Sunday, May 27, 2012

A busy two weeks

I can hardly believe that 2 weeks have passed since our last blog, I have been pretty busy, flying to Las Vegas, back to Atlanta, down to Savannah area, and visiting Charleston, Savannah, and Hilton Head, SC. 

Las Vegas

Phone of the yearLet me begin with my trip to celebrate granddaughter Julie’s 21st birthday.  I would like to say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I’ll share just a little of the fun we had.  The party began on Friday when I landed and Julie, her boyfriend, Claudio, and Melissa (high school friend of Julie) picked me up at the airport.  The next morning we went to Circus Circus for Krispy Cream donuts (that stays in Vegas)!  We then walked over to browse the shops in the Venetian and I had my first and only drink to celebrate Julie’s birthday.  The 4 of us shared a Bloody Mary.  That was the first Bloody Mary that Julie, Claudio, and Melissa had ever had. 


CIMG0046We rode the bus from our hotel to the Bellagio and then back to get the car to pick up my sister, Janet, who flew in from Portland.  Then daughter, Jenny, granddaughter, Jamie, and my Mom arrived in Jenny’s new car. We were now a party of 8.  We road the bus back to Bellagio to see the water show, the Botanical Gardens, and some shops.  Some of our group did get to know some really strange Characters while on the streets of Vegas. As you can see Julie is cracking up (left), Jamie is quite impressed (middle), and mom, 91 years old is pretty overwhelmed (right).


The group’s decision was to go by bus to Fremont Street. It was a super show, not only the light show on the ceiling, but the show put on by the characters on the street.  Jamie even enjoyed being fooled by a street magician. She was flabbergasted to find that the playing card the magician placed between her 2 hands had somehow moved to his jacket pocket. 

Julie, Claudio, Melissa, and Jamie stayed to party on Fulton while the older 3 generations, ages 46 to 91 went back to the hotel at 11:30 p.m.

Saturday the “older 3 generations” went to breakfast and were joined by the the “X” generation with the rules for a game Julie had created, A Photo Scavenger Hunt.  As I don’t have the winner’s (generation “X”) pictures, I will share a couple of the loser’s pictures. They are 1) a famous sign, 2) a girl in a bikini, 3) Movable statues, 4) a man wearing socks and sandals, 5) 21 under lights, and 6) a picture of a rollercoaster.  Most of these were disqualified. Surprised smile


Saturday evening we had a fabulous dinner celebration at D.O.C.G. in the Cosmopolitan. Did a little risk-taking at the slots and ended our evening at the Tapas in the Cosmopolitan. Julie and Jenny had only recently returned from Spain and were our guides to enjoying Tapas.

Monday I made it through security and boarded a plane for the fourth time in a  little over a week. It was a whirlwind weekend, but one I will not forget.  Julie and I had planned this 21st birthday in Las Vegas since she traveled with us for 2 months following her high school graduation.  One more year and she will graduate from CSU,Fresno. 


Next blog… Back in Atlanta and on to Savannah.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Quick trip to California

What am I doing in California you may ask. Well, some RV'ers Gate Watch, or do other forms of workcamping for extra dollars; I work for diesel for an amazing group, The California  Child Abduction Tast Force.  It was a bit of a logistic challenge, we had to plan to be near a hub airport for cost purposes and be able to travel The Natchez Trace.  We chose Atlanta to be our base and to go to nearby attractions for the two weeks we will be in the area.

Tuesday morning this week we got up at 3:30 a.m.  That is no typo!  We drove to the Atlanta Airport, North Terminal, 43 miles in the dark.  There were lots of cars and trucks on the freeway that time in the morning and the commute was uneventful.  Tom dropped me off, gave me a kiss, and sent me through "security".  I made it through with my 1 gallon ziplock baggie with no more than 3 oz. of liquid in several bottles, with my shoes off and with no wires in my clothes. I suppose I didn't look like a dangerous person.

I was scheduled to land in Sacramento at 9:59, but we were late as we had an unexpected stop over in Salt Lake City. The story was there was a medical emergency, a load of puppies in the cargo hatch and a loss of temperature control.  So we landed, offloaded the puppies, refueled, and were in the air again in about 40 minutes.  We landed in Sacramento at 11:15 a.m.

