Monday, December 23, 2013

Some final thoughts from this trip

December 23, 2013--It's a long, hard drive from the Florida Keys to Jacksonville. Round trip, we put 973 miles on Junior. Aside from the miles, the traffic is horrendous in south Florida. For those reasons, we decided to overnight in Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound, just north of West Palm Beach. That park is where we always stay when we head south.

The state part is where I had another "first"--a shower in the campground bath house.

On our final night in the Keys, after a day of fishing and being out in the sun, we discovered that we had no hot water. In a motorhome you have two choices for heating water: electric or gas. Jim turned the burner from electric to gas, but still we had no hot water.

I took a very quick cold shower. Jim researched the problem, which he deduced is probably a faulty thermostat. We bought a new part at an RV place in Key Largo, on our way home Saturday. When we arrived at Jonathan Dickinson, Jim tried to put it in. He wasn't successful. Replacing the part is not difficult, but the part (despite the correct number) does not match what he took out.

That's when I took my first campground shower.

The hot water heater will be fixed before we take our next trip.

Another word about the cats.

They were both excellent travelers until the last day, when Xena decided she didn't like the litter box. (I think it did not have enough litter in it for her taste.) That was the only time she was naughty.

When we arrived home, Jim and I carried each of the cats into the house and placed them on the porch, where they like to spend most of their time. We then proceeded to unpack the RV. Suddenly, we saw Charlie in the front yard watching us. Charlie almost never goes in the front yard.

Then Charlie went up to the RV and sat on its steps. He wanted to go back in.

Because we needed to take Junior back down to our storage area. I picked Charlie up and put him in the house. But as soon as I released him, he ran back out the front door to the RV. He wanted to go with us!

So, Charlie the Traveling Cat made another trip in the RV, and then in the car (where we was equally good). I think he is confused; maybe he has a little dementia (he is almost 16 years old), but hopefully the memory of where he lives will come back quickly.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer

Linda

Friday, December 20, 2013

Here fishie, here fishie!

December 20, 2013--I know there are fish in the ocean. And I know there are BIG fish in the ocean. They just weren't where we went fishing.

Actually, yesterday, Jim caught perhaps eight fish; I caught one, if you want to count the one that bit onto Jim's bait while I was holding his pole. I pulled it in. Unfortunately, none of the fish was big enough to keep. Most seemed to be some type of snapper. I think there was a trigger fish or two as well as a hogfish.

Today, I caught the first fish, and eight more after that. One time I caught two at once! (We were using two leads on each rig.) Jim caught just about as many as I did. (He didn't keep count.) Alas! None were keepers. So, we are leaving the Keys without a good homemade fish dinner fresh out of the ocean.

The fish off the pier will miss us. We fed them a total of two pounds of squid. They ate it up like crazy. I don't think anybody went to bed hungry yesterday or today.

The resort had a holiday pool party this afternoon. We rode our bicycles down and sat around drinking some sort of punch. We couldn't snack on the crackers and dips, but later they had a mashed potato bar--sort of like a baked potato bar where you load up with all kinds of fixings--only this was a cup of mashed potatoes.

After the party we decided to try our hand at lure fishing. It seems, however, that the fish around here are no dummies. We didn't even get a little bite.

Tomorrow we leave here. We'll go as far as Hobe Sound (half way), about five hours. Then we'll be home Sunday.

It has been an excellent vacation.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Thursday, December 19, 2013

An afternoon in Key West

Our destination for the afternoon and evening, after fishing for an hour or so yesterday morning, was Key West.

Although it is only 39 miles, because of speed restrictions, especially through the Big Pine area, it takes about an hour to get the there. (Big Pine Key restricts speed to 45 during the day and 35 at night, as a way to protect the Key Deer, a species of deer that stand only about two feet tall.)

Key West is a zoo—at least this time of year. Traffic was as bad as in a big city; people were crammed into grocery store aisles. Our destination was the Truman Museum, the place where Harry Truman vacationed, I believe, 175 times while he was in office.

Our faith GPS Garmina led us near the museum, but where was it? A sign said, “Truman Annex.” There was a gate, houses, a guardhouse, a brochure describing a walking tour of the community, and a sales office. This looked like a housing development, not a museum property. A map showed we were in the vicinity, so we walked. And walked. Finally we came upon the building, right in the middle of the Truman Annex.

It turns out that this area had originally been a Naval Base. After Truman died, it was renamed the Truman Annex. When the base was closed, the land and buildings were sold. A developer traded the Little White House and several other buildings to the State in return for some permits, and the Museum eventually opened.

The house, originally built as a duplex in the late 1890s, was turned into a single-family home and furnished for the Trumans after his election. Today it is furnished in original pieces as well as period pieces. The furnishings reminded me of my grandmother’s furniture as well as of the furniture in a condo I rented for a couple of months in Palm Beach Gardens. It was an interesting tour.
Harry Truman was an unpretentious man, and the house was a reflection of him. Incidentally, he refused to let the Navy build a house especially for him.

Our tour ended just in time for us to meander toward Mallory Square, which, to me, is like Jackson Square in New Orleans. Street entertainers, from folk singers to fire jugglers, draw in crowds, entertain, and pass the hat. Shoulder-to-shoulder crowds jam the waterfront, buying vendors’ wares, drinking beer (almost a Key West mandate, it would seem), and waiting for the sunset.

Street entertainer with his pig
No, these aren't real women! Key West has an Art Museum. Outside are full-size sculptures of these nudes, an artist, two lovers. Very realistic.


We strolled away from the main crowd and found an open spot along a rail farther down the waterfront. The sunset didn’t disappoint us. What disappointed us was the fact that Jim had forgotten the camera in the car—and my phone camera (which had about 1% of battery left) does not take very good pictures.

So, as you look at this posted photo, picture in your mind, the glowing yellow sun, slowly descending toward the sea, and with its descent, turning more pink and red as it approaches the blue water. Just as the last sliver of the sun was disappearing, a thin veil of clouds stained themselves as they covered the remaining bit of sun.


I said that Key West reminded me of New Orleans. Mallory Square is like Jackson Square, and Duval Street (at least the section closest to Mallory Square) is like Bourbon Street. The main theme: bars. It was early, so we didn’t see a lot of drunks, but I’m sure they abound later in the night.
We walked past shops, and decided to eat closer to home, instead of fighting the crowds at dinner time in Key West.

