Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just Another Day

We sure do sleep well in this cool overnight weather. It was 64 inside the trailer this morning. I put on my fleece robe and slippers and curled up with a cup of coffee until Ted woke up.

This morning I finished up all the accounting for the reunion. I completed the spreadsheet with all the personal info for the attendees, the amounts paid out and the money taken in. All the bills had been paid so I wrote a check for the difference, gathered it all together and put it in an envelope for Charles who is in charge of the 2013 reunion.

I had a few cards to write out and also some bills to pay. I did it all by computer, moving money around and took care of all of that. Eventually it was all done and I felt as if I had a handle on things again. I'm loving my Verizon Mi-Fi that gives me secure internet wherever we are.

Jay came over about 9:30 to get Ted to help with the tire. Ted had just gotten up but pulled on his shorts and went over. Jay was hooked up and Ted put our ramp in front of the tire for Jay to drive up on. They still had to use the jack but it didn't have to raise the trailer far. They had trouble with one lug nut but had it off quickly. They took it to Wal-Mart to have it fixed. There was a nail in it.

Stella couldn't go into her trailer because it was up on the jack so she spent the morning with me. We took a walk around the campground to get our bearings. We are in a loop we've never stayed in before and we were all turned around.

Jay and Ted returned and could not lift the tire and hold the wheel at the same time. The posts kept spinning so Ted crawled under to hold it but then Jay couldn't lift the tire alone. A fellow had pulled in next to us and I went to ask him if he would help a couple of old guys put a tire on. He asked me "how old?" I said "old enough to be married to me" and he said ... are you ready? ... They can't be too old because you can't be!! Made my whole summer.

Emil came over and saw what needed to be done, sat down sort of Indian style using his legs and feet to lift the tire while guiding it on. 1,2,3 and it was done! My hero. They tightened the lug nuts, let the jack down and Jay drove off the ramp and got things back as they should be.

Some of the sockets had to be returned so Jay and Stella took off. We left for Rochester where I got a hair cut and Ted went to the post office to mail what I had done in the morning. Then he went to Hollywood Supermarket for things for tomorrow when the kids come out.

We came home and I made a chocolate cake for tomorrow and put a pork tenderloin in the oven. We had dinner and then started a campfire and we sat out until the news came on. I had to wear a windbreaker again because it gets so cool at night. Jay went home before we came in so I gave Ted our battery lantern so he could walk Stella home. It's really dark in the campground with very little light. That boa constrictor is still loose and I didn't want it to get her!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


At last, cool weather, great camping site, family and friends, and no plans to move for 2-3 weeks. We left Cincinnati at 8 this morning and had no problems coming to Leonard, MI. Instead of taking 23 north to 69 east and dropping down to Addison Oaks, Ted took I-75 right through Detroit to route 150. Ted doesn't mind driving through cities and was in a hurry to get here.

We didn't arrive any too soon because they said we got the last site available for the weekend. It just so happened it was #2 and Jay & Stella are in #8. There were a couple handicap sites they would rent when the sites were gone and I found a few that are not reservable with no tag or any unit on it, so I'm not positive ours was really the absolute last one. Anyway, we're settled with no A/C needed, at least not yet.

Jay & Stella joined us and we drove into Kara's and had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner with garlic bread. For dessert she made a many berry cobbler with ice cream. She always cooks from fresh ingredients and it was so very good.

Afterwards we went to Sam's baseball game. Sam got a hit and I know he was proud his Poppa was there to see it. Ted brought his glove so he can work with him on pitching and catching. Sam has some other new thing to learn to hit, sort of T-ball on a horizontal stick. This campground has lots of grass space for kids to play so they'll have plenty of time and an area to practice in.

We came home and sat outside. I put on a windbreaker and wrapped a beach towel around my legs. We talked about calling Tommy and telling him we were getting cold sitting outside. Since he's still back in Texas I doubt he wants to hear that!

Chris said our flight times for our Paris trip came in the mail. We have great flights at decent times. No six hour layovers, no getting up at 3 a.m. We even have our seats with no one in front of us. Ted gets really cramped if the person in front of him puts their seat back.

Tomorrow Ted and Jay are going to remove Jay's flat tire on the trailer and take it to be fixed. I'm getting my hair cut at 5. Other than that, I have nothing to do!

God's in his Heaven—
All's right with the world!
~ Robert Browning

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Success, We're In Cincinnati

We were up early and had breakfast at the motel then went to the dealership to check on the truck. The fellow was out with it so we went to check on a campground nearby just in case we had to spend another night. We were prepared to have Good Sam bring the trailer down to Clinton if necessary.

When we arrived at the dealership the second time, Brad was sitting in it with his computer. He said everything was checking out OK. He had put a new hose on and had two others check it to be sure it was as it should be. He said he had no idea why the first or second one failed. We were hoping the third time was a charm. He also blew out the exhaust and did a regen which burns off the carbon emissions.

He drove the truck 20 miles to the Pilot station with the computer hooked up the entire time. We hooked up and Ted drove it back to Clinton, again with the computer on. Everything checked out, the truck performed fine so we felt it was OK to tackle the mountain we had to cross from where we were into Kentucky, commonly called Jellico Mtn.

