Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25 - 31, 2015 - FL, GA, SC, GA, AL, TN, KY, IL, WI Whoopie!

Monday, May 25.  Happy Memorial Day!  I thought a lot about all those who have served our country and also of family and friends who have passed away - it's sad that there are more on the other side now than here on earth.

I left Jonnie's house this morning at about 8:15.  I decided to avoid I-75 and take state roads and after a long day of driving, I wish I wouldn't have.  It was mostly 2-way roads, through many small towns and not much to see in between.  

The RV park that I had decided to stop at was kind of scary looking, nothing like how it was described in the book and there weren't a lot of options in this area.  I looped right through and got back on the road, but I was looking at another 90 miles to Augusta.  Twenty miles into the drive, I spotted a sign for Boss's RV Park in Wrens, pulled in, and it looked ok - some travelers hooked up, not just long term units and workers - so I self-registered, picked a site, and got set up.  After dinner there was a knock on my door.  It was the camp host bringing me a receipt and the wifi password.

I talked with my brother Randy and learned that I will be a great Aunt again.  His daughter, Ali and her husband James are expecting their first child in late November.  Yay!

It's 9:30 pm and some crazy farmer is plowing the field across the street in his very large and very loud John Deere tractor that is lit up like a football field.  I was just starting to doze off when I hear the engine and thought it must be a big rig pulling into the park.  They must plow at night because it's too hot during the day - that's my guess.  I hope I can sleep.

Tuesday, May 26.  The plowing stopped after a while and I was able to sleep pretty good.  Since I only had a few hours to drive today, I took my time getting up and moving.  Regardless, I was on the road by 8:30.

It was a beautiful drive through the Sumter National Forest and along Strom Thurmond Lake and across the Dam.  The road was narrow most of the way but not a huge problem because I had it to myself most of the time.  

I got to Tom and Karen's house in Anderson, SC about 11:15.  These are friends from Madison that we have know since 1977.  I worked with Karen and Tom built Mike's birch bark canoe that he received as a perk from his boss.  I got settled in, chatted a bit, and then Karen and I went to have lunch at this cute little cafe downtown.  There I learned more about Tom's cancer - it is not Lymphoma, which he has had 2 bouts of, but he now has Pancreatic.  He had massive surgery and now has only a small amount of his stomach left and has to eat about every 2 hours because it can only hold one cup at a time.  The good thing is that he can eat anything he wants and tries to get about 3,00 calories a day.  He is getting "light" chemo treatments and feels pretty good, having several short periods during the day when he can still work in his shop where he builds and repairs canoes.

Broadway Lake and Tom's Canoe Barn

We talked about lots of stuff, like people we knew from working at Hazleton, familiar places like Wisconsin and Minnesota, our families, and w caught up on the last 7 years since we had seen each other.  Frisco and I took a walk down by the lake.  Then tonight, after Tom had his dinner, we went to nearby Bartel for a yummy Margarita and a light dinner.  Karen has been looking forward to my visit, as she doesn't get away for meals very often and I just had to help her out on that front.

It rained tonight and cooled down to mid-60s.  It felt so good to not have to run the AC or a fan.  I could just listen to the sounds of nature all night long.  Actually it is really quiet.

Wednesday, May 27.  I had only a 3-hour drive to Susan's (a classmate from Stoughton) today but it was not a pleasant one.  I should have followed my instincts and found a route that went north of Atlanta but I didn't and I followed the GPS instead. It took me just north of the city on a bypass but the traffic was horrendously busy and quite stressful.  I made it and  got settled in their driveway for the night.

She and I sat on the porch and Frisco got to run around the yard.  Their yard abuts a school playground that is huge and surrounded by dense woods, so he was quite happy.  We talked and talked and talked until Dean got home from work and we talked until bedtime.

Thursday, May 28.  Susan led me through the back country roads to a road that would get me to the west side of Chatanooga, avoiding the drive through the city.  I decided to take the scenic route and went wet to Huntsville, AL and then north through Fayetteville and Shelbyville, TN.  The drive was very scenic, most of it 4-lane and I was following a road that was walled on both sides by dense, green forest.  It almost felt like going through a tunnel. I was only 10 miles from Lynchburg, TN but had been there for the tour of the Jack Daniels Distillery in the past so I didn't stop. When I got to Nashville, I followed Susan's suggestion to get around the east side of the city because of construction and lane closures.  Thanks much, girlfriend!  Because I took the scenic route, I was on the road for an extra 1.5 hours and very tired when I reached my destination.

