Travels with Mom & Dad
January 1, 2002
Southold, NY - Green Lane, PA
Welcome to my travel log. Most of you will know who I am, but for those who do not, I'm Jordan. Nice to meet you. You've reached my journal through my father's web site which chronicles his travels with my mother. This February will finish up their second year of RVing full time. Today is my first day living with them again after several years. A true adventure, indeed.
I'm joining the Air Force in May/June and decided to get in some fun travel without the obligations of a job. Cruising around with my parents seems the way to go. As we move on beyond the first week and first month, we'll see how everyone's opinions have changed! My first concern stems from an announcement that my father made around Christmas. As the three of us were sitting in the motor home and my mom and I were picking on Dad ever so slightly, he felt the need to proclaim that during our trip there would be, "none of this female stuff!" Poor Dad, I think he's a bit outnumbered.
This morning started out in Southold, NY where I have lived for the last several years. My parents rented my house to a very nice nurse who started moving in her things as we were getting the last of ours together. Dad and I went to the storage unit to put in a few items that had been forgotten, and then we went to my brother Greg's house to bring some things to my sister-in-law Paulette and say good-bye. We were out of my driveway by 10:30.
Now, this is supposed to be not only the beginning of a new year, but of a whole new chapter in my life. To let you know how the day went, let's just say that our trip started out with a cute, yet black, cat running across the road in front of us. My mom is very superstitious, so Dad and I agreed not to mention our furry little friend. We have now told her and mentioned that he ran from left to right. Apparently that is much worse that any other direction? Well, that's your introduction to Mom!
Our trip down the LIE (Long Island Expressway) was uneventful, and there was blessed little traffic. Most of the population was probably nursing a hangover from New Year's parties. On the BQE (Brookly-Queens Expwy) however, things got interesting. I was sitting in the front passenger's seat and started to hear a loud banging noise coming from the underside of the motorhome. We had to wait until we crossed into NJ to pull over because no one in their right mind would pull over on the BQE. So we pull onto the shoulder once and find nothing. We pull over again, and find nothing. Yet the sound does continue. Now we're approaching a lane merge where two lanes from the left and two from the right meet and the two center lanes merge. Well, there's a little bit of space before the center merge, so we pull over there with cars whizzing by on both sides. This time Dad finds the problem: part of the front wheel well has become torn and is causing the banging. Apparently this is not an immediate problem because we continue. According to Dad, everytime they use the BQE, something in/on the motorhome breaks. The jostling did however seem to fix the refrigerator. I'm not sure I would call it an even swap, however.
In Somersville, NJ we pull into a Shop-Rite parking lot to get some groceries. While Mom and I go into the store, Dad uses some rope to tie the wheel well together. Too bad we don't have duct tape?? At this point there's only about an hour of daylight left, so we decide to find a campground for the night. Dad finds one in a campground directory that's only 15 minutes away in West Portal. Reading the description it sounds just fine, even though is states that there are some seasonal sites. Seasonal sites are a fancy way of saying the RV is parked there year-round and hasn't been moved in years. The sign is small so we miss it and have to make a U-turn, which can be a pain in the neck with a 36' motor home towing a car. We go back and find the entrance, but there's no one to be found. We had called earlier to make sure they were open and were assured of year-round availability. We pull in and stop at the first motorhome we see. There's man using a small propane torch to melt the ice covering some of the cables running to his motorhome. (not a very bright idea if you ask me) Well, he's not overly friendly and claims no knowledge of anything--he may be more correct than he realizes. We decide to drive around the loop of sites to find something. What a dump this place is!! A few RVs are nice and new and seem to be recent additions, but most could be older than me (24). We call again, and this time the woman says that they're closed. They should really make up their mind.
As we're making a turn we catch one of the many low and overhanging branches of too many trees. This becomes a huge episode because we can't back up with the car, plus the awning will tear if we go too far back. But, to move forward is tricky because there's another tree in the way. Obviously this 'campground' isn't used too much, because this road was the only way to go and even a large truck would get some scratches from these trees. If you're ever in NJ, avoid Jugtown Mountain Campsites. We should have known by the name. We did, however, see a neat road sign. "We have many children, but none to spare. Please drive carefully."
In the directory Mom found a campground called the Homestead in the Allentown/Quakertown area of PA. We called to make sure that they were open and to get more specific directions than are given in the book. Not only was the gentleman who answered the phone very nice, he even drove out to one of the intersections to meet us so that we could follow him to the campground. What an amazing difference between the two places!! When we pull in the place is neat and clean. It looks like it's probably a wonderful place when it's warmer, because it has a huge and wonderful playground for children. So we're now hooked up for the night. Tomorrow we'll set off for Charlottesville, VA to spend a few days with my brother Phil and his family. Hopefully we'll even see my brother Shane.
If you've stayed with me so far, thanks. My dad jokes around that I'm the only person he knows who can take 3 hours to tell the story of a 2 hour movie. I'm assured by my parents that not all days are nearly as eventful as today. Only time will tell. I only hope that the black cat was good for one day only, not the whole year!
Thursday, January 3, 2002
Green Lane, PA - Earlysville, VA
Yesterday was not as eventful as the first, but it was a long day. We were up early but got a late start. We didn't leave the campground in PA until after 11am. We traveled along I-78 until it met I-81 South. We were undecided about how long we would stay on the road, but the forecast in Charlottesville, VA was calling for snow. Since Mom refuses to travel in the snow, we decided to drive all the way in one shot. It was wonderful to see the Blue Ridge Mountains again. I had forgotten how beautiful they were. Of course, after being away from Long Island for a while I will start to miss the water. I can't have it all! Once the road signs started to have familiar names on them, I felt like we were almost there. "There" being my brother Phil's house just outside of Charlottesville.
We pulled into Phil's driveway around 7:30. Once we were settled, we went into the house to visit with the family. My sister-in-law Kim had lasagna in the oven for dinner. While we waited for it to be ready, we sat around and talked and enjoyed the antics of my 8-year-old niece Katlin and her just-2-year-old brother Philip.
After dinner and more conversation, it was time for bed. Mom, Dad and I were all tired from the trip, plus it was a school night for Katlin.
This morning I wasn't up for too long before Katlin was home from school. Apparently certain areas in Albemarle County were getting a lot of snow, so school closed early after only an hour of classes. Where we are there wasn't any snow! Phil, Kim, Katlin, Philip and I went into town to Wal-Mart and the grocery store. As we were getting into the car in the Wal-Mart parking lot, Phil spotted Mom and Dad's car. Their car is hard to miss when the bright yellow kayaks are tied on top! As soon as he saw the car, we saw Mom/Grandma walking to the store. Katlin and I decided to join 'Grandma' on her trip to Wal-Mart. Afterward we came back to the house where everyone had already returned.
While we were just sitting around, my brother Shane stopped in to visit. He was here for around an hour or so. When he left he invited Mom, Dad and myself to stop by his house on Sunday at 1:00. Since our next stop was going to be Sumter, SC which now has several inches of snow, we'll be in VA for longer than originally planned.
Not too much else happened today. It was a rather lazy day. Tomorrow may be more interesting......
Friday-Saturday, January 4 - 5, 2002
Yesterday, Friday, an amazing thing happened! I was the first one awake in the motorhome! I was up, turned my bed back into the couch and had the coffee started before Mom strolled in. This won't happen again for a long time -- I'm not a morning person.
Once the day really started, Mom and I went into town. We first went to the mall to return some items and check out the photography store. In the photo store I was looking for a camera bag, but there wasn't one suitable. Part of the problem is that I have a 'real' camera,, and most camera bags are designed for the small, automatic 35mm cameras or for camcorders. None really work for my camera with my lens. I guess I'll just have to keep on looking!
We stopped at a few more places including Barnes & Noble, which I used to love. B&N, along with the rest of Charlottesville has changed too much since I've been gone. The B&N Cafe now has signs on all the tables 'requesting' that you limit your time to an hour. I understand the point of the sign, because occasionally there are people who stay a long time. However, at least for me, it ruins the entire atmosphere. I now feel like I must keep an eye on the time and can no longer relax and enjoy. The rest of Charlottesville has gotten too large, busy and crowded and has adopted an attitude reserved for city atmospheres. I don't think that I could ever move back here.
When Mom and I returned from town, Phil ordered pizza for dinner. It has been a long time since Mom and I have had pizza, and we were both looking forward to it. After dinner, Katlin wanted to have a girls' night. Mom and I returned to the motorhome, changed into our pj's and gathered our blankets and pillows. We joined Katlin in the basement where we watched movies and ate popcorn. We watched Disney's Mulan, Osmosis Jones, and part of Mary Poppins. About halfway into MP, I gave up and went to sleep. I think my mom was already sleeping. Katlin and I slept on the floor while we gave 'Grandma' the comfy couch. I was quite sore when I got up this morning.
Today, Kim and Grandma went shopping separately while Grandpa, Phil, Katlin and myself went to the gun club for a Dads & Daughters day. The gun club could be one of the only things to lure me back to Charlottesville. I enjoy going there every time I visit. We started out at the outdoor rifle and pistol range where we tried out Phil's AR-15. It's pretty cool, actually. He has a holographic sight on it, so it's pretty hard to miss your target. We did comment, though, on the noise. It is very loud, even when you're wearing ear protection (which is required at all times, along with eye protection). We also tried out some of the handguns available between my dad and brother. My favorite is the Glock 34. I do very well with that gun.
There was a guy next to us who had explosive targets, and he let me try one. The target is about one square inch, and we placed it on a larger target about 60 feet away. I was able to hit it using the Glock. With this target, you know when you hit it!
