road trip

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Spent the better part of today trying to get the photos uploaded to the blog.  Had to figure out an alternate pathway – finally got them all up to date and feel a great relief and sense of accomplishment – reconnected to the cyber-world again (for now).

Dad had some downtime, so he got out his tool set and reconnected the curtain in the RV that had been disconnected since Day 1 of our trip.  That had been bothering him and now it is fixed.

Had a visit from my cousin and we had more time today to reconnect today and shared some memories like Santa coming to our house on Christmas Eve and sledding down the 4th street hill.

I got to reconnect with a friend and past co-worker who I hadn’t seen in quite awhile.  She picked me up in her convertible sports car and we drove to the coast just before sunset to share drinks and dinner and catch up on events in each other’s lives. Thoroughly enjoyed seeing her again and appreciated her taking the time to drive down here for the visit.  Hope it won’t be so long until we talk again. Maria – this qupote of the day is for you: One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach; one can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few.



All in all, it was an accomplished and satisfying day.


Decompression day spent relaxing in a real home with family. Got to visit my cousin who I have not seen since we were children.  Now, we are all grown up – at least physically.  Still have not gotten Millie (the cat) to lighten up, but I have a few more days to work on her.  It has kind of been hard to just relax, since we have been almost constantly on the move or planning the next move.  By the time we get the hang of it, it will be time to leave.  We need to take lessons from Millie – who has NO PROBLEM just flopping down and relaxing.

I struggled with the computer most of the day and still have not solved some glitches, even after calling my technical support son.  Dad and his sister caught up on family updates. I took some photos of my aunt’s home and her beautiful butterfly garden and plants – another person in the family with a super green thumb – I missed that gene. I hope that I get to share those photos – I will keep trying.

Today, I have chosen a quote from Buddha to describe what I observe (and admire) about my Aunt: “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly”


Photos to follow, sorry, again…

It was a dark and stormy day.  We woke to find that the black-water tanks had overflowed and the sinks and toilet were filled to the brim and had to be emergency drained – YUCK!  It seems that the top of the vent pipe had blown off during the storm and the rain had gotten into the tanks to fill them – so Dad had to “get out the gloves” and do an emergency dump – what a way to start a day!

The wind howled and the rain pelted us with atomic drops that bombed the windshield. We could hardly see as we crossed the 7-mile bridge back to the mainland. I kept thinking that we could easily slide off into the guard rail and off into the ocean to meet Davey Jones, himself.  The bug bites that we had obtained the night before burned and itched in the swelter of 97% humidity.  Although we made it across the bridge, and many others in succession, we were heading back into the Everglades where ‘gators and snakes and even bigger bugs awaited us.

First, we saw dragonflies, as big as the palm of my hand, winging their way from reed to reed. I caught a glimpse of an alligator swimming down the channel with its articulated back and top of his head just above the water level and his back-end swaying to and from to propel him toward a group of water birds with wings outstretched in an attempt to dry them.  I do not know if he reached them without being noticed – but if he did, I am sure that there are some feathers floating on top of the water as the bird slid down his gullet – CHOMP. Bats circle above us, catching bugs in a complicated sonar dance. Hawks hunt from the air and soar down to pick up prey with their powerful talons and then swoop up back to their domain of the sky. Air-boat vendors line the channels waiting for victims (ahem, patrons) to sign up and catch a ride to the bowels of the swampland with a complete stranger who will show them man-eating monsters and then claim to be lost and then….have these people not seen Deliverance??? The words of the day are wise but not comforting words – just images of nature at its most violent and a warning: Beware what you can not See and See what you should Beware! If you don’t believe me – check out this link to the local news: Python Eats 76 lb Deer in Everglades!

Next the Miccosuke Indian Tribal lands lay before us.  Their villages look like they came from Tahiti or Bora Bora – but what is more surprising is that they all appear vacant.  Not a soul – or maybe JUST souls.  Where did these native peoples go?  The sign ahead gives us a clue:  Panther Crossing.  For miles, the signs continued for-telling of the menacing presence of this man-eater. Slinking into the villages, it first snatched the young ones and then the old ones – those who could not defend themselves.  But as the population of easy prey diminished, the Panther had to get more creative and had to wait until he found the more able-bodied alone in the marshes or at their huts with the men away hunting or working.  So swift and dark is he that the native people refer to him has “The Shadow”. Even more disturbing, is that was we reached “civilization” we continued to see the warning signs, indicating that The Shadow (and his progeny) is looking for more prey outside of his home base.  How far will he go?  Will he come to North Port – our stop for the next few days…If you don’t hear from me, you will know what happened!