My stop for the night was at the KOA in Calvert City, KY, not far from Paducah.  This is a beautiful area too - The Land Between The Lakes.  The park is very nice and rustic and my site overlooks 2 small lakes and I'm hearing Cicadas and bullfrogs and lots of birds singing.  That is except for the highway noise, so I kept my AC on through the night to block out that sound.

Friday, May 29.  There's not much to write about today, other than the excitement is building for my arrival at Pat's house tomorrow.  I probably could have pushed it today, with only about 230 miles left to go, but being on the road for 6 hours is long enough.

I settled in at the D & W Lake RV Park in Champaign, IL a very nice place along a small lake with lots of trees and well kept grounds.  As soon as I got set up, Frisco and I took a walk around the lake and we saw some familiar "up north" items:  beautiful red peonies and bright yellow iris and a Canada Goose.

I took care of my tanks and put that stuff all away as they are calling for rain tomorrow, maybe for the entire drive.  It has been windy and feeling like something is blowing this way.

Sunday, May 31, WI.  And rain it did, much of the night and off and on Saturday morning.  I managed to get Frisco for a walk and the electric and water hoses put away before it started up again.  Shortly after departing it started to rain and continued until about 3:00.  

My windshield wipers were acting up again, so at my next refueling stop, I asked a couple of men that were chatting in front of the store if they knew anything about wipers.  They were convinced that I had the wrong size blades, as one was catching on the other when they activated.  I did a search on my phone for the nearest O'Reilly Auto Store and there was one about 30 miles up the road, in Bloomington, so that is where I headed.  The very nice saleswoman was familiar with problem, checks their information and agreed - the blades were too big.  She replaced them with an upgrade at no cost to me, installed them and watched to make sure the worked as they should.  It is so nice when you get great customer service.  I think I will write and thank her.  I had pouring rain all of the way to Stoughton, but my wipers worked like a charm.

It was only 52 degrees when I arrived and will be dropping down in the 40s during the night.

Boy, did it feel good to see and to hug my eldest son after not seeing him for 9 months.  We talked and had a bite to eat and watched the rain continue for another couple of hours.  Once things dried up a bit, I backed the trailer into the yard without making too much of a mess - one divot where the ground was soft but we took care of that today.

I had to run my furnace during the night - I just couldn't get warm without it.  Frisco even joined me on the bed, which he usually doesn't do.

We putzed around the yard today, moving and splitting plants, patching up the fence so Frisco couldn't escape but he escaped anyway and that led to more patching up of fences.  There are so many rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks here that the temptation to chase is just too great for him - he is on a mission when he sees or gets on the scent.

Tracey got home from a weekend escape with her Mom and we had a very nice dinner together this evening.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 18 - 24, 2015, FL

UITuesday, May 19, FL.  I left Jonnie's yesterday afternoon to spend a couple of nights with Rudy and Sonja, special friends from when we lived here.  It all started when Mike worked on Rudy's computer, then they invited us to dinner, and then we visited them every year when they were here from Switzerland.  We also had the vacation of a lifetime with them at their home in Switzerland plus train trips to Italy and France.  Good friends remain good friends and they are one of the reasons that I came back to this area.  Our reunion was wonderful and we spent the evening eating and talking, with a cocktail or two.

Sonja is fixing us a wonderful dinner.

My friends had to go to The Villages today for some errands and when that was done, we went to The Grand Oaks Resort and Carriage Museum, had a nice lunch while sitting on the patio overlooking the lush green fields and a majestic live oak tree.  The carriage museum was a collection of original and restored horse drawn carriages from Europe and America.  They were staged with beautiful models of life-sized horses modeled after the Morgan horses at the ranch on the grounds.  We got a history lesson in addition to seeing beautifully restored carriages. 

