Saturday, December 2, 2017

Hanging Around Concord, NC

We are in Concord, NC and staying at the Tom Johnson Camping World campground.  Lots of visiting with our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. (6 in the area).  Today was build gingerbread houses at Barbara & Henry's.  It was their first "Annual Grands Day" and included decorating Gingerbread Houses.  Oh, what sticky fingers we all had!

Riley, Hayden, Griffin & London
Hayden, Gerry & Riley

 We are still waiting for some parts to finish the repairs on the motorhome from the large branch falling on it and breaking the windshield.  It also poked a hole in the front cap and that was repaired on Tuesday. 

Tree branch stuck in front cap on MH.

 There is some further damage to the a/c and the King Dome cap and we are waiting for these parts to arrive to finish the job.  Hopefully they will arrive Monday and we can make plans on where we will be this winter. We should know by the end of next week what the future holds in store for us.  Possible major event for us is in the making.

In the meantime we picked up Grant from school on Thursday and were checking out the area near his school.  We ran across this beautiful stand of trees in the Ballantyne area near Charlotte, NC.  The photo doesn't do it justice but will give you an idea of the beauty of the setting.  Picture perfect.

 We have been busy these past few months and there was a lot going on that I didn't want to blog about.  If all goes well I intend to go back and fill in some of the blanks.  That's all for now.

Friday, November 10, 2017

60th Wedding Anniversary

August 17, 2017

60 years ago Gerry and were married and we celebrated the anniversary with dinner at the Dobbin House Inn in Gettysburg, PA.  It is one of our special places for celebrating anniversaries and birthdays.  

60th Wedding Anniversary dinner

We had an early reservation and got to chatting with our server since she wasn't too busy.  We had a great meal and she brought out two desserts for us to help celebrate the anniversary.  The meals were so large we had a difficult time eating the desserts and wound up taking them home with us.  She also told the other diners that it was our 60th and they all congratulated us.  We did hear one of the patrons ask what it takes to last so long, as he was wondering about reaching his 20th anniversary.

Rather than describe the place I copied this from their advertisement for the Inn.

Reverend Alexander Dobbin, who built the Dobbin House, was an early frontier pioneer who helped settle and civilize the area. Born in Ireland in 1742, he grew to be a man of keen foresight, a person highly respected by his peers, an educator of men of stature, a Minister and a rugged individual who played a major role in the founding of Gettysburg. After studying the classics in Ireland, Dobbin and his bride, Isabella Gamble, set sail for a new life in the New World. Shortly after his arrival in America, he became pastor of the Rock Creek Presbyterian Church, located one mile north of what is now Gettysburg.

In 1774, the Dobbin purchased 300 acres of land in and around what is now the town of Gettysburg and commenced construction of a farm and the Dobbin House, for use as their dwelling and as a Classical School, today's equivalent of a combined theological seminary and liberal arts college. Dobbin's school was the first of its kind in America west of the Susquehanna River, an academy which enjoyed an excellent reputation for educating many professional men of renown.

Rev. Dobbin needed a large house for his school and family, for his Irish wife had borne him ten children before her early death. He remarried to the widow, Mary Agnew, who already had nine children of her own!

Rev. Dobbin, a short, stout, smiling gentleman who wore a white wig, became a highly respected community leader, as well as minister and educator. He worked diligently to establish in 1800 an autonomous Adams County, which originally was a part of neighboring York County. Thereafter, he was one of two appointed commissioners to chose Gettysburg as the new county seat.
In the mid-1800's, a secret crawl space, featured in "National Geographic", served as a "station" for hiding runaway slaves on their perilous journey to freedom on the "Underground Railroad." After the battle of Gettysburg ceased, and the armies had departed, it served as a hospital for wounded soldiers of both the North and the South.
Today the historic house appears virtually the same as it did over 200 years ago. Its native stone walls, seven fireplaces, and hand carved woodwork have been painstakingly restored to their original beauty and character, with interior decor in the traditional eighteenth century manner. Many of the home's antique furnishings are identical to those listed in the inventory of Rev. Dobbin's estate. The china and flatware exactly match fragments which were unearthed during the re-excavation of the cellar. The servant's period-clothing is completely authentic right down to the tie on pockets!

They also have a tavern in the basement that is very neat.  We went there for lunch with a special friend in September during her visit to the US.  More to come late about that visit.

Our children also have a special celebration in the works.  That will be over the Labor Day weekend since they will have the extra day off work and school.  We always look forward to getting them together as we usually see them individually.  It is very interesting observing all their interactions and reminiscing about earlier times.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Early Morning Drive

August 20, 2017

 I'm not an early riser normally but today I felt like taking a ride around the area of the cabin.  I stopped for a cup of coffee to drink along the way.  It was foggy and a little cool for August but it turned out to be a pleasant ride.  Gerry values her sleep too much to leave the cabin at such an early hour and remained behind catching some zzzzzzzzzs.

