Monday, April 21, 2014

A Year in the Making...or thereabouts






We have been traveling in the RV for a little over a year now.  It truly is home now.  We traveled by car for about three months before buying the RV, and enjoyed that almost as much.  That could never be home for us though.  We like to have our "stuff" around us, and I like to cook waaaayyy  too much to stay in hotels.  Even when they have kitchenettes, it's just not the same.

While our goal is to see all 50 states, so far we have only been in 24 with the RV.  There are other states that we have traveled to previously, so they have kind of fallen to the bottom of the list
.
Unfortunately, I wish we had started this a couple years earlier.  I'm not quite feeling as well as I was when we first started.  For every good day, I seem to have 2-4 bad days; depends on how I spend the good day.  Believe me, I am trying to make the most out of each day that I feel good enough, but I end up paying for it with the bad days.  Financially, the money has gone a bit quicker than expected.  For these reasons, we have returned to New Jersey where Jeff will work at the bike shop for the summer and I will try to rest and relax and prepare to travel again in the fall.  I guess we truly have become snowbirds, because the thought of a northern winter makes me very, very sad.

We traveled along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas, with stops in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans.  We spent 10 days between Galveston and Houston before moving up to Austin for a week.  Water fascinates me.  Jeff has always been more of a mountain person, but I love the peace and serenity of the sea, as well as the fury and anger during a storm.

Car ferry across Mobile Bay


Mobile Bay

Blue Angels Museum, Pensacola, Florida


Sunset on Perdido Bay

Photo
Gulf Coast from Biloxi MS
A few years ago, we took a Caribbean cruise and opted for the shore excursion that took us parasailing.  I fell in love with flying.  I used the experience in my visualization exercises for months afterward.  We knew that we wanted to do it one more time and I thought the Gulf of Mexico would be a cool place to fly again.  We did it yesterday through Caribbean Breeze out of Galveston.  It was just as great as last time.  I have to say the Caribbean was more beautiful but the experience was still amazing...and this time I wasn't nervous about it.  Did I mention I have a HUGE fear of heights and I don't know how to swim?  It looks like it should be harder than it is, but despite all my physical issues, I can still fly pretty easily.  The staff at Caribbean Breeze was awesome and accommodating.  We shared the boat with a newlywed couple that had never flown before.  They were nice yet not intrusively friendly.

You can see our para-sailing trip through this link, or the posting from 3/21.

http://thisisnotcamping.blogspot.com/2014/03/para-sailing-video.html?spref=fb

I'm hoping I can visualize off that for several months.

We spent 8 days in Austin.  Although we have encountered friends on our travels, this was the first time we actually visited friends in their "new" home town.  Steve and Amy have  a wonderful family and they made us feel so welcome.  Steve is an avid mountain biker and was happy to show Jeff his favorite Austin trails.  Amy and I went to the Zilker Park Garden Festival with the two girls, Abigail and Madeleine.  Poor Riley was ill that day; I really missed him.  Austin is an amazing city.  So much music and the growth of the arts in the city is spectacular.  But it's fairly new growth, so there is a definite lack of "urban jerks".  I have to admit, we totally hated the  traffic.  Almost any time of day it was far too reminiscent of Route 80 at rush hour.

Fairy House at Zilker Park

Steve and Amy also made sure we experienced epic Texas BBQ by taking us out to Salt Lick BBQ, a family style BBQ place.  The food kept coming, and coming, and coming.   We also each took a huge to-go container home with us which made for another entire 

The first round of epic Texas BBQ at Salt Link

The next day, after the men went riding and the women went to the Garden Festival, Steven treated us to a grilled pork loin.  They truly are Texans now, because they absolutely differentiate between BBQ and grilling.








Our two other major treats in Austin were Amy's Ice Creams and Mellow Johnny's Bike shop.  I am not much of an ice cream fan, but Amy's had the best I have ever had.  I would definitely go again.

Jeff in line for his second serving at Amy"s Ice Creams.  And he ate the whole thing!!!


Mellow Johnny's is a very cool bike shop.  To be honest, though, I did expect a bit more.  It made me more proud to come from the Cycle Craft shops.  Brendan has done such a great job with his focus at Cycle Craft and I am grateful to have seen the progression and growth throughout the last 20 years.

Jeff and I took a quick day trip to San Antonio to visit the Riverwalk and the Alamo.  Our room overlooked the Tower of Life.  What a cool city!
 

60 ounce margarita on the Riverwalk.

The Alamo shrine.


Tower of Life.


We spent our last couple nights in Texas near Dallas with Jeff's aunt and uncle, John and Jen.  Once again, Southern hospitality was laid at our feet.  We have not seen these O'Haras in more than 20 years and need to return to spend more time.  We took the train into Dallas for lunch and rode the free trolley around to see some of the area.

