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25 Aug 2012

Settling In

Posted by Sam. No Comments

Dear Friends:

Well, we be in Texas, although not quite Texan. We have gotten basically settled in our new home, and are starting to reorganize, set out, or throw away stuff from boxes that were packed on Silver Lake Blvd. in 2003. Our house is 1,700 sq. feet, all the walls are white, all the carpet light grey, very open and airy. I love it. Dave is adjusting. The house is not open to the street or the small back yard so he feels closed up. We are putting his computer work area in a bright front bedroom with windows on the street, so the will help. Eventually he will get the garage cleared of boxes and can begin to organize a workshop. We both are overwhelmed with the size of the house.

Our neighborhood is “suburban development.” We try not to think about it. The houses are all brick and basically four floor plans repeated in a random pattern . . . . . nghhh. But we figure that goes with the suburban experience we are going to have. We read the Dallas Morning News and are in awe of what’s going on around us. We haven’t found downtown Arlington or Mansfield, which is closer, let along Ft. Worth, which is closer to us than Dallas.

People are very friendly, very open and outgoing. They all apologize for the heat, which is about normal for August. But we find the 102Ëš temps easier to take than 98Ëšin North Carolina. The old saying is correct: it is the humidity! Much drier here. Our last utility bill in New Bern was $235!

Jason, Jamie and the kids worked very hard getting the house ready for us, and Jamie and the kids took a well-deserved vacation to Utah a day or so after we landed. We have had Jason around some evenings, and lots of Roxy Springer Spaniel company. My church experience here was great; I met a lot of warm expansive women who are converts to the church, AND Texas.

We’ll keep you posted as we step out into your new environs. Our computer won’t be on the web until the end of the week – we are hooking up at Jason’s house. We are looking forward to exploring North Central Texas, particularly Waxahatchie, Plano, and my favorite . . . . Flower Mound.

Love to all,


Texas Spread

9 Jul 2012

Texas or Bust

Posted by Sam. 1 Comment

July 9, 2012

Dear Friends:

We be pretty hot and steamy here on the banks of the Neuse. And we get an occasional breeze! There are a lot of uncomfortable folks here and many, like us, will have a $200 utilities bill. Our A/C never turns off and most days can’t keep up. Set at 78, the house temp still stays around 83 degrees. But we got the power back quickly after last week’s heavy storm and we don’t complain. Well, we complain cheerfully.

Kevin has bought us a house in Arlington, Texas, and Jason is flying up to load the truck and drive it back. Jason will be here July 25 and leave on the 27th; we’ll follow in the car the next day. So we are happily packing. We haven’t seen our new house but all we care about is being close to the kids (in the same church ward) and a garage. We are a mile away from J and J (3 minutes) and the garage is big.

The neighbors, our landlords, had us over for cocktails and cola last night. We will miss them. Miep (a nickname for Wilhelmina in Holland) is such a talented landscape artist and decorator, and Ellis has educated us about the river and the history of New Bern. They are being very gracious about our leaving this house a month earlier than our lease says.

I’ll miss their dogs, too. Greta and Zoe come nearly every day, looking for a treat. Miep says they went to the doc for a checkup yesterday and got a good grade except they both could stand to lose a couple of pounds. I’m fairly sure the first thought was: Well, that might take care of itself ….

My tomatoes will be just about finished when we move. The cucumbers will be a nice surprise for the new tenants. All the flowers are taking a beating in the heat and we are expecting a big T-storm tonight. The rain flattens everything but we really need it. During the summer, weather here is normally very much like Hawaii: hot during the day, in the low 90s, with a mild thundershower in the late afternoon. This whole year has been funny, with a warm winter and this excessive heat.

You can tell by my non-news letter that we have been basking in the relative quietude of retirement. That’s not to say nothing happens: Last month we had the Sister Missionaries to dinner as usual and Dave finally asked them to PLEASE quit trying to drag him into gospel readings and the next day they were gone. Gone!  One quit and went home and the other was reassigned. We were relieved to find out it was not our fault, there were other issues, but still … it was a very uncomfortable week.

There is a petition in our neighborhood to stop Ellis from shooting the ducks. Well, he isn’t shooting the ducks (anymore), he’s shooting some gun he uses to train his Labrador. The petition was started by Miss Ellie, who lives on the other side of Ellis and Miep, who also claims that Ellis is trying to shoot her. We also don’t think that is true. The duck petition is circulated by Eddie, a very large, burly guy who wears a tank top and cut-off jeans with huge lumberjack boots. Eddie strides around the block every day looking like an old Duke of Hazard, walking two Skye Terriors down the middle of the street. Miss Amy, on the other side of us, is an apparent hoarder (she won’t let me in but I watch the carport pile grow from my bedroom window), stays out of the fray. As does CW, my special friend across the street. But they like to talk about it. Me, too. I’ll miss these colorful, engaging characters.

