"When I get to a place
for the first time and know it like home, this is when I know my journey
will be over"
"There are always two
people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer."
“The more I traveled the more I
realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.”
“Certainly, travel is more than the
seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in
the ideas of living.”
“It is better to travel than to arrive”
“The great difference
between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet
“Living on Earth may be
expensive, but it includes an annual free trip around the Sun.”
“Never allow someone to
be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option”
“If death meant just
leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new
character...Would you slow down? Or speed up?”
“Whenever you're in
conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference
between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is
"I was born lost, and take no
pleasure in being found"
"The strongest reason for the people to retain
the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect
themselves against tyranny in
- Thomas Jefferson
“Limitations live only in our minds.
But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.”
“Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches
cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken
"We're so busy
watching out for what's just ahead of us that we don't take time to
enjoy where we are.”
"If I am fortunate, I will live 80 years on this amazing planet, so I will throw caution to the wind, strive to make a difference, and seek out adventure with every breath, as I am far more afraid of regret than failure!"
- Scott Brady
“Being happy doesn't mean that
everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the
“If you only do what you know you can
do- you never do very much.”
“Be yourself. Above all, let who you
are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you
write, every piece you finish.”
“Life's disappointments are harder to
take when you don't know any swear words.”
"A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of 4x4's, handguns and tequila."
- Joaquin Suave
“Do not spoil what you have by
desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once
among the things you only hoped for.”
“The critic has to educate the public; the
artist has to educate the critic.”
"A tourist does not
know where they have been, a traveler does not know where they are
have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.”
greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”
“To wish you were
someone else is to waste the person you are.”
“We have no right to ask
when a sorrow comes, 'Why did this happen to me?' unless we ask the same
question for every joy that comes our way.”
“Through humor, you
can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find
laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive
“They may forget what
you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
“Obstacles are things a
person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”
“The well bred
contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.”
“Wise men speak
because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say
“Who travels for
love finds a thousand miles not longer than one.”
happiness is a way of travel -- not a destination”
Pat's April 2009 Blog
If this is your first time here, you might want to start from the beginning of our fulltime RV Journey with our Past Blogs
Camper Check List - A list of things we do before leaving camp. Again, this isn't gospel, but its a good start for those who might not already have a list made up.
Wednesday April 1st - Aprils Fools Day
Tuesday night we headed across the Causeway to spend the evening with our daughter and her boyfriend Allan in Kenner, a little town that borders New Orleans.
The night consisted of dinner, drinks and sitting around playing Rock Band. Or I should say me sitting around watching Cindy, Donielle and Allan play Rock Band while I watched and laughed, and laughed.
Cindy has found a new love for this Karaoke/Video Game and if anyone has it, she'll spend the entire night with a microphone in her hand singing. I personally dont care too much for video games of any type, so I'm fine with just sitting back and watching everyone else make a complete fool of themselves.
I seem to be able to do this very well without having to be on a stage in a karaoke bar or in someone's living room pretending I'm in a band.
After a few hours of this trio all but getting themselves evicted, we had heard enough of the neighbors pounding on the floor above us and finally shut the game off.
We had rented a couple of movies and spent a comfortable evening in front of the television. Something Cindy and I rarely do.
If you've never seen Walk Hard - The Dewey Cox Story, and you enjoy slapstick comedy, this movie is a riot. John C Riley had my stomach hurting from laughing so much.
We tried to end the night watching the latest Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie, but all of us fell asleep before it ended. Sorry, Harrison Ford, but this forth version of your odyssey didn't hold my attention like the first 3 did.
There comes a time in ones journey when you know you've turned a chapter and moved into a new section of your life. This is where I am right now with my daughter.
I cant speak for Cindy, because her and Donielle have a much different relationship than the two of us do, you now that Mother/Daughter thing, but Donielle and I are on completely new ground right now.
This is the first time in her life that I haven't had to act as a father and I'm not teaching, helping or showing her how to do something new or holding my breath hoping she's alright like parents are known to do. She's been out on her own for long enough now and has become a self sufficient woman.
She works fulltime at a good job, has her own place that is decorated very nice, has a brand new car after totaling her old one in the Alligator incident, and seems to have a great relationship with her boyfriend.
It's at this point that I realized we can turn the page and start that new chapter in life. Sure I'll always be her dad and if there was anything she needed, I wouldn't hesitate to drive, fly or walk across the country to be there for her, but those hard teenage years are behind us and we can just sit back and have fun now. This is the first time in our lives that its been like that, and it feels good to be around her and on level playing ground.
Even talking is different for the two of us. She tells me about work and explains things that I can relate to, grown up adult things. Not complaining that her boss wouldn't let her off so she could go out to a party this weekend with all her friends and if she cant get the night off, she's going to quit. Every parent of a teenage daughter remembers those arguments.
I guess it's just really cool to see her as a grown up and not this punk kid that is always getting into trouble or making me shake my head wondering when she's going to grow up. Basically what I'm getting at is I think she's finally grown up and I'm shocked by this revelation but very happy at the same time.
It was a good night and I went to sleep with a feeling of content.
Waking up on Wednesday morning after sleeping on a air mattress only shows me how old I'm getting. Those days of crashing at a friends house and sleeping on the floor have been gone for a few years now.
These days, even a blow up mattress leaves me rubbing my body like I've been hit with a baseball bat in the lower back the night before. Cindy and I were up early and had to drive the 30 something miles back across the causeway to get the dogs, shower and grab a change of clothes.
We hadn't planned on spending the night, but after a few drinks before and after dinner last night, it's just not worth it to take the chance. I didn't even feel buzzed, but if I crack open a 3rd beer, it usually means I hang up the keys for the evening. I've heard of way too many people getting pulled over after only a few drinks and getting busted for a D.U.I. I'd rather not even attempt to drive if I dont have to.
Our plans for today was to drive down HWY 23 which will take us down into the lowest point in the state and into the Mississippi Delta. While at Donielle and Allan's house last night, Allan and I were talking about this little adventure when he told me one of the guys he works with was just talking about this road because he's lived in Louisiana his entire life and is from down that way.
I guess he had just been telling Allan that he'd love to bring him down there to show him around a few days earlier. Allan had called him up knowing he had the day off today and talked him into driving with us and acting as a tour guide.
We met up with Randy who is a buff guy in his early 40's that talks with a slight cajun accent. Not the thick heavy type some locals talk with, I could actually understand everything he told us, but you definitely knew he was from Louisiana.
Since there were 5 of us total, we had to take two trucks, which was sort of a given. We dont have a back seat, and with two dogs along for the ride, there was no way to cram everyone into one vehicle.
Us guys jumped in Allan's truck and Cindy and Donielle spent some quality time together on the ride down South in our vehicle.
Randy is a perfect tour guide. There wasn't a single question I could come up with that he wouldn't have an in-depth answer for and told me so much more than I expected.
I hadn't even thought of this when Allan had first brought it up, but this trip would be one of Randy's only second times to return to his boyhood home since Katrina had left it uninhabitable.
I hadn't thought of how emotional this tour guide stuff might be for someone who was describing losing his beloved fishing boat, talking of his parents who lost everything and family members who are still struggling to rebuild what was taken from them by Mother Nature almost 4 years ago.
It's so easy for those of us who only watched the storm on TV while sitting in the comfort of our homes to forget about it and go on with our daily lives once the news stops showing us pictures of the devastation. But to drive along a thin, two lane road with big Earthen levee's on each side, some sections only a 1/4 mile wide, and be able to see windows on second and third story buildings still broken out from where the water had hit really opens your eyes.
Randy told us stories about coming down 17 days after Katrina had hit and the water was just starting to recede back out into the ocean. His brother is a US Marshall and had volunteered to take control of his home town since they thought he'd know the area so well.
I could feel the tension in his story when he was describing how hard it was for the two of them to drive through an area they had grown up in their entire lives, but had no landmarks to judge where they were. Everything was gone, washed into the bayou and marshes.
Entire subdivisions erased from their foundations. One section he showed us was nothing but a bunch of empty concrete slabs. When I asked what this large piece of property was before, he told us it was a huge Sulphur Plant that had employed close to 1500 people in his little town.
When the plant got washed away, it decided not to rebuild and all those people who had lost their homes and belongings were now also out of a job. Talk about sad!
We passed trailer parks that once housed over 500 FEMA trailers that now sat empty. There was a few lone white trailers still being lived in by people that had no place to go, and no money to move on with.
