April 2009 Archives

Awake: 6:30am Temp 64 sleep 6+06 sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Early afternoon, I took the small hand winches back to my neighbor Chuck & thanked him again for his help with the pump house #2. Then I sat & visited for a good (40) min until Kathy joined us; then we gabbed some more.

Anyway, this gives me some time to start fixing up the water works in pump house # 1. During this last winter, apparently there was some water left in a pvc pipe which froze & burst. I made a quick trip to the Krumenacker Hardware Store for a few water filters & pvc cleaner & pvc cement.

Along with this project, I have pump house # 2 well water running to reduce the iron content & then, using our portable water filters, top off the motorhome's pure water tank of (161) gallons. No progress today on Pump house # 1 plumbing due to wasp nest inside. Later tonight in the dark, I'll give them a treatment of hornet & wasp spray.

Dinner: Almond en-crusted Tilapia with a tropical fruit salsa, broccoli, wild & brown rice + a 4-bean salad.

Nick called while walking home in Seattle; his time @ the Las Vegas Technical & Convention Expo last week went well he told us. He Skyped Eriko & Jerry every morning & maybe that helped Jerry's understanding of what his dad does when he spends a few days away from home.

The wasps in pump house # 1 have gone to the happy hunting ground.

Evening movie: "One Night of Love" with Grace Moore, Tullio Carminati, Lyle Talbot, Mona Barrie, Luis Alberni, etc. Classic musical, with an Oscar-winning Louis Silvers score, of aspiring opera star Moore & her demanding teacher Carminati. A delight from start to finish & a must for music lovers; unquestionably Moore's best film. 1934. I hesitated recording this movie due to it being an opera story; well, we were both fooled & enjoyed both the story & the music. It is as they say it is!

Lights out: 11:58pm.

Awake: 6:12am Temp 62 sleep 6+08 sunny overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Last February 13th of this yr we were sitting outside @ a small restaurant in Hollywood, Florida called the "Le Tub" waiting for our hamburgers to be served when we had a call from our near neighbor Chuck in PA. He told us that the high winds blowing thru Nicktown had blown one of our pump houses down & scattered some of the parts throughout the yard. With the help of his younger brother, they were able to section it together with small come-alongs (small hand winches) & hoped that it would hold until we returned in the spring. We took turns talking with both Chuck & Shirley & thanked them for their neighborliness.

So today, even though it's Sunday, I got after that ugly wrapped up box &, like a large puzzle, slowly pieced it together again. No serious damage was done to the Rubber Maid unit after all, but I was glad that Chuck & his brother tied it together to protect some of the items that were stored inside.

Kathy called the Foote family on Saturday & left a message about a possible visit today; so maybe we'll see our grandsons today or maybe tomorrow.

Next, I got out our land line phone cord & connected with the phone company. Then I set up our high-speed Internet system, which is a delight to experience.

Now to trouble-shoot the LG TV in our living room; focusing on the diagram in the TV manual where the power plug might be, my guess is that the wash-board I-70, jiggled the plug out. Using a mirror & flashlight, sure enough, I saw that plug hanging & not within reach. It took about (30) min to remove a lower panel, plug in the power, check the TV, tape the plug down so this won't re-occur & re-assemble the structure.

Dinner: Italian sausage & peppers with a mixed salad.

Melissa called us late; she had called this morning & left a message but we didn't get it. She & Kevin, their boys, & friends were busy yesterday & today assembling a shed that they put on the cement foundation that Kevin & I laid last summer. We'll probably visit them on Tue.

Evening movie: "Mon Oncle" with Gerard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, Roger Pierre, Marie Dubois, etc. Intensely directed, acted & written film illustrating research scientist Laborit's theories on human conduct. The focus is on the intertwined lives of a plant manager (Depardieu), actress (Garcia), & media executive (Pierre); very intelligent & thought provoking. 1980. French with sub-titles; this movie was great.

Lights out: 12:24am

Awake: 6:38am Temp 66 sleep 6+09 partly cloudy...windy overnight @ Greenfield, Indiana.

After a cereal breakfast & washing the last load of laundry (drying will wait), we left the Heartland RV Resort & continued heading east on I-70.

About (30) miles further east, we fueled up @ Flying "J" @ Spiceland, IN with (164) gals of diesel @ $2.19 per gallon.

The state of Ohio welcomed us with much smoother roads on I-70 & then ditto for PA. We exited I-70 @ Smithton, PA & topped off our tank again @ Flying "J" with a mere (45.2) gal of diesel @ $2.38 per gallon. From here, we got back on I-70 to US-119 to US-22 to State Road-403 & Strongstown to State Road-271 to Nicktown, PA arriving @ 5:29pm.

Today's travel: 419 miles 8+32 time 63 gal used 6.1 mpg 49 mph avg speed.

Kathy ran out the shore power cable & plugged into our (50) amps, enabling the last load of laundry to be dried. We changed clothes & walked to church to attend the 6:00pm vigil Mass in Nicktown. It's good to be back home again.

Dinner: Ham wraps.

No movie tonight; instead some reading & crossword puzzles.

Lights out: 12:04am

Awake: 5:42am Temp 71 sleep 6+09 cloudy, windy overnight @ Newell Campsite, Miami, OK.

We left Miami, OK @ 7:27am following US-69 to Commerce, OK...thru Baxter Springs, Kansas to US-400 to I-44 & thru Joplin, MO; thru St. Louis, Mo to I-70.

A cornering tail wind kept us moving in the right direction most of the day; However, I wish I'd known about the poor road conditions of I-70, especially when bouncing thru the state of Indiana....very much like a wash-board. Maybe we are just spoiled. For 95% of our travels en route to Florida thru Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama & Florida itself, we had very few complaints. In fact, we were down right delighted with their highways.

Before bouncing thru the city of Indianapolis, I asked Kathy to start looking for a campground for the night somewhere east of Indianapolis; she selected the same campground where we stayed overnight when returning from our 2005 Asian Pacific cruise on December, 15th. That campground was the only one available for us that was still open (yr around); some of the sites had been plowed open & had (50) amps + running water. It looked beautiful to us then & still looks good to us now. We arrived @ the Heartland RV Resort in Greenfield, Indiana @ 6:15pm.

Today's travel: 574 miles 10+00 hrs 86 gals used 6.7 mpg 57 mph avg speed.

It took some time for me to settle down & relax without the feeling of being bounced around; then when I tried to turn on our living room TV, nothing. The TV itself was not powered; I'll trouble-shoot it when we get to PA. The so called, "Kathy's TV," worked as usual, so after a dinner of leftover stuffed pepper & a mixed salad, we watched a movie in the bedroom.

Meanwhile, laundry was started before dinner & continued throughout the evening hrs while watching the movie: "Seems like old Times" with Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase, Charles Grodin, Robert Guillaume, Harold Gould, etc. Neil Simon's homage to 1930's screwball farces is quite enjoyable, with Goldie as a good-hearted lawyer whose ex-husband (Chase) disrupts her life & threatens the career of her new spouse (Grodin). Funny lines & situations all the way up to pointless finale. 1980. I couldn't agree more with that last line.

(4) loads of laundry were done this evening & the last load can wait until morning.

Lights out: 12:35am

Awake: 5:30am Temp 73 inside each night, we use our air conditioning sleep 6+21 overnight @ Miami, OK.

We heard cheers & laughter before the starting horn honked as the # 3 man, Tommy, got ribbed & teased for going over the hill @ age 50 today. Black balloons & signs referring to his over the hill age were all over his office & door knobs but, there was a good side to this celebration, someone made him a large ham & egg casserole & a cake. Kathy & I were delighted to share the mood & have a slice of the casserole.

According to my list, only a few glitches remain, and shortly after the starting horn honked for the workers, Bubbles brought in the cosmetic strip that concludes our Murphy bed renovation. And he checked the silver vase on the Murphy bed ledge; it too is cemented nicely & that case is closed.
Mid morning, a few more light bulbs were replaced in our living room.

