Work, work, work . . .

Today was just work, work, work.

Jan and I tried to walk our mile and a half this morning but it turns out my ankle just wasn’t up to it. So we ended up doing the 1/4 mile circle and that was it.

Then about 11 I headed out on my errands. My first stop was at my son Chris’ to pick up a Santa Suit from his wife Linda to take to our daughter Brandi’s for Landon to wear for his picture with Santa at the Mall tonight.

Then it was off to a client’s office for a while, then to the bank to deposit a check for the fruits of my labors.

Then off to another client’s at about 1pm. I ended up there for the rest of the afternoon, before getting home a little after 4, just in time for Jan and I to head up to League City to meet our friend Maria at Kelley’s Restaurant for supper.

The I headed home, stopping off at Wal-Mart for gas.

Jan and Maria went down to La Marque to play Bingo. And once Jan won $95 ($100 before taxes), just like last week.

I need to take this girl back to Vegas quick.

I drove down to pick her up about 10 pm, getting us home about 10:30.

Tomorrow we’re heading up to Fischer, TX to visit our friend Gina who lives on a 600 acre cattle ranch. We’ll be there for two days, and then Friday we’ll drive on up to Burnet TX to meet the kids at the lake house for our annual Christmas at the Lake get-together.

More later…

Thought for the Day:
The Massachusetts Gun Control Act of 1998 resulted in an 84% decrease in the number of licensed gun owners since it went into effect – pretty effective disarmament I’d say. Over that period, gun-related homicides have INCREASED 68%


Monterey’s and Monday . . .

Jan and I left the rig about 12:30 heading for lunch at Monterey’s Little Mexico, but as soon as I cranked up the engine, I noticed I had a “Check Engine” light, or at least my truck’s equivalent, which is the outline of an engine. It wasn’t flashing which meant it wasn’t immediately serious. I checked my oil level and added a quart, though it wasn’t low enough to be a problem.

I then decided to get out my code meter and check what the code that caused the “Check Engine” light in the first place. I keep my meter in the center console so it’s always handy, it was just a few seconds to hook it up and check the code.

And the code was . . . P0442.

Well, that tells me a lot. But a quick look in the accompanying guide told me it was: “Evap leak monitor, Small Leak Detected.” And that jogged my memory. The last time I saw this code it was a gas cap problem.

One time it was a defective gas cap and the other time the cap was just loose. A quick check showed that my cap was loose this time too. I last got gas about 4 days ago so I guess I just didn’t get it tight enough.

While the code reader was still hooked up I went ahead and cancelled the “Check Engine” light. It would eventually go out by itself but it might take 3 or 4 engine starts to do it.

And starting up the engine showed the code was gone, so that was the problem.

Then leaving Monterey’s I discovered another problem. I was missing one of the my credit cards. I had not used it at all today, but I had used it yesterday. I thought I might have left it at Mackey’s where we ate lunch yesterday, but remembered I had used it later at Wal-Mart.

But since I was already close to my client’s office I decided to go ahead and take care of him before heading down to Wal-Mart.

Finishing up with my client and getting down to Wal-Mart, I went straight to Customer Service to see if they had my credit card.

And they did!

I’m still not sure how I lost it. Normally I put in right back in my billfold. The only thing I can figure is that when I was putting up my $40 cash back, either it fell out or I dropped it.

I guess I just lucked out.

Right now as I’m posting this I see it’s –30 degrees in Fairbanks, and the high tomorrow is supposed to be a blistering –19.

Isn’t Global Warming wonderful just wonderful?

That’s about it today.

Thought for the Day:

"Restaurant bathroom doors should be identified with the words, "Men" and "Women." Silhouettes and cartoon drawings of sombreros, bowler hats, puffy skirts and sitting doggies do not provide enough information for drunks."


Comfort Food and Jamestown . . .

This morning we got an earlier start than usual, heading up to Webster to try Mackey’s Bar & Grill, a place we’d seen along the Interstate. They advertise ‘Upscale Comfort Food” so we thought we’d give it a try.

I had a 5 vegetable plate with Corn on the Cob, Fried Okra, Fresh Sautéed Cabbage, Texas Rice, and Green Beans Almandine.

I thought my veggies were really good, very well seasoned, and perfectly cooked, especially the cabbage.

Jan had the Fried Catfish and Fried Shrimp Platter. She said hers wasn’t as good as a couple of other seafood places around here.

I said “Duh, their motto is ‘Upscale Comfort Food’, not ‘Upscale Seafood’.” You don’t got to Red Lobster and order steak, and you don’t go to Outback and get the seafood.

I  heard the guy at the next table raving about much he liked his Pot Roast with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots.

Now that’s comfort food.

Leaving Mackey’s we headed up to the next exit so Jan could pick up some more baby clothes that were on sale at Carters. Then it was off to the storage room to drop off some things and pick up some Christmas decorations.

Next we went by Brandi’s to pick up the mail. Brandi and Lowell were out eating lunch, but I needed to get my tag renewal stickers that had come in from South Dakota.