Cindy and I live in a travel trailer by choice, imagine how hard it would be to make that move because it was the only option left.
If we wouldn't have had Randy along to act as a tour guide, I think this drive would have been pretty boring and I probably wouldn't recommend it for anyone else visiting the area.
There really is nothing to see except a bunch of abandon homes, empty concrete slabs everywhere you look, and a few buildings under construction that are trying to rebuild.
The fire department is using a building with blown out walls to store the fire engines in. The schools are all taught in portable trailers and Randy said his nephews entire school only consists of maybe 50 kids.
The only real industry you see in every direction is OIL. Parking lots filled with vehicles of the workers who are out working the Off-Shore Oil Rigs. Helicopters are flying in and out non-stop bringing in workers and exchanging them for a fresh batch.
Every now and then you'll see a unbelievably long tanker floating up the mighty Mississippi River pushing up a bow wake the size of a semi trailer. This is the mouth of the river and where the super tankers come in to get filled with grain, wheat or other products the United States exports to foreign countries.
Just below the last town of Venice, the road simply comes to an end. There is a little sign stating you've reached the Southern most Tip of Louisiana and your view offers nothing but open ocean as far as the eye can see.
We all got out in the muggy, humid air to stretch our legs, snap some pictures and switch up the order of who rode in what vehicle.
I got in with Cindy and Donielle got in with Allan and Randy. I dont mind riding in other peoples vehicles as long as I can drive, but I hate to be a passenger. Maybe it's all these miles I've driven over the past few years, but I dont like to be in a vehicle unless I'm the one behind the wheel.
Making our way back up HWY 23, Randy stopped off at a cemetery in his home town of Buras. We all got out to wander amongst the above ground tombs noticing how old some of the graves were and how many of the tombs all shared the same few names.
Many had names of surrounding towns, street names or local businesses. Randy told us many of the families who lived around here date back centuries and most had immigrated here from Croatia or the Ukraine area.
He also told us stories about the caskets being washed up during the hurricane and seeing many of the tombs being severely damaged or seeing caskets lying in the middle of the roads.
As we were walking around the cemetery, it started to rain which drove us all back into the vehicles. By this time it was late in the afternoon and the day was starting to turn dark.
We headed back North calling our little adventure off due to bad weather.
Donielle and Allan dropped Randy off at his home and we all met at a little roadside diner where we had some awesome food and talked about what we had all seen today.
For Donielle and Allan, it was a whole new experience just like it was for Cindy and I. Even though they live right near here, they've never journeyed to the bottom of the Mississippi Delta before.
After filling our growling bellies, we headed back to their apartment where we watched another goofy movie. You Don't Mess With the Zohan is a typical Adam Sandler movie and one that is soo far over the top, it just makes you laugh the entire time.
By the time the movie was over, I was dead tired from our full day of exploring and air mattress or not, I slept like a log tonight. Thanks Randy for the in-depth tour and all the information you shared with us. It was a day I wont soon forget.
Thursday April 2nd 2009 - Exploring New Orleans Cemeteries
Since we were already on this side of the 30 mile Causeway, we decided today would be a good day to go wander through some of these historic burial grounds.
Remember last week we had come over late in the afternoon, but found out they closed the gates at 4:30pm, so we missed out.
We figured we'd get an early start today and said our goodbyes to Donielle early. Her and Allan have to work the rest of the week, so we'll meet back up with them again next week.
We first hit St. Patrick's Cemetery because the tombs looked like they were some of the oldest around. Dont get me wrong, they're old! Many of the dates were showing their occupants died in the mid to late 1800's, but these tombs were just big cement cases to house the coffins. Nothing too fancy by New Orleans standards.
After an hour or so of walking around this series of 3 different cemeteries, we headed across the street to the Greenwood Cemetery.
This well manicured resting place is huge. Row after row of tombs and giant mausoleums. I'm not lying when I tell you that as far as the eye can see, you see nothing but crosses lining the tops of the cement tombs.
Cindy mentioned that this cemetery must have a rule that every tomb has to have a cross atop it.
As fascinating as these memorials are, they just dont compare to the works of art in the Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery. This has to be the crown jewel of New Orleans when it comes to extravagance in being buried.
If the 6' tall tombs in St. Patrick's cemetery impressed you, then the 30' tall monuments in Lake Lawn Metairie will blow you away.
I thought one of the giant monuments must be something the state built to recognize this historic piece of property. That was till I walked over to the giant, marble headstone and realized it was nothing more than that, a private headstone for a husband and wife!
Some of the tombs have iron doors, stained glass windows, life size marble statues or bronze figurines standing watch outside the entrance. Some have full staircases to walk up to them. One was so big, I had to have Cindy stand at the base or I knew no one would believe me when I described it. Others looked like little cathedrals or actual houses built from solid marble.
This cemetery would take days to explore the entire thing. And as luck would have it, as we just started to make our way down the first row, the dark clouds moved in. We're not just talking some overcast conditions. No we're talking torrential downpour with tornado like winds. The kind of weather where my wipers are on as fast as they can go and we still cant see out the windshield.
It was about that same time that we got a call from Teresa asking if we could pick up her daughter from school, which was only a few blocks from the cemetery, so she wouldn't have to come across the Causeway in this weather.
So our day came to an end and we went to get our niece from school.
Once we dropped her off to Teresa, we came back home to the ranch and spent the rest of the afternoon checking emails, downloading pictures and relaxing after a few solid days of fooling around.
Sunday April 5th 2009
It's been two days now that I've been without Cindy. This weekend Teresa had scheduled a Woman's Retreat at her house and had 10 friends coming from around the Louisiana area to relax, meditate and talk about life's problems.
She had gone all out and had a massage therapist on hand to rub down the women, a Life Coach to talk with them and help them out in their daily tasks and the simple problems life throws at you. There was an artist who was going to be teaching painting techniques and in-between all those activities, they would be relaxing around the pool and I'm sure over indulging in amazing food.
I should mention that Teresa and Don dont drink alcohol, so staying with them is a great way to help our bodies get back in shape and rid ourselves of all those toxins we normally ingest while drinking.
I'm not sure if I've talked about this, but Teresa and Don's house is like a little resort. The 13 acre horse farm is manicured like a award winning park. The in ground, salt water pool is heated with a waterfall grotto surrounded by tropical palm trees and plants to make you think you're on some deserted island in the Caribbean.
The 20' by 40' greenhouse that we're in the process of rebuilding is something a professional grower could supply their entire family with fresh vegetables and fruits out of. And best of all, Don's story is a true American Self-Made one most immigrants come to this country to try and follow.
After the service Don worked for a shipping company in New Orleans who offers River Pilots to navigate the super tankers coming up the Mississippi River. It didn't take long before Don had thought of a better way to run the operation and went out on his own to start his own Pilot Service.
Fast forward a few decades and Don's company is now the largest on the Mississippi and he's done very well for himself and his family. Being a self made man makes me respect Don all that much more.
Not that I look down on any person for their wealth or what they have, if you were born into money, you cant help that and you just happen to be one of the lucky ones. But if you start out with nothing and work your way up to the top, well that's the American Dream and one I can look up to.
So Friday was a busy day around the household getting everything ready for the big girls weekend. I power washed the deck, help set up the deck furniture and basically just helped Teresa around the house the entire day. Cindy was busy inside preparing food and dipping fresh fruit in melted chocolate.
Once the women started showing up at 5pm, the only rule was No Men were Allowed. So Don and I were banished to the condo down in Covington. Not that this is a bad thing. Their condo is something I could never afford in my lifetime and one I dont mind hanging out at for the weekend with Don.
Friday night, I thought it was funny that Don and I headed out to dinner at the local Waffle House restaurant. When he asked if I wanted to go out to eat, I said "Yeah sure, where do you want to go?"
He replied back with "Well, there is a waffle House right down the street, want to go there?"
The past few days we've gone out to some fancy restaurants that we would normally not be able to afford and Cindy finally told Teresa that we have to stop going out to eat. We would much rather stay home and eat a home cooked meal that is probably better for you and doesn't cost a fortune.
So when Don suggested Waffle House, I smiled big and said "This is more my style!"
He laughed and said "Well Teresa is the one who always wants to go out to eat at the fancy places, I'd much rather eat right here every day of the week."
