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Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years, a Beginning

Nephew Blake preparing meal in Costa Rica.
After languishing for past 3 weeks in the "barn", the Admiral has once again entered the waters to voyage. After experiencing many weeks and months travelling our beloved Admiral, idleness tried the patience. Fortunately, our land bound home has returned to normal after exciting Christmas Holiday and the welcome visit of all our daughters (4) and two sons.

We bid Ade to Justin as he departed back to Hattiesburg, MS in continued preparation for deployment to Iraqi with the US Army. Our prayers and best wishes go with him in this risky adventure.
Our routine is to vacate the homestead each Thursday or Friday for travel in the Admiral to new and exciting locals within a short drive of our home. As we continue to search for new location, we are continually surprised to find adventures close to home. Our hope is to explore the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) during the winter months. After viewing the wonders of Yellowstone in the winter, we want to experience similar months in our home state. LBL is within 1-2 hours drive, depending on the site and offers eagle viewing, off road adventures and miles of hiking trails. Thus, we are awaiting answers from inquiries to the management for locations suitable for our Admiral during the winter. We realize developed sites are closed for the winter, however, many primitive or undeveloped sites exist. We only need to clarify permission to camp.

We have not experienced true dry camping but with the use of our generator, feel we can be comfortable, safe and enjoy the solitude. I suspicion we will enjoy undeveloped camping and discover a new dimension to our travels. We have not relished boondocking in parking lots, but understand the ease when just traveling to a new destination. I believe we will feel just as secure in a wooded, quiet site as in a busy parking lot. It does appear more and more business operations are prohibiting overnight stays. Understandable on some levels, but boondockers tend to spend considerable sums in businesses along these asphalt campgrounds.

No matter the results on our inquiries, we will have new experiences along the trails, roads and byways of this country. I have discovered with the help of LBL that we may camp in four (4) campgrounds throughout the winter months. They typically do not offer any facilities with the exception of the Fenton Camp, which offers water and electric. The LBL contact via their web site was quite helpful in pointing us toward winter campgrounds. This will be our winter beginnings of 2010 with hopefully new camping and travel experiences.
Happy Trails for 2010!






Monday, December 14, 2009

Paris Landing Getaway











View from Little Eagle Campground Paris Winery
weekend. My dog Bailey and I disappeared south to an area typically well used in summer months but little used in the winter. Fortunately, the quiet was just what I needed. Bailey seemed to enjoy the peace as well.

I parked the coach at a private campground instead of the State Park. This is due to superior facilities in the private site with good view and access to Kentucky Lake. Paris Landing State Park is attractive with golf, lodge and lake.
However, the campground is dated and only offers 30 amp service and sites with a slope and many trees. If the state parks would upgrade sites with 50 amp. individual water source and level the sites, I cannot but expect more rental of the sites.

Little Eagle Campground is private and well maintained. A number of the sites are rented on an annual basis, however, good quality units and friendly staff. Located within 1/2 mile is a restaurant I would recommend. Seaton's is not the typically southern trough found in many lake areas. The owner is a friendly sort with a well rounded menu and wonderful bar. The restaurant serves a wide variety of entrees but well with the $10-12 range. Best beer in the area and my favorite, non smoking. BBQ spots are located in the area and the Lodge at Paris Landing Park is good for a buffet.

Paris Winery is located with 12 miles and offers a good variety of wines for reasonable prices. Tastings are held often and special meals prepared on site. The owners have transplanted from California and even offer a landing strip on site.
Tennessee is keeping their campgrounds open in the winter months, unlike many Kentucky Parks. I would recommend Little Eagle and other private facilities during the winter months. The state park is just OK and crowded in summer vacation periods.
Happy Trails




Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fall Day at Audubon Park




James Audubon was the foremost naturalist and painter during the 1700's We are fortunate to have a state park located nearby in Henderson, KY. Audubon Park adjoins a heavily traveled highway at the Ohio River crossing to Indiana. However, from inside the park you would not guess the location.

Audubon Park is located along the banks of the Ohio River in the City of Henderson, KY. You can drive past the park without a notice. However, within the park lies a unique museum with the collection of James J. Audubon, original paintings and exhibits. A large virgin forest with nature trail is available for all to hike.

The campground alas is in only fair condition and located near a heavily traveled highway. Like many state parks, the campground is dated with small, unlevel sites with limited facilities. The gem is the park itself. Also, many Indiana State Parks are nearby. My Boykin Spaniel loved the trail and the lake. The park includes a 9 hole golf course which is challenging but not on the championship level. Thoroughbred horese racing is available within 2 miles at Ellis Park. It is questionable that the track will reopen next summer due a decline in horse racing at small tracks. Hopefully, the Audubon Park will be maintained for us all and eventually some improvement in the campground.

Happy Trails

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Open Pond Campground, Coneuch National Park


View Open Pond Campground in a larger map'>

What a wonderful surprise! You always remember the campgrounds that were an adventure and seem to be undiscovered by the masses. This is one of the Alabama discoveries.

We were traveling to Destin, FL. for a fall trip and discovered this part while on the road, searching the net. Located a short distance North of Destin and just south of Andalusia, AL. the park is easily accessed via Highway 29. Being along one of the most traveled routes from the North to Destin, we were pleasantly surprised to have our pick of a site along the water.

The campground is a National Forest site and the honor system is employed for check in and payment. They do have a host who will collect the rent at the drop box. The campground is reviewed on http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/Alabama/Andalusia.html with excellent ratings. I would suggest you call before arrival to check for sites and ask if they could hold one. The spring through fall seems to be very busy with nearby campers.

The sites are located in four (4) loops, one being for primitive camping only. All sites offer 50 amp service and water. The dump station is on a hill and may be difficult to reach and empty tanks. The access road to the campground is narrow and only one vehicle can pass. However, our 35 ft. motor home was not a problem and we did view one 40 ft. motor home in the campground. Everyone was very friendly and willing to assist in any way.

The lake is well stocked with catfish, brim and bass. We were warned not to walk with our dog along the banks due to gators. However, the camp host informed me he had been in the area for 9 months and not discovered any gators. My luck would be to find the first gator. The area around the lake is mowed and boats are permitted without gas engines.

