Friday, December 30, 2011

Moving Three Hundred Yards

Yesterday we decided to get set up in our new spot. Our big fear was would Bella start?? It's a nuisance to have to pack up everything for such a short move, but it is regular Departure Lists for both of us. We don't need stupid mistakes on top of this month's fiascos. So when we were all ready, Gary turned the key. It took about five (endless) seconds, but she started and purred all the way to the other side of the lake to our new spot.

We don't have as pretty a view of the lake, but we feel very cozy here. If our computer was working, I'd show you a photo, but that will come someday. Gary gave this spot a six and a half to seven, and could hardly wait to whip out the rug, grill and awning. All settled outside, sitting in our chairs with a cool drink...ahhh.

Since Gary got a Panera gift card for Christmas, and it was burning a hole in his pocket, today we had breakfast at - guess where. Then we visited our local Hallmark store to pick up some cards. My niece, Jennifer, and her husband just delivered a baby girl, Gabrielle, on Monday. And a former co-worker, Eric, and his wife delivered twin girls. A couple of birthdays and we were finished. It was very tempting to go after-Christmas sale shopping, but we shouldn't buy anything until next year. Oh, that's a few days away. Well, OK, I can wait that long.

There will be New Years Eve parties going on at the clubhouses, and one of the best New Year's Eve parties I have ever been to (I'm surprised to say) was last year at our winter campground in Davenport, Fl. We'll see what happens this year.

We did try to fix the washer/dryer by taking off the kick panel and cleaning the filter. It had some gunk in it, but when I threw in a small load, it washed fine, got warm, but did not dry very well. We are constantly checking the web, calling and asking other campers. I'm sure we will be able to fix this ourselves. It would really be nice to fix SOMETHING all by ourselves. Determination, grrrr.

We tried FaceTime with our iPad and our grandson, Jack's, iTouch he received for Christmas. It was really awesome! The picture was clear, just like tv and the only thing you needed to do was talk one at a time, otherwise the two cancel each other out. And it's FREE!

Any resolutions out there? Our most important one is to get the best medical care for Gary to get better. He is still improving slowly, but fast enough to notice.

That alone makes us happy campers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On to Another Year

Christmas has come and gone, and we hope you had as much fun as we did.  Spending the day with four little children is certainly exhilarating.  We were laid out flat the next day.  Of course, catching colds from the little ones was certainly not in the plan.

Tuesday we found out that we could stay in our present park for another month while deciding what to do.  We might need to stay in the Tampa area for at least 6 months.  So we might have to sell Bella and find a condo or someplace.  Ohhhh, yikes.  This was definitely not in the plan.  But I'll keep you informed.  Sometimes you have no choice.  Sometimes you do. 

Wednesday we visited Gary's oncologist who will confer with the Tampa doctors to confirm their plan of attack.  Then we will have a better idea of what to expect.  Right now we are going to enjoy the great weather and catch up with friends.  Even some friends who we accidently met in a campground with a DutchStar that was purchased at the same RV dealer as us.  We saw their rig in one campground, but they left the next day, and then we met at another campground a little while later, and got to know David and Arlene Harrison a little better.  They are in Florida for a time and we plan to meet next week.  Silver linings...

Oh, here are some photos of a sick Bella. 

First tow trucks

Delivered to Tampa Truck Center

Second tow truck

Back to Tampa
So, in the end we would not recommend this.  Fortunately we had a tow service, CoachNet, who towed us about 100 miles with no cost to us.  But we would have preferred to drive, without incident, but that's life on the road.

Meanwhile we will enjoy the Florida sunshine, maybe get some kayaking in with Terri and John and visit with our other friends.  If you're around let us know!  We'd love to see you!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tough Decisions

Monday Gary got up and ran over to the lab to get blood drawn then complained to me about the jeep wanting to turn into Panera's driveway on the trip home. I had been getting the coach ready for her big scary trip to Freightliner tomorrow, but asked him if we did go for breakfast, he needed to come with me for my bone scan and mammogram. He agreed so off we went. We needed a few things at Walmart, then headed home. We continued to work around home until we were packed up and ready to go. We set the alarm for 6:30 and hit the hay.

Needless to say, whenever the alarm is set we a) don't sleep well and b) wake up before the alarm goes off. Yep, that's what happened. We were so worried about Bella.

We really thought we would be able to make it to Freightliner in Tampa but Gary was worried about her dying on the road. But we were ready to leave, had the jeep hooked up, and fired up the engine. Ohhh, lots of gray smoke and noise. We shut her down. What now? Call the man, of course. We use CoachNet as our roadside emergency service, and they sent out a 40' wrecker within the hour. At 10.30 Tony showed up, tried her engine, but thought it might be a sensor that could possibly shut down at any time. Then the bad news. He had the wrong truck. We have independent suspension, so we needed a 'bus bar'. The bar that secured the front wheels to cross bars. We had to wait until 1 pm but these guys treated Bella like she was theirs.

We finally got moving about 1:30 and arrived at Tampa Truck Center around 3 pm. Larry was the guy that works on RVs and usually leaves at 3, but he hung in there until he could give us a diagnosis. Since we didn't have a check engine light, there was no 'code' to determine the problem. Larry started her up after Kevin unhitched her from the tow truck, and she was fine!! They hooked up the diagnostic laptop to her, but couldn't find a thing. The thought was bad gas or water or something had worked itself out. They charged us an hour labor, and we drove out and 20 minutes later pulled into LazyDays for an overnight stay. We planned to get up to Clermont on Wednesday for our inside service. She drove absolutely fine...

Wednesday we woke up and took advantage of a free breakfast then got back to hitch her up. Well, she didn't want to start, but finally got going OK. One minute after getting onto Rte 4, a check engine light appeared. Yikes. But then it went off. And stayed off. In hindsight we probably should have turned right back around, but kept going thinking she had coughed up the 'hairball'. But just past the second toll booth, the light came on again. Quick call to TTC who told us to pull over and they'd send a tow truck. We remembered to ask for one with bus bars.

Mike finally got there and towed us all the way back to Tampa. We needed to stay in a nearby hotel where we worried about how much it was going to cost, but we didn't need to wait long. The code was revealed, and it was an expensive little piece called a fuel pump. Bummer. The next morning, we got another call with more bad was going to cost a little more for injectors that they had to ship from Illinois. Being the shipping nightmare time of year, we weren't sure we would be in our coach for days. But these guys cared as we explained this was our home, and put a rush on everything and worked overtime. We stayed overnight at my daughter's and waited to hear if the shipment came in. Our wish was granted, they had her ready at 5pm, but we decided to wait until Saturday morning instead of battling last-day-before-the-holiday rush hour traffic.

We spent another night at Michelle's and got up this morning to pick her up. She purred like a kitten. A very expensive kitten.

As far as Gary's appointments at Moffit, the doctors want him to stay in the area to try some new treatments and possibly a clinical trial. Moffit is the second best cancer treatment/research center in the nation, so we didn't hesitate. This has changed our plans of traveling out west this winter. Huge bummer. But we are doing what we need to do right now, and that's how things work out. Maybe it's part of the silver lining we were looking for? Time will tell.

One day I will get the pictures of us being towed by our trucks on the blog, and maybe some others when we can get our computer to cooperate.

