Think about this ... "be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful is ...

Being in the right place at the right time to serve 56 young (oh so young) Marines, most of whom are experiencing their first holiday away from home, a Thanksgiving dinner.

As well as having my Marine not deployed (he is away from his family, but still safely in this country).

I have been very thankful today - how 'bout y'all?

I hope we've all been able to find many reasons ~ can't we?

I'll try to redeem now ..

I'm trying to figure out where we've been and what we've done since the last post - and YES I do realize the last real post was two weeks ago, as we were leaving the great campground on the Mississippi River outside Memphis, TN.

When we left there we went to a Moose Lodge in West Monroe, LA for a few nights before we went 25 miles down the road to Choudrant, LA to have the latest mods done to the coach. We were in Choudrant for two nights at the house of the couple who does the mods - they are so gracious they have rv hook ups and a little house that we can stay in or do laundry or whatever while they are working on the coach.

After we left Choudrant we went to a campground in Mt. Olive, MS that I found on line I guess. I am still unsure if it is a state park or county park, but we had a full hook up with 50 amps for a "Passport America" rate of $7.50. The first photo of this post was taken there. And by the way, you aren't seeing double - there was another Alfa (our coach manufacturer) that came in two days after we were there. THIS is "my kind" of campground - lots of trees, space between sites peace and quiet, lots of peace and quiet did I mention it was very quiet and peaceful? There was, however, no satellite for us there because of the trees, and yes Chester, even Burger King has wifi, but there was NO Burger King in Mount Olive, MS - trust me!).

We left that campground (I just had to check the book I keep a record of campgrounds we've visited to find out when we left, and the book is behind also .... MY VERY BAD) on Sunday the 22nd (Happy Birthday Gunny Sgt. Lovett) and went to an "Elks Lodge RV Park" in Foley, AL. I put that in quotes because it was a bit different from any other Lodge rv facility we've been to - it was really a private campground (and some of those monthly storage units) behind the Elks Lodge and the second most expensive Lodge facility we've been to - for whatever reason - they charged it and we paid it for a few days. Why it is listed in the Elks rv travel book is beyond me, but it is duly noted in our book.

So yesterday we traveled the whole 25 miles over Perdido Bay to a great Lodge in Pensacola where we stayed for a couple night in our first few months on the road - will do a post about that in a few minutes (maybe?!?!) because I am having trouble loading a very important photo to coordinate it - actually what will be the theme of the entire short post)

Okay, so on to other things now that I've caught us all up. Well I haven't really caught us up so I need to digress for a moment. Rick and I have been fighting bitchin' colds for a week and a half. I am tired of feeling like crap and tired of being tired - but then again, I've been tired of being tired for about six months - what the hell is with all of this anyway?? Anyway, so the colds have really whacked us and I just had no inclination to blog or anything else - including the major sewing project I am working on that has a serious deadline.

Isn't that a great look Sir is giving Rick in the photo above - true devotion, listening to every syllable right? Yeah, sure ~ we're talking Sir Arlo here, so not so much. The key to it all is that Rick told Sir he could not have the "critter" on the table right then. So the story of the "critter ... ummmm it goes like this.

Some years ago I had a dog - the best dog in the whole entire world ... she (Bittersweet) was my best pal, my best caretaker, my best you name it. We adopted our Bittersweet when she was a tiny puppy and my boys were still small. We'd "lost" a dog a few months prior and for whatever reason decided it was time to have a dog rule our life again ... so off Joshua and I went one Sunday to meet this prospective new family member (Chad was not in favor of having a dog - he wanted "Gypsy" back). Well Josh and I returned home a couple hours later with Bittersweet cuddle gently in Josh's lap (he named her).