This is a great stop to rest up prior to Destin. We did not discover any restaurants in the area, but the quiet and beauty of the park was worth a bit of cooking.

Happy Trails.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Admiral in Dry Dock


It is disheartening to see our beloved Admiral tied to the dock awaiting the next voyage. After having spent many weekends and two multi-week voyages in the Admiral, being in dry dock is not an enjoyable experience. I am beginning to understand the reluctance of sailors pulling into shore for an extended stay.

We have sailed the Admiral over 13,000 miles in our first year aboard. Having experienced a number of minor mechanical failures and challenges, we have come to the conclusion that the end of the new ownership period is ending. We can only hope that our next season of voyages is less fraught with troubles. Do not interpret this to be unhappiness with the Admiral. On the contrary we have enjoyed the last year of travels more than other years. We have experienced the same debugging experience that many experienced Rubber Rats explained to us.

The winter months we rent a good quality storage facility for the Admiral with all the comforts. Electrical power, heat, auto door and insulation. We keep the coach fully stocked with propane, gasoline, food and clothing. All we need to start a trip is the infamous phrase, "start your engine". We do not winterize the coach so we may travel during the winter months even a short distance. Weekend trips to Nashville, Lake Barkley, Paris Landing and other Tennessee locations beckon us. Just this week I felt the compulsion to visit the Admiral in dry dock to start the engine and talk to the Admiral about forth coming trips. All seemed well received.

Reading other blogs about winter travel destinations just adds salt to our wounds. Key West, Nevada, Arizona are only dreams displayed on the flat screens of the Admiral. Our winter voyages result in 15 degree weather, frozen water lines and early morning walks with the dogs. However, this is superior to the home front. Discovering nearby winter sites has been a challenge, but with the help of many web sites, we have discovered new potential adventures.

Here awaits our Admiral. Fueled, tuned, stocked and ready for a voyage at a moments notice. Look for us on the high highways of the continent.

Happy Sailing.

Friday, November 27, 2009

CLEATUS OF THE KANGAROO

CLEATUS OF THE KANGAROO

Let Me tell You a story.....
.. ..
As we walk through life certain memorable characters present themselves. This is a story about one such character. Little did I suspect I would be confronted with a personality possessing such depth of soul? Most of us only dream or read about such encounters, but mine occurred unexpectedly, at the local Kangaroo. Kangaroo for the uninitiated is the local convenience store chain. How the chain became Kangaroo I do not know, but I bet the pouch somehow figured into the equation.....
.. ..
My first encounter with Cleatus was uneventful. I typically purchase my cappuccino each morning. However, in winter months I have the habit of a later afternoon pick up, meaning another fat-free cappuccino. We have quite a group at the Kang. They range in nationality and ethnic background from British, African American, White Anglo Saxon protestant (WASP), a few damned Yankees and of course the local red necks. I ventured through the doors of the Kang later that afternoon and was confronted by Cleatus. Now the encounter is only memorable due to the lack of acknowledgement from Cleatus that I was a paying customer. The panic in his eyes and down right antipathy toward me was evident as I exited the Kang without paying for the Capo. As I am sure he was well trained, he seemed unaware of my privileges at the Kang. In fact I am not required to pay for refills due to my personal relationship with the Queen of the Kang. For you see, I sacrifice my time once a week to present an offering to the Queen of a large latte' from the world renown coffee shop of Lionel. Therefore, I am only receiving compensation for my tax to the Queen. The Queen will be discussed in another story.....
.. ..
Cleatus nearly vaulted the counter as I passed by other paying customers to return to my car. However, had I known Cleatus in a more personal light I would have known, he was not capable of such dexterity. I believe it was the eyes that captured my attention. He reached for the microphone attached to the gas pumps to halt my exit, however, his co-worker, the Brit, educated the poor chap in the barter arrangement with the Queen. I knew at that moment Cleatus and I would become better acquainted. ....
.. ..
I have only recently learned about the background of Cleatus. This information has been garnered from co-workers and patrons of the Kangaroo. You see Cleatus has many innate qualities most of us are unaware. ....
It seems to the uninitiated that Cleatus is just plain lazy. However, upon close examination and inquiry I discovered the root of the Cleatus persona.....
One of the obvious traits exhibited by Cleatus appears to be the master of work avoidance. Only during my investigation did I learn that Cleatus is and has been in training for several years as a sumo wrestler. You see Cleatus exhibits a physique centered low in gravity with an ever growing mid section. Now this is understandable knowing his rigorous training regime for the world of the sumo. The first indication I remember was the evident stretch marks appearing on his yellow, Kangaroo shirt. It takes a real commitment to produce such growth and evident damage to rayon clothing. ....
.. ..
This information also provided an answer to another observation. It seems that Cleatus has mastered another art during his short experience at the Kang. It has been observed by many patrons and co-workers that Cleatus can avoid most work assignments requiring movement from behind the counter. ....
.. ..
Cleatus is adept at avoiding the many assignments proffered by the Queen and other subjects at the Kang. For Cleatus works the evening hours and is expected to render the Kang clean and organized for the next day of work. However, due to his skill at sloth, he can avoid the chilling experience of the walk in cooler. His explanation when confronted is the lingering ailments caused by the auto-immune damaging atmosphere encountered in the cooler. It seems the chemicals utilized to cool the atmosphere cause reactions to his immune system resulting in increased fatigue. Therefore, in the interest of the Kang management, he must avoid such exposure in order to facilitate the operation of other areas of the establishment. Those employees who are not subject to such handicap may and do complete the cooler stocking without risk. This is Cleatus' way of providing efficient service to his employer. If only the other staff could understand his dedication and sacrifice in the face of major health risks. ....
.. ..
If one only knew Cleatus better. He encounters much ire from his fellow Kang co-workers due to his seemed inability to count the cigarettes. This is required most evenings as part of security. Must be the Homeland Security Act, for it is my information that terrorists are selling stolen cigarettes in order to finance future attacks on the free world. Therefore, Cleatus appears to be working as counter intelligence. He has developed a method of counting the inventory previously unknown in the world of retail. He explained this to me in a rare moment of enlightenment. It seems his formula for inventorying the cigarettes is as follows:....
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Cartons/Square root of 12 x coefficient of "pie" = inventory....
.. ..
Using this formula, no terrorist could determine the number of cartons in inventory and therefore, would not suspect the volume in inventory of the Kangaroo. Oh if only the world could know this genius. Stephen Hawking's would be proud. ....
.. ..
Another apparent challenge for Cleatus is the most daunting cappuccino machine. A miracle of modern invention is the creation of a machine that extracts $1.50 per cup of hot water mixed with flavors from hundreds of customers each day. However, the machine requires daily maintenance. The highly trained staff of the Kang participates in this function each day. However, during the evening hours when Cleatus is in command this task can fall into his capable hands. ....
.. ..
Now one must remember here that Cleatus has trained for many years in the life and philosophy of the Sumo. Therefore, dexterity is not one of the attributes taught in the Sumo world. The need to operate such equipment while twisting and turning valves and connections is directly against all Sumo teachings. After all, any activity creating the burning of calories can diminish the fitness of a Sumo. Therefore, Cleatus has rigorously avoided such activity and in an effort to help fellow employees, relinquished this task to the morning staff. Those of a worldly existence cannot appreciate the sacrifices made by Cleatus. ....
.. ..
This further explains his creativity in only working 2 days per week and limited hours. After all, his daily regime' of 6 meals per day, throwing of course salt in the ring of the Sumo and fervent prayer to the Gods of the Sumo requires much of this time. Alas, Cleatus suffers silently in his dedication to higher pursuits on a plane unknown to others.....
.. ..
Cleatus is vividly aware of his precarious position of employment. Alas, he has made every effort to be supportive of his fellow employees and the management; he does not receive the same level of respect and comradeship bestowed on other employees. He has of late noticed signs of impending doom on his current status and the ire of fellow employees. The first to display such disdain was the Brit Bitch. While she has shown the inclination to cover for work not completed by Cleatus, you know the cappuccino machine, cooler clean up and daily mopping. Of late she has slipped in her duties and expects Cleatus to stoop to such level. Thus far he has avoided the tasks, but with great effort. ....
.. ..
He has also noticed that the Red Rose snit has voiced opinion on his work ethic, to the extend that the Queen of Kang has left onerous notes to his attention. If he had command of the English language, he would be insulted by the evident criticism of his character. The greatest threat may be from a patron of the name of Charlie. You see Charlie plays the lottery scratch off cards daily. However, Cleatus does not desire to move from the stool to the register upon the late afternoon visit from Charlie. Now Charlie is old school. Lately, Charlie has thrown money at Cleatus demanding tickets without respect for the self esteem of Cleatus. The hurtful expressions from Charlie may have resulted in emotional trauma. ....
.. ..
There in lies the germ of an idea for Cleatus. It seems he has aspired to be one of the gentry that collect an unemployment check for many months while being physically able to work. This does take some imagination. He has been inspired by many of the Cobra drinking patrons of the Kang who seems to collect checks while being unable to work for various physical and physiological reasons. If only he could create the situation where the Queen of Kang and others facilitate his unemployment, the best opportunity would arise for full time Sumo training while receiving unemployment compensation. Who knows, he may have success in filing the disability claim due to permanent damage of his self esteem by those supervising his employment. Now that is an idea for the ages. ....
.. ..
While there is not end to the story, one must commend Cleatus for his undying dedication to unemployment, and the goal of a 400 lb. physique, schooled in the art of unemployment while continuing the dedication to the Sumo. His secret Sumo name of the Great Yoda will no longer be hidden from the masses who would covet his ass.

