Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Old Friends Arrive Next Door!

Sunday, let's see...  oh yeah, I had to work.  The frozen lemonade stand is not my favorite stand to work, but it was slow to start, then stayed fairly busy all day.  It was nice weather, and I served a few interesting guests.  But I won't go there...

Our manager, Tom, came over and handed me a ticket for a free BBQ lunch.  Gary has been wanting to try their ribs (at $18 for about 6 little ribs, even though we get it half price, still too much for that many ribs), so now was my chance to bring home some BBQ.  But by the time I got my lunch period, the ribs were gone.  I had some chicken, ate a little of it, and wrapped it up to take home.  The next thing was to find out if I could work another day except Mondays.  Talked to the boss, and he agreed it was OK.  So now I can work 2 days in the office.  I'm waiting until the CG owner meets our friend, Ron, so that she will change her order than NO MAN will ever work in the office.  He is so sweet, I know she'd love for him to work there.   Walked out of the park at 8 pm, jumped in the Jeep, home in 15 minutes and in the shower and jammies 10 minutes later.  Ahhhhh.

Monday arrived and I had a cleaning frenzy.  Inside the coach hadn't been really, thoroughly cleaned in a couple of months, so I cleaned every surface.  Nice.  I called Donna and Ron who were arriving from Illinois today to see what their ETA was.  Holy cow, it was in about an hour!  It was a record shopping trip for dinner ingredients, and I still made it back before their arrival.  Finally they arrived in their Excel fifthwheel, and there were hugs all around.  They were guinea pigs for a new recipe of Enchiladas that was so-so.  But we did eat outside and introduced them to some of our friends in the CG.  Having driven 600 miles from Sunday night, it was all we could do to talk until 9 pm, and then we both retired for a day of fun on Tuesday.

Gary had a bad night, so we actually slept in until 9:30.  Donna and Ron were up and hungry, so we headed out (after doubling back because Ron forgot his wallet).  By the time we got on the road, it was around noon, so forget breakfast - let's go for a hamburger at Five Guys!  Yummy. Here we are with our dear friends. 

After lunch we wanted to see who was going to be playing at the Memories Theater so that we could plan an evening of 'stars'.  After that we drove over to a unique store named Ten Thousand Villages that provides vital, fair income to Third World people by marketing their handicrafts.  We both fell in love with grass boxes with coconut fibre tops.  Beautiful and functional.  They would make good gifts along with the cinnamon bark jars with carved lids.  We will definitely be visiting that store again!

The boys wandered over to Workshop Tools and we were pleased to see they had a new shipment of our rare earth magnets in.  Scooped up a couple of those.  And 2 foot square ShamWow towels were $1.99 - great for wiping down the kayak after a trip.  Gary had also misplaced his readers, and found a new pair here for $2.00. 

That was fun, but the most fun was the craft store near the Old Mill.  Remember I wanted to find something new to do for our gate guarding trip?  Well, just like looking for a house, and walking in and knowing "This is IT", that's what happened when we walked into this store and I saw something called Punch Embroidery.   A sales lady patiently showed us how it was done, her very first attempt, the needle used and how it was threaded and some pre-packaged patterns.  Well, I loved it.  I will be doing some research on that in the near future!

Gary was ready to head home, so we did a little puttering and met up for drinks on the veranda.  Donna and Ron have another friend in town, so planned to have dinner and a show with them.  Meanwhile, we chatted with our neighbor, Rodney for a while, then had a little dinner.  Gary was getting another fever, so downed a couple Tylenol and returned to bed. 

I did some more research, and now I am going to cuddle with my hubby.  He's a little scared of the dark, so we may be up a little late.  But the sun will come up tomorrow.

Thanks again for all your support.  You're wonderful.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Doctor's Opinion

We had a little rest this morning before heading to the cancer center for bloodwork and a visit with the Dr.  Bloodwork was good, Doctor's reaction to Gary's face was not.  I whipped out my notes and printouts, and asked my questions.  In the end, we agreed to continue the Gemzar for a few more weeks, but he can recommend Gary for a clinical trial or refer him to Duke, Vanderbilt or M.D. Anderson if he feels it necessary.

Nurse Cindy hooked him up adding a little demerol for pain, and he was feeling good in about 1 minute.  Gemzar is a fast drip and we were ready to leave in an hour.

We are keeping all our fingers and toes crossed.

We came home to rest; well Gary rested, I worked on the computer a little more.  There's a wealth of information out there.