Meanwhile, we are with family after all this Christmas holiday, surrounded with lots of children so it promises to be a blessing. Gary and I wish all of you a wonderful Holiday Season and a happy and safe New Year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekend Fun

Saturday was a gorgeous morning, so Panera was our breakfast choice. (We should really buy stock in Panera) Our tools were packed: caulk and gun, sneakers and socks, rake, broom and front door key. It was roof cleaning day at the house. A call to our tenant found him Christmas shopping, so we parked the jeep and got our ladder and power washer from the garage. Gary had planned to replace some window sills, but he isn't allowed to lift a power saw with his arm, so he caulked and cleaned, inspecting the whole house, while I climbed our Little Giant ladder to the roof and began power washing.

Does it feel weird going into your own house and seeing someone else's furnishings, clothes and personal belongings in it? Oddly enough, not at all. Our tenants are really nice people, and it feels like we are friends visiting, than landlords checking on their house. They take very good care of it, and tell us they love it. They even made us an offer to buy it. If Gary was perfectly healthy we could consider it, but we're not quite ready to sell.

Meanwhile, the power washing was going well - I only had 20 more feet, but then the motor started sounding strained. I turned it off a bit thinking it was overheating and helped Gary clean the gutters. Turning it back on, I knew I had a matter of minutes until it died. Yep, that's what happened. Bummer. So I finished by using the jet setting on the hose and getting 3 inches away from the tiles. I was wet, dirty, hot and tired. But a relatively happy camper. The roof did look much better. By then our tenant returned from his shopping trip and offered us some jerk chicken he had just finished cooking. Sweet guy. We passed, drove home and took showers and I did a little more decorating for Christmas.

Then we decided to visit our favorite foodie restaurant KUMO for some sushi. I hear some of you saying yuuck, but others saying yummmm. It was so beautiful I wish we had the camera. Even if you dislike eating fish bait, you must admit it is beautiful, no?

Sunday we were disappointed that it was so windy and we had planned to kayak with Terri and John Shea. We love our SeaEagle 380SE, but it can be more difficult to handle on windy days as it's so large and filled with air. Now if you're heading in the right direction you can really fly across the water, but get ready to get wet - lots of splashing. That was no problem for John and Terri, we went to plan B. They arrived around 12:30 in a red Escape! That was our other car that we decided to sell and use our jeep for the towed vehicle.

Hugs all around and they came on in. We started talking, decided to keep talking and go out for dinner. They are so excited to start full-timing in a couple of years, but anxious about only one thing - how to make a living on the road. With no income from retirement or other source, they will need to find work on a regular basis. Just like much of the RV community. One can't have too much money as an RVer, but you at least need to break even, and it can be done. And most importantly, doing what you love in the lifestyle you have chosen for yourself. Doing what you want with your life, and not what others expect of you. Very liberating.

We finally listened to our tummies and headed out for dinner at MiPueblo, a Mexican restaurant in our 'hood. The boys had tacos that came with some hot - and they found out how hot - sauce. They both needed some our sour cream to help their eyes stop watering. We came home and talked a little more, until their son called wondering where they were. Well, that's a switch. We gave big goodbye hugs, or rather see you later hugs, and they headed home.

We love this lifestyle. If we had not decided to do this, we wouldn't have purchased a kayak, braved the alligators on the Myakka river and met John and Terri, who, will, I know be great friends. You gotta love it! Happy, happy campers.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Singing the Blues Instead of Christmas Carols

Today we were expecting a mobile RV repair truck to come and discover what's wrong with Bella.  Even though we drained some fluid from the water/fuel separator, John changed the filter and everything.  (Fortunately we had purchased a filter from our Camp Freightliner class as a spare).  That didn't work.  He left and came back 30 minutes later with a diagnostic tool.  After everyone in the place listening to Bella's coughing and sputtering while he played with his tool for 10 minutes, he still didn't know the answer.  "I suggest you take her to Freighliner or Caterpillar.  I think it's blahblahblah, but that didn't register and sometimes it won't on these meters.  You should be OK to drive it there."  Holy cow.  Lots of moolah for that visit.

So we went inside and Gary made an appointment with Freightliner in Tampa for next Tuesday.   

We were free to go, so stopped by Best Buy to pick up our 'fixed' computer, stopped at storage to throw more stuff in, then on to Florida Cancer Center for Gary's shot.  His poor little wing is still 'broken', so he looks pitiful sometimes.  But he is very brave and tolerating the pain.  We're just hoping this new medication works quickly.

Since our computer is actually working at the moment, here are the pictures I promised you:
Banana Coffee Meringue Pie

I am now working on my dinosaur IBM laptop to get this posted.  

Wednesday was another appointment day with Doctors, banks and getting the Jeep washed.  She finally is rid of all Pigeon Forge mud.  I forgot she was black.
It continues to be beautiful weather in the 80s and the weatherman says to expect Christmas Day to be around 80 too.  Even though we've decorated a little bit, and I've bought and wrapped gifts, it still feels weird to have Christmas so warm.  Don't get me wrong, I love the heat!  But for one day, I'd like it to snow and that would be Christmas Day.  Of course, the southern hemisphere has never known it any differently, so snowy Christmas scenes and movies must seem totally foreign to them.  Anyway, I like it warm and sunny every other day, so we'll just go with the flow.

Yesterday we were supposed to see a specialist in Tampa, but he had to reschedule, so we were able to watch our grandson's, Lance, holiday performance until the end.  It was so cute (he's in 5th grade), and that age is always so entertaining.  Some were shy and barely sang, while others bellied up to the microphone and sang as loud as possible.  Adorable.  I have pictures of that, but I downloaded them in a moment of cooperation onto the 'fixed' computer, formatted the card, and immediately the computer went down again.  

Today was Gary's chemo treatment and I did the wash, ran out of quarters, so hung it all up on the washlines.  We went about our business, visiting Walmart for prescriptions, Sandy's to pick up delivered medicine and Best Buy to make an appointment for the Geek Squad to come and fix the computer at at the coach.  It apparently works fine at the store, but not here, so we can't figure it out.  It's probably the monitor or something.  (the wash smells so good)

We still want to see some more friends here, so called up John and Terri Shea to make a date with them.  Yippee skippee - we're going kayaking with them on Sunday!  Finally some play time. Gary won't be able to paddle per Dr.'s warning, so John offered to boat with him and we girls will do our own paddling.  It promises to be a wonderful day!

Hope you are enjoying every day as much as we are.  We're still looking for that silver's around here somewhere...

Monday, December 12, 2011


Saturday was a organize day until 4pm when I got to see my old friends Donna, Jan, Sandy and Jean. Sadly, Debbie had a sick kitty and couldn't make it. As women do, we chatted and nibbled while Donna whipped up a gourmet meal of butternut squash soup, pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes and asparagus followed by the most decadent dessert I think I have ever had. It was a Bon Apetite recipe called banana coffee meringue pie. Sound different? Well, it was so beautiful I had to take a picture of it. Of course, I don't have a computer to download pictures with, so you will see us and the pie in a later post. Gary hung out with Sandy's Bill, bringing home some leftover pasta sauce and skeds. We parted after sharing little gifts and promises of seeing each other again before Christmas.