Onionville USA

Onionville USA

From the chronicles of Homewood, come the tales of the inhabitants of Onionville, USA. Now, like many chronicles, the imagination must be active and able to grasp the unlikely as well as the obvious. For not everyone can be a vegetable, fruit or witness to the conversion of same to beings with human qualities. Hence, the world of Onionville.

Spring is a blissful time of year with blossoms, green grass and longer days. Many of the inhabitants of Onionville have experience out of body wonders while growing into adults in the hinterland of Homewood. Homewood is a small, isolated development bordered by woods, and heavily traveled railroad. It has been rumored for many years that those who inhabit Homewood experience unusual phenomenon not unlike section 51 in New Mexico. It was under these circumstances that Onionville was born.

The Spring brings forth not only the little children but growth of flowers, weeds, bugs and of course wild onions. The population of Onionville can be measured by the number of bikes, basketballs and golf carts running the streets. Only children have the imagination to view the world of Onionville. Alas, the adults of the inner and outer circles of Homewood lack the observance of life which would permit the experience of Onionville.

The origin of Onionville can only be speculative. While Good Grief, Idaho is displayed on the Google Map, Onionville has not been disclosed to the world. Thankfully, Onionville exists in the imagination of its inhabitants and not cluttered with worldly recognition. It is rumored that Onionville began as a wholesome endeavor by a local inhabitant in an effort to rid his Hosta garden of wild onions. Little did the neighborhood know the cosmic powers of the lowly wild onion.

Spread eagle among the Hosta, this gardener tempted to eradicate his patch of the wild onions filling this shaded portion of earth. Sitting like a five year old boy, onions between outstretched legs, he attempted to pull and dig up these temperamental plants. Relief and much needed help were on the way.

To his dismay, the variety of the onion world arrived at his feet. Must have been the cosmic alignment of planets which brought to him the patrons of the onion world. They appear in order to help the Gardner harvest the wild onions, which, unknown to the young Gardner, they represented the youngest of the smelly world.

Before me was "Ebenezer Red" known in the hood for his desire to eat pretzels and drink coke with Denise. With him was "Utopia" his sister, who spends much time on her cell phone talking to the boys she had to pay to call her. Proud on his chopper bike was "Excalibur", known far and wide for his desire to work and pull weeds. His sidekick was "Riviera" with that slinky look, sure personality and full eyebrows. Now this was the Homewood Onions arriving to help this young gardener.

Knowing that the planets were aligned the crew began to pull wild onions from the hosta patch. Clouds formed in the north and wind began to fill the Homewood valley. It is unknown if it was the lightning or the strong smell of the onions or the combo of same, but the dogwood tree began to blaze and the earth shook. As the oak leaves whirled, Molly barked and Bailey wagged, clouds enveloped the crew for what seemed like an eternity. As the dust cleared there stood Onionman with the red cape flowing behind him and a new SUPER HERO was born.

