Tuesday, October 31, 2006

How Pathetic

My (I say 'my' because I'm the laundress of the house) new washing machine was sitting in the campground office when we arrived in South Carolina today. I was SO happy to see it because 1) I was afraid it wouldn't arrive before we were due to leave. 2) Because I hate sitting in laundromats and 3) Because I love new toys, even when the toy is a washing machine. How pathetic is that?

We had to carefully position the rig in the site today; the rear of the site sloped downhill severely and we had to drive up on 4 inches worth of boards on one side to be level side to side. Three of the last four campgrounds have been like this and we're beginning to long for the level smoothness of the desert, despite the beauty of our surroundings here. Once we were all set up we headed back to the office to pick up the washing machine--thank goodness there was a dolly available to move that big box out to the truck. A very nice man who was also leaving the office helped Denny load the washer into the truck and we got it home, unpacked and into the rig with only a little trouble maneuvering it up into the rig. Denny did get a bit of a shower (okay, he got soaked) while testing the connections but within about a half hour the beast was ready for a test drive. Hmm, is it running? Yes it is. What? That's the spin cycle? I can't hear it-yay! Our old washer sounded like we were washing bowling balls on the spin cycle. I LIKE this off-brand machine!

To celebrate (and because we had missed lunch and it was now getting late) we drove back into Anderson to the Red Lobster to use our Christmas gift certificate. Thanks, Darb and Net! And when we got back home, I did more laundry. And I was smiling. Sick, sick, sick.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Old Stone House

Yesterday we went out for a drive after breakfast. Our intent was to locate and explore the Dan Nicholas Park, but poor signing or a lack of signing found us driving through the small town of Granite Quarry, North Carolina instead. As we were driving down Hwy. 52 I noticed a historical marker and the name Braun and Stone House caught my eye but we were already past the street to turn off so we continued on. We finally gave up on finding the park and decided to stop in at the Old Stone Winery to partake in their free wine tasting.

The lady manning the bar was part of the family who owned the winery and as it turns out, the family was descended from Michael Braun who built the Old Stone House. As we chatted she gave us a little history of the area, the family and the house and she recommended we stop by there on our return to Salisbury. We decided if nothing else to stop by to take a picture of the house.

Michael Braun came to this country in 1738, settling in the Pennsylvania Dutch country where he trained to become a wheelwright. He married and later moved to Rowan county in North Carolina where he purchased a couple hundred acres of land and built his stone house. The house is built of granite mined locally and sits on a foundation that is 15 feet deep. The walls are two feet thick and the house itself is the oldest house in North Carolina west of Raleigh. Eventually Michael increased his land holdings to 3000 acres, built a print shop, became town constable, married three times (the first two wives died) and sired eleven children.

The house is open for tours at a cost of $3 per person. We just missed the Harvest Heritage celebration of the 240th anniversary of the house, where there were demonstration of early crafts, food cooked on the open hearth and other festivities. The tour guide also explained that they open the house to school children as part of history week where the kids learn to weave on the loom on the second floor of the house and they can search for artifacts in the kitchen garden at the rear of the house.

Curiosity about a home built by a man with the same last name as ours led us to an interesting afternoon exploring a bit of North Carolina's history. We recommend that you stop by sometime, even if you're not lost.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A non-Halloween related Lazy Sunday post

For the first time in nine Halloweens on the road, we had trick-or-treaters come to the door. The first couple of years we traveled I bought candy in case any children knocked at our door, but since no one ever came I gave up on that. So last night I was unprepared and felt badly for it. I immediately baked a batch of oatmeal cookies in case another round of the little beggars showed up but no one else appeared. Darn, now we'll have to eat all those cookies. Heh.

Today's pictures are simply a little of this, a little of that. Enjoy.

P.S. Did ya'll turn your clocks back last night?

