Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me…I Mean SKRUFFY


Skruffy and I have been together for FIVE years now!  As many of you know, she is a rescue dog, found in a Construction Business yard living under dump trucks and tractors right across the street from a Veterinarians office.  She was first spotted by my Assistant Director in early to mid October, and when she talked to workers at the Construction Business they said she had been around for a few weeks, would not go near anyone.  She told them to call her if they ever caught her, and she checked on her nearly every day and fed her over the weekends.  Sometime in late October I got a call at the Library  “Looking for that “Library Lady” who wanted the dog living under construction equipment…”, and the rest is now history.  Above is Skruffy just a day or two after I got her.  I would pull this chair up next to my desk and she would sit there for hours while I worked.  She came to the Library with me every day…until Marcia and Bubba came into our lives, and even then she came to the Library nearly every day.


After retirement and traveling became the norm in our lives, she still liked to sit by me and “help”.  Just last night she came up and set her nose right on my computer….right on he “on/off” switch.  Yep, about 5 seconds later, no power to the laptop.  I think she was just trying to remind me that it was her birthday..but it took the email reminder from the Vet’s office this morning to remind us “people”….isn’t that nice of the Vet’s office to send a birthday email to Skruffy?


Skruffy has been at the forefront of many of our pictures, including this Yosemite shot of Nevada and Vernal falls.  Bubba would not just “sit there”, he would let his nose take over his life and jump off and run smelling anything and everything he can smell.  (Although he is not as likely to run nearly as much as he use to.)


So here she is this morning “hiding” her morning treat from me that she is eating.  


Last time we were at Sam’s Club (in Albuquerque), they did not have our normal Dentastix, but they did have “Minties”.  Both Bubba and Skruffy love them, but they love Dentastix too.  I normally break them in half and give each of them a half, but Marcia felt Skruffy deserved a full one this morning.

2b     2c

When it is gone, she eagerly jumps up and cleans her teeth and gums with her tongue, which takes a bit of time.  Then she lays down her head down and takes her morning snooze…..


…but not until she gives me one her “I love you dad….” looks.  


Happy Birthday Skruffy….but I still can’t help feeling that I am the one who got the “Birthday Present” five years ago…  


p.s.   you don’t look nearly as scruffy as you did back then, but you ain’t getting a name change, you’ll always be my little “Skruffy Girl”

Monday, October 27, 2014

Arkansas to Florida Sights


Since we got married in early 2011, I have driven from Arkansas to Florida so many times.  Our typical route is down highway 65 into Louisiana to I-20, over to Jackson, Mississippi, down highway 49 to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, then highway 98 to Mobile, Alabama where we connect with I-10 into Florida.  Once past Tallahassee, we go down highway 19 to the Holiday/Tarpon Springs area, sometimes using the Suncoast Parkway toll road to avoid the many many stop lights along Highway 19 between Homosassa and Tarpon Springs.  Above is a picture of Lake Providence, which is also the name of the town which runs along it.  It is a large Ox Bow lake, which means many many years ago it was part of the Mississippi river.


So why do I show this house above?  It is located on the outskirts of Lake Providence.  Back in 2011, the house was under construction.  Here in 2014, it is STILL under construction. Back in 2011 it was still being framed.  By 2012 it had the outer board and insulation around the frame.  The last time we saw it was in 2013, it had plywood over the roof, no shingles, and the outer board was still showing, no brick.  No it looks like they are getting close to being down with the outside….but a blowup of the inside still shows sheet rock, and I doubt the floors are done.  I told Marcia that perhaps they are just paying for it as they go along…let’s hope they live long enough to enjoy it.


Just south of Lake Providence is the small community of Transylvania.  Have shown this on the blog before, sure an interesting place….


And we had to include a picture of the Mississippi River.  To the left bank is Vicksburg, to the right is Louisiana, the river view is to the south.  Has a real good flow going for October.


As stated in an early blog posting, we stayed overnight at Okatoma Resort & RV Park just north of Hattiesburg.  This is a picture of the entrance road (right side) and exit road (left side), and in the middle they had a nice little Doggie Run that I took the kids to a couple of times.  All these green trees and grass were throughout the park, except where the RV’s parked, which was mainly gravel.  Combined with the two large ponds and other smaller ponds, it really was a gem of a park at $13 per night with Passport America.


