November 2008 Archives

Awake: 7:04am Temp 48 sleep 6+35 sunny overnight @ Holt, FL.

We call Kevin & Melissa & wish them “Happy Thanksgiving” & talk about other subjects. They plan on having “Thanksgiving” dinner with Don & Josie & a few others in Ebensburg, PA.

Katrina calls: we exchange Thanksgiving wishes & then she talks with Kathy about some cooking ideas. Katrina will join a few of her friends today who are having a Thanksgiving dinner & she will be bringing a homemade apple pie + sweet potatoes.

Call Nick & family in Seattle; Jerry is keeping Nick busy playing with cars, trucks, trains, etc. I took the hint & made my call short.

We leave @ 12:20pm & drive to Ted & Jane’s home for Thanksgiving visiting & dinner. En route we call Zack, who may be in Michigan & wish him & KT a “Happy Thanksgiving.”

When we arrived @ 1:10pm, the party had already started; the living room coffee table was loaded with all sorts of goodies & drinks were offered. I kind of goofed this morning by eating my regular large breakfast so I graciously declined their gentle offerings.

Ed & Ted were busy discussing fine whiskies, bourbons & other Irish produced liquors. Having Irish blood, Ted has focused & studied on this subject for yrs so we all now consider him to be an honorary connoisseur &, as a result, treat him with the utmost admiration & respect. No one, not even Jane, will challenge his memory or taste on how the best scotch, bourbon, whiskey, etc are made & aged.

Not to give anyone the idea that this was our only topic of the day….not quite; Ted & I reviewed our knowledge of photography & methods of selecting a winning shot by angles, light source, shadows, etc. It’s just another humble talent that Ted tries to hide, but the pictures he brings out to show us & scrutinize, tell the truth; he’s very, very good at this.

As I casually watch Ted interact with his father-in-law, his wife Jane, & us too, it’s obvious that he is determined to do his best in everything he does, be it work, hobby or flying the big jets again. Ed is very impressed with Ted & commented often, “if anything is going to be done right, Ted will do it!” His determination, his drive, persistence, spirit, stubbornness, etc, will get him to where he wants to go.

Jane, by the way, is no slouch either. She is also very humble & one has to prod a bit to get her to show some of her artistic work: faux painted & marbleized walls in their home; sewing projects; mural painting for family & friends (hope she’ll be available when we build our house!). Jane teaches art at a Christian elementary school & involves her students in many projects. When living in AK she had her own jewelry making business, but now only answers special requests.

Thanksgiving dinner started out with a prayer by Jane & then some picture taking. As far as I know, Jane did all the cooking: turkey breast roll, mashed potatoes & gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, & rolls…delicious! Joanne made the dessert; pecan & pumpkin pies…yummy!

While the women cleaned up the dishes, Ted gave me a tour of his garage…unbelievable.
The 2 car garage is one big area surrounded by floor to ceiling cabinets; no tools, lawn mower, oil…nothing is visible. But behind those cabinet doors…an organized life of drills, air compressor tools, oil, paint, lawn mower, lawn chairs…everything a garage should have except a mess! WOW! The one visible item is a “beer-erator,” a refrigerator with (2) tap spigots attached to cold beer inside.

In the early evening, the women went shopping @ Michaels for some craft supplies that Jane wanted, returning in a little over an hour. We guys return to our chairs & sofa for some more talking + a few sips of “this & that” along the way.

The afternoon went quickly as did the evening; we say our goodbyes to Ed & Joanne as they leave & they invite us to visit them next winter & experience a so called: “Bacon Roast” @ their place. “We most definitely will consider that,” we tell them.

Our time here has been an absolutely wonderful eye opener: Jane & Ted have whisked around the house catering to us; no mention of pain, misery, discouragement, or whatever. We admire them for their perseverance & strength in a long, very complicated & painful recovery. They certainly did not dwell on that matter, but willingly responded to any of our questions or comments. We will do our best to keep in touch with them.

Back to our coach @ 10:35pm, we watch ½ of the DVR movie: “Bonjour Tristesse.”

Lights out: 12:31am

Awake: 6:43am Temp 35 sleep 7+11 sunny overnight @ Holt, FL.

My sister Corinne calls from Lilly, Pa; we share talk time, however it was most appropriate that the nurse used more minutes due to the discussion of Corinne’s blood clot in her leg.

Around noon time, we drive the Suzuki to downtown Pensacola & visit the T.T. Wentworth, Jr., Florida State Museum….all (3) floors. The building was the old City Hall & packed with artwork, artifacts, antiques, old photos of yesteryear, a collection of (800) salt & pepper shakers, history of the U.S. Mail delivery system, a very sophisticated doll house collection with extremely well made miniature furniture, etc. We spent a good (2) hrs looking & reading about the history & lifestyle of early Pensacola.

Next, we drive a few blocks down the street to tour about (10) Historic Pensacola Village homes/buildings of the 1860’s era. Unfortunately we missed the last tour of the day, so we walked around the block to see these buildings/homes from the outside & peek thru a window now & then.

Then, top off the Suzuki’s fuel tank with: 14 gal @ $1.72 per gallon. After that, we visit “Richey’s East Liquor Store.” Ted recommended this place for the best prices in town for wine & liquor. The store was so packed; one could barely push a cart thru the aisles.

Next, we stop @ the Caribbean Soup Company for a bowl of soup. Only one car parked @ the building & it belonged to the manager; our thoughts: what are we in for? Well, this cook/manager wasted no time in giving us samples of some very delicious soups; explaining what was in each, that they use only fresh ingredients, & what taste to expect. We were so impressed with the tastes that we ordered a 12oz bowl of chicken in coconut milk. It came with crackers & he gave us each a slice of cornbread. Excellent! We learned that this restaurant is open from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM. We were his last customers for the day.

A block down the street is McGuire’s Irish Pub where we are to meet up with Ted, Jane & her young looking parents: Ed & Joann. Now the fun begins because this is Wednesday & mug night. Ted has (5) mugs ($25.00 each) that McGuire’s hangs on the ceiling along with hundreds of others. Each owner of a registered mug can have as many refills of beer or limited hard liquor in that mug he/she wants for every Wednesday for only $1.00 each. Ted shares his (5) mugs with Ed, Kathy, & me & uses (2) for himself. Jane & Joann both drank diet Coke. Of course, Kathy & I ordered the good Scotch Ale that we liked so much last Saturday.

We both enjoy Joann & Ed & had much to talk about during the evening. K & I shared a mixed salad and popcorn; Jane had a Caesar salad & popcorn & Joann had a garden salad, some sort of egg rolls & popcorn. Ed & Ted limited themselves to popcorn & mug contents. Around 10:15pm, we agree to call it a wonderful evening. But wait! Ed says we have to have an “Irish Wake.” Of course, we don’t know what that is; Jane & Joann protest & want to leave, but Ed & Ted prevail. Turns out an “Irish Wake” is a rather potent rum mixture served in a Mason jar. Ed, Ted, Kathy, & I shared one. It tasted very good, but we were aware of the punch it could throw. We were awarded the Mason jar to take with us.

Something of note & that is widely known about McGuire’s is that for years patrons have chosen to staple $1.00 bills to the ceiling. The bills are signed & dated when hung, a protection against theft. To date the estimated value of this unique decoration is somewhere between $700,000 & $1,000,000.

We look forward to spending more time with this fun group tomorrow & thank Ted for those extra mug refills. We return to our coach @ 11:25pm & no movie tonight.

Lights out: 12:29am

Awake: 5:37 am Temp 46 sleep 6+12 sunny—breezy overnight @ Holt, FL.

Kathy sends Thanksgiving wishes over the Internet to family & friends.

Katrina calls with questions relating to her automobile & I have answers.

Early afternoon, K & I walk the campground for (45) min of exercise.

Later, I send a few “Happy Thanksgiving” messages via the Internet.

Dinner: Italian sausage, spaghetti, mixed salad, whole wheat bread with balsamic vinegar & olive oil.

Nick calls as he’s walling home from work; it’s Kathy’s turn to talk with Nick.

Evening DVR movie: “They won’t Forget” with Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson, Otto Kruger, Allyn Joslyn, Elisha Cook, Jr. Electrifying drama begins when pretty high school student is murdered in Southern town. A man is arrested & a big-time Northern lawyer takes the case, but everyone seems more interested in exploiting personal interests than in seeing justice triumph. No punches are pulled in this still-powerful film. Lana Turner plays the unfortunate girl, in her 1st important role. 1937. Super good murder mystery; add it to your list.

Lights out:

Awake: 6:18am Temp 47 sleep 5+44 mostly sunny overnight @ Holt, FL.

Mid morning, we drive the Suzuki to downtown Pensacola to the National Aviation Museum; someplace I’ve waited patiently to visit.

Our tour guide was a former WWII navy pilot, teacher, & business man; now he loves to volunteer & give these tours to plane crazy guys like myself. OZ gave a great 2.5 hr tour not only because he told stories about the aircraft themselves but also the pilots that flew them.

The museum has a total of (170) aircraft; quite a lot being of the WWII vintage. I held back…taking fewer pictures than I usually do. Due to OZ’s good story telling, Kathy enjoyed the tour immensely. We also joined a science class from Paul on the atmosphere, lift, gravity, drag, wind tunnels & other subjects relating to flight. On the 2nd floor were a few dioramas featuring part of an aircraft carrier with: bunks, navigation room, communication room, etc. Also there is an exhibit featuring life around the time of 1943. All things considered, these Navy buff guys put together one fantastic flight museum & they are not done yet.

From here, we head back to our motorhome stopping en route for groceries @ Wal-Mart.

Just before crossing the Escambia Bay Bridge, small drops of rain began falling, then heavy rain pelted the car with strong gusts of wind; the noise from the combination of heavy rain & strong winds was overpowering. We slowed a little, not wanting to get blown off the road. It’s been decades since I’ve experienced a strong thunderstorm while driving; in Kathy’s words, “a might scary!”

Call Ted & set up a plan for a rendezvous on Wednesday.