Sunday we got ready for our departure on Monday to Independence RV for some more warranty work on Bella. She is getting a new ladder (someone must have knocked into ours at one time and broken the bottom part.) Then our washer/dryer isn't drying very well at all, and other things. So I ran up to the laundry to do the sheets and was thrilled to see they had wash lines! There is nothing better than the smell of sun dried sheets. Out they went, and I practically hyperventilated inhaling the fresh scent of sunshine when we went to bed that night. Ahhhhh.

Monday we were getting things ready to head out - Gary got his shot, money, gas in Mesa, and generally tucked things away for the three hour ride up to Clermont. Around 11 am we were ready to crank her up. But it took 5 seconds to turn her engine over instead of the usual two and when she idled, it sounded terrible! Gary stepped on the gas, and she sounded fine, but when we let her idle, it was Not Good. I called the RV place, held up the phone to the back end of Bella to see if he had a clue. He said he'd call me back after talking to a mechanic. Of course they don't work on engines but he did have an idea. We tried turning off the cruise control, checked the RPMs after turning on to resume, but she still sounded sick. Gary called Caterpillar who referred him to a facility that did mobile repairs. We had to leave messages. Then I called my little brother who uses heavy equipment at work. He listened and couldn't diagnose over the phone but suggested we check the water-fuel separator, but we had already done that. There was no dash light on, but he said to not run her engine in case we do more damage. Meanwhile I had a call into CoachNet, our roadside service, and was going to make an appointment for a truck to come to us, but Gary's arm was hurting especially bad and I called the Dr. instead of waiting till midnight for another trip to the ER. They asked us to be at the office in 15 minutes, so we dropped everything and ran.

He had an ultrasound done, but they couldn't find anything other than his original blood clot, so his Dr. gave him another type of blood thinner shot that he will have every day this week, until they have s supply shipped to us. Then I get to play nurse again. But he is feeling great except for his wing, which we will get under control.

We have Bella to thank, for he would have been scared and miserable if we were up in an RV repair shop. So, as I always say, things happen for the best. We have time to get her fixed, and a mobile unit will come out tomorrow to get her engine going again, so it worked just fine.

Meanwhile, we will enjoy a re-run of White Christmas and some soup and the sandwiches I had made for lunch for our supper.

Tomorrow will be better, I'm guessing. Hope I'm right.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Still More Appointments

Wednesday was GP day, a day we love because we get hugs from our Dr. and Nurse. I was fine, just needed orders for a mammo and bone density test. Gary got a new prescription for his Crestor, and we said goodbye for a while. Our nurse, Yolanda, follows our blog and wishes she will be able to have the opportunity to sample this lifestyle someday, too.

We stopped at Wolfe Camera to see about cleaning my Canon RebelXTi as the shutter sometimes sticks and once in a while I have to tap it to get it to come on. It is about 5 years young, and I love it, so I thought I could get it cleaned. But that is not really an option unless I can see dark spots on my photos (which I don't), and as most newer cameras are sealed, it would be in the neighborhood of $200-300 to mess with one. So, we thought not, and saved some money today. Gary had another Neupogen shot, and I cleaned the coach from top to bottom. Ahhh, that feels good.

Thursday I had an eye doctor appointment to see what I could see. I'm testing a new brand of contacts for a week. Then we stopped in at our friend's to check the refrigerator door panels that Three Way Campers had forwarded. They were in good shape, so we will take them on Monday to Independence RV for installation and store our wood panels. We made it home just before the wind and rain came and went quickly. It brought in some cooler air and tomorrow will be a cooler day at 68 degrees. Poor us.

Friday was a little cloudy to begin but warmed up to 77 with fluffy clouds. Perfect weather for having a bagel at Panera on the patio and to get my hair cut. It's always great to see my stylist. When you find a good one it's like finding gold. She makes me feel great when I walk out the door.

We stopped at Total Wine to find my favorite cheap wine, a Beringer Chenin Blanc. It's light and fruity, but not sweet and a great price. Tomorrow is Girls Club, a bunch of us neighborhood girls getting together at each other's homes each month for dinner and chatting. Only half of us live in the neighborhood now, so it makes it so much more interesting to catch up with each other. We have been taking turns now for 6 years, and it's really special for us to be here at Christmas again this year. Gary always takes a group photo, which I will post if I ever get my computer back from Best Buy. But they must have found something, or like the last two times, they would have called to say they couldn't find anything.

Gary needed an infusion, so we headed over to the center where we met Heather, his nurse for the next couple of visits. The room was full of people hooked up to tubes and beeping monitors slowly dripping poison into veins. But everyone was awake and cheerful, chatting with each other. Gary had a private room in Tennessee because he could control the lights, but his eyes are so much better that he didn't have a problem in this big room, and we enjoyed being around others. An hour later we were walking out to dark skies to the east. Soon after we returned home, we had a little sprinkle, but it promises to be back to paradise tomorrow!

Another day living life as we love it (almost). We would only change one thing and we're working on changing that as hard as possible.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

T-shirts and Flip Flops!

Saturday morning I woke up at 7 am and was raring to go. Gary did a great job of driving yesterday and didn't get a nap, so I tried to be quiet for a while longer. wriggles around around too much, and he woke up. We smiled at each other and said "let's go all the way!". Ooops, that came out wrong. All the way to Sarasota, that is. We got ready quickly, but the slide didn't want to go in again! Holy cow. Then I remembered that to get the slide in last time, the jacks had to be up. That worked, but I don't like this method very much. We will have it checked out at Independence RV next week.

Anyhow, we were pulling onto 75 by 9:30 and it was a beautiful day for driving - very little traffic and cloudy but dry and no rain in the forecast. Our only stops were for diesel and the Florida welcome center for lunch. It got warmer and warmer the as we got to familiar landmarks until at 5:00 exactly we pulled into Pleasant Lake RV Park in Bradenton. Ken showed us to our spot facing the lake and we dropped anchor. We hooked up, put out the awning and relaxed on our patio.

Monday we needed to get our licenses renewed. We grabbed all the documents we needed, threw the processor in the Jeep and drove downtown to have a bagel breakfast, then have our photos taken. We had tried to renew on line, but got stuck with 'address'. They needed both our mailing address and our tax ID address. So, we decided to get it done correctly, and see them in person. We also renewed our coach registration, so are all set for another year

We stopped by our friends to pick up the mail, then went to our house where we were lucky both Karen and Dennis were there, hugs all around, then they showed us all the new appliances, and the new color of the bedroom with new furniture. We are so lucky we have great renters that love our house and take care of it. We need to powerwash the roof and sidewalks, and fix a couple of soft windowsills. We'll be back later after we get some supplies.

I decided that I'd do a load of wash in our coach so guess what? The washer worked fine, but the clothes didn't dry. Oh well. We are waiting for everything to break before next Tuesday and at this rate everything probably will. Gotta laugh.

Tuesday we needed to be at Gary's oncologist by 10:30 so we loaded up the Jeep with some things we will leave in storage. Gary was very nervous, and the Dr. Was concerned enough to want him to see a 'genius' at Moffit next week. Gary is really looking so much better, but still his eyes bother him, so she wanted to see if this Dr. had any ideas.

