Author Archives: Takin' Breeze

Miles and Miles of Texas

February 24, 2018

Just a little something I left out of the last post that I think you may really like. ¬†It’s a sign in front of the Quartzite Yacht Club. ¬†What hoot!

— and a campfire at the rally.

 

If you’ve ever driven through Texas, you know why we titled this post as we did. ¬†It never ends. ¬†Miles and miles of open plains and ranches, that are dotted with cattle and oil derricks. ¬†In fact, it is 790 miles long, and 660 miles wide from point to point. ¬†Trust me, that’s a lot of Texas.

We ended the last post in Del Rio, Texas, on the Rio Grande. ¬†From Del Rio we headed straight for Port Aransas ( Port A ) on the Gulf Coast, another one of our favorite little towns. ¬†WOW – did we get a shock! You may recall that the eastern parts of Texas got hammered by Hurricane Harvey on about August 25, 2017 —¬†6 months ago.¬†Hurricane Harvey is tied with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, inflicting at least $125 billion in damage, mostly from catastrophic flooding in the Houston metropolitan area. Port A is about 200 miles south of Houston and it’s right on the coast. Even through my untrained eye I can see progress is being made, but they have a long way to go. ¬†Think it’s fair to say that tourism is their main industry, and it won’t be ready for the Spring Break crowd. ¬†The beautiful beaches have been cleaned up but the restaurants, lodgings, and gift stores are a long way from being ready, and some are closed permanently. ¬†Here are a few pictures ¬†of what still needs to be done in Port A

     

Can you please tell me when my car will be ready?

— and nearby Rockport. ¬†Miles and miles of highway median filled up with debris just like this.

Love this taxi, and thought you would, too.  It really is the embodiment of the attitude of the Port A Texans РGET INTAXICATED.

 

The Surfside RV Park where we stayed was fortunate enough to clean, paint, and improve for tourist season, as was our favorite restaurant in Port A, Seafood and Spaghetti.  The fishing pier was being enjoyed by local fishermen  Рand other locals.

 

Most importantly for us, the porpoises are back, coming so close to the pier you can almost touch them.  Fantastic!

After leaving Port A, we headed for Louisiana.  We always wanted to travel the southernmost route, to see what it was like living in the bayous and marshes.  What a surprise!  I figured it would be all tumble-down wooden shacks on piles.  But no, it is  mostly gorgeous green farm land and ranches, like this beauty in Creole, Louisiana.

 

Mind you, the waters are just across the ribbon of road, threatening to encroach on this precious land, but it’s not there yet – so enjoy it while you can.

 

We also returned to Holly Beach to see if it managed to survive the storm. ¬†Hallelujah – it looked great. ¬†Actually, it has grown quite a bit – lots more houses. ¬†A law has been passed that, if you want to build in Holly Beach, the piles upon which the houses sit have to be 18 feet tall – yikes! ¬†I don’t envy them having to carry their furniture and groceries up those steps, that’s for sure. ¬†Many people have installed elevators, which I happen to think is a very smart idea. ¬†Showed you a picture of our favorite house in Holly Beach in a prior post.

It’s still there, but the owners use it as a house for guests, and this is what they built for themselves.

 

Leaving Holly Beach, we found ourselves again in Rayne, LA, ¬†the same little town we’d visited while heading west to the rally. There was a restaurant we had wanted to try called¬†Cajun Claws Seafood¬†Restaurant,¬†¬†and now we had our second chance. ¬†Have you ever eaten a crayfish? Neither had we. ¬†Crayfish, also known as crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, mudbugs or yabbies, are fresh water crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related. ¬† The last time we were in Rayne, everyone around us was chowing down these huge platefuls of them, and now was our turn. ¬†The minimum you could order was 3 pounds (that sounds like a ton), and now I know why. ¬†This is a very labor intensive process, for a tiny little piece of meat. ¬†The waitress showed us how to do it. ¬†First you take off the heads by twisting the joint between the head and body. ¬†Discard the head (unless you want to suck on it like some people – yuck!). Then you remove the first couple of rings of shell from the tail. ¬†Next, pinch the very end of the tail with one hand, and pull the tail meat from the remaining shell in one piece.