Next spring, for example, we are seriously thinking about Gate Guarding in Texas.  Gate Guarding is an independent contractor job for couples  Researching blogs and forums yields more information than a straight search for gate guarding.  Gary was worried about the safety of being isolated anywhere near the border of Texas for weeks, but after reading various posts, we realized it couldn't be a very dangerous job.  A Level II Security Officer Exam (which does not require you to carry a weapon), background check, fingerprints, passport pictures (for your license) and a fee are all that are required with your application.  The pay is substantial which is the main draw for a job that requires a 24/7 committment logging in every vehicle wishng to pass through the gate to the work site.  Almost everyone says it is remote, and you better have hobbies to amuse yourself, or it could be quite boring.  Gary's bringing his telescope and guitar; I'm bringing my eBook and something new to learn. 

Thank you all for your continued support for Gary.  He appreciates hearing from you all soooo much.  We will not give up no matter what.  He won't allow a photo of him anywhere, so you'll have to use your imagination.  But he is hanging in there with a positive attitude.  Best thing to do, right?

Anyhow, I worked at the CG office today.  Billy, the CG Manager, asked me if I could pleeeze work another day because two more spaces are opening up.  I said I'd have to think about it.  It would mean moving my days around at Dollywood, so I'll have to see if I can arrange that. 

Hope you are all safe and far away from the hurricane, Irene.  Isn't it great we have wheels?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yes, We're Still Here

I have to catch you up to today, so we'll start with Saturday which I spent in the CG office from 8:45 till 7pm.  Not much else do I remember from that day.

Sunday was a work day, but it was the beginning of Bluegrass and BBQ at Dollywood. They have been setting up buildings and huge gas cookers all around Market Square.  The water was emptied from the Friendship Fountain and a stage and tent were erected over it.  There are several bands every day performing bluegrass and the aroma from the BBQ wafts everywhere except where I work.  I hear the same old music everyday, but tomorrow I will be working "Vending".  I've never done that before, so I'm interested to see what that's all about.  Gary's face and eyes are really very bad, so he's taken a little break from work until he can see better and his face heals.  Everyone at Dollywood wishes him well.    

Attendance is down at DW because of summer vacations ending and kids and teachers returning to school.  This is expected, but still it is a shock to us workers who are used to running during our hours at work.  September will be another slow month, but October will be really busy as the leaf-lookers begin to arrive.

Monday was another work day for me and I was at my favorite spot at Barnstormer MiniMelts.  It was really slow all day, and I got to go home early.  But on my way home I stopped at Walmart to pick up some medications his Dr. ordered.  Poor, pitiful guy.  He took his pain medication and another dose of steroids to help him feel better.  He tells everyone that from the chin down he feels fine, which is true, but he also says it looks like he fell on a land mine face first.  Some people may agree.  But he's still my favorite, handsome guy of all time.

Tuesday was haircut day for me, and I had my usual razor cut, but made the back a little shorter.  Oooh, that feels cooool.  The pain medication made Gary feel much, much better, and he was raring to do something when I got home.  Just nothing public.  Well, alrighty then!

I quickly thought of the Cherokee Orchard Trail loop road that begins and ends in Gatlinburg, meandering through the Smokies.  It was a spectacular day, 88 and sunny, so we stopped at Burger King for a picnic lunch and headed into the National Park.  Just before we got too far, Gary stopped at a pulloff near the Little Pigeon River and we found a huge rock hangover - perfect for a picnic.  Here we are on the edge.

After we fed the fish most of our buns (they didn't like fries), we put the top down on the Jeep and drove off into the coolness of the trees. 

Making a left at the Aquarium onto Cherokee Orchard Trail, we passed through some condos and small homes, and then entered through the gate into the Park.  Almost immediately we came upon the Noah Ogle Place and decided to investigate.  A decendant of one of the first family to settle, Noah and his bride, Cindy started a 400 acre farm in 1879.  We followed the 1.2 mile nature trail through the woods which was at one time pastures, cornfields and playground for their 8 children. 

A lot of the path meandered along the river with many miniature waterfalls, shadows

and even an old tub mill

A tree growing around a few boulders and

some fungus amongus.