Our dinner was at a seafood restaurant/bar and grill, which also sold organic cheese, milk, and eggs. The waitress knew what gluten-free was and the restaurant actually had a choice of GF beers for Jim! He had one we had never heard of before—a Spanish beer made with a process that removes the gluten to 3 ppm, well within the legal definition of gluten-free. Because the bottle was not labeled gluten-free, we took it home for research. It turns out that this particular beer has won awards for its taste and process. It is not labeled gluten-free because it extracts the gluten rather than using gluten-free ingredients.

So there you have it. Another day in what some would call paradise. I don’t go that far. I wouldn’t want to live down here. Everything is too far away; you are too vulnerable to hurricanes; and it is very expensive. But the weather is great, and for a relaxing time of doing nothing and fishing, it can’t be beat.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,


Linda

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fishing

December 17, 2013--We were at this same resort--Sunshine RV Resort--near Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys exactly two years ago. And the spot where we camped was almost exactly the same one as the one we are in now.

We can see the ocean from our camp site, and the fishing pier is within walking distance.


Last time we were here, I caught our only fish. It was some type of jack, a bloody fish that most people don't eat. But we found a recipe that called for soaking it in milk for several hours to draw out the blood. It was delicious.

Yesterday afternoon, Jim and I made our first fishing excursion to the pier. We were told that the fish were biting on squid, so that was the bait we bought.

Biting they did! Several schools of fish went to bed last night well fed.

For all our fish feeding, however, we caught three fish within about an hour or so. The first one was way too small to keep. It was striped and may have been a sheepshead. The second one, which I caught, may have been a pompano. It was bluish and very pretty. Unfortunately, it, too, was too small to keep. The third one we kept. I don't know what kind it was, but it offered us two delicious bites each! Good thing I had a contingency plan for dinner (shrimp diablo, improvised from the ingredients I had on hand).

We intend to do more fishing this week. I just hope we catch some more. Fresh fish straight out of the ocean can't be beat!

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer

Linda

Monday, December 16, 2013

A cool day in the Keys

December 16, 2013--The balmy weather that greeted us when we arrived on Saturday is less balmy now, but also less humid. We considered going to Key West today, but nixed that idea when the weather forecast said it would be mostly cloudy. You can't see a good sunset in overcast skies!

What to do? Well, just take it easy.

I received my next two assignments from my editor at Reed Elsvier (for the project I am helping with), but she said she was not in a hurry because of other more pressing deadlines on her end. I worked a bit, anyway, but then turned to a book I had downloaded before leaving home.

Jim decided it would be a good day to hook up all the stereo/blue ray/satellite components. Now we're in business. The resort has cable tv, but we brought our satellite receiver and hard drive. Good thing; there is little on TV tonight, so we can watch some of the movies we've been saving for a "rainy day."

This resort is by no means 5 stars. It would be begging to get 2 stars, probably. Since we were here (I think three years ago) they did improve the fitness room. And they have WIFI throughout the park. Only trouble is that sometimes I can't connect. Frustrating.

What is more frustrating is that I cannot connect with my T-Mobile hotspot. I purchased a month's worth of time (2 gigbytes of data) on the supposition that I would be able to use the device here. I even checked out the availability of 4G service in this area! Yeah, I occasionally get 4G, but with only 1 bar--not enough to connect to the Internet. I am going to complain to T-Mobile. When the hotspot works, it works well. But when it doesn't, well, it is frustrating. Yesterday, because of its failure to work and because I couldn't connect via the resort's WIFI, I went to the office. There I could connect easily. It's a pain, though, to trek over there for connectivity.

One of the projects that is quickly moving up on Jim's to-do list is to enhance our WIFI connectivity ability. We've been reading about using an external antenna booster and a router to create a hotspot, using the resort's WIFI. Everything we've researched indicates that this improves capacity considerably. You only need line-of-sight. I can't wait until he gets that done.

The cats are doing great. They traveled well; have behaved; and are even starting to take an interest in going outside. Of course, their greatest interest is when they don't have a leash on. They still don't like the leash. Last night, though, they did stay outside for a while and even walked around a bit.

No great (mis)adventures to report. Just a nice day in the almost sunny Florida Keys.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Saturday, December 14, 2013

We could have danced all night!

December 14, 2013--Jim lived in West Palm Beach for about 26 years, and for many of them he worked as a travel agent. One of the clubs he was active in was Bon Vivants, a group involved in the travel industry. He has maintained his membership in the group, and occasionally we get together with the group. Last night was one of those occasions.

The Bon Vivants host a holiday party. Most everybody dresses up. Jim cleaned his tux, and I pulled out one of my long dresses, and we partied!

We had a great time. The live band was great, and they played the right kind of music--oldies, especially from the '60s. (I guess they knew the audience!)

I kicked off my shoes, and Jim and I danced--fast ones as well as slow ones. We really had a great time. We could have danced all night, but the band stopped playing at 11.

Our visit to West Palm had a dual purpose: The dance was one. Visiting with Bo (Jim III) and his family was the other. Bowen will turn 7 in February. He's getting to be a big boy! He didn't want to wait until Christmas to open the gift we brought him, but, mom and dad said he had to, so wait he will.




Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda

Friday, December 13, 2013

Finally...the sparks fly!

December 13, 2013--We arrived at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound, Fla., late yesterday afternoon. We leveled the rig, put out the slides, hooked up the water, sewer, and finally the electricity. And we waited for the electrical power to kick in.

No such luck.

Every time we have traveled in this "new" motorhome, we have had an electrical problem. And every time, Jim has sleuthed until he thought he found the source of the problem. Apparently not, however, because again we had no electricity coming into the RV.

Jim tested everything, including (this time) the electrical chord. One "leg" of the chord was not conducting electricity, so he concluded the chord was faulty. It happens. Chords get yanked on every time they are used, and wires can break.

It was about 4:30. I started calling RV parts stores in the area. We found one that was still open, and the clerk said he could have a chord for us in the morning. Cost: $217, with tax. He would call us in the a.m. when it was delivered.

Jim managed to get us limited electricity for the evening. In the morning he said he had to test one more thing: the reel to which the chord is attached.

Lo and behold! When he took apart the reel, he found the source of the problem. Two of the contact points (similar to brushes in an electrical motor) were worn down. He managed to clean them up and get electricity restored. (Have I mentioned that my husband can fix anything?)

The fix he made was temporary. He'll make a permanent fix once we return home. But in the meantime, we are back in business.

The chord we ordered? Well, it was special-ordered. The dealer was super nice; we gladly paid a $25 restocking fee.

Such is the life of the Reluctant RoVer.