It makes me tired (and hungry) just from explaining it. ¬†Is it a lot of work for a tiny piece of meat? ¬†Why yes it is, but it’s kind of like eating Maryland Blue Crabs. ¬†You have to have the right mindset for crabs and crawdads. ¬†You’re not going to dinner and then a movie. ¬†Oh no. ¬†You’re going out for the sole purpose of eating the messy little delectable morsels of heaven, which to me tasted like a split between shrimp and lobster. ¬†We ordered a boiled combo which included 3 pounds of crawfish and 1 pound of shrimp, boiled little red potatoes and corn on the cob. ¬†If you ever have the chance, give them a try. ¬†I believe we liked them — a lot. ¬†Check out these before and after plates.

BEFORE

AFTER

 

When we were in Texas, we remarked to someone that Texans are so warm and friendly. ¬†The gentleman we were speaking to said, “I think you’re right.” ¬†He thought for a second and then said, “The only people friendlier than Texans may be folks from Louisiana. ” I tell you this because while we were in “Crawdad Heaven”, we were seated next to the bar and speaking with a man whom we eventually asked to join us at our table. ¬†He lived in Texas, but worked in Louisiana. ¬†When the musician and vocalist , Gyth Rigdon, came on the stage, this man said, “Listen to this guy, he’s great!” ¬† After a few songs, our new friend had to leave. ¬†Once he was gone, the hostess came over and handed us an unopened CD. ¬†I told her we didn’t buy a CD, and she said, “This ¬†was a little gift from the man who just left.” ¬† And there you have it.

 

One other thing about that restaurant: ¬†Gyth played an impromtu National Anthem. ¬†Everyone, man, woman, and child, jumped up, took their hats off, put their hands over their hearts, and stood quietly, reverently. ¬†When the song was over they whooped, hollered and clapped, and went right back to pickin’ their crawdads ¬†Quite something to see.

 

In Townsend,  Georgia, we found The Smallest Church in America. It was a pretty little well-cared-for building.  It featured 12 wooden chairs, an altar with pretty stained glass, and a framed copy of the Ten Commandments.  There were also lots of people taking pictures.

It’s a shame that it was necessary to put that yellow sign on the outside of the church. ¬†In case you can’t read it, it says – SMILE. YOU’RE ON CAMERA.

 

From Georgia, our goal was the Florida Panhandle town of Pensacola Beach. ¬†We hoped to snag a campsite at Pickens Fort State Park, directly on the water. ¬†It’s very beautiful, with low dunes and sea grasses lining the road from end- to- end. ¬†OH NO !!! This is the first time in almost 2 years of traveling in our camper that we were shut out. ¬†No space for us. ¬†What will we do? ¬†Boondock! ¬†Yep -for those unfamiliar with camping jargon, Boondocking means pulling your rig into the parking lot of certain commercial places that allow overnight parking. ¬†Among those that RVers are familiar with – Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and the Truck Stops – Travel America, Flying J, Pilot, and Love’s. ¬†We found ourselves in a Flying J. ¬†It worked. Sometimes they even cater to RVers by having a dump (you know I detest that word and the reference that goes along with it) stations, and potable water to fill your tanks. ¬†In the morning we got up for the 9 hour drive to Largo, Florida. ¬†In Largo, we planned on meeting our friends Patti and Jeff, and stay in a place called Yankee Traveler. ¬†It was wonderful to see our two friends again. ¬†It was like we didn’t skip a beat. ¬†We first met them in Amada, Arizona. ¬†It’s funny how you can meet people once, and know in your heart that they are “your people”, and when you meet again, no matter how much time has gone by, it feels like you’ve never been apart. Love to Patti and Jeff.