We had a good night of talking and learning about one another and talking like guys do. You know, the good stuff that you can talk about when no women are around.
Saturday, we had the whole day to kill by ourselves, so we headed over to Ponchatoula for the annual Strawberry Festival. Its a nice drive through some little towns and we made it into town just as the parade had ended.
It looked like we were on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras with all the beads hanging from the trees and laying in the street.
The town was packed full and every where you looked was signs offering anything and everything you could make with Strawberries. There was strawberry bread, strawberry drinks, strawberry pies, people serving 151 Octane shots flavored with strawberries, battered deep fried strawberries and even strawberry beignets. (pronounced Ben-yays)
I guess because of how much I've heard of the Strawberry Fest, I expected more, but I was very unimpressed. Louisiana is known for their wild parties and laid back personality. But this reminded me of any small town fair. A few rides were offered and a couple of stages were set up with acts performing some blues music, but other than that, the booths set up were offering trinkets that could be found in any roadside gas station and it only took a few minutes before Don and I were ready to leave.
We had to stop and get something with strawberries in it, so Don bought a bucket of fresh strawberries and I bought some strawberry bread. The rest of the day was spent back at the condo relaxing in front of the plasma screen watching the Final Four basketball tournament.
For those who are familiar with Michigan State, my brother had forwarded me a shirt he designed that rings true to the parties held in Lansing when ever one of their teams makes it to the finals.
If you aren't familiar with the school, the parties usually result with a couch being burned in front of one if not all of the fraternities and riot police being called in to control the crazy college kids celebrating.
I also forgot to post our mileage and costs for the month of March so I'll post it here, and go back and put it at the bottom of that months blog also.
Total Miles Traveled for the month of March = 2204
Total Water Used in Coach = 133
Total Fuel Used in Truck = 147.35 Gallons @ a Cost of $358.56
No Propane tanks needed to be refilled last month since the temperatures are getting warmer and I dont think the heat has turned on since we reached South Florida. I'd also like to mention that we've yet to plug in to shore power since we left Michigan back in February. We ran one of the generators 2 times for about an hour each time back in February when it was raining non-stop, but other than that, we've run solely off the solar panels and our bank of batteries.
Thursday April 9th 2009
Its been a long week of working around Teresa and Don's place. I've spent an entire day on a bull dozer making swales and regrading their entire back yard to try and cure the problem they're having with standing water.
The next day I had the rental company come pick up the dozer and swap it out for a Kubota tractor that has a box blade on the back. This will allow me to finish grade the yard and move some dirt into areas that I didn't want to mess up with the bull dozer.
That was Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday night Donielle and Allan came across the Causeway for a visit and we had an enjoyable night of talking, playing Rock Band to feed Cindy's habit and watching a movie.
Wednesday morning Cindy made a big breakfast before we headed into Abita Springs to take a tour of the Abita Brewery. When we used to own the Red Dog Saloon, we sold Abita Beers and I've always enjoyed their small town style. They are privately owned and operated by local shareholders and many of the workers have been with the company since day one.
It was started back in 1986, and the original Brew House is now a little restaurant. The new brewing facility is just down the street and is very clean and well kept.
Cindy and I have toured quite a few brewery's in our travels and always love to visit any we run across. While in Pennsylvania, we visited the Yuengling Brewery which is the oldest brewery in the United States.
While in Colorado we visited the Coors Brewery which is the largest brewery in the United States. Those two breweries are night and day opposites of one another. Yuengling is old school and you can be watching the beer run down the line while you stand out on the street. At one point we walked right in and sat talking with one of the workers working on the bottling line.
Coors is as state of the art as you can get and reminded me of a laboratory it was so secured and impeccably clean. You have to go through multiple security check points and it reminded me of a very secure facility. Molson Brewery in Toronto is North America's Oldest brewery and right up there with the Coors Brewery. State of the art, spotlessly clean and gigantic.
Abita is so small, you could fit the entire brewery and visitor center in the lobby of the Coors Brewery, but small and home town businesses are what we like.
Most breweries offer tours of their facilities and almost all of them offer beer tastings after the tour, something that always makes learning about beer brewing a little more appealing....Free Beer! When we walked into the Abita visitor center, there were about 15 people mingling around and a big wooden bar with every flavor beer they brew available on tap.
The gentleman behind the bar let everyone know the bar was open, and as long as you were 21, you could help yourself to the taps. Now this was a first!
To let you have beer before the tour was something new, and to allow the visitors to serve themselves was something I've never heard of. Not that I was complaining at all.
I started with an Abita Strawberry Wheat which I really wanted to try while Don and I were at the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, but since Don doesn't drink, I thought that would be rude of me.
The Strawberry Harvest Lager is a wheat beer made with real Louisiana strawberries, picked late in the season when they’re at their sweetest. This brew has earned quite a reputation in a short time, causing Abita to up their production year after year. This is one of their seasonal brews and right now is the prime Season for it.
I love the cool, crisp taste of Wheat Beers, but since they were free for the taking, I didn't want to only sip on only one flavor, so I went back for a another taste of one of their Signature Lagers, the Abita Amber.
We used to carry this beer in our bar, but I had only tried it in a bottle. Beers on tap, especially beers on tap at the brewery tend to taste a much better than they do out of a bottle.
This is an outstanding beer and one I should keep in the refrigerator at all times. Its bursting with a smoky, rich flavor and I was thinking that when Cindy uses my beers for her cooking, this strong tasting beer would really add flavor to the food. From the Amber, I moved on to another of their Signature Brews, the Abita Purple Haze.
Raspberries are one of my favorite fruit and I love anything that has a raspberry flavor. Purple Haze is a crisp, American style wheat beer with raspberry puree added after the filtration process. Therefore, you may see raspberry pulp in the beer, but I dont mind one bit.
While I was sipping on my 3rd beer, they got everyone's attention and got the tour underway.
You start off by watching a short movie in the bar about the history of Abita Beer, the Green Initiative they use when it comes to their style of brewing and the packaging and the spring water they use in their brewing process.
The town of Abita Springs draws its name from the natural springs that flow in this area. Abita Brewery uses this spring water to achieve a taste like no other beer on the market.
After the short movie, everyone is told to top off their beers and we head into the brewery where hops, barley and fermentation change some otherwise harmless raw materials into one of God's greatest gifts known to mankind.
Now everyone who's ever been on a brewery tour knows the coolest part is the bottling facility. I was really looking forward to this section as the Brewhouse part smells, is usually hot, loud and there isn't too much to see.
So I was really surprised after 15 minutes of explaining their brew process, we were routed back into the visitor center. When I asked our tour guide why we werent going through the bottling facility, he said "Oh that part of the tour is only given on Saturdays."
WTF!? That's the best part! Why didn't they tell us this in advance? If you ever come to take this tour, make sure its on a Saturday so you can see the bottling part of the brewery.
We all sat in the visitor center where I needed to down a few glasses of cool spring water to make sure I was 'ok' to drive. I sat talking with some guy who was in town visiting his son who lives in this area.
I about died laughing when he asked me "So what did you do to land these two girls?" I looked at Cindy and Donielle and told him "Who these two? One if my wife and one is my daughter!"
He went on saying "Oh, I thought they were sisters and you were some Sugar Daddy." I laughed even harder when he said "How old are you? You have to be around my age...I'm in my late 40's almost 50."
Either I look terrible for my age, or this guy had been sipping on too many free Abita Beers. Since I'm only 35, I find it hard to believe anyone would think I'm 50. I might pass for "Early 40's" but 50, come on now!
By this point, we were all starving, so we said our goodbyes to the fella who had bad vision and headed down the street to their original location which is now the Abita restaurant.
I'd love to say we really enjoyed ourselves, but I shouldn't lie. The food was great, the company was even better, but the service sucked. I hate when you go to a nice place and get lousy service. It just ruins everything.
I also hate coming from a restaurant background because I feel like I should help them. The place wasn't even busy, and the day was beautiful, so everyone wanted to sit outside on the little shaded patio.
Well for some reason they only had one waiter covering the patio. Now there was a bartender and another waitress inside, but every customer was outside. You'd think the two girls inside would know enough to come outside and give the poor guy a hand when he's that far in the weeds. But they just sat at the bar talking with one another while the waiter ran around like a chicken with his head cut off.
One table waited about a half hour just to get their drinks. I would have walked out at about the 10 minute mark myself. But oh well, we had a nice time talking and laughing our afternoon away, so I guess I shouldn't complain about the 2 hours it took us to eat lunch. And we had free beers at the brewery, so I need to zip my lip!
