Week-end Wrap-up

What a week…huh?  The weather has been beautiful as the temps have dropped to more appropriate autumn levels, blessing us with bountiful sunshine and blue skies as a backdrop to the reds, yellows, and orange of the changing leaves.  I took a lot of walks around our back acres, shuffling my feet in the leaves to cover the sounds in my head, looking at every tree and leaf for a message, listening for birds, or even a squirrel for comfort.  The squirrels came through for me and told me to get back to work, winter’s coming on.

We’ve put the travel trailer away for the winter.  You have to drain all the water hoses and stuff, fill them with a kind of antifreeze, then throw a giant, expensive, cover over it to protect it from the water elements.  Casey’s been hard at work helping Michael with a water heater, but he managed to get it all done while I moped around inside.

We’re counting the days until the retirement, with fear and love…   His retirement date is 12/16.  I’m traveling to NYC for our usual Rockette extravaganza from 12/15-12/19.  I was kind of worried about him since I’ll be gone for his Last Day and First Day…   so I asked him…

“Now tell me, do you really mind that I’m gone those days?  Will you be all right coming home to just the cat after your last day?  Will you be afraid waking up alone on your first day of retirement?

Classic Casey…”you mean I’ll have 2 vacation days?  I think I’ll be okay.”

Yes, 2 vacation days, then it’s you-and-me-together for the rest of our lives, or something like it…  I don’t mean that’s a bad thing, but it will definitely be a time of adjustment.

In order to distract me, we’ve started watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.  I wish life were more like comic books–a hero would come along and start throwing cars around and save us all from the bad guys.  >sigh<

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Just walking in the woods…

 

Camping Compendium Day 1, Part 2

Just past the Oconoluftee Visitor Center, the Blue Ridge Parkway “ends”…  The Parkway stretches 469 miles mostly along the Blue Ridge chain of mountains that is part of the Appalachian Mountains, connecting Shenandoah National Park (mile marker 1 at the tip-top) to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (mile marker 469, bordering the Cherokee Indian Reservation).   We have traveled this route before, from 469 to about 160, and from 84 to 1, where it connects with Skyline Drive in Shenandoah.  We camped at Shenandoah many moons ago and drove Skyline in the fog.  It’s on our list to drive it all at one time, hopefully with the sunshine that we had last Saturday in North Carolina.

GSMNP was packed with visitors, so the the small 13-mile stretch we drove was a welcome relief from the lines of cars, and the views were just as awesome…

First we stopped at the visitor center…

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Then drove on up the mountain…

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I think the winding road down there is the one from Maggie that we drove in on…

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I love it when the mountains in the background look like waves…

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The colors…

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The weather was simply perfect…

 The only place you can buy alcohol in Cherokee is in the casino, and we are an alcohol-fueled couple.  We drove 30 or so miles down to Bryson City to visit Nantahala Brewing Company, figuring we’d pick up some beer.   It looks like the place is pretty new, large-screen TV’s and a stage for live music.  Right across from the GSM Railroad, it was about half-full of tourists like us.  We tried a flight of 4 5oz beers, one of which tasted precisely like Ass, complete with a whiff of fart.  The others were just okay, so we did not buy a $10 six-pack.  I did cleanse my palate with a nice cider that Nantahala does not make…

Back at camp, we had foil dinners…hamburger, potatoes, carrots, onions cooked over the fire.  We made foil apples, too:  cored the apples (I did this at home) and filled them with brown sugar and cinnamon, then wrapped them in the foil and cooked them over the coals until they were mushy…mmm…  I had brought extra brown sugar/cinnamon shake, too.

We watched the fire burn until our eyes couldn’t stay open…  Awesome Day #1

Camping Compendium Day 1

As we left for our mini-vacay last week, I was pretty tense, very distracted, awfully anxious. I knew we would be completely off-grid for a few days–no cell, no TV, not even radio–and frankly, that added to my stress, even though it was the whole point of going. We drove down through Bowling Green and over backroads in Tennessee, picking up I40 around Cookeville.  Our GPS advised us that the traffic down through Gatlinburg was stopped and pointed us toward our Cherokee, NC destination via Maggie Valley.  Maggie is lovely, but the road out has hairpin curves….it was a long last hour.  We got into Smokemont around 5 and had just enough time to set up camp before dark.  I had packed fried chicken, so after we filled our bellies we sat around the campfire and stared, listening to the quiet and not-thinking, beginning to unwind.

We were up early the next day for a hike.  A short walk from our campsite, the Smokemont Loop is only 3/4 mile, but it climbs, so it’s labeled moderate.  Hiking along, stopping to look and listen, the only wildlife we saw was a gray squirrel, but the birds were chirping over our heads, so I know they were there.  I Really am not into bears, but Casey was on the lookout the entire trip…

Smokemont Loop Trail

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The hike felt like a gentle massage…I could feel the tension leaving my shoulders and I hadn’t once thought about anything but the beauty of my surroundings.  We grabbed a sandwich back at camp, then set off to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and take some Overlook pictures.  That’s for tomorrow.