Just before heading home, we stopped in Pinellas County to visit with my cousin Drew.  His Mom and my Mom are sisters.  We hardly ever see him, so it was a nice visit.

 

PS – My hair was looking pretty bad. ¬†The gray is growing in faster than I can keep up with – especially on the road. ¬†So Patti cut my hair. ¬†Yep — she just took a crappy old pair of scissors and cut it. ¬†And guess what? ¬†It’s one of my favorite cuts and I love it. ¬†I’m experimenting. ¬†It’s just hair. ¬†If I don’t like the gray – I’ll color it again.

 

After putting 7,000 miles on the odometer, it was time to head home. ¬†Tim and I were like horses going back to the barn. ¬†Have you ever heard that expression? ¬†When I was a kid, there was a trail horse rental place not too far away from home, in fact, we could walk to get there. ¬†My friends and I decided to “ride”, and I use that term loosely. ¬†For most of the ride the horse tried to bite my feet, and I was told to give him a little kick — that’s just not who I am. ¬†He even just laid down on his back for a bit. ¬†I guess he was hoping I would give up.

Once in a while he would walk the trail very unhappily like a sway-backed 90-year old, just gallumphing along.  Once turned back for the barn, when my time was over, all of a sudden he became Secretariat, flying on winged hooves, trying to win the Triple Crown.  What the hell just happened?  Needless to say, I did not become an equestrian.

NOTE: DON’T READ THE NEXT SECTION IF YOU DON’T WANT A MINI LESSON ABOUT SOME HORSE BEHAVIOR

I tell you this information because Tim and I, like  Barn Sour horses , could be dangerous if we were stopped for any reason, for getting to our final destination Рhome sweet home.

What Causes A Horse To Be Herd Bound, Barn Sour, or Buddy Sour?

“To understand what‚Äôs going on with your horse when he‚Äôs barn sour, it helps to know a bit about how they‚Äôre made and a few things about their nature. When we say ‚ÄúBarn Sour‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúHerd Bound‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúBuddy Sour‚ÄĚ, we are talking about a type of anxiety in your horse that is typically created by separation from the familiar.

In the case of Barn Sour ‚Äď it is the separation from the familiar stall, pen, feeding area, etc. It is their safe place where they are cared for and nurtured. Or it could be the horse who is fine until you turn for home and then wants to rush home.

There are other possible reasons that horses become barn sour. If he is ridden infrequently and you take him from the barn only to work him, then he’ll soon learn that it’s no fun for him and he’ll have no desire to leave his comfort zone.

In the case of Herd Bound or Buddy Sour, it is the separation from their friend(s).

In either case, it is all manifested as a form of insecurity. Horses feel safe in a herd. They watch out for each other, they play and graze together. Watch them in a pasture or in the wild ‚Äď they‚Äôll almost always stay together. It is common to see two horses stand head to tail as buddies.

If a rider‚Äôs frustration resorts to punishment or force for the bad behavior, the problem is compounded. In your horse‚Äôs mind, your actions confirm that riding can be a bad experience and should be avoided. You are only giving him more reason not to leave home because it is unpleasant to do so. ( Glad I didn’t punish him when he wanted to bite my foot).

The herd mentality is extremely strong. You must understand that the instinct of the horse, when presented with any form of danger, is to flee. And this instinct is manifested in a herd as each member can act as a sentry. Many watchful eyes, ears and noses will help keep the herd safe by watching for the threat of predators. When a threat is detected the alarm goes out to the herd and they can decide to flee or not. 

The barn sour or herd bound horse may only show it‚Äôs ugly head when you are away from the barn and then turn towards home. At this point, the horse may become extremely anxious to get home and start doing all kinds of prancing and getting anxious, then get sudden bursts of energy and want to ‚Äútake off‚ÄĚ for home. His mind is now on his buddies or he has a strong desire to be back at the barn.