Through the years the boys grew, life happened and I was pretty much alone - it was "B"and I and let me tell you that dog was my protector. I had an incident when emergency medical attention was necessary and Ms B was my protector when the EMT's came in the front door and attended to me, her person, laying on the floor. So the EMT's had to deal with me and my fearless dog at that moment! Ms B became quite ill and lost the battle about eight years ago - Rick and I were, of course, devastated, but good memories eventually took hold. WOW, I digressed on that one didn't I.

Okay, back on track here - end the trip down memory lane for the most part - Rick and I bought Ms B this gopher stuffed toy that made a grunting noise when you squeezed (squose??? what is past tense of squeeze?) it's sides. Ms B was petrified of that noise (as well as having medicine dispensed to her) and would run upstairs and "hide" under one of the beds. Eventually the gopher just got put aside with other family treasures, the years passed, we lost our Ms B and many years later along came Sir Arlo (we were never having another dog you know) and Sir found that gopher in the treasure chest of family memories. Sir was NOT, in any way, afraid of the grunting noise. That original gopher is still in Sir's toy box today.

As I was walking Sir around our campsite at the fabulous place in Mt. Olive I saw, out of the corner of my eye, something that looked like a very dead, very old, very gross critter that I was sure was at one point a very alive critter - haven't a clue what type of critter, but I knew that fella was no longer a frolicking anything. It was greenish and just kind of yucky, so after I first saw it I never walked Sir by it because I knew he was going to want to make it play. As well as that fear, I kept forgetting to mention it to Rick. When I finally did tell Rick, being the brave soul he is, went over to where it was (as I directed from inside the coach, telling him it looked just like a green gopher and to go left, go over, go straight ahead, out the open window!) got near it, got a big stick and picked it up and gosh darn if it wasn't a gopher just like Ms B's gopher from years ago - although much greener! Surprisingly it didn't stink - why would that be? So I put it in a bucket of bleach and hot water, then brought it in the coach and put it in our washer - extra rinse, high speed cycle thank you very much!

And that gopher, my friends, is "Camelot's Sir Arlo's" most favorite new friend - when we return home from being out anywhere we are greeted with Sir holding one of the gophers in his mouth as a prize.
That same day, Sir decided, for whatever reason and I can't possibly imagine what that reason may be, he needed to climb into one of the outside storage areas of the coach. This is the bay that holds our outside lounge chairs, the rugs that rarely come out of there, some of our tacky lawn ornaments, the grill, a cooler ... various "stuff". He came out with nothing, but was on a mission for a few minutes ~ never happened in our two years on the road or since but it was what worked that day.

As we were out touring the Mt. Olive :-) area one day we came across Hot Coffee, MS (I don't make this stuff up). Vovo Roy, the town made me think of you (for I hope obvious reasons and perhaps Patrick's comment when y'all thought he was sleeping). By the way, when I went to find a link to Hot Coffee I expected my usual wikipedia (I LOVE wikipedia) but came up with this great National Geographic one that has music, seemingly appropriate for the area, that I will most definitely have to go peruse.
More of the tour of the Mt. Olive area. The lovely park we were at had a large lake where sometimes the locals would come spend a quiet afternoon on the dry end of a fishing line. Sir and I had been down there one day chasing sticks and wading when there were no fishing persons there.

One day when we were out doing "errands" or something I drove down to the lake to show Rick how "neat" it was. When we were there so were some fisherpersons. Rick took the pictures - hope y'all can expand them enough to appreciate them .... typical local scenery, but we loved it.

In closing, Kimberly or Jack, have you ever known a bovine named Bovina? Rick and I have had so so much fun with the name of a town called Bovina!
Am I making progress at redemption? Now if y'all would offer some advice to get rid of the colds and gain some energy I'd be appreciating it?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yeah I be badder than bad

I know I am so bad with the bloggin' thing of late - but cut me some slack for a few more days PLLLLEASE.. I won't bother with excuses here right now but I will be extremely THANKFUL if you'd give me a day or two..
Thanks Betty for your cutting me slack and Chester well what can I say, but I'd be very thankful if YOU'd be cuttin' me some slack too...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

yeah but but but

We haven't had satellite access for a week ~ cut me some slack here please..... got pictures to post and words to post but it'll have to be tomorrow ....