Now, we are in North Port – the most dangerous part of our trip – alleged civilization!  We are at my Aunt’s house and her 14 year old cat will complete my horror story for the night.  Millie is a large 30-lb orange and white feline who appears friendly – at first. However, upon our arrival she bared her teeth and hissed at us with a cold-dead stare.  I tried to cajole her and was warned that she does not like company – though declawed in the front, she bites.  I laughed it off, thinking that she will just need time.  But every time we make eye contact, the teeth come out and the howl, growl and hissing begins like she really means business – still not approachable.  We have been told to keep our door closed this evening, unless we want the cat to come in. A local, possible ferrel cat – could she be somehow related to her larger cousin The Shadow?  I think we will keep it closed..



This posting will be delayed because I don’t have Wi-Fi access. But I am composing real-time, as promised. I am also having photo upload problems and will post more when able.  Sorry.

10-29: Lake Okeechobee is about a foot more full today because it rained ALL NIGHT – however, the constant pitter-patter on the roof made for a relaxing night’s rest. It rained through breakfast and then as we started to unhook – it stopped.  We followed the levee line a good ways and saw the neighborhood make a distinct shift from poor to rich and found ourselves traversing palm-lined streets and large homes, many with their own docks and fishing boats. We also noticed the extreme blackness of the soil, so we were not surprised to see many farms, nurseries, and LOTS of sugar cane.






As we left the fertile area, the Everglades lay before us with its unusual landscape of trees and shrubs and vines – all immersed in murky waters with an occasional array of lilly-pads.

I noticed another alien invader – but not kudzu this time.  This brown web-like veil covered everything in its path in a choking cocoon of smothering doom. It was not a pleasant sight.

Then, I spied a more unusual visitor on the electrical and phone lines – every so often you would see one or more of these round balls with tentacles sticking out in all directions that had wrapped itself around the wire and balanced there with its tendrils outstretched. They were cute.

No gators were seen today, but lots of water birds and also a spotted toad at our Lake campsite.  As we got to the Keys, we also saw geckos and lizards running across the highway at break-neck speeds – no chance to photograph those.

The trip down through the Keys is amazing.  The water is aquamarine and azure and contrasts with the white sand and the green groves of mangrove.  You skim along-side the water at sea-level and then are thrust up onto an overpass bridge to look down on vistas that stretch from horizon to horizon and then back down again to be cradled between the two shores. Birds of all sorts soar and dive all around you and the potential to see dolphins or manatee or any number of other sea-creatures keeps your eyes focused on the clear water channels and open sea in hopes of catching a rare glimpse.  Fishing boats and other water-craft seem to float on a table of blue sea-glass.





In the towns, you will see unusual conversational mailboxes and sign displays (fish, dolphins, manatees, mermaids, fire-trucks, lighthouses, seagulls, coral, shells, large mouth bass and pirates are some that I saw).

I know everyone makes a big deal out of Key West – but we found that to be over-commercialized and not our favorite. Some of it probably had to do with the fact that this is Fantasy Fest weekend – and Fantasy in the Keys can mean just about anything you can think of with as little clothes as your modesty can stand, and by the looks of things there are quite a few immodest people here…  So Fantasy coupled with Halloween should make for some interesting costumes and activities – but it is SO crowded. Right now, it is pouring rain (we had sun most of the day) but I don’t think it will phase the partiers – they will party on, I am sure.

We are staying in a more sedate location – SugarLoaf Key.  The camp has its own shoreline, sand beach, hot tub and pool and Tiki Bar – so we have all we need. I suppose that we could get naked if we wanted to, but that will take a LONG TIME at the bar before that will happen.  So we are content to sit and talk with 4 gay men who are gearing up for the party down the way.  They tried to shock us, but we are Las Vegans – fat chance!

We are here tomorrow and may take a tour, as driving the RV on the small, crammed city streets is not fun.  If not, we will lounge by the pool – or maybe both… See you tomorrow.

10-30:  Morning arrived and we awoke to the sound of rooster crows.  He was strutting down the RV lane as if trained to crow in front of each trailer twice and then move on.  Later on we would find out that the Keys are full of chickens as leftovers from the cock-fighting sport in the earlier part of the 20th century.  Once it was outlawed, the people let the birds run free and now there is a $500 fine for “chicken abuse”.