After that, we stopped off at Chris’ and then it was on to Wal-Mart…again. It seems like we were just here yesterday. And we were.

It seems like we always need something else from Wal-Mart.

Getting back to the park, Jan wanted to go up to the park laundry to do some heavy rugs. While she did that I wanted to go ahead and take a walk. I decided to try and push it up a bit and do two miles, and I did it in 44 minutes, not too bad.

That was about it for today.

Below is the rest of our visit to the Williamsburg-Jamestown area from last year.

Thought for the Day:
“But Officer, I wasn’t speeding. I was qualifying.”

Jamestown and Yorktown . . . and Yorktown

Posted on July 2, 2009

Today was our last full day in Williamsburg, VA and we wanted to tour the Jamestown Settlement of 1607, you know, Captain John Smith, Pocahontas and all that.

And we also wanted to tour the Yorktown Battlefield, one of the last big battles of the Revolutionary War.

But first, we had to move our coach.

When we made our reservations we knew we might have to move into an overflow site for our last day, since they were full.  We were hoping they would have a cancellation so we wouldn’t have to move, but no such luck.

The overflow site had 30 amp power and water, but no sewer. No problem for just one day.

We moved with no problems, until I tried to plug into the power connection.  As soon as my EMS (Electrical Management System) tried to put power to the coach, it shut down because the voltage dropped to 98 volts.  I went to the office and told them about the problem and they said they’d look at it while we were gone.  So we headed out to the Jamestown Settlement about 10 miles down the road.

They have a very nice complex here, consisting of a museum/exhibit building,

Jamestown Settlement Museum

a replica Powhatan Indian village,

Replica Powhatan Indian Village

Powhatan Hut Interior

Powhatan Hut Interior

replicas of the 3 ships that the colonists used to come to Jamestown,

The "Susan Constant"

The "Susan Constant"

The "Godspeed" and the "Discovery"

The "Godspeed" and the "Discovery",

and a replica of the settlement fort itself.

Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement Buildings

The biggest building in the place was the church, which was also the community meeting area.

Jamestown Church

Jamestown Church

I can only imagine that the pews were so hard and uncomfortable to keep you from falling asleep during the services.

Jamestown Church Pew

Jamestown Church Pew

Jamestown Dedication

Jamestown Dedication

After lunch at the Red City Chinese Buffet we headed out to the Yorktown Battlefield.

And then we discovered a slight problem.  There are two Yorktowns.

One is called Yorktown Victory Center.  This is the one that is advertised everywhere, and that we had bought tickets to when we bought our Williamsburg and Jamestown tickets.

But when we got to the area we found that the actual Yorktown Battlefield was not the Victory Center, but was a National Park run by the National Park Service.  And of course, had a separate admission fee.

But it was really worth it, walking the grounds, climbing the earthworks, and looking out over the actual battlefield.

Yorktown Battlefield

Yorktown Battlefield

Yorktown Battlefield 2

Here Washington, Lafayette, and the French Navy offshore surrounded the British Army under Gen. Cornwallis, and pounded them to pieces with cannons and mortars, and then attacked the British lines until Cornwallis surrendered his 8,000 troops on Oct. 19, 1781.

This was the last big battle of the Revolutionary War, although the War itself dragged on for another 2 years.

We did have an interesting talk from a guide about living and dying during the Revolutionary War.  He talked about the clothing the soldiers wore, the food they are, the weapons they use, and the medical care they got, but probably wished they hadn’t.

Yorktown Seminar

Yorktown Seminar

While we listened to the guide, a small, furry visitor came out of the bushes beside us.  The large groundhog looked around and then started grazing on the grasses.  He didn’t seem too worried until about a dozen screaming kids went running for him, then he skedaddled back into the thick bushes.

Yorktown Groundhog

Yorktown Groundhog

Groundhog 2

And finally, we drove the 7 mile loop that circles all the different positions and battle areas.

After this we headed over the Yorktown Victory Center, which turned out to be basically a museum complex about the Battle of Yorktown, but not really near the battleground.

They did have a interesting timeline display covering the lead up to the Revolutionary War.  The other thing they had was a replica of the town of Yorktown.

Yorktown 1

Yorktown 2

Yorktown 3

After we finished up at the 2nd Yorktown, we headed back to the coach, stopping off at Hooters for another hot wing fix.

Arriving back at the coach we found we still had power problems.  They apparently hadn’t sent anyone to look at the problem. After I talked with the office, they said they’d send someone.

In the meantime I started to try to improvise something by pulling power thru an extension cord from a nearby empty site.

But while I was doing that, I started up the generator to run the A/C’s because the coach was pretty hot.  I hadn’t done it earlier because the people in the next site were in a tent and my generator exhaust was pointed right into their tent.  But they had gone out for the evening so it was OK.

The first plug I tried wouldn’t work because it had a reversed hot/neutral and my EMS wouldn’t accept it.

The 2nd plug I tried seemed to work, for a few minutes, and then suddenly my EMS unit went ‘WHOOOMP”! and just died.