We are now in Alabama (Foley to be exact) just around the corner from Lulu's (UGH NO) don't know if we'll be here two days or a week - need to figure it out "tomorrow", but for now we are back "in the loop" HUH ... now we need time to "catch up".

Friday, November 13, 2009

It surely doesn't happen often!

That I am up early enough to see a sunrise - well at least these days. With that said, I guess these are the days I should be up that early - it's a wonderful, peaceful time to get some alone time. Like the gentleman in the campsite in front of us the other day ~ he was out around 7:30 (nothing to do with the rising sun, I'm off on another tangent!) I watched this man for 1/2 an hour or so do his morning exercises - slow and precise he was. The man appeared to be 65-70 years old - "considerably" older than myself, so why the heck don't I do it? Heck no not me, I just keep eating, drinking and greatly expanding. With great intentions of looking oh so slim and trim for such an important date I have in April .... intentions all right!

Anyway, this sunset photo was taken at the campground we were staying at in West Memphis, AR (see previous posts) right on the Mississippi River. This was last Friday, the morning we left there and headed to Louisiana. We had planned to stop and spend a night or two in Vicksburg, MS but got an early start on a great traveling day so we went the whole 340 (!!!!) miles to West Monroe, LA where we've been for two nights and today will go down the road 25 miles to Choudrant to have the last of the coach televisions replaced tomorrow. The man who does these mods for us (as well as others) also owns an Alfa, same year as ours. He is a meticulous craftsman and this is our third trip to him ~ we obviously are impressed.

Someone had asked for pictures of the new (well it's now a month or so old) furniture so here goes ....

Rick's chair and ottoman below
Computer desk below. The top part that looks like a drawer opens and the tray slides out for the laptop to sit on (hence desk) the bottom doors open and that is where the printer is - rather than under the dining table where it was before (so I could smash me head every time I got down there to print something ... don't miss that at all)
My chair, ottoman and end table. The end table is really a filing cabinet drawer on the bottom and smaller drawer on the top. This set up eliminated all the clutter that used to be on the coffee table next to my old chair (both donated back in Goshen, Indiana).
Below is Arlo's "man cave" which was created when the sofa got pulled out and the chair and ottoman came in providing space between them and the desk .... Sir used to have the front end of the sofa as "his" space and I was truly concerned about what he was going to do with that space gone (keep in mind he has his own bed that he rarely uses) so we put his "rug" and pillow there and it seems to have worked well for him!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

hated to say good bye

to this place ~ the Cape Girardeau (MO) Elks Lodge that we so enjoyed. Here are a few photos I took the morning (Tuesday) we headed out. These were taken around 8:00 am - so quiet and peaceful it was. There were some mornings that a member or two would show up around 7:00 - 7:30 to go fishing for the morning, but not this morning. With no one there that morning Sir was allowed to be off leash and get to do his final farewell (although he certainly had no clue it would be) to the place he seemed to love as much as I did.

The shot above just cracked me up. That was our fire pit area - it looks like he is standing smack dab in the middle of a starting circle for something. As it turned out a few minutes after I got that shot he and I were playing "stick" and being the bad shot I am, I landed my next throw right in that ash pit - of course Sir had to chase, dig and frolic in the ashes playing with the stick! Lovely ash covering to carry into the coach! Oh well ...

And my warped sense of humor - shots of then........and then and now!!!

Okay, moving on .... as we traveled from Missouri to West Memphis, AR ...

Hopefully the photo below can be enlarged so you can see why I took this - and know what the big white and green things are? I was so surprised - I'd never have thought we'd see this in Missouri!
And NO - it isn't snow ......
It is fields and fields and acres and acres of cotton. Acres and acres and miles and miles! Plus it was harvesting time so there were many many barren fields as well.