Rock formations within the Chiricahua National Monument park in Arizona. Posted by Picasa

This is called the Square Tower House. It is located at the Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado and is one of several grouping of cliff dwellings within the park. Posted by Picasa

This is the headwater (beginning) of the Rio Grande River in Colorado. It travels a long way to Texas. Posted by Picasa

Petroglyphs at Grapevine Canyon near Laughlin, Nevada. See the man being lifted by the other man figure in the middle?  Posted by Picasa

It appeared that the end of the rainbow was in our campground in Camp Verde, Arizona. Posted by Picasa

A group of us from the campground went exploring at the Red Cliff Recreational area in Harrisburg, Utah. Posted by Picasa

I was going for an arty shot here, but Patches kept eating the leaves.  Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 27, 2006

Handy? Not so much

Our washing machine was leaking water from somewhere underneath the critter. Rather than throw money at a unit that was several years old, we ordered a new washing machine to be delivered to our next campground. Upon receiving the notice that it will be delivered there today (how often does the delivery date beat the original shipping date? Our shipping date was supposed to be 10/31!) we decided to remove the old washer and take it to the local landfill.

Our problem? Removing a 22 inch wide machine through a 20 inch wide doorway. The good news? Removing the pocket door would allow us to move the washing machine through the passageway. The bad news? We had no clue how to remove the door.

Years ago my first husband and I had this bible knows as the Reader's Digest Do-It-Yourself Manual. It lead us through multiple repairs on our first home, a 50 year old two story dwelling in need of assistance. When Denny and I sold our house, Darb inherited the book for whenever he purchased his own dwelling. So Denny and I didn't have that to help us. Of course, we are connected to the Internet, but do you think we would think of that? Nope. Trial and error, with more error than trial. Unfastening tracks that should have stayed fastened, unscrewing mounting brackets that should have stayed screwed. None of which you realize until the door is finally removed and you can look up there and see how it's all put together. Arrgghhh. Howsomever, the washing machine is now out of the rig and safely and properly ensconced at the landfill. Whew.

Next we tackled removing the fresh water inlet valve because it's leaking and the parts man at the RV supply center said he needed to see the part to know if he had the proper replacement. That fiasco is a whole 'nother blog.

Today we're supposed to get several inches of rainfall so I think we'll going for some comic relief at the movie theater--we'll see the new Robin William's flick "Man of the Year". We need a break from this rig and its breakdowns. It's been a strange year.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What's a Whimmy Diddle?

One of the best parts of traveling is that you learn odd little facts and tidbits that you might never have known otherwise. Reading the Sunday Raleigh paper I learned about whimmy diddles for the first time.

Whimmy diddles in the western mountains of North Carolina are made from mountain laurel or rhododendron branches normally. You take two sticks or small branches, about the thickness of a pencil and cut notches about a half inch apart in one stick, attaching a small propeller carved from wood on one end using a nail. You take the other stick and pull or push it up or down the notched stick to make the propeller revolve.

Last weekend in Asheville they held the World Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle Championship. Gee and haw are terms for right and left respectively, originally used as commands for teams of horses or mules while plowing fields. Competitors are judged on how many "gees and haws" they can accomplish in 12 seconds and the prize for the winner is a Moon Pie. According to the article, there are youth, adult and professional divisions so apparently whimmy diddling is serious stuff in North Carolina.

Now see? You've learned something new today without leaving the comfort of your home or office. Yee haw, or rather Gee Haw!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Foxwood Golf Club, Salisbury, NC

We are idiots. It was about 45 degrees outside yesterday with a stiff breeze blowing. We couldn't feel our hands after about ten minutes out on the course, but we were playing golf. And we had fun.

The Foxwood Golf Club is only about a mile and a half from our campground and they have senior rates (age 55+). On Mondays, that rate is $13 for eighteen holes using a riding cart. Yep, read it and weep. Yesterday we paid $29.00 for the two of us to play eighteen holes using a riding cart. It seems the young man is a dyed in the wool Bengals fan and when he learned we're from Ohio he said he'd give us a discount. However, they also accept the Golf Card discount so I don't know which discount was given to whom, but playing a round of golf was very inexpensive.

The golf course has plenty of small hills, trees and a pond or two. There are no sand traps (yay!) but almost all of the greens are raised so if you hit a putt too firmly your ball will roll right off the green. No matter which direction you're facing. They are what I call evil greens; you have to stick them when you chip onto them or putt really well once you are there, otherwise you might as well kiss the ball good-bye. There were no more than ten cars in the parking lot, although Mondays are very busy due to the cheaper rate. Some of the women's tees were a bit rough but the course was in pretty good shape overall and we would play it again in a heartbeat.

And don't forget--discounts for Bengals fans.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

B.C. (Before Cat)

Or Be Careful what you wish for, etc.

