Thursday, April 28, 2011

Finally, a Walk

Something strange occurred this morning; the sun came out. The air was crisp and clear, the sun was shining so brightly that everything that was green seemed to glow. Patches was ready to take a good walk and so was I. As we wandered up the rear of some of the camp sites, trying to find the least muddy areas to walk I came upon a sign indicating a nature trail. Since the devil hates a coward, as Denny always says, Patches and I decided to give it a try. After our first downhill segment, the only thing running through my mind was this:

It was no easy task to hang onto my camera, watch my footing and keep track of Patches AND her leash as she ducked under this tree and that tree. There is no fallen tree or log that does not need to be traversed by Patches the Explorer.
As we walked we saw trillium and violets and wild phlox, we startled a few deer and at one point we both sat on a big fallen tree and simply basked in the sunshine while listening to the birds and the sound of the wind in the woods.

We discovered a tiny waterfall way back up the creek (my photograph doesn't show the double fall very well.)
And we crossed a couple of foot bridges as we made our way around the trail.
But now Patches was crying because not only had we startled the deer, but the deer had frightened her and her paws were by now cold, wet and muddy and she was ready to be home. We still had a ways to go before we got off the nature trail and onto one of the gravel driveways that would lead us back to The Beast and I had to coax her most of the way until she got to a section of the roadway that she recognized. Talk about a happy camper! We were almost home!
Patches and I both were glad to get out of the mud although we did have a bit of a disagreement when it came time to wash her muddy paws off. She thought she could do it but I prevailed with the wet towel while Patches growled during the whole procedure. And now she's ready to do it all over again.

See ya--we're out of here for our final walk of the day before it starts to thunderstorm again as predicted for this evening. *sigh*

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Quick Check In

Cincinnatians consume more than two million po...Image via WikipediaI realize it's been a while since I've put up a post, but we've been doing a whole lot of nothing other than watching the rain. Well, that and moving from Missouri to Ohio last week, dodging tornadoes and hail storms and of course the never-ending rain.

We'll be getting in some doctor and dental check ups while we're back in our home town, visiting friends and family and gorging ourselves at our favorite local restaurants. Things like Frisch's Big Boys, Skyline Chili and Marion's pizza. This is one of Patches' favorite campgrounds for taking walks but currently we only make short forays between downpours, trying to find areas to walk that aren't soggy and boggy. And that ain't easy at the moment. Denny and I intentionally picked a site that's cantilevered on a hillside away from the tall trees (tornadoes and falling over when the root system gets super saturated with all this rain) and near a concrete block bathhouse (again with the tornadoes) and so far the site has been draining fairly well. Apparently we have three more days of thunderstorms to suffer through before we hit some sunshine. I'm beginning to feel a bit mildewed.

Updates will probably continue to be few and far between for the next couple of weeks. See ya on the flip side!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hail X 2

Tuesday was a weird day for us. We were awakened by a thunderstorm with hail at 4AM. It was too dark to see the size of the hail but the way it was hitting the roof we figured we'd have some dents in Black Beauty when we got up. It turns out we were damage free, fortunately.

Then in the afternoon the security guard came through the campground to tell us that a bad storm was coming and the weather service was saying that if a tornado developed that due to the size and strength of the storm it would hit hard and quick. The best shelter is a half mile away from us in the activity center (this is a HUGE resort) since the family center nearer to us has very large plate glass windows. We pulled out the weather radio and set Patches' carrier near the door and waited. When the storm arrived, there was sound and fury and hail ranging from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball. If we thought the hail in the morning was loud, it was nothing compared to the sound of what was hitting our trailer last night. There were two waves of hail but as quickly as it arrived, the storm passed through and we didn't have to leave the rig.

I did open the door to the trailer to try to take a picture of the larger pieces of hail, but I wasn't interested in getting battered simply for a photograph so I just snapped two quick shots.

Did anyone tell the weather gods that it's MARCH that comes in like a lion?????

