Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back in Leesburg

      Don and I returned to Leesburg, Fl on Tuesday after a wonderful 6 days in Minnesota.  Don withstood the trip and flight as though he had not just been through a two-month ordeal that nearly took his life.
     The first thing I discovered upon return is that there is a glitch in this blog and the photos are not posting.  I will continue to work on it so keep checking back.  I just wish I were more computer savvy. Ron, where are you?
     I have also learned that cousins, Jim and Linda in Louisiana,  have survived the hurricane with no damage though a tree was lost in their front yard.  Phew!!
     More later,  I promise...........Toni

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Big Day finally arrives.

Don went into the Rehab Center 6 weeks ago and he was beginning to think they would never let him out. But the day finally came.  I arrived at 8 am last Friday morning and found him packing up to leave.  Of course it took the facility another 5 hours to get all their paperwork together before I could 'spring him'.

There were some really tough days in this place but Don also had some wonderful staff who came by to say their farewells....

There was China who never stopped smiling--no matter how crabby the customers became in this very exclusive hotel.

And then there was Georgia who made physical therapy an enjoyable outing instead of work.  I noticed that Don managed to attract some of the loveliest and nicest ladies anywhere around.  And they all treated him like royalty.

I wonder if lovely Weaton is why he ended up hanging around for six weeks.  No, surely Don wasn't sandbagging. He wouldn't do that....

Ah, home at last.  "So, where is my masseuse?"

The very first Sunday Don wanted to go out to dinner.  This funky restaurant is called Stumpknockers and is one of Don's favorites.  Their specialty is catfish and hush puppies.

So we brought Kelly along.  She had never eaten hush puppies before (can you imagine?) and discovered that she loved them.  By the way, she is now Don's caregiver....and masseuse.

So, Don is doing great.  He is back in the social life at Lake Port Square and feeling his old self again.  We will be getting on an airplane on Wednesday morning and heading to Minnesota for six days to visit his sister and a whole raft of Larson cousins, nephews and nieces.  So I will be blogging from there sometime next week.
My plans for the future are to head back west right after Labor Day.  I will return through the south with stops in Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and finally to Arizona by December.  I did not make it to Nova Scotia this year so it looks like I will have to do it later.  Which means I may have to extend this adventure another year or two...after the west coast, Alaska, the midwest, some of Canada, all of New England... Oh, the torture!  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Toni and Sigh Me say 'Goodbye' to Emily

It is a very sad day today for pet lovers who have been following Glenn and his wonderful 'Navigator', Emily on their journeys.  If you look to the right of this posting and click on the blog, "To Simplify" you will find the wonderful adventures of Glenn and Emily and, you too can see why this very sad day brings a lump to my throat.

My good pal, Sigh Me, has been my companion and friend, and sometimes adversary, throughout this trip.  The thought of not having her with me as I travel is impossible to imagine.  I admit, she chews up my maps, sharpens her claws on the back of the passenger seat, wakes me for food at 5 am, and leaves cat fur on every piece of black or navy clothing I own, but....She curls up next to me and purrs when I lie down to sleep, she keeps my feet warm in winter, she follows me like a puppy wherever I go, and she looks at me lovingly with those Bette Davis eyes whenever I scratch her ears.  It's called 'unconditional love' and we are so blessed when our pets give it freely.
Glenn, I am so very sorry for your loss.  I know there will be a huge empty space in that Chinook for a long time to come.   And I know, from experience, that occasionally you will catch a glimpse of Emily  out of the corner of your eye, and feel the grief again when you realize she isn't there.  But she loved and was loved--by many many people.  We will miss her.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Mattaponi Indian Reservation

It was my last 'exploration' before the final push to Florida and it turned out to be one of my favorites.  This tiny little Indian Reservation is located approximately ten miles off the freeway near a little town in Virginia called West Point.  I decided to search out the spot because my sister had come this way some years before and suggested I check it out.

The little hand written sign on the post said, "It's a Beautiful Day" and was signed by Chief Little Eagle Custalow.  Not only was the day beautiful but it was also perfect for a picnic.

I drove past the little cluster of houses and didn't see a person anywhere but I found this area with a sign that said, "Museum.'
 So I parked in front under a shade tree and ate my lunch while watching for someone to come along.
 Off in the distance I could see a man working in his garden and when I waved in his direction he waved back  and came to open the museum.

And in a very short time I was given a history of the tribe,
its many broken treaties,
the Mattaponi family, (that incidentally includes Pocohontas and Wayne Newton),
how to make a comb,
and how to grow fantastic vegetables...

and all of it from the Honorable Chief George Custalow himself!
That feather he is holding is part of a long story about a mysterious old woman who appears unexpectedly, brings Chief George back from near death after a heart attack by waving the plume over his comatose body, then disappears never to be seen again.

