The Trick is to Die Young, as Old as Possible
- Bill Vienneaux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of those who waited, and while waiting, died"......

 

 

 


When we realize our insignificance in this world,
it some how relieves the pressures from society to succeed -
 
Cindy Bonish 04/07

 

  Cindy's Winter 2008/9 Blog  
Every Miles A Memory

Feel Free to browse past blogs for plenty of travel ideas and many of the places we've been in our first 12 months on the road - 2007 Blog's

January 2008 Blog  February 2008 Blog  March 2008
April 2008  May 2008 June 2008

Photo Gear We Use
Solar Tips, Fact's and Trick's we've learned while on the road

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If you haven't read any of the earlier blogs, you might want to start there to catch up on how we got here.

Monday February 9th

We are almost ready to get on the road, just a few minor kinks to iron out and we should be on our way.  The sink in the kitchen has a crack in it, probably from the extreme temps that we have had here lately so Pat is replacing it. 

I let him know that I would rather pay someone else to do it, no matter how much it costs so that we would know it was done right, but Pat insists he can do it "no problem."  I have spent the past few days getting the inside of the camper ready with groceries, cleaning supplies, clothing and organizing all of our junk inside the house so we are not leaving a big mess for our parents.

Pats job is to make sure all of the stuff is working correctly so he took the Coach to General RV for a brake job last week and found a few problems which have been repaired.  Apparently we aren't supposed to go four wheeling with the camper attached?  Who would have thunk it?

The sink has become much more of an issue than first expected.  After 8-10 hours of me walking into the camper to hear Pat rehearsing all of his bad words he is finally finished.  We have alot of clean up to do and we will be taking off by noon tomorrow!  Isn't that such a great picture of pat checking his plumbing work!...HA! HA!  I just love it!  Bald head and all!

Tuesday February 10th - We're Back on the Road!!

Looks like noon has now been stretched into a 5pm departure time.  I am ready to take a nap and Pat is so frustrated that if he doesn't get behind the wheel soon, I am afraid that his head might pop off from all of the aggravated pressure.

We have had a continual barrage of things go wrong, break or just not happen the way we planned and it is really wearing on the patience of both of us.  It's funny how we are both still smiling at each other and crossing each others paths like walking on egg shells, as not to burst into tears or arguments.

Wow, the journey has finally begun again!  We are on the road a few days later than planned but we are moving!!  I can't wipe the smile off of my face even though we have had quite a few set backs which would be enough for most married couples to either cancel their trip or get a divorce, one or the other and some couples I know might do both. 

Our first night out on the open road and I fell asleep in the reclined chair before we were out of Oakland County!  I guess I am going to have to acclimate myself again to staying awake in the passenger seat.  I don't think Pat minded much since he has heard enough of me in the past few, extremely tense days.

We drove about four hours and decided to pull into the first Fling J that we saw so we could fill up our fresh water tank.  As Pat was filling up he asked me to turn on the water pump in order to pressurize the lines and listen for anything to drip under the kitchen sink.

As I stood watch of the old, cracked, but newly repaired sink, I not only heard dripping, I heard water hose type spraying from under the countertop.  I yelled at Pat that I heard water and he immediately came inside to evaluate the damage.

I have said often that water is a campers worst enemy and would like to take every precaution to prevent any leaks, but this was beyond a leak.  After what seemed like a life time, Pat stopped the pressurized water from soaking the undersides of the cabinet and went to work to repair it. 

Fortunately his first attempt worked, however by this point we called it a night and stayed at the Flying J over night.  It has been so long since the rumble of a huge diesel engine has lulled me to sleep that I never turned over once nor do I remember dreaming or anything.

Wednesday February 11th - Our 1st Full Day Back on the Road

We woke up bright and early this morning to a rain storm and some pretty strong winds but we are on the road again, so the bad weather didn't get us down.  I took the dogs out for their very much missed morning walks and we are off. 

As we drove through the rolling interstates of Ohio I realized just how much I miss this gypsy life.  It sure is easy watching the world pass by from a truck window.  Especially with the economy in the crapper, I'm glad that we aren't worried about loosing our jobs, house, or going broke since we have already accomplished all of those by choice.