Until later,

Linda

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Home again, after a 'tasty' down-home stop

December 1, 2013--North Carolina is known for its barbecue and its sausage. ( I guess they raise a lot of hogs in the Carolinas.) Whenever we go up to see Jim's uncle in the northeastern part of the state, we stop at a little country butcher shop to buy freshly made pork sausage. The store is well known to the people around the countryside--so well known, in fact, that it doesn't even have a sign out front! And the sausage is out of this world--so fresh that the proprietor won't even sell sausage leftover in the case from the day before!

This trip we didn't have the opportunity to go up to see his uncle, but we did want to get some Carolina sausage. So, we decided to take a scenic route across country, driving through some little towns that might have a butcher shop similar to the one we were used to visiting.

As we were driving down a two-lane highway, Jim stopped at a gas station and asked if anyone knew of a good local butcher shop. Someone gave him directions to a shop in Angiers, a small town about five miles down the road.

When we got to the town, we passed one store, but Jim didn't think that was the one the fellow recommended. So, we kept driving. We came up to another store. He went in and inquired. No luck; no sausage. So we decided to go back to the one we passed.

Turns out that this little butcher shop, aptly called The Country Store, just opened about two weeks ago.The proprietors, a black family, had plenty of experience in meat cutting. They told us they wanted to go back to the "old ways" of cutting good meat to the customer's specifications, not just give them prepackaged stuff found in groceries.  This little store wasn't the one that had been recommended, and that was probably a good thing. The butcher told us that the one we had been looking for was actually an IGA, and not all the meat and sausage were prepared on site.

When we asked about sausage, the butcher said he didn't have any, but if we would wait, he would mix some up for us. Talk about service! He ground the pork in front of us and added all the herbs and spices as we chatted with him. The cost? Well, it wasn't $3.98/pound like the Bob Evans sausage I buy at Publix. This freshly ground, very lean sausage was only $2.39/pound! I can't emphasize the fact that we saw exactly what was put into the sausage. No scraps; no mystery meat. We bought 10 pounds.

Waiting for the sausage cost us about an hour of time, but it was worth it. We ate some this morning with pancakes and eggs. Mmmm, mmmm, good. So lean there were no drippings in the fry pan.

Because we started out around 10 a.m. yesterday, and because we stopped for the sausage, then lunch, then diesel fill up (plus E85 for our car--only $2.59/gallon, thank you flex-fuel), we had a l-o-n-g day driving home. Several cups of strong black coffee kept Jim alert (I dozed), and we finally pulled into our storage home at about 11 p.m., after driving a total of 952 miles to and from Raleigh.

It was a great trip. Both of the cats behaved themselves (no fighting, no recalcitrant behavior). Charlie slept in my lap most of the way home; Xena slept in the front window for several hours. I miss my family already. I wish I could see them more often.

Our next trip? We will be going to a holiday party in West Palm in a couple of weeks, then we will spend a week in the Keys. We just plan to relax and fish and hopefully snorkel, if the weather is good and the water is warm. We will probably also go down to Key West, have a nice dinner, and visit the Truman White House, something we missed last trip down there.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda


Saturday, November 30, 2013

A day for gratitude

November 30, 2013--The sun is shining; it is cold outside. But our hearts are warm. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We had much to be thankful for this year. My greatest thanks was that my husband not only survived his accident in May, but has healed. It was a miracle (in my book) that he did not die on May 23, when he fell from the roof of the RV. Now, here he is, again transporting us across the countryside, in good health.

Another of my thanks was to be with half of my family. My son is a source of great pride for me. He is following a passion to do some good in the world. We don't know where this will lead yet, and we may not see the fruits of his long labors for a period of time. But his thinking and his work have caused a change in how he sees the world. It's been a tough journey to this point, but who said life is easy?









I am thankful for Rob's wife Corky, who is a loving and supportive woman. We've known each other for around 18 years. I believe we are now good friends.

I am thankful for my grandchildren (all four of them). Each has his or her talents and blossoms on their personality. Campbell is effervescent and deep into her ice skating. Ben is a little wit and is thoroughly taken up with gymnastics. Maddie is a beautiful teenager/young woman, who absorbs what is going on around her with a quiet curiosity. And Jackson, full of energy, is astoundingly knowledgeable about computers and Ipads. I love them all with my whole heart.

We didn't do as much "tourist" stuff around Raleigh as we had planned, but we had a wonderful time.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant Rover,
Linda

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Brrrr

November 27, 2013--Brrr...it's cold here in Raleigh! But I get ahead of myself.

We left Jacksonville on Monday and had a pleasant if not long (as always, about nine hours total) journey here. The previous day, Sunday, was u-g-l-y in Jacksonville--overcast with high winds. Fortunately, the skies cleared and the wind died down. We had no problems driving up here.

We arrived after dark. Our plan was to stay at the North Carolina State Fair Grounds, a hidden camping gem for RVers. Except for October (when the State Fair gears up), the State Fair Grounds offers more than 300 full hookup spots for a bargain price of $25/night. And best of all, it is only 5 miles from Rob's house!

No amenities, of course, but who cares? Camping is on a first-come basis. According to the security guard I had talked with a few days ago, he said there shouldn't be any problem getting a space this time of year. He said to call him when we got in.

I did that, and would you believe he called me by name? He had programmed his phone to accept my name! He met us, led us into the campground, and checked us in.

Again, we had a minor problem (we hope) with our electrical hookup. (Jim will check it out fully when we get home.) But not to worry: We have full electricity, water, and sewer. We are snug as a bug in a rug.

Good thing, too. Because it is darned cold! It is dropping to 22 degrees tonight. Jim will disconnect the water hose so that it won't freeze. Our heater and multiple blankets will keep us warm.

Tuesday we spent with Rob and Corky, just catching up. (The kids were in school.) Today, though, Corky, Maddie, Jackson, Jim and I spent the day at the North Carolina Museum of Science as well as the N.C. Museum of History. (Rob had work to do--the hazards of getting a business off the ground solo.) Good day. Everyone enjoyed the museums, especially the special exhibit of birds of paradise. (The museums were free! Just a small charge to see the special exhibit.)





 Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I've brought everything with me for a gluten-free dinner, from the turkey to a cheesecake. Jack and I mixed up a pumpkin pie, which he and Corky baked in the pie shell I made a couple days ago.

We have a lot to be thankful for. I'm glad we are here. My family is glad, too.

Until later (and Happy Thanksgiving to you!),

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda




Practice Makes Perfect

November 25, 2013--By George, I think we've got it!

By "it" I mean this packing up and going thing.

The first time we traveled in our RV (about three years ago), it took us quite a while to pack up and get going. And even with that, we forgot some essential things, such as pillows. I didn't let that happen again; I took a set of pillows and installed them as permanent fixtures  in the bedroom.

