Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gearing Up To Go Again

We didn't expect to have much to do while we were home for these three weeks. After all, no one expects us to be here, right? Well I've gone non-stop and Ted has worked a lot up in the Fort Worth/Dallas area trying to get things settled with a new property.

I had lunch with two friends Friday - one whose father is going through the same treatment as Ted and the other who just lost her husband to esophageal cancer. A gruesome connection but it was good to have understanding people to talk to. We had a nice visit and I'm delighted to report Sandy is doing extremely well. She said Terry is sitting on the chair at the computer waiting for the trip to Massachusetts for interment. She said it is fitting because that is where he sat all the time anyway. I was glad to see her so upbeat under the circumstances.

Saturday Ted went shooting and I did some running around. I stopped at Pier One to buy a new wicker table for the front porch since the old one broke its leg! It must have been blown over in a storm. Then on to Sam's to pick up the giant economy size of snacks to take to Destin. I bought four of the big "barrel" containers. I'll take them to the house where my family is staying and then we'll feel free to snack on whatever is out while we're there. I took a chance on the Outlets in Conroe having their summer stuff on sale but there wasn't much there. We went to church at 5 p.m. and then went to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner. We came home after that.

Sunday I went to the Harwin area of Houston with 4 other gals. This is the wholesale area where you can find just about anything. I got a new plant for the new table on the porch, a clock for the guest bath and a shrug I know I'll use on the cruise in February. We were gone most of the day but Ted had gone shooting again so it didn't matter.

Monday Ted took off for north Texas again and I played Canasta at the biggest home in The Woodlands that I have ever been in. It was absolutely beautiful. I had good cards all four games but some were learning to play and no one paid any attention to score so I don't know how I did overall. We had lunch and it was almost 3:00 before I got home. I had left at 9:00 because I had to pick up two others and then also drop them off.

The cleaning ladies came Tuesday and I spray painted the new wicker table and the chair so it would match for the front porch. White is too stark against our brick so it is an ecru color. I also did all the laundry. I managed to stay out of their way while they cleaned.

Yesterday I had to attend Woodlands Watch Coordinator Updated Training. I am responsible for about 11 houses on our street. Now I have things to give them right before we are ready to leave! Also, the Night Out this year is in October but it is the week we are at the HitchHiker rally in Conroe so I was unable to sign up to help. I stopped at Radio Shack for new phone batteries, dropped some things off at my friend Alicia's, then went to the grocery. It seems I'm getting home late afternoon everyday.

Today I am making a sweet potato casserole and have purchased a 12-pack of canned lemonade for a funeral at church. I have to be there at noon to help serve and clean up. A 46 year old lady died of cancer. Her husband is already dead. That leaves a 16 year old girl with both parents gone. How terribly sad. I'm gone so frequently that anytime they call when I am in town, I try to cook and help out. It's a wonderful ministry to belong to. Tonight is trivia night at the country club. I'll let you know how we do next time I write.

We're not sure just when we're leaving. Our reservation starts next Thursday at Topsail State Park. Ted said something about making a stop in Beaumont at Dow Jones before we go. That would make the trip to Slidell a bit easier as a day's drive.

Until next time, stay cool, travel safely, be kind.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Kudos for Ally

I just received this e-mail from my oldest daughter Kelly about our second granddaughter who is 14. She has been dancing for about 10 years. Last year she won a scholarship and this June we saw her in a production where she danced in seven different numbers. She attends classes four days a week I believe. She is beautiful and graceful and has the makings of a superb dancer. Now I have to rethink my travel schedule for the holidays and next summer!

I would like to share with all of you that Ally auditioned for and was accepted into the Macomb Ballet Company in the junior division. She will be performing in The Nutcracker Dec. 12th and 13th. She will also be performing in Sleeping Beauty on May 16th and 17th. Here is a link with more information about the company This is an excellent fit for Ally because it allows her to continue to study at the studio of her choice, which she loves, but still be part of a ballet company which will be more of a professional experience for her. Way to go, Ally!!! We are so proud of her!!!

Grandma and Grandpa are proud too.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Numbers Are In

Everyone asks us about the price of diesel and camping fees while we're on the road. I finally received all the charge bills so I took the time to go over them. It seemed to me that camping fees were up this year but our daily average was $24 compared to $25 and $26 the last two years. Paying weekly rates and using Passport America helps keep that figure from increasing I think. We were out 67 days.