After a few more minutes the four of us moved down the range where only handguns are used. This section we had all to ourselves. Katlin uses her father's .22, which is now considered hers. She shoots very well -- small, accurate clusters. 'Grandpa' and I were very impressed. We also did some timed exercises -- basically a series of three targets with two shots to each. I thought that Idid pretty well considering that the only time I get to shoot is when I visit Charlottesville. After a few hours it started to get cold, so we went to the clubhouse to wash our hands. Before returning home we stopped for some wonderful hot chocolate.
Tonight Mom cooked dinner so that Kim could have the night off. After dinner we had a birthday cake and presents for Katlin, even though her birthday isn't until February. We decided to celebrate a bit now while we were here! Anyway, it is now 10:30 and I am exhausted. As soon as I finish this I'm going to bed, so that I won't be cranky tomorrow. We're supposed to go to Shane's for lunch at 1:00 tomorrow.
For those who may be curious, my first week of living with my parents is almost over, and everything is still going great!
Sunday, January 6, 2002
This morning I got to sleep in until about 10am. After some wake-up-adjustment time in the motorhome with my parents I went to Phil's to take my shower. I take my shower in the house because we don't have full hookups here, only electricity. This way I won't use up water in the tank and I won't fill the gray water (water from sink and shower). The fact that Phil's shower has a fantastic shower head is simply a bonus!
When I went inside, Phil was at the kitchen table and Philip was lying on the couch, barely awake and watching TV. Kim was downstairs and Miss Katlin had yet to arise. After my shower I had just a few minutes to go online and check my e-mail. I didn't have much time, because I had to finish getting ready to visit Shane and his girlfriend Michelle. They live about 45 minutes from Phil and Kim, but because the roads were less than ideal, it took almost an hour to get there.
We (Mom, Dad and myself) had a lovely visit with Shane and Michelle. They have several pets including a beautiful and very friendly cat. She took turns relaxing in everyone's lap. Michelle had brought into the house a great 72 gallon fish tank on a cabinet stand. She is still deciding which type of fish she wants to put in. Apparently different fish prefer different types of plant and gravel materials, as well a salt concentration in the water. That's way beyond my area of knowledge.
After almost two hours at Shane's we started to head back to Phil's. Mom and I went into the motorhome to read a bit while Dad brought some laundry to the house. For those who may be interested, I'm reading a wonderful novel by Lily Brett titled Too Many Men. It is the story of a woman who brings her father, a holocaust survivor, back to Poland. It is very interesting to share the experience of the father's return to his hometown, his old home, and to Auschwitz and Birkenau where he was imprisoned. I recommend this book to all.
After a BBQ dinner followed by a yummy cake Kim made, 'Grandma' and I played UNO with Katlin. Suspiciously, Grandma won all three games!
We plan to leave tomorrow. I have no idea what our destination is. It will be a surprise for you as well as for me. We are getting up quite early, though, to say good-bye to the family. Tomorrow is a school day for Katlin, and Phil and Kim both leave for work before 7:45. It has been a very pleasant stay here. I can't believe how quickly Katlin and Philip are both growing! I guess that is what happens when you don't see children for long lengths of time.
So for now I say good night. As soon as I know where I am next, I will let you know.
Monday, January 7, 2002
Earlysville, VA - Ft Bragg, NC
Today was mostly a travel day. I missed saying good-bye to Kim, Katlin and Philip, but I did see Phil before he left for work. When we left we headed west towards Richmond and then south. My dad was concerned that we didn't have enough propane to keep the heat running for the night, so we had to look for a place to fill our tank. That was probably an hour of adventure right there. Usually a tank of propane will last several months, but with the cold nights it's been needed for heat! Therefor it lasts only a couple of days.
Anyway, after we found a place to fill our propane tank, we continued south until we reached Fayetville, NC. We stopped for the night at Ft Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne. It's pretty cool to see all of the helocopters flying around. I just wish they'd stop for a while so I could fall asleep!
Tuesday, January 8, 2002
Ft Bragg, NC
This morning I woke up to what else but the sound of helicopters zipping around! Mom and Dad left to check out the BX/PX and to do some grocery at the commissary. While they were gone I took my shower and took my time getting ready for the day. It's a very typical girl thing. Since I now had some privacy in which to do things, I wrote some letters to some friends in New York. Who knows when they will get these letters, though. The post office is on the other side of the base from where my parents went, so I remain stampless! In a few days we'll be a Shaw AFB in South Carolina, and we know where the PO is there.
When my parents returned we decided to go for a walk around the camping area. It is actually quite nice. Smith Lake is along the base near the campground so we walked along the lake for a bit before returning to the motorhome. Despite being quite chilly, it was a beautiful day.
Since it was nice and not too cold, Dad washed the car and motorhome. They were both pretty grimy for so much driving in the rain and snow.
My brother Greg had called this morning. He's interested in a boat in Southport, SC and was calling to see if we were nearby. Since we're quite close, we are leaving tomorrow to head in that direction to check out the boat. I hope that the boat is in good shape; Greg has been thinking about getting a boat for a couple of years. He definitely deserves it.
Wednesday, January 9, 2002
Ft Bragg, NC - Mrytle Beach, SC
Today we left Ft. Bragg and headed towards Cape Fear. In took less time than we had thought, so we stopped to have lunch in a church parking lot. Across the street was a lovely house with a "For Sale" sign in the yard and a newer motorhome in the yard. My parents decided that the owners were planning to do what they did--sell the home and set off traveling! My guess is that they are probably correct.
We had called the agent about the boat, and he was going to meet us at the marina. When we got there we didn't see anyone around, so we went out onto the dock to look at the boat. Greg had looked at this boat a couple of years ago. He had debated about buying it, and just when he decided to get it, it had been sold. My parents had gone with him that time since they were still living in Virginia at the time. Plus I think it was in Norfolk then, but I could easily be mistaken.
As my parents are discussing the boat, there are some things that are different from last time. Granted, while each difference was a little thing and easy to change, there were too many. I told them that I thought they had the wrong boat, but since I wasn't there the first time....
Since it was quite windy, I headed back to the motorhome to get a hat and the camera for my dad. On the way I saw a man heading our way and thought it might be the agent. Well, surprise, surprise I was right. As we approached each other he asked if I was with Phil (my dad) and told him where my parents were. Guess what else? I was right about the boat, too! As I returned from hat-hunting and retrieving the camera, I caught up with everyone on their way to the correct boat.
The boat seemed all right, but I know nothing about them. I liked the first one, too, but it apparently wasn't so hot. The only thing wrong with this new one was that an engine was missing, and the agent had no idea why. Not such a great sign. As we were leaving the man shook each of our hands. Once back in the motorhome, Dad and I both agreed that the agent should either firm up his handshake or refrain altogether.
We left Southport and headed towards Myrtle Beach where there is a Camper's World. Remember when we 'brushed' against a tree? Well, it messed up the awning a bit so we had to get that fixed. We arrived at CW a bit after 5pm, right after closing. We decided to spend the night in the rear parking lot so that we'd be there first thing in the morning. Since we had no hook-ups of any kind, we had a quiet evening of reading and used the generator only so that Dad could watch the news. It was an early evening since when it became dark, we generally started to get ready for bed.
Thursday, January 10, 2002
Mrytle Beach, SC - Shaw Air Force Base, SC
This morning Dad woke me up way too early. Camper's World opened at 8am. We had to be ready at that time in case they could see us immediately. They were able to see us at around 9:30, which wasn't too bad. While we waited for the work to be done, we checked out the store and then sat in the customer lounge. Mom worked on her daily crossword in USA Today while Dad and I read. We were finally ready to go and left around noon-ish.
From Myrtle Beach we headed straight to Sumter, SC. It took only a few hours and so here we are. We are staying at the FamCamp at Shaw Air Force Base. Upon arrival we were searched, with which, of course, we had no problem The security personnel who searched us were very friendly, and a couple thought the motorhome was pretty cool. We found a site in the FamCamp, which is a lovely area.
I've only been on a few bases, 2 Air Force and 1 Army, that I really remember, and I've decided that I will really enjoy life in the military. There's just something right about being here. I know that some people find that hard either to believe or understand, but it simply is. I just know that the Air Force is right for me. My father will certainly be amused (and pleased) by that statement, since he's been suggesting to me for some time about the Air Force. I would ask that you not tell him, but I know he reads this, so I guess I'm out of luck!
Well, that is all for today. We're currently sitting outside in the beautiful sunshine. The weather is my ideal!!! We plan on staying here for several days, which will be nice.
Friday - Sunday, January 11-13, 2002
Shaw AFB, SC
I can't believe I've let so many days slip by without making an entry. My apologies...I know you all wait with baited breath to see what new adventures I have to tell. :-) I hate to disappoint you, but nothing of great interest has happened here. The campground is wonderful and the weather has been even better. Right now I'm sitting outside in the sunshine wearing jeans and a short sleeved shirt. It's a bit chilly, and when the sun dips a bit lower I'm going to have to put on my sweatshirt.
Wow, the sun just went behind the tree-line and I am freezing! Anyway, on Friday Mom and I went to the Commissary and BX. The BX had nothing to write home about, and the Commissary was nearly dismal. I found that a bit surprising since the rest of the base seems so great. We also checked out the military clothing store, because I wanted to buy a zippered, hooded sweatshirt which would be perfect right now. I did, however, find a nice T-shirt.
On the way back to the FamCamp, we were stopped at a security checkpoint. The guard was definitely younger than me and seemed both sweet and nervous. After the checkpoint we were on Patrol Rd which runs along the base perimeter and leads to the FamCamp. It also happens to be at the end of the runway, so Mom and I watched a couple of fighter jets land. They really are very cool.
