QUARTZSITE

February 8, 2018

In the last post I told you all about Rayne, Louisiana. ¬†What I didn’t tell you is that Rayne is about a 15 minute ride from Lafayette , Louisiana, where Mardi Gras was already in swing. ¬†During the day we went to a Chili Cook-Off and a Jamie Bergeron and the Cajun Kickers concert.

We met Jamie last time were in Louisiana at Whiskey River. ¬†Actually, we like his music so much, we stayed in Rayne an extra three nights just to hear the band. ¬†After the Chili Cook-Off and Jamie Bergeron, we headed to Lafayette to watch the parade. ¬†Way more beads than New Orleans, but much more family friendly. ¬†So if you want bare skin, boobs, and too much booze, Lafayette may not be what you’re after.

Jazz Musicians…

Chiefs…

Floats…

And Dancers

 

FLY EAGLES FLY

Tim and I were not only able to watch the Superbowl, but partied with 400 other Eagles fans — in Houston, Texas of all places. ¬†How does that happen? ¬†Well, while we were on the road, we figured we’d be in or near Houston for the game. ¬†So we googled ‘where to watch the Super Bowl in Houston?’ Surprisingly, there was a bar called Ladybird‘s¬†where all Eagles fans in Houston converge to watch them play. Hmmmm, strange. ¬†Even stranger, it turns out many people in Houston dislike all things Dallas as much as Eagle fans hate the Dallas Cowboys. ¬†One of the founders of the¬†Houston Eagles Nest,¬†(below are two of the founders)

a Texas native himself, told us it was only natural that they would root for the Eagles.  Weird, huh?  And of course there also are many transplants from Philadelphia in Houston for school or work.  So there we were with hundreds of fans all wearing green and going crazy every time the Eagles did something right.  Trust me, it was a  strange, but crazy good time.

 

Check out this logo!

 

Just a second here – I just noticed my box of Raisinets. ¬†Check out the box…do you see it? ¬†It says this box contains real fruit.¬†Is there such thing as fake raisins??? ¬† I don’t know, I’m just asking.

 

We finally arrived in quirky Quartzsite, Arizona.

When we arrived, we checked into Quail Run RV Park. ( Park review to be available soon under Campsite Pages.)

¬†After being on the road for awhile, we had laundry to do, and as much cleaning as can be done in a 17′ nugget. ¬†Tomorrow we’ll fill and empty (dump, ugh) our tanks and ¬†head for Dome Rock where the fiberglass rally is being held. ¬†I

What in the world do camels have to do with Quartzsite, Arizona you may ask.  This article written by by Sam Lowe in 2009 can explain it much better than I can.

Quartzsite’s Legend of A Camel Driver

“The thing most people notice right away when they enter the Quartzsite Cemetery is a stone pyramid topped by a copper camel, and there‚Äôs quite a story behind its presence. The cairn marks the grave site of a man they called Hi Jolly, who came to this country in the 1860s ¬†from Syria, to act as a camel driver for the U.S. Army during an ill-fated attempt to use the animals as beasts of burden for military purposes in the deserts of the Southwest.

His real name was Hadji Ali, but the soldiers had trouble pronouncing that moniker so they shortened it to Hi Jolly. He served with the Army until the camel experiment was abandoned and the camels were either sold off to private enterprises or turned loose on the desert. One of them became known as the Red Ghost, and allegedly stomped a woman to death, and the Hi Jolly legend says that when he died, he was out in the desert hunting for the renegade animal. Before his death, he bought some of the camels and operated a freight line along the Colorado River but it failed so he turned to prospecting and, like so many others, never got rich at that, either.

He died in an old rock cabin near Quartzsite in 1902, but his memory is preserved every year when Quartzsite stages Hi Jolly Days and Camelmania in his honor.”

 

A BIT OF HUMOR

Thought you might enjoy some quirky Quartzsite humor. This town is all about RVs.  Many, many ( too many? ) retired folks spend the winter here in everything from tiny pop-up campers to mega-monstrosities that cost several million dollars each.  But whether they are large

or small,

they all have to dump (such an ugly word, “dump” ) waste. ¬†That system may break down. But have no fear, the Proctologist is here. ¬†I can’t stress enough the quirkiness of this town.

Check out his gloves and stethoscope – what a hoot !

We checked into the rally today. ¬†It is expected that over 200 fiberglass trailers will be in attendance. ¬†There are no services ¬†at Dome Rock like water, sewer, or electric. ¬†We have a small Honda generator, so we should be fine. ¬†This is BLM ¬†(Bureau of Land Management) property, so there is no fee. That’s pretty sweet for about 3 days, then it gets a bit old, for me at least, but many “snowbirds” stay for the entire winter. ¬†Here is a picture of just a small portion of the campers.

And here we are all set up. ¬†Don’t you just love our “patio”?

OK folks, they’re calling us for the Happy Hour Party – stay tuned…

 

DON’T RAYNE ON MY PARADA

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Y’ all know I don’t post this often, but we took so many pictures in The Frog Capital of the World yesterday, I gave it its own post so you wouldn’t miss out on any of these delightful creatures. I’m fairly certain we’ve all been to a city or town where the sidewalks are festooned with one animal or another, then later auctioned off to raise money. ¬†We saw elk in Elkton, Maryland, and moose in Anchorage, Alaska, among others. ¬†But here in tiny Rayne,Texas, there are¬†¬†over 35 concrete frogs all over town. ¬†And the best part? ¬†Most are painted to look like the employees of the business they are seated in front of. Before I reveal the pics, I want to tell you how the town got it’s nickname.

Obviously, they’ve got a bunch of frogs. But, the story goes that “in the 1880s businessman Jacques Weil and his brothers were in Rayne and were sampling frog legs. They were so impressed by how good they were, they figured it could be a profitable industry.¬†The brothers started selling frog legs to a high end restaurant in New York called Sardi’s, who put the delicacy on the menu as “Frog Legs from Rayne, Louisiana. Frog Capital of the World”. ¬†Rayne took that ball and ran with it, and rightly so. Rayne’s frog legs were so popular they were actually sold in Paris. At that time, if you ate frog legs anywhere in the world, chances were they came from Rayne!”

And now as promised –

WELCOME TO RAYNE

MONSIEUR JACQUES

 

BARBER FROG

CPA FROG – says “Nothing in life is certain but croakin’ and taxes”

DRY CLEANER FROG  (even his eyes are white)

RAYNE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT FROG

MADAME CRAPPEAUX – FLOWER SHOP FROG ¬†–¬†(If you have the time or inclination, google the word “crappeaux”)

RUBYGIFT SHOP FROG

HIGH SCHOOL FROG – “GO WOLVES”

POLICE FROG

FATHER JOE – PRIEST FROG

I’ve saved Father Joe for last because he’s a great segue for the next and last part of this post. ¬†There is one more oddity in Rayne –

WRONG WAY CATHOLIC CEMETERY

Father Joe Frog sits in front of the beautiful St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church. ¬†Next to the church is the St. Joseph’s Cemetery, dubbed “Wrong Way”. ¬†Tim and I were both raised Catholic, but neither of us had ever heard of this tradition. ¬†It is said that when people are buried, the grave must have an east-west orientation. ¬† Why? “Some of the earliest solar based religions buried their dead facing east in order to face the ‚Äúrising sun‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúthe new day‚ÄĚ, as did the pagans.” ¬†The Christian tradition of east-west facing burials “is more firmly rooted in biblical text and the belief that Christ will come from the east at the time of the resurrection, thus the dead would rise up to face him. There are several scriptural references to this. Matthew 24:27¬† For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

Although Christians are traditionally buried facing east, clergy members are generally buried facing west. The belief behind this is that when the dead are risen, clergy will rise facing their congregations, ready to lead once again. (Guess they thought  all kinds of things back in the day). Today, many cemeteries have broken away from this tradition for practical reasons, such as cost,  space and easier layout.  Although not all modern cemeteries follow such traditions, north Рsouth  facing cemeteries do exist and trigger curiosity of people today.