We decided to give Key West another chance, since the Fantasy Fest adult party had concluded last night in the ongoing downpour.  We drove the RV to the Visitor Center and picked up the Trolley Tour which took us on a circuit around the city.  We were impressed with the colorful and ornate architecture – some whimsical and some stately.

We stopped at the Pirate Wreckers Museum – which really wasn’t about
pirates, per sae (but I suspect that is more intriguing than the term “wreckers”, which is what the museum was actually about).  It seems that the Keys has a substantial coral reef off-shore, which all but eliminates waves and sandy beach formation, but does cause significant damage to ships tossed upon it in storms (or hurricanes).  Once the ships were damaged, the “wreckers” raced out to the ships and saved many lives, but also were then allowed to take a percent of the proceeds of goods that they retrieved.  Divers had to be able to hold their breath for at least 6 minutes (no diving equipment in the 1800’s) to go down and bring up merchandise, “lumpers” had to carry the cargo to shore where it was salvaged and sold with some of the profits going to the “wrecker” and his crew. At the time, “wrecking” made Key West the richest city in America until more modern diving and salvaging equipment was discovered.

Two other industries that had a great economic foothold in the area were cigars and natural sponges. You can see a small remnant of both industries that are left, but a great fire and cheaper labor killed the cigar industry and a bacterium decimated the sponging economy.  Now, Key West was one of the poorest cities…






Looking for another industry to revitalize them, the US Government, WPA movement, helped with the beginnings of a tourism industry – the Aquarium was built, the land mass was increased by over double and hotels and restaurants began to flourish.  The Navy had a big presence in the area as well.  Key West got kind of a bail-out and thought it was on its way – but obstacles of fire (now all buildings downtown mandatorily have metal roofs to prevent fire spread), mosquitoes (somebody tried to build a bat-tower to get the bats to eat them, but the mosquitoes won and killed the bats) and the tropical storms and hurricanes plagued their success.  We all now know that they eventually succeeded –but did you know that they also suceeded?

Angry that US Customs and Immigration was causing undo delays of tourists retruning to the mainland, resulting in a devastating drop in visitors, they tried to petition for an open border, like all other US States enjoy.  Once denied, they decided to suceed and made up their own flag and everything – eventually, that all settled down – but they still have their own flag, their own name “The Conch Republic” and issue their own passports, valid in 11 countries.

Harry S. Truman’s “Little White House” is here and it also has been the accomodation for other Democratic presidents: Carter, Clinton and Kennedy. We also visited the Hemmingway House and saw the 6-toed cats, the cat cemetary and beautiful grounds and period and personal memorabilia.






We had a drink and Conch Fritters in Sloppy Joe’s Bar (Ernest’s favorite place). Conch Fritters were kind of like a cross between and crab cake and a large hush puppy – we found the Conch to be rather rubbery and tough (SNAPpy, as my brother would say). But anything chased with a tropical drink, can’t be that bad. 




We enjoyed the Key Lime Pie much more and had that twice during our stay – bad, we know…but in a good way. One of our stops was the “Southern-Most point in the Continental United States”.  We are not quite sure about that, as Dad remembers a trip to Imperial Beach, CA wherehe also saw that same claim to fame.  But, they play it up big here, as well as the Mile Marker 0 of US-1.

Back at camp, we took to the pool to decompress from a very humid day (but no rain, so we should be thankful for that).  Tomorrow, we will travel across the Everglades again to visit my aunt (Dad’s sister) and her son, my cousin.  Looking forward to seeing them and also my aunt and uncle (Dad’s brother). I may also get to connect with an old pharmacy friend who has relocated near here.  So, the next few days will be about family and friends – what could be better!

Look to the title of this blog for the WOTD as told by Bob Marley.


Another travel day for us – on to Florida with its flat landscape, swampy smells and marshlands.  We started by watching the birds in our nearby KOA bird sanctuary and eating our oatmeal and raisin toast.  I put in another CD that I purchased in Savannah with old love songs performed by some classic jazz artists – Ella, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, Bobby Darrin, Mel Torme, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughn, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole – just to name a few. We let it play through a few times – classic – and it made the drive quite pleasant as we sang along.

