Thursday, April 22, 2010

Home Sweet Home

It really seems great being home. We had a wonderful journey for the last 6 months, but for me especially, I was very anxious to get home and see our family here. I'm also just enjoying our home. The first day, I walked from room to room just to take it all in. I guess that's because I've been living in such a small space that this place seems huge to me. Our home isn't large, it's rather small, but after being in our RV for so long, it seems huge to me.

We now have our 5th wheel in the driveway, and it just fits with no room for our vehicles. We are allowed to have it here for a few days until we get it unloaded, then we move it to a lot here to store it. Unfortunately, Al twisted his knee on our trip home and has been unable to do much since we arrived home. We have lots to do right now, but he can't do too much. I have been bringing things in from the camper little by little, doing laundry and grocery shopping. Our yard is full of pine needles and leaves which normally he would have taken care of by now. It's very frustrating to him as he likes to do these things himself. Hopefully this weekend some of our family will be coming and I'm sure will pitch in and help. As much as I hate yard work, I'll probably get out with the rake too.

I'm not sure how much posting on the blog I will do now that we are home. Unless something interesting is happening, I may take a little break. I hope you will check from time to time as I still plan to continue blogging, just not as often.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Visit to Family in Virginia

Aunt Teen seated in front. Liz, Cindy, me, and Ruth Getting ready for our delicious turkey dinner at Cindy's House

We had a great weekend. We decided to stop in Roanoke to see my Aunt Ernestine who I affectionately call Aunt Teen. She is now 86 years young and still holds her own in a conversation. She is a wonderful person in so many ways that it is difficult for me to put into words what she means to me. Nine years ago, my mother, suffering from Dementia and on Kidney Dialysis, needed someone to look after her. My father had Prostate Cancer and was in and out of the hospital. We knew that both of my parents were not going to be with us much longer. I lived an hour away and had just started a new position at work. My sister lived closer, but also worked part time and had a teenager at home as well. We both were managing as best we could to deal with all the issues, taking turns going back and forth and many times spending the night there. When my aunt found out the situation, she insisted on coming and staying with them. She was a godsend and we were so appreciative of her help. She was not young and she had the appearance of being frail, but this wonderful lady really rose to the occasion. She did everything she could to make our situation so much better than we could have ever hoped for. She cooked, cleaned and basically ran their household. She was a wonderful friend to both my parents and her presence made their situation so much easier on both of them. She stayed there for over 2 months, and I don't remember ever hearing her complain about anything. You see, my Aunt Teen is not only a Christian, but she practices her faith on a daily basis, and in all facets of her life. This was not the first time she stepped in to help someone in a similar situation. This has been a way of life for her. Well, I could just go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

I was also excited to see her daughters (my cousins), Ruth, Liz and Cindy. They all live close by to their mother, and as she is now getting up in years this is a blessing to her. She has a really nice little apartment in daughter Liz and son-in-law, Blake's home. Blake and Liz have only been married for 8 years and this is the first time I met him. I am so happy Liz found such a great guy and if you ask me, he's pretty lucky as well.

Friday night we went to Cindy's house. Cindy cooked a delicious Turkey dinner and we had a nice visit with Aunt Teen, Cindy and Ruth. On Saturday we visited Liz at her home for a while and then we all went over to Ruth's to see her new apartment. Ruth just moved to Virginia a couple years ago from NYC and was excited to show us what a great apartment she had for a fraction of what she would have paid in NY. It is amazing to me how much less housing is in different parts of the country, especially compared to NYC. Later in the evening we went out to dinner at Olive Garden with Liz and Blake and Blake's kids as well as Aunt Teen and Ruth. Cindy's daughter and family rolled in on Saturday evening from NY State, so she stayed home and cooked for them.

Now we are headed home. We are staying tonight near Allentown, PA and it will be a five hour drive to get home tomorrow. We are really looking forward to being home again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Traveling on the Natchez Trace

At one time the Natchez Trace was just a wilderness road. Traders traveled this route as it was the most direct route from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. It was the most heavily traveled road in the old Southwest. A clear path was beaten down over the years and by 1810 many improvements were made to the road. Many Inns were built along the Trace. The Natchez Trace we now know and love, runs parallel to the old Trace. It was started in the late 1930's and is a very peaceful and scenic drive. No commercial vehicles are alowed on this parkway, but RV's are allowed.

This is what the road looks like. Even though it's not a divided highway, there isn't a lot of traffic and you are only supposed to go 50mph. It was a very peaceful drive. I just love some of the overhead bridges. There were several like this one.

If you click on this one, you will see the mile post number. Every mile there is one. See the 50 mph sign. Some people passed us because we tried to drive the speed limit, but most people did obey the law on this road. Also, see the wildflowers along side of road.

Wildflowers aren't as great as in Texas, but it's early yet!

Pretty view here of lake!

This is a scenic pull-off area. There are many pull-offs along the route and most can accomodate our RV with no problem.

Dogwoods were in full bloom!

Redbuds too!

