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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Heart of Suwannee

You just never know what lies down the road.  Today was one of the hardest driving days of my two year RV career.   Due to the lovely Atlanta congestion, traffic and speed I am quite tired this evening.  Trying to locate a suitable landing spot for this evening proved to be difficult.  I did not want to land in a Wal Mart parking lot (if they will let you stay) nor did I want to push all the way to Tampa. 

Having my trusty traveling Dog who has no computer skills, I relied upon the ultimate "tech", Lady Denise.  Having landed in a KOA last evening, she searched for another KOA along I-75.  Alas, few are found in this part of Florida.  One was located but after my call I felt like it was another old facility owned by those of foreign lands.  Lady Denise forged ahead and make numerous calls on my behalf but pickins were slim. 

Therefore, I resorted to another high tech method of discovery, the highway billboards dotting the Florida landscape.  Who would have thunk it.  Just when I was deciding to push to Lazy Days in Tampa, an additional 200 miles, a large sign loomed ahead.  In grand , red letter, RV Resort jumped out.  Advertised as one of the newest and best resorts in the Gateway to Florida I called the 800 number.  Exit NOW as I approached exit 451. Nothing ventured, right.

Well exit 451 lead to Highway 129 south/north.  Another call to the fine lady manager at RV resort.  She gave me directions and I was fortunately near the facility.  I may have gathered an inkling of concern when she said turn by the casino and travel one mile down the road, following signs.   OK!

Now I am not too picky when confronted with a necessity.  That being a stop over for some rest.  However, I turned by the big casino to an asphalt road only to be confronted by a sand and dirt road.   Sure enough the sign indicated RV resort ahead.  Now all I could view was the dirt road with water standing along the shoulders as far as the eye could see.  A prudent decision to stop and call was made.  Of course the same "friendly" lady answered.  I asked if a 32,000 lb motorhome could manage this dirt road and she put me on hold.  Oooops.  Upon returning she indicated that would be ok and follow signs to the RV resort.  I looked at Bella, she looked at me and we crossed fingers and paws, proceeding into the abis. 


An oasis appeared before us.  Here lay a modern RV resort with all amenities, including Direct TV to all sites with receivers if you do not have such.  The office is first class and the pool was being filled.  LUCY I'M HOME!.  What a surprise and respite.  It seems, after my inquiry, that the RV resort is two years old and still under development.   The resort is to be part of a large retirement community being developed over the next 10 years.  However, the view along the highway just past the casino (another story) reminded me of Interior, South Dakota population 45.  I do not have the foggiest where the developers anticipate the adult investors will appear or why, but I am very glad I ventured down that dirt road.

Enough said about my Gateway adventure. Tomorrow on to Lazy Days and walk through the new coach. We are excited.  Hopefully no dirt roads in the Phaeton future.

Happy trails,

Barry & Denise

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Final Voyage of the Admiral

ALAS, the final voyage of the Admiral begins with a decommissioning.  We must remove most personal items from the decks and salon for the docking of the Admiral in Tampa.  The Admiral is being replaced by a major upgrade, a Phaeton.  No, not the Phaeton of the Opera, the Phaeton of the Tiffin Motorhome line.

Parting is such a sweet sorrow.  The Admiral introduced us to the world of RV travel.  This opened our short sighted eyes to a wonderful experience that never has to end.  Just as the pioneers traveled west in search of a new life, these travelers have found a new chapter in our lives.  All in thanks to the Admiral.  While we have sprung a few "leaks" along the journey, the Admiral has performed well and will give the new owners many adventures.  We can only hope they have the same experience as this Crew.

Preparing to depart Kentucky for a quick trip to Lazy Days in Tampa first requires some decommissioning by removal of items not needed on this trip.  The memories fly around our heads, remembering when we purchased this and that and to what extent did we utilize the items.  Dogs slept in the lounger, with me, and hide from the sun under the hammock.  It is difficult to unload in the snow, but warmer days are ahead.  I must make this last journey of the Admiral alone for the Lovely Wife, Lady Denise, has a real job and must attend to her duties.  However, she will sacrifice and make the arduous journey via Southwest Airlines to join me in Tampa for our maiden and shakedown cruise aboard the Phaeton.  It seems no sacrifice is to great the the Lady.