Saturday was both lazy and productive. We had no set plan for the day, and it seemed simply to develop into a 'clean & reorganize' day. I will admit that Mom and Dad did most of the work. My job was to remove all of the squished and dried-up bugs on the front of the motorhome. Despite the seemingly grossness of the job, it was actually quite easy, even bordering on fun. I'm sure that after Dad reads this, it will become my regular job. When we were just about finished it started to drizzle. The combination of drizzle and being nearly done allowed us to get everything out from the rain. We were quite lucky, in fact, because the drizzle quickly became a steady downpour. We finished the day by having dinner, watching some TV, and sipping tea. (I can make myself sound quite pretentious, can't I?) The only bummer of the day was that we didn't go to the movies. We were going to see Harry Potter and 7:00. The beauty of seeing it here, was we would pay only $3 each! That sure beats the $8.25 I paid last time I went to the movies.
Today was quite similar to yesterday, minus the debugging of the motorhome. We were going to leave today but got a late start, so we decided to wait until tomorrow (Monday). Instead, we decided to enjoy the sunshine and went for a walk. We walked half of a mile down Patrol Rd, and then the other half back. According to Dad it took us precisely 17 minutes. Afterwards, Mom and Dad went to the Commissary for milk and bread, while I stayed here and took my shower. The rest of the day was spent getting everything in order so that we can leave early tomorrow. We are in a bit of a rush to get to Florida. My cousin Michael is getting married on Saturday, so we have to get there by Friday at the latest. It may in fact turn into a double wedding...but we'll have to see what happens before I tell too much about that.
The sun is now well behind the trees, and I am getting quite cold. My fingers are numb, and I'm making a lot of typos. I think I'm catching most of them as I go, but I'm sure a few have slipped by. Plus, I've about covered our activities for the day. The sky has been clear of planes for the last couple of days. I guess the pilots get the weekends off. I'm not sure when this will get posted on-line. The office here doesn't open until 10AM, and we hope to have left by then. Who knows when we'll have computer access again!
Monday, January 14 - Thursday, January 17, 2002
Shaw AFB, SC - Stephen C Foster Wildlife Park, GA - Old Town, FL
My apologies. I hadn't realized it's been so long since I've made my last entry. I will do my best to recall what has happened this week. Additionally, I promise various people that I will try to jazz up my page a bit. Part of the problem is that, while I do take photographs, I use a real film camera. I presently have two rolls of undeveloped film. While that is great for my photo album, it does not enhance my travel log any. Maybe I'll go through some of my dad's digital photos that he hasn't used to put here! I'll see what I can do.
Monday morning we woke up fairly early to leave Shaw AFB. I don't think that we had any specific destination in mind other than 'south'. As we drove through the Sumter, SC area Dad took a small detour. This took us down a pastoral country road which led to the house in which my paternal grandmother was raised. A bit farther down the road on adjoining property was the house which was owned by my grandmother's uncle. Apparently two brothers (my great-grandfather and his brother) owned adjacent properties which covered 300 acres. The houses are still there and are still owned by two brothers descended from my grandmother's father and uncle.
After the tour we continued south and decided to stop for the day. In one of the campground books that my parents use to find different places to stay, we found Happy Acres. Dad was expecting a dump, but it turned out to be quite nice. Everything was exceptionally neat and clean, and the lady in the office was very pleasant. I think that if we had more time that we would have stayed for more than one night.
Be that as it may, we left fairly early Tuesday. I was groggy and don't remember too much of the trip. I was antisocial and kept my nose in a book. I highly recommend Patricia Cornwell's novels; I have read several on this trip already. Next thing I knew we had arrived at the Stephen C. Foster National Wildlife Park which is nestled within the Okefenokee Swamp.
We first stopped at the office to check in. We were told to go pick a site and then return to tell them which one we had picked. Well, nearly all of the sites were great. Several were not large enough to accommodate the motorhome, because the campground is also used by actual campers (meaning tents). We finally settled on a fairly secluded spot. If one didn't know better, you could think you were in the jungle!
After walking back to the office and running into several deer, we decided to walk around. Starting at the Boat Basin where guide boats are kept, there is a 1.5 mile trail/nature walk through the woods and swamp. Walking along the trail was wonderful! A large portion of the trail is actually more along the lines of a boardwalk. A wooden path about 5' across and varying from a few feet to maybe four feet off the ground. My guess would be that in the spring the woods to marsh ratio changes quite a bit. There were beautiful trees and plants. The only animals we saw were a couple of deer who were bedded down and didn't hear us coming. Sometimes it is very easy to forget how quiet it can be outdoors. The silence was wonderful. After finishing the walk ending up back at the Boat Basin, we saw several turtles and an alligator. The alligator was probably about 4-5' long and was currently hosting a turtle. This time of year is too cold for the alligators, so they're more or less in a wakeful hibernation.
We had been planning to spend just the one night at the park, but decided it would be neat to canoe on the Swannee River. Since there are only two kayaks, we decided to rent a canoe so that the three of us could go together. So we spent the night in our private jungle.
The next day we went back to the office to rent our canoe. We got there a bit after 1pm and paid for two hours. The park rule is that you have to be off the water by 5pm, or they will go out looking for you. When we first start we have to exit from a very narrow canal which leads to the lake which leads to the river. I sat in the front, my dad in the back and Mom in between. Knowing that there was an alligator camped out not too far from us, and being so close to the water made both my mother and myself a bit nervous. The fact that the canal is only 8-10' wide wasn't encouraging either.
We finally reached the lake, which, personally, isn't very lake-like. If I didn't know better I would have thought that it was a slow moving river. It is more oblong in shape than it is round. As we traveled a bit heading towards the river, we saw a man in a canoe close to the shore. As we drew closer, we realized that he was checking out the alligator sunning itself on the bank. Not too much farther, I saw three small alligators in the water. I don't know how quickly they grow, but they were probably less than a year old. If I recall correctly, mating season is in about two months, and my guess would be that these guys were conceived last year. After seeing these new fellows, Mom was very unhappy, so soon after we returned to the park. Since Dad and I still wanted to explore a bit, we returned the canoe and we each went back out in a kayak. This time as we neared the end of the canal, we met a guide boat on its way back. One of the passengers asked something about going out in kayaks, and I heard the guide say, "...when an alligator sees a kayak...." I didn't catch the rest, but I'm not entirely sure that I want to.
Dad and I went into the lake to check it out. The alligator was still on the shore sunning herself and had moved only slightly since we were there last. We continued on and saw several turtles and even a blue heron. Now, Dad moves along at quite a pace and mosey down the way. So Dad is way ahead of me, and then suddenly out of sight. Now, remember what I said about the silence? Well, now it's unsettling. I'm all alone, surrounded my alligators, snapping turtles (big ones) and poisonous water snakes, and there's not another sound anywhere. In my head I know that all of these critters are cold-blooded and not too interested in moving around, but at the moment it wasn't too comforting. All along the shore line are these huge, bare, dead trees. As I look up into these desolate towers, what should I see but a dozen buzzards lingering. Now it's my turn to be unnerved, so I pick up my pace--a lot. I come to a sign that says Millie's River (I think), and I'm pretty sure that Dad went this way, but I'm not positive. I decide to take a chance, so I turn towards the river. This area is much more dense and closed in. After about 100 yards, I come to a fork. Now I really don't know what to do. Just as I decide to turn right, Dad appears from the left. He finally decided to check up on me!
So we head to the left, and it's really beautiful. I'm definitely going to have Dad show me how to put photos up here. You have to see this. After another 15 minutes I checked my watch. We've been out for over and hour and a half, and we have less than one to get back before the 5pm deadline. We go just a bit further, and reluctantly turn back. As we reenter the lake, we pass the guide boat again, so I feel secure knowing that if something happens, the guide will return soon and see us. Now we paddle back up the lake, and I see more turtles and an egret. Just as we're coming up on the canal entrance, I see a couple of otters playing in the water. We stopped and tried to be quiet hoping they would show up again, but they didn't. As we started towards the canal, the guide boat was returning. We decided to let the boat go ahead so that it wouldn't have to pass us in the canal. It's a tight fit.
Dad and I finally returned, much to Mom's relief. After reloading the kayaks onto the car we returned to the motorhome to get ready to leave in the morning.
I think January is a great time to check out the Okefenokee area. I'm sure it's astoundingly beautiful when all of the trees are full and the animals are more active, but there would also be more mosquitos! I was bitten by a very full mosquito on this adventure--in January. I'd be eaten alive in the spring! (by insect or alligator, take your pick)
All of this now brings us to this morning. We had a later than planned departure from the park. I think we were all a bit reluctant to leave. As we're leaving and are less than a mile down the 17 mile 'driveway' to the park, Dad asks me if I'd like to drive. Well, hey, why not!? It's flat, nearly straight, and nearly deserted. I think I can handle this. Let me just say I have a new-found respect for bus and tractor trailer drivers! Because you're so high up in the driver's seat, the perspective of where the lines should be is much, much different than driving a car or truck. I felt like I was driving in the middle of the road, but I was really in the middle of my lane! I think that near the end I finally hit 40mph. We then approached the stop sign at the end of the driveway, and Dad resumed driving. All in all it was a day for firsts. Mom and I could do this on our own...today she hooked up the car to the motorhome, and I drove. Mom said that we could do our own Thelma & Louise!
Anyway, we ventured forth and somewhere, I believe in Lake City, Dad got lost. Now he will deny that forever and say that he was looking for a grocery store, but don't believe him. We were lost. After half an hour of wondering where our road went, we finally got it right and headed to our current residence. Tonight we are staying at a cute campground in Old Town, FL. Thank goodness we have satellite here. Mom and I did our Thursday night routine. Friends, CSI, and The Agency. We really need to find something for the 8:30-9:00 space. Right now it looks like we might start watching Will & Grace.
I don't know if we're staying here tomorrow or not. I think we're going straight through to Ft Myers tomorrow, but I could be wrong. That does happen from time to time, despite popular belief. I believe that I am now current in my tales and will try to do better. Until next time....
