April 30 Sunday morning, dawning so pretty, the birds singing, what a beautiful day to end our stay in the North Carolina Mountains. We ate an early breakfast of our usual (oatmeal for the uninitiated) and then I worked diligently on the web page while Linda cleaned the coach. Church this morning was at Carson Chapel, but wasn't the usual service. Whenever there are 5 Sundays in a month, the 5th Sunday is a special music service. This morning the music was going to be provided by Tom & Jo of the famous Tom & Jo show.
We've been to this church several times over the past few months and have enjoyed it very much. Today, I had to wonder what was going through the ministers mind as he sat there. There were about half again as many people in the congregation this morning as usual. If you had a weekly activity that you led, but whenever someone other than you led the activity, many more people than usual came, just how would you react? Would you be envious or maybe chagrined, would you be jealous or possibly fear for the loss of your job? Or would you be thankful for the rest, how about relieved you didn't have to come up with something new and different again this week? Could you be as happy as the minister of this tiny country church was? Special people found in ordinary places, it's what makes our travels so wonderful.
After church there was a pot luck dinner. Remember how just last night, I had been urged to consume enormous quantities of unhealthy food during our "last chance for a while" pot luck at Mountain Stream. So what are doing today at noon preparing to gorge ourselves for a second time in less than 18 hours? Seems like sometime during the Tom & Jo Show and several times afterwards it was mentioned that there was also a pot luck today at the church. Never one to turn down an opportunity to sample someone else home cooking, Linda proceeded to bake a pan of brownies this morning for the pot luck. Of course it must be mentioned that Linda and I weren't the only ones at both pot lucks. Both Roscoe & Carole and Ray & Nancy were also enjoying the feast. My first time through the line I noticed a small pan of greens, kinda off to the side. Knowing how often treasure is found in the least likely places, I took a good sized spoonful. Talk about a surprise. In the years when we had lived in the South, I'd had a lot of greens, but never, never anything to compare with these. Jam packed with flavor and topped with just the perfect amount of spicy heat, these were the crowning glory of our sojourn in North Carolina. It didn't take long for this gourmand to seek out a second helping in order to confirm that this was truly a gastronome's delight, lol. I wanted to know more about the recipe for this epicurean colossus, but who to ask. Finally I spied three ladies sitting together and resolved to find the answer to the mystery of the indescribably delicious greens.
I walked over across to where the ladies were sitting and sat down directly across from them. Not about to beat about the bush on so momentous a quest, I spoke directly to the lady sitting in the middle of the group, telling her that while I might be from California and not familiar with greens on a daily basis, nonetheless, I knew haute' cuisine when I tasted it. Seeing the blank look in her eyes, I shifted my attention to the lady with the huge smile sitting to her right and simply said, those greens were the not only the best greens, they were the best food of any type I had eaten in ages. Understand that as I uttered this sentence, my back was to Linda and she was at least 10 feet away, besides I was desperate to learn more about these greens, so a slight offense to she who I have to live with was understandable, or at least I hoped it was, smile
Imagine my surprise when the lady replied, "I'm glad you liked my greens." What are the odds of asking the one person who was the actual person who fixed this dish out of a room full of strangers, smile. We talked for while as she told me about how she uses home canned greens and adds a little pepper sauce, "to taste", as she put it. All the while as she was talking in her soft Carolinian accent, I was doing my best imitation of a bobble head doll, smile. Remember my problem with understanding the North Carolina mountain dialect and accent, lol. This was not a dish that could be easily duplicated, but it sure could be eaten, so I helped myself to a third helping and headed back to the table where Linda, Carole and Roscoe were setting. Doing my best to describe what she had told me, a prolonged chuckle got our attention. It was the minister and he laughingly related how he had been after her for years to get the recipe for her greens and here she had gone and told some "fellar from Calie'fornya" her recipe. By now everyone at our table was laughing. Then he seemed to slip out of his country church preacher clothes and don the garb of the grand inquisitor, smile. Deep, penetrating questions as to the type and granulation of the salt used, the heat and cooking time, flowed of his tongue like lava from a volcano. I was starting to think that maybe there really was a forbidden fruit cloaked in the clothing of those greens. During this time there were smiles on everyone's face. Then I noticed the wink from the lady who told me the recipe. Now I got it, so I strung the preacher along for a while, then joined everyone in a good round of laughter.To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The adventure goes on and on.
Later in the afternoon we journeyed down to Marion with Roscoe and Carole. We were going to the movies. Not to see just any movie, but to see Robin Williams in RV which opened this weekend. This was a two screen theater and at least 90% of the people were going to see RV. I don't have a clue as to what the other movie was, but whatever it was, it sure wasn't selling in Marion, lol. As we waited for the show to start, more and more people kept arriving. It was so funny to look at the lines at the snack bar. Almost the entire lobby was full of people trying to buy something on the RV side, while the other side had only one or two people (and they couldn't get the attention of the clerks, who were swamped by the RV people, lol).
The movie was a blast, we laughed and laughed. It was also neat listening to the tales being told by other people as we exited the theater. Seemed like there was something in the movie everyone could relate to who had ever had an RV. During the retun trip to the campground, we discovered Roscoe would have been a gold mine of RV miss cues for the writer of the movie to use. If they ever remake "The Long, Long Trailer" there a good chance Roscoe may be credited with something like "Based on an original idea by Desi Arnez, additional material contributed by Roscoe", lol, lol. We won't tell on him, but you might want to ask him about the time he borrowed a travel trailer and ended up replacing all the carpet in it before returning it. Or the campground entrance that required the two family high center push. Mere tidbits in a life of adventure Carole and Roscoe have enjoyed, smile.
I had to take a couple of pictures of the picture so to speak, lol. That first dump, who can ever forget it. Ours was out of necessity because, having no idea how much the gray water tank held and not thinking to look at the tank gauge, we found out we needed to dump when the shower started filling up with water, lol. That was years ago, and we have never done it again, knock on wood, smile.
That first time we dumped, my biggest fear was someone would be there. In hindsite, that would have been the best thing to happen. I could have asked them how you hooked up and dumped, lol. But who can not relate to the people in the lawn chairs out watching the first time you dumped, lol.
Everytime we head done a road we don't know, it is always in the back of my mind that it could turn out to be like this. While never taking a road this bad, we have been on some roads that weren't. Weren't roads that is. We always have managed to survive even if somethings in the RV didn't, lol.
Returning to the park, we said our last goodbyes to Tom & Jo Anne and also to Larry & Melinda, two couples who helped make our stay at Mountain Stream, special. Later we walked down to the office to check on something special. You see, yesterday we had stopped in at Lowe's and bought two large, deep red Geraniums. Then last night, after dark, we carried the two pots down and placed them on the stands that flank the office door. Ron and Becky are such neat people, they will have no idea who could have put them there, as it could be anyone of many different people. We leave them as our little addition to "the prettiest little RV Park this side of heaven."
April 29 Would you believe, we had another new bird at Zach's feeder againthis morning. After spending far more time looking at the bird book than I planned, my best guess would be that it was a Chipping Sparrow. It has the body, bill shape and markings of this sparrow, the rust colored cap, gray underparts, white wing bars and the distinctive bold white line from the bill through the eye. This is one small pleasure I will be trading in for another when we leave Mountain Stream RV Park. Rather than be sad at loosing the gratification it provides, I will eagerly anticipate the next source of great satisfaction that will one day come into our lives, just as this one has.
Seeing Carole and Roscoe walk past the coach, we finished up our morning chores, tuned out the lights and for the last time headed down to the office to see what our jobs would be for the day.
For the girls it would be a light cleaning of the bath house and raking the area under the pavilion. For Roscoe and I, it was once again the equipment shed. Today we will work at bringing this long gray monstrosity into the 21st century. The Mountain Stream Branch of the Marion Section of the McDowell County Division of the Rural Electric Administration after nearly 70 years of existence will finally bring that new fangled invention, the electric receptacle to the equipment shed. You know that little box on the wall you can plug a cord with two prongs on the end into, then listen to the radio or some other useless time wasting device that will be the ruin of the youth of our country.
Idleness and sloth do not enter into the lives of the dynamic duo of Bob & Roscoe, not for a minute, because when there is work to do, they do it. Ron had his drawing out explaining to Roscoe exactly how he wanted everything installed. From the look on Ron's face there may have been somewhat of a communication gap between his soft Narrth Carrowlina accent and Roscoe's Texas twang. I looked studiously the other way, letting the two southerners figure it out.
Suddenly Roscoe held up is hand and loudly announced, "I've got something to tell you." Figuring there was a strong difference of opinion about to be aired, I looked for a safe haven. With a wiry smile. Roscoe said, "I finally got the satellite to work on the rear TV." To which Carole, her face beaming with a beautiful smile, immediately added, "He did and it is great." Just the day before I had been talking to Roscoe about matters electronic, specifically how Linda and I finally figured out how to play the radio and TV were the sound came from the home theater system instead of through the tiny tinny sounding speakers in the TV.
Now it was Roscoe's turn to show the world that no California couple could top a Texas twosome, smile. As was related by Carole, there were cables and splitters running everywhere in the Texans trailer. At last the sound of triumph announced they had satellite reception at the bedroom TV. However, while it was one thing to have TV reception, it was another to be able to live in this tangle of cables, connectors and splitters. Carole laughed as she told how she wasn't going to let Roscoe disconnect this mighty mangled morass because she figured if he started pulling things apart, nothing would ever work again. Besides, Roscoe's solution was to start drilling holes in the 5th wheel. Carole mentioned something about over a lifeless body before that happened, unfortunately I didn't catch whether the body was her's or Roscoe's, lol. Turned out, Carole was able to return the TV to its former nonworking order while Roscoe figured out a bloodless way of making the connection permanent. Now, if he can only do it without having to make more than two trips down to Marion for parts, smile.
Soon we four work campers, well, two work campers and two almost ex-work campers, smile, were off to the equipment shed. We would soon know how well Ron's planning, drawing and purchasing equated to the interpretation of instructions, locating and boring of holes and pulling of wire on the part of the crazy quartet of work campers he was saddled with, lol. Note the way I wove the reference to southern gospel music (quartet), Texans (saddled) and Californians (crazy) into that sentence. Have I honed my writing skills or what. I know what you're thinking, some minds work in mysterious ways while others barely work, lol.
There was a time in my life when I could have done todays job in my sleep. The son of an electrician, I had helped pull a few wires in my day. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on the point of view, those days were decades in the past. That work camping is a challenge, is a given, that it is work is also part of the job, but then so is having fun and enjoying what you do. Being short timers, today was going to be fun, no matter what. We still had a few holes to bore before we could pull the wire on the side of the shed closest to the office. Roscoe and Carole attacked this, while Linda and I started to pull wire. Since there were so many plugs and the runs were so short, this was not that hard. At least it wasn't once we figured out how to do it the easy way rather than the hard way.
The sound of the drill bit chewing through wood soon filled the air, a whine that was occasionally accompanied by the grunts and groans emanating from the wire puller. Roscoe, next time how about you make those holes just a tad bigger, seemed to be the thought floating around in the dark corners of my brain. We got to think like electricians and bore a hole that takes up about 90% of the 2x4, not those piddly little 3/4" and 1" holes that make life difficult, lol. Besides that, someone, Ron?, had only put about half a million screws into the siding to fasten it to the wall studs. Heck it's almost a metal building. Roscoe would start drilling, the sound of the drill, a nice gentle whir, only to be suddenly replaced by the staccato rat-tat-tat of another siding screw. Becky was probably going to have a major problem with mice this winter, what with parts of the shed looking like swiss cheese. lol
The point of view that a boring person takes is quite different from the view of a stringy person. Roscoe, who is never boring was boring, smile. His sole objective in life today was to find a way to get us to stay another month. Wasn't going to happen, but Texans are stubborn, if nothin' else. The man couldn't drill two holes in a straight line if his life depended on it. (No wonder Carole doesn't want him working on the TV cable in their 5th wheel, lol). I, on the other hand was stringing electric cable through the holes he was boring. An easy job if the holes line up. A not so easy a job when they don't. It didn't take me long to figure out there was a method to his madness. If the posts were a substantial distance apart, he seemed to drill the holes in a fairly straight line. But put the posts close together and the offset of the holes increase accordingly. Put the posts 6 inches apart and the offset was 6 inches, put the posts 2 feet apart and the holes lined up almost perfectly. No wonder he said he "used to work" in construction, with an eye like that, nobody would last for long, lol. We struggled along and actually manged to get the wire pulled, despite Roscoe's efforts to the contrary. At quiting time we were out of wire with only a couple of short runs left to finish. So much for all of Ron's planning, lol.
Please take very careful note of the blue electrical box near
Note that there is no hole for the wire the wire to be pulled through.
There is a hole but where could it be?
That crazy Texan bored the hole right where the box is, would you believe it, smile.
No wonder we're laughing, as neither one of could imagine somebody that dumb, lol, lol, lol.
Now it was time to turn the tables. When the clock hit 2 o'clock the burden shifted from Bob to Roscoe. Now it was his baby. He claimed to be knowledgeable about carpentry and ignorant about matters electrical. If what he knew about carpentry was considered knowledgeable, then when it came to electric he probably didn't even know what a wire was, lol. Sensing the possibility of hyperventilation, I passed the Rosetta Stone of wiring electrical outlets on to the man. The screws on electrical outlets are either silver (light) or brass. Further more, there is usually a little tag or something near the the brass screw that says "hot wire". As I left, I told him what my dad had drummed into my head, low those many years ago. If it's properly connected at the fuse box (this was a long time ago, smile), the plug is wired white to bright and black to brass. I showed him what I was talking about on one of the outlets which Linda had placed beside every box. The man positively beamed. You'd have thought I'd just given him a million dollars. Just goes to prove it actually doesn't take a lot to make a Texan happy, you just have to know what it is, lol. (I'm really, really going to miss working with Roscoe. If you ever get the opportunity to work a NOMAD project with Roscoe and Carole, you'll be a better person for having been with them.)
An indentured servant is a laborer under contract (an indenture--explained below) to work (for a specified amount of time) for another person or a company/corporation, often without any monetary pay, but in exchange for accommodation, food, other essentials, training, or passage to a new country. They were often referred to as coolies. After working for the term of the contract (traditionally seven years, but sometimes as brief as two months) the servant was then free to farm or take up a trade of his own. The term comes from the medieval English "indenture of retainer" — a contract written in duplicate on the same sheet, with the copies separated by cutting along a jagged (toothed, hence the term "indenture") line so that the teeth of the two parts could later be refitted to confirm authenticity. They were also used to make the labor-intensive cash crop tobacco in the 17th century and work in campgrounds in the 21st century, lol. (With apologies to Wikipedia)
Done with our commitment of indentured servitude, we began to kick back and relax. There was a potluck dinner scheduled tonight, followed by an evening of the Tom & Jo Show. When you attain your freedom strange thoughts pummel your mind. For some reason I was stuck on the following:
Oh, what a night.
Late December back in '63.
What a very special time for me,
'Cause I remember what a night.
Not that anything noteworthy happened to either one of us at that time, it's just that the lyrics and tune conveyed the happiness we were feeling at this moment. Therefore the new words are:Oh, what a day.
April 28 It seems like nearly every day has seen a new kind of bird to the feeder our grandson made for us. Today was no exception, plus we're getting better at identifying the different birds. For example, we've learned to eliminate certain birds based on their size or shape. Hence we know for certain today's bird could not have been either hummingbird or a pelican. With those birds eliminated, our task is somewhat easier, smile. I keep telling you we are not bird people, lol. Our best guess was it was a grackle. It looked like the grackles we saw down in Port Aransas, Texas, only smaller. It's got a long tail, it's black with an iridescent sheen and it's got an abbreviated song (if you can call that noise it makes a song) like parts of the noise those Texas grackles made, just not as much beginning or end. It spent a long time in the tree the feeders hang from, going from branch to branch. When it finally flew to a feeder it wasn't the new big one, it was the small one. It looked almost ludicrous, precariously clutching the tiny landing area, bent around in a near semi-circle, tail thrust under the feeder, trying to get its head turned right so its bill could get seeds from the small opening. On second thought, maybe it wasn't a grackle. After all, those down it Texas would just land on the ground around you and make that awful racket of theirs until you threw them something to eat, smile.
Some mornings get off to a better start than others. When I heard Linda saying the oatmeal was "just right", I knew I'd better stop working on the daily journal and get it while it was hot. If you dish it out when it is still warm and use the serving spoon to clean the pot, then, and only then, can you enjoy the small, but infinitely delicious pleasure of licking the spoon. I don't know what it is about that little bit that you can scrape from the bottom of the pan that makes it so good, but good it is. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The adventure goes on and on. Speaking of the way the morning starts off, Linda came out into the living area this morning and just started laughing. Perceiving there was something humorous in the nearby vicinity, I inquired as to the source of hilarity she was displaying. Mentioning something between giggles about a bad hair day she took this photo which says it all, lol.
Even though we only have two more days to work, we have not had any attacks of short timers disease. We talk about uprooting our life and moving on, but not with regret or excitement, more matter-of-factly than anything. I wonder how we will feel on Monday morning when we pull out, or a week from today when we are in northern Indiana for the Maintenance Session. But for now there is no time to ponder such thoughts because he of the white hair calls his minions to their daily tasks, lol.
In short order we find that we will be dealing with division and death today. Division of the equipment shed into two areas by way of the partition we will be building and death to many of the weeds around the campground through a dose of lethal spray. As the girls go riding off to a cloud of dust in The Sound and the Fury, Roscoe and I begin planning the building of the Great Wall of Mountain Stream. Though not in any way a rival to its namesake in China in terms of size and grandeur, in terms of difficulty of the actual construction, we sense there may be strong similarities before this project is completed, smile.
The architect and construction manager, Ron, had some fairly definite ideas on the method of construction. It would be a tilt up wall, prefabricated to fit the irregular space it would occupy. Establishing a straight line to begin construction when neither the floor slab nor the building is square can present a challenge. We were up to it however, actually several times, since there were several false as well as actual starts to the construction process. Finally the time came to start constructing the wall. Roscoe measured the base plate and cut it. We determined the length of the studs and I cut those. Next Roscoe nailed the base plate to the studs, then did the same with the top plate. Now we were ready for the moment of truth. The time had come to raise it into place. Three guesses as to what happened. I will concede it did raise up into position. A position about two feet off the floor where it jammed. We removed a few screws and nails that protruded from the walls and it raised a few more feet. Ron arrived and surveyed the scene. He gripped the wall and lifted, with a sudden movement his end raised to within several inches of its proper place in life. My end however was about a foot below where it needed to be. Now Ron is one big, powerfully built man. I have no doubt whatsoever that he could lift Roscoe with one hand and me with the other. The look he gave me was one of those face encompassing grins of his that is completely disarming. Compelled to say something, I pointed out the wall was somewhat twisted. He commented that that was because his end was up and mine was not. Time to back up I thought, since I'm the 98 pound weakling in this scenario I decided to act like it, lol. Without admitting to being unable to lift the wall (I'll tell you it was heeeavy, man) I quickly pointed out it appeared the wall was to wide to fit into the space. Roscoe concurred and we lowered the wall then cut it down by about a half inch. Raised into position (this time I made sure my end went up first, smile) it fit almost perfectly. Adhesive was applied to the concrete floor and the wall was nailed into place. Thus ended our next to last work day day as work campers.
Back at the coach it was time to install the battery maintainer Linda had researched, bought and struggled to have delivered. It is called a Trik-L-Start and allows for a 5 amp charge from the house batteries to the engine batteries, but not visa-versa. Here is their website. The installation seemed pretty straight forward and easy, it was. I connected it to the posts of the battery isolator solenoid which was in the battery compartment. The hardest part was reaching to the back wall of the compartment to make the connections. It was while making these connections that I discovered the solenoid was loose in the bracket that held it, allowing it to slide down to the point both battery leads made contact with it. I don't know if that was the source of our discharged batteries or not, but I mounted the solenoid so the leads no longer contacted the bracket. Next we cleaned the batteries and added water as needed. Reconnecting the batteries and turning the cutoff switches back on, we found everything work exactly as it should. The day had started off good and it ended even better. Actually the end of the day was downright fabulous. Dinner was Linda's white bean chili while dessert was chocolate chip cookies and ice cream.
April 27 Just another day in paradise. Just another beautiful day. The sun is out, the sky is clear, birds are at the feeder, the oatmeal is bubbling in the pot. What more could we ask for. Time and again throughout each day, I will stop for a moment and say, either to myself or to Linda, "I don't believe it, I just don't believe it.". Each and everyday that I learn more about life on the road, I realize we could have done this years before, we just didn't have any idea that people lived this way. I truly and sincerely hope everyone does something each day to expand their horizon. How can you get to that special place if you don't even know it is there.
These lines from a song by The Lovin Spoonful have alway spoken volumes to me:
Tomorrow at breakfast you may pick up
Or you may be daydreaming for a thousand years
Every once in a while I would pick up my ears and hear what the world was telling me. I'm endeavoring to get back in that mode as we prepare to hit the road once again. Will the next month be full of daydreams or will my ears hear things that lead to new adventures in our life? However it turns out, it's going to be an interesting next 30 days.
Our workday began with Linda and Carole cleaning the bath house while Roscoe and I shoveled gravel. Ron had gotten a load of rock dumped in the stockpile area, so we loaded up the trailer and hauled a load up to the trench we had sacrificed a portion of our lives excavating, smile. Unfortunately we were still not done with the trench from you know where. We still had to clean up the sand bags we did not use . It didn't take long to move them down to the stockpile area. However, there was still one more task remaining from that blankity-blank trench. The tarps we had used to keep the dirt we had dug from that (word deleted) trench separated from the gravel, were filthy dirty. Guess what, with the ladies busy cleaning the bath house, it fell upon the shoulders of Roscoe and I to clean them. Seeking to put the %$#@& memories of that &%$#@ trench behind us as quickly as possible we attacked the tarps with hose and broom. After an hour of arduous labor they were clean and drying in the sun. May RV'ers enjoy sites 17 and 18 for years to come, smile.
Our next job was the one we would have done yesterday had the weather co-operated, mowing the grass. It has been over 40 years since I last used a riding mower, though in the 8 years before that, I had used one enough to last a lifetime (and it almost did, lol). Either riding a Bolens or walking behind a Gravely was how I spent everyday of my teenage summers. To this day I remember exactly where all the levers were and what they did on those tractors, No wonder I spend so much time discovering useless facts today, I was too busy working when I was a youth to do it then, smile. I never regretted all that work because the money I earned help pay my way through college which led to my being where I am today. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. And the adventure goes on and on.
