Saturday, October 31, 2009

2009 Heart Ride on the Beach

Mea culpa, mea culpa. Yesterday we spent much of the day with friends and I lost track of which day it was, so I missed the parade and costume contest for the annual Heart Ride on the Beach. Today it was miserable with a misty rain and fog, which muted the colors of the horses and riders so I didn't take even 1/3 the photographs that I did last year. Those pictures that I did take you can find on Webshots here. If that doesn't work, look for tags of horses, or heart ride on the beach or albums by vagabrauns. I'm currently working on uploading photos and they should all be online by tomorrow evening.

This evening was Halloween at the campground; our group of five rigs full of campers had happy hour together and we gathered at one site with our bags of candy for the campground "beggers" to visit. It would have been better if they had come earlier so we could have seen them; by the time they got to our location it was pitch black and we couldn't appreciate their costumes. But we had fun and the kids made out like bandits with the candy so everyone was happy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Highlights of a Day on the Beach

Horse owners from all over the eastern part of the U.S and some from Canada have arrived at Lakewood Campground in Myrtle Beach for the annual Heart Ride on the Beach. The campground donates the camping fees to the American Heart Association and the riders pay a fee to attend which is also donated, along with any donations they collect for riding the ten miles up the beach on Saturday. Horses and riders of every shape, color, breed and form are here and it's fun to just haul a lawn chair to the beach to sit and watch the riders pass by.

Notice how this pretty fellow posed for me?

Look closely to see the Jack Russell terrier riding on the back of the second horse.

Some people walk their dogs when they ride, others walk their ponies.

It appears this young lady's mount is a small mule, the first I've ever seen.

Horses can be like dogs; they like to roll on their back in the sand. Which can be unfortunate for the rider on its back.

When a rider is thrown (her horse was the one that rolled above) other riders gather 'round to make sure both the rider and horse are okay and will stand by until the rider is mounted once again.

A blue-eyed beauty.

It looks like the horse is puzzled by the fishermen, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beach Weather

Yes indeed, we've been having beach weather here and it's been wonderful. Denny and I are backed up to Don and Vicki's site so that we both have a view of the ocean from our living area windows. Mornings I'm up early enough to watch for a good sunrise and will call Vicki if I think the view will be worth her getting up that early (at her request, of course). We walk the beach, looking for shark's teeth and beach glass, spend a little time apart in the afternoon (okay, Denny and I take a nap) and then we meet up again for happy hour and dinner either at one of our trailers or out somewhere. So far, Denny and I fit in a round of golf with former work friends who were visiting in North Myrtle Beach, we've shopped, gotten hair cuts, done some maintenance on the trailer and spent an afternoon at the big outdoor flea market buying bits of jewelry, luxurious shea butter body cream, "magic" shammies and whatever strikes our fancy. In a way, when we come down here we're "on vacation"; we spend much more money on our campsite and shopping and dining out than we normally do. Patches begs to go for walks every half hour because of all the wonderful smells here, which includes those of feral cats that live here.

While the majority of people here are in the senior age bracket, there are some young families camping so you don't feel like you're living in a world of "blue hairs", something that is common in Florida and Arizona in the winter. Folks have been friendly and we've enjoyed our week so far. And the best part is that there's still three more weeks here to enjoy. Yes!!!

Speaking of Happy Hour, I never showed off Denny's liquor cabinet that he created when we pulled out our old TV and replaced it with a new flat screen TV which left a large empty space. Voila'...a place for the liquor bottles and wine glasses. The socks are on the glasses to keep them from chinking against each other when we are traveling.

Vicki is the ultimate hostess; our libations are not only tasty they are served in a tasteful and decorative manner. Me, I just plunk them down with a bowl of chips and dip. 'Cuz I'm classy like that.

Our first nice day on the beach we walked the mile distance up to the state park fishing pier because they have really good ice cream there. So we treat ourselves to a double dip and hope we walk off some of the calories on the mile-long walk back to our trailer.

That's the south end of Myrtle Beach in the distance as we are approaching the state park pier. If you stay in the area in September, you may catch the baby sea turtles hatching and working their way to the sea from their nests at the edge of the beach at the state park. There is also a pair of nesting bald eagles that have made a home in the park in the last few years.

You don't need Photosh*p or any picture tweaking software here. Even on mornings when there aren't a lot of clouds the sky turns a beautiful peachy-pink just before the sun rises above the horizon.

When we first started staying here in MB, there were very few sea oats and native plants along the beach at the campgrounds and there was always a lot of erosion. Now the businesses have worked very hard at creating dunes with native plants to hold the sand in place, which also makes for nice photo ops.

