Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Local Residents

Here are some of the local residents we met on our drives around the countryside.

And our Neal . . .

These are a couple views of the campground here at Scenic Hills.

Till next time. . .

Sunday, April 26, 2009

From Virginia to Ohio's Amish Country

Virginia is one of the most beautiful states. The mountains and the hillsides combine to create endless vistas of gorgeous scenery. We come here in April for grandson Ronan's birthday. When we arrive, few buds have appeared on the trees; but by the time we leave 8 days later, the trees and flowers are blooming and beautiful.

We took a different route back west than we normally do after visiting the kids. We passed by some landmarks we used to see when we were making the trek from Indiana to Washington, D.C., several times a year when Jocelyn was in college at the American University. Sideling Hill is a formation discovered when they made a cut through the hill to create I-68 in Maryland. Further on west, we passed by a life-size replica of Noah's Ark. In 10 years' time there has been little progress. I'm beginning to think they just plan to leave it as is so that people can see the sheer size.

From Wheeling, WV, we took US250 to our campground at Tappan Lake, Terry felt the need to preserve for posterity one of the switchbacks Phaeton Place was forced to negotiate. That in addition to the mountain roads with steep inclines and sharp cliffs. But I was behind the wheel and we are a team, performing flawlessly throughout the challenge we faced.

We are now in Ohio's Amish Country camped at Scenic Hills Campground near Berlin, Ohio. If you come this way, this is such a great campground. I call it no frills. All sites are full hookup, with quite a few 50A sites. There is no comfort station, however, and no playground. We count that as a plus. Sites are fairly level, some with grass, some not. The owners are here sometimes. They come in to check things out, but I think later on they maintain more of a presence. You can self register. This is our second time here and it is very comfortable. There are only a few units here. The rates are $27/night with 3 nights for $70.

Yesterday we made the rounds of a couple wineries and I stocked up. Wonderful wines. I like sweet wines and found several. We also have been to a cheese house and got stocked up on cheese. Today we went out for a buffet lunch and it was very good. Most shops here are not open on Sunday, but we took Neal for a drive out in the country and snapped a few pix. Tomorrow we have certain places we are going to check out. It is not real crowded right now which is just how we like it.

Neal has been sick for a couple days. Not sure what is ailing him, but he is not eating well. I believe that we may have made him sick with some new treats we bought him. They were homemade and I think the spices may have upset his tummy. So he is off all special stuff and back on his regular food. He is not eating a lot, but enough, which is good. He seems to be doing better.

Till next time. . .


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Too much information . . . NOT!

When it comes to campgrounds, you can never have TMI, i.e., too much information. We picked a conservancy park at Tappan Lake near Deeresville, Ohio. Having driven over 300 miles yesterday through the hills of West Virginia, we needed a respite and decided if the park was nice, heck. . . we might spring for 2 nights. Terry called ahead and I drove the snakey, twisting, hilly, switchback filled state road toward the camp. The parks boasts 600 sites, 4 separate areas on fairly flat land next to the lake.

The gal was very helpful and said they had lots of sites, no problem with our 40'er and several full hookup pull throughs available. Since we would arrive after the kiosk closed, just find an empty site, set up, and the ranger would catch us later. OKAY! Sounds easy enough.

So we drove on. The road getting back to the camp was decent and things were looking up. As we approached the camp, we spotted a campground which was jam packed with campers and thousands of people. Man, sure are glad we aren't going there! Hah. Onward to the entrance. We pulled in, one lane roads, one way only. Now comes the TMI part. Yes, they have 600 sites. What the gal neglected to tell Terry was that 599 of them are taken up by seasonal campers. Grrrrr. The campground we passed was actually one of the "areas" for this park. We passed a couple "pull throughs" which were about 30' long total and with a one-lane road, getting into one would be a nightmare. We drove on and found a site that backed up against the channel. We thought this would be the best, since we wouldn't have anyone behind us and would facilitate our getting out in the morning. We thought we might spend two nights, but we have a 30A site and it will be warm during the day, no sewer, etc. So we have decided we better pull out today and get someplace comfortable. Our neighbors here are in a pop up and have three yappy dogs. This is redneck country, no doubt, and we are in the middle of it.

Till next time. . .


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Amtrak from Charlottesville to Staunton

Jocelyn and Ronan walk nearly every day. They walk downtown, to the park, etc., crossing train tracks where Ronan will usually see a train or two. He is fascinated with all big engines and equipment so Jocelyn thought it would be fun to take him on the train for a short ride from C-ville to Staunton, about an hour's ride.