Great!  Now I couldn’t get any power to the coach from the shore power.

And now the generator sounded different.  In checking I found that I had lost half the feed from the generator, so some outlets wouldn’t work, and only the front A/C was getting power. This just gets better and better!

I had heard there was a way to easily bypass the EMS, but I didn’t know how and it was too late (10 pm) to call anyone.  And of course the neighbors next door showed up, so I had to shut down the generator.

So we would have to try to make it thru the night using just the vent fans to keep us cool.  Luckily it was supposed to fairly nice so hopefully it wouldn’t be a problem.

I still don’t know what happened to the EMS, but I’ll try to find out more tomorrow.


Giggling Landon . . .

I’ve added a subscription link to the top-left of the blog so you can now get a email whenever I post a new blog. Let me know if you have any problems with it.

Jan and I headed out about 11:00 to meet “the kids” at Stomp’s Burger Joint for lunch, at least, everyone except Piper. She was off applying for a new job, which she got, as she called to tell us later.

BTW When Piper was younger she asked us one time why we called her grown parent’s “the kids”.  Jan told Piper she’d understand when she had kids of her own, that your kids are always your kids, no matter how old they are.

Brandi did send us this video of a Giggling Landon. It’s hilarious. Check it out. You may have to the turn the volume to hear him. It’s kind of large, but worth the wait.

After a great lunch with everyone, Jan and I stopped off at a nearby Wal-Mart to pick up a few things, and then it was back home to the rig.

After putting up things, Jan and I took a walk. Since it had been a few days since we’d walked to due to weather and early morning commitments, we only walked a mile, instead of a mile and a half. We’ll bump it back up in the next couple of days.

Getting back Jan filled the bird feeders while I let the awnings and Mister out.

Later while Jan napped and I was reading, Nick Russell called to catch up and ask a computer question. He and Terry have been under the weather the last few days and still aren’t feeling great. They’re presently in Bushnell FL, but tomorrow they’re supposed to head back to the Thousand Trails park in the Orlando area.

As usual it was good to hear from him and Terri. Hope they feel better soon.

Later in the afternoon I made a pot of coffee and we sat around and watched some things we had saved on the DVR.

That was about it for today.

Thought for the Day:

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." -  Cicero – 55 BC

So what have we learned in 2 millennia?

The answer is…. NOT ONE BLOODY THING!


BRRRRRR!!!!! . . .

I’ve added a subscription link to the top-left of the blog so you can now get a email whenever I post a new blog. Let me know if you have any problems with it.

When Jan got up about 7:30 it was 42 degrees and raining.

By 11:30 it was up to 43 degrees and raining.

Wheeee!  Heatwave!

About 12 the rain had slacked off so Jan went out to reload the bird feeders and I went out to re-align the sat dish. It had been blown slightly off target due to the high winds we had all last night.

Then about 1 I called Direct TV to get our DNS West Coast feed turned back on. What I found out was that to get the West Coast feed turned back on it was going to cost an extra $6 per month, but I would now get 2 new channels, CW and PBS, that I didn’t have before. These two extra channels had previously been an additional $5 each, so I didn’t get them since this would have increased our DNS service from $14 to $24, almost doubling the cost just for two extra channels.

I’m cheap. What can I say.

So now our DNS is going from $14 to $20, which I’m not crazy about, but at least I’m getting something out of it.

About 4:30 we drove up to La Brisa to meet our friend Maria for supper, after which she and Jan were going to play Bingo again down in La Marque at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

And she did good. She won $95 on a game and she was really happy.

Of course, when I ask her how much she’d spent the last 4 weeks to win that $95, she said she didn’t want to talk about it. I don’t think she wanted me raining on her parade.

Well, if she had fun, I’m happy.

It’s supposed to be even colder here tonight, with a low of 33 degrees, the coldest so far this year. But at least the rain is supposed to be going away.

More tomorrow…

I thought you might want a repeat of our visit to Colonial Williamsburg last year. Enjoy.

George Washington and Benedict Arnold…

Posted on July 1, 2009

Today Jan and I visited Colonial Williamsburg, and although it was interesting,  it was also disappointing in a way.

Colonial Williamsburg street

A lot of the buildings are closed on different days so it’s not possible to see everything on one visit.  So, many buildings were closed to us today.  Plus,  only a few buildings are set up to be toured.

The best one we saw was the home of Peyton Reynolds.  Peyton Reynolds was the first President of the  Continental Congress and the house dates from the 1720′s.

Peyton Reynolds Home 1

Peyton Reynolds Home 2

Peyton Reynolds Home 3

The interesting thing about this next picture is the table is not fully set.  According to our guide, the table would be set with 1 meat dish for each person.  So with a table set for six there should be six meat dishes on the table, not just three.

And there should also be six ‘heavy’ desserts on the table.   I’m not sure what constitutes a ‘heavy’ dessert.

Is it by ‘weight’, or how it sits in your stomach after you eat it?

