Saturday, April 28, 2012

Back in the saddle again. . .

We left Charlottesville last Sunday after Ronan's birthday party. He enjoyed turning five and especially because he had all his grandparents there. I got to spend one more visit with Aenea and the next time we see her, she will be home and enjoying life in the family. The kids have done a great job of taking care of things while spending time with the newborn in the NICU. She is doing wonderfully and is just so precious. There are no words to describe the miracle of babies and particularly the work the NICU does for these tiny preemies as they continue their growth and development. Aenea shows every sign of being a normal healthy newborn and she soon will be home in her own bed.

As we leave C-ville, our goal is always to get through West Virginia and stop in eastern Ohio. However, the weather channel was forecasting a nasty winter storm to hit the areas we intended to drive through, so we thought it would be best to drive as far west as we could before stopping for the night. We set our goal as Cincinnati, Ohio, a journey of 425 miles. We knew it would be a long day and we probably wouldn't get in before dark, but we planned to stop at the FMCA headquarters where we can camp for free. We drove 10 hours and arrived BEFORE dark which was a plus. We had no problems whatsoever and even stopped at Tamarak for a lunch break. We had a lot of rain and fog for much of the day, but it finally cleared around Charleston and it was smooth sailing from then on.

We looked at a motorhome just south of the camp in Kentucky. We are planning on going to Alaska next year and we want a smaller motorhome so we can maneuver better in tight areas. A smaller rig will give us more options for camping and pulling off the road to view landscapes. We do not intend to tow a car either, so we should be very mobile. The rig we looked at was everything we wanted except for price. We made an offer within the book value and it was rejected, so we walked. The rig was a 2002 with almost 40,000 miles on it, so it was probably good to pass it up.

We planned to leave Cincinnati on Tuesday, but stayed till Wednesday. More weather, this time wind. With a rig 12'7" tall and 40' long, we are greatly affected by wind and gusts. Since we rarely have a timetable, we can adjust our schedule to accommodate.

When we did leave on Wednesday, we drove to St. Paris, Ohio, and camped at Tab and Deanna's. These are friends we first met when we all started fulltiming. They are off the road now but we still enjoy visiting with them and try to see them a couple times a year. They have bought a house in town now and it is very, very nice. Congratulations to them!

Last year Tab and Deanna broached the subject of going to Alaska together in 2013. We have been wanting to go, as they have, and decided if we could work it out to go together, we would have a great trip and have traveling companions. We hadn't really gotten into the mood yet as we have been looking for several years for a smaller rig and had not found one yet. But after visiting with Tab and Deanna and talking about routes, time frames, etc., we all started getting excited. So we started once again in earnest to look.

While we were there, we were perusing an RV magazine and found an interesting unit in Angola, Indiana. Since we could easily go that way on our trip to Goshen, we called. Sad to say, it wasn't in Angola, but was in the company's Holland, Michigan, location. So we said we would contact them when we got to Elkhart and if they still had it, we would make the trip to see it. So yesterday we left camp at 7:30 a.m. and drove up to Holland to see it. It is probably the best used unit we have looked at. It is a 2004 R-Vision Trail-Lite B+. The fellow who owned it didn't use it much and stored it inside. It only has 8700 actual miles on it. The interior really and truly does look new. Nothing is worn, no mars in the finish, etc. The outside is in above average condition. . . a few things that are inherent with the particular materials, but overall it was very nice. We ended up making an offer and it was accepted! The dealer has a few things to fix and next Wednesday we will drive back up to Holland and bring her home! We are excited to have found a unit and will be able to make some shake-down trips to get any bugs worked out before heading to Alaska next spring.

We are getting ready to head over to the apartments. We have one to get rented and some work to do on the storage condo. Plan to get rid of even more stuff and box some stuff up to take to the new Texas Room in the valley. Also, there will be some stuff we can put in the new rig as well.

No shortage of work for us for the next few months!

Till next time. . .


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ronan!

Yesterday was Ronan's fifth birthday. His other grandparents, Tom and Sharon, arrived Friday afternoon. They bought Ronan a trampoline and Terry had to put it together. He said Sharon really owes him big time!

With everything that's going on, I thought the kids pulled off the party in good stead. They truly have a lot on their plate right now. Tom is finishing grad school and Jocelyn is spending part of every day with Aenea. Since she is breast feeding and Aenea is not yet nursing, she has to pump every two hours. She is really being a trooper and the baby will benefit from her efforts, but it takes a lot of time every day. They had planned on having the kids all meet at the park for a playdate and birthday treats, but the weather forecast did not cooperate. Although they probably could have squeezed in the playdate, it did rain later, so the plan was to have everyone meet at the house. It was a small group, but his best friend Stella was there, so they had a great time. Tom made several salads and there were chips and dips and cake and ice cream.