She also wants him to continue his treatments, so this means we will be in Florida for a couple of weeks. He got a shot, a little blood drawn, got a new appointment and we headed out for lunch. Mesa (our Jeep) had a spa appointment after lunch and she got new wipers and fluids for a song. Well, more like an operetta. After that, we headed to our storage units to transfer in and out, then the new Walmart that has been under construction for the last two years (and is very nice because now it is a super center) for groceries, and got home where I wrestled with the new refrigerator shelves repositioning them to my liking. I miss my old fridge... Still we had time to sit out under our awning with cool drinks (after all, it was 81 degrees) and say hi to some neighbors.

I made some Italian sausages for dinner, then started revving up my old IBM. I swear it's only because I bragged at Best buy yesterday that my old IBM still works fine that she just crashed. Can you believe this????? So I'm laboriously typing with two fingers on my iPad tonight.

Tomorrow we both have regular appointments with our GP early, then I will take my camera in to be cleaned. I MUST come back to start on wash which can't fit in the wash basket anymore while Gary gets his second shot of Neuprogen, then I think we have a couple minutes to get supplies for fixing up the house.

Whew. It's all fun, really it is. No, really. We are enjoying every minute because we are doing this together in a unique and wonderful lifestyle. We are truly blessed.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

On the Road Again Finally

What a week.  Sunday night at 11 pm the fridge alarm went off again.  The only thing we could do was to turn it off completely.  Monday I had to go to work, so I gave Norcold a quick call to ask what a code that was flashing meant.  They said that it meant we had to see a repairman.  While I was at the office, I asked around (something I recommend at ANY campground if you have a problem), and an answer was forthcoming. This happened to someone a month ago, and it turned out to be a fuse.  He met Gary at the coach, showed him how to take off a cover, then replace the fuse.  TaDa!  We had our fridge back again.

But, later that night at 11 the alarm went off again.  Darn.  Had to turn it off again.  Tuesday morning, we decided not to leave the campground as snow and rain was forecasted all day and maybe we could work on the fridge a little more.  We did drive out to get fuel and fill up on propane - it was supposed to go down to 27 degrees tonight. 

It drizzled and was raw and cold, but the furnace never did come on. Wednesday morning was cloudy and really cold while we followed our departure lists, and pulled out for the last time around 10 am.  The fridge never did get fixed, but it was cold, and we thought if we got to our next stop, Adairsville, we could get some service or at least some advice.

We found our campground, Leisure Town, just off  75. But when we went to dump air in order for the jacks to level, it didn't work.  Sheeeeeesh!  So we slept with the slides in, which is perfectly OK.  Papa George did suggest an RV service center in Marietta whom I called and they said come on in tomorrow am. 

Another cold night, but we were headed to Florida and warmer weather!  The phone rang at 7:30 am, and it was our grandchildren in St. Pete singing Happy Birthday to Gary.  That put a smile on his face.  We unhooked and got back onto 75 south to get fixed.  We found Three Way Camper just off 75 with no problem.  Mike assigned us to Billy who was a wiz at appliances.  First he replaced the nine year old 6 volt batteries that we were planning to have replaced in two weeks anyway, thinking the fridge and jack problem might be voltage related.  But, that was not the case.  The fridge had leaked all the ammonia into the box, so the whole fridge needed replacing instead of the cooling unit.  Also the jack system had quit, so we needed a new one of those, too. 

How long would this take?  Well, one of the guys could pick up the only fridge that would fit into that particular spot without too much alteration on Friday, and after a small mixup on numbers, we had a new jack panel ordered.  Fortunately back when we bought Bella, we also bought a Warranty that covered everything except the chassis.  So all this was covered (except the batteries, of course), and because they had to take out the window to remove the fridge, we couldn't stay in her, so needed a hotel room for the night.  We also had  hotel and meals covered under the warranty.  Unfortunately the fridge came without the door panels, and our beautiful wooden ones wouldn't fit  (but I asked to keep them).  So we watched them work all day, and then we went off to our Holiday Inn Express hoping the panels would be overnighted from Michigan and we could be on our way.  I made calls changing appointments and campground arrivals and we slept in a lumpy, hard bed.  Not really happy campers.

Friday was warmer and as we arrived back at Three Way, hundreds and hundreds of Sandhill Cranes flew overhead honking and squawking on their way to warmer weather.  I tried to get some shots of them with our little Kodak, but it was so sunny out, they didn't come out as well as I hoped. We are really looking forward to seeing our old friends when we get back to Florida.

While they were taking out the old fridge through the window some of the yellow-dyed ammonia spilled on our carpet, and even though they tried to clean it up, it left a yellow streak.  They service guys called a carpet professional and he would arrive Saturday at 8 am.  The fridge arrived and was being put in, and the jack panel arrived later and Billy installed it and leveled it according to the fridge - apparently very important.  We waited until late afternoon, but still no panels.  Now they were expected to arrive the next day.  Off to another night in a hotel.  The SEC was in town and millions of college soccer girls so a lot of hotels were booked.  We ended up in a different hotel. 

Saturday morning we hopefully headed over to Three Way just to hear that the first UPS truck came with no panels and the next shipment was due at 2 pm.  Now, if we could install these panels ourselves, we sure would, but they need to be cut around the water dispenser and if not done correctly and carefully could crack or shatter and that would not be good at all.  So we waited until 2, but no delivery, so we decided to head out and have the panels sent to Florida where we'll take care of it somehow. 

We got Bella ready to go, and I pushed the button for the living room slide to come in.  It started to, but then stopped.  Hmmmm.  We tried it again.  No go.  Off to find help.  The help tried - nope.  The help went to get more help.  Nope.  But we decided that the batteries had not fully charged yet, so we started the generator, but still no go.  The second help tried putting up the jacks and that was the magic.  Can't remember why. 

By now it was after three pm, and we had a long drive to Cordele, GA.  As soon as we got to 75, the traffic stopped.  Gary turned on the CB radio to hear what was up.  Accident in left two lanes.  We were in the third lane over, and soon got past that mess.  Now we had to get around Atlanta, and that was OK.  We did a quick rest stop to get the Christmas CDs from the Jeep, then got back onto 75.  Everything was going OK until the LP detector alarm went off.  Gary thought he'd jump out the window, but told me to go turn off the fridge.  I did, we opened the windows and the alarm went silent.  Sheeeeeeeeesh.  What next??

Construction on 75, of course.  I really detest those cement barricades 3 inches from the white line.  White knuckles all the way for 20 miles and it was almost dark.  This would be the second time ever we have travelled in the dark with Bella.  We finally got to our park, thankfully right off the interstate, and Bob was waiting for us with his chocolate lab, Suzy.  It was easy getting into our spot, and while Gary set up, I checked in.  We learned that we should lower the jacks until they touched, open the slides and then level.  That gives the slides room to move without being in a torque position.  I tried that, and it worked fine. 

Since I am using my ancient IBM (because we are, of course, STILL having computer issues) I can't get any pictures up tonight.  I will have a little more time tomorrow, perhaps.  The best thing is that we will sleep in our own bed tonight, and make it down to Lake City or Gainesville tomorrow. 

Always unpredictable, this lifestyle, no? 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Counting our Blessings

Just for your information:  Cows release some one hundred million TONS of hydrocarbon annually, by releasing gas.  To give you an idea of how much gas a cow emits; if the gas of ten cows could be captured - just 10 - it would provide heating for a small house for an entire year.  This sounds like an opportunity to me.  Honey, can we get a cow?