Peyton Reynolds Home Dining Table

Also interesting is the windmill.  It’s known as a ‘single post’ windmill, because the single post pivot allows the windmill to be turned into the wind for better performance.  This windmill was used as a grist mill to grind grain and the blades would  have been covered with cloth to catch the wind.


We also got to watch a trial reenactment at the Williamsburg Courthouse.

Williamsburg Courthouse

High Sheriff

High Sheriff

One interesting thing was that the audience got to participate as jurors, plaintiffs, and defendants.

Judge and Jury

Judge and Jury

Court Clerk

Court Clerk

I tried to get Jan to pose in the stocks, but I think she was afraid I wouldn’t let her out.

The Stocks

Also interesting was the Williamsburg Magazine and Armory surrounding by the barricade fence to help protect it from attack.

Williamsburg Magazine and Armory

This building was where the militia’s guns and powder were stored in case of attack.

The Virginia Colony Governor’s House

The Virginia Colony Governor's House

The Bruton Parish Church was interesting, also.  It is one of the oldest Episcopalian Churches in America and services have been held here continuously since 1715.

Bruton Parish Church

Bruton Parish Church

You could also take rides in authentic-looking carriages.

Carriage 1

Carriage 2

There were also actors portraying famous and not-so-famous people.  Here we have Benedict Arnold, pre-traitor.

Benedict Arnold

Many people don’t realize Benedict Arnold was actually a Revolutionary War hero and won many battles for the Colonies before he went over to the Loyalist side.  For what seemed to be political reasons, and perhaps jealousy, he was repeatedly passed over for promotion.  This perceived injustice ate at him until he arranged to turn West Point over to the British.  But his plan was discovered and he barely escaped capture by George Washington.

And speaking of George Washington, he was there also, along with his aide de camp, the Marquis de Lafayette.  One of the children present asked him if he was President.  He said he had no idea what that was, and it didn’t sound like something he’d want to do.

As I said, I wish more of the buildings were open. You’d have to go back over several days to see all the buildings. Of course, that’s probably their idea.

And when you consider that for the same price we could have gone to Busch Gardens – Williamsburg,  I mean,  Colonial Williamsburg doesn’t even have any roller coasters to terrorize Jan on.


Tomorrow we’re going to see Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Battlefield.

Maybe they’ll have roller coasters.

Thought for the Day:
Sometimes the only difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude.


Happy Thanksgiving . . .

Today began early for Jan, but lucky me I got to sleep in until 9 am.

She had to get up and put her Squash Casserole in the oven. She had prepared it yesterday, but it needed to cook for about an hour. Everything else was done.

Then a little after 10 we headed out toward Shawna’s, a trip of about 70 miles out to the Katy area. We did a quick detour by Brandi’s to pick up the Honeybaked Ham and the two pumpkin pies we had stored in her fridge there.

We got to Shawna’s beautiful new house a little before noon and the first words we heard were “Where’s the Sausage Balls?”. Just like I said yesterday.

Jan, of course, immediately went for Landon.

Jan with Landon

And here’s Mr. Landon getting the giggles, bouncing on Lowell’s knee.

Landon Laughing with Lowell 1

Landon Laughing with Lowell 2

And here he is surrounded by his many female admirers.

Landon and Friends

As always, the meal was fantastic, with ham, turkey, cornbread dressing, corn casserole, squash casserole, green bean casserole, salad, rolls, and a number of great desserts.

After lunch, some people wandered off to watch the games, some of the kids went upstairs to watch movies in Shawna’s beautiful new theater room with a really big screen, and some people, like me, wandered off to take a nap, after that great meal.

A little after 4 we headed back home to the rig, getting back about 5:30 pm.

And once again, IT WAS NICK’S FAULT!

I mentioned yesterday about the changes in Direct TV’s Distant Network Service that let’s you get the East Coast and West Coast Network Stations.

Well, after reading about the changes in Nick Russell’s blog last night, I checked my Direct TV service and found that I had lost the West Coast feed. I figured I would call them on Friday.

But getting back this evening, I found we had not only lost the West Coast, but now we had lost the East Coast feed, and the Houston local channel spotlight, as well.

It took almost 30 minutes on the phone to get things turned back on, but I still need to call them tomorrow to try and get our West Coast feed turned back on. The guy on the phone had no idea why I had lost the feeds as there was nothing in my records about them being turned off.

Below I’ve posted a repeat of our visit last year to the Biltmore Estate and Chimney Rock State Park, both in North Carolina.

More tomorrow…

Thought for the Day:
"Last century over 170 million people were murdered by their own governments, and your government doesn’t want you to have a gun. Doesn’t that bother you just a little bit?"

Estates and Rocks…

Posted on June 23, 2009

Today was Biltmore Estate  day, the main reason we did a 500 mile jog in our trip up the East Coast to Nova Scotia.

First off, the reason I don’t have any pictures in the Biltmore is that they don’t allow ANY pictures anywhere inside.

It’s hard to realize how big this place really is.  The house is 175,000 square feet inside.  That’s FOUR acres!