Brad told Ted to keep the boost gauge between 1/2 and 3/4 which he did on the climbs. If it started going up, he backed off and brought it where he was told to keep it. We stopped for fuel in Corbin, KY (home of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Colonel Sanders) and then continued on in to Cincinnati.

Of course we had to have LaRosa's pizza, buy beer so we don't have to deal with Michigan's 10 cent deposit, filled up again and came home to do laundry.

Not all that exciting but yesterday was exciting enough. It's been a bad week for RVers. Marilyn and Ed, friends of friends who travel full time and write a blog Ted follows, lost their Mobile Suites in a fire. A wheel bearing froze up, drug the tire until it burst into flames. The small extinguisher he had and the 500 gallons the fire department brought to the scene couldn't put it out. That was a major loss for them since this was their home. No one was hurt and that's always the most important thing. Tommy's A/C went out on his motorhome and had to be replaced. Jay is waiting for us in Michigan with a parked trailer with a flat tire. He and Ted will get that taken care of once we arrive. All in all, our hose was a mere inconvenience.

A little perspective, like a little humor, goes a long way. ~ Allen Klein

Monday, June 27, 2011

Clinton, TN

Well, I lied. Our next stop turned out to be Clinton, TN. We left this morning a little after 7:30 and got to I-40 within a half hour. If you ever traveled the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, you know all about the usual bumper to bumper traffic on it. We took I-640 around Knoxville and headed north on I-75. About 20 miles south of the KY line there was a loud POW! Oh no, another tire blown, or so we thought. I checked my side and Ted checked his. Tires all looked OK. Another RVer stopped to offer assistance but we didn't know what had happened. So he decided to check his tires since we were running side by side. His were OK too.

So Ted decided to start slowly on the shoulder to see how the truck was running. He immediately knew he had no turbo boost. We were in limp mode and luckily right at an exit that had a Pilot truck stop. We pulled in there and Ted backed the trailer into one of the sites where the semis park. We talked to the people inside and they said it was fine where it was but we would need to sign the Drop Sheet if it stayed all night.

Good Sam Road Service said they would send a wrecker and someone to take the trailer to a campground. We waited over an hour in which time we had called around and found the nearest Ford dealer with a diesel mechanic which was back here in Clinton. Ted talked to the service manager, he felt it was the hose and said it would take an hour and a half to repair. So we cancelled the RV tow and rode back to Clinton with the tow truck driver.

It took until 3 o'clock to get the part and fix the truck. The guy didn't seem real confident that all was well when he talked to us. At least he didn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. We drove out and as soon as we hit the first grade, it started whistling. This was one of the symptoms they asked us about but it had not whistled before or after the POW. We drove on and the whistling stopped but I knew it didn't sound like it did before.

We got to the Pilot (about 20 miles away) and called the Ford dealer. He said to bring it back but they couldn't work on it until tomorrow. So we signed the Drop Sheet, took out toiletries and a change of clothes and drove back to Clinton. On the way it was "whooshing" like it was sucking air. The boost stayed within range and the truck performed OK but it didn't sound right. We are not about to take the truck any further pulling the trailer unless we are confident it is truly fixed.

We rented an Enterprise car, got a room at Travelodge and went to eat. It was breakfast, lunch and dinner for us. We are now in our room ready to get a shower and put today behind us.

Don’t tell your problems to people: eighty percent don’t care; and the other twenty percent are glad you have them. -Lou Holtz

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here

Despite the two years planning, we had 12 extra people show up yesterday for the reunion. Last night's dinner went off without a hitch once we got our mojo working. God bless Ted and Landon, the groom-to-be on July 30, who spent four solid hours cooking spaghetti. My sister's entire family pitched in keeping the food replenished on the buffet tables and really did a great job cleaning up.

I can't say enough about how wonderful the MainStay Suites here in Pigeon Forge has been. The staff is absolutely amazing. Nothing we have asked for has been too much trouble and there aren't added charges. They brought us a cart full of ice, coffee, paper towels, extension cords, emptied the garbage constantly and even fetched our goody bags from the boardroom and delivered them to the pavilion. I will write a letter to the General Manager and tell him how pleased we have been.

In the morning, several carloads took the Roaring Waters trail. It's a beautiful ride through the mountainous area surrounding Gatlinburg. We rode with Cindy and Tim because our dually truck would not fit on the road in spots.

It was a beautiful ride and the kids had so much fun climbing the rocks and wading in the streams and waterfalls.

The highlight was spotting a bear! Last time we saw a bear in this vicinity was a trip in 1967. It has become harder and harder to see them. This looked to be a youngster and we were all on the look out for Mama Bear.

Once dinner was finished, the younger folks took off, most to go ram each other on the go-karts in town.

After dinner if you weren't on the go karts, you were probably out around the pool. When the lights went out at midnight, everyone headed to bed.

Saturday was a bit hairy. Nicole brought Noah over around 9 o'clock and he was an angel all day. I dealt with feeding, dirty and wet diapers, burping, etc. He was fine and didn't cry at all. However, my door was like Grand Central Station and the phone rang off the hook. I was busier than a one-armed paperhanger! My biggest problem was that I had two extra shirts and two people with no shirts ... but the sizes I had were the wrong sizes! Since 16 were golfing, four were shooting, at least six were shopping and others were at the pool, trying to contact those who I felt may have the wrong shirt wasn't going well. Thank goodness for accommodating people because I was able to switch out a few with some others and everyone had a shirt, even if it wasn't the size they originally ordered.