The proof of the pudding…

We’re headed to a Chili Cook-Off and Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin’ Cajuns concert. ¬†And, later today, the “Mardi Gras ‘Parada’ of the Krewe of Carnivale en Rio” Lafayette, Acadia Parish, Louisiana.

Stay tuned..

PAPA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG

February 1, 2018

We made it – we’re finally on the road. ¬†In fact, I’m writing this post from Metarie, Louisiana. ¬†Metarie, pronounced “Metry”, is about 8 miles west of New Orleans. ¬†Our ultimate goal is Quartzite, Arizona, a desert town close to the Nevada border. ¬†It’s famous for rocks, geodes and that kind of thing, but we’re going for our first ever Casita Rally. ¬†It is expected that at least 200 little fiberglass travel trailers will converge in this small town for a fun and fabulous weekend. ¬†We’ve never been to one so we thought, why not?

(This photo compliments of Eggshells in the Outerbanks)

Today’s post is to give you the highlights of just a few of the sights between New Jersey and here. ¬†Keep in mind that this is our second go-round, so if you have some free time, you may want to check-out the post from the beginning.

I want to give props to Pomona RV Park & Campground (ūüĎŹūüŹĽ ūüĎŹūüŹĽ ūüĎŹūüŹĽ). We had to flush all the winterizing fluids out of the Casita and fill it with fresh water, and certainly not in our driveway. ¬†I called Pomona and they allowed us to come in, get rid of the anti-freeze, and fill up with fresh water- all for $5 – that’s a deal. ¬†It was very nice of them to allow it, and it solved a huge problem for us.

So I want to give them a little plug with info from their website.

“Pomona RV Park and Campground offers outstanding family camping in the heart of Southern New Jersey‚Äôs fabulous shore area. Our shaded campsites can accommodate the biggest of ‚Äúbig rigs‚ÄĚ, with picnic tables, fire rings, water, electric, full sewer hookups, and FREE Cable and Wi-Fi! Located just 10 minutes from the Atlantic City Casinos and Boardwalk, we are also within easy and convenient reach of championship public golf courses, fine restaurants, unique shopping, fishing, boating, a wide range of attractions, and world-class beaches at Atlantic City, Brigantine and Ocean City. Our park features a 50 ft. swimming pool, hot tub with Jacuzzi, and a wide range of planned activities for both children and adults. Make your plans and reserve your site for the 2010 camping season today, and enjoy a great weekend or summer vacation with us”!

And here we go…

We saw this car while getting gas, that I’m fairly certain must have come directly from “Pimp My Ride”. ¬†Must have cost a fortune, especially those wheels. Wow!

If you know me, then you know how much I miss the most elegant and eloquent president of my lifetime, Barack Obama.  But not to worry, look what we found in Columbia, South Carolina.

 

Yep РObama Gas.  What a hoot !!

We took a ride to Fort Jackson Army Training Center, also in Columbia, South Carolina, for a very special reason.

Tim’s dad was training at Fort Jackson when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, changing all plans.¬† ¬†His bride-to-be traveled from New Jersey to Fort Jackson in February 1942 to be married on-base, and later that year he sailed with his unit to England in preparation for Invasion of Europe. ¬† They were reunited some time after the German surrender in May 1945, newlyweds separated for three years — how that generation was tested! ¬†It was moving to stand at that site and ponder what they experienced. And it was important to me because, under different circumstances, my partner in crime and love, Timothy, might not have been born. ¬†And chances are pretty good that you would not be reading this hard-to-put-down saga.

We’ve visited many National Parks during our travels and have heard about many more, but have you ever heard of Congaree ¬†National Park? ¬†Somehow this one escaped us – until now.

Congaree is not as dramatic as many of the other parks but it is just as important – maybe even more so. ¬†“Astonishing biodiversity exists in Congaree National Park, the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. Waters from the Congaree and Wateree Rivers sweep through the floodplain, carrying nutrients and sediments that nourish and rejuvenate this ecosystem and support the growth of national and state champion trees”, some of the largest in the USA. ¬†These ancient trees have seen wars, slavery, freedom, and destruction. ¬†Imagine all of the ¬†twenty-seven thousand ¬†acres covered in water several times a year.

The visitor’s center offers an 18 minute movie that brought a tear to my eye. ¬†I was reminded that each and every one of the National Parks has that designation for a reason. ¬†The preservation of nature that is so special it must be saved for future generations. ¬†If you want to know more about Congaree, check out this link – it’s terrific.

Congaree: Where The Trees Are Still Tall – American Forests

Another very important thing just outside the visitor center is a Skeeter Meter.

The day we were there, it was at level 1, all clear, but look at 4, 5,and 6. ¬†YIKES!!! ¬†I think we need one of these in the visitor center at Forsythe Wildlife Center near our home. ¬†One other important thing about the creatures who love human blood is that they may be the very reason that this area wasn’t devastated by humans. ¬†The meter registered at War Zone at important times in history. ¬†Thank goodness the blood suckers ¬†won the war (never thought I’d ever say such a thing).

On the road to Graniteville, SC, we saw this amazing untouched photo of a double rainbow near sunset..

 

We came across a most disturbing monument in North Augusta, South Carolina,¬† a Monument to a White Supremacist Martyr. ¬†In 1876 there was a battle in South Carolina between a black federal militia who called it a “massacre”, ¬†and a white mob of about 100 men who called it a “riot”. ¬†Six black men and one white man were killed.

Forty years passed, and segregation was firmly in place. ¬†The state erected a monument to the one white guy who died, 23-year old Tom Meriwether. ¬†After 40 years, you would think Tom’s motives for being in the mob were a bit hazy, but not to the monument-builders. ¬†According to the inscription (below), Tom was a” young hero” who died “maintaining those civic and social institutions which the men and women of his race had struggled through the centuries to establish in South Carolina”. ¬†“In life he exemplified the highest ideal of Anglo-Saxon civilization. ¬†By his death he assured to the children of his beloved land the supremacy of that ideal”.

This is my WTF stance.

These are inscriptions on the 4 sides of the obelisk in order.

We found this monument to be extremely offensive.  With all the stuff going on with wanting to tear down any statue of Robert E Lee, it seems to me that this one should be first.  Someone should take a sledge hammer and bust this into a million pieces. End of rant.

Well not quite the end.  Check out the inscription on this monument honoring The Confederacy in Augusta, Georgia.

 

 

I want to end this post on a fun note. ¬†While in high school, James Brown was Tim’s favorite musician. ¬†And so in Augusta, Georgia, we found this tribute.

 

and the best for last…

My man with James Brown, in Augusta, G-A, HEY!!!

See you in just a few days.  After all, who wants to miss Wrong Way Catholic Cemetery ???

GETTING READY

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

This is our first post of the new year. ¬†Wonder how long it will take me to remember to write 2018¬†instead of 2017. ¬†When you’re working, it’s a bit easier to track time, but when you’re retired, every day is Saturday or Sunday – but I’m certainly not complaining. There’s really no need to know the exact date, but when you write a check, people really prefer that you at least have the correct year. ¬†I’m working on that.