It has a total of 250 rooms, with 35 bedrooms for family and guests, and 43 bathrooms.  It is/was the largest private home in the US.

It took about 6 years to build and was completed in time for its first party on Christmas Eve, 1895.

It was built by George Vanderbilt,  grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the shipping  magnate.  No one knows exactly how much it cost to build, but it’s estimated to be about 10 million dollars, and that’s in 1895 dollars.

The Biltmore

The Biltmore Stables

The stables shown above are to the right of the main house.  I couldn’t get back far enough to get everything in one shot.

Originally, the Biltmore Estate consisted of 125,000 acres.  Now it sits on 8,000 acres.  The rest is now part of the Pisgah National Forest.

I was also amazed at the landscaping involved.  They used over 2 million plants to landscape the grounds.

What I found even harder to believe was this view from the loggia (porch) at the back of the house.

View from the Porch

When the house was built in 1895 this view was of scrub brush and bare hills, with eroded gullys and fire-blackened tree stumps.

So Vanderbilt decided to have this area completely re-forested.

They resculpted the hills for the rolling look you see today, and then planted 10 of thousands of large trees and 100′s of thousands of bushes and scrubs.

It’s  amazing what you can do if you have more money than you know what to do with!

After our tour of the house which took about 3 hours, we ate lunch at the Stable Cafe, which as the name indicates, is in the old stables.

The stalls have been converted into dining areas with tables also out in the center.

The Stable Cafe

Our Stall at the Stable Cafe

The food was very good, with Jan having a Chicken Salad Sandwich with Sun-dried Tomatoes on a croissant, and I had the Harvest Turkey Sandwich with melted brie, arugula, and blackberry mustard spread on a panini.

In addition to the Cafe, the stables also houses several gift shops and guest services.

After we left The Biltmore, we headed out about 25 miles northeast to Chimney Rock State Park.

Chimney Rock has been a tourist attraction since 1885.  Over the years paths,  staircases, and trails have been added to make access easier.

Finally in 1946,  a 198 foot tunnel was tunneled into the side of the mountain,

Tunnel to the Elevator

and then a 268 foot vertical shaft was blasted down from the top to provide an elevator to the top.

After taking the elevator to the top, the path leads thru the obligatory gift shop and then out on a walkway to the stairs that takes you up on Chimney Rock at a height of 2280 feet.

Jan only made it 2270 feet, but I was really proud of her. She has a real fear of heights and I think she only does things like this to humor me.  She made it to the top of Chimney Rock, but couldn’t do the last 10 feet to the edge.  Honestly, I was really surprised she made that far.  After 42 years, she still manages to surprise me.

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock Closeup

From there you can see for 75 miles on a clear day.  Our day was a little hazy, but still a great view.

Chimney Rock View 1

Chimney Rock View 2

After having ice cream at the cafe on top of the mountain, we headed home about 4 pm.

A long day, indeed

Thought for the Day:

"Democracy means that when there’s a knock in the door at 3 am, it’s probably the milkman." – Winston Churchill


IHOP and Mt. Vernon . . .

    First off, Jan and I want to wish all our friends and family, and our many loyal readers, a Wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving.  Jan and I certainly have a lot to be thankful for, and we hope you do too.

    I’ve added a subscription link to the top-left of the blog so you can now get a email whenever I post a new blog. Let me know if you have any problems with it.

    During the night it got real windy as the cold front started to move it a little bit.  The real front will start coming in tomorrow afternoon. The high tomorrow is supposed to be 81. But the low tomorrow night is going to be 41!

    A big difference of 40 degrees.

    Then on Friday the temps are supposed to be 58 and 34. Hopefully winter will stay around for a while.

    Jan was up early making her dishes for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. This year she’s doing her world-famous Sausage Balls and her equally famous Squash Casserole.

    Tomorrow, a little after 10 we’re going to head up to our daughter Brandi’s BFF Shawna Oakley and her family’s house in Katy, TX, on the western outskirts of Houston proper.

    Shawna and Landon

    Here Shawna is holding Landon at the restaurant after his christening a few weeks ago.

    On the way we’ll stop off at Brandi’s to pick up the Honeybaked Ham and the two pumpkin pies we’re also taking. We stored them there since we didn’t have room in our fridge.

    We’ve been having Thanksgiving dinner at Shawna’s for over 10 years, with a occasional Christmas and Easter thrown in for good measure.

    And the first thing everyone says when we walk in the door is “Where’s the Sausage Balls?” She didn’t make them one year and there was almost a riot.

    She won’t make that mistake again.

    About 2:30 we drove up to Kemah to have “lupper” at IHOP, with Jan having a Soup and Sandwich, and I had breakfast.

    That’s it for today. Here’s a replay of our visit to Mt. Vernon in July of 2009. I’ve included a comment at the end we got the next day from Mt. Vernon’s Director of Public Affairs. Who knew she reads our blog?

    Thought for the Day:
    Remember folks, it’s not really a "World War" until France surrenders.