Friday, January 18, 2002
Old Town, FL - Lehigh Acres, FL
This morning we did not get as early a start as we had hoped. In fact, we didn't leave until after noon. The road trip was fairly uneventful. There was some concern as to whether or not we would find gas at an acceptable rate before we ran out! Fortunately we did. We were quite lucky, in fact, because when we pulled in the sign said $1.14, and when we pulled out the sign had been changed to $1.11. We got our gas at the better price.
As we continued down the highway, we came across a Publix grocery store in Ocala. We stopped in there to buy some milk and other various items. At the rate we buy milk, I think we should buy a cow instead. It might be cheaper! Mom and I dallied in the store and Dad called McDill AFB in Tampa to see if the FamCamp had spaces. Unfortunately there were only a few spots left in the overflow, and we were informed that at the rate people were pulling in, it would be full within the hour; We were almost two hours away. About forty-five minutes later we pulled into a rest stop for coffee. As I stand up I hear Mother exclaim, "I can't believe it. Not another black cat!" You guessed it--a second black cat in our adventure. Lying in the grass was a beautiful black cat. However, about ten feet away was a pure white cat. Mom decided that they cancelled each other out, so we were okay. Our theory is that the cats were dumped at the rest area by some one. They weren't exactly afraid of people, but they wouldn't let you approach.
Anyway, considering how close we were to Ft Myers, we decided to drive all the way to my grandmother's house. We arrived around 7:30, so it was a very long day--especially for Dad. For the night we are parked across the street from Grandma's. Tomorrow we'll move to a campground in LaBelle. Walking up to the house we were greeted by my Aunt Sandy, Uncle Allen and Nurse Linda. We sat and chatted with them for a while before Linda left for the evening. Hopefully Aunt Sandy, Linda and a friend will get to go away for the weekend for some R&R.
After Linda had gone we went inside to say hello to Grandma. Aunt Sandy made some dinner for us, and Mom and I went into Grandma's room to sit and visit with her. After several hours of animated conversation we decided to retire for the evening. It has been a long day, and uneventful for the most part.
Saturday, January 19 & Sunday, January 20, 2002
Lehigh Acres, FL & LaBelle, FL
Saturday morning we woke up across the street from Grandma's. Mom and Dad had already been inside visiting for a while before I got up. After I had showered and dressed, I went inside to be social. Aunt Sandy had already left for her weekend of fishing. Since Mom and Dad had been up for a long time, Dad decided to take the motorhome to the LaBelle campground. After he had left it wasn't too much longer until Uncle Allen left. Now it was just Grandma, Mom and myself in the house. Grandma was very tired and slept for most of the day. Saturday was more or less boring. Mom and I sat around reading our books and playing cards. Finally Dad returned and brought food. There was absolutely none in Grandma's--whatever had been there the day before went with Aunt Sandy. Uncle Allen came back not too much later, and was surprised to find out that Aunt Sandy wasn't coming back that night. There's not a lot of communication going on here. It's a good thing that Dad brought Mom some clothes, since she now had to spend the night. After a few more hours, Uncle Allen left and shortly after so did Dad and I. At this point no one has heard anything from my cousin, and the formal-wear shop had called twice about his tux--I guess there was no wedding!
Sunday was more eventful. After Dad and I were up we left for Grandma's. Uncle Allen was there when we arrived, so it was okay for Mom to leave for a while. The two of us went to laundromat to wash Grandma's laundry plus our own. It was my first time in a real laundromat! Other than the fact that it was nearly 80 degrees outside and even hotter inside, we actually had fun. The woman who worked there was very funny. She kept better track of who had their stuff in which machine than the customers! After an hour or so, someone came up behind me, much to my surprise. Well, it was Dad! He had gotten bored waiting for us, so he walked over. Twenty minutes later we finished. Mom and I then went to the grocery store so that we could have dinner. When we were done, the three of us went back to Grandma's. Shortly after returning, Aunt June (Grandma's sister) and her boyfriend, who looks like the KFC Colonel, stopped by to say hello. I haven't seen Aunt June in over 8 years, and I think she looks great! Her boyfriend, if you had to guess, looks about 75 years old. However, in a few months he will be 93!! Amazing. They only stayed for a little bit, but it was a very nice visit. After they left I went in to say hi to Grandma since she was awake. I brought in with me some photo albums. I had some pictures of my nieces, Katlin and Mary, and nephews, Scott, Patrick & Philip. Some she hasn't seen in years, and a couple she hasn't seen at all!
As Mom was finishing up dinner, Uncle Allen's wife, Susan, came by. I haven't seen Susan in years either, and she looks better than I remember, too! She and Uncle Allen decided to stay for dinner, which was a great time to catch up. After dinner Uncle Allen left, because he wasn't feeling well. Susan stayed for another half hour or so before she left. Apparently Aunt Sandy was staying away another night, so Dad and I stayed for another couple of hours to help Mom clean up and keep her company. It was finally time for us to leave, though. When Dad and I were back in the motorhome, we both decided that it is very strange without Mom here. Hopefully Aunt Sandy will be back on Monday, and Mom will be back with us!!
Monday, January 21 - Wednesday, January 23, 2002
LaBell & Lehigh Acres, FL
Monday morning Dad and I woke up again without Mom. Around 11AM we left and headed to Lehigh Acres. My grandmother was very tired and was sleeping for most of the day. Apparently she had been up a lot during the night, so Mom was tired, too. We spent the day hanging out and doing next to nothing. I took Aunt Sandy's cutie dog, Dolly for a walk. Dolly is a sweetheart, but is very shy around people she doesn't know--especially if Aunt Sandy isn't around to reassure her that you're an okay person! A little while later Dad and I made a quick trip to Wal-Mart. Dad was looking for some special hardware stuff, and I wanted to drop off film for developing. A few hours after Dad and I returned from our shopping expedition, Aunt Sandy and her boyfriend, Osborne, returned from their trip. After another couple of hours Mom, Dad and I left. All in all the day wasn't very eventful.
Tuesday held some more excitement. Mom and I got a late start, so we didn't get to Grandma's until after noon. Aunt Sandy wanted to do some laundry from her trip, so she and Osborne went to the laundromat. At about the same time Mom left to get a few things from Wal-Mart. That left me alone with Grandma for some girl talk. I was finally able to give Grandma a manicure which I had been meaning to do since we arrived. We had a lovely time together. After the manicure I gave her a hand massage which always feels good. When I had finished her hand looked beautiful! By this time Mom had returned and was soon followed by Aunt Sandy and Osborne. I made Grandma and Mom some tea, while Mom did some redecorating with items from the store. We stayed at the house until about 7-ish and then headed home. We had to make sure we were home in time to watch JAG! We are lucky, because while there is no satellite reception, the antenna picks up one station--CBS.
This morning Mom, Dad and I were planning to go to Ft Myers. However, we again had a late start, so we might go tomorrow instead. Mom and I headed out to Grandma's leaving Dad alone again. I have absolutely no idea what he did today, but I'm sure he was productive. :-) When we arrived at Grandma's Linda, the hospice nurse, was there. There were a lot of mixups and serious lack of communication over the weekend while Linda was away, so Aunt Sandy and my Mom called Sharon, the inept administrator type, to attempt to straighten things out and figure out why the problem happened in the first place! During this conversation with Miss Sharon, it was discovered that one of the weekend nurses put in her notes that a medication was changed 'as per son's request.' Well, that was one of the most blatant lies going around today. Of course, since neither the patient nor the caretaker is allowed to see the nurses' notes, that lie wouldn't have been found until possibly too late, and if something happened due to that medication change, hospice would have been in the legal clear. So now our concern is that a large percentage of nurse-notes and actual events have no resemblance to each other. How many corners can you cut? Doesn't the patient have a right to know? I sure think so! But anyway...if things continue to develop as they are, someone may end up writing a letter to the editor of the local paper. Right now Hope Hospice is running a huge PR campaign, and a negative letter expressing their inadequacies is the last thing they need.
I did get to see my cousin Michael and his fiancee Karen. They stopped by Grandma's on their way back to California. This was the first time I had seen Michael in almost 15 years!! Karen seems very nice. They stayed for about an hour before heading out. They figure it will take about 4 days before they're home. I told them that we'll see them in a few months when we get to California.
Since Aunt Sandy needed to get some groceries but didn't have a car, I took her to the store. We looked around a got a few things and had a nice outing. When we got back to Grandma's, Uncle Allen had arrived but didn't stay for too long. Another 20 minutes later, Mom and I decided that we should get going. So we said good-bye to Grandma and Aunt Sandy and drove home. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to check out Barnes & Noble and others in Ft Myers!
Thursday, January 24 - Friday, January 25, 2002
LaBell & Lehigh Acres, FL
Yesterday was a busy day. Mom, Dad and I left the motorhome around 11ish and went to Grandma's. We stayed for about 45 minutes and then left for Ft Myers. Our first stop in Ft Myers was the shell factory, which is actually in North Ft Myers. I remembered going to the Shell Factory when I was a little girl and my dad bought me a shell with my name on it. I thought it was pretty cool, and I wanted to buy a couple as gifts. However, when we got there, we found out that they no longer do that. Oh well.... We then drove over to Barnes & Noble. We probably spent a couple of hours browsing around and then had some coffee from the cafe. I bought several books including a couple of Patricia Cornwell books I didn't read yet. Mom also bought a couple, so we should be set for quite a while. In the same shopping center there was a Target, and I love Target. Mom and I went in while Dad sat in the car reading the paper. There wasn't too much in the store so we didn't get much. We then ventured across the street to TJ Maxx where I bought two summer dresses. One is a great deal--a $100 Harve Bernard dress for $20! After TJ Maxx we were done and drove back to Lehigh Acres. Just before my grandmother's house is Wal-Mart where I had dropped off pictures a few days ago. We made a quick stop to pick up the photos and continue to Grandma's. Most of the pictures came out well, and I have now added some photo links to previous days' entries. You should check them out!