Nick calls while walking home from work; I couldn’t help but tell our story of finding & visiting Jane & Ted on Saturday.

Dinner: chicken stir-fry with veggies.

We watch: “movies of the 50’s & how they influenced our lives back then.

Lights out: 11:25pm

Awake: 6:18am Temp 42 sleep 7+35 partly cloudy overnight @ Milton, FL.

1st thing this morning, I go outside & check the electrical power box a little closer; I’ll be darned! We have a (30) amp site; Steve told me he would give me (50) amps. No wonder the voltage dropped so much. The office doesn’t open until 9:00am.

K & I attend 8:00am Mass @ St. Rose of Lima Catholic church in Milton. At the end of Mass, Pastor O’Brien asked the congregation: “are their any visitors from out of town?” Kathy & I stood up, introduced ourselves, revealed our home state of Alaska & our touring intentions.

After Mass, that led to (3) couples wanting to either talk about their visits to Alaska or someday visiting. Another couple asked us if we are RVing? “Yes,” we told them” & we are also going campground hunting today, looking for something that is reasonably close to Pensacola & has good (50) amp campsites.

This couple (from Wisconsin) is full time RVing also & is winter hosts for a campground about (13) miles further east. They invited us to follow them in our Suzuki to see if their campground would be suitable for us. We do so but quickly realize: not big rig friendly; however, they suggest another campground a few miles further east that is new that we didn’t know about that might be suitable.

Bingo: after seeing a few big rigs in this new looking campground & getting all the right answers from the owners, we agree to bring our coach back here this afternoon.

Yesterday as we pulled into our site @ the Cedar Pines RV Campground, a nearby neighbor told us that Steve had just sold his campground. I’ve been thinking about how to approach Steve on the matter of NOT providing us a site with (50) amps, or just paying our overnight charge & moving on without anymore said. The latter is exactly what I did; Steve seemed to be a nice guy & having this campground for (25) yrs was enough. He is looking forward to being close to his daughter & grandchildren in Texas & having some free time for other activities.

We leave the Cedar Pines campground @ 12:37pm following US-87 to US-90 to I-10 to the town of Holt arriving @ the Eagle’s Landing RV Park @ 1:24pm.

Today’s Travel: 47 min 25 miles 5 gal used 5.2 mpg 31 avg speed

Phone calls: Katrina; Gary & Grace; Gary & Rosemary.

Dinner: leftover tuna & noodle + broccoli.

After dinner: we take turns talking with Melissa.

Tonight’s DVR movie: “Network” with William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Robert, Duvall, etc. Paddy Chayefsky’s outrageous satire on television looks less & less like fantasy as the years pass; uninhibited tale chronicles forth-place network that will air anything for a big rating, including a patently insane, profanity-shouting “mad prophet of the airwaves” (Finch). A well-deserved Oscar went to Finch (posthumously). 1976. You gotta see it to enjoy it.

Lights out: 12:29am

Awake: 6:02am Temp 42 sleep 6+02 sunny-breezy overnight @ Theodore, AL.

K & I write Thanksgiving cards to grandkids, goddaughter & a few friends; then Kathy mails them from the campground.

We leave Paynes RV Campground @ 10:45am following I-10 east to Pensacola; stopping (22) min @ the Florida Welcome Center for Kathy to load up with guides & many brochures. Then continue on I-10 to US-87 to Milton, arriving @ the Cedar Pines RV Park @ 12:55pm.

Today’s Travel: 1+57 time 89 miles 15.4 gal used 5.8 mpg 45.7 avg speed.

The campground owner Steve, said he would leave a note on the office door if we should arrived & he was not in; he did & had the site marked on their campground map.

Kathy plugs into the electrical power box, we disconnect our Suzuki while the coach levels, check a few items inside & then, using our Lady Garmen GPS, start driving the Suzuki back to the town of Milton, to see what we can see & find a Catholic Church for later.

Milton’s population is 7000 & advertises an historic downtown. In lieu of exploring the historic side of Milton, Kathy encourages me to drive to the address we have for Ted & Jane in Pensacola & get it over with; she is just as curious as I am.

About (30) miles later, we find the address marked in our address book; we really don’t know who lives here but we’re about to find out. Keep in mind, during my research, the only article I read about a Ted & Jane couple these last few days was not good; a serious motorcycle accident about (3) yrs ago put them both in the hospital for months.

As I approach the door, I brace myself for “either/or.” Either they are not the couple I’ve read about or they are. Even before I get to the front door, it opens & Jane appears; I knew her immediately. “May I help you?” she says. I introduce myself & she replies: “I’m sorry but I don’t know you.” I tell her: “I know your husband, Ted; we flew together in Alaska about (8) yrs ago!” At this point she wheels around & calls for Ted in the living room. Ted appears @ the door wearing shorts & a prosthesis on his left leg. Oh my gosh! It is them.

Kathy is still in the Suzuki but emerges when Ted comes to the door. We had planned to attend the 5:00pm vigil Mass in Milton this afternoon but instead, talked for hrs about Jane & Ted’s struggle with recovery after their motorcycle accident. It was a long (3) yrs they tell us. “We had a lot of help” recalls Ted. “Without that help, we would not have made it” he says.

On September 4th, 1996, on a trip to Honolulu & Sidney, Australia, co-pilot Ted, introduced me to my 1st Guinness dark beer; according to my aviation log book. I still, on occasion, like a good dark beer as does Ted. This leads to a plan suggested by Ted: a visit to their local, “McGuire’s Irish Pub.”

McGuire’s was exceptionally busy this evening; after putting our name on the dining wait list we hung out in the bar area until called. Jane does not drink beer so Ted ordered (3) Scotch Ale beers; quite goooood. This beer was a 3rd place winner @ Best Florida Beer Championships & I won’t deny that. We continue our talk & eat a casual dinner for hrs.

Before we leave Jane & Ted, they “twist our arms” & invite us to a Thanksgiving dinner at their house on Thursday which we gladly accept. We are back to our coach @ 9:32pm.

When leaving the coach early afternoon, I did not turn on the heat, so tonight…the house is cool. About (10) min after turning on the electric heat to start the hot fluid circulating thru the small radiators, we had a low voltage “kick off.” I reset the back-up battery system & the Outback Power System & then carefully watched the voltage when I turned on the heat again. Low voltage showed up on both lines of my (50) amp circuit; oh well, “we’ll sleep without heat for tonight & just add another cover,” says Kathy.

We could have easily turned on our diesel Aqua hot system & had plenty of heat…but that would cost us some diesel fuel & Steve told me over the phone he would have good (50) amps for our campsite. I will be talking with him tomorrow.

Lights out: 10:43pm

Awake: 7:01 Temp 42 sleep 6+42 sunny… cool & windy overnight @ Theodore, AL.

Walk to the campground office & sign up for another nights stay. After perusing our (5) different campground books, I make a call to a campground in Florida, talk with Steve, ask our usual questions & then make a reservation for Saturday @ their campground.

Kathy does (2) loads of laundry & ironing while I continue to be on the hunt for Ted & Jane’s phone number; Google is good & has a lot of info most people don’t realize they have.

After many tries & going in different directions to find J & T’s phone number without paying a fee, I found a story about this pilot & his wife who were in a serious motorcycle accident together a few yrs ago but the last name was misspelled. According to this article, the accident was not their fault & they both spent months in a hospital & yrs recovering. This was a frightful & unfortunate condition whereby Ted did not want to have his leg amputated because, as a pilot, he loved his job of flying & could not be reassured that with a prosthesis, he would ever fly again. According to this article, Ted worked religiously with his doctor to save his leg…to no avail.

After reading this article, I thought to myself, this couldn’t be the T & J that I know. So I continued my search over & over again with no clues of consequence & I gave up for today. We watched the ABC news, Jeopardy & the O’Reilly Factor before, during, & after our dinner of: tuna noodle casserole & a salad.

After the dishes were finished, I got out the telescoping ladder & swept dust & small pieces of limbs off the slides in prep for tomorrow’s travel.

DVR movie tonight: “Men of the Fighting Lady” with Van Johnson, Walter Pidgeon, Louis Calhern, Dewey Martin, Keenan Wynn, Frank Lovejoy, etc. Above-par Korean War actioner, focusing on lives of men on U.S. aircraft carrier. 1954. I liked it…it’s airplanes & flying. Not recommended for sleepy mates.

Lights out: 12:00 midnight

Awake: 6:19am Temp 41 sleep 6+23 sunny overnight @ Theodore, AL.

Casual morning; Kathy watches her favorite TV programs while I spend some time on the computer looking for a phone # of a former FedEx pilot that I’ve lost track of….to no avail.

Early afternoon, we motor in the Suzuki to Mobile, AL; about a mile from downtown & heading east, we see (2) very tall & futuristic looking sky scrapers.

Downtown Mobile: we start doing a grid auto tour & witness many empty store fronts thinking: here we go again, another future ghost town….or is it? We cut the grid tour short & park @ the Cathedral Square, deposit a quarter in the meter & plan to visit the huge Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Church. A steel fence wraps around this giant structure with wide swinging gates in front; both of them, locked. “They locked the church! What kind of a city is this anyway” I am thinking? “We can’t retrieve our quarter so we might just as well walk around for awhile” says Kathy.

Walking along Dauphin Street & toward the Futuristic sky scraper towers, we literally bump into (2) young guys both wearing matching yellow jackets. I say something like: “pardon me but ….are you guys in the bee business?” That started a good (30 +) minute exchange of: what are we doing here & what’s with the yellow jackets? My immediate concern after gabbing so long was: our parking meter time. When I brought this matter to their attention, Brian pulled a sort of key from his pocket & said: “I’ll fix that for you.”
His key gave us enough parking minutes to last the afternoon.

Turns out these guys were city ambassadors; Mobile is a historical town where most of the downtown building have been preserved & are making a comeback. The U.S. Navy's ( push to add a major new ship to its fleet is floating Austal USA's expansion boat in a very big way. The majority-owned U.S. subsidiary of Australia's Austal Ltd. ( is adding 600 workers at its shipbuilding operation in Mobile, Ala. ( This new job will also generate work to the community with various trades, like aluminum fabricators and welders, electricians and engineers," Wow, I was happy to be wrong about this town.