As soon as you pass under the tunnel in Mobile, Alabama, you can see the Battleship USS Alabama off to the right.  Took a tour of it once, it is a magnificent piece of equipment. 


Then we pass over the bridge of Mobile Bay, that is the gulf out there to the south.


Not much for showing state signs, but we are in our home state now, so there it is.


As we got in between Pensacola and Tallahassee we came upon a fire off in the woods…for a minute I felt like we were back in California or something.

1i     1j

After a night in the rest area past Tallahassee, we made our way down to highway 19, and in Chiefland we stopped at a Murphy Express for our last gas fill-up for $3.75 per gallon.  Our cheapest gas on the trip was $3.35 in Mississippi, and except for a $20 in the HHR near Yosemite, we did not spend over $5 per gallon on the entire trip.  Did not keep track of our overall expenses, but my best guess is that the new to us Motorhome was typically getting 8.5 to 9.0 gallons per mile.  Hit low 7’s once or twice in mountains, but also hit high 9’s once or twice too.  Here Skruffy is watching me to be sure I did everything correctly, and Bubba is looking at Skruffy thinking, “Hey ‘girl’, what are you doing in my spot!  Everyone knows that when dad leaves his seat it automatically turn into a Bubba chair.”

Now it comes down to doing work around the Condo, or doing work at the Motorhome…. frankly it is going to be a lot of work for a number of weeks.  But you know, even work can be fun!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Home, Storage, Fire Update


Made it home safely yesterday, spent much of the time unloading and unloading and unloading.  The street right in front of the condo entrance is having major repairs performed on it.  We decided to put the motorhome into the RV park nearby for a night, and unload into the HHR and then unload the HHR into the condo….yep, that was fun.  This morning (Saturday), with less traffic in the area, I did get the motorhome to the front of our condo and unloaded the rest of it directly into the condo….much better. But at 11:30 we had an appointment to meet Jim at the RV Storage lot, so I still have a small amount, perhaps two or three boxes worth, of stuff to unload next week....along with lots of cleaning.


Last winter our motorhome was right where the arrow was…..that was seven months ago, then there was the fire which took out some 35 motorhomes and some boats and some cars, including ours.  Well, he has it rebuilt now, but we are not in the covered area, we are out back.  Jim said that they are 99% sure that a Norcold refrigerator caused the fire.  We were in C1, the other side of this building is the “B” section, and the fire started around B5 or B6…but with the windy conditions, it took them all out.  Jim said that surprisingly ATF was able to pull that refrigerator out, and they are going to perform tests on it which “can” show that it was the refrigerator that started it all.  If so, Norcold is going to be sued again, and will probably settle for $5 or $6 million dollars to reimburse the insurance companies and Jim.


In this google map you can see the storage area better.  The red arrow shows the building which burned down.  The black arrow is the outside storage which we are using this year for 5-6 months.  The “red arrow” building has been rebuilt, and will be ready for use in a week or two.  New rule…all refrigerators MUST be turned off.   Jim said that they are more dangerous on “electric” than on gas, but his attorney suggested that he just have them all to off.  Except there is an area at the end of the open area where one can park the night before you leave and turn everything on.  Not a bad idea.

Last year when I first met Jim I told Marcia that I was highly impressed by the guy….just seemed to be a fine family man, told me how he had just come from kids soccer practice where he helps coach the team.  We paid for 4 months upfront last year.  While talking today he says, “wait a minute, you paid cash upfront last year, right?”  “Yes,”  I said.  He gets out his little handheld device and says, “I owe you $300.”   “But my RV was still right there, you don’t owe me anything.”   “No, I stopped charging people the day of the fire,” he said.  Wow, I thought, our RV was still sitting there in his parking area, it might have been a melted pile of waste, but it was still my waste until the insurance company paid me for it.  So now we don’t have to pay anything until February 1st.  Wish there were more honest men like Jim around….