We spent just over $2000 on diesel. We traveled 2800 miles pulling the RV but I can't account for the driving around when the RV was parked. We made two trips to Owenton, KY while in Cincinnati and there was 30 miles a day round trip for three weeks from Addison Oaks into Troy. We didn't intend to go in every day but between the dentist appointments and the lack of electricity after the storm, we found we were doing that.

We did turn 100,000 miles on the truck as we passed through Cleveland, TX on our way home. I didn't check the odometer when we arrived home and we had the added trip back to Lufkin to pick up the RV and then home. Ted drove to Fort Worth and back last week and is now in Dallas. So I don't think I'll ever have a good read on our actual mileage. Diesel pretty much stayed around $4.69. Once we got it for $4.49 and in Vicksburg we had to pay $4.75 (but it was $4.69 the day before!)

Diesel trucks are supposed to be good for 250,000 miles and are just getting broken in at 100,000 (or so they tell me). Diesel is more expensive than gas but we get better mileage. For a 100 mile trip pulling the RV we would need 10 gallons of diesel or $46.90. A gas motorhome getting 7 mpg would need 14.5 gallons of gas for that same 100 mile trip or $54.81. So either way, it's not an inexpensive proposition but it's a way of visiting and vacationing that we enjoy. We'll continue on until we get tired of it or it simply gets too difficult for Ted to handle. We're hoping that isn't anytime soon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Results Are Back

Ted is on his way home from a business trip to Fort Worth. He left yesterday morning so he could spend the night in the newspaper pressroom. He has to go back up that way on Monday to Dallas and won't be home until Wednesday night or Thursday around noon. Then we're going to Trivia Night at the country club with Terry & Carol.

On Wednesday I went to the girls' Happy Hour at the country club and Terry and Ted went to dinner. I'm meeting two friends for lunch today. I think that's all the outside activity we've done since I wrote last. I've done some laundry and a bit of "a lick and a promise" (as my mother used to say) around the house.

But the big news is the phone call from Raynor at Dr. Ertan's office. Ted had an esophagogastroduodenoscopy on Tuesday. That looks from your pharynx to your small intestine. To the naked eye, all looked good. Well the biopsies said the same thing! No signs of any kind of dysplasia. I asked about the red spot biopsied at 8 mm in his esophagus and he checked that specifically. He said that was a metaplasia. I looked that up and its definition was a non-cancerous irritation. AND ... we don't have to see Dr. Ertan for three months, not two weeks. We were hoping our departure date for Florida wouldn't be affected and now it won't be.

I can't tell you how relieved we are at this outcome. We know there are no long track records on this treatment but everything so far has been extremely positive. The numbers on the studies this year are even better than the previous years because of the introduction of the 90 degree ablator. It is used two months after the 360 degree ablator to touch up missed spots.

Thank you all for your kind words, prayers and cards of encouragement. People tend to have lots of acquaintances they sometimes confuse with friends. These kinds of situations let you know who your real friends are. If you are reading this, you're probably one of them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ted's Procedure Went Well

I spent most of Monday in restaurants. I met a friend moving back from Calgary and another friend I haven't seen in two months at 2:00 for "tea." Well I had cereal at 7:00 and no lunch so I ordered a salad. At 6:00 we were still there and Ted called to see if I wanted to have dinner with Terry & Carol. I wasn't very hungry but said I would meet them wherever, just call.

So I left one restaurant and drove to another, Casa Imperial. I had one soft chicken taco and one more of those wild berry mojitos. We got home around 9:00. I guess that's not too much food after being in restaurants for 7 hours. Of course Ted would say it is hard to eat while you're talking so much!

But moving on ... We picked Terry up at 6:30 a.m. and drove to Baylor Clinic. We arrived early and Ted was taken in a little late. But then we waited FOREVER for the doctor to come out and talk to us. We had the pictures and findings in the procedure report and everything sounded really good. There was one red spot I noticed but it wasn't velvety and salmon colored like Barrett's, just red. When Dr. Ertan FINALLY came he said he had biopsied that spot and if it is Barrett's he will "touch it up" with the ablator. That would mean another endoscopic procedure. But everything else in the report from his pharynx to the distal duodenum appeared normal.

Dr. Ertan said we should have results of the biopsies in three days and he wants to see us in his office in two weeks for management plans. I'm sure these include continuing the Previcid and at least an annual endoscopy. This ablative therapy is only 3 years old so there's not a track record of what to expect long term. Ted is part of a research study so they will be anxious to follow him in years to come.

