Thursday, May 31, 2012


Today started much as every day does, exercises and stretching to keep us in shape.
stretching feels so good

the kiss

Dave reminded me that last night's campground, Lakeside RV Park and Marina was just a stones throw from Talladaga Speedway.  Had we stayed more than overnight we probably would have taken a tour of the track.  As we passed by on the highway, we were surprised to see that it  sits out in the middle of acres of flat ground, it looks huge!

On our way to Memphis, we drove west through Birmingham, Alabama, then north west on route 78 through Tupelo, Mississippi (Elvis' birthplace) and on north  through Memphis, across the Mississippi to our destination for the next two nights, Tom Sawyer's Campground, on the shores of the mighty Mississippi river in West Memphis, Arkansas.

I'm always amazed at how the topography changes as we drive across the country.  A few days ago we followed I-75 through an area that was so populated with billboards that it triggered a terrible headache.
Being the compulsive sign reader that I am, I absolutely couldn't keep up and not reading them was not an option....I was on overload.  I think I cut my teeth on Burma Shave road signs with my mom and dad, remember Judi?
At any rate, this days drive  between Birmingham and Tupelo  took us through exactly the opposite surroundings.  Not a sign, a fuel station, restaurant, house, barn, rest stop, nothing as far as I could see. Miles and miles of forested hills, some being logged, some not.  I guess it might be expected driving through Texas, but it surprised me here.

As we approached Memphis, the sky started changing...I got out the weather radio and listened for alerts.  Just severe thunderstorms were forecast, so we drove on.  The last time we were in Memphis, a tornado went through, not far from where we were camped - deja vous?
Uh Oh
The sky opened and it poured the rest of the trip to the campground, but we just took it slow and finally arrived as the rain tapered off.

Up over the levee and down a narrow, heavily forested road.  Through these gates and into a wide, flat area right next to the Mississippi River.   How cool is this!

The campground is quite large, but sectioned off into a number of smaller areas.  We got an end site in one of the more empty sections overlooking the river.  Perfect.  I'll take more pictures tomorrow when the weather is nicer.

Barges are working the river right in front of us.  We can hardly keep our eyes off the swiftly moving waterway.  We'll stay over another night, Dave thinks this is a good place to spend his birthday.   The sky started looking bad again, and pretty soon the storm returned.  Tomorrow is another day to explore this interesting place.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bye Bye Georgia, Good afternoon Alabama

We left the State Park this morning around 10 a.m. on our way to Cropwell, Alabama, our next overnight stop.  As we drove away,  I couldn't help but think about our time in Cordele and my impressions of the area.

 We really enjoyed this park, especially after the Memorial Day weekend folks went on home.  It was beautiful, quiet and very relaxing for all of us, but  it seemed an oasis in a very depressed agricultural area.  We drove past large fields of watermelon and peanuts, through groves of pecans and peaches.   Beautiful, rich land, but never really saw any evidence of the owner's of this land.  As we drove around Lake Blackshear we saw lovely, comfortable homes, perhaps summer residences of people living up in Macon or even Atlanta.  But elsewhere we only saw abject, rural poverty.  Every other storefront was filled with Pawn Shops offering Title Pawn.  Perhaps I'm naive, but I don't know of anywhere back home that offers this service, is it really so common to pawn the title of your car or truck?  Here is most certainly is.

There was an image that I couldn't get out of my mind.  It spoke to me as a sign of the times in Cordele.
A old gas station at an intersection, gone out of business.  It appeared to have been taken over and re-furbished into a restaurant, that had then gone out of business itself.  Now it stood empty, falling down, gas pumps stripped and rusted.  A hand lettered sign at the street read " 6 pair of socks, $4 dollars." ...a group of very thin black men sat listlessly under the shade of the building and between the defunct pumps, drooping heads in hands, waiting for some business....

Again, I am thankful for all that I have.

We arrived at Lakeshore Landing RV Resort and Marina around 4 this afternoon.  I found out that we were now in the Central Time Zone, so it was really just 3 - Cool, a bonus hour.  This campground is on the shore of Lake Logan Martin and is quite large, but mid- week, fairly empty.  The majority of sites filled held seasonal campers, so we drove around to find as private a spot as we could.

Dave is so talented in putting Beluga exactly where I want it, even if it isn't where we should I wanted him to park in the site, backwards so I could have the lake view  instead of looking out at a very overloaded dumpster.
After a bit of thinking, in we went and now I have this beautiful sight right through the windshield.  I know we'll only be here until the morning, but my surroundings are important to me and Dave never disappoints!