Tracy attached the new European mirrors & adjusted them to my comfort vision as best as we could with the slides still extended.

Next, the cleaning girls: Cheryl & Kathy, spent about an hour making the inside of our home-on-wheels look like new again. We continue to be impressed with all the workers & their dedication to the customer.

Around 10:40 am, Dave the driver, sat in the driver's seat, backed our motorhome out & into a Newell campsite.

Driving the Suzuki, Kathy motored downtown & did some late morning grocery shopping while I continued asking questions of the techs here & there about some of the systems on our motorhome. I also visited with Sydney & we checked out the slow progress on his forthcoming 2010 Newell motorhome.

Late afternoon, Tommy & I previewed the non-chargeable items & the chargeable items, like the rear sway bar. After paying that bill & thanking the service techs & office people for many jobs done well, we are officially glitch free...except for fine-tuning the driver's side mirror that Roger & I do before the quitting horn honks for the day.

Kathy returned from shopping & she & Linda walked outside & talked for over an hour.

Dinner: stuffed peppers & a spinach salad.

Evening movie: "Gigi" with Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold, Eva Gabor, etc. Charming turn-of-the-Century musical based on Colette's Story of a French girl who's groomed to be a courtesan. Exquisitely filmed, perfectly cast with memorable Lerner & Loewe score; title tune, "Thank Heaven for Little Girls." Winner of (9) Academy Awards including Best Picture. 1958. Kathy loved this movie; for me, it was just ok as I don't favor musicals.

Lights out: 11:33pm

Awake: 4:22am Temp 69 inside building sleep 5+16 overnight @ Miami, OK.

Bubbles got right with the program this morning; (1) of (2) silver vases on our Murphy bed's ledge had fallen off months ago. Kathy tried several different methods to re-adhere it, to no avail; now it is siliconed in place & needs @ least (8) hours to adhere properly.

Meanwhile, tech Dee asked me: "what's wrong with your waste water hose?" "It works great but has a pinhole leak," I tell him. "How do you fix that?" I asked. "I'll show you," Dee responded.

Meanwhile, Technician Tracy was removing both of my European mirrors; (1) yr ago, they were replaced due to pitting of the chrome &, now, this pair is also badly pitted. They tell me that they have gotten a batch of mirrors that simply were not chromed properly.

When I walked around our bus to see how Dee was fixing the waste water hose, he told me it was fixed & tested already; the fix was a new hose & easily installed.

The magical digital Silver Leaf Electronics had given a fault on our Glass Dash when we were parking @ the Macon, Georgia Shriner campground March 20th: "rear air zero"it read.Of our (2) main air supplies, (1) failed? At that time, I Immediately called Mike @ Newell. He asked several questions & deducted that all was OK; it has to be an anomaly he told me.

Yesterday, techs Mark, Ron, Tracy, & Jimmy were taking turns troubleshooting this zero fault with computers hooked up & other sources of readout devices. Well finally, Tracy's the man who tracked it down & fixed it up; he explained his troubleshooting procedure & how he arrived @ the fix, but it was an over my head explanation; basically, a bad sensor device.

During a lunch break for the work crew, I noticed a guy walking by eating an Ice Cream Bar; "where did you get that?" I asked him. "Oh, from the ice cream man outside" he says. We couldn't resist; K & I each had a chocolate fudgesicle for lunch today.

Dinner: Pork chops, fried noodles & a mixed salad.

We watch a movie on Cable: Life channel; we missed the start & don't know the title, but it was a good story.

Tomorrow we think we'll be all finished & outside.

Lights out: 11:09pm

Awake: 5:55am Temp 67 sleep 6+58 inside service bay # 7 Miami, Ok.

"It started right up!" John said of the generator; then he loaded it down, running (4) air conditioners, the electric Aqua hot system & anything else he could use. He ran it for about (25) min with close to a max load, which satisfied the test for now. He does advise us however, to run it longer under load when we are outside in the Newell campground. The old 15kw generator section will be sent back to the original maker for some kind of a refund.

Mattress builder David, gave our Murphy bed a new look with a different mattress cover & some extra length & Bubbles took some of the living room apart so he could get to the slide bearing covers. My only request to Bubbles was to move our living room TV to the left about ½ inch which would allow space on the right side to make adjustments on the TV without using the remote. My timing was good & my request honored.

Early afternoon, I bumped into Sydney, the fellow who is having a new 2010 Newell built. He invited me on a personal tour of how this new coach will differ from the one he currently has. Syd has a few talents; now a retired lawyer, he dabbles in electronics, metal lathing & welding. I was given a good tour @ no charge. Some of his ideas of change were great.

As the day continued, multitalented John, same guy who did a lot of the 20KW generator work, welded plates to our undercarriage that will be welded to the rear drive axle as a sway bar.

There have been complaints that these heavy buses do lean a lot on curves & crosswinds; this sway bar has been tested & labeled as "being on the level."

Dinner: Cod fish with tropical fresh fruit relish, brown rice pilaf, broccoli, & a mixed salad.

No movie tonight; being inside a metal building, our recorded movies won't work.

We both do some crossword puzzles before lights out.

Lights out: 11:06pm

Awake: 5:10am Temp 45 sleep 6+08 sunny-windy overnight @ Miami, Oklahoma.

Kyle rang our doorbell @ 6:30am; ah, but we are ready for him! Due to the heavy dew, I had already been up on the roof, cleaned off the slide tops & retracted all slides. Kyle brought in the shore cable as I started the engine; then he drove us into service bay # 7.

The techs were awaiting our arrival; we had quite a few glitches e-mailed to the service department (1) week ago. Some may be time consuming to fix, others are like changing a light bulb. I'm guessing our 15kw generator being upgraded to a 20KW will get the most attention. In fact, John, Bub & sometimes Roger, off & on, spent the entire day making the conversion; they came very close to finishing things up today. Other fixes completed today were: adjusting the lower basement doors, adjusting #1 & #3 slide outs, reducing the air leak on the teddy heater, getting replacement lifters for our Murphy bed, replacing a few (12) volt light bulbs in the basement, the living room, & bedroom areas. Roger did much more than his share of trouble-shooting today; we were both very impressed.

Kathy took a break from all the technical talk & activity & drove into downtown Miami, perusing the city & stores for changes.

Dinner: @ the "Stonehill Grill." We each had a hamburger, mine with blue cheese, & French fries/chips; it was very good.

Evening movie: "Ruggles of Red Gap" with Charles Laughton, Mary Boland, Charlie Ruggles, ZaSu Pitts, Roland Young, etc. Laughton is marvelous as butler won in poker game by uncouth but amiable westerner Ruggles & socially ambitious wife Boland. ZaSu is spinster he falls in love with. A completely winning movie. 1935. We both agree with their judgment.

Lights out: 10:57pm.

Awake: 6:53am Temp 52 sleep 7+06 overcast overnight @ Miami, OK

Casual day for us; I did some magazine reading & spent some time on the computer while Kathy watched her political programs & read some of her book.

Mid afternoon, I climbed up on the roof & cleaned the slide tops of debris from nearby trees from the strong winds & heavy rain.

Made a quick call to Katrina, thanking her for our anniversary message. She was driving back from church & meeting friends for breakfast. She reported loving her Subaru Outback but still wants to push in the clutch when there is no clutch.

Called Rosemary & Gary in PA; they are waiting patiently to have decent weather to start their gardening.

Dinner: Tuna steak, asparagus, wild & brown rice & sugar snap peas.

Evening movie: "Jungle Book" with Sabu, Joseph Calleia, John Qualen, Frank Puglia, etc. Colorful Kipling fantasy of boy (Sabu) raised by wolves; exciting family fare. 1942. A fascinating & very different story.

Lights out: 11:02pm

Awake: 6:52am Temp 52 sleep 6+02 partly sunny overnight @ Miami, OK.

Rain is forecasted today & it looks like it might happen; so if I am going to clean up our motorhome before Monday, I'd better take action.