Fun with Blogging

During her Celebrate Oz week, Linda in New Mexico had a giveaway for those who commented on her blog post. Her lovely granddaughter, GK, pulled my name from the hat and I was awarded a gift certificate for the Whimsical Cottage on Etsy. Since my wall and counter space is extremely limited to non-existent, I chose this darling little witchlet to hang from my window shade pull. Meet Griselda:
There are so many talented and wonderful people in our world and having access to the Internet and being a blogger has allowed me to meet (both virtually and in real life) some faboo folks. So thank you, OB and Danni, you both made my week.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tornadoes and Hurricanes

When Denny and I purchased a RV lot in Lillian, Alabama many years ago his father asked us why we would possibly want to own a lot where there was a possibility of hurricanes. This from a man who lived in Cincinnati, Ohio in the tornado alley. Denny explained to him that living in an area that might suffer through a hurricane was in a way safer than living in an area that suffered tornadoes because at least with hurricanes you have several days warning that it is or could be coming. Not so with tornadoes.

The RV lot has long been sold but I think our reasoning is still solid. The events of the past week show just how dangerous and unpredictable tornadoes can be. To this day, the memory of the Xenia, Ohio tornado of April, 1974 is still strong in Denny's mind from having to assist as a police officer to that jurisdiction after that horrible storm. And now that the two of us are traveling in the tornado belt we keep the weather radio handy and make sure we know what county we are in to program the radio to the proper area. Then on bad weather days we simply set the radio to "alert tone" rather than on the constant weather feed so we are warned of any sudden weather alerts or warnings. We make sure we know which building in the campground is considered to be the safest/sturdiest and have Patches' carrier handy for loading her up and taking her with us. Many travelers even create a bag of important items to take with them if they need to evacuate their RV.

Hurricanes have their own memory for Denny and me. In the summer of 1999 we were exploring New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Canada and then headed down into Maine from there. The two of us had plans to explore some of the east coast states and eventually meet up with my mother in Myrtle Beach in September for a month long stay. Brake problems in our motorhome changed some of our plans and we ended up in Massachusetts getting the brakes looked at since that was the closest Ford dealership that had a hoist strong enough to lift our 38 foot Bounder. This was back in the day where gas engines and Ford chassis were more common that diesel pushers. We rerouted ourselves towards Virginia Beach and that's when the chase began; we were in hurricane season and word was that Hurricane Denny (appropriate, no?) was headed our way. So we planned our sightseeing but kept the radio and TV tuned to weather reports. We dodged that bullet and were headed to our next campground near coastal North Carolina when news of Hurricane Floyd popped up. This was a big one and mandatory evacuations were ordered for the coastal areas of both Carolinas. I'll never forget driving south on Interstate 95 through Virginia and North Carolina and being the only vehicle heading southbound on the highway while the northbound lanes were bumper to bumper with cars, semis and RVs. After some discussion Denny and I decided that Raleigh would be inland enough for us to be safe, so we found a campground and settled in for the night. It was while watching the local news that evening that we discovered that a flash flood from the rain storms that accompanied Hurricane Floyd had crossed Interstate 95 that afternoon, stranding some truck drivers who had to be air lifted from their vehicles by helicopter. By figuring the timeline and our distance driven, Denny and I realized we had driven through that location just 15 minutes before the flash flood occurred. And yes, I realize we have some guardian angels watching over us. Later that night, safe from the hurricane, we shook in our motorhome as high winds (what they now call straight line winds) tore through area, dropping tree limbs on our roof, taking out the power and battering us with hail. We stayed in the area a couple of days and it was at this time AT&T first introduced a cell phone with "national coverage, no roaming and no long distance". Believe me, we lied about where we lived simply to be able to have access to this service plan. What we were traveling with at the time was a bag phone with expensive minutes and a roaming fee each day you made a call out of state from Ohio and a long distance call fee on top of that. Needless to say, all family members and friends were told to call us only in a dire emergency so having a phone where we could call out and receive calls no matter where we were was wonderful! This way we could let everyone know we were okay without it costing an arm and a leg, especially since hurricane season was not yet over and we were still heading toward Myrtle Beach. The evacuation order was lifted for both North and South Carolina so we turned the nose of Roo (the Bounder symbol or mascot is a yellow kangaroo) towards Pirateland.