We came out by the homestead and took some 'artistic' pictures:

Gary leaning on a very large rock
Room with a view

Three doorways

The old Bud Ogle place

It was interesting to imagine how it was in the 1800s, and how very difficult it was to remove all the rocks, boulders and trees for pasture and garden land.  It must have been backbreaking work all the time.  How different things are now.
 We continued on our drive on the one way road and pulled off at the Rainbow Falls Trailhead among lots of other cars.  A family of three with all their gear on started up this trail.  Gary and I followed and all of a sudden I looked down and saw this:

A Timber Rattlesnake 5 feet in front of me.  I let out a little scream and backed away.  He rattled his way along and other people came over to investigate.  He crawled right across the trail and into the grass around a tree, apparently very curious about trying to climb up it.  By then we had a little crowd.  Gary took a short video, but I can't get it to load.

After that little episode, we got back into the Jeep and continued up and up turning the corner to this beautiful view. 

Beautiful, huh?  Some friends were having a picnic on the side of the parking spot with their table all set up.  It sure smelled good, whatever they were cooking.  That made Gary hungry again, so we continued our drive home.

For dinner we made pizzas; Gary's was a meat lovers and mine was a veggie.  We used Naan with garlic and green herbs for our dough which was delicious!  We just threw on the ingredients and baked it in our toaster oven for 14 minutes.  Yummy!

Wednesday I went to work at Sausage, Gary stayed home.  I'm moving fast now... and Thursday he felt well enough to play golf.  (go figure)  Off he went at 7 am and I researched various cancer treatments and trials through the NIH and Cancer Centers.  It was an intensive education in a short time and I have plenty of questions to ask the Dr. tomorrow.  The good news is if we have to move for treatment elsewhere, it's not big deal, except that I might have to drive.  Yikes.  I hope we can get his eyes at least good enough to drive the coach.  I'll keep you updated.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What IS this??

Yesterday I was at the campground office unlocking the door when I noticed this fellow (or gal) and could hardly believe my eyes!  I have never seen anything like it - it's so huge, it must be a mutant or something.

The big black spots look like eyes but I think it is a marking to scare away predators.  This thing was 5 inches long and an inch around.  As I said, I never.  Anyone have any idea what he is?  I asked everyone (even the FedEx man) if they had ever seen one.  We did a lot of research online, but couldn't identify him. 

The rest of the day was uneventful as I did the wash and checked in three campers.  Our CG manager was kind enough to cover for me from 5 to 7pm as some friends who just arrived back at the CG were celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary and asked us and others to a dinner.  We were going to the Apple Barn Restaurant with four other couples.  The selections on the menu included soup or salad, and two sides.  They had everyone's favorites and it was difficult to choose, but Gary decided to have liver and onions (!) and I had the grilled trout.  Our waiter, Dave, started to hand out our bills, but asked if anyone wanted cheesecake, chocolate cake, and although I was talking, I heard 'chocolate' and ordered a piece of chocolate cake.  I was the only one who ordered dessert, but I handed it around and everyone had a little bite.  Thank goodness, it was huge, and I couldn't have finished it all myself.

After dinner, we drove home in Betsy and Rick's new Ford Fusion and she asked me to come in and see her sewing machine.  She is a quilter and stores her machine in an overhead cupboard!  Sure enough, she opened a little door over the couch and pulled out a little machine.  Then she showed me her beautiful quilts!  And their beautiful Montana fifthwheel.  They are not full timers yet, but hope to be able to sell their home in Cary, NC someday soon. 

Around 11pm the TV warned of an approaching storm with strong winds heading our way.  Then we saw the lightning and heard thunder, so Gary jumped out and rolled up the awning and put the chairs away.  As usual, we waited for the winds, but we seem to be really protected on this side of the mountain.  I've mentioned before that NOBODY does anything at all about any storm warning.  Well, this is our home, and we're going to take every precaution we can to protect it.  So we will continue to roll up the yard if necessary just to be safe, not sorry.

Today was chemo day, but we lazed around while I made French toast out of that raisin pecan bread I got from the Old Mill Cafe last week.  Ohmygosh, it was delicious!  Around 12:45 we ventured outside to unroll everything and Alvin stopped by in his golfcart.  He confirmed that the CG owner is ready to sell if she gets the right price.  Hopefully that won't be until after we leave.

Everyone at the Thompson Cancer Survival Center is Soooo nice.  They always ask how Gary is and give him a warm smile.  The radiologist asked for records, and we put them on a flash drive.  It was all confusing to them, so I ended up sitting at the nurse's computer to open them, but the crucial records were missing from the downloads.  We ended up having to call the Dr. in Sarasota.  By then Gary had had his blood work done, he was OK to get his infusion so we walked into our 'private' room and waited for the third type of chemo to finish dripping.  Finally at 4:15 we were driving to Walmart to pick up a couple bags of groceries and a minute card for Gary's phone.