We also quickly learned that it would be best to let the RV have its own coffee pot, dishes, pots and pans, silverware, etc. Junior even has its own iron! (Not that it has been out of the box yet, but you never know.)

Our latest permanently installed items are two new litter boxes. Now we don't have to transport them every time we want to travel.

I think my goal is to duplicate everything in my house that I could possibly need on a trip. It would be great if we could each have an RV wardrobe so that we wouldn't have to pack clothes, but I don't think that will happen. However, because we have duplicated many of our basic needs (from sheets to toilet paper), when we took off this morning, we only had to pack perishable foods and the cats.
Xena and Charlie, surprisingly content with each other. 


 Forty-five minutes after getting up, we were on the way to Junior. And 90 minutes after arising, we were on the road. (It should be apparent to you that we did not have any lost-cat problems this trip. In fact, they came almost willingly. Almost, not quite.)


Like I said, I've think we've got it!

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013--By George, I think we've got it!

By "it" I mean this packing up and going thing.

The first time we traveled in our RV (about three years ago), it took us quite a while to pack up and get going. And even with that, we forgot some essential things, such as pillows. I didn't let that happen again; I took a set of pillows and installed them as permanent fixtures  in the bedroom.

We also quickly learned that it would be best to let the RV have its own coffee pot, dishes, pots and pans, silverware, etc. Junior even has its own iron! (Not that it has been out of the box yet, but you never know.)

Our latest permanently installed items are two new litter boxes. Now we don't have to transport them every time we want to travel.

I think my goal is to duplicate everything in my house that I could possibly need on a trip. It would be great if we could each have an RV wardrobe so that we wouldn't have to pack clothes, but I don't think that will happen. However, because we have duplicated many of our basic needs (from sheets to toilet paper), when we took off this morning, we only had to pack perishable foods and the cats. Forty-five minutes after getting up, we were on the way to Junior. And 90 minutes after arising, we were on the road. (It should be apparent to you that we did not have any lost-cat problems this trip. In fact, they came almost willingly. Almost, not quite:>)

Like I said, I've think we've got it!

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Home again

October 26, 2013, Jacksonville, Fla.--We're home.

This trip we put 906 miles on Junior. We traveled up to Atlanta, across Georgia to Augusta, across South Carolina to Charleston, and then back home to Jacksonville. 

We saw beautiful rolling countryside, antebellum mansions and plantations, and the Beach Boys. We drank Coca Cola soft drinks from around the world, ate Gullah cuisine, and mastered Atlanta's mass transit system. 

This trip we didn't drive on any levees, get stuck in sand dunes, or follow bad coordinates around an oxbow lake. 

We did learn that we could dry camp for a week on 100 gallons of water, our solar panels, and our generator. We also learned that we didn't miss TV too much. We did not take our satellite system, and the antenna failed to pick up many TV stations. Good books make good traveling companions. 

Our only real "excitement" resulted from two electrical electrical problems. One was a faulty GFI breaker in Junior; the other was a faulty breaker at the last RV park in South Carolina. These problems took away from our tourist time and were troubling for a while, but as usual, my husband was able to figure out what was wrong and fixed it. 

Our cats even became good travelers. Although Xena left unwanted "gifts" three times outside of the litter box, she and Charlie got along pretty well. They didn't hide; they found comfortable places to sleep while we traveled. Charlie even sat in my lap most of the time while we were driving.

We had a good trip. Even though we didn't go far, we saw a lot. We are even thinking about Georgia or South Carolina as possible places where we might relocate to. Time will tell on that issue.

All that said, I'm glad to be home. It is a beautiful evening here. Our little lake is still as a mirror, reflecting the setting sun. I've topped off the swim/spa and turned up the heat, so tomorrow I'll take a swim. And then I'll get ready to take my next trip--to Chicago. I leave Wednesday. The trip won't be as comfortable (I'm going by air), but I'll be seeing grandkids, and that will make up for the couple hours of discomfort in the cattle-car environment of the airplane.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda


Friday, October 25, 2013

Charleston: Mansions, slaves, and Gullah cuisine

October 25, 2013, Charleston, S.C.--Charleston, S.C., has been on my list of places to visit. Now I can say I have been there.

In some ways, Charleston reminded me of New Orleans, with its grand old homes, riverfront views, narrow streets, its history, and its traffic. Yes, traffic. For a city that isn’t really that big, Charleston has a real traffic problem.

Yesterday, while Jim was trying to solve another electrical problem (it turned out to be the RV park’s problem, not ours), I went into Charleston on my own. The day before, we had driven into the historic downtown area and gathered brochures at the Visitors Center, where we discovered that the city offers three free trolley car rides to tourists (as well as to residents). I intended to park in one of the public lots somewhere along one of the main streets (Meeting St. or King St.) and catch a trolley for an unguided tour.
The fountain in Battery Park was dyed pink in honor of breast cancer awareness.


I drove around for at least 30 minutes (maybe longer), looking for a place to park. Every lot was full. My dilemma reminded me of the last time I had gone into New Orleans before moving back to Indiana: I had wanted to take some final pictures, and drove into the city. Unfortunately, I could not find a parking place, so I gave up and went back home. I never did take any pictures of landmarks in New Orleans.

I didn’t give up so easily yesterday. Instead, I drove back to the Visitors Center and parked there. I caught the Green Line Trolley and rode it around until it arrived at Market St. I wandered the four blocks of open-air market buildings, which have stood there since 1807, bought some excellent pralines for dessert, and then re-caught the trolley and headed home.
The open-air market extends for four blocks and has stood in the same place since it was opened in 1807.


The old mansions in Charleston are quaint and beautiful. We noticed that many of the mansions face inward. We later learned that they were built with their front porches either facing west or south to catch the best sun as well as the sea breezes. 
A mansion whose front porches face inward rather to the street.


Jim and I are not “into” mansions and plantations, so we did not take a city tour. Instead, we took a Gullah Geechee Culture Tour.


Gullah (also known as Geechee) is a culture and a language spoken by the slaves who were brought to the area from Africa. This invented language is a hodgepodge of English and African languages. It is still spoken by some Gullah peoples who live on the barrier islands in South Carolina and Georgia, but it is a dying language and culture.

Our tour guide took us around the city and two of the barrier islands and explained slavery and the Gullah culture in Charleston. It was a very informative two and a half hours.
Slave quarters on one of the barrier island plantations.
A cemetery for blacks. This tombstone is for Porgy, upon whom the opera Porgy and Bess was based. His mother's tombstone is behind his. The cemetery began as a slave cemetery. However, slaves did not have tombstones.
The 1400-year-old Angel oak, which stands on land that was part of Abraham Waight's 1717 land grant. The tree is really probably about 400 years old. Legend has it that ghosts of slaves dance around the tree. 