    Mt. Vernon, George Washington, but no cherry tree…

    Posted on July 11, 2009

    This is our last full day here in the Washington DC area,  so we started it with breakfast for one last time at the Silver Diner.

    After that we drove down to Mt Vernon to visit George Washington’s home on the Potomac River.

    Mount Vernon

    We got there about 11 am and the place was packed.  They were already into overflow parking.

    After watching a very good film at the Welcome Center on George Washington in the French and Indian War, and the Revolutionary War, we headed up the house itself.

    And ran into a very long line.


    They said it would take about 55 minutes to get into the house.

    They lied.  It took over 90 minutes to get in.

    But in the meantime,  we got to see some very old trees lining the path that were planted by George Washington.



    They even have these old trees protected with lightning rods to keep them safe. Here you can see the ground wire from the lightning rod running down the tree.

    Lightning Rod

    Finally we got within sight of the actual house itself.

    Mount Vernon2

    After touring the very large house (over 9000 square feet in three floors) we got to sit on the wide front porch and look out on the same river view that George Washington used to enjoy.

    One interesting tidbit we learned from one of the guides during the house tour was that George and Martha must have presented a somewhat odd appearance as a couple.

    George was about 6′ 3″ and Martha was 4′ 11″.  Talk about ‘stooping to conquer”.

    View from porch

    And from the big smile on her face, Jan enjoys it too.

    Jan on Porch

    After leaving Mount Vernon, we drove over to Alexandria, VA to eat at the Chart House restaurant on the Potomac River.

    After a very good meal we headed back to the coach to get ready to leave tomorrow morning.

    Comment One

    Emily Dibella, on July 13, 2009 at 5:30 pm said:

  1. So sorry that the line was longer than we thought! We will do better next time to get it right. Thank you for visiting Mount Vernon. I hope you enjoyed your time here (minus the wait time)!

    Best regards,

    Emily Dibella
    Director of Public Affairs at Historic Mount Vernon

Bingo Bound . . .

I’ve added a subscription link to the top-left of the blog so you can now get a email whenever I post a new blog. Let me know if you have any problems with it.

Today was the 3rd, and hopefully last, day of Jan’s migraine series so we didn’t do much of anything, but sit around the rig and enjoy the view, and coffee, of course.

About 4:30 we headed up SH 146 to Stomp’s Burger Joint to meet our friend Maria Sutton for supper. Then she and Jan were going down to La Marque to play Bingo again at the Knights of Columbus Hall

Leaving them I drove over to Kroger’s to pick up a last few things for Thanksgiving dinner preparation, and then came back to the rig.

Then, about 9:30 I drove down to La Marque to up Jan. Once again she was within just a couple of numbers of winning the big prize. Bummer!

Since today was a short day, I thought ya’ll might want to check out our visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia in September of 2009.

Titanic and Atlantic…

Posted on September 11, 2009

Today was our day to tour the Halifax,  Nova Scotia area.

We had planned to get an early start,  but then Jan woke up with a migraine.  So she took her Imitrex and went back to bed for a while

Later,  after the Imitrex had worked its magic,  we went to breakfast about 10:30 am at the Finer Diner and then drove to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in downtown Halifax.

One of the things we wanted to see was the Titanic exhibit that they have.  They also have an exhibit on S.S. Atlantic,  a ship that went down off Nova Scotia in 1873.  The 635 people who died when the Atlantic went down made it the largest loss of life until the Titanic in 1912.

They also had an interesting exhibit about the explosion of a ship in Halifax harbor that killed over 2000 people,  very reminiscent of the Texas City explosion in 1947.  In this case, it was a shipment of ammunition for use in WWI that blew up,  rather than fertilizer,  like in Texas City.

Finally leaving the museum about 2:30 pm,  we were attracted by the smells coming from the Dragon King Chinese Buffet restaurant across the street and decided to give it a try.

And it was really good.  Especially the Hot & Sour soup.

Leaving the restaurant,  we drove around downtown Halifax for a while before taking the scenic drive down toward Peggy’s Cove.  And it was certainly worth the trip.

On our way down the coast we passed St. Margaret’s Bay,  a very picturesque dock area.

You can click on these pics to see a larger version

St Margaret Bay 1

St Margaret Bay 2

St Margaret Bay 3

Arriving at Peggy’s Cove, we found a charming little village on the Atlantic Coast, filled with quaint little multi-colored houses.

Peggys Cove

The rocky coast is something we don’t see in Texas,  but it’s always a scenic view.

Peggys Cove 1

Peggys Cove 2

And of course, the obligatory lighthouse.

Peggys Cove Lighthouse

With the sun setting, we headed back to the coach, stopping off at a hardware store, and driving thru a nearby gas station, scouting it out to see if we can get in and out easily in the coach.

Because fuel is so expensive here (about $3.60 a gallon vs. $2.50 in the US), I was hoping to be able to get back to the US before filling up the coach with diesel, but it will be too close for comfort. So we will probably fuel up tomorrow on our way out of Halifax.