The Kudzu vine re-appeared.  We had seen this on our last trip in 2009 as it seems to consume everything in its path.  It is not indigenous, but rather was brought to the south as an attempt to prevent soil erosion – but it took over with a vengeance, choking everything it touches and roots very deep and grows very quickly making it almost impossible to eradicate.  However, it is a pleasant green, leafy vine that is nice to look at – beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing…

After a Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s stop, we arrived at our new campground in Mims, Fla.  More squirrels, but a different, smaller, brown version – still as frisky and chattery as their cousins up north.  New to our wildlife array is a lizard, newt or salamander – I haven’t gotten close enough to tell yet – they are quick little guys (if I get a photo tomorrow, I will post it).

Moss hangs from the trees like thick natural icicles.  According to our AAA travel guide, Spanish Moss is not a moss at all, but rather an air-plant that gets its nutrition from air and water.  It is not from Spain, but does grow in South and Central America as well as the Southern US.  It is not technically a parasite on the host trees but can cause damage as it competes for and blocks the sun-shine.  So that is the factual version, but I still prefer the romantic, folk-lore version.

A bumper sticker became our words of the day – Be Inspired.  You have to be open to new experiences and passionate about living if you want to have a fulfilling life.  We were inspired to take this trip and it has been a wonderful experience.  Find your inspiration and embrace it.

Tomorrow we will visit the Kennedy Space Center and Dad will be in his technological glory. He will read every plaque and study every experiment and stand and ponder the immensity of it all.  He is looking forward to it and has already studied the brochure and some of the history. He will Be Inspired – I am sure.


Another travel day, but the sun was shining and the air was cool, but warmed as we travelled south – so it was another great weather day.  The fall foliage re-appeared for a short while, but then the terrain turned into flatter farm land with rich red soil as we moved into South Carolina. We ate a southern-style lunch of fried chicken and Po-Boy sandwich (we shared) and took a piece of homemade pecan pie for later.  I was happy to hear from my daughter, while we were on the road and was pleased to hear that things were OK at home.  She was planning her Halloween costume (I hope she sends me pictures) and then was off to eat lunch with her husband.  It is slightly more than a year since they married, but I still think of her as my little girl (pregnant and all).

Once we hit the I-95, we thought it would be smooth sailing, but an unfortunate accident ahead of us, slowed us about an hour.  Traffic was stop and go (mostly stop), so we rolled down the windows and creeped along, feeling fortunate that the accident was not ours.  What I found interesting was that I could see a forest with Spanish moss hanging from the trees and hear bugs buzzing, birds chirping, water gurgling and leaves rustling off the highway berm.  Those sights and sounds would have never been seen or heard if we were rushing at 70 miles per hour to get from here to there – “If a tree falls in the wood and there is no one to hear it – does it make a sound?” (WOTD)

We stopped for the night, just shy of the Georgia border at a KOA in S. Carolina.  Much to our surprise, they were having a wine tasting of local “fruits of the vine” and they had a pizza shop – so that was our dinner (and we still have that pie for dessert – you have to be bad, sometimes).  The grounds of the KOA have sculptures, metal-art, fountains and flower benches – a quaint and pleasant spot, just off the I-95. Tomorrow we will tour Savannah and then stay overnight in the area.


Let me finish the 10-21-11 saga, which occurred after I posted last night.  I always call my husband, so I decided to walk out to the beach so he could hear the surf.  When I got out there, the wondrous sight presented itself (my camera is not quality enough to take a photo of what I saw, so you will just have to take my word for it).  The black sky was FILLED with stars and since there was no moonlight, they stood out very prominently against the velvety background.  I saw a cluster of stars that looked like grapes, a a band of a dusty swatch arcing across the sky and a very bright “star” that was probably a planet.  The white cap foam on the waves glowed in a fluorescent blue-green color and the break on the horizon in the distance looked like a reproduction of an expolding star – a bright flash in the center and then radiating out on both sides in a lateral path – over and over again.  I have never seen such a sight and was blessed with the opportunity to have that experience.

Now, on to today’s events. We both had an uncomfortable night – mosquitos are a rarity in LV, but they sure like the beach (and us).  I walked to the beach one last time to see the sun rising into some angry clouds on the horizon as if it was telling us it was time to move on.  We programmed the GPS to take us to Chapel Hill, NC, BUT at the division of 64 and 264, it took a wrong turn from the more direct route and sent us down the 264.  Dad sensed that was incorrect, but we decided the trust the technology and away we went on a road with too narrow an access to allow us to turn around.  We were committed.