Cool Judy Rinehimer was waiting for me. Thank goodness for those handy Kindle apps on our Smart Phones and Judy took advantage of hers.  Judy gave me a quick tour of beautiful Auburn and we had a delicious lunch at Awful Annie's - strange name - fabulous food.   One of the interesting sites in Auburn are the enormous sculptures by dentist, Dr Fox.  Some of the sculptures are not appropriate for this blog.  You can see how large these are when you look at the cars in the parking lot.

She dropped me off at the Holiday Inn in Auburn and had to get back home to continue moving back into their Cool home.  They had arrived just the day before from being on the road.  We had planned on getting together on Thursday for a tour of Cool.

My room at the Holiday Inn was recently remodeled and the view was beautiful and soothing.

This was a jam-packed 3 days of workshop sessions.   It was great getting together with many of the presenters that I have worked with for several years.  We did have a nice dinner out on Wednesday night at an interesting restaurant, Latitudes, and talked about all sorts of things, the workshop, traveling, geocaching, etc.  Just a great time eating and catching up. We had walked from the Holiday Inn to Latitudes and back; almost a mile and felt great.

The three days went by so fast and it was time to head back to Tom, Pansy and the DA PAD, but not before my tour of the canyon drive from Auburn to Cool and the Rinehimer 'stick' house.  Both tours were such fun.  Cool Judy is a wonderful tour guide. I think I learned even more from Judy than I did about the area from watching California's Gold and Huel Howser.  We finished our tour at the local Pizza restaurant before driving back to the Sacramento Airport,  I had a 10: p.m. (no typo) 'red eye' flight back to Atlanta with a stopover in Charlotte, NC.  I got back this morning, Friday, at 10:30 a.m. with about 2 hours sleep.  Tom picked me up, took me back to the DA PAD and I had a nice nap.

After I got up, we drove to a Camping World in Byron, GA, where we bought a couple of chairs, the 2012 Corp of Engineers Camping book AND gas at $3.26 a gallon.

It is so good to be home, even if for only a week.  Next Friday I well fly out of Atlanta again for granddaughter, Julie's 21st Birthday Bash in Las Vegas.  The party will include my Mom, Sister, daughter Jennifer, granddaughter Jamie, and of course Julie and boyfriend, Claudio.  Remember what Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas. (very big grin)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hermitage Plans

Friday morning we had to move the RV as someone had reservations for our space.  We had even moved yesterday for the same reason. So we had stayed in Spaces 36, 60 and now 40.  40 was now our favorite.  Just look at our view.
We had planned on visiting the Hermitage, but that was before getting our parking ticket last night.  We had to decide if we would drive into Nashville to see what to do about the $40 ticket or call someone to see what we should do.  I looked at the information I had about the company issuing the ticket.  I called.
OOPS.  That was the number of the towing company. The man I talked to and explained we had paid for parking but did not put the ticket on the dash… blah blah blah blah. He interrupted me, very Southern-like, said, “Mame, I am only the tow truck driver, the number you want to call is on the back on the ticket.”  I was red-faced, but he couldn’t see it over the phone. 
I called the number on the ticket and talked to Nichole, also a very nice Southern-like lady. I explained 1) we bought the ticket, 2) we were still there at 9:24, 3) I had the ticket and the receipt and these pictures proving our car was the one ticketed still parked late last night,
Nichole told us to put the receipt in with the ticket and mail the envelop that the ticket came it.  Bottom line cost – 1 Freedom .42 stamp.  We began our day in much better spirits as we left for The Hermitage.

We drove across the J Percy Priest Dam that creates the beautiful lake at Seven Points Campground then down to the bottom of the dam for some more pictures.