Cartersville, GA:
Currently lounging in Cartersville at the KOA.  Bella and I drove 7 hours today in the rain and traffic.  Bella did well.  However, she would not drive a mile.  We found the KOA comfortable and affordable.  Seems we had some "points" and are stying here for $7/night with full hook up, even cable. Sure beats WalMart.  I did check with the Wal mart in Forsyth, GA and we would have been well accepted.  However, this was south of Atlanta and the later hour with rush hour traffic did not entice me to continue south. 

Had a bit of surprise when turning on the heat, LP that is.  Seems my full tank as of yesterday would not provide heat.  However, my extensive experience indicated the valve on the tank remained CLOSED.  So relying on my extensive repair talents, I opened the tank and now we are toasty. 

We proceed in the AM for somewhere south of Atlanta, after rush hour of course.  We are worried about the new Phaeton, rough weather with hail and wind is hitting Tampa now and I hope our new Phaeton is protected.  We do not want to start over again in the hunt.   
This is our Dream Rig.  43 ft. with all amenities.  We could live here and hopefully will.  I am sure we may bore all readers with the new rig, but please be patient.

The final voyage of our loved Admiral continues tomorrow and remainder of the week.  We will have mixed feelings upon handing over the keys but we will recover. 

Happy Trails,

Barry & Denise

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our American Soldier

I write this morning with some feelings of melancholy.  In my gaining years I seem to have more confrontations with my military past.  As a young man, 19 yrs old I faced the draft.  The original draft, not some lottery etc. WOW, what a sobering moment.  I remember the cold feeling when I opened the "Greetings" letter.  That moment became a four year part of my history and in many ways changed this young man's life.  Please do not fret, this article is not about my war or any problems associated with the Vietnam experience.

Our son just returned from his first six months stationed in South Korea.  As he entered the Army we were more than proud of his decisions.  I did my best to encourage the Navy, but he has a good head and made his decision.  I realized his decision was probably more difficult than my draft notice.  I did not have a choice while he was volunteering for service.     So off to the Army he goes. 

At basis graduation and later Calvary Scout Graduation, we saw an emerging man.  Gone were the soft parts from sleeping most of the day and working/playing till dawn.  Here was a man with the spirit, determination and respect not shown by many of his age.  However, the boy was still there in humor and feelings for others.  It seemed just moments had passed, he had excelled past many of his class who were drifting about with no goals or challenges.  He stood a young Soldier on the edge of his military service, who volunteered for this and has not complained.

During the first portion of his tour in S. Korea we had the joy of phone calls, emails, Facebook  and Skype contact with our Soldier. We can thank technology for the advances but much of the thanks goes to our Soldier who takes the time to call home, talk to his Mom and family.  This young Soldier does NOT call home to ask for money, a place to sleep, pay his phone bill, gas etc.  This young man is making his way while in a foreign country on the opposite side of this earth.

I am inspired to write this article in a new reality of respect for this Soldier but also the lack of respect for those of this age and community who sit by idly as if waiting for something to happen.  Grabbing the tail of life and riding it to the last burst of energy seems a better life than being swept along like a dry leaf in the fall winds.  This young Soldier is kicking the leaves, forging his way in life.

I sit writing this piece looking at photos of Sailor Bradley, Denise's young Father in his navy uniform serving aboard ship.  My father is displayed nearby as Sgt. Young, combat medic, WWII, having won several medals of valor, my adopted Uncle Wayne an Army Cook in Battle of the Bulge, standing alongside his young wife and my parents.  The men are gaunt after returning from Europe with over 3 years of combat.   They are proudly opening their first business in 1953.  There are many stories to tell about these men and women.

We will say goodbye to our Soldier in a few days for he like all good soldiers, returns to his duty in S. Korea.  He is blowing through this short time at home, once again past his "friends", enjoying his leave but knowing a return to duty awaits.  I am reminded that time at home is brief when serving in a foreign land.  A return to our house with the additional noise, chatter, comings and goings, barking dogs at the new person in the house is not a burden.  It seems to encourage this step father that a Son has returned home, continuing to grow into that man I and We respect.  Our Soldier commented on the many strangers who shook his hand and thanked him for serving his country as he flew home.  That is as it should be!  He seems a bit shy about this as he has not served in a war zone, yet.  But he serving all the same.  We are not forgetting our service men and women of his generation. 