We won't know the side effects of this drug until a little later, but it is supposed to be one of the milder ones.  We can only hope it works like magic. 

UPDATE:  The caterpillar has been identified (thank you Google) as the Hickory Horned Devil and burrows into the ground to morph into this:  the Royal Walnut Moth.  That's the most awesome thing that's happened lately!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday and Wednesday

We had to get up early to be at the Dr.s by 9 am, but by being early, one doesn't usually have to wait that long, and that was true.  This new Dr, a radiologist, asked lots of questions,and did a thorough exam of Gary.  He said that he was hopeful when talking to Gary's chemo Dr., but when he saw Gary, we could practically see the wheels turning in his head as to how he was going to be able to help.  First, he needed to go through all the radiation records that we brought with us, so he would need to get back to us later.  We bumped into Sarah, the administrator, and she said that the new chemo drug had not been approved yet, but it's still early in the week.  We don't know what's going to happen yet.

We ate in a new Deli called McAllister's on the parkway.  Gary had the soup (broccoli cheddar) and half a roast beef horseradish and cheddar panini (loved it) and I had the ham, cheese and cranberry chutney on whole wheat.  Had to take half of that one home. 

Last week in Knoxville, we were at Michael's and I bought that little shelf.  Well, you might remember me mentioning that there was a Michael's grand opening in Maryville, which is much closer to us, well, not really, just a nicer drive.  As we were getting close to the shopping center, what does Gary spy with his little eye??? A PANERA.  Well, hallelujah - one happy camper!  We returned the little shelf and I looked for a larger one, but they only came in black and white.  Bummer.  We could paint it.  We're still thinking. 

Around dinner time there was a knock on the door.  Ann was there and mentioned that they were moving because the park was being sold.  News to me.  She said that someone else told her and it was still hush hush.  I have to check that out when I go to work at the CG office. 

A little later, there was another knock on the door.  It was our neighbor asking if we could give her son a jumpstart.  Gary tried with the Jeep, but it still didn't start.  Just like all campers, all you need to do is scratch your head and look puzzled and someone will stop to help.  A bunch of guys determined it was the starter, and Gary could only lend tools for the guy to replace it.  They did get it going around midnight. 

Today was a work day for us, but Gary felt so sore around his poor eyes, he had to call in sick.  When I got to work without him, they put me at his job in Sausage.  I cooked sausage and made sandwiches, ribboned and cooked potatoes, expediated (is that a word?) and ran the register, then ran down to the frozen lemonade stand to break Mama Jean.  After I closed the register I asked to go home, and my boss said OK.  My wonderful hubby had dinner ready, and then I settled down to the computer. 

A knock on the door - apparently we have a very popular door.  It was the CG Manager with a couple of melons.  Mmmmm, I love musk melons.  I offered to work at the office tomorrow as there was a mixup on who was supposed to be there.  Free rent for this week, yay. 

So that's about it for the last two days.  Sorry, no pictures.  One day we'll do something fun again and you'll be the first to know!

Monday, August 15, 2011

All Your Help

Wow, thanks to you all for your suggestions concerning our awning!  We have tried OxiClean, but not Voom or Mr. Clean sponges.  Since the mildew is smack in the middle of our awning, I'll have to be creative on how to reach it with the sponge.  I'll definitely try all your suggestions.  Yay, blogs!  This is part of the reason I write about such trivial stuff.  RVers are a close community and are always willing to help eachother. 

Thank you all, too, for your prayers for Gary.  Tomorrow we'll see a new Dr. and hopefully she comes up with some new ideas. 

Yesterday was the last night of Dollywood Nights.  The park was open from 9 until 10 for the past week, and many of us had 15 hour days.  Gary and I worked 10:30 to 11 last night, but thankfully the park was not that busy.  Also, a major storm headed our way, but it only rained for 10 minutes with some thunder.  Still, it was enough to scare many guests out the park, so it was basically a loooong day, not so hectic. 

This morning dawned with many clouds, but so much cooler.  We put our shoes on outside because we keep them in the bays.  (they're so yucky I won't allow them in the coach) The sun came out as we were sitting in our chairs, and we really had to look at eachother and say "I guess we have to go to work".  But it was a slow day again, and the temperature was perfect, AND we got home at 7:45!  Sooo much better than eleven.  Gary went out on our patio then helped our neighbors with their car while I considered dinner.  I'm still considering it...

Another knock at the door.  It was Ann with some interesting information.  Apparently things are going to change around here, but I need to verify a few things before I share the big news.

