Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lazy Sunday Holiday Review

There was no sightseeing the past two weeks, just 2500 miles of driving to and fro. Our past two weeks were the same as those of thousands of other people; shopping for gifts, decorating for Christmas, wrapping presents, baking, cooking and visiting with friends and relatives. So for this Lazy Sunday (although I'll be unpacking luggage and trying to find places for the Christmas presents all day) I'm giving you the RV Vagabonds holiday week.

The Yule festivities started at Denny's sister Connie's home with an Open House. She put out an amazing spread of hot and cold appetizers and deserts, each yummier than the last and each dish was beautifully arranged.

Denny's dad looks pretty dapper all dressed up, doesn't he? Sitting beside him is Denny's cousin Sandy, who just retired from her job a month ago. She relishing the prospect of having the time to do whatever she wants.

Denny's step-mother Jean on the left, his Aunt Helen in the middle and Helen's sister Mary on the right. It's rare when their mouths are still.

Denny's sister, Connie, relaxing a moment while everyone enjoys the atmosphere she created in her home.

There were additions to the brood in my side of the family; I'm a great-aunt twice over this year. Why is it that I'm content to be a "gramma" but the term "great-aunt" brings to mind a spidery old woman with her hair up in a bun, wearing a long black dress with a white shawl draped over her shoulders? Anyway, this is my niece Elaine and her 4-month old daughter Naura.

My sister Cheri holding her newest granddaughter, Abigail. The females outnumber the males in my family, big time.

The RV Vagabonds with son Darby and his wife, Net. Notice the goofy grins, which may or may not have something to do with the beverages in our hands.

The New York branch of the family. Grandkids Zach, Marissa and Kara made short shrift of the present opening and the normal chaos of three grandkids who haven't seen Grandma and Grandpa in months vying for our attention resumed. Therefore Grandma was too busy looking at whatever was being pointed out or discussed to take pictures. Sigh. Son Steve has his back to the camera as always and that's his wife Angela in the middle of the shot.

After the hullabaloo of all the Christmas activities, it was a pleasure to play in the motel's indoor pool with the grandkids. Here Kara and I are playing "follow the leader" on the steps of the pool. The Holiday Inn on Grand Island in New York sits facing the Niagara River so Denny and I can enjoy the view when we're not spending time with son Steve and his brood.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Whole Lotta Shaking Movin' Goin' On

The weather gods have been smiling on us in our travels these past two weeks--they just have to hang in with us for another long, long day of driving tomorrow because Denny and I are going home. For us, home is the fifth wheel itself and not a particular city or state. Right at this moment, "home" is Georgia, but Monday it will be northern Florida and the following Monday it will be a different area of Florida. Home for us has become a state of mind more than a place. Although it has been wonderful seeing our sons and parents and siblings, it is time for us to be in our "tin can on wheels" as Darb calls it, where we'll resume our slow-paced routines, bask in southern sunshine and gorge on fresh Florida oranges.

Florida will be a change for us; we've been spending the last six winters out West because we like winters in Arizona best. Economically, it makes more sense for us to winter in Florida since Denny and I plan to spend the summer in Ohio in 2008, attempting to outsmart the deer and grow a nice garden for Denny's dad once again. Emotionally, my heart will be in the desert where the mountains change with the passing of clouds and the angle of the sun and my water aerobics buddies will be grooving to a lady called Billie Jo while the palm trees sway in time to the music. I miss them already. In a year or two, we'll get back there.

We're starting our tenth year of being on the road and the wanderlust is still running strong in our veins. After all, there are still those nine white states on that map at the bottom of the page here just waiting to be explored...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New York, Ohio and Georgia

New York welcomed us with a bit of sunshine this visit--something rather rare for December. We've driven up here from Ohio and had some nail-biting drives through Erie, Pennsylvania's "lake effect snow", which means sudden squalls of heavy snow and slick roads for a thirty mile stretch. This time we had only slightly damp roads from the melting piles of snow that had been pushed to the side of the road by snowplows a couple of days earlier.

Our grandkids are 15, 11 and 5, so it was the littlest one who awaited our arrival with the eager anticipation of gifts, but the older ones were also anxious to show us what they had already received and curious to see what might be in the new pile of presents under the tree. The teen and preteen both wanted gift cards to Kohls, which they got, but I have to admit I really don't like giving gift cards. To me, it doesn't show any forethought and care in buying something specifically for that one person, but I guess I'm just old-fashioned. The kids seemed happy and have plans for what they'll buy with the cards so I guess I'm going to have to go through an attitude adjustment here and stop being an old curmudgeon. Note to self: work on that in 2008.