Thanks to all who are and have served.  I hope to shake your hand and say "thank you". 

signed,  "An Old Vet"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day-5 Lonely Man Chronicles

I am in the midst of my last night as the Lonely Man.  I write this last article knowing the reading public may be over joyed with the realization that the boring, whining articles will end.  Of course, no warranty is made with respect to when the man will return to the subject.  Hopefully, readers will be spared. 

I find preparation is warranted for the return of Lady Denise.  The poparratzi have started arriving creating some wonder among the "mayors" of Homewood.  I fear the added exposure may have an unsettling affect of my Girls.  Bailey continues to bark and howl and Bella is running around crying while holding her "duckie".  Maybe the polar magnetic field move.  I do have yellow tape along the lot border in order to control the welcome home crowd.  After all, yellow tape seems to keep everyone out of a crime scene.

Now the interior of the castle is in need of some housekeeping.  Batching with the girls resulted in a lax attitude as relates to housekeeping.  Now that our fair Marion has retired, the maid has become the Lonely Man.  Believe me, I do not look good in that french maid uniform.  Therefore, the Lonely Man has embarked on policing the interior of the ship.  I tend to specialize in the kitchen duties, but the bathroom detail required more dedication than I anticipated.  Man the buckets, highly toxic chemicals, and rubber gloves.  D-day has begun.

Now a home with over 2,000 Sf of hardwood and free ranging dogs required some maintenance.  I do not have enough hair to claim the fallout I am witnessing.  Lady Denise would be appalled.  The hair ball bonefire in the back yard may derail the latest CSX train.  I have at my disposal 3 vacuums, 3 swifter brooms, cans of Lysol, swifter pads, room freshers and buckets of hot water.  If I only knew what to do with this.  I bet this wood is treated and water proof.  Reckon "maids R us" will be open on Saturday. 

After this difficult period the Lonely Man has survived.  Those long hours at 3am taking the small dog out, eating cereal, watching old movies and trying to return to sleep are over.  I have not learned to enjoy the "ME TIME".  I owe much of my survival to the ciber friends on Facebook, blog readers and a few glasses of wine.  I apologize for the long rambling articles but the venting may have relieved some of the stress of being the Lonely Man.  Super hero status is difficult to attain. 

I promise I will enter this space often to provide travel details, interesting characters we meet and life experiences. 

"Enjoy Life, there is plenty of time to be dead."

Lonely Man. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day-4 Lonely Man Chronicles


Day 4 dawned at 5:30 am for a trip to the Nashville Airport.  Nurse Young must make her way returning to frozen Boston.  Like most Fathers, I have enjoyed visiting with Daughter.  But always remember, "even family smells like fish after three days".  The latest report was she was stranded in Washington, DC  with an over booked flight to Boston.  Air travel is wonderful these days. 

The test of the Lonely Man is this evening.  All that remains in the castle is the Lonely Man and his Girls.  Of course I begin this piece early, lounging with the Girls, small glass of vino and watching Alaska Wilderness shows.  You know, people killing and eating goats, bear, fish etc.  But they do have some company. 

Whine, whine and whine.  I did talk to Lady Denise brifely today.  Lady and Mother Superior have arrived in Jamaica at last.  Unfortunately, not all luggage arrived limiting medications etc.  Off to the island.  The Lady inidicated she had experienced sea sickness, yuck.  Only 3,000 passengers and the Lady is hanging over the side.  Watch out below the veranda. Hopefully this does not limit dancing the salza at the disco.  I suggested she call the Vet but cautioned about the thermometers.  I understand they have much "wildlife" on the ship. We wish a better day for Lady Denise with more rum drinks, breakfast on the veranda, wind in her face and sun over her shoulder.

As the evening of Day-4 ends, I am considering the hot tub for a good soak.  I bet the heart monitor would roar.  Maybe the monitoring company will call to make sure I am not in need of 911.  You can imagine my response, "well, the water temp is 104 deg. dogs are lapping at the edge and fishin is good."  I can always wave at the CSX train passing in the night.      You would think the Lonely Man had plenty of company. 

Good Night, Lady Denise, where ever you are,
Lonely Man

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day-3 Lonely Man Chronicles

I write this piece with a bit of disappointment. I have always put much faith and trust in my Girls, Bailey and Bella.  However,  I have learned, much to my dismay, they have been writing on this blog with disparaging remarks about the Lonely Man.  Hurtful is all I can explain my feeling while reading their so called article.  I can only hope their immaturity contributed to the opinions expressed in the article.