Our son Larry Jr. purchased this home in 2005 and did some remodeling to make it nicer.  It had an old cistern on the left side of the house and a previous owner broke through the basement and cistern wall to make it accessible.  It made a great wine cellar and was cool all the time.  He sold the house for a nice profit shortly thereafter.

There was a violent wind storm that went through the area a few days ago and this is some of the damage to trees in the area.   We used to camp at Owens Creek Campground in our popup tent camper and it was very close to this area.  I rode through the campground and there were numerous old tall oak trees fallen,  Glad we weren't there when that happened.

This really nice country church is just down the road from the campground about a mile or so.  Camp David is on the mountain behind the church and all the tree damage.

 Beautiful Maryland countryside with a nice dairy farm in view.  I had noticed but there is a tractor with a front loader next to the barn.  It was being used to pick up the huge bales of hay on the left of the photo,

 The Western Maryland railroad trestle made room for only one car to travel through at a time.  It's quite old and may have predated automobiles being popular like they are now.

 There used to be a motel here with the log cabins being the motel rooms.  The main office is long gone and the forest is reclaiming the cabins now.  There are more cabins to the left of these but they are in very bad condition.  The property is for sale if anyone is interested.

Beautiful view along Fish Hatchery road with the mist coming off the lake.  It's a tree farm now and also has some horses roaming around.  I'd like to have this view from my front porch,

 Black Eyed Susans are the state flower of Maryland, but these are in Pennsylvania and thriving,  They seem to need a lot of sunlight to grow and we don't have a lot of sunlight at the cabin.

 This modernistic cabin was just down the road from the tree farm and had the nice view I wanted.  It is small so I think it is a weekend home for people in the Washington/Baltimore area.

By this time I figured Gerry was awake and waiting for me to join her for breakfast, so off I went back to the cabin.  



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I'm Back

Yes, I know you didn't realize I left.

The House Behind The House

One of my fondest memories
As I recall the days of yore
Was the little house, behind the house,
With the crescent o'er the door.

'Twas a place to sit and ponder
With your head all bowed down low;
Knowing that you wouldn't be there,
If you didn't have to go.

Ours was a multi-holer, three,
With a size for every one.
You left there feeling better,
After your job was done. 

You had to make those frequent trips
In snow, rain, sleet, or fog--
To that little house where you usually
Found the Sears & Roebuck catalog.

Oft times in dead of winter,
The seat was spread with snow.
'Twas then with much reluctance,
To that little house you'd go.

With a swish you'd clear that wooden seat,
Bend low, with dreadful fear
You'd shut your eyes and grit your teeth
As you settled on your rear.

I recall the day Ol' Granddad,
Who stayed with us one summer,
Made a trip out to that little house
Which proved to be a bummer. 

'Twas the same day that my Dad had
Finished painting the kitchen green.
He'd just cleaned up the mess he'd made
With rags and gasoline.

He tossed the rags down in the hole
Went on his usual way
Not knowing that by doing so
He'd eventually rue the day.

Now Granddad had an urgent call,
I never will forget!
This trip he made to the little house
Stays in my memory yet. 

He sat down on the wooden seat,
With both feet on the floor.
He filled his pipe and tapped it down
And struck a match on the outhouse door.

He lit the pipe and sure enough,
It soon began to glow.
He slowly raised his rear a bit
And tossed the flaming match below.

The Blast that followed, I am told
Was heard for miles around;
And there was poor ol' Granddad
Sprawled out there on the ground.

The smoldering pipe still in his mouth,
His eyes were shut real tight;
The celebrated three-holer
Was blown clear out of sight.

We asked him what had happened,
What he said I'll  ne'er forget.
He said he thought it must have been
The pinto beans he et!

Next day we had a new one
Dad put it up with ease.
But this one had a door sign
That read: No Smoking, Please

Now that's the story's end my friend,
Of  memories long ago,
When we went to the house behind the house,
Because we had to go.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Visit With The New Twins

Our granddaughter Stephanie & husband Shawn had identical twin girls on April 19, 2017.  Aubrey Raye and Penny Rose recently celebrated their 3 month birthdays.

I haven't written about them since I wanted to let the proud parents notify all the family and friends of their arrival.  Now they all know about it and it is my turn to introduce them to our friends.  We have seen them a number of times and taken many photos, but very few of me holding them.  For some reason I shy away from holding the small babies and let Gerry have my share of time doing that.  Plus, she is much better at it than me.