Just before 10:00 am I got the washing equipment needed from the basement & got started. I told Kathy I'd like to do this myself & she agreed with that idea because she planned on cleaning the inside, vacuuming, washing the floors, etc. while I cleaned the outside.

My new squeegee was a real time saver; it works well to avoid getting water spots. Always, in the past, we would wipe the washed areas dry with micro fiber rags & towels, which took extra time + climbing the ladder to get the high areas. I didn't clean the roof but just about every thing else was done & dry in 2.5 hrs, why even my boss said: "It looks good!" About (2) hrs later, heavy rain & strong winds moved in.

K & I attended 5:00pm Mass @ Sacred Heart Catholic Church just down the road where Fr. Carl has replaced Fr. Gregg upon his retirement. Fr. Gregg is now assisting in Bartlesville, OK.

After Mass, we planned to finish our Anniversary celebration by going out for a dinner meal @ Montana Mikes Steak House further down the road. Along the way, as we sat in traffic @ a red light, Kathy spotted a new restaurant in town: "Stonehill Grill" & noted that the parking lot was filled to the gills. Kathy suggested that, at least, we should look @ their menu. The menu looked fine so we put our name on the waiting list. Kathy asked a lady also waiting for a table if she had eaten here before; "Oh yea, & it sure beats Montana Mikes. Mikes has been going downhill lately" she said.

Dinner @ Stonehill Grill: we share an 8-oz filet with (2) big loaded baked potatoes & a mixed salad. It was very good. We usually complain about having to stop for red lights, but not this time!

Later in the evening, the earlier storm swung around & barked at us again with more rain & winds, thunder & lighting.

Evening movie: "Elmer Gantry" with Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Dean Jagger, Arthur Kennedy, Shirley Jones, Patti Page, Edward Andrews, etc. Lancaster gives a vibrant Oscar-winning performance as the salesman with the gift of gab who joins evangelist Simmons' barnstorming troupe in the 1920s Midwest. 1960. Fantastic story! Don't miss it.

Lights out: 11:46pm

Awake: 5:52am temp 52 sleep 6+03 cloudy overnight @ Miami, Oklahoma.

Thinking of our 38th wedding anniversary & no cell phone, woke me up pronto; so after breakfast & using our computer, I did a Google search for the nearest Sprint office & Joplin, MS was it (approx 35 miles).

I sprinted to the Newell office building, chatted with Cindy (receptionist) for a bit & revealed our broken cell phone with the need to make a few calls. She offered Sam's empty room, still loaded with phone, computer & miscellaneous stuff. I called the Sprint office in Joplin (35) miles & no answer even though their hrs advertised on Friday: 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Then finally my Japanese Nescafe Excella Coffee began to kick in: "why am I doing this" I asked myself? I don't want to drive to Joplin without knowing if Sprint could simply reprogram our other Samsong cell phone that has been idle for about (3) yrs & has a charged up battery.

The 1st tech support fellow I talked with @ Sprint told me right off: "Yes, we can reprogram your other phone if it's inactive." Hot dog! Let's get started.

In a round-about way, the 2nd Sprint guy, David, did the reprogramming to our inactive cell phone which is now activated with our same # & we are well pleased. Whew!

Now in the saved messages category, we found that Katrina had called early this morning with a "Happy 38th Anniversary" message. Nice going Katrina.

Next, we motored in the Suzuki (20) min to a place called: "Sandstone Gardens" for a celebratory lunch. Fourteen years ago, Vicki and Max Carr started Sandstone Gardens as a statue and fountain manufacturer. In 1983, they opened the Joplin, Mo., shop that retails plants and garden decorations in an aesthetic fashion. Merchandise, both indoors and out, is displayed in groupings to mimic "garden rooms" with English, Italian and French themes and more. The layout accomplishes two main goals. One, it gives shoppers design ideas for their own gardens and, two, it invites people to stay longer & casually find just the right items. About (5) years ago, they added the European style Bistro where we shared a "trio" of salad, lasagna, & a brownie sundae for dessert. After enjoying lunch, we perused the nearly endless items in the store for another hour.

I had inadvertently left our cell phone in the Suzuki during lunch & missed my Sister Corinne's "Happy Anniversary" call. Thank you very much, Sis.

En route to our coach, Joan of Ohio called & chatted with Kathy + gave us a H.A. message. She & Mark were driving back from Columbus where they did some yard work for their oldest daughter.

Light dinner: Ham & cheese melt.

Nick called while walking home from work in Seattle; using our split cord, we both chatted for (38) min. His work travels to Texas were quite encouraging he told us.

Melissa called late evening with Anniversary wishes. Using our split cord again, we were getting a good update on all the Foote activities until someone upstairs woke up & the rest of the story will probably vanish.

Evening movie: "Room at the Top" with Laurence Harvey, Simone Signoret, Heather Sears. Hermione Baddeley, Donald Wolfit, etc. Brilliant drama of Harvey sacrificing Signoret's love to get ahead by marrying factory boss's daughter. 1959. Great story with a good lesson to learn; add it to your list.

Lights out: 12:50am

Awake: 5:50am Temp 49 sleep 5+48 cloudy overnight @ Fayetteville, AR.

No dew this morning so it's not necessary to check those slide tops.

We left the Southgate RV Park @ 10:16am following I-540 north to County Road-71 to Joplin, MS & I-44 westbound to US-400 to US-69 southwest to our destination for now, Miami, Oklahoma & the Newell Motorhome service & factory, arriving @ 12:25pm.

Today's travel: 116 miles 2+20 time 19 gal used 6.2 mpg 49 mph avg speed.

After choosing our parking slot, enlarging our bus etc, we ate a late breakfast & then I had a casual chat with Syd outside, who we met (2) yrs ago. Syd is having a brand new motorhome built as we speak. He is also reorganizing his current bus stuff & offered to give me (2) clear water canisters & (3) filters, which I gladly accepted. Now I really have to be nice to him & his wife, Linda.

I suggested to Kathy that we should visit the service dept & let them know that we are in town. After quite a few visits to Newell over the yrs, we know nearly all of the techs & the head honchos of the service dept. Not in order, we chatted with John, Creslie, Whitey, Tommie, Chuck, Boyd, etc; then walked over to the production factory & toured the (4) motorhomes in various stages of being built, including Syd & Linda's. Next, we visited the renovated office section & chatted with Pat, Cindy, Brian & Sally. Our favorite salesman, Sam, retired yesterday & Pat has taken over his position as sales manager.

From here, we went outside & toured the (3) new show coaches on the sale's lot & tried to figure out all the upgraded & hi-tech bells & whistles that these 2010 yr models have. We also checked out a few of the pre-owned coaches parked under the roofed area.

Dinner: leftover tuna casserole with asparagus, mixed salad & mango slices.

Evening movie: "Funny Face" with Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson, Michel Auclair, etc. Stylish & highly stylized musical with Astaire as fashion photographer who turns Hepburn into chic Paris model. 1957. I selected this movie for Kathy due to its delectable revue & fitting for our 38th wedding anniversary tomorrow. She likes musicals, esp. "Funny Girl" & so I thought this would be perfect! Boo, hiss, yuck, etc. She disliked it so much it kept her awake & she couldn't nap. A review from Kathy: don't waste your time on this one.

As I was shutting down our computer for the night, I noticed something usual about our cell phone.... the bottom screen was lit & when opening the top section, it was dead. I tried several different approaches: cleaning the connections, replacing the battery, gently striking the phone etc, to no avail. We absolutely have to have a working phone; tomorrow I will get right after this serious dilemma.

Lights out: 11:49pm

Awake: 6:11am Temp 42 sleep 6+22 mostly sunny overnight @ Fayetteville, AR.

After a late breakfast & reading some interesting facts about Fayetteville such as: the nations 7th best city in which to live, work & play; # 3 for wages & salaries growth over the past five years; # 12 for economic development hot spots & among the coolest college towns in the nation, combining progressive living with a close-knit community, etc, etc., we had to see more of Fayetteville.