By this point I had flooded my system with spring water, so I was fine to drive home to Teresa and Don's where we all proceeded to take a nice afternoon siesta. The best way to waste away a perfectly good afternoon.
When the kids finally woke up, we all said our goodbyes and they headed home. Cindy and I ate some dinner and she was begging to watch a movie Allan had just given us. We have yet to see '21', so we were both eager to watch this thriller so many friends have recommended to us.
Cindy didn't make it through the opening credits before her and Luca were having a snoring contest, so the rest of the movie had to be watched with the volume turned way up to over power the dual chainsaws lying beside me in bed.
Today was another full day of work around the farm. With the Holiday weekend coming up and our time running short in Louisiana, we really need to get everything finished up that we've started.
I finished up grading the yard, moved a few piles of dirt that Teresa had asked me to get rid of. Filled in a ditch the last rain storm had washed out and was grading the last swale when the two dump trucks arrived to deliver the stone for the Greenhouse.
I walked over to the first guy to tell him to watch out for soft spots in the yard. I cant seem to figure it out, but the yard has numerous soft spots that are so wet and jelly like, you can stand on top of them and move around like you're on top of a waterbed.
Anytime I've run into something like this when I used to work excavating, we'd dig the soft area out with the excavator till we hit virgin ground and refill the hole with either stone or crushed concrete. Well we dont have an excavator, crushed concrete or any stone, so we're just leaving them for now.
I wasn't even back to the tractor when I heard the guy start yelling. I looked back to see one of the trucks buried up to the frame in the freshly graded yard.
When the other truck drove through my smooth finish grade to hook up the stuck truck, he buried himself in the dirt too. Now we have two stuck dump trucks and nothing to pull them out with.
The rest of the afternoon was spent pulling/digging them out, regrading the back yard and fixing their mess. It was dark by the time I was done and Teresa was calling us in for dinner.
Hopefully everyone has a safe and Happy Easter and finds all their eggs they were hunting for.
Happy Easter Everyone!!
Monday April 13th
You know its spring when the weather is as crazy as its been the last few days, going from one extreme to the other with crazy storms in-between. Saturday was picture perfect the entire day and then Easter Sunday was cloudy, gloomy and the sky opened up something fierce later in the evening.
We woke this morning to a big puddle by the back door of the camper, (Which is a first) and the only thing we can think is the door wasn't latched all the way closed and with the rain hitting the camper sideways all night long, it found a way in.
I plugged the coach into a 110volt receptacle so I could run a fan all day long on the carpet and not have to worry about draining the batteries by using the inverter. I also crawled around on the roof looking for a leak or any other way the water could find it's way in, but nothing could be found that made me think anything other than the door was cracked open a smidge.
While I was wandering around the property this morning snapping pictures of all the blooming flowers, I got a phone call from the delivery guy saying that the Greenhouse was going to be delivered today, and we're we ready for it. To tell you the truth, I've been ready for it since we got here and I just want to get it built so we can get back on the road.
We planned on leaving this week to head over to the Cajun Hot Sauce Festival in Lafayette, but now it looks like we might just drive over on Friday, spend the night and come back on Saturday afternoon. Normally we would have stayed the whole weekend, but there is a Burlesque Show in New Orleans at the House of Blues this Saturday that we wanted to check out so it looks like Friday night will be our only night in Lafayette.
That night is going to be tricky because there is a concert in Baton Rouge we're supposed to attend to interview Colt Ford, a new country/rap star whose music Cindy and I both love. We were turned onto Mr. Ford by Reed and Shannon in Okeechobee and while I was looking at his website, I noticed he was going to be playing in Baton Rouge while we happened to be close by, so we're going to stop by the Texas Club to see his performance and talk with him about his music.
I was hoping we would be finished erecting the greenhouse this week, so when we head West towards Lafayette, we could just keep heading North West towards Arkansas where we have to be by the end of May for the Rock Bottom Chuck Wagon Races. That was till we unpacked the Greenhouse today from the crates and I realized I made such a bonehead mistake, I'm about to ring my own neck.
When we sat down a few weeks ago looking at the prints the company Don had been working with, the one that was going to repair the snow damaged structure to begin with, I assumed the woman knew what she was doing. I mean she is a working company that installs these type of growing boxes for a living.
Well all the measurements said the greenhouse was 20'x40'. Don, Teresa and their maintenance guy all told me that was the dimensions. So when I ordered the new model, I ordered a 20'x40' greenhouse.
Well as Cindy and I were both sweating our winter layers off today in the hot, humid Louisiana spring weather, we went to put one of the trusses up and noticed it didn't match the existing poles.
Cindy looked at me with one of those looks and said "I think you have this put together wrong?" But I knew right away what the problem was. The old greenhouse wasn't 20'x40', it was 28'x40'.
I can not believe I didn't come outside and measure the thing myself!!!!!!
How stupid can I be!?! By this point it was 6pm, and Growers Supply was closed for the day, so I'll have to wait till tomorrow morning to see how we're going to solve this major F-Up.
Sometimes I amaze myself, I'm so stupid.
I'm sure you all know by now that I hate sitting still, but at least the entire time we've been here I've kept busy working around Teresa and Don's house. Don had told me that if I wanted to help out around the house, he'd pay me by the hour to help out with a bunch of things they needed touching up around the ranch. Little did I know I'd be doing bonehead things like this!
Their place is so big, I could probably work here full time, year round and always have something to do to keep busy, but sitting still for a few weeks is more than enough for me, I'm ready to pack up and hit the road. Not that I'm bored with working or visiting, but I just get antsy sitting in one place for this long. Another reason why I'm looking forward to this weekend of concerts and good musical performances.
Another thing I wanted to talk about was our new Diet program Cindy and I have started. Not that I'm a fat slob or anything and I need to be counting calories, but I do have a nice round belly and for my age, I dont want to have a nice round belly.
Reading a Men's Health magazine over the weekend, I read an article about Diabetes and how its becoming the #1 disease amongst Americans. Mostly due to our bad eating habits and the fact that 90% of us eat junk food for so many of our meals.
It described many of the symptoms of pre-diabetes and I'm not shitting you that I had 8 of the 10 symptoms. Pre-mature balding was one of them - I'm the only member of my family who has lost their hair. Both my grandparents had hair and parents both have their hair. Diabetes is hereditary and my grandfather had it also.
Major headaches was another symptom. I've struggled from migraine and bad headaches my whole adult life. Waking from naps and feeling like you're coming off a sedative rather than feeling refreshed was another symptom. This is one of the reasons I almost never take a nap during the daytime. I always feel worse after a nap than I do if I just trudge through the day.
Once I got to reading all of this, I thought man, my diet is pretty crappy. Not that I eat bad food. Cindy always has us eating fresh vegetables, lean meats and probably more healthy than most people I know. But I drink a few energy drinks per day or a least one or two Coke's. These are both loaded with sugar and carbs.
I'm usually snacking on granola bars which are also loaded with sugar. Once Cindy and I sat down and wrote down what my daily food intake is, without even trying to eat bad, I'm really doing a good job of it.
The worse part that scared me in the article was it talks about coming off a sugar high and crashing. A few times a week if I've gone for an hour or so on not eating something, I get the shakes really bad and feel like I'm going to pass out. Cindy knows about this and if I tell her I'm getting shaky, she will make me something to eat really fast and they'll go away, but after I eat, I usually go into a little food coma.
The article talked all about this and how bad it was for your body. It said your body was coming down off the sugar almost like a drug addict comes down off their high. When you start to go into the shakes, your body is telling you it wants more sugar to stay high longer to which you usually feed it that sugar and raise your insulin level back to harmful levels. In the long run, it does irreversible damage to some of your internal organs like your pancreas, liver and heart.
So we said to one another, lets try and go on a diet for one month where we cut out as much sugar as possible. The article talks of the Atkins Diet and says its the best eating program for a diabetic, so we figure we'll try eating without carbs and sugar for a month and see if I feel better.
I'll tell you right now that two days of no sugar and I'm already feeling like a different person. I dont know if its a good person, but my body is going through some major shock. I'm craving a Coke, a Red Bull or my beloved Yogurt that I eat non-stop. I honestly dont know if I'll be able to make it a full month, but I'll try my hardest.