Our plans today are to have the kids come to the motel to swim in the indoor pool, which means grandma gets to play in the water with Kara. Then we'll put together some sort of meal at Steve's house and the grandkids and I will make some chocolate bark as our new treat. There's nothing like loading the kids up on sugar and then leaving town so their parents have to deal with the after effects, right?

Friday morning we drive back to Ohio to pack our things, take down the Christmas tree at my mother's house and prepare to drive back to Georgia on Saturday morning. Whew, it's been a busy week. But the call of the road is strong upon us and it's time to turn the truck's nose towards Florida and the friends who await our arrival there.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Very Merry

In a few hours our various family members will start arriving, the food will be set out and presents exchanged while we catch up with what everyone has been doing. There are new babies this year, some changes in family dynamics and we're all getting older, but the constants remain; we'll stuff ourselves on too much food and someone will turn on the TV to watch "A Christmas Story". It seems to have become a tradition here.

Once everyone leaves, Denny, Mom and I will clean up and then Denny and I will pack up the car for our trip to New York to see our oldest son Steve and his family for a belated Christmas celebration. Steve called today to say that most of the snow fell over the last two days and that we should be okay, weather-wise, for driving to New York as it will get warmer there and no new snowfall is predicted. That's good news because we're a little out of practice when it comes to driving in snow. And I really don't want to practice driving in the snow, either, thank you very much. But it's always fun to watch the grandkids tear into their presents and to spend a couple of days spoiling them before leaving them for their parents to deal with-heh.

To all of you out there in blog-land, the RV Vagabonds wish you a very peaceful and harmonious day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

For You

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The Wind is Howling on This Lazy Sunday

It would be a great day to laze in bed, but both the cat and my mother are up early and I could smell the coffee brewing. So here I am, listening to the winds created by the latest cold front moving in howling and whistling at the front door, trying to get in.

As my mind flits hither and yon trying to think of the things that still need to be done before Christmas, so does the selection of pictures for this Lazy Sunday. Because I don't have pictures of the wind.

My first ever visit to a circus was the visit Denny and I made to Baraboo, Wisconsin to see Circus World, once the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus. The lady clown gave a demonstration of how she applied her makeup to become a clown and had an audience member come up to be made over into a clown. Oh! How I wanted to volunteer!

This lovely fellow is one of the famous Budweiser Clydesdales who is a veteran of some of their wonderful commercials. Several of the horses are stabled at Grant's Farm in St. Louis, Missouri where you can pet the horses and perhaps catch one being put through its paces.

I love this shot--it's the capitol building of Madison, Wisconsin, taken from the rooftop of the Monona Convention Center.

I love the variety of lighthouses. To tour one and hear of tales of courage and the hard work it took to keep the lights burning to protect the ships on the big lakes makes you realize how cushy life is today. This is the lighthouse in Sturgeon, Michigan.

Not all of the wonders we see are natural. This big guy is Mac the Moose, who represents the town of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in Canada. Moose Jaw is a lovely little town with historical murals painted on the walls of its buildings and and series of underground tunnels that you can tour.

When I read of the Tumbleweed Christmas tree, I knew we had to find it. Every year the town of Chandler, Arizona creates a tree out of tumbleweeds, spraying it silver and tossing on some glitter. Also known as making lemonade out of lemons, I believe.
I see that someone has made a waypoint for geocachers involving the tree. A reason to go back!

Finally, some of the scenic rock formations at Red Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona. You just can't beat what Mother Nature creates.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bl*gger craziness

Okay, the header picture is back to huge. All by itself. Stupid Bl*gger. The resizing attempt will occur later today, but we have things to do today. Last minute gift buying, a trip to the police department to visit former co-workers and maybe drop off some cookies, and we're meeting Darb and his wife Net for lunch once they arrive in town. Things are proceeding in a timely manner and my mom, Denny and I will have a couple of days to relax before we host the family Christmas dinner. Ahhh!

The weather isn't going to cooperate for a white Christmas--today it's going to be 55 degrees. At least we had snow when we arrived in town, which is sufficient for Denny and I. One picture perfect day of snow and then it can melt and the temperature can go up to the 80s--that would be ideal. Not a snow and cold person any more, nope.