 

I remember my Mom telling me that it doesn’t really snow much at the shore because there’s too much salt in the air. ¬†It sounded like it could/should be true – but alas, it is far from true. ¬†The last snow storm brought 18″ to our ¬†neck of the woods, and it stayed around for a little too long. ¬†We’ve been talking about getting on the road again to try to escape some of this cold weather. ¬†I’m thinking it will be way soon – before the end of January. ¬†We’re ¬†going to head south and west. ¬†We’d like to get ¬†back to Quartzite, Arizona in time for the fiberglass trailer rally. ¬†Look at all of these trailers that look just like ours. Actually I’ve heard there may be up to 200 of them this year.

It should really be fun. We’re looking forward to stops in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas as well. ¬†Right now I’m basically making lists of what we have to bring. ¬†It won’t be like the first long trip where we needed, well, everything, and for every season. ¬†But we do need “stuff”, to last at least a month.

While looking through some papers for travel ideas on the route, I stumbled upon something I would like to share. ¬†I just love it, and have kept it since 2003 – 15 years. ¬†I don’t know who wrote it, but if you do, I would sure like to thank them for this very cool reminder about life.

THINGS WE CAN LEARN FROM A TURTLE

“When we wander into dangerous territories like the highways of life, our favorite defense of pulling inside and shutting out the world may not be the most effective response. ¬†So, instead of getting squashed, we may want to stick our necks out and run like crazy”.

 

Run little guy, run !!!

Stay tuned – next time, we’ll see you from the road.

 

MERRY AND HAPPY EVERYTHING

Saturday, November 23, 2017

I want to wish all of my friends, family and followers a very

              

            

 

AND

 

I like to be PC, so Happy and Merry Anything and Everything!

 

Now Check This Out

I do have a little something to share for all of you to enjoy. ¬†We took a car trip the other day, and found a road we’d yet to explore. ¬†The road is called¬†¬†Seven Bridges Road,¬†a.k.a Great Bay Boulevard in Little Egg Harbor. This road sits in the middle of a 4-mile long peninsula that separates Great Bay and Little Egg Harbor at the mouth of the Mullica River. ¬†It offers vistas over the salt marsh to your left and right. ¬†It ¬†encompasses the Great Bay Boulevard Wildlife Management Area, with many birding and wildlife opportunities,

Traveling down Great Bay Boulevard ¬†is an interesting and, if timed correctly, beautiful experience. It is a narrow two lane road connecting several barrier islands. It ¬†has 6 bridges, two of which are one lane only. Those one lane bridges have 2 -minute traffic lights to allow cars to safely pass each other. Originally it was meant to connect to Atlantic City 8 miles away, but the company in charge went bankrupt and the final bridge was never built. Even though there are only six bridges, it’s still known as Seven Bridges Road – go figure.

ONE-LANE TIMED BRIDGE

The road is kind of desolate and has no buildings or businesses aside from a half dozen marinas. ¬†Kind of isolated really. ¬†There’s no good reason to travel this road unless you‚Äôre going fishing or just want a nice view of Little Egg Harbor. If you travel to the end of the road, Rutgers University has a research facility just before the road ends in a sand dune. ¬†There is also a nice beach. ¬†A little too isolated perhaps? (at least for me) ¬†We didn’t get to visit the Rutgers facility, because the road is restricted. ¬†Maybe another day we’ll find our way in (you know we will).

RUTGERS FACILITY

This is the wooden road /bridge to Rutgers, just off of Seven Bridges Road.

 

I think these reeds are, well, pretty as a picture.

 

This is the best part.  We were lucky enough to be traveling this road at sunset.

 

 

 

 

I just love how the cloud is reflected on the water.

 

Such an unexpected treat. ¬†When you’re at the New Jersey shore, take time out to visit this little visited peninsula. ¬†It’s well worth your time.

 

NOTE: We’re still working on getting away for a while. ¬†With any luck, the next post will be from the road. ¬†Stay tuned…

 

FROM LONG ISLAND, NY TO NEW LONDON, CT BY FERRY WITH AN RV – NOT

November 25, 2017

My son Christian and his wife Liz invited us to their home in Connecticut for Thanksgiving. ¬†We are very grateful. But – you know there’s always a but – ¬†the ride up is usually a hellish nightmare of traffic – the Merritt Parkway or Interstate 95 – both are disasters for traffic. ¬† Not this time. ¬†Chris suggested a new way for us to make the trip. ¬†We would turn the ride into a mini vacation. ¬†Travel from South Jersey to Long Island, take the north fork, which we have never done, all the way to Orient Point, where you find the Cross Sound Ferry for the 80 minute trip to ¬†New London, Connecticut.

The first thing I did was make sure the ferry would take recreational vehicles – it does. ¬†It’s pretty crazy that this ferry holds about 76 cars, trucks, and/or RVs and trailers.

Are there RV parks close to the ferry? ¬†Check – there are. ¬†But alas, the two parks closest ¬†to the ferry were closed for the season – as was just about everything else. ¬†But when you’re handed a lemon, you make lemonade – right? ¬†So I’ll tell you a little bit about our trip, as well as info about the campgrounds (that we didn’t stay in).

It was a beautiful day for a long drive – not a cloud in the sunny, pale blue sky. ¬†Long Island is a sprawling suburb, with a dizzying array of shopping centers and strip malls. ¬†Once we arrived at the point where Long Island splits into the north and south forks, it’s a different world. ¬†For those of you who are used to the lifestyles of the rich and famous, think Martha Stewart, Jimmy Buffett, and Steven Spielberg, ¬†living on the ¬†south fork. ¬†On the north fork, ¬†think farms and vineyards.

The first place we stopped was a little town called Mattituck. ¬†It is a sweet little town with an awesome main street. ¬†All of the shops are one-of-a-kind, special and creative – no big names – which I particularly like. ¬†We stopped in The Village Cheese Shop, a tiny little place with a huge waiting line, and amazing cheeses from all over the world. ¬†Though the line was long, each customer received the cheese monger’s full attention. ¬†Suggestions and tastings were the order of the day. ¬†We walked away with a bag full of wonderful tastes and aromas.

 

 

The South Fork is home to the sandy beaches of the Hamptons. ¬† It’s also home to three of the island’s wineries. That number probably won’t increase anytime soon; land there costs $500,000 an acre, compared with $30,000 an acre on the North Fork, home to more than 33 wineries. ¬†Choosing a winery for a tasting was an easy choice, because we wanted something festive for the holiday. Sparkling Pointe Vineyards and Winery was the answer. ¬†Sparkling Pointe encompasses 40 acres of vineyards planted only with the classic Champagne grape varietals‚ÄĒPinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. Using strictly the traditional M√©thode Champenoise process, Sparkling Pointe is the only winery on the North Fork to produce exclusively sparkling wines. ¬†Ready for a little lesson? ¬†As the holidays move in, we’ll hear plenty of corks popping, as bottles of ¬†sparkling wine and champagne are opened to celebrate the season. ¬†What’s the difference between “Sparkling Wine” and “Champagne”? ¬†The easy answer is that sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France, and is made with Chardonnay,¬†Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes (Sparkling Point’s got that covered). ¬†To clarify, all champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is champagne. ¬†Think of Champagne in terms of a¬†geographical place¬†as opposed to a winemaking style.