After the tour finished, we found a Gullah restaurant the guide recommended. I had a Gullah specialty of rice, sausage, chicken, and shrimp. I would liken it to jambalaya, although the spices were different and it was not tomato-based. Jim had a seafood bisque with Gullah red rice (a spicy rice; Gullahs eat rice with all their meals). The lunch was typical low-country and excellent.

With lunch under our belts, we found Patriot’s Point, a park and sports complex area that is home to the USS Yorktown (a WWII aircraft carrier). We also found a memorial to South Carolinian submariners--a replica of a submarine with the sail (conning tower) and the rudder from two different boats.
USS Yorktown aircraft carrier

The submarine memorial In Patriots Point


Charleston has a lot of museums and is a repository of history. It is where the Civil War began, with the attack on Fort Sumter. If I were to come back, I think I would want to visit some of these museums. But for now, we passed on them.

Tomorrow we head on home.

It has been a good trip.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Augusta--Georgia and South Carolina

October 22, 2013, Augusta, Ga.--I’ve written Augusta, Ga., as my dateline, but in reality we are across the Savannah River in a small town called Beech Island, S.C. We found this RV park through Passport America, a membership group that gets us a 50% discount on RV park stays. I have to tell you, this has been the friendliest stay we’ve ever had.

Usually when you pull into an RV park, the first thing you do is check in at the office, give your name and perhaps some other information, and pay up front.

Not here.4

This is a small park, developed on someone’s home site many years ago. The owner lives on site. He met us as we pulled up and guided us to a spot to park our rig. After we got settled in, we had a nice conversation. I actually brought up payment! It was only $20--for two nights. Mind you, this is for full hookups: electric, water, and sewer.

Jim asked our host what there was to do around here. (We are five miles from Augusta, Ga., across the river.) We also asked about a good South Carolina barbecue place. He said he’d check out a couple of things and get back to us.

A couple hours later, the host knocked on our door. He handed Jim a bag of pecans (complimentary; he also has black walnuts for the asking), as well as several brochures his wife downloaded. This was very helpful. And how thoughtful!

Our first destination was just down the road from our RV park. It was the Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site. Unfortunately for us, the plantation house was not open for tours today. However, the park ranger gave us a very informative talk as she pointed out a number of artifacts housed in the visitor center.


The Redcliffe Plantation was built by James Henry Hammond, who had been a senator and governor of South Carolina. He was not an admirable man. He was someone who micromanaged everyone around him--and abused them. However, he kept meticulous records, and from his written records, a great deal is known about how slaves lived, ate, and were treated. He actually had written a job description for his slave overseers!

Our next stop was lunch. We found downtown Augusta, and drove down Broad Street where most of the retail stores and restaurants seem to be located (aside from shopping centers, of course). We ate at a Mexican restaurant where we shared a large plate of delicious nachos.

Our next tourist destination was the Augusta Canal, the only industrial canal still in use in the United States. Built in 1845, it harnesses the water of the Savannah River and powered the mills, which were built as the canal was finished. The canal is clean. Augusta’s drinking water comes from it. Along its banks is a wildlife refuge area. People kayak and canoe and fish along the 82 mile canal. We took an informative hour-long boat tour down the canal. For the price of a boat ride, we also were able to browse through the canal’s museum.

Down the Augusta Canal in a Petersburg boat replica. This type of boat carried goods (mostly cotton) and people down the canal to the Savannah River.

A now-closed mill. Today, because of the canal, it still generates $400K income, through electric power generation.

The smokestack of the Confederate Armory. This is all that remains of the armory, where all munitions were manufactured for the rebel troops.

The only lock on the canal.

The oldest bridge in Augusta, designed after bridges in Venice, Italy.

Wildlife (turtle) sunning in the canal. We also saw a river otter.

After the boat tour, we drove around a bit, just taking in Augusta. I looked on our GPS for other attractions and found one that said “Creighton Living History Park.” Curious, we decided to check it out. It was located in North Augusta, S.C., just across the river from Augusta.


This park had a number of original buildings, which apparently are manned by re-enactors at specific times. I’m sure the park is used as a learning tool by teachers and enjoyed by students. The old buildings were not open, but the park was open to stroll through. It was charming and peaceful, with its bubbling spring that ran throughout the area.


It was a full day, and a nice one. Tomorrow we are off to Charleston. (We decided to postpone a visit to Raleigh until possibly November.)

Until next time,


Your Reluctant RoVer,

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Getting clean

Hampton, Ga.--Boondocking requires conservation.

Electricity is not a problem. We have some solar panels, so on a sunny day, we can keep our house batteries pretty well charged and don't have to run the generator to make coffee or use the microwave. We run the generator when we watch TV, but that's about the only time.

Water (fresh and waste) is another issue. Short navy showers (get wet, lather up, rinse off) are a must. Paper plates are highly recommended.  Some people trek down to public showers to clean up, but I'd rather not do that. I've even seen people walking out to the port-o-potties to avoid filling their own black (waste) tanks.

We've done well. One more night here, but we have not had to call for the "honey wagon" to dump, nor the fresh water wagon to refill our potable water.

I don't like the combo washer-dryer unit we have in this RV; I much prefer the stacked washer-dryer (just like those found frequently in apartments). The stacked unit allowed for bigger loads and was faster. However, the combo unit is what we have. Unfortunately, it can take about 1.5 hours to wash and dry a very small load of clothes. Instead of doing laundry once a week, as I do at home, using the combo requires doing a small load each night.

However, when you are dry camping, you cannot use your washer-dryer. The water would be gone in a jiffy, and the holding tank would fill up quickly.

After a week of camping, our clothes hamper was overfilled. So, this morning I found a laundromat.

The cost of using a laundromat's washer's has increased considerably over the years. It is no longer 50 or 75 cents. The big front loader (I put in two loads) cost $5.50. The small front loader (one load) was $3.75. (This laundry did not have top-loading machines.) Drying cost an additional $1.50 for all loads. That's $10.75 to wash and dry the equivalent of three loads of clothes!

Oh, well. The laundromat was just down the road; it was relatively clean; and now we have enough clean clothes to finish out our trip. However, if we stay in a campground with full hookups, I'll be doing small loads each night.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda



Saturday, October 19, 2013

A home show for RVers

Have you ever gone to a home show? Jim and I usually go to both spring and fall home shows put on in Jacksonville. It's fun to walk around and see new merchandise. It's also a good time to talk with venders about products we might be in the market for in the near future.

