of growing up on Chicago’s North Shore and watching occasional lightning in the distant west. Tomorrow (Friday) is THE DAY! Weather permitting, we’ll have a picnic at Anderson Co. Park and then go to hear my brother play guitar with a local group at a craft brewery restaurant. Saturday, we’ll have nearly 40 people back at my sister’s for the BIG party. Have a wonderful day!