I decided to go with them to help and so we talked it up for a day or two before the actual event. Yesterday was the day and Terry took us to the station which is small but very nice. The conductor looked just like Toppem Hat in the Thomas the Train books and he talked with Ronan a little bit at the station. When it was time to exit the station and go wait to board the train, Ronan was able to see the train coming down the track. He was fine with looking at it, but when it came time to board, he wanted NO part of it. "NO TRAIN!" he said over and over again. He started screaming and it didn't quit when we got seated. He continued and nothing we did would appease him. But, to his credit, once the train started, he was fine. We passed through areas he was familiar with, having walked them so much and he got to see lots of construction equipment. We could hear the train whistle. He watched out the window at the countryside as we pointed out things he would find interesting. At Crozet, we had to sit on a siding for about 20-25 minutes while we waited on the eastbound passenger train to go by. When it did, it truly "whooshed" by speeding much faster than our train went, but we were going uphill and the other was going downhill.

We told Ronan that Grandpa would be waiting at the other station and he was excited once we stopped and he could see Terry outside waiting on us. Both the conductor and the attendant talked with Ronan and told him to come back. Ronan said thank you to them. He is not shy and will repeat what you tell him to, so it was quite cute.

From there, we stopped at a couple shops before making our way back to the motorhome. Tom came out and after visiting a little, they went back home. It was quite an adventure for Ronan.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ronan's birthday!

It is sad traveling without a companion who has been with us for 10 years and in the coach for 4 years as we travel around the country full time. Bailey especially liked getting out at each spot and "peeing" in a new state. He is sadly missed and remembered with love.

Neal, our autistic wheaten Scottie, seems to be doing well. Course, now he is getting ALL the attention, which he would tell you he doesn't want. He prefers not to be messed with. . . likes company, but loathes being fussed over. We have put his cloth crate we had in storage back in the motorhome. Neal gets cold when the temps go down and the crate is toasty warm with him inside, so he is enjoying that. He would never consider sleeping in the bedroom with us, so the crate keeps him happy.

We made it through the spring round of doctor appointments. Everything is A-OK and we are good to go till next fall when we do it all again. One brief respite we had was on Easter Sunday. A colleague of mine from my teaching days invited Terry and I and other friends over for dinner in the afternoon. We had ham and all the fixings and cheesecake and pie for desert. Wonderful food and great company. Thanks Dave and Mark.

We are now in Charlottesville, Virginia, to help our grandson Ronan celebrate his birthday. He will be two on Tuesday. Tonight Jocelyn and Tom had some friends over to celebrate and his playgroup will meet on his birthday for cake and ice cream. Ronan is such a cutie; but of course, I'm prejudiced. He is tiny, but absolutely perfect. He talks a lot and will repeat any words you say, repeating them over and over as if to be practicing the words. He likes his car and his new basketball hoop Uncle Brandon got him.He can slam dunk the ball! His other grandparents are here as well, so we get lots of Ronan time in. He is very comfortable with all of us.

We are meeting the other grandparents for breakfast tomorrow, then we are going over to the kids, so they can visit before they leave to go back to New Jersey.

Till next time. . .


Friday, April 10, 2009

We lost Bailey yesterday.

Bailey, the 13-year old Scottish Terror, crossed the Rainbow Bridge yesterday afternoon, having made the trip from the Rio Grande Valley to be held by his Mom and comforted by his lifelong vet and vet tech. I had told him to try and hang on till we got there. The appointment was for next Monday, but Wednesday as we neared our old stomping grounds, it was clear that he was getting worse.

A vet in January told me she thought he had Cushings, but a bad spell a few weeks later sent us to another vet who xrayed and found an enlarged heart. Bailey was in heart failure. A heart drug and water pill were prescribed. He started failing about 6 weeks later and it was clear when he was no longer able to walk with grandma around the block that he was not doing well. He started refusing food while drinking massive amounts of water. He started wearing belly bands which he hated, but finally accepted. He took on the appearance of a little pot-bellied pig as the fluid built up. He quit playing with his toys and showed no interest in much of anything. An infrequent spark would occur. . . that spunkie Scottie spirit showing through, but his voice was soft and hoarse.