By the time Noah was picked up, I had about 45 minutes to get ready for church and I made it. Karen, Ron, Ann, Ted and I went to Holy Cross Church which is very near where we are staying. We know the back way to go to stay off the Parkway and we were home a little after six.

Dinner was another snafu. I was told there were 10 tables of 10. With the additional people I requested an 11th table. There should have been 110 seats. Ted had stopped to make sure they put the additional table in and they had. What he didn't do, and neither did I upon arrival, was notice that there were 8 chairs, not 10, at each table. We finally got that settled and dinner began.

I thanked everyone, Cousin Charles reported on the 2013 reunion and Brad announced the golf winners. Then there was the big attempt at a group picture. Tommy instructed me to take several pictures and he will attempt to stitch them together. I'm not sure how good the waiter did but I'm sending it all off to Tommy tomorrow while I have use of someone else's wi-fi.

I did my best to stop by every table and visit a bit. People moved on to the pool area or their rooms. I hung around to watch the Texas Hold 'Em tournament. Ted was sitting between Todd and Steve to help them since neither one knew the rules of the game. But it was the bride-to-be Amy who won the big pot.

Today we spent several hours in the breakfast room saying farewell to families as they prepared to leave. Eventually we took the trolley ride around with Karen and Ron since there was rain in the area. We got back around 3 o'clock and the sun was shining. We sat in rockers on the porch and eventually walked to the RV for a little while.

We joined up with Lisa and Marshall and went to the Apple Barn to eat. Great food and I have my dessert in the refrigerator to have some time tomorrow. On the way back, Melissa called and told us to stop at Adventure Ziplines. We went there and spent a good bit of time while Lisa, Brandon and Dan all rode the ziplines. Afterwards we came home and are ready to pull out tomorrow.

Next stop Cincinnati.

Friday, June 24, 2011

And The Clan is Gathering

Just as I published the last post on Wednesday, there was a knock at the door and Cindy, Tim, Sarah, Ron, Dan, Sue and Brandon were here to visit. They all took a tour of the RV (takes 3 seconds!) and we sat inside and out to visit. Six of us eventually went to The Alamo for dinner before we called it a night.

I woke early to rain and said a prayer that it would move south to Texas and by the time we walked across the street to the breakfast room at the hotel, it had stopped. The temperatures remain pleasant.

We found my cousin Gary and his family had arrived so a bunch of us enjoyed the free breakfast that comes with the rooms. The group manager told us we could come over too since we had such a large group booked. Afterwards people started going off in different directions with plans for their day. I took the time to check out the pavilion where we will gather Friday night and the banquet hall we will use Saturday night. Both exceeded my expectations and I can only say the staff here has been so accommodating. They anticipate our needs before we even make them known.

My cousin Keith and his family arrived and they came over to the RV. We decided to go to Cracker Barrel for lunch. Steve picked up the check which was very nice of him. Then I received a phone call that Karen had arrived and she had all the food but nowhere to go with it. By the time we arrived back at the hotel, the staff had opened the kitchen to the pavilion and we loaded the refrigerator and counters with lots and lots of food for tonight.

Then it was on to these infamous goody bags! Our truck's back seat was piled to the ceiling and Steve had brought lots more. His father, who passed away last year, had a business of personalizing shirts, hats, cups, etc. There were boxes and boxes of stuff. Ed and family arrived with the reunion shirts so it was time to put the bags together.

The staff opened the board room with a long conference table so we could set the bags up and start loading them up. While some walked round and round the table putting things in, Steve, Tim and I called off the family name and the sizes of reunion shirts that went into that bag. We have two shirts left over so we know we have screwed up somewhere. I'm sure the recipients will let us know tonight when they get their bags.

Steve and Keith also brought two boxes of shirts and we folded them and put them in stacks by size. We are going to set these out tonight so people can help themselves. I'm so appreciative of all they contributed but Steve's mother, Marie, I think is equally grateful to have removed so many boxes from her garage.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting around the pool as more and more of our family arrived. Eventually most went off to dinner and we finally came home where Ted promptly fell asleep in his recliner. Today will be cooking day as Cindy and I get the Cincinnati 3-way chili and coneys ready for tonight's dinner that will be followed by "make your own" sundaes. Tomorrow night will be catered.

Here are a few photos out around the pool.

I think little Noah is our youngest attendee but Sophie has not yet arrived. They were born very close together so we have to determine just who is the youngest. I believe my mother's brother's widow is the oldest at somewhere in her late 70s.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pigeon Forge, TN

Well we made it! We had 200 miles of mountain roads, fog and pouring rain but my favorite chauffeur got us here safely. It is mostly sunny but every once in a while we get a little bit of a shower. We cleaned the RV some and Ted washed the end caps outside to get bugs and dirt off. If he can get away with it, he'll probably do the two sides too ... one panel at a time so no one notices!