Arriving safely in Myrtle Beach we spent some enjoyable time with Mom and some RVing friends we met through Mom when the news started warning of the next storm; Hurricane Irene. Seriously??? The governor of South Carolina ordered a voluntary evacuation and the campground started emptying out. Our friends asked if we were going and we told them we were going to stay; by carefully monitoring the path of the hurricane we saw that we would be caught by the back edge of the storm and felt there would be only the winds and rain to sit through. And so it was. We have a photo (which I can't access) of the group of us standing out on the beach, drinks in hand (naturally) during a lull in the passage of the hurricane. Yeah, no one ever accused us of being the brightest bulbs in the lamp. We did that several times during the day until at last all threats of the hurricane were past. I think we were the only four rigs left in the campground of 900+ sites, plus Mom in her park model (anchored) trailer. That is a fun, fun memory for us. And yes, we're insane. But due to the nature of that time, I guess we were feeling pretty invincible. For whatever reason, we're still here and a little more cautious now.

Thus we travel into the path; we have people to see, places to go. And we're invincible, don'cha know?

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Loutre Shore Country Club

We drove 30 miles to play golf at the Loutre (pronounced Looter) Shore Country Club because a G**gle search stated the course was 18 holes. It's not. This is a nine hole golf course. And while I felt bad for making Denny drive that far for a nine hole golf course, we did have fun playing this one.

Loutre Shore's course is set in the hills of the Rhine Valley just a few miles north of Hermann, Missouri. The hills surrounding the golf course would be breathtaking in the fall with the great variety of hardwood trees in the area. As it was, playing in the early spring we enjoyed the wild phlox and dogwood trees that were in bloom on the course.

Hole number three, a par 4 that dog legs to the right after you hit across the pond (and dodge the Canada goose sleeping on the cart path.)

The golf course is set up for you to play two different sets of tees if you play an eighteen hole round of golf here. That means the men's second hole is a par 4 but when played as the eleventh hole there is a different tee box farther back which makes the hole a par 5. The fifth hole on the front nine is a par 4 but on the back nine as hole number 14 it is a par 3. Denny played the men's blue tees for a total yardage of 6654 yards and a rating/slope of 69.9/116. I played the red tees for a total yardage of 5204 yards and a rating/slope of 68.6/106. There are no sand traps on this course and water only comes into play on two holes (3 holes if you have a wicked slice.) The challenge comes from the large trees lining the fairways and the sloped lie of some of the fairways.

There were some rough spots off the sides of the fairways but the fairways themselves and the greens were in pretty good shape for just coming out of the winter mode. Normally for seniors we would have paid $25 each to play 18 holes with a riding cart (and this is a hilly course) but on Thursdays it's "dollar a hole day" so we paid $18 each for green fees (no cart fee) plus tax so we paid just over $38 for the two of us to play golf. We saw a golfer come out of the clubhouse with a hot dog so there is at least that much to eat at the turn and their website says there is a full bar which includes wines from the local Hermann wineries (and there are a lot of them in Hermann.)

At ten thirty in the morning we were the only people on the golf course, although others soon followed. Therefore we enjoyed a leisurely round of golf on a perfect, sunshine filled day out in the middle of nowhere, Missouri. We may just go back.

The ninth/eighteen hole looking towards the clubhouse (the building that looks like a barn.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Show Time!

As part of attending the sales pitch for the vacation villas this week, we were given the opportunity to purchase tickets to two shows at a very inexpensive price. Then after purchasing our share of a village home, we were given the gift of another pair of tickets by our salesman. Denny and I had picked the shows "Six" and the "New Shanghai Circus" and were given tickets to the salesman's favorite show "Pierce Arrow".