We stopped for the night at Meriwether Lewis Campground. Owned by the National Park Service. It is one of three campgrounds on the parkway. It is free to stay here. We have a nice drive-thru site, a picnic table and a grill here. No electric, but water is available. We are depending on our Solar for tonight. So, far it's running great! This is a very peaceful setting.

Tomorrow we will be headed to Knoxville, TN for a couple of days and then to Roanoke to see family on Friday for the weekend and hope to be home by next Monday or Tuesday.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Natchez, Mississippi

Our campsite at Natchez State Park
The Melrose Mansion

These buildings were the slave quarters

A typical room in the slave quarters. There is a bed in this room also.

Now we are on to the Grand Indian Village. This sign tells how the houses were built of mud and pole construction with grass roofs.

Here is a replica of one of these homes

This sign explains the Indian Mound which the houses were built on.

The Great Sun's Mound

Another Mound in the distance

We arrived in Natchez, MS yesterday afternoon and will be leaving here on Sunday. We are staying at the Natchez State Park, just one mile off the Natchez State Parkway at mile marker 8. We plan to continue our trip on the Parkway on Sunday, but needed a couple of days to relax and unwind. I will be doing a separate post on the Parkway as we travel along it over the next few days.

We decided to check out a couple of historical places in the area. First we went to Melrose, a cotton kingdom estate once owned by John McMurran and now owned by the National Park Service. Mr. McMurran had the estate's mansion and outbuildings constructed by a combination of free and slave labor. Melrose was considered by many to be the finest home in all the Natchez region. The slave houses are located behind the main house and of course we not nearly as elaborate.

We also visited the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians which has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. Between 1682 and 1729 the Grand Village was the center of activities for the Natchez Indians. There is historical and archaelogical evidence that this Indian Mound site is the actual place where the Grand Village was located.

There is lots more to visit in Natchez. We will definately revisit this place in the future. When you only have 1 day, it is difficult to take everything in.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This and That & Heading North

Love these bikes to tour the area. Some of them carry more than just two people.
Several of these Gazebo's throughout the shore area

Sunbather's enjoying the beautiful day on the beach

Kids skateboarding in a nearby park

Lots of places to sit and relax and enjoy the water

This is the restaurant in Port Aransas where we had lunch the other day with Wayne and Julie. The place didn't look to inviting, but the food was wonderful.

I think Julie is checking out the place and wondering if we should go in or not!

We went to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge one day and sadly after spending a few hours here, we only saw a snake and a deer. We did, of course see some birds far away. We have seen more wildlife right at Goose Island. We could have seen the alligators but we weren't that interested since we had seen some at Brazzo's Bend last month. We were very dissapointed.

This peacock belongs to someone who lives on Goose Island. We are always driving by and seeing it out in the yard. We didn't get to see him with his feathers displayed, but I think he looks beautiful anyway.

Tomorrow we leave here and are hoping to be on the road by early afternoon. First we are going to a place in Corpus Christi to get tires for our 5th Wheel. Al noticed some excessive wear on one of the back tires and feels there is a possibility that we may need to find out the reason before putting on new tires. So we made an appointment with a garage that specialized in Trucks, trailers, buses, etc. They also sell tires, so we hope to get 4 new ones for our trip home. It's always best to be careful when it comes to safety issues.

We've been having a good time here. We toured around some and checked out areas we hadn't been to when we were last here. We rode along the shoreline in Corpus Christi one day. Lots of people were out enjoying the beautiful weather. We went out to lunch one day with Wayne and Julie and out to dinner with them tonight. Of course, Al needed to go to Dairy Queen for dessert afterwards, and no one seemed to object. We always have so much fun with this couple, that we sure are going to miss them. We said our goodbyes tonight, because we will be leaving here early in the morning.
We will be taking our time going home and plan to stop in Roanoke, VA to see family there. We plan to make a few other stops on our way home as well. Now that we are heading toward home, I am getting pretty anxious to get there and see everyone we have missed for the last several months. Of course, the grandchildren are on the top of that list, and especially one we haven't even met yet. And I miss our place there, so going home is a really good thing!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wildflowers of Rockport Cemetery

We are back at Goose Island near Rockport, TX for about a week before we start our trek toward home. My friend, Julie had mentioned in an e-mail to me about the pictures she took of wildflowers at the local cemetery here. Then another friend, Helen had posted some pictures of them on her blog, so I just had to go see for myself and take my own pictures. We were headed out for Pizza with Wayne and Julie, so we all decided to stop there on the way.

Every year during the wildflower season, the cemetery here doesn't get mowed until the flowers are gone. People come from all over to see the spectacular site. It is so beautiful as the whole place is just covered with flowers and the headstones are just peaking through.
Of course, the blue bonnets are also in bloom (blue bonnets are the state flower). We saw lots of pretty wildflowers on the highways as well on our way here from San Angelo. As most of you know, Lady Bird Johnson was largely responsible for all the beautiful wildflowers grown on medians and along highways throughout our country.