Wednesday, May 20, FL.  I was so sleepy last night that I couldn't keep my eyes closed, so headed off to bed about 9:00.  I just got into bed and this darling photo came to me:

Shortly after getting the photo, Ben called and I learned that she fell down and got a little abrasion on her chin.  Daddy gave her the special treatment, cleaned it up and covered it with a bandage and she was a happy little girl.  I couldn't help laughing when he told the story of the babysitter's experience the night before.  The twins were all ready for bed and she only needed to get them in their cribs and do pjs and stories with Charlotte before tucking her in.  Charlotte went scrambling to the bathroom but didn't make it, so she put her in the walk-in shower, then ran downstairs to check on Camille.  There she was on top of the dining room table and she prevented her from falling off.  Back upstairs, she found that Norah had joined Charlotte in the shower, pj's and all, so she put Camille in there too and all 3 played together for a while.  Ben keeps telling me to be prepared, that things can get pretty hectic around there, but I think I'm ready for some hectic from the grandkids.

Now, we are sitting in the shade on the patio enjoying the bird's singing and a light breeze.

It has been another wonderful day with these great friends.  We went to Cedar Key this afternoon, had a light lunch and then a boat ride to visit some of the nearby islands.  Seahorse Key was a rookery for native (Brown Pelicans, Egrets, gulls, Cormorants, and Osprey) and migrating birds (Magnificent Frigate Birds - they can stay in flight for up to 30 days) and is also home to the largest population of Cottonmouth snakes in Florida.  They all lived happily together until April 22 of this year when the birds all mysteriously disappeared and relocated to nearby Snake Key.  The question is why and nobody has determined the answer yet.  Could it be the F-18's that fly closely on their practice runs or the helicopter's that do practice drop-downs and takeoffs or was it some natural phenomenon that caused it to happen? 

We were lucky to see very large numbers of Dolphins swimming very close to the boat and it was very exciting.  Many were leaping 3-4 feet out of the water.  Our narrator thinks that they respond to her speaking on the microphone.  Whatever the reason, we were happy to be able to see so many of them.  I also spotted a Loggerhead Turtle that looked like an Otter or Seal space that came to the surface.  It felt very good to be on the Gulf of Mexico again and Cedar Key was always a favorite spot.  We reminisced a lot about the time that we visited this place as a foursome.

Thursday, May 21.   My time with Rudy and Sonja came to to an end this morning and we had to say goodbye until the next time - maybe in Switzerland?  Before I left, I washed the bedding and got the room ready for their next guests that arrive next week.  What a wonderful time we had together, as always, and I will really miss them.

I got back to Jonnie's just long enough to go to meet Marie, a gal that Mike and I met back in 2007 when we worked together at Walmart doing a remodel project (we took the job to earn money to pay for our trip to Switzerland) later that year.  Mike, Marie, and I became friends because we had lunch together and we were the Rebels of the group - we didn't like the Walmart game and kind of decided where we wanted to work each day and it was usually accepted by the incompetent supervisors - I guess because we learned quickly and actually worked.  She took me to a cute little cafe in Belleview that was covered with interesting works of art and we had a very nice conversation after not seeing each other for the last 8 years. 

Jonnie was tired after a long hot day at work and we just lounged n the couch and watched the tube - HGTV of course.

Saturday May 22, FL.  It was another non-stop day, somehow, we manage to stay busy.  First on the list this morning, after my coffee and walk with Frisco was to get my trailer more level.  Jonnie noticed yesterday, that there was a pool of water in the AC compartment - that it wasn't flowing into the drainage hole because it was lower on the opposite side.  I pondered the best way to get it right between the hours of 3 and 4 am to this morning and had it all figured out before I even got up.  First, I had to take down the awning, then hook up the car.  With Jonnie's guidance, I moved it back about a foot and then positioned the leveling blocks in front on the tire on the low side, pulled forward, raising that corner just enough to make it level.  Immediately, the water started draining down the hole and believe it or not, the AC even worked more efficiently.  I don't think it was too bad until the last 2 days when it has been in the mid-90s and probably 90% humidity.

I had a nice, long FaceTime conversation with Ben and the girls this morning.  I gave Charlotte a video tour of Jonnie's yard and she enjoyed that.  They all showed me their jumping on the trampoline skills. Charlotte told me a really funny joke.  What do you get when you cross a cow and a duck? Milk and quackers.