Well, I think it's time for a cup of coffee and a Christmas cookie now that I'm done patting myself on the back. I think I'm going to waddle rather than walk by the time Denny and I get back to Georgia. I foresee a serious New Year's Resolution in the making here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Less Grinch-y, More Christmas-y

Well, now that I'm finally starting to get into the Christmas shopping and gift wrapping and tree decorating, the weather has warmed up and the snow has melted. Dang! Fortunately, I'm almost finished with the shopping and wrapping part, the tree has been up since Sunday and the cat hasn't knocked it down yet, despite the fact I was brave/stupid and used Mom's antique ornaments. I even went for some garland this year and so far the only ornament Patches has tried to play with has been the little motorhome ornament I bought as a gag gift for my parents that I put on the tree. Yes, I know, it doesn't match the antique motif, but it says that the RV Vagabonds are in town.

The cookie baking marathon starts tomorrow after I go out and buy one last present (yes Darb, it's for you). At this rate, I foresee the possibility of a day or two spent doing nothing before Christmas arrives...bonus!!! THAT'S the time for the snow--when I can snuggle up on the couch with a husband on one side, a warm, fuzzy cat on the other and a cup of hot chocolate in one hand with a Russian tea cake/Mexican wedding cookie/pecan ball in the other. I'm a simple person with simple needs. Food, warmth and affection--does it get any better than that?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Snowy Lazy Sunday

Actually, yesterday was the lazy day. Denny and I napped a couple of different times trying to make up for driving all night to beat the snowstorm. Today I was feeling a bit puny, but there is too much to do and too little time, so I can't get sick--it's just not allowed. I made Denny, Mom and I a hearty breakfast and then got to work dragging out the Christmas ornaments to decorate the tree. That is now finished, our Sunday afternoon popcorn has been eaten and I just realized I hadn't done my Lazy Sunday post. I'm going to be a day behind for our entire stay, I'm afraid.

Oh, if anyone has any idea on how I can get my header picture back to full size, I'd appreciate it because I sure can't figure it out.

The town of Leavenworth, Washington decided they needed a "hook" to attract tourists, so they went with a Bavarian village theme. With the snow covered mountains in the distance, you could almost believe you were in the Alps.

The Wenatchee River runs beside the town of Leavenworth, providing white water rafting and the opportunity for some nice snapshots.

This coyote trotted up the road towards us in the Joshua Tree National Park. It was pretty obvious he wanted to be fed, so I can only assume that other tourists had been doing it. Poor guy didn't get anything from us, though.

Perched in the middle of nowhere that is Rhyolite, Nevada, this artistic rendition of the Last Supper by Albert Szukalksi is striking and a bit disturbing. The sculpture is one of several pieces that sit in the desert waiting to be found by the few tourists that venture that way.

I have discovered in our travels that I have far too many preconceived notions about our country. I had assumed that Death Valley was a dry, arid place with nothing but sand, heat and the skeletons of dead animals (too much Death Valley Days as a child). Imagine my surprise when I saw snow on the mountains and an inch deep "lake" called Bad Water Lake in the heart of Death Valley. And wildflowers all around us.

I couldn't figure out how this rock stayed on top of the pile of boulders at Joshua Tree National Park since it appeared to be a little on the side of the pile, rather than right on top. To get an idea of the size, look towards the bottom of the picture to see the tiny little cars parked below.

This little guy lived under a shed on the grounds of our campground near Othello, Washington. He was stretching up to nibble on the dandelion leaves.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

We Beat the Snow

The forecast for the Midwest was daunting--snow, sleet,rain and more snow. At 4:30 yesterday afternoon I was still doing last minute laundry and packing when Denny said, "why don't we leave tonight and drive all night to see if we can beat the snowstorm?" And that's what we did. We were on the road by 6:30, popped an audio book CD in the car player and off we went. Friday night traffic in Atlanta at 8:30PM was bearable and there were no traffic back ups or problems. By the time we hit Kentucky at 1AM there were almost no vehicles on the road and there was only a spritz or two of raindrops. We rolled into my mother's driveway at 4:30AM, tossed the cat, her litter box and food into the house and fell into bed.

Naturally, since Patches had slept almost the entire ten hours of traveling and in a different house all she wanted to do was explore and cry. And cry. And cry. I think Denny and I got a total of one hour's sleep before I got up at 7AM to feed the idiot child. As soon as I stepped into the shower the cat crawled under our bed and fell asleep. ARRRGGGHHHH. I think she's doing a wise thing and I think Denny and I are going to try a little cat nap ourselves.

By the way, the snow started at 8AM and there's well over an inch of snow on the ground and it shows no sign of stopping (I think there's a song in there). For once, we made the right decision.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm Not in the Mood

...for Christmas nor in the mood for fighting with Blogger trying to figure out what they did with my header picture. Today we pick up the rental car and pack and deal with lists and I run around like a chicken with my head cut off. So I am NOT in the mood to deal with Blogger. Perhaps it will magically fix itself *snort*.

