Thursday, May 10, 2018

Nora Kathleen Arrives !

      We've been in Santee since April 8th after rushing across the country from Florida to California in anticipation of the arrival of Liam's sister.  A little bit of weather slowed us down out in the desert, but most importantly, we made it on time.  We've been very fortunate being able to Skype with everyone out here in CA, and Liam seemed pretty excited seeing Buzzy and Papa coming through the door.
He seemed to be getting pretty comfortable hanging around camp with Buzzy, as we desperately attempted to learn the names of his favorite shows.   We had gotten "cars" down, but suddenly there was Cars 2 and Cars 3 to figure out.  I think Sesame Street is "Emo" and then there's "waygo" for Frozen. (Let it Go)  The latest is "Mimi's 24" which is actually Despicable Me 3??  Figure that out??  I probably don't have any of this right, but we're trying!
     So baby watch was on, and we all closely watched Joanne for any signs of the pending arrival.  Been would go to work each night comfortable that Mom and Dad were just a short distance away at Santee Lakes.  Problem was, there was minimal phone service over in the park, and each night we cautiously positioned each of our phones in an area of Big Red where we thought a phone call might get through.
     And then suddenly about 5 AM, the morning of April 13th,  we were awakened from a lovely sleep by a phone call from Joanne saying it was time.  I don't think I've ever seen Buzzy move quite so fast except when Ben and MaryAnne made their arrivals.  Debbie had been checking on all preparations this week,  making sure everything was set, and as I slowly rolled over and asked where the father was, Debbie's response encouraged me to get moving.
It was a quick trip over to the house, and I sat down like a good grandfather should, and patiently waited for Ben to drive up from San Ysidro.  Shortly after his arrival, Liam came out to see what all the commotion was, and I knew my chances of getting back to sleep had just flown out the window. 
Soon, Ben and Joanne were out the door heading for Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns, the same hospital that welcomed Liam on September 28, 2015.  And just about 4 hours later, Nora Kathleen Doody was welcomed into the world.  I think that is cutting it just a little close!
     Later on that afternoon, we packed up Liam and headed for San Diego so he could meet his new sister.  Looks like Ben and Joanne had prepared him well, cause he seemed to take an instant shine to her, and after checking with Mom to make sure she was ok, he wanted to hold her.
                                           Then pretty soon everyone wanted to hold her!!

                                                    Not sure Liam like Nora crying!

     She seemed to be another perfect child!  Ten fingers and ten toes, and not a peep out of her.  Well maybe just a little peep.  She liked to be wrapped up tight in her blanket and kept warm, and she was quite content.  Mom and Dad seemed to be doing well, and Joanne had lots of color in her face. It's not everyday that a granddaughter is born on Friday the 13th, so it seemed only natural to stop off and purchase a Powerball Lottery ticket for her.
The drawing was help the next evening, and not a single number came up.  I guess that means her luck can only get better.
      We got Liam home and Debbie stayed over with him and Jamo, and I went back to the "trailer park" for some well deserved shut eye.  The next day it was back to Sharps for a little more visiting, and the afternoon of the 15th, everyone was released to come home and start their magical journey through life.

     Sorry for all the baby pictures, but each time I tried to quit, another cute one would come along.  Just be thankful you're not here, and I set you down and show you ALL the pictures!!  
     So now that we have Nora Kathleen all settled in, the next step is to get Ben's house on the market and get it sold.  Since I'm a month behind, I'll tell you upfront that it was unbelievable, but you'll have to wait for all the details.  Travel safe everyone!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Texas....Texas...Texas.....and Finally California

Image may contain: food     On April 2, 2018, we departed Sun-N-Fun bright and early, hoping to have a good jump on the morning commuter traffic.  We always feel sorry for them, slaving away probably at a job they don't enjoy, and having to endure the ridiculous traffic every day!  But we know just how fortunate we are to be able to live the lifestyle we have, so we just wave at our idiot earth mates we're forced to share the rode way with. 
     Debbie had returned last night after a whirlwind flight up and back to NY.  Gage was being welcomed into the Catholic Church, and Debbie wasn't going to miss it.  Everyone is pretty proud of him....except Superman.....but we're gonna work on that this summer!! I have given up flying, and opted to stay home.  Just can't seem to pull the trigger on climbing onto one of those things.  Gage passed all the tests with flying colors and MaryAnne got a Reeses peanut butter ice cream cake to top off the celebration.  I had been left with the job of getting Big Red ready to move, and we had an uneventful departure right on schedule. 
      Florida seems to have completed most of the construction on I-75, and we cruised northbound before hitting our first tie up near Tampa.  After that it was pretty clear sailing, and we headed for our first stop along I-10 at the Twin Lakes Camp Resort in Defuniak Springs, Fl.  Eight hours and a little over 400 miles later, and we found ourselves still in Florida on our first night out.
  Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing

     We were up bright and early for Day 2, as we were kinda under the gun to get to California before the arrival of grand baby #2!  Total trip was going to be a little over 2400 miles, but Grammie was convinced we weren't going to make it.  I did a thorough check of the astrological charts, ascertained that we weren't facing the arrival of a full moon, and was pretty confident that the arrival of grand baby #2 was not imminent!  None the less, each day my navigator pushed the envelope, and managed to talk me into 400+ miles each day!  With little fanfare we pushed through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and into Louisiana before stopping on Day 2!
     No matter what, we knew that Day 3,4 & 5 were going to be in Texas, so the navigator went to work finding a route around the major Texas cities we were aiming for as we traversed the state on I-10.
     We turned north just outside of Houston, and even though it got a little thick with traffic, we managed to get through it unscathed, and pointed Big Red toward Austin.   It wasn't long before our 2 lane highway brought us into the Texas Hill Country.   Cruising along Texas Route 290, we passed a sign for College Station, home of the Presidential Library of George H.W. Bush, and our friends John and Sharon, fellow RV'ers and bloggers of  On the Road of Retirement  As we approached the town of Chapel Hill, Texas, suddenly, there they were!  We had only heard stories about them and we had hoped to see them one day.  Now here they were, spreading out over the Texas hills before us.  The Texas Blue Bonnets!  We've been told that their blossoming depends completely on the winter rainfall, and locals are never sure where or when it will happen.  But suddenly we were surrounded by massive fields of blue! 
     It was a complete surprise as we topped the hill to a display of blue with  field after field full of Texas Blue Bonnets, the official flower of Texas. We thought we were just a tad too early for them, but today was our lucky day.  We found a safe place to pull over, and exited Big Red into a cool crisp Texas afternoon. 
It's hard to describe just how striking the fields of Blue Bonnets were, and you'll just have to go to Texas and experience it yourselves.  Debbie even jumped in and helped some other "tourists" memorialize their visit.
      Then, after an overnight outside of Austin, our next stop was near Fredericksburg, Tx , home of the Lyndon B Johnson National Historic Park.  This was out 2nd pass through this are of Texas, and we haven't been able to get over there for a visit.
     Next of our agenda was a lunch date with Randy and Retha. Time just wasn't going to allow an overnight visit to San Angelo, but since we were passing just a little to the south on I-10, Debbie phoned up Retha and made plans for a rendezvous in Sonora for lunch.  Amazingly we arrived within a few minutes of each other and had a wonderful lunch.  It's always a great treat to meet up with them whenever our paths get close to each other.  After a quick lunch, it was back to I-10 to continue our journey westbound.
     The remainder of the journey was uneventful until we crossed into CA and Debbie started receiving weather alerts for high winds in the Jacumba area.  Seems like every time we pass through here, we're faced with having to decide on whether to chance a desert and mountain crossing in high winds, or to just wait a day for the weather to clear.  As always we slowed our pace, and parked early in Yuma, deciding to wait it out.  If you've ever experienced these winds and seen the destruction these winds can produce, you'll understand why we always err on the side of caution.  We enjoyed a very hot afternoon in the campsite pool, and returned to Big Red just before the winds converged on our site completely obliterating the sun with the dirt and dust from the surrounding desert.  Looks like we made the correct decision.
     On April 8, we pulled into Santee Lakes, a day ahead of schedule, and still no sign of any granddaughter.  Patting ourselves on the back, we set up camp, and headed over to see Liam, Jamo, and oh yea......Ben and Joanne! 
Of course we had to start the birthday celebrations, and it was hard to see who was more excited when the ice cream cake came out.  Just who's 63rd birthday were we celebrating??  Ben and Joanne had a very nice dinner planned, and it was hilarious to see Liam and Jamo jockeying for position near the cutting board as dad carved up a nice, juicy tri-tip.
   Trust me, Jamo is parked in betweem the two of them, waiting for his handout also.