Born may not be the correct description, more like created by the forces around him. Born of the aroma of the plant, soil, worms and rotting mulch, to create the force which could extract tears from the strongest men and receive reverence from chefs world wide. ONIONMAN was with us.
Onionman stood strong among his minions. While they showed little reverence for this hero, they understood they were among greatness and a man of many layers. No one is certain, but most believe Onionman is a descendant of the famous Vidalia clan. The clan of the Vidalia is known world wide for their sweetness, kind heart and sympathy for their fellow onions.
New to the worldly ones are the Yumions. These young buds are the next generation of Onionville. The Yumions are represented by the various sects of the onion world. Not conscripts to the Onionman, but trainees to be sent about the world to further the onion life style. Yumions are the future of agriculture and rank among the most respected spores of the vegetable world.

A recent rumor may be true, that a Yumion has been selected to the cabinet of President Elect Obama as Agricultural Secretary. Wow! This would be the start of world domination in the growth of Onionism. What a fragrant world we live in!
Alas, this story must conclude. The story does not end but only concludes. The Yumions of the world will continue the work of Onionman for decades to come. Onionman can only ask that you continue to support the pulling of wild onions, cultivate the pedigree varieties and support your Yumions. For remember the Yumions are the layers of the future and provide us with the pungent experiences we will carry forward to our senior years.
Love and Affection with all the flavors of the earth,
Onionman.

NOW AND AGAIN!

NOW AND AGAIN..
AN ESSAY
Well, I am selfish; I want my "now and again" – NOW! After all, all we have is Now. Like that Dash in our life, you know, date of birth – date of death. The dash is all that counts.
Now and Again. My Now seems to be a bit late. I judge I am late in the realization that I only have Now. So, I feel very comfortable in being selfish about my Now.
My Now usually evolved around my girls and that was fun. The Now at age 58 has new meaning and mortality. The mortal part tends to get my attention. Denny Crane would not worry about such minor interruption. Mad Cow has so many unique and fun symptoms. After all, you really never realize you are ill and in the case of mental illness, everything is perfect from your prospective.
Now I want to think about me and us. Not to the exclusion of all, but to work, society, politics and anything that interferes with my Now. Yeah, I know, white male, selfish bastard. Well, I am male, white but had two parents. I can be selfish but I try to spread that trait amongst all my true friends and enemies.
Lets talk about who and what I do not want in my Now. I do not have room for those waiting for their Now. Waiting for a government or society to provide them with a Now. Get real folks. Only you can make your Now. I have no time for those waiting on their acceptance into the fraternity of a victim. Like the puke that appeared in my office whining about needing social security disability just due to heart surgery. Complaining about being bored but when I suggested some work, he did not want to put forth such effort. Get out of my way. If you can drive around in your truck, visit all your buddies and complete rehab, you can work. Get out of my way.
I want my neighbor at age 96 that mows a yard, rakes leaves and enjoys everyday to be a part of my Now. All the tragedies in his life, a century, cannot stop his Now.
My Now does not include the GED packing waste who blames all for his lack of a Now. Who pilfers from parents and is just sucking at the tit of society. Ever wonder why we do not recognize their names in the court reports or the obits. Just a shadow on society, never to create a Now.
My Now includes an elderly Dad who enjoys everyday. Horse racing, bitching about his eggs but admires the color of the Coe' and reads three papers daily. His Now at 85 has much more depth. Even he does not have time for the whining of the Now-Less.
I should not dwell on the Now Less. After all, their part in my Now is minor. My Now includes four young women leading and making lives of their own. Dare they quit working on their Now. Although we cannot always control Now, we make our Now with our attitude.
Again, I plan to be somewhat selfish in my Now. I plan for my Now to include my wife, for whom I am so grateful and fortunate.
My Now is sharing life with her and being the husband she deserves and a father to those young women. My Now includes two step sons and my desire to see them create their Now.
Now includes travel to the locations I have missed thus far in life and making the adventures part of my Now. Now includes being creative in my chosen work, and applying some creativity to my enjoyment of writing. Not considering my lack of talent, but my gift of bull shit and enjoyment of reading my own words. Since I enjoy writing I certainly cannot be concerned with the opinion of others. Hell, they don't have to read this stuff.
My Now includes finding challenges each day. That new low score in golf, the growth of the new landscaping and vines, tasting the new variety of red wine (or any color for that matter), still push mowing the lawn, enjoying time with Bailey and being aware daily of my Now.
The Again part can be a bit more challenging. How many events, experiences or people do you want to experience Again. The challenge is in knowing the benefit of an Again. Not every experience can be appreciated Again.
I do not want to experience war again. I managed to survive that once and do not want to temp the gods on that one. I do not want to repeat adolescence for growing up can be a bitch. Fun much of the time, but then you understand it does not last forever and you learn to think about the future. That comes before the Now, just in case you were not following the time line.
The Again of raising my daughters must lie in my memory. I do not want or expect to raise them a second time but I certainly want to remember the experience Again. Don't think Mad Cow will erase the experience from my data base. Now, they may want to change the memory, but that is their problem. I will remember it my way. After all, this is my Now and Again.
My Again has to include the breath taking scenes I have not seen. The Canadian Rockies, vast oceans, several foreign countries, more grandchildren and walking down the isle with my daughters to their wedding altar. My step sons finding their Nows.
I want to sail around the Caribbean, see coffee growing in Costa Rica with Blake, and even attempt climbing small rocks with Matt. Oops, that sounds more like a Now.
Realistically, or truthfully, I do not have many Agains. My Now is more important and it seems like the Agains will take care of themselves if I feed my Nows. Sounds good for a guy with Mad Cow. If I experience my Now, the Again should follow or at least I will think I have any answer. Or, I will have the wisdom to not give a shit.
I have no idea who will read this essay or who will truly care what is said. I want to encourage any reader to feed their Now so they will have many Agains to experience. I may have stumbled upon a semi-original thought. For how can you have any Again if you do not have a Now.
Please go create your Now. Just remember, do not get in the way of mine and if you do, look around for my Agains. They will be close behind.