Anyway, we had dinner at Grandma's and then headed back to LaBelle. I went to bed early because of headache. However, Mom and Dad both started going through old photos, and since my bed is the couch, I went to sleep in my parents' room. At whatever absurd hour they finished, they woke me up so I could sleep in my 'room.'
This morning Mom went to Grandma's alone while Dad and I stayed home. The plan was that Mom would return at some point to bring me to Grandma's and then we would leave tomorrow. Things have gotten complicated since this morning, so we're staying at least for another day. Since that means that I'm staying home today, Dad showed me how to scan my photos and put them online! I'm playing with the idea of using my own disc in Dad's camera so that I can add photos on a regular basis instead of once a month or so. We'll see how this works. I'll have to figure out some sort of system so that when I add new photos, you'll know about it! Especially since I only use cool pictures! If you have any ideas, let me know.
Saturday, January 26 - Monday, February 4, 2002
LaBelle & Lehigh Acres, FL - Zolfo Springs, FL
Well, I've not made an entry in almost two weeks. In all actuality there has been nothing to write about. In all honesty, I'm not even certain of when we left my grandmother's house. My guess would be that we left on Monday, January 28. From the campground in LaBelle we drove half of a day to an Escapees campground in Zolfo Springs. It's a lovely campground, but I did not like it at all. Most campgrounds have friendly people, but I found this Resort Campground to be an exception. Not that there weren't friendly people for the couple across from us was very friendly and those next to us seemed alright. The Resort seemed to have more than its fair share of grumps and we encountered them often. I'm glad to have left. Today, February 4, we are traveling. Presently we are going through bustling town called Winter Haven. I'm not entirely certain what our destination for the day is. I think that once we are out of Florida things will become interesting again. This trip through Florida had done nothing but confirm my long standing hypothesis that I could never live in the state. The weather has been wonderful (the 80's in January!) but I find the people to be a larger turnoff than the humidity in July. Unless it is my luck (and if it follows suit with the last 24 years, it will be) to be stationed in this state, I doubt I will ever return.
Tuesday, February 5, 2002
Yesterday we arrived at Sumter Oaks Campground in Sumter, Florida. Shortly after my entry yesterday, we had a slight detour. A few days earlier Dad had looked at directions to attend a RV Show in Ocala, and that was the map he had in his head while driving. Surprisingly it was Mom who realized we weren't going quite the way we ought. So we drove around and did some U-turns and rerouting and finally arrived here around 4pm. This campground is an older location newly aquired by Escapees, a camping club to which my parents belong. I find this campground to be very nice and the SKP's (the term for Escapee members) to be quite friendly.
Six o'clock brought with it a speghetti dinner which we attended with about 60 other SKP's. We sat with a jovial couple who are volunteer camp workers. In fact the wife, Merri, was at the office desk when we arrived. After a yummy dinner and unhealthy but just as yummy dessert, we returned to the motorhome. Mom and Dad have put their name on the list for sites available to lease. Since the camp in a new Escapee aquirement, the list for the available 25 sites, is a very low 70 names. This campground has compact dirt roads and an abundance of live oaks engulfed in spanish moss. I find this place to be quite charming and homey. When we left the Zolfo Springs camp (also and Escapee camp) we mentioned to our neighbor that Sumter was our destination. He told my dad that he had been to Sumter first and didn't like it at all and found Zolfo Springs to be much nicer. I guess it just goes to show you that everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a nice campground. (Zolfo Springs had paved roads, many 'park units' which are more or less permanant trailers, and only skimpy palm trees) As soon as we pulled in yesterday, the three of us all agreed that we liked this campground much better. Plus we find the other campers to be very friendly and upbeat. Our guess as to the attitude difference is that these are all campers who actually travel instead of spending months in one location. All of the Zolfo Springs folks seemed to be a semi-permanant group who knew each other and radiated an aura of unwelcome to 'transients.'
This morning Mom and I went to a line dancing class at 10:30. There were only two other 'students' plus the 'teacher.' We had a lot of fun, though. I picked this up pretty easily. I told Mom that I am much better at line dancing than ballroom dancing--Mom has tried to teach that to me often and I've never gotten the hang of it. After an hour the class was over, but we stayed and talked with the ladies for another twenty minutes or so. We then returned to the motorhome to see what Dad was up to. After another hour Dad and I went back to the clubhouse to shoot some pool. We each won a game by default and each won one on our own. Neither of us is amazing.
Wednesday, February 6 - Sunday, February 10, 2002
Not much has happened since our first full day here. We've driven into town (Bushnell) a couple of times. There is the smallest Wal-Mart I've ever seen, and some other shops. Bushnell appears to consist of a main street which is four lanes, and lasts about 2 miles with the school in the middle. This town is quite pastoral in appearance and the people seem to be rather friendly. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in my sweeping description of Florida in a previous entry. However, my general attitude is the same. As I think about that a bit, I find it interesting that I should have so many family members who live here, while I find it displeasing. I guess it goes to show that not everyone is of one opinion when describing paradise.
Yesterday we went to the Florida National Cemetery which is less than two miles away. When we arrived here, we hadn't realized exactly where we were: my maternal grandfather is buried in this cemetery. Mom went back today on her own, while Dad and I stayed at the motorhome. We went for a two-lap walk around the campground. I was a bit ahead of Dad, mostly because I would jog for a bit every now and then.
We plan on leaving tomorrow and heading towards the home of friends of my parents. I haven't seen the Stevenot's in years, so it will be nice to visit. Hopefully by the end of the week we will be at Tyndall AFB on the gulf coast. At that point we will be free to travel and do as we please. That should also mean that my entries will be more frequent than once a week and will be of more interest to you! One can only hope!
Monday, February 11 - Saturday, February 16, 2002
Bushnell/Sumter, FL -- Umatilla, FL -- Tyndall AFB, FL
Monday morning we gathered our things together and left Bushnell. We drove out separately, Dad in the motorhome and Mom & I in the car. Dad stopped at a welder's to have the front wheelwell fixed from our disastrous adventure on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Mom and I headed to the post office, hoping the rest of our mail from Texas had arrived. After a short wait in the bustling PO and collecting our mail, we headed back to the welder's to meet Dad. However, before we reached our destination, we passed him on the road. Mom made a quick U-turn, and we hooked up the car where Dad had pulled off the road. When we were all set, we continued our journey to Umatilla to spend a few days with the Stevenot's.
We arrived at the Stevenot's farm nearly two hours later. Mrs. Stevenot was there with her daughter Sharon, granddaughter D'Ayn, Sharon's horse Ghostly and the vet. Poor Ghostly might have vernicular (not too certain on the spelling, there), which is the same nerve disorder in the legs that my horse Che had years ago. After Ghostly had his shot and the vet had gone, we all greeted each other. I haven't seen Mrs. Stevenot and Sharon in over eight years, and this was my first introduction to Sharon's four year old daughter D'Ayn. For those of you who remember Shirley Temple, you have a pretty good idea of what D'Ayn's personality is like. She is quite inquisitive, and remarkably astute for a four year old! Anyway, we visited for a while before Mr. Stevenot came home and shortly after he and my father went to a dinner at the Lion's Club. While they were gone, us ladies had dinner and conversation and were afterwards entertained by D'Ayn who spent the night with her grandparents.
The next day was more visiting and catching up. Mr. Stevenot goes to his office in the morning and Mrs. Stevenot tends to the horses: Julie, Fanny, Sharon's Ghostly, and D'Ayn's pony Buster. When she has some free time, Mrs. Stevenot works with stained glass. All throughout their home there are beautiful pieces, ranging from windows to lampshades to kachinas, all of which Mrs. Stevenot made herself! Quite impressive. In a tour of her studio, she showed to us a couple of pieces she's working on. One is a large 4x4 scene with several swans and reeds and a 30" octagon with calla lillies--both are beautiful!
Sharon came over and asked if we wanted to see her house, plus two baby goats who were less than 18 hours old. Sharon and D'Ayn had come over on her 4-wheeler since her house is on the property adjoining her parents'. I rode over with Sharon while Mrs. Stevenot, D'Ayn and my mother rode over on the golf cart. Once we arrived we went into the small field where the goats were. Among them was another who looked ready to give birth at any moment! D'Ayn was able to catch one of the babies (kids?) which she then gave to me to hold, while she then caught the other. Jack and Jill are their names! They are so adorable--I haven't seen baby goats since my infancy! After a few minutes we returned them to their worried mom. In the adjoining pasture were three horses, one more beautiful than the next. Two belong to Sharon and the third is her husband's--I think that was the feisty one. Sharon then brought us into her house which is great! I told her I was taking notes for the someday when I build my own home! D'Ayn's room was painted wonderfully by her aunt in theme to a cartoon about dragons with which I'm not familiar. I would think it's a child's dream room! After a little while Mrs. Stevenot, Mom and I returned to the farm. Mrs. Stevenot's Julie is trained to pull a carriage and is often in competition. When we had returned to the farm, Mrs. Stevenot got Julie set up and took me for a ride around the pasture. It takes a lot of work to get the horse hooked and unhooked from the carriage--a lot of components. Julie was a bit out of shape, but it was a lot of fun. I got to pretend I was a footman for a day!