It's 3 AM and Patches wants to play. She bats down my freebie Beanie babies from Blockbuster which fall between the bed and the wall. Scrabbling to hook them back up with her claws, her rabies tag clanking against the wall, we're jerked out of sleep. I wanted to have a cat.

I can no longer take pictures of Patches doing something cute because she now relates the camera to going for a walk (I take the camera for pictures of the fall colors) and she rushes to the door when she hears the camera being turned on.

My legs look like I walked into a roll of concertina wire thanks to her playful kitten claws.

We now have to remember we have a cat when making travel plans not involving the rig or when the rig needs repairs. We've lost the freedom to come and go as we please.

We have to look down whenever we get up or start walking because there's probably a cat underfoot, especially if we go anywhere near the front door.

Cats need to be entertained, especially when you are trying to work on something on the computer.

I know there's more, but she just curled up on my lap and went to sleep. Awwwww.

Climbing trees while leashed is fine. Climbing legs is not. She likes to climb legs now that we're in jeans. Posted by Picasa

I used to have hummers until Patches started batting at them through the window. For some reason this seems to bother the hummingbirds. Hmm. Posted by Picasa

A baby latch on the cupboard door is now a requirement to protect the wine glasses. The door has to remain slightly open because of the heat thrown off by the DVR. Posted by Picasa

I discovered I couldn't bring Patches inside the rig too early when we arrive at the next campground. I now leave her inside the truck until I get the slides opened up so I don't squish her. Posted by Picasa

That top edge of the kitchen slide-out is about an inch and a half wide and almost seven feet tall--the next question is, how does she get down? Posted by Picasa

This is what the front of my stove looks like normally. Posted by Picasa

This is what the front of the stove looks like after Patches has walked by. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Lazy Sunday in North Carolina

A cold front is coming in, it is starting to rain and the furnace has made the inside of the rig toasty warm. We'll be leaving our warm haven shortly to search out a good place to have our Sunday breakfast and to pick up a newspaper to catch up on what's happening in the real world.

There is no theme for today's pictures, just random photographs culled from the past couple of weeks. I'm enjoying the fall color while I can because I don't know when we'll be back to this part of the country again.

Have a good one.

A handkerchief doll similar to those made by the nannies of children during the Civil War period. Posted by Picasa

A water lily at the Wilson, NC Rose Garden. Posted by Picasa

This unusual picture is actually wild mushrooms growing between the roots of a huge oak tree. Posted by Picasa

We found more examples of wild mushrooms while geocaching in Mocksville, NC. Posted by Picasa

Fall is gorgeous in North Carolina--this scene is absolutely bucolic. Posted by Picasa

A foggy morning at our campground in North Carolina. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Geeky stuff

Now that we're back up and running with the DW 7000s upgraded system (although on the home plan rather than the pro plan) I decided to upgrade the browsers on our desk top computer as well. Internet Explorer 7 is now available for download as is Netscape 8.1.2.

Since I haven't downloaded either to the laptop which has more memory I can't really say if the problems I'm having are inherent to the desk top computer or the browsers but there are a couple of things I've noticed.

On IE 7 some sites take a very long time to load. IE7 now has a phishing filter that checks the site and that may be the cause or it may simply be that the new browser takes a lot more memory to run. I've also noticed that when you pull up your favorites list you now have to click on the folder to open it instead of simply mousing over the folder for the list of sites to show. Call me lazy but I don't like that.

Appearance-wise, IE7 now looks a lot like Firefox using the crystal theme. You can garbage up your tool bars as much as you like and there are add-ons available for the browser although unlike Firefox many of them have a fee.

I've been using Netscape 8 for quite some time as it opens bookmarked sites in a new tab, allowing you to keep a page open to work on or read while checking as many other sites as you like. The new Netscape 8.1.2 has been locking up on my computer--the tabs won't close, which locks up the browser to the point that I have to hit control-alt-delete to shut it down. I've also found that on many pages I have to reset the security settings (allowing images, allowing Java script, allowing cookies, etc.) for individual pages. That's a big irritant, believe me. I haven't really noticed any exciting changes in the browser otherwise.

For now, Firefox will be my default browser. I love the extensions you can add to make your browser work better for you (random site browser, dictionaries, blogger entry site that opens at the bottom of your screen while you continue to surf and much, much more) and it is reliable.