I can‚Äôt tell you how many stories I have heard about this type of situation. The horse starts to take off for home and no amount of ‚Äúwhoa‚ÄĚ or pulling on the reins will stop him. He lays into the bit, picks up his pace and the rider tries to hold on for dear life as fence posts go whizzing by. The horse wants the rider off his back and wants to get home as soon as possible”. ¬†Oh yes, too true.

© Copyright 2010 Charlie Hicks www.HorseTrainingResources.com 

 

NOTE:  YOU CAN START READING AGAIN

We chose to take the Virginia/Maryland Bay Bridge Tunnel, and then the Lewes РCape May Ferry to Cape May, New Jersey.  In the picture below, the break in the bridge is where the road becomes a tunnel and ships of any size can pass through / over.

Due to timing, we spent one more night on the road in Rehobeth, Delaware, at a Cracker Barrel. ¬†It’s a pretty good place to stop because we had dinner the night we stopped, and breakfast before leaving in the morning. ¬†Then we were off to the Ferry.

I wasn’t sure how to pronounce LEWES – many people say it as one syllable, like LOOS . ¬†I asked a woman working at the ferry terminal, who said it’s pronounced with two syllables ¬†like – LOU-IS. ¬†She added that when people say LOOS, to locals it sounds like fingernails on a blackboard.

This is a picture of a model of the ferry.

Here’s a picture of the ¬†boarding process – we’re in that line.

The ferry takes about 1 1/2 hours, and it’s quite pleasant – comfortable indoor and outdoor seating, TV, climate-control, and a place to buy food.

We got off the ferry and headed for home — no stopping, ¬†just a one-hour drive. ¬†Upon arrival in Smithville, ¬†we unhitched the trailer in the storage yard and drove the final 5 minutes to our house. ¬†And for sure – there’s no place like home !!!

For now, there are no camping adventures planned, but we are leaving next month for a Transatlantic Cruise, and a week’s stay in England before heading home to enjoy the summer right here in New Jersey. ¬†I’ll tell you everything ¬†you’ve ever wanted to know about an ocean-crossing cruise – and more. ¬†See you on the high seas…

 

 

ūüéľ ūüéľ BIG BEND, BIG BAD BEND ūüéľ ūüéľ

February 14, 2018

THE FIBERGLASS RALLY

We finally made it to Quartzsite, AZ for the fiberglass RV rally. ¬†It was really something to see the 200 or so little trailers gathered in one place. ¬†There were a few organized events. ¬†One of them was a soup potluck. ¬†Everyone is asked to bring a can of any kind of soup, as long as it isn’t a creamed variety. ¬†The hosts (I think) put the soups into large vats for cooking. ¬†At the specified time, you go to the “soup area” with your own spoon and bowl. ¬†Needless to say, I did not participate in this activity. ¬†I donated my can of soup, but I did not / could not / would not ¬†taste the final product, although I was told it was “delicious”. ¬†On the last day, there was a dessert potluck. ¬†Again, everyone was supposed to bring one dessert – of any kind. ¬†I think it’s fair to say that every single person in the desert that day lined up for dessert with their own plates. ¬†I don’t think I’ve ever seen dishes piled so precariously high. ¬†Those people could really eat !!!

While in town, we had dinner at the Quartzite Yacht Club (“Long time no sea“).

I collected a number of quartzite rocks.

All I have to do is find a rock tumbler,¬†cut them¬†and voila — spectacular jewelry (after I learn how to cut them and actually make jewels).

And that’s about it. ¬†The rally is primarily for meeting up with other folks who enjoy traveling in the same types of trailers to discuss things like trailer modifications, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. ¬†It was an interesting few days.