It is a short drive to The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson.
We decided to spend the $15 each for Senior tickets (since saving $40 on a parking ticket) to tour the grounds, see the museum, and use the self-guided recording system.  I loved the heirloom roses, the peonies, annuals and blooming trees.
Even this little rabbit enjoyed the gardens. P1040567P1040570

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the Hermitage House. The costumed guides explained how this house with 6 bedrooms usually had upwards of 18 house guests that included Jackson, his wife and children, his son and his wife, children and sister-in-law family, friends who happen to be visiting, and sometimes foster children.  When you added 6-8 household slaves, It was a very busy household. 
There were over 40 listening stations around the grounds and inside the museum.  We ended our day at The Hermitage by seeing a movie on Jackson, a very complex slave holder, democrat, President, and the term he wanted to be known as, General.
President Jackson and his beloved wife, Rachael, are buried here.  On Jackson’s grave stone it only says, General Andrew Jackson, his birth date and death date.  On Rachael’s grave stone there are lines and lines of poetry.
Rachael only lived 8 years at The Hermitage and died just before Jackson took office.  She was distraught over the Washington Society who belittled her and spread rumors about her and the Jackson’s controversial marriage.  To read more about this interesting piece of history check this site.
President Jackson loved her and never got over her death.

We were so hungry so chose Famous Dave’s and we did not leave hungry!  We looked up a geocache on my new phone and got it!  We were home by 8:00 p.m. 
Another great day around Nashville.  If I were not flying out of Atlanta, we would definitely be staying here a lot longer. 

We left Seven Points this morning and drove 3 1/2 hours to Adairsville, GA.  We are staying at Leisure Time RV Park, a Passport America campground.  $17 for full hookup and a great clean shower for Tom.  The shower is 10 feet from our rig.  The owner holds a Bible study church service in the morning so we will go before moving to our next stop, High Falls State Park outside Atlanta.  Until our next blog, we’ll be On The Road Again, Caching Places We’ve Never Been.

Timing is Everything

How many times has Tom said that? Well we really found that out last Wednesday.  We started out to see what downtown Nashville had to offer the tourist trade.  We drove first to the Capitol, easy to find on our Garmin Nuvi.  We circled the Capitol looking for parking, but there were no parking spaces for the public around the Capitol.  We saw the big ‘P’ marking the PUBLIC parking garage only 2 blocks away.  We pulled in and parked in space 106 on the 3rd level.  We went to the Ticket Purchasing machine and that’s when things started to go downhill. 
I tapped in the numbers ‘1’, ‘0’, ‘6’, put in my American Express card to pay for the 4-6 hours of parking time and the machine grabbed my card and captured it!  Oh NO! What now?  We looked around for a phone number to call, but no number.  I didn’t want to leave the machine with my credit card in it so Tom started to look for an official.  In the mean time a friendly janitor walked by, sweeping up, and I asked him what could we do?  He told me where the office was located then he asked, “Do you want a phone number?”  “Perfect,” I said.  I called and the gentleman said he would be right up.  In the mean time Tom returned. He had not  contacted anyone yet.  Just then Lorenzo Tesfay, the General Manager for Republic Parking, walked up with another staff member and opened the machine door and retrieved my credit card.  What a relief.  We were so grateful for the exceptional service and courtesy.  We had quite a nice chat before leaving for the Capitol.
We decided to take the steps up the front for a better photo op.
There are 106 steps up to the Capitol. This was the hottest day of the year for Nashville, 94* and very high humidity. We stopped at each of the levels, three of them, to rest.  When we got to the top this is what we saw, 'closed for renovation.’
There were signs on all four sides of the building – at the top of all the stairs.  One side of the Capitol there were 190 steps up to the Capitol! 
We ran into a young staff member walking around the corner and when he asked how we were doing, I told him!!!  “Why couldn’t the signs be put at the bottom of the stairs?”  This nice young man, who was from Monterey, CA, said the renovation had just started today (timing is everything?) and he would go right then and tell the Building Manager.  Success, I think. Unfortunately we missed this exceptionally beautiful and historic Capitol.
We had to cool off at Dunkin Donuts with a chilled coffee back at the parking garage with 4 hours parking for the Jeep paid for.  We checked out the bus routes to the Visitor Center located about 1/4 mile away since we did not want to move the car.
We found the FREE Music City Metro bus that tours around town. We did the circuit twice before getting off at the Visitor Center. 
In addition to being a great resource and wealth of information it is the most beautiful building.  It is where Sirius Radio Country Western radio is broadcast from.  We learned where to park all day for $7 just up the street at the Baptist Church parking lot, we picked up several brochures, learned NOT to visit on Friday because the Predators were playing hockey at the Bridgestone because it would be a ZOO downtown, and convinced Tom to go to Grand Ole Opry on Thursday.  Nice day.
Thursday we parked in the Baptist Parking Lot, paid the $7 at the machine.  In the background the Nashville new very big convention center much like the Kemper Area in Kansas City is being built.
Downtown Anywhere is not our favorite place to tour even if it is Nashville.
Instead we caught the free bus to the Tennessee State Museum.  Lucky us, again our timing was perfect… 6 school tours were scheduled.  These kids were everywhere.  We did have a wonderful time in spite of some very rude students.  Where were the chaperones?
We saw the usual stuff we see at a museum and we also found that the hero engineer in the song about Casey Jones, was a real person from Tennessee, the KKK is no longer in existence, and President Andrew Jackson was a dueler and only killed 1 or 2 people. Who knew?
We ate dinner at a highly recommended restaurant, Demos’.  If EVER we get back to Nashville, I will have the unlimited soup at Demos’. The best ever!  Then the best ever performance at the Grand Ole Opry (we heard people who had been before saying this as they exited).
These are a few pictures of announcer, Eddie Stubbs; host Larry Gatlin who was funny and sang many songs; Ronny Robbins, son of Marty Robbins, who also was a wonderful singer; Jim Glaser, who sang the high parts on the Marty Robbins song El Paso and is also a song writer; a couple of new singers; and the star of the show, the Charlie Daniels Band.  All I can say is the show was out of this world. We paid for the least expensive seats and they were still great seats.
This is “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”.
We couldn’t have been happier, UNTIL we got back to the car and found a ticket for $40 on the windshield of the car.  What!!!  We had forgotten to put the payment receipt on the dash.  More to come on that situation.
Friday we visit the Hermitage.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nashville… f I n a l l y