Aubrey or Penny & Me

Penny or Aubrey & Me

Gerry & ?

Gerry & Barbara feeding the twins with Gabby keeping a close eye on them.

We spent a couple hours visiting this time and Gerry was in seventh heaven around the twins.  Barbara also loves to take care of them and quit her job to be there for them while Stephanie works.

We sure enjoyed meeting the girls and look forward to seeing them again in October. They are great grandchildren 6 & 7 with two sets of twin girls.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Phone Connection On The Road 1997

We didn't have a cellphone back in 1997 and traveled all over the country without one.  This was how we stayed in contact with our three children while we were down in the Florida Keys. 

Gerry would call the children and have them call us back at the pay phone to avoid the high cost of long distance calls on the pay phone.  At that time the phones were installed at Long Key State Park and numerous other places.  When was the last time you saw a pay phone at a campground?

 We camped at Long Key SP, Bahia Honda SP and alternated between the two parks when our 14 days were up.  It was necessary to reserve a space 11 months ahead of time due to the popularity of the parks in Jan-April timeframe.  We managed to get sites in the Keys from 1996-2006.  It finally got to be such a headache reserving sites there that we gave up after 2006 and have spent the last 11 years camping in Tucson, AZ.  Now that is another story.

Larry sitting in the shade by our 1995 Flair RV at Long Key SP

Our campsite on the beach at Long Key SP

Jared, Sean, Stephanie & Ryan at Bahia Honda SP after the Easter egg hunt.

Bahia Honda SP Gulf side beach

The end of a perfect day in Paradise
Now we each have cell phones and can't get into the Florida Keys state parks since they are even busier than ever.  I think I would like to give up the cell phones and spend Jan-April back in those state parks.   

Where were you in 1997?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sights Around The Charlotte Motor Speedway Campground -

We spent ten days mooch docking in Larry & Jane's driveway where we took care of their dog and cat.  They took advantage of us being in the area and Grant attending a Boy Scout camping week to visit Asheville, NC.  They rented an AIRBNB house for 4 days and had a great time visiting the Biltmore Mansion, tubing in a river (funny story associated with this, but not enough space to write about it), hiking and just having a great time.

Grant had a great time at the Boy Scout camp except for when his kayak overturned and he hit his head on some rocks.  He is fine, but it was a scary moment for him.  Must be something about them being on the water.

When we returned to the campground (black tank was full) the entrance was blocked due to a rainwater pipe being broken.  We had this problem when we left but it took them a while to get a repair crew in there.  The pipe was about 4ft across and split in half.  They brought in some heavy duty equipment and have been working on the repair for the past week or so.

Entrance to campground and broken pipe

 We had to talk them into letting us go back to our favorite spot at the end of the row on the right side.  The  campsites to the right of this row are not level and slope downhill.  While we have leveling jacks, I don't like to have one side extended so much more than the other side.

Normally this row is full.  We are at the end on the right side.

Repair almost finished.

There has been racing every Tuesday night for the past 5 weeks or so at the main racetrack.  Since we have been visiting family, we haven't been bothered by all the noise.  We usually are returning about the time the races are over.  It would have been nice to attend one of the races but it didn't work out this time.

Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Dirt Track

Z-Max Dragway

Entrance to drag way and campground

There is one other camper in this area and he lives here full time.  As he said, he got the camper and she got the house in their divorce.  Nice guy and seems to be taking it all in stride.

Right across the street there are hundreds of vehicles for sale including pickups, cars, cheery pickers, huge diesel generators, large and small trucks and lots of other construction equipment.  There is a public auction starting on July 27 and it looks like it will be a huge one.  Wish we could stay for it but I'd probably buy something I couldn't use or get to the cabin.

Need a cherry picker?

More equipment

We are in the middle of these photos and I have some interesting sights to see all day long.

It's been very hot these last few days with some afternoon thunderstorms.  The temp has been up around 97 with high humidity to go along with it.  I think I prefer the dry heat rather than humidity.

That is what we've been up to lately.  What about you?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lets see, where was I

My last post was May 24 and we were in Alabama at the Gunther COE park.  Rain was the word of the week while we were there.

After that we headed to Gulf Shores, Alabama and spent a week there checking out the sights.  We found a nice Passport America park. When setting up was completed, we explored around the area.  We've been to Gulf Shores 3-4 times and always have enjoyed our visit there.  We managed to be seated right away at Lamberts Restaurant one night, then found a couple other eclectic  restaurants including the Tin Roof .  It was an interesting, out of the way place and very busy.  