Uncle John and Aunt Jenn with Jeff on the trolley.  So good to see family.


So now it was time to head back to New Jersey.  I was exhausted from the flurry of Texas activity so we stopped for a few days near Nashville.  Jeff got a good ride in, I got a bit of rest and we saw the Johnny Cash museum.



Now it was seriously time to head back.  Jeff made the drive from Nashville to Chester in 2 days, long days.  The bus is pretty big and I can't help drive, so driving more than 5 hours in a day can get pretty tough on him.

As of Saturday, April 19,  we were back in Dirty Jerzey, as I have heard it called.  Time for me to rest and for us to put some money away to try and travel again in the fall.

I will try to post more over the summer.  Hopefully, with some rest I will feel better and more able to be upbeat and positive.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Clement Railroad Hotel Museum

My wife has always wanted to be a perpetual student.  She just really likes school.  So I gave her an assignment to write an 100 word essay about our trip to the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum.
She was feelin' a bit randy and wrote it like a 3rd grader (her words)  :-)

"My sweet husband took me to the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum even though I was having a difficult day and taking it out on him. Even though I was exhausted, it was well worth the trip.

I learned about the role that Dickson, Tennessee played in the Civil War. The Union army was holding Nashville but the railroad had been destroyed. Freed slaves and free black men were conscripted to build the railroad from Dickson to Nashville, (not so free, eh?).

Montgomery Bell, for whom the park we are staying in was named, was a big deal in iron works. He had forges, and we know more about forges than Marianne, the senior docent at the museum.

My favorite parts were the sitting room because I wanted to sew there and the miniature train, because, I, like Sheldon, love trains.

The quilt was also very nice.

I love my husband for taking me and bringing me home to bed.

The End"

This part of the model train switchyard was recreated from the next picture below.



The photo was shot from a bridge represented by the model in this picture.  Note the working turntable.

 They even had a working Ferris Wheel and sound effects.

10,000 man hours as of this post. 



Tammy really liked this quilt!








The ceiling of the hotel was very interesting 




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Houston Space Center

Tammy feels the need to be upbeat in her blogging, which has been hard for her lately.  She don't write about it because she does not want pity or sympathy.  I suggested that she just write matter of factly, but not dwell on the negatives.

But we have been getting some exploring in.  We may have slowed down a bit but, we are not stopping.  One small step and all...

We went to Houston to see the Space Center.  We even stayed at an RV park called Space Center RV Park.  It was a nice park, just no space stuff. 

We got to see Mission Control, preserved from the early days.





Mission to Mars


This is part of the tram tour.  Super cool facility!

Nifty Robots



The Ultimate Motorhome

Isn't she cute!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Game room and Laundry Day

Laundry does not seem to be as much a chore with a game room next door!  We rotated ping pong, pool and air hockey. All of which are included here at the Space Center RV Park, SpaceCenterRVPark.com.  Good way to make use of a dreary, looks like it's going to rain anytime, kinda day.  Don't let website being under construction, this is a nice place. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Para Sailing Video

The first time we para sailed, Tammy used the memory to float in her mind for months afterwards.  So we had to do it one more time.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Holiday Musings










I know, I know, it's been a long time since the last post.  Believe it or not, sometimes I don't have a lot to say.  Anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes with me will dispute that, but it's true.

With the major winter holidays recently passed and Valentine's Day coming up, my mind turns to thoughts of the variety of holiday celebrations that exist.

Holidays are not a big deal to Jeff.  He's the kind of person that doesn't need a holiday to remind him how to treat people.  If he sees something that he thinks someone he cares about would love, he buys it on the spot.  He is the kind of friend that will drop anything to help you out.  He shows me his love every day, I don't need a Valentine's Day reminder.  He may not be conventional, but he is true to himself.

As a result of 32 years together, holidays are not a big deal to me any more either, unless we happen to be around family.

In 2012, we went home to Minnesota for the winter holidays for the first time in 20 years.  It was so great to spend that time with my daughter, my grandkids, my in-laws and Jeff's extended family.  

For 2013, we spent our Thanksgiving in North Carolina and a quiet and peaceful day it was!  We were in an RV resort and just chilled.  I cook dinner almost every day, and we really didn't have anything special to eat.  Neither of us particularly like turkey so nothing was lost there. The next day, we got to see some very good friends from NJ, who were in town to see relatives.  Something else to be grateful for, the wonderful friends we have.  We even did a little riding and I got to ride my first Fat Bike.  It was a blast, but I think I'm pretty content on my Tassajara for my riding.