With our parking meter topped off & a rejuvenated mind, we get a Dauphin Street Historic District Walking Tour brochure & start doing the walk. Surprising enough, we do notice many old buildings that have been updated & renovated to their former self; (3) clothing stores, (2) furniture buildings, the Planters peanut & nut shop where all nuts are roasted on the premises in a machine dating from 1907; the Saenger Theatre on Joachim Street, recently restored to its original grandeur offering a variety of theatrical & musical performances & movies throughout the year.

I could go on & on because we were so dedicated to our walking guide….but, the sun is low & the temp is lowering even faster. We switch to the Suzuki & cover nearly all the buildings mentioned on our brochure when Kathy reads & identifies one more, the Wintzell’s Oyster House, which has been in business in this block since 1938. The only wooden structure designed for commercial use remaining on Dauphin Street, downtown…. “Hey wait a minute. Didn’t Brian give us a card that gives 10% off @ this place?” Kathy inquires.

Crystal twists our arms into having the Sample Oyster plate & we each share a beer. We are taking no chances on ordering a meal: our oyster plate of (2) each with: Monterey topping, Bienville topping, Rockefeller topping & Grilled topping was plenty good & enough for us. We learned that eating good oysters with dynamite topping will kill the hunger & keep you satisfied until tomorrow. Would you believe: Kathy has eaten more oysters during the past week than all her life so far; how about that!

Late DVR movie: “The Eagle has Landed” with Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, Jenny Agutter, Donald Pleasence, etc. Action-packed wartime adventure taken from fanciful Jack Higgins best-seller about Nazi plot to kidnap Winston Churchill. Hardly a dull moment, thanks to solid cast & lively, twist-laden story.1977. Super good story; even Kathy recommends this one.

Lights out: 1:19am

Awake: 6:23am Temp 47 sleep 6+55 sunny overnight @ New Orleans, LA.

We’ve heard rumors that the Lakeside Airport in New Orleans is being resurrected & rebuilt to its former Art Deco self. So this morning after coffee, we motor the (5) miles to check it out. We see a lot of damage to the terminal, (2) huge hangars & a few other buildings. One huge hangar had most of the roof completely blown off. The Terminal was well under restoration & many workers were seen @ another building. I’ve read that (10) million dollars is being dedicated for rebuilding. We return to our coach for breakfast & then leave the Pontchartrain Landing RV Park @ 10:15am; following I-10 to the Alabama Welcome Center so Kathy can load up on brochures & literature for Mobile, AL.

We continue on I-10 to US-90 & Paynes RV Park in Theodore, AL arriving @ 1:13pm.

Today’s Travel: 2+47 time 130 miles 20 gal used 6.4 mpg 46.6 avg speed.

Nice campground, big rig & people friendly; it’s a family owned business, mostly operated by the kids since the parents are retired & RVing.

We watch: ABC news, Jeopardy & the O’Reilly Factor before, during & after our dinner of: delicious pork chops, broccoli & sweet potatoes scattered with pecans.

Evening DVR movie: “Suddenly Last Summer” with Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift, Mercedes McCambridge, etc. Fascinating if talky Tennessee Williams yarn about wealthy Southern matriarch (Hepburn), her supposedly mad niece (Taylor) & a neurosurgeon (Clift); grandly acted. 1959. Much better than we expected; add it in the middle of your list.

Lights out: 12:04am

Awake: 5:18am Temp 52 sleep 5+54 sunny…windy overnight @ New Orleans, LA.

Again, we drive our Suzuki downtown to the French Quarter & this time park @ one of those…pay for parking sites near the river boat docks; not cheap in this part of town, starting @ $4.00 for the first hour with added cost every hour after.

The Gray Line bus tour we’ve chosen starts @ 11:30am. By the time some (20) people are boarded, Silva, our lady driver/tour guide, introduces herself & briefly informs us of the areas of interest we will be covering for the next (2+) hrs. She’s been driving the bus & giving tours for the last (5) yrs. Turns out, she was absolutely fantastic; she could not only drive that bus like a pro but also was a non-stop oral guide to nearly each & every special building, café, & notorious mansion owners. She had stories about different Parishes; Katrina’s devastation & the wall that folded & flooded the area; Saint Charles Avenue & the homes of former Kings & Queens of Mardi Gras & other stately mansions; the world-famous exclusive Garden District; & Tulane & Loyola Universities, etcetera, etc. She was unbelievable! But wait, there’s more.

Our one stop was a walking Cemetery tour. New Orleans of course, has a very high water table & therefore, the tombs must all be above ground. We toured the St. Louis Cemetery # 1, “Cities of the Dead” &, as expected, Silva kept us locked into every word she uttered; “the tombs serve as monuments to the 18th, 19th, & early 20th centuries & they are part of the city’s unique heritage” she tells us. She mentions many famous & illustrious citizens of New Orleans that are in this cemetery, points out their tombs & interesting trivia.

Unlike many cemeteries where people buy a plot for themselves, here in N.O., the family buys a plot of ground & erects an above-ground tomb which is passed on for generations until all in that lineage are dead. As members of the family pass away, old bones are pushed down into the lower level of the tomb making ready for more. Each tomb has some method of opening a panel to make this possible. Most tombs were well kept, but some were in varying stages of disrepair, probably due to the non-existence of any more family members.

(3) yrs later & Katrina’s devastation was still very evident; water marks could easily be seen on the sides of homes as far up as the attic or roofline. Many homes looked good from a distance until one notices: windows are missing & then closer, the inside has been gutted with only the shell of the house remaining.

And so, we gave Silva a standing ovation for her outstanding (2.5) hrs of “telling us extraordinary & memorable things we didn’t know.” What a great tour we had!

Back to reality & 1st things 1st, we get our high dollar automobile out & away from that expensive parking lot ASAP & with some patient searching; find a legal vacant spot on the street to park with no fees.

Again we are a mere (2) blocks from the Basin Street Information Station so we ask the lady: “where can we board the Trolley that runs up & down St. Charles Ave?” She gets out the map, draws the line & away we walk. The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar, is the oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world, according to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Planning for the line began in 1831.

Riding the bus tour thru St. Charles Ave was so interesting that we wanted to do it again &, this time, by trolley. $1.25 for each one way. I had taken my hat off for picture taking & left it on the trolley @ the terminus without knowing; back @ our starting point, we waited for (15) min for that same trolley to return, searched the seats & found my coveted hat. Darkness is nearing so we walk back to our car, fuel up the Suzuki @ the Pick & Go gas Station; 12.6 gal @ $1.86 per gal. We return to our bus shortly after 7:00pm.

My brother calls from PA; we update each other on our respective activities; Don tells me they have less than an inch of snow on the ground.

Dinner: leftover stuffed peppers with hamburger & ground Italian sausage, whole wheat bread & mango slices.

We finish watching: “Churchill” part I.
Lights out: 11:28pm

Awake: 6:43am Temp 36 sleep 6+23 sunny overnight @ Gulfport, MS.

Before leaving the campground, I call Ron @ the Newell Service facility & discuss what tips he might offer to help me get signals from space for our TV. Ron is the best electronics & electrical guy Newell has & when he talks, I listen. One of the tips he mentioned was to check the green cable leading from the receiver directly to the TV; that clue got my attention so I thanked Ron & then made preparations for travel.

We leave the Southern Oaks Mobile Home Community & RV Park @ 8:47 am. Following I-10 to New Orleans, LA, we have smooth roads 98% of the time.

During the last (2) miles of today’s journey, K & I both apparently had a brain malfunction, especially me. Approaching the campground, we didn’t believe it was the same place as mentioned in our campground book; although both our Pioneer Princess & Lady Garmen GPS’s told us to turn right, we ignored their wisdom & knowledge & continued onward & onward & onward; it added another (20) min to our arrival time which was around 11:00am.

Today’s Travel: 1+ 57 time 75 miles 12 gal used 6.1 mpg 38.4 avg speed.

This campground, “Pontchartrain Landing,” is a new waterfront RV Park; from the main hwy, one drives about (2) miles down a back road through a heavy industrial area before the campground is seen. Our host was extremely nice & gave us some verbal info on city parking & offered us a river site with no extra charge, which we accepted.

We disconnect the Suzuki & then Kathy plugs in our shore power cable while I let the engine compressor level the coach. Kathy programs our Lady Garmen for the Old Mint building downtown which should get us right in the French Quarter area. From our campground, the French Quarter is within (5 to 6) miles distance & with fast moving traffic, we are downtown lickety split. It took awhile to find a legal parking spot near the French Quarter as we were forewarned that city parking is a big problem….unless you choose the pay-to-park method. Those prices begin @ $3.00 to $4.00 for the 1st hr & work upwards.

Kathy visited New Orleans as a teenager with her parents & I’ve landed here several times but never spent any time sightseeing; so basically, we are both strangers. Using our map, we start walking southwest on Decatur Street; so many boutique shops, Cafés, galleries, restaurants, music clubs, etcetera. Our campground host suggested that we take a city bus tour 1st to get a layout of the land.

We stopped along the way on Decatur St to talk with the visitor center people about tours; we didn’t like their prices & suspected they are taking more of the cut than usual. Our map shows a real Tourist Info Center located (5) blocks northwest of where we are now, which is close to Canal St so we casually walk in that direction. Along the way, we take a peek @ the Saint Louis Cathedral-Basilica, the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the US. Fronting the Cathedral is Jackson Square where we take time to sit & listen to live R&B music.

@ the Basin Street Station, Clare was most helpful; she furnished us with more info on lower prices for city tour options. She let Kathy use their phone to make a reservation for a city tour tomorrow. Would you believe, the price dropped in half + being a senior citizen was also in our favor.