I explored the museum and all the while listened to, and thoroughly enjoyed, all of Chief George's stories.

"The Execution Club that John Smith was to be executed with.  When Pocohontus pleaded for his life her father  Powhattan pardoned him and peace was restored between the Indians and the English until 1622,"

"Pocahontus' necklace, worn by Princess Pocahontus in 1607, who later saved the life of Captain John Smith.  Married John Rolph in 1614"

  "An early type of indian comb burned by heating stone with thin edges."

Chief George Custalow in his headdress.
Finally, I had to get back on the road but I just had to ask the Chief what he was growing in his garden. He took me out to proudly show off some of the biggest cabbages I've ever seen growing.

He also had beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and lots more.  And he gave me a parting gift of the following....

Wow!  Something like the generosity of his ancestors when they greeted the visitors at Jamestown.
So I reluctantly said "Goodbye" and turned Halcyon II south toward Florida.

Indian Prayer
"I bid you great spirit that I may understand you,
Not, Brother, until I walk in your mockasins from sunrise til sunset,
Then I understand you well."
So if you are ever passing this way, stop for a picnic and an afternoon with Chief George.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly to Leesburg

I was sitting on the beach in New Jersey when I got the call from Don that he needed help.  As I turned south and headed for Florida I began to hear reports of a tropical storm that was predicted to cause havoc in the area that I was heading for.  Just what I needed--a hurricane!

I came down along the coast as far as possible and my sightseeing for most of the way was from the windows of the RV.  

I stopped once to get a taste of the famous Maryland Crab Cakes and another time to indulge in some Chesapeake Bay Oysters.  Ohh! It was obvious this area deserved to be researched further.

I found this little town of Chincoteague on the Virginia coast and wished I could have stayed for a while.  The town was far enough off the beaten path to feel natural and unspoiled and had a great seafood restaurant right on the water.   

There were two floors to the restaurant--the ground floor was for families and no alcohol was served. The second floor served wine and beer but children were not allowed up there.  I chose the second floor and ordered iced tea. I thought the south had the crazy 'blue laws' but I ran into some strange ones in the area around DC.  One state (Penn?) did not sell alcohol except in state run liquor stores and then only in case sizes.  I am still trying to fathom the logic of selling a case of beer versus a six-pack.

Which led me to wonder at this country's crazy laws that change from state to state.  (I still am amazed at the Daquiri-Drive-Throughs in Louisiana.)  I just heard a British comedian on NPR ask if there wasn't a booklet for newcomers traveling in this country so one might keep up with the changes in the laws.  That sounds like a potential best seller for someone and I would like dibs on the first copy.

And speaking of alcohol--I guess the bottle trees get bigger when you are buying wine by the case.

I couldn't resist this picture. I liked how that two-toned hydrangea bush matched the two-tone curtains, window box and light fixture.

As we careened down the coast I was driving more hours in a day than usual and Sigh Me began to show signs of frustration.  When I don't stop and play with her enough then she takes her frustration out on my maps.  Note the tell-tale tail disappearing on the upper right.

Then the heat wave started to catch up with us.  I was avoiding RV parks so we were living without electricity and air conditioning while the temperatures were climbing into the 90's.

And the humidity was a killer!

The storms kept rolling in and sometimes the wind would almost lift the RV off the road.  

A few times I had to stop for the night because the rain and hail came so hard that I couldn't see to drive.

But, mostly, the drive was easy enough with lots and lots of water along the way....


At one point this motorcycle pulled up behind me and the driver had his headset on.  I would glance back at him now and then and he would be dancing away on his bike and singing at the top of his lungs. I think it was the equivalent of 'singing in the shower'.

When I wasn't going over the water then I was going under it. (I found this to be very claustrophobic).

Traveling through the industrialized north meant lots of ports loading mountains of coal.... 

Followed by mountains of recyclables headed to China, Pakistan, India and VietNam.  I once heard a lecture on the future of the US economy and the speaker made a statement that stunned me.  He said that our largest (by volume) export is now recyclables!  We send our discards overseas then they come back to us in the form of clothes, toys,  plastic dishes and knick knacks!  This week it's garbage; next week it's on special at Walmart.

And while I'm grousing about the lesser virtues of our great country the above photo will explain a lot about why I avoid RV parks.  Sitting cheek-by-jowl in an over-crowded, Motel-6-on-wheels park is hardly my idea of relaxation.  I search one out only for a night of electricity and a chance to dump the holding tank on Halcyon II.  Otherwise, state and national parks are my first choice followed by a quiet corner of a Cracker Barrel parking lot or some far-out section of a hospital parking lot after visiting hours. Even Walmarts are more appealing than most RV parks.  More and more I am happy with my small vehicle.  It's a great sense of freedom to  know I can park just about anywhere without drawing attention.