 

The Sparkling Pointe tasting experience is pretty spectacular.  We were seated in front of a blazing fireplace, on a black velvet couch.  Each of the four tastings  was delivered to us in clean, fresh glasses.  The tasting was a bit spendy, but if you buy a two or more bottles, the $20 tasting fee is subtracted from the total.  Sparkling Pointe is one of the few wineries where you can sit, relax, and enjoy table service inside the elegant Tasting House, VIP Bubble Room Lounge, or outside on the Terrace and great lawn overlooking exquisite views of the vineyard. The large crystal chandeliers are lovely.  Of course, we walked away with a few delightful bottles of bubbly.

We then found our way to our hotel, Harborfront Inn at Greenpoint.

 After checking in, we ate dinner at the Front Street Station, which was directly across the street from our hotel.

We just had burgers, but they were admittedly delish!¬†¬†There are many wonderful restaurants with fresh oysters and the like, but not in¬†November. ¬†Unfortunately, they are¬†all closed – just like ,well, most everything. ¬†Even the ice cream shop was closed. ¬†A word to the wise, if you really want¬†to experience this little slice of heaven, it’s best to go in season when everything¬†is open (and the prices are sky high).¬†¬†The room was¬†pretty spacious, complete¬†with a balcony, although the view was limited. ¬†I guess the rooms with total water view were a bit (read a lot) more expensive. ¬† Our view also included the carousel, which we later found to be the Jess Owen Carousel. ¬†It is 100 years old, and was a gift from the Grumman Aircraft Corporation. Why does an Aircraft Corp. have a carousel? ¬† “Northrop Grumman has cloaked its carousel in a mantle of mystery befitting a military secret”. ¬†Why? ¬†It is said that children would be offered rides during company picnics. ¬†Doesn’t sound like a mystery to me, but what do I know. When Grumman was decommissioned, Greenport lobbied for and received ¬†the carousel, as a part of a revitalization project for it’s downtown.

 

 

There are  two campgrounds on the north arm, close to the ferry.  Eastern Long Island Campground, and McCann Campgrounds.

They were both closed for the season, and that’s why we stayed in a hotel. ¬†However, they both were a bit rustic (read rundown) looking. Maybe in season they’re freshly painted and more welcoming. ¬†Checkout the campground reviews, where I’ve provided what little information I was able to gather. if you want to visit this area, camping is certainly a less expensive alternative to a hotel room.

We woke up the next morning and checked out Orient Beach Park. ¬†It was very pretty, and very cool to be at the easternmost point of the island, right on the ocean. ¬†As an aside, the ocean here tends to be of a lighter shade, reminiscent of the Carolinas. Of course you know most towns on Long Island are accessible to water. There are marinas everywhere. ¬†I’m sure it’s a beautiful sight in summer. ¬†Unfortunately, this was one boat we caught sight of on the way to the beach, and wow, was it picked clean!

 

 

It was time to drive to Orient Point and the Cross Sound Ferry. ¬†When we arrived at the ferry dock ¬†we found quite a long line of cars waiting to get on. ¬†It was interesting to watch the loading of the cars, trucks, and trailers. ¬†It’s kind of crazy that this ferry holds about 76 vehicles, on two levels.

 

Mind you, this is no ordinary ferry ride. ¬†I mean the boat itself was just an old clunker, but the amenities were very “Long Island’. ¬†For example, there was an enclosed lounge with a bar.

A cafeteria sold food, but not a hot dog to be found. ¬†The soups were butternut squash with apple, and clam chowder. Paninis and wraps of all kinds were available, as well as a few flavors of cappucino. ¬†Although it rained for most of the crossing, the water and ship remained smooth and stable. ¬†We disembarked in New London, Connecticut, with only a one hour drive to my son’s home. ¬†Wait ¬†people – is that Foxwoods Casino ???

If you’ve been following along on my posts, you know I can’t resist a casino. ¬†So we made a pit stop and offered what I like to call a “contribution”. ¬†As we entered, I was surprised they had a security person checking purses for guns and knives before you entered the casino. ¬†I’ve never seen that before – have you?

About an hour later we arrived at Christian and Elizabeth’s home. ¬†Thanksgiving was a traditional and delicious day and meal, spent with family and friends. ¬†It was a beautiful holiday and unplanned mini vacation. ¬†It’s the only way to go…. ¬†If we ever go again, we would go in spring or summer to take advantage of all that Long Island has to offer.

We may be headed south and west right after the Christmas holiday. ¬†We’re not true friends of winter, and will probably plan an escape. ¬†Stay tuned to find out where the cold weather and Casita, ¬†take us.

DIVERSITY IN THE CAMPGROUND – NOT SO MUCH

October 7, 2017

As we traveled throughout the United States with our Casita travel trailer, full-time for one and one-half ¬†plus years, the lack of racial diversity in ¬†RV Parks and Campgrounds was striking ! ¬† I do remembering seeing 2 or 3 ¬†Asian families, lots of Europeans, but no Hispanic or African American families. I’m sure there are a few out there, but we never saw any in our travels. ¬†According to a 2009 National Park Service survey, people of color are underrepresented on public lands. ¬†Minorities make up about 40% of the population, but they only comprise 20% of national park visitors. ¬†According to Ambreen Tariq (of brown people camping), “There are some deep-rooted and dark history for some people of color in the outdoors”. ¬† There needs to be more minorities in our parks and public spaces, perhaps in numbers that are a reflection of our population.

Being  white  campers, why should we care?  After a bit of research, I determine that we  should  care for many reasons, but for two important ones in particular:  our national health and passing the baton.

BEING IN NATURE

My first reason is a strong belief in the benefits of being outdoors.  When you spend time in nature, it gradually but firmly establishes a sense of connection to the earth.  It promotes health for you and for the planet. Breathing fresh air, camping, kayaking, canoeing,  hiking, and reading the stars in the night sky are only some of the outdoor activities that promote  a healthy lifestyle. The sense of solitude helps you to destress and can promote  introspection.   Minority history can be found in many natural areas, which helps us to discover and understand who we were yesterday, as well as who we are today Рvaluable lessons for all of us. Spending time with nature can inspire in us the  desire to protect vulnerable public lands for all of us to enjoy. The experiences you have when camping and spending time outdoors echo for you and your children,  long after you return home.

This is a photo of  Kevin Sims, former NFL linebacker,  his wife Tia and several of their children with their RV, from soulfulfamilyrv.com.

 

There are seven scientifically proven benefits to being outdoors.  (Credit to The Trek Blog)

  1. VITAMIN D – is essential for a healthy immune system. ¬†We can get enough by just sitting in the sun. This is perhaps the most obvious reason to get outside, since the sun supplies us with the best source of Vitamin D. ¬†¬†Those who don‚Äôt get enough Vitamin D are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer‚Äôs. ¬†Getting enough sunlight has also been linked with the prevention of diabetes, auto immune disorders, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease. How much sun do you need to get enough vitamin D? ¬†When the sun’s¬†UV-B rays hit the skin, a reaction takes place that enables skin cells to manufacture vitamin D. If you’re fair skinned, experts say going outside for just 10 minutes in the midday sun‚ÄĒin shorts and a tank top with no sunscreen‚ÄĒwill give you enough radiation to produce about 10,000 international units. ¬†If you are dark skinned, you will need more a bit more time in the sun.. ¬†In fact, people with very dark skin need around five to six times more exposure to UV radiation to produce as much vitamin D as someone with fair skin. People who are dark-skinned may need sunlight exposure during peak times – i.e., the middle of the day, in the summer. ¬†More than 30 minutes without sunscreen is not a good idea for anyone. ¬†Too much sun can cause Melanoma, dangerous form of skin cancer.

 In May 1981 the music world lost a legend when Jamaican reggae artist  Bob Marley,  died after a four-year battle with a melanoma skin cancer that started on his toe.  