We went to the Up The Creek campground to check it out for Tommy & Susan. It is a nice looking park but it is just sites, no amenities. However, they have a beautiful outdoor kitchen at their site. I sent some pictures and told them what it looked like up close, in person. That way there will be no surprises when they come in October.

We stopped at Wal-Mart for water and soft drinks. We want to load up before Michigan because the 10 cent deposit is a nuisance, especially trying to keep them in the trailer for return.

I saw on Facebook that Ron and Sarah have arrived. She was complaining they haven't been able to get in their room. His parents were about an hour behind them so they should be here too. I got two phone calls this morning from families that have decided to attend the reunion. They only had two years to plan, but hey, why rush! I was able to get them rooms and arrange the food. However, they won't have shirts or goody bags. I'm not a miracle worker! That puts our number at 112.

Here are a few pictures from our trip up here. This is a bend in the Mississippi upriver from the campground.

Here is a barge on it's way down river.

This is a balcony in the Pink Palace in what would have been the living room. The artwork is the only WPA artwork done in Tennessee.

Here is our 3.5 hour wait while a wreck was cleared. Ted is talking to his new buddy that he made a ham sandwich for!

I may get busy starting tomorrow but I'll try to keep my blog up. They asked people not to use their mobil hotspots because it interferes with their wi-fi. So I'm happy to use theirs and take the opportunity to download pictures for you to see.

Some family trees bear an enormous crop of nuts."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lebanon instead of Crossville in Tennessee

We left this morning around 8:45 so the rush hour traffic would be over in Memphis. As soon as we cross the bridge we are in Memphis so we give ourselves a later start. We drove to around exit 113 on I-40 in a couple hours and just as we crested a rise in the road, there was a semi across both lanes. There was only one semi in front of us so this had just happened. An SUV pulling a utility trailer lost control of it. The semi attempted to go around the swaying vehicle, had his load of beer shift, and over he went right in front of the pick-up. Luckily no one was hurt but it was a miracle. The SUV was smashed in half!

We sat for 3.5 hours waiting for the vehicles to be cleared away. The weather wasn't hot so that wasn't a problem. I went to the trailer, used the bathroom, made myself a PB&J sandwich with a glass of milk and turned on my Kindle. Ted was out chatting up the truck drivers. He came in and made himself and his new friend ham sandwiches!

Ironically, a few years back on the same stretch we were stopped for a couple hours in 96 degree weather when a Samuel Adams truck heading west, crossed the median and ended up across the eastbound lanes. I'm going to pay closer attention to beer trucks in our vicinity.

This delay put us in Nashville during their rush hour and we had to navigate the 40/65/24 Malfunction Junction! But we made it and stopped about 30 miles east of Nashville. Our destination of Crossville was 100 miles down the road. It had started raining and was 5 o'clock. Ted was ready to get off the road.

We are parked for the night, have had dinner and will do the last 191 miles of our trip tomorrow. I hope there is no more excitement. Today was enough. We haven't eaten out yet since we left Houston but tomorrow may just be the day we decide to do just that!

"It is easier to stay out than get out.” ~ Mark Twain quote

Monday, June 20, 2011

My 500th Post - from West Memphis, Arkansas

We made our way to Tom Sawyer Campground on the Mississippi River right across from Memphis. It is one of our favorite parks and is used to floods but this year's was a doozy plus they had a tornado. Only part of the park is open but they are the sites sitting right on the river so we're happy. They have accomplished a lot but there is still much to do.

We have been to Memphis a few times but had never made it to the Pink Palace. Today was the day but imagine our surprise when we learned Clarence Saunders, founder of Piggly Wiggly, began building his 36,500 sq. ft. mansion in 1922. A year later he was bankrupt, his unfinished Pink Palace was donated to the city for use as a museum and he never lived in it. So we went in anyway!

There is a Natural History floor, a Cultural History of the Mid South floor, and a Memphis history from Boss Crump to Elvis wing. A special exhibit, on loan from the Chicago Field Museum, is a display of George Washington Carver. A lovely docent met us as we started at the wrong end and took us to the beginning. She went through the whole exhibit with us and was such a delight. She certainly made our day.

We stopped to fill up the truck and were home around 5:00. We had dinner and then got showers so we can take off again in the morning. We have one more night on the road before arriving in Pigeon Forge on Wednesday. We could have done this trip much quicker but we are in no rush. Ted is enjoying the light driving days. It's nice to have a whole afternoon once you arrive.

I've taken some photos but I don't know how much of my 5G will be used on the Mi-Fi downloading photos so I'll wait until I can use Kara's wifi or a park's. But it sure is nice to have internet when I want it!

The many sounds of Memphis shaped my early musical career and continue to be an inspiration to this day. ~ Justin Timberlake

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Texarkana, Arkansas

We left at 8 o'clock this morning with Tommy and Susan there to see us off. We headed northeast and traveled into Arkansas. There was a median grass fire in the vicinity of Livingston that looked as if it had just started. There was lots of smoke but we got through. I'm sure traffic backed up when the fire engines arrived.

We were only on the road for 5.5 hours but with temperatures in three digits, we wanted to get off the road and set up to beat the worst heat of the day. We've stayed at Sunset RV Park before and knew it had a pool. It's OK for an overnight stop but certainly not a destination park. When we travel, easy on and off the X-way is what we look for.

