Saturday, July 24, 2010

WOW, What a Way to Start a Day!

I got up this morning at my usual 5 a.m. I get up early to feed the cat and get some reading done. It satisfies the introvert side of myself to have a time when I am all alone (except for the cat and Mary sleeping down the hall of the coach). It was raining when I got up. It had been raining HARD since about 3:30 a.m. HARD!

Checking email and reading various things, I was just relaxing and enjoying the quiet (if you can call the loud noise that a hard rain makes on a coach roof "quiet"). All of a sudden there was a loud knock at the door.  I think I knew what was to come. I opened the door to one of the camp ground employees apologetically saying, "You need to get ready to evacuate if it becomes necessary. The water is rising behind you!"

I think I mentioned yesterday that the campground was wet from the rain the day before (and from several days before) and the ditches were full of water. I woke Mary up and we looked out the back window of the coach and could see water flowing over the banks of the little creek behind us. There was maybe four inches of air between the top of the water and the top of the culvert. Maybe.

We set to work, packing the loose items in the coach so we would be ready to drive. I handled the inside and Mary got to work outside. (No, I wasn't taking the easy job. She said I know where things go inside the coach and could get it done better and faster. And she could work outside.) By the way, our little motor home itself was dry and cozy in all this rain.

Some of the residents of the campground chose to leave quickly. Others of us moved more slowly. We were on the high ground and looked safe...relatively speaking. As we worked and watched (and ate an abbreviated breakfast), the rain began to slow and gradually stop.  The water kept rising for a while and the campground crew was working hard to place pumps and pipes to move the water away from the campers and to drain the low places. At one place the road out of the campground was almost underwater. Almost but not quite. That was one of the place I kept watching as well as the water behind us that was rising.

As it all worked out, the sun came out, the rain stopped, and we stayed put. In addition we had coffee with neighbors from Nevada and California and enjoyed swapping stories of travels and places and things we've done. One lady, traveling solo, is on a journey to see as many of the over 600 lighthouses around the United States as she can. In three years of travel, she has seen well over 300 of them. After the rain stopped and the excitement abated, she headed off for Door County to see several more.

Otherwise, we spent much of the day with Kitty, Mary's youngest sister who lives in Green Bay. Kitty has just had her offer for the purchase of a home accepted and is going through the process of loan approval, inspection, etc., and moving toward home ownership. We got to see the new house. She did a good job of picking a new home for her and Maya the cat.

Tonight we have a wonderfully pleasant evening in our muddy campground. We've turned off the AC, opened the windows, and are enjoying the fresh air of the evening. Tomorrow we'll run up to Marinette, Mary's hometown, and visit some family and friends. Mary and Sally the cat say "Hi" to all our friends and family reading.

Friday, July 23, 2010

On the Road Again!

Well, I haven't written anything for a few days. I'm sorry for the silence. We got home and had lots to be done. Let me see if I can go back and catch up with myself.

We did meet my old Murfreesboro friend, Jimmy Sidwell, on Friday in Gatlinburg. He came over from his home and business in Sevierville and we had a delightful lunch at Calhoun's in Gatlinburg. We reminisced about the summer of 1961 when I spent two weeks in Gatlinburg with Jimmy and his family helping out at their business "Jolly Golf" in the morning and having afternoons to play in and see Gatlinburg and the Great Smokies. One of the memorable moments of that trip was a hike up the Alum Cave Bluffs Trail. I think that hike was one of the formative moments for me and made me a lover of hiking ever since then. Jimmy has certainly taken that business his dad started and turned it into a vacation-land empire with multiple sites, cities, and regions. I truly appreciate that he took the time from a very busy schedule to visit with an old friend.

On Friday afternoon, after lunch with Jimmy, we went to an arts and crafts fair at the convention center in G'burg. It was fun touring the many displays and looking at all of the arts and crafts that were on display and for sale (although we did manage to escape without purchasing anything). Especially delightful was walking past a booth where Burton Dye, another high school classmate and friend from Murfreesboro, was showing his art. Burton is a splendid artist (I have four prints of his art work in my home). Mary and I met Burton's wife and had a great visit with her. I did get to say hi to Burton, but he was busy selling a couple of pieces of artwork to a woman. Sure can't blame a fellow for doing what he was there to do!

We left Gatlinburg on Saturday morning, expecting to drive about half way home, stopping somewhere around Indianapolis. We couldn't find a place to stop in that area so we kept going and got just west of Champaign/Urbana to Mahomet, IL, where we stopped at the Champaign Sportsman's Club campground. What a wonderful little campground! We loved it. I'd gladly stop there again. The folks in the office were exceptionally nice and the park was in a beautiful place, across the road from a park where we took a long walk on Sunday morning before hitting the road and getting home in less than five hours of driving time.

Reflections on three weeks on the road -- I thoroughly enjoyed the travels, the places we saw and the people we met. We were too touristy, although I understood that was what we were doing. What I mean is we tried to do too many things. Sometimes it got a little rushed. But it's also hard to sit still and do nothing. We saw interesting and historical places.  The little 27-foot Fleetwood Fiesta 26Q did a good job. We could use a little more space, partly just to have more personal space for those moments when one needs to be alone. Even in a great marriage, some alone time is necessary, particularly for the introvert partner of the pair (that's ME, in case you are wondering or hadn't realized it).  Some day we'll move up to a bigger coach, but for now, this one worked well. It was fun having the cat (Sally the cat) travel with us instead of leaving her at home with daily attention from friends who are willing to look after her.

It was also fun traveling with my best friend, Mary. There is nothing I'd rather do. We are each strong personalities with strong points of view, but it works! LOL. Marriage IS hard work, you know. And it's worth it.

We got home Sunday night and did routine around-the-house things. We installed a new fan in the family room. That was one of the real highlights of the week.

Today (Friday) we drove from Beloit to the Apple Creek Campground near de Pere. Heavy rains last night left the grounds muddy, but we have a decent site and will stay here three nights, visiting Kitty, Mary's younger sister. Kitty may be reaching one of the landmark birthdays of life in a few weeks, but she's still the delightful 17-year-old I first met when Mary and I were dating, at least in my aging eyes. But then, in my mind's eye, dear Mary is still the poised, assured, beautiful 25-year-old I first laid eyes on at a media conference in Illinois.

We'll move on from here after doing family things and go to a campground near Florence, WI, and then on to Eagle River.

Thanks to all who read my words and share our journeys.