Summing it Up...

Now, that I'm way on the wrong side of sixty, I feel that being true to self is important. "I yam, what I yam." Kindness and smiles are to be given away. Women are strong. Men are more vulnerable than we believe. Husbands may come and go...but one thing I know for sure is that I will NEVAH live without a corgi or coffee in my life if I can prevent it. Come piles of dog fur or hot water!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Today we went to the 14th annual Snowbird Extravaganza, at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland. Canadian companies, as well as several in Florida, sponsored this event; including the Florida Lottery. Rooms of vendors with free handouts are always popular. But it was the free quality entertainment, that made today worthwhile. In the center's lush auditorium, we were treated to a terrific, fast-paced, nostalgic show by the Diamond's...famous in the late 50's/early 60's, were always popular guests on American Bandstand in those days.The show was great, and it was very hard to sit still, believe me! We also enjoyed Bob Anderson, a Vegas singer, who now stars in Dick Clark's supper club, Club 57, in Branson. He could mimic Sinatra, Martin, Tony Bennett, Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson, right on. He gave a great show. We saw popular Canadian singers, harmonica players, and pinched ourselves, as we could not believe we were seeing all this fantastic music, for FREE. We enjoyed going with the other 2 Indiana couples wintering in Zephyrhills, from our Winnebago group. It's been a ball, spending time with them.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I don't like spiders or snakes....remember that song?

Early Sunday afternoon, our Indiana friends, also here in Zephyrhills, called and asked if we wanted to go out and about. We went to the John B. Sargent Nature Preserve down the road and got an idea what nature in Florida was all about. The Hillsbourgh River is 54 miles long, and curves this way and that making bogs and lagoons for wildlife. Grasses in the water make good hunting grounds for the Ibis, and Great white egrets snapping up bugs, minnows and little green snakes. Blue heron swooped, both the large and small variety. Turkey buzzards, close to a hundred, if not more in our viewing area anyway, hunched up in the high cypress trees which were draped in spanish moss. (We felt as if Alfred Hitchcock should be directing this entire scene, it was just so eerie!) They kept swooping and dive bombing each other, making us feel as if we were being checked out as a possible entree'). Turtles were sunning on logs, ranging in size from plate to a foot and a half in diameter. We kept looking for 'gators who like sunny days, but "think" we only saw logs. Folks in canoes, and jon-boats braved the waters where all those scary things live. Kids were fishing, using chunks of ruby red grapefruit as bait. A snakebird had his wings spread out, drying wet wings. Snakes fall out of trees people said, and spiders too. No boats for me! The park system had made a boardwalk that went all through this boggy area, and pictures to identify the birds. We saw a wood stork later in the day.
On to Parksdale Fruit Market in Plant City then, for fresh produce and their famous strawberry treats! The line for shortcake was so long it went to the busy road, and along it. We bought 2 quarts of ripe strawberries, 2 avocados, 2 huge tomatoes, green beans, and new red potatoes all for $9.
On the way home we drove down a farmer's lane, close to the RV park, and saw his "Zorse"....what is a zorse you ask... It is a zebra/horse. It had the narrow blackish face, slender black stockinged legs and stripes of a zebra, but was brown like a horse with donkey like ears. The stripes went every which way, and the markings on the face looked almost tribal, like it was rubberstamped and inked on. Just a very odd little animal!
Today we went to Dade City to get fresh OJ from Citrus Country who now leases Orange Blossom in Clearwater. We like the set-up in Clearwater much better, but the OJ we got was fresh squeezed this morning. A real Florida perk!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Headin' South...

We moved to Zephyrhills today, twenty some miles more south and closer to Largo for our family visits. We're not wild about the RV park...a 55 & older senior park (ouch!)'s on a busy road, larger city, but stuff is near, Largo is closer, a big medical center is here a-n-d we have 2 sets of fellow Winnebago club members from Indiana nearby. There's an open fruit/vegetable market just down the road, and I spotted a Hospice thrift store a little farther down. So some day, we'll need to explore the area, and see what's around. One good thing...we've been looking for a church to attend, and have only found Baptist..they have a service right here, in the activity room on Sunday mornings, so we go there. Problem solved. Tomorrow we all go to Sarasota for the January snowbird gathering of Hoosier Winnebago club members at an Amish (?? in Florida??) restaurant.
It was hot and muggy today. Last night the rains didn't quit, and some flooding was here and there. Neither one of us slept well as the rain rat-a-tat-tatted all darn night, and was a percussion nightmare!! We're going to watch the finale of Deal or no deal...then nightie night...we leave at 9:30 in the morning. I've GOT to sit out in the sunshine at some point this winter...I want some brown skin to show for our wintering in Florida.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back in Bushnell, Florida