I drove the boys home and Terry had to go have some blood work of his own done. We went on to the grocery and came home to have lunch. My next blog will be after we get the biopsy report. Let's keep our fingers crossed and rosary beads going so they are as good as the procedure report.

Thank you all for your support and concern.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Have No Pictures!

It's been a quiet week. Nothing else has broken and no new problems have appeared on the horizon.

I spent Wednesday putting away what I had brought home from the RV before we left it at Bailey's. Then I took care of a month's worth of mail. I figured I would have several things to follow up with but everything looked to be in order.

On Thursday Rick and Brenda were gone all day and I used the time to hit the nail salon. They didn't return until 9 p.m. so I didn't have them for any meal. My kind of company!

On Friday they headed to Memphis and we stopped in Lufkin to get the RV. We were pleased with the repair and were back at Rayford by 1 p.m. A whole group of friends were already there so it turned out to be a great weekend. Why? Again, no cooking!

Friday night we went to Casa Imperial, a great Mexican restaurant. Ted and I tried mojitos for the first time. Mine was wild berry and his was the classic mint. We both liked them and found them more refreshing than a margarita. There were 8 of us for dinner.

Saturday was a kick back and relax sort of day. The heat had everyone moving slowly except for Ted. He steamed the carpets and washed the rig. I traded in my dozen books at the exchange library in preparation for our Florida trip. We went to 6 o'clock Mass at St. Simon and Jude and met everyone at Pit Master BBQ for dinner. Bill and Ornell's daughter, son-in-law and grandson had joined us. The restaurant has a cooler with a rubber snake on a string and they always get new people to open it for a free sample. Bill and his grandson both jumped a mile and we had a good laugh. After the meal he told the waitress her tip was in that red cooler.

We gave in and fixed breakfast on Sunday. I made pancakes and Ornell cooked bacon. We had coffee and OJ with it and everyone was satisfied. We took our time getting ready to go. There was a lot to empty out since we had been gone 67 days. Try as I might, I always have a lot of food that needs to come home. And of course even though we have "camping" clothes that stay in the RV, they have to come home to be laundered before going back.

Today I changed the bedclothes in the guest room, balanced my checkbook and finished up the odds and ends. I'm due at a restaurant at 2 p.m. to meet some friends. I'm going to stop by Dr. Chang's and go to Chase Bank on my way. Ted had my car washed and filled up ($91!!) so I'm doing all my errands on one day.

Tomorrow is Ted's endoscopy. We have to leave at 6:30 a.m. to be there by 8:00. That means the procedure will be at 9:00. It is being done again at Baylor Clinic. I sure hope they don't have another water main break and cause this to be postponed like last time. Terry has offered to go with us but we didn't realize how early it was. We're going to ask if he wants to rethink his offer. Until tomorrow ...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mrs. Lincoln, me and the play!

I have to back up to Friday in Chuckey, TN. That was the day we found out our repair parts had been overlooked at Nu-Wa and had not been shipped as promised. So we adjusted our traveling schedule hoping to get the work done on Wednesday. So much for that.

The night before, Ted had put up the tailgate of the truck that was parked under the hitch to put the grill away. Anyone who has a 5th wheel knows what I'm going to say next. He forgot to drop it again and pulled the truck out the next morning when we prepared to go visit a museum. The tailgate caught the hitch and bent the latch right out of it. We had to raise the trailer, drive out from under and go to a Ford dealer to have the tailgate opened so we could remove it. They slide right up and out like an oven door. It is still in the bed of the truck but a new V-gate is due here on Friday. So much for that!

We had just arrived at the Fossil Dig when Rick called from our house. The A/C was not working. We got a technician to go out on Saturday and he got the fan blower going but failed to check the compressor. So ... on Sunday we had to have another service call to change the capacitor on the compressor. Tomorrow they are coming to make permanent repairs to the blower motor and fan. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

We called FedEx Tuesday morning and they confirmed our parts would be delivered that day. We had three phone conversations with Bailey's in Lufkin before stopping 20 miles north to spend the night. We wanted to be there first thing in hopes we could be on our way early enough to get to Rayford before dark. We had just set up the RV when Ted received a phone call saying they couldn't do our rig the next day. He was fit to be tied and let them know it. The kind campground owner gave us our money back, we drove to Bailey's and left the trailer. Now we have to drive 100 miles up and back on Friday (Lord willing and the creek don't rise!).