We did get out to play golf at The Woods here in Cochran and we basically had the entire 27 holes to ourselves for most of the round. Which allows us to take the time to practice our shots and putts when we hit a bad one and just enjoy the sunshine and warm weather.

The Woods has three sets of nine hole courses, the links-style course shown above and two wooded courses, one with more water holes than the other.

These turtles know how to relax on a warm, sunny day. At least their pond hasn't dried up in the drought yet.

The first headline of the online version of the Dayton Daily News this morning reads "Major Winter Storm Coming". The weather guys say there could be 4 to 8 inches of snow on the ground by Sunday morning. THAT'S just what we wanted to hear, knowing we're going to be driving through Kentucky and Ohio in the thick of it. Although I-75 carries so much traffic the roads may stay fairly clear. If not, there are plenty of motels along the way. One close call sliding off the highway is enough for me.

Blog posts will probably be erratic here for the next two weeks. You guys should be getting ready for Christmas instead of being on the computer anyway. Me too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sunshine and Blue Skies

We've moved farther south and the weather is still unseasonably warm as they say, especially compared to what the Midwest states are getting right now. I can't imagine how awful it must be to be living in Oklahoma right now, which is precisely why we travel in the South and West in the winter. Except for driving north for Christmas, of course.

The Woods golf course is a couple of miles from here, so we'll play a round of golf tomorrow and enjoy the sunshine while we can. Then we'll start rounding up things to take north with us, packing up clothes and cat paraphernalia and trying to eat up the leftovers in the refrigerator. One reason we stay at this campground is the fact that they only charge us a dollar a day to leave the trailer hooked up to electricity while we're gone, which means we don't have to empty the refrigerator out completely and restock it when we return. Which means I don't have to run to the grocery the moment we return. Although, come to think of it, we'll be moving the trailer to Florida the next day and meeting up with friends Don and Vicki and it will be New Year's Eve, so there will be partying going on. Therefore finger foods and beverages will be needed, so I guess I'll be going to the store after all. So much for that.

Got to go work on my "stuff to take to Ohio list". And my "Things to buy the family for Christmas list". Is it just me, or is it hard to get into the Christmas spirit this year? I'm just not feeling it so far. Sigh.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Foggy Lazy Sunday

The National Weather Service has issued a dense fog warning this morning. While that's bad news for drivers, for me it means when I look out my window I see ghostly trees reaching for the sky with skeletal fingers and misty white orbs of street lights glowing like stationary UFOs. The birds are quiet in the muffled darkness of pre-dawn and Patches stares intently out through the window, trying to catch the random movement of a lizard, bird or feral cat.

We've done no sightseeing here, no geocaching, no golf. The fees at the closest golf course are $195 per person, the geocaches are all micros located in heavy traffic areas and there's no Civil War sites, no museum, no natural wonder in the immediate area. Diesel costs $3.39 a gallon here and between last month's exorbitant expenses and upcoming Christmas expenses, Denny and I have laid low these past two weeks. Which means that this week's Lazy Sunday pictures are still from our campground. We have enjoyed our time here by the lake, watching pink sunsets while toasting our toes by a crackling fire and meandering around the campground looking for different varieties of birds, finding mistletoe high in the branches of trees and being very, very lazy. Not such a bad thing.

Sunsets around here normally occur right as I'm fixing dinner. Therefore to get a snapshot of the colorful clouds, I have to open the dining room window, stick the camera out the window and try to take the picture as I'm holding the cat back with the other hand. Otherwise Duffus would jump right out the window. All of which means that I don't have the opportunity to get all the elements of the photo in focus. But I got the color.

The theme here at the campground is based on trains. The office, activity center, laundry room and cabins are all old box cars, passenger cars and cabooses that have been refurbished and redesigned for their various usage. Even the miniature golf course on the grounds has a railroad theme and the layout of the holes is quite ingenious.

One of the more creative holes on the miniature golf course. We look at miniature golf as good putting practice.

Did you know that mistletoe is a parasitic plant? Coll mentioned that she wasn't aware that mistletoe grew in trees, but if you ever see a dormant tree with rounded green clumps out on the branches, chances are what you are seeing is mistletoe.

Patches, surveying her domain. Walking a cat definitely teaches you to stop and smell the roses. Here we stopped at a vacant camp site while Patches took advantage of the deck railing to scout the area for squirrels. Leashed, she'd never catch one, but I think if I let her go, she would.