Each time we pulled over to use the bathroom I realized more and more just how much I dislike this new contraption of Patrick's in the back seat.  He has removed the back seat of the truck in order to have more storage space for the camera gear.  It would be a great idea if we didn't have the two dogs that now have to be lifted in and out of this platform in the back of the truck.  This platform is as high as my shoulders so it isn't so great on the ol' back.

I get the beagle out just fine, but he has to get the Pitt since he weighs closer to 75 pounds.  I think all of us have put on a few pounds since living like Eskimos in Michigan.  The darn Beagle can barely wear her collar anymore since she took such a liking to my in-laws cat food while we were home.

The crappy weather has put a fire under our butts to get somewhere warm.  I really hate to just pass right through a state, but since we have already spent some quality time in Ohio and the Virginias, I can make an exception. 

As we got into the middle of West Virginia we noticed that the skies are turning a dark black and look as though someone is stirring black bean soup up there.  I saw a Lowe's on the side of the expressway and knew we had to return some things that Pat had purchased for the sink repair. (Like $100 worth of tools or plumbing fixtures!)

Pat had 2 bags of plumbing parts that were not needed after the old sink went back in.  As we pulled into the big home improvement store, wind gusts started blowing things all about the parking lot so we would just have dinner here and wait this thing out. 

We turned the radio on to hear that there had been a tornado watch in our area and the city around us had lost power and some of the roads had been closed down.  Looks like we are going to be a guest of Lowe's for the night.  This is fine since I had a few things I wanted to sort out and find a place for before we really get started.  These first few days back on the road are just sort of a warm-up till we really get into the swing of things and it all gets routine again.

After finding new spots for everything, I thought I would take some 'me time' since Pat was on the computer.  I had bought some stuff for a facial and pedicure and some new warm jammies that I wanted to try out.  First thing was the much needed hot shower.

Just before we left, I had gotten my hair cut, colored and repaired with not just one but two Malibu treatments to get out the rust in my hair.  For those boys who don't understand, the rust leaves your hair a pinkish orange, very heavy and just looking dull.

Due to this expensive process, I didn't want to use the well water at home before we left which would ruin what I had fixed.  As I got ready for my shower, I turned the heat up to 60 so I wouldn't freeze when I got out.  This started a whole slew or bad luck.

When I turned on the heat I pretty much killed the batteries in the camper.  That is fine, I can just jump right into bed after my shower even if it is only 52 in here.  I then turned on the propane water heater and the 40-60 mile per hour winds would not allow the pilot to light.

Pat wanted to use the computer and since I had killed the batteries, he had to bundled up in waterproof clothing, as the rain was coming down in directional sheets, go out into the truck and set the generator up.  I then waited for 15 minutes for the electric hot water heater to work.  I then tested the water by turning on the shower.

At this point I am naked in 50 degree temps with the wind and rain scaring me and the dogs so bad that they are trying to get in the shower too.  I turn on the water and get covered by cold, horizontal water spewing all over me and the bathroom.  Wow!  looks like Pat can put some more of his plumbing skills to work. 

Needless to say, the electric water heater did not work either so I boiled some water on the stove and poured a bucket of semi warm water over me to take a bath.  Nothing like roughing it to bring us back to the reality of living in a camper.

I bid Patrick a goodnight as he typed away on the computer and laid my wet, chilled head on the pillow, hoping I wouldn't get sea sickness from all of the rocking this place was doing.  Man I absolutely love to have change in my life, even if it is no running, or hot water, no heat and feeling like Dorothy just before she lands in the World of Oz.

Friday February 13th

Last week Pat and I were looking through some emails to put into our readers comments and came across an email from Marc and Cathy.  In the email which was sent to us last November, Marc had explained how he had visited our web site and really enjoyed it.  He also stated that we had alot of the same likes and things in common so if we were ever in the eastern most part of Virginia, we should look them up.

I bet you can guess the surprise he felt when we actually did.  Pat sent him an email when we were just entering West Virginia and said we could swing by on our way to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina if he and Cathy were up to it.  Now I know that you are thinking that Virginia Beach is definitely not on our way from West Virginia to Myrtle Beach but what the heck, that's what this trip is about.