On our way downtown, we stopped @ the campground office & signed up for another night's stay. Then we drove a grid tour for about (20) min, including a drive-by of the huge University of Arkansas Campus; very impressive.

The main part of Fayetteville is located on a hill & on the other side of town is the University, also on a hill, with a slight valley in between. After parking @ the town square, we visited the Visitors Center & followed a pamphlet guide for an historic walking tour of the downtown area.

Out of (26) historic buildings to see & read about, we covered (17) of them; & from what we've seen, this city is everything they say it is. We can certainly say, we got to see this city!

En route to our campground, we stopped @ the American Restaurant Equipment Co. & checked out their wares; we were just looking with no ideas of anything to purchase. Just as we were about to leave, I spotted a squeegee with a sturdy handle that I thought might help in the washing of our coach; sold to the happy buyer.

My 1st cousin Florentz called from the Indiana (PA) hospital; his wife, Anna, fell down some of the basement stairs at their house earlier today & broke her hip. She will probably undergo surgery tomorrow. Our prayers will go out for her speedy & comfortable recovery.

Dinner: Tilapia fish, broccoli, sugar snap peas, brown & wild rice & a Caesar salad.

Evening movie: "Jules & Jim" with Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre, Marie Dubois, Vanna Urbino, etc. Truffat's memorable tale of (3) people in love, & how the yrs affect their interrelationships; a film of rare beauty & charm. 1961. What made this movie & story even more delicious was: it's in French with English subtitles. Kathy does not like movies with subtitles; she can't follow the story as well when napping. But this time, she did good because this story was a doozie! Recommended for adults over-60!

Lights out: 11:58pm

Awake: 6:02am Temp 48 sleep 6+11 clouds, sunny overnight @ East Memphis, TN.

No dew last night & the slide tops are clean; so no clean-up necessary.

We left the East Memphis Agricenter RV Park @ 9:10am, followed Walnut Grove Road west to I-240 to I-40 west thru Memphis, Little Rock, AR., Fort Smith, etc to I-540 north & arrived @ Southgate RV Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas @ 3:10pm.

Today's travel: 335 miles 6+12 time 56 gal used 6.0 mpg 54 mph avg speed.
This campground is small but big rig friendly.

Dinner: pork chops, fried noodles, bread from Sunday's feast & a mixed salad.
Evening movie: "David Copperfield" with Freddie Bartholomew, Frank Lawton, W.C. Fields, Lionel Barrymore, Madge Evans, Roland Young, Maureen O'Sullivan, etc. Hollywood does right by Dickens in this lavishly mounted, superbly cast production, following David's exploits from youth to young manhood, with such unforgettable characterizations as Fields' Micawber, Rathbone's Mr. Murdstone, Young's Uriah Heep, & Oliver's Aunt Betsey. A treat from start to finish. 1935. A classic story without a doubt & enjoyable.

Lights out: 11:44pm

Awake: 7:07am Temp 59 sleep 7+00 clouds, rain overnight @ East Memphis, TN.

Kathy did (3) loads of laundry while I caught up on a few magazines & stayed out of trouble.

Early afternoon, we visited the nearby Kroger store & bought some red grapes, an assortment of hard-to-find cheeses, pork chops, Triscuits, etc. Then dropped our tax return off @ the local post office before more grocery shopping @ Costco: organic milk, pecans, blueberries, roasted almonds, etc. We also topped off our Suzuki's fuel tank @ Costco with (14) gal @ $1.80 per/gal.

Originally we had plans to go out tonight with another couple....but that was cancelled.

Dinner: leftover ham, egg roll & green bean casserole from Mary Ann's dinner & leftover dry ribs from the Rendezvous.

Evening movie: "The Angry Silence" with Richard Attenborough, Pier Angeli, Michael Craig, Bernard Lee, Geoffrey Keen, etc. Rewarding, unheralded film about brave standby a simple Britisher who refuses to join wildcat strike, the repercussions he endures. 1960. A sad story of being brave while trying to do the right thing.

Lights out: 11:47pm

Awake: 7:10am Temp 50 sleep 7+40 sunny overnight @ East Memphis, TN.

K & I attend 9:00am Mass @ Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Germantown, TN. We were about (15) min early but the church was already packed full; we were able to find a space only because a lady was saving a space for her friend who didn't show up. Among the regular church goers, there were also the people they refer to as "submarine Catholics," they only surface twice a year: Christmas & Easter.

Afterwards, we were invited to have dinner @ Mary Ann & Bob's place with their daughter, Regina, husband Scott & their children Tyler & Hailey. When we arrived @ 12:40pm, the dining table was set up, the wine glasses in place & food ready to be served: tasty slices of ham, green bean casserole, oven baked potatoes, Italian bread + frozen Jello salad. For dessert: Chocolate cake with ice cream. Yummiest!

After this scrumptious meal, we had some more gab time & Tyler sat on my lap & entertained me with his hand-held computer game playing. Slowly & methodically, Regina & Scott change their clothes, then their children's clothes & prepared to leave for their home in Nashville, TN., a 2.5 hr drive.

While Kathy & Mary Ann cleaned up the dishes, Bob & I took to the living room & tuned in the Masters Golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. The ladies joined us when they were finished.

The golf match got more exciting with a (3) way sudden death playoff which Angel Cabrera of Argentina won on the second playoff hole.

Evening movie: "The Man in the White Suit" with Alec Ginness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough, Emest Thesiger, etc. Guinness is inventor who discovers a fabric that can't wear our or soil; dismayed garment manufactures set out to bury his formula; most engaging comedy. 1951.

Kathy was in bed with her crossword book when I went to shut off our computer when suddenly Nick Skyped us. I called Kathy & we had (50) min of good updating with mostly Nick on line while Eriko & Jerry took their baths. Both video & audio were breaking up so we kept video & switched to cell phone with split ear buds.

Lights out: 12:07pm

Awake: 6:22am Temp 48 sleep 6+36 sunny overnight @ East Memphis, TN.

Kathy made deviled eggs for Sunday's dinner. Then Jodie arrived & the two ladies went thrift store shopping, and to the Cooper Young area to view an art show & have lunch.

Meanwhile, mail call: Jodie picked up (2) months worth of our forwarded mail from Alaska; this kept me busy until about 4:00pm.

Jodi droped Kathy off just before 4:00, then she & I motored to downtown Memphis for a dinner @ Charles Vergos' Rendezvous for their world famous dry ribs; unbelievable flavor & meat in those ribs topped with their sauce. Kathy had a small order & finished her plate; I had a larger portion, couldn't finish & brought the leftover ribs back to our car.

After our Rendezvous dinner, we walked ½ block to the famous Peabody Hotel where the renowned ducks do their riding down the elevator & then marching over to the lobby fountain for a swim. Then K & I walked around the lobby simply admiring this exquisite hangout that we appreciated so much when we lived here in Memphis. The lobby is packed; in fact, the downtown area of Memphis is very alive & well these days.

For example: tonight there is a baseball game right in the heart of downtown; the AAA Minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals is a not-for-profit organization & the Redbirds return every penny to the community. Programs such as R.B.I. & S.T.R.I.P.E.S. provide funding needed to support youth baseball & softball programs.

A few blocks away, is the FedEx Forum, a state-of-the-art multi-level facility offering a wide variety of sports & entertainment events, meeting spaces for all sizes & a window into the musical roots of Memphis.

Just a few blocks south of the Peabody Hotel is the Orpheum Theatre; a beautifully restored 1928 movie palace...hosting Broadway productions & ballets year-round.

And not to forget Beale Street, which tonight is blocked off for pedestrian traffic only & it is super busy.

Vintage trolleys serve the downtown area, including the Pinch District, Beale Street, the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Cook Convention Center, Memphis Queen Riverboats, the Tennessee Visitor's Welcome Center, Auto Zone Park and more. We took the Loop trolley that runs alongside of the Mississippi River (2) yrs ago with a great view of the Hernando Desoto Bridge, the Pyramid & Mud Island, etc. Now they have extended their rails to include the medical district.