I helped Jonnie with some cleanup in her shed and then we cleaned ourselves up and went to the grocery store.  Mike's sister, Patty and her husband, Hobe came over this afternoon and we had a nice dinner together.  They really liked Jonnie's wide open spaces out here.  We had great conversations and lots of laughs.

Other than some shopping yesterday, we stuck around the house.  In the evening, my friend and neighbor from Oak Run, Connie and her friend Kathy came over for a visit in the evening. Again, great conversations and lots of catching up was done.  Good times!

Sunday, May 24, FL.  When Jonnie went to church this morning, I did some cleanup and then went to the Villages to do my laundry (Jonnie's washer quit working yesterday).  When I got back, we had a lazy day of just putzing around, watching tv, and just hanging out.  Not a bad way to spend my last day here.

    Me and cousin Jonnie.

   My home for the last week and a half.

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11 - 17, 2015 TX, LA

Monday, May 11, TX, LA.  All night long, I pondered whether to get up early and go through Houston before rush hour or to leave later on and hope to miss it then.  Well, I was awake by 5:00, so made coffee, disconnected and headed out by 6:00.  That is a good thing since my destination, Betty's RV Park is expecting me before 2:00 (Betty has an evening at the casino planned).  Other than some very heavy traffic and slow going around Katy, I slipped right through and it was not nearly as bad as what I expected.  Yay!

I felt a real sense of relief when I finally crossed the state line into Louisiana.  It takes a long time to get through Texas, like 900 miles of long time.

I arrived at Betty's at noon and she wasn't there - guess she hadn't  listened to her messages.  I called and she told me to hold tight and she would return shortly.  I knocked on the door of Jim and Nancy's rig - a couple that we met back in 2008 at Watersedge RV in Rockport, TX.  They became friends with Alan and Sharon and we have connected a few times when they are traveling through Arizona.  We had a short chat and I learned that they were in on the Casino trip with Betty, so we will have to chat more tomorrow.  Betty got back, I got registered, and she guided me into my spot.  I got all hooked up just in time for a big storm to hit and now I have lakefront property.  I'm looking forward to happy hour, as that is one of Betty's claims to fame.

I showed up for happy hour and nobody was there, but later on I heard laughter and went over to join the group.  There, I met couples from San Diego, Miami, Knoxville, TN, and Minneapolis. We had a pretty lively conversation and then it was time to settle in for the night.  It rained and rained and rained most of the night, but I stayed dry, no leaks in the little Pipsqueak.

Tuesday, May 12, LA.  I used my shower for the first time this morning.  What a production that is!  Remove everything that can't get wet, put the shower curtain up, get the water heater running, and open the drain in the outside (the shower drain does not go into the gray water tank but drains directly to the outside).  I set a bucket under the drain, then emptied that into the sewer when I was all done.  The handheld shower worked well and then everything had to be put back where it belongs.  The good thing is that the entire bathroom got a good wipe down and clean up.  I will use the facility showers whenever I can, but Betty's doesn't have a public restroom, you have to be self contained.

I was running out of undies, so a trip to the laundromat was high on the list of things to do today.  And then I thought that I have to do some sightseeing, so I found my way to the Rip Van Winkle Gardens (you might have to copy and paste the link in your browser) in New Iberia.  The road leading to the gardens is lined with majestic live oaks and off to the left I could see blotches of white and pink in the trees - Snowy Egrets and Roseate Spoonbills.  I had to pull over and get a closer look.  I wasn't the only one who made the stop and a man greeted me and pointed out the very large alligator that was sunning himself on the shore of the lake.  The trees were alive with the movements of the birds.

I strolled the gardens, passing several peacocks and even a raccoon scurried past me.  The gardens brought back lots of memories of my master gardener days in Florida.  I saw lots of Bamboo, Ginger, Azalea, Jasmine, Ferns and even a huge patch of Elephant Ear.  I sat in the Jefferson Cafe and had a nice lunch of Shrimp Moulenade (fresh greens topped with a hard cooked egg, tomato, and seasoned shrimp and a Creole Horseradish dressing).  It was served with a yummy yeast roll fresh out of the oven.

    Snowy Egrets and Roseate Spoonbills. The gator is hidden by the tall grass.