Thursday, October 23, 2014

750 Miles, One Wreck, 200 More to Go


Left Little Rock, stayed outside Hattiesburg Mississippi last night (Wednesday), and staying in a Florida Rest Area outside Tallahassee tonight.  Roughly, that’s 750 miles.  Last night we stayed at Okatoma Resort & RV Park.  It is a Passport America park, only $13 per night, full hookups.  It is a couple miles off of the highway, which makes it quiet and peaceful, and we both got real good sleep.  Tonight, in the rest area, it will be much louder, probably our loudest night since we got to the Sacramento area back in May….but we will make it through the night.

This is a picture of the RV park from their website….by the time I rest up from the drive, it was getting dark.  When we left this morning we got a picture of this lake/pond, but it did not turn out as good as theirs….so here is their picture.  Their website has many more, and they don’t hide the fact that many of the spots at their resort are close together….but remember, it is $13.  The staff I met were WONDERFUL….very nice and helpful.  Yes, we would stay there again if we are in the area.
Driving along highway 98 from Hattiesburg near the Alabama boarder we witnessed a rear end crash that took place just in front of us.  A white mid-sized car had just passed us and pulled in front of us and continued down the highway.  In front of them was a pickup truck, with blinkers flashing, following a tractor, similar to the one below, probably going 40-45 mph.
As I started to sense that something was wrong, the white car, at the last moment, attempted to pull to the left to avoid the truck, and BAM!  I was going around 55, they were going around 60, speed limit was 65 on this divided highway.  They had slowed, but not enough, before the accident.  No one was hurt, damage to car was enough that I am sure they needed a tow, while the truck was hurt, but not too much.  Turns out the truck and tractor were county vehicles.  The driver of the truck told me that two years ago an 18-Wheeler hit a county tractor from behind and killed the county worker…so now they have an escort.  As for the car, turns out the two guys in it were driving a brand new car from Lander’s , an auto dealer in Little Rock, to Georgia where they were to deliver it.  Doubt they will be delivering very many more autos in the future.  I figured the driver was on his cell…but he denied it to me.  When the state trooper arrived, he dismissed me from the scene, I got my collapsible cones off the highway and off we went.  Funny, no one took my name, not even the trooper.

Have been carrying these cones since June of 2013 when our Class A American Eagle had broke down along he highway in May and we had no way to mark the danger along the highway.  I carry them in the HHR, and this was the first time I used them.  $24 for two from Amazon, and they include a light or night-time use.  And we don’t get any $$$$ by using our link if you buy them, just wanted to share the safety feature.


Don’t know if you have ever had a wreck on the Freeway going 60+ or not, but a number of years ago I had one going from Little Rock to Pine Bluff.  Had a meeting at the State Library that day, but when I got there the weather was real, real bad, and I turned back to Pine Bluff.  There was a tornado which through the area about 40 minutes after I left Little Rock….about the time a guy in a pick-up truck hit me going 65 mph while I was traveling 60+ mph.  I saw in the mirror that this guy was getting closer and closer, so I hit the accelerator and started to get in the left lane….but I was about 2 seconds too late.  I nearly got away from him.  He hit me and it was like “Bumper Cars” at a carnival….except for the speed.  It has had a lasting affect on me since I constantly watch my rearview mirror when I am in the same type of situation.  Today I just started to utter “he is going to hit him” when the accident happened, and then I changed it to “he hit him”, as I quickly slowed and put on my blinkers, and carefully went around the debris field left on the highway, and pulled off in front of the wreck.  Things happen so fast, thank goodness we were way back, and thank goodness no one got hurt….not a scratch.  And the airbags did not go off in either vehicle….nor did they in my case some six years ago or so.  Why did the truck hit me back then?

The driver was an older man from a poor little town south of Pine Bluff in a very old Chevy truck.  He was coming back from the VA hospital, where they had given him a new prescription…and as he drove along, he was curious to the type of medicine he had been given and was reading the label.   When he got out of his truck he had to hold on to the side of his truck as he walked, and I thought, “Oh no, he is hurt.”  Then he got his walker out of the bed of the truck.  He had left his driver door open, so I went over and closed it, just as he says, “Don’t close it please…”, but too late.  I had now locked his keys in his running truck with all the doors locked.  The state trooper was not too happy about that, he thought the guy did it on purpose to hide something …. until I told the trooper that I had done it not knowing that the truck door is always in the locked position.  “You locked his door?” the officer asked.  “Yes sir, but I did not know it was locked….I just didn’t want a car driving along the Interstate to come along and hit it.”  That defused the situation real quick. 
The older gentleman was a Korean War Vet.  I begged the State Trooper to just give him a warning, but he said that he would get in trouble doing that.  He wrote him up for failure to observe, or something like that.  Way better than it could have been.  I have always wondered if this guy is still driving or not....I hope so, and if so, I hope he learned his lesson about reading and driving.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bye Bye Arkansas