After spending the night in another parking lot on Thursday night, we headed back onto the road, this time not listening to our Magellan GPS and making our own directions.  We took a two lane curvy, hilly, and very scenic HWY 40 through almost the whole state of Virginia. 

This road was an awesome choice by me if I do say so myself.  Plenty of small towns to stare into the store fronts, tractors getting the fields ready for the coming season and roadside diners which also sold videos, groceries and assorted car parts in them.

Virginia is filled with historical homes and buildings that reek of the birth of this country.  Most of them dated anywhere from the early to mid 1800's and all of them showing wear and care from many owners through out the past few centuries. 

As we got closer to Marc and Cathy's house, I started to get a bit nervous, with my feet, hands and arm pits beginning to perspire.  I began to guess at the height, weight, age and appearance of our hosts just by clues from our few emails that we shared and a short phone conversation I had with Marc.

There house is out in farm country and is a beautiful ride to get way out here.  When we pulled into their driveway, we still had at least a half mile before we got to their house down an ol' two-track, farming road.  We new we had arrived when the road ended. 

All of my nervousness ended when Marc popped out from behind a tree and introduced himself with a firm hand shake and a big smile.  Our next greeter was there little dog Chelsea.  This Shih-Tzu has more energy than both of our dogs combined.  As she bounced around looking for some attention, she heard our dogs in the truck and so their love affair began.

We then met Cathy and we all began to get to know one another which didn't take very long.  It felt like old friends reuniting before I knew it.  The night was pretty chilly so we all stood by a great bon-fire and exchanged stories of camping, family and things that we enjoyed doing.

Luca, (Our big dog) and Chelsea developed a liking for one another and ended up chasing each other around the yard all night.  Before we knew it, the night had flown by and we all agreed that it would be great for us to stay another night and they could show us some of their favorite places in town. 

We settled down to a grilled steak dinner, which they so kindly shared with us, at 10pm.  I guess everyone knows that I am an early to bed person and this awesome meal put my night cap on for me.   Between the cold beers, the warm fire and the good food, I was pooped and turned in before anyone else.

I am really happy that this was our first stop on our adventure back out.  It reassures my feelings that there are way too many great people in this big world for us to be stationary for so long.  Don't get me wrong, the friends I have in Michigan are friends that I will cherish for life.  I also have enough room in this heart and mind of mine to welcome so many more.

February 14th  HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

This had to be the best Valentines Day that I have had in years.  When we finally got our start at 3:30ish today, the four of us met up outside by the bon-fire pit for some catching up to do.  It was getting cold enough by 5pm to spark that baby up and give us some warmth for the early evening.

Marc and Cathy had figured out a few places in town that they wanted us to see and also stop over some friends house that were having a bon-fire.  Cathy and Marc sort of gave us a heads up that there friends are a rowdy bunch, but they are all very good people. 

I don't suppose they have met any of our friends but rowdy is how we like people.  As we pulled up to their house, we got the view of a huge billowing fire in a pit about the size of our camper.  There were eight people standing around, laughing and telling jokes when we walked up.  We were introduced and gave a back ground about how we met online and immediately we were welcomed as friends.

I got a chance to meet a lady named Vicki who is from Charleston, South Carolina that informed me on all of the places we should see there.  Her husband filled me in on some history between the two of them, telling me that his wife of thirteen years has ridden Harleys with the Hells Angels, used to be neighbors to one of them and could take apart and put together any motor put out today.

As I broke away from our conversation, I got a chance to hear Bill, a big strapping guy with a contagious laugh, making Pat laugh so loud I thought he would wet himself.  We walked around the fire and met everyone else and decided that either we needed to start doing some shots of 151 to catch up or make this a short visit.

As we met each person, we also got to meet their dogs.  There was a Border Collie, a Chihuahua, and a puppy that I'm not sure of the breed, but it sure was a cute little mutt.  I new they had to be animal lovers, cause they were all so laid back.  Or it could have been the two empty gallons of rot gut vodka we happened to see, I'm not sure.  In any case they were a rowdy bunch but all very fun and friendly.