Just leaving the area by car tonight took some time as there was pedestrian traffic & auto traffic everywhere.

Evening movie: "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" with Dorothy McGuire, Joan Blondell, James Dun, Lloyd Nolan, Peggy Ann Garner, etc. Splendid, sensitive film from Betty Smith's novel about a bright young girl trying to rise above the hardships of her tenement life in turn of the century Brooklyn, New York; perfect in every detail. 1945. Don't miss it!

Lights out: 11:30pm

Awake: 5:44am Temp 62 sleep 6+11 overcast overnight @ East Memphis, TN.

Kathy went grocery shopping & shopped for (4 +) hrs. Meanwhile, while the cat is away.....I called & talked with Ron who lives in Collierville & I learned that he has been on sick leave for (3) weeks now with bronchitis. If he was well, we could have gotten together today but Ron is still on heavy antibiotics & can't leave the house or drive. Previously, he was hospitalized for a week; I wish him a speedy recovery.

Next I called Ray in WA state & we gabbed for about (20) min. Skype was too active for video.

Dinner: Tuna casserole, broccoli & fresh peppers.

Katrina called from Denver....not driving. She told us of her interest in getting a brand new Subaru Outback. I told her that "I approve of this message." She will let us know for sure tomorrow.

Zack called from Isilon; he had a few free minutes @ work & we were delighted to hear from him. We discussed his Masters program; he is doing quite well, A- in each of the (3) classes he has taken so far. He also told us of his new software challenge @ Isilon & of KT's veterinarian assistant job, in which she is doing very well & likes very much. He sounds good; we wished him a "Happy Easter" and he reciprocated.

Evening movie: "Mission to Moscow" with Walter Huston, Ann Harding, Oscar Homolka, George Tobias, Gene Lockhart, Frieda Inescort, etc. Fascinating propaganda of real-life ambassador Joseph Davies (played by Huston) in then-peaceful Russia. Well done, giving interesting insights to American concepts of USSR @ the time. Davies himself introduces the film. 1943. Very, very interesting; similar to a documentary.

Lights out: 11:46pm

Awake: 6:02am Temp 48 sleep 6+00 overcast overnight @ East Memphis, TN.

Jodi called for Kathy: her husband, P.D. is having tests to rule out pancreatitis or kidney failure; @ this time, doctors don't know yet. Our prayers are going out for him.

Late morning, we drove (8) miles & joined Annette & Denny for lunch, buffet style, @ the "Panda Café." Amazing amount of options to choose from @ this Chinese restaurant; every morsel I ate was worthy of another round. There were (5) long self serve counters with multiple food choices; soups, fruit, salads, hot fish & meat entrees, + a sushi bar & soft ice cream. We casually ate & gabbed for a good (2.5) hrs. & did a lot of catching up on each others lives since being together (2) yrs ago.

Late evening, would you believe, we were hungry again so Kathy put some leftover chicken & pasta together for a late dinner.

Finished watching: "Sahara" with Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Bennett, J. Carrol Naish, Lloyd Bridges, Rex Ingram, Richard Nugent, etc. Excellent actioner of British-American unit stranded in Sahara desert in the path of Nazi infantry; Bogie's the sergeant, with fine support by Naish & Ingram. 1943. This story was great! Add it to your list.

Lights out: 11:33pm.

Awake: 6:40am Temp 41 sleep 7+06 sunny overnight @ East Memphis, TN.

Early morning, Kathy perused our (3) memory sticks for special pictures she would like to make prints of.

I forgot to mention: yesterday Kathy's good friend Jodi called to tell her that her husband, P.D., will be going to the Baptist Memphis Hospital this afternoon; he's in pain & they are not sure what's wrong. She will call later this evening & give a report.

@ 4:15pm we drove over to Bob & Mary Ann's place; then we rode with them to the Holy Spirit Church for a Passover Prayer Service & Seder Supper. The Seder meal included wine, matzo, bitter herbs, a roasted egg and greens dipped in salt water with accompanying prayers & singing and the reading of Exodus 12:1-14.

Then a full meal of pork with garlic spinach, roll, salad, scalloped potatoes & a dessert of cherries with oat meal streusel topping, was served. After the meal we invited Mary Ann & Bob to see our home-on-wheels only a few miles from where we were.

Kathy gave them a good tour; then I Skyped my brother Don in PA to give Bob a demonstration of how Skype works. My bro's camera didn't come on line which means no video of him & he strongly hinted that the glitch was on my end. So I told Don to check out his camera while I call my buddy Ray in WA; Ray came on line with audio & video which proved my innocence. Later I talk with bro again & he knew he was the guilty one.

Bob was glad to see the sequence of operating Skype & Mary Ann was happy to see our motorhome. We rode back to their place with them, got our Suzuki & returned to the coach.

No call from Jodi tonight.

Evening movie: "Sahara." We watch 1/2.

Lights out: 12:02am

Awake: 7:05am Temp 41 sleep 5+24 sunny, windy overnight @ East Memphis, TN.

Annette called mid morning; Kathy called her twice yesterday & each time, a recording announced: the # you have reached has either been disconnected or is out of service. So Kathy e-mailed her & thus, the call. We make plans to meet Annette & Denny for lunch on Thursday.

Most of my day was taken up finishing an Escapee magazine & getting my glitch list together for our visit to the Newell Service dept later this month.

Dinner: almond encrusted cod fish, creamed eggs, asparagus & spinach, brown rice with pecans, golden raisins, & dried cherries.

Kathy e-mailed Nick, apologizing for missing his call & letting him know we would be happy to receive a call this evening.

Nick called when walking home from work: we hooked up our split cord & both enjoyed hearing & talking with him @ the same time. He told us that Jerry is really riding his wooden bike fast these days, doing lots of coasting with good balance.

Evening movie: "The Four Feathers" with John Clements, Ralph Richardson, C. Aubrey Smith, June Duprez, Allan Jeayes, Jack Allen, Donald Gray, etc. Good adventure from A.E.W. Mason story of tradition-bound Britisher who must prove he's not a coward by helping army comrades quell Sudan uprising. Smith is just wonderful as tale-spinning army veteran. 1939 & filmed in color. Very intense; we both enjoyed this movie.

Lights out: 11:34pm

Awake: 7:02am Temp 43 sleep 6+36 windy, overcast overnight @ East Memphis, TN.

Donna calls from Holly Springs, MS.; she invites us for a visit tomorrow & suggests that we leave Germantown before 3:00 pm or we will get bogged down in heavy traffic.

My earlier call to Mike in Everglade City is returned: Mike tells me their living room floor & ceilings are finished & he's now focusing on other rooms in the house. He also spoke to Steve @ FedEx this morning & gave me Steve's phone #. Afterward, I called Steve & left a message.

Kathy called Mary Ann & asked if they got Skype working yet? After a negative answer, Kathy replied, "We're here to help you!" Surprised, Mary Ann wanted to know where we were. They chatted a while & Mary Ann invited us to join them at their church where they are celebrating Seder followed by an American dinner on Wed evening. We accepted.

Then Kathy drove the Suzuki to the Agricenter office & paid our camping fee.

Before 3:00pm, we motored southeast to Holly Springs, MS., stopping in Germantown to deposit some mail. We made another stop @ Booker Hardware in Holly Springs where we got a map of the city, so we can auto tour this town to see the well-preserved antebellum homes & other structures. According to our map, there are some (63) homes of interest right here in the city. Our timing was good leaving East Memphis & Germantown but doing the auto tour during the Holly Springs rush hour was not. We spent about (20) min seeing a dozen beautiful old well-preserved mansions & then found our way to Dale & Donna's place adjacent to the Kirkwood golf course.

It seems longer than one year since we last visited them. According to Donna's records, it was exactly on the same date as last yr. We've done a lot of traveling since then so maybe that blurs the passage of time; for us, it went too fast.