There are normally only a handful of people on the beach for the sunrise, which is a shame because the weather has been cool but not cold in the mornings and the tide has been out so you can look for sharks' teeth while awaiting the sun.

The sun sets over the campground and so motorhomes and trailers are always in the shot so I just did a picture of the clouds for this sunset photo. I'll have to do better for the next sunset photo I post.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The last two days there have been clouds in the sky, which makes for a nice sunrise. Yesterday I scattered my mother's ashes as I threatened promised my mom several years ago to do. It was something the two of us had agreed upon and with coffee mug in hand (as my mother had always done for a Myrtle Beach sunrise) I carried her ashes out in a cut-crystal bowl and scattered them in the surf. When my mother was hospitalized this spring and had to undergo the pain of blood work (she and I have tiny veins) I'd tell her to go to her "happy place" on the beach in Myrtle Beach. And now indeed she's in her happy place.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Heat Seeking Missile

That's what Denny calls me when I've spent a cold night curled up tightly against his back. The temperature outside is currently 39 degrees--it's time for this snowbird to migrate again.

Today we'll be taking red roads down to Myrtle Beach. Don and Vicki should already be there by the time we arrive since they are already in SC. I've checked today's forecast there; 59 and windy, but tomorrow it will hit 70 degrees and start warming up from there. Right now that sounds heavenly. I know it will get much cooler there before we leave the area but if I have a couple of weeks of sunshine and warmth I'll be happy.

This week wasn't a good week for photographs because there was fog and drizzle for much of our time here. Today's pics are just a couple of snapshots taken on our brief walks around the campground.

You've seen this one before; it's the old tobacco barn on the property.

I much prefer this type of a pot for plants and flowers.

Even vibrant pink is muted on a gray day.

My fascination with spider webs continues.

I wish the two-tone aqua and blue of the sky showed up better. It was taken as we drove through Virginia on our way here to N. Carolina.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Found the Perfect Job

Sorry for the crappy picture but I took it with my cell phone as I forgot my camera.

Today we ran over to the Childress Vineyards, located just 8 miles or so from our campground. We didn't take the tour since we've done several over the years at a variety of wineries, but we spent an enjoyable 1/2 hour tasting a number of their classic and barrel select wines lead by a young lady who is a transplant from Akron, Ohio (and forgive me for not getting her name because she was excellent; the winery is not answering their phones on this busy weekend day to get her name). She followed her parents down who followed their first grandchild down and really enjoys what she does. When I complimented her on her knowledge of all the varieties of wines produced at Childress she told us that she was taught at an all day "boot camp" where they drank wines all day. Let me repeat that; they drank wines all day. Give me an application, I can DO this!

The winery is of course, owned by Richard Childress, the race car driver and is styled after a Tuscany villa. Inside there is an intimate little restaurant with live music on the weekends, as well as tours of the winery itself, along with the separate wine tasting/store area.

North Carolina prides itself on its use of Scuppernong and Muscadine native grapes, which are used to create a sweeter wine with an earthy, grape-y flavor. Denny leans towards these, while I lean towards the drier varieties. My regret is that we are a week too early for the Barbeque festival here, as they will be introducing their "Fine Swine Wine" for that weekend. Dang! That would be worth it for the bottle label alone!

So if you are in the area, stop by, look for the slender blonde from Akron, Ohio to lead you through a very educational and well informed introduction to the Childress wines, and enjoy the scenery that surrounds the estate. It's a great way to spend an afternoon.

File Under: What Were You Thinking?

I apologize in advance for the blurry photos that follow; I had to take them quickly since our neighbors were inside their trailer at the time I took them.

The scenario; a wet, gravel-over-dirt campsite that slops downward from the back going down towards the front. Which means an unstable base for your RV. Most RVs have jacks of one type or another to stabilize the RV and keep it level. However, they are not meant to hold your vehicle in place.

Non-campers may not "see" what I'm referring to but anyone who has set up a trailer or motorhome should pick up on it right away.
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Do you see it? No? There are no wheel chocks to prevent this trailer from rolling down the hill if the mud underneath shifts at all. Inexperience? Stupidity? Nonchalance? Who knows? We will be leaving before our neighbors do so we'll miss the show that may well happen if they crank up the jacks before they hitch up, losing what little anchor they have. Good luck with that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Is the entire northern continent inundated with rain/snow/cold? I fear I made a serious mistake in donating all our winter clothing to charity before we left Ohio. I thought we left the cold weather behind us--HA! Do you think if I purchased new winter duds the weather would instantly turn warmer? I have a sneaking suspicion it would.