Our next stop on the tour of Suffolk was the Happy Horse Bar & Grill.  This was a little place on the side of the road that we could tell had some good times in it.  I think we met every customer there including the owner.  One lady was celebrating her 48th birthday and I swear she looked 20!  I kept asking her for her ID, but she didn't have it with her.

Her 30 year old husband also verified her story, so I guess I will have to believe her.  I talked Cathy into playing pool with me even though we both agreed that we stink at it.  After a few games with the boys, we settled down for some good conversation which gave me a better insight into Cathy.

We talked a bit about our past and how we've both changed as people through life's experiences.   I walked out of there with a whole new respect for the lady even though she does suck at pool.  

I was introduced to the owner of the bar who also happens to be a farmer.  I was explaining to him that since we have been here, I have grown quite an interest in how a farmer does things.  I would actually like to find an area where Pat and I could stay for a week or so and work on a farm, whether it be cows, or growing things.  I do have one stipulation which is no pigs or places where these animals are slaughtered at the same farm. 

I hated to leave the Happy Horse since we were having so much fun, but we wanted to see as much of the area as we could before we leave tomorrow. 

Our next stop on the road was Randyz, a happenin' spot with wall to wall people.  By this point, I was feeling no inhibitions and went out on the dance floor to cut a rug with Cathy.  Man, did I have fun with these guys.  I haven't danced in so long nor have I met such a nicer group of people.

After a short time at Randyz, we all poured ourselves back into the truck and took ourselves home to bed.  We were lucky enough to have Marc as our designated driver so we made it back safe and sound.  We all scurried out of the truck like a bunch of field mice to turn in as quickly as possible.

To top the great events off, Pat is working with Marc for a bit in the morning to make a few extra bucks!!  Man I tell ya, every bit counts for us right now so that was a God send.  I am just glad it's him getting up, not me.

Thanks guys for all of the hospitality and the gut busting laughter that you have filled our past few days with.  You are both very special people to open your home to us and we really appreciate it.

February 15th thru the 17th

God love my husband for always being the optimist but the past few days have just been too cold for both of our liking.  He can try to sugarcoat it all he wants but it has been tough sleeping, taking the dogs for walks, and especially being outdoors sight seeing.

I haven't been this cold in 14 years, back when we first moved to Michigan from Florida.  At that point there wasn't enough winter clothing made to keep my non-acclimated self warm.  This is a totally different kind of cold than we have back home.  The winds are brutal, never letting you take in a breath that is not completely forced through your lungs. 

Both times that we have taken a trip to the Outer Banks we have frozen our butts off.  I guess we should realize that they close up shop here all winter for a reason.  Pat has been trying to capture the beauty of this area through his camera which I haven't even attempted.  He asked me if I was going to take pictures at all, but I just said "Nope, not in this weather!"

There are some incredible birds and the waterfront and coastal areas are great, however, I don't want to brave the 30 MPH wind gusts just to get a picture.  I did however want to go outside during our couple of really cool Ferry rides with our camper and rig chugging across the Atlantic Ocean.

I made Pat climb up-top into the winter clothes carrier on the roof of the camper and bring down my ski jacket, hat and mittens.  Damn, I thought we would be through with those for a while, but they were put to good use.  Coming in and out of the waterway was like watching a pinball game.  The boat captain would just bounce off of the huge pylons until we were headed in the right direction. 

Our second Ferry ride to Cedar Island form Ocracoke Island gave us enough time to have lunch, shower and take a short nap before we had to depart again.  That was my favorite part, the Nap. 

What I like the least about this cold weather is our sleeping arrangements with the dogs.  Before we left, I made them a new bed out of a warm, thick comforter.  I lined it with some reflecting, insulation material, the same type that I put under our mattress.  This really keeps the heat of your body next to you instead of loosing it through the floor.  I then put a big piece of foam, topped by a soft pillow.

I thought that would keep them happy at night instead of in our bed.  We keep the heat set at 50 so that our batteries don't go dead through out the night since it comes on every few minutes.  I figured with the dogs fur coat and all of the luxuries I supplied them with, their new bed and thick comforter, they would be content.