Oh, I also posted a review of our new Photo Backpack we got last week from ThinkTank. If you're interested in getting an awesome photo backpack, check out this model before looking anywhere else.
Wednesday April 15th - Nothings Certain Except Death & Taxes
I frequent quite a few different forums. Most are Photography forums where I feel its free to learn information you'd normally have to pay to get from pros or amateurs learning the business.
One of my favorite forums is Expedition Portal which is a site dedicated to Overlanding around our globe. Overlanding is another word for travel or Wikipedia's definition is: Overlanding is the self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, accommodated by mechanized off-road capable transport (from bicycles to trucks) where the principal form of lodging is camping; often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years) and spanning international boundaries.
You could call what Cindy and I are doing Overlanding in a very simplified way, but I try and not use that term too much because I really dont think of our adventure as Overlanding, maybe more Glamping, which is Glamorous Camping....LOL
I mean if you think about it, we're just wandering around with blind abandonment looking for beautiful places to stop and photograph. The journey is the main part, but the experience and the people we meet along the way is what we're really after.
On the ExPo forum, someone started a thread where they asked explorers to talk of their Zen moments in Overlanding and lessons they've learned while out exploring.
One of the comments left was from a woman named TeriAnn who travels solo in her Land Rover Dormobile. TeriAnn has a website called Expedition Land Rover that is really cool to look through.
I contacted TeriAnn and asked her if I could reprint her comments on my blog because I feel she does such a great job of explaining why we travel the way we do. We get asked many times, all the time actually, how we travel the way we do, with no agenda's or itineraries and no real goal other than to stay on the road exploring.
Well TeriAnn sums it up perfectly in this short statement.
One reason I tend to travel alone is that unless I have agreed to be at a given point at a given time, I don't really know where or if I will travel the next day, nor where I will pop the top for the night.
mornings I may find myself trapped inside one of the books I brought
along. Some days I will look at a scene and know I'll just have to see
it at sundown or sunrise, so I call it a camp site. Most people are very
uncomfortable with that style of traveling. A lot of times I will pass a
road sign to what could be an interesting place I've never seen before.
Most people I know can not handle freestyle travel with no more than a
vague itinerary that at best is optional.
If you are a couple, it means being able to put up with each other
24/7 and be the better for it. If you are alone, it means being
comfortable long term with alone. It means being able to live without
the daily routines that you have lived comfortably with in your whole
life and creating new routines that are self contained and not really
related to location.
Thanks TeriAnn for allowing me to repost your thoughts! I couldn't have said it better myself. Hopefully that will help others who wonder why Cindy and I take so long to go from Point A to Point B. There is plenty to see in-between those two letters on our back road route.
Friday April 17 2009 Colt Ford in Baton Rouge
We were supposed to take delivery of the new greenhouse parts today which would get us started on the job so we could get moving on down the road, but around noon, after waiting all morning long for the delivery truck to show up, I called the company who told me "You're last on our list of deliveries today, wont be there till around 5pm."
I asked him if he could push us back to Monday morning so we didn't have to wait around all afternoon and Cindy and I got ready to head over to Baton Rouge.
Wouldn't you know it that the Cajun Hot Sauce Festival we wanted to go to so badly would have to be the same weekend as the Colt Ford Show and the Burlesque Show. Why does it always happen like that?
We had contemplated trying to make the Jaryd Lane performance and spend some quality time at the Cajun Hot Sauce Festival, then leaving early to race back over to Baton Rouge for the Colt Ford show, but after Cindy doing the typical woman thing and taking way too long to get ready, we ended up just driving over to Baton Rouge for the night.
Lafayette is a 3 hour drive from where we're staying with Don and Teresa. Baton Rouge is only an hour drive, so we borrowed their Mini Cooper for the night and drove it rather than our truck. We figured this would save some money on gas. I figure since the Mini can fit in the bed of our truck, it probably gets better gas mileage. Its a whole lot more fun to drive too!
We made it to Baton Rouge a few hours early, and had planned on roaming around the downtown Capitol City but the weather wasn't cooperating and the light rain landed us in the Capitol Grill instead.
We had a nice dinner and made our way to the Texas Club just as the doors were opening. The Texas Club doesn't look like much from the outside. It's just a plain cinderblock building with no windows and a marquee that simply says 'TEXAS'.
But once you cross those doors, you enter into one of Louisiana's best kept secrets for top name music on a very intimate stage. When I say top name, I mean names like Brooks & Dunn, Foreigner, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Garth Brooks, Buckcherry and the list goes on and on. Kenny Chesney filmed his video for his song 'Everything but Mine' at the Texas Club and next Wednesday, country music star Jason Aldean will be filming a video there also.
I guess the Texas Club is one of those places that major acts like to perform in because it gets them closer to their true fans without all the big stage shows and antics involved with stadiums and arenas.
The Texas Club might hold 600 people very comfortably, and I'm sure on a packed night, there might be around 1000 people in there. I'm not sure how many were there on Friday night, but the place was standing room only and there was a line to get in.
The crowd ranged anywhere from young kids, since this show was an 18 and older type, to one 79 year old grandmother who had never been in a bar before in her life, but told her kids she wanted to go see Colt Ford, so the entire family brought her out. I watched as she danced with family and friends and enjoyed the show like the wide-eyed kids jumping up and down around her.
The dance floor was packed full with cowboys and cowgirls who were two-steppin' and courting one another like any bar on a Friday night would have. The pool tables had quarters lined along the side rails and were all full with Coonasses and Good Ol' Boys trying to hustle one another out of their weeks paycheck stuffed in their back pocket.
The people watching was entertaining for both Cindy and I as there was just as many good looking cowgirls as there was young strapping studs for her to look at. I think there was a competition for the ladies on who could slide into the shortest, tightest Daisy Dukes, but I wont lie when I say Cindy won that competition hands down.
When the time came for Colt Ford to take the stage, the crowd was ready and the place erupted. The next few hours passed by like a blur with good music working the fans into a frenzy and Cindy carrying on like she was trying out for Dancing with the Stars or maybe a BET video shoot.
As the crowd called Colt Ford and his band out for an encore performance, he grabbed ahold of Cindy's hand and brought her up on stage asking "Do any of you fine ladies want to dance with me for the last song?"
The stage filled with lovely ladies, but I think Cindy was just a tad bit worked up by this point of the night and was all over the 300lb country/rapper. At one point Mr. Ford, with his heavy Georgia accent said "Good Lord woman, what are you doing to me?" as Cindy sat dancing all around his microphone.
When the show finally ended, Cindy looked like she had just come out of a sauna and was so out of breath I thought she was going to faint. Its times like this when I need a video camera.
We ended one amazing night with a late night stop at the Waffle House. I think Cindy was asleep before she was finished with her plate of smothered and covered what-ever-it-was and I had a nice drive home in a beautiful thunder storm with lightening touching the ground all around me, as Cindy sat in the passenger seat snoring off her dance moves.
If you want to see what the Texas Club is all about, check out the Colt Ford Gallery on our website
Saturday April 18th New Orleans French Quarter Fest and the Bustout Burlesque Show at the House of Blues
Even though we hadn't pulled up to the camper till well after 2am last night, I barely had time to clean the cards from the nights photos of the concert before we were headed back across the Causeway towards New Orleans and the historic French Quarter.
This weekend was the French Quarter Fest which brings in artists, musicians and travelers from all around the world, and since we were going to miss the Cajun Hot Sauce Festival, we figured why not take in some French Quarter festivities.
Downtown New Orleans was packed like Mardi Gras and parking was a nightmare. Luckily for us, we had driven the Mini again, so we were able to fit into one of the parking garages that the truck is normally too tall for.
I really wanted to ride the motorcycle over, but with rain forecasted again, neither of us wanted to get caught across the Causeway in a heavy rainstorm. One thing you have to remember about Louisiana, when it rains, it's never a light sprinkle. It must be because of how close it is to the Gulf, but when the sky opens up to let out the humidity, it comes down in buckets.
The day was spent with blocks and blocks of art, music and some of the best People Watching I've ever experienced. One thing about New Orleans is it brings in people from all over the world. Someone who might be an outcast in any Smalltown USA can move to the Big Easy and not even be noticed.
You might see men dressed in drag, people who think they're vampires walking around with capes and top hats, street performers playing on each corner and for some reason, people like to paint themselves silver and get paid to have people take pictures with them.