Country Tonight was the regular show for the first half, but after the intermission, the Christmas part kicked in and it was really beautiful and Christmasy.  Glad we went one more time. 

Monday was departure day for Donna and Ron.  Sad faces all around, but 6 weeks will go faster than 6 months and we will see them again in S. Padre Island in January if all goes to according to plan. One blessing...

Tuesday was our Jeep travel day to Raleigh, NC, but we weren't expecting much traffic, so we didn't leave until 9 am.  The whole drive was uneventful, but the traffic was a little heavier than expected.  We arrived in time for dinner to our daughter, Mandy's home just after dark.  It was so great to see the kids again.  We hadn't seen them or Gary's mom since Memorial Day and they had grown again!  Jack is now 7 and in second grade and Ainsley is 4 and in preschool. 

Jack has a BB gun and Gary brought his BB pistol and they spent the next afternoon hitting the target and knocking cans over.  Can you see the can falling?  Then Gary helped Ainsley put on her new nail polish with sparkles and glitter.

There was lots of preparation for Turkey day as 18 people would be sharing a meal with us, so two pies and black raspberry bars were made for dessert.  The turkey was ready to go in after Joe and Mandy participated in the Turkey Trot, a 5 K race for MS.  Here they are with their TT shirts, and happy with their finish time.  Proud blessings.

We cooked the turkey, made mashed potatoes, made a table centerpiece with a pumpkin or two:

When the guests arrived we ate and ate till we busted, took some photos and then relaxed.  Mandy and Joe do not waste time.  They are always busy, and on Black Friday, Mandy was up and gone by 7:30, while I took my time getting up.  When she came home around 10, we were ready for Gary to drop us off at the mall, while Joe took the kids to his dad's nursery to choose a Christmas tree.  By the time we got home, it was up and watered so he could go out hunting for deer.  Here's Ainsley helping mom decorate it.  Precious blessings.

Gary was a happy camper:  he had breakfast at Bruegger's on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Day, Friday for lunch and on our way home.  The boy loves his bagels, fortunately, so does Jack.  Fun blessings.

On saturday we needed to check out the Bull Chute for western wear and Jack wanted to go too.  He tried on his first cowboy boots and hat.  Cute little dude.  We didn't buy, just looked.  I did get all my Christmas shopping done for the Raleigh crowd - hooray!  A couple of blessings.

By the time we arrived back at Mandy's, the whole outside was decorated with bows and wreaths, and later that night we went to visit our dear friends, Dick and Diane Auxer.  I worked with Dick in 1998 for a few years and we became good friends.  We always make it a point to visit when we're in Raleigh.  More blessings.

Joe went hunting, so missed our Ruby Tuesday dinner out on Saturday night.  I wish we could be with our families for Christmas, but at least we will get to see them before we leave for the West.  We're hoping they can come out to visit us for some fun times on a school break perhaps.

Sunday came all too soon, and bad weather is forecasted for west Tennessee - with snow and ice!  We scooted home, but took a detour to see my Mom and Dad's old house in Columbus, NC.  It was sold in 2005 and is for sale again!  (Just a little curious to know what the asking price is.)  Entering Tennessee we decided to take a shortcut onto the Foothills Parkway where we took this picture of the Smokies from yet another angle.  We love the Smokies and we will return someday.  They wiggled into our hearts.

Before I could get my camera ready, we saw a bear foraging for his Thanksgiving leftovers,  but we didn't see any more.  After 9 hours on the road, we entered our campground driveway.  Home sweet home.  Bella looked good from the outside, but when we entered we heard a warning beep.  Something was wrong with the fridge.  It was flashing a 'no AC' 'no FL' warning.  Huh?  The inside was cold, the frozen food was still frozen, so we were perplexed.  The power hadn't gone off, and we had propane.  Gary checked the AC connection, the fuses and other stuff while I asked our neighbor, Graham, to come and take a look.  He brought his current detector tool, and everything checked out OK.  We messed around, checked the manual, and got it to run on LP for tonight.  I'll call Norcold tomorrow to see if they can help.  We are supposed to leave for Florida on Tuesday, but you know, the best laid plans get messed up, but plans made in pencil just get erased.  Hopefully we can figure this out and not have to call an RV repairman. 

So as not to use any propane, we had soup and toast for dinner.  It will be so good to sleep in our own bed, but we sure had a great time in Raleigh!  Thank you, dear daughter and family.  You are our best blessings.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting Ready to Go

Yesterday morning was drizzly and C-O-L-D (at least for Floridians).  We waited until afternoon to work in the 'yard' vacuuming the basement and washing chairs, the bird seeder, the rug and the grill.  We put them in the sun to dry while we had a little lunch.

After lunch I wanted to take a few photos of the solution to our sewer hose dilemma.  When we arrived in April, it was a long way from the valve to the sewer outlet.  And it went uphill.  We used our little accordion hose holder, but the weight of the grey water kept forcing the hose off the holder.  Anyway, when Ron arrived he saw the problem and solved it like this:

Yes, those are rocks near the outlet as the holder is too short to make it to the top of the outlet.  This ingenious idea is a 4 inch PVC pipe cut in half lengthwise and hollowed out on the end like so:

This allows the pipe to get right up to the elbow.  So at our daughter's house, we will use our son-in-law's saw to do just this.  But how to fit it into the Jeep?  Cut the halves in half again.  Then they will fit in our coach easier and we can use up to four pieces if needed.  Brilliant!

We were wet and muddy, and it was time to head inside to make dinner for Ron and Donna tonight.  I chose a crockpot meal recipe, but didn't know it used the crockpot until I read the whole recipe.  It was 4:30, but if I put it on high, it would be ready by 6:30 or so.  No problem.  I threw all kinds of stuff in the pot, boiled some angel hair and ta-da, dinner was ready. 

After dinner we talked about gate guarding again, weighing the pros and cons.  Personally I am looking forward to doing whatever I want whenever I want for weeks.  Donna is scared of the snakes, and Gary is a little wary of 'travelling Mexicans'.  Ron is fine with it.  Donna and Ron have done this before filling in for a couple who had cancelled last minute.  Our hesitation is of course Gary's treatments.  We don't know if he will still be having them, and if he is, a center will be far away from where we will be parked.  We don't even know where we will be parked at this point, and won't know until we are ready to start work in March.  Then we will be assigned a gate, and probably not with Ron and Donna.  But hopefully we could be.  Even if we are, we will probably be a few miles apart.  We'll keep you posted.  Right now we need to fill in the application, take tests and get finger printed.

Friday was treatment day, so we went through that.  It was a long morning waiting though so we didn't get out until noon.  We found out that our Physician's Assistant, Sonya, had been the greeter belle at Dixie Stampede for years.  We're glad she decided to go into medicine - she's a sweetheart here, too.  We stopped at Walmart to drop off prescriptions and pick up some more phone minutes.  Although we'd like smart phones, we opted for Tracfones.  You buy the phone with double the minutes for life for $30, and purchase minutes when you need them.  This works out to about $40 per month for 400 minutes and lasts about a month depending on how many people I talk to.  We have internet and text available on the phone if we need it, but that uses up more minutes .  For as long as we've been on the east coast, we've never had no signal, but I'm sure that will change once we head out west.  So far, so good.