Both Linda and I spent enough time on the mower to get our pictures taken, Then I finished mowing the large center grassy area while Linda and Carole used the hand mowers between the sites and Roscoe wrestled with the new weed whacker Ron had bought Becky. After I had finished mowing the center area, I used Linda's mower on the bank by the stream. Between the steepness of the bank, the wet ground and the small front drive wheels it was a real workout to get the bank mowed. Later I used the weed whacker to get the areas the mower couldn't, plus I finished trimming the roadside sites. We were not the only ones busy. Becky was hard at work planting popular starts along the stream bank. They grow fast and in a few years when we return to Mountain Stream, they should be small trees. Also, it was amazing to see the difference between the thick stand of grass on the area of the bank we had reseeded a few weeks ago versus the nearly bare bank from Ron's work of early March. The only difference was the temperatures have now warmed up quite a bit and we heavily watered the seedbed this time.
The grass mowed, it was time for our turkey wraps. We were in for a real taste treat today. Last Sunday Linda had bought some sun dried tomato turkey breast. I'm not sure how they make it, but does it ever taste good. We're going to have to get some more. Oh yes, we got it at the deli department at WalMart of all places. Next we decided to put our HRRVC numbers on the coach. They are decals similar to what Austin had put on the back of the coach the other day. I just did it the same way he did and they went on with no problem whatsoever, plus they look great to boot. If you see 112552 coming at you, it's us, lol.
All this time we were not the only ones doing something around the house. Next door, those crazy Texans were busy putting on the dog so to speak. Since Heidi didn't seem to be complaining, Roscoe must have been doing a good job. Kind of gives new meaning to the term, "leading a dogs life" don't you think, smile. Must have been a good job of trimming because we later saw Heidi out in public, lol.
This last photo speaks volumes about our life. The boots signify the work were have been doing. The tomato plant, our connection to the life we used to lead. The birds, the freedom we now enjoy with the ability to "fly" to a new location whenever we choose. The tree trunk, the solid foundation on which we built our life. The firebox, the fire of adventure that burns within us. The grass, that the whole country is now our now our front yard. And lastly, the road leading off into the distance, signifying the never ending journey we are on.
April 26 Today is a good hair day for Linda. She has an 8 o'clock appointment with Howard at Cutting Edge in Marion. One of her concerns about our adventure was getting her hair done, or rather, done in a manner that was acceptable to her. She was really fortunate when she found Howard shortly after arriving at Mountain Stream. Having noticed a lady at the Wednesday night church dinner with a hair style quite similar to hers, Linda asked the lady who did her hair and that was how she found Howard. Rumor has it that several other ladies at the campground either go to Howard or are going to go because of Linda's excellent experience. If you are traveling in the area and need your hair done, Linda certainly recommends him, but be advised, 1. he's a busy man and 2. he's apt to talk your leg off, smile.
While Linda was gone we had another new visitor at the bird feeder our grandson made for us. No need to guess what kind of bird this one was. The brilliant blue of the Indigo Bunting made it easy to identify. It definitely looks like the bigger birds are attracted to the larger feeder. Yet it's not just a bird feeder, it is a gift, given with love by a young child, that in turn brightens our hearts and gives us a glimpse of something new and beautiful. That is truly something priceless. Thank you so much, Zach. Grandma and grandpa just love the bird feeder you made for us.
There was a light rain falling and no Linda in sight when the 9:30 work bell rang. Time to go check in with Ron and see what he wanted us to do today. Normally we would mow the grass on Wednesday, but the rain made that impossible. I have to laugh at this situation, because here it is, almost two months since we started and I still don't have a clue what he's going to ask us to do on days like this, lol. Turns out the shop needs to be inventoried, starting with the electrical equipment. Sounds good to me, after all he's the boss and the job is inside out of the rain. Got the shed unlocked just as Roscoe and Carole walked up (this is the first time in weeks I've gotten started before they did, hope it doesn't become a habit, lol). While Carole went into the office to get the sheets Ron wanted the inventory recorded on, Roscoe and I pulled out the boxes we had previously put all the electrical "stuff" in. Carole returned with a small yellow pad and a pencil and we talked about how we should proceed. With electrical "stuff" in both the equipment shed and the small shed, we figured we should bring everything down to the equipment shed. Up through the rain we go to get the boxes and bring them down. The one good thing about this project is that we had put all the electrical "stuff" into boxes several weeks ago on one of those rainy days when Ron asked us to sort the "stuff" in the sheds. You'll have to excuse my overuse of the word "stuff", but that's the only word to describe what seems to have accumulated around here, smile. As we were carrying the boxes down to the equipment shed Linda returned, her hair looking great. Howard the Stylist, alive and living in small town America, you gotta love it, what it is and what it means.
There was no real categorization to in the boxes. We had simply collected like things and piled them together in whatever containers were handy when we did it several weeks ago. First we needed to find out what we had, so in short order the floor was a mass of parts, pieces and things electrical, both new and used.
When it comes to keeping "stuff" there are the two extremes and the great middle ground. It was immediately apparent which of these three groups Ron belonged to. I'll give you a hint: What was the best name of the best selling novel in the United States in 1900. Okay, okay, I know that's not the kind of hint that comes readily to most people, but there are a few us who obviously have to much time on our hands, besides, remember that different drum I march to, lol. The title of the novel in question is: To Have and to Hold. We are talking about a man who saves spare parts to equipment he no longer owns. Someone to whom the thought of discarding something brings on night sweats and fits of shaking. Replace something around the campground, don't throw away the thing you took out, who knows what you could use it for, but, someday it might come in handy. We learned early on not to ask Ron if he wanted to keep something. Instead just ask where he'd like it put. I'd even bet if we worked here for a couple of years we might eventually hear him say to throw something in the trash, but other than the garbage I don't have a clue what it might be, lol, lol.
Not as an aside, but as a very interesting tidbit you would only learn if you read our daily journal, the author of To Have and to Hold, Mary Johnston has the same last name as Ron. Add to that the fact she was a southerner with white hair and maybe we're talking distant relatives here. Enough of this trivia, what happened next was the rain started coming down in sheets as we sorted and stacked. We were having a great time trying to guess why anyone would ever save this or that unknown part when our two leaders came in out of the rain, or at least through the rain. Ron watched for a while and commented that we were doing a far more detailed inventory than we needed to. He just wanted us to put all the electrical things together. We just looked at him, mouths momentarily agape, then returned to what we were doing. It was fun to watch the two of them pick things up and commenting about how they'd been looking for this, or identifying some strange looking thing-a-ma-bob that was for an RV they used to own. The rain continued to fall and items continued to be added to the inventory sheets. Ron an Becky returned several more times, always finding something of interest, smile.
Almost before we knew it, it was time to quit. Of course with the rain still falling, the Californians used their umbrella. The Texans on the other hand. Think I'll just let the photo's show how Texans avoid getting wet in the rain, lol.
The rest of the day was consumed with computer time, (I can always work on the daily journal), washing clothes, baking cookies and watching TV. Before long, 5:30 had arrived and we headed down the mountain for our last Wednesday night meal at Pleasant Gardens Baptist Church. During our time at Mountain Stream, these Wednesday night dinners and the following study have been a joy. Tonights meal of baked pork tenderloin, oven roasted potatoes, baked apples, seven layer salad and sugar free apple pie with sugar free, reduced fat ice cream was as good as it gets (and we've discovered it gets pretty darn good here). Knowing this was our last week, we were amazed at the number of people who came up to thank us for coming and participating these last two months, then wished us well in our travels with the hope that we would return again some day (we most certainly will, we just don't know when). Of course after we came home, we just had to eat some of those newly baked chocolate chip cookies. Instead of ice cream, tonight we each had a glass of warm non-fat milk with one teaspoon each of sugar free Torani raspberry and trench vanilla syrup. Hey, with the changes we have coming up in the next week, a little change in dessert helps get us primed for the adventures to come, lol.
April 25 A Tuesday morning, so it's back to work. The day began with a pair of new occurrences. A new feathered friend visited our new bird feeder. The reason for this was because our grandson has so enjoyed seeing the photo's of the different birds which we post as part of our daily journals, that he made a bird feeder for us. Yesterday we mounted the feeder in the tree by the coach. We were pleasantly surprised this morning when it's first guest was a bird that had never visited our feeders before. From what we could determine by looking at our bird book, it's a cowbird. But then Linda calls every big bird that lazily floats in circles high in the sky, a buzzard, smile. We think the larger size of the feeder was what attracted it. We'll see what happens over the next few days to test the validity of this theory. Thank you Zach, for bringing this new bird to grandma and grandpa's home.
After a breakfast of thick rolled oats, wheat bran, strawberries, chopped walnuts and cinnamon, we headed to our respective computers to do some web page work. There are days when the thoughts just pour out of my mind and others when my mind is as barren as the Antarctic landscape. Today the words poured out like a blizzard for a while and then suddenly dried up. This happened just as the clock was nearing the 9:30 work hour. We both knew what that meant. A trench was waiting to be finished. However we weren't the only ones ready to get Ron's wrenched trench finished, for, as we exited our house, Roscoe and Carole exited theirs. Though I don't recall the exact words, we all vowed that this mother of all trenches would most definitely get finished today, even if we had to bring in a "Daisy-Cutter", lol. It was fun listening to Roscoe and Carole tell how Ron suggested he could help them finish the trench last week when we were gone. Fortunately it rained, so Ron's health stayed intact, and Roscoe and Carole were able to get a few days of rest. The fact Carole has an appointment with a Chiropractor on Wednesday is mute testimony to the fact that digging this trench is more than just hard work, it is back breaking work, lol.
As we have done so many times, that bodacious beast of a golf cart, The Sound and the Fury, was once again hitched to the trailer, loaded with tools and driven up to the partially completed trench between sites 17 and 18. TS&TF seemed almost reluctant, displaying a singular lack of speed. We both noticed this unusual behavior and Roscoe made the comment, "Maybe it's as tried of digging this %@#& ditch as we are.", smile. Whatever the reason, we very slowly made our way up the park road, dark rain clouds gathering in the distance. Arriving at the trench, we noticed the heavy storms of the past weekend had resulted in several cave-ins. These would have to be cleaned up before we began work on those last few feet of uncompleted trench. We unloaded the tools and and the ladies drove off to clean the fire pits, which itself would not be an easy job today. The rains had soaked any ashes there might be, no doubt making for a heavy trash can. Later we found out this was the case, but being the smart young lasses they are, those ladies used small plastic buckets to carry the ashes from the fire pit to the metal cans, which remained in the trailer. Brains and beauty, are we ever lucky or what, lol.
Back at the mini grand canyon of mountain stream, the landslides were quickly cleared and work on the remaining few feet of trench was commenced. The weather was threatening rain, the sky look ominous, though not as ominous as what remained to be excavated from the trench. Consequently we made an executive decision that this was time to show some real progress on the trench, even if the weather threatened another delay in its completion. We would fill the section of trench we had previously dug before finishing the excavation of the remaining few feet. Using the sand Ron had so thoughtfully provided, Roscoe opened the first bag and attempted to spread a layer in the bottom of the trench. The rains having drenched the sand in the bag, the result was the sand did not want to easily come out of the bag. Now it wasn't that it just didn't want to easily come out, it didn't want to come out at all. Is there anything about this project that is easy?, lol.
We finally solved the case of the wayward sand (sounds like a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mystery, lol) by hacking out the entire bottom out of the bag. Even then, it took Roscoe holding the bag and my shaking it to get the sand spread in a reasonable manner in the bottom of the trench. Didn't take us two long to figure out the dump in a big pile and spread later technique was much easier on our backs than the shake and spread technique. The bottom layer of sand spread, I stood in the trench using my feet to hold the wire down and helped (in a small way, smile) Roscoe dump and spread the top layer of sand. Backs aching, but knowing the large man with the white hair would be happy (and healthy), lol, we started backfilling the trench.
The distaff half of the Mountain Stream upper management team had asked us to take the rocks we had so efficiently extracted from the trench during the digging process and spread them along the stream bank behind site 4. Since this is the epitome of a, "nothing is easy", project, we had not foreseen this coming and so did not separate the rocks from the dirt when we had dug the trench. Heck, it was all we could do to just get the dirt and rocks out of the hole, who had the energy to sort them, lol. Once again the fact both Roscoe and I had spent time (no doubt more than we would have liked, lol) in our previous lives digging ditches saw us through once again. Using the hoe to pull the dirt into the trench, while Roscoe shoveled and pulled rocks, started backfilling the trench. To compact the soil I walked back and forth as I worked in the trench. Slowly, layer by layer the trench filled. Soon we had it backfilled to the level of the gravel. Now it was time to return to the other end of the trench and finish this thing.
Quickly we established that we only had to remove 3 large rocks to complete the Mountain Stream version of the Panama Canal. I could only imagine what Ron might come up with if we were able to stay on for several more months. Most likely he's got plans in that drawer of his to excavate about 50 feet off the mountain on the other side of the stream, lol. Do you think that just maybe during all that time he spent jumping out of airplanes during the many years he was in the military, just maybe, just once, he might have landed on his head, lol, lol. Following that thought further, maybe he did land on that huge mound of white hair with the surgeons having to put a plate in his head and now one of the screws holding it in has come loose, no pun intended, lol. As we tried to pry the first rock from its spot to the trench it began to barely sprinkle. We worked on. As we finished freeing one end of the rock a light rain began to fall. We worked on. The rock came out and we started on the second one. As we broke it free it began to rain harder. We worked on. At last we attacked the last rock with a vengeance. A very heavy rain began to fall. We worked on. The sky opened up, it poured buckets. We got out of the trench and stood under the trees along the stream. As we stood there and looked at each other, the flash bulbs in our brains began going off.
If we're this close, why let a little rain spoil the party. Back into the trench we went, I'm sure that Jack, the fellow in the RV parked on the next site figured we both had to be Texans in order to be be crazy enough to work in these conditions. Almost before you say, "Charlie Tolar is my second most favorite running back of all time behind only Jimmy Brown, plus who couldn't love a man who fought oil well fires in the off season", we had that rock out. At just about the same moment the rain began to ease up some. Maybe our resolve to get this job done had been tested and we passed, smile. Before long we had the wire hooked up, the trench filled and some landscape fabric installed over the dirt. It will keep the rock and dirt separated and result in a maintenance free installation. That fabric is great stuff and Linda and I have used it for years, both at work and home, just make sure to get a heavier grade if your going to use it separate rock. Most of that lightweight gray stuff they sell as landscape fabric is pretty much useless for heavy duty uses (been there, done that), smile. We finished by raking the gravel over the fabric, then hauled a couple of loads of the rocks we had sorted out of the dirt down to site No. 4 and dumped them on the stream bank. Thus ended this, the final episode of trench warfare, Mountain Stream style. Not all things in life are easy, sometimes it is the adventure itself that makes life worth living, smile.
We ended the workday with this great meal. After all this work, the turkey wraps Linda fixed for lunch, served with grapes and fat free cottage cheese were just the thing to give us our energy back.
The evening meal was a show stopper. Looking through the freezer last night we had decided the sirloin steak that has taken up space for almost four months would be just the ticket tonight. I came up with a beef stroganoff recipe off the internet, that when modified to fit our peculiar dietary habits was all it could be and more. Since I made the changes to the recipe on the fly, I will have to fix it at least one more time to make sure I wrote it down right. Of course Linda got right to the heart of the recipe with her, "Well, you used a lot of spicy mustard, non fat sour cream and white wine." Maybe someday in the future, if it proves itself during our adventure, it will go up on the recipe page. Note also when you look at the photo of the beef stroganoff, the computer in the photo is showing Ms Tioga and George's adventure for the day. One of our customs is to read George every night as we eat our dinner. When do you get your daily George fix?, lol. Before we end the day, I would be remiss without mentioning that dessert was the last of Linda's cheesecake, but not the last of the chocolate, peanut butter, caramel ice cream. How can something taste so good and be healthy at the same time, lol.
April 24 During our recent visit to Greensboro we
around our old neighborhood. It was amazing how much had changed in 27
years, One thing we did find, and within walking distance of our old
house at that, was a store called "Earth Fare"
which goes by the nickname, The Healthy Supermarket. The moment we
walked in it reminded us of a scaled down Whole Foods Market.
Needless to say we bought a few things that we had either run out of,
or were getting low on, plus one special treat. I have always been a
lover of cheeses, two of my great grandfathers had their on cheese
companies with their respective family names on the building and one of
my occasional before dinner treats is a piece of Taleggio cheese.
Earth Fare had it, though I had to search their cheese display three
find it, smile. Like a loaf of real country style Italian bread, it
has a dichotomy of taste and texture with its orangish, gritty rind
and smooth buttery interior, that is exquisite. Was it ever good!!!!!!!
Here I am straying from the subject at hand again, but some things must
be shared, smile. In their bulk food section we found wheat bran and
rolled oats, both of which we have been doing without for some time.
again, we will be having a taste treat for breakfast. Not only do thick
rolled oats taste good, they get you off to the right start in the
Dry slide of Bob's Red Mill
Extra Thick Rolled Oats
off the scoop —
settling like ash
from stirred coals.
our first try.
This is from poetry daily, part of the poetry. com website. Here is the link to this poem by Peggy Shumaker. No more gooey glop for breakfast (thick rolled oats don't make no wallpaper paste, lol).
Energized and ready for the day we ventured forth. Due to my spending the previous weekend getting caught up on the daily journal, Linda had designated today as "Honey Do" day. The wheels haven't fallen off yet, but somehow she thinks our home on wheels needs some attention, smile. The first task was to make our closet more usable. One of the clues that we are talking about an RV is the use of the word closet. Note, not only the singular form of the word, but also the lack of qualifying adjectives, such as, the hall closet, your closet, etc. Our home only has one closet and it's been partially emasculated to boot. Occupying the very back of the coach and foreshortened on the curb side by the washer/dryer and TV, the poor thing suffered a further amputation of space when the DC fuse panel, AC circuit breakers and a small set of drawers were carved out of its road side. What began life as enough space to accommodate a reasonably small closest had become a tiny dungeon, 44" wide x 14" deep x 76" high. Add to this, the fact the floor is not flat, but rather consists of two "steps", four inches wide that run the width of the closet and what you have is the personification of the term "utilizing all available space". Linda, who grew up in a house that was built around 1810, before there were closets, let me know in no uncertain terms that she may have spent her childhood without a usable closet, but she sure as (deleted word) wasn't going to put up with it now, lack of space or not, smile.
The solution was found at Lowe's during our last trip to Marion. It was a wire shelf, 12" wide and 48" long which we could use in an unconventional way to provide us more room in the closet. What we did was cut the shelf off to fit the 44" space, then turn it upside down so the "lip" was turned up, providing a "stop" at the front. We secured the back of the shelf with a screw and fender washer near the front edge of the 'top step'. To provide extra support for the front of the shelf we used the left over PVC pipe from the flag project. Securing it to the shelf by cutting a notch in the top of the pipe that the shelf would lock into. The weight on the shelf will hold it in place. It took a little seat of the pants engineering when one of the pieces of pipe was to short (we used a piece of scrap wood trim to extend it) but the finished shelf works great.
Our next project involved fixing the closet doors. We've had a problem with them from day one. They have come out of the track several times, the roadside latch broke twice and the slide travel stop had come out. With the new shelf installed it was time to see if we could find a cure for the difficult doors. The back door had always worked as it should, it was the to the front one that had been the problem. I had removed it to work on the shelf and now examined it more closely. One of the problems appeared to be that the 'stops' that prevent the rollers from coming out of the track were never tightened. Another problem was, the frame was twisted where one of the rollers was attached. Next I discovered the slide travel stop had literally been ripped out of the aluminum frame and lastly the wood trim facing plate that covered the top of the doors, effectively hiding the hardware, was loose. We could have gone back down to Tom Johnson RV and had them fix all this under warranty or we could do it ourselves. We tackled them one at a time. First we removed the roller, straightened the frame and reinstalled the roller. Temporarily rehung, it worked better than it ever had before. Since the stop had ripped out we determined that moving it over 2" would allow us to have better access the closet when it was open, yet still stop the door short of the circuit breakers, which they would overwise hit. Why the technicians at Tom Johnson hadn't figured out there was a problem with this when they replaced the latch, I'll never know. I guess they were too busy treating the symptom to find and fix the cause. Kind of like the medical profession, smile. Once again the actual fix was easy and now the door worked as it was designed. With the door hung on the rollers and operating smoothly and safely, we adjusted and tightened the stops which served to prevent it from jumping its tracks. Finally we re secured the trim plate. The result was our closet now looks and works better than it did when new.
Next we were pleasantly surprised when Austin with the Graphic Warehouse drove up with our decal, the one we have been trying to have installed for over a month. He showed us the decal which is sandwiched between a release sheet and a backing sheet. And we showed him where we wanted it placed. He made several measurements, then using a grease pencil, made several dots along what would be the bottom edge of the letters. The decal was held up several times to check for position and level. He then partially peeled off the release sheet above the letters and stuck the top of the top of the backing to coach, aligning the bottom of the letters to the dots he had made. We were asked to confirm the positioning, then he cut the decal into three sections. He said this is a common mistake people who install their own decals make. Either they don't cut a long decal into manageable pieces at all or they cut it into pieces before positioning it. Either way it is very likely the letters will not be perfectly straight. Linda commented she sure was glad we hadn't tried to install it ourselves, smile. Using a small plastic scraper he smoothed and squeegeed the air from under each letter in the first section, then peeled the paper off. We could instantly see it was going to look really nice. Soon the entire decal was revealed and to broad smiles and hearty thank you's, Austin departed.
Housekeeping duties came next, at least for Linda. As we had been working on the closet this morning, she had washed several loads of clothes. Since we have and use the sani-con to expel our waste (an apt description in more ways than one, lol), we are not permanently hooked up to the sewer with the usual sewer hose. Whenever we need to dump, our sanitary engineer goes out and attaches the outlet to the sewer connection and turns the pump on. Job completed, she puts the hose back in the service compartment. It's so easy she actually seems to enjoy doing it, smile.
The last job on the list for today was to begin the installation of the toad light system, no, not the hopping kind of toad, smile. We use the the SMI Stay-in-Play, SilentPartner system which has no connecting wires between the coach and Explorer. It uses radio transmitters and receivers to send its signals. When the coach brakes are applied, it applies the Explorer brakes and brake lights. However, to do this I've adjusted the sensitivity on the system higher than I'd like. Additionally, with no electrical connection between the vehicles, the Explorers tail lights do not come on with the coach lights. Since we have only driven after dark one or twice when towing, this has not been a problem. On those times I just turned the Explorer's tail and marker lights on via its headlight switch. Now, however, the time has come to do it right, so to speak. Both before we got the coach, and during our travels, I had bought bits and pieces of what I thought was what I needed to install the correct system.