    Elephant Ears - one if my all time favorite tropical plants - and Ginger

My view from the cafe.  Many of you won't understand this, but it was awkward for me - the first time that I have sat in a restaurant by myself since Mike died.  It is just something that I have chosen not to do, although today my choice was to have a nice meal alone or not at all.  It was enjoyable and hopefully, I am over that hump now and won't hesitate to do it again.  My salad was scrumptious and there was enough left over for another meal.

Happy hour was fun tonight.  I think it is so cool how you can meet someone for the first time and just get right into having some good conversation and lots of laughs.  Most everyone left happy hour to watch The Voice to see how the local 17 year old did.  She is in the top 5 contestants and all of Abbeville was casting their vote for her.  I didn't watch - couldn't get that channel, so I don't know the outcome,

Betty and I at Happy Hour - thanks Jim, for the photo.

Wednesday, May 13 - LA, MS, AL - 315 miles.  Happy Birthday to my brother, Rick, who turned 61 years old today.

Jim and Nancy saw me off this morning and I was on the road by 8:30.  Before leaving Abbeville, I stopped to have my tires checked and a couple on the car were a little low, but the trailer was fine.  Just east of Abita Springs, LA, the trailer brakes locked up and I came to a rapid stop alongside I-10.  None of the alarm indicators on my car went off, so the trouble had to be with the trailer.  I was a little freaked and afraid to get out of the car.  You know that you are supposed to pull into a left lane when you see an emergency or distressed vehicle on the road - well, not many people know that rule and very few of them went around me.  I called AAA and that was a disappointment - it would be 1.5-2 hours before a tow truck could get to me and all I wanted was for someone to check things out. I guess that isn't what AAA is for and I'm not sure I will renew it next year, since I have roadside assistance on my auto and trailer insurance.  While I had a woman on the phone, I got out the passenger side of the car and found both tires ok but the brake cutoff had gotten caught in the chains and told the trailer to stop.  I fixed that and was back on the road again.  I learned something here - that cable needs to be added to the checklist before taking off.

I arrived at the Azalea Acres RV Park in Robertsfsy, AL for the night.  The park is brand new and I got a nice pull through site for the night for $16.00 with my Passport America discount.  I'm going to have something to eat, take a shower, and veg out for the night.  Getting to Jonnie's house tomorrow will be about 100 miles longer than today - a long stretch.

Thursday, May 14, AL, FL -   It was a long day on the road, as I traveled 100 miles longer than what I had been driving most days.  I got to Jonnie's about 4:30 and my odometer reads 2,240 miles since leaving Mesa.  I'm feeling very fortunate that I have had no car troubles or trailer troubles along the way - knock on wood.

I got settled in and plugged in and I think the trailer will have to be my room since Frisco is all keyed up knowing that there is a kitty here.  I will have to keep him tethered because I know he won't be nice to the kitty.  Jonnie got home from work and we picked up where we left off and talked through the night while watching HGTV.

Just as I thought, there is no wifi here, so I may have to go to the ATT store to see what my options are.  Signal strength on my phone is pretty good, so I may just have to use it as a hotspot.

Got the road grime cleaned off the car and trailer.  Did I ever tell you how well dryer sheets work for removing bugs and road grime? Try it sometime - just enough texture for scrubbing and leaves a thin layer of softener so it all comes off easy the next time. 

Sunday, May 18.  I did go to the AT&T store on Saturday and bought a Velocity Hot Spot.  Mike would be upset that I relinquished my unlimited data plan for this, but looking back, I don't use very much at all, so I think I will be fine.  Like the salesman said, "You are paying for the buffet but only eating the salad".  I know, they would say anything to make a sale.  This will replace my cable internet at home, so shouldn't be a problem for me.

We went to the flea market and grocery store on Saturday and I grilled us some pork chops for dinner. Mike, Val, and Amber stopped by for a chat that evening - they are neighbors that we became friends with while living here.

We've gotten in some good walks.  Yesterday, we saw Bluebirds, a beautiful hawk, and lots of squirrels and geckos.