See you real soon!

Picture Post with guest photographer

We’re packing it in for our Smokies trip, but I wanted to share a few pics before we go.  I am fascinated with shadow pictures…they show off my long legs…

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As we were tearing down camp at Harmonie SP the other week, I let Olivia, my 8-year-old grand-daughter, wander around taking pictures with my Nikon.  I think she did a pretty good job, so here’s her album.

Pictures by Olivia

Week-end Wrap-up

On Saturday evening we spent some time at Boo-at-the-Zoo, trick-or-treating with the Jrs. …

Taking advantage of the beautiful week-end weather, we sneaked in some gardening.  We trimmed and pruned, moved some things around,  and  the 2016 gardens are officially put away for the year.  Lessons have been learned, notes have been noted, and like anyone who gardens, we’re full of plans for next year.

We’ve been to the Smokies dozens of times, and have always wanted to camp inside the Park, but the idea of no electricity or water leaves me cold and thirsty…get it?  Haha.  We bought a generator to keep me in style, but they only allow generators from 8am to 8pm, so we’ve been doing a number of experiments to check our battery usage.  Casey is obsessed.  I’ve politely listened and nodded as he explained the amperages and voltages, using hydrometers and just how much the furnace draws when it kicks on and on…and on…

I am excited about the trip, though.  We’ll be staying in Smokemont Campground, something different for us.  We’ve stayed on the Cherokee, NC  side of the Park before, but more often we are on the Peaceful Side in Townsend, TN.  Cades Cove Campground was full, so we welcomed the change.  Look out Bears!   Stand back, Elk!  So far, the weather looks like it will be great too…

The week ahead is full of babysitting, meeting up with friends, and getting ready to go.

Peace, Out.

Look me in the eye…




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It came scurrying  out of the corner of my kitchen counter top as I was doing dishes…

I saw the movement and stepped back,

ascertained it was something big and quick,

shrieked, jumped  waayy back,about 5 feet,

and watched as it came rappelling down the stove,

and scrambled across the floor,

two pairs of hairy legs up,  two pairs down,

suddenly stopping at the leg of my kitchen island.

 It looked up at me and glared…

I glared back…said nothing,

just turned my back and walked away,

sneaking a stealthy glance back

to make sure I wasn’t being followed…




(I don’t kill spiders…it’s a karma thing)

Perfect Weather for Camping

 

We went up to Harmonie State Park last Friday, staying until Monday.  The last time we were up there was our first outing with the Trailer back in April.  We were so excited to take to the road that we didn’t care that the weather was awful—high winds, rain, cold.  It was a pretty dull affair by most standards, but we tried the heater, the microwave, and the toilet, figured storage options, and started planning our Trips.   With four more trips under our belt, we felt like Seasoned Trippers as we set up camp.  This is a park that we are verrry familiar with.  We have camped there at least once a year since we bought our first camper back in 1989.  After we sold the Old Viking, we would tent-camp with the van and it became our go-to spot to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  We were up there just last year with the pop-up (and Olivia) and that’s where we decided to go whole whog and buy a travel trailer.

The weather (as you can see) was perfect.   Saturday morning we got up and went for a hike, starting with flannel shirts, but soon dropping off to tee shirts.  I didn’t take my camera, but we did have binoculars to spot birds.  Sunset found us on the banks of the Wabash River.

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Olivia marched in the Fall Festival Parade with her dance school, so the Jrs. were busy on Saturday.  They came up for lunch on Sunday, and to play…

Michael, Jessica, and Samantha went on home after some hot dogs for supper (yes, I said supper) and left Olivia with us.  We rode bicycles and roasted some more dogs.  She always takes the bedroom, so she settled down early with her tablets and a movie.

On our last trip, the stormy weather had precluded any TV or cellphone reception (there is no internet connection there), so I had Thought that I would be getting off the grid, taking a nice break from Anxiety-producing News.  Alas!  We usually had 2 bars on the cell, and the TV reception was perfect for our local network outlets…  We kept the TV off, though, so I didn’t realize there was a shit-storm the size of Matthew roaring through until Saturday afternoon, when I got sucked back into the “what the hell” that is our current political clime.  I did my best to keep my eyes and mind averted, but by Sunday night there I was in my comfy chair, clutching the remote and watching the debate.  Damn.  I guess there’s no place to hide…

But I’ll keep trying.

The next morning, we tore down camp and went for a quick around-the-pond hike as we left…

Peace, dear Readers.

News Round-up

Shew!  Busy times.