Well apparently, they are in the same boat as me and don't like this cold.  The big dog will wine like a baby until he can get into the bed.  Of course then the Beagle also has to get in and they both shiver until we cover them with a blanket.  We do not have enough room for all of us in our bed!!  The big dog won't lay next to Pat so he gets as close to me as possible, preferably on my pillow then continues to push off of Pat to get himself more room. 

By 4 or 5am, I am clinging for the corner of the bed, trying to stay under the covers which Luca has shoved under him.  When I get no sleep, it is bad for all of us.  I said a prayer last night which went something like this.  "Dear Lord, give me the strength tomorrow to get in and out of the vehicle and see the things Pat wants to see.  Give me the personality to let us all enjoy the day and please, even if I don't sleep at all tonight, let me feel well rested."

I'll let you all know how that goes.

Saturday February 21 2009

Since my last plea for sanity to the Lord above, things have really started looking up.  I have learned to sleep with the dogs more comfortably and I'm getting into the swing of life on the road again.

We arrived in Myrtle Beach to see my brother Ron and his family on Wednesday afternoon after driving in a down pour of a rain storm from Leland which is two hours away.  I have made it a habit to try not to talk about my family on last years blog but I figure what the heck, you all know everything about us already, so I might as well.

My brother Ron and his wife Cindy were high school sweet hearts and got married right after graduation.  They have five kids which I believe their ages are 23, 21,14, and two 4 year olds.  They have so much love to give in this family that they decided 3 kids were not enough, so they adopted the four year olds at separate times, from China.

The family still remains close even though the adult boys have gotten married and started their own lives.  Aaron, 23 lives five houses down from his parents and Avery, 21, lives 1/2 mile away.  Katie, the 14 year old is at home with the two younger ones. 

All of the 5 kids have been home schooled and enjoy it very much.  My brother is a deacon in his Episcopalian Church and also teaches bible study with adults and teens twice a week.  Katie is into horses and owns her own which she goes to ride a couple times a week.   Needles to say, this is a very busy household.  We are camped in their front yard and share dinners and family time with them every day since we arrived on Wednesday evening.

Last night we had the pleasure of playing Rock Band over at my nephew Aarons house until 1am this morning.  This is my favorite game ever invented.  It is like Karaoke with a back up band!!  All of my brothers kids are musically inclined and take that from their mother, Cindy. 

Ron and I had a bumpy start in life with a mother who never quite found happiness even after trying with 8 marriages and a father who never really had the capabilities of taking his roll on as a father.  By the time I was 15, we had moved over 30 times, even living in a tent with the three of us for a year or so in our young lives.  It's no wonder I have turned out to be such a Gypsy!

The things that we have seen in our lives are really not fair for any one to have to go through, but we seemed to make it through with only some under surface scarring.  I was living on my own by the time I was 16 since that was the year my brother Ron moved out to get married at age 18.  After he was gone, I couldn't take the home life anymore.

I do have an older brother and sister who also flew the coop at an early age due to the lifestyle my mother chose to give them.  All of us have battled some demon's through out our lives but seem to be coming out on top.  I think I am the only one who can actually drive around to see all of our family members so I am really blessed with that.

I spend the most time with my sister Teresa, in Louisiana with who I am the closest to.  She took me in as a 14 year old when she was only 21 since my mother said she couldn't take care of me anymore.  She did her best to manage us both but I still had to find a new home since it was too much for her to try and take care of at that young age in her life.  We have remained close through the years only loosing touch when our lives got too hectic and difficult to keep in touch.

Pat is a trooper, because my family did not always welcome him and most of the time my Mother still doesn't.  He survives these visits to my Moms with patients and total devotion for me and my happiness.

In the beginning the age difference was a huge deal for just about everyone except Pat and I. I don't think either of us really even noticed it one bit.  Just for fun, I thought I'd post a picture of Pat and I taken by a good friend of our Sonya Prather.  Boy how things have changed.

No one could see past that 8 year difference, but we knew how much we cared about each other.  The rest of the family now see how good we are together despite the age differences.

This year we won't be traveling all the way down to South Florida to see my Mother and older brother since our budget does not allow it, so Pat gets off easy this time.  One thing I will say about every one of us in my family is that we truly do love each other, and would do anything for one another.  We may be a bit dysfunctional but I really don't know a family who isn't these days.