RV shows are home shows for a very mobile audience. The venders at RV shows specialize in items that are unique to recreational vehicles, and believe me, you could go broke if you gave into impulse buying. But, like home shows, RV shows are good places to gather information for future purchases. Sometimes you get really good bargains, too.

Yesterday, we purchased one of those bargains--Good Sam travel benefits and assistance. For a discounted price of $79 for one year, I bought peace of mind, should an emergency occur while we are away from home.

The travel plan is actually a specialized insurance program. If either of us had a medical emergency, the plan would take care of getting us home. It would also take care of the cost of getting the RV home--plus other benefits and assistance, such as finding a doctor or vet. Two years ago this type of travel benefit was included in the membership for FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association). However, FMCA dropped the benefit as part of its membership package and started selling it separately, just as Good Sam does. The $79 is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

As we wander through the vender buildings, Jim is gathering information on such things as stabilizer bars, batteries, LED light systems, replacement awning fabric, and water pumps. Who knows if we will buy any of these things?

In the meantime, we look and lust after all the aftermarket products available to moneyed RVers. And we sign up for drawings and get free samples of products that "guaranteed to change our life."

It's all in fun.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda


Friday, October 18, 2013

Rally around the Beach Boys

Hampton, Ga.--Just a few notes...

When we arrived here on Tuesday afternoon, there were several hundred RVs parked in various lots around the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Now, there are thousands--I would guess between 8,000 and 10,000.



We have spent the last couple of days sitting in various educational seminars on successful RVing. Jim is most interested in better understanding motorhome electrical systems and waste systems. I learned more about using that miracle invention Velcro in RVs. Because we've been at this for going on three years now, I didn't learn too many new tricks, but I did hear a couple of innovative ways to use Velcro. It really is a lifesaver in an RV.

We are now able to run our generator without "breaking" the rules. Jim completed the exhaust stack last night, and it works great!

The cats are basically behaving themselves. Xena was naughty once, but not since then. Oh, yes. Last night she jumped off the couch to go get a snack out of the dry food bowl. After a few bites, she went back to napping. A few minutes later I got up from my computer and discovered that she had deliberately tipped the food bowl over, spilling the bits all over the floor! I don't know what got into her; she's never done that before.

The Rally has a lot of social activities, for those who are bent on socializing. (I am not.) As part of the cost of admission (which, for us, was free), everyone is invited to three concerts. Tonight, it was the Beach Boys, which still has one of the original members, Mike Love. Neither of us was ever a fan of this music group, but we felt that we "had" to go. So we did, for about a half hour. I never went to a Beach Boys concert when I was young. Now I can say I did as an oldster.


Tomorrow the concert is Vince Gill. I am told he is a country music star. We will probably go to the concert, but I doubt that we will stay very long.

Time to close,

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer

Linda

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Roughing it, motorhome style

Hampton, Ga.--You've probably used the phrase "out in the boondocks." To RVers, the boondocks can be a very real thing.

We are in Hampton, Ga., camped out with thousands of other RVers at the Camping World/Good Sam National Rally. (We went to the same rally last year, but it was put on in Daytona Beach, Fla.) Because we are lifetime Good Sam members and because we must have purchased a requisite dollar amount from Camping World, our camping and attendance at this show is free. (All we had to pay was for two nights early-bird camping, for $35.)

We are boondocking--that is, dry camping.

We've done this before, usually for only one night staying at a Walmart or rest stop, while enroute to a destination. We tried boondocking for a longer period of time when we went to Quartzite, Az., two years ago. We lasted, I think, three or four days.

Dry camping is just that: no hookups for water, electricity, or sewer. Everything is self-contained. It is roughing it, albeit with all the comforts of home (hot water, toilet, television, computer, gas stove, etc.). Those comforts come with a cost, however. The cost is the use of coveted resources of water, electricity, and waste-water tank capacity.

Our solar panels have been a big help. (You remember those solar panels...the ones Jim was installing when we fell off the roof and broke eight ribs, his clavicle, scapula, left hand, and left foot?) The solar panels help keep our house batteries charged, so we can use electricity. However, the more you use, the more you drain the batteries. If the sun isn't shining (or we need more power), we have to run the generator. That burns fuel, of course, but it gives us electricity to do anything we want, just as if we were plugged into a receptacle.

The generator is another issue. Because of the close proximity of the parked RVs, we are required to put an extension on the generator exhaust pipe, to pull the carbon monoxide fumes away from the RVs. Ever resourceful, Jim did not want to pay $150 for a kit that was comprised of a bent pipe, a couple of clamps, and some PVC. So he's making his own extension kit for a fraction of the cost. He'll have it done later this afternoon. However, because we aren't "legal" we've limited using our generator, out of consideration of others around us.

Water is another issue. So far, so good. To conserve water, we take "Navy" showers: wet down, lather up, rinse off. We use disposable plates as much as possible. We try not to run water except when absolutely necessary.

What happens if our grey and black water tanks fill up or we run out of water? Not to fear; the Rally has provided a "honey" wagon (which pumps sewage) and a water truck. All for a fee, of course. So far, however, we are doing well. We'll see if we can last the week.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

MARTA, CNN, and Coca Cola: A full day

I used to take the train to work, when I worked in Chicago and lived in Wilmette, a northern suburb. I loved the no-nonsense commute. I would also occasionally take the El into downtown Chicago. That required being a little more adventuresome, since it required transferring trains, but I learned to do it, and I discovered that I didn't have to put up with the cost and trouble of finding parking in the city.

When Jim suggested taking MARTA (which I think stands for Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transportation Authority), I was hesitant: We didn't know how to use the system. However, since we learned to do it in Washington, D.C., we figured we could do it in Atlanta.

The Rally is located in Hampton, Ga., a southside suburb about 20 from downtown. The closest MARTA station is at the airport, but we opted to go another couple of miles to a town called College Place. There we found free parking (and luckily a parking spot in the crowded lot!). As we were trying to figure out how to buy tickets, a lady came up to us and explained the whole process. I don't think we was with MARTA, but even if she was, it was a friendly and helpful gesture. We bought two round-trip tickets for $5 each. We also had to purchase a card for $1 each. The woman also told us that CNN and Coca Cola were within walking distance of each other. (She was right.)

As a side note: The RV Rally sponsors several area tours, including one that takes in CNN headquarters and the World of Coca Cola, which is next door to the Georgia Aquarium. The cost of the tour was close to $70 a person. Jim and I decided to go on our own. Our cost: $24 each for the combo tour tickets ($48), plus the cost of MARTA transportation--$12. We spent half as much as the cost of the bus tour.