Donna & Dale look good & their new home is so much more organized since last yr. During last yrs visit, they were still just moving in & Donna was in the throes of sorting her mother's things.

We gabbed for hrs, then motored into Holly Springs & had dinner @ J B's Family Restaurant; en route to the restaurant, D & D showed us some more antebellum homes in town while we still had some daylight.

K & I shared a homemade hamburger patty with most of the trimmings & each had a dinner salad; we also each had a small bowl of homemade ice cream for dessert, black walnut for me & orange-chocolate for Kathy.

After returning to their house, we yakked for two more hrs then decided to take timed pictures of ourselves, which was not a quick happening. We finally said our goodbyes & wished each other a "Happy Easter" @11:45 pm. We motored the (46) miles to our campground, arriving @ 12:30 am.
Sadly, we missed a call from Nick while we were at the restaurant.

No movie tonight.
Lights out: 1:39am

Awake: 6:04am Temp 48 sleep 6+39 sunny-cloudy overnight @ Tuscumbia, AL.

After a healthy Kathy muffin & a cheery goodbye to our near RV neighbors, we left Heritage Acres RV Park @ 9:14am, following US-72 northwest to State Rd-302, then State Rd-309 to Hwy-178 arriving @ the ER Fuller Camper Park @ 11:32am. Angela greeted us & suggested we detach our tow car & she would walk with us to select a campsite. This un-advertised campground is small, old, but somewhat big rig friendly.

After selecting & backing into a site, I kept the engine running to level our coach while Kathy plugged into the 50-amp utility box. With leveling finished, Kathy walked to my driver window & asked: "do you have electricity?" "Not yet!" I tell her. Well, with our long shore cable run out, she tried (2) more (50) amp outlets nearby & each time, our auto electric protector shut the connection down before anything could get into our coach system. We were a little surprised; after (300 +) campgrounds visited over the yrs, this was our 1st time to find a fault with the electric feed from a campground.

We both felt a little uncomfortable about calling Angela & reporting this problem, but definitely that 50-amp service has a problem. We apologized to Angela & asked her to seriously look into that system; then we attached our tow car, drove (6) miles up Hwy-178 & topped off our motorhome tank @ Flying "J". 180.8 gal @ $2.26 per gal.

During fueling, Kathy was on the cell phone & or computer searching for another campground;
she wasn't finding anything nearby.

(2) days ago, I had called the Agricenter International in East Memphis to reserve a campsite for today, Sunday; I got the impression that the office was closed for the week-end so I left a message. Just as I finished fueling the coach, a fellow from the Agricenter returned my call & told Kathy that they have a campsite waiting for us with 50-amps. How about that! Luck or the work of our guardian angel?! Now our visit with Donna & Dale will have to wait a day or so.
We arrive @ the Agricenter in East Memphis, TN @ 2:05pm.

Today's travel: 153 miles 3+38 time 27 gal used 5.7 mpg 42 mph avg speed.

Our campsite @ the Agricenter is good & we have strong 50-amps. Angela called us about an hr later & asked if we had found another campground & 50-amp service. Yes, was the answer & both Kathy & I suggest that she might check her 50-amp service for under-voltage, over-voltage, a wiring fault...ground or neutral, etc. She told us she had made several calls since we left to have someone check it out thoroughly.

Mid-afternoon dinner: Italian sausage, pasta & a spinach salad.

Evening movie: "The Corsican Brothers" with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Ruth Warrick, Akim Tamiroff, J. Carrol Naish, etc. Entertaining swashbuckler from Dumas story of twins who are separated but remain spiritually tied; Fairbanks excellent in the dual lead, with strong support, ingenious photographic effects. 1941. Entertaining it was indeed!

Lights out: 12:26am

Awake: 6:27am Temp 40 sleep 6+34 sunny overnight @ Tuscumbia, Alabama.

Kathy talked with Jodi in Tennessee about visiting plans over Easter,

Bill, former neighbor from Alaska, called from their new home near Tacoma & we update each other on activities. Bill will be RVing east this summer, so we will do our best to rendezvous somehow, somewhere.

We, mostly Kathy, spent way too much time trying to locate a campground near Holly Springs, Mississippi so we can easily visit Dale & Donna who live nearby. Finally, Kathy discovers a non-advertised campground, thoroughly checks it out, makes the call & lets Angela know our estimated arrival time.

K &I attend 5:30pm Mass @ St. Joseph Catholic Church in Florence, Alabama. The only Catholic Church around for miles & it was a small church; we got the impression we were outnumbered by other religious affiliations.

Dinner: leftover stuffed peppers with Triscuits.

Evening movie: "Miracle of Morgan's Creek" with Eddie Sturges, Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton, William Demarest, Diana Lynn, Brian Donlevy, etc. Frantic, hilarious comedy of Betty attending all-night party, getting pregnant & forgetting who the father is. Bracken & Demarest have never been better than in this daring wartime farce. 1944. Some funny parts but also a little wackier than we care for.

Lights out: 11:25pm

Awake: 6:08am Temp 51 sleep 5+56 mostly sunny overnight @ Tuscumbia, AL.

Late morning we motored about (3) miles into Tuscumbia & toured the birthplace of Helen Keller. Neither of us knew that much about her, only what we saw in the movie: "The Miracle Worker."

She was born a normal child but @ (19) months, developed an illness that left Helen blind & deaf. Since Helen's parents catered to her every whim, her teacher soon realized she would have to get Helen away from her parents in order to be able to control her tantrums & teach her. So the cottage annex that Captain Keller had built first as an office & than as a bridal suite for his 2nd wife, served as living quarters & school for Helen & her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Anne remained as Helen's companion for (49) yrs until Anne's death.

After a guided tour of the house & seeing a fraction of the hundreds of mementos including a tiny portion of her library of Braille books & a couple of Braille typewriters, a Brailled Scrabble set & many pictures; we were stunned @ all the good things she had accomplished in her lifetime including graduating from Radcliffe College cum laude.

Next we drove about (7) miles out of town to see & have a guided tour of the Belle Mont Plantation Mansion; this old house, built during the mid-1830's, was the oldest structure we have ever encountered. Jim, our professional tour guide, had a lot to tell us as we went from room to room; it seems that the most distinguished thing about this house is the so-called "Jeffersonian Style" building with accents of high-quality brickwork with contrasting wood trim. Even though there are some notable touches about this old place, we didn't get any ideas to add to our long list when building our own home.

Dinner: Tilapia fish, asparagus, rice pilaf & a spinach salad.

Evening movie: "Interrupted Melody" with Eleanor Parker, Glenn Ford, Roger Moore, Cecil Kellaway, Ann Codee, etc. Fine biography of Marjorie Lawrence, Australian opera star, who made a comeback after being crippled by polio. Eileen Farrell sings for Parker. 1955. Sensitive story with a good finish; based on a true story.

Lights out: 11:53pm

Awake: 6:05am Temp 60 sleep 6+25 sunny overnight @ Cullman, AL.

After cleaning the pollen off the slides & having a cereal breakfast, we were getting ready to start our engine when Katrina called.

Kathy took the call noting a melancholy tone in Katrina's voice. She reported that she had an auto accident on I-25 last evening while driving back from visiting Karina & she thinks her car is totaled. "It was snowing, visibility was not good, I went into a skid & hit the median & then a pickup hit me from behind." She was focused on her driving & NOT talking on the phone! She did drive her car a couple of blocks to get it off the highway along with the truck driver. The police did not issue a ticket but did drive her to a friend's house where she spent the night. Katrina does not have collision insurance & questioned what she should do. At this point, Kathy turned the phone over to me.

OK, It's my turn: Katrina asked me: "What should I do with my car?" "Well, if it was my car, I'd have it towed to the Honda garage where I have had service done & get their opinion if it's salvageable" I replied. We agreed to that idea & I asked her to call us again on what she finds out.