DIRT CLOD COMBAT

Dirt Clod Combat



Nothing like growing up as a young boy in the mid 1950’. What a great time to be free and roaming among the 50’s gods. Now the gods were Elvis, Jerry Lee and various girl groups. Who could care about school, politics, work and any house hold duties? It was summer and all were free.

Nothing captivates a boy’s imagination more than a good war game. After all, we won the war, beat the japs and krauts and the Lone Ranger controlled the west. Three months of summer was a lifetime for the gang and we intended to enjoy each day.

Now of course, dirt clods were the closest relative to a hand grenade that god ever invented. Combat the TV. Show always showed the heroes throwing grenades to the krauts and the large explosion and smoke would cover the enemy.

Well, we had our own enemies. Dirt clods for those uneducated, were mud which dried due to various reasons creating hard, dust covered clods which were the weapon of choice for the die hard combat fans of the Oakdale Gang. Life would not have been complete without an arsenal of the clod weapons. Of course, we never lack enemies, or targets of the clod attack.

The summer of about 1958 included three full months of vacation from the daily grind of school. Oakdale Park was a fair quality, trailer park including our motel and large Oakdale Pool. The heat of summer was something like the Mohave Desert due to lack of air conditioning and invention of the window fan. Our summer oasis was the oscillating fan cooling my sister and I in our pool of sweat in our shared bedroom. But that is another story.

Back of the dirt clods. That eventful summer, a mysterious fire occurred among fallen trees in the Park. As luck would have it, the aftermath of the fire was large amount of roots with hardening clods. This was manna to the boys of the park. War began early that summer. The enemy varied between enemy trucks, cars, kids on bikes, stray dogs, cats and even some of the older neighbors. Remember, nothing was more exciting that the explosion of the clods against the side of a house, truck or car and the eventual escape of the army of boys. We were inventive and placed a firecracker inside the moist clod to create larger explosion of a German grenade.

During one of the wars, we cornered our enemy against the small house of Ms. Carpenter. Now Ms. Carpenter was 103 and the image of the wicked witch of the west in OZ. Now the poor woman must have been frail and ill., but to the wild bunch the enemy was cornered on her porch and could not be allowed to escape. The free world depended upon our success.

Fortunately, the large hole of the fallen tree offered an unending supply of the great dirt clod weapons. We managed to surround the enemy and open our barrage of the house. Little did we know that Ms. Carpenter was in the small house and under the same siege?

Even Sir Winston Churchill could not have withstood such an emotional attach. The tin roof of the house warped and rolled with every volley of the clod attaches. The enemy was cowered on the porch and could offer only token resistance. They made a futile attempt to entice Heir Carpenter to admit them, but the broom swatted the vermin back to the porch. Our barrage continued.

I suppose the breaking of glass finally slowed the attack. The slain enemy offered a white flag and marched to our line of battle in complete and utter surrender. However, Ms. Carpenter mounted the broom and beat the hell out of us for what seemed an eternity.

Somehow the Young parents did not gain sight of the embarrassing defeat. Unusual, in that the war occurred within feet of our back door in mid day. I have always assumed Mom did not have the guts to wade into such a clod attack. She was always shrewd in the ways of war.
Goats of Plaza de Toro

Now goats are often mistaken as the dragons of the neighborhood. Especially after watching Saturday morning TV and the attack of the Apache. Now, since we did not have a horse or pony, the Billy goat had to be the steed to be broken and ridden. Of course the goat was not consulted in the matter and typically ignored us while munching on the limited grass in the corral. However, the goat includes convenient "reins" in the form of horns. The stature of the goat is portioned to that of boys; however, the heart of the Billy goat was underestimated.

The Matadors of the Mash includes Harry the Waddington, Hollie the lesser Waddington, Billy Basham, Ray the snake, Nora the abnormal and Geraldine. A few stragglers would join the Matadors similar to the groupies of today just for the chance to be included in this right of summer. Of course, your truly was subjected to the demands of the summer gang and required to participate. I am certain I participated only due to not to be rejected by the gang. Hey, it was my idea anyway.

One must approach the goat pen with respect and certain ceremony. The Matadors of the Mash arrayed in respective uniform accompanied by the Madams of the trailer park, Harry being the largest of the attackers was resplendent in frayed shorts, t-shirt stretched to limits, similar to Under Armor of today was a force to be reconded with.

Ray the Snake was not to be seen without the tight jeans, just like Jerry Lee, Billy had a physique similar to mine, relegated to the chubby section of the jeans and shorts. Most of the Matadors were proud of the sponsor patches displayed in various portions of our jeans. Of course, our sponsor patches were nameless and succeeded in covering our knees, butts and other portions. Our Moms were adapt at the iron on patches which soon curled at the corners and made the Matadors display the aire of worldly experienced fighters.

Nora the Abnormal always arrived in a flimsy summer dress. Nora was very quiet, you know the cerebral type. While she displayed the famine qualities desired by 10 year olds, we were not impressed. The Goats received much more respect. Geraldine was the opposite of Nora. Geraldine was well respected for her ability to kick, pull, pinch and generally kick ass of the Boys. She has been known to stare a goat to death under the right circumstance. No feminine qualities here.
The correct ethic of the Goat Fights required the leadership of Harry the Waddington. Besides, Harry was the largest and meanest of the Gang. Harry’s challenge to all was to first run across the corral in temptation of the majestic goat. A quick touch of the tail or horns was similar to the strike of the Picador in ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Spain.

Now Harry was not a quick fellow, but very brave. The wide image of Harry was charging across the wasted earth in challenge of the Goat was impressive. We can only assume the Goat was shocked by the audacity of Harry to trespass on his territory. However, the Goat was slow to react to the first Matador and Harry typically succeeded in reaching the opposite side of the fence. Little did we know, we were forever marked by the Goat now alert to our folly.

Geraldine was the kick butt kind of girl. Geraldine vaulted the fence, slapped the goat, pulled the tail and dared it to ever look at the face of Death. Geraldine slowly walked to the safe area and if the lower morals of today were in fashion, the finger of disdain would be flashed to all of the timid.