We met Rick and Brenda who were now staying at our house since the A/C was working albeit under temporary conditions. During dinner they said we had "bugs" flying around the house. Good! Now what? When we arrived home it took Ted less than a minute to discover the problem. The small freezer in his hobby room had stopped working. There was black gunk on the tile floor, maggots and bugs and putrid food inside. That is now gone and at The Woodlands Recycle center. We're still smacking at "gnat like" bugs because the exterminator is not coming until Monday.

Other than that and the gunshot, Mrs. Lincoln and I liked the play!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vicksburg, Mississippi

We left Birmingham before 9 o’clock and it was already 85 degrees. We haven’t been that hot since mid-May. I guess we’ll have to deal with the heat and humidity for the rest of the summer. The weather was clear after the torrential downpours of Saturday and we arrived in Vicksburg mid-afternoon.

We set up and then took the Blue Driving Tour around the city. It took us to the riverfront to Catfish Park for kids, past the Murals of Vicksburg that tells its history and Riverfront Park. The beautiful old railroad station is now the SPCA! There are several old mansions on the tour that have been restored and most are now Bed and Breakfasts. We took a picture of this huge tree because it created a canopy all the way across the street and it was in the yard of this ordinary house. It just caught our eye.

We saw Church of the Holy Trinity and its stained glass windows. Of the 11 Tiffany windows in Mississippi, it contains six. Oak Hall has 38 stained glass windows. The Old Court House built around 1858 now houses a museum.

On Monday we went to Vicksburg National Military Park. I was finally able to get my America the Beautiful Senior Pass. I have tried since last October from as far west as Pearl Harbor in Honolulu to as far east as the Andrew Johnson National Site in Greenville, TN before I found a park that sold them. If they don’t charge to get in, they don’t sell them. Ted stopped in Huntsville for his two years ago. Last summer we were able to enter Yellowstone, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon and Quake Lake for free. Normal entrance then was $25 per car.

After watching a video, we rented a GPS tour guide but it wasn’t working so we took it back and purchased the CD drive tour and booklet. We had to start and stop it instead of GPS knowing where we were but it worked OK.

There are 16 miles of roadway and 1300 markers, memorials and statues. Each state also has a large memorial. My first picture is the Illinois State Memorial and is the largest and grandest of all the state memorials.

This next picture is the last memorial added and it is of three Black men. It is dedicated to the Blacks of Mississippi that fought in the war. Of course I had to throw in Texas, the second picture.

General Grant astride his horse is the next picture. This statue is only one of two equestrian statues in the park. There are 17,000 Union soldiers buried here. The Confederate soldiers are buried in a city cemetery. There is a normal grave marker for those who were identified and a small white marble block to mark unknown graves. There were many more Unknowns than Knowns.

It is impossible to stop and read all 1300 markers. We soon realized that they are dedicated to various state militias, regiments, etc. that fought in that particular area. I was unable to look at the rolling hills, valleys, trenches, etc. and understand the strategy behind the campaign. From reading I know what happened at Vicksburg and understand the importance of the campaign and the great loss of life and suffering but I had trouble visualizing the assaults that were made. It all looks so peaceful and beautiful now.

Our longest stop was the USS Cairo, an armor clad ship sunk in 1864 in the Yazoo River, found in 1960 and restored by 1984. The entire boat, with “ghost” wood filling in what was missing, is on display outside the museum under a huge canopy. All of the metal parts survived and a lot of the wood. The boilers were intact as well as the pistons. All of her cannons are once again in place. You can see the metal cladding on the front of the ship and the pilothouse.

Inside the museum were scores of artifacts that were salvaged. The bell from the ship was on display and the sign said that an air pocket that had been trapped underneath it for over a century shot to the top of the river when the bell was picked up. Personal articles, tools, dishware, bottles (including a Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce bottle), shoes, etc. were all found intact and are on display. Anything of metal was in perfect condition. They said even the bolts were able to be turned while the ship was still in the water.

It was late in the afternoon when we finished so we went to fuel up and head back to prepare dinner. We called FedEx and learned our parts are to arrive in Lufkin on Tuesday so we’ll be taking off for Nacogdoches in the morning. That puts us just north of Lufkin and we will pull into Bailey’s first thing Wednesday morning. If all goes well we should be at Rayford by Wednesday late afternoon. We’ll be there two nights as we empty the RV of the things that need to go home, clean the carpets and wash the outside. We always do this before putting it away.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We're Heading for Home

I forgot to mention that we ran into my cousin Sis, her fiancé and mother at Argosy. He had just won $1000! My aunt is having surgery soon and I was able to wish her well.