By the time we had talked to all three girls who called to wish Ted a Happy Father's Day, we were set up to take Sam and Morgan to the mall the day after we arrive because Kara has a meeting and we had planned to take them there anyway. Morgan has a Build a Bear gift card and we promised Sam a gift from the Lego store for his birthday. And Kelly asked if I would paper her master bath. I'm happy to be able to do both things. And we wished Cassie a Happy 21st Birthday. Later on I received a photo from dinner where she had what looked like a strawberry something or other. Her first cocktail in a restaurant.

By 4 o'clock we had eaten, fueled up, had the RV cooled down and we took a nap instead of heading to the pool. No one was in it. It's pretty bad when it's too hot to go swimming.

We have an even shorter day to Memphis tomorrow. We will stay at one of our favorite parks, Tom Sawyer in West Memphis, AR, across the river from Memphis. You park right on the levy at the river and I always think of Huck Finn, steamboats, the movie Showboat, etc. when I sit on the bench and watch the barges moving up and down the river.

If we have time, we want to visit the Pink Palace. This is the mansion (now museum) of the founder of Piggly Wiggly. For you northerners, that's a supermarket in the south.

We received two e-mail newspaper articles about a 5-foot boa constrictor that got loose in Addison Oaks park where we'll camp in Michigan. Hope somebody finds it before we get there. A camper brought it in a backpack inside his pop-up camper! He received a citation but that doesn't help anyone find it. It's a youngster and not poisonous so is only a danger to small rodents. That doesn't make me feel any better!

I'll think of nicer things like the words to this famous song:

Watch them shuffling along,
See them shuffling along!
Go take your best gal, real pal
Go down to the levy, I said to the levy,
and join that shuffling throng
Hear that music and song!
It's simply great, mate, waiting on the levy
Waiting for the Robert E. Lee!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ready to Roll

We had dinner with Terry & Carol at the Brazilian Steakhouse and it was great. Certainly not cheap but very good food. It was a nice send off dinner.

Friday was a very busy day. Ted left early to move the RV to the campground and I started loading things into my car. As soon as he called to say he had arrived and was set up, I went over. I had to make a second trip to get the rest of the things and pay Rebecca. It was nice to leave the house all spic and span. The rest is up to Chris.

Gerre & Barry came over to the campground around 5:00 and we visited for a bit and then went to the Mexican restaurant around the corner. We can sit and talk for hours with the two of them. We keep finding more and more things we have in common. They found another house on the lake which is even more beautiful than the one we first found and have put an offer in on it. I hope they work it all out.

We visited with Tommy & Susan this morning then came home to get dressed for Dave's memorial service. It was 102 today and certainly not conducive to getting dressed up but we did it anyway. I had the wrong Methodist Church in mind so it is a good thing Gerre mentioned last night which church was the correct one. It was a lovely service and we were able to tell his daughter Rhonda a couple of stories about both Dave and his deceased wife Elmira.

We went to the house to get the few things we had overlooked and then went to our own church at 5:00. We get a "two-fer" credit for today! Afterwards we fueled up and came home to have dinner with Tommy & Susan at their motorhome. Since Tommy's birthday is July 4 and we won't be here, we bought him a birthday cake and ice cream for dessert. We had a great meal and fun time.

We came in at 10:00 to watch the news. It is now finished and we'll be heading to bed so we can get an early start tomorrow. Destination: Texarkana or beyond.

I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. ~
Caskie Stinnett

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gettin' Antsy

Keeping this week relatively quiet has only increased my desire to get on the road. Ted plugged in the trailer yesterday and will start taking some things out to it today. We can put groceries and refrigerated things away and lay our hanging clothes across the bed. That's about all we can do with the slides closed. Rebecca will clean tomorrow and Ted will pull the RV to Rayford. Once he gets set up and the slides open, I'll start taking carloads to the campground and put things in their proper place. And no doubt Ted will want to wash it. We are looking forward to getting out of the 100+ degree heat.

The reunion things are ready to go into the RV, the bills have been paid except for the catered dinner scheduled for Saturday evening. It will be a hefty bill so I'll charge it and pay the bill later. I'm praying for good weather and safe travels for everyone. It should be a real nice time.

Chris is Rebecca's brother-in-law so they go back and forth about what he is allowed and not allowed to do in our absence since she will start cleaning for us again when we return. If he doesn't keep things up, it makes it hard on her. They are sort of a checks and balance for me.

We did keep Tucker this past week while my friend Gerre went on a trip. He is absolutely no bother and took to me, instead of Ted, which is unusual. The dogs usually all love Ted but Tucker was next to me all the time. I kept looking for him yesterday because I got so used to him being right there wherever I was. He is such a cutie.

I used my time this week to get my nails done and my hair colored and I went to Coffee & Chit Chat on Tuesday to say goodbye to friends before we take off. That evening I went to the gun club with Ted for their final banquet of the season. He only came in third this time but he still gets another trophy. The sun is just at the right spot this time of year and losing targets in the sun is a big problem. It was nice to meet some more folks that Ted spends so much time with.

We are having dinner tonight with Terry & Carol before we leave tomorrow. They have a big summer planned taking all 19 of their family (kids and grandkids) on a cruise out of Galveston. What a great time that will be.