Suffice it to say I either didn't have a clue about what I was doing or I sure wasn't paying any attention to what I was doing (it was a little bit of both, smile). The last time we were at Tom Johnson's I thought I had finally (ignorance is bliss) gotten everything I needed. My plan was to install a separate socket and bulb in the tail light assemblies of the Explorer. The first part of the job was to run the four wire flat wiring harness from the front of the Explorer to the the back. The instructions say to run the harness through the firewall, under the driver's side door sill plate, under the back seat and to the tail lights. The alternative is to run the harness through engine compartment and beside frame rail to the back of vehicle. With no pre-made hole in the firewall (I used the last one for the brake system install) I opted for the under the car route, smile. We started off under the hood by running the harness down the back of the fender liner. Next it was yours truly crawling under the vehicle and then threading of the harness beside some existing wires along the frame rail. One smart thing I did was use our grass patio mat as a pad to lay on. Linda would feed the wire down the back of the fender liner and I would pull it along the rail. I fed the wire through the existing hold downs, which held it in place and eventually reached the bend where the rails go over the rear axle. This proved a little challenging to thread the wire through, but with persistence, and no small amount of dirt and dust falling on my face, was finally accomplished. Next we finished threading the front, going over top the fender liner, behind the windshield washer fluid reservoir, through the side of the grill and out the front. We now had a four foot pigtail of wiring harness extending from both the front and rear of the Explorer.
Next was the installation of the bulb and socket into the plastic tail light can. To have done this at our house before we left on our adventure would have been easy. We knew where the stores were, we had all the tools we needed, we had the oddball "stuff" that is needed when things don't go as planned. Here it was a little more difficult, but in the end we were still successful and had everything we needed, just not exactly how we needed it, smile. First I used my hole saw to drill the 1" opening for the socket assembly, bent the clips slightly for a tighter fit and applied silicone caulk to secure it into place. Then I fastened the additional pieces of wire supplied in the kit to the the wires from the socket. We had to get a short piece of white wire from my stock to be able to attach the ground wire to the frame. When we tried to reinstall the tail light can we found out why you only remove the one you are working on. Somehow I had switched the two tail light cans and they only fit on the side they are designed for. So, I cut the wires I had just fastened, got the other can, drilled the hole in it, installed the socket, connected the wires (it is amazing how fast this goes when you're doing it for the second time in just a few minutes, smile) and installed the passenger side tail light can. Hooray, the job is half done (twice, lol). The other side goes even quicker and only the front remains to be done. Of course I've managed to buy all the wrong wires, connectors and outlets, so the job is put on hold for a few days until we can get down to the auto parts store, lol. This was mostly a case of thinking anything would work when only the exact thing would work. As I so often say, Life is an adventure, smile.
After working under such great stress all day, we needed
something special for dinner. To the rescue rode our freezer list.
There, standing out boldly was a beef tenderloin, aka, fillet mignon.
Patted dry, very lightly rubbed with olive oil, a grind of course sea
salt and three of coarse pepper. Pat the salt and pepper into the
surface, flip and repeat. Five minutes to a side on a hot grill to sear
and three to a side on low to finish. To our taste, absolute
perfection, a little pink on the inside and crusty on the outside.
grilled sweet potatoes, slow boiled shelly green beans and a tossed
salad which had more peppers, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, pine
nuts and strawberries than romaine lettuce. That was a good as it gets,
to borrow a line from Jack Nicholson. Heck, not only did I appropriate
his line, I even got the better deal in women, lol. Later there was
cheesecake and ice cream for dessert. May your life also have days of
success, adventure and pleasure like we enjoyed today. To experience
the connection of being human. The joy of
life. The spirit of individuality. And the adventure goes on and on.
April 23 Our mini vacation over, we are back to the routine of our life. Of course that routine means we have the next two days off. I know, it's a tough life, but someone's got to live it, lol. Our plan is to go over the mountain to the west, down through the South Toe River Valley, ending up in the little town of Burnsville. Today I get to indulge in my lifelong love of history, history in all its forms, history in every time period and history in any location. As we drive over the mountain and through the valley, the beauty of the land we pass through is almost beyond words. The dogwoods, the cherries, the flowers all combine for a picture of unbelievable beauty. There is a Civil War re-enactment taking place as well as tours of the towns historical museum. Small town history heaven so to speak. Arriving in town we could not find the site of the re-enactment. When we finally found some troops assembled at the museum we learned the sad news that one of the re-enactors had suffered a fatal heart attack at their encampment during the night. They were assembling to hold a brief memorial service. We took part in it, singing hymns and listening to one of the members of his regiment speak of the horrors of war and a soldiers love of peace. At different times during the service, I closed my eyes and was magically transported back in time to some unknown Sunday morning between April 1861 and April 1865. How many times during that horrific war had groups of soldiers gathered together to mourn the loss of their comrades in arms. Listening to the soft southern drawl that rose from the assembled men, I realized, maybe for the first time, it wasn't just my great great grandparents in Pekin, Ohio who were mourning the loss of their son on that fall day in 1864, there was also a mother and father in some small town in the south who were grieving just as deeply. History, it has so much it can teach us.
The service over, the troops retired to their encampment and Linda and I began a personal tour of the history museum given by the museum manager, Colette. Just as we were starting, who should walk up, but Roscoe and Carole. Colette's family had lived in this county before it had been a county. This twenty something year old gave the four of us the best tour like this I have ever been on. She was as pure and honest a western North Carolina mountain girl as you will ever meet. She not only knew what she talked about, she had lived it. One could spend a week in Burnsville and only touch the surface on the history of this fascinating place. The museum itself speaks volumes of the times it witnessed. From the finely finished front section of the house, to the unfinished rear kitchen that doubled as the slaves quarter, every board and detail spoke of the history that had played out within its walls. From the 2 foot plus wide boards with bark still attached that the roof was nailed to, to the intricate detail of the window muntins or the newspapers stuffed in the space between the wall studs to serve to block the wind and provided insulation, something that was begun by the slaves and picked up later by the white folks. Besides the architecture of the house, the museum also displays the artifacts of the time. We were particularly intrigued by a $1,000.00 life insurance policy issued to one Joseph Meyers on the life of a slave named George. The policy was for a period of 5 years and cost $19.40, which included a $2.00 policy fee. Slavery was real. Another artifact that caught our eye was a moonshine whiskey still that had been confiscated in the county in 1952. It brings to mind the stories of how the early Nascar drivers were all moonshine runners. No wonder North Carolina is the heart of Nascar country.
Following our tour we walked over to the encampment and enjoyed talking with the troops and civilian re-enactors prior to the battle. These mountains were the site of much more than first meets the eye during the civil war. Many of the people were of fiercely independent Scottish ancestry and loyal to the Union. It is only about 100 miles to the west where Charles Frazier found inspiration for his novel "Cold Mountain". Confederate troops, Confederate Home Guards, Union troops, Union irregulars, plus, raiders, bushwhackers, scoundrels and deserters from both sides made life hell for the women, children and old people left behind when the men went off to fight the war. The cause of the "Battle" of Burnsville was the women and children on the farms in the area were starving while the Confederate Home Guards had a huge warehouse full of food. The women broke into the storehouse and stole all the food. It was this act which resulted in the battle which was being commemorated today. The reenactment took place directly across the road from where the actual battle was fought. The reason it can not be reenacted on the actual site of the battle is because a BiLo Supermarket had been erected on the site (I will never again patronize a BiLo store). The battle was fierce, but the badly out manned and out gunned Union forces finally were annihilated leaving the Confederate forces victorious. What happened to the poor women who had broken into the storehouse was never depicted.
After the battle we spent more time talking with the reenactors. The members of this unit have both Union and Confederate uniforms so the can play whatever part is needed. One fellow we talked to had just recently enlisted in the unit. Originally from Michigan, he chuckled as he told us about explaining to his young daughter that now they were living in the south, the Confederates would win the battles. She didn't think this was right since in the battles she had seen in Michigan, the soldiers in blue always won, smile.The tents were coming down and things were being packed away as we slowly made our way back up the hill and into town. How many people zoom by Burnsville, North Carolina on Hwy 19-E and never have a clue about the history of this little town. We realized we could literally spend a week here and still not know everything about its past, either distant or recent. There are a number of links on the internet about the history of the area. Some are fact, some are based on fact and some are wishful thinking. Here are several links in no particular order. Letters from soliers are always interesting, this link is to one of the collections, from Confederate soldiers This one is about Montraville Ray from the point of view of an ancestor. Here's a book review that goes into details about an accurate account of mountain life during the poor man’s fight as the reviewer so aptly puts it. All to soon we were driving on East Main Street heading out of town. Of course we remembered the story Colette told us of the tombstone holding up the front porch, but that is a tale for you find out about when you visit Burnsville, North Carolina and take a tour led by Colette, smile.
At our next stop, the city park in Spruce Pine on the banks of the Toe River we enjoyed our turkey wraps and grapes. Before we left Spruce Pine for the last time we took one last look at the Feldspar mine on the road north of town, then drove down to the SuperCenter for some groceries. Next it was a leisurely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway back to Hwy 80 and the road down to the park. Upon our return we found that pestilence had infected Linda's tomato plant. There was an aphid on it, lol. Dinner was a repeat of the turkey salad from last week and dessert was warm cheesecake just out of the oven with a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. A great end to a great day.
April 22 Morning dawned bright and clear, the sounds of birds
wilderness area behind the house beckoning us to sing our own song of
happiness about the life we live. After a breakfast of sourdough
waffles that had an absolutely mindblowingly wonderful taste (a recipe
Steve got from his Dad and one I hope Linda gets from Steve) there were
more hours of visiting until at last we needed to begin our return trip
to the mountains. It was both a sad and joyous goodbye that saw us off,
heading west, this time on I-40. As we traveled home, intermittent
heavy rain marked our passage across the Piedmont we had called home
those many years ago. North Carolina plants wildflowers in the grassy
areas of many of the interchanges and as we would come upon each
interchange we would guess which flowers and colors would emblazon the
roadside in a few moments. The four hour drive passed quickly and we
found ourselves once again, driving up Rt-80 to Mountain Stream RV
Park. Tired from the long drive through the rain at 65 to 70 mph, we
hit the sack early for a change, but not before we had some mint
chocolate chip ice cream and brownies for dessert. Guess you could say
our life was back to normal.
April 21 This weekend will be totally different for us compared to what we are used to. Every night of our adventure we have spent in our coach, today we are leaving it behind to travel east to spend some time with some old and dear friends. But first we stopped in Greensboro to look at a house we had built in 1977 when we were temporary Tar Heels for a couple of years. We were surprised at how similar the house looked to what it did when we had moved away in 1979. One of the great things about this life is that you never know what's going to happen next. Imagine our surprise when, by chance we got to meet the current owners of the house and it turned out to be the same couple who had bought it from us, low those many years ago! We had a great visit, but all to soon it was time to move on.
Our next stop was a park where Linda used to take our kids to feed the geese. We had brought along a lunch and wanted to relive some more pleasant memories we had of this wonderful town, a town that we hardly recognized, it had grown so much. Linda communed with the geese and we had our little moment in time.
We decided not to drive over to the Raleigh area where Clayton is via I-40. Instead we would take Rt-64, 55 and 42. North Carolina has a special small town atmosphere and this route would take us through several neat little towns including Pittsboro and its Courthouse in the circle. We had a slow relaxing drive and arrive at Steve and Corrine's home at the appointed time. It is amazing, 10 years since we had last seen them and they had hardly changed at all. Steve was, and is a great chef and wine connoisseur, while Corrine is the perfect hostess. What followed was an evening filled with the constant murmur of conversation, often punctuated with the sound of laughter. Great friends, great food, great memories, great times.
April 20 The rain has stopped, the air smells fresh, just sitting at the window watching the world go by, all I can think about is what a beautiful morning this is.Oh, what a beautiful mornin',
Now if wishes were money, wouldn't we all be rich, smile. What do you want to bet the odds are everything will go our way today? Actually the start wasn't to bad. Remember how only yesterday we were bemoaning the fact we had to eat frozen peaches under our oatmeal. Not today. Yesterday afternoon there was a knock on our door. It was Dan from across the way and in his hand he held a bag of bright red, ripe strawberries direct from South Carolina via a roadside stand near Charlotte. This morning it was show time in the old RV. As soon as we saw these berries weren't those jumbo giant berries you find in all the grocery stores, we knew we were in for a treat. The caps were fresh, not a bit of wilt to be seen. The berries had that slightly gnarly look of the homegrown berries of my childhood. I got a beautiful feelin' ev'rything's goin' our way. Were those berries ever good, firm but ripe and juicy, we didn't even need to add any Stevia they were so sweet. Thanks, Dan!!
All to soon it was time to return to the place of pain, the arc of agony, the trench of terror, you know, that darned ditch. With mattock, with hoe, shovel and bar the attack took place, the battle raged on. Diggers dug, pry'ers pryed, shovel'ers shoveled, and hoe'rs hoed. Slowly but surely the trenched inched forward and millimetered downward. Progress, maybe nearly imperceptible, but progress none the less. We quickly learned the difficulties we had faced two days ago were not because we were tired, it was because the digging was so hard. Recalling how Rome wasn't built in a day, we started digging out one small rock at a time. It's funny how once you stop looking at how big the overall job is and focus instead at the immediate task at hand , how much you seem to get done.
There were a number of large rocks in the line of the trench. We started by slowly removing a few small rocks around one of the big rocks, scratching out the dirt, then using the mattock or shovel to pry on the big rock to the point it would move slightly. Then we would just keep working until it was loose enough to tip up on edge. Working together, Roscoe and I would lift the rock out of the trench and place it to the side. As we moved forward by fits and starts, the girls worked at the other end of the trench. Every time we stopped and looked, they had dug a little lower. It was tiring work, not exhausting, just hard, difficult work.
After working for nearly an hour and a half we decided to rest for a moment, sitting in Tom and JoAnne's settee until Linda got some Havarti dill cheese and Granny Smith apples from the house, whence we took a real break, using Tom and JoAnne's deck to relax on. What a great time we had just talking and relaxing. There is something about this lifestyle that just doesn't compare to the way we used to exist. We had just worked as hard as was possible for an hour and a half and here we were sitting and laughing about it. The amazing thing was we didn't even tell any Ron jokes, lol. In fact, he hadn't even been by this morning, maybe he was thinking we'd toss a rock the wrong way if he showed up, lol, lol, lol.
Soon we were back to the Mountain Stream RV Park version of trench warfare. The rest did us good, and refreshed we tackled the remaining rocks. One was so large we had to break it into pieces with the bar and sledge hammer, but we got it out. Here it was, the largest rock by far and all we had were small pieces to show for what we had done. About that time Ron showed up and as we described what we had done, he smiled, looked and said nothing. It was at that moment I realized the the self satisfaction we had gotten removing those small pieces was much greater than having the rock out for display. What we were doing was for ourselves, the pride that can only come from doing a hard job and doing it well. It won't lessen the aches and pains I will have tonight, but that was not the point. Back to work, it was easy to tell when Roscoe would lift a particularly heavy rock out of the trench. His head would turn red, something that definitely happened more than once, lol. We had one rock that due to how it was oriented, just wouldn't come out. I finally got it loose by bracing my shoulder against the lip of the trench, head and arms down in it and by using the increased leverage managed to break it free to the point we could both get our hands under it enough to hoist it out. Let me tell you it is not always the size of the rock that determines how heavy it is, lol.
When quitting time rolled around we had not completed the trench, though we were within spitting distance of the end of the line, so to speak. Gathering up all the tools we headed off to the equipment shed. It was at the very second the lock clicked shut that I first felt how tired I was. As Roscoe and I walked back up to our houses, I wondered if he was hurting as much as I was. The only conclusion I could come to was, yes, smile. I made it to the door mat and off came my boots and then I climbed up the few steps to the mud room, aka, the coaches stairwell. Here I did what any reasonable man would do. Understanding the pain Linda would inflict upon me if I tracked dirt into her house, I simply stripped, dropping my clothes onto the steps and headed directly to the shower, accompanied by Linda's giggles. Later after eating my turkey wrap which Linda so gracefully fixed, I went to get up out of my chair. when the pain hit. The deep dull pain of tired muscles. Funny thing though, I sat in the Euro Lounger and the pain seemed to go away. Maybe I should have just stayed there for the rest of the afternoon, smile. What I did do during the afternoon was work on the daily journal and watch some TV. Linda spent some time getting ready for our weekend trip to Greensboro, Clayton and Burnsville. It will include seeing the house we had built when we lived in Greenboro almost 30 years ago, then visiting some old friends and ending up at a Civil War re-enactment. Should be a fun weekend, almost like a mini vacation.
Dinner was a variation on our grilled pounded pork sandwiches made by substituting a chicken breast for the pork. It's the marinade with the secret amber colored ingredient that comes from Lynchburg, Tennessee, that we think makes it taste so good, smile. Served with southwestern beans and a salad it was a great meal, easy to fix, easy to cleanup and healthy for you, even if the dried garlic container may have poured just a little to heavy. After all, isn't garlic supposed to be good for you?
Later it was a CBS Thursday night, Survivor, CSI and Without A Trace. Of course with the DirecTV national feed, we then get to see the latest fire and murders from New York City, followed by the Letterman Show. Please be advised that in amongst all the TV shows we did take a walk and saw the famous Moutain Stream RV Park "Pink Snow". We have been waiting to see this for some time now and we were not disappointed. When the huge flowering cherry tree by the bath house begins dropping its petals, the ground litterally turns pink. Here are a couple of pictures we took tonight. Plus don't forget the mint chocolate chip ice cream and brownies also, smile. Some how I don't think I will be hearing any rain or hail if it happens during the night, lol.
April 19 We awoke this morning to the patter of the following rain. It was a slow steady rain which followed the heavier rain, thunder and lightning we had during the night. (We heard about the sounds in the night from others, as for us, we had slept the sleep of ditch diggers, smile). There is no early morning activity in the campground today, no dogs being walked, no kids riding their bikes, no RV's being packed up prior to leaving, nothing but the steady rhythm on the falling rain. Breakfast was also different. Linda had decided, during her shopping trip on Monday, that the fresh strawberries available at the grocery store were not up to our standards. Instead she had bought one bag each of frozen strawberries and peaches. Picking the lesser of two evils, we had the peaches under our oatmeal this morning, even Linda, the fruit always goes on the top girl. They were not 'that' bad, but certainly not as good as fresh ones.
Because of the rain we could not do our scheduled job for the day, mowing the grass. But then again, we could not do our unscheduled job either, the digging of the trench for the electrical wire between site 17 and site 18. We ended up working in the equipment shed. It was a good thing to as the rain would stop for a while, lulling us into thinking it was over, only to suddenly start falling even heavier than it had before. In the middle of one the heavier periods of rain, Roscoe remembered their awning was still up, so off they went, blue tarp held over their heads the end billowing out after them. Unfortunately their speed was such that I was unable to get the camera out before the flash of blue tarp had disappeared around the corner. Fortunately they were able to dump little "Lake Houston" before it reached damaging proportions, lol. We finished sorting the painting supplies, then started consolidating the other piles we had not gotten to the other day. Next we put up a number of shelves by fastening short pieces of 2x4's between the wall studs. I did the measuring and cutting while Roscoe did the fitting and fastening. We were able to put all the plastic containers on these shelves. Order is appearing in the equipment shed, hope Ron and Becky can find things, lol. We finished up by moving some of the lawn equipment so we can walk from the back of the shed to the front without having to go outside, smile. Just as we were starting to put our tools away, a very loud, sharp crack followed by a flash of lightning and an immediate clap of thunder made us jump. It sounded like it hit right across the road from the RV Park. The lights never even blinked in the park so it was apparently more bark than bite.
The plants loved the rain even if we didn't. Linda's tomato has something that looks like tiny buds. They're to small to show up on a picture, it's called a Tiny Tim for goodness sakes, but hopefully we can get a picture in a couple of days. Up at the end of the park a veritable horticultural park and a tropical one at that, has emerged. When you live in Florida, then take a new job in North Carolina , how do you move all your houseplants? Setting up on site No. 28 is the answer.You move them in your 5th wheel and if that 5th wheel is a toy hauler so much the better, because then you have room to move lots and lots of plants, lol. There are palm trees, lilies and many more I have no idea what they, are lined up around the trailer. Makes us seem like pikers, what with us only having two house plants, however, the baskets they set in do lend a certain amount of sophistication to them. smile.
In the afternoon the rain stopped and it wasn't long before we heard the roar of the riding mower. Soon we saw Ron passing back and forth in front of the house, mowing the large center grass area. I think that means we will be digging a trench tomorrow instead of mowing, on the other hand, once the trench is done there are no more really hard jobs and in fact not even any hard jobs to be done around the park. It's only routine maintenance from now on out. See, if you want to come and spend a month or more in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina work camping, just think how easy it will be. And all courtesy of us, lol. Speaking of work camping here at Mountain Stream RV Park, if it wasn't for the functions we have to attend in the Midwest next month, we would stay on here until at least the end of June. The work is really easy (except for the trench, lol), the people who stay here are so friendly, Roscoe and Carole are totally awesome to work with, plus Ron and Becky are two of the nicest people you will ever know. On the hand, if when you camp, work is something you leave behind, this is an excellent place for a base camp to take day trips and explore the Blue Ridge Parkway and the surrounding area. Either way, remember, life is an adventure and the more venturing you do, the more great times that add up.
Dinner was grilled salmon and sweet potatoes accompanied by a salad. Every time I use our Weber Baby Q grill I marvel at how good a job it does. Plus, having it set in the end of the Joey Bed makes it so easy. I just pull it out, connect up the propane tank we store in the bay beside it and we're ready to cook. The more I have used the grill, the better I get, sound familiar, lol. Not only does it do a super job of cooking, it leaves great looking grill marks on the food plus cleanup is virtually none existent.
Later we visited with Dan and Becky who were parked directly across from us. They were up for the work weekend last month and Dan was, "Dan the steel drivin' man", he who pounded all the nails in the landscape timbers we installed around site No. 14. So guess which site they were staying in? Here's a hint, it's between sites 13 and 15, lol. They actually prefer site No. 13, but since it was occupied (it's the most popular site in the park), site No. 14 worked just fine. We had a great time visiting and talking about our adventures. They follow our adventures by reading our daily journal, so had lots of great questions about the how's and why's of things we do. You didn't think I put all the details of everything we do into the journal, did you, lol. Ya, I know, some days it seems like I do, but then how else are you going to find out what our life is really like, smile.
All too soon it was time for our mint chocolate chip ice cream and brownies after which we slept the sleep of someone who had spent the previous day digging a trench. (But Bob it was good exercise, lol).