Monday Ted attended the Enquirer Retiree Monthly Luncheon where he saw my other cousin, sister to Sis, who worked at the restaurant. We have seen so many people this trip and it’s wonderful. He had dropped me off at Karen’s to do laundry and my friend Mary picked me up there so we could go to lunch. Later Ted picked me up with the laundry and we headed home.

Karen and Ron came by later on so Ted and Ron could put a piece of Plexiglas over our damage. We had taped a plasticized corrugated sheet but it probably wouldn’t hold up too long in rain. It seemed wise to protect the hydraulic hoses that are behind the damaged panel. When they were finished the damage hardly showed because the Plexiglas was white.

One last trip to LaRosa’s and it was time to say goodbye to them. We will see them in the Florida panhandle in August and it is their grandson getting married in November so they are encouraging us to come back. If we did, it would not be with the RV at that time of year. We would stay with them; maybe stop for a long weekend at Dan and Sue’s and then go on to Michigan for Thanksgiving. We’re still tossing it around.

I received a phone call from Carol in TX who said our friend Elmira had died the night before. She had been sick for a year and fought so hard. She was at our May Newcomers luncheon and we all hoped she could beat this thing. But there were too many things wrong and it just wasn’t to be. Rest in peace, Elmira.

Tuesday morning we were on the road a little after 7:00 am. We drove to Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park in Chuckey, TN. This is way east and less than 50 miles from the Virginia border. Ted’s friend Howard moved here from DeBary, FL and we promised him we would stop some day. Howard came to the park immediately and visited with us. His wife has MS and stays pretty close to home.

After Howard left to attend rehearsal for a production he is in, I fixed dinner very early. We hadn’t had breakfast, grabbed a bite at a rest area enroute so we were hungry. Then it started to rain. Once it stopped we took a walk.

Right across from our campsite is an overlook to see the small rapids in the Nolichucky River. Two men were fly fishing. It’s a peaceful setting. Then we walked to the replica cabin and stone monument dedicated to Davy Crockett.

There was another old, carved stone. We could make out On This Spot, Davy Crockett, the word Born and the number 17. He was born in 1786 and died at the Alamo in 1836. My favorite story about him is that supposedly when he lost his run for the Senate in Tennessee, his farewell speech contained this remark, “You can all go to hell and I’m going to Texas.” My sentiments exactly!

We had watched the news during the rain and it was reported that a Lake Orion, Michigan man had drowned. His body was found next to a houseboat by divers. The TV station was Knoxville so we didn’t know exactly where this had happened. At 10:15 my phone rang and it was Kara. This man was the husband of a gal she worked with. We had met her and her daughter last month at Sam and Morgan’s birthday party. They were vacationing on a houseboat, actually two lashed together, with lots of family members. He had epilepsy and I’m sure that will be a focus in any autopsy or investigation. This is the fourth person who has died in the two months we have been gone. Everyone really needs to treat people as if it is the last time they will see them, because eventually it will be. It seems the peaks in life are further apart and the valleys are long and low as we get older.

Wednesday morning Howard picked us up to go to his house to visit Nancy and to have lunch. She is getting around pretty well with a cane but she must take her time and stairs present a problem. Howard has two 2-car garages and a full basement where he has his shell loading equipment. There were more pictures of Ted (shooting) on the walls than there are in our house.

After lunch we took a ride through Greeneville, the county seat and birthplace of Andrew Johnson. We saw a cannonball from the Civil War still imbedded in a house. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant, scouted diesel prices, bought some milk and came back to the RV. Nancy made it in and out with no problem. They watched the DVD of our 40th anniversary that the kids had made and then they headed for home.

Thursday was shooting day and Howard came by to pick up Ted. The weather wasn’t the best so I opted to amuse myself at the RV. They did manage to get a few rounds in plus lunch before Howard had to leave for practice for the production he is in.

Ted and I drove back into Greeneville to visit the Andrew Johnson Historical Site. We watched a film and then had a private tour of their home. Johnson was the 17th president succeeding Lincoln after his assassination. However, he was a Democrat and Lincoln was a Republican. He is the only president impeached (but not convicted) besides ol’ Bill. His “crime” was firing his Secretary of War which violated a law later declared unconstitutional. The contents of the house had been burned during the Civil War so the present furnishings were purchased by the Johnson's after the war to refurnish the house. The traveling chest has Greeneville spelled incorrectly. The quilt on the bed was made by his wife.