 

 

2. ¬†EYE HEALTH –¬†
     A.  Being outdoors helps prevent CVS (Computer Vision Syndrome) Рblurred vision, double vision, dry/red eyes, irritation, and headache
     B.  Artificial light has negative effect on nearsightedness, especially in children.
3. ¬†IMPROVED SLEEP – Sleep patterns are regulated by an internal body clock called the Circadian Rhythm, which is tied to the sun’s schedule. ¬†If you don’t get outdoors enough, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm, and disrupt sleep.
 4.  CLEAN AIR РOutdoor pollution is bad for your heath for sure.  But inside pollution can be worse Р2-5 times worse, leading to heart disease, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and asthmatic attacks
 BONUS:  According to NASA, there are 15 houseplants that can improve the quality of indoor
air including aloe, snake plant, golden pathos, and chrysanthemum. 
5.  GROUNDING РOn the fringe of mainstream science is the practice of Grounding.  Grounding is  walking barefoot on natural surfaces like dirt and sand.  Because the earth is negatively charged, your body will absorb the negative electrons.  According to The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine , Grounding can have an intense anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
     
BONUS:  See the documentary film, The Grounded.
 
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    6. ¬†EXERCISE – I know you’ve heard this endlessly, but here we go again. ¬†Exercises like hiking, kayaking, and other outdoorsy exercises, and even light walking, help prevent heart disease, strokes, Type II Diabetes, Obesity, Osteoporosis, and many psychological¬†conditions.
    7.  PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH РThere are massive benefits in getting outdoors, on our mental health.  Spending time in nature is linked to improved attention span, and boosts in serotonin ( the feel good neuro Рtransmitter).  It also shows increased brain activity in the parts of the brain responsible for increased empathy, emotional stability, and love.  Conversely, urban environments tend to boost brain activity in centers for fear and anxiety.
    8. ¬†IT’S JUST CLEAN, SIMPLE FUN.
         GET OUTSIDE !!!  GO CAMPING !!!

(Credit for this photo goes to OutdoorAfro)

 

 

PASSING THE BATON

My second reason is ultimately a selfish one.¬†Although there are messages both subtle and not so subtle, that the “outdoors is for white people” – ¬†that must change. ¬†Due to the fact that the United States is moving towards a greater population of non-whites, it is important to pass the baton of caretaker to that next generation. ¬†If the next generation isn’t aware of the treasure they are responsible for, it may be lost. ¬†We need more people ¬†involved in supporting policy decisions that affect access to public spaces, and that consider the size of the footprint we leave for the next generation. ¬†We need everyone to care about the development of open spaces, and the ecosystem at large. ¬†Funding for our public lands is in jeopardy. Falling in love with the outdoors will encourage everyone, including minorities, ¬†to ¬†use their spending power to work alongside any company or group that share a vision for equity in access and enjoyment of our parks and open spaces. ¬†I hope that you, dear readers, will embrace the chance to work with regional and national organizations, companies, and leaders who support and give voice to diverse participation in the outdoors to achieve important goals for all¬†of us.

 

IF YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS, PLEASE COMMENT AND I WILL GET BACK TO YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

 

Some thoughts –

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery‚ÄĒair, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.'” ¬† –¬†Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“If we don’t learn to hang together, surely we will hang separately”. ¬† ¬† – Ben Franklin

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you”. ¬† ¬† ¬†-Frank Lloyd Wright

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt”. ¬† ¬† – John Muir

Of our National Parks: ¬†‚ÄúNature‚Äôs peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds¬†will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.‚ÄĚ ¬†– John Muir

“Not just beautiful, though‚ÄĒthe stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.” ¬† ¬† – ¬†Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

 

Much thanks to the following blogs that were instrumental in helping to get my thoughts in order:

www.brownpeoplecamping.tumblr.com

www.SoulfulRVFamily.com

www.blackcampers.wordpress.com   and

www.afrocampers.com.

www.NAARVA.com ¬†(National African-American RV’ers Association )

www.outdoorafro.com

www.campingincolor.blogspot.com

www.community.fmca.com

www.breakingthecolorbarrier.com

 

 

STILE DI FAMIGLIA

September 10, 2017

 

I know – that last post was a very, very long one. ¬†But the good news, this is very, very short. ¬†Actually, I forgot to put it ¬†in the last post. ¬†But that’s ok, because now it can get the attention I think it really deserves.¬†Yes, for all of you pasta lovers out there, may I present –¬†Stile di Famiglia, or what I like to call,¬†¬†¬†THE FORK .

We found the fork in a neighborhood of Omaha, Nebraska. ¬†It is a sculpture by Jake Balcom, that was finished in 2010. ¬†It is a beautiful Stainless Steel utensil with dimensions of 13’x7’x8′. ¬†It is owned by¬†The Towns of Little Italy Homeowner’s Association.The sculpture was funded by a donation from Bluestone Development, a hip real estate development company, and their developer partner, the Caniglia Family. The Caniglia Family owned and operated an Italian restaurant for 60 years and when they decided to close, they wanted the property transformed into a benefit for the neighborhood that treated them so well. After sitting down with the family, an agreement was reached to create a City Neighborhood Townhouse Project. Through the development, it was learned that there is an Omaha Mayor and a Little Italy Mayor, and that there were/are ¬†underground tunnels dating back to the bootleg prohibition era. ¬†It was also learned that ¬†Little Italy can be divided between white sauce and red sauce (depending on what side of 20th street you lived.)


It was the residents of that townhouse project, ¬†The Homeowners Association of the Towns of Little Italy, ¬†that commissioned a sculpture through a design competition. ¬†The residents ¬†called ¬†for entries, based on a vision to commemorate the unique history of the neighborhood, one of the city’s oldest. Residents selected the artist, Jake Balcom, from among the entries. ¬† Once Balcom was chosen, the committee worked to select a site and make sure the ¬†sculpture was appropriate and met their goals. Balcom came up with an installation that is distinctly Italian, ¬†and that represents the feel for the town’s neighborhood at 7th and Pierce. ¬†This area seemed ¬†fun, friendly, and where the people are close to each other, much like a family. Balcom kept coming back to the idea of a big Italian family sitting around a table eating dinner, everyone talking about their life or how their week went, laughing and enjoying the company. ‚ÄĚWith this in mind I went down to one of our local Italian restaurants for some research/inspiration and as I was eating my favorite pasta dish there, I looked down and caught myself twirling my pasta around my fork and instantly knew that this would make a fun and dynamic sculpture that would represent both the Italian heritage, ¬†the playfulness of the neighborhood, as well as pay homage to the Italian restaurant that used to occupy the lot”. As for the name, ‘Stile di Famiglia’ or ‘Family Style’ was chosen, ¬†which is in reference to a restaurant serving style, where food is served to guests in the same way you would at a big family dinner.
I love this sculpture. ¬†It may be because I’m Italian. ¬†Or maybe because I love pasta. ¬†Either way, this artwork just makes me happy!

 

Mangia Everyone  !!!