In mid-December we dropped our RV off in Ft. Myers, FL to get some repairs done.  It seemed like the last chance we would have before the busy repair season started in the South.  It also seemed to be a good opportunity to go to Key West, which I have always wanted to see.  First, we went to Sanibel Island.  It was supposed to be a day trip but was so lovely we stayed for 3 days.
Sunset on Sanibel Island

Jeff warming up his new friend at the Sanibel Island Deli.  Gluten free food!!!


We don't even exchange gifts for Christmas any more.  When we see what we like, we buy it if we think the expense is worth it.  Other than that, I think our life together is the greatest gift of all.

On the way to Key West, we spent a few nights in Key Largo.  It was right on a beach, but Key Largo is a little too much of a party town for the likes of us "old folks".  There was live music from the tiki bar next to the hotel every night.  It was a combination of pleasant and annoying.  Pleasant if you were in the mood for it, annoying if you wanted quiet.

Sunset on Key Largo







Due to the expense of Key West, we actually stayed in a cottage on Little Torch Key.  It was right on the beach and had a little kitchenette so that we wouldn't have to go out to eat.  The hardest part of being without the bus was the expense of hotels and eating meals out.  We are currently both eating gluten-free, so besides the expense of meals out, it's not always easy to find good food to eat.

 
 
Christmas Day was spent in Key West.  I have never been in warm weather for Christmas and it was a bit odd, to say the least.  There is a very "Caribbean" feel to Key West, complete with chickens running all over the place!  We were in shorts and t-shirts and just wandered all over the town.  It's a bit touristy, but there is a lot of history and remarkable points of interest.  We saw Truman's Winter White House,  but didn't do the full tour.  We did, however, tour the entirety of Ernest Hemingway's home; complete with dozens of cats.

Why did the chicken cross the road?



Only 1 of 47 cats residing at the Hemingway home.


We also chose to make it a complete Hemingway tour by heading to his old watering hole,  Sloppy Joe's.  I regret to say, I overindulged.  Fortunately, this is not unusual in Key West.  The bars also give you your adult beverages in plastic cups so that you may walk along the street imbibing.  I don't do this often, but when I do, I have a great time and Jeff takes very good care of me.  He is an extremely patient man because I become a bit raucous.


We drove back to Fort Myers after Christmas, hoping the bus would be ready.  Unfortunately, it wasn't.  On the way back, we stopped to do an air boat ride and so I could see alligators.  I was bugging Jeff every time we walked or rode that I wanted to see an alligator!!! 

Our luncheon companion.

New Year's Eve was spent in a Fort Myers hotel; a little nicer than what we had been utilizing for most of this "vacation".  I made it all the way to 11:45 before falling asleep.  I can't remember the last time I stayed awake until midnight.  I think I would have made it last year if I hadn't been sick.  I was at my daughter's and she took good care of me, like she always does.

I don't make New Year's resolutions any more.  I set goals throughout the year.  As they are achieved or my circumstances change, new ones arise.  The organized part of my brain likes the concept of new year, new goals, but circumstances in my life and with my health change so rapidly that it just isn't practical.

New Year's Day is my birthday.  I like to celebrate that more than any other holiday; my personal vanity.  Because our RV wasn't ready yet, it was a tad depressing.  I also do a lot of work on my birthday because the shop is closed and I can run all of my end of year reports without bothering anyone.  By the way, that is not a complaint.  I kinda like spending my birthday that way.  I love my work and I love not inconveniencing anyone.

With Valentine's Day coming up, I realized that one of the ways Jeff shows me his love is by continuing to celebrate my new-found childhood.  He grew up going to rodeos but I had never seen one and always wanted to.  There was a rodeo in Lakeland, Florida, not too far from our RV park.  There were even rodeo monkeys!!!

Blurry, cause they move so darn fast!
Even the monkeys move too fast!!!



Religious observances are a personal matter.  I understand the concept of a commemorative day, but I would love it if people held to those principles all year, not just for Christmas, Easter, Passover, etc.  I don't keep with an organized religion, but I endeavor to stay true to the values that have been instilled in me.

So, long-winded as I am, my moral is that holidays are only necessary if you need to be reminded how to treat people.

Family should be celebrated all the time.  Yes, everybody is busy and it's hard to make time to be together and share your lives, but do we really need a specific holiday to do this?  

Valentine's Day and anniversaries mark reminders of those special loves of our lives.  While it is nice to celebrate the holiday, let's not only celebrate on the holidays.  This is the person you are spending your life with.  Let them know you love them every day!
Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran's Day?  These are all days that celebrate the glorious country we live in and the men and women that protect and defend our liberty.  Why not be grateful for these luxuries every day?  Why not thank a serviceperson or veteran every day?

I may anger some people off with these thoughts, but I needed to get them out of my head.  If people choose to spend the holidays in the traditional manner, that's great.  I would just prefer not to be judged for not particularly wanting to celebrate that way.  The longer I move along the linear path of life, the less important individual holidays mean and the more every single day means.