Later I went with Jocelyn to the hospital to see Aenea. She is the sweetest little baby and she is growing. She is almost four pounds. The next time I come, she should be home and I can get in some real cuddle time then.

As we got to checking the weather forecast, there is some nasty winter weather moving into West Virginia and eastern Ohio in the areas where we pass through on our way west. Drat. So we discussed where we wanted to end up and how far we would have to drive today in order to place us out of harm's way. I certainly don't want to drive Phaeton Place in the snow and ice and that is the forecast. . . that and wind. Just about ALL the food groups there. Oh, and we cannot forget rain.

So we left camp in Charlottesville, Virginia, at 9:30 this morning. We had lots of rain and fog, so using cruise control and the exhaust brake were out of the question. That makes for a little slower trip, but we just kept plugging along. We never did get much wind, but we did finally have some around Cincinnati. We drove 425 miles today. . . probably a record for us, and we are sitting in the FMCA headquarters campground in Cincinnati for two nights. We actually got in before dark. We are looking at a motorhome here.

Till next time. . .


Thursday, April 19, 2012

She knows she's loved. . .

I could spend the day at the hospital holding this tiny baby. I'm sure she knows she's loved. She certainly enjoys being held. I'm just speechless.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More baby Aenea pix!

What is normal?

Life changes when your baby, due June 4, comes into the world on March 12. No doubt about that. The kids' life has certainly become different these last few weeks.

To begin with, things weren't much different for Ronan, my almost 5-year old grandson, as there still was no baby at home and it was his mom, dad, dog Whiskey and himself. But now one of his parents is gone to the NICU at UVA at almost any time except overnight. Since Tom works from home, he is managing watching Ronan a good part of the time while completing his responsibilities. Unless he has meetings, etc., that seems to work. Jocelyn spends a lot of time at the hospital. No matter where she is, she has to pump milk every two hours. I admire her strength in sticking with that. That is a cumbersome job, but she is embracing it and handling it well.

Ronan has always gone with me willingly, no matter where I wanted to take him. Not so right now. He doesn't want to let a parent get out of his sight for long. It's all understandable, but harder for us to help the kids with their schedule. So yesterday, we just hung out at their place. Ronan likes the company and as long as we don't leave the house, he is fine. I would like to take him to the mall today, but I'm not sure he will want to go. We will have to try and see how he likes the idea. It is also a play date at the park, but it is raining and wet and cold out, so I'm not sure that will work.

I did take Jocelyn to the hospital yesterday and I got to hold Aenea for the first time. She is doing very well. She is a step down from the tertiary care where she started at the NICU. She gets to wear clothes now. Newborn preemies have trouble regulating their temperature so they are placed in temperature controlled isolettes. As they get older and their bodies start to function better, they can then be dressed and their own bodies work at maintaining their temperature. That's why the preemie baby caps are so important for them. We lose much of our body heat through our head, so by keeping a cap on the babies, they are better able to stay warm.

Aenea is gaining ground every day. She is over 15 inches long now and 3.6 pounds. She has always had her mother's milk and does very well with that, but hates vitamins and promptly spits them back up.

It was bliss holding her. She is still teeny tiny, but absolutely perfect. When I got done holding her, I handed her over to Jocelyn. You could tell by her movements and response, she knew it was her mommy. Such a little sweetie. We love you all!

Till next time. . .


Monday, April 16, 2012

Almost there. . .

While we were waiting to get into our site at the Charlottesville KOA, we spent the day wandering around the countryside taking in some of the shops in the area of Dayton and Harrisonburg, Virginia. We had a great time. The countryside is really beautiful except for the haze from the wildfires that are burning in both Virginia and neighboring West Virginia. We stopped in Harrisonburg to eat lunch at the Union Station Restaurant. It was very interesting and we had a very good meal.

We were camped at Stoney Creek in Greenville, Virginia, which calls itself a resort, but don't be fooled by this. The area where we were camped was populated by irish travelers who gathered together in the evening playing games, drinking to excess and making lots of noise. There were lots of their children running around unsupervised and the littlest ones needed supervision especially when in the creek. The most they got was yelling across the camp at the kids because doing anything else would require getting up and moving.

In another area across the creek from us was a popup with girls in it. They played loud music all day and into the evening. Their three dogs ran loose and pooped wherever they wanted and no one bothered to clean it up. What a great time.