We had a check engine light come on the motorhome and had a mechanic check it out.  He said it was something to do with our super charger on the diesel engine.  Oh Oh!   The local (Mobile, AL) Cummins repair shop was booked out 3 weeks so we set sail for Charlotte, NC.  I plotted out a course on less traveled roads and saw a lot of rural Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.  It was actually nice to see the small towns and farms along the way.

We pulled into the campground at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and contacted the local Cummins garage.  They managed to squeeze me in an appointment and checked out the problem.  The service manager came out a few hours later and showed us an estimate of the repair cost.  $5,500 was his price if all the parts were needed, including a new super charger for $3800.  Ouch!  I said to go with it and hoped the super charger replacement wasn't necessary.  Thankfully, ours was fine and we got out of there for a very reasonable price with only one part being replaced.  

We've been visiting with our daughter Barbara & family along with son Larry Jr and family.  We've had the addition of twin great grand daugters and have gotten to see them a number of times, plus spending time with our other great grandchildren.  

Barbara decided to retire and Henry threw her a big retirement party with over 60 people in attendance, mostly relatives.  Cassie, Jack and Belle made the trip along with Cassie and Barbara's friend Lee.  We had a great time seeing everyone at the party and catching up on their lives.

We've been looking for a house in the Charlotte, NC area the last 3-4 weeks and haven't found one that we both like.  South Carolina is very close and we have checked out a number of homes there.  Gerry's found a couple, but I didn't like them and she didn't care for the one that I liked. We don't want to just buy one and settle for something close since this will probably be our last house purchase.

If we can't find something we both like we may check out North Florida on the Atlantic coast near Fernandina Beach.  Then again we may also look for a place on the Gulf Coast south of Sarasota.  Lots of options open for us.

I will write more later when things settle down.  We are both in good health and still enjoying the Rv lifestyle but think it is better to buy a house a year early than a year late.  

That is what we've been doing the last 2 months.  Lots of visiting family and checking out houses.  We are heading back to the cabin later this week and hopefully will relax up there for a couple months.



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Gunter Hill COE, Montgomery, AL

May 19 - 24 Gunter Hill COE

We were up early for the drive down to Montgomery, AL and Gunter Hill COE.  It was only 210 miles but it seemed like it took forever.  There was a long traffic delay on I-65 that lasted for 10-12 miles.  Not sure what the problem was since we didn't see any accidents or construction.  Odd!

The directions to the campground had us wondering if we were going the right way.  It seemed like we had to make a right or left turn constantly and the roads progressively were worse.  We did drive down Old Selma Highway for 4-5 miles and finally turned into the COE park.

Our campsite was very long and we could have parked two motorhomes the size of ours in the driveway along with the tow vehicles.  It was a nice level concrete pad for the mh and grass between the sites.  Full hookup sites like this for $13/night with pass.  One of the nicer campsites we've had in a long time.

Our cellphone and wifi service were terrible since we were so far out in the boondocks, plus due to the trees we had a difficult time setting up our Dish Playmaker.  I did mange to get it working finally and we were able to watch a few of our favorite shows.

Just as we arrived at the park it began to rain and it rained every day we were there.  Sometimes lightly and others torrential downpours.  I think we received over 8" of rain total for the 5 days.  Our campsite was flooded more than once. 😕

The creek down the road from us was at flood stage very quickly and stayed high for the duration of our visit.  Our campsite was just off the Alabama River and was high enough that there wasn't any danger to us. 

Boat launching area

Flood stage
 There are two camping sections at Gunter Hill and we were in the newer part with great campsites.  The older section is sort of a rustic type, with narrow interior roads and the sites tended to be unlevel.  They are rock parking sections for the RV/Trailer, etc and the heavy rains washed out a number of the sites.

The campground is used very heavily by locals and many of them expressed that they preferred to be in the old section since it was right on the water.  The light areas between the trees, in the background, showing in these two photos are the river.

Due to all the rain we didn't get out and do a lot of touring in the area.  We've been to Montgomery before and our friends John & Ann Duncan showed us around to all the interesting places to visit.

The telephone pole takes away from this photo but the large trees and pretty pasture with the horse perked Gerry up so I've included it here.

 The cattle sure do have some nice grass to munch on.  We saw cattle in Tucson eating cactus and I'm sure they would trade places with this group.  Part of the pasture was underwater and a few young ones were playing in the flooded area.

 We ran across some old plantation homes and stopped to get some shots of them.  This one below was beautiful and looked very stately.

I think this is a newer home but it fit into the area very nicely.