We went north, unpacked what we didn't need in the motorhome, and repacked things we thought we'd need over the winter. Lots of driving in a few days. We arrived back, late, Saturday night at the Escapee's rv park in Raccoon Valley in eastern TN. We unpacked/put away until midnight. We slept in Sunday morning, and went to the Bluegrass Jam that afternoon in the community room. These local folks meet on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons to pick and sing their banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, or fiddle. They've played together for years,and welcome the listeners to join in to sing Red River Valley, the Green Green Grass of Home, or an old hymn. Fiddlers stop by to say "hey" and end up playing one of the extra guitars, or taking a turn at the mike. Some of these people "must" have played professionally at some point because they are so at home in front of a crowd. No one uses sheet music. Read my older post dated March 1st, 2007, for more detail on the bluegrass jams. These jams are a real perk for staying at this particular park. We love it there.
We were glad to see the spanish moss covered live oaks here at Sumter Oaks RV Park, six miles south of Bushnell off I-75, exit 309. The canopy of trees line each lane and really looks like "old Florida". It's restful to look up at the trees. You feel protected somehow; it's hard to explain. It's nice here at yet another Escapee park. It's woodsy back where the dog walk is, cypress trees are thick and a natural mulch is on the ground, and smells great. There are sand hill cranes here and there. The burros from last year are here, and their pen has been improved. The corgis liked to visit those guys (read December 2007 entry about Bushnell). There's an indoor swimming pool here and we hope to use it sometime. Right now, we're busy rubbernecking the area, seeing what's where. We hope to visit the Largo area once a week or so, as some family members live there, and it's also where our mail is being forwarded to from Indiana.
We witnessed some drama at the Bushnell Waffle House this afternoon. We were there for breakfast, at 2p.m.,as I had a hankering for their raisen toast and cheezy eggs, and Jim had a pecan waffle. There was a shift change, leaving one gal to work at both server and cook, and she was hot about it. She and the assistant manager were using very blue language, within 12 feet of us. The server/cook, still a teen, but the mother of a 17-month old (much loved) son told us she only made $3.30 an hour, and that she was looking for another job. Life is hard for young people who have made poor choices early in life. They have to try to make it on non existent funds, strained coping skills, and lack enough education that would ensure better employment options. We listened, and tried to encourage her, and Jim tipped her well; we left there sad, and hope life is kinder down the road for her.Choices make or break us, don't they? The corgi kids are enjoying these cool days and nights in northern Florida. Good sniffing for them. I keep looking for armadillos, but none spotted yet.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Shirt sleeve weather in Tennessee.

Twenty minutes out of Waynesville, N.C., west on 40, we saw an upside down semi and trailer, wheels up, result of taking a mountain curve too fast. What a sight! The tunnels that cut through this range of mountains are a total C-curve, very spooky, because you don't know what to expect. The water coming off the mountains was a frozen glob of ice, even tho the outside temp this morning was 58 degrees.
White water enthusiasts would love the fast,curvy,stream that runs along the interstate through the Cherokee National Forest, and Smoky Mountains. Jim said that a flat bottom canoe, with no keel, would be the perfect way to go.
Newly erected log cabins, some look like lodges, seemed to be 'perched' on a high lookout point, set into the red soil. They look awkward, as if they're barely hanging on, at least that's how it seemed from a car window's perspective, far below.
I seem to have become a roadside litter monitor. Tennessee's litter is nothing to compare with North Carolina's. An occasional sack or bottle, rather than the long, continous roadside dump, strewn for miles and miles everywhere. What's with North Carolina? Surely someone at the statehouse would have noticed, and felt shame!!
It's scary, seeing how low water tables are in the South. Florida, South Carolina, N.C., Tennessee all have sandy beaches and rocky walls where water should be. I hope that someone in these states is praying for rain. Have to wonder tho, if the demand for water is finally catching up with those heavily populated states, complicated by drought? Prayers can't hurt.
We've been going through all our storage compartments inside, taking out what we don't use or need to take back to Indiana tomorrow. The little red tracker is going to be jammed with stuff, 2 corgi dogs, and Jim and I. It will not be a comfortable trip, over 350 miles. Raccoon Valley has a large fenced yard for dogs to play and both corgi kids got much needed exercise before nightfall. We're having crock pot pork chops and fresh green beans for supper, will go next door to the shower house for showers as we didn't want to hook up due to the possibility of colder weather while we're in Indiana. We hope to return here by Saturday, and spend a few days before heading south again. Bluegrass is Sunday night, yahoo!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Nice day in western North Carolina...