We went to the Gray Fossil site in Johnson City on Friday. This was a sinkhole 4.5 million years ago and was discovered during a road project in 2001. It is the most significant find in the eastern U.S. Fossilized skeletons of entire extinct animals have been unearthed. Then we went on to Jonesborough to meet Howard before attending his practice. We walked through the old part of town. I’ve never seen so many “historical site” markers in one area as this part of eastern Tennessee.

We also learned that eastern Tennessee tried to be a separate state named Franklin but it just didn’t happen. Even during the Civil War, the east and west parts of the state had different views on slavery. Johnson had pushed for emancipation prior to the Civil War. His position was not popular with a good deal of the population and he was branded a traitor. But he stood true to the Constitution and did what he felt was best for the country.

We met Howard in Jonesborough where we shared a malt and then we attended a rehearsal of the entire program that he is involved with. It is the play “Swing” and will be a great evening’s entertainment for the next two weekends. We are sorry we wouldn’t be around long enough to see the “real” thing.

This morning we left Tennessee and stopped south of Birmingham, AL. We are in the small town of Hoover and staying at the city park. I found Prince of Peace church not too far away and we went to church at 5 p.m. and then stopped at a small restaurant before coming back to the RV.

Tomorrow we are heading to Vicksburg, MS. We should be there for two nights. The new panels were not shipped on Wednesday as promised. They were “overlooked!” So they went out Friday and probably won’t be delivered to Bailey’s in Lufkin until Wednesday. We are hoping our repair will be made Thursday and we can get home that evening. It sets us back a few days but we don’t want to make a trip back to Lufkin for this. I think we’re good with the post office until the 19th. Let’s hope so!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Good Ol' Fourth of July

We stopped at Skyline for lunch on Wednesday and ran into Dick and Mary D. Ted worked with Dick at the Enquirer in the 60s and 70s. We hadn't seen them in years. Dick said he is bored in retirement but Ted said we have never had that problem.

Wednesday night was my second St. Bonnie's monthly dinner. Three more gals joined us and three of the fellows. We had quite a crowd and were a bit noisy in the beginning. I was worried about getting tossed out. Who gets thrown out of the Olive Garden??? The noise level settled down and we had a four hour dinner. We just talked and talked.

I think I understand why these dinners are so enjoyable other than the obvious. You are not someone's wife nor someone's mother. You are the adult version of a childhood friend. Little was said about where people worked, lived, how many kids or grandkids they had. Eventually I'm sure it gets to that but these intial contacts are about being friends for 9-13 years in school when we were so very young. Ted had gone shooting and picked me up at 10 o'clock.

Thursday we met my deceased cousin's husband (widower) at Pebble Creek golf course. I dropped Ted off and went on to his girlfriend's house on the 15th hole. The day was overcast and it was going to be an "iffy" golf day. Sharon and I worked on paint colors for the house as well as visited. Just as the guys got to the 15th hole where we could watch them, it started raining in earnest. They came in for a beer and after an hour or so were able to continue. Sharon and I went to Old Tyme Pottery.

When we returned we invited them to dinner at Outback Steakhouse. They have had us for dinner the last two years and the weather has been such that we didn't chance inviting anyone to the RV for dinner. We really enjoy being with them and Sharon's son. Time just passes quickly when we're together.

We went to the store in preparation for the weekend. It rained really hard so we stayed in once we got home.

Friday we left for Elk Lake. It was still raining and the outlook wasn't good. We were wondering how the weekend would go if it rained the whole time as predicted. When we arrived, Sherry and John with their three kids, dog and 3 pygmy goats were already there. The goats are being hand fed so they had to come along. The littlest one was smaller than a normal size cat. My training the week before raking manure came in handy as I took on the job of sweeping "goat pellets" from the deck and sidewalk when necessary! I'm not sure there is a future in this sort of work however.

Dan, Sue and Brandon came in right behind us. Later Josh & Jessi with a dog and Nick and Vicki (two sets of siblings) came. I had brought 3 gallon bags of BBQ for dinner and we ate on the screened porch while it rained. The weather eventually cleared enough for us to go down to sit on the deck. Later, everyone found a place to sleep and we all turned in. Age has its benefits and Ted and I had the second bedroom to ourselves.