Now alerted, the Goat of the Plaza de Toro was like Dick Butkas of the Chicago Bears, ready to stuff it to us upon our entry into the forsaken ground. Harry the Waddington continued to taunt the less ones, supported by the female counterpart.

Ray the Snake vaulted the fence with the grace of a wounded wildebeest. The speed possessed by Snake and the skinny legs propelled him past the goat leaving only a streak of dust and undoubtedly some stains in his shorts. Snake was a dominating kind of guy, known to smoke, cuss and general kick ass of the fuller figured of the gang. He made the trek to the safe side of the corral without slightest poke of the Goat. Really boring if you were to ask us.

Nora the Abnormal and Billy showed the least guts. Nora swished around the corral in her little summer dress like she really had something to show us. Billy remained quite smitten by Nora but we all know he was not destined for greatness. After all, great men do not chase a wee skirt when a great Goat is the challenge of the day.

No story is complete without the final challenge of the evil spirit. Namely the Goat. The remaining matador, I, must challenge the beast. After all, it was somewhat my idea.

Not possessing great speed, it was my idea to surprise the vaunted beast. The attack from the rear with surprise seemed the conservative approach. Much like President Eisenhower, as my Dad described him. After many hours watching the Lone Ranger vault over the hindquarters of Silver, I knew this was my surprise mount of the great Beast. After all, no one had dared ride this "bull" and my Hemingway genes were called to action.

While the Beast munched on his cud, eyed Norma the Abnormal and envied Harry the Waddington his rolls of fat, I began my attack through the boards of the fence. Stealth is one of my best qualities. Some would call it sneaky. No class. I did complete Grapevine School.

Rolled under the fence board, my timing was perfect. The Goat was enthralled with the great Gang of Oakdale, not having put a horn in the backside of this worldly gang. Running like those sprinters seen in Roller Derby, I closed the distance between this matador and the Beast. I could not permit goat droppings to distract my charge to the rear of this challenge to my manhood.

Dust, sweat, droppings, and fear must be the scents of the Matadors of Spain. I know I share their courage and joy of the drama. Fortunately, the Goat was enjoying the sight of the Gang, his cud and bowel movement as I approach. Like the Lone Ranger I vaulted the ass of the devil goat, landing on what must be similar to a wooden camel saddle. Having surprised the beast, I grabbed the horns like Silver’s reins, dug in my Space Ball Jets in the flanks, and was determined to ride the bull till the whistle.

My plan of attached was perfect up to this point. However, I must have underestimated the cat like reflexes of the great Goat. He moved both up and laterals, out of the Shute like the bull of Hemingway, bucked, spit, shit and stopped like a BMW. I was launched over the horns, gracefully of course, landing like the kid in chubby jeans, on my back amid the dust and goat shit.

The dust cleared, somewhat amazed I survived the fall, and I looked up into the yellow eyes of the demon of Oakdale. I think I saw the slightest grin around its yellow eyes. As the drool spilled from its wide gaping mouth, I rolled through the dust, collected by wits and ran for hell to the fence, rolling under the last rail. To hell with courage when you have been bucked off a Billy goat. The Lone Ranger was never so humiliated.

Over 40 years have passed since the challenge of the Goat of De Plaza de Toro. Our Gang of Oakdale has gone on to many lesser exploits since, but none of greater imagination. The imagination of a 10 year old is grander than Dr. Seuss. After all the trails, wounds and embarrassment of the Goat, we all can rejoice in the knowledge, that the Great Goat was enjoyed on the plates of the Waddington Restaurant as the best Mutton in Hopkins County. Harry, Hollie and I had the greatest satisfaction in delivering the slop from the restaurant to the pigs of Waddington, in the best recycling program ever in Madisonville. Pigs of Waddington, another story.

LET ME TELL YOU A STORY!

Sleeping single in a Double Drawer



Sleeping Single in a Double Drawer.


Twins, no one closer than two from the same fold, same bolt of cloth, knitted together, woven in time.


We lived each day together, curled up. Stretching along the covers on Sunday morning. Sharing the cold, wood floors, keeping each other warm as a pair, or twins should. Weeks spent together bonds twins as no other pair. We shared the dark days, and nights. Hot summers covering untold miles along our daily journeys.


As our days, weeks, months passed, we took all our time together for granted. We really never knew any pain, only closeness, even in our darkest time. The wear of every day life, sometimes grounded together, other times lying side by side across the floor.
Unlike others who are close, we were really inseparable. We learned to enjoy our quite time, folded together; our existence together was all we truly needed. We never dared to envision our separation.


It happened so quietly, seems like a fog overtook our time together. Only to lift, revealing our loss. Where o where did you go? We have known such happy times together, working, playing and quiet. We shared our warm baths, knowing that feeling being dry, clean, folded together, resting until our next day of adventure.


I am pained to remember that moment of loss. We enjoyed an active day together, always partners, work and play. Looking forward to our baths and warmth while being fluffed.
I dare not try to explain the moment when I realized I was alone. I do remember being entwined in a large, warm towel, enjoying the fragrance of Downey. Taking for granted that we would soon be reunited.


Lost is the only word that describes the realization of our separation. Laying alone on the bed we usually share, being gathered up, like a single sock, bundled up with strangers. Tied together as odd socks. I lay here still, lonely, wondering what became of my twin.
Every so often we are released and the effort is made to match our lonely soles. Alas, I remain unmatched, toe and heel, but sleeping single in the dark, double drawer.

WINE BEFORE DINNER


WINE BEFORE DINNER


THE TRADITION AT OUR HOUSE IS WINE BEFORE DINNER. ONLY TO THANK THE FRENCH FOR THEIR TRADITION ALONG WITH THE ITALIANS. REDNECK KENTUCKIANS DO NOT HAVE THE CLASS TO ESTABLISH THIS IN THE HILLS.

NOW THIS IS THE TIME OF DAY MY BEAUTIFUL AND PATIENT WIFE SHARES TIME WITH ME. THIS TIME BEFORE THE BREAKING OF BREAD IS A GREAT RELEASE AND RESPITE FROM THE GRUELING DAYS. NOW, I MUST BANISH MY TRUSTWORTHY COMPANION, BAILEY, TO THE KENNEL OR BACK YARD AND TURN OFF THE FACEBOOK CONNECTION. THIS IS OUR TIME.