One thing we found interesting in the area was this McDonalds complete with lighthouse.


Arriving back at the coach, we sat outside for a while and let Mister roam around for a bit and then it was in for the night.


Thought for the Day:
The reason ya’ll are so jealous is that the voices only talk to me.


Landon and the Gators . . .

Our day started early, and with two problems. Brandi called to let us know Landon was not feeling well and she was taking him to the doctor. She wondered if Jan could babysit today so Landon wouldn’t have to go to daycare.

And, of course, Jan said ‘Sure!”  More Landon time.

But the second problem was that despite her eagerness to Landon-sit, Jan was in the second day of her usual 3 day migraine sequence. But she took another Imitrex which helped a lot and we were on our way to Brandi’s by about 10:15 am.

The doctor said Landon just had a slight head cold and would be fine. She told Brandi to just stop and get some Triaminicin for him.

I got this picture of him after we got there.

Landon - Sick Day

One thing we’ve found out about Landon since he’s been in daycare the last two weeks, is that apparently he’s crazy about cows.

They actually start showing babies Landon’s age (3 months) flash cards with large pictures of animals, and telling them the names. They have about 20 different animal cards, and when the girl would show Landon a cow, he would start laughing and giggling. But only for the cow.

She thought maybe she was imagining it so she got another girl to try it, and Landon did exactly the same thing.


While Jan was Landon-sitting, I visited a couple of clients, and then on the way back to Brandi’s I stopped off and picked up the Honeybaked Ham we’ll take up to Shawna’s for Thanksgiving.  While I was out and about, our friend Gina called to check in. She was in town for her sister’s memorial service and wanted to get directions to a favorite restaurant of ours, Floyd’s Cajun Seafood.

I also stopped off at Sam’s Club to picked up some more Imitrex for Jan, and a couple of pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving too.

After Lowell got home, Jan and I headed over to Jason’s Deli for supper. She had her favorite Turkey Muffaletta  and I had a bowl of their great Southwestern Chicken Chili.

We got home a little after 5 pm and were drinking coffee and relaxing when Nick Russell called to say Hi, and see how Jan was feeling. Nick’s Terry and my Jan have both been under the weather, and we know we both tend to wander off and get in trouble if our better halves aren’t keeping us in check. So hopefully they’ll both be feeling better soon.

That’s about it for today.

Thought you might want to check out our visit to an alligator farm in Florida in May of 2009.

Breakfast Buffet & A Lot of Gators…

Posted on May 31, 2009

Today we headed out about 9:30 am to have the breakfast buffet at Whistle Junction where we had lunch with Carol and Joe on Friday.

Then it was off to Jungle Adventures Nature Park, about 15 miles west of Titusville, on the way to Orlando.

Although we haven’t been here since 1997, we looked forward to going back.

Jungle Adventures Nature Park

Jungle Adventures Nature Park

A Sweet Mouthful

A Sweet Mouthful !!

They have a lot of animals here – Florida panthers, deer, coatamundis, lemurs, bears, spiders, lizards, scorpions, turtles, tortoises, and of course, hundreds of alligators, crocodiles, and caymans.

Is It Dinner Time Yet?

Is It Dinner Time Yet?

Just a Big Putty Tat!

Just a Big Putty Tat!

The trainer said he had raised this panther since he was about 3 weeks old.  The cat came up and started rubbing his head all over the trainer, marking him as his property.

Duckweed-covered Gator

Duckweed-covered Gator

Feeding Time

Feeding Time

Feeding Time Too

Feeding Time Too

They sell you hotdogs to feed the baby gators. I just want to be sure they can tell the difference between the hot dogs and fingers.

Hot Dogs or Fingers!

Hot Dogs or Fingers!

Jan makes a new friend.

Jan Makes a New Friend!

Jan Makes a New Friend!


It’s hard to say who’s scaring who here.

Who's scaring who here?

Who’s scaring who here?

Jan wouldn’t hold this one!

A Real Handful!

A Real Handful!

We headed back to the coach about 2:30 pm after a great time.

A complete change of subject here.  Jan and I are big Ice Road Truckers fan.  That’s the show on the History Channel that depicts the truck drivers driving supplies into northern Canada mining camps and oil exploration sites on ice roads that only exist in the winter time.

During the rest of the year, the road isn’t there.  It’s open water!

Anyway, on tonight’s 3rd season premiere episode, we were surprised to see that instead of running in Canada this year, they’re running the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks, AK to Prudhoe Bay.

We’ve been on this road.  Or at least part of it.   We took a tour that takes you from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle, a trip of almost 200 miles. But this is not your average 200 mile trip.

Because of the bad roads and the hilly, curvy terrain, it takes about 16 hours roundtrip.  You leave at 6:30 am and return around 10:30 pm.

You stop for lunch going up and dinner coming back at the same place, the Yukon River Camp at the Yukon River Crossing.

Yukon River Camp

Yukon River Camp

Yukon River Crossing

Yukon River Crossing

Surprising the food was very, very good. They bring a chef up from the Lower 48 every year to work the season.