      So now we're on baby watch.  And then  we'll be on house selling watch.  And then moving watch!  Not too much going on right now.  Stay safe everyone and we'll let you know how this turns out.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Sarasota and Back to California

     We are currently in Santee, CA celebrating the arrival of Nora Kathleen!  Making preparations for a cross-country adventure to New York.

     We've been having a pretty good time here at Sun-N-Fun, Sarasota.  The weather has been quite comfortable, and if we can keep Debbie out of the doctor's office, everything would be perfect.  The vertigo episodes that started in CA are persisting,  and have really knocked her for a loop.  People report that their attacks last only a few minutes, but she's been down for a few days now.  The latest doctor says there's no underlying issue and this will probably have to run its course.  Hopefully it resolves soon.

     St Pat's Day 2018 started early as we made preparations to get all the trimmings into the Davey Crockett Grill for 5-6 hours of easy smoking.  No mess-No fuss-  everything into an aluminum pan and it turned out as tender and delicious as we knew it would.  Dean and Joanne joined us after their daily pickle ball routine, and I had a rough time getting Dean filled up!
      Dean and Joanne also mentioned a visit to the Ringling Museum in downtown Sarasota.  The admission price was a little steep, but then I found out it was valid for 3 days, which gives visitors an opportunity to visit the entire compound.  The museum includes massive displays of circus paraphernalia and exhibits.  If you can imagine the excitement generated in the cities and towns around the country in the early 1900's when the circus train would arrive and the show would begin. 

     From the railroad depot, the parade would begin, as all the equipment and animals needed to be moved to a field large enough to handle the show.  Lions, tigers, elephants, and brass bands would make their way through town, and I would imagine that everyone from miles around would plan on attending! 
     Everyone was in costume, including the animals, as the day finally arrives for the Greatest Show on Earth!  Why wouldn't every kid in America want to run away to the circus!

These are actually miniature carvings recreating the scenes that entertained thousands of people across the country.  The display was massive and the details are incredible. 
      We also had the opportunity to tour Ca'D'Zan, the home of John and Mable Ringling, completed in 1920 on the shores of Sarasota Bay.  Unfortunately Mable died within a few years of completion, but the guests invited to the mansion included who's who of the political and entertainment machine. 
Unfortunately I was not permitted to take photos of the interior of the house, but you can imagine the opulence on display inside.  Priceless portraits adorned in gold plated frames, porcelain vases and statues from around the world are on display throughout. 
     One of the most impressive aspects of the mansion is the multiple colored panes of glass in each of the windows.  With the sun shining into the windows, the interior rooms were bathed in multiple colors adding a unique display to each room.  You can see the multiple colors displayed on the interior draperies in the photo above.  The tour also included admission into a massive art gallery of portraits and sculptures collected from all over the world.  A truly unique feature of the art museum is found in the walls and floors of several of the displays.  John and Mable Ringling were able to purchase entire rooms of mansions which were destined for destruction in NYC, and actually reconstructed them in the gallery.  Many of the floors, walls and doors originated in these mansions and are preserved forever in the Ringling Museum.
     On April 3, 2018 we departed Sarasota enroute 2400 miles back to Santee, hopefully before the arrival of our first grand-daughter, Nora Kathleen.  We actually do not know the name, but we do know a girl is on the way.  Debbie's guess is Nora Derek Jeter Doody.  I wonder how close she is this time.  Remember her guess for our grand-son was Liam Derek Jeter Doody! 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Tennessee Down to Florida