I am really enjoying the time I can spend with my brother and his family because they are all pretty much just like Pat and I.  We like to laugh and goof around and don't take life too seriously.  We are all close to God and try to live our lives the way he intended, although I don't believe in organized religion, I am very close to the guy upstairs.

Hopefully we will do something exciting this week and I can post some good photo's on here.  I haven't taken not one picture since we arrived in Michigan last July so I really have to get back into the photo mode.

Saturday February 21st

We ended up going to a cool place today called Huntington Beach State Park.  Pat, Myself, my niece Katie and my nephew Avery all packed up the camera gear and drove 15 minutes from my brothers house to Murrells Inlet. 

The coolest part about this whole trip was getting to hang with Katie.  The weather was too cold for any wildlife to be out so she and I just really got to know each other.  We did take a tour through the Atalaya which is a home built in the 40's for the sculptor Anna Hyatt and her husband Archer Huntington. 

This couple was a major part of cultural development during this time in history.  He was a  Philanthropist and wrote several books including his most famous "El Cid".  She was a sculptor who only liked to sculpt using live animals as her inspiration. 

Her most notable work has been her equestrian statue of Jeanne D'Arc -- the first one, on Riverside Drive, N. Y.; the second, at Blois, France; the third, at Gloucester, Mass., erected by the American League; the fourth, in the San Francisco Park, overlooking the Golden Gate." Her "Jeanne D'Arc at Prayer" is in the French Chapel of St. John the Divine in N. Y. City, and her "Diana" is in the New Orleans Park.

If you ask me this place looked more like a war camp or a prison than a home but what do I know.  All of the walls and floors are the same color brick on the inside with the outside of the home being a muted gray stucco.  The place is absolutely huge and I guess if it had any furnishings in it, I wouldn't have to stretch my imagination to see the beauty in it.

After our tour we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some stuff to make homemade pizza.  Man, I can't believe how much more the groceries are here than at home.  I opted to buy the frozen stuff instead because they were on sale.  I figured we could just add a few things to them to make them more homemade like. 

Dinner and them some butt whipping euchre was played.  My brother and I were on the same team and never got any good cards to speak of.  We both told each other that we kept loosing not because we didn't play well but because we had no cards. 

I think my brother is the only person that is more competitive than I am when it comes to anything.  We could be vacuuming and he would want to make it a challenge to see who is better.  Needless to say, it was 1am before we finally won a game and he allowed us all to go to bed.  Great fun was had and Cindy and Pat wallowed in there winnings the whole time.

Sunday February 22nd

We woke early this morning to got to church with the family.  Surprisingly I was up in time to take the dogs for a walk and head out by 9am.  We have went to this church before and the last time we really enjoyed it.  I said before Ron's family was Episcopalian but he is actually Presbyterian (forgive me Lord).  The sermon was good but I felt myself nodding of a couple of times due to me having a lack of sleep from last nights never ending card games.

I also found that a 7 minute prayer with my head down and eyes closed was the perfect temptation to sleep, whether I wanted too or not!  After the sermon, we went to Bible study which my brother Ron teaches.  Now this is a totally different story. 

Pat and I had went with Cindy and Ron to a bible study where Ron led a group of people in one of there homes and it was great.  I learned alot and had fun doing it.  He never stops cracking jokes but still drives home the point of the Scripture they are covering.

This class was 50-60 people and each and every one of them are close to one another and a very Jovial group.  I laughed at the goofiness that my Brother has always been famous for and I also walked out of there with more knowledge of Scripture. 

I have never been one to read the Bible or go verse by verse since I basically loose interest after the first couple of Thy and Thou's and the biblical way they talked back then.  It is seriously like reading Shakespeare to me which never got my blood flowing either.  If I could go through verses with my Brother teaching, I would definitely like to read the Bible. 

Oh well, maybe I can get him to tape these Sunday school classes and send them my way every now and then.  Lord knows I am a Heathen when it comes to Biblical knowledge and I am sure my Bro would like to advance my learning.