We did meet another Phaeton owner who just recently went full time and it was great to talk with them and swap stories. We may catch up with them elsewhere on the road.

We drove into Charlottesville shortly after 1 p.m. We were greeting at the door by this:

It is a Rose maple moth. Very unusual. They said it is one of two. . . the other is identical except it has a pink furry head instead of yellow. Beautiful little moth.

After setting up camp, we drove on into the kids' house. Tom was trying to work on a paper for his class, so we took Ronan and entertained him so Tom could have some thinking time. Shortly, Jocelyn arrived home from the NICU and we got a report on Aenea, which is all good. She is still tiny, but gaining weight and they are anxious to be able to get her home once she is ready.

We went up later to the hospital and Terry got to see her for the first time. She was all wrapped up and totally snoozing, so we didn't disturb her. They were going to do some blood work later, so that would be a better time to cuddle her. We stayed briefly, then left to go watch Ronan so Tom could spend some time with her.

On the way back to camp, we stopped at the grocery and bought cake and ice cream. I didn't make a big cake for Terry's birthday. No one to share it with and we would just eat the entire thing ourselves, so we opted for small pieces from the bakery. So Terry's birthday celebration was complete.

Till next time. . .


Friday, April 13, 2012

Get me my brown pants. . .

Terry jokes about the biggest challenge on the road through West Virginia. At Pluto Road, we reach the top of Sandstone Mountain which is the highest peak on the road. I think it is about 2700 feet. At the top of the climb up to Pluto Road is a mandatory truck lot where all trucks are required to pull in and check their brakes. The reason being that once you leave this lot, you have a 5 mile, 7% grade with three 90-degree curves and two runaway truck ramps.

We have traversed this road probably at least a dozen times, but it is still a daunting drive. I have been known to lay awake at night worrying about it. I didn't last night, but it certainly was on my mind all day today. Last summer we had new brakes put on the front of the motorhome and we have a new braking system for our toad which should all help with slowing down. We always stop at the top in the truck lot mainly so that when we start down the hill we are doing so from a stopped position and not already rolling at 45 mph, the maximum speed for trucks. Today was a great run down the hill. I had done some reading up on the Allison Transmission and thought some tips I learned might be better for the downhill run. . . and, of course, we have the exhaust brake as well. Turns out it was the slowest trip down we have ever made and I didn't have to do much to keep Phaeton Place right where I wanted her. Cha-Ching!!!!!

Later we stopped at a rest are just inside Virginia so we could get some tourist literature. Since we have two days before we go to Charlottesville, we thought we might check out some local points of interest. We had been traveling through smoke for several miles, sometimes heavy, sometimes light. The gals in the visitor's center said 10,000 acres of wildfires were burning in Virginia and 7,000 acres were burning in West Virginia. Oh my. As we rolled on, we ran into more smoke and we could actually see what looked like actual fires, but we could only see the smoke curling up at the tops of the trees. I would imagine at night, these flames would be visible.

We got off the interstate near Greenville, Virginia, to get to Stoney Creek Camp around 2 p.m. Then we had to traverse several miles through the beautiful Virginia countryside to get to Lake Drive which goes back to the camp. Previous reports about this being a rough road were not totally accurate. I'm not sure calling it a road is accurate. At one time it was paved, but the only asphalt left is a strip down the middle and it is all busted up, etc. Once you hit the clearing and see the lake and the camp, it is beautiful. However, getting back to the camp is a bit disappointing. Campsites are randomly laid out in this very rustic camp. It's too bad they've never heard of grading the landscape. We had to back up over a dip, then a rise to get into our site and we are not level. But we are level enough and will be here for two nights.

It was warm when we got here and it is to continue to warm up during our stay in Virginia. Yeah! Tomorrow we head over to Charlottesville (C-ville) and the young ones. Can't wait to see the kids and preemie baby Aenea who is strong and doing well at almost five weeks since her birth. Ronan turns five next week. Life is good.

Till next time. . .


Thursday, April 12, 2012

On the road. . .

Last evening we wanted to visit a former colleague of mine. We had taught together for over 20 years and he recently had a heart attack and underwent open heart surgery to do four bypasses. Merrill lives just outside the little town of Mooreland where we lived for 27 years. I considered him a good friend and a mentor at the school. It has been about six weeks since his surgery, so I called and he said we could come by for a visit. It was so good to see him and his wife. He is now involved in cardiac rehab three times a week and it looks like he is making good progress. His overall physical condition has always been so good that he and everyone else was surprised by his sudden cardiac problems. But it appears he is on the mend and doing well. It will be several months before he is back to his old self, but he is getting there.