April 18 (aka, trench digging 101, lol,lol) It's back to work today. We met Roscoe and Carole at 9:30 and started cleaning the ashes from the fire pits. It had been a busy weekend at the park, so we filled two trash cans full of ashes before we were done. With four people working, it does not take long at all. Our next job developed in response to a problem that arose over the Easter weekend. The power went out in site No. 17. Not out, as in a tripped or bad breaker, out as in, there is a break in the electric line between the distribution panel and the box at the site. The original builders of the park were two brothers who were, and still are, local electrical contractors. They built the park for their wives who were looking for something to do besides housework. Yesterday, Ron had one of the brothers check out the problem. The proposed solution is to run a wire from the box at site 18 over to the box at site 17. Sounds like something pretty simple. All we have to do is dig a trench, lay the wire in it, connect one end to the box at 17 and the other to the box at 18, fill in the trench and we're done. Doesn't sound like it should take a long time to do, maybe four hours or so, just to be on the safe side. How wrong we were, smile.
To begin with, the sites have a gravel surface which covers the area between the two boxes. Not just a thin gravel surface, but about 4" of gravel mixed with the red clay fill which underlies that end of the park. A good adjective to use to describe this material would be, cementitious. Below this top gravel layer is a second layer composed of red clay mixed with rocks of all sizes. Some of the rocks are so large they can not the dug out. However, each of these rocks, no matter what size, is an obstacle. The length of the trench is about 25'. And, since it is for an electrical wire, the trench will have to be 2' deep. A sand bedding layer will be formed on the bottom of the trench, then the wire will be placed, followed by a second sand layer to act as a cover. Finally the trench will be backfilled with the clay material and topped with gravel.
Of course that descrition also leaves out a lot of the work we had, and for that matter, still have to do, smile. First the surface. The loose top layer of gravel needs to be raked off, exposing the soil/gravel mix. The girls work on one end while Roscoe and I work at the other end. The first 1/2" of the loose gravel cover layer was easily raked off. Below that the gravel mixes with fine rock and rock dust, forming a mass that bears a strong resemblance to soft concrete, lol. To remove this material the girls developed the techique of using the hoe to loosen and scrape the gravel mixture, then shoveling it out. This mix is very hard to dig through and so the work proceed very slowly with quite a few rest breaks.
Prior to digging into the red clay soil we placed a tarp on the gravel along the side of the trench so the soil we will be removing does not contaminate the gravel and make a mess. With spading shovel and matock, Roscoe and I start to dig downward. Nothing is easy, or perhaps more accurately I should say the converse, everything is hard, lol. The backfill around the post the box is attached to proves to be a mix of large gravel and dirt. Not just at the surface, butdown the full depth we have to dig. A conduit the runs from the box down the post, stopping about 20" below the surface. This means we have to dig carefully so we don't accidently cut a wire where the conduit ends. Towards the bottom a lot of hand work is necessary, but finally the open end of the conduit is exposed. After more than several attempts, smile, we get the new wire pulled from the box down through the conduit. Now that we can see just how difficult it is going to be to dig this trench, we decide to do a test installation with the new wire. We want to make sure it will work before we earn our keep, so to speak, digging the trench. Even this part of the project proved to to be much harder than expected. The new wire was a heavier gauge than the one originally installed. Two wires fit under the connector in the box with no problem, provided they were both the older, smaller wires. However, one smaller, old wire and one larger, new wire did not seem to want to fit. After many, many attempts Ron finally managed to get both wires connected. When the breaker was thrown, everything worked. Now all we had to do was dig the trench.
One of the first obstacles we encountered as we started to dig the trench were tree roots. Small roots, medium roots and large roots. Clippers, loopers and bow saws made an appearance and saw action as the trench went downward and forward at a rate that even a snail would have found to be ludicrously slow, lol. Besides the roots and rocks, some of which were so large we could barely carry then, we uncoved a buried fire pit base. The latter we are going around, smile. After a discussion on whether the trench was the requisite 2' in depth or not, Roscoe got a tape measure to hopefully prove it was deep enough. It actually was 2' deep, unfortunately that was from the bottom of the trench to top of the dirt pile, smile. There will be a lot more digging in our future before this job is done, sigh. By the time 1:30 rolled around all 4 of us were more than ready to quit for the day. This was not just hard work, this was really hard work, lol. Understand, this was also not the type of work we normally do. I am looking at it as exercise which is good for me. As we put the equipment away we were joking about sleeping well tonight and more than one comment was made about the probability of also sleeping well this afternoon, lol.
Later, after a lunch of turkey wraps, grapes and sugar free peach Jello, Linda got some much needed rest as she read a book, while I worked on the previous day's journal update. It was then that I began to feel some aches in my body, though after a while they seemed to go away. What's that old adage, no pain no gain. Heck, maybe I'll wake up tomorrow looking like Charles Atlas, smile.
For supper Linda fixed something we'd never had before. A turkey salad made by cutting the cooked, left over turkey into very small bite sized chunks and mixing it with sliced green onions, cucumbers and grapes. Piled between two pieces of whole grain bread, it was a great meal. Light but nutritious, it was exactly what we needed after our day of hard labor. Of course. later, we had brownies and mint chocolate chip ice cream and then and only then did we call it a day. I knew Linda was tired when she went back just as Letterman was coming on. As for me, I didn't make it all the way through his interview with Jane Fonda before nodding off. A real bummer because I did so much want to hear all about her vacation to Argentina with her ex-husband Ted Turner and his current girlfriend, darn.
April 17 Up early today 'cause we're goin' down the mountain. We have our third trip down to Tom Johnson's RV center scheduled today. They will be changing the transmission oil, replacing the broken closet door latch and hopefully finding the cause of the deadengine battery. Instead of having our, gotta' get on the road breakfast of multi grain cereal and milk , we eat the leftover breakfast egg casserole. Maybe the change will mean things will work out better today, smile. Of course things are just the same as the engine battery was dead again, no lights, no nothing, but at least it started right up with the battery boost switch. Let the engine run for about a half hour while we put everything away, or so we thought, then shut it off so we could pull in the slides. But on startup the air horn gave a short blast. It so startled me that I involuntarily turned the engine off. Here we are, 7:30AM, RV's around us and my horn just blasted away. The only thing I can think of at this moment is the story Ron & Becky tell about the time a certain RV's horn had the same thing happen one morning in the campground. Except it jammed in the on position and blew until it ran out of air. Rather than state who the unfortunate RV'er was, I'll just say I'm sure that Larry remembers it well, smile. So there I sat, hand on the key, thoughts of jammed air horns blasting in my head. Having no choice, I turned the key again. Another short blast of the air horn, but this time I leave the key turned to the on position. All is well, whew.
After unhooking the water and power cord and making sure the bay doors are closed tight, we are ready for departure. How much easier this was when we were moving every few days, a state we will be returning to in a less than two weeks. The trip down the mountain was uneventful except that just as happened on our last trip, in the midst of the worst curve on the road, I meet not one, but two cement trucks heading up the mountain. By now I've learned to slow down real slow when this happens, so other than some things shifting in the coach, it was no problem. Guess you could say that while I've learned to slow way down, I haven't quite got the "smoothly" part figured part out yet, smile. Arriving at Tom Johnson's we were met with the same good news, bad news situation we faced the last time we were here. The good news is several of the people called us by name as we walked from the lot to the service area. The bad news is we've been here for problems enough times that they know us by name, lol. We went over the work request, then headed out to do some shopping.
Our first stop was at Lowe's. Carole and Roscoe have a flag pole and Linda decided we we would have one like it. So she got a copy of their design, put together a materials list and thus armed we began our search for the needed parts. Of course she had a few modifications in mind which were not written down (otherwise they wouldn't be in mind, smile). Suffice it to say there were multiple trips between the hardware and plumbing departments before she decided we had everything we needed. Take the plastic pipe for example. There is not just one grade of PVC pipe, there are multiple grades. We finally picked the grade we needed by how stiff it was. We just bought the stiffest pipe they had in the size we wanted. The second problem was, none of the fittings seemed to be in the correct bins. Oh, if you wanted a tee or a 45, there was no problem, but want a 1" to 1/2" threaded bushing, good luck. By the time we were done we probably could have found the Lost Dutchman Mine, if we were in Arizona, lol. The question I have is, do any of the Lowe's employees ever look at these bins and if they do, do they care what's in them? I think they talk service, but don't deliver. By glancing at the bin it appears it is stocked. By checking it you would know it wasn't. We finally found what we wanted, by removing the boxes in the front and opening the unopened ones behind, something the Lowe's workers should have done. Reminds me of the old saying, "all show and no go", smile.
Next stop was Wal-Mart for a flag and some envelopes. The flag had to be 100% nylon and 3'x 5' in size. She asked one of the ladies in blue where the flags were. The answer was the stationary department. To which Linda commented to me something about wondering if the lady knew what she was talking about. Of course as we headed that way my mouth said the wrong thing. Do I say something like, "Wow, the stationary department, makes it easy since we're also getting envelopes." or "Maybe she read your mind and knew you were thinking about envelopes." Not Bob. What comes out of my mouth is, "Are you sure sure you asked her about the flag, maybe you asked about the envelopes and just thought you asked about the flags." It's one of those things that as soon as you say it you wished you hadn't. I will spare you all the gory details, however, I was definitely on my best behavior for the rest of the day, smile. Linda wanted some cash back, so she used her ATM card when we checked out. She wanted a hundred dollars back so the lady in blue gave her a hundred dollar bill. There were words exchanged, another lady in blue intervened and we found out that they supply no twenties to the clerks in their cash drawers when they first come on duty. The other clerk did have twenties and changed out the hundred. You learn something new every day.
From Wal-Mart we drove down to the GO, or Grocery Outlet store. Picked myself up another bag of fried peanuts, going to miss them when we leave. The neat thing about this store is you never know for sure what they are going to have, especially when it comes to ice cream. This week they had sugar free, low fat, mint chocolate chip. Think I know one thing we're going to be having for dessert. Since the ice cream needed to be in the freezer, we headed back to Tom Johnson's and put away what we had bought. Then we turned around and went right back over to laundromat which was in the same shopping center the GO store was so we could wash a couple of sets of sheets and a mattress cover. I stayed with the sheets while Linda shopped at Bi-Lo for some more groceries. Can't have too much food in the house, smile. This was one modern laundromat. All the washers and dryers were digital. The washers were rated by their load capacity. 18 lbs, 35 lbs, 50 lbs, etc. We used a 35 lb'er, but in hindsight an 18 lb'er would have worked just fine. As always the psychology of the laundromat proved to be on display. At Spruce Pine the thing to watch was the jam as much in as you can mentality while it was the college student, gotta get change for a dollar approach in Marion. The patience displayed as they repeatedly tried to get the machine to accept their bills was awesome. Linda timed her shopping spree perfectly and showed up just as the dryer stopped. We folded the sheets and went back to Tom Johnson's once again. Changing the Trans-syn and filter in the transmission was an expensive proposition, though we may never have to have it done again as the next change is years away. We basically got the run around on the battery problem. So we will see what we can learn at the upcoming Holiday Rambler Maintenance sessions we will be attending in Indiana next month. We're happy to have gotten as much work done while here as we have.
The next stop was the Graphics Warehouse to get our decal put on. Guess where it is located. Right smack between the GO store and the laundromat. Hence we would make our third trip to this same shopping center. A little better planning would have helped. But since I was still on my best behavior from my prior incident in Walmart, I made no comment, lol. This time we are driving both the coach and the Explorer over there. We park and walk up to the store only to notice the sign that says closed on the 14th and 17th for Easter. The lady did not take it well, but the long drive back to Mountain Stream RV Park served to mollify her somewhat.
We spent the rest of the afternoon cutting, gluing, drilling and assembling the flag pole. We made about five trips over to Carole and Roscoe's, checking the design, measuring and comparing ours to theirs. Of course the way Linda wanted ours made was slightly different from theirs. The bottom of the section that holds the flag was changed to hold a small banner. Of course we don't have a banner so Linda will just have to shop for one, smile. The pictures show the process from layout to assembly to finished flag pole. I have to say she did a really great job with my assistance.
Later she baked chocolate brownies to go along with our minty chocolate chip ice cream to end the day. Tomorrow we are back at being work campers, smile. At least we will be dressed right, check out the neat shirts on the hard working work campers pictured below.
April 16 Easter morning dawns warm and clear. Up before 7AM even on my day off, gonna' work on the website. I finally got caught up last night, whoopee!!!! Now, if I could just learn to type with more than two fingers, smile. Spent a little time on the web page, but mostly just mindlessly browsing on the internet. Not looking for anything, just having fun following a link to link path. Sometimes I stumble upon something good and sometimes I only stumble, smile. Well this morning I seemed to have a propensity to stumble and in more ways than one. We had planned to go to the Easter Service here at the RV park at 8AM, but by stumbling around on the internet I managed to stumble with Linda. Stumble as in, not being ready 15 minutes early. What was so bad with being 5 minutes late? Women, who can understand them. The service was well attended for being at such an early hour with Tom of the Tom and JoAnne Show leading the meditation. It's the type of thing we look for as we pursue our adventure. A new experience or a twist on something old, whatever, it is the adventure that propels us onward.
Another upshot of my stumbling was my breakfast, or what passed for my breakfast. The oatmeal I was supposed to eat sat in the pot for about 45 minutes while we attended the service. As I looked at that glob of goo, I determined that if I microwaved it, maybe then I could eat it. The only thing was, the pot was metal, so I couldn't put it in the microwave. Not a problem. I scraped it out into the bowl Linda had left out for me. It was only as I reached for the door of the microwave that I remembered the bowl was most definitely not microwavable as prior experience had demonstrated. Given what I was facing I decided not to ruin some good strawberries, so I simply splashed some cinnamon on the cold glob and ate it. Believe me, I'll try to be ready on time in the future, lol. Following this we took a walk around the park. Many people had already left and others were preparing to leave. We wondered how many RV's would still be in the park tonight. Where do all the people who were her this weekend go? Home or maybe to another RV Park, how far, where, to do what? Unknown and unknowable. But fun to think about.
Since Carson Chapel was having a pot luck meal after their morning service, we were soon heading down the hill. Linda had made an old favorite, a sausage/egg casserole she calls, breakfast casserole. We hadn't had it since last Christmas and I'd forgotten how good it was. It was an old family recipe of a friend of Linda who passed it to Linda almost 30 years ago. Our kids have made it into "our family recipe" demanding mom make it on those special family occasions like Christmas morning.The connection of being human. The joy of life. Linda has taken the recipe and made it as close to healthy as you can get, given the ingredients that go into it. She will be posting it on the recipe page and we will make a note in the newsflash section when she does. The potluck was great. It was real home cookin'. Green beans, cooked with pork fat until they start to fall apart, cornmeal coated fried okra, sweet potato casserole, red beans in a thick sauce of garlic, onions, tomatoes, short eared corn on the cob, broccoli/chicken casserole, Bar-b-que pork that was almost as good as we had at the Mountain Stream pot luck on Saturday night (I have been informed it was the Mountain Stream pork by the better half),while dessert was an assortment of goody's plus a to die for apple pie, umm, umm, good.
After lunch we walked down to their baptistery which is built into the side of a stream, the same stream that flows beside Mountain Stream RV Park. It is one of the remarkable things about all the small churches that dot the countryside. Each one has something very special about it. Whether the building itself, the pastor, the people, the service, or some other aspect of the church, they are special and I'm glad we could briefly be part of it.
This is truly a special place. There are no pretentious people here. It is okay to come in a suit or bibb overalls, you are welcomed just the same. Here for only a few weeks, we're glad you could come, we're glad to share all that we have. The connection of being human. The joy of life. The wonder of individuality. Our adventure goes on and on.
Back home we spent the rest of the day working on the journal and the website, talking, walking around the park and admiring the individuality the different RV's express, snacking on peanuts, goofing off doing nothing, it is our day off after all. Then we closed out the evening watching Desperate Housewives. My word for Bree is eeeeviiil, lol. But as you know by now we weren't done yet, first there was the last of the cheesecake and ice cream. Then and only then was the week over.
April 15 Slowly the park awakens to greet the day. How different a full park is. People walk down the road in front of our home, passing by on their morning missions. Some, almost always in pairs, slowly saunter by, looking in all directions. Pausing now and then to look more intently at whatever catches their eye. Others, again usually in pairs, walk with a look of determination, arms swinging, circling the road several times, intent on this little morning ritual of getting their exercise. Occasionally this parade is broken by the passing of an individual, bag in hand, heading toward the showers. The latter type sometimes has a variation, the individual, attire reflecting hast in dressing, moving quickly, small steps eating up the ground, jaw clenched, eyes straight ahead, heading in a direct route towards the bath house and what we would call, relief. Later these same people parade back past our little window on the world. The teenage girls with a towel piled atop their head, looking like a turban, their back straight and head up, only their legs and feet moving. Teenage boys, the antithesis of the girls. Wet shaggy hair plastered to their head, posture bent, they walk with abbreviated steps and a shuffling gate, as if trying trying to hide their presence. Yet how different when the men or women come by. Women, hair dried, a large bag on their arm full of the things that create beauty, walking slightly hunched over, shoulders pinched in, head slightly bowed, but with eyes up, almost as if searching to see if someone is watching. Should their eyes meet yours, they quickly look away and almost imperceptibly increase their already quick speed of walking as if wanting to get this ordeal over. The men, they have the manner of royalty on parade before their subjects. Chest out, eyes scanning side to side, a smile on their lips, their presence shouting, look at me. The connection of being human. The joy of life. The wonder of individuality. Our adventure goes on and on.
After our usual morning repast of oatmeal and fresh sliced strawberries, we begin our work camper day. This day will be different from any other we have experienced to date. Tidy up the pavilion for tonight, watch the restrooms throughout the day, cleaning them around noon. Later, help with the Easter egg hunt and the work day is done. We start by getting out the garden rakes from the shed. The empty slots where the missing shovel and rake belong, once again haunting us. Did we leave them out? Did someone take them? Every time we get tools from the shed we discuss this. It bothers us, we may have been responsible for the missing tools. We may just be work camping and receiving a FHU site, but we have come to consider it 'our park'. With the four of us working in unison, the job of raking the gravel under the pavilion is soon finished. To complete the task, we sweep the small stage and clean the tables. As we gather up our tools, Becky comes over, outlining the time schedule for the easter egg decorating and hunt. It is during this conversation we learn the fate of the missing shovel and rake. It was Ron. He being the big boss we will say no more, lol.
Walking back to the house, we pass the trailer of the "embroidery lady", as she is so fondly referred to. While she does all types of designs, her specialty is RV logos. Early morning and already she has customers at her trailer. There is no doubt she is very good at what she does. We have also found out on good authority, she can back her travel trailer better than anyone else who has ever been at the park. No matter what site she has, she parks it perfectly on the first try.
We work on the website for a while. periodically walking up to check on the restrooms. More than once, as we leave the coach we see Carole or Roscoe already there. The park is in good hands. The park is also alive and jumping. When down towards the bath house we can hear the thump of a bouncing ball and the sounds of a game coming from the basketball court. Across from us, in the center grassy area a net has been set up, hosting repeated bouts of volleyball or badminton. We laugh as we watch, the games obviously played, not for victory, but just the pure fun of it. The true meaning of sports.
We are surprised at the ratio of trailers and 5th wheels to motor homes. Out west we were used to seeing many more motor homes than we do back east. Looking around the park, even though there are only 40 sites, it is amazing, the variety of RV's we see. The sheer beauty of the park is also a wonder.
Scribbling (typing) away, deep in thought, I 'm informed my help is needed. Thinking it is time to color eggs I glance up, getting ready to shut down the computer. From the look on her face and the hair dyer pointing directly at me, I quickly deduce I had better immediately stop what I'm doing and help her. It is situations like this that remind us about the value of keeping in mind the saying women often utter, "If I wanted you to know why, I would have told you." It may also be where Tennyson picked up the idea for his line in "The Charge of the Light Brigade", 'ours is not to question why, ours is but to do or die.", smile. Looking at Linda, my first thought is the heat has finally gotten to my fair maid and maybe in more ways than one. The key word here is "ice", ice, as in ice cubes, ice, as in solid ice, ice, as in "the ice cube maker is frozen solid, and I want an ice cube in my drink." Now change the key word to 'cube'. Note the singular form of the word. While ice cubes fill most peoples glasses, she with whom I reside, uses only a single cube to cool her liquid refreshment. Ever go to the soft drink dispenser in a fast food restaurant and see a pile of ice cubes in the tray. Look around for Linda, she's probably there. You know. I believe those dispensers are set up to fill your glass full of ice no matter how briefly you touch the button, lol. Doesn't phase my wife. She dumps most all of it out. Cold drinks hurt her teeth she claimed. Then I discovered what works for her works for me. If you're going to drink chemicals and water, like diet, caffeine free cola, then drink as much as you can, lol. Here I am digressing as usual. Okay, back to what I was talking about- It takes a real woman to defrost the freezer on the hottest day of the year. Our conversation goes like this, I say, "the food will thaw out", she says "it will defrost faster", I say "then why are using a hair dryer", she says "be quiet and help", I say - to myself - 'extreme danger Bob, warning, warning'. What comes out of my mouth is, "let me get the little heater, it should make it defrost faster." Pretty fast thinking if I do say so, smile. Though it took some time, we got the thing defrosted and working, even to the point of having our first batch of ice cubes made by evening. The one good thing I did, was to not say anything when she opened the freezer door every 15 minutes to check if they were frozen yet. Somehow I have to believe a comment like, "If you'd just stop opening the door every 15 minutes they would freeze faster", could have proven harmful to my health,lol.
The highlight of the day for the young children was coloring easter eggs, followed by a visit from the easter bunny and then the easter egg hunt.
Next came the potluck supper. What a spread, what feast, what a variety of foods. We discovered what the smoke pouring from the bar-b-que down in site No. 1 had signified. It truly had been cooking a meal for the invading horde, smile. A tray of beef brisket, another of pork loin, plus a whole turkey, all cooked to absolute perfection filled one end of the table. This was followed by a variety of dishes, so awesome, they would have made a Buffet Chef envious. It was impossible to sample every one of them, but of those I did, there was not a single one I would rate as anything other than outstanding. It was a display of cooking prowess seldom seen outside of 5 star establishments.
Immediately following the meal we set up our lawn chairs and enjoyed the Tom and JoAnne Show. A blend of song, stories and jokes intermixed with some hilarious audience participation, it was the best entertainment show we have seen at an RV park. While the beauty of nature is so apparent at the park, the unseen, but real beauty is in the people who come here to get away from the normal. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. Thus the adventure goes on and on.
April 14 It was late last night when we returned from the concert, but the park was alive with the sights and sounds of activity. The inevitable had happen, the weekend was not only here, it had arrived a day early. I had a goal today to make some more progress on updating the journal pages and to be current by Monday, i.e., post each days happenings on the next day. We shall see how I do, lol. If you work this hard you need nourishment. Also, because of the spaghetti super and red cake dessert, I was hungry this morning. Riding to the rescue came Linda with a pot of hot oatmeal and of course, fresh strawberries. After scraping the last of the oatmeal into my bowl, I carefully washed and sliced four strawberries, added two shakes of Stevia, finely chopped three walnut halves and scattered them on the berries, and finally I added a topping of four or five shakes of cinnamon. You could say, I like what I know and know what I like, lol.