The Dalton Highway was built to support the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the pipeline parallels the highway for a good part of the way.

Yukon Pipeline

Yukon Pipeline

They have a marker at the Arctic Circle to get your picture taken.

The Arctic Circle

The Arctic Circle

This is Jan and I with our granddaughter Piper when she came up to visit us in Fairbanks last July.

At least when we did this trip it was in the summer, and not in January.

Anyway, the show is bring back a lot of great memories.

Thought for the Day:

Madness does not always howl. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice in your head at the end of the day saying, "Hey, is there room in there for one more?"


Buffalo Wings and Emus . . .

I’ve added a subscription link to the top-left of the blog so you can now get a email whenever I post a new blog. Let me know if you have any problems with it.

Our power went off a little before 2 am this morning. I don’t know how long it really stayed off, since the inverter kicked in almost immediately. But apparently it was off long enough to run the battery down on the computer UPS system.

Jan woke up with a headache this morning so we didn’t walk, but we did have coffee, of course. She took an Imitrex which usually works miracles, so we’ll see.

By about 2 Jan’s migraine had receded enough that she felt like eating so we drove up to Kemah to have lunch at Chili’s.

Jan had her favorite Margarita Chicken and I had the Chicken & Green Chile Soup & Salad. Jan also got a cup to Baked Potato Soup to go for later.

I don’t know if our order got lost or what, but this was the second time we’ve had really bad service at this Chili’s. It took almost 45 minutes to get our food, yet people at other tables were seated after we had ordered, and they still got their food before us.

We may have to find us another Chili’s.

More from us tomorrow.

In the meantime, I thought you might like to revisit our trip to the Buffalo NY area last year to the home of the originator of Buffalo wings.

Wings and more Wings…

Posted on September 25, 2009

As I said, today was pretty much just an errand day.

We’re at the Sleepy Hollow Lake Campground in Corfu, NY, a little east of Buffalo.

Sleepy Hollow Lake

It’s the only park we’ve ever stayed at that has a petting zoo!  They have llamas, goats, sheep, pigs, and emus.  Not bad.

Petting Zoo 1

Petting Zoo 2

Petting Zoo 3

Petting Zoo 4

And for some strange reason, it also has its own firetruck!


Not sure that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

After sitting outside with Mister a while, we headed out looking a good place to have lunch.

While looking for, what turned out to be an out-of-business Mexican place, we stumbled on Quaker Steak and Lube,  a restaurant with, not surprisingly, an automobile theme.

And really good food.

Besides a full menu, they also specialized in Buffalo Wings.  I noticed that besides the normal ones, they had  ’Atomic Wings, so Jan and I decided to try a sampler plate of 5 wings.

Wing Chart

According to the SHU (Scoville Heat Units) chart on their menu,  regular Buffalo wings rate a 3000 of the chart.  Really, really hot wings rate a 30,000.

Their Atomic Wings come in at150,000 SHU!

Jan ate two wings and I ate 3.  They were hot, very hot.  But I’m not sure they’re any hotter than the hottest ones that Hooters has.

But for the rest of the day, our lips did tingle and feel like they had been sunburned.

After lunch, with our tongues still tingling and our eyes still watering, we drove over to Sam’s Club for some ‘stuff’.

Heading back toward home we stopped off at a Walgreens that had flu shots available.  Jan wanted to get one.  This is just for the normal flu.  The Swine (H1N1) Flu shots won’t be available until sometime next month.

As usual,  I didn’t get one.  As I tell Jan,  “I depend on the kindness of strangers”.  I figure if everyone else gets a shot, then I won’t need one.

I haven’t gotten a flu shot for years and I haven’t had the flu for years.  And pretty much every time I got a shot in the past, I’ve gotten the flu.

So there.

We also stopped off at a NAPA Auto Parts so I could buy a new battery for the truck.  We’ve had a couple of instances recently where our truck wouldn’t start, so I wanted to take care of the problem.

I installed the new battery in the NAPA parking lot so I wouldn’t have to bring the old one back later.

Later that evening, we decided to have more chicken wings.  This time from the place that created the first Buffalo Wings in 1964 and started the whole thing.

It’s called ‘The Original Anchor Bar” and is located in Buffalo, of all places.  The place is really a family Italian restaurant and has been around since 1934.

The wings came about when some friends of the owner’s son showed up right before closing one night, and the son asked his mother to fix something for them.  She took a bunch of chicken wings that she was planning to use for soup, deep fried them, and then dunked them in a sauce she had been working on for another recipe.

And a legend was born!

This being an Italian restaurant, besides an order of Spicy BBQ Wings, we got a cheese and pepperoni pizza, and an order of Pizza Logs, kind of like Italian Egg Rolls.  All very good.  And we had leftovers.

Then it was back home to get ready to  head out tomorrow on a two day trip to Celina, OH for the Eastern Gypsy RV Rally.

More tomorrow…

Thought for the Day:
Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I looked in my rearview mirror.