Martha, Nancy, and I went over near Robards, KY to a new winery/restaurant, The Farmer and the Frenchman.  It is brand-spankin’ new and very well-done.  It’s a little far out there–and we got lost, thanks to my directions–but the decor and view are terrific.  The menu was interesting, but I stuck with a familiar Greek salad;  not the best I’ve had, but certainly good.  The wine was nice, sweet, but not syrupy.  They were out of their signature “dressed-up cowgirl red”, so I drank a glass of white — good enough to persuade me to buy a bottle.  I plan on dragging Casey down there and I highly recommend it to ya’ll, too…

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Last Friday I drove over to my mom’s hometown, Grayville, IL, to visit with Aunt Shirley and my Compton boy-cousins.  Aunt Shirley is visiting from Melbourne, FL and I like to see her whenever she’s nearby.  We went over to Davina’s Country Diner for lunch–catfish fritters, green beans, and cucumber salad-

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-and then came back to Jeff’s house to smoke and drink and play cards.  It was a blast.  There is no one else alive who I’d rather drunk with than Any of my Compton cousins, and the guys are real sweethearts.  Those boys roll their own tobacco and it is nasty, she says since she puffed up a pound or two of it.  I napped and waited for cousins Lana and Charley to show up for some cards–chit-chat–and won $4…beginner’s luck.  My clothes were stinking and I don’t want to talk about the hangover the next morning…

I bought a selfie-stick a while back, but can’t get it to connect to bluetooth, so I have to use the timer and somebody else’s arm to snap the pic…not an easy feat when you’ve been dancing with Jim Beam all day…

Girlfriend Luann is in town for her Mom’s 90th birthday party on Saturday, so we’re getting together this afternoon.  I’m going back to Grayville on Friday for a more sober visit and to say hasta la vista to the Auntie.

Saturday is the Birthday Party and I guarantee you the food will be the stuff of childhood memories.  Lu’s clan is full of interesting people to whom I like to pretend I’m related.  Still, there’s no Jeff & Jay in that fam, so they are missing out (but will probably live longer).

The first full week in October is always the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival, which I will avoid like the plague.  Ya’ll go on down there, though, and enjoy yourselves!  Olivia’s dance school is marching in the parade, but the other grandparents are covering it for me.  Lily King is the grand marshal and it will be packed–we are proud of our homegrown Olympic Gold Medalist.

Casey has the week off, so we’re planning some sort of adventure.  I’ll be perfecting my selfie-stick skills and be sure to keep you informed…

Till then…Peace…

Bring on Autumn…

It is the day of the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and here at Sonnystone it is a beauty.  Not Fall-ish yet, but the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the humidity isn’t tooo bad.  You can feel the energy of the Fresh Astronomical Season in the air.

I’ve missed ya’ll, and am ready to return to regular blogging.  But not today.  Today, I’m just leaving you with pictures and a promise…

New Harmony Kunstfest  9/17/16

I look forward to cooler temperatures and warmer colors, mums and blooming pineapple sage.  It’s been a Great Summer, especially for the moonflower vine that I started from seed and the sweet potato vine that I put in an urn…

I hope Your Day is Terrific!  Peace…

Trailer Travelogue Part Last

Thanks for following us as we trip on down the road!

I didn’t want to go back home the same route we came (especially that stretch of I44 in MO), so we took off early and pointed the Expedition north on a foggy road,  climbing  up into the mountains of the Sangre de Cristo range.  We felt like we were the only travelers out that morning, and that was on the Interstate!  About an hour out, we took an exit near Springer that put us on 2-lane highways for the rest of the 6-hour drive to Dodge City, KS.  We traveled over 2 hours without seeing a gas station, going through small-town blinking lights, cutting through a corner of Oklahoma, past grain silos, sharing the road with truckers,  making good time.  Taking the back roads always makes the trip more American-ish, and we found the gas in plenty of time.

Just as I had started studying the Anasazi years ago, I had also chanced on to Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, KS quite a while back.  Casey is a Yuuge Gunsmoke fan and I have to admit that I always fancied Marshall Dillon, too, so when I saw a campground named Gunsmoke Trav-L-Park, it was an obvious choice.  Since no one except us baby boomers even knows what Gunsmoke is anymore, I figured this was a sign to go while it’s still open.

The internet had promised dinner theatre at the Long Branch with dancing girls and shoot-em-ups in the “street” a couple of times a day.  Not.  The place was soo well-maintained, but that’s probably fairly easy since there was nobody else there most of our visit.  It was a logical stop on the way home, though, so I’m glad we checked it out.  I would have always thought I missed something, and it seems like it may have to shut down before too much longer.

The Museum had an elaborate diorama of the history of Dodge City, both before and after the Wyatt Earp Days (there was no Real Matt Dillon), including the Native culture.  They then segue into the Gunsmoke series with lots of autographed pictures and a re-creation of our 1950’s living rooms, where Casey felt right at home.

The RV park was also pristine, keeping the Gunsmoke theme going, and the sites were filled with campers and kids.   A dead snake was a big attraction and we got to meet some of our neighbors around the horses that were just beyond the fence that circles the perimeter.

Early to bed again that evening, after we caught these shots of the sunset.

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We drove all the way home the next day, arriving back at Sonnystone by about 10:30 pm.  The ride was smooth and our GPS successfully saved us from another traffic jam, so we breezed on.

I’m already planning our next trip…