Saturday started cloudy but turned beautiful. Ted, Dan, Brandon and John went to Elk Creek to shoot sporting clays, Ron took the kids out on the pontoon. I visited with Karen and Sue, played Cootie (remember that game?) with Amada and Wyatt and swept up the pellets!!

That afternoon everyone had a fishing pole in the water but not everyone was near theirs. Ted was sitting by the edge when Dan's pole beeped that there was a hit. Because Dan was over cutting bait, Ted grabbed the pole and reeled in a 5.5 lb. catfish. He finally made the "wall of fame" at the cabin! Ronnie filleted it and it is in the freezer.

Cindy and Tim (with two more dogs) arrived in the afternoon and we had a chance to discuss the day trips on the February cruise that 10 of us are going on. We will also be meeting up with them in the panhandle of Florida in August. Those of us who didn't go on the first pontoon boat ride took one in the afternoon. Then six of us went to Mass and we came home to BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, potatoes, macaroni salad and about a dozen desserts. Some of the young adults were going to the concert at Elk Creek Winery and left after dinner.

There were lots of fireworks going off and we sat on the deck and watched. Ted, Dan and Ron took the pontoon across the lake to another cabin owned by a friend of Dan's whose brother is married to Ted's sister. Such a small world. The kids all came home, ate again, then watched a DVD. Once the fellows came home, we all turned in.

This morning started with a breakfast of goetta, ham, sausage, biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, coffee and OJ plus assorted pastries. Ron was the chef and worked hard to feed us all. Little by little, everyone gathered their things and departed. I determined that it was a two 55-gallon garbage can of soda/beer cans weekend. The cans will be sold and the money used to buy fuel for the boat. Everyone brings their own cooler, some snacks and something for the main meals. It works well. If you don't have a good time, it's your own fault.

We arrived home about one o'clock and prepared for the arrival of Judy and Joe. They were our best man and maid of honor when we married 43 years ago. They had to be somewhere else later on but we had a 3-hour visit and it was wonderful to see them. Afterwards we went to dinner and then stopped at the Argosy. I immediately won $100 but played until I was only $8 ahead. Ted was $20 ahead so we decided to leave before we played it all back.

I have more than the usual amount of pictures but the goats were so darned cute I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Back in Cincinnati

We went to dinner last night with Dan and Sue. Their son's family joined us so there were 10 people. The restaurant overlooked the spillway of the lake and the kids had fun watching for fish coming over. There were some dead ones caught on rocks and they sure smelled bad when we went outside to look down the other side. I ordered a petite portion of lasagna. It was maybe a 3 x 3 square, if that. I have to admit it was enough but it sure looked puny when they brought it.

We left the State Park this morning and headed to Gem Tires in Dayton, OH. We arrived just a little after 9 and they were waiting for us. They called Goodyear with our claim number and Goodyear authorized replacement of all our tires. So we have 4 new ones and the new one they bought us last year. They said to send them the RV repair bill when we get it. We're getting a new trailer piece by piece. The State of Michigan bought us a new front panel in 2006, Goodyear bought the passenger side panel in 2007 and now we're getting a new driver side panel in 2008. But enough is enough. We don't want these problems each year. We're just grateful for the Good Sam Road Service, the locations where it has happened (God is watching for our safety) and the wonderful people at NuWa in Chanute, KS who make sure we have what we need for the repair. Here is a picture of the damage.

The trip in was uneventful and we are settled back in at Indian Springs. Ted is washing the RV and I'm getting caught up on correspondence and bills. It's great to have full hook-ups and nice bathrooms again. State park showers usually leave a lot to be desired and without a sewer hook-up they are the only game in town.

We received word that our friend died in Texas from esophageal cancer yesterday. He was in our bunco group and was diagnosed not quite 3 years ago. He was only given 3 weeks to 6 months at that time so he did remarkably well. But at the end he had lost his fight. His quality of life was so low and I'm sure he was simply tired of it all. Our hearts go out to his wife Sandy. We are very sorry that we won't be home for his funeral but we'll certainly have his family in our prayers.

We'll be eating here at the campground alone tonight. That will be a change of pace. This past month has been a whirlwind. Stay tuned. I have wi-fi for a week so I'll be able to keep up. However, we are leaving Friday for Elk Lake but we'll be back on Sunday.