 

 

 

 

 

BARBARA WALTERS, PRISON ETIQUETTE, AND RUNZA

September 1, 2017

This is a very long blog post, so grab a bottle of water, maybe a snack, and get comfy. ¬†Ready? ¬†Here we go…

First things first.  I chose this title,  purely to get your attention.  Surely, you want to know how Barbara Walters

 

prison,

 

and RUNZA

 

could possibly be connected. ¬†Well, they are – and they aren’t. ¬†Let me explain. ¬†Tim tells me I missed my calling. ¬†I should have been an interviewer like Barbara Walters. ¬†Once I get to talking with someone, they’ll usually tell me anything. ¬†I really don’t even have to ask. ¬†But I’ll let you in on my ¬†secret. ¬†I have learned that people just love to talk about themselves. ¬†I can talk to a stranger for 20 minutes or so, (it has happened), and they never once ask me anything about me or us. ¬†As long as the conversation is about “them”, they are perfectly happy to go on and on. ¬†I’ve used that to my advantage over the years. ¬†It used to upset me a little, as in poor me, nobody gives a hoot about us – they didn’t even bother to ask our names or where we were from… ¬†Truth is, they really don’t care!¬† Fair enough. ¬†I’m ok with it after all this time, and have learned to accept it. ¬†But if you ask questions, trust me, you will get answers. ¬†We were in a campground on this trip where a woman, her 2 children, and her mother were intrigued with our little trailer, and asked if they could checkout the inside. ¬†Tim went in with them, and gave them a “tour”. ¬†When they came out, we continued to talk for more than a few minutes. ¬†She shared that she had just completed a seven-year sentence in prison. I made sure my face didn’t register any horror. ¬†I’ve never met anyone who spent time in prison. ¬†I wanted to ask her, “What for?”, ¬†but that’s where ignorance of “prison etiquette” comes in. ¬†I mean when someone tells you they just got out of prison, is it ok to ask, “Why did you have to go?” ¬†I just don’t know. ¬†I figure if she wanted me to know, she would have told me. ¬†As in, “I went to prison for robbing a bank”, or” for killing my husband”. ¬†She didn’t, ¬†and so I didn’t – ¬†If anyone is familiar with prison etiquette – please let me know. ¬†I may run into this situation again – you know I will!

If you follow my blog, you may remember Chislick, the food found only in the southeast corner of South Dakota.    Now, allow me to introduce you to Runza, a regional treat  found in Nebraska.

A runza (also called a bierock, fleischkuche, or kraut pirok) is a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, onions, sauerkraut or cabbage, and seasonings. They are baked in various shapes such as half-moon, rectangle, round, square, or triangle. In Nebraska, the runza is usually baked in a rectangular shape.  There are actually fast food restaurants called, what else,

It’s a Mid-western fast food restaurant chain specializing in ethnic food that was once served by the Volga German immigrants to the United States…and there you have it a Runza.

By the way, it was delicious !!!

You’ve probably figured out by now, we finally made it to Nebraska, and I’ve got the sign to prove it.

 

 

But we didn’t make it to Minnesota or North Dakota. ¬†Unlike our big trip last year, there were time commitments. ¬†Rather than rush through it all like the Griswalds, we decided to take our time and “smell the roses” (or the corn, as it turns out.). ¬†Before we go on, let’s talk about the rather circuitous drive we took to get here. ¬†Even though our ultimate goal was north, as in Minnesota, we went south. ¬†We decided to stop in Northeast, Maryland, for a crab feast. ¬†I won’t go into detail, because we stopped here almost two years ago when we started out on our first year and a half road trip.

Here’s Tim in his glory.

After our crab feast it was pretty late, so we had to find a campground.  Lucky for us, we stumbled upon Elk Neck State Park in Northeast, Maryland.  What a gem.  (Please check out this park in my Campground Review Page).  No RV?  No problem.  They have two different kinds of cabins that you can rent by the night.  It was so lovely,  we plan on visiting this fall for a few days.

Up and at em’ the next day, we came across an outdoor shrine that honors¬†¬†St. Padre Pio, in Buena, New Jersey. ¬†St. Padre Pio is an extraordinary example of a pious man. ¬†It is said that¬†God gave¬†Padre Pio ¬†many extraordinary “spiritual gifts and divine powers, including the gifts of healing, bilocation (the ability to begin two places at the same time), prophecy, miracles, discernment of spirits, the ability to abstain beyond man‚Äôs natural powers from both sleep and nourishment, the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues (the ability to speak and understand languages that he had never studied), the gift of conversions, the grace to see angelic beings in form, and the fragrance which emanated from his wounds and which frequently announced his invisible presence”. When a friend once questioned him about these charismas, Padre Pio said, ‚ÄúYou know, they are a mystery to me, too.‚ÄĚ ¬†He does sound like quite a man – a saint , if you will. ¬†Please Google him if you want more info. ¬†But, here are a few photos.

       

 

In Morgantown, West Virginia, we stopped for fuel. ¬†Stopping for gas is pretty common, but I don’t think this is. ¬†On the drive leading out of the station, there was a “Blessing Box”. ¬†Having never heard of one, I looked it up.

 

So what’s ¬†a Blessing Box? ¬†The concept is simple. The box is a miniature food pantry — receiving items from those who want to donate, and offering it to those who need them.
“Whether you’re taking or giving, you can just go to the blessing box, “There’s not a lock on it — it’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” ¬†Nice idea !
Ohio was full of surprises.
Always on the lookout for roadside attractions and oddities, we read about Dr. Ryan, the chiropractor, with his 25 foot tall tree trunk carved into the replica of a spine, and “splines”. ¬†Sometimes these excursions don’t quite work out. ¬†Dr. Ryan told us that his tree had fallen just two weeks ago. ¬†But – we did find something very cool, especially since my son Christian is a chiropractor.
¬†Here’s the remnant:
What did we find? ¬†SPLINES !!! what ¬†the heck are splines you may ask. ¬†Well, “splines” are lines to delineate spaces in his parking area, in the shape of spines – hence, “splines” ! ¬†Don’t you just love them?

 

Not too far from the chiropractor was a field of 6′ concrete corn, in Dublin, Ohio.

This former corn field, sprouts 109 people-sized ears of concrete corn. ¬†Although it is a large oddball art display, ¬†it’s also a salute to Sam Frantz, an inventor of hybrid corn – ¬†a very weird sight along the highway. ¬†M.¬†Frantz farmed this site from 1935 to 1963, using it as a study field for tasty mutant strains. Apparently, he was well known for his development of hybrid corn seeds, and worked with Ohio State University on hybridization projects. He donated this land, now named Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park, after his farming days were over.

 

In Zanesville, Ohio, we found Cotrill’s Sidewalk of Sculpture. The block outside Alan Cottrill’s ¬†sculpture studio serves as an open-air bronze statue gallery, with many more pieces inside. Check out the sheep wearing ice skates, a boy reading, and the Indian on the roof, just a few of the scores of sculptures.

 

Also in Zanesville, we found a Pile of War Dead Helmets, erected in 2010, This sculpture is a nod of thanks to 297 Muskingum County servicemen killed in World War II and the Korean War, represented by a pile of individually named helmets. 

 

In Dublin Ohio, we found the Watlao Buddhamamakaram Buddhist Shrine. ¬†While driving,¬†¬†you start to think “there’s no way there’s a Buddhist temple around here.” Then, all of a sudden, there it is. It really is beautiful and if you visit on a sunny day it glistens and sparkles. The colors ¬†and shine seem to be out of place in the neighborhood. The yard is surrounded by a low brick wall and every brick column is a shrine to someone who has passed. ¬†It was dedicated on 6-13-2009 and is known as the Watlao Buddhamamakaram, which translates as Lao Buddhist Temple. It was built by the local Laotian community, and is also used ¬†as a place to gather. The temple is very ornate, with two sets of dragons on both sides of the steps leading to the front entrance. There are spires and golden flames on the roof, and lots of decorative columns all around the building. ¬†Check out these ¬†photos, although they really don’t do it justice.

Nebraska, finally.