We had no problem with the train, which dropped us virtually at the doorstep of CNN. We only had to wait a few minutes for a tour. In addition to us, there was a father and son, so this was a pretty private tour.

Being on the tour let me fulfill a lifelong dream: to read the news on air! Well, sort of. CNN has a mock-up studio as a first stop on the tour. After the guide explained how the teleprompters worked, as well as some other technical details of putting on the news, he invited one of us to try reading the news. It was my chance. Unfortunately, it didn't occur to my husband to take a picture(: He said I looked nice on TV, though.

A view as we were going up the eight-story escalator.

CNN newsroom

The CNN tour was really very interesting. If I were young, I think I would like to work in broadcasting. Broadcasting, though, is a young person's job, since its constant deadlines are very trying.

After CNN we trekked across Centennial Park to the World of Coca Cola. It, too, was interesting, despite its being pure marketing. It was fun to sit through the 4D movie as well as to watch a collage of international commercials. The best part, however, was being able to taste more than 60 coke-brand flavors from throughout the world.



Many of the flavors were similar to ones we have here; some, however, were absolutely horrible.

When I starting tasting, I filled my plastic cup with about one or two ounces of each soda. It didn't take long for me to reduce the taste test for a lot less. You figure it out: one ounce each of 60 flavors is almost two quarts! We passed on tasting flavors available only in the United States. (Been there, done that.)

We hadn't eaten anything all day, so after the Coke tour, despite being filled up with soda, we were going to look for a place to eat. Jim wanted to go to Atlanta Underground; I have never been there, but several people who know the area told us to be "careful" of that area of the city. We stopped to ask directions from a police office. His advice? Don't go there. He said that it wasn't like it was 20 years ago, when Jim had been there. Now it was unsavory and mostly only flea-market stalls, with no good restaurants. We decided to pass.

The police officer recommending a hike up to the Varsity, a hot-dog/hamburger restaurant near Georgia Tech. It was quite a hike for foot-weary trekkers, but we made it. Jim said the Varsity is often shown on football games. I never heard of it. No matter; we didn't eat there. They did not have gluten-free buns, and eating a hot dog without a bun wasn't appealing. We decided to head home.

By this time, my feet were really aching. I looked around and mused, "I think there must be a MARTA stop near here." As I pulled out my smart phone to try to find out, Jim stopped a passer-by, who pointed to the MARTA station a half block away. Yea! We didn't have to walk back downtown.

Lunch? Well, it turned into dinner. When we got off MARTA at our station, we caught a whiff of barbecue. As we drove off, we found the restaurant and sated our appetite. It was good barbecue.

Tomorrow the Rally actually starts. We'll be going to seminars and visiting venders. Should be fun. What is not so much fun is rationing water and electricity, since we are dry-camping. More about that later.

For now, I am

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Georgia on our mind

I never thought much about Georgia, until I moved to northern Florida. For much of my life, I equated Georgia with Atlanta. Of course, I knew the state had much more than that metropolis, since I have traveled through it on several occasions. But on this trip, I seem to be really seeing Georgia for the first time.

We spent a couple of days in an RV park in Unadilla, a small farming town about 30 miles from Macon. For those of you who are geographically challenged about Georgia as I have been, Macon sits just about in the middle of the state.

After we solved our electrical problems, Jim and I decided to play tourist in Macon. That wasn't a hard decision; there really wasn't much else to do around Unadilla. We had already gone to Americus where we could have visited the world headquarters of Habitat for Humanity (had we not been eager to fix our electrical problems). And we had already visited Andersonville,  which was a prisoner of war camp that had horrible living conditions. (If you haven't read the novel Andersonville, I recommend it.) So, Macon was just about the only other area to visit.

I'm glad we did. We really liked the city with its antebellum grandeur.

In some ways, Jacksonville and Macon are similar. I think Jacksonville is slightly older; both have city-county governments; and both are located on rivers, which had an impact on their development and growth. Jacksonville is much larger (864,000), vs. 155,000.

Macon, however, seems vibrant and living. Maybe it is because the antebellum homes are kept up (at least on the outside). Most of the big, old homes were closed for touring because we were there on a Monday, but we were able to tour the Hay House, a National Historic Landmark.

http://www.georgiatrust.org/images/hayhouse/367x302xhay_house.gif.pagespeed.ic.zWboku4kBe.png

The countryside in central Georgia is beautiful. Pecan trees are everywhere. I told Jim I wanted to stop and buy some pecans. We didn't have to! The RV park in Unadilla was nestled among pecan trees. Last night we picked up several pounds of the nuts. Yum!

Jim and I picked up a couple bags of pecans fallen from the trees.

These goodies were just lying about, waiting for us to pick them up!


And the rolling hills! I'm a flatlander, no doubt about it. Mountains are beautiful, but they make me nervous when I have to drive in them. But hills are another matter. I love hills, especially when I can look out on fields of blossoming cotton. (They remind me of the good times I had while living in Texas.)
A cotton field ready to be picked.

Here's a cotton bush up close. I took home a ball for a memento of our trip.


We will be driving northeast across Georgia next week, in order to go to Raleigh. As we make our journey, we'll see more of these lovely countryside.

In the meantime, we are not discounting the possibility of the Macon area for relocation. Just an idea right now. We need to do a lot of research about cost of living, including housing and real estate taxes.

We're not in any hurry. We can come back and have an extended visit and "try out" living wherever  our curiosity takes us.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Let there be light

Unadilla, Ga., October 13, 2013—I’ve written about electrical woes before. They seem to be the bane of RVers, at least to us.

Last time we took a trip (a month ago, to south Florida), we had no electricity for one evening. At first we thought the problem lay with the hookup at the state park where we were staying. The park ranger checked everything out, however, and informed us that unfortunately, the cause of the problem was in our motorhome. We had no power all night. The next morning Jim, the Sherlock Holmes of electrical systems, finally found the cause of the outage: a ground-fault breaker. A simple fix; he just had to reset the breaker and we were back in the power business.

Last night, all was good. Everything was working well. Then, all of us sudden, around midnight, while Jim was watching TV, the power went off.

In a motorhome, you aren’t quite in the dark if the power goes off, as long as you have fully charged house batteries, which we do, thanks to the solar panels Jim installed. Nevertheless, we had to figure out what was causing the outage.

It was late, so we slept on the problem. In the morning, Jim tested the GFI and discovered that it was not functioning properly. In all likelihood that was the source of the problem. Getting a new GFI was a challenge, though. Unadilla is slightly more than a wide spot in the road. We asked “Garmina” (our GPS) the location of the nearest hardware store. 