As I mentioned several days ago, strawberries and mom go together. When we went to pick berries, either our own or after the long drive to the berry farm, my memory suggests it was always a big thing. A much bigger thing to mom than it was to me. As for me, I was just a kid having fun, living life. We picked berries in individual wooden baskets. When I would ask why we couldn't just use the big buckets we took when we picked elderberries, she said the berries would get crushed. She always had this thing about the appearance of strawberries. No white on top, no dried out brownish tinted spots, no smashed areas with juice oozing out. Just good solid berries at the peak of perfection. She said throw them to the side side of the field if they looked old. That was her mouth talking, my mouth was eating, always filled with those "bad" berries. Back then we ate them right from the plant. Today with all the concern about contamination and bacteria, they almost have to be steam cleaned before you can eat them. For a long time Linda and I had a few strawberry plants, well maybe a dozen or so, smile, growing at the houses we lived in. To me, one of the most pleasant moments was when we would walk out into the back yard after finishing our evening meal and pick a half dozen or so strawberries each. Each berry still warm, sometimes on 100 degree days, almost hot from the relentless California sun, would be picked and popped into our mouths in one continuous motion. No more than one second passed from the time it left the plant till it entered our mouths. You stop at a roadside market and buy fresh picked berries, no way, that's not a fresh picked berry, my one second berry is a fresh picked berry, mate, lol. Memories, wonderful memories and just think, each and every day we generate more of them. Today I will try to leave someone a pleasant memory.
With the park filling up, our tasks are more limited. Timing also plays a role. The bath houses are a scene of continuous activity in the early morning, so only routine maintenance can be done. Make sure the towel and toilet paper holders don't run out, empty the trash can if full, a quick mop of the floor and stay out of the way, smile. Ron & Becky were both in the office and already there was a steady flow of people in and out of the door. Some people looking for information, others wanting to buy items they forget, a dozen eggs here, a bag of ice there. Old friends from past seasons stop by, a friendly greeting and a recalling of pleasant memories. Inexorably the morning marches on. Since we can not work in the park today, maybe we can install the wiring in the equipment shed. Ron, as always, is prepared. He reaches into a drawer and extracts a drawing. One that shows the desired placement of the various items we will be working on. The man is ready for anything, smile.
As Roscoe and I began to transform the wall studs of the shed into something bearing a strong resemblance to Swiss Cheese, (just how many thousands of screws did they use to attach the siding anyway, lol), the young ladies attacked the various piles, stacks, overflowing boxes, splitting bags and multitudinous quantities of screws in every imaginable size and description. What it did, was resemble the typical home's garage or basement. Since Ron and Becky's home was their motor home, this was their garage, basement and attic combined, smile. Before long we were as busily engaged in cleaning and organizing as we were in cheese making. As part of all this activity we reinstalled several pieces of vinyl ceiling that had been removed to allow inspection of the roof trusses. One side of each panel fastened with a snap fit and other by being screwed into the ceiling joists. Though it took us a while, we got all the panels to fit as good as new. Later, the ladies brought order to the tool and hardware section while we organized the lumber and larger equipment. Just as we were finishing up Becky came by. It was apparent from her comments that she genuinely appreciated what we had done. Next it was time to give the bath house a thorough cleaning. By noon the use of the restrooms has significantly tapered off, making our job far easier. Mops, Clorox, cleaners, rags and towels, all worked in unison banishing dirt and odor. It takes very little time and effort to completely clean the bath house when eight hands are busy.
The remainder of the afternoon was consumed with work on our
daily journal. I keep telling myself I will get get caught up as I
earlier promised myself, smile. It also almost resulted in the air
conditioner in the coach being turned on. The photo of our indoor
outdoor thermometer tells why. Dinner was a totally unique experience,
a seder dinner held at the Carson Chapel Church and followed by a brief
worship service. Back home, Linda made a cheesecake for dessert, which
with a little ice cream brought our day to a close.
April 13 The birds no longer flock to the feeder in the early morning like did a month ago. I find it fascinating how readily they adapt to change. Where are they? Do they flock to the feeder Roscoe and Carole now have by there 5th wheel? It's a different style of feeder, a simple white net fabric bag. Ours is long, tubular and clear, the seeds show boldly, proclaim their presence. Six perches invite a finch to stop, rest, find nourishment. It is a lookout, a private bastion that each bird can call its own. Sometimes defended, always jealously guarded lest anyone alight nearby. Yet other times abandoned, seemingly on a whim. An interplay we know little about and of which we understand even less. Reflecting on my, no, our day ahead, I wonder how we will adapt. Each day we have been forewarned about this weekend, the gathering of the flock if you will. Forewarned not in the sense of dread, forewarned in the sense of heightened expectations. It calls to mind some words from the past:The slow one now
Isn't it interesting how some things are timeless, how the context shapes the meaning, how, always, the times seem to be changing. That it is only the speed of change which varies as time marches relentlessly onward. Each of us views change differently, one accepts it, one fights it, while another denies it. With those thoughts in mind we go to greet the workday.
Right off we learn just how different things will be. In the office, phones are ringing, keyboards clattering, concentration the norm. Our presence is acknowledged with a nod and a smile, then heads swivel and bow, eyes return to the flickering screen, phone held between shoulder and ear, bits and pieces of information pass through both air. "Yes, ma'am, all our sites have full hookups." "The Easter egg hunt, ---, Saturday afternoon, ----, yes the Easter Bunny will be there for the children, ---, laughter,---, You're right, He does enjoy it as much as the kids do." "Those days are available." "Yes, it will be the first Tom & JoAnne show of the year." "Good to hear your voice, again." And on and on. We decided to go out side and work on the bath house, as it was obvious Ron & Becky were in their element, totally occupied and loving every moment. With two people in each side of the bath house, floors and counters were soon cleaned, dry showers sparkled and glistened, spotless mirrors reflected the scene before them and as bath mats hung drying on the surrounding railings, the very air itself was filled with the pungent, though, fragrant aromas that signified cleanliness.
Pausing to rest for a moment beside the site of our endeavors, we felt ourselves ready for the invading hordes about to pour through the gates of our lovely mountain citadel. A citadel in the best sense of the word, a refuge for the people, a place to leave your immediate cares behind.
All to soon, or so it seemed, our stately white maned commander strode toward us like Patton mounting the stage to address the troops. Using a psychological ploy has long been a tactic used by the great leaders. Roosevelt's Fireside Chats and Churchill's , "This was their finest hour" speech come readily to mind. Intuitively knowing how to walk the fine line between anticipation and preparation, he directed us to the old tool shed. Tucked safely behind the lattice fence it would protect us from the first assault waves that were by now beginning their ascent of the mountain. Yet he also knew the value of reconnaissance, and thus he deployed his troops. Linda and I would work on organizing the contents of the tool shed while Carole and Roscoe would check on and repair several of the campsite water faucets. Thus he would have the troops engaged in productive activities while awaiting for the main engagement to take place. Even with hindsight it is difficult to fathom the genius of the man. What brilliance to have part of your forces function as a skirmish line, ready to fall back if the invaders reached their position, but able to provide an overall picture of the field of engagement, as the remainder of his forces were shore up a weak point (Bob & Linda) or remaining at the central command post (Becky) as he reconnoitered on his own.
Soon the first of the invaders arrived. Securing a position just insides the gates, they set up in site No.1. A quick glance told us this was not going to be the typical hit and run battle we had experienced up to this time. Action that lasts from Friday night to Sunday morning. From this we would come out of this as seasoned campground worker veterans. Their awning was deployed, quickly followed by carpet, chairs and lights. Obviously the the contest would rage at all hours of the day and night. Then came the pièce de résistance, a mammoth cooker. It was at that moment the enormity of the coming clash crystallized in our minds. What was to follow, we could not have begun to imagine at this moment, even if we thought we could.
It was now, that Ron began implementing his battle plan. Recalling Carole and Roscoe to the tool shed he outlined his strategy. For the time being all four of us would work as a consolidated force on the little tool shed, then after about an hour we would be redeployed to reserve positions. Engaging only to service the bath houses as necessary. Again, with the help of hindsight, somehow he must have known what was slowly winding its way up the hill towards Mountain Stream RV Park. True genius. Who can fathom it? Now he took our minds completely of the battle beginning to rage around us boldly proclaiming the shed was not in a suitable position to provide longterm support for our mission. That to best serve this crtical role, it would need to be moved, brought forward about 15 feet, whereupon a new larger, stronger shed would be constructed where it once stood. We were so taken aback by this pronouncement, we could not even respond. Taking our stunned silence for consent, he marked off the various positions to be taken by both the old and new sheds. Then turning he swiftly moved toward the office where Becky was in danger of being overwhelmed by the onrushing horde.
Busy behind the lattice ramparts which encased the area around the shed, we toiled until the appointed time to fall back into our reserve positions. As we turned to walk back to our homes we heard it, or rather I should say 'IT'. Or even more appropriately, "They Appeared." Two 5th wheels, 36 or 37 feet long. The first pulled by a semi-tractor, the second by a large pickup truck. The paint schemes for each tow vehicle and trailer matching perfectly. This was truly a pair of blue and red giants which had just breached our gates. For a fleeting moment my mind wandered. I chuckled as I thought of the people who would stop by the park, drive around and comment they were not sure their rig could make it to the park. That the driveway was to steep or the park to tight. In their mind those things were true. In reality they were not. Each of us has to do what we are comfortable with. For those people, there are parks down at the bottom of the mountain. Places the can complain about the crowds, to bemoan the lack of scenery, to wish they were higher up, up in the magic places. That's the true beauty of these mountains, there is something for everyone.
We were not done with the day however. Tonight was another Carolina Gospel Association concert down in Rutherfordton. We had been there a month ago to hear The Inspirations , tonite we would hear Simple Faith, a local trio followed by The Chuckwagon Gang, a group that has existed for 70 years. As before, we got there early so we could enjoy a spaghetti dinner put on a local organization that provides housing to the less fortunate. Roscoe was wearing his NOMADS shirt and the lady serving the spaghetti talked up a storm to him. She asked him a continuous stream of questions, unfortunately for her, she never gave him time to answer, she just asked questions and talked. We had a good chuckle about it later. As we went down the line we spied the dessert table. They had red cake and to us that left no other choices, smile The music was as great as the last time. The Chuckwagon Gang singing old favorite after old favorite. One interesting note is the Alto for The Chuckwagon Gang is the great granddaughter of "Dad Carter" who started the group those 70 years ago.
As always, when we arrived back home we had dessert, enjoying
the last of the brownies served with ice cream.
April 12 Strawberry Fields forever. Someday, but not today. Today is just another day work camping, but a day different from other days. You can sense the intensity building towards the upcoming Easter weekend. The atmosphere is different, there is a sense of expectation. The phone rings, then rings again. Smiles constantly adorn faces. Still, we start the day as we do most days, with oatmeal and strawberries. There is a certain solidity in the welcoming the day with the familiar. We have now been at Mountain Stream for almost six weeks. How fast the time has flown by. Midnight after midnight creeping upon us, to soon be supplanted by dawn and a new day. The change this week is good for us. It breaks the routine, weakens the bonds binding us to the familiar, eases us onward toward a new normal. The normal of travel that will be returning in less than 3 weeks. The normal of a few nights here, a few nights there. The normal that will be Mountain Stream RV Park this weekend. People here for a few days, then moving on. Some going back to work, others continuing on, stopping at another campground, enjoying the freedom of the spring break. We too have our freedom. You may think we have given up our freedom, but that's not true. We have as much freedom now as we did when traveling. It just comes in a different form. We're free from having to find a new campground every few nights, free to make friends that we see week after week, free to spend every afternoon doing whatever we choose, free to be free. If we think we are free, we are. Are you trapped or are you free?
We get an early start today, 9:30 finds us cleaning the fire pits. The ashes are light and fluffy, the work easy. I look up and Linda is carrying the can of ashes from site to site. We were done faster than at any time previously.
Next it was down to the bath house. Roscoe and Carole were in bathroom attack dog mode. The air was filled with the smells of clorox and cleaners. The showers sparkled, floors gleamed, Ron & Becky beamed.
Sgt Ron called the troops to attention, There was trouble in Mountain Stream Park my friends. Trouble with a capital "D" that rhymes with hurt. Yes, we were to do battle, banish the evil, annihilate the enemy. Yes, sir there was "Dirt" in Mountain Stream Park. Naked, bare, exposed dirt, dirt that would soil the body, dirt that people would mind. Instilled with the will to vanquish the foe, off to do battle we go. The enemy has moved with stealth, creeping up the stream bank, spilling over into the campsites, awaiting the unwary camper, silently it sits. We load our mobile assault vehicle, overwhelming firepower at the ready and prepare to do battle. Divide and conquer is our battle plan. With garden rakes we scar its flanks, working from the road bank down toward site 30. The ground softened, we make preparations for an spreading the seeds of annihilation. A blend of fescue and rye grass spews forth from the spreader, so capably manned by Roscoe. Having planted the seeds of destruction we consolidate our gains with a barrage of fertilizer, and conduct mopping up operations with another raking. Now that we've conquered this section of enemy territory, we isolate it from the remaining lands. Our focus now changes to the hordes of enemy non-combatants set to flood into the park this weekend. We establish a perimeter, staking out our positions and binding them together with parachute cord running it from natural obstacle to natural obstacle then attaching warning flags of bright orange. So to assure the complete neutralization of this section of enemy territory, we finish our attack by spraying the battle ground with water, not the wash the detritus of battle away, but rather to stimulate the growth that will prevent our foe from reestablishing itself.
As we completed our withdrawal from the battlefield, the local citizenry began to reappear, one from across the stream, plowing a garden, preparing the soil for a season of growth and bounty.
Since it was Wednesday, we headed down the hill to Pleasant Gardens Baptist for nourishment of the mind and body. It was the week for bar-b-que chicken. Somehow, somewhere a secret sauce appears, slathered on the chicken as it cooks. A bowl placed at the end of the serving line to provide additional zip. It provides a prfect end to an awesome day.
April 11 Guess what's for breakfast this morning? If you need a hint, they're fresh red berries, though technically I believe they are actually a fruit, smile. As usual, we each cut our own. Linda likes hers cut into large pieces, just like her mom cut them when she was growing up. I, on the other hand, like them in small pieces or more preferably small slices, just like my mom cut them when I was growing up. I can not stand at the sink, a strawberry in one hand, fresh from being rinsed under the faucet, water dripping off my wrist, drops dotting the counter, knife poised and ready to flash forward and remove the cap with one deft stroke, my thumb pinning it against the blade, as my arm swings forward to drop it into a small bowl, then returning to take a thin slice from the sweet succulent fruit without remembering the past. I've left many steps out in this little ballet that has played out so many times over the years, but the most important words are these, "just like my mom."
For mom, strawberries were something you did, not something that just happened. Strawberries never came from the store in little green plastic baskets or in clear, cracklely plastic clamshell containers that most seem to be packaged in today. We got our strawberries in one way and one way only, we picked them. Whether from the two rows that created a border on one side of our garden or from the gargantuan fields of the strawberry farm down in the rolling hills to the southeast of where we lived, this fruit came from the fruits of our labor, smile. Down where farmers still used "teams" to plow, plant and harvest their fields. Where farmhouses were white, two story buildings, set back off the road, the single plain white curtains, set exactly alike in the windows. Down there, the 15 or so miles from where we lived, some farms grew more than oats, wheat, corn or timothy. There were orchards and vegetable farms, each with their white stand along the road, where, in the summer we would sometimes stop and buy fresh peaches or later, in the fall, apples. Apples so fresh and crisp they didn't have to be called delicious to make you think they were, well, delicious. They carried strange names, most of which vanished from my memory long ago, though I still recall names like Rome and Winesap. I remember mom commenting to my dad that while these apples were very good, they sure were not a s good as the ones that came from the little orchard beside the farmhouse she grew up in. Was she remembering just as I am now, or were they really that good?
As I sat, vainly trying to catch up on my scribblings, okay typing, but I think scribblings far better conveys what I was doing, (smile), the oatmeal bubbled heralding the arrival of the work week. A week not only filled with jobs around the RV Park, but a week that will climax with the park filled with campers come the weekend. Easter weekend, the traditional start of the camping season in the mountains of western North Carolina. As I struggled to describe what our life was like, to convey not only what we did, but how we felt, how all of this, "this" makes up our life, Linda, was bringing order back to our home. Straightening up, a word women use for a nebulous activity that implies you've created a mess, so I've got to clean up after you, was how she termed it. Intuitively I kept my eyes on the keyboard, fingers pecking away, leaning forward so she could reach behind me, but always with eyes affixed on the screen or keyboard. (Doesn't everyone have to look at the keys when they type, or is it only me, smile).
Looking out the window we were surprised to see a Diesel Pusher parked in site No. 3. It must have come in late last night. It turned out they were driving a rental. A rental that was a motor home in name only. It was a Discovery and this was a journey of discovery for them in more ways than one. It was full of discoveries. Like when they discovered the satellite antenna wasn't working, or the discovery the front steps would no longer extend. If not those, then the discovery the toilet would not flush. That was a discovery for sure, I'll bet, lol. But these five college students were also bringing discovery to others. They were on the 2006 Road to Hope Tour, having just come from UNC Chapel Hill and heading toward Belmont University in Nashville. The tour is an outreach of Hope's Voice an organization committed to promoting the education and prevention of HIV and AIDS to young adults. Almost everyone does something that as they look back, was extremely naive, foolhardy or just plain stupid. This group of young people are doing their part, in a small way, to spread the message this mistake shows no preference towards race, sex, sexuality, demographic or economic status. Isn't is always interesting to observe the dedication and effort that young people display who are totally committed to a cause. After all, were we not all once young and committed to a cause. What about those who go through life maintaining that zeal. Isn't that what brings about change, this unflinching devotion to a cause.
Our work day began with exercise, the kind you can only get from shoveling rock. I could say that Ron gave us this job to do first thing this morning to get us back into work camper form. But I could not be further from the truth, however. We four had decided to do this job first. This would complete our work on the sites where we had previously moved the railroad ties. It is amazing how fast gravel can fly into a trailer when you have four people shoveling. The same teamwork can also unload the trailer almost as fast. I backed the trailer into position, Roscoe pushed it out the back and the girls pulled it into place and raked it level. Back down to more gravel, our second trip decimating the stock pile leaving only a level parking spot where a dump truck load of gravel had recently been. More mechanized mayhem followed as we dumped and spread the load. Quickly finished, we were put away the tools and began getting yard equipment out.
Of course during all this time we were under the watchful eye of our fearless leader, Sgt. Ron. Being the crafty ex-paratrooper he is, he observed us under the guise of repairing the lights that hang beneath the fence across from where we were working. As you can see from the photo, no job is to difficult or strenuous for this man among men to tackle. Note the supine posture, designed to lull us into thinking he was better able to reach the offending receptacles from this position. Every once in a while, a grunt or a noise that resembled one, would issue forth, again, no doubt part of his nefarious plan. As we worked, we loudly joked about what he was doing, but were unable to get a rise from him, so intense was his apparent level of concentration. It was only later as were were talking about the expression he had on his face when rose up suddenly, cutting his forehead, that it dawned on us, maybe he wasn't working on the electrical outlets, nor was he watching us work. Maybe, just maybe those were snores we were hearing, maybe he was sleeping. I suspect we'll never know and he'll never tell, lol.
The next job was new one for Linda and I, but one Roscoe and Carole had done many times when they were work campers here three years ago. It was time to give grass its first mowing. Like any seasonal task, it involved rounding up all the tools needed and making sure they were in working order. The riding mower was ready to go, needing only the mower height set to make it ready. Getting the hand mower out, it was filled with fresh gas, whereupon it started right off. Two down and one to go. The string trimmer proved a little more difficult. Primed ten times and choked, it started on the third pull, but soon started sputtering and stalled. To say I repeated this scenario more than once would be an understatement. It was only after I throughly examined this balky beast, turning it this way and that, a searching finger touching every projection and recess but not finding the magic "go" button, that I decided maybe it just didn't like to run because it got such a thrill out of starting, lol. Finally the intermittent stutters gave way to more of a sputter until finally it became one healthy and continuous roar. Talk about excited, That meant all the equipment was working, Roscoe on the riding tractor, Carole with the hand mower and Linda using the string trimmer. That left only one thing for me to use, the camera, smile. A task I was quite capable of performing. Now I knew what my object would be, it was to capture Carole working. You see, being the Pulitzerish journalist that I am, reports had reached me from various quarters that all the pictures on the website which showed Carole, depicted her only in a pose of relaxation or if she were occupied, in conversation with others. With the need to be fair and balanced in presenting a photographic record of our work camping experience, I now looked for Carole. Please understand that until the moment I heard of this photographic faux paux, I had thought of my self as fair and balance in reporting the daily happenings at Mountain Stream RV Park as, say, CBS News. Having my journalistic credentials called into question, I set out with the same integrity Geraldo Rivera showed at the opening of Al Capone's vault to document Carole at work. I will simply let the pictures do the talking and vow henceforth in the future that when I observe this woman hard at work, I will most assuredly capture those moments and bring them to you.
Before long, the strain of field labor began telling on the women folk, the hand mower duties being taken over by Roscoe while I assumed the job of string trimmer operator. Finally the last offending blades fell before the onslaught of whirling sharpened steel and plastic spinning string. Walking down to the office I spied another opportunity to capture Carole in full work mode. Before you question the validity of this picture capturing her at work, please note how her right thumb and forefinger are busily engaged in providing stability and support to the string of lights. Besides, holding a box that precisely and for that length of time isn't as easy as it looks. Guess the bottom line is, these Texan women are used to working so hard back in the Lone Star state, that when you get them to North Carolina, they make even the most difficult jobs look easy, lol. Of course, the three ladies in the photo probably view this scene as, three really smart young chicks gettin' an old guy to do all the work, lol, lol. I'm not sure who got the last laugh, because after removing all the bulbs from the strings of lights, we, as in, we all, discovered that the bulbs from the one string were too big to fit into the other string. See, Christmas isn't only time light strings can give you fits, lol.
Our last job of the day was to hang the strings of bulbs in the two dogwood trees in front of the office. Since plan "A" didn't work, Becky fell back to plan "B". The difference in the two plans was: "A" stood for 'a easy way to string the bulbs', while "B" stood for 'brother, there's no way they could pay me enough to do this job again'. It wasn't a pretty sight if you were standing on a wobbly ladder, entangled in the midst of a Dogwood tree, fighting with a string of icicle lights that most definitely did not have cooperation on its mind. The ladies found it somewhat hilarious, of course they were mainly standing on the porch handing Roscoe and I pieces of tape. Ah, just another day in paradise, lol.