Saturday was a work day for me at the office, and six people came in - two couples for a tent site!  Brrrrr - too cold for me!  Gary did some more work on the coach, checking fluids and batteries, etc.  We are checking our departure list daily to make sure we will be ready to go.  Five o'clock came around finally, and I locked up and headed home.  The CG owner assured me that I'd have a job next year if we chose to come back.  Nice to know that I can use her as a reference.  We had a little dinner and tried to make some more plans in pencil, then headed to bed.

Sunday we woke up and wanted Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  It's down the parkway some, right next to Krispy Kreme Donuts - and the HOT NOW sign was lit!  First time we've ever seen it lit up!  Did we want donuts before breakfast??  Noooo.  I might as well have just smeared them on my hips.    Cracker Barrel was delicious and we did some Christmas shopping, too!

Since that put us in the shopping mood (much to the chagrin of the boys) Gatlinburg was our next stop.  We enjoy parking in the Welcome Center and having the Trolley drive us into the center of town.  We walked on the far side of the street and the arts and crafts stores had some delectable items.  A little more shopping done, we decided we needed a cheap lunch at McDonald's.  The McChicken sandwich for $1 is plenty big and just the right price.  The boys did a lot of sitting on benches as we walked around and around looking and buying. 

As soon as we got home, we put away our new purchases and our neighbor, Kelly, came over to ask if we were ready to have our fingerprints done for our gate guarding job.  Kelly is a retired Police Detective from California and offered to help.  It was fun and very messy, and we appreciate Kelly's expertise enormously. 

After a quick dinner we are going to see Country Tonight's Christmas show.  We'll let you know how that was tomorrow.  

Another great day in the Smokies.  We will really miss those beautiful mountains, but look forward to some bigger ones!   Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dixie Stampede and New Friends

Monday was a work day at the campground office and it was windy and cloudy all day.  It is so slow here that I had three phone calls all day and made one reservation.  A lot of people choose the weekdays to travel so we had 8 checkouts this morning.  Gary and I choose to travel  Mondays through Thursdays, too; the traffic being a little lighter after the morning rush hour.  We plan to leave this campground on the 29th if the weather is good.  If not, we have a couple days leeway before we have to be in Florida on December 5th.  Travelling over mountains demands good weather, doncha know. 

We're very excited to get back home (home meaning warm weather, palm trees and the beach).  But we don't plan to stay very long.  Just a few million things to do, and then we'll be on our way to TEXAS!  We don't know where we'll be spending Christmas this year,but it will be the first one we've ever had without family. 

Tuesday was a better day to return my wedding outfit that I didn't use, and everyone sat in the Jeep while I ran into two stores and convinced the salesgirls to please take them back.  They were both understanding and gave me a refund.  Of course we were hungry again and since it was a cool day decided on our favorite sandwich/soup shop McAlister's.  After a really good feed, we returned to Stage West western wear so we could check out belts and stuff.  A company named Justin makes western wear and Donna and Ron got a cool belt and buckle with Justin printed on it for their grandson, Justin.  He will be the envy of all in school.

After that, we headed home to rest for Dixie Stampede's Christmas show.  It had started raining, so Gary dropped us off at the front door, and got to park just 25 yards away near the buses.  The place was jammed - every seat was taken and for a good reason.  The show was great as it had a lot more Christmas in it including sheep, goats, donkeys and three Wiseman camels!  There were the regular games with the audience: kids chasing chickens, and dads throwing toilet seat covers as giant horseshoes to determine whether the North or the South pole teams were winning.  Since you eat dinner completely with your hands (no utensils) sometimes it's impossible to applaud.  Therefore you stamp your feet - thus Dixie Stamp-ede.  It was a lot of fun and we got out around 8 but stopped at the French's Boot store to check out their footwear.  Gary found another pair he liked but we didn't buy them - that 10% tax is tough to swallow.

Donna and Ron's neighbors Judy and Norm Black from Texas came to visit on Wednesday around lunch time.  They moved from California to Tennessee a few years ago as a retirement place and love it.  We talked and talked, ate subs, talked some more, went to No Way Jose's for dinner, returned home and we said goodnight. 
Judy and Norm and us
Thursday Ron had to work in the CG office instead of Sunday and I only have a few days left to work there, too.  I can't believe how fast 7 months has gone, but April does seem like a hundred years ago.  When having fun...doncha know.   Friday we will return our outfits to Wardrobe and turn in our ID cards to Dollywood.  We don't know if we'll be back, but the Smokies have gotten into our blood.  It was a good experience working for Dollywood, and I'm glad we did it just to see the Smokies and the beautiful area of East Tennessee.

We are looking forward to getting back on the road, visiting Grandchildren and our children before heading west and brand new adventures.  Stay with us!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Over the Bump in the Road

Wednesday we watched the CMA awards and were surprised at a few winners, but generally enjoyed the show.  Didn't line dance after all.  Gary was doing well and enjoyed humming along.  I asked him if he could play some country on his guitar and he said he would try. 

Thursday we did a little work around the coach and then followed Donna over to Dollywood for a day of shows.  It promised to be chilly with a high of only 54, but the sun was out and in our first line up for Christmas on Ice, a little butterfly landed on Ron's hat and Donna for got her hat so made one out of the program.  Smart girl!

The show was very good, the cast from NY and there was real ice on the stage.  We saw the Appalacian Christmas, also great using a few of the singers from the award winning show "Dreamland Drive-in" that we saw this summer.  Very entertaining.  Then we had lunch/dinner at Aunt Granny's all you can eat buffet.  It was Thanksgiving Dinner early!  Turkey, and all the sides that were delicious.  We saw Santa there (who is actually one of our CG residents) handing out candycanes and entertaining young and old alike. 

On to  the train!  It was a 20 minute ride around Dolly property with little shacks and outhouses all in lights.  I didn't have my Canon with me, so because we were moving, they photos didn't come out well.  But these did:

The sun was setting, and soon we would be able to see all the lights, so we headed to one more show, Christmas in the Smokies, also very nice.  When we came out, it was dark and the first thing we saw was this tree that literally sparkled.  We took a video, too.

Truly beautiful.  And this one that had long ice cicles that 'dripped'.  A light traveled the length of the 'icecicle' then started over.  Really unique and we loved them.  They are OK for a large tree, but not our teeny one.

It was time for the parade, which is very short and mostly floats and we enjoyed it while purchasing tickets to Dixie Stampede for Tuesday night.  Gary did really well, except he did not dress warm enough.  (I told him so, nag that I am).  We cozied up in bed with hot chocolate and thought about Friday. 

Set the alarm, and get out by 8:15 heading for the Cancer Center to see the Docs.  First, they were impressed with Gary's face progress - yay.  They were not so impressed with his blood clot, but we had seen improvement.  The blood test revealed that his blood was not thin enough yet, so they increased the Warfarin, and tried to say no treatment.  But Gary said he felt great except for the pain in his elbow, so after checking the white count, said OK, let's rock.  He got hooked up and we had breakfast from Chic-Fil-A. chicken minis, and I had oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts.  Yummy.