I did take advantage of the wet weather yesterday by staying inside and starting to gather up the necessary paperwork for finishing probate on Mom's estate. I can think of more fun things to do, which is why I'm dragging my feet on this, plus I'm not quite sure just what all I need to do in what order because my mother's attorney hasn't been really helpful. The house needs some additional work done to pass inspection, since it is 52 years old but that has been arranged and we hope it will be finished in time for closing. *Crossing fingers*

More of the same today.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Making Do

My niece got married last week, which was the reason we returned to Ohio for a brief, wet and chilly stay. I called her to see if she needed anything done to help with the preparations the day before the wedding and was told I could help in the kitchen. Okay.

Friday morning (the day of the wedding) I called again to see what needed to be done that afternoon and my niece told me we needed to pick up the food, bring a wine bottle opener and OMG yes, she could use our grill. It seems that we were going to be preparing food for one hundred people on a single stove otherwise. Gulp. What followed after we arrived on site was chaotic, as the rental hall provided nothing in the way of pots, pans, cooking utensils or anything we needed. One of the groom's aunts shipped off her husband for some quick supplies, others had brought a cookie sheet or a pan so we started with what we had. Denny ended up cooking some of the chicken kiev on our little propane grill and later heated up frozen pans of macaroni and cheese on it. Folks, necessity was surely the mother of invention that day! With a lot of help from both sides of the soon-to-be-joined family, we got her done. It was a beautiful wedding, the bride and groom have no idea of the craziness that went on in the kitchen and the guests enjoyed both the wedding and meal. *Whew*

And aren't they just the cutest couple?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Snowbird Mode

The local weather forecasters were threatening the advent of snow on Tuesday of this coming week. No thank you. When I made our camping reservations here in Ohio I could only make them for a week. Now I'm rather glad of that. The cat is curled up tightly in my lap, which only occurs when it's cold outside. Last night when Darb and Net left after their visit the air was so crisp you could see your breath and the sky was full of stars. The smell of autumn was in the air as our neighbors had a bonfire going in an effort to burn their pile of firewood since they too are leaving today.

It is bittersweet to leave; we won't be returning to Ohio for a while which means we won't be seeing our sons and families. Sometimes that's a high price to pay for our lifestyle. But we have discovered over the last eleven years that all roads eventually lead to Ohio, which will always be home to me.

We do have fall this year. The top picture is of the woods across from our trailer the day we arrived a week ago, the second picture was taken yesterday.

And now it's time to pack up to start our snowbird migration. See you down the road.

Friday, October 09, 2009


Black Beauty's radiator has been replaced; there was a leak in a weld seam or some such thing. Denny and I have been running here and there, catching up with a few old friends, getting a dental visit in (I need a tooth pulled but there's no time for than nonsense) and today we'll be running errands for my niece who gets married today. We need a few more days here, but could only arrange to stay at this campground for a week so we'll be moving on on Sunday morning.

Denny and I haven't been at the campground much with all things we've had to do but I've tried to spend a half hour or so outside with Patches every day, just to take the time to breathe. So I snapped a couple of pictures of her in her hunting mode.

A hunting we will go.

I know there's something in here.

Wait, I see something!

There! I knew I smelled something!

Monday, October 05, 2009

That and This

Although I missed the pretty little gray snake in the tall bush in Pennsylvania last week, when Patches startled a chipmunk who was foraging at the base of a tall tree I had my camera with me. While all I saw was a tan blur heading up the tree trunk the short tail told me the critter wasn't a squirrel so I stood quietly holding Patches still while I looked to see where the little guy went. Before long through the leaves I saw the chipmunk twenty feet up the tree. Who knew a chipmunk could climb a tree? The proof is in the picture. You'll have to trust me that it was up that high. You'll see him just to the left (your left as you are facing the picture) of the orange leaf.

Little house on the prairie. The night we arrived two deer wandered across the hollow below our trailer. What a life, huh?

Something different for me; daytime clouds.

Today we met with the estate attorney to handled some paperwork and arrange to have him draw up a new deed for my mother's house; we have a buyer. Yay! When we came out of the office and walked to the truck we noticed a pool of fluid underneath the front end. Curses! We had plans to take Denny's aunt to lunch in Cinci, so we did that, but called to arrange to take the truck in to be looked at tomorrow morning. They have five days to fix it before we have to be out of the campground--there are no free sites after Saturday. We decided to drop the truck off this afternoon where they took a quick look at it and said it looked like the radiator is leaking, or rather the rear-most of the six radiators in the engine. Which means that they will have to remove the first five to confirm that. Sigh. It would have been much too easy for it to have been the first radiator, right?