April 10 A day of quiet reflection. After partaking of a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal and frozen fruit, hopefully our last for a while (frozen fruit that is, smile), we headed up Rt-80, passing through the beautiful mountain scenery, just as we have so many times during these past five and a half weeks. However, instead of entering the Blue Ridge Parkway, we crested the summit crossing into Yancey county and began our descent down into the SouthToe River Valley. Driving along through the spring countryside, we were constantly awed by the innate beauty of the land through which we were passing. Along the way we passed suspension foot bridges across the river, seemingly the only way to access the dwellings on the far bank. Once we saw two fishermen, lines dangling from high above the water, eyes intently watching the calm scene below. They were relaxed, they were fishing in a way that portrayed a certain acceptance that the fish would bite if the time was right. There was no work, no constant motion, no swinging of rod and line to and fro, just the quiet passage of water and time. Soon we came to Hamrick, little more than a wide spot on the highway, but a marker on our journey. We were nearing our turnoff. Unfortunately we were looking left when we should have been looking right and missed our turn at Seven Mile Ridge Road. With all the lovely scenery distracting us we were lucky Linda caught a glimpse of the road sign as we passed by. Soon we found a place to turn around and were again en route to our day of quiet reflection. Across the river we turned once again, angling off on Halls Chapel Road through rolling hills bejeweled with cherry, redbud and dogwood in bloom. As we rode down this magic carpet into a land few see, we wondered what brings people to live in this country. There does not seem to be a visible economic base, though most of the houses were quite well maintained. Maybe they are retired folks, people who lived down in the big cities, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh or beyond, people now seeking a gentle, peaceful life after their years in the chaos of the city. The appellation "God's Country" is all to easily ascribed to the landscape, but in this time and place it truly seems appropriate.
Our final waypoint was to be a church, I remembered Becky telling us the turnoff was soon after passing a church. Linda recalled differently. I let the the subject drop and immersed myself in the beauty of the land as the miles continued to roll by. Rounding a gentle curve, a large white building appeared off the right side of the road. It was a church. Leaving it behind, we rounded another curve and saw a sign. It was on the bank which arose along the right side of the road. Small, simple and unadorned, it displayed only three words, Quiet Reflections Retreat. Becky had told us we would have a sharp turn onto Ridge Road, the road that led up the mountain to QRR. It was so sharp we had to make a two point turn, for while the turning radius was there, the traction on the steep gravel road wasn't. Once oriented in the right direction we began our ascent to this place of solitude and reflection we had heard so much about. One of the first thoughts that crossed my mind was, I hope we don't meet another vehicle on this road. Soon my fears were allied and the byway widened, passing near several homes. Rounding another corner the road sloped down sharply, bottoming out and angling upward only to disappear into the branches of the trees overhanging the road. The black gravel of the road provided a contrast to the brown and green of its surroundings. The muted crunch of the gravel, the only sound breaking the silence of our journey. One moment the different evergreens mingled in a kaleidoscope of every imaginable shade of green , the next they contrasted with the bare trunks and branches of the trees. Ahead on the road the lush growth of those same evergreens drew a curtain across our field of vision only to soon be supplanted by the sudden starkness of a gray and brown forest of bare branches and upward arching trunks.
For many minutes we made our way ever upward, toward something we weren't sure of. Cresting a hill we saw buildings off to the right, some type of work area. A solitary figure loading something into a truck flowed by, part of the passing scene. We passed through a clearing in the forest, eyes searching for wild turkey or perhaps a deer. Ahead the road suddenly and abruptly rose, the angle far more steep than any we had previously ascended. That others had passed this way before with difficulty was apparent in the wash boarding of the road that was so vividly manifesting itself, ridges and valleys of gravel transmitting there presence to us with undulating precision. Upward we climb, a hill so steep I involuntarily leaned toward the steering wheel to remain level. At long last the road leveled out but it was not finished challenging us. It was as if the physical journey to Quiet Reflections Retreat is almost allegorical in nature to the mental journey you must undertake to arrive at a state of Quiet Reflection. We turned ever so slightly and started up the steepest climb yet. The tires wanted to spin, flailing uselessly, ending our journey short of our goal. Several times gravel was flung wildly out behind our tracks, yet somehow we continued upward. Traversing one last hairpin turn we completed our ascension to the top of the mountain. We had arrived at Quiet Reflections Retreat. I will let some of the pictures we took speak of this island of tranquility and peace. If you would like to know more about QRR here is the link to their website.
The journey down the mountain was made in silence. The beauty of the valley magnified by our experience. The drive to Spruce Pine along 19-E something new. Our previous visits to Spruce Pine made it easy to find the Post Office and mail a package to our grandson, Zachary. Next was a stop at the Supercenter. Imagine our surprise when we discovered they had fresh strawberries on sale for $1.43. Plus they were of excellent quality, smile. We returned to Mountain Stream RV Park along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Stopping, as we have done previously, at the closed Crabtree Meadows picnic area for lunch. I must warn you that Linda had a surprise in the cooler when it came to lunch. Our turkey wraps had morphed. They had become salmon patty wraps. I know, I know. But lest you think we committed sacrilege, let me remind you, an open mind and periodic deviation from the status quo often stimulates growth and results in increased knowledge and awareness. The result, a very tasty change from the norm, not to become the standard, but something that will be welcomed again, someday. I'm not foolhardy enough to say they are for everyone, but if you have a sense of adventure when it comes to eating like we do, try it you might like it. Then again, it is a cold salmon patty (actually one and a half patties) with cabbage, peppers, onions and mustard, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, lol. Lest you think all was lost, dessert was brownies and the last of the butter pecan ice cream.
April 9 As was last Sunday, so will this Sunday be; Our day of rest. It's not a day to rise early, it's not a day to work, it's a day to accomplish little, yet accomplish much. It's a day to feed the mind more than to feed the body. But feed the body we must. Now I will admit the first few days we ate the frozen berries with our oatmeal, I found it a pleasant change, but as the days unrolled forming the week, I found something was lacking. Hence, we need to buy fresh strawberries this week. We need to get back to normal. So, as I sit, trying to make this thing we call our website, but which is actually a living, breathing reality, a window into our lives if you will, Linda is working at coming up with a shopping list. Not a one time list, rather something we can use over and over, something that will make this life we live easier. The result is a single column of words, loosely categorized, a rough version of a rough guide. It is a start. A first step. How fitting, a first step on the first day of the week. How many other first steps will we take today and throughout this week. Isn't it amazing to walk into this adventure we call life. Today we will refresh ourselves.
After our breakfast we walked across the road to Sunnyvale Baptist. I might be misleading you somewhat with my choice of words here. After all, what does the phrase 'walked across the road' mean. What images do our minds conjure up as those words appear on the page. Is it a wide road or a narrow road. Are the sides barren and rocky, since it is in the mountains, or are they lush with the growth of springtime bursting forth. Do we walk directly across the road, or do we have to follow the road, or maybe we walk along the road as well as across the road. The road surface, is it new, ready to serve as a highway for years to come, or is it worn, a pathway marking the passage of countless travelers, each on an unknown journey. The difference between TV or the movies and a good book. One gives you the merest glance at what is, the other makes you think of what might be.
As usual the congregation was small, but as we have noted recently, it is growing ever so slightly week by week. For the first time since we arrived at Mountain Stream RV Park, there was musical accompaniment. A seasonal camper from one of the other campgrounds along Rt-80 played the piano in the bouncy, uplifting way that seems so typical around these parts. After shaking hands with Jimmy Buchanan, the pastor, we walked down the steps and across the recently resurfaced blacktop parking lot which lies between the church, the stream and the bridge nestled along a curve in the road. Skirting the end of the guardrail that curves around part of the parking lot and then continues until it meets the bridge, we walked, carefully following the white line that marks the edge of the road, throwing quick glances over our shoulders in hopes of alerting one another to any traffic that should round the curve above the church. We walk across the bridge on the side nearest to the church, choosing this side because it has a wider gap between the road and the bridge railing. We usually pause mid crossing to look up steam, just as we do today. The little white church sits serenely on the bank of the streams, yes streams. Here two streams join, running parallel to each other as they pass the church, to meet just before the bridge. Refreshed, we continue across the bridge, walking single file, checking for traffic in both directions. Reaching the end of the bridge, we again check for oncoming traffic, then walk directly across the road to the guardrail on the opposite side. This guardrail is more difficult to traverse than the one by the church parking lot. Here the berm is not wide like at the parking lot, rather it is a narrow strip of grassy vegetation that quickly gives way to a steep embankment. We steady each other as we step over the metal guardrail. A pathway of sparsely vegetated rocky ground leads down to the grassy slope rising from the back of a campsite. The angle of the slope requires some caution so as not to loose our balance as we descend. I proceed down the slope first, closely followed by Linda, my hands upraised, poised, set to steady her should she stumble or lose her footing. Going down slowly, steadily, we soon reach the bottom of the slope, pass by a trailer and turn down the park road heading home.
Or you could just look at this photo and get all the same information, smile.
Not to change a good thing, lunch was turkey wraps, leftover bean salad from the potluck and grapes.
Now came the rest of the day. Why is it we call Sunday our day of rest, yet we seem to always be thinking about what we'll be doing for the rest of the day. For Linda it meant baking brownies. For me it meant working on our travel journal while snacking on Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. We always top our brownies with these chips, using between 40 and 50 scattered atop of the 9x13 pan of brownies. That's closer to 40 when Ms Watcherweight bakes them and 50 or more when Mr Chocogobbler makes them, lol. Since we were near the end of the bag, the last few, okay, maybe there were more than a few, the last handfuls of chocolate chips (feel better now, smile) were heaped into a bowl to serve as a mid-afternoon snack. Since it was Sunday afternoon, most of the park was empty. We walked around, stopping at the stream, remembering how, long ago, we would sadly pull out of the campground we had spent the weekend at shortly after noon on Sunday, slowly head back to what was then our normal life. Have you looked at your world upside today? (smile) Before long I was summoned to the electric mixer. The cook was having a problem. The beaters were jamming. I quickly ascertained that with four potential slots available for the beaters to be inserted into, it was quite probable one or both beaters were in the wrong slots. That proved to be the case despite the protestations issuing forth from the lady laying claim to having had them inserted correctly. Discretion being the better part of valor, or so I've been told, I simply commented that whatever it was, they were working now. Smart Bob.
All during this time there was TV to watch, the website and travel journal to work on and even a brief nap to take. I find that after three months on the road I have finally returned to using more hours of the day. Six to seven hours of sleep, once again being enough to satisfy me, plus a periodic cat nap to refresh me. Man, not only do I love this life, even my body loves it, lol.
Early evening found us driving down the hill to Pleasant Gardens Baptist for an Easter Cantata. One of the things we always enjoyed in our past life was live performance, whether, musical or theatrical in nature, though not the combination of the two, go figure. This performance proved to be a very pleasant surprise. In fact it was much more than a pleasant surprise it was a truly outstanding performance. How a small church with 20 members in its choir could have the depth of talent we witnessed was mindbogeling. As we found out afterwards, there was a driving force behind all this, a music director named Curt Davis who challenged, encouraged, developed and led. A music director who had, at one time, been a professional gospel singer. This was music that came from the heart and reached out to the heart. After the Cantata we were in for second pleasant surprise. As I was standing in the aisle a lady came up to me and said, "You're Bob of because we can, aren't you?" It took me a second to realize what she was saying was, "Bob of Because-We-Can". It turns out she and her husband had discovered our website when searching the internet for information about Mountain Stream RV Park. Imagine their surprise when they saw their friends Larry and Melinda included in the daily journal articles. This falls under the small world category. Having spent over three hours the day before looking at motor homes to replace their travel trailer, they too are about to join the ever growing group that sets out on the road, living life their way. I know some day we will see you,Tony and Fran, out on the road, young at heart, young in mind and young in spirit. It's hard to believe that not so many months ago I was going up to Ron Bunge of Hitchitch.com and telling him my name and the fact I read he and Terry's adventures on his website. Now the same thing was happening to me. It's what makes sitting here writing this worthwhile. I may be a still small voice crying out, but not into a desolate wilderness, smile.It was right after the cantata that we made a startling discovery. This little country church harbored a den of iniquitity. Sin, I say Sin had penetrated deep with the foundations of this church. Decending the three flights of stairs that lead from the sanctuary down to the fellowship hall to meet the choir members and partake of a few refreshments, we chanced upon a scene of Sin. The most sinfully delicious scene I've witnessed in years. Now, I've gone to enough church functions over the years to know the term refreshements, when used in a church context, meant a long table spread with prize desserts lovingly made by many of the little old ladies in the church. I was not wrong. Think 20 feet of the most delectable goodies imaginable. There had to be enough butter and sugar used to make the delicacies on that table to stock a submarine going out on patrol. I was a good boy, I only ate two plates full, lol. P.S. they don't use those little tiny hold nothing dessert plates at this Baptist Church, no siree, These were at least 7 inchers and heavy duty to boot, so they won't bend under a large load, meaning you can double stack your take, lol. Later back at the coach we still ate our usual no guilt dessert of those brownies Linda baked today and ice cream. all sugar free and low fat of course. And to answer your other question, no we didn't eat supper, the dessert table at the church was enough.
April 8 Sweet sunny Saturday. How about Saturday sunny sweet. To us it matters which way it is written. Front down backwards up, it matters what way it is or we can't make sense of it. Here's one for you. If the world is round are the people stationed in Antarctica actually upside down? Is it just our perspective that makes them appear to be right side up? By now you're wondering what on earth brought these thoughts on. Looking out the window, watching the world go by. Doing nothing, wasting time. Viewing the sky where the clouds are white. In the air I see Yellow there. Birds doing what birds do. Just spending my time watching birds do. How about you? Have you seen a finch hanging upside down eating his fill of nijer thistle this morning? What would your view be of the world be if you had to eat upside down? If everything was suddenly upside down would you do just as you've always done? Think about it. We did and those thoughts turned our world upside down. The view is different looking up. Looking down, negative. Looking up, positive. I can't tell you the moment we stopped looking down at life the way we alway did. But I can tell you once we made the decision to look up, everything changed, yet nothing changed. At that moment everything in our thoughts and dreams changed, but nothing in our real world changed. You can view your world one way and see a vast emptiness, you can view your world upside down and see all that you need. One day we looked at our world and saw only the same stream of "empty" days ahead. Thankless days, days of toil, days of obstacles and impediments, more days subtracted from the big calendar in the sky. Now we look at our days and say over and over, I can't believe we live this way. Success, it's in our minds, it's in our hearts, in our eyes and in our lives. What really changed? For one thing our income. We have none. Did it matter? No. We've found ways to live on what we have. How about you, are you planning on taking the big step? Commit, look at the world upside down. I'll guarantee you, it will never look the same again.
So what are we four intrepid work campers doing today. We haven't a clue, but a walk down to the office provides a chance to visit and joke and get the day off on the right foot. The vitamin container showed today to be Saturday, meaning some raking of the pavilion for the pot luck dinner and wiener roast tonight, other than that we didn't have a clue. Hey, we're just worker bees, somebody else plans the day. Marching orders received, cold, windy weather present and two days off in our immediate future we began our day by repairing equipment. While Rosco replaced a rotted out fuel line on the small tiller, I repaired a broken wheel on the spreader. I ran into a small problem when we could not find a washer with a hole large enough to fit over the axle. Between the rat tail file in my toolbox in the coach and the vise in the old tool shed, the hole was enlarged enough to fit and the job completed. As always, Roscoe was finished with his job before I was. If nothing else, trying to keep up with him is going to eventually make me a better man, lol. Spreader fixed, we loaded up the lime and fertilizer and proceeded to treat all the grass on sites 40 through 22. Roscoe applied the lime while I drove The Sound and the Fury, then we switched jobs for the fertilizer.
It was one of those days that you run into now and then that just seem to drag along. There was a front coming in. The barometric pressure was falling and so was our enthusiasm for work today. The next project involved widening out two sites by moving the railroad ties along the south side of each pad. In each case the problem was the combination of a narrow site and the picnic table prevented direct access to the rear of the sites. By moving the ties over several feet the sites would be a lot more user friendly. Ron had given us some general guidelines, but the final design and implementation was up to us. We made an executive decision to incorporate an offset in site 25. Finding a short piece of good railroad tie to make the offset required a little looking to find one to match the size of ties already there. Fortunately there was a good mix of ties in the scrap pile and we found a good match. Working slowly but steadily and with the constant patter of conversation, we measured, cut, fitted and nailed the new section in place. Before long both sites were done, needing only gravel to be spread in order to complete the job. Due to the lateness of the hour and the beginnings of a shower we called it quits for the day and for the week.
The wiener roast and pot luck was great, unfortunately the weather conspired to limit the attendance, but everyone there had a great time eating the dogs, baked beans, bean salad, no bake cheesecake and chocolate cake. One time early on, when our kids were little we let them talk us out of going to one of these meals at a campground where the meat was a pit roasted whole pig. We've never missed one since. After dinner the stories flowed like water over Niagara Falls. The best one was Ron's, he couldn't, she wouldn't story about the work campers they had several years ago. Seems this couple interviewed for a work camper position. They had the right answers to all the questions and committed to work for two months in exchange for a free site. Once they started it turned out the husband had so many health problems he couldn't lift anything or do any strenuous work, which ruled out about 90% of the jobs he was supposed to do. The wife on the other hand thought most of the work somewhat beneath her and so found one excuse after another to get out of the tasks assigned her. Hence the well deserved moniker, He Couldn't, She Wouldn't.
To finish out today, yes we had dessert at the pot luck and yes, we had dessert later, Linda's cheesecake and ice cream, smile.
April 7 This is one awesome morning. The birds are at the feeders, Those in the tree are just singing away. It's amazing how little normal sounds get into the coach from outside. Yet as I sit here at the window typing away, I can hear the vibrant songs of our feathered visitors loud and clear. Each type of bird has his or her own distinctive song. Then at times it changes. Instead of a song it may be a warning shout, an angry cry or a song of joy and happiness. Do birds get upset with their young and scold them? Do they sing lullabies as they sit on their eggs? Do they express frustration with their mate over whose turn it is clean the nest? All around us, every day, there is so much going on we know nothing about. Things of which we are completely oblivious. Things that we have no inkling about. Things that to us, simply don't exist. Do you ever wonder about things like this? If you do, are you like me and find the thought has quickly vanished into the mists of your mind with the passage of time. Would it be nice to "know" about things or would it just be another scrap of knowledge, gathering dust in the vast recesses of our brains. Morning, a special time, a time to meditate, to contemplate, to dwell on the knowable or the unknowable, but always that brief interlude in life that is my time, your time, humanities time. Life, an adventure, made up of adventures and traveled by adventurers.
Soon enough the subtle smell of oatmeal bubbling in the pot on the stove called me to confront the realities of the day. Recalling my thoughts of the past few moments, I resolved to express myself today, to do more than exist. So, clean and fresh, to my wardrobe I went, looking for something that suggested the day. When I finally emerged from the rear of the coach, Linda's reaction was,"Are you sure you want to wear those today?" Such thoughts had entered my mind as I contemplated my attire prior to donning it. Remembering that I am an adventurer, traveling the adventure known as life, I had made my decision then and reaffirmed now. She smiled, shook her head and continued on her own adventure. Even though we are enjoying the frozen berries under or over the oatmeal, as the case may be, the thoughts of fresh sliced strawberries are beginning to pirouette in our heads. The next trip to purchase groceries will definitely include several containers of those ripe, red, succulent, sweet berries, smile.
It was amazingly warm when we stepped from the coach. Being the modern RV'ers that we are, we have two digital thermometers in the coach with outside remotes. One is located near the front electrical distribution panel, the other we place somewhere, but out of plain sight, on the picnic table. Both were reporting it was already 60° when we stepped from the coach to begin our work day. Down at the office we found Carole & Roscoe in animated conversation with Ron, describing their trip yesterday to see the Dreamhouse being built at Lake Lure. I heard bits and pieces, "over 5000 sf", "30 miles from nowhere", "that road actually goes through", "at least a year before Duke Power runs electric up there". Wow, I thought, what a neat adventure. Each of us unique, life, our adventure.
Soon it was time for the four of us to head off on our daily work camping adventure. When we first contemplated work camping we wondered if we would get bored. This whole experience has been anything but boring. Today was no exception. While Carole gave the bathrooms a quick once over, Roscoe, Linda and I put up a barricade around the newly seeded areas in the center grassy area. We spent as much, if not more time tracking down the stakes, twine and orange warning tape than we did installing it. I don't think this was in the original plans when we filled the low areas, but yesterday the four little kids, they of the Easter egg hunts, discovered they could really make the dirt fly if they ran through those areas.
So this morning we were roping those areas off to give the grass a chance at life. We never did find the twine, but we did discover a spool of green parachute cord we could use in its place. First we laid out the wooden stakes which Roscoe pounded into the ground, around the area. Following close behind, Linda and I looped the cord over and around the posts, cinching it tight and continuing to the next stake. Carole followed us tying the bright orange tape on the green cord at intervals to serve as a warning marker. Talk about a well oiled machine, we could have encircled the whole park if we'd have had enough stakes, cord and tape, lol. Next came setting up a sprinkler to water the bare areas. Talk about the yin and the yang. We'd have given the keystone cops a run for their money with this one.
First off was the hose or I should say hoses. Why go get a hose when Ron & Becky's personal hose is already hooked up at their site and is fairly close to where you need it. Of course after looking in two sheds for just the 'right' sprinkler, then finally pulling the hose over towards the bare spots, we discovered it was too short. Not a problem you say, there are the hoses we use in the campground which are kept in the latticed storage area. Now things really began to take a turn for the worse. We found out that for all the marvelous skills Roscoe constantly demonstrates, uncoiling a garden hose is definitely not one of them. Remember, this is the hose I have used many times since we arrived at the park any without problems. Each time I use it, I drain it of water, and carefully coil it along its natural twist. To uncoil the hose, you simply attach it to the faucet making sure that the nozzle end coils are up and then simply pull the nozzle end where ever you need it. The hose uncoils perfectly every time, the unused portion remaining coiled by the faucet.
Roscoe, being from Texas and probably having more experience with stubborn longhorns than optimally coiled water hoses, attacks the hose like a calf that has escaped the branding iron. With hands, arms and hose going in several directions at once, he wrests it from the hose rack and wrestles with it as he carries it over to where the first hose lies in the grass, where he flings it down in triumph. Next, instead of carefully examining the hose, selecting the proper end and then orienting the hose so the correct side is up, he thrusts a hand with lightning speed at the hose and yanks a coil out. Now he's got me thinking, maybe he catches rattlesnakes with his bare hands and with the sun glaring he got confused and mistook the green garden hose for a rattler. Whatever the reason for this sudden movement, within seconds the hose was the biggest tangle of green spaghetti you've ever seen. The struggle between Texan and hose was a sight to see. Just as I was about to take pity on the hose and save it from strangulation. Linda moved in to help. It took only a second to realize this was akin to throwing gasoline on a fire and the knots in the hose quickly drew tighter and tighter. I think it was Carole's laughter that finally made them pause, then change tactics to pulling on different coils of the hose. Slowly it began untangling, though not without a steady banter of "pull on that one, no ,no not that one, that one" It was at about that very moment I realized a photo of this impromptu re-enactment of the battle of the Alamo was necessary. Though I was a little late, the hilarity obviously shows on their faces in the photo.