Until I have something else to say, have a great day!


Monday, December 23, 2013

BIKES AND THE ISLAND LIFESTYLE



I know that many people think that Jeff and I are on one long vacation.  Don't get me wrong, it is a totally AWESOME lifestyle, but it really isn't a vacation.

We still have to do a lot of the stuff that regular homeowners do, with a twist.  I still have to cook, clean, pay bills, do laundry and all those other mundane chores that come with pretending to be an adult.  Jeff not only has to know how to fix things around the house, but also diagnose issues with the unique types of equipment that come with a motorhome.


We dropped our RV off in Fort Myers, Florida for some work.  Once again, I am grateful we bought the extended warranty since this was a "pre-owned" unit.  The insurance has already paid for itself.  This time, we needed to get our generator repaired.  We seriously only need the generator if we are dry camping and need air conditioning, so this was an easy thing to postpone until we were ready to move out for a few days.

Due to the holidays, we are not getting it back quite as quickly as we would like and after a week, I certainly miss my home.  I used to love to stay in hotels.  The idea of someone else cleaning up after me and eating all my meals out was so much fun.  Not so much anymore.  I miss my own bed and the little table where I work.  Being gluten-free, I really miss cooking at home.  It's hard to find GF food for every meal.  

We decided our vacation would be to the Florida Keys.  I wasn't sure how thrilled Jeff would be driving the bus down Route 1 in heavy traffic and it was someplace I had always wanted to see.

Lighthouse on Sanibel Island


We started by taking a quick day trip to Sanibel Island since it was so close to Fort Myers.  I fell in love with the island culture and we stayed for three days.  We would have stayed longer, but all the modest hotels were booked up for Christmas.  The hotel was right on the beach with amazing sunrises and sunsets.  Ok, I only made it out of bed for one sunrise, but Jeff took pictures for me.  The island has no traffic lights and bike paths that go everywhere you want to go.  There are a couple intersections busy enough to warrant traffic cops, but they definitely seemed to favor cyclists.

 
 

After the first night, we rode our bikes to get our meals, see the town and pick up groceries.  We started out riding the bikes the hotel provided, but they were in such disrepair we switched to our own bikes pretty quickly.  I think this is the first time in years Jeff rode a bike without a Powertap!

My friend, the turtle...I love turtles!!!


I'm pretty sure I surprised Jeff with how much I wanted to ride.  It was perfect for me.  The weather was warm, the terrain flat, the people happy to be riding and no worries about the cars!  I had my two longest ride days back to back since becoming so ill .  There was a deli that had gluten-free breads for their sandwiches and a couple gluten-free pizza places.

Jeff warming up the snowman at Sanibel Deli

I'm so glad we were there at that time.  I have a friend that told me once Christmas hits, the island is a zoo!

The one downside to Sanibel Island was the insects; not the big, scary ones you hear horror stories about but rather, tiny microscopic ones that come out on the beach near sunset.  I have literally 100s of bites on my arms and legs and couldn't see the bugs till the very end.  I still don't know what they were, but they kept me off the beach the last day.

So we started meandering down the Keys, spending a couple days on Key Largo.  Beautiful swaying palm trees and a terrific view of the Gulf help make up for the commercialization of the island.  We like to have a good time, but we really aren't "party people".   It's a nice central location for a few day visit though.




 
 

Yesterday, we went back north to Homestead to see the Fruit and Spice Park.  It's not a tour for everyone, but I love cooking and plants (even though I have a black thumb) and there were varieties of fruits, especially that I had never heard of.  I thought it was pretty cool, and Jeff was very patient with my "odd" fascination.

Baobab Tree - Tree of Life

I also woke up all excited to ride again yesterday, so we rode to breakfast, again.  Just the idea of doing it makes me all giggly.  At least in Key Largo, there is a bike path along Highway 1 so we didn't have to fight with the traffic.  Once again, loving the island culture.

We planned to ride early this morning on a trail in the Everglades. I didn't quite make that opportunity.  Unfortunately, today I woke up less well than I have been for a while.  I am running a bit of a fever and have a lot of aches.  I am unsure if it is the bug bites or maybe just a fun hangover, but I have been taking it easy.


Tomorrow we are heading down to Little Torch Key.  It's about 20 miles outside of Key West, much quieter and less expensive.  We are thinking about having Jeff ride his bike down so he can get a good long ride in while I drive the car down.  There is a kitchenette in the hotel, so I will be able to prepare some meals for us.  That will be our Christmas spot this year.  Home is where the heart is and as long as I am with Jeff, I am home for Christmas.


Merry Christmas to all, wherever you may be.