We did finalize our plans for April in Paris next year. We will fly to Nice, stay overnight in a hotel, then transfer to the ship for a 7 day river cruise. Afterwards we spend 3 nights at a hotel in Paris. Then we breakaway from the tour for an additional 3 nights on the Left Bank that will include a full day for a train ride to Caen and a tour of Normandy. It will be a great way to celebrate our 47th anniversary.

It's been a rough week for our friends. Yesterday a friend had a mastectomy, next Thursday another friend has surgery for colon cancer and the Tuesday after our reunion, a family member is having a mastectomy. Saturday we have a funeral to attend for the husband of a friend who died a few years ago. He is elderly and had been on dialysis for as long as we've known him. He just decided he wasn't going to do that anymore. It was his decision and his family respected that.

RIP Dave, you were one of the good guys. Give Elmira a hug from us.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Countdown Begins

In less than a week, we will be moving out and Chris will be moving in. Our only problem initially is the bed he sleeps in is covered with gifts, goody bags and coolers! We intend to take the RV to Rayford on Friday and then go back and forth getting loaded up. Susan and Tommy are at the campground and we're anxious to spend the weekend with them.

We can open the slides and put things in the drawers, cabinets and closets where they belong. That will leave the back seat of the truck and the couch to handle all the gifts and bags we need to take to the reunion. Thankfully we will unload it all when we get to Pigeon Forge. Chris will just have to adapt for a night or two. His parents have their house for sale but he said he still wants to be our housesitter even when they move away. They are looking just a few miles from here so it won't be a big deal.

We hit 100 attendees for the reunion - 80 adults (age 13 and up), 14 children (4-12) and 6 infants. Ted and I did all the name tags last week. I typed and cut them and he put them in the plastic holders. Once we get to Tennessee, we'll fill the bags, then put the name tags with them and load up the shirts that go with each family. Luckily, my nephew Ed is bringing the shirts in on Thursday so we can get this accomplished before everyone starts arriving on Friday.

I didn't have a real busy week. I played Canasta on Monday and met Ann on Tuesday for lunch. She gave me three Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons to use for the wedding present I was buying. You can use one on each item and I bought six pieces of china. With the two coupons I had, I saved $46! Love those coupons. I was bummed I didn't have that sixth one and when I came home, there was one in the mail!

Thursday was our neighborhood ladies' luncheon. We went to the Red Phoenix. Ted had gone to the men's luncheon on Wednesday. They ate at the new Spring Creek BBQ. Wow, just what we needed, one more BBQ restaurant. The only thing better would be a new Mexican restaurant. Are you reading my sarcasm font here?

I forgot to mention in my prayer request that my neighbor has breast cancer that has returned to her spine. The chemo treatments just wipe her out and she has really cut back on her activities. She is normally so active she makes me look as if I'm standing still! There is colon surgery scheduled for 6/23 and breast surgery scheduled for 6/28 on two of those on my list. I always pray for the doctor's too because their guidance by Divine Providence is so important.

Friday I learned how to play Shanghai. I understood the concept of the game right away - I just didn't get any cards. You have to collect books (same card) and runs (1-2-3 same suit) in six different sequences. At one time I had the 8 and 10 of every suit and couldn't beg, borrow or steal a 9 anywhere! I think I'm going to add this game to my favorite charity along with Canasta and bunco! We never play for much and it is a lot of fun so I'm more than willing to lose a few dollars for an afternoon of enjoyment and good company.

We are going to Mass at 5 p.m. and then there is a spaghetti dinner in honor of St. Anthony's feast day. It is free and advertised as a take out meal with limited seating on site. We'll try to eat there but if that isn't possible, we'll just bring it home. We've rented The King's Speech to watch tonight. It was one of those movies we wanted to see and it just got away from us.

There probably won't be much to write about until we hit the road. First stop Texarkana, then Memphis, then Crossville, TN and by Wednesday - Pine Mountain RV Park in Pigeon Forge. I sure hope we have good weather for the reunion weekend.

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. ~ Jane Howard

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cancer Sucks ... Just Saying

I now have five people in my first tier of prayer. They all have cancer and I refuse to choose places for them so they are all #1. There is a relative with breast cancer, three lady friends with cervical, colon and breast cancer and a fellow with lung cancer. I hate this part of growing older. I'm grateful that we live near the largest medical center in the world that includes M D Anderson but I do wish so many people didn't need their services.

I stayed home Sunday afternoon while Ted went shooting and played Canasta on Monday. It rained again. Not very long but pretty hard. Gerre's bird bath filled up with water. We probably need a hurricane to make a dent in this drought.

I had lunch with Ann today before shopping for a wedding present I need to take to Ohio with us, along with two baby presents and a graduation present. We are going to be loaded down with all of that plus the goody bag items for the family reunion. You'll probably hear Ted holler no matter where you are.

Please remember my family and friends in your prayers. I'm sure you have your own crosses to bear but if we all "gather in His name" He has promised to be with us.

Because where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them." ~ Matthew 18:20

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Still Catching My Breath

It sure takes longer to "catch up" now than it did in years gone by. My four day walking marathon through Disney and the hour time change still has me reeling. I think my sleep bank is screwed up!