But would you believe, we were not done with this fiasco yet. I hooked the hose up to the sprinkler, Roscoe went all the way back across the road and to the rear of Ron & Becky's coach to turn the water on. Turn it on he did. The water shot about 30 feet into the air, most of it going completely beyond the bare areas. As I wildly waved my hand up and down to show Roscoe the degree of water pressure, he seemed to always be about 2 signals behind me. In addition only about 3/4's of the holes seem to have water coming out of them and several others were partially plugged. It was then I noticed the flood that was coming out of the area where the hose coupled to the sprinkler. Seeing a miniature grand canyon (in Texan that would be a Palo Duro canyon) about to develop, I grabbed the hose and pulled the sprinkler away from the bare area. Water sprayed around and over me for about 2 seconds before Roscoe caught up to my latest signal. We soon discovered the problem was the sprinkler hose connector was loose. It was tightened with a screwdriver, then we used toothpicks to clean out the plugged holes. Reattaching everything, it was soon set up and working as it should. This time I got smart and pinched off the hose when we were moving it into position. We had the water adjusted perfectly and the hose almost oriented correctly when Ron walked up. In that giant teddy bear way of his, he had us move the sprinkler over about five feet, turn it 90 degrees, then announced, "There, that looks real good." Next, he mentioned, if we had any problem with the nozzles being plugged, just unscrew the little black end cap and it would flush right out. We never did find out whether or not he'd been watching our antics prior to coming over. And nobody was going to ask him, that's for sure, lol.
With the warm weather, something else had shown up the park. Lots and lots of pretty little yellow posies. Not the kind that are clustered in the numerous flower beds that dot the park. No, these were wild untamed posies, the kind that herald the spring. The kind that no doubt come already premixed in grass seed, because wherever there is grass, there are dandelions. The ones at the park seem to be the stealth variety. They hunker down low, hiding in the depths of the grass. Grass that Ron has spent so much time and effort liming, fertilizing, overseeding, rolling and doing battle with the ever present grubs and their companions, the moles over the past month. Today they were making there presence known with a mass show of yellow.
This is Ron and Becky's park however, and were not talking defenseless Tarheels here. We're talking patriots defending their homeland against near overwhelming odds. You know, the kind of larger than life heros they show on TV where every shot fired from their pistol always downs an invader even at 100 yards, while the invaders machine guns, seemingly can't even hit the side of a barn at 20 feet, lol. So we were soon treated to the sight of our two fearless leaders bringing out the big guns to do battle with the invading horde of yellow topped weeds. The weapon of choice was Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns. This was not light weight ordnance, no sir, this was the real stuff. Right on the label it boldly stated, you will see results in three hours.
Complimenting the Spectracide was the weapons delivery system. No hose end sprayer here, neither was it a pump sprayer, what we've got here is a heavy duty electronically controlled weapons delivery system. A hose ran from the gallon container of Spectracide to the pistol grip, hand held nozzle. Pulling the trigger completed the circuit. Power was provided by the on board batteries through the controller which activated the powerful high performance pump. This propelled a stream of lethal liquid at the now hapless, defenseless dandelion.
Realizing you can have the finest technology available, fail to perform as expected without the right hand at the controls, Linda was called upon to act as mission control and astronaut, all rolled into one. Requesting Linda do this job was like asking Steven Spielberg to direct a grade school class play, Tony Stewart to race at the local go-cart track or Stephen King to help write a ghost story for a high school English class assignment. A little overkill from the perspective of background, training and experience, but the results would be near perfection, because each of these four, very remarkable individuals, knows no other way to approach a task. Like a weather satellite searching the skies for an impending hurricane, so her eyes scanned the ground in search of the deeply hidden dandelions. So light afoot was she, no telltale vibration was transmitted to the unsuspecting plant. Covering every square foot of the park, The Lizzie Borden of Mountain Stream was in herbicide heaven.
While Carole, Roscoe and I undertook installing more landscape timbers, marking, digging, drilling and pounding, Linda roamed the park leaving a swath of death and destruction in her wake. Coming upon the site of our labors, she seemed oblivious to our presence, destroying those wylie weeds, even as we labored around her. She was assisted in her endeavors by the fleet scouts she enlisted to search the bright yellow flowers. Only a woman of such aplomb and experience would think to use the flight of the butterfly in its search for nectar as a guide to her prey. They say if you want the job down right you should call on the experts. But if you know who the experts call on you'll get perfection. Ron and Becky were lucky, little did they know weed kill perfection lay hidden in the guise of their mild mannered work camper. Later in the day as we walked around the park seeking out a remaining flecks of yellow, but not finding any, all we could see were dying dandelions, their death throes evident in the agnozing, contorted postures they lay in, sleeping the sleep of the dead.
April 6 Where's Bob this morning and what's he doing? Sitting at his computer, typing away. Where's Linda this morning and what's she doing? Sitting at her computer typing away. Hey, you two, if there's all this computer activity going on why are you so far behind in your daily journal postings? We've tried to figure that out ourselves and the only answer is, sometimes Bob seems to get writers block. Whatever the reason, we seem to be stuck about 4 days behind. Linda has made Bob promise to get caught up before the 12th, because starting that day we will be busy in the evenings for the next 5 days. That cuts deep into journaling time. I've timed myself the last few days and have decided my two fingered typing method could use some improvement. So, "someday isle" start taking on line typing lessons. Of course we know when that will be, smile.
After our now, usual breakfast of oatmeal and frozen berries, we will be working by ourselves today. One of the things that Roscoe and Carol do, is volunteer with an organization called Nomads. I want to write more about it later, but if you've heard of it before or are just curious, here's the link to that describes what Nomads do. Because of what Nomads do, they wanted to go see the HGTV 2006 Giveaway Dream Home being built at Grey Rock at Lake Lure. It was only going to be open to the public for a few more days, so they were off today on a trip somewhere beyond the middle of nowhere to see this home. This meant Linda and I would be on our own. Since it was a nice, warm sunny day Becky pointed us in the direction of the tables on sites 7 thru 13 and said "go west young men." I thought it was a strange request until Linda enlightened me, at which time I decided I liked what I heard better than what she "thought" she heard. Which sounds better, go west young men or go wash those tables, lol. Before long I was standing in one of the showers of the men's restroom, holding a bucket above my head as it filled with hot water. How come I always get stuck doing this part of the job? After all, I'm perfectly capable on standing there saying, "It's almost Full." or "Are your arms getting tired dear, they're quivering, you know." Or how about, "That's looks like it's enough hot water, you can turn it off now." Why is she the one who always gets that part of the job, smile. Her answer is,"Because you're the man." And here I thought equality of the sexes was the law of the land, lol.
Before long we were attacking the table in site 7. The work was evenly (smile) divided up between us. We each had a bucket of hot water and oxy-boost , the cleaner that had worked so well on the deck a few days ago. One good piece of advice is to also check out a companies website before using the product. I just read the link I put up and it would have made reaching the correct way to use the product easier than the one we used. Trial and error (mostly my trial and Linda pointing out the error, smile). Early in the trial part I kept thinking of that old childhood hero of mine, Bucky Beaver, he of the Ipana commercials. The jingle, "Brusha, brusha, brusha, Here's the new Ipana" kept going through my mind, but instead of ending it with "the new Ipana", I kept ending it with "the tired armed guy". Nothing like a little constant negative reinforcement to get you to change your ways.
Suffice it to say, before long we had this table cleaning business down to a science. We would wet down a table, let it soak in for a while, then Linda would take the short stiff bristled broom and slop on some more solution, brooming it in a little. After it had set for about 20 minutes she would come back and slop some more solution on, using the broom to scrub it in. It would really foam this time, an indication some serious deep cleaning was taking place. After about 10 minutes I would take a scrub brush and lightly go over the surface, hose it off with fresh water, scrub lightly once again with the brush and hose it off. This was then repeated a third time to make absolutely sure we had removed all the residue.
Sounds like more work than it actually was. Believe me compared to scrubbing away like we did at first this was no work at all. The pictures show a table before cleaning and one after the Bob & Linda treatment. We also found that by working on a number of tables at once we kept busy and got the job done with very little standing around on the part of either one of us. That also makes the day fly by, smile. We finished up by using some deck screws to tighten up the back of the swing on site 13. You may be wondering why we are scrubbing tables. The plan is to have them all cleaned and sealer applied before the busy Easter weekend when the park will be nearly full. We don't need a crystal ball to see what's in our future, lol.
While we were busy scrubbing tables we were also being entertained. The water used to rinse the tables was wetting down the gravel at the end of the table. In this area the yellow and black butterflies we have been seeing for the past week were clustering. It appeared they were taking in the moisture, ie, drinking. Searching my vast storehouse of knowledge, I discovered a butterfly drinks by uncoiling its proboscis and laying it along the edge a water droplet, drawing water through its tube shaped tongue. Further research on the drinking habits of butterflies yielded some facts that you can only find by reading a web page like Because-You-Can. It's one of those, you gotta be kidding me bits of information. For something you have to see to believe Click here. Do we search out the details of our life on the road or what?, lol. Someday we're going to have to take some closeup pictures of these butterflies, but for now this one will have to do.
As we were finishing cleaning the tables a trailer set up in site 10. No sooner had it backed in than 4 young children tumbled out and immediately started playing in the stream. We quickly recognized the scene. Whenever we used to take our 6 year old grandson camping in the mountains, no sooner would we get set up than he was down at the nearest creek playing. Another thing that was obvious was, it was grandma and grandpa who had brought them camping. Such pleasant memories watching them evoked. As the kids played in the creek we noticed grandma walking slowly around the center grassy area. Finally we figured out what she was doing. Hiding plastic Easter eggs.
Not long after that the charge of the light brigade began. Eggs to the right of them, eggs to the left of them, eggs in front of them, pillaged and plundered, theirs was not to question why, theirs was only to run and try, into the valley of candy charged the four without dread. (not bad, is it, smile, maybe my real name is Boberd Lord Tennyson, lol) We really enjoyed watching the little ones run all over hunting for the eggs. They were hidden in enough places that the young ones seem to find almost as many as the older ones. We saw collisions take place that sent eggs fly in all directions and mad dashes ending in belly flops, but through it all everyone was having a great time. When the kids had finished looking, everyone gathered in a circle and went through their finds. Later grandma took the kids around to look for missing eggs. When all were accounted for, they were hidden again and the game repeated. This cycle of hide, hunt, count continued until a shower put an end to it. It was as much fun to look around the park and see all the older campers out in their lawn chairs watching the hunt and no doubt thinking of their own grandchildren, just as we were doing, as it was to watch the kids. Interesting how we are all individuals, yet we are all connected.
Of course a day without the mention of food is a day in someone elses life. Doesn't it follow that if the day is coming to a close, dessert must be at hand? Tonight I'll just let a picture do the talking, except to add were talking low fat, no sugar and whole grain flour, in other words, health food.
April 5 Wednesday dawned bright and sunny. It seems like Ron & Becky were right on when they said spring starts in the mountains on the 1st of April. That's what I remember about how we used to live. The regularity of things. Whether it was on a daily basis, a weekly basis, seasonal basis or yearly basis. You knew when it was by what was happening. The clock radio waking us up, it was a weekday morning. No clock radio coming on in the morning, it was a weekend morning. At work, one of the fellows always left at 3:30, you saw him getting ready to leave and you knew you only had a half hour left to work. Morning yard work, it was Saturday, church, it was Sunday, "Desperate Housewives", you'd have to go back to work in the morning. If the tulips were blooming, spring, if you were planting tulips, fall, if it was raining, winter, camping in the mountains, summer. Celebrating a birthday, or watching the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Cotton Bowl games, these marked the passing of another year. What marks time when you live in a house with wheels that moves at irregular intervals from place to place, many of them locations you've never completely experienced before?
As we were gathered together this morning, we being Ron, Becky, Carol, Roscoe, Linda and I, the discussion being about what was on tap for the day, Ron made an interesting comment. The conversation had gotten around to the fact that after the Easter weekend we would no longer be doing many building tasks, and our work would shift to a more routine maintenance schedule. That on certain days we would be be doing certain jobs. It was then, Ron commented, "But the problem is telling which day of the week it is.", continuing, "I know what day today is because that's what my plastic pill box said it was." There were nodding heads and similar comments made from everyone in the group. It turns out that is how we all all know what day it is. Later today, as I was sitting in the sun relaxing, Ron's words and the ensuing comments everyone made, came back to me. I remembered seeing the ads for the funny clocks that had only the days of the weeks. The ad copy said something like 'when the hour of the day no longer matters', or maybe it was 'when only the day matters'. It struck me how true that was. It was our new reality. Usually the time no longer matters, neither does the day, as we could do most things we want to do on any day we choose. Where we live doesn't matter, if we don't like it we could be on the move in under an hour. Maybe for the first time I really began to understand the freedom that accompanies this lifestyle. Reflecting on the twinkle in Ron's eye when he said those words this morning, I saw what was so very special about this life, a life that truly must be experienced to be understood. That twinkle was showing Linda and I the special bond that encircles this life we live and I'm glad we have the ability to share it with others.
When the work day started it was with a roar. The roar of a chain saw. Roscoe had noticed a rather large branch on one of the sites had split right down the center. Looking at the branch in a certain way, you could see right through the middle of it. It was obvious it had been struck by something in the past. Whether by an RV or maybe a truck spreading gravel, you couldn't tell. Though it would have taken one completely discombobulated RV owner to have driven into it, I guess it was possible, smile. Since the branch was fairly high up in the tree, we got out the garden tractor, hitched up the trailer, loaded up the chain saw and ladder and proceeded to the tree. Since this was Roscoe's idea, I decided to play photographer to his Paul Bunyan, lol. Soon the limb had crashed to the ground, a perfect cut on the tree being the only reminder it had once grown there. As were so many branches on the tree, the one we cut off wouldn't even be missed. We cut it into sections small enough to load into the trailer and with the help of the loppers and the ladies, soon had the remains stashed away in the dumpster. When Becky saw it, it was funny. You see, we hadn't told her we were going to cut it, we just went and did it. Her first words were, "Yooou'aall didn't cut down the whole tree, did yooou'aall." If we'd have been thinking, we'd have said, "Sure enough did, you got any more you'd like cut down?" But being as it was still early and we weren't as sharp as we should be, we told her no, we'd only cut off one little branch. Boy could we have had fun with that one, lol.
Next we returned to the job we have come to be specialists in. The installation of landscape timbers. Isn't it funny how quickly we fall into a rut, or maybe I should say, develop a routine in the task we do on a repetitive basis. Linda and I could load up the trailer with everything we needed to install the timbers, set up at the site and begin working without even thinking about what we we were doing. Now the most amazing thing happened this morning, because after about an hour of working with Roscoe and Carol, all four of us were into the routine. We spent most of the time talking about our respective lives with only an occasion reference to the work at hand. Don't know if it was because we were such good instructors or they were such fast learners, but no doubt it was the latter, lol. I was going to start this sentence with the words, as we toiled away, but there was no way what we were doing was toil, heck, it was barely hard work. It was mostly fun and fellowship. That the timbers seemly appeared to almost install themselves was testimony to how much fun we were having.
Soon Becky came up to check on us. She probably heard us laughing all the way down to the office and wondered what we were up to. (just teasing, Becky) Soon the ladies had formed a coffee klatch, sans the coffee and Roscoe and I finished up the installation on this site. The next site was one of the most difficult in the park to get into and out of, so the placement of the timbers were critical. Becky put them out, giving us the pattern to follow when we installed them. It's in little things like this that I've come to admire Ron & Becky so much. It would have been easy to place the timbers in such a way as to preserve all the grass at the front of this site and forcing the customer to back in a certain, though difficult way. What she did was lay it out to make it easier for the customer to back into, sacrificing a little grass in the process. Ron and Becky genuinely care for people. If you're looking to work camp, this is a great place, plus they have openings starting in May and you don't have to commit to being here for months and months if you don't want to. In addition it's mostly just light maintenance work over the summer and early fall. We couldn't have asked for a nicer place to be initiated into the world of work camping.
Later in the day, as we sat out at the picnic table eating our turkey wraps, the sky was filled with contrails. There were planes crossing the sky in several directions The patterns they were leaving were captivating. The moon was out and the winds were blowing the white lines across it. Finally one plane passed directly over the moon, its long white trailing cloud punctuating the blue background.
After we had returned inside the coach, a purple finch came to the feeder. Resplendent in its rosy red feathers, larger than the yellow finches, it eagerly gobbled at the thistle seeds. Though he may not visit often, we hope he continues to return, bringing a splash of contrasting color to the view out of our living room window.
It being Wednesday night, the no cooking sign is hanging in the kitchen, for this is the night we eat at Pleasant Gardens Baptist Church. We've been going there every Wednesday since we arrived at Mountain Stream RV Park and really look forward to it. You stay in one place long enough you get to know more and more people, you feel more and more comfortable, at ease. Tonight's menu included spaghetti, meat sauce, and salad. Dessert was angel food cake (it's a church supper, smile) topped with sugar free canned peaches. There's also a pound cake and canned peaches in heavy syrup option for the heavy eaters (hows that for a pun). Following this there is a time of singing, sharing concerns and study. Tonight Brother Allen, that seems to be how Southern Baptists refer to their preachers, passed out a list of questions and assigned different tables to discuss the answer. Then he would call on someone at each table to present the answer. If I'd have been thinking, I might have connected the assignment of question number 13 to our table with the fact that on occasion it has been known that less than good luck sometimes accompanies this number, smile. There was much discussion between Linda, Roscoe and Carol, though with my hearing, or I should say lack of it, I couldn't understand much of it. Once Linda commented, "Oh don't worry about Bob, he hasn't heard hardly anything we've talked about." That was right after I had tried to contribute to the conversation, but left everyone with a blank stare. My time was coming, only I didn't know it, smile.
When Brother Allen turned to our table, those three other people sitting at the table simply stared at me. Now understand, I was sitting within 2 feet of Brother Allen (it's getting easier to type each time I do it, smile), and looking sideways at the those three people who where ever so intently staring at me. My ears heard Brother Allen saying well, have you reached an opinion and someone or three ones saying Bob will answer the question. Now, I wasn't part of the discussion, in fact I'd only given cursory thought to the question, paying more attention to the animated conversation led by a delicate white haired lady at the table next to ours. Of course I didn't have a clue as to what she had said either, sigh. So I did what anyone in this situation would do, I stared intently at Brother Allen, waiting for someone at our table to notice the silence and decide to answer the question. Unfortunately the silence was apparently so deafening and my smile so large, those three other people at my table could neither see nor hear that I wasn't answering the question. Finally Brother Allen broke the silence, "Well Bob, it looks like they're going to make you answer the question.", then a pause followed by a big smile and the words,"and if you don't know the answer, just make something up!" The only thing I could think of to say was, "There's only one person at this table who's so hard of hearing they couldn't hear any of the discussion and that's the one they appoint to answer the question.", lol. So, if you ever go to a Southern Baptist Wednesday night supper and study service, don't say you haven't been warned.
April 4 Back to work today, in more ways than one. This weekend I got even further behind in my daily journal postings. It's going to be a while until I get caught up. Interesting that I used the term "Caught Up" for that is just what caused the getting behind to happen. I got "caught up" into something. Instead of working on the daily entry for the journal, I worked on upgrading the appearance of the website. Unfortunately, I am a very slow learner, which means much energy was expended, but only minimal results graced the table. So, dear reader, I will endeavor to do my best to update the site in a timely manner, smile.
Breakfast was once again the usual, that being the new usual, oatmeal with frozen berries. We looked at the strawberries yesterday, but for the price they were charging and the quality of berries they were selling, it wasn't worth it. So I cast the most powerful vote I have, the dollar bill, and I didn't cast it (spend it) at that store, I cast it at another store on something else. It wasn't much money, only the $5.00 I could have spent on strawberries. Did the store miss it? I'll never know. But just suppose the two containers of strawberries I didn't buy were never sold. In that case because I voted with my money somewhere else, cost the store. We cast these votes (choices) all day long, but never really think about it. Here I am, wondering off the subject again, sorry, smile.
Before and after breakfast I continued to work on upgrading the website, however I made myself promise to work on the daily journal after work today. Down at the office we found out our jobs for the day would be spreading gravel in the spots that had been missed before and cleaning the deck at site 12. First we did the regular Tuesday tasks. While Linda and Carol cleaned the two restrooms, Roscoe and I cleaned out the fire pits. Neither job took long, as there had been very few fires in the park over the weekend. Plus the Sunday night rain had wet done the ashes, making them easy to shovel. Since it was still early in the day, there was a slight chill in the air, and the deck was in deep shade we decided to put off cleaning it until later in the day (that's called good planning), lol.
Getting out the garden tractor and hooking up the trailer we headed to the gravel pile. It is a crushed aggregate (having sharp irregular sides as opposed to round rock) and is hard to shovel. The best way is to use a spading shovel, the kind with a rounded point and push it into the gravel at a very flat angle (like you're pushing it along the surface rather than digging a hole). I like to use my foot to push it in, then my hip and legs to actually shovel it. That way you're not using your back.
So we loaded the trailer, driving to the places where it was needed and unloading it. First we filled in all the spots that required just a small amount of gravel, a quarter to half a trailer load. The method was to raise the tailgate, push some out with the shovel, pull up a little bit, push out some more rock and repeat until enough rock had been dumped to fill the low spot when leveled. Roscoe and I would move onto the next spot to repeat the process while Carol and Linda spread the piles with rakes. It was fun work, steady, not very hard with lots of time to "visit". It was amazing the similarities we were finding with each other. We all had the same work ethic, and, though different in backgrounds, we were similar in how we approached life. Plus we had the instant bond of living on the road. Before we knew it all the areas needing rock had been covered and it was time to tackle the deck.
Site 12, where the deck was, is the second best site in the park. Next to the stream, well shaded, wide enough for roadside slides, with the deck, yet open in front for good satellite reception, it is special. The deck is to the side of site that would be the curb side of an RV when it is backed into the site. Depending upon where the door is, it may open directly onto the deck. Right now, as I type this, there is a pop up trailer on the site with their awning setup over the deck. It doesn't get any nicer than that. Because the deck is in the shade it gets a coating of something similar to moss or algae. Our job was to clean this coating off using a oxy-clean type of cleaner, called oxy-boost. Five or six scoops in a bucket of water, brush it on, let it sit, brush some more on, rinse it off and the job is done. It wasn't quite as simple as that, but those were the steps. Lots of learning to find the best way, the need to scrub the railing by hand and most importantly, lots of time to visit.