We arrived at our 1st destination, Omaha,¬†the¬†the Pine Grove campground. ( For a review, please checkout campground reviews) ¬†But I will say, that in all the many months of traveling, this is a first. ¬†A complete bar and lounge in the camp office, including jello shots. ¬†They also have sandwiches and delicious pizza. ¬†You just can’t go wrong here. ¬†Plus, they have a decent working internet. ¬†Love it!

 

 

When crossing from Iowa into Nebraska, the first notable thing we saw was a shrine – The Holy Family Shrine it turns out.¬† It was oddly beautiful from the highway, and so we vowed to visit once we were settled in at Pine Grove. ¬†And so the next day, we did. ¬†This is a very special and unusual church. ¬†“It serves as a place of rest and solitude for people of all faiths and allows the Holy Spirit to have free access to their soul”. ¬†Strangely, The Holy Family Shrine¬†does not host any¬†weddings, funerals, baptisms, renewal of wedding vows, proposals, or anything connected with wedding parties.

In order to visit, you must go through this entrance.

 

Here is the view of the church when exiting the very small visitor’s center.

Once inside, this is the interior roof.

 

This etching is on the glass pane above the altar.

 

Water plays a large role here.  In the visitor center, there is a very large sculpture that comes down from a skylight in the ceiling.  Water drips from that sculpture and pools into a base of tiny stones.The water then flows out from the building in what looks like a natural, rivulet, with potted flowers on either side, all the way to the church entrance.

Once inside, the water continues to flow down both sides of the center aisle, as can be seen from the floor cutouts, and drains into pools beside the alter. ¬†At each pew, the devoted can hear the rush of water. ¬†It’s pretty spectacular.

 

By this time, we’re pretty hungry. ¬†When I think of Omaha, I think of ¬†steaks. ¬†Maybe that’s because of the ubiquitous “Omaha Steaks” advertising. ¬† Naturally, we felt that we had to have a really good steak. ¬†When in Omaha, do as the Omahan’s do – eat at Gorat’s, serving great steak since 1944.¬† I’m not saying everybody eats at this restaurant, but this guy does, every week. ¬†And if it’s good enough for Warren Buffett, well, it’s good enough for the Reillys.

 

Hey, stop staring at me Warren!

 

Being the masterful “stalkers” that we are, here is a picture of ¬†Buffett’s home. ¬†Very modest, right? ¬†But while Tim was taking his pictures, a voice whispered from the hedges,”Please, move along”, and we did.

 

Grand Island

 

After leaving Omaha, we headed for Grand Island, where we would be watching the solar eclipse. ¬†We are in a KOA campground called KOA Grand Island Journey. ¬†It’s ok. ¬†We got a bad taste in our mouths upon arrival. ¬†I wanted/needed to use a restroom – immediately. ¬†Rather than stopping in the office first and being told they had no public restrooms, we drove directly into the camp to use a facility. ¬†A man in a golf cart came zooming over to tell us that we couldn’t use the restroom if we weren’t registered guests. ¬†Tim explained that we did have a paid reservation but that his wife needed the restroom. ¬†That brought on more questions from this crazy person, meanwhile, I’m like “dying”. ¬†Finally, finally – he told Tim the combination, while I barely made it to the door. ¬†We would not have stayed except that every campground in this area has been booked solid for a year due to the eclipse. ¬†People, when someone asks politely to use your restroom, please say “Yes”.

After we checked in and settled, we drove to Wasabi Bistro for sushi.  It was quite delish!

The next day, we settled on Hastings as a town to explore.  The first stop was the birthplace of Kool Aid.

Like the excursion to the “spine” tree, visiting Kool Aid’s footprints in concrete was a bust. ¬†We found the place, but someone had lifted the footprints. ¬†Now who would do such a thing ??? I had no choice but to take this picture from Google Images of what used to be..

 

 

After visiting KoolAid, it was time to visit the tombstone of Andy The Footless Goose.  It was very hard to find this sight because it was hidden behind a fence and cars.  We really had to do some sleuthing.  But Tim was not about to be done in by a tombstone.  The story of Andy is both heartwarming and incredibly sad.

This is a likeness of Andy on the mailbox of the home where his tombstone rests.

Andy The Footless Goose was born without feet, and couldn’t walk or swim like other geese. So his caretaker, a local manufacturer and inventor named Gene Fleming, designed shoes for him. ¬†Andy’s fame was assured in 1989 when he appeared on “The Tonight Show,” and he was featured in People¬†magazine. He went on to make hundreds of appearances, delighting schoolchildren, especially disabled children for whom he was something of a role model. ¬†STOP READING HERE¬†if you don’t want to know about the disgusting and sad final bit of Andy’s life.

In October of 1991, Andy was kidnapped and murdered. Although his head and wings were missing when he was found, he died with his trademark boots still on. His neck apparently had been broken. ¬†Who killed Andy? The sheriff’s office was bombarded with tips and suggestions. Some thought that a disgruntled former employee of Fleming’s might be responsible. Others thought the dismemberment pointed to a satanic cult. Andy fans sent in $10,000 in reward money, but the murderer was never found. The reward money remains in a local bank.

 

YOU CAN READ AGAIN NOW : ¬†Another day had us checking out the Marble Museum, in York, Nebraska. ¬†Collectors would have the time of¬†their lives here at this colorful museum, viewing the millions of marbles on display. “We have the largest collection of collectible marbles in the world”, the owner,Lee Batterton told us. ¬†And I sure do believe him.¬†Some of the items you will find there are: ¬†Handmade, machine made, carpet balls, sulphide, Lutz’s, European swirls, onionskins, agates, marble-related games and toys, and much more. ¬†All marbles are identified. ¬†Here is a photo of the outside of the “museum”.

 

 

Here is a picture of one small part of a wall.  Everything is as neat as a pin for your viewing pleasure.

And finally, I save the best for last.  Me and Lee, of course.

Check his crazy hat, complete with a shock of blond hair. ¬†(He’s actually bald as a steely.) ¬†In fairness to Lee, he wanted to take the hat off, but I told him he looked cute with it on. ¬†My reason? To show you how fun-loving a guy can be who’s been collecting marbles for 54 years. ¬†He still goes to shows looking to buy stand-outs, and maybe selling a few as well. ¬†Rare ones can go for thousands of dollars , EACH! ¬†Worth a peek if you have the time.

That same day, we checked out the World’s Largest Time Capsule ( or so they say), in Seward, Nebraska.

Truly odd I think…

Time fora change – off to Cedar Hills Vineyard & Gardens.

 

We spoke to the owners, Heidi and Clay for a while.

They told us they had been planning the eclipse weekend for two years.  In fact, they had T-shirts made, commemorative glasses etched, and a full weekend of food and entertainment scheduled.  They even had people from South Africa, Italy and Great Britain coming to stay at the winery/B&B for the event.  We purchased a special vintage wine that was released on Thursday, the day we visited, called Dark of Day.  That is what actually brought us to this particular winery on that very day.  If we have time, we may go back after the actual eclipse for the pig roast Рyum!

On Friday, we were so darn tired. ¬†We decided to just take it easy, straighten a little and do four loads of laundry. ¬†As I’ve told you before – just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean the chores stop.

 

On the day of the Solar Eclipse we were camped in Mormon Island State Recreation Area. ¬†(Check out review in Campground Review section). ¬†This park was named for the winter stopover used by the Mormon emigrants, who were headed west. ¬†For those of you who are “birders”, ¬†this park is a gathering place for hundreds of thousands of¬†Sandhill Cranes to rest and pursue their courtship rituals from February to late March.

Now that’s a lot of birds !!! ¬†(Photo thanks: Nebraskaland Magazine).