Weather today has been great; so we continue our foot touring, covering the famous Bourbon St. Ahaa, but 1st, somebody is hungry & wants to try some of the good seafood that we’ve heard so much about. Clare recommended Deanie’s Seafood on Iberville Street & we trusted Clare.

We started squelching our hunger & thirst by sharing a schooner of Abita-Turbo Dog beer in a frozen glass. Wow! It was reminiscent of the Pipeline Stout from the Moose’s Tooth days in Alaska. Next came the (6) broiled oysters with some good tasting condiments on top. Another Wow! The shy oyster eater from the frozen north had no problem devouring (2).

We should have put the brakes on right there; the so-called, Crab Quartet was disappointing. It had little flavor, was very dry & seemed to be of such smaller amount for the price. We let our server know of our dissatisfaction & he said he talked to the cooks, but that was it. Most likely he knows we will not be seen in here again.

Anyway, walking northeast on Bourbon St. was quite different than walking on Decatur. Darkness was upon us & the many bars, live bands & people of the evening are everywhere. Bar volume, music volume & people traffic made this venture an adventure. (30) yrs ago, this would have been great stuff…but now we have a tendency to act more our age. We return to our bus by 6:00pm.

Now it’s troubleshooting time: tonight with Kathy’s assistance, we remove a panel underneath the LG (Life is Great) TV & over the computer desk that hides cables feeding into our LG TV. Using the bright LED flashlight that John gave me before leaving Nicktown, the aforementioned green cable from the DirecTV receiver was easily seen unplugged & dangling. (2) of the glued fasteners that hold the cables must have let loose, probably after thousands of road bumps which gradually shook that cable free. Our front TV is now back in business.

We watch the history channel on: “Churchill” about 1/2 of part I.

We also watch the evening boat traffic on the Mighty Mississippi River out of our front window.

Lights out: 11:24pm

Awake: 6:24am Temp 43 sleep 6+10 sunny overnight @ Gulfport, MS.

Kathy makes a sourdough pancake breakfast complete with all the trimmings.

Call my brother Don & leave a message.

Call an RV park in New Orleans, LA & make a reservation for tomorrow.

My sister Corinne calls from Lilly, PA. As she speaks, she is watching little white flakes fall to the ground. She updates us on her many activities & plans.

Later, Nick Skypes us from Seattle; we talk & see his family for a good (40) min.

Mid afternoon, Big John, the campground manager, pays us a visit; he shows us his Alaska watch filled with small gold nuggets & his fancy Jade with gold ring. He knew he had them & warned us in advance that he would “show & tell.” John is a very astute & personable fellow; we would do well in our world if there were more people like John.

Late afternoon, K & I take our campground (30) min walk for exercise.

I give Barry a cell phone call; they are nearing their destination in Florida but still on I-95. Bonnie talks about the good friend in Florida she has & hasn’t seen since the fifties.

Dinner: Italian sausage, peppers,& onion stoop.

Evening movie on bedroom TV: “Operation Petty Coat” with Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Dina Merrill, Gene Evans, etc. Hilarious comedy about submarine captain Grant who’s determined to make his injured ship seaworthy again & con artist Curtis who wheels & deals to reach that goal. Some truly memorable gags; Grant & Curtis are a dynamite team in this happy film. 1959. I couldn’t have said it better myself; we really enjoyed this movie.
Lights out: 11:40pm

Awake: 7:12am Temp 58 sleep 6+50 sunny overnight @ Gulfport, MS.

Driving the Suzuki, we head southwest on I-10 to US-90 & along the Mississippi Coast; we see workers steadily rebuilding the (26) mile-long sand beach. With little effort, we can easily spot numerous homes, business buildings, Deluxe Condos, closed roads, etc due to Hurricane Katrina over (3) yrs ago. What we missed the 1st few miles were the wooden carvings of: Pelicans, fish, dolphins, birds, sea horse, owl, etc; carved into the remaining trunks of live oak trees, the branches of which had been broken & blown off.

We temporarily reverse course to stop & take pictures of these stump carvings; roadwork in progress was in our favor for parking as one-lane was blocked off.

Next we park & visit St. Michael’s Catholic Church, commonly known as the “fisherman’s church.” The church was closed today but advertised a Sat & Sun Mass schedule. Damage was evident as we walked around the round structure; old stained glass windows broken, entry door battered, roof tiles missing, etc.

Doing a tour of Main Street in Biloxi was like touring a ghost town; very little activity on a Saturday. Many of the downtown buildings however, were either completely rebuilt or razed & started anew. We did our grid touring, seeing both cleanup & messed up. Also in downtown Biloxi, we stop @ the Katrina Memorial, take pictures & read the inscription.

Kathy programs our Lady Garmen to find the “inline ‘ice’ hockey without the ice.” Sure enough, hockey can now be played without the audience wearing heavy jackets, coats or blankets. We witnessed this happening & took pictures right there in Gulfport, MS as we watched an inline hockey competition. This complex also contains (2) large outdoor areas for skateboarding.

We make a short visit to Wal-Mart before returning to our bus. When it rains it pours: The campground manager: Big John, paid us a visit about (30) min before our leaving time for Saturday church. He’s such a nice guy; was stationed in Kodiak with the Navy & knows Alaska & just wanted to talk about it. After about (25) good min of reminiscing, he takes the hint & will meet us tomorrow. As we are walking out the door, buddy Barry calls traveling down I-95 to Miami, FL. We apologize that we can only talk for a few min; we’re on our way to church.

5:00pm vigil Mass @ Saint Joseph Catholic church was crowded. The officiating priest was from Nigeria & was very personable & very funny.

Dinner: spaghetti with leftover meat sauce & fresh spinach salad.

No movie tonight so we work crossword puzzles.

Lights out: 12:14am

Awake: 5:53am Temp 57 sleep 5+10 overcast overnight @ Byram, MS.

I make a call to Gulfport, MS & arrange to spend (3) nights @ their campground.

We leave the Swinging Bridge RV Park @ 9:50am, taking a shortcut on State Road-469 east to US-49 south to Gulfport, MS. I-55 is so bad & bumpy; we were delighted to learn that US-49 was just the opposite.

Arrive @ the Southern Oaks Mobile Home Community in Gulfport, MS @ 12:50pm. Big John, the manager, tells us they have over (200) campsites on their (46) acres. It's a big rig friendly campground with asphalt parking; John takes me around in their golf cart to select a vacant site & I select one with an open view.

Today’s Travel: 3+15 hrs 151 miles 25 gal used 5.9 mpg 46.4 avg speed.

Usually after parking, plugging in shore power & extending slides, I switch on the satellite system to make sure we have DirecTV for later viewing. However, today, “horrors,” no signal from space. I re-boot the receiver several times; check all the cables from both the DVR receiver & Home Theater System to no avail. Then I make a call to Newell; Chris tells me no one is working in the Service Facility today as they are still on the 4-day a week program. Ok, so for now, we will revert to our 2nd TV in the bedroom, which, when the Murphy bed is up & away, is an extra room.

K & I walk the campground for (30) min of exercise.

Dinner: Filled peppers, whole grain bread, & fresh mango..

Kathy calls Melissa in PA & they talk for over an hour about many things: their recent house inspection for the source of lead contamination, which seems to be mostly from the chipping, pealing exterior house paint; Katrina’s Christmas visit during which she will be bringing her teenage “little” sister; the boys; their Thanksgiving plans; etc

Late evening: we start watching: “Long Day’s Journey into Night” on our bedroom TV. (1) hr later, this provoking & somewhat redundant Long Day’s Journey….began to get nowhere & we had (2) more hrs to finish. So we rate this movie: not worth watching.

Lights out: 12:22am

Awake: 6:35am Temp 59 sleep 6+55 fog….then sunny overnight @ Vicksburg, MS.

We leave the Ameristar RV Park in Vicksburg @ 11:45am; following I-20 to Jackson & then Pearl, MS & the Flying “J” Plaza. 141.8 gal of diesel @ $ 2.73 per gal; we appreciate these lower fuel prices. Then we bump along on I-55 to the Swinging Bridge RV Park in Byram, MS arriving @ 1:45pm. Our campsite had a heavy duty concrete pad for parking & the coach was automatically on the level. I should take a picture & send it to the ABC campground in Branson, MO.

Today’s Travel: 1+ 50 time 60 miles 10 gal used 5.8 mpg 32.6 avg speed.

Without extending our slides, we motor in the Suzuki back north to Jackson, MS & prepare to visit the State Capital. Our quick lunch of sourdough pretzels & ½ of a banana was made even more delicious by getting a phone call from my sister Mary Jo in Lodi, CA. However, as soon as I heard her voice, I suspected something was abnormal; she has some not-so-good news: their daughter Jen, just recently had been in a car accident. Mary Jo tells me that Jen is banged up a lot with bruises but feels there are no serious injuries, only her car; it’s totaled. I told M J we would keep Jen in our prayers & then we moved on to more pleasant topics.

Entering the Jackson State Capital building, we go through a security check & then look for Ernestine, the lady who gives the tours. Ernestine tells us: “you have to tour yourselves, I only tour groups of (10) or more.” I told her: “my wife is like (9) & I am # 10.” She laughed but stood her ground.

K & I started walking around aimlessly; looking @ things we didn’t understand or comprehend. Within (10) min, Ernestine came up to us saying: “I have to deliver this folder, would you like to come with me & I’ll tour you along the way?” A good (1.5) hrs later, we were quite happy that Ernestine changed her mind; she gave us a terrific tour; even going into rooms & places where only the employees travel.

After the State Capital tour, we did an auto grid pattern of downtown, which is alive & well & all business during the daylight hrs; when night falls, it’s like a blackout.

Without prior discussion, we both expressed that: a good Pizza & beer would be great now? Try as we might, we could not find a suitable Pizza hangout & finally gave in to the chain: Mazzio’s. It was “just ok.”

The movie: “The Bridges of Toko-RI” which we started last night…..will have to wait to be continued; it was accidentally erased from the DVR list.