On Wednesday Mom, Mrs. Stevenot and I went shopping! We brought D'Ayn with us and met another mother with whom Sharon often carpools, who then brought D'Ayn to school. Our first stop was Target, one of my favorite stores! However I bought only a large flag sticker for Dad which he has been looking for. Everywhere we've looked there have been only magnetic flags, but the motorhome isn't metal, so therefor they won't work! Dad was quite happy with the flag when we returned after a few hours at the mall. I tried in vain to find a birthday gift for my sister-in-law, but didn't see anything appealing. So, Paulette, your gift is going to be a bit late! :-(
Later in the evening we had dinner and more conversation. Unfortunately, I wasn't overly social due to a persistent headache. Over the course of dinner it started to ease some, so I slowly became more friendly. Unfortunately the next morning my headache had reached migraine status and I couldn't even say good-bye to the Stevenot's, Sharon and D'Ayn. At some point we left and I stayed in the back bedroom for nearly the entire day. We arrived at a small campground behind a motel in Perry and spent the night. Two sites away was the same couple that had been our neighbors in Bushnell/Sumter several days before! Our neighbors on either side were both very friendly.
Friday morning we left Perry and headed west towards Panama City and Tyndall AFB. We stopped once for a quick lunch and arrived at Tyndall in the late afternoon. When we arrived we were set up in the overflow area and were third in line for a 'real' campsite. The FamCamp is separate from the rest of the base and is nestled in the woods with a small bay inlet off the Gulf of Mexico as one border. The campground is quite large, however. At around 5 o'clock Dad and I went for a walk through the campground and nature trail beside it. We jogged through a portion of the nature trail which ended up bring us out onto the highway a bit over a hundred yards from the FamCamp entrance. All in all were went over a mile. When we returned we played some horseshoes, in which I will never win any championships, and then went to the clubhouse to shoot some pool. After a couple of games we returned to the motorhome where Mom had dinner ready.
Today had a slow beginning, but we finally were moved to a 'real' site in the woods. It's quite lovely and quite secluded, despite the neighbors being only a few yards away. After we were settled Mom and Dad went to the commissary to buy some groceries since our cupboards were bare. While they were out my brother Gregory called and shortly thereafter my Aunt Bess called. While I was on the phone with her my parents returned from their little jaunt. After my mom and dad were off the phone, I told Dad he should return Greg's call--and he did!
After phone calls were complete, we had dinner and then some tea. Dad returned a call from Shane a few days ago and they spoke for a bit while Mom and I cleaned up from dinner. We then sat around reading various books and papers, before turning on the TV. The movie we had planned to watch was dreadfully boring, so it is now turned off and I am finally making some entries in my journal. The weekend might not have much to offer since it's a holiday weekend and much of the base will be closed. But we shall see...perhaps we will venture into Panama City....
Sunday, February, 17, 2002
Tyndall AFB, FL
This morning we woke up, had some coffee and conversation, and I had an orange! After breakfast Dad and I went again for a walk around the FamCamp. This time we started at the trail entrance, since that is very close to our new site. We figure our walk was about .8 miles, and we made it in about 14 minutes. When we came back Mom was on the phone with Grandma who was having a good day today. I then took a shower before we headed into Panama City. As we were about to leave the FamCamp, we noticed a tow car with two yellow kayaks similar to our. Lo and behold! It was the friendly couple who had been parked next to us in Perry! We pulled over to say hello as they were setting up. Right now they are in the overflow section where we had been, but I'm sure they'll have a site very soon.
Mom, Dad and I then continued on our way. We made a quick stop at the outdoor recreation center where Mom and Dad used the kayaks for the first time last year! After driving around we again headed towards Panama City. We just drove through town, paused outside the Canoe Shop where the kayaks were bought, and then made a wide loop to head back to the FamCamp. We made a quick stop at Wal-Mart to buy some milk since the commissary won't be open until Tuesday. Then we were really done and came back 'home'. Now we're just sitting around doing pretty much nothing. That I've gotten two paragraphs worth of activity from today is amazing!
Monday, February 18 - Monday, February 25, 2002
Tyndall AFB - Pensacola Naval Air Station, FL
Our week at Tyndall was embarrassingly uneventful. Had we not needed to wait for mail from my insurance company to arrive, we would have left much earlier. While the campground was, for the most part, nice, our site wasn't spectacular. Take that into consideration along with the fact that the FamCamp is off-base, and a week becomes a long time. Daily routine consisted of having coffee & conversation each morning, going for a walk and doing laundry or going to the clubhouse to play pool. I did, however, have fortune smile (or sneer) at me for I suffered a cold for about two days. In my humble opinion, if one must be so miserable, than you should at least have some snow instead of too cheery sunshine! My sick days coincided with being nearly too sore to walk. I had overdone exercising on day and paid for it the next two. Steps became something to fear! The third day saw much improvement, and I continued my walks. I was now, however, unaccompanied by my father since my pace needed to be much slower than previous excursions. To make up for the slackened pace, though, I did increase the length. After waiting too long for the mail and discovering that the needed form could be faxed, we decided to leave Tyndall on Saturday and headed straight to Pensacola.
Wow! The Naval Station here is beautiful, and huge! The campground is very nice and fairly new--it has been remodeled completely since Mom and Dad were here last year. The atmosphere is fraught with sexual tension: it appears to be mating season for the surrounding squirrels! The view from our site, and from a completely female perspective, is fantastic. There is a running trail which follows along and through the woods for several miles, part of which borders the campground. As a bonus, all runners must emerge from the woods to cross the driveway and continue on the trail! Again I say, "Wow!" Mom and I spend a great deal of time outside enjoying the 55 degree sunshine. Since I'm not one to let a great opportunity slip through my fingers, I have been walking and jogging along the trail everyday. Everyone is quite friendly. Presently I am sitting outside at the picnic table enjoying the changing scenery--wish you were here! :-) I could take photos if you would like.
I am certain that my male readers would like to hear of more than the fantastic sights. The campground is diagonal to the runway. Unfortunately though, for most of the time that we have been here planes have been starting from our end and taking off at the other. However for a few hours on Saturday afternoon they were taking off on our end. While much of the view is obscured by trees, the planes can be seen immediately after take-off. It is truly spectacular watching them, especially when two go together. The only drawback is that if you can see them, you are most certainly deafened by them.
At the moment Dad is scurrying around base trying to find the post office to mail something while Mom and I relax outside. My guess is that we will leave tomorrow, though I'm not certain. I am quite fond of the trail, and for reasons other than the creatures that inhabit the area. In the nearly two months I've been with my parents, I have had a great time. I can think of only one day of discord, i.e. arguing & sulking--my specialty, and I find that to be quite impressive. My parents realize that I treasure my privacy and make a point of giving me time alone at times. I in fact quite enjoy their company, and I think that living with them until at least June will pose little difficulty.
Tuesday, February 26 - Wednesday, March 6, 2002
Pensacola Naval Air Station, FL - somewhere near Foley, AL - Keesler AFB, Biloxi, MS
It's been too long since my last entry, so I'm not going to be able to give too many specifics. While I had thought in my previous entry that Dad was searching for the PO, he had actually gone to the Naval Air Museum about 150 yards down the road. While Dad was exploring the museum, he overheard a terrific guide and joined the group for a bit. When Dad returned raving about the museum and tour guide, we decided to check it out the next day. We finally made it to the museum by around 12:30ish--just in time for the one o'clock tour. Well, this tour guide was rather boring and long winded. Even Dad was glad when the guy finished! The museum is pretty cool, though. There are several planes with interesting stories specific to the actual plane. There is the plane George H. W. Bush flew as a pilot in training; a lookout plane the bombed and sank a German sub off the Gulf of Mexico during WWII, and several "orphan" planes which are the only ones of their model remaining in existence. Suspended from the ceiling you'll find the Blue Angels in formation. The planes are incredibly close at 3 feet apart, while in reality they fly only 2 feet apart!! Amazing!
After checking out the museum, we left the next day and headed to an Escapee park near Foley, Alabama. What a fantastic area! It's only about 25 minutes from Mobile, and the town itself is a find. On Thursday, Dad and I drove to Mobile to check out the USS Alabama, a destroyer from WWII. It was fascinating to walk through the ship on the self-guided tour. I can't imagine how long it would take a sailor to find his way around! It's amazing how much is actually available within the ship--if any part of the ship were to break, they had the ability to manufacture said part! The ship has to be self-sustaining. We also were able to walk into the turret chamber where the artillery shells were stored and loaded along with the three 90lb bags of gun powder required for firing. If there is no link on my page for a photo, Dad should have a few on his page.
Well, we stayed in Alabama for only a couple of days before heading to Biloxi, Mississippi and Keesler Air Force Base. When we were driving through, I wasn't overly impressed with Biloxi. We've now been here for a few days, and I've changed my mind. Dad commented that this would be a neat duty station, and I agree. What is essentially the main road through town runs right along the coast. It's two lanes each way--literally the high road and the low road! The eastbound lanes are dotted with pullover areas for parking access to the miles long public beach. There are several casinos, a couple of which we checked out yesterday. I could handle only a couple of hours before feeling ill due to the cigarette smoke. Mom, however, had oodles of fun! We also visited the local Barnes & Noble, which is a necessary part of traveling! The B&N is in Gulfport about 20 minutes away. While it's not large, it is one of the most comfortable B&N's I've checked out, and the cafe one of the coziest by far. I'm hoping that we'll stay here another day so that we can go back, but I'm not sure that's a possibility. Oh well, bummer for me.
Yesterday we called my brother Shane for his birthday. My brother Phil has a birthday coming up soon, as well. I'm publicizing my apologies for my tardiness in shipping their gifts, for I'm fairly certain that Phil's will be late as well. :-) Nothing else too exciting has happened, but we're having a good time. I'm not overly excited about the FamCamp here, and the camp host is a non-personality, but I like the base--it's quite comfortable. We'll be leaving here either tomorrow, or hopefully the next day. From here, who knows! Westward -ho!