Our route paralleled Alligator Creek which ran like a canal along the roadside for many, many miles. It revealed none of the savage beasts, but did show us a few turtles sunning themselves and some unfortunate deer and small fuzzy animals who had met their demise on the roadside.  We passed the Dare Naval Bombing Range, an Air-Force bombing range and a Correctional Institution – these are not common travel attractions, which was evidenced by the one other car we saw for about 70 miles… The road took a turn at Stumpy Point and we entered cotton country.  The fields were large and plentiful, some had been picked and some still had tufts of white that looked like a dusting of snow.  Up above a bright blue sky had cumulus clouds that mimicked the fluffy cotton balls below.  Cotton was just about everywhere.  Since we had NO traffic to worry about, we pulled to the side of the road and I collected some as a memento, after picking out the boll-weevil larvae.


Just past the road named “Pity My Shoe”, we saw a field of yellow sunflowers out of nowhere, just like that. I turned on the radio and found James Taylor singing “Goin’ to Carolina”. Actually, this was a pretty scenic and unusual journey, albeit 60 miles or so longer than our intended route.  As we got back to the 64E, a billboard presented itself with the “WOTD”:  A million miles away is just down the road.






Now, we are far away from the ocean and back with the trees and the squirrels who are throwing acorns down on our roof and running to and fro in front of our door and up and down the trees like race cars chasing each other on a vertical track.



Great Things from Little Sprouts Grow


We will be spending two days on the Outer Banks, so I have decided to combine their blog into one. Let me start by saying that the Cape Hatteras region has some pleasant (and not so pleasant) memories for us, as we vacationed here as a family a couple of times in many years past.  Back then, the area was pretty sparse and we stayed at the Sea Gull motel.  I ALMOST learned to swim in their pool, but chickened out in the end. My brother Rick and my husband Mike both endured the sand with 3rd degree sunburns. Whenever I look at the Lighthouse, I am brought back to the time when I saw my little brother with his bucket and his swimsuit walking toward me after a long day in the sun and surf.  The poor thing was sunburned beyond belief and spent the next several nights and days shivering and blistering. We all felt his pain and we all felt guilty as we soaked him in wet towels and sprayed and slathered him with coolants and anesthetics. Both brothers devoured pancakes rolled up with peanut butter and jelly.  We watched the Bicentennial fireworks on the small TV and picked tiny, elusive clams out of the sand so Mom could make a chowder.  I got stuck in a hole, while clamming, and as the tide came in (almost to my chest), I panicked and had to be rescued by someone who walked out without getting their shorts wet to give me a hand up and out. Mom and Dad’s deep-sea fishing netted a small shark, a blue-fin dolphin (not Flipper-like) and a toothy mackeral which were mounted and displayed on our walls for decades. Sand castles, sand forts and sand in our shorts…We climbed the Lighthouse’s winding stairs and looked out of the top for pirate ships – not sure we will be able to physically do that now…

In Norfolk, VA we descended into a tunnel beneath the ocean depths to make our way into North Carolina – it made me marvel at the degree of engineering that it would take to build and maintain the integrity of such an undertaking with all the stress of the water pressing against the shell – it was kind of scary.  Next, we crossed over the huge expanses of causeway, sometimes almost skimming the choppy ocean which made us feel like we were moving across the top of the water with no support beneath us – just free.  We felt the immensity of the vast Atlantic. Seabirds swooped on the winds and vessels sailed in the distance. Our return to land destination was visible in the distance – the Outer Banks, NC.







We find now that the area has grown up with more commercial businesses, condos, cell towers and vacation homes.  The sleepy sea-town ambiance is somewhat gone, but it is still a picturesque area and has some smaller towns which still haven’t been urbanized as much. Hurricane Irene was the last storm to take its toll on the OBX – but certainly not the only storm, by any means.  It is kind of a way of life around here, but they rebuild and restart, over and over. Even today, the winds are gale force and there is no real “storm” on the horizon.  It shows the vulnerability of this strip of peninsula stuck out into the elements of the sea – beauty and the beast.