     We completed our job in Tennessee, and as the weather closed in a little bit, we set sail to the south in search of sunny Florida!.  Two weeks of wind, rain, and cold in Texas, and now rainy weather in Tennessee, and we were ready to get down to some serious relaxing.  We cut southeast out of Tennessee, and after hitting I-95, we had Florida in our sights. 
     On our second day of traveling, we pulled into Gainesville to visit Aunt Anita who had passed a few months ago.  Since she always told me to park "my trailer" in her driveway, we figured she and Uncle Jack would get a kick out of us pulling in through the front gate of Forest Meadows Memorial Park, and stopping for a visit.  There were some other visitors in the park who seemed quite surprised to see us meandering through the grave sites, but we had no issues and had a nice visit.  After Gainesville, we headed south on I-75 as short distance and spent the night at Grand Lakes RV Resort in Citra, Fl.  The park had been recommended to me by a former co-worker who generally spends the entire winter there. 
This year, unfortunately, he and his wife were unable to make the trip south.  Debbie gave them a call and was able to secure their last available site, and we were soon set up and enjoying the warm Florida weather.  But if you happen to be following a GPS to get there, ignore the final turn directions and look for a huge billboard on the right that points you in the right direction.
     The park itself is a combination of park models and campers, and is comfortably situated along a 9 hole golf course.  There is quite a large lake there also which looks like it should have lots of fish in it.  The lakeside restaurant had a pretty good dinner special going, so we splurged and walked on over.  The paved sites were just a little crowded, but all the people seemed quite friendly and it is definitely a park worth visiting again.
     On Tuesday the 27th, we arrived safely and checked in to our spot at Sun-N-Fun, Sarasota.  We have been here a few times before, and Dean and Joanne have been here since early January, and I'm sure were waiting on our arrival.  We eased through the front gate with very little hassle, and were escorted to our site here at Sun-N-Fun Sarasota, # 706.  We have  never camped over on this side of the park before, and we both seem to be enjoying it more than the avenues on the other side.  There's a lot less traffic, which means less noise.  You always have to tolerate the campers out walking their "kids", (dogs), but that's to be expected everywhere. 
     On 2/7, Debbie and the girls visited the Selby Botanical Gardens, over in Sarasota.  They all came home quite impressed with the floral displays they saw at this Sarasota bay-front location.        Unfortunately, the girls did not bring home any photos of the gardens, so I borrowed a few from their website.  It looks like a pretty amazing place.
     Prior to leaving, Debbie mentioned to Dean that I had a few motor home projects going down on site 706, and it didn't take Dean long to to wander down and see just what I was up to.  While we were in Red Bay last, Debbie discovered the parts department, and it didn't take her very long to discover that parts were being sold at wholesale prices!!  I think she found a new best friend over there.  Today I was replacing the screen door handle, which I completed before Dean arrived.  But when he pulled in, he found me working hard at removing the rubber treads on the front entry way. 
     Two steps had ripped and needed replacement, and Debbie had located exactly what I needed and proudly brought them home for me.  But this leads me to another story, and it has to do with carrying all the right tools to get any job done.  Years ago, at some forgotten seminar, we listened to a speaker about bringing every tool known to man on your trip.  Many people in the seminar acknowledged that they actually did bring all their tools.  Well, turns out, tools are weight, so you should really seriously consider leaving some at home.  "But", the speaker continued, if you have a project to do, just get started at it, and it won't be long before a neighbor will show up, push you out of the way, and get the project completed for you.  (Can you see where this story is going??)
      After a quick trip to Lowes for a knife and adhesive, all I had to do was step back, and watch Dean jump right in, and knock this project out.  I'll have to say Dean is a much better craftsman than I, and the project obviously went a lot smoother than if I was making the measurements and the cuts.  Before long we had the steps project completed, and I knew that Debbie would be quite pleased with me........and Dean!

     Now that Dean and I had our projects done, we were treated to a day off at the rodeo over in Acadia, Fl.  Actually, Deans sister seemed to be the wagon master, and invited Debbie and I along.  They had never been to a rodeo, and Debbie and I were veterans now, having been to the rodeo last year over in San Angelo with Randy and Retha.            The Acadia All Florida Championship Rodeo is actually 4 days of rodeo competition involving cowboys and cowgirls from all around the country.  It is always fun to attend a rodeo, as the flag is displayed proudly, and you'll never see a cowboy taking a knee during the National Anthem.  Prior to the show, all Veterans were recognized, as riders carrying flags of all the Branches of Service were brought into the arena.
     And then suddenly the action began, and we witnessed about 2 hours of saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, bareback bronc riding, calf roping, team roping, barrel racing, and finally, BULL RIDING!  There's just no way to describe the excitement in the arena as the competitors try to hang on for dear life. 

     And of course we have to include the rodeo clown who worked pretty hard at getting the crowd involved in the show. 
He really plays an important role in the rodeo, as he tries to intervene between the bull and the riders after they have been thrown.  I do believe it takes a crazy man to climb into a barrel moments before a 2 tom bull sends it flying. 

  And oddly enough, I didn't see anyone stepping up for this pony ride outside the arena???

     The weather has cooled down just a bit from when we first arrived, and we've actually had a few rainy days.  But we seem to find something to amuse us everyday.  When the warmer weather comes back, we'll be getting back out on the boats on the inter-coastal.  I made contact with the Corinth Snowbird group, but unfortunately I couldn't make the reunion this year.  I've got it on the calendar for next year though.  Take care and stay safe everyone!