Although all of this is stunning, the real reason we were camped at this particular park was the Solar Eclipse. ¬†Mormon Island sits directly on the path of totality for optimal viewing. Like everyone else in our area, we were watching the weather reports daily – and they changed daily, always giving us bad news. ¬†In fact, on the day of, there was a report that there would be scattered thunderstorms in our area. ¬†The nearest place with a “clear” prediction was Casper, Wyoming, 400 miles to the west. ¬†We considered driving, but thankfully decided against it, insisting and praying that it would be fine right where we were.

Armed with our glasses and chairs, we chose our viewing spot. ¬†You can’t be too careful when the stakes are 2 minutes and 30 seconds of total eclipse.

Here’s my man the “sun gazer”

 

Lots of folks at the park, picnicking and watching.

 

The Solar Eclipse was one of the most magical things we’ve ever seen. ¬†As the moon is crossing the sun, the surroundings get steadily darker and really quiet. ¬†Darkest glasses must be warn while even a sliver of sun is exposed, so only the tiny dim crescent is visible. ¬†But the instant¬†that the moon fully covers the sun , the magnificent corona bursts into view. ¬†The glasses come off and a¬†silver hue pervades the sky and the earth. ¬†Stars and planets are visible around the mystical solar ring. ¬†The insects begin to go crazy, each of them making their own music, which only adds to the surreal vision. ¬†And the people let out a spontaneous cheer. ¬†You cannot look away. ¬†A full 2 minutes and 30 seconds of beauty – the true reason we made this journey. And was it worth it? ¬†Emphatically, yes, yes, yes!

 

We realized traffic would be horrible right after the eclipse, with literally millions of people having traveled to this thin slice of America. ¬†So what do you do with a free afternoon in Grand Island? ¬†You take a drive to Kearney, to see the famous “Archway”.

 

Now, I know it doesn’t look like much, but if you are in the area, do visit.

The Archway is fairly new to Great Plains tourism, opening in 2000. Using giant multi-wheeled transporters, the 1,500-ton, 309-foot structure was rolled across the Interstate 80,  in one piece on the night of Aug. 16, 1999. The interstate was closed for eight hours while the archway was locked onto its support platforms.

The Archway presents the 170 year history of America’s westward movement through detailed displays and harrowing stories you’ll hear as you walk over one of America’s busiest interstate highways.

You start at Ft. Kearny in the 1840s where the Oregon Trail converged with the Mormon Trail and California Trail, and end up in a drive-in movie theater. The Archway takes visitors along the trails, rails, highways and superhighways in a self-guided audio tour that includes stories of the travelers along the way. ¬†You can hear the rumble of the Iron Horse on the transcontinental railroad as it passes overhead. You watch a Pony Express rider make a quick stop to change horses as he races to deliver mail across the country. Listen in as the first transcontinental telegraph transmits the news of the breakout of the Civil War to the West Coast. Travel the historic Lincoln Highway, catch the newsreel at the drive-in theater and take a break to check on the traffic below in the roadside diner. ¬†Our favorite exhibition was the Mormon Handcart Display. ¬†Neither Tim nor I had ever heard of Mormon Handcarts. ¬†Mormon devotees who didn’t have the funds for wagons and animals to help transport themselves and their goods westward, used handcarts. ¬†If you think traveling west in Conestoga wagons and such was harrowing, imaging pulling a hand cart with your goods and perhaps a child ¬†or two, for over a thousand rugged miles! ¬†This was a very, very courageous group of folks. ¬†I can say with full certainty that I would have not made that trip. Quick Fact: ¬†How long do you think the Pony Express was is existence? ¬†18 months – that’s it !!!

Two different pictures of people pulling their handcarts. ¬†This first picture was taken from “True West” Blog from 2015.

   

This second photo is from the Deseret News, “LDS Church News”, from 2006.

The Archway is a perfect stop for a family vacation.  The displays can be viewed in under an hour, but why hurry?  Take your time.  It is an amazing structure, and an amazing final experience before heading home.

 

We started back home the day after the eclipse, retracing our journey through the maze of maize that forms our nation’s heartland. ¬†After a 20 hour and 37 minute drive, we arrived in Galloway, NJ. ¬†We’re already planning our next road trip. ¬†Maybe we’ll try to get to the last two states, Minnesota and North Dakota. ¬†Stay tuned…

ROMERO BRITTO AND STONE HARBOR

August 5, 2017

Today we drove to the beach town of Stone Harbor. ¬†It’s only about 35 miles from Galloway, NJ, our home, but the traffic makes it a little bit of a trek. ¬†But today, we didn’t go for the beach. ¬†We went to see an artist named Romero Britto. ¬†He was born in Brazil, but has lived in Miami since 1989.¬† Why him? ¬†Well, because I saw this very, very cool luggage – loved it – and Tim bought me an entire set for Christmas. ¬†The graphics on all of the pieces is crazy, colorful, and fantabulous. It so happens that Mr. Britto created the graphics. ¬†Here is a picture of the whole set –

 

And here is a pic of just the small case –

 

He has many styles of luggage, but since I’m an “island girl” at heart, this was my favorite.

It also happens that he was showing his work at Ocean Galleries in Stone Harbor- hence Рthe trip.  The entire gallery was devoted to his work.  It was an absolute explosion of color.

 

Though the gallery was exciting,  more so was meeting him and having him autograph my luggage tag.

 

Check out these beauties. Below is Tim’s favorite – a crab – of course.

I liked this sculpture, aptly titled “Martini”.

 

Since we were in Stone Harbor for the first time in decades, of course we checked it out.

First a bit of history. ¬†If you can read the sign, it’s pretty cool. ¬†If not, it says that the first airmail delivery in New Jersey was a delivery of 500 pieces of mail that flew from Ocean City to Stone Harbor, using the beach as an airstrip. ¬†Who knew?

 

You know, sometimes east coast beaches  leave a lot to be desired, but the beach in Stone Harbor  is pretty spectacular. Below is a picture of the dunes.  The upright sticks you see are masts of catamarans and other small sailboats.

 

 

The town itself is only 3 blocks wide, east to west. ¬†There are bike paths on both sides of the main street, with a wide grassy median showcasing trees, plants, and gorgeous flowers. ¬†There is a 42-block stretch considered the ‚Äúbeach block‚ÄĚ, ¬†meaning that at the easternmost end of the street is a short path to the beach, making it super accessible regardless of where you are.

 

There are plenty of opportunities for enjoying nature and the outdoors, like the Wetlands Institute.  Established in 1972, the Wetlands Institute is an organization committed to protecting and preserving the wetlands and coastal ecosystems along New Jersey’s shore.  You can visit the exhibits, explore the marsh, join a bird watching walk or take a guided beach hike.  Another spot to explore is the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary.

 

The sanctuary features four different paths that  go  through woodlands, gardens and marsh and are home to a variety of birds and waterfowl.  It is quite lovely.  Note: Bring Bug Spray !!!

Stone Harbor’s business district has plenty of old-fashioned seashore charm, with lots of restaurants and up-scale shops.

To top off the great day, it just so happened that the Festival of Lights  was taking place.  A beautiful sight with lots of boats all dolled up for the parade.

 

 

I would definitely visit again some day.  If you love beautiful beaches, then  you should too!

You know ¬†that road trip I’ve been talking about. ¬†It’s hard to believe, mostly for you, but it’s finally ¬†happening. ¬†We’re leaving on Thursday. ¬†So stay tuned for Minnesota, North Dakota, and Nebraska. ¬†You never know what we’ll discover !