We started our visit at Kill Devil Hills – the site of the Wright Brothers famous 59 second flight of 852 feet that set the course for modern aviation.  Dad was intrigued by the science and years of dedication of experimentation and fortitude to overcome failures to reach their goal.  Quirky person that I am, I noticed a small flock of Canadian Geese who had stopped by to rest and nourish themselves.  I tried to think from their perspective:  “What is the big deal about? This flying stuff is SOOO easy, just spread your wings and lift-off!”  They can do effortlessly and naturally, what it took man years and years to accomplish…however, they do not serve complimentary beverages and roasted peanuts on THEIR flights. Our words of the day come from Orville Wright, “Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!”  May we never lose our sense of wonder!

Next, on to Jockey’s Ridge –  the tallest sand dunes on the Eastern Coast, followed by Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. This little strip of land is home to many migrating birds and waterfowl and we also saw deer grazing by the roadside.  I found it a rather harsh environment sitting between the sound and the surf with the wind lashing salty air and sand pelting the RV.  But there was some cushion of protection in the marsh grasses and reeds that sprouted up like fences that likely are the resting havens for the weary winged travelers and their four-footed companions.

Since it was getting late afternoon, we headed for camp to hook up before dark.  Did laundry, re-organized the RV and ate Tuna Noodle casserole.  I am sitting in the RV writing this as Dad “snorks” in bed after another long day.  The wind is still strong and is buffeting the RV which is swaying and shaking – but still a sturdy vessel.  I will sleep tonight near the ocean with the surf and wind lulling me to relaxation – my favorite place to be, as my family will tell you. The only thing that could make this any better is if they ALL could be here with us. Tomorrow we will travel to the Lighthouse and other sites further down the Cape. I promise to not get stuck in any holes this time…See you tomorrow night to finish the adventure!

We started the 21st with a sweet potato pancake breakfast (remember that recipe?  Well, mash up the leftovers, sans skins, and mix into pancake batter for a fall treat – yum).  I took a walk along the beach and could not resist some of the beautiful shells.  Finding myself ill-prepared without a yellow sand bucket, like when we were kids, I stuffed them into my pockets and then off-loaded them to a plastic bag when I got back.  I also copped a large and small piece of driftwood to display on our back-yard porch at home.  Just as I was heading for the beach egress, I found another heart shaped stone – white this time – thanks, Mom!






Then it was time to take off for the day’s excursion – a trip farther down the Cape. The hurricane devastation was far worse in the southern portion of the peninsula. The KOA campground about a half-mile down the road was all splinters and rubble, as were many homes and businesses.  One section had been completely razed, while the one next to it stood virtually unharmed.  Trash and debris lined the road-side, including small boats, RVs with whole sections bashed in and furniture and personal belongings that were water-logged and useless.  Water still swamped and flooded properties and sections of the roads.  Work crews were busy on repairs and recovery was in the making, but it was sad nonetheless. Still, there was a sign of hope that we found as our words of the day on a portable electric sign in front of a pizza shop – “Living the Dream”.

We passed an architectural oddity – a flying-saucer home that seemed to have survived the storm. We also found the Sea Gull motel in tact, though physically different (updated, but not too modern or huge) and without their swimming pool.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was still a statuesque building – but it was not in the same place that we last left it!  It seems that the beach that was its home was eroding at an alarming rate, so the decision was to move it to an alternate location – another immense engineering feat – think of the weight and the height of the structure and then off loading it onto a platform and moving it a significant distance to its new home…amazing.  It was closed for the season, so you couldn’t climb it (and I was SO looking forward to that).  We visited the site of its original home and I found some brickwork pieces that I believe were part of the original foundation – a keepsake of a memory – the same, but different.

Back at camp, we started our homemade seaside dinner for two – New England Clam Chowder, Crab-cakes, Grouper and fresh tomato salad. Before dinner, we took another walk along the beach, more shells and rocks, and talked to some shore fishermen who had some modicum of success. I saw a scary Halloween sight – some kind of skull, a hoofed animal, I think – devoid of flesh and its eye-sockets peering up at me.  I DID NOT take that as a keepsake.  The sun dipped behind me, setting in the west as I faced the ocean breezes coming from the east.  The clouds hung low on the horizon and the gulls drafted on the wind. I will miss this place…


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Words to live by were found in two unusual places:

In the Women’s shower room at our KOA in Natural Bridge (you have to look for inspiration in the strangest places sometimes) on a Sampler Replica decorating the wall (and you though it was going to be graffiti from the stall…).

Each Day is God’s Gift to You

Make it Blossom into a Thing of Beauty


Graffiti found on a rock at a vista point on the I-64: Love Life

That is what we are trying to do with this trip, enjoy every day and make the best of what it brings.  Be thankful we are together to enjoy it.