This week will be busy with repairs, legal stuff, doctor and dentists, visits and of course, my niece's wedding. There will be people we don't get to see, places we won't get to visit, things that won't get done. Time to breathe.

Friday, October 02, 2009

A Blast

...a cold blast furnace, that is. Or more specifically, the Cornwall Iron Furnace in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Our day trip for the area was just a few miles down the road from the campground, but a world away in history. The Cornwall Iron Furnace was built in 1742 by Peter Grubb who took advantage of the rich natural resources of limestone, iron ore and thousands of acres of wood to create the company that would eventually become the Cornwall Iron Furnace. Mr. Grubb called it Cornwall after Cornwall, England where his father was from. The second owners, the Coleman family, revamped and renovated the business to create the complex that still stands today; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers says it is “the only one of America’s hundreds of 19th century charcoal fueled blast furnaces to survive fully intact.”

The complex has a small self-guided tour area but for a small fee you can take the 1 hour guided tour with a very knowledgeable staff member. You will watch a short video of how the blast furnace was fueled and the work involved to make iron back in the 18th century. It's an amazing process. The guide will take you through the various rooms of the blast furnace building where you'll peer down the 36 foot blast furnace itself, see the huge wooden water driven (later steam driven) wheel that powered the bellows that shot air into the furnace to increase the heat and see where the employeed poured the boiling hot iron into sand forms to create "pig iron". You'll be told that it took an acre of trees to make enough charcoal to fuel the blast furnace for one day, as the furnace was in operation 24 hours a day, and that the complex sat on 10,000 acres of woods that were used to fuel the factory. Very near the furnace was the iron ore pit which produced iron ore until 1972 when it started to flood after Hurricane Agnes passed over the area. Now there is a lake where once thousands of tons of iron ore were removed.

The Cornwall Iron Furnace is part of the National Historical Landmark District here in Lebanon, PA, but the sad truth is that the funding to maintain this fascinating historic site has been cut so much that being open is a day to day situation. The Iron Furnace is the last and ONLY complete blast furnace standing in the United States and it may have to close. Our country is not so old that we can afford to lose a site of such historical significance that is in such excellent condition. The Gothic Revival architecture of the outbuildings, the huge gear driven wheel that powered the blowers that still works, the dedication of the Coleman family who donated the complex to the state of Pennsylvania should not be lost. Visiting historical sites is part of the pleasure of RV travel for Denny and I; we have learned more history, geography and geology than from any classes we had in school. To see, to touch, to hear the stories is to make history come alive. It would be a shame to see this site shut down due to budget constraints and it would be a vast disservice to the public.

Okay. Off the soapbox.

Huge rooms stored limestone and charcoal to which were layered with iron ore in the furnace to create pig iron. The Gothic styling of the windows is church-like.

This water driven "hammer" pounded pig iron bars into workable iron to make wrought iron, cast iron implements and items such as horse shoes. The iron was pounded, heated and pounded again until it reached a more malleable form.

The room housing the blast furnace (the red area). The wagons were for hauling the charcoal in from the forests. It took workers several days to create a mound of charcoal in a complex system of creating a huge hive-like mound of wood covered with sand and leaves and they watched over nine mounds at a time. The making of the charcoal was a fascinating process in itself.

The "great wheel" powered the blowing equipment that was used to force cold air inot the blast furnace, adding oxygen to the flames to make the temperature in the furnace hot enough to melt the iron ore. The wheel is 24 feet in diameter and my picture gives no indication of the size of the equipment in this room.

A panel made for a cast iron stove. In the 1700s, there were no metal molds for the stoves, so wooden templates were carved with a raised design, which was then pressed into a box of wet sand (I'm really simplifying the process here) tamped down heavily and then removed, leaving a pattern in the sand. Hot, liquid iron fresh from the furnace was ladled into the mold which created the panel. An ironworker could make several panels a day (remember, they worked twelve hour shifts, 84 hours a week).

The Cornwall Iron Furnace sent a lot of their stove panels to Germany, hence the writing in German on the decorations. Again, these were made by pressing carved wooden templates into boxes filled with wet sand.

An outbuilding near the iron works.

The stone homes built for the iron furnace workers still stand and are part of a residential neighborhood today. Most are doubles and driving down the street is truly stepping back in time.
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