Just so you don't think I'm too spoiled, I took a shot of our view in the other direction.  Just past this group of trailers are a few that I didn't want to stand in front of to photograph.  They've been here a long, long time.  One has a pickup truck out front with no plates on it and is currently being used as a garbage bin....hmmm

This lake, I understand, is quite famous for its bass population and as we sat eating dinner tonight, 15 or so bass boats idled in front of us, waiting for the bell to start their fishing tournament.  All at once, they  took off  in every direction, shooting huge white rooster tails in the air.  I wasn't fast enough to capture it, sorry.

Tomorrow morning we head toward Memphis, Tennessee and I-40 to begin our turn west.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cooking in Georgia

Today started out to be a lazy day, but ended up just zooming by.  We slept until we woke up (how fun is that!) then followed our usual morning routine, dog walks, tea, breakfast, emails, etc.   Since we're pulling up stakes tomorrow morning I decided to do some cooking to fill the refrig. with a few decent meals for the coming road days.  We're usually tired by the end of a days drive and the anticipation of a good dinner is what we need to push through the last few hours.

We used the crockpot to cook the ingredients for chicken pot pie (puff pastry to finish it off), cut up and stored the fresh peaches and melon we bought at a roadside stand, prepped things for Ham Tetrazzini, and made enough chocolate cream tarts for the next few days.
Dave is fast becoming Sue's sous chef

Erin, notice the apron?  I wouldn't let him use my beautiful Christmas gift, so he was relegated to  the "man" apron.....

still life

After meals were prepared, cleaned up,  put away and I took care of a bit of annoying  internet bills issues,  we turned our attention to possible routes for the next few days.

The plan is to drive on I-75 north to Atlanta, then take I-20 west to Birmingham, Alabama.  We'll probably stay overnight in that vicinity and then head north on  78 towards Memphis, Tenn.  From there its I-40 all the way to Albuquerque.  Memphis is the first place we ever encountered a serious tornado warning and I remember how nervous we were, watching the black sky move toward us.  The memory is still fresh.
we use lots of books and internet sites to help us decide the best  path to follow and places to stop.

As always, we keep an eye to the sky (and radar) to try and stay as safe as we can while still moving in the right direction...
These dogs are so wonderful, they're ready to do whatever we need them to do.   Today it was just hanging out and not bugging us.  Good dogs.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Weather Update - we saw clouds build, intermittent rain and sun but no bad weather from Miss Beryl.  I think we are just a tiny bit north of the path of the storm and our fingers are crossed for tonight and tomorrow.  I think we've dodged another bullet!

Just as I thought, the campground completely emptied out today.  We have this loop all to ourselves, and you know how I feel about being alone.

We took the dogs for a good walk around the deserted campground and then set off the explore the state park and then the surrounding areas.

There is a lovely resort/conference center/retreat here on the lake.  We enjoyed walking around the grounds and the lake and made reservations for dinner later tonight.

Here comes Beryl

building clouds over the resort at lake blackshear

We didn't go in to the Veteran's Museum, but did walk around the outdoor display area.  Various tanks, helicopters and planes were posed for view.

B-29 Super fortress standing mutely in the static display
the expression on its "face" tells me what it has seen

a more peaceful use for a propeller

These pictures are for your,  Uncle Mikey.  The huge RC field just behind the outdoor static displays.

We heard that Cordele was the watermelon capitol of the world, so we set off to see for ourselves.
For some reason, the pictures I took of the fields full of watermelons and people picking them will not load.   I've been trying for way too long, so you'll just have to take my word for it - Cordele is the watermelon capitol of the world.

We also drove past many beautiful groves of mature pecan trees.

Other than the evidence of these two agricultural products, this area looks very depressed, and seems to have been for a long time.

Main Street, Cordele, Georgia

Plains, Georgia is a very short ride from Cordele and I'm sure is much the same kind of place, yet it produced a President.  Only in America could such a dream come true for a young boy...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day

First order of business - We want to thank our two Mikes, Uncle Norm, Justin Huegel and all other veterans, we talked about you and thought about you today.   Happy Memorial Day.

Second order of business - For the record, Dave did not use Lewis's clippers on his own hair.  He has a human  one all for himself.....

I wish I had my camera ready this morning as we left Orange Lake (Grand Lake RV Resort).   We drove out the long, tree lined road past a lovely green field.   I watched a young, bright chestnut colt on high alert - tail straight in the air, up on his toes, prancing and snorting.  What hideous monster was lurking in his pasture.....Oh, just a tractor carrying brush to the burn pile.   Ah youth.

Our destination tonight is the Georgia Veteran's Memorial State Park in Cordele, Georgia.  It is north east of Albany, Georgia, just off I-75.  A fellow camper in North Carolina told us about this place, its on a lake and includes a golf course, frisbie golf course,  model airplane field, museum and excursion train.  Since it was in the right direction for us, we decided to give it a try.