Many of the shows in town haven't even opened yet, so those we actually wanted to see weren't options. Those that are currently in production usually run twice a day; a matinee at 2:30 or 3PM and an evening show starting at 7:30 or 8PM. The shows we attended lasted around two hours which included a 15 minute intermission, giving you time for a restroom break or, more importantly to the shows, a chance to hit the gift/souvenir shops. All shows touted their merchandise before or during the show, including tee shirts, hats, light up jewelry and other baubles, etc. All of the performers were available for autographs if you purchased merchandise there and there were meet and greet opportunities after the shows.

As for the shows, starting in the order in which we saw them: my favorite was Six. Six brothers who sing a cappella and deliver a big sound. For Denny (and me at times) it was too loud--certainly the sound system could have been turned down a notch or two and we would have enjoyed the show even more. I thoroughly enjoyed this show since there was humor, singing and choreography involved. Denny didn't get into the music as much since he didn't recognize a lot of the songs (he's stuck in the 50s). We attended the afternoon show and I feel we got full value for the matinee performance.

The second show we attended was the one chosen for us; Pierce Arrow. This was a Friday evening performance and we had great seats in the center of the second row. We sat next to a young couple in their early thirties who had just gotten married in town that morning, taking advantage of a free hotel room, shows and meals offered by one of the time share selling outfits in town. The young man and I chatted before the show and before long several of the couples around us joined in. I have to admit Branson is a friendly place. The comedian of the set, Jarrett Dougherty, is goofily (is that a word?) funny and throws in enough ad libs that he was cracking up his straight man. Pierce Arrow is actually the name of the four member group of men who sing a variety of gospel and country songs (yeah, they lost me right there) and there are two young women singers who also entertain individually and together. The show is family oriented, gospel slanted and very clean. They (and the members of the show Six) recognize all veterans during their show. This particular show just was not my cup of tea, although I noticed Denny doing a lot of toe tapping during many of the numbers. And when one of the young ladies sang a Janice Joplin song while channeling Debbie Boone, well, I was done. Apparently this is one of the highest rated shows in Branson. Certainly the audience around me appreciated it.

Yesterday afternoon we attended our last show, the Acrobats of China at the New Shanghai Circus. These young Chinese acrobats work seven days a week, unlike the other shows that close on Sundays. According to the emcee, they don't speak a lot of English, so you are taught the Mandarin words for "hello" and "thanks" to be able to communicate with them when they stand outside to greet you after the show. This is a very talented group of young people who juggle, perform acrobatic acts and do amazing things with their bodies. And during the show I was very, very angry because of the mostly senior members of the audience who sat in their seats like lumps and didn't applaud the acts. I probably embarrassed Denny since most of the time I was the only one applauding some very difficult moves during the performance (instead of waiting until the entire performance of those acrobats was over), but dang it, those kids were working hard and doing some incredible things. After intermission, half the people in our row and the row behind didn't even come back. I don't know if they were expecting the Cirque du Soleil or what, but certainly this show was attended by a lot of people showing very little class.

There are many, many different types of shows available during the main tourist season and anyone should be able to find a show they would enjoy here. There were several Denny and I would love to see but they simply weren't open this early in the season. But hey, we have a reason to come back--we have a Cape Cod house to stay in!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Down the Road

This week while in Branson we became "undivided fractional owners" of a two story Cape Cod in a gated vacation resort development. Think time share, kinda. And your first question will be "why, Linda?" After all, we are on vacation 52 weeks a year in our house on wheels. Yep, yep, you are right. However the reasoning behind our purchase lies in the fact that within the next few years we'll be settling down somewhere. We've been on the road for thirteen years now and if all goes as planned we'll check off visiting our 50th state by the end of this summer. We're starting to think about where we'll live and when we do settle we'll still probably want to get away for a week or so and owning a piece of one of these homes will allow that. Or, should I decide that I want to soak in a Jacuzzi tub in "our" place, wander down to the clubhouse to watch a movie on a big screen outdoors or swim in bad weather in their indoor pool, well then we can drop our rig behind the sales office and plug into their electricity at their reserved RV sites and drive over to the Village and enjoy our week's stay.