He felt a little tired, so we came home and he rested so that we could go see the Smith Family show again.  Donna and I were planning to hit the mall to return some things, but the traffic was horendous.  Of course, we forgot it was Veteran's Day and everyone was off.  So we stopped at Sonic for a late lunch then headed home to get ready to go out.  We expected more of a Christmas show, but there were only a few trees, and only a few carols sung.  Not so impressed. 

Saturday I had to work, and it was a slow day.  Brenda was leaving for business on the west coast Sunday morning, and was not planning to return until after we left, so we had to see Larry and her one more time.  Calhoun's was jammed, so we waited at the bar for 45 minutes, and then had a great delicious meal enjoying each other's comany.  Hugs goodbye, promises of staying in touch, and we headed home and hung out at Ron's for a little while.  I felt like I was getting a cold, so dosed up on Nyquil and Vicks.

Sunday was cloudy, windy but a warm 64 degrees.  Time to start getting ready to leave in a couple weeks.  Start at the top, so that meant I climbed up to wash the roof.  It was filthy because we are parked under two trees for 7 months.  But now it sparkles (well, nearly).  While I was up there, I was noting places that needed a little more caulking and anything broken or missing.  Since our coach is a 2003, fiberglass covers are getting a little brittle, and I actually cracked a piece on a vent cover.  So tomorrow, Gary is going to get up there and caulk before we wash and wax her.  Ooooh, I'm just a little sore...but a job well done.  When we get to Florida, we will need to wash the roof of the house - oh, joy!

A woman's work is never done, right?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Coming Home

Sunday I arrived at the hospital to find Gary in good spirits, but bored.  He was still receiving round the clock antibiotics and warfarin (yes, rat poison).  There wasn't a whole lot of improvement, so by Monday he asked about getting out.  His doctor agreed as long as we agreed to use Lovenox (injections into his tummy) to hurry the blood thinning.  That was a new experience for me, but it wasn't difficult.  He was very brave even though my hands were shaking just a little. 

Discharge is a lengthy procedure, so it was 6:30 when we left the hospital.  A stop at Walmart to pick up drugs, and off to home where Ron was picking up pizza for all of us.  Donna was not feeling well, so they decided to eat in their place and then she'd put on a mask to come and visit.  We visited about an hour and 1/2 and then Gary's yawns gave the signal to head home.

Tuesday dawned bright and beautiful, but we slept in a little.  Donna and Ron went to see a production of Fiddler on the Roof with friends for the day, so we decided to start our engine and let it run to get the oil and diesel circulating and mess around sorting, cleaning and thinking about things in general.

There's lots to think about as fulltimers in general.  But with health challenges, it is even more think-provoking.  I'm not sure if most fulltimers have lots of freedom to go and do whatever whenever, but right now, we are tied to medical schedules and Doctor schedules.  Not what we planned when we started out 19 months ago.  It has been a sure test of our resolve to have this lifestyle.  We were, I'm pleased to say, smart not to give up our house.  If we need to stay in Florida for a while or forever, we can do that.  But I'd be just as happy to park our motorhome for an extended time and live in it.  We figure that we don't need anything a house can give us that we don't have in our motorhome.  But time will tell, and at least we have a choice.

Wednesday I made pancakes for breakfast which were not only delicious, but gave me energy to get up on our roof to get the last of the leaves off the slide toppers and from around the heat pumps/air conditioners.  The roof is really filthy and needs a good scrubbing, but no time today.  Donna came over and we talked about the scarf I am knitting for her.  It's pretty, but the yarn is too heavy for her taste.  We looked up some yarn stores in the area.  Terri's Yarn & Crafts store was just up at Dollywood Parkway, but had more craft items than yarn.  While Donna was looking up Butler Street, I drove over to JoAnne's and we found a pretty sock weight yarn that we're going to try. 

Tonight we have plans to run over to the Brewery for their fabulous hamburger special then watch the CMA show while line dancing.  We'll let you know how that works out.  Yee ha!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

South Padre Duds

Wednesday was a warm and pretty day, so we decided to get a cheapo lunch at Arby's.  And it wasn't bad at all!  After that we were driving up the parkway and stopped at the Three Bears Country Store.  And believe it or not, I found my Rooster Lamp. 
He's actually prettier in person

We wandered all around looking at the new Christmas merchandise and spent a good hour in there.  The boys were ready to move on - we figured that out when we couldn't find them in the store and discovered they had gone to the truck to rest.  Further up the Parkway was a Western Wear store.  Well, we had to check that out.  Oooooo, cowboy boots!  I love cowboy boots. And hats, and clothes and stuff!  We all spent time trying on our Texas duds that we are planning to wear every day in Texas.  Maybe not on South Padre Island, but out on the range.  With the deer and antelope.  Yeeha.  Walked out with nothing, but sure had fun.  Donna found a shirt she fell in love with and Ron found a new wallet. 

We had some leftover chile at Donna's and hung out a while. 

Thursday it was going to rain, but it sure was sunny in the morning.  I finished my pumpkins that JoAnn and Rodney helped me cut.  I still want to add some berries and/or leaves to dress them up a bit more. 

 But before it rains - what to do?  Let's go to the Bush's Bean Factory in Chestnut Hill.  The place was decked out in fall decor,  
and we had our photos taken with Duke and Jay:

Ron wanted to know how much he weighed in beans.  That's a lot of beans, Ron!

We found a few gifts for Christmas in the General Store, and watched the 'factory tour' movie which was quite entertaining, and, of course, informative.  It was pouring when we left and continued to rain all night.

We picked up a movie for after dinner at the Red Box but Gary was not feeling really well, so we left in the middle of it.  His elbow area was hurting, red and swollen and by 10:30 he had a high fever.  We called the Dr. (twice) and he finally returned our call.  We got dressed and headed to the Emergency Room.  We arrived there at 12:30 and was finally seen at 2:30 am.  The ER Dr. took gallons of blood, gave him some antibiotics using his port, and admitted him.  We thought it was cellulitis, and were surprised that he was to be admitted.  Around 6:30 am we were brought up to his room where we met all kinds of nurses.  He got bionic boots, a heating pad for his arm with instructions to keep his elbow above his heart, and more antibiotics.  Around 5 pm, his oncologist arrived and said that Gary was looking good, but may have to miss a treatment or two till he is better. After 39 hours since we had slept, I tucked him in and kissed him good night.  I drove home in the rainy dark to an empty bed.  The first time we have slept apart since we began RVing 19 months ago.  I was one sad puppy.  And a very tired one, so fell asleep quickly and woke up at 8:45. 

I called my DH to see how his night was, and of course, everyone knows you don't sleep in a hospital, you are awakened every 10 minutes for one thing or another.  Well, they had interrupted his breakfast for an ultra sound of his arm to determine if there was a clot.  I arrived around 11 am, and around 4 pm we found out that it was a blood clot and that he was to start on Warfarin (a blood thinner) to dissolve it.  

Waiting around in a hospital rates up there with watching paint dry. If you're allowed to eat, you look forward to meal time.  The food is so-so, but the cake is good.  The staff is very friendly and sweet, so we enjoy when they come in and chat about how we are missing our daughter's wedding in South Carolina this weekend (huge bummer) and RVing  plans and stuff. 

Ron was so nice and worked for me at the CG office today, while Donna worked at Dollywood. 