Late evening DVR: “Come & Get It” with William Wyler, Edward Arnold, Joel McCrea, Frances Farmer, Walter Brennan, etc. Arnold plays a self-made empire-builder who fights his way to the top in Wisconsin lumber business, sacrificing the one love of his life. Farmer has best screen showcase of her career, in dual role, as a saloon entertainer & (yrs later) her own daughter; Brennan won his 1st Best Supporting Actor Oscar playing Arnold’s simple Swedish pal. 1936. We like what we saw in this movie.

Lights out: 12:43am

Awake: 6:48am Temp 60 sleep 6+44 rain…lots of rain overnight @ Vicksburg.

Kathy does (2) loads of laundry.

I call Sirius Radio & sign up for (2) yrs. We both missed our satellite radio so it’s great having it back, especially when on the road again.

Talk with Nick while he is climbing Saint Anne Hill in Seattle.

I offer Kathy a slide show on our big screen of the pictures taken of Vicksburg. We didn’t take the time to read all those information plaques when taking the pictures; inside on the big screen, it’s a much better deal.

Dinner: Power burger with onions.

Evening DVR movie: “The Bridges of Toko-RI.” We watch ½.

Lights out: 11:40pm

Awake: 6:08am Temp 58 sleep 5+54 rain, off & on overnight @ Vicksburg, MS.

Breakfast @ the Ameristar Casino buffet was excellent; there were plenty of options, hot and cold &, as I mentioned, complimentary from the RV Park. A first for us!

Then we drive our Suzuki to downtown Vicksburg & self tour the place where Coca-Coca was bottled for the 1st time & distributed in cases. Joseph Biedenharn, born in 1866 & the eldest of (12) children of Vicksburg went into the candy business founded by his father & uncle while still in his teens. Later Mr. Biedenharn & his brothers acquired franchises to bottle Coca-Coca in Shreveport & Monroe, Louisiana & Texarkana, Wichita Falls, San Antonio, Temple, etc.

We toured the museum that featured the history of Coca-Coca along with equipment of the type Biedenharn used to bottle the 1st Coke in 1894. A wide variety of original Coca-Coca advertising & memorabilia is on display to allow the visitor to follow the evolution of Coke from 1890 to the present. No….we did not buy any duplicated memorabilia from the variety of opportunities.

Next we follow the signs downtown for the “Scenic Trail;” beautiful mansions, historic buildings, parks, etc. We also cover the city by driving a grid pattern. Unfortunately, here is another city trying desperately to keep its downtown alive & well.

The auto tour led us toward the downtown levee of the Mississippi River & the murals telling a story of how Vicksburg got its start & kept the growth going. Kathy assisted with my picture taking of the murals by holding the umbrella 50 times plus. Not only did I take a picture of the Murals but also of the brass information plaques. Anchored in the Mississippi River, just on the other side of the murals was a large riverboat on its last voyage down the mighty Miss. We talked with several passengers who were re-embarking after a city tour.

In our attempt to do all we can today, regardless of the weather, our next interest just happened to be: The Civil War Museum…inside. 1st a movie which was difficult to hear & understand due to poor equipment & heavy rain on a metal roof. After the movie, we realized there were plenty of things to read from other sources & that movie was setup for those who might want to nap in the darkness.

From here, we drive ¼ of a mile to the National Military Park & Visitors Center. There is a charge for this next adventure; due to rain, heavy @ times, we hesitate to continue, but then realize we might not have the opportunity as we do now. @ the visitors center, we watched another movie: this time, good audio & visual.

Then we began the (16) mile driving tour of the Vicksburg Battlefield. A smooth asphalt road led us to the many plaques & statues identifying the placement of the Union commanders & Confederate commanders & their armies; a blue plaque pertains to Union forces; a red plaque pertains to the Confederates. Large monuments have been erected identifying states from which volunteers came to help & certain battle zones where an overwhelming number of troops had lost their lives.

Unfortunately, we no sooner got started on this venture when another heavy downpour followed us; we couldn’t open the windows to read the plaques, couldn’t take pictures or identify things of importance, etc. On top of that, fog began rolling in; then darkness. Our timing was just a few hrs off. Of the nearly 17,000 Union soldiers buried in the cemetery of this battle field, 13,000 are unknown. Since the national cemetery system (at that time) was set up to bury those who lost their lives in service to their country, Confederate soldiers necessarily had to be buried behind Southern lines. A section in the Cedar Hill (Vicksburg City ) Cemetery was set aside to provide a fitting burial place for Confederate soldiers; of the estimated 5,000 Confederate soldiers interred there approximately 3,500 are unknown.

We return to our home-on-wheels after 5:00pm with rain.

My 1st cousin Florentz calls from PA to inform me that my 1st cousin Joe H. of Ohio passed away; he was (77). When I was a teenager, Joe was very good to us & made sure my brother & I got to ride on the tractor, wagon, & other equipment when visiting their dairy farm.

Dinner: Tilapia fish, rice, salad with mango slices, apple slices & Craisins.

Nick calls while walking home from work. Walking to & from his work helps keep him in shape & when he calls, it helps keep us up-to-date on “what’s happening?”

Late DVR movie: “Kill the Umpire” with William Bendix, Una Merkel, Ray Collins, Gloria Henry, etc. Lightweight comedy about baseball lover who becomes the sport’s most hated man, the umpire. 1950. Unless you love slap-stick, this story is not for you. We suffered thru it, however.
Lights out: 12:04am

Awake: 6:26am Temp low 30’s sleep 7:11 sunny overnight @ Greenville, MS Welcome Center.

Total generator time for last evening & this morning: 7.4 hrs. After breakfast, we drive the Suzuki (7) miles north of Greenville & visit the Winterville Mounds. As the brochure reads: these Mounds were named for a nearby community & is the site of a prehistoric ceremonial center built by a Native American civilization that thrived from about A.D. 1000 to 1450.

Twelve of the site’s largest mounds, including the 55-foot-high Temple Mound, are currently the focus of a long-range preservation plan being developed by the Mississippi Department of Archives & History. The Winterville Mounds museum we toured contained Native American artifacts including arrow heads, celts & adzes, chunky stones & ball sticks, clay pipes, shell beads & pots. After the museum visit, we climbed one of those mounds, probably the 55-foot one; which gave us some exercise & a great view of the nearby farming country but little else. It also gave us an appreciation of these Indians who built this mound & all of the mounds by carrying dirt one basket at a time; that’s lots of trips!

From here, we drive back into Greenville & do a grid auto tour of the city; the wide main shopping district was being totally renovated &, hopefully, will be back to its former self when finished; some of the buildings are beautiful & historic. We also found out that the Casino we planned to park at has another parking lot that is level & suitable for motorhome parking. Now, why didn’t that clerk Kathy talked with yesterday mention that?

Next we visit the newest Casino in town: “Harlow.” It was rumored that it was Art Deco architecture; very little, but it did have a bar (100) ft long. That was impressive!

Then we drive (8) miles to Leland, MS; the birthplace of Kermit the Frog. Muppet creator Jim Henson was born in Greenville & raised in Stoneville, just west of Leland. As a child, he spent hrs playing along the banks of Deer Creek. It was here that Henson dreamed of & created the character of Kermit the Frog. We visit the exhibit building that is loaded with photographs from the Henson Family Album, a video center with many of Jim Henson’s early works & a gift shop. Melissa spent her mid-morning hrs watching the Sesame Street program @ (2) yrs of age.

Back to our motorhome, we attach the Suzuki, wave our goodbyes to the Welcome Center people & leave @ 1:48pm; drive east on US-82, then south on US-61 to Vicksburg, MS arriving @ the Ameristar RV Park @ 3:43pm.

Today’s Travel: 2+06 hrs 98 miles 17 gal used 5.7 mpg 46.5 avg speed. As we sign in, we are given (2) coupons for a buffet breakfast @ the Ameristar Casino for tomorrow.

Zack calls just after we park in our campsite; we share talk time about (48) min each. We warned him….that’s what happens if you don’t return phone calls often enough.

Dinner: leftover meatloaf, asparagus & red peppers slices in Boursin sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy & salad.

DVR movie: “Miss Sadie Thompson” with Rita Hayworth, Jose Ferrer, Aldo Ray, Russell Collins, Charles Bronson. Rita gives a provocative performace in musical of Somerset Maugham’s RAIN. 1953. For a change of pace, this is what Wikipedia had to say about this film. Miss Sadie Thompson was produced during the era of the production code. To conform with censors' dictates, the character of Sadie Thompson was changed from a prostitute into a nightclub singer with a past, and Alfred Davidson was changed from a morally corrupt and sadistic reverend into an unaffiliated religious zealot (to avoid offense to any specific religious group). Even with the changes, the film still drew criticism. Lloyd T. Binford, the 85-year-old head of the Memphis Board of Censors, said, "It's rotten, lewd, immoral, just a plain raw dirty picture," called "The Heat Is On" a "filthy dance scene," and believed the film should be banned. Several state censorship boards banned the film outright. Remember, this was filmed in 1953.

Lights out: 12:14am

Awake: 6:36am Temp 32 sleep 6+10 sunny overnight @ Branson, MO.

We leave the ABC campground in Branson @ 9:10am going south on US-65 to I-40 in Conway, then thru Little Rock, AR & I-520/65 to Dumas, then US-82 to Greenville, MS.

En route Kathy did her best to find us a suitable campground in or around the city of Greenville to no avail. Finally we decide to spend the night @ a Casino parking lot…Kathy asks nearly every question in the book & then we follow the Casino’s directions; the Casino was on the Mississippi River & the parking lot had a 30 degree bank parking lot.

Next idea, the Welcome Center of Greenville for suggestions; as we were discussing suitable campgrounds not too near the city, the young lady suggests: "why don’t you just park your motorhome in our parking lot?" All Welcome Centers in MS are good for (24) hrs free parking & they have security. A real “Welcome!”

Today’s Travel: 7+17 hrs 327 miles 54 gal used 6.0 mpg 44.8 avg speed

Dinner: garlic chicken curry with spinach & fresh mango.

Melissa calls: we share talk time about their family & our adventures.

