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Archive for 2011

Merry Christmas, 2011

by on Dec.25, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

Just a quick post to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Breaking with long-standing tradition, we didn’t go to the folks’ house this year, but instead had them come out to Orlando to our house where we feasted on some steaks from the grill and in general ate way too much.

Alyssa and Amber are quickly becoming experts at “The Claw”, basically a miniature (and kinder) version of the prize machines you see filled with stuffed animals you’d never actually buy if it wasn’t a “contest of skill”. Maybe we’ll get to try out the miniature cotton candy machine on Monday!

— Rich

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Thanksgiving 2011

by on Nov.25, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

The holiday season, and especially Thanksgiving, can be painful for some and my heart goes out to Chris, Rob, Josh, and Jesse as they struggle thru their first Thanksgiving without Noah.

Despite the terrible tragedy of Noah’s death, we’ve also got quite a bit to be thankful for this year…

We had some pretty serious health scares earlier this year. First with Dad’s “incident”in the emergency room which landed him in ICU for almost a week. But after a couple of weeks in the hospital (including over his 81st birthday) and a few weeks in rehab he’s back home and “as onery as ever”. Mom’s stay in ICU and the hospital later this summer was thankfully much shorter and she too is back home “not resting”.

Ashley continues to enjoy college life and is looking forward to spending a few weeks in January over in England with some fellow Calvin College computer science students volunteering at Operation Mobilization doing some software testing and documentation.

Amber is turning “sweet sixteen” and is doing great in her Florida Virtual School classes!

Alyssa too is doing great in her FLVS classes! She also seems to really enjoy helping Karen teach the pre-school Sunday School class.

We also got to enjoy a long vacation this summer – hiking in the mountains, rafting down a river, zipping over the treetops, exploring a cave, riding horses, watersliding, and seeing family! Hopefully I’ll have some time soon to get a full trip report up on the site.

Happy Thanksgiving!

— Rich

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It’s Alive!

by on Oct.21, 2011, under Site News

You may have already surmised from the long draught of postings from early this year through late summer (or from your inability to get the site to come up at all in your browser for several months) that there were some fairly serious problems with Not only did we have some software issues, but those were then compounded with a catastrophic hardware failure. While everything was recoverable, with everything else going on this summer and the lack of ready replacement hardware, restoration of the site wasn’t a top priority.

But, we are back in business now and ready for your updates!

— Rich

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by on Sep.19, 2011, under Ashley Bingle

Ahoy Mateys!

This be the second mate hailing from the great port of Grand Rapids, I be here t’ tell ye of the latest exploits of our crew. Now that the crew be back in home ports, we be catchin’ up on relayin’ the tales of our adventures. As ye can be tellin’ fer sure, it be International Talk Like A Pirate Day once more.

If ye be in the mood, ye might be sendin’ me a missive, but ’til then, keep the wind in yer sails.

-Second Mate Ash

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Orlando Bingles’ 2011 Summer Road Trip – Day 25

by on Sep.06, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

AdvoCare 500, take 2!

Still kinda damp and overcast outside, but that wasn’t about to dampen our enthusiasm. After a day and a half delay, we were ready for racing!

We loaded up the van and headed back to AMS first thing in the morning. Not surprisingly, we were able to park much closer to the track this time. The midway and the vast majority of the souvenir rigs were gone as we made our way into the track. While they were checking that people had tickets, they weren’t actually checking what seats those tickets were for. Since we had arrived early, I decided to stop and take a couple of pictures of the start-finish line before we headed over to our seats in turn 3. While there wasn’t an usher stationed where we headed out from under the stands, one did appear just as I was about to take my pictures. “You can’t stand there. You can’t stand in the aisle.” I told him “ok” and walked over a section, down a couple of rows, and then in about 5 seats to take my pictures well clear of the aisle. Once done, I looked around at the almost empty stands and made a decision. We were staying right there for the race!


While the stands eventually became “non-empty”, the attendance was understandably very light so nobody ever kicked us out of those seats. And boy, am I glad we had decided to stay until Tuesday to see the race. Despite a couple of short rain delays each time the low ceiling would descend and basically put us within the clouds, the race ran to its fully scheduled distance, complete with a duel at the end between Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Jeff ended up winning (woohoo!) and we stayed for the victory celebration right there at the start-finish line.


I’d already taken an extra day off to stay for the race, so we had no choice but to hit the road and drive the whole way home to Orlando that afternoon and evening, arriving home shortly after dark. Our 2011 Summer Road Trip was over!

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Orlando Bingles’ 2011 Summer Road Trip – Day 24

by on Sep.05, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

Rain, rain, rain, and more rain…

The high winds and torrential rains that they had forecast for the area as the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee passed through never really materialized at our motel, although there were reports of some pretty nasty weather near Atlanta Motor Speedway.

But that didn’t mean it wasn’t raining. In fact, it rained pretty much the entire day. It turned out that Karen wasn’t feeling the greatest, so with the bad weather keeping us from doing anything outside, and the fact that it was a holiday weekend, we decided we’d just hang out at the motel all day and just relax. While Karen napped, the girls and I played some some cards, watched TV, and played on the iPad. Not the most exciting day of the trip for sure, but we’d already paid for our race tickets (and they don’t issue refunds due to rain) and the girls hadn’t gotten a chance to actually even see a Cup car on the track, so we figured it was worth it.