Back along the Mighty Mississippi in West Memphis, AR where we stayed in September 2008. Oh how we love this campground (Tom Sawyer Mississippi River RV Park). Not only is the location perfect, the price incredibly reasonable (without greed) but it is also so peaceful, so very very peaceful.
This group of photos was of a large (four barges wide by five barges long - 20 barges - holy macaroni - or holy macaroni broccoli as my Connor says) making its way gradually up the river - being pushed by one large tug.

There was a smaller tug to the right of this huge beast.
nice sky in the shot below????

That "little" tug ended up on the opposite shore to go play with the small barge (loaded with dirt I believe) and tug over there. I think they may be dredging or something over on that side - which, by the way would be the Tennessee side!
So tomorrow we leave here (we did, of course, extend our stay here by a day) and go to Vicksburg, Mississippi for only one night (was going to be two) on our way to north eastern Louisiana for the latest coach mod, then we head to Florida ~ slowly slowly, ever so slowly ....

Monday, November 9, 2009


It seemed to us that if we were within 60 miles of Metropolis, IL we probably should go over the bridge, and through the woods and farm land and get to the "super" land!

Another small town America finding a claim to fame! We loved it.
As you can see below if you enlarge the photo, Sir was less than loving it - as usual he was very intimidated by this large being he was "forced" to pose with!!!

Daily planet, phone booth and all, Metropolis has done well - really well. I did see in a local paper while we were there that ground has been broken for a Lois Lane statue as well! I don't know, however, how close it will be to the Sup's statue. And what about the poor underling in the trio - we were trying to remember his name - was it Jimmy something?

It was surprising to us that the local businesses, other than the "souvenir" store, don't seem to play up on the Superman theme. When we were at the Spam museum, the entire town seemed to play into it - not so much in Metropolis, IL!
A trio of women tourists (obviously very silly tourists - they were a blast and reminded me of crazy sisters on a "sister weekend"!) took the photo below - oooops they didn't tell me I was "off center" and Arlo was hiding behind me - not in the picture as intended! Oh well, it was all fun and they were so entertaining for sure.
Sadly, for Arlo and I, we left the wonderful Elks Lodge in Cape Girardeau this morning and traveled to West Memphis, AR - across the river from Memphis, TN. We did go into Memphis tonight for some barbecue and a visit to the Peabody (missed the ducks by about 10 minutes unfortunately) and a trip down Beale Street. We are staying for two nights at a terrific campground we stayed at last year - right on the Mississippi River, where we get to watch the barges and boats go up and down the river all day and night. It did seem this afternoon that river traffic was much much slower than last time we were here. In the time between when we got here until we headed over to Memphis this evening (three hours or so) we saw only one barge on the river - usually that time frame would have involved no less than ten - go figure!

Unfortunately when we headed into Memphis tonight I totally forgot to bring the camera - it was on the console of the coach from our travel today - and I forgot to put it back in my purse when we headed out ~ darn darn darn. I did take a few pictures with my phone but it has no flash and the photos I took were on an outside patio but it was dark out so I doubt they came out ~ we shall see when I load all the camera and phone pictures to the laptop tomorrow, but for now I'm off to la la land ....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This Cape not that cape

Cape Girardeau, MO ~ what a nice area this has been. As well as what a terrific Lodge! What a treasure.

Chad, the first photo was taken for you ~ it reminded me of one of an old Coca-Cola wall I took for you about a year ago in Sioux Falls.

The photo below is our campsite as seen from across the lake ~ oh so quiet and peaceful. The building you see behind the coach is a pavilion used, I imagine for Elks functions. On the side of the lake (the side where I took the photo) are two buildings, with kitchens I believe, that are also rented out from time to time. As well as twice a year the Lodge holds a camping weekend for its members!
Cape Girardeau is in central Missouri (well perhaps a bit more southern than central) on the very east side of the state. Cape Girardeau is separated from Illinois by the mighty, muddy Mississippi River.