Some of you have asked where the dogs ride while we're going down the road....variations of the picture below.  Neither of them move far from us, ever.  We like it that way.

 We arrived around 2:30 this afternoon, after about a 4 hour trip.  It was a windy, but sunny drive and we were glad to get here without meeting any bad weather from Beryl.   It was 95 when we pulled in, and quite buggy, but  I think we left Florida just in time, doesn't sound good there.  We'll probably see stormy weather for the next day or two, but now that we're here, let it rain!

The sites at this State Park are reserveable, but selection is first come, first served.  There are 77 sites and we had a reservation for tonight, but this is a holiday weekend so we had to drive around the entire campground to find the ONE site that was empty and ready for us.  It turned out to be a nice one, but looking took quite awhile and we didn't get settled until 4:30 or so.  There will be many sites available tomorrow though, the place seems to empty out almost completely then.  We might see if there are any good ones on the lake, if so, we'll move there for the next two days.

Site # 54
view out the front of Beluga

Our plans from here on out are soft, weather (tornado) dependent.  Right now, the "plan" is to get to I-40 in Memphis, Tenn. and take it all the way through the panhandle of Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We have friends there we'd like to see and then north to Santa Fe and Taos.     How we get to Memphis is still in discussion.  It makes sense to "cut cross lots" as the crow flys, but will the roads be sufficient for a vehicle Beluga's size, towing our jeep?  I bought a Trucker's Atlas today in an effort to check out the suitability of some of the smaller roads so we'll be talking about these things in the coming days.   I'll try to keep you posted.

I (we) sure would like to hear from you all, to know what is happening in your lives while we're gone.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beluga, the beauty salon

Before I write anything tonight, I want to send  best wishes and love to our special friend, TGB on his birthday.
Wish we were there to celebrate with you.

Is today THE day?
Yes, today was the day....the day to finally clip Lewis for the first time all on our own.  We'd been putting it off, but we knew we just needed to stop talking about it and making excuses why we couldn't do it..... and do it.

We set up the table (a left over Creative Playthings table from Papago days) outside in the shade and trimmed off the majority of his mop before it got so hot I almost passed out.  Don't feel sorry for me, though,  Dave was doing the work.  I held ears out of the way, lifted up feet, positioned poor Lew and most importantly, gave advice, but Dave did the actual clipping.

After the main body work was done, Lewis and I went into Beluga to make lunch an cool off a bit.  Dave decided that before he cleaned up the patio he'd give himself a trim too!

left over hair trimmings, can you guess who produced the blue pail full?

After lunch, we put poor Lewis up on the bed and went at him again, this time working on his face, legs and head.  He's such a trooper, but I guess he's been through this a few times before!.  He is such a wonderful, patient boy.  I don't know what we did to deserve him, but we're so glad he came to live with us.....

You can open your eyes now Lewis, you're all done!

After dinner we took a short drive around the resort.  It was getting late and we leave in the morning.  We wanted to see the "lake".

the docks at the edge of what was once the lake!  Now its just a sea of greenery.

We parked near the "marina" and when we got out to take a picture, we heard loud, unfamiliar screeching in the trees.  Walking around slowly, looking up, we saw that the trees were filled with raptors of some sort.  Were they looking for the lake too?  Did they just arrive from the north expecting fertile fishing grounds?

Robin, do you know what kind of hawks these are?

The end to another busy day.  We were sure today would be a lazy one, just right for reading and napping, boy were we wrong.  I'm sure we'll all be sleeping before our heads hit the pillows.

Friday, May 25, 2012

From feast to famine

It was hard to leave this morning.  We'll miss the dazzlling white sand beaches, the seemingly underlit aquamarine water, the graceful palms, the world class restaurants and the hot days/warm nights we've enjoyed in south Florida.

Things looked different at night.

We had an easy morning and drove away from Holiday Cove around 11 a.m.   Grand Lake RV and Golf Resort was our next destination in the small town of Orange Lake, just north of Ocala.   Town is a bit of a misnomer, Orange Lake is just a point on the map.  We are in the middle of horse and cattle country surrounded by huge fields dotted with old Live Oak trees.  Actually, Orange Lake is also a misnomer, since a sink hole opened up in the middle of the lake and the water drained away rather dramatically.   No matter, this is a nice, quiet place to spend a few days.  Lots of space for the dogs to run, if it wasn't so very very hot.  We took them out for a walk this evening, Dave and Sasha were chased back by a noisy pair of  Sandhill cranes when they wandered too close to the pair's chosen territory.

Nothing to do here, nothing - especially compared with our busy time down south.  We think this is OK, sitting still reading and catching up sounds pretty good right now. Also, we still have Lewis's shaggy coat to deal with.....

We'll be here until Sunday morning and then head north again to our next destination, Georgia Veteran's Memorial State Park.