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Orlando Bingles’ 2011 Summer Road Trip – Day 23

by on Sep.04, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

Amber and Alyssa had never been to a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, so we figured we’d get to the track plenty early so that we would have lots of time to tour the midway and the souvenir rigs before heading into the stands to our seats. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Lee had other plans. Outer rain bands ahead of Lee brought the rain in early afternoon, sometimes light but also (unfortunately) sometimes heavy. The amount of rain made it obvious that the race wouldn’t start on time but we made our way to our seats in turn 3 to wait it out.


We probably should have assumed by the complete lack of track drying efforts prior to the scheduled start time and no cars out on the grid that there wouldn’t be any racing that day. In fact, the only vehicles that ever made it out on to the track were six unimpressive jet dryers, several tow trucks, flatbeds, and pickups, and a couple of pace cars. The track was almost dry despite the light mist that never really ever went away until about 9:15 p.m. when the rains began again in earnest almost instantly wiping out the previous hour and a half of track drying work. With the forecast for Monday (Labor Day) being 100% chance of rain throughout the day and the possibility of tornados, NASCAR decided to push the race out to Tuesday morning.

Since the race had been scheduled as a night race, we’d already booked the motel we’d stayed at the night before for Sunday night, so as soon as we made our soggy way back to where we had parked the van we called the motel and booked yet another night so that we could (attempt to) see the race on Tuesday.

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Orlando Bingles’ 2011 Summer Road Trip – Day 22

by on Sep.03, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

Day 22 was spent just like day 1, day 16, and parts of lots of other days on the trip — driving. We spent the entire day driving from Grand Rapids, Michigan to a little ways south of Atlanta, Georgia. Of course, we had to take a slight detour through Ohio so that we could stop at a Meijer and buy some Ballreich Brothers’ Potato Chips! Ah, if only they sold them down in Orlando! The drive was long, but we had a hard deadline waiting for us in Atlanta, the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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Orlando Bingles’ 2011 Summer Road Trip – Day 18 thru 21

by on Sep.02, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

We spent the next several days in Grand Rapids visiting with Karen’s family, touring the meat processing plant that Ashley’s “special friend” Josh Peters works at, meeting the Peters family, sorting through the things Ashley had left at the Lindemulder’s over the summer, and dropping off Ashley at Calvin.

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Orlando Bingles’ 2011 Summer Road Trip – Day 17

by on Aug.29, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

Alyssa had asked that we not “drive in the van all day” on her birthday so the plan was to spend the day somewhere we couldn’t drive a motor vehicle at all – Mackinac Island.

After Alyssa finished opening her presents, we took the the Star Line Ferry over to the island first thing in the morning. Unbeknownst to the girls, Karen and I had thought that instead of simply touring the island by foot, we would do something we’d never done before – take a self-guided ride in a horse-drawn carriage!

So, naturally we started out on foot, making our way a few blocks from the ferry landing to Jack’s Livery. After filling out a short form, paying for the first hour up-front, getting directions (on both the route and how to drive), and being introduced to Donna, we were off on our ride.


The route we’d chosen took us along the very western edge of the island, giving us a great view of the lake. With (virtually) no motor vehicles allowed on the island the only traffic we had to worry about was pedestrians, bicycles, horses, and other horse drawn conveyances (buggies, carriages, and wagons), all of which were present in abundance!

After reaching the northern most part of our route, we turned south along the center of the island to head back to the livery. This took us up hill (which Donna really didn’t like) and through the woods. At one point Donna had decided she needed a break and we had a hard time convincing her to start moving again. As we made our way back towards the livery we passed by the island’s airport where a private jet was taking off. Donna really didn’t like that and we enjoyed a short fast trot as she got out of the area.

Too soon (although almost a full hour longer than the hour we’d already paid for) we were back at the livery where we got a quick picture of us with Donna. Then it was off to lunch of some burgers and fries from Fred’s Burger Joint, a small little place right by the ferry docks.

Our ride had only shown us part of the island, so we decided to make the 1.5 mile walk (each way) to view Arch Rock. Our walk took us along the eastern edge of the island this time. It was kind of odd to be walking down basically the middle of the road and only having to worry about passing bicycles (I don’t remember seeing a single horse on that road once we left “town”) running us down. There was a bit of a climb up some stairs to the viewing platform. There was a road about 4/5ths of the way up which is where the horse-drawn wagons of tourists would stop for about ten minutes on their island tour to make the short walk up to Arch Rock.


After taking some pictures from the top we made our way back down and then a little further along the road so that we could get some pictures from below as well before walking back to town.

We had a bit of shopping to do before we left the island – fudge! Mackinac Island is known for its fudge. There are over a dozen fudge shops within a four block section of Main Street, including several stores from the same company, some of those literally across the street from each other! In addition to these fudge shops (most of which featured candy makers mixing and/or cooling fudge on large marble tables) many of the other souvenir shops sold fudge as well. Of course, every shop claimed that their fudge was tastier than the others or that their multi-pound deal was somehow better. Some of the shops even offered small samples of their fudge and we sampled many, but the clerks and candy makers at the JoAnne’s Fudge were the most helpful and generous in their samples, their fudge tasted the best (at least to us), and they had a huge assortment of flavors so we ended up getting a 1.5 pounds of fudge (.3 pound slices in 5 different flavors). One of the clerks overheard one of the girls say something to Alyssa about her birthday and was kind enough to give Alyssa a truffle as a special birthday treat.

With our fudge in hand it was time to head back to the mainland. Alyssa relented in her “no driving” wish and we made the four hour or so drive to Grand Rapids where we would be spending the next several days. We did make a very important stop before getting to Karen’s parents house – the Krispy Kreme shop near Calvin to pick up the “best dinner ever”, a dozen donuts, to help celebrate Alyssa’s birthday.

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