ONE MUST CONSIDER THAT WHILE WIFE HAS BEEN HIDING BEHIND A COMFORTABLE DESK WITH CALLER ID, I HAVE BEEN IN THE PITS, SLAYING DRAGONS, FIELDING CALLS FROM POWER OF FINANCE, (BERNE MADOFF JUST CALLED COLLECT) AND CHALLENGING THE FED. TO PROVIDE SOME STIMULUS TO MY ACCOUNT. HOWEVER, CONSIDERING WIFE’S TRIALS I AM FORTUNATE TO HAVE SUCH COMPANY FOR THE WINE BEFORE DINNER.

THE MEDICINAL POWERS OF WINE CONTINUE TO INTRIGUE ME. I HAVE WORKED MY WAY THROUGH ONLY ABOUT 5 SPECIES OF GRAPES, BUT THE CHALLENGE CONTINUES. I MUST WRITE THESE SPECIES DOWN FOR I HAVE A TENDENCY TO “FORGET” SOME OF THE GRAPES TESTED. OH WELL. ONE MUST PRESS ON TO GREATER VINES AND VINEYARDS.
HAPPY TOASTS.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Command Sergant Major Hodge


CHANCE MEETING



You just never know who you will meet on any given day. This note is not about motorhome travel but about one of the most interesting people I have met this year.
I am a real estate appraiser and on an assignment today, I met a true, military warrior.
Command Sergant Major H. D. Hodge, Retired.
Now my four year experience in the U. S. Navy included many Navy Seals, Green Berets, Marines, Army and Vietnam warriors. However, Sgt. Maj. Hodge took my attention from the first moment. This man served his country for 40 years including Korea, and 3 tours in Vietnam.
He is quite unassuming, gentle spirit but command your attention. His experience includes 10,000 plus free fall jumps, special forces, recon and rangers. Do not, I repeat, Do not challenge this man. At age 80 he is an imposing figure and would not quarter any lack of respect. It takes two men to wear the medals on his dress uniform.
I have two step sons. One in the National Guard and the youngest entering the Regular Army in February 2010. I hope to have them meet Sgt. Maj. Hodge for the wisdom only he can impart. A funny story here. Sgt. Maj. Hodge was sent my family to an assisted living facility in another state for this care. However, Sgt. Maj. Hodge had other ideas. He escaped the facility, drove himself home and has remained independent. Alas, the Dr.'s have removed his driver's license and he must leave his home. Now, if you have any young men who need leadership, just move this guy into your home and I can guarantee a well run unit.
I have worked for Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Admiral King (6Th fleet) and numerous Navy Captains. However, except for Admiral Sumwalt, none have presented the command ethic as well as Sgt. Maj. Hodge. It only took a short visit with him to prompt this writing. I can only hope he will be happy in his new lodgings. Otherwise, I will probably meet him once again after another escape.
Admiration cannot be to easily achieved. We must not over look these remarkable men and women who serve our country in many conflicts and do not ask why, when or how come. They just do as ordered and protect our country. Hero is not a label they enjoy. They will tell you they just followed orders, did their job and took part in the American Dream. I ask that you all take a tour or visit to a VA center, hospital, nursing home or graveyard and touch your heart in respect for these veterans. They are part of the sinew that holds our country together and set an example for all of us to follow.
My last meeting with Sgt. Maj. Hodge was this afternoon. We ended our meeting on a sound footing. I reminded his that Sgt. Young ( my dad) told me not to be late for the Sgt. Major. would kick my ass. Sgt. Maj. Hodge laughed and told me his did not kick ass any longer. He had nothing but praise for the combat medics of WWII for my Dad. I continue to be humbled by men of this caliber. I left the meeting with a tear and I truly do not know why. Except the admiration for these men and knowing we may have so few of men of this caliber today.
Thanks you Sgt. Major for you contribution to our country and I can only hope your rank is recorded in the clouds for life eternal. A salute to you Sgt. Major.
Happy Soaring.







Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lighthouse Landing, Grand Rivers, KY


Lighthouse Landing, Grand Rivers, KY.

While looking for an overnight stop, my familiarity with the area brought me to Lighthouse Landing.  The Landing is well know for sailing of Kentucky Lake and part of the Grand Rivers development. 

The boat pictured is part of the Christmas decorations with a contest for best decorated boat.  Alas, at time of this writing, the contest had only begun.  This view was at sunset and struck me as typical of the view along Kentucky Lake.

My original thought was to dry camp in the parking lot at Lighthouse for the view and only for one evening.  However, true to good business sense, the desk indicated they had one site available and the cost would be $22/day.  Not a bad deal and being self employed, I could only accept the site. However, the view from their parking lot was superior. 


To be fair to Lighthouse, the development is primarily for sailors.  They do offer seasonal campsites which appear to be rented by the year.  The area is well maintained and not your typical redneck sites with all the vehicles, furniture and tired dogs laying around.  I was informed that they only had one site available for my one evening stay.  The sites are gravel and somewhat slopping with narrow access.  Not the typical spot for big rigs.  However, for 5th. wheels and motorhomes under 40 ft. the sites can be accessed.

Within the development, the walk to the lake along the paved trail is wonderful.   You have a full view of Kentucky Dam, locks and wonderful sunets and sunrise.  No wonder the sailors prefer this marina.  Within walking distance is the downtown area of Grand Rivers, KY.  The Patties 1800 development is the center piece of the town.  Patties restaurant offers exceptional dining in a very small town.  Bring you own wine for none is served, however, they will provide glasses.  Not kidding here, your own wine, corkscrew, plain brown bag and keep is under the table after opening.   Welcome to a "dry" county in Kentucky.  We only make 90 % of the world's bourbon but cannot drink wine served at dinner.  Go figure. 

You will be located within 1/2 mile of the entrance to Land Between the Lakes (LBL) a wonderful, one million acre preserve.  Do not miss the hiking trails, bike trails and just the scenic drives.  If the rangers would permit, the pull off site along the scenic overlook to Kentucky Lake would be a great dry camp site.  Did not try this but may in the future.  I might give them a little challenge.