Maybe I should explain the current daily activities to give the readers a glance of their activities and the responsibilities of the Lonely Man.  Not that I would fail to give the Girls credit for their love and care of the Lonely Man.  However, at times, like any parent, doubt creeps in. 

Currently, at this moment, the Girls are sleeping on the couch adjacent to the Lonely Man, Bailey is softly snoring.  Their day began at 7 am, waking the Lonely Man, pouncing on his chest, needing food and a trip outside.  Now, bless their hearts, they do not appreciate my dressing, walking them into the frigid cold waiting for a pee.  Their's not mine.  After a trip to Antarctica, I provided a nourishing meal, water and kind praise for the Girls.  Did I get a thank you, NO.  The remainder of their day proceeded with lounging on the couches, chasing each other and providing love to the Lonely Man.  What a day.

Now, the Lonely Man invested his day in the installation of a heart monitor.  Must be like a federal witness wiring up for a secret assignment.  Shaving portions of the chest, installing electrodes and dialing up the monitoring company, issues of the day.  Later, due to the grueling work schedule of the Lonely Man, he traversed the snow drifts, frozen tundra and inspected a Mc Mansion.  You know it is cold when you stick to the garage door as the home is measured. 

Later in the evening Lonely Man provided food, water and another tour of the front yard for the Girls.  Only a loving man would provide such care to the Girls.  After all, they do have fur coats.  Having slaved over a hot stove, and crock pot, the evening meal is prepared awaiting the Nurse Maggie to return.  In the ensuing period, the heart monitor must be connected to the UPPER POWERS for analysis.  It does give one pause when the UPPER POWERS ask you to repeat the transmission and call back to say they are contacting your doctor.  HUM,  wonder why the Dr. has not called???? 

So as the Lonely Man sees this reality, he has risked his life, professional career and cared for the Girls as part of this typical day.   If I had followed my Girls advice I would have hurried to the Animal Hospital for an EKG and an evaluation.  They only have this experience and have faith in their Vet.  Now, I did have a Vet doctor once in my short life.  He could predict certain illness, joint pain and prostate issues.  However, each visit was more difficult due to the chaffing of the mussel and the thermometers tasted funny.  I would not encourage you to try this experience or treatment out on you health insurance carrier.  Anthem did not appreciate the claim. 

At the end of this writing, my Girls continue sleeping at my side, content.  I continue to be the Lonely Man.  My lady Denise is hopefully sipping a rum drink on the veranda of their suite while watching the Atlantic flow past.  I can only hope she will think of me while tripping away the evening in the disco.  So, life for the Lonely Man continues with pressing issues and longing for Lady Denise.  The Lonely Man wishes for rest, recuperation and fun for the Lady Denise and Mother Superior.

Wishing Lady Denise a fun cruise,

" Lonely Man"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 2, Chronicles of a Lonely Man



From the thoughts of Bailey and Bella,

Day 2 dawned with my sister and I waking up the Lonely Man.  Now, this was only 2 hours after he woke us up at 4 am.  We feel he is having difficulty sleeping.  But PLEASE, do not wake us up at 4 am just because he is lonely.  Give us a break.  We miss Lady Denise as well but do not have the seperation anxiety.  

I think Bella is getting really short with Lonely Man.  At bedtime last night she jumped up on the bed, circled the leg pillow and peed all over it.  It was obvious she has reach her limit.  Lonely Man responded quickly but did not commit any pet abuse.  But he had it coming and Bella just sensed this was her way to kick his butt.  However, to make matter worse, she spent the night next to me and she has a habit of hogging the pallet.  

We are a bit worried about Lonely Man not only for his separation problems but his ongoing heart problems.  We continue to be concerned about his current behavior.  We witnessed him wiring himself tonight with something with electric power, beepers, buzzes and many wires.  He did have an unusual look in his eyes.  Watching this Lonely Man shave part of this chest and attach these wires to his chest is just weird.  After all, we chew bones, bark at any movement, chase toys and eat out of bowls, but wires and batteries, not a chance.  911 is available to us but we have not learned to operate the cell phone.  I suppose we can ring the "pee" bell at the front door but not sure who will respond.