Today, I got together with Mike's sister, Patty and Hobe and we took a drive through Oak Run so I could see my old house.  Not much has changed in the neighborhood.  In fact, one of my neighbors was doing some pruning in her yard, so I had a nice chat with her and may try to connect one more time before I leave.  Then we went to the square in Ocala and had lunch and Harry's, a local landmark and a favorite place that Mike and I used to go to.  We also strolled the Shalom Gardens that is near their home.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4 - 10, 2015, AZ

Monday, May 4.  We had lightening, thunder, wind, and rain all through the night and I'm up having coffee at 5:15 am.   The black clouds are moving off to the northeast and the sunrise is bright and gorgeous.   The storms had Frisco up on my bed all night long (pretty unusual for him) and the little stinkpot was upset - he had to sleep with his back end against me and little stinky wisps of air kept leaving his body.  I don't know how many times I turned him around and he ended up right back in the same position.  Needless to say, it was another night of broken sleep.  

Today's agenda is to pack food and clothes, Frisco's stuff, vacuum the house, put insulation in the windows, lock everything I don't need, go to a dental hygeine appointment, pick up a few groceries, and have dinner with Jan, Jim, and Connie.  Hopefully, a good night sleep tonight.

After extending my departure date because of the dental hygiene appointment, they called and canceled because their computer system was down.  It has been 6 months and I was so ready for that appointment.  I'm very disappointed to say the least.

Tuesday, May 5.  That was the shittiest of shitty nights I have had since going through Mike's final illness that lead to his death.  I might have slept 2 hours, if that.  First, it was just plain restlessness, then having to pee, then anxiety over why I couldn't sleep - reading, playing solitary, staring at the ceiling - nothing worked.  Needless to say, I won't be starting my road trip today, unless I get some sleep before I take off.  I am certainly anxious to hear what Dr. Panotopoulos has to say this morning.

He said - the problem is the Prednisone, not my heart although it is working harder than it should be, so that means taking medication.  I can expect no side affects and reduced blood pressure.  So the next thing I did was to call the other doctor about stopping the Prednisone - no problem there, so I hope I am now in recovery mode.  I'm still not 100% sure that I will depart today, it might just be best to make the attempt tomorrow when I have had sufficient rest.

Wednesday, May 6, AZ-NM.  I woke up after a good night of sleep, feeling much better, but not 100%.  I still feel kind of shaky.  I was on the road by 8:00, heading east on US 60 to Globe, then southeast on 
US 70 to I-10.  I will be on that for days and days.  The drive all the way to Safford was gorgeous with wildflowers, beautiful mountain ranges, a stray horse, and the gorgeous Gila River with is dense green that was such a contrast against the muted desert greens and the dark, bold mountains.  After Safford, it wasn't nearly as scenic with flat dusty land.

I pulled into the Low-Hi RV Ranch, a member park for Loners on ?Wheels.  What a concept?  I had read about the place on their website and they got good reviews on RV Park Reviews so I thought I would chance it - a good choice.  The place is nice and I just finished a nice conversation with a full-timer that has a Class C motor home just like our first one.  She loves the motorhome, and loves New Mexico, so spends most of her time doing the state park circuit and moves around to the weather she wants.

Thursday, May 7 - NM, TX

Day 2 of my summer road trip - 297 miles

On the road by 8:30 - not bad considering that my body is still on Arizona time.  Sleep was pretty good and I feel much better than yesterday.  I stopped frequently, although I was hoping for some nice, shady rest areas but this part of Texas doesn't have much to offer on that front.  They are basically a long, long, ramp with some covered picnic areas - frequented mostly by truckers, so I would rather stop at McDonalds or a truck stop.

Alan and Sharon recommend that I stay at Balmorhea State Park, just west of Fort Stockton and it is very nice, although I am wondering if they got their parks mixed up.  They told about the beautiful lake and swimming area where the deer were wandering around the yard surrounding the lake.  There is a lake here, actually a spring-fed pond with swimming area on each side, although it is closed right now for annual maintenance.  They put me in a site that is kind of off by myself and apart from other sites. I considered asking to move, but stayed put because of the way the sun was moving and that I would have some nice shade in a couple of hours. The place has staff on site 24/7 and I had my car remote and wasp spray close at hand.
I have a weak cell phone signal and no internet, so it will be a quiet night of reading, writing and games of Solitaire and Sudoku on the iPad.  I sat in the shade with a nice breeze and enjoyed my dinner while Frisco was excited about the Roadrunners that were jarting around - their antics are silly.  Beep! Beep!