Thursday, March 7 - Saturday, March 23, 2002
Keesler AFB - Louisiana - Livingston, TX - Johnson City, TX - Lackland AFB San Antonio, TX
Well now, I guess it's been a while since I made an entry. I know my brother Phil is not surprised. In all actuality, there wasn't a whole lot about which to write. Since it's been over two weeks, I can't remember everything, so I am able only to give the highlights.
When we left Keesler, we made our way to New Orleans, LA. Even though I had never been there, I've always had a bad feeling about the city. We were there for a couple of days, though. Mom, Dad and I went together the first day to walk around the French Quarter a bit. Now, I will admit that it is a pretty neat place, but it still gives me the creeps. The next day, Mom and Dad dropped me off at the local Barnes & Noble before they continued on to spend another day in New Orleans. The biggest surprise was when they returned and my father (Mr. Rural) announced that he could live in the French Quarter!!! I told him I'd visit every other year for a few days. All of the streets are one way and would be called alleys anywhere else. Definitely not for me.
Anyway, we left Louisiana and headed to Livingston, TX which is essentially my parents' base. We were there only for a few days. We collected our mail and continued on our way. Our next stop was Johnson City, home of LBJ. We had planned to spend a few days in the area, but Dad was getting weird pains, so we stayed one night then headed to Lackland AFB in San Antonio.
Sunday, March 24 - Tuesday, April 9, 2002
Lackland AFB, San Antonio - Laughlin AFB, Del Rio, TX - Carslbad Caverns, NM - Ft Bliss, El Paso, TX - Holloman AFB, Alamogordo, NM
If you have been here lately, you know that it's been a while and that my last entry had ended mid-sentence. So anyway, we stayed at Lackland for a few days while Dad went to the medical center to have his pains checked out. By the time he was seen, however, his pains had stopped, so the doctor didn't have much to tell. While we were there it was very crowded, because it was a graduation weekend for enlisted basic training which is at Lackland.
After a couple of days we left San Antonio and headed to Laughlin AFB in Del Rio which is right on the Mexican border. I absolutely loved this base. It is super small (the commissary has about 30 parking spaces!) The base is mostly for pilot training, so it's a very noisy place to be! I think, though, that because it is so small is why the base was so friendly. There were a lot of young families around. The base if very welcoming to FamCampers like us! Even the security officer at the gate when we arrived was super friendly.
Mom and I used the tennis courts one day for a few hours. We won't be in the US Open any time soon. I went walking a couple of times down a road that ends at a shooting range which you may not enter when the flag is flying. I decided not to take any chances and turned around at the sign. However, it was so hot and not a drop of humidity in the air that I got quite dehydrated. I was barely able to finish my walk one day without fear of passing out!
Since we were on base for Easter, Mom and I went to the base chapel for services. It was very nice. After church, we went back to the motorhome to pick up Dad and then went to the buffet at the Officers' Club.
At some point during our stay we walked across the border into Mexico. I was not very impressed, and we stayed only for an hour or so and then walked back onto the US. On April 1 we left Laughlin AFB and headed to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.
I was disappointed in our timing. I like bats a lot and was looking forward to seeing them, but the don't arrive at the caverns until May. Oh well. We did go into the caverns for a self-guided tour. They are pretty neat - 7 stories below ground - but in my opinion if you've seen one cavern, you've seen them all. Granted this is a huge cavern, I think it's much cooler if it's the first you've seen. We stayed for a couple of days before driving back into Texas to stay at the new FamCamp at Ft Bliss in El Paso.
First I'll say that El Paso is pretty big and busy. The FamCamp is off-base, but it's pretty nice. The rec-room has working gym equipment including a treadmill, cycle, and stairmaster. While Dad worked online and Mom did laundry next door, I spent about an hour on the equipment. Surprisingly, while I was worn out by the end, my muscles weren't sore the next day. On that next day, Dad and I drove over to Barnes & Noble to check it out. It isn't well maintained by staff, and it lacks the cozy feeling that most have. Since none of us particularly liked El Paso, we left and came to Holloman AFB.
Holloman is a small base as well, and home to super snazzy aircraft. The flight path goes directly over the FamCamp so we often get to see the planes. They are quite a sight to see. Today we went down the road to see the White Sands National Monument. They are very cool. We walked across some of the dunes--may I never be stranded in a real desert! We lucked out, too, because we caught a glimpse of a movie in the making. What movie, I don't know, but it has two beautified yellow Humvees. After spending quite a bit of time at White Sands, we returned to base, bought some groceries at the commissary, came home and had dinner! We're now in interesting territory so I'll probably have more to say. We'll be staying here for a week and it's just beginning! :-)
Wednesday, April 10 - Monday, April 15, 2002
Holloman AFB, Alamogordo, NM - Santa Fe, NM
We spent about a week at Holloman, which is surrounded by interesting day-trips. About 45 minutes into the mountains is an Apache Reservation. The landscape of the reservation is the most beautiful in the area--lots of forest and actual greenery. In the center of the reservation is a lodge and casino alongside a beautiful lake. After passing numerous dry riverbeds, it was quite a surprise to discover a lake. I imagine that if you were vacationing at the lodge, which offers golf, fishing, hunting and horseback riding, it would be a wonderful vacation. However, the casino alone doesn't offer too much. It's rather small, but it fits the need of the area just right. After staying for about an hour we headed back towards Alamogordo. We made several stops on the way including a darling antique store named 'Horsefeathers.' A wonderful couple own it and basically enjoy running the business as their retirement. We then stopped at a couple of tourist traps with some fun stuff to offer.
The following day Dad took the motorhome to a welder to have a flagpole mount attached. Since we didn't know how long he'd be gone, Mom and I took a road trip to Cloudcroft, a small village about 30 minutes into the mountains. The village runs about a mile along the road, but about 3 blocks on either side consist of nothing but shops and boutiques. Mom and I spent about 2-3 hours exploring the different shops--mostly checking out some of the beautiful jewelry. While we were tempted, we didn't buy anything, hoping that we'd have a larger selection once we were in Santa Fe. We headed back to the FamCamp empty-handed, realizing it was a good thing Dad wasn't with us since he'd have been bored with the shopping! The only thing Dad would have liked was the view, especially on the way back down the mountain. At one point if you looked out across the basin towards more mountains, you can see the White Sands--the sand is so white that it gives the impression of clouds surrounding the mountain tops It's amazing how vast the sand dunes are--you can't grasp the expanse when you're walking the dunes.
We didn't do too much else except check out the base and make quick runs to Wal-Mart waiting for my photos to be developed. When my photos were finally ready late Sunday afternoon, so we spent the last bit of the day getting our stuff together so we could leave early the next morning.
Today we left Holloman AFB by 10 o'clock and headed to Santa Fe. The terrain here is quite beautiful. It certainly is quite different from the rolling hills and gentle mountains of Virginia and the sandy beaches of Long Island that I've been used to, but it's beautiful in its own right. We arrived at an RV park a bit after 4 o'clock and plan to stay here for a few days. Looking over the literature we have on Santa Fe, Mom and I decided we're going to love it--it is loaded with stores, shops, boutiques, art and jewelry. and a great day-spa. I just hope Dad finds stuff to do! :-) Fortunately the RV park is pretty much in the center of town, so everything is near. I'm sure the next several days will be fun.
Tuesday, April 16 - Monday, April 22, 2002
Santa Fe, NM - Albuquerque, NM - Gallup, NM
Santa Fe is wonderful! If you ever visit, I highly recommend bringing your best credit card, and make sure you have cash handy. The Indian jewelers who set up on the Palace of Governors accept cash only--they have great jewelry at the best prices.
We got a late start on Tuesday when we headed into downtown Santa Fe. For those who know Charlottesville, VA it is very similar to the Downtown Mall without the cobblestone. The shopping district is centered around the Plaza, which is a lovely park-like area about one city block in size, and radiates about a quarter mile in each direction. The first store we entered ended up being my favorite. If you are a serious shopper, you really have to spend at least one day checking out the stores before you buy anything: each store has nicer stuff than the one before. As we approached the Palace of Governors, we decided to see what the Indian Artists had on display. Some items were quite exquisite, while others looked almost mass-produced (in these cases the artist probably bought all of the pieces ready-made and simply put them together for a finished product). After walking up and down we settled on two pieces. Dad bought for Mom a lovely bracelet of silver, onyx, and gold. The artist was very nice and explained how she made the bracelet and why it was more expensive than the bracelet which was identical but without the gold. Basically, she can buy silver rope and just cut the amount she needs for any given piece, whereas for the gold rope, she has to buy the gold and make the roping herself. After purchasing the bracelet (which required a trip to the ATM since none of us carry cash) we walked to the other end to look again at the necklace I liked. After trying it on again, Dad bought it for me. In the sunlight the silver beads between each turquoise stone really show up, and it looks beautiful! What's so neat about buying jewelry this way instead of at a store, besided paying less than half retail price, is that you meet and talk to the artist who created the piece. This way your jewelry has a story.
At this point we were a bit hungry, so we went into a small cafe for a late lunch. After splitting a sandwich we decided it was time to call it a day and head home. As we were heading out of downtown, Dad wanted to find the Borders bookstore that he knew was nearby. Well, we found it and it sure looked puny, especially to a loyal B&Ner like me! Dad decided it wasn't really worth going in, so we went straight back to the motorhome.
On Wednesday, now knowing the extent of stores, we left much earlier. While our first planned stop had been the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, we found out that it is closed on Wednesdays--doesn't that just figure! Today we strolled down different streets than the day before. After a couple of hours Dad wanted to sit for a cup of coffee, so Mom and I left him at a cafe as we continued down the street. In one store there was a beautiful sage green silk dress with dark green embroidery from India. I tried it on, and it looked great. However it was expensive and some of the darts weren't even so we decided against buying it. It's not really such a loss, though, because I don't have opportunity to wear dresses very often. As we headed back up the street, we returned to the Tribal Cafe where we left Dad and joined him. The coffee there was excellent! I'm so glad we went to this cafe instead of the Starbucks across the street.