We drove the last 60 miles of the Natchez Trace yesterday, Monday. On Sunday we took the Jeep on a 180 mile drive back into Mississippi.  Tom discovered Shiloh Battlefield was about 65 miles from where we were parked and he said we probably would not be going back that way so we had better see it on this trip.  The weather was beautiful for the drive and we traveled on some wonderful new roads too. 

The Battlefield is much like that at the Gettysburg Battlefield, a drivable tour, with pullouts with information on the 2 day battle. We went to the Visitor Center where there were many artifacts on display there.  The display was very balanced in telling the story of both sides in this horrendous battle. The explanations were color coded, Blue signs for the Union (Army of Tennessee), Red signs for Confederates (Army of Mississippi), and Yellow Signs for the Union (Army of Ohio). 


There were lots of monuments throughout our drive.


There were lots of guns too.


This battle was fought because the Union, under General Grant, was ordered to take the Rail Road Crossroads at Corinth.  This would have split the South in two making it impossible for them to get adequate supplies to the troops.  That would had ended the war in the first year.  That did not happen and the war went on a bloody 4 more years. This was far more interesting than I thought it would be. We saw the “Hornets Nest”, where the Union Soldiers were caught in the crossfire with bullets buzzing so close they sounded like hornets.  Check this site for more information. 

We drove to Corinth just in time to see the display of the the battle there.  We only had 1/2 hour so I did not get a lot of pictures.  The walk approach up to the Visitor Center had medal sculpture imbedded into the walkway.


The ranger at the Visitor Center told us where to find the best Catfish dinner in Mississippi.  We ate at the Dinner Bell and the ranger was not exaggerating.  With coleslaw and baked sweet potato sides and half the catfish, I had enough to bring home for a great lunch today.   

Monday we drove into Nashville to stay at the J Percy Priest Lake at a Corp of Engineer’s campground.  Seniors stay for $10/night with 50 amp and water.  Sewer is at the entrance.  After looking up about 10 campgrounds in Nashville that ranged in price from $32-$85.  None even rated very high. I don’t know how they stay in business with this campground open.

Gorgeous site although a little tight.  Tom threaded the needle on this one.



The site is about 70 feet long and we are just across the parking area from the lake.

We drove into Franklin, just south of Nashville, to a Verizon store to pick up my new phone. I LOVE IT.  It is the Motorola 4g Droid Razr.  I am still getting all the apps installed and set up so I can find them. 

Droid Razr

Tomorrow we visit the Capitol, said to be the most beautiful.  We have seen many Capitols so we’ll see.  Stay turned.