Figured out dinner.  Spaghetti.  OK, we're tired, so we'll sign off now, and I'll let you know what happens tomorrow. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Knock on the Door

I'm embarrased to say that I began the post with those words, and it did happen.  But it happened on Thursday and I realized that I needed to mention what happened on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday first.  So I started a new paragraph before that line, and that line moved down with each bit I wrote, so I didn't even see it when I published the post.  Sorry.

So, for that knock on the was at 7 am on Thursday.  Gary answered it, and there stood our CG Manager, Billy, asking if Gary was ready to go.  Huh?  Oh, yeah, golf.  "Give me 15 minutes!"  Billy went to get a couple of biscuits, and when he returned Gary was outside waiting. 

Of course, I was awake, and was looking forward to having coffee time with my friend, Brenda at 10:30.  So I vacuumed, did some computer work, and shampooed the carpet.  We carry a Bissell SpotLifter with us. 

Adding some Resolve carpet cleaner and water into the tank does a great job.  You spray just what you want where you want it, and the machine has two spining brushes that scrub the spray into the rug and then it gets vacuumed up.  Plus, I can get the carpet cleaned in 30 minutes!  It is on my hands and knees, though, and I don't like to walk on it (it's a bit damp), so I back out towards the door, go do my thing, and come back to a dry and sweet smelling carpet. 

Brenda and I went to the Old Mill Pottery Cafe and Bakery where Gary and I had lucked into finding a couple of months ago.  Remember the pictures of the mama duck and babies in the water near our table?  Brenda had never been there before, and since the weather was beautiful, we sat outside under an umbrella.  We were going to have just coffee, but Rebecca, our waitress, handed us the menu, mentioned the specials, and we were suddenly hungry.  Spinach quiche and raspberry almond salad sounded good, and we talked until it arrived.  Oooh, just baked raisin bread, too.  We paid, went to the ladies room, and had to pass a shelf with just baked bread on it.  We couldn't resist, I picked up some raisin bread and Brenda got whole grain.  Thanks, Brenda! 

We went back to her coach and talked a for a while with her hubby, Larry, and then I thought I should get back as Gary and I were planning to clean the awning.  Saturday is Larry's birthday and they invited us out for dinner with them to Huck Finn's Fish House.  Gary and I had lunch there one day, and it had gooood fish.  Hushpuppies, too.  I'll try to remember to take a picture.

When I got home, Gary wasn't home, so I read for a while, and when he did get home, he was too tired to clean.  Well, OK then.  We'll do it another day.

Today was chemo day, and we were up at 7 to get to the hospital by 8:15 for blood work.  He passed, but when the Dr. looked at his face, she was not happy.  We all agreed that this treatment was not working and perhaps there was another choice.  After some discussion, it was decided that he might start an new chemo drug next Friday, and also see a Dr. in the Radiation department to consider proton therapy.  We didn't know anything about this until the volunteer, Jim stopped by to talk to us.  He is an RVer too, although not a fulltimer, and he wanted us to know he was a prostate cancer survivor.  He mentioned that he had proton therapy four years ago and is cancer free still.  When we mentioned this to the Dr., she set up an appointment with the Radiology Department for Tuesday.  So now we have two options.   We'll keep you informed.

They gave him a steroid drip for his eyes that lasted only an hour, and then we had all afternoon.  We stopped at Walmart for some more groceries, puttered until the sun moved off the awning, then tackled that job.  I climbed up on the roof with the suggested concoction of Dawn, bleach and hot water and Gary passed up the hose and long handled brush.  I scrubbed the top half of the awning and Gary got the bottom half from a ladder. 

We rolled it up and let it soak while we changed the water filters and cleaned out the water/sewer bay.  Back to the awning:  unrolled, it looked a little cleaner, but the mildew was still there.  Hmmm.  Half a cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water didn't seem to cut it, so I splashed some more in there, scrubbed it all again and and rolled it up.  We talked with our neighbor about his upcoming job as a gate guarder for an oil rig outfit in Texas, something we really want to try.  That took a few minutes, so I climbed back up on top with the hose and washed off the opened awning.  Bummer, the mildew was still there, just maybe a little less.  We'll take another look at it tomorrow when it's dry.

Saturday I'll be in the campground office all by myself - wish me luck! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Knoxville, TN

Sunday was a work day.  I gave breaks to different stands which is OK if done correctly.  Everyone got a break or two except me.  That's OK, we started in the morning and both left around 6 pm.  Nothing exciting happened after work.