 

BIG BEND

In Big Bend National Park, the ¬†miles of roads end at the Rio Grande, the river boundary between the United States and Mexico. ¬†There are more than 100 miles of paved roads, greater than ¬†70 miles of unpaved roads and 238 miles of trails, stretching deep into the park’s wilderness, very difficult to access. ¬† Something ¬†easily accessible in Big Bend are the stars. ¬†Simply look up into¬†one of the darkest skies in the US, and you will easily see the Milky Way. ¬† ¬†In 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the order for this 801,163 acres of land to be protected. ¬†The name Big Bend refers to the great southwest Texas U-turn of the Rio Grande defining the park boundary for 118 miles . ¬† “…by legend, Pecos Bill lassoed a wild tornado and carved a series of magnificentand canyons”. ¬†One of the reasons it has been deemed a national park besides the stunning beauty, is the fact that it is the only park that consists of three different ecosystems – a place where water, desert, and mountains converge. ¬†Big Bend provides habitat for 450 species of birds, 75 species of mammals, 56 species of reptiles, and 11 species of amphibians.

The Rio Grande

   

The river you see in the background is the Rio Grande.¬†This green ribbon not only cuts across the dry desert, it also carved and continues to carve, deep canyons. ¬†Anywhere the terrain rises, water has carved everything from tiny gullies to springs, trickling streams, and canyons. ¬† This is the Santa Elena Canyon. ¬†Its north wall is in the US and It’s south wall towers in Mexico. ¬†( In the picture below, to the left is Mexico and to the right is the US)

By the way, we certainly don’t need a wall between the US and Mexico in this part of Texas at least. ¬†Unless people have expert rappelling skills, there’s no way they can cross into the US via this route.

The Rio Grande is the park’s most prominent water source. The river supports 40 species of fish, several species of turtles, beaver, and numerous species of waterfowl (both residents and migrating species). ¬†It is a place where visitors can fish, canoe and kayak.

The Desert

Big Bend lies in the northern part of the Chihuahuan Desert, one of North America’s four major deserts. ¬† ¬†Some people think the desert is a vast emptiness, but I happen to love this landscape. ¬†I’m amazed at the adaptations of plants and animals that live there. ¬† ¬†Desert life is adapted to save its energy and to get and keep water. ¬†Dormant seeds wait for rain, and can stay dormant for years. ¬†Most animals beat the heat by coming out only at night. ¬†Snakes do this because on hot summer days, they would die in minutes. ¬†Note how the desert gives way to the mountains.

 

I want to give a shout-out to three of my favorite desert plants.  The Torry Yucca, the Ocotillo, and the Century Plant.

The Torry Yucca

The Torrey Yucca is generally ¬†a multitrunked shrub 3‚Äď10 feet ¬†in height. They can be single trunked and tree-like to 20 feet tall. The bladed leaves range from 2 to 4.5 feet ¬†in length. The flowers, ivory to creamy white tinged with red or purple and bell shaped, are on a flower head up to 2 feet long. ¬†The fruit of this plant ¬†was used by the Apache people¬†as a food source. ¬† They also used the plant leaves as a fiber in basketry, cloth, mats, ropes, and sandals. ¬†Why is this one of my faves? ¬†Because the flower head has been known to weigh as much as 70 pounds. ¬†That my friends is a flower – try putting that in a vase!!!

 

The Ocotillo

One of the most amazing of the many unique and unusual plants found in the Chihuahuan desert is the Ocotillo. The Ocotillo is not actually a cactus but a family of its own. Its bundles of gray, thorny stems, often look drab and totally dead.

But, with ¬†warmth and moisture, they miraculously transform into a leafy green, orange-crowned flowering wonder. This plant is one of the best examples of living in and surviving drought, and that’s what makes it a favorite. ¬†With rain the Ocotillo develops¬†leaves but¬†drops them when the dry conditions return. ¬†This can happen several times a year.

Colonies of mature Ocotillo are pretty impressive. Older specimens can reach heights of 25 feet, some spreading out more than 15 feet across.

 

The Century Plant

Another of my favorites is the Century Plant.  They hold a special place in my heart because when we lived in the islands and our children were very small, we used it as a Christmas Tree.