We also talked about his grandson Caleb. Please remember Caleb in your prayers. He is 20 and last week while using a grinder to cut a fender off a car, the grinding wheel shattered and hit him in the face. He has serious nose damage and lost his right eye which surgeons removed. He has over 1,000 stitches in his nose and sinuses. He and his young wife of one year are expecting their first child in August. They have a long road ahead of them and Caleb has some big adjustments to make. He was employed, but it is unclear what his future holds. The closeknit family is his rock, but there is much for this young man to face.

We left New Lisbon about 8:30 this morning and arrived in Gallipolis, Ohio, at the Gallia Jr. County Fairgrounds around 1:30 today. This is our stopping point when we head to Virginia. Driving any further puts us right into West Virginia and we have yet to find a patch of ground flat enough and long enough to get Phaeton Place in and settled for a night, so the plan is always to drive straight through. Normally we go directly to Charlottesville, but we cannot do that tomorrow because our reservations do not start until Sunday. So we have to take a couple more nights to get there. We are thinking we will stay on the other side of the mountain in the Stuart's Draft area and do a little sight seeing there. As you can see, there aren't very many campers up here in the campground.

Once we got here, we unhitched the car and drove a few miles back down the road to a winery we had passed by. Oh yeah!! I asked for sweet wines and they had many to choose from. I tasted and selected two very good wines. Then we made a fresh veggie run to Aldi and came back to the motorhome.

Tomorrow the mountains of West Virginia are on the agenda!

Till next time. . .


Head 'em up, Move 'em out. . .

Our time in Indiana has come to a close for now. Our spring doctor appointments are finished and all is well. Terry continues to live well with his newest ICD and my major issue is arthritis. . . like. . . who knew?

We are getting ready to have breakfast and then we will button up the coach and head east on I-70. We are heading to Charlottesville, Virginia, to see daughter Jocelyn, hubby Tom, our grandson Ronan who has a 5 year birthday coming up, and our newest grandchild, Aenea. She was born March 12, but not due till June 4, so she is still in the NICU at UVA, but doing exceptionally well. Jocelyn has been able to start nursing her. With preemies, that tends to be a challenge for some reason, but based on the first attempt the other day, Aenea will not have a problem. I think a lot of that is due to the diligence of Jocelyn and Tom to spend as much time as possible with her and engage in "Kangaroo care" which involves slipping her inside their shirts for skin-to-skin contact. She is bonding with them both and is anxious to come home I am sure. But that won't be until closer to her due date of June 4. In the meantime, the kids have settled into a routine and are managing to do that well while they wait for her to come home.

I have been "shopping" and have several things to take to her as well as gifts others have given me. One lady I met in Red Bay happens to knit blankets for "Project Linus" which distributes new homemade blankets to children in hospitals. Thanks so much!

Time to start packing up. We will get to Gallipolis, Ohio, for the night tonight. An easy run and a good stopping place along the way.

Till next time. . .


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Florence, Alabama and THE TARDIS!

I like Florence. I like the water, the river, the lakes. I could spend time here.

We are in McFarland Park, the city park that is located on the shore of the Tennessee River. It is $18 for full hookups, 50 Amp. Can't beat that.

It appears that The Tardis is here. Can Dr. Who be far behind? We looked, but never did find him. I'm sure it is an authentic time/space machine because it appears that Ernest Hemingway resides in it. At least he bears more than a striking resemblance as he sat outside reading. We think he was reading "A Farewell to Arms."

When we arrived yesterday we went looking for the Aldi's. They have one here and Terry likes a particular salad dressing that only they have. It is low in sodium, but very tasty. We bought several bottles of it, so we are good to go now.

Last evening we were treated to a tug boat pushing a barge down the river. It was dark and I tried to get a good picture, but it was just too dark with a few lights. We haven't seen one today, so I haven't been able to take a better picture.

We walked this morning along the river and later this afternoon sat outside reading. The weather was just perfect and most enjoyable. There is an Indian village set up in the park. I don't know if you can rent them for the night or it they are just for play, but they are pretty cool.

Tomorrow we are heading to Nashville. Hoping the storms that passed through Dallas today die out before coming east.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, April 01, 2012

What the hail??????

We got here late Thursday afternoon and were told we had a 2-3 day wait for the windshield. No problem there. Friday morning at 9 a.m. we were lounging around trying to decide what to do with our "free" day. A knock on the door changed all that. "Can you be in bay 46 asap? We'll get that windshield replaced." Wow! Boy did we have to scramble to get the coach ready to go, but we did! It was done by 1 p.m. We hung around and shopped in the camp store and visited our favorite salvage grocery in Golden till we picked up the coach.