We even saw one husband and wife pushing a stroller and the whole lot was painted shinny silver.
Mix the eclectic people with some of the most historic architecture in the country and it makes for a great day of wandering around wide-eyed and loving each new street you find.
Every time I'd turn a corner, I'd be reminded of what it must have been like to live a few centuries ago. Much of New Orleans and the French Quarter looks the way it did hundreds of years ago. Buildings leaning at such an angle, you wonder how they're still standing. Balconies that look like they are about to collapse at any second, yet people are enjoying themselves people watching with a birds eye view.
Smells of crawfish being boiled on the street corners, beignets baking and live jazz music echoing down the narrow streets makes you forget anything other than this moment in this historic city.
Carriages pass by with the clippy-clop of the hooves on the streets. A horn from a tug boat pushing a barge up the muddy Mississippi River blends in with the sounds of people laughing and you know why people travel from all around the world to visit New Orleans.
Just as the day was ending and the night time was fast approaching, we met Teresa and Don in the alley leading back to the House of Blues. We had all made plans to really go back in history and be fully entertained with a historic Burlesque show tonight.
This is an excerpt from the Bustout Burlesque website which gives a bit of history on the legendary city and the shows that made it so famous.
New Orleans in the forties and fifties was often heralded as "The Most Interesting City in America." Bourbon Street was its epicenter, and it became world famous for its concentration of nightclub shows featuring exotic dancers, comics, risqué singers, and contortionists, backed by live house bands.
Along a five-block stretch, over fifty acts could be seen on any given
night. The street gleamed with neon lights as barkers enticed tourists
and locals into the clubs to see the featured attractions whose
photographs were prominently displayed in the large windows outside.
Clubs included the 500 Club, the Sho Bar, and the Casino Royale. It was
a glamorous street where men and women dressed in their finest to take
in a show.
After vaudeville, and the success of burlesque, striptease became a
mainstay on the nightclub stages. In the Forties, stripteasers were in
it for the money, as servicemen passed in and out of town looking for a
good time. But, as "Stormy," one of the most popular Bourbon Street
dancers at the time said in Cabaret magazine, "Anything you do--no
matter what it is--if you do it well enough, can be lifted to an art."
The clubs were raided, and girls were arrested for charges of B-drinking
and obscenity. To cut costs, the club owners first got rid of the bands,
and replaced them with records. The sexual revolution of the sixties
eventually brought in go-go dancers, porn films, and strippers whose
acts focused on flesh more than flash. Top musicians like Al Hirt and
Pete Fountain survived, but the great burlesque queens of the 1950s did
Seeing a show like this in the House of Blues is like having hot, rich Godiva chocolate put on top of your ice cream! The House of Blues has a theatre that is impossible to have a bad seat. The acoustics are amazing and even a nearly blind person would get an eye full. If viewing a show like the Bustout Burlesque type, they'd be cured of any and all eye problems and would leave with new found vision. That last part might be stretching it a bit.
To visit New Orleans and miss the House of Blues should be illegal. The food is some of the best in the city and just the decor of the place is worth the drive. To see a show there has been a dream of mine for years now so you can only imagine how excited I was to be seeing a bunch of beautiful, almost naked women perform on stage.
The Bustout Burlesque Show opened up with a comic emcee who humored the crowd with bad jokes and even worse magic tricks. Like I said earlier, the day reminded me of stepping back into the 30's or 40's when this would have been an average Saturday night out on the town.
Then the real show started. We're not talking striptease here, we're talking women putting on a show! These beauties can dance, perform and entertain the crowd that mixed from young folks all the way up to people in their 70's who might remember this from when it was the norm.
For me, it was a performance I wish was still available where ever you are and one that would draw crowds no matter what city you lived in.
The stage shows the ladies put on was only shadowed by their beauty and pure sexiness. They never even undressed fully nude, but keeping the private parts covered with tassels or skimpy thongs which made it that much more sexy.
With a tight jazz band to back up the dancers and a sexy songstress who had pipes that could drive a man wild, the dancers were only a part of the awesome show.
I laughed when the emcee came out after one twirling performance that ended with a seductive woman stripped down to nothing but a thin piece of fabric covering her bottom regions and tassels that reminded me of helicopter blades covering her nipples and asked the crowd "Do you know what keeps those tassels on?" He let a few people yell out answers and finally replied with "A city ordinance!"
When the last curtain finally closed for the night, the crowd had gotten their moneys worth and then some. The ladies came out and mingled with the crowd signing autographs and talking with the fans.
I'd like to say a huge 'THANK YOU' to the folks at the Bustout Burlesque for letting us snap some photos for our blogs. This is a type of show where cameras and not allowed and I fully understand why. Flashes and people standing up to try and get pictures would really take away from the performance. Luckily for me, I have a long lens and no flash was ever used.
Monday April 20th 2009
Whew, what a weekend we had. Colt Ford on Friday night, French Quarter Fest all day Saturday with the Burlesque Show to end the evening.
Sunday I planned on editing and working on the thousands of images we had shot from those two fun filled days, but Teresa and Cindy wanted to go out and see the new Grey Gardens movie at a girlfriends house.
If you've never seen or heard of this movie, you'll have to rent the original that was filmed back in the 70's. You should probably be able to rent it at the local movie rental, but if not, here is a link to it.
It's the story of two women, Mother and Daughter, who are completely mad, live in the Hamptons and hole themselves up in what used to be a beautiful mansion.
The first time I watched it, I wondered the entire time whether it was fake or real. But no actress could put on a performance comparable to Little Edie in real life. Albert and David Maysles who filmed this documentary/movie should have won awards for being able to put up with the two women who star in the show.
The story is wild for the simple fact that at one time, the Beales were one of the most famous and wealthy families in New York. Edith Bouvier Beale, the mother in the movie is actually the aunt of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. At one time, the home the masterpiece is filmed in was one of the most decadent mansions in the New York area. Hard to believe in the movie it is overrun with stray cats, raccoons and garbage and the two psychotic women live there.
Its too hard for me to describe, but do yourself a favor and go rent it, or better yet buy it because you'll have to watch it numerous times to absorb it all.
Well the girls leaving for the night would have been perfect because it would have given me a free night to sit in front of the computer and edit all the images from the weekend. Something that is hard to do with interruptions and having to keep Cindy entertained with my little dances.
The problem was Teresa was supposed to take her two 14 year old daughters to a Fall Out Boy concert with another friend of theirs. So they asked me to be the chaperon and bring the girls, so the big girls could go out and play.
Side Note: In the movie, Little Edie has some of the craziest outfits imaginable. She was always wearing sweaters on her head and fishnets over her skirt that was actually a jacket or something goofy like that? Well Cindy and Teresa thought it would be funny to dress up like Little Edie for their Grey Gardens party.
Being the ever loving husband I am, I agreed to take the young girls to the concert and spent the entire night, 5 hours worth, listening to music I probably wouldn't normally listen too.
I was pretty surprised because there were 5 bands at this show and all of them would do their best to talk about Sex, Drugs and Music. Normally I wouldn't even blink an eye at this kind of talk, but considering the oldest person I saw there that wasn't a chaperon like me was about 15 years old, this kind of talk made me feel uncomfortable.
Sitting beside your two 14 year old Nieces while they're cheering when the singer says he wants to get laid in New Orleans made me squirm in my seat. I guess that is the sure sign I'm getting too old for Punk Music.
Fall Out Boy, the main band on the ticket was much better than the other 4 bands and was actually surprisingly political with their messages to the crowd. Almost like seeing a U2 show where you come away feeling like you just left a Live Better & Be A Better Person Rally; Fall Out Boy stopped between each song to talk with the kids and let them know they are the future.
It's up to them to make change and make the world a better place to live. Hopefully if more bands could send a message like this, rather than just coming on stage and saying "I want to get laid in New Orleans!", our youth would be in better shape.
By the time I dropped the girls friend off, brought them home to their dads place and crossed the Causeway to get Cindy, it was 1:30am when we came home.
Teresa has an underground fence for her dogs who live outside. We used to have the Invisible Fence when we lived in Michigan, so it only took a few minutes to train our two dogs where the fence was.
We've been leaving them outside all day long and even have left them out a few nights while we've been doing so much running around.
Now you have to remember these two dogs live and sleep at Cindy's side. If they're not in bed with her, one is on the couch and one is lounging atop a pile of fluffy pillows. So leaving them outside to sleep in a dog house with two other dogs hasn't gone over too well.