Tomorrow morning we head out of Little Rock, into Mississippi, and down south.  Lived in this state from January 1st, 1991 until my retirement in 2012, nearly 22 years.  When we first moved here, my youngest was 3 months old.  My children's mother got her teaching degree by the time he was in 6th grade, and she is still a very successful teacher in White Hall, a community close to Pine Bluff.  When we first moved here the local PBS station shut down every night, or was it just Sunday night, and they played this song above.  It really does tell how Arkansas "grows" on you. 

While here, we had a very enjoyable meal with our dear friends, Jana and Mike at Applebee's.  I think we were there for over three hours, and we wish we could have stayed another three hours visiting.  There will be a next time, that's for sure.

Saw my doctor today, and although my high blood pressure is coming down, he changed out one medication and encouraged me to loose more weight.  In the past year and a half since I last saw him, he said my weight had not changed....guess I need to do more of those hikes that I pass up from time to time. I asked him if I should wait until the results of the blood tests, and he assured me that I should head on out, and he would call me with the results in a few days.

On our way back to the motorhome, we just had to stop at Corky's, my favorite BBQ place in Little Rock.  We had a late lunch, early dinner, an got a rack for the road for tomorrow's dinner.  You can now buy Corky's BBQ in some grocery stores, and if you order off their website, they can deliver just about anywhere pretty fast since the headquarter location is in Memphis where FedEx has its headquarters.  

Above is picture from the Internet (public use ok) of the Buffalo River.  There is so much beauty in Arkansas, and yet it is overlooked because what many first see is the flat, cotton and soy bean fields between Memphis and Little Rock.  When you live here for awhile, it really does, as the song say, "Runs deep in me...."  For us, we are signing off from Arkansas until our return visit next year.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Maumelle Park, COE


We took our time leaving Petit Jean this morning, after having a nice conversation with a Class B Van Owner who was our only neighbor (Saturday night) the entire time we were there.  He is from Lubbock Texas, where he recently retired from a College Library where he was the Director.  Small world, two former Library Directors parking right next to each other.  We stopped off at a Kroger, just 3 miles from Maumelle Park, and pulled in and set up at the park by 1 pm.  Maumelle Park is a Corp of Engineer Park, part of the Arkansas River - Murray Lock and Dam, across the river (Arkansas River) from the town of Maumelle, just outside of the Little Rock City Limits on the west-side of town.  There is also a Super Walmart about 4 miles away, along with numerous restaurants and businesses along Arkansas Highway 10.  I can remember this stretch of Highway 10 being essentially null of any businesses just 10-15 years ago.  Thank goodness the park is away from all the hustle and bustle of the city.


Maumelle Park typically gets real good reviews, and with sites like this one, you can see why.


But the non-water sites can be real nice too.  This is a good “pair them up” location, where two RV’s sit close together along a shared driveway with the next nearest neighbor a good distance away.


As I was driving around I found this to be my favorite RV in the park…a loyal Arkansas Hog fan who came in for the weekend.  Normally when the Hogs are at home they play in Fayetteville, but they also play a game or two in Little Rock (although that is probably going to end soon).  This happened to be one of the weekends for this, which was another reason to stay in Petit Jean until Sunday.


All the sites are not as deep as this one, but many are, and most have lots and lots of parking space even if you are driving a 45’ motorhome.  


This is one of the upper campground areas, Area F, with hardly another camper in sight.  There were three or four spots up here which are fairly isolated, especially site 12 and 13. 