So now the dilemma. . . where to go, what to do. We have to camp somewhere and by the time we were all checked out, it was 2 p.m. We called Florence to a city camp we like but they were filled up with spring breakers and bass tournament participants. A camp in Nashville where we could go is not yet open and if we get too far north, it's going to start getting colder. Hmmmmm. So we decided to sit here in Red Bay over the weekend. We may head to Florence today, not sure.

Saturday morning we started to Tupelo. We took a long circuitous route. We drove south down to Smithville. (Scroll down to the June 18 entry.)This little town was literally wiped off the map last year with tornadoes and we wanted to see what progress had been made. Most of the debris was gone or not visible and a few new buildings are up, but there is plenty of empty space where buildings once stood. There was activity and people are rebuilding their town. The school still does not look usable, but we did see an area with school busses and temporary classrooms, so that is how they are coping. We need to remember the people of Smithville and pray for recovery.

We got to Tupelo and went to Sam's Club. Sam's Club has once again arbitrarily messed with our business membership and removed people I have paid for. I paid for a year's membership and sometime during the year, the take them off my list. No one knows why this happens and no one is doing it. ????? Somehow it's happening, however. Why? I got nowhere talking with people on the phone until I mentioned fraud. I believe that when they bill me, I pay, then they remove people I have paid for an entire year of membership, there is some fraud. When these people go to buy at Sam's, they are told they must pay for the year when I have already done so. At any rate, if I pay for a year, they should be good to go till that membership expires. So, I did have to go to a Sam's club to get it straightened out. . . till next time anyway. They did give me that one person free for the year to avoid the fraud charges. Thanks, Sam's Club, but let's just get it right this time, eh?

We ran a couple other errands and then drove back to Wheeler where we visited with Terry's cousin Shirley and her husband Paul. They are doing well and she was working on getting the swimming pool ready for grandsons Preston and Johnathan. We stayed for several hours and decided to head back to Red Bay. We took a different route home again, always anxious to see the landscape around Terry's "roots" and we passed by Agnew's, a restaurant in Pratt. One of Terry's half-cousins does the steak grilling here and last year at the reunion, he told us to come by and he would cook me a steak! So we stopped. While we were waiting on our food, in walks his cousin, Kerneth, so she sat down and talked a bit. She was meeting other family for a birthday party and we enjoyed a brief chat. She had Tommy, the griller (her brother), come out to see us. It was great to see even more family than we had planned.

On the way back to Red Bay, we took the Natchez Trace. Upon exiting close to Dennis, it started to rain. The rain drops were so large you could see them coming down. The sunlight glistened on them and we have never before seen anything like it. However, I got to thinking about super large raindrops and what phenomenon would be responsible. Shortly after, the hail started. I mean hail. It was large and loud. We were driving and finally stopped, not under a tree, but used it to block the hail a bit. I was worried our windshield would break as we have several spot-fixes on it. It was hailing so much, you couldn't see well down the road, so we just waited. . . and waited. . . and waited. The hail was mothball size. It lasted a long time. Eventually it started to subside and we drove on. Unfortunately, it was a slow moving storm and headed east, same as us, so we drove back into it. We stopped again a few miles up the road at the Dennis post office and went to the back of the lot to have some shelter from a tree line. We stayed there again till it subsided and drove on. The storm continued and when we got to Golden, Mississippi, we found a car wash and ducked in there for shelter from the hail. From there it was a short run to Red Bay and we were able to get there, but it was raining quite hard.

We got into the coach and turned things on and about an hour later, tornado sirens sounded and a loud speaker announced a tornado had been sighted and we should go to a shelter. We got in the car and drove over to the Tiffin Service Center and went to a designated tornado shelter area where other Tiffin owners were already congregating. We were there for about an hour and came back when the all clear was given. There was still storm activity in the area, but the most severe threats were gone. We will have to check to see if we had any damage from the hail, but we haven't found any so far.

We are at the park in downtown Red Bay and drove over to the shelter with our neighbors here. She has been knitting up a storm and I asked her if she crocheted. She said she knew how, but preferred knitting. She is going to help me this afternoon learn a basic crochet stitch so I can make some preemie caps for my new grandbaby. Whoo hoo!

So we are here and still all in one piece. Not sure when/if we will move to Florence today, because I want to get my crochet lesson!

Till next time. . .