The more we talk to Carole and Roscoe the more we discover we have in common with them. Already we can see it will be hard when we have to move on at the end of the month. That is the great thing about living out here, you get to meet the most wonderful people and who knows where you might run into them again. For example. we were talking about our plans to spend some time in Puerto Penasco next winter. It turns out Roscoe and Carole are also interested in going there. Small world and who knows, maybe we will meet them there. Heck, maybe we'll end up going there with them. Whatever the path, the journey we are taking sure is fun. After much scrubbing and conversation we rinsed off the grime revealing a wood surface that looked almost new.
The day's work finished, we returned to the coach where I began working in earnest on the journal as I had promised my self earlier this morning. Linda fixed our turkey wraps which we ate outside. Later Linda repotted her tomato plant. She had looked at it this morning when she took it out of the pantry and noticed it was starting to get root bound. It wasn't long before I was getting the bigger pot and the homemade compost we had brought along, out of their box in the basement. With much love and care the Tiny Tim tomato plant was removed from its plastic container in which it had sprouted and grown for its entire life. There may never have been a tomato plant raised with such care. Its stem was damaged in the first few weeks of life, whereupon it was propped up with a toothpick. She gently blew on it every day to strengthen its stem. Each night it was put into the pantry, directly over an under counter halogen light that was left on all night long. This provided the gentle bottom heat it needed to grow and flourish. Each day that was warm it was placed outside. If the temperature was to cold, it remained inside, shifted from window to window in order to maximize the amount of sunshine falling on it. In the early evening it was placed under the fluorescent light by the sink, resting atop a tower of containers, adjusted so it was less than an inch below the light. Now that's one well cared for tomato plant, lol. I ended up spending most of the day working on the daily journal for the 31st. Didn't get it done, but got a good start on it. These posts don't appear as if by magic, though sometimes it would be nice if they did, smile. Tonight we had an extra for dessert. Besides the brownies and ice cream, we had warm milk to use up what was left of last weeks gallon. Add to this a dash of the Letterman Show to close out the day and top with a good nights sleep, it's what makes this life so special.
April 3 Another day off from our work camping duties. Our plan for the day is to goof off some, take a couple of walks plus head down to Marion for some perishables. We're out of fresh strawberries, remember. Putter around the house, work on the website and most importantly, bake some brownies for dessert tonight as we ate the last of the peach cobbler last evening. In other words, a day that would fit in with the life we lived before our house had wheels. Breakfast was once again oatmeal, but it was running low so we needed to put it on our grocery list.
With pantry space somewhat limited upstairs, we use a small container to hold our day to day oatmeal, it lasts about a week before we need to refill it. We use so much we buy it in the largest size we can, which we keep down in the basement. We have a large cooler that we carry in one of the bays. It serves the purpose very well of an insect proof storage container, holding the oatmeal, extra flour and other assorted items, most of which have no good use, but are quite "safe" there. When we were making our decision on which RV to purchase we knew we would need lots of storage and we thought we had plenty. How mistaken we were. In this life it appears it is impossible to have enough storage. You can have adequate storage, you can have plenty of storage, a tolerable amount of storage or even a decent amount of storage. But the amount of things that you want to store will always exceed the amount of storage you have, smile. Lawn chairs in the back of the Explorer, Jello boxes in the medicine cabinet (why not?, they fit perfectly on the shelves), there is no end to where you can put things. Things which you soon forget are there. You not only forget they are there, you forget you've got them in the first place. Sometimes stumbling across them is a pleasant surprise, other times it results in the accusatory why did you buy that? Which leads to..., smile. Some storage areas are more important than others. Take our pantry for example. What a contrast to the one we had in our house, it is 30 inches high, 36 inches wide and 8 inches deep with three shelves. The same shelves I had to repair. Check out the post of March 23 to see the "quality" of the original design.
When we first loaded this pantry with food we were: 1. In a time crunch, so it had to been done quickly; 2. Using our pantry's at home as a guide as to where things should go; 3. Used to having huge amounts of storage place; 4; Had the different food items close to where they would normally be used; 5. Buying in large quantities, i.e, 12 rolls of paper towels, a case of tomato sauce, spices in 2 lb containers (We knew where every item in our local Sam's was by heart, lol). Since the way we eat involves cooking almost everything from scratch, we need many basic food items to make the cookies, spaghetti sauce, brownies, etc. Right off the bat we faced the usual, "where is it?", dilemma. Time has pretty well solved that problem with a lot of help from one major and many minor reorganizations. Which, of course, can lead to a vicious circle unless we both do the placement, or to use a better term, the "displacement" of the items, since we share the cooking duties, smile. The most important thing we have discovered is to have things where they make sense to us. All the time we spent looking at RV's resulted in our RV being one 'we can live in', not one we can simply stay in. I shudder to think how much research we will be doing in about 4 years when we begin to think about replacing this coach, smile.
Mondays are a slow day at the campground, everything is laid back and easy going. We had a late breakfast, those frozen berries under the oatmeal are a tasty change and it clears out freezer space. It is windy, but very pleasant as we walk around the park. At the upper end, we walk over to the stream. It is so peaceful, the sound of the water so soothing. Then Linda notices the fruit of our labors. On the bank of the stream (in California we called them levees) she sees the first faint tinge of new life. Me, I can't see it. Pointing she says, "Look, here, here, there, I don't believe it." It was really hard for me to believe, since I didn't have a clue as to what "it" was.
Finally she took pity on me and showed me all the new grass coming up. I decided, discreetly, and to myself, I might add, that either she was seeing things or I wasn't seeing things. Deciding the latter was the better one for me in the long run, smile, I stooped down and said," It sure is hard to see." Her glance told me I'd better start seeing "it" immediately or it wasn't going to be good for me. Finally flattening myself nearly prostate on the bank, I saw "it". "It" turned out to be several tender young shoots of greenish red grass. Of course it's one of those things that as soon as you know what to look for, you see it everywhere. Now it was my return to walk around and say, "Look, it's over there and here and even down here." Whew, saved by the skin of my teeth, lol.
Not having any training and only the experience you get from setting at the computer and trying things, I continued my work on upgrading our website. One of these days all this is going to make sense to me but for now I'll just keep plugging away. As Linda has told me a hundred times, Bob, if you didn't love it so much, you wouldn't do it. As for me, I want to know how it is done, not just what the result are. Unique; each of us, sometimes a burden, sometimes a blessing, but always; life is so wonderful. We had decided to make this another Marion week rather than running up to Spruce Pine. By now we've gotten to know the town well enough that driving is almost automatic. Didn't take long and soon we were back home. This was one of our two laundry days for the week, not that we always do laundry on Monday, but recently it seems to have worked out that way. With the Splendide 2100, Linda has found that two small loads give better results than one larger one, so, as I typed away, I could occasionally feel the gentle shaking of it spinning. When your washer/dryer is usually 10 and never more than 15 steps steps away, doing the laundry is not a chore.Think about it. Linda can fold the clothes on the bed, put them away and lay down to rest without ever moving more than 5 feet in any direction. Is this the life or what, lol.
It was such a nice day we went outside later in the afternoon. The finches are definitely molting, the bright yellow coloring of the males becoming more apparent by the day, Normally when we sit at the table near the feeder the birds all fly away, waiting to return until after we have gone back inside. This afternoon we had one either really brave or really hungry bright yellow male visit the feeder while we were out at the table. An unexpected pleasure. Not only was he at the feeder but he was on the side closest to us, perched back to us, eagerly feasting on the nijer thistle. It begged for a picture and unlike the butterflies of yesterday I was up to it. Of course the fact I only had to sit there, get my camera out, aim and take the photo may have contributed to my success, smile.
Later we walked around the park and saw a different type of swallow tail butterfly. Since we know even less about butterflies than birds, we guessed it to be a either the black form female of the eastern tiger or spicebush swallowtail. Like I said, we know a pretty butterfly when we see it, but don't ask us any more, smile. We've been here for more than a month now and until our sighting of that mass of butterflies yesterday, I don't think I'd noticed them much before. Now it seems, no matter where we look, we see butterflies. It's kind of like when we drove down the road before we began our adventure. Occasionally we would notice an RV, but not often. Now when we are on the road I can't believe the number of diesel pushers pulling a toad that we see. Reminiscent of seeing the glass half empty or half full. The butterflies of life are always there. Do we see where they are or only where they have been?
Before we knew it most of the afternoon had passed and it was time for our peanuts. Those of you who have followed us since we began our adventure know that everyday at or soon after 4PM, we take a break, sit down, relax and eat some peanuts in the shell. It started on one of our first afternoons in Quartzsite, when we returned, hot, hungry and tired from a day of walking and flea marketing. It was a pleasant day, meaning there was no blowing dust in the air, only a steady breeze, do decided to sit outside. Remembering we had brought along some peanuts in the shell we had in our old RV, we got them out. They were stale, but on that day they were just the thing. Soon we began buying peanuts in the shell at the produce stand across the street beside the old post office and eating them every day at 4PM, something that continues even today, almost 3 months later. It gives us a marker in our day. That point at which a change occurs. From peanut time on, it is our time to relax, each of us doing our own thing. A scrumptious supper, a relaxing time watching TV, a movie or using the computer, ending the day with a delightful dessert. Speaking of supper, we had leftover pasta with Bob Evan's sausage in the sauce, lightly steamed broccoli and salad with EVOO and white balsamic. As always, delicious, nutritious and filling. What more can you ask? Dessert was fresh baked brownies and ice cream, again healthy food that tastes great.
April 2 After the stress of the last several days, we have a day off and I just want to do nothing, nothing I have to, nothing I need to do, just a day where the phrase "Doing Nothing" means exactly that. Friday's stress is self explanatory, maybe there are some people who would shrug off all that happened, possibly others who would have laughed at everything as it happened. It wasn't a high stress day or even an all stress day like, not so unoccasionally (smile), happened in our former work lives. Not the stress you feel when you are the sole caregiver for an elderly loved one. Not the stress you feel when you see a child take a temporary detour down the wrong path in life. No, it is not that kind of stress at all. Still you know it is there. Stress yesterday you say, how could you have felt stress when you lead such a wonderful life. The beauty of the mountains in the spring, work that is not really work, fun, fellowship and food, that was your day, stress? You're making it up. That's the great thing about perspective, it's just a point of view.
Our little work camper world, the one we had grown so comfortable in, was undergoing a change. We were going to have to share our "world" with Roscoe and Carole. What could have been a revolutionary experience turned out to be an evolutionary process. At first we shared our space by working in near, but not close proximity. Conversation was relegated to the necessary. Slowly the distance between us lessened. It became less defined. It blurred and finally existed only as a mere shadow of its original incarnation, no doubt to be totally banished upon the return to work on Tuesday.
Still, it had been there to start
the day. It, being stress. That is why I now wanted a 'nothing day'.
This triggered a faint memory of a fragmented recollection of
something I couldn't quite recall. I did know it was about 'Doing
Nothing'. At last I found it.
It was a song written by one of the greatest, if not the greatest modern day composers, Sir Elton John, in collaboration with Caleb Quaye, and aptly titled Sitting Doing Nothing. Some of the words relate to my day:
The source is Paul Maclauchlan's excellent website on Elton John, Cornflakes and Classics. If you're just, 'sitting doing nothing' right now, you may want to take a look at it. For a link to the complete lyrics for this song, click here. There is no way to better express how I felt at this moment. My day will be my own. The life of someone who lives on the road in their RV. The life of a work camper on a day off.
Breakfast was oatmeal, frozen mixed fruit, Linda's defrosted and on top, mine frozen and on the bottom, covered with chopped walnuts, Linda's course chopped, mine very finely chopped and finally topped with ground cinnamon, a little for Linda, mine covered. And you thought we both just had oatmeal for breakfast, lol. Later, we walked across the road to Sunnyvale Baptist. There were over twenty people sitting in the pews when the Music Director announced the first song. as always, we enjoyed the service. There is just something about sitting in a small country church singing old time favorites that is relaxing and comforting. Just what I needed this morning.
As we walked back toward the park we noticed a large number of butterflies in the air. Looking down from the bridge we saw the bank of the stream directly under the bridge appeared to be moving. There ground was literally covered with butterflies. Of course this necessitated the retracing of our steps back to the church parking lot, then down the bank toward the stream. About 30 feet away in the sandy soil next to the stream was an enormous group of yellow and black swallowtail butterflies. Of course they were not where it was easy to take a picture. Located in the shade, under the bridge, it required a stealthy photographer to capture the perfect picture. I handed the camera to Linda, but she declined. This was one photo she wasn't going to mess up, smile. On tiny cat feet I plodded forward. Every time I stopped, I heard a voice saying, just a little bit closer, Didn't take long to get the hint she wanted a close-up. This was shaping up as a no-win situation. Finally I decided I was close enough, not withstanding what Annie Leibovitz, aka, Linda, wanted. As I brought the camera up to eye level the air was suddenly filled with butterflies, anywhere from 60 to 80, a sea of motion. I was so taken a back by this scene of yellow and black pandemonium, I didn't take any pictures, sigh. Sometime later a couple of them settle near where I was standing. Finally got a picture. It's fairly obvious I'm no Ansel Adams, but at least it's a picture of butterflies, smile.
The day seemed to almost fly by. I was working on a special project for the website and was both frustrated and happy at the same time. Happy, because if I could succeed it would be a major improvement. Frustrated because I was having trouble even getting to the ball field, so to speak, let alone hitting a home run, lol. Since it was such a warm pleasant day we had decided to have a fire tonight. I had it all built, a perfect tepee of ever increasing sizes of wood all ready to light whenever Linda was in a pyromaniacal frame of mind. As dusk settled, I heard a clattering in the kitchen utensil draw and turned to see the resident arsonist with our flame thrower in her hand. Knowing from past experience I had only moments to get outside in order to observe the result of my combustulary endeavors burst into it's full blazing glory, I headed to the door.
Later as we sat by a brightly burning fire, drinking some iced tea and talking about our plans for tomorrow, I realized I was as free as the words to the song proclaimed and that tomorrow we'd go somewhere else, once again a place of our own choosing. We're doing it because we can and I know it's there for you, Because You Can.
April 1 A Saturday morning, dawning crisp, cool and cloudless. What a glorious spring day as I sit at the window, seeing not only the birds at the feeders, but also RV's in the park. A new month means new challenges, new opportunities and new adventures as spring arrives. Up early as usual, the tea kettle on the stove is heating, a spoonful of Cherry Bancha is nestled in my blue Chatsford teapot, my clear glass mug sits nearby, soon to be filled with the warm yellow liquid that I find so refreshing. Then why do my thoughts stray to the subject of toothpaste tubes? It appears, once again I march to beat of a different drum, lol. We live in a very small house, one that has wheels, and thinking about yesterday, one that occasionally, actually starts and moves, smile. When you live in such close proximity to someone else, even if you've been married to them for nearly forty years, you see things you never noticed before.
Take something as simple and mundane as toothpaste. In the past we have shared the same tube. The freedom of the road has led to freedom in toothpaste. This has resulted in the very interesting observation that I am totally out of character when it comes to the maintenance of my toothpaste tube. While not a slob, I have been known to be less than neat when it comes to clothes, the floor, chairs or flat surfaces, though our confined space has resulted in major improvements in that area of my behavior. Brushing my teeth this morning I noticed how fastidious I am when it comes to "my tube." No Ipana (even though Bucky Beaver was one of my childhood hero's), Pepsodent or Colgate in my cabinet. What you'll find is Tom's of Maine or maybe I should say "Tom's of Colgate, Maine" due their recently announced sellout to Colgate. (Something that is important only to us long time Tom's users, smile). On the shelf, oh so neatly folded, sits the tube, still holding a few precious squeezes. Am I accepting the realities that come with living in this small box we, so fondly call "the house?" Change starts with small steps. As the saying goes, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step," As we've embarked upon and live this grand and glorious adventure, we've had to take many small first steps. What's wrong with being like a child taking its first steps, Fall, get up, fall, get up repeated over and over, but always more and more steps. If you're thinking about your own adventure, whatever it may be, start to take those first steps. Before you know it you'll notice your "toothpaste tube" will also look different.
Soon the smell of Canadian Bacon gently frying in the skillet filled the coach. A mixture of beaten eggs, diced onions, green and red peppers sat next to it on the counter. In the griddle, two pieces of whole wheat bread, lightly covered with ICBINB were toasting to a beautiful golden hue. Soon all would be on a plate, the toast spread with our homemade sugarless peach jam, It will be a good day today. Dishes done we walk towards the office. A new experience awaits us today. For the first time we will be working with other work campers. As we walk we talk about it and decide it is going to be a great time over the next month. Little did we know that Roscoe and Carole had precisely the same attitude!!!!!!
Becky was in charge of getting us started today, as Ron was working in the office. The tasks would include making sure the restrooms were perfect, taking down the cover on the end of the pavilion, raking the gravel and tightening the picnic tables (whatever that was). Since the park was now officially open, the number of RV's in the park dramatically increased this weekend. Obviously the bath house is the most important task. We set off to check on them. Not much to be done in the men's, the women's is a different story. Just then help arrives in the form of Carole. An experienced work camper (they work camped for two months at Mountain Stream three years ago), she and Linda attacked the ladies side. I sweep and cleaned the mens side while Roscoe worked with Ron on getting their wi fi connection set up and running. When you live on the road, email and the internet are your lifeline, but that's a subject for another day, smile.
By the time I was finished, Roscoe had a step ladder out and was starting to take down the brown tarps which had kept the wind out of the pavilion during the work weekend activities. This is one of those things they don't teach you about when you go to work camper school, smile.The cover consists of regular reinforced brown tarps, the kind you can buy at Lowe's or Home Depot. Duct tape was applied to reinforce the edges where the grommets were. The top is fastened to the pavilion by screwing an eye bolt into the beam that matches the location of the grommet and a carabiner is used to attach the tarp to the eye bolt (actually an eye screw, but that's getting too technical, smile) The sides were attached to the vertical posts by placing eye bolt through the grommet and screwing it into the posts. The sides where the tarps met between the posts were fastened by means of a short bolt and nut with large washers. these were passed through the overlapping grommets and tightened. Where the tarps ended between posts, they were laced to the nearest post with parachute cord. The bottom of the tarp was held down with 12" spikes driven into the ground through the grommets. Our task was complicated somewhat by a good breeze, but in short order it was done.
Next we placed longer pull chains on the overhead fans in the pavilion. Those were the fans which were installed on the work weekend. The plan is to have the lights on all the time when the pavilion is being used, but turn the fans on only when needed. So we would place a longer chain on the fan switch making it easier to turn them on and off. The 'when needed' includes summer evenings when the mosquitoes have been known to be out. Seems those pesky critters don't cotton to breezes and the fans blow just enough to keep them away. Pretty ingenious, these Tarheels, lol. It immediately became obvious to me, as I dropped the tiny little connector that hooks the chains together for the third time, that Roscoe had a lot more experience at doing this than I did, either that or he had a lot more dexterity in his fingers, smile. Three of the four fans were quickly done, Roscoe's, my one fan took a little longer.
Ron was checking the fans out with the dimmer switch when Roscoe mentioned the dimmer they were using wasn't meant for fans, just for lights. The decision was made to change from a dimmer to a regular switch. Removing the switch plate I almost burned my fingers on the dimmer, it was so hot. Me, I'm liking Roscoe more and more by the second. That's one sharp man. While everyone else superintended, Roscoe, with a little help from Linda, changed out the switch and cover. Four superintendents, one worker and one helper, ah, the life of a work camper, cushy to say the least, lol. Next came the raking of the gravel in the pavilion. This needed to be done prior to the pot luck supper each Saturday. Linda and Carole used garden rakes, turned prongs up, to clean, level and smooth the fine gravel surface.
Our last job for the day was to tightened the picnic tables. This was just what it sounds like. The tables were comprised of a metal frame with wood planks for the top and seats. The boards were fastened to the frame with the short lag screws, while the metal frame was held together with bolts and nuts. A number of the lag screws had rusted to the point they no longer held in the wood, plus some of the nuts had come loose. Everything had a healthy coating of rust on it. The first problem was tools. We solved this by Roscoe getting his tools from his 5th wheel and I getting mine from the coach. We had to jamb wood down in a number of the screw holes to get them to bite. We also broke off a number of the bolts, because they were so badly rusted. With Carole helping Roscoe and Linda helping me we were soon done with a job that had the potential of being very difficult. It hard to believe we could be so lucky as to work with people as nice and sharp as both Ron & Becky and Roscoe and Carole are. Before we are leave at the end of the month we will be better people because of them.
This being the weekend, there were a number of RV's in the park. We spent some time visiting with David and Lin who were from Toronto, Ontario. The had been in the US for 3 months, having taken early retirement at the same time we did, the first of this year. They were spending anywhere from three or four days to a week plus, at each campground. They were surprised we would be back here instead of out west. They thought they were traveling too much having come the 1000 plus miles from Toronto and staying in 14 campgrounds in 3 months. One of the most difficult things to understand about this life on the road is that everyone has his or her own definition or concept of what it is. I am positive most people would define how Linda and I live and travel differently than we do. We are happy in our life, are you happy in yours?
Almost before we knew it it was time to cook the pasta we were taking to the covered dish supper. We used a pound of Bob Evans Sausage in the sauce which Linda made from scratch. The potluck is a Saturday night tradition at Mountain Stream. Whenever anyone asks Becky if there is a sign up sheet she says no, it just always seem to work out that there is a good variety of dishes. That was the way it was tonight with one exception. Being from California we are used to covered dish suppers being about 75% salads. You know, HEALTH FOOD, 20% being a Mexican dish of some type and the remainder, dessert. The idea of a salad being anything other than cut up lettuce with a splash of salad dressing appears to be a foreign concept in these mountains. Linda plans to rectify that situation next week and even though we are long time Phase 3 South Beachers, we still watch what we eat, because we like how we feel, smile. There were about 15 at the supper.
We had a good time visiting and watching the entertainment. Normally during the season, Tom, Jo Ann & Ray provide music and song after the suppers. Since they weren't going to be entertaining until after Easter, we had a very special singing duo tonight. Belinda's two granddaughters were very capable fill ins, doing a variety of a cappella numbers. These young ladies got numerous rounds of applause, indicative of the stellar careers they have awaiting them in the entertainment business, smile.
The enthusiasm and impetuosity of youth, a wonder to behold. The appreciation of the audience and the pride of the grandmother, part of what makes life worth living. Only to soon it was time to return to the coach and another dessert. Ya, I know its a tough job, someone's got to do it, smile. For the second night in a row we had warm peach cobbler and ice cream, isn't amazing what a difference just one day can make.