We did go grocery shopping at the nearest Public's that was 19 miles away and very expensive.  We took advantage of being near some restaurants (none near us) and had lunch at a Chappy's.  We hadn't been to one before and were pleasantly surprised when our waitress asked us what kind of ice cream we wanted.  We each enjoyed our complimentary cone before leaving.  It was crowded, however we had a nice meal and great service.  

That was our exciting 5 days at Gunter Hill.   No, I do not like thunder and lighting all night and getting weather alerts 4-5 times a day.


Friday, May 19, 2017

LaGrange College 1830-1855

I always check out what there is to see when we get to an area we've never been to before.  A simple google search will bring up the more popular sites.  Looking for geocaches take us to areas that we wouldn't usually travel to and we've run across great finds that way.  There are two geocaches near the LaGrange College site and we made it there and found a cache in the old cemetery.  The other cache was on the grounds of the old college where they have a number of old buildings from the era when the college was founded.  

The grounds were closed for the night and right across the street was the home of a deputy sheriff with his official vehicle parked in plain sight.  We decided it wasn't a good idea to jump the split rail fence and search for the cache.

Here is a history of the LaGrange College taken from the historical society homepage. 

LaGrange College 1830 – 1855

In the early 1820’s, LaGrange was established on the crest of a mountain near Leighton, AL. Initially there were about 400 inhabitants. In the late 1820s, the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church solicited proposals for a site and subscription of $10,000. On December 4, 1828, the Methodist Church accepted the LaGrange proposition. Later that month, the Mississippi Conference joined in the efforts to establish a college. Representatives from the two conferences met at LaGrange on January 10, 1829, and selected a site for the college. On January 11, 1830, “LaGrange College” opened with an enrollment of 70 students, becoming the first state chartered college in Alabama. Rev. Robert Paine was the first president (1830-1846).

The enrollment peaked at 139 in 1845. Dr. Richard H. Rivers became president in 1854, when the college faced serious financial problems. In response to an offer of better support, Rivers moved the college to Florence, Alabama in January 1855. Over 150 graduates received degrees during its 25-year history. The establishment of LaGrange College in 1830 should  be considered the birth of collegiate education in Alabama. The move to Florence was controversial, some students and faculty remained at the former campus, and the Florence institution was denied permission to use the name of LaGrange College. It was chartered as Florence Wesleyan University on February 14, 1856, and is known today as the University of North Alabama.

LaGrange Military Academy 1857-1862

After LaGrange College moved to Florence in January 1855, a group of LaGrange citizens reorganized the college in the vacant buildings under the old name. Rev. Felix Johnson was elected president. To increase the patronage, a military feature was introduced in 1857. Major J.W. Robertson became superintendent, and classes were suspended while a third major building was erected for the cadets. The college reopened in February 1858, as LaGrange College and Military Academy. The new institution’s financial situation was dismal until the State of Alabama provided military equipment and scholarships. The Academy soon flourished and became known as the “West Point of the South.” In 1860, the name was changed to LaGrange Military Academy. By 1861, the enrollment was almost 200 cadets. During its existence, 259 cadets from nine states attended the Academy.
In 1861, many LaGrange cadets left to join the Confederate Army. Consequently, the Academy was forced to suspend classes on March 1, 1862. Only two cadets had graduated. Major Robertson was authorized to organize the 35th Alabama Infantry Regiment, C.S.A. He was elected colonel and the remaining cadets formed part of one company. The regiment was mustered into the Confederate Army on March 12, 1862, for three years. On April 28, 1863, the 10th Missouri Calvary of the Union Army, known as the “Destroying Angels,” commanded by Col. Florence M. Cornyn, burned the Military Academy, the nearby La Fayette Female Academy, many businesses, and homes. The village of LaGrange dwindled away. In 1995, LaGrange Park was transferred from the Alabama Historical Commission to the LaGrange Living Historical Association. Thereafter, the site of Alabama’s first chartered college was enhanced and stands today as a historical landmark.

Listed on Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 1976.

We were too late arriving at the area to be able to tour the old buildings but managed to get some photos of them.  Many of the buildings have been brought here from other places in the area and look like they are quite old.

Visitors Center & Museum
Servant Quarters


Guess what!

Church & School

Barber Shop

One of two B&B cabins for nightly rental.

Blacksmith Shop

Country Store

We continued to geocache in the area and found two more caches before it became too late to search for more.  I was using my smartphone for caching and we were out in the country and turned around a number of times.  To find our way back we entered a cache we had found and followed the direction to it and then on back to the motorhome.

One thing we have observed is that there must be a country church for every 50 people in the area.  We've driven on roads where there is a church every mile or so and open fields between them.  I wonder where all the church members live.  The churches look to be in good shape and are in current use.

That was our day, how was yours?