Monday was a play day and Gary was craving a bagel from Panera, so we needed to go to Knoxville for that.  I wanted to go to Michael's Arts and Crafts store to look for a little shelf we can install under the window behind the sofa.  I remembered Michael's had some narrow display shelves that might work.  The nearest one is in Knoxville, so we started out on the Chapman Highway instead of north through the construction.  Chapman Highway is a four lane (red road) that would have been fine to drive with our coach.  But it ends directly into the center of Knoxville, which we did not want to do, so I made a couple left turns to get us further west.  The drive was good, but it did take a little longer by 15 minutes.  Gary was starved when we got there, but soon was sated with his bagel and cream cheese. 

We went to Sears to pick up a strap wrench as Gary is determined to change our filters after learning how at our Freightliner class last month.  You will definitely get some pictures of that when it happens.  I looked around Belks and then we met up to head to Michael's.  I found the little shelves, purchased a maple colored 24 inch size and agonized over forgetting my 40% off coupon.  The young lady at the counter gave me the 40% off anyway and we signed up for a Michael's Rewards Card, which you put on your keychain.  (I now have about 30 of those little guys)  Now you don't have to remember coupons - hooray!  The best news we learned is that a new Michael's just opened in Maryville, considerably closer that Knoxville.  Gary asked if they opened a Panera there, too???

One more stop at the liquor store (no liquor sold in our neck of the woods) and we started home on Route 40/75 which was quicker.  We had some dinner and relaxed.  I tried my little shelf under the window, and it's the perfect depth, but too short.  I'd need two of them to look good, so I haven't decided what to do about it yet.  Not too crazy about the color, either, as our coach has pale blonde wood AND I'd have to put  h-o-l-e-s (shudder) in the walls.  Still thinking about this one.

Tuesday and Wednesday we worked, and let me say, that our prayers for rain are not being considered.  This week is Dollywood Nights and we are open until 10.  Tuesday we worked from 11:30 to 9 and last night from 10:30 to 11:30.  And the lemonade stand was covered in honeybees, one of which stung me.  I hesitate to kill them as they are practically on the endangered species list, but when they dive into drinks and scare the guests, it is annoying.  Even washing everything down with bleach doesn't keep them at bay because everytime I fill a cup, the sugar attracts them to the drink dispensers.  And I get to do this again on Sunday, thankfully the last day of DW Nights.

Tuesday we drove home  - in the dark! - and at the entrance to our campground were four police cars with their blue lights flashing.  What??  We squeezed past them and to the right was a man standing with handcuffs on and police were searching his pickup.  Always excitement around here. 

Two days ago, a long term resident had her trailer moved next to us, but was dissatisfied with something so had it pulled around the opposite side into another site.  That night her boyfriend's dog attacked the neighbor's grandfather and little boy, and the grandfather fought it off with his weedwacker.  The boyfriend then came out and went after the grandfather.  Well, they were 'asked' to leave, so then we had another long term resident move next to us because her neighbor's husband was drunk and fell into her patio furniture and broke a table.  Did I mention our last day of Dollywood is October 15th???

It's been an eventful week, but not the kind I like to write about.  Hopefully the rest of the week will shape up better than this.  Cooler weather is planned for the rest of the week, so that will be pleasant, anyway.

I hope you will be enjoying fair skies where ever you are, too! 

Today Gary woke up to the sound of a knock on our door.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Catching Up

Thursday we had a day off, but Gary left at 7 am to play golf.  I puttered around, cleaned up a little, and when he got home we went to Walmart and other stuff I can't remember. 

Friday we did have the day off (no chemo) so we decided to make a day of it.  We started in Cracker Barrel  for breakfast.  I tried the whole grain pancakes and they were delicious.  The store is always fun to shop around in, and we were surprised to see that it had been rearranged.  The checkout registers were now in the middle of the floor, and everything was decorated around the walls.  I wonder if all CBs are redone like this? 

It was another hot day, so we wanted to stay in the car as much as possible.  Heading down towards Gatlinburg, we decided to head left toward Campbell Lead instead of the right fork we take most of the time towards Cades Cove.  Most of the area was residential, but residential around the Smokies means long steep driveways leading to houses with tremendously beautiful views.  We saw a lot of those, and climbed Ski Mountain Drive which sounded promising.  Many twists and turns later we reached the top of the mountain with these cute little rentals.

I couldn't get too close, but here's a sample of the view:  We are high up there!