I am going to keep this in mind with the hope that I never need to use it.  There are around 10 sites which have sewer and are for long-term medical use.  My primary doctor is at UAMS, and I would easily qualify for this “if” ever needed….let’s hope it is never needed.  There was a guy pulling in just after I pulled in right across from us at site M-08.  He looked like he was missing a sewer connection hose, so I asked if he wanted to borrow ours until we left….but he said that he was headed back home and they were coming back on Tuesday…his little 3 year old just had her second brain tumor removed in the past six months, and now needs to go through chemo and radiation.  He has a trailer that he bought for “Deer Hunting”, but it has now turned into a “Dear Healing” trailer….we sure wish them the best.


Oh boy, guess what’s running all over this park!


“Skruffy, look at ALL this grass!  It reminds me of another place far, far away...a place full of Squirrels.”    “Yes Bubba, and I’ll tell you what, let’s race over to that Island over there….I’ll give you a good lead, and I promise to follow!”  "Hey, just because my name is Bubba, does not mean that I am stupid."


“If I just stare long enough, maybe Uncle Arny will show up and give me a treat!”  All this grass makes me miss my "home away from home."


Look, just before we get to back in, Dad always takes our leashes off…..maybe we should run that way and I’ll bet you we eventually will get to Arny and Sandy’s house.”


As the sun sets to the west, the east shows its colors.


Life sure is precious….

Friday, October 17, 2014

Right Thing to Do


Today we took a quick drive to Morrilton’s Walmart, then back for a quick drive around the park and then lunch at the Lodge.  Most of the drive was along Red Bluff Drive, on the north side of Cedar Creek, which runs through the park, into Lake Bailey (pictures in yesterday’s blog), and down Cedar Falls (2012 blog picture above).


At the second overlook on Red Bluff Drive, you can see this bench above. On the side of the bench is this plaque, below.


I just happen to know the story behind this plaque…it is a sad story, a story of the love of a father and his son.  Jeff’s father James “Jitters” Morgan was the Farmer’s Insurance agent for the town of White Hall when I moved to the Pine Bluff area in 1991.  He was very active in the community, as was his wife.  If I had ever met his son Jeff, I don’t remember it….but I knew Jitters and Lynn.  On December 1992, Jeff was hiking along the ridge close to where this plaque is located…and although he was an avid outdoors type of person, he slipped, and fell into the canyon below.  Around spring time, 1993, Jitters approached me at the library…this was before I was the Director, and my office was in the White Hall Library just down the street from his Insurance business.  Jitters told me that Jeff had a favorite book, it was a book written for the young teenager.  He was unsure of the title, but together we figured out the name of the book.  The Library did not have a copy, but he wanted to read it.  I told him I would get it through Interlibrary Loan, where we borrow it from another library.  But instead, I ordered a couple copies….put one in each of our Libraries with a special copy put in the White Hall Library with a plate inside dedicated to Jeff. 

1d     1e
Above left is the covered overlook just to the right of the bench.  Above right is what the bench oversees, you can see the bench in the far left corner of that picture.
As for the book….I also ordered an extra copy which I gave to Jitters….I took the money out of the White Hall Friends of the Library fund to pay for that copy.   He just wanted to read his son’s favorite book…I wanted him to have a copy of that book for his own collection.   It was the right thing to do…..  

Above is a picture from the Pine Bluff Commercial, showing Jitters (left) with other Lions Club Members at the White Hall Food Bank.
As for Jitters, if he thanked me once, he thanked me a hundred times….it really meant a lot to him. He gave up the Insurance Business….and became Mayor of the City…and stayed Mayor for 16 years.  The “James "Jitters" Morgan White Hall Community Center” is currently under construction, with opening date planned for the spring of 2015.  It includes a full size gymnasium/basketball court, various fitness zones, an indoor elevated walking track, several meeting rooms and an outdoor public fishing pond.  This past summer they just opened the Crenshaw Springs Water Park.  The White Hall Chamber of Commerce gives out an annual award with his name on it.  The City of White Hall was just named one of the ten safest cities in the State of Arkansas.  Much of this can be attributed to this one man, Jitters Morgan.  In his younger days Jitters was a High School Referee and Umpire for Football, Basketball and Baseball.  Some people are leaders, good people like Jitters just lead.  We can sure use more of that in this day and age.