Naturally, we only cut trees that appeared to be dead, dry and withered.  And contrary to what you may be thinking they were spectacularly adorned with tinsel and ornate shell decorations.  Promise!!

The Mountains

The Chisos Mountains are the green island in a sea of desert.  They attract creatures rare and unexpected.  Over thousands of years the animals became isolated Рstranded in the mountains by the increasing dryness.  For example, Carmen Mountain white-tailed deer are unknown anywhere other than in the Chisos.  The Colima warbler nests only in the Chisos, after wintering in Mexico.    Also living here for thousands of years is the mountain lion, known locally as panther.

The pictures below clearly show how the desert gives way to the mountains.

 

 

Big Bend is one of the least visited national parks due to the fact that you have to go way out of your way to see it. ¬†You don’t just pass by. ¬†The only reason to be in that neck of the woods is if you were specifically on a mission to visit Big Bend. ¬†Trust me, it’s worth the effort.

 

We are currently in Del Rio, Texas. ¬†It was one of our favorite towns (city?) on our “big trip”. ¬†Broke Mill RV Park is immaculate and close to lots of neat things. ¬† Last night we had a delicious filet mignon dinner with mashed potatoes, beans, cowboy bread, cherry cobbler and ice cream. The meal was prepared by the owner of the park, Mike, ¬†who also happens to ¬†be a cattle rancher – fresh beef. And if that’s not enough, there was a show after dinner by the Broken Mill Players.

The fiddler is none other than the same guy- Mike. He truly is a master of many trades.

Fun fact: ¬†Whenever you’re traveling and find yourself at an event in a park, the guests begin to talk about where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. “Has anyone been to Alaska?” Those who have chime in on the conversation, “Oh yes, plus, we’ve been to all 50 states and nine Canadian Providences.” ¬†After the travel issues are exhausted, we play the “did you see” game. ¬†People get to boast about all the places they’ve been. Often the boasts are about historical sites and museums – the more esoteric the better. ¬†I’ve learned how to turn these conversations around. ¬†I ask, “Has anyone visited the last washboard manufacturing company in the US?” And further, “has anyone seen the largest ball of twine in the world?” “No?” ¬† By then, people look at us through squinted eyes and ¬†a “huh?” expression. ¬†I love it!

¬†Such fun. If you want to know more, check out blog posts from the past. ¬†We’re headed east, eventually for home. ¬†Next stop – Port Aransas, Texas, another favorite. ¬†See you there.

 

PLEASE DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR MY RANT !

This has happened to us twice in our travels, once in Redwood National Park, and once in the desert. ¬†To all sales people – we are on vacation – and you are, too. ¬†Stop trying to sell us stuff! ¬†It’s been the same both times. ¬†People trying to entice you with their pyramid schemes. ¬†“I have never felt better in my life”, they claim. ¬†“I would not be able to sleep at night if I didn’t tell you about this miracle product.” ¬†When you are naive enough to ask, “What is it”, that’s when they spring into action. ¬†Even going so far as ¬†to showing a picture of themselves before taking the product, and after the product. And how they paid for the very trailer they’re camping in by selling this product, and letting other people in on the wonder of it all, so that they in turn can make people healthy and wealthy. ¬†When they first approach you, it’s seemingly just to be friendly. ¬†You’re thinking, oh, what a nice couple, offering glass of wine, a little cheese, some crackers. Then they start. ¬†And believe me, it’s a hard sell. ¬†They’ve been so nice…can you really say “no”…how will I avoid eye contact for the remaining time we’re camped beside them. ¬†Yep- it’s very awkward. ¬†So just STOP. ¬†If I ask you a question like, “Do you know of anyone who sells a product that will make my gray hair turn brown, help me lose weight, and feel healthier than I ever have in my life?” , then give me your spiel… otherwise, please don’t !!!

Enough said!

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  !!!