Lucy will sit and whine by the door of the camper and you just know she's out there crying "Momma, what are you doing to me? Why am I locked outside?"
Well tonight Cindy brought them inside, gave them each a bath so they could sleep back in bed with us and it was all she could do to keep Luca awake while he was in the shower.
She dried him off and he was asleep within seconds. I dont think they sleep too good outside. They love it during the daytime, but not too much at night.
The two dogs snoring was like a diesel truck idling beside the camper. I think they're about two days behind on sleep.
The new parts for the Greenhouse arrived today, and I'll be working on that for the rest of the week. Hopefully Wednesday night we're going to head back over to the Texas Club to see the Jason Aldean show. I love his music and to be able to see him in such an intimate setting would be awesome!
Wednesday April 22nd Jason Aldean at the Texas Club
I've realized that our adventure is again on hold. Even though while being in southern Louisiana we're doing lots of new things and seeing all sorts of cool stuff, its not the adventure we're normally on with daily travels and exciting new things to talk about with each new post. Hopefully this visit will only be another week or so.
We had planned on being finished with the Greenhouse by this weekend and shoving off the first of next week, but for Cindy's birthday, which is this Friday, Teresa asked me if we could stay another week so Cindy could go on a little vacation with her and a group of girls she hangs out with.
I guess the group that got together for the women's retreat really took a liking to Cindy, much like everyone does that meets her and asked Teresa if she would bring her along on their vacation to Destin, Florida. The women rent a beach house in Destin and spend a week just lounging and relaxing without men or the stresses of daily life.
So I have to apologize if you're waiting for the adventure to start again, but it'll be another week before we leave for Arkansas and move on to Yellowstone. Although listening to the weather station, we recently heard that Wyoming got a few feet of fresh snow dumped on it in the past few weeks, so luckily we're sitting in 80° temperatures rather than being snowed in.
I will say that standing still here in Louisiana and not spending any money has really helped out with the bank account. I dont think we've moved the truck in over a week or two.
After spending the entire day in the roasting hot sun working on the greenhouse, we showered up and headed back over to Baton Rouge for the Jason Aldean concert.
If we thought the Colt Ford show was packed, it was nothing compared to this crowd. There was a hand written sign on the door of the Texas Club that stated 'Jason Aldean Show SOLD OUT' and cars were parked along the road for blocks in every direction.
Amazing enough, we pulled up to the front door where I was going to let Cindy out when a spot opened up right at the door. So we pulled in, unloaded the camera gear and walked in just as the local radio host was introducing the main attraction.
Big cameras and bigger lenses open up doors and isle ways when attending shows like this, so Cindy and I walked right up to the front and got our positions on each side of the stage. We got behind the barriers holding back the screaming women that had come from miles around to see this young hunk of a country star and got ready for a top notch performance.
With the first thump of the bass drum, we realized we were standing in front of a 8' wall of subwoofers that literally shook the clothes on my body. Cindy just giggled and started dancing and I went to work shooting photos.
A few hours later, I think I had lost about 4lbs of water due to the heat from being on the stage with all those hot lights and I cant even begin to imagine how the performers do it every night without draining some major amounts of electrolytes.
Jason Aldean's performance was nothing short of stellar and hearing many of my favorite songs sung live within a few feet of him was a very cool experience.
One of my favorite songs by Mr. Aldean is Asphalt Cowboy, which is a song that describes the life of a trucker who lives on the road. He told a little story before he sang the song acoustic about having had a Grandfather who was a long haul trucker who he had never got a chance to meet. He had heard so many stories about this guy that he decided to write a song about him.
It only made the song that much better knowing it had true meaning behind the awesome lyrics and smooth notes on that guitar. Anything acoustic sounds like angles singing to me, so you can imagine how awesome it was for me to hear him sing it like this.
Asphalt Cowboy and She's Country were the two songs that made the night for me. His latest hit talks of his love for Southern Women and reminds me so much of Cindy. To listen to lyrics like "From her cowboys boots, To her down home roots, She’s Country" describes my wife to the 'T'! "With a thick southern drawl, Sexy swingin’ walk, Brother she’s all Country!"
After a stellar encore performance, we exited the Texas Club into the cool Baton Rouge night air. While we waited for the fans to stumble out and make their way to their jacked up 4x4's, we sat in the Mini Cooper cooling off just people watching and talking about how much fun we have attending live performances. I love music, but live music and a amped up stage show really gets me going.
We had seen Jason Aldean back in Nashville during the CMA's but that was in a stadium that sat 68,000 people. The stage alone was bigger than the entire Texas Club. I had heard an interview with Jason Aldean on Sirius Radio awhile back and he commented "Playing the small clubs is what touring is all about for me. It's what I grew up doing and how I reconnect with my fans." I can tell you that his performance was much better in this small club than it was in LP Field in Nashville.
The hour drive home was just enough time to download all the images to the Epson Storage Drive so it would be faster to copy them to our big hard drives we use once we got home. Isn't technology fun!?! Thanks again to those guys at the Texas Club for allowing us some a great experience!
Thursday April 23rd - Working Like a Slave For My Room & Board
I'm not one to complain about an honest days work. I actually love to be out working and feel it makes the traveling all that much more enjoyable. Makes you think maybe you've earned it.
Jonathan and I put in a solid days work today and got the main structure up for the greenhouse despite the temperatures in the high 80's. Something this Northern bald headed guy isn't used to.
Cindy had to scold me because earlier in the week, I spent the day working outside with just my beloved Coors Banquet hat on on my head. When I came inside for dinner, I took my hat off and had a nice sun burn crawling up my already bright Red neck with an outline where the little opening is in the back of the hat on my head.
So I was told I can only wear my wide brimmed hat that allows shade to cover my neck and head. These are things us men dont think too much about, but I guess Cindy doesn't want to be seen with me in public looking like I have an invisible baseball hat on?
After a long day of working in the sun, I showered up and Teresa and Don brought us over to some friends where we spent the rest of the night having amazing home cooked food, great conversation and plenty of good laughs.
Teresa's friend Stephanie and her husband John live in a house that is hard to describe in any other way than extravagant. We're talking a mansion that is probably 10,000 square feet and situated right on a beautiful golf course.
Antiques from around the world that all have very cool stories to explain why they bought each piece. It was a great night and just the tour of the place took an hour.
There was another couple that spent the evening with us who was just as interesting. Mel and Meesa, an older couple that lives near Teresa and Don and have been friends with Stephanie and John for years added plenty of great stories and good laughs to the evening. When we got on the topic of greenhouses, Mel told us about his 2000 or so plants they raise in their multiple greenhouses.
Hopefully we'll get a chance to stop by and see their set-up before we leave.
One of the reasons I volunteered to help erect the greenhouse in the first place is Cindy and I have always wanted to have our own greenhouse where we could grow all our own fruits and vegetables.
Cindy's dream is to own a small restaurant where there is no menu. She cooks what ever she picked from her own garden and that is what the main entree is each night. We know we would have to work with a local butcher for our meats, but all the fruits and vegetables would be grown on site, by us. It might just be a pipedream, but hopefully if we ever develop our property in Baja, a nice sized greenhouse would be built to supply us with fresh veggies and food for visitors.
So learning how to put one up here are Don's place just puts another Ace in my deck when the time comes for me to build my own.
Friday April 24th 2009 - YHappy Birthday Cindy!!Y
Today is Cindy's 43rd birthday and begins her few months of being 8 years older than me. She says she has a good time of year where she is only 7 years older than me and a bad time of year where we're 8 years apart.
I could care less because most people think I'm the older one anyway. For me, age is just a number. Its the way you act and how your personality presents yourself that makes up who you are and what your age really is.
Cindy said her goal for today was to lounge by the pool and not have to do too much. I got her a bottle of Absolut and had a friend of mine deliver it too her in bed....Just Kidding!
We planned on going out to dinner tonight and visiting our daughter at the casino she works at. Neither of us are gamblers, so we've yet to go in and see her work the tables. But we figured tonight would be a fun night to hit the town and see some of her dealing skills.
One thing you might have noticed is how little Cindy has been updating her blogs lately. Well I should probably explain a bit of the behind the scenes life we've been dealing with lately.
Traveling full time can be good and bad for people. You have free time to do what ever you want to do, and usually dont have the daily stresses of what one might call a 'Normal Life'.