We watch: “The Huckabee Show.”

Then finish movie: “Some Came Running” with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine, Martha Hyer, Arthur Kennedy, etc. Slick adaptation of James Jones’ novel about disillusionment in a small midwestern town in the late 1940s; more character study than narrative. MacLaine is especially good as luckless floozie who’s stuck on Sinatra. 1958. Excellent cast but so-so for entertainment.

Lights out: 11:16pm

Awake: 6:57am Temp 39 sleep 7+17 cloudy & windy overnight @ Branson.

Before breakfast, K & I walk the campground for (35) min of exercise; a cool experience.

Mark B calls from his cell phone; their bus is loading & with an overnight stop in Saint Louis, MO it will take (2) days to return to their home in Ohio. He had little time to talk but did ask how we liked “Noah.” I gave him a “two thumbs up” reply.

We take turns talking with Katrina; she fills us in on her round trip to London visit with her friend Star & family.

I call the Foote family & leave a message.

I call John B in Nicktown & we exchange adventure stories.

Our next door neighbor Walter, a Newell owner, will soon be (82) yrs of age. He is in good shape for his age…but I volunteered to climb the ladder & clean off his slide tops of any debris before retracting the slides. We talk afterward & he invites us to visit him in Maryland any time we get close. I let him know we just might do that next yr.

Later, I climb the ladder again & clean off our slide tops of any debris. Then Kathy retracts # 1 & #4 slide.

Next, we drive to the other side of town & see Roy Rogers Jr. & Dustin Roy Rogers with the High Riders Band. This was free for us; Grace had won (2) tickets during a talent show the 1st day of our rally….which they ran out of time to use so we were the lucky spoils. You know, the show was pretty good. Roy Rogers Jr. was a good story teller; he talked about his 1st mother, then Dale Evans & his father, Roy; growing up with foster & adopted children that joined the Rogers family. There was a fair amount of singing, some RR favorites & some of RR, Jr; more story telling complete with short home videos.

The museum had an humongous collection of anything “Roy Rogers” from his personal & family items & collections to commercial wares endorsed by Roy, photos, even the real Trigger. There was also a small theatre showing home movies. We spent quite a lot of time going thru this museum; so much to see & reminisce. Thanks G & G for the extra show.

We attend 5:00pm Mass @ Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church & then return to our motorhome.

Dinner: Meatloaf, asparagus, rice & gravy.

After dinner; Skype with Nick for (31) min. I believe we cut it short due to Jerry being a little fussy. But hey, we’ll take any length of time we can get to see & talk with our family.

Late DVD movie: “Some Come Running.” We watch 1 hr, 1 min.

Lights out: 12:26am

Awake: 6:25am Temp 43 sleep 6+58 windy—sunny overnight @ Branson.

Kathy invites me to take an early walk with her around the campground for exercise; then we go to the clubhouse to bid farewell to our Newell friends & have a few pastries. This has been a delightful rally: a plethora of delicious food; an entertaining assortment of shows & activities; an assemblage of interesting people, both new & former acquaintances; & lots of lies, laughter, & fun.

After we finish our farewell & safe travel messages, we walk to the ABC office & sign up for another (2) nights of camping. We are not the only ones who are staying a few more days; about (8 or 9) other Newells are parked & have plans to remain & see some more Branson shows.

Our good friends Gary & Grace left early this morning (4:30) am to return to Landenberg, PA. I give a call (they are en route thru southern Indiana) & talk with Gary about parking procedures @ the Perry Georgia Rally. He’s been there several times & hopefully will join us @ this rally also.

After getting prompted with info from Gary, I sign up to attend the Perry Georgia FMCA (Family Motorhome Coach Association) rally in March 2009.

Mid afternoon, K & I drive (15) min to the Sight & Sound Theatre where “Noah, the Musical” is being performed. I wasn’t too keen about going to this musical (I don’t do well with musicals), but Kathy overheard some nice comments about it & then, Gary & Grace couldn’t say enough good about it…& when Gary gives his stamp of approval on matters of greatness, I listen. Plus, thanks to Kathy, we were able to get a 10% discount on our tickets & so I felt a little more secure that this show would be ok.

The theater is huge: even bigger than the Tri-Lakes Church we went to with Grace & Gary. The story line is about Noah & his family& how they endured persecution & ridicule to obey the call of God & build an Ark. You’ll feel like you’re sitting right inside the large floating vessel, surrounded by hundreds of live & animatronic animals of every color, shape & size. I could say more but you’ve got to see it to believe it; it was absolutely phenomenal.

Dinner: leftover smoked salmon & veggies from the catered Macaroni Grill.

Late DVD Movie “Another Language” with Helen Hayes, Robert Montgomery, Louise Closser Hale, John Beal, etc. Devastating picture of American family life (based on Rose Franken’s play), with Hayes as an outsider who marries Montgomery & faces hostility from matriarch Hale & her gossipy offspring. 1933. Interesting tale of how being married into a family with a dominating, manipulative mother can be hazardous to your happiness. You might be enlightened!
Lights out: 11:38pm

Awake: 6:24am Temp 55 sleep 7+14 rain…then sunny overnight @ Branson.

Before breakfast, Gary & I walk the campground for (30) min of exercise.

@ 8:45am, our bus departs for the Yakov Smirnoff show…(15) min away. Yakov, a Russian emigrant, has done well in the USA, especially when coming to Branson. He has some good stories to tell & he is funny but….his Christmas show & skits were blah. We applauded his stuff anyway. Then we are bused back to our campground.

@ 2:00pm, tech talk with John in the clubhouse; this tech talk is always good for us guys & some of the ladies. As these Newell motorhomes continue to be more high tech, it’s challenging for some of us to keep up to date with the latest and/or understand the present.

5:30pm, cocktails in the clubhouse…then our bus departs for dinner aboard the Titanic, downtown Branson. Jackets suggested for men, cocktail attire for the ladies.

The Branson Titanic is, of course, a scaled down, partial version with a few rooms copied to perfection as the real Titanic would have. You enter Titanic through a stucco iceberg wedged into the side of the ship. Once inside, you're invited to chill your hand on a wall of ice; a reminder of what brought this marvelous & unsinkable ship down to begin with.

You're issued a "boarding pass" with the name of a Titanic passenger or crew member, and won't find out if you live or die until you're almost to the gift shop. But you can make an educated guess about your fate. For instance, if you are Reverend somebody, you drowned after giving your life jacket to some heathen…

Kathy’s travel name: Edwina Celia “Winnie” Troutt; age 27. She boarded @ Southampton, England as a 2nd Class passenger; her destination: Auburndale, Massachusetts. Kathy will follow her activities as the cruise ship speeds toward America.

My travel name: Thomas Leonard Theobald; age 34. He also boarded the Titanic at Southampton, was married & living in Strood, Kent, England. Thomas is a 3rd class passenger.

Costumed historical interpreters wander about: men in double-breasted officer uniforms, women dressed as chambermaids. Audio atmospherics are everywhere: foghorns, clanking bells, muffled voices.

You ascend a replica of the Titanic's Grand Staircase & find yourself in First Class. There you'll see a sumptuous suite of rooms, and a guy resembling Titanic's captain Edward Smith, walking around, assuring everyone in a sonorous baritone that everything is fine.

The Sinking Room has a series of progressively steep sloping decks you can try to stand on, a lifeboat in which you can sit, and a bowl of 28 degree salt water where you can immerse a finger. Endurance is timed by a nearby clock, and you probably won't last a minute. It helps you to understand why nearly everyone in the water quickly succumbed.

The Memorial Room comes next -- where you can scan for your name on a glass wall to learn whether you're alive or dead -- and then the Recovery Room, which displays the 26-foot-long model of Titanic's collapsed bow used in the Cameron movie.

On the night of the sinking, Kathy’s travel name: “Winnie” retired to her cabin but did not completely undress. Her cabin mate, Nora Keane, heard a cock crowing earlier in the evening & took it as a bad omen. Shortly before midnight, Winnie felt the engines stop, investigated & returned quickly to warn her cabin mates of the situation’s urgency. She & Nora went to the boat deck together. Winnie resigned herself to dying, believing it was wrong for a single woman to board a lifeboat when so many married women & mothers should be saved. Suddenly someone handed her a small baby; feeling responsible, she then boarded a lifeboat & lived.

My traveling name: Thomas, on the night of the sinking, being a 3rd class passenger, proceeded through an open watertight doorway to stairs leading up to the 2nd class salon. Upon approaching a doorway guarded by a crew member, the men were held back. Thomas, fearing he might not be allowed in a lifeboat, took off his wedding band, handed the ring to a women he knew who would survive saying, “If I don’t see you in New York, will you see that my wife gets this?”

The "museum" contains 400 artifacts, more than in any previous Titanic attraction: a dollar bill carried by the Titanic's barber, a menu from the Titanic's dining room, some letters written on Titanic stationery, a couple of life vests, two deck chairs, a pocket watch from a dead passenger, etc.

We did enjoy a delicious dinner onboard the Titanic: Caesar salad in crisp Parmesan shell followed by an entrée of filet mignon, baked potato & green beans.

We returned to our campground @ approximately 10:40pm. What a great day this has been!

Lights out: 11:27pm

Awake: 5:55am Temp 56 sleep 6+28 sunny overnight @ Branson, MO.

Gary & I talk the walk & then walk the walk for a good (45) min. Back in our motorhome, Mark returns my call from yesterday; yes, they are in Branson with a full schedule of seeing (8) shows in (2) days. We didn’t plan on a rendezvous, knowing that we both will be busy doing our own thing, so we just discuss the shows we’ve seen so far.

Today’s schedule has us departing @ 9:30am for Dick Clark’s American Bandstand for lunch & the (57) Heaven Museum. Such a deal it was; seeing almost every model of each 1957 car & pickup truck made in the USA was a real eye opener. Of course they were all in show room condition & just waiting to be photographed. The displays also included memorabilia featuring a Drive-in, Gas station, Dealership displays & a lot more. Our Sony camera was busy.