And people, please quit sending me those "Bill Gates will send you thousands of dollars for sending this e-mail to your friends" letters. Can you say chain letters and urban legends? Argh!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A little geocaching, a little history

There are not a lot of geocaches in the Pomeroy, Ohio area. We only did two in the general area but one was on the grounds of the Chester Courthouse in Chester, Ohio so we decided to stop in while we were there.

It turns out the cache was placed by the son of one of the volunteers at the Chester Courthouse Museum which is only open on Saturdays and Mondays this time of the year. We were fortunate enough to be out on a Monday so we were able to step inside and chat with the ladies who were having a meeting that day. We explained what we were doing and what the cache consisted of because even though the ladies knew the cache was on the property they had never seen it or looked for it. Denny and I then went upstairs to view the displays on the second floor, which consisted of some Civil War items, some quilts and local memorabilia. When we came back downstairs one of the volunteers explained the history of the building which was built in 1823, its renovations, the donations that made the museum possible including a large number of genealogy records donated by various families in the area who have provided copies of their personal research.

The museum is small, but the volunteers are dedicated and have a great deal of knowledge about the history of the town and the area and are more than willing to share that with visitors. They have high hopes of opening the old Chester Academy building next door to expand the museum but a lot of renovations are required before that will happen. The courthouse building itself required shoring up which was accomplished with the addition of concrete buttresses to the outside walls which were then covered with stucco. The buttresses are a bit jarring in context with the building but the staff apparently did what they could with what funds they had available.

This year a reenactment of Morgan's Raid was held the first weekend in September and those who participated claimed it felt like they were really involved in the battle because the area has remained wild and undeveloped as it would have been when the real fighting occurred during the Civil War.

Whether you are a geocacher or simply interested in a little local history, the Chester Courthouse museum is a nice place to stop and spend an hour.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Functional once more

The new modem arrived and after some hair pulling and hand-holding by a support tech we're online once again.

If we hadn't been able to get it working, the very nice couple who arrived last night offered us the use of their wi-fi connection to go online to get e-mail. They didn't set up their system last night due to the heavy rain and so they were setting their dish up at the same time we were this morning. I did make use of their offer to be able to go online and find a local Radio Shack for some cables, so that was handy.

But we're up and running once again. Boy, do I have a lot of blog reading to catch up on!

But first it's time to relax with an alcoholic libation and watch the leaves falling. Because I've worked as hard as I'm going to work for one day. This retirement stuff is rough.

The Vollis Simpson Windmill Farm

There are no signs to guide you to the Vollis Simpson Windmill Farm. Listed as an area attraction in the Wilson, North Carolina visitor guide, the directions printed there are vague and confusing. The Street Atlas maps are outdated because all the county and state route numbers on the local roads have been given proper names after the advent of E 9-1-1 so the best way to get to the property is to ask a local, preferably an older one as the younger ones will give you a blank look when you ask about it.

Once you arrive at the Windmill Farm the first thing you notice is that the whole place appears abandoned. The whirligigs have been neglected; their paint is starting to flake and vines are creeping up to hold the moving parts in place. But several of the thirty pieces on the property still twirl in the gentle breeze passing through this day and echoes of their former glory remain.

Research Vollis on the Internet and you will find that he had no formal training in mechanics or art, that his first whirligig was a true windmill machine created to power a washing machine and that his craft evolved from there. His pieces reside in the Wilson Rose Garden, in front of the Tobacco Farm Museum in Kenley, NC, at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh and he even had four pieces commissioned for the Olympics in Atlanta. The whirligigs are intricate, amusing, ambitious and marvels of engineering when you look closely at them. Wandering around you'll notice that Vollis has incorporated people's names into his whirligigs; friends? family members? donors? There's no one there to answer your questions on this sunny fall day on a country road where no one passes. Like an abandoned amusement park, echoes of music and laughter waft on the breeze as the whirligigs silently turn and sway.

It's sad people no longer care about Mr. Simpson's whirligigs.

Overgrown and near forgotten, the Vollis Simpson Windmill Farm awaits to surprise you with its huge, colorful whirligigs. Posted by Picasa

The longer you look, the more you see. Posted by Picasa

A classic whirligig design worked in metal and near life-sized. Posted by Picasa

Does this whirligig remind you of a Ferris Wheel? Posted by Picasa
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