The reason I came home on such an early flight Wednesday was because I had a 1:30 appt. to take Teri to the eyebrow lady. We made our way there and Teri has decided to wait until cooler temps because she plays tennis and sweating could impair the color staying or even boost the chance for infection. Emily touched me up some and we were on our way back home.

Thursday was Continental Breakfast which I co-chair even though most of the time I don't even show up! Connie had a nice crowd and afterwards Gerre, Michelle and I had a salad at Cafe Express and then went to the movies to see Jumping The Broom. At first I thought it was the black version of Meet The Fockers but it ended up being pretty good. Michelle is getting married this month and both movies we have taken her to were about weddings. It wasn't planned, it just happened.

Gerre has a lake house and they are wanting to sell it and buy a bigger one. She had some listings to see but was hesitant to meet an unknown male realtor by herself so she asked me to go along on Friday. The first house was obviously a weekend house with lots of minor repairs needed and "less than the best" in furnishings but it was OK overall. The second house was a keeper! We both fell in love with it. The third one was a sorry state of affairs. It had new beige paint and beige carpet. That's about all you could say for it. I told Gerre "someone put lipstick on this pig." The realtor and Gerre agreed She asked for some more info on the second house and HOA regulations. Barry returns Tuesday so they will be going to take a look at House #2 then. I've already picked out my bedroom!

We stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel, Gerre's treat, and then went to a new kennel to check it out for Tucker when they go away. There have been problems at the one close to us so she is changing. I told her we will keep him next week while they are gone. But they are going away in July when we aren't available so we went ahead and checked out the new place. We were both impressed and Tucker will like it there. He's a cute little Yorkie and no trouble at all. Ted really enjoys when we keep other's dogs. Sort of like grandparenting.

We have been waiting for Tommy and Susan to come back to the campground so we could take them out for dinner. They are close by for the month of June so we picked them up last night and we all went to Salt Grass Steakhouse. They are good friends and Tommy is the photographer who came to the 50th anniversary brunch, took oodles of pictures, made copies of everything anyone wanted ... and then would not charge me. I'm so proud to have such loving and giving friends. Dinner was the least we could do. We will be joining them for a weekend in a few weeks. We sat outside their motorhome until it got dark before we left to come home. He gave us a recipe for a marinade so we stopped to buy pineapple juice. I mixed it up as soon as I got home and the chicken will be ready for Ted to grill when he gets back this afternoon.

We went to church this morning at 9 a.m., a service we seldom attend. But we run into people we don't usually see and that's always nice. We tried to buy some fund raising coffee from Mystic Monks in Wyoming to give Allen for his birthday but they were all sold out except for decaf which he doesn't drink. He loves coffee and dirt shirts. So wherever we travel, if we run into either, we get it for him. But we struck out today.

I've tried real hard to keep the next two weeks relatively free so I can get ready for our trip to the family reunion in Pigeon Forge, TN. We have 80 adults and 20 children attending. Tomorrow I will put in the official order for our shirts. My niece has Friday's dinner in the pavilion under control. I have to call the hotel and get the conference room set up and menu set for Saturday night dinner.

And so it goes .................

Friday, June 3, 2011

Our Last Disney Day - Back to Magic Kingdom

Since we did the Dumbo Dash on Sunday, we did the Speedway Sprint on Monday. Sam was finally tall enough to drive his own car.

Morgan drove Kristin and Kara drove me.

We didn't have a lot of time because our lunch at Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh was set for 11:45 after which Kara and family would head to the airport. We went on the teacups again and stopped to see Ariel.

The entire back part of Magic Kingdom is under construction. Belle will have a castle, Ariel a grotto and a double Dumbo is planned too. This is all being done in what was the Toon Town area.

Our last ride was Space Mountain. Morgan got up the nerve and joined us. Now she has done the big three - Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Railroad. The vehicle for Space Mountain is like getting in a bobsled. I wasn't sure I could get back out since there was nothing to use for leverage. I told the attendant there probably is a point when you are too old to do this and he said I was way far away from there. Made my day!

We went to Crystal Palace for Morgan's birthday lunch where we were greeted by Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eyore. They have the best bread pudding at Disney.

I don't know if anyone has noticed the rubber bracelets on Sam's arm and Morgan's ankle but they have Kara and Allen's cell phone numbers on them. They have been told to find a mommy pushing a stroller and ask her to notify a Cast Member or to call the numbers. A good plan to have in place.

After lunch we said our goodbyes and told the kids we would see them in June. Kristin and I went to the Haunted Mansion, a ride that scares both the little ones. Last year Morgan went on the Tower of Terror, one I'm not too crazy about. Her comment "Well, I hated that!"

It was after 4:00 when Kristin and I got back to DeBary. Eileen had invited us for dinner but we were both too tired to get cleaned up to go. I don't think we even ate dinner that night.

Tuesday Eileen and I had our hair cut, met up with Kristin for lunch, did some shopping and stopped by the rental house she has for sale. With all our talking, we got into the car and left Kristin standing in the driveway. My phone rang and it said Kristin. We both turned around to tell her that her phone pocket dialed me and she wasn't there. We laughed so hard I couldn't talk to her on the phone. We went back to get her.