Our vet offered to aspirate the fluid and try another heart med, but the enlarged heart would remain, pressing on his lungs and continuing to make his breathing labored. We would only be buying a little time with him and probably not time he would enjoy. So the decision was made that he would join cousin Jericho, who just one week ago died of acute kidney failure. Bailey should be romping with him--now able to run once again, bark, and breathe normally.Bailey was a rescue, having been abused before he came to live with us.

The last four years he has full-timed with us and visited relatives and friends all over the U.S. He is survived by another rescued Scottie, Neal.

He is missed.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Class of 05 Reunion

When we left Canton, we intended to head east toward Caruthersville, Missouri, and spend the night there. We have friends, however, from our full-timing class of 05 who were gathering in Oklahoma at Beaver's Bend State Park near the town of Broken Bow. We decided that since our schedule wasn't set in stone, we could spare a night and go visit with our friends. We arrive in the early afternoon and had a nice visit with all of them. We shared a campfire in the late afternoon. We left the next morning at 8 am sharp after watching the deer around our campsite. We waited to fire up ol' Phaeton Place so that her power plant wouldn't disturb them!

We drove on to Caruthersville for the night. We had been increasingly annoyed by the constant fight we have been having with the steering wheel. Knowing we will be headed over the mountains into Virginia within another two weeks, we decided to stop at Freightliner in Calvert City, Kentucky. We drove into the truck center earlier than our appointment and they were able to get started on the coach earlier. They got it aligned, but couldn't balance the tires, so we headed over to the tire center twenty miles back. We arrived there about 2:30, but we had to wait a bit. No problem. We fixed lunch and before long they were out knocking on the door. They found our driver's tire was 3/8" out of round and the passenger tire's wheel was bent. What a mess. By the time we left, we had two brand new matching tires and one new wheel. What a difference it made! We are back to driving a cloud with wings. It is so smooth. I drove last evening after the repairs, but we only went about 89 miles. Today Terry drove part of the way and I took over to make the run into and through Louisville and across the big bridge. We are stopped at Charlestown, Indiana, State Park. What a nice place. Three campers here in the full hookup sites. Very nice, spacious and perhaps we will get to see some deer. Looks like a good place for them.

Along the road from Mayfield and Paducah, Kentucky, for at least a hundred miles we are seeing the devastation wrought by a massive ice storm. Residents told us it's the worst they've seen. A lot of trees were down on the interstates, but had been cut back from the road. Road crews are now going back and chopping those up and grinding them into mulch.

Tomorrow we are going to drive up to Goshen for a couple nights, then back to central Indiana. Terry has doctor appointments next week and then we head to Virginia for Ronan's second birthday.

Till next time. . .


Catching Up

April 4, 2009

While we were in Schulenburg, we did get to take a self-guided tour of the painted churches. They are beautiful. They are called the painted churches because the interiors are very ornately painted/stenciled and the altars are reminiscent of churches in the “old country” from where these early Texas settlers hailed. Most of these immigrants were Czechs who emigrated to America in the 1850’s. They learned to farm and persevered despite numerous hardships. The churches maintain congregations and mass schedules throughout the week. There are four you can visit and step inside without a tour guide.

We are in Canton, Texas, now for First Monday Trade Days. We have enjoyed the browsing. We are certainly getting our walking in. The area is so large you really cannot walk from one place to another. There are clusters of buildings and you can spend time in one cluster, then drive or hop the trolley to another area and shop there. We haven’t found much that interests us. When you live in motorhome, that greatly limits what appeals to you. I did find a car I considered for Ronan. I am certainly glad I didn’t get it because I did a web search after we got back and found it for $25 less at Target. So why would you buy one at a flea market? Clothes, etc., are very high priced and no fitting rooms. There are many booths that sell metal signs and some are rather attractive, but, once again, no place to hang that on the side of Phaeton Place. Hah!

Sunday we begin our trek back to Indiana so Terry can see his doctors. We don’t anticipate any problems there and will then head to Virginia for Ronan’s second birthday.

Till next time. . .


Friday, April 03, 2009

Goodbye, Jericho. . . We will miss you.

My daughter Jocelyn told me earlier this week that their almost 10 year old standard Poodle Jericho, a rescue, was in kidney failure. They discovered through ultrasound that he only had one functioning kidney. It did appear that they would measure the rest of his life by days. They chose to bring him home and keep him comfortable. His blood results continued to decline daily. He was already not eating or drinking and as she said, "He was ready." They had the vet come to the house today for the final act of love we can do for our suffering pets. They are having him cremated and will scatter his ashes along his favorite trails and from the mountain tops he would hike with the kids.

R.I.P. Jericho.