We'll have the option of banking our weeks and trading our resort stay for one in Hawaii, or Steamboat Springs or others within the same company's ownership, or through the international membership we can reserve a week at an Irish castle or a place in Paris, etc. Our sons have the option of getting very inexpensive week-long vacations either by staying here in Branson or visiting one of the sister resorts. We wanted them to have the chance to enjoy exploring new areas of this country also. Was it the wisest thing we've ever done? Time will tell. But I'm hoping that our sons will benefit from this even more than we do. And in the meantime, I can see myself sitting on the balcony looking out over a veritable rainbow of homes, listening to the waterfall beside the house and enjoying the fact that when I walk out the door, someone else will come in and clean the place top to bottom.
Yep, we're probably crazy.
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Thursday, April 07, 2011

This One's On Us

We're in Branson, Missouri this week and we'll be attending three shows while we're here, thanks to the Stormy Point Village sales staff. That's a story for another day, though. We'll do the shows rather than playing golf because even staying at a campground on the grounds of the golf resort doesn't give us enough of a discount to play. Tourist area, don'cha know?

But look what I discovered when I guided Denny into our site here in Branson:
Yep, that's an ouchy! The post is a modification Denny made to place our TV satellite dish near the roof line when we're parked. It saves him having to put the dish on a tripod, leveling that and pounding stakes into the ground to secure the tripod in high winds. He loves using his "roof mount" but somehow, somewhere on our journey here from Ashdown, Arkansas on Tuesday we had a low hanging branch or pole arm or something scrape down our roof and snag the pole which pulled one side of our ladder out and snapped it. Ouch, indeed.

We'll work on getting that replaced and install it ourselves once we in Ohio for three weeks where we have the time to get the ladder shipped to us. In the meantime, we're just wandering around Branson acclimating ourselves, playing tourist.

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Something Different

I normally don't post pictures of our meals, although since I review the various restaurants and cafes where we've eaten on my RV Vagabonds website I probably should take more pictures. I find that I can't take very good photos with the iPh*ne since I get a little shaky trying to push the "capture" button for whatever reason, so I've just been deleting the pics. But this week we had a really fabulous meal at a little restaurant in the middle of nowhere, Arkansas so I snapped a couple of shots, although I missed the opportunity to take a photograph of our "set up".

Set up, you ask? Yeah, we did too. When we placed our order our darling little waitress in the cutest Arkansas drawl possible asked if we wanted salad or set up. Huh? My brain worked feverishly to translate the tone and tenor of her words to try to figure out what she said but I finally gave in and inquired "set up?" While she never said a word, I saw the eye-roll that went on inside her head. But she explained nicely that a set up consists of a bowl of coleslaw, a bowl of beans (pinto, served in a soupy base), pickled green tomatoes and hush puppies. She suggested that one of us order the salad and one of us order the set up, because she would often make a meal simply of the set up. Hey, when in Rome....

So we ordered the salad and set up and we were so busy digging into it I forgot to take a picture. Suffice to say we ate everything in the set up except the hush puppies and that was only because they give you a whole darn basket (think the red plastic baskets that hamburgers and fries are served in at some diners) of the things. Then came our meals; I had the fried shrimp and Denny had the ribs. I should have tried the catfish because our food was so good that the catfish was probably wonderful. It was the only fish they served here and they offered it in a variety of forms.

So if you are ever in the area of Nashville, Arkansas, stop at Fisherman's Cove and have lunch or dinner there. According to our waitress on Fridays they also do a fish and shrimp buffet and they do a Sunday brunch buffet also. Just make sure to get the set up instead of the salad.

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