We left the Cullman Campground @ 9:29am following State Rd-157 to Tuscumbia, Alabama....arriving @ the Heritage Acres campground @ 10:50am.

Today's travel: 62 miles 1+21 time 10 gal used 6.2 mpg 46 mph avg speed.

The campground office had not opened yet for the day so I called the owner on our cell phone; he was downtown conducting business but accessed his computer, selected a campsite for us to pull into & said he would get with us later today.

This area is forecasted to have heavy rain with strong winds & thunderstorms after 1:00pm ....& the campground owner tipped us off as to where we could go in the event of tornados.

Meanwhile Kathy does (2) laundry loads while I check our motorhome thoroughly for some possible strong winds & more heavy rain.

About 2:00pm, the owner's son came by to collect our camping fee; he recommended that I visit the office for credit card usage. With a serious looking dark sky, I decided to drive the Suzuki to the office even though the distance is rather short; no sooner did I sign my name on the slip when the sky let loose with heavy,heavy rain with thunderstorms.

We didn't go anywhere else on this rainy day; fortunately for us, most of the storm seemed to slide south of our location.

Dinner: Tuna steak with lemon cream sauce, rice pilaf, artichoke & a spinach salad.

Mid evening: Katrina called & gave us an update on "What's happening?" "My car is totaled" she tells us. She did have her new radio pulled out & will donate the car to charity for which she can deduct $$ on her tax return. She reports having a nice visit with Karina, even though at this time Karina is on 24/7 suicide precautions, after running away & expressing suicidal thoughts upon her return. Katrina likes the place & feels it is a good location for Karina. She lives in a comfortable cabin in the woods, far from any village or town, where there are about (9 or 10) other girls who are being schooled & counseled separately from the boys who are across the road. Karina would really like to live in a foster home again, but that possibility seems rather slim.

Evening movie: "The Young at Heart" with Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Palette Goddard, Roland Young, Billie Burke, Henry Stephenson, etc. The Carletons make a living as card sharks and finding new suckers to mooch off of. When their latest scam backfires, they are asked to leave Monte Carlo.

At the train station, they meet a kind old woman named Miss Fortune. The elderly lady is very wealthy and very lonely. As a reward for saving her life after the train derails, Miss Fortune invites the Carletons to come live with her. The family hopes that by winning her affection, they can eventually be named sole beneficiaries in her will. But will a change of heart soften their mercenary feelings before that time comes? 1938. A good story...but you don't know what happens next, do you?

Lights out: 12:22am

Awake: 6:02am Temp 53 sleep 6+02 mostly sunny overnight @ Helena, AL.

Lots of water on our slide tops from the night rain; it took a good (20) min for cleanup.

We leave the Cherokee Campground @ 11:15am, following County Road-93 to County Road-52 to I-459 to I-65 to State Road-157 arriving @ the Cullman Campground in Cullman @ 12:53pm.

Today's travel: 75 miles 1+38 time 13.8 gal used 5.5 mpg 45.6 avg speed.

This campground is small but nice & big rig friendly. After getting settled in our site, we drove our Suzuki into town, about (3) miles, & found the Ave Maria Grotto, known throughout the world as "Jerusalem in Miniature."

This 4-acre park was designed to provide a natural setting for the (125) or more miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings & shrines known to man.

The builder of the miniatures was a Benedictine Monk, Brother Joseph Zoettl, O.S.B. Born in Landshut, Bavaria in 1878, he came to Saint Bernard Abbey @ the age of (14) to attend school with the intention of becoming a monk. After being admitted as a Brother in the Abbey he was appointed to the power plant & while there developed his hobby of building miniatures.

The 1st replicas were erected on the monastery recreation grounds. But due to the numerous visitors who came to view "Little Jerusalem," it was decided to move the miniatures to the present site.

On May 17, 1934 the Ave Maria Grotto was dedicated. Brother Joseph continued his labor of love for over (40) yrs, using materials sent from all over the world. In 1958, @ the age of (80) he built his last model, the Basilica @ Lourdes.

This labor of love for (40) yrs is unparalleled & beyond comprehension; we've never seen anything like it. How can I describe it: as we rounded a bend & saw it...an entire hillside packed in urban splendor with cathedrals & famous buildings. One half of the flowered hillside depicts the buildings & scenes of Jerusalem & the Holy Land, familiar to all from the Holy Bible; classic Roman landmarks, such as St. Peter's, the Coliseum & catacombs; European wayside shrines; the famous Spanish Missions of Florida & the American Southwest & replicas of the famous Shrines of Our Lady @ Fatima & Lourdes.

Brother Joseph built his miniatures mostly from pictures, having personally only seen (4) sites in Bavaria.

There is sooo much to see.... & with such first-rate detail. I was plenty busy snapping photos while Kathy was identifying many landmarks, buildings, etc.

We were just finishing up our self tour when Katrina called from Denver: she is on her way to Colorado Springs to visit Karina. She agreed to give us a full report tomorrow or whenever she can. We also chat about our shared Costco cards & the Denver weather.

Next, back in the town of Cullman, we parked on a side street by a Catholic Church & had a late afternoon snack; afterwards, we paid the church a visit, said a few prayers & then did an auto grid pattern of Cullman. In driving through the streets, we stopped to admire the ole train depot, which, unfortunately, was locked.

Back @ our motorhome & before dinner, I changed one of my filters from the portable water filter unit & cleaned up the canister....it needed changing.

Dinner: Stuffed peppers with whole wheat bread & red grapes.

Evening movie: "Gold Diggers" with Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Aline MacMahon, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, Warren William, Ned Sparks, Ginger Rogers, etc. Another spectacular Busby Berkeley dance outing with familiar....let's produce-a-Broadway-show plot. Highlights: Blondell's "Forgotten Man." Rogers' "We're in the Money." 1933. Our impression: extravagant & magnificent dancing & customs; the plot was not.

Lights out: 11:40pm

Awake: 7:12am Temp 53 sleep 7+02 intermittent rain overnight @ Helena, AL.

Late morning, K & I motor to another area of downtown, Birmingham where we self tour the famous Sloss Furnaces.

Our 1st stop is the Visitor's Center building, which was originally an electrical repair shop & bath house for furnace workmen. After watching a slide show that ran about (14) min covering interviews with the men who ran the furnaces & experienced the work details we were ready to begin our tour. I think maybe a little history using Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, will be helpful in understanding how this giant operation got started.

Colonel James Withers Sloss was one of the founders of Birmingham, helping to promote railroad development & participating in the Pratt Coke and Coal Company; he was also one of the new city's first manufacturers, forming in 1880, his own company, the Sloss Furnace Company. Construction began on 50 acres of land donated for industrial development. A European-born engineer, Hargreaves, was in charge of construction & had been a pupil of Thomas Whitwell, a British inventor who designed the stoves that would supply the hot-air blast for the new furnaces.

Sixty feet high and eighteen feet in diameter, the first blast was initiated in April 1882. 24,000 tons of high quality iron were produced in the first year & in 1883, Sloss iron won a bronze medal for "best pig iron" at the Southern Exposition held at Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1886 Sloss retired and sold the company to a group of investors who reorganized it in 1899 as the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company. New blowers were installed in 1902, new boilers in 1906 and 1914 and the furnaces completely rebuilt with modern equipment between 1927 and 1931. Through this aggressive campaign of modernization and expansion, including furnace and mining and quarrying operations all around, Sloss-Sheffield became the second largest seller of pig-iron in the district and among the largest in the world.

With our umbrellas shielding us from the rain, we jumped small puddles & followed the yellow arrows (1.5) blocks toward the heart of the furnace complex. Along the way, there are stainless steel plaques describing what we are seeing; @ our # 2 arrow, we entered the blower building where there are giant machines that pumped the air blast to the hot blast stoves. In the main portion of the building is a row of (8) huge steam engines/air compressors, all built in the early part of the century. They stand more than (30) ft tall & turn flywheels (20) ft in diameter.