This can be both good and bad. When you have those daily stresses, you tend to forget or suppress things that might NOT want to be remembered.
If you've noticed, when Cindy types in her blog, she has been talking about some issues she has put off her entire adult life. Issues that keep surfacing now that she has time to think about them and doesn't have those daily stresses to be keeping her mind off of them.
Add to the fact that we've been visiting her family which is where many of the problems stem from and she just keeps telling me that if she was to write in her blog right now, she feels like the only thing she would write about are her own thoughts that might not be that interesting for anyone else.
Being around our daughter and her sister has been a special time for her since these are the two people she is closest to in her family. Some days just get filled with some melancholy thoughts that she would rather not share.
For me, I find the extra time to sit and think very rewarding. I tend to go over photos in my head and conjure up new images I'd like to create. But then again I probably lived a picture perfect childhood. I have a Mother and Father who remained married despite rough times and the raising of 5 hell raising children.
I cant think of anything negative about my childhood and I feel guilty when I listen to the demons Cindy is dealing with from her heart breaking childhood. I could go on with stories that most would probably not believe or even want to hear because of the abuse she's dealt with, but it's a movie in and of itself, and believe me, it wouldn't be a pretty movie at all.
Her mother and father divorced when she was only 8 years old and her mom split up the family something awful. Cindy and her older brother moved to Tennessee where they were raised till they moved out on their own at very young ages.
Her older brother and sister were both old enough (early teens) at the time of the divorce to go their own way which probably isn't the best thing for a young child's mind to be separated from siblings like that. Her mom was a terrible alcoholic and the family moved non-stop during her adolescence. Cindy tells me stories about sleeping in tents and bathing in creeks during her Junior High School days and her and her brother walking miles to school so fellow classmates wouldn't know how or where they lived.
Throughout her life she has strived to make sure that life she once lived was all put behind her and worked her butt off to be successful in what ever she did.
She's tried to seek counseling on numerous occasions when certain demons might resurface, but for the most part, she always just buried herself under massive loads of work or took on new projects that would normally take a skilled team to accomplish; yet she'd tackle it by herself and finish it in record time. Hence flipping the Condo back in Michigan in 2 months time and having it rented within a few weeks in the worst housing market in history.
What I'm trying to get at is traveling full time isn't for everyone. You have hours, sometimes days to sit and think about what ever your mind wants to think about. Neither of us can think of anything we'd rather be doing, but there are times when too much time to contemplate ones life can not be a good thing.
I know spending this time with her sister is really helping the two of them talk about many hard issues they've hidden deep in closets they never planned on opening again. It is also one of the reasons we are sitting still in Louisiana right now. I think being near her daughter and her sister is very good medication.
She's also been going to the gym every single day and working out like she's on a mission, so her health is phenomenal and she's looking better than she has in years. So I'm thinking we're on the backside of this hill and coming back to a good point in life.
I hope I didn't scare anyone off with getting too personal, I just felt I should talk about a side of traveling full time that rarely gets talked about. I know in our travels we've met a few different people who have experienced the same issues.
Some say that bringing out the skeletons is a good thing and allows them to deal with em' or shed them once and for good. Others say it brings up topics they might not want brought up and they want to go back to their daily life and those stresses that allow their problems to stay hidden.
Anyway you look at it, you only get one chance to go around, so do your best to make sure you have fun no matter what you're doing.
After Cindy had lounged around all day long, she called our daughter in New Orleans to see if it would be ok if we didn't come across the Causeway to see her tonight. She said since we dont gamble and didn't plan on having drinks, the hour long drive would be only to see her work the tables.
Instead, Teresa made us a Steak Dinner and we had a little birthday party here at the house. It was a great night of relaxing and doing a whole-lotta nothing.
Saturday April 25th 2009
Rather than get months behind on updating galleries like we did last summer, I've vowed to make sure I have our photos edited and uploaded within a few days of which ever event we cover. The last thing I want to do is spend a few months straight weeding through images from months ago.
The latest Gallery I spent the morning uploading is probably one our best to date. At least it is in my eyes. Cindy loves to take photographs of nature and landscapes and especially of wildlife. For me, architecture, cityscapes and trying to capture the history of where we visit is an awesome challenge for me. Our gallery from New Orleans & the French Quarter I feel really captures the true feel for this historic district.
I think I've mentioned this a few times before, but I went to school for Architectural Drafting and love roaming around historic places that have unique architecture. Savannah, Charleston and New Orleans are all places that come to mind when I think of places I could have a field day in. The Biltmore in North Carolina was like letting a child loose in a candy store for me. I could probably spend a few days in that house alone.
Once we got the galleries all squared away and uploaded, the heat of mid-day was enveloping the inside of the camper and driving us for shade or someplace cool. Cindy suggested that we take the motorcycle down and go for a nice long ride through the country.
The area we're staying in is nothing but rolling pastures and beautiful horse and cattle farms. The day was warm with temperatures trying to hit the 90° mark, but the sky was filled with big fluffy clouds set against a deep blue backdrop. Perfect weather for a motorcycle ride on some empty, country roads.
We werent the only riders who had thought of this great idea; the roads were filled with motorcyclists. As we'd pass little roadside fruit stands or country corner stores, you'd see large groups of motorcycles parked up under the shade of a big oak tree letting the blood flow back into their butts and stretching out their legs.
We spent the better part of the afternoon wandering around these narrow two lane back roads. We'd pass through sections where I couldn't breathe in strong enough to absorb the beautiful scents that are blooming along the edges of the fields. We'd also roll past farms where the scent was anything but aromatic. I'd hammer the throttle and hold my breath for as long as I could till we'd pass through these stinky areas.
Cindy told me while we were pulled over to stretch our legs that when I hit a certain speed, the tank-top she was wearing will fill up with air and it feels like she is riding topless. She said it's quite a feeling of freedom and told me she would let me know the speed at which it happens so I could try and maintain it for as long as possible. Something tells me her exhibitionism is shining while we're on the bike.
We also made our way back up to Franklinton where we had gone up to see the flooding a few weeks back. Neither Cindy nor I had ever seen this area any other way than the first time we had passed through it while it was all under water.
Neither of us could believe the height the water was at last time we were here. I mean we thought it might have been up a few feet, but we're talking 20 something feet! We both sat with our jaws agape just amazed how little this river actually was. No wonder the police were blocking the roads and re-routing people around this area.
Thank God I didn't have one of my hair brained ideas and try to cross the flooded roads thinking our truck would be able to make it.
When we finally rolled back up to Teresa's, my butt was good and numb and we had logged another hundred miles on the scooter. The odometer has finally turned over the 3000 mile mark and Cindy is comfortable with me riding wheelies up the driveway. Well, I wouldn't say comfortable, but she doesn't punch me in the back of the head like she used to.
Cindy grilled up some sausage with green peppers and mushrooms on the grill and we contemplated watching a movie, but I think I was in bed by 9pm and out like a light. Today was a good day and one that makes you have good dreams.
We also contacted the Global Wildlife Center which is right here in Folsom where we're staying. Teresa had told us about it and when we checked it out online, it looks really cool.
We're going to try and spend a day or two there taking pictures of the immense amount of endangered and threatened wildlife they have on their 900 acres.
Stay tuned and we'll let you know how it turns out. I also took off the password for the Bustout Burlesque Show Gallery. I had to wait till I had a chance how it would be received from a few sources before I made it public. Just be forewarned, it's a bit risqué before you go viewing it. There is no nudity, but you dont have to use your imagination too much when looking at it. I mean there are tassels covering some parts.
I got this email the other day and thought it fit Cindy and I perfect and with her birthday being only two days ago, I thought I'd share it.
To Be 6 Again...
A man was sitting on the edge of the bed, observing his wife, looking at herself in the mirror. Since her birthday was not far off he asked what she'd like to have for her Birthday.
'I'd like to be six again', she replied, still looking in the mirror.
On the morning of her Birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Lucky Charms, and then took her to Six Flags theme park. What a day!
He put her on every ride in the park; the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the screaming Monster Roller Coaster, everything there was.
Five hours later they staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down.
He then took her to a McDonald's where he ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake.
Then it was off to a movie, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M's. What a fabulous adventure! Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted. He leaned over his wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, 'Well Dear, what was it like being six again?'
Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed. 'I meant my dress size, you retard!!!!'
The moral of the story: Even when a man is listening, he's gonna get it wrong.