Happy Trails!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Montgomery Bell State Park




Just returned from a 2 day, impromptu trip to a beautiful little park in central Tennessee. Montgomery Bell State Park needs to be on your short list. The odd part of this blog is that we did not travel in our beloved Admiral (motorhome) but dared to venture out in a vehicle. You know a car!



The Admiral is in for minor repairs and alas we made the trip without the motorhome. However, part of the trip was to discover a new park and campground. We are forced to search south for camping in the winter months due to the Commonwealth of Kentucky closing almost all state parks for winter months. How stupid. Every hear of global warming? Fortunately Tennessee needs the money and keep most parks open year round.



Please venture to central Tennessee to this park. Named after Montgomery Bell, an entrepreneur in the ore or iron business in early 1800's, the park is located approximately 40 minutes drive due south of Clarksville, TN. Roads are good and the park is also located about 45 minutes west of Nashville. This makes for a busy park during spring through fall, but wonderfully slow in winter.



The Campground offers full hook up on many sites with various discounts. None of which we qualify for. I remain too young for most of these. Located along a wide creek fed by a nearby lake, the campground is near hiking trails and offers access to all parts of the park.



Now for those who need accommodations, the lodge is quite good with lake views from all rooms and the park includes several new cabins along the lake. Do not feed the geese. This may result in expulsion from the lodge to the nearest tavern for drinks for all. Also, please ask for "Darlin" at the front desk. She is quite friendly and usually does not beg for a biscuit. A word of warning here. BRING UNMARKED PAPER OR PLASTIC CUPS FOR YOU ADULT BEVERAGE, WINE ETC. IN FRONT OF THE LOBBY FIREPLACE. This lodge is DRY! I have always wondered when Tennessee and KY. will wake up to the fact that people drink, smoke and spit. While they tolerate smokers outside the facility, you can spit most places except in the floor, they will not permit adults to sip adult beverages of their own without hiding same in paper cups. Just remember, the slight of hand does work and just sit by the fire and enjoy!



Now that I have vented! Let us continue.



Please take the opportunity to visit the 1810 Presbyterian Church and minister's cabin. This is a glimpse of the early 1800's and well preserved. Two trail heads start here and surround the campground. We just entered the church and a young man was playing guitar and prayer was easy and soothing.



We will return to Montgomery Bell State Park in December for a 3 night stay. They do not accept reservations, but is you will call on the way, they will save you a site. Ask for the camp host and be prepared for a long conversation. They are great hosts and spend most of the year in the park. Do not forget "Darlin" at the front desk of the lodge.



Happy Trails!









Thursday, September 24, 2009


Canal Campground in Land Between the Lakes. A wonderfully hidden spot between Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. This CEO campground is a jewel in western Kentucky enjoyed by locals for a favorite site near home.

The large sites located between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley offer a view of the canal and enjoyment of the lake area. Watching herds of deer, schools of fish and a flotilla of boats passing through the canal offers an environment of nature not available in many areas of the US. Catch a sailboat from Lighthouse Marina, stroll along the jetties or walk along the canal, you will enjoy the sunset and view of the Grand Rivers area. Do not pass up "Pattie's" restaurant and home place.

Early morning offers low lights, bald eagles, and cat fish. Breakfast can be found in Grand Rivers with the best and worst of the community each day. A bicycle ride offers a view of the sailing vehicles, inflatable boates, and rides in the area along Grand Rivers drive. Grand Rivers, KY. is a small community only one mile from the Canal Campground. The two large marinas in the area both border Grand Rivers.

The Land Between the Lakes (LBL) is the main attraction to the area other than the lakes themselves. The area is one million, unspoiled acres with many trails (65 miles), ATV trails, horseback riding, bison, elk, camping and many roads for access to both lakes. The area prohibits dwellings, businesses and camping is available at two large campgrounds (Hillmans Ferry and Piney). Primitive camping is available almost any portion of the area. The LBL extends south into Tennessee and offers a Wranglers Camp and trails.

The Canal Campground is typically full and requires some work to obtain a reservation. However, the web site is good and if you keep trying you will find a site. Also, I recommend a call to the office for sometime may pass before a site that is vacant appears on the web site. Also, the camp maintains approximately 15 sites for walk up only and many of these sites are some of the best in the campground.

Please join us in the area in the spring and we wish you many miles of Happy Trails.






Thursday, September 17, 2009

Belmont State Park, Columbus, KY


Belmont State Park located along the Mississippi River is one of those small jewels we all hope to find. Our goal most weekends is to find these parks that are not crowded, but offer the peace and respite we all seem to seek.



While I love history I am not a Civil War groupie. However, waking up along a Confederate Trench, smelling wood smoke and viewing the great Mississippi propels me back to 1861. I can only imagine fellow southerners waking to a bright morning along the river, smelling the smoke but anticipating the terror of war. Young men do not think they can die, but most did. However, life along the river could be graceful, peaceful and fulfill long awaited dreams of river travel. Mark Twain reveled us with his tales of the Mississippi with Huck Fin. Our experience was a mild adventure during Labor Day Weekend.

Arriving at the campground is a bit mellow. A small drive leads to the park which is really a city street in Belmont. City is a poor description of Belmont. Belmont is comprised of two streets one of which leads to this park. We had to stop an oncoming truck to verify we were entering the park. Rest assured, signs exist but you feel as though you are entering a Civil War cemetery, which you are!

The park is comprised of one circle around a bathhouse, bordered by Confederate Trenches and the Mississippi River. Wonders lie ahead. The sites are large, spacious and if you are lucky, you will back up to the bluff over looking the river. You can imagine confederates soldiers building camp fires, looking over the river. Their ghosts seem to drift along the banks during the early morning and late day sunlight. As you walk along the trenches it is easy to imagine the work of construction and death flowing along the trenches during the battle.

I watch children play, dogs walked and hawks fly over these trenches knowing the lives lost in battles fought along these banks. However, these soft light periods permit reflection, the ghosts drift away and your heart will soar with the eagles.

Take advantage of the museum, visit the park with the cannons, anchor chain and history of the battle. I can feel the excitement . Walk these short trails, feel the history and enjoy the folks that help you along this trail. HAPPY TRAILS!