My phone alarm did not go off at 4 a.m. as set and it was 4:12 when I woke up. I made quick work of getting ready and packing and we were out the door pretty much as planned. I had a nice flight to Atlanta and then on to Houston. Ted picked me up and I was back home before 11 a.m.

It was a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with the kids and grandkids. If only we could make time stand still at times.

“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.”
~ Diogenes Laetius

The Wonderful World of Disney

Sunday morning Kristin and I picked up Kara and Morgan because Sam and Allen had gone to Hollywood Studios to meet their friends for a "boys" day at Star Wars Weekend. We four girls were doing our thing at the Magic Kingdom. First up when the park opened was to head to Dumbo. This is a very popular ride but the slowest in all the parks. There are only 16 elephants with a ride time of close to two minutes. It backs up quickly. So we did the Dumbo Dash and were on and off in no time.

Since this was Morgan's day, next stop was the teacups. It's a good thing that spinning things don't get to me because she wanted to go fast! She set the pace for the day and we rode Winnie the Pooh though she did tell me she was frightened by the Heffalumps and Woozles. I promised to protect her. Next up was Peter Pan and Pirates of the Caribbean.

After riding Buzz Lightyear where Kara scored her personal best in the shooting, we ran into the talking, walking robot trash can named PUSH. This was the cutest experience of the entire four days. Morgan ran up to him and said "Hi Push, I saw you last year." The can backed up and said "Is that you? It is! You've gotten so tall. I'm so glad to see you again." She was all giggly and ran back to tell us he remembered her. Disney at its best!

Pretty soon it was time for lunch and the appointment at the Bippity Bobbity Boutique where little girls are made into princesses. She has done this twice before but has wised up. Instead of those scratchy fancy dresses that are miserable in the heat, she opted to keep her Tinkerbell cotton shift on and just be a princess from the neck up. The Disney photographers are ready for "portraits" of course. Kara has the PhotoSpot Disney card so we are able to just hand that to any photographer in the park and all the pictures are available to her on a CD. These Disney photographers are located in the best photo spots throughout the parks and everyone can get in the picture.

We all went to our hotels to freshen up and then headed to Giordano's to meet up with the fellows and boys who had been at Hollywood Studios all day. The boys played with their storm trooper figures while we waited for our dinner and Morgan joined right in. It was a good day for everyone.

♫ ♫ ♫ When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are ...♫ ♫ ♫

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day Two - Epcot

Visiting Disney with Kara is the only way to do it. She knows the parks without maps, where the bathrooms are, where the restaurants are and what they serve and how to use Fast Passes and crowd psychology to plan our day.

First, we have to be there at "rope drop." You wouldn't believe the people who keep lining up behind a long line while turnstiles sit empty. We usually find one with no one standing at it. Once inside the park, Allen takes the tickets and heads off to get a Fast Pass for the most popular attraction. In the meantime, we all head to the second and third popular attractions and can be on and off in just a few minutes because the crowd has headed to attraction #1. There are usually five attractions that you can get Fast Passes for (at one hour intervals), so by the time we have seen #2 and #3, gone back and used the Fast Pass on #1, our hour interval is up and we can move on to Fast Pass #4 and eventually #5. We never waited more than 15 minutes to see or ride anything at any park on any day even when regular lines were posting 90 minute waits.

Our first stop, while Allen got Fast Passes for Soarin', was to visit the characters. This is a big deal, especially when Mickey and Minnie are there. Allen had made it back by the time his family got to Mickey. I chose Donald because he gets so upset about Mickey being so popular!

Next up was The Sum of All Thrills in the Innovations Building, sort of a hands on technology museum for kids (and adults!). Raytheon sponsors this ride but our other son-in-law's company, Kuka, made the robotic arms and software for the ride. You have a lighted engineering table to design your own roller coaster using four different thrill segments. Morgan and I chose two helixes as one, two big hills as another and I don't remember the other two. When we tested it, we had enough energy, but not enough speed so we increased the speed. Finally we had built a successful roller coaster. Then we got into Uncle Pat's seats that have hoods to pull down. Small TV screens show you the roller coaster you have created. When the ride starts, the seats move (not virtual or simulated) just as you designed it. What fun!

We encountered Cinderella along the way and Morgan couldn't pass up the opportunity to pose as a princess. And Sam and Morgan always want to sit next to Aunt Kristin.

Food at Disney is expensive no matter where you buy it so we don't do the counter service places but rather choose one of the nice restaurants to sit down for a good dining experience. Sam chose LeCelliar in the Canada area of World Showcase for his birthday lunch. The food is quite good with wonderful service and nice ambiance. The approach to the restaurant is patterned after Buchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. Ted and I have been to the Gardens and I think they've done a beautiful job.

We made our way to Mary Queen of the Universe Basilica for Mass at 5 pm. Afterwards, though we were less than one mile from our hotel, it took us an hour to get there. People kept blocking the intersections so when the lights changed, no one could move. It was maddening!

Sunday Allen and Sam were going back to Hollywood Studios and meeting their friends for a boys' day and Kara, Morgan, Kristin and I were going to Magic Kingdom where Morgan had an appointment at the Bippity Bobbity Boutique! More on that tomorrow.