Today we traveled westward from Chapel Hill towards Waynesville. It was 70 degrees, and a sunny, glorious day. Diesel prices at Flying J was 3.31. Once we were in the piedmont area, we began seeing the Pisgah mountain range. Lake Lure, where Dirty Dancing was filmed, and Chimney Rock are in this area. Tonight we're parked way up on a bluff at a Wal-mart in Waynesville. We've been to Maggie Valley to check on family property, and to the cemetary in Waynesville to visit Jims' fathers' grave.
Last night the N.C. kids had a movie date so Grammy got to babysit Emmy.She's a good little eater using her pincher grasp on her momma's homemade mac and cheese. She also baptized her Grammy with applesauce when she blew a raspberry. She likes to do that. Next time we visit, Em will be walking and talking....sigh!
We dread going back to Indiana's wintry offerings so we made plans to leave the RV at Raccoon Valley in Tennessee, an Escapee's park. We've been there before, and it's a cool place. (They have bluegrass jams by the locals on Sunday and Thursday nights.)
We'll drive up to Indiana, get our errands done, catch up with Josh, and re-group somewhat before heading back to Tennessee, then on to northern Florida, or somewhere...anything beats shoveling snow, and dealing with winter. Options are open.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Too cold for Armadillos!

What a fluke in weather the South is having. No armadillo sightings this trip due to this crazy frigid blast. Last year, in the same locale, they were all over the place! 20's and 30's in Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The blasting headwinds ruined Jim's mileage, and froze us while walking the dogs. Winter coats and gloves weren't enough to make the task comfortable.
We saw lots of bird life as we traveled through South Carolina's low country yesterday. The waterways, rivers, streams, and intercoastal waterways were gorgeous. Hated to just drive through and not stop and explore. We slept in a Flying J parking lot last night at the SC/NC state line. Lots of RV's of every brand were there.
One thing we noticed today was the endless trail of litter on the major roadways in North Carolina. How sad, it's such a pretty state, densely wooded, hills and dales, but trash is everywhere. It's obvious there are no tax dollars set aside for clean-up, or enough volunteer groups to do it. As Gomer would say, "for shame, for shame, for shame!"
We drive by John Edwards' estate on Old Goldsboro Road, here outside Chapel Hill, as we go to and from our wooded site at the Spring Hill Campground.(I reckon he's in Iowa today.)The neighbor across the road from the Edwards' drive entry has a sign up saying, "Go Rudy, in 2008!" We always stay here, it's beautiful, the dogs enjoy all the good sniffing grounds, and, they have cable! It's less than 15 minutes to the North Carolina kid's house, and a shopping plaza with a Food Lion, and laundromat are 5-7 minutes down the curvy, deer infested road. We counted over 2 dozen tonight as we stopped long enough to hug my girls, hear Emmy's belly laugh, see her 8 new teeth, and watch her new skill....crawling lickety split across the floor. Oh, and she says 'kitty'.
On to the Farm House, Jim's favorite place here in Chapel Hill. Down a rutted, S-curved, gravel lane is an old wood sided restaurant. A wooded setting, once a farm yard, is strewn with abandoned tractors, tools and outbuildings. We sat in front of the fireplace, and the heat felt darn good tonight. The walls are painted red, and trimmed in dark wood siding. The lighting is dim, real dim, and real kerosene lamps at each table light the rooms. Old farm tools, implements, harnesses,etc., all painted black, decorate the walls. Its menu reminds you of 60's fare. Very simple. Relish tray, salad, 3 types of steak, tuna, shrimp, and grilled chicken. Rolls, baked potato, and that's the entire menu. Not many yuppies eat here, believe me!
It's down in the 20's tonight(we pulled our slides in, to have less area to heat,and didn't hook up the water hose, just filled the tank). They say warmer temps by the weekend. April says there's a new Trader Joe's that's opened since my last visit so we'll go there and peruse the aisles of "natural" foods, and organic products on Saturday. Jim plans a quiet weekend in the RV as he's nursing a cold that I had in Florida last week.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Colder up North.

Granted, we only went as far North as St. Augustine today, but it is darn cold here. It was to be even colder north of Jacksonville, so, we stopped at our usual overnight lodging spot while traveling, a Cracker Barrel. We didn't get dibs for the best spot as we normally do as two other large RV's were already in place. We have amazing tv reception here by the dumpster though, and cushy grass for dog paws, so life is good. My mantra for the new year is "don't sweat the small stuff" and will try to remember, that indeed, it all, is small stuff!
Blessings to all in 2008. Wouldn't it be loverly to obtain peace in the world, peace of mind, freedom from pain, evil, and misunderstandings...and national health care within the next 365 days?

Y'all come back now...

Y'all come back now...

Everyone is special, and counts!