This summer in Ohio there were restrictions (with expensive fines)against moving firewood made from ash trees due to infestations by the emerald ash borer. So now when we buy firewood we try to use it up before we leave the campground. Last night was our final fire because we're moving on tomorrow. The setting sun was reflected in the lake for about two minutes before the angle of the sun changed enough for the reflection to disappear. You have to be fast on the shutter button for sunrises and sunsets, and I don't always get it right.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Stumbling Around on Saturday

After reading through some favorite blogs and in an effort to avoid having to defrost the refrigerator, I decided to "stumble" on Firefox. Stumble is an add-on service provided by Mozilla and available for the Firefox and Netscape browsers. You are given a list of a variety of interests which you check, and Stumble generates random web sites for your perusal. Some are good, some are so-so, and some are just bad, but occasionally a site will pop up with something that makes me smile.

This is one of them. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Quiet Time

We've geared down this week, simply enjoying the peace and tranquility of our campground. Denny and I have sat outside a couple of evenings with a camp fire watching the sun set and afternoons Patches and I have explored the campground. There are few people here and fewer still moving around outside, so Patches can wander to her heart's content. By allowing the cat to sniff and explore at her own pace, I discovered mistletoe in the trees up near the front of the campground and a tree full of cedar waxwings gorging themselves on the berries remaining on the branches. Carolina chickadees scold Patches as she stands at the base of their pine trees, wondering if she could gain the momentum to climb all the way to their perch. She soon decides that the grasshoppers jumping around her feet are more within her reach and it's not long before one is going down her gullet. The hunting urge is still strong in this cat.

Since Christmas is approaching I got out my beading supplies to make a few bracelets as "in case" gifts. I find it's difficult to bead with a cat around, as shiny, sparkly beads are hard to resist as something to bat around and play with. Plus it gains the cat a lot of attention from "Mom", even if it's negative attention. Just like a child. So one bracelet a day is all I manage.

Later this morning I'll put the final coat of polyurethane on the floor and then we'll toss the cat into the truck to do some grocery shopping and have lunch in town to give the floor a chance to dry a little before we get back. We're very pleased with how the floor looks and I have to say that it's much warmer in the morning than that icy cold tile we had before. And Denny's arm muscles are no longer sore--heh.

Soon it will be time to start making lists for our trip back to Ohio for Christmas. I've already started bugging our kids for their Christmas wish lists but I'm not holding my breath for them. I guess gift cards would work, but those seem so impersonal to me. I'm all for opening presents, myself. I guess I should have outgrown that by now, but nope, I'm a child at heart. Which at Christmas isn't such a bad thing, right?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lazy Sunday the Whole Week

Not only is it Lazy Sunday, but it was lazy whole week for us here in Georgia. Well, we did work on finishing off the flooring, which is still not quite done. I'm currently in the process of putting three coats of polyurethane on the wood laminate since the area gets heavy usage. I mean, the actual floor measurements of our living room/kitchen area is 7' x 16.5', one third of which is now the wood floor. That's the area we walk during our awake hours. The hard part was figuring out how to keep the cat off the wet floor, so we ended up taking her to the grocery store with us immediately after I got the first coat of polyurethane down, followed by a walk and then she and I hid out in the bedroom with the laptop computer for a couple of hours until the floor dried enough to walk on. Then it was time for the second coat and the second go-around of keeping the cat off the floor. Today will be the last coat, thank goodness.

So far this week the weather has been warm, cold and ehh. Greensboro is not big on scenic wonders, or places of historical interest, so we've been concentrating on getting things done on the trailer. November was an expensive month for us with all that went on, so it's nice to have a "cool down" period.

What all this blathering means is that the Lazy Sunday pictures are of the campground today.

Let's start off with a sunset. Our camp site is up on the hill overlooking Lake Oconee.

There is still a bit of color in the trees, although Georgia is suffering from a drought like so many states. There's a bit of mist on the lake and a train whistles in the distance.

A different series of train cars converted to cabins. These are lake front cabins with nice decks and their own docks if you happen to bring a boat.

This would have been a terrific camp site to have, if only we had known it was available. I would have been out every evening with my feet propped up in the railing photographing sunsets.

Lake Oconoee as seen from the docks of the cabins.

You don't realize how bad the drought has been until you walk down to the boat docks and see that the docks are now high and dry. Drinking water is becoming a precious commodity here in the south.

Once I saw the pink and orange sunset reflecting in the waters of Lake Oconee I wanted to walk down to the banks to get a better shot, but a neighbor had stopped by to talk to us so a shot from our camp site had to suffice. We were enjoying the camp fire and a glass of wine as well as the companionship; tomorrow night the temperatures will drop to the 20s so it may have been our last camp fire for a while.
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