So that's where we stand right now.  A couple of prayers would be appreciated.  Thanks so much.

Friday through Tuesday - LATE

Friday was chemo day, and Cindy, Gary's nurse, had a cold so gave Gary a mask to wear.  She had one on, too, when she connected his port to the juice.  I felt left out, so they gave me one, too!  I suppose we looked really funny to everyone walking by.
By the time we left, it was raining steadily and was only going to reach a high of 50 - yuck.  So we decided it was tomato soup and grilled cheese day inside our nice warm coach.  Gary took a nap, but I was going to get my hair cut after 8 weeks.  I wanted something new, as the humidity will wane over the winter, so my curls will wilt.  This is the new cut Cindy gave me.  A little sleeker.

Gary was still napping, so I wandered over to JoAnne's for some yarn to go with some eyelash yarn Donna and I had chosen for a scarf.  They had the perfect color combination, but I didn't have my 40% off coupon.  So I left it there and came home with nothing.  I found the coupon on line, printed it and tucked it in my purse to use on Saturday after work. 
Instead I finished my punchneedle chicken and now I have two fowl pieces finished.  Here they are:

I plan to incorporate them into my new window treatments.  In the mean time, I love this new needle craft and plan to make lots of other things that are useful as well as decorative using my own designs.

Saturday I worked from 9 to 7 at the CG office, closed a little early, and ran over to JoAnne's for the yarn.  It will be perfect. 
Sunday Ron worked at the office while Donna and I (darn, I can't remember).  Around 5 pm Ron called from the office to say that he had received one phone call all day and it was from our friends Don and Lois White whom we had met at the first RV Dreams Rally in April 2010.  They were planning to stop here on their way back home to Virginia.  They had been on a mission trip to Arizona with Bill and Linda Napier but a leak had prevented them from stopping by on their way to Arizona as it put them a few days behind schedule.  They arrived around 6:30 and we all went to the Blue Moose for dinner. 
I had to work on Monday, and Don and Lois came in to register for another night.  We planned to grill some burgers that evening, and then Donna and Ron came over some some pie and ginger snap cookies Donna had baked - mmmm, still warm from the oven! 
We walked back and forth between rigs talking about what could be done here and there, and isn't that a good idea - I wish I had that - we can do that, etc.  Finally we called it a night.
Tuesday morning, Lois and Don were hitching up, so we took a few photos: 

The afternoon was going to be warm and sunny, so we drove to the Smokies and parked at the Welcome Center to catch the trolley into Gatlinburg.  The trees are still beautiful as you can see:
The trolley drops you off at Ripley's Aquarium, where we discovered that we were hungry (what else is new) and so we hoofed it up hill to the new Mellow Mushroom for some delicious pizza:

After our pizza splurge, we walked up and down the Parkway stopping at little boutiques and stores.  We both found beautiful gifts and I found a silver log cabin charm for my charm bracelet.  Unfortunately I left my gift in a store, but realized it before we arrived at the trolley stop, so walked all the way back hoping they had found it and kept it in a safe place.  Sure enough, they had it, but that meant we had to scurry to get the last trolley.  No worries, we made it in plenty of time.  Great fun.
And I'm going to end here, because something happened that will take a longer blog and I don't want you to think we fell into a hole or something.  Between computer issues and lack of time (having too much fun) this is VERY late.  So tune back in soon.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Deal's Gap and Cherohala Skyway

Monday was a work day again at the office, and I'm training another lady, Pam.  Gary had to run over to the hospital for a shot of Nupogen to get those white cells pumping again.  It was a beautiful day and promised to be even more beautiful Tuesday, so we made plans to do the Dragon Tail again with Donna and Ron, but with Ron driving his Chevy diesel dually.  We packed a picnic lunch not sure if we'd want to stop at the Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort or carry on down the road to Robbinsville.  It was a gorgeous drive, and we stopped so many times to take photos.  Entering the Foothills Parkway the first pullover had a group of vehicles and people moving wooden platforms and camera equipment.  Obviously showing off the Smokies to the public unlucky enough not to see it in person. 

A guard rail decorated with decals. 

The mountains are now a tapestry of golds, greens and browns. Every corner we turned produced a more beautiful scene.  We finally made it down to Deal's Gap after twisting and turning all the way  around 318 curves in 11 miles.  Here we are in the picnic area enjoying our lunch.

Gary traded his shirt again and I did say this would be the last time visiting Deal's Gap.  He agreed.  It was fun to see the Tree of Shame and the T-shirt ceiling in the grill again.  We probably won't forget this ride ever.

After shopping a bit, we headed toward Robbinsville where we were going to take a right onto the Cherohala Scenic Skyway through the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness area.  Joyce Kilmer is remembered most for a short poem entitled "Trees" (I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree...).  And he was born about 20 minutes from where I was born in Plainfield, NJ.

The Cherohala Skyway was completed in 1996 after being under construction for some thirty-four years. It is North Carolina's most expensive highway carrying a pricetag of $100,000,000. Winding up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 15 miles in North Carolina and descending another 21 miles into the deeply forested backcountry of Tennessee, the road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name 'Chero...hala'.

We're beginning the climb.  And then there was another turn-out with a platform to climb to.  The driver (Ron) and front-seat passenger (Gary) bring up the rear.

We keep climbing toward the very top, ears popping and voices ooohing and aaahhing all the way up to the final sign:

This little sign says:  Big Junction:  Elevation 5235 feet.  Almost a mile!  And there were hardly any trees up here, but the ones that were had no leaves at all.  Nekkid.  On our way down the mountain, the trees were again dressed up and with the brilliant blue sky were absolutely breathtaking.

I wish I had had my good camera with me.  But these photos were taken with our Kodak Playsport.  Not as good as my Canon Rebel xTi, however, not too shabby. 

If you ever get a chance to see the Smokies in fall, you will understand why people come from hundreds of miles away for the views.  They are spectacular.

Monday, while I was working, Donna and Ron drove to Knoxville to pickup their new home entertainment system.  They spent all morning moving shelves and pulling out the broken one to make room for the new set.  But they got tired of all the boxes and wires everywhere, and needed to find a Radio Shack for a cable.  We also went to Walmart, and JoAnne's for Donna to pick up some sample fabrics to redo her window treatments.  We found some pretty ones and headed home.  Ron and Gary got busy with wires and cables, and Donna and I were pinning different combinations of fabrics all over the windows.  So much fun.  Before we knew it, dinnertime was nearing 8 pm, so the boys ran over to the Shell station for some pizza.  Capelli's pizza started at 4.99 for a pie (just cheese, of course), but we put on a few toppings, and that baby was GOOD.  (or we could have just been starving).  We called it quits until tomorrow, but most of the hard work was done.

Today (Thursday) the weather was supposed to change from cloudless and 76 to rainy and 54.  For once, unfortunately, the weatherman was correct.  It was definitely a chili dinner day, so Donna and I got over to Walmart again to pick up ingredients, while the boys worked on finishing the connections.  We also stopped at the Corelleware Outlet to see if I could get a couple more dinner plates to match my set.  No luck.  We got home in the rain to find the boys had succeeded and now we had dinner music and the World Series (Cardinals and Rangers) with Donna's white chili and chocolate chip turtle cookies.  With that, we rolled home between the drops. 

 Life is good.