Well, Day 2 is nearly over and Lonely Man is looking tired.  We hope Lady Denise is having fun and enjoying the warm climate.  We will fill her in upon her return.  Lonely Man may be in the large kennel at the vet but he will be safe. 

Happy trails to all

Tail Wagging dogs,
Bailey and Bella

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lonely Man Chronicles

Day 1:    

The oneness of the lonely man wandering the vacant habitat must be like the cave man arriving home only to find some hair, bones and no goodbye note.  My first day alone with Lady Denise embarking on a well deserved cruise was just as anticipated.  The first day seems to pass with great speed.  I had my daughter Maggie here and felt a slow morning was possible.  Alas, I had just started by vigilance at the Kangaroo when Maggie called demanding delivery of the auto.  Feels like she is still a teen.

Without transportation I must resign myself to the activities of work, dogs and home.  Now, having just replaced a 61 yr. old knee, walking dogs in sub freezing is just great.  You know the part, where the dogs pull you through the leaves, mud and dog droppings.  Life will never be the same.  I do not crave "me time" very often.    We circumnavigateted the neighborhood trailing dogs and looking for signs left by the fleeing wife.  Dogs discovered some smells but I discounted those for my Lady Denise does not smell.

A was given a reprieve early in the afternoon.  My Lady called needing her Robin Hood to help with lost luggage and medications.  I can only hope my efforts gained the results she requested.  The ship was ready to sail and Lady Denise was throned on the veranda of the suite awaiting the rum drink of the cruise.  Now I call that a sacrifice.  

The first day proceeded slowly.  The Lonely Man worked as much as possible.  Interspersing work with household chores in order to break the silence.  Baily and Bella are not talkative. Like the stranded sailor on a small island, I worked on survival.  One must capture the moments.  Like, collecting trash, walking dogs, programming TV, planning evening meal and returning wrong number calls. 

Evening was spent watching championship football game, again walking Bella and cooking my gourmet pasta dish.  There is something to be said for "me time" but I prefer to share mine.  Only 4 more evenings to go till the Lady Denise returns.  Well, Bailey looks interesting, Bella continues to entertain and Max just sleeps. What more could I want. 

Nite Nite.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

DRIFTING

The new year always brings to mind those areas of interest that may have been over looked in the past year.  However, that does not seem to be a problem with the "Rubber Rats"  It is not that we are so attuned to interests of others, but a bit more selfish with our time.  As one ages, it seems time becomes more important than $$$$.  Not that $$ are not needed. 

In thinking about 2010 and starting some plans for 2011, our thoughts generally turn to travel locations.  As we have been battling some health issues, we hope they are resolved soon and we can work on a solid itinerary for 2011.  Not that we need a fixed plan, but we have found it fun to plan trips for the year.  THEREFORE, TO THE READERS OF OUR BLOG, WE ASK YOU TO SUBMIT COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS FOR WEEKEND TRIPS AND THE LONGER TRIPS WE UNDERTAKE EACH YEAR. 

Our life philosophy has evolved over the years.  We now try to live for today and not tomorrow.  We plan to enjoy all we have available to us NOW!  I suppose that will seem selfish to some.  But we see this attitude reflects a desire to have all the experiences possible in the time available.  Being the "eldest" of this couple this attitude may in part stem from the aging process and realization that we are all mortal.  I learned this in 1969 with a bit of experience in Southeast Asia.  

In recent years we have met so many wonderful friends and characters in our travels.  We are currently in the motorhome for a weekend journey and realize how much we missed this life after two months in dry dock. The Admiral is home again.    We are currently considering trading for a new motorhome, however, the Admiral will always and may continue to be our first vehicle to explore this country. 

Our long range plan is to be "full time" travelers with a small home base.   During the winter months, the travel is a bit more limited.  However, if plans become reality, winter in a warm climate may be possible in not so many years.  Following the sun seems to be a favorite pastime for the vagabonds we meet along the highway.  Of course all the best plans are subject to change.  Work, health, finances, family and all the things life is comprised of fill our everyday.  We just hope to be able to manage the areas we can and work with all the events that one cannot foresee.  

So, please come along with the "Rubber Rats" during the 2011 trip along the byways of this great country. Please post comments in the blog and we ask for traveling suggestions. 

Happy Trails,
Barry & Denise