Friday, May 8 - day 3 - TX, TX, and more TX. 285 miles. On the road by 8am.  I knew there would be rain up ahead, as there were giant white cloud clusters on the horizon.  Today's drive was a real delight, as the roadsides are carpeted with mostly yellow wild flowers, but there were some bright orange clusters of Gaillardia (blanket flower), soft pink primrose and of course, the lovely Texas Blue Bonnet.  The terrain was varied with hills and peaks and many variations of green.  The Llano River and many streams actually had water in them.  I was looking forward to the drive through the beautiful Hill Country but the cloud layer was so low that it obstructed the view.  Rain wasn't really a problem because it was a light mist.

I'm settled in at the Kerrville KOA. A very nice man helped me back in to my site, I know the people around me were probably nervous.  I did run into town to the local Walmart for a couple of things to keep me organized - the wheels are constantly turning on that subject.  Is it an obsession?

A nice dinner sitting under the pecan tree - feels good.

I forgot to write about the attack of the killer moths this morning.  As I awoke and it was just getting light out, I could see the flitting of what I thought was butterflies outside the textured window on the door.  I imagined that they were beautiful monarchs on their migration from Mexico.  As soon as I switched on the light, I learned that they weren't Monarchs at all, nor were they outside. They were ugly brown moths and I killed 5 or 6 and let a couple out the door.  Tonight, as the lights came on again, I found several more.  I can't imagine how they got inside - this thing is sealed up pretty well.

I got this great photo of Camille and Norah from Jill today.  Sometimes I think that I should reroute and head straight there.  I'm ready for some kid activity in my life.

    Big Sis

Saturday, May 9, TX.  I decided to stay another night at this place in hopes of doing some sightseeing later on - hoping the weather clears a little.  They sell gas here ($2.39/gallon), the cheapest I have seen.  Pumping it was a bonus too - an old fashioned pump that had the lever in the side that had to be moved to the "on" position.  No credit card, no music blasting from the station's speakers, no advertising plastered all over the pump - just a good old fashioned gas pump.  Remember these?

I took a drive through Hill Country this afternoon, a route recommended by one of the guys that works here.  I started out heading the wrong direction but then realized it and turned back.  The drive along the Guadalupe River was as I remembered.  Ranches outlined by artistic fences constructed from logs, stones, or a combination thereof.  Rolling hills, sharp rock cliffs, cedar and live oak trees, critters, and the many crossings of the meandering river.  That is the reason I wanted to come through here and thanks to the stormy weather, I spent an extra day.

Can you see the deer?  Right in the center near the strip of white stone.

Sunday, May 10 guess where - TX.  The moth battle continues.  I'm thinking they are somehow getting in through the AC compartment.  The outside door has to remain open while the fan/AC are on and I think they might be attracted to the heat.  The appliances are all vented and I'm sure it doesn't take much of an opening for them to come in.  They are creepy though.

I took my time getting ready this morning since I only had a 4-hour drive to do today.  My stopover for tonight is the Stephen Austin State Park and the place is gorgeous.  I got to drive through and choose my site - they are all very nice shady sites with privacy and a nice, lush green grassy lawn, complete with firepit and picnic table.

As soon as I got settled in, Frisco and I went for a walk, taking a path that led to the Brazos River.  The water is really high on the shoreline and moving rapidly.  It felt good to walk, guess I haven't been doing much if that lately, other than strolls through the parks where I have been.  We got another nice walk in this evening, after it cooled down a bit.  I am definitely noticing the humidity.

A selfie - had to take one of that beautiful vine archway, might as well get me in there too.

The Brazos River

I talked with both sons today and got to see Ben's family on FaceTime.  Charlotte did a twirling dance and a ballet performance for me - so cute.  It seems like Norah and Camille are trying to say Grandma - that is Happy Mother's Day enough for me.

Friday, May 1, 2015

May 1 - 3, 2015, AZ

Friday, May 1.  I remember Mayday as a little kid, making these cute little May baskets out of paper, filling them with wildflowers, and placing them on the door of friend's houses.  I also remember dancing around a maypole in school, might have been kindergarten or 1st grade.  It is definitely a celebration of spring's arrival.