Adjacent wings of the building house examples of the machines that made the steam engines obsolete. These turboblowers are centrifugal compressors, driven by steam turbines. Installed between 1949 & 1951, the (2) compact, efficient turboblowers did the work of all (8) of the great steam engines.

Then we followed arrow # 3 to the large paved plaza underneath the Sloss Water Tower. Along one side of the plaza are (6) tall cylindrical hot blast stoves that heated the air pumped by the steam engines or turboblowers. The stoves consist of steel shells, lined with heat-resistant bricks & filled with a tall lattice of brick called: the checkers. Waste gases from the Blast Furnace were burned in the stove to heat the checkers. The gas was then shut off & the air blast was blown through the stoves. The hot checkers heated the air to (1400 degrees F) & large pipes carried the hot air to the blast furnace.

Picture taking with flash was definitely encouraged &, being the dedicated self tour guides that we are, all totaled we spent a good (3) hrs following the (11) marked arrows, climbing up numerous ladders, walking through tunnels, perusing control rooms, etc. We wanted to see it all but quite a few of the hazard areas were blocked with high gates & big locks. My slide show will contain close to (40) heavy metal scenes.

Besides being a museum, Sloss is also used to hold metal arts classes, a barbecue cook-off, an annual Halloween haunted house, Muse of Fire shows and is a concert venue.

En route to our campground in Helena, we stopped @ a Whole Foods grocery store & stocked up on aged cheese. Then, closer to our coach, we stopped & Costco & stocked up on more groceries, especially fish, wild berries, organic milk, veggies & canned peaches.

Dinner: Cod fish, wild rice pilaf & a mixed salad.

Surprise! We got a call on Skype; my brother Don from PA. His video screen was blank for the 1st (4) min but then, in living color, there he was. We talked for about (12) min & then he had to sign off. We were happy to see that his computer & Skype are up & running.

Evening movie: "I want to Live" with Susan Hayward, Simon Oakland, Virginia Vincent, Theodore Bikel, John Marley, etc. Hayward won an Oscar for her gutsy performance as prostitute-crook, Barbara Graham who (according to the film) is framed for murder & goes to the gas chamber. 1958. Based on a true story....this was another tough movie to watch.

Heavy rain accompanies our bed time & beyond.

Lights out: 12:00 midnight.

Awake: 6:48am Temp 40 sleep 6+26 sunny overnight @ Helena, Alabama.

Late morning, we motor to downtown Birmingham & visit the Alabama Power Building; they advertise a collection of old radios, console radios, vacuum tubes, test equipment, art deco classic radios, etc. Unfortunately, the late morning sun reflected off the glassed-in display & my picture taking was limited. However, outside, I was able to get a beautiful picture of Miss Electra posing proudly in the nude atop the Alabama Power building. The shapely (16 & ½ ft cast bronze statue, coated with gold leaf, weights 4000 pounds); one city official...who will remain anonymous ....pointed out Miss Electra, calling her "buck naked & anatomically correct."

Next, Kathy makes a phone call & then programs our GPS for an approx (30) min ride east to visit the much talked about: Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum...still located in Birmingham, Alabama. The city of Birmingham apparently has a vast amount of acreage within its boundaries.

1st of all, this private collection began in 1988 & was opened to the public in 1994. By 1999, the museum had outgrown its downtown facility, then a search for a new location brought forth a unique museum, about (25) miles from downtown, with (5) floors & 144,000 sq-ft of exhibit space. The large central atrium allows visitors to glimpse @ hundreds of motorcycles on several different floors. Visitors move from floor to floor using the atrium's (12) ton-capacity glass elevator, or by using the walkway that connects the floor together.

How long does it take (2) seniors, a male & female in decent shape, to look closely @ (750) motorcycles & about (2) dozen race cars & maybe a dozen Formula 1 cars, all from around the world? Well, we started a little before 3:00pm & closed the place down @ 5:00pm. 99% of this equipment has been restored to operating condition with many of the restorations done @ the museum's in-house shops. They even have a 2.38 mile road course adjacent to the museum on which to "test run" the renovated equipment. Also, we were told that there is a school for beginners that also uses this 2.38 mile track.

Besides production street vehicles & specialized racing machines, there are a wide variety of international-make machines; motorcycles, street & race, domestic & international, from early 1900's motor driven cycles to modern vehicles. We did find (2) square fours from England (my buddy Ray has one ready to restore) & quite a few Indians like my other buddy Mark used to ride around on. And of course, a few 1950's Harley's that resemble the Dual Glide 74 my brother & I had. This place is awe....some!

Dinner: BB chicken & hot spinach rice bake.

Evening movie: "Hold Your Man" with Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Stuart Erwin, Elizabeth Patterson, etc. Delightful film that effectively makes the transition from comedy to drama with Harlow falling for jailbound Gable. 1933. Kathy's judgment: it was OK!

Lights out: 12:14am

Awake: 6:23am Temp 48 sleep 6+26 sunny overnight @ Montgomery, Alabama.

This morning when I climbed up to inspect the slide tops & roof, I saw the cleanest topside of all; those periods of strong heavy rain did a better job than I could ever have done!

We left the Woods RV Park & Campground @ 10:59am following I-65 to I-459 to County Rd-52 to County Rd-93....arriving @ the Cherokee Campground in Helena, Alabama @ 12:45am.

Today's travel: 96 miles 2+06 time 17.3 fuel used 5.5 mpg 45 mph avg speed.

We no sooner got our coach parked & somewhat leveled when Katrina called en route to her condo. She told me about the (2) snow days they had with her school closed last week due to that spring snowstorm. She, of course, took advantage of that new snow & went up in the mountains with friends for (2) fun snowboarding days. She also brought me up-to-date on Karina & her condo activities; then it was Kathy's turn to talk.

With a good part of the afternoon still available for touring, we cruised downtown Birmingham (15) miles in our Suzuki, walked around the center of town which is Linn Park & soon discovered that the Birmingham Art Museum was nearby, open & free. (2.5) hrs later, we had thoroughly enjoyed most of the artwork & displays they had to offer.

Next, we found our way to Five Points South, which is one of the city's top entertainment districts. It is like a city within a city with tree-shaded streets, old mansions, top-notch dining & a Frank Fleming sculpture, featuring: "The Storyteller" at the fountain in the heart of the district.

Still daylight, & using our GPS, we motor up to Red Mountain & the famous statue of "Vulcan," the world's largest cast iron statue (56 ft tall, weighing in @ 120,000 lbs). When paying our admission fee, reduced because the museum was closed, the cashier told us, "if you need to use the restroom, the guard will let you in."

Not wanting to lose our picture taking daylight, we decided to first take the elevator up the (124) ft pedestal that Vulcan sits upon. When the elevator doors opened, we were greeted by his bare buttocks, remarked to be as wide as a greyhound bus is long! We didn't spend much time on the observation balcony, there was a cool stiff breeze & Kathy doesn't like heights, but oh what a great view of Birmingham. Now, Kathy decided she wanted to use that restroom in the museum. Bill, the night watchman, let us in & after a short conversation, turned the lights on & personally gave us a guided room by room tour. About an hour later Kathy actually did use the restroom. Good move, Kathy!

A little more about Vulcan: "Iron Man" was sculpted from iron ore from Red Mountain by Guiseppe Moretti for $6,000 in 1904 to be the Alabama exhibit at the St. Louis World's Fair; it won the exposition's grand prize. Vulcan is patterned after the mythical Roman god of fire & forge, a nod to the city's powerful position in the iron & steel industry at the time.

Dinner: Bass fish, brown rice pilaf, & a mixed salad.

Evening movie: "Platinum Blonde" with Jean Harlow, Loretta Young, Robert Williams, Louise Closser Hale, etc. Snappy comedy about wisecracking reporter who marries wealthy girl (Harlow) but can't stand confinement of life among high society. Despite engaging presence of Harlow & Young, it's Williams' show all the way. 1931. Another entertaining late night movie.

Lights out: 12:22am


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