Okay...not too bad. Unfortunately, the hardware store was also located in a very small town, and it was not open on Sunday. We asked Garmina again for suggestions. This time we opted to travel farther and opted to go to a Lowe’s, in Americus, Ga., another 20 miles away.

Americus is a quaint town, home to Habitat for Humanity. I think we actually went through this town last year when we visited Andersonville, the Civil War prison site.

After buying the GFI and driving around the town a bit, we queried my smart phone for a Mexican restaurant for lunch. We found one, El JalapeƱo. Nestled in a neighborhood nowhere near any other commercial establishments, this restaurant drew a huge after-church crowd. And no wonder. The food was cheap and terrific!

Back to the power problem. It is apparently solved (cross fingers), thanks to Jim. He changed the GFI, and now we seem to be back in business. We are hoping for no new surprises for the rest of our trip—as well as for future trips as well.

We didn’t get to “tourist” much today. Tomorrow we will find out what there is to do around here. Perhaps tour Macon? Who knows. The Georgia countryside is beautiful, and it is nice just being out of the house.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Gotcha, Charlie!

Unadilla, Ga., October 13, 2013—Both cats are traveling with us on this trip. Good thing, since we’ll be gone about two weeks, a wee bit long to have one (or both) of them left alone at home. We didn’t have any problems getting them on board, mainly because we got smarter.

As soon as I got us yesterday morning, I spied both of the felines sleeping on the porch. I then casually went outside and locked the outside cat door. That accomplished, I did the same to the inside cat door. As long as we didn’t let them in the house, the cats had no place to hide.

Junior is stored north of us, so instead of driving the RV home to load it, we began our loading Friday by packing virtually all our clothes.

With Charlie and Xena safely captured on the porch, Jim and I loaded the car. With everything else stowed, we tackled the cats. Jim took Xena (no problem). But then Charlie decided something was up and started running away from us. He had no place to hide, but it took a few minutes for us to corral him anyway. Finally, we had them both in animal crates, and we were off.

So far, so good. So far, no unwelcome “gifts” from Xena (although I anticipate this will change at some point, unfortunately, since she has a way of getting back at us for restricting her freedom). They traveled well, even coming out to see what was going on as we rambled down the road.

We are staying a couple of nights in Unadilla, Ga., about 120 miles Atlanta, off I75. Jim put the harness and leash on each of our feline friends and tried to get them to explore outside, properly tethered. They didn’t like it. He’ll try again; maybe someday they will get used to being on a leash. (On our first trip to Yuma we met a woman who took her cat for a leashed walk every night, just as if she had a dog.)

Oh...one more thing. When we came home earlier this evening, Charlie was sleeping in the lounge area, but Xena was nowhere in sight. I finally found her: In one of my underbed drawers! She had crawled under the bed and found a way to hide in the drawer.

Never under estimate the power of a cat.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant Rover,

Linda


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dragon Boats and Home-Improvement Ideas

September 21, 2013, Jacksonville—Who says you have to leave home to rove? I was a not-so-reluctant rover today as we explored downtown Jacksonville.




The city hosted two different events today. One we had never seen before—dragon boat racing. According to Wikipedia:

" dragon boat (also dragonboat) is a human-powered watercraft made in the Pearl River Delta region of China's southern Guangdong Province out of teak wood to various designs and sizes. In other parts of China different woods are used to build these traditional watercraft. It is one of a family of Traditional Paddled Long Boats found throughout AsiaAfrica, and the Pacific Islands. Dragon boats are the basis of the team paddling sport of dragon boat racing an amateur water sport which has its roots in an ancient folk ritual of contending villagers held over the past 2000 years throughout southern China. While 'competition' has taken place annually for more than 20 centuries as part of religious ceremonies and folk customs, dragon boat racing has emerged in modern times as an international sport, beginning in Hong Kong in 1976..."

This year was the first dragon boat festival in Jacksonville, held to support the fight against breast cancer. We decided to see what it was all about. We expected races all day. However, there were three heats. We got to the river side in time for the second heat, where we saw the long boats manned by teams of 20, who paddle to the beat of a drummer. It reminded me of Viking warships seen in movies. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, even though they were paddling against the current.

After we watched the heat, we headed over to the Fall Home Show. I think we’ve only missed one or two of these semi-annual events (spring and fall). It’s fun just to walk around and get ideas on home improvements. We were tempted to buy some of the products, but we didn’t. (Whew!)

By then it was mid-afternoon. We headed home and hung out by our swim-spa. Ah, life in Florida!
Until next time (which we anticipate will be next week, when we head back to Orlando area).

Your Reluctant Rover,


Linda

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Tale of Two Cats

September 20, 2013, Jacksonville, Fla.—Home again.

We arrived home yesterday afternoon, unsure of what we would find in the house. If you recall, when we left Saturday morning, Charlie decided he did not want to travel. He hid somewhere in the house (or perhaps outside). We searched every conceivable nook and cranny but could not find the little devil.

Charlie has a history of hiding. In our first motorhome, he hid so well when we departed Yuma, Ariz., that we thought we had left him behind. Turned out he had jumped behind the kitchen cabinets when the slide was in and hid inside a cupboard drawer. In our new motorhome, he has already found a way to hide under the bed, sometimes necessitating removing an under-bed drawer to let him out.
Charlie

Xena




We finally decided to leave him a big bowl of food and water and go. What would be would be.
Xena has always been our little bad girl when we travel. The first day or so is usually good, but almost inevitably we find little “gifts” in the coach—even when we use two litter boxes. This has always happened when we have the two cats in transit.

Not this time, however. She was a good girl. She was cuddly, came out during the drives, usually slept on our bed, and used her litter box every time. No gifts.

The “gift problem” obviously must be a retaliation against sharing with Charlie. Xena just doesn’t like to share —at least with him. Maybe it’s because he occasionally tries to, well...you know...her...despite the fact that he was fixed before I even got him from the pound.

So, what would we find when we got home? An angry cat who tore up our house? A starved cat who refused to eat anything while we were gone? Or would he even be home or alive?

He was fine. When Jim opened the door, he was out on the porch, sleeping in his chair. He got up and greeted us and immediately started talking and demanding attention.

No “gifts.” No damage. No mess. I wonder if he realized we had left him?

We still don’t know where he hid, and we’ll probably never know. The next time we leave, however, we will be more careful to get him into an enclosed area where he cannot hide. I didn’t mind leaving him for six days, but should we take an extended trip, that would be another story.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant Rover,


Linda