@ lunch we got to know Wayne & Sandy from Wyoming a lot better; in fact, I answered too many questions & got behind with my meal & my drink; not good….my mother always taught me to clean off my plate before having dessert…which I violated.

Upon our return to the campground, we tour Bob & Susan’s new & different floor plan motorhome. Since we 1st met Bob in 2003, he has designed & had Newell build (3) different motorhomes; all very impressive floor plans & innovated with ideas some people have copied.

The afternoon is a little windy so I climb the ladder & sweep off leaves & acorns from our roof & slides.

4:00pm cocktails & appetizers @ the clubhouse & then we depart @ 4:45 pm for dinner @ the “Chateau on the Lake.” Nice place; food was buffet style & top notch. We enjoyed not only the food & ambiance, but also the (5) other people @ our table who kept us well entertained & smiling.

After our dinner, we were bused to the Shanghai Circus show; how can those Chinese girls be so triple jointed & coordinated? They are amazing but we have both seen the Chinese acrobats in action before so their stunts didn’t scare us in the least. On the other hand, those thunder drums were something else!

It’s late & we are tired so little TV tonight.

Lights out: 11:10pm

Awake: 6:04am Temp 48 sleep 6+46 sunny overnight @ Branson, MO.

Before breakfast, Gary & I walk the campground for (30) min of exercise.

@ 9:00am, our (2) chartered buses take us downtown to experience the Clay Cooper Country music show with singing, dancing, gun slinging, rope twirling & some comedy thrown in. It was a good show but I am not into country music; I heard no complaints.

We are bused back to our campground where we have lunch on our own. @ 2:00pm, we’re bused downtown again for the Andy Williams Christmas Show. Now this show was great! (2) hrs of wholesome family entertainment: a large orchestra, my kind of music, singers, dancers & some specialty acts kept us applauding & smiling throughout. Andy (age 81) still has a good voice & told some very funny jokes & stories.

Back in our motorhome, I call Mark & Joan & leave a message; we talked with them just over a week ago @ their daughter’s wedding in Ohio. By coincidence, they too will be in Branson this week; being bused down from Massillon, Ohio for the Christmas shows.

Back @ the clubhouse by 6:00pm, we had our cocktails & appetizers & then, a catered dinner by Macaroni Grill; excellent meal, especially the smoked salmon.

After dinner, interested individuals had the opportunity to join in a “Texas Hold’em
Tournament” for an entry fee of $20.00. A professional group provided the tables, chips, & dealers. Kathy decided to try her hand at the game; at one point she had quite a large pile of chips & even managed to hang in until they were down to one table (started with 8 tables), but she finished 6th…out of money. The top (3) players won cash prizes. Even though, Kathy didn’t make the cut, she had a fun time.

During the tournament, (2) large TV screens were monitored by non-players tracking the Presidential election results.
Lights out: 11:27pm

Awake: 6:15am Temp 55 sleep 7+04 sunny overnight @ Branson, MO.

Before breakfast, Gary & I meet @ 7:00am & walk the campground for (30) min of exercise. Another Newell owner, Wayne & his dog Sydney, joined us for the last (5) min.

Back in our motorhome, Katrina calls on her way to school in Denver; she has returned from her round trip to London & visiting her friend Star & family. We knew nothing about her going traveling during fall break until we talked with Melissa.

More Newell motorhomes are arriving today for the rally. We spend most of the morning & some of the afternoon getting re-acquainted with some of these Newell owners whom we’ve met in the past & haven’t seen for a while.

@ 2:00pm, we peruse the new show coaches that Carl & Alice drove in; plus the show coach that John & Vicki drove in; both very nice with a few new ideas & high tech equipment.

@ 5:00pm, we have cocktails & appetizers in the club house; supposedly there are (38) Newells @ this rally & quite a few people we have not seen before, thus the social hr to meet & greet & get to know one another.

@ 6:00pm, BBQ Steak dinner & “Hillbilly Hoedown” in the Clubhouse. (Dress is finest Hillbilly). Dinner was excellent: Carl again grills the finest filet that I can remember; plus coleslaw & beans. Then the “Homestead Pickers” show. What a fun group! Their hillbilly stories & good music had us listening & laughing for hrs. It was a mighty good start for our Branson rally.

Late evening, K & I watch Gov Sara Palin on Saturday Night live. No movie tonight.

Lights out: 11:18pm

Awake: 6:52am Temp 53 sleep 6+49 fog, then sunny overnight @ Branson, MO.

Kathy makes a breakfast of: eggs over easy, bacon & whole grain toast. In talking with Grace last evening, we agreed to go with them to a place of worship this morning. Gary calls with a reminder of pickup time: 10:10am.

About (3) miles east is a large theater that didn’t make it; now it’s a place of worship by the name: Tri-Lakes Church. There must have been over a dozen greeters all total from the time we entered the parking area until we walked into the theater church auditorium.

The service consisted of lots of congregational singing led by the pastor & his wife, accompanied by a fairly loud & active band & large TV screens on either side of the stage projecting the words while casual dancers performed on stage to the music. After many songs, Pastor Mark began his sermon: Decay every day………Crave the new wave……………& Glory in their shame……. for close to an hr. He was a fairly good speaker.

People experiencing personal problems were then invited to come forward & have the ministerial team members pray with & over them. To me, the sermon & the whole service resembled a revival meeting, even though I’ve never experienced one in person, only watched them in the movies. The service lasted almost (2) hrs. Grace & Gary tell us, this is not like their Presbyterian service. We return to our campground & await the next adventure: pickup by G & G @ 2:00pm.

They easily convinced us to join them in seeing the: David Lomascola Show. Dressed in his white tuxedo, he plays a red, glittering Baldwin grand piano valued at over $600,000. He arranges all his own piano music & is accompanied by his music director, Ron Burch. David delivers a show that is powerful, entertaining, soothing, & educational. He is relatively new to the Branson arena but has performed throughout the U.S. including Las Vegas (Bellagio, Flamingo Hilton, Caesar’s Palace) etc. Some of the music arrangements included: Phantom of the Opera; How Great thou Art; the jaw-dropping…Bumble Boogie & Flight of the Bumble Bee, etc. There were only about (20) in the theater but when the word gets out about his talent, I bet they’ll be standing in lines.

Back to our campground, Kathy & Grace decide to have a combined dinner at G & G’s Newell. Grace serves an appetizer tray & wine & then dinner: stewed steak in tomato gravy and peas; Kathy adds the fresh salad & rice that she brought. Grace has pumpkin pie & coffee for dessert. We enjoyed good food with lots of good talk.

Back in our motorhome, we finish watching: “The Little Princess” with Shirley Temple, Richard Greene, Anita Louise, Ian Hunter, etc. Shirley stars as a Victorian waif who makes good in this lavishly mounted, colorful production. 1939. Temple made many movies during her youth; such a remarkable actress.

Lights out: 11:11pm

Awake: 7:58 am Temp 55 sleep 8+30 fog, then sunny overnight @ Branson, MO.

Kathy does (2) laundry loads, then we walk the campground for exercise. Without a doubt, this campground has the most slanted & non-level sites we’ve ever experienced during our over (250) campground visits in (7) yrs. We notice that most people here use wooden blocks to raise & level their RV unit; the Newell coach uses air bags to do the leveling but our limits from front to rear are about (2) ft.

Late afternoon K & I motor to downtown Branson in our Suzuki & attend 5:00pm vigil Mass @ Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church. This relatively new & large church’s monthly mortgage of $ 20,000 has for the last (5) yrs been paid mostly by donations from Branson visitors from other states; only 5% of this city is Catholic. En route to our campground, we do some light grocery shopping @ Country Mart.

Dinner: ham & cheese (horseradish flavor), grilled asparagus & 4 bean salad.

Grace visits us for about an hr after returning from their show in downtown Branson. She also reminds us to change our clocks to daylight savings time.

Late evening: K & I watch (28) min of DVR movie: “The Little Princess.”

Lights out: 12:03am

Awake: 5:57am Temp 60 sleep 6+26 sunny overnight @ camp Newell outside.

I call ABC Campground in Branson, MO to make a reservation for later today. Then, while Kathy gets the coach ready for travel, I visit Sam in sales before going on the road again. Our Newell rally begins on Monday but we know that our friends, Grace & Gary, from Landenburg, PA are already there & we want to spend some time with them.

We leave camp Newell @ 12:05pm heading east to Missouri; the weather en route looks ok for now….but later, when heading south, those high clouds descended on US-65 & the road was wet with recent rain fall. So now our dirty home on wheels gets even dirtier. We arrive @ Americas Best Campground in Branson, MO @ 2:40pm.

Today’s travel: 141 miles 3+08 time 25 gal used 5.7 mpg 44.6 avg speed.

There are a lot of hills in & around Branson & apparently this campground didn’t go overboard when clearing & leveling their parking sites. In fact, our 1st assigned parking spot was not on the level; we tried but our leveling system indicated: “out of limits.” After a phone call to the office, we had (3) more possible choices & chose the 2nd. We found out later that several other Newells that arrived earlier today had also switched their assigned parking sites due to extreme slanting/sloping sites.

Shortly after we got organized, our friends Grace & Gary pay us a visit; they’ve been here since Tuesday & have seen about (2 or 3) shows per day. After a few snacks, a little wine & some good talk time, they have another show to see tonight & must be on their way.

Melissa calls: we talked for a mere (12) min & then Nathan woke up.

Dinner: leftover chili with noodles & corn chips.

Tonight’s movie: “Documentary on FDR.” An American experience.

Lights out: 11:28pm

Awake: 6:04am Temp 50 sleep 6+23 sunny overnight @ Miami, OK.

When I got up, I turned on the Aquahot system & started to warm our engine with the hot circling fluid.

@ 6:40am, Roger knocks on our door: “are you ready” he asks? “(2) slides to retract & reel in the shore power cable” I tell him.