After we had rested a bit, the three of continued shopping. Well, it actually didn't remain three for too long. Dad was finished and wanted one of us to return him to the motorhome. After some discussion, we decided that Dad could go back and then pick us up a couple of hours later. After Dad left, Mom and I kept on shoppin'. After an hour we were hungry and returned to the cafe with the great coffee. I had a spinach, pesto and feta cheese wrap that made the Greek in me very happy. Again Mom commented how yummy the coffee was, so I bought some of the house blend beans for my parents. When we were done, we started in on the stores again. The fact that I have a weakness for jewelry makes it so very hard to walk out of store without anything. It's like putting an addict's drug of choice in front of him and saying, "Don't touch," and expecting him not to struggle. But anyway, I contained myself. As we neared the time when Dad would pick us up, we headed back to the Plaza. As we passes the first store from the day before, I went in again for it was my favorite. I wanted to check out a pair of earrings I had noticed before intending to negotiate a price (a lot of stores here do that). However, my earrings were gone! But before I could mourn for too long, Dad had arrived and it was time to go.
The next day we left for Albuquerque First, though, we had to have some warranty work done on the motorhome, and we had to be there at 8am. Not exactly my cup of tea. We figured the work would take a couple of hours, so while Dad waited with the motorhome, Mom and I took the car to the grocery store for the cupboards were bare. As luck would have it, we arrived at the shopping center right as TJ Maxx was opening at 9:30! How fortunate! After spending about 45 minutes checking out the cleanest, most well-kept TJM we'd ever been in, we left with some crystal iced tea glasses and a new pocketbook. After about an hour in the grocery store we headed back to the 'shop' only to find that work had barely begun! It was probably another hour or so before the man finally finished and we could leave. Once we were finally on the road, we made the fairly short trip to Kirkland AFB in Albuquerque
Albuquerque is big and dirty, so I'm not a fan. I didn't particularly like the base either, but for the night it was fine. Across from the motorhome was a field full of prairie dogs! They're very cute and about the size of a ferret. The next morning we left with our destination being Gallup, NM where we are now at Red Rock State Park.
Saturday we decided to go Zuni, the heart of the Zuni Reservation about 40 miles from the state park. When we arrived it was time for lunch so we ate at a small diner with about 7 tables. After lunch we checked out the stores. All pieces are marked retail prices, but you can barter to nearly 50%. You won't get the same great deals you could get from the vendors at Palace of Governors in Santa Fe, but you'll still beat store prices by a lot. There are two All Tribes Indian Centers in Zuni. The first store is adjacent to the diner. This is the store where Mom and Dad bought a beautiful pendant for me two years ago. This time there wasn't much in the store except for a fantastic bracelet that I dream about for it's way out of my price range. We left the first store and headed to the next, stopping at a couple of others on the way. The second All Tribes had a wider variety, with a vast selection of pottery. If I hadn't rented out my house, I would have bought myself a piece of pottery, but I haven't a place for it now. I did find, though, a deer fetish for a friend. A fetish is similar to a carving, in fact it is. The difference between a fetish and a carving is simply a matter of belief--if you believe the carving has power, it is a fetish. The Zuni are considered to be the most skilled at carvings, and many other tribes acquire their carvings and amulets from the Zuni. I tried on a couple of rings. There was a very different style ring in the same tray as the one I was looking at, so I tried on the different one. Surprisingly I liked the ring very much, but the size was too large for my finger. On the way back to Gallup I remembered that the first All Tribes had similar rings, so we decided we'd go back on Monday if I didn't find one I liked in any store in Gallup. Well, when we finally got back into town, it was nearly six o'clock and the stores were closing. Since we still wanted to see what was available in the "Indian Jewelry Capital of the World" we decided to stay extra days so we could shop on Monday, too.
Since Sunday was an unexpectedly open day, Dad and I decided to hike to Church Rock, which I think looks more like a castle, but no one consulted me for the naming. We left around noon for what we thought would be a simple two hour trek. Well, we were wrong on both the simple and the two hours. We though we would follow obvious trails to and from the rock, but the trails are subtle, if visible at all, and there a hundreds from which to choose! We came to several dead ends, and after two hours we weren't even at Church Rock! We finally found what looked like a well-worn trail and followed it up the hill to the ridge. After rounding a corner, we encountered a herd of goats. At first I thought they might be wild goats, but then I heard a bell around the neck of one. As we started to pass the goat, we, or rather Dad, was nearly attacked by a pack of dogs. We figured they might be wild, too, for they were very mangy looking. There were about eight of them and they surrounded Dad completely. I was about 12 yards behind Dad, and they weren't interested in me for the moment. Most of the dogs were content simply to bark, but I heard one of them growling. Rule of thumb is that if a dog barks at you, you're okay, but if he growls, you need to worry. I wasn't happy to hear one growling. Dad couldn't do anything because they were around him in a very tight circle, and even after he told me to find a stick, there wasn't anything nearby to use. Finally a little old Indian lady came over the hill. Both Dad and I relaxed a bit, but the dogs didn't leave him until she actually passes us. I told Dad she certainly could have called them off when she first saw them going at Dad. His response was that maybe she knew they wouldn't really attack. I told Dad that might be the case, but she didn't know what he'd do to the dogs. I can almost guarantee that if Dad brought his gun as he had considered, there would have been at least one shot fired. If a warning shot wouldn't have scared them off, the growling dog would not be hale and hearty.
When we could finally continue, we were grateful to be on our way. We started up a hill that was about a 50 degree angle for about 100 yards. When we reached the 'top' we had to climb an 80 degree incline for about 50 yards before reaching the plateau at the base of Church Rock. We circled to the front of the rock (the side facing camp) and called Mom on the radio. Dad told her to get out the binoculars and that we would wave to her. Mom was less than thrilled to see where we were! Now that we had reached the rock, we figured it would be an easier trip back. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The first trail we were on, which looked like a good one from Church Rock, ended at a rock ledge with a hundred foot drop. Needless to say we decided to turn around. We found a nicer looking trail and gave this one a shot. We encountered what sure looked like a dead end, and we could see a well-worn trail about 15 feet below the rocks we were on. At this point we've been gone for over three hours, we're tired, and just want to get back home!! On the trail below a guy appears and we ask him if he's on his way up or down. He's on his way up, but says he had a hard time. Apparently he shimmied up a 30' chimney-like crevice. After a few minutes, he find a way up to where we are, and suggests that we head back on the trails on the opposite side of the 'canyon' because that's the easier trail. Well, that was the way we came, and we most certainly did not want to turn around and backtrack that far. We figured we'd go the way he came and take each obstacle as it came. After the three of us chatted a bit and complained about how absolutely worthless the map was, we parted ways. Dad and I took no comfort that the guy, who had legs like tree trunks, said he had difficulty on the trail we were about to take.
We slid a bit down the rock we were on and made it to the trail below. As we continued on our way, the trail became very narrow with a wall of rock on our left and a 100' or more drop on our right. If we lost our footing, that would be it. Between worry and frustration, I was not a happy camper. We than came to another edge where the trail seemed to wrap around the rocks, but about 30' below was a beautiful and much used trail. Dad and I were trying to figure out a way to get down. Just as I handed Dad my camera and was about to start down, a lady with a young girl and a very happy dog came into sight. Since her dog was super friendly and loves people, quite different than our previous dog-encounter, she wanted to say hi to us! Dad told me to wait and watch the dog. However the dog came up to us was the way we were going to go down. Well, she made her way to us, gave us kisses, and showed us the way down to the trail. I love that dog. We were so happy to get to this trail, because we now encountered pedestrian traffic, and knew the trail must be an easy one. We finally reached the dry river bed which brought us back to the field next to the campground. I joked around with Dad that we were barely ambling along just like characters in the movies who've been stranded in the desert and are about to drop--we were very wobbly. When we were about 150 yards from the motorhome, I told Dad I'd race him. His response: "I am racing." :-)
When we climbed into the motorhome (at this point our legs were rejecting the idea of stairs) Mom had cold drinks ready for us. After a couple of drinks, Dad took a nap while I took a shower. We then had dinner and then spent some time just hanging out. Afterwards Dad took his shower while Mom and I played Uno. When Dad was done, we all went to bed. It was around 10 o'clock and the earliest we've gone to bed! I don't know about Mom, but Dad and I were worn out!
Today Mom and I decided to head back to Zuni. We had each seen something there and decided it worth the trip. Dad decided to stay put while we went to spend more money. I went back to the first All Tribes and found the same style ring I wanted in the right size. Mom helped me negotiate the price down from $87 to $55, and I left a very happy person! After our purchasing we returned to Red Rock where I showed off my ring to Dad. It might be the first thing I've bought for myself on this trip so far! After we'd been back about an hour, Mom and Dad headed back into Gallup to check out all of the stores there. The last week has worn out my shopping ability for a while, so I decided to stay in the motorhome while they went. Plus I know that we have lots of neat places to check out in the next few weeks, so I have make my money last.
While Mom and Dad are gone, I'm using the time to update my travel log. I shot almost two rolls of film on our hike, and I'm even going to splurge on one hour photo processing, so I should have pictures up pretty soon. That should make Phil happy! ;-)
June 11, 2002
Well, this is my final entry. There will be no more photos (not that I had a lot to start with) and no more charming anecdotes. I'm staying here in California with my aunt while my parents continue on their adventures. I never thought I'd live too far from the east coast, but one can alway surprise oneself! Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed the sporadic entries I've made and continue to enjoy the travels of my parents.