I got going pretty early this morning since we are supposed to see 100 degrees today and I had some things to get checked on the trailer.  When hooking up, I had trouble connecting the electric - just couldn't get it to latch and stay in.  That's not a good thing, so my first stop was at U-Haul to have it checked.  It is fine, I just need to use more elbow grease.

The next stop was the tire place to get them checked and all is good there - aired up and ready to roll. Right across the street is the car wash, so the winter's dust and bird crap is now removed.  When I got back home, I cleaned the insides of the storage compartments - they also manage to accumulate a coating of dust.  I reorganized some things and then it got too hot, so I parked it back in the storage lot again.  I'm really getting good at backing and hooking up.

Tonight, a few friends gathered at Chuck and Kathy's for a farewell dinner.  Chuck fixed clams, fish tacos, and garlic bread, and Connie topped it off with some yummy Spumoni.  Good times.

Saturday, May 2.   I woke up feeling really out of sorts this morning, shaky and hyper.  I'm sure it is the Prednisone that I'm taking - a side affect is increased blood pressure - something I don't really need right now.  Especially since my doctor called yesterday to get me started on high blood pressure medication.  I'm holding off until I see him Tuesday morning since I didn't hear back if I should take it with this other crap.  I sure hope this is the end of the health struggles for me for a while.

I spent the morning prepping for brunch with Nan and Dale and Monica and Loren - a farewell gathering since we won't see each other through the summer.  The menu is Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche, bacon and sausage, fruit salad, and croissants.  Unfortunately, Loren got called to work and Dale  is recovering from surgery, so it was just us girls - kind of a good thing because Monica was able to bring her wedding dress and modeled it. It is gorgeous, fits her personality and style to a T.  I'm hoping that she and Loren are able to make it to the family reunion in July or to Ashley's wedding in August in KC.

I met some new neighbors today, they moved in about 4 houses down on the opposite side of the street.  Mickey and her daughter, Hayley are very nice and friendly, newly retired from settling here from Portland and getting settled in their new home after making major renovations.  Mickey loves plants so I offered her whatever she wants to take cuttings from or to harvest baby cactus from my yard.

Connie and I walked tonight after it cooled down a little bit.  We got about half-way through the park and met up with Kathy and Mary who were starting out on a golf cart ride.  Along came Barb on her cart (she was taking her dog, Lola on her nightly ride), then Jim pulled up for a while on his cart and Don and his son went cruising by.  Then Tom, who was out walking, stopped to chat and another Tom, out for his evening walk, joined us for a bit too.  The conversations kept on for a while and we never did walk the rest of the circle.  That is something I really like about this place - it is very friendly and social.

Sunday, April 3.  It was another bad night of sleep, waking up frequently for bathroom runs, then unable to go back to sleep between 2 and 4:15 (the last time I heard the clock chime), and then I was aware that it was getting light out, but fell back to sleep until 7:15.  I was slow getting moving.  Tom came over to help me get the swing onto the patio and I wasn't even dressed yet, so he came back later d helped me out.  

The porch is cleaned off, pillows dusted and put in the house, the rug hosed off and stashed, and the  small things like lanterns and feeders are put away.  I think the yard and porch are done.  I hooked up the trailer and brought it here to start loading.  I'm making good progress and will have plenty of room for everything. I will be loaded down, that is for sure.

Connie must have snuck up while I was inside and she put a care and gift on my clip.  It is a very nice Lovethislife charm bracelet and came with this very sweet poem:

Is about welcoming the blind turn
and the possibility that there is no such thing as coincidence
and that empathy is incredibly sexy
and that it's never too late to pick up a guitar
or a paintbrush 
or to make an amend
or to make a new friend.  
Lovethislife...cuz it could go at any second.  
You rock.

She and I sure have become good friends and I'm really going to miss her.

I went to dinner tonight with Arlene, Sharla and Tom, and Connie to Red, White, and Brew for a delicious dinner and great company.  When we got back home, I took Frisco for a walk but it started to rain and then when we got back, it started to thunder, lightening, and then we got a real gully washer and it has been going on for nearly an hour.  That is so unusual for us, I had to go sit on the patio for a while and observe.  It smells so clean and fresh.