Those are the ski slopes reachable from Ober Gatlinburg either by arial tram or by car on the backside of this mountain. 

All types of houses are built up here, modern, classic and chalets, but most are log cabins.  This is a really nice one being put up:

We wound our way down the mountain and found ourselves in downtown Gatlinburg.  Gary wanted to try the Sky Lift today, so we parked the car near the Aquarium and enjoyed our walk to the ride.  Another Dollywood perk - we get on free.  They made us stand on a little platform as the continuously moving chairs come up to your back and you just sit down and go.  As I was standing in line, I looked up to where we were going.  It was also a steep climb - at 1800 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain, I was glad that it was not a windy day. 

We stood on the platform, the chair came around, and plop! we landed, pulled down the safety bar, and began our ascent. I asked a couple coming down the hill if one could get off at the top, and the reply was yes.  Along the way there were lots of flip flops below and we wondered what you would do with one flip flop.  One small person figured out that it would be better not to have any, and dropped the other one a few yards later.  I wondered if they sold flip flops somewhere up there...

Near the very top, a voice instructs you to smile, you are having your picture taken.  Close to the platform, you raise your safety bar and gently slip off onto the ground.  There was a gift store up there (no flip flops I could see - missed sales opportunity, I think) with a viewing area.  We snapped a couple shots of the views, Gatlinburg down below

It was a bit hazy, so a lot of the smokies were not so visible.  But it was fun looking around.  Then it was time for our return trip down, down, down.  Once again, we were plopped down on the moving chair and gently and very quietly sailed down the side of the mountain. 

We did a few 'duck in the shop to get cool' maneuvers on our way back to the car.  Not a bad day for $3.75 for parking.  We stopped by Dollywood to pick up our pay stubs and talk to some of our co-workers about the slow day.  Next week is Dollywood Nights when the park is open until 10 pm for a week.  Gary and I have really long days on Tuesday and Wednesday.  But, we picked up our Dollywood Nights T-shirts that we can wear at work and a moonpie.  Since the park is a Coke vendor, there was no RC Cola to go along with it.  Bummer. 

We had a dinner date to get ready for with Brenda and Larry who picked us up at 6:30 for the short drive to Gondolier's Italian Restaurant.  We had eaten here before once and it has become a favorite of ours.  Brenda and I decided to try the chicken and spinach stuffed manicotti in alfredo sauce, highly recommended by our waitress, Kathy.  Larry and Gary chose the special calzone.  I forgot to take a picture of the meals, but they were enormous.  Of course, that means leftovers for dinner one night, so we happily asked for boxes.

Last visit, we noticed the cake display case and promised ourselves we would try one the next time.  So Kathy kindly reeled off the contents of cakes and pies available, but when she mentioned "Death by Chocolate" I said you can stop there.  We ordered one piece and four forks.  Yep, nearly died, it was so good.  No box needed...

Chatting in the car, Brenda offered to show us a quicker way to Knoxville via Chapman Highway, and on the way we drove up to some rental cabins with magnificent views.  It was dark by then, and I remarked that I couldn't remember the last time we had driven anywhere in the dark.  Wierd.  This coming week, we will be driving home from work in the dark.  I hope we can find our way...

On a last note, we'd like to congratulate friends of ours, Don and Lois, on his retirement and all the fun on the upcoming trips they will be taking.  Safe travels, you two. We'll be seeing you down the road!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fun Days at Work

The weatherman was calling for record highs today and tomorrow.  We needed to start work at 8:30 on Tuesday so it was nearly pleasant when we left at 8, but by 10:30 the heat was rolling in.  No chance of rain, and no clouds made for another hot day at the mines.  Gary waited for me to finish 1/2 hour after him and we raced to the showers.  The best thing about today was fried chicken at the Host Lounge for $2.50.  All hosts may eat a hot meal (or salad/sandwich) at the Lounge everyday for $2.50 - a great worker-perk.  This means I don't have to cook when we get home, but we can have a lunch-type dinner.  I can't honestly remember what we had except for ice cream sandwiches. 

Wednesday was another work day, but we didn't need to be in until 11 am.  I can honestly say, even though it was another heat record breaker, that we had a great time at work.  It was not busy at all, but gently steady.  Gary and I got to go to lunch together with another couple of friends and we almost lost track of the time chatting away.  It got slower and slower, and near the end of our shift (4:30) the Junkband rolled their 'instrument' wagon through Market square and stopped for some water.  We said they needed to 'sing for their supper' and sure enough they did!  Their instruments really are pieces of junk: old shovels, Rubbermaid containers, garbage can lids, and the guys drum with such rhythm, that they drew a crowd that danced and swayed and clapped with the beats.  They finished with a flourish and all applauded and cheered.  Wish we had had the camera...