We finally got the bikes out on Saturday and went for a short ride. We found a couple interesting stops along the way ~ below was a public fishing access area. Well the road was closed off (sort of) because the river had so spilled its banks. To the right of that pavilion building on the left side of the photo is something with a green roof ~ we had no clue what it was until someone told us it a raft built and being used by three or four young men who are rafting down the river. We were told they have a web site but for the life of me I can't remember it's name and couldn't find anything about it when I googled it. I bet that would be a great site to peruse!

Beyond the raft is a barge (well it was actually a total of twelve barges) being pushed up the river by two tugs. Hey, if they are pushing a water craft, rather than pulling it are they still called tugs?
The next stop we made was a really nice "scenic overlook" so up up up we went and son of a gun if the same group of barges didn't catch up with us!
After that we went back into downtown Cape Girardeau. We had been there on Thursday (I think it was) because I saw an ad for a Cajun restaurant (Broussard's) ~ oh MY what a Cajun restaurant it is ... I had the best etouffee I've had in years - crawfish etouffee of course! YUM YUM YUM.

When we were in the downtown area on Thursday the "gates" along the river were closed. They were open on Saturday so we had access to the river. There is apparently a walkway along there but it was underwater for the most part.

Looking south from the open gates is this huge bridge going to Illinois (the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge) - doesn't it look so similar to the Zakim Bridge in Boston?
I will close this post with an evening photo from our "campsite" looking over the lake to the Lodge up on the hill.

Friday, November 6, 2009

This bud's for you and you and you ..

What a beauty above - yes?

As I'd mentioned oh so long ago we thought we'd do the Budweiser tour in St. Louis.... well, we obviously did.

It seems, however like it was about a month ago - yup, bad Tracey - bad bad bad so lazy with posting of late and so much to post about! BAD BAD BAD
We have done the Bud tour in Merrimack, NH a time or two and it was a good take - well worth the price of admission (fyi, there is no price of admission)!!! St. Louis however was a better take - the plant was much much larger than Merrimack and the original Bud plant with a great history and beautiful old buildings - most with arches (I guess I was really on this arch thing about St.Louis ~ I did take a few photos of the arches at Bud'ville, but won't post them - seems a bit like nagging or something - I think I might be obsessed with this arch thing and doubt that anyone else is ...... so y'all be spared additional arches.)
Above is the dalmatian at the St. Louis plant - he was not a particularly friendly sort of fella - however, the dalmatians are there to guard their horses - well "back in the day" (as Frick would say) they were put on the wagons to guard the "goods" while deliveries were being made - this guy was woken from a nap when our tour came through his barn (and it was not like any barn I'd ever seen for sure) and he was quite protective. The Clydesdale in the top photo was obviously outside, but there are several stalls where these guys spend the night in the most palatial stalls (palatial is a word Rick and I use frequently - as someone, whom I suspect had NO personal knowledge of the place, referred to the "kennel" UGH where Sir stayed in Jacksonville at the airport last February when we flew to NH to welcome our Muffin Princess into the world ... so the term is used in jest often)

Below - just a photo from the tour ....
Below here is a fox - like three others on the four corners of the canning/bottling building ... This guy guarded the building during the prohibition years when Budweiser was still working, but bottling soda/pop/tonic - call it what you want depending on the part of the country you are in! I believe the beverage was called Pevey, but for the life of me I can't remember that chapter of the tour. Anyway, the fox is sitting there with a cup of it in one hand and a sandwich in the other ~ see the close up in tiles inside the canning/bottling building - this was lovely tile artwork around the top of the room we were in as we entered the building to watch a video.

Below - some stats inside the canning/bottling line .... very interesting place - it smelled like beer though - imagine that huh!!! I can't stand the smell of beer and am in love with a beer drinker!