Monday February 23rd

We are headed out today but before we shoved off, I got some laundry done and had some more time to spend with Katie.  She has been volunteering to walk with me and the dogs so she could learn how to handle their oh, so spunky puppy. 

They added to their family of 4 dogs last year a German Short Hair puppy.  This thing was absolutely crazy energized the first day or two we got here but has settled down a bit since we have walked him more.  The problem with this dog is that no one wants to walk him because he is so darn crazy. 

Katie will walk my two dogs and I will take Smokey while trying to train Katie a bit on what to do with him.  At this point he is much easier to walk and will actually go to sleep at night.  Katie will be a much better dog walker as will Smokey now that they both know how to do it.

By the time all of our stuff was done we were pushing 4pm on the clock dial.  We are never good at the early start stuff anyways!  We said Bye to the kids and my sister and poor little Chloe cried her eyes out since she didn't want her  Sponge Bob and Patrick to leave.

Man what a great family, good job with the wife and kids Ron, I love all of you very much and couldn't be more proud to call you my family.

Tuesday February 24th

We found a cool spot to spend the morning today called the Middleton Place Plantation.  This was a working Plantation since before the Civil War and is now an incredible garden, museum and testament to the old money here in the South.

I asked Pat Why it was that my southern family didn't get the money and the handing down of hundreds of acres of beautiful property?  I ended up with 17 aunts and uncles that were always looking for their next meal from birth to death.  Yes, my mother was the youngest of 18 children!!  I can't even imagine that nonsense.

We spent a few hours checking out the grounds and talking with the employees who explained how the plantation worked.  Some of the buildings are still standing and have been refurbished to their original uses.  The sad part about this place is that all of the tools and such which are on display had to be replicas. 

They told us that the Civil War brought major destruction to the plantation, with the Union Soldiers burning the main home and all of the things of value through out the property.  What the Damn Yankees didn't burn they threw in the surrounding river.  What a shame to have lost things to your neighbor or your family who lived up north from you.  But war is never a pretty thing is it!

I always say to Pat that if our government doesn't do a whole lot of things different, this same scenario might be right around the corner.  Hey, sometimes I can be a doomsdayer, sorry.

I finally got to take some pictures which I am really rusty at, but it got me back in the mood for photography again.  So much beauty surrounding us and it is so hard to capture it on a camera.  A couple more places to inspire me and I should be 100% of a struggling photographer again.

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Back in the high times of the Red Dog Saloon, I was the person who chose which bands would play the Blues for us.  I had hundreds of acts send me CD's to listen to and choose from.  Many of them were not our style but the ones that did fit in, really rocked the place.

I did have one cassette tape come across my path and it was given to me by a father who was very impressed by his son's talent.  When he gave me the now prehistoric 'cassette tape', I figured I would humor him and give his 17 year old son a listen to. 

That was the beginning of a great relationship.  Dan Wright played in the Red Dog as the lead singer and guitarist of Coyote Bone.  A band that would prove to fill the house every time he played.  The first couple times he had a slow start but once the word spread of his guitar swooning, we had to turn people away.

Dan ended up falling in love and moving away from his beloved home town which we were all sad to hear.  He found a new home and life in Charleston, South Carolina.  He had sent us an email a few years back, letting us know that he had read about our travels and if ever we were in the area, look him up.

I bet he was surprised to hear from us on Monday night letting him know we were here.  Dan asked us to come out to his new gig so we could get the chance to reminisce about old times over a few drinks and we also wanted to hear him play again.

After walking around downtown Charleston in the early evening, Pat and I both decided it is just too damn cold for us to enjoy ourselves outside right now.  The 30's and no sunshine makes the wind rushing through the tall buildings about 10 degrees cooler. 

We got back into the vehicle after an hour or so.  It took us about two hours to find some place to park it and it was 10 bucks to park for 24 hours, but we didn't even care.  We loaded up and headed to A Dough Re Mi, an Italian eatery which also has live bands.

We had some dinner and drinks mixed with good conversation topped off by great tunes that we so longed to hear.  Dan has a new life now of 9-5, so the night was wrapped up early and we said our good byes till we meet again.

This traveling thing sure is good to surprise old friends and make plenty of new ones along the way.  I think I might just begin to like this!