We signed out and drove home for our showers before heading over to Walmart.  Grocery time again.  On the way home we saw the Junkbanders riding their bikes - oooo, hot to do that.  Speaking of bikes, we need new bikes.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Leftover eggplant parmesan for dinner.  And then there was a knock at the door.  A little boy was there (with his arm in a sling) and a cantelope in the other.  Billy, the CG manager, was in his golf cartwith a big a box on the seat.  "These were grown on my farm, and we give all the office workers one."  Well, wonderful!  Dessert!  Thanks, Billy!

We hit the sack early as Gary has a golf game tomorrow and is leaving at 7 am. 


Monday, August 1, 2011

Hike to Cataract Falls

Another warm day, but Gary wanted to wash the roof before we took a hike.  I prepared lunch as he was finishing up, made some plans as he showered, and by noon we were ready to go.  As soon as we passed the Smokey Mountain National Park sign, the trees instantly lowered the temperature.  It felt like an airconditioner with the windows open!  Ah, and that fresh air smell, mmmmm.  Can't get that from your vehicle's air conditioner. 

We took the cutoff around Gatlinburg and arrived at the Sugarland Visitors Center in about 20 minutes.  We parked the Jeep, grabbed our gear and headed out onto the trail.  A kind passerby took our photo at the trail head. 
 Two trails were available, the Fighting Creek trail that meandered through previously settled farmland from the early 1900s.  As you walk along the trail, you can tell that this used to be a cornfield because the diameter of the trees is small and the type of trees can only get started in open, sunny places, like tulip trees and pines.

We came across this bridge where a large gnarled sycamore tree has stood for many, many years.  Gary stopped and looked for brook and rainbow trout, but saw only tiny fish (babies?) 

Over this bridge the trail splits left and right.  To the left is the nature trail where remnants of fences, homesteads and sled roads can be found, but we turned right toward Cataract Falls.  The built up trail meandered through the woods along the creek, under a road bridge and at the end was Cataract Falls.  Visitors had to wait 'in line' to get into the falls to have their pictures taken.  I offered to take a picture of the people in front of us with their camera, and they returned the favor.  Say cheese!

These were very small falls, but the rainfall has been less than spectacular around here lately, so everything is rather dry.  We crossed the creek on stepping stones and continued up the trail toward Laurel Falls (an 11 mile hike).  Nobody decided to take this trail, most turning back toward the parking lot, so we were looking for a quiet place to picnic.  We climbed about 1/4 mile, and Gary stopped, looked around and said 'right here'.  We were in the middle of the deserted trail, and so that's were we sat!  It was fun watching everyone walk or drive below us as we had a cherry pit spitting contest - Gary won.  It was very peaceful with an occassional burst of children laughing, a sweet sound, but it was getting really hot as there was no breeze, so we headed down the trail, crossed the creek again and walked to the split in the trail.   

Gary couldn't go on any further, so we stood on the bridge and looked for more fish.

After pausing in the coolness, we slowly walked back to the visitor's center and into the A/C to cool off before getting into the heat of the Jeep.  In a minute we were cruising through the forest of the mountains with the windows opened and breathing that fresh air.

Our friends, Brenda and Larry were meeting us at the Smith Family Show at 5:45, so we got cleaned up and met them in the lobby.  Brenda pointed out that her father's 1950 Plymouth was parked in the front of the theater, and that she learned to drive in that car.  Brenda lost her dad earlier this year, but Charlie Bob drove it up to his funeral as a gesture of respect.  So I had to get a picture of her next to her favorite old car.

We were brought to our seats and introduced to the pre-dinner cast who proceded to entertain us with songs.  Then we filed out row by row and walked through the buffet line which included fried and baked chicken, meatloaf and macaroni with southern sides like pintos and collards.  Our drinks were provided by our waiter, Kevin, and he was very attentive.  The show started as soon as everyone got their food, and these are the stars: Jim and Charlie Bob.

Jim Smith is the guitarist on the far right, top photo and Charlie Bob is in the white jacket.  All in all, it was an enjoyable evening.  We thought briefly about continuing our evening together at the CG, but Gary and Larry were pretty tired, so we called it a night with promises to see eachother again later in the week.

Finally we got to play today, and it was worth waiting for.

Tomorrow we work again.