So, with all that St. Louis stuff behind us ~ we arrived here in Cape Girardeau, MO on Tuesday (YES my bad I KNOW that). We are staying at an Elks Lodge here - the lodge is on 100 acres of land, 30 of those acres are a lake. Unbelievable, gorgeous property - full hook up $10./night - WHAT THE HECK ... membership has it's benefits. On top of all that, we've had the entire campground area to ourselves all week -

Sir has had a ball, running swimming, chasing wilson and sleeping real well at night! Being the weekend, there are others here tonight, but I suspect they'll all be gone tomorrow, and unfortunately we will be out of here Monday or Tuesday as we have that commitment in LA on the 16th then we will make a hasty retreat to the Keys as quickly as possible - would like to be there at least by mid December. Don't know where we'll be for Thanksgiving this year but would truly like to be at an Elks or Moose helping serve a community Thanksgiving dinner .... we shall see how it all works out time/distance wise! Wherever we are, we will be so very thankful for this life we have.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Golden but not THAT one

The one thing I wanted to do while we are here in the St. Louis area was go to the top of the Gateway Arch. Yeah well good plan BUT nowhere, in any of the research I did about tours of the arch etc., did it mention that the tram that takes you there is a capsule teeny, tiny, closed capsule that you share with four other people! When I saw it I knew right away this wasn't for me - no way, no how. From what I saw there are NO windows, however I did just now look up wikipedia information about the arch and below is a picture and description of the capsule from that source of information - which I should have gone to first! And by the way, did YOU know that the Arch is a National Memorial? I didn't.

"Passing through the doors, passengers in groups of five enter an egg-shaped compartment containing five seats and a flat floor. Because of the car shape, the compartments have sloped ceilings low enough to force taller riders to lean forward while seated (for this reason it's recommended that the tallest of the five passengers in the car sit in the center seat facing the door). Eight compartments are linked to form a train, meaning that both trains have a capacity of 40, and that 80 people can be transported at one time. These compartments individually retain an appropriate level by periodically rotating every 5 degrees, which allows them to maintain the correct orientation while the entire train follows curved tracks up one leg of the arch. The trip to the top of the Arch takes four minutes, and the trip down takes three minutes. The car doors have narrow windows, allowing passengers to see the interior stairways and structure of the Arch during the trip."

Aside from the disappointment of not going to the top of the Arch we had a great time in "downtown" St. Louis, although I don't think we were truly in downtown, I think we were in the main tourist area of the city instead.

It was a beautiful fall day and the Arch is in a lovely park along the river (Mississippi River). There are, obviously, many many bridges in and out of the city crossing the river and below is one of the prettier ones. This is the Eads Bridge, completed in 1874 and the first bridge built using cantilever supports.

Chad, I am sure you could have taken some great photos of this bridge that I found so interesting - with your skill and great use of various lenses and light.

In the photo above, centered in the lower portion you can see a hand holding a hat. This is some sort of statue along the riverfront. The river had risen over the banks and into the streets, but I imagine it is a lovely area when not submerged!

As you can see from these photos, a lot of St. Louis architecture use arches - don't know why that is but I really liked it. Again, Chad you could do some terrific photos here. Seems everywhere one looks there is an arch (no I don't mean the Gateway Arch!)
Below is a very old Electric company building and even at the head of their parking spaces are grass arches ~ I just loved it.

Today we will be finishing up outside cleaning of the coach - we washed it and the trailer yesterday (an all day task!! and not a fun one at that) the vent covers need to be cleaned today. After that we may go back into St. Louis for the Budweiser tour. We had thought about doing part of route 66 that runs (rather ran) through and around St. Louis, but the maps and literature I have (that were my Dad's - he was a route 66 fan and traveled part of it several years ago) indicate that several parts of it are no longer there so I don't know if we'll attempt it.

Our plan is to leave here tomorrow and head to Cape Girardeau (MO) then Memphis. We have to be in Choudrant, LA on the 16th so this gives us almost two weeks to get there.