Today was a travel and WalMart re-provision day, so there is not much to tell. We thought about going to Busch Gardens for their amazing beef in beer ribs – but park admission is almost $62 pp + $13 to park – those would be pretty expensive ribs!

We arrived safely at our Williamsburg KOA with it Coloniel theme and Fife/Drum music playing in the background.  We set up camp and planned our attack of Coloniel Williamsburg attraction tomorrow. I made a pot of spaghetti sauce and meatballs – soul food for us, since we haven’t had any for over 2 weeks! We will light our Jack O’Lantern tonight before it withers away to keep in the spirit. We will get a good night’s sleep and then “do” Williamsburg tomorrow. I promise pictures and more interesting commentary tomorrow…

In reading the promotional materials, I did come across a short story about the ghosts and hauntings for this region.  A contemporary author, L.B. Taylor, has written several books about the legends as has Pamela Kinney who also concentrates on tales encompassing Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown).  I may pick a couple books up while in the area – good Halloween fodder.


I fear that there will be no ability to post to the Internet tonight – it is acting up and I keep losing a signal. However, I am composing, as promised, to recant the activities of the day.

As promised, we did complete the self-auto tour of the Gettysburg battlefields this morning – over 40 acres of historical locations commemorated by statues, memorials, placards and markers. Today, it was quiet and peaceful and reverent – the complete opposite of the chaos and destruction on July 1-3, 1863. Winding through the locations, one could get a first hand view of the terrain and the challenges of the battle that lasted 3 days and cost almost 55,000 dead, injured and missing. Looking out from Little Round Top (vantage point of the North), I got goose-bumps to imagine the fear and anticipation of the hand-to-hand combat, cannonballs flying and rifle-shot all around and the bloodied bodies strewn about the fields. War is Hell.






Our words of the day come from an American Red Cross billboard along the side of Route 81 – Change a Life…Be Changed. It got me to thinking about those who have changed and made an impact on my life and those of whom I have touched and may have changed. We all should take a moment to reflect on that, and if you have the ability to do so – thank a person that has made a positive impact on you. If they are gone or it is impossible to thank them personally, at least take that moment to think of them fondly. Most importantly, we need to be cognizant to “pay it forward” and pass it on to others. Change-makers manifest themselves in many titles: Parent, Grandparent, Spouse, Den Mother, Scout Leader, Teacher, Sponsor, Mentor, Lover, a Shoulder to Cry On, Advisor….. There are personal rewards in knowing that you have helped someone in need – it will be returned to you 10-fold. To quote Forrest Gump, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

Our final destination today was Natural Bridge, VA (near Roanoke, between the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge mountain ranges along the Appalachian Trail). Only some of the Fall color has made it here – mostly the yellows and some of the red. We traveled through a lot of farm country and saw the greenest grass EVER – it was almost fluorescent and covered many vast fields. Sometimes, we would see horses, cows or sheep grazing – but most prolific of all were muskrats. I couldn’t get a picture of them scampering across the road (and I didn’t think you wanted to see roadkill), so I will make up for that by giving you this Youtube link to a cute song: Muskrat Love (I like the Captain and Tennille version with the synthesizer “twitter”): the Captain and Tennille – Muskrat Love   From the amount of muskrats we saw – there must be A Whole Lotta Love in these parts!

The advantage of RV-ing is that you can stop just about anywhere – so we stopped in a large parking lot and had some sandwiches and chips (also a cost saver to eat in) and stretched our legs and then took off again to reach our destination early. As we got to Natural Bridge, we stopped at a farm store to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. The proprietor was a nice, older gentleman with a very thick southern accent and hospitable manner. I noticed Steelers memorabilia and commented on that being a ways from home and he told us he had been a devoted Steelers fan as long as he can remember. Interestingly, it was not because they had won so many championships, but because he admired the owners (the Rooney family) for their integrity and generosity. Here was someone who understood our words of the day.

I was a little suspect when I saw our KOA was just across the exit on I-81 – but it is actually quite nice and woodsy and quiet. There are squirrels running about and crickets chirping and peepers peeping (sounds like the Bayou in Pirates of the Caribbean). Dad is tired from a long day of driving and is hitting the hay early. Tomorrow, we will head to Williamsburg, VA for a 2 day stay. Going to try and get this darn thing to post – one more time – then it is off to bed I go as well.


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