He drives us to the other side of the service bay & parks inside. He & Craig (techs) get right after our (15) glitches; some as easy to fix as changing a light bulb, others a little more technical.
Meanwhile, Kathy takes advantage of another opportunity to roam around downtown Miami & do that other kind of looking & possible shopping.

Roger & Craig kept after my squawk list all morning & most of the afternoon; by 3:00pm, they were pretty well finished. (2) other techs did some work on our front sway bar & finished by 5:00pm. We were impressed & delighted. Tommy drove our coach back to a parking site in the Newell campground. About 6:30, Creslie brought the work papers for my signature: No charge; our warranty is still in force.

Dinner: crust-less ham & asparagus Quiche. No movie tonight, just the news.

Lights out: 11:31pm

Awake: 7:18am Temp 40 sleep 7+36 sunny overnight @ Miami, Oklahoma.

We are not due to be taken in for service until tomorrow; meanwhile I talk with salesman Brian & the VP of service, John, about any updates, changes, etc on the recent motorhomes coming off the assembly line; just a few they tell me.

While Kathy goes grocery shopping, I meander through the service bays to see what the techs are working on; then walk over to the next building & visit the partially assembled coaches to see what’s new & different on floor plans, entertainment systems, engine technology, etc that the customers have ordered.

John from Nicktown calls: we chat about his & our recent activities & about the 1st good snow fall for their winter season.

Next, BIG John visits: he tells me his story of buying a newer pre-owned Newell coach & how much technology has advanced from his old coach (1988) to his present coach (1999). He was curious & asked for a walk-a-round of our coach to see the differences.

Kathy returns around (4:30) pm; unloads the groceries & fills up the cabinets; then we have our wine with cheese time.

Dinner: Pork chops, fried noodles, broccoli, & salad.

We watch the ABC news; Jeopardy & the O’Reilly Factor.

Evening DRV movie: “Sweet Bird of Youth” with Paul Newman, Geraldine Page, Shirley Knight, Ed Begley, etc. Tennessee Williams’ play, cleaned up for the movies, still is powerful drama. Newman returns to Southern town with dissipated movie queen Page, causing corrupt town “Boss” Begley (who won an Oscar) to have him fixed proper. 1962. Entertaining story but difficult to enjoy.

Lights out: 11:41pm

Awake: 7:17am Temp- low 40’s sleep 8+00 overnight @ the Assembly of God Church parking lot in Sullivan, Missouri.

We ran our generator last evening & throughout the night for a total of (14) hrs which provided us with all the comforts of home. I’ve been told the generator burns less than a gallon per hr.

K & I have a “Kathy” muffin for breakfast & leave the church parking spot @ 9:22am; drive ½ mile & top off our diesel tank @ Flying “J.” 154 gal @ $3.05 per gal.

The wind has subsided a little today making this leg more comfortable than the last (2) days. @ 1:30pm we pull into a rest stop & have breakfast/brunch.

Arrive @ the Newell Service campground @ 3:30pm & whom do we see as we disconnect our tow car: Darrel & Jackie from Oregon. After I park the coach & Kathy parks the car we spend an hr catching up with each other.

Today’s travel: 247 miles 4+27 hrs 40.4 gal used 6.1 mpg 55.6 avg speed.

Dinner: Tilapia fish, rice with golden raisins, broccoli, & a salad.

We watch the usual ABC news, Jeopardy & the O’Reilly Factor.

Finish watching movie: “Thunder Road” with Robert Mitchum, Gene Barry, Jacques Aubuchon, Keely Smith, James Mitchum. Rural bootlegger takes on Feds & the Mob in cult favorite that even today continues to play in drive-ins (when you can find a drive-in); for many this remains the definitive moonshine picture. Jim Mitchum makes screen debut playing Bob’s brother; the elder got a hit record out of the title tune, which he also wrote! 1958. The movie was so-so but the title tune was good.

Lights out: 11:42pm

Awake: 6+24 Temp 43 sleep 6+32 windy….overcast overnight @ Frankford, KY.

Casual morning in campground; K & I write cards to send out for Halloween & I rinse out the pure water tank & fill it up with fresh water.

We leave the Elkhorn campground @ 1:02pm; another windy day….mostly a cornering headwind. Both yesterday & today, I continuously kept both hands on the wheel.
Kathy spent a lot of time with our books…..looking ahead for a suitable campground to spend the night…..very sparse in Kentucky, especially near I-64. The ones she did find were either closed for the season, not able to handle our size motorhome, or too far off the beaten path.

After passing through Saint Louis, MO, & driving I-44 southbound, we agreed on staying the night @ a Super Wal-Mart; (20) miles south of St. Louis. In slowing down to take the exit for that Wal-Mart, I didn’t like what I saw: already a very full & busy parking lot with no RV’s anywhere… just didn’t look like our big rig could be accommodated, so we continued another (30) miles & another Wal-Mart.

Now darkness is upon us; we exit I-44 & easily see the chosen Wal-Mart. Moving slowly, we do spot a small camper parked off to our right but, straight ahead of us is a horizontal pole about (10) ft high. “What’s going on?” we say to each other. Ok, we’ll ride over to the next entrance & enter there; oops, another (10) ft pole…..our coach’s height is 13 ft 12 inches. We drove around the Wal-Mart twice & every entrance had that pole gate blocking our entering the huge parking area.

Flying “J” is a mere 1/8 of a mile from the Wal-Mart so we figured: might as well join the truckers for the night. At the next red light, off to our right side was a fellow beeping his horn trying to get our attention: Kathy opened our door & talked with him. The guy saw us circle the Wal-Mart several times & wanted to help us out; “do you need electricity for camping?” he asks. “No” Kathy tells him. “Follow me; just a few blocks from here is a church parking lot that you can use for the night.” We followed him & found, to his surprise & ours, another MH already parked there. Kathy got out, talked to & thanked our late night angel for his help (he was one of the church ministers) I started the generator, turned on the TV & Kathy made some hot tomato soup with oyster crackers for our dinner…with some popcorn later.

Today’s travel: arrival time: 7:10pm driving time=7+02 386 miles 68 gal used
5.7 mpg 54.8 avg speed.

We watch: “The O’Reilly Factor,” some Fox news & ½ of the movie “Thunder Road.”

Lights out: 11:17pm

Awake: 5:55am Temp 40 sleep 5+45 sunny windy overnight @ Ravenna, OH.

After eating a ”Kathy” muffin, we leave the Country Acres RV Park @ 7:50am; traveling State Road 5, then west on 44 to I-76 to I-77 to Dover, OH.

In Dover, we park the motorhome & tow car @ the Warthers Swiss chalet-style museum & tour the (64) ebony, ivory, & walnut train carvings created by Ernest “Mooney” Warther. The trains & other displays like the animated steel mill & a plier tree (511 pairs of plier cut from one piece of wood) were simply unbelievable; this one-of-a-kind collection has been appraised by the Smithsonian Institution as a “priceless work of art.” We spent over (2) hrs oohing & aahing + snapping pictures of these works of wonder. A separate building houses Frieda’s button collection; 73,000 buttons arranged in various designs.

The original workshop, built in 1912, is still used by family members today. Mooney worked full time @ the steel mill; did his whittling during the off hrs & still saved quality time to be with his wife & kids, & later, grandchildren. He loved the little kids &, if they broke something while in his workshop, he would give them money & send them to get an ice cream. He said it took less energy to just send them off then to get angry with them.

Back on the road again, we continue heading south on I-77 to I-64; the southwest winds are brutal for our high profile bus. We stop @ a rest stop, check the equipment & then continue until arriving @ the Elkhorn Campground in Frankfort, KY @ 5:30pm. Narrow pull throughs & nearby autos made our parking a little tricky.

Today’s travel: 439 miles 7+57 time 74.4 fuel used 5.9 mpg 55.2 avg speed.

Dinner: leftover crab casserole & a salad.

We started a movie….but someone with big eyes kept closing those big eyes.

Lights out: 11:52pm

Awake: 6:30am Temp 49 sleep 6+46 consistent rain overnight @ Ravenna, OH.

Driving our Suzuki, we leave @ 11:35am for Parma, OH a (54) mile trip from our campground. We have been invited to the wedding of Diane & Nathaniel; Diane being the youngest child of the Mark & Joan family, our close friends.

We are early & pass by the church where the wedding ceremony will take place; to kill time, we ride around the vicinity & buy some good Gouda cheese & some yogurt @ the local Giant Eagle. Back @ the church (Saint Charles Borromeo), we see & talk briefly with several of Mark’s brothers & their spouses before being escorted to our church pew.

Then the music begins & the bridesmaids walk down the aisle while their groomsmen wait at the altar steps; all beautiful & handsome of course. But when Diane slowly walks down the aisle to meet up with her soon to be husband, Nathaniel, I could hear many whispers of: “isn’t she beautiful!” & look @ the cute smile on Nathan’s face. The chosen wedding songs: Cantique de Jean racine; I have a dream; Edelweiss; Canon in D; Trumpet Voluntary; Song of Songs; Be glad in the Lord & Corinthians….all sung & played well. The ceremony as well as the homily were both great.

K & I didn’t hang around afterward; we drove into a nearby parking lot, ate a small lunch & then attended another church (Saint Thomas More), about (2) miles away, for a vigil Mass satisfying our Sunday commitment.

Next the reception, only ¼ of a mile from Saint Thomas More; again we are early. This time we join the early birds & walk right into the Saint Elias Cultural Center, find our name tag & our table & start the “lets have a party” program.

Slowly the Cultural Center began to come alive with “cultural” people & we knew many of them: i.e. Mark & Joan; Bub & Pat; Don & Marge; Linus & Marilyn; Judy & Jerry;
Karen & Rick; Julie with Virginia, Sophia & Steven; Molly; Elaine & Paul; Rita & her husband; Margie, etc, etc. Next the wine, food, socializing & dancing. The reception was @ full throttle by now but….we felt we had better leave while the leaving was good; we wished the happy bride & groom the best, said our goodbyes to those who we know & returned to our campsite in Ravenna by 11:05pm

Lights out: 12:10am


Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

December 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.