February 26th thru 28th

I am going to try and recap the weekend we had in the mountains of North Georgia with some old friends of ours.  Fonda and Juergen, who we have known for many years, were our gracious hosts for the rainy, cold and awesome weekend.

The last time I saw Fonda was at Mine and Pats wedding back in September of 97.  Fonda was a brides maid and had flown to Michigan to be in the wedding. 

Over the weekend, we all sat down and tried to figure out where exactly the timing on our relationship malfunction was, but we couldn't pin point it.

The best we can figure out is that our kids were going to have to attend middle school in Lake Worth Florida which scared us all as parents.  Fonda and Juergen moved to Northern Florida and Pat and I moved to Michigan.  With such a distance between us and life happening the way it does, we lost touch with each other.

You might remember Pat and I going home to Lake Worth last year and hooking up with Jen and Jeff.  Jen, Fonda and myself all worked together and all when reliving the crazy memories spent at our little bar we all worked at we agree it was the most enjoyable job we had ever had.  We talked about those days over the weekend and also caught up on friends and family members.

It was amazing to me that we pretty much sat at their house for a few days and never got bored with conversation.  We picked up right where we had left off being close friends.  Fonda is the kind of girl who lets you know that you are important to her by her words and her actions. 

Juergen is the type of person that is so darned laid back and easy going that I feel very much at ease around them both.  They have been together since they were 13 and 15!  I'm not sure how old they are now, but Fonda is close to my age so that is one heck of a lengthy relationship.  If I would have to say I knew one perfect couple together, it would be them.

After the first few days of it raining and the four of us just hanging out, we decided to brave the elements and go for a hike, even if it was only 50 out and still raining.  We all put our rain coats on and took a short hike to the Mini Ha Ha Falls, then over to the Tallulah Gorge, which are both within 30 minutes of their mountain side home. 

The breath taking Mini Ha Ha falls was our first stop.  The water was flowing so fast and heavy over the black rock background that even with the rain pelting us, I hated to leave.  I could imagine hanging here for an afternoon with a nice picnic lunch.  That will have to wait until our next visit during the summer months.

When we returned back to their truck, we took off our soaking wet coats and threw them in the back of the cab so we didn't drench everything.  We then headed to the Gorge.  The state park has a nice camp ground with a dump station and nice sites.  I just wanted to mention that incase anyone reading was to ever visit this area.  

Once at the Visitor Center, we bundled back up so we could take the 1000 step trip down to the bottom of the Gorge.  I guess in the summer time a pass can by applied for to cross the rocky bottom and come out on the other side of the Gorge.  It looks like it would be a fun time if the weather was nice and warm, because you'd probably end up taking a swim in the cool turquoise water.

The color of the water reminded me Horse Shoe Bend in Arizona.  It was very clear and reflected the blue green algae from the bottom of the river, giving the fast flowing water an emerald green color.  We stared at the water until we were all soaked again, but in reality I think we were all dreading the 1000 steps back up the Gorge to get back to the visitor center and our warm, dry vehicle.

On our trip home, the sights along the sides of the road were beautiful.  We're talking old homes, some leaning from one side to another, new mansions that seemed to engulf the lake instead of vice versa and boat houses that were bigger than our stick house back in Michigan.  All of these things lined the incredibly curvy mountain road with Fonda taking each turn like we were in a NASCAR race.

Before long, I found myself breathing in deeply to avoid the car sickness which was threatening to steal my granola bar that I had for lunch.  I took one look at Pat and he could see it in the color of my skin that I didn't feel well.  "Look straight ahead" is all he said to me.  Luckily, we landed on a freeway before long and I felt much better.

We finished off each evening with cold beers, warm food and quality conversation and all woke up pretty early to start our soggy days off right.  Fonda and Juergen insisted that both Pat & Me and the dogs stayed with them, so that made our life much easier.  I love these dogs, but they can put a damper on long stays away from home.

We decided to take off on Sunday morning instead of Monday since snow was in the forecast for Sunday evening.  I tell you what, every where ever we've been, cold weather seems to follow us.

Check out the March Gallery to see photo from this past month

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