I’ll especially miss CW, the 85 year old gentleman across the street. He lost his wife two years ago next month and is still grieving. He’s very lonely. It’s so hard to cook for two, I just cook for three and if we don’t overeat, there is a meal for CW the next day. I think of him as a daughter might, so I was stunned when he asked Dave if it was okay if he got me an Easter lily. It never dawned on me that we were peers. I guess I’ve had a husband close to that age! I don’t get much of a hug out of CW but I guess that’s a compliment. He tears up when we talk about the move; wish I could buy him a girl scout.

So we’re on to the next chapter of our lives. The new address is:

8421 Cotton Valley Ln.
Arlington, Texas  76002

Same e-mail of course, and same phone for now. Take care of one another.



3 Jul 2012

Storm Update

Posted by Dave. 1 Comment

Storm here did quite a bit more damage than at first thought, according to the paper today, after a more comprehensive survey. Actually, it was several storms spread out over the area. Some of the wind gusts were more than those of Irene last year. . . . they just didn’t last as long, thank you very much. We did have one big branch break in one of the front yard trees. A few folks are still out of power. One of the smaller car ferries left the loading dock and was immediately blown aground! They delivered pizza to the crew and car passengers while they waited for a tugboat to arrive and tow them back into the river.

They are predicting more storms in the next few days, but probably not like this one. The conditions just built up in the proper fashion to cause them It was a heat index of about 120 degrees and very muggy at the time.

And that’s the latest news from NC.

No dump runs here in NC . . . . they come and get it. They were busy today cleaning up after the storms on Sunday. This was from the neighbors' yard. And that's the latest news from NC.

3 Jul 2012

Big Blow

Posted by Dave. No Comments

Hi everybody!

People always ask if we are getting hit by the storms they see on the TV. Mostly not . . . . until last night about five, then the rain, wind and lightning arrived.

I have just finished cleaning all the krap off the deck, front porch, driveway and car. We only had stuff blow off the trees and bushes. Neighbors lost a few good size limbs. After the storm last night I waded down the street to gather up our garbage can and recycle box which had moved down three houses.

We had our anniversary dinner at Mickey D’s since our power was out (came back just before nine). It was a good day for Mickey . . . . line was out the door. Wind got up to 60 mph around here and 70 at other spots. Power outage was spotty . . . . some areas out, some not. This was a strange storm since the wind came in from the north, which is seldom does. Reminiscent of the hurricane last year. It did cool off the place some; we went back to sleeping with the windows open last night, but it’s hottin’ up again right now. I think before the storm yesterday it was just about the warmest day I remember here.

All fine now . . . . a.c. back on and coolin’

The Swansters

5 Mar 2012

New Bern Update

Posted by Sam. No Comments

February 28, 2012

Dear Friends:

We be way overdue for a note connecting you to the Swans of North Carolina. Our lives are not so full of adventure now, so I sometimes feel hesitant to share our often mundane days.

We have found a lot of things to like about New Bern. Founded in 1710, it is steeped in history. A lot of houses in our neighborhood were built in the 1800s; huge, three story homes with brick paved lanes to the back of the property, (and slave quarters). they were a sight at Christmas with a single candle light in every window. Named after Berne, Switzerland, the bear is everywhere. 50 fiberglass bears were painted by local artists as part of the 300 year celebration in 2010 and are found everywhere in town. Quite often they are painted to match the business they front, they offer a glossy contrast to so much red brick. Dave’s favorite is the one painted like a school bus in the the window of the downtown ABC store (thats Liquor store to the uninitiated).(Attached PDF is a sampling of some of the bears.) New Bern is also the birthplace of Pepsi; started out as Brad’s Drink, mixed by a local pharmacist named  Caleb Bradham.

We didn’t drop a ball at New Years, we dropped a croaker (fish) The daily Sun Journal has two crosswords AND a Jumble. Pickles is there but Dave misses Rose is Rose. Shag lessons are still taught at the Y; beauty pageants support numerous dance studios and sparkly dress stores. The current hunting season is open for raccoon, opossum, bobcat and squirrel (but not the fox squirrel).

This is a wonderful place to winter. Many days in the mid seventies, an occasional overnight freeze and a few thunderstorms, just generally light jacket weather. My tulips are up, the camellias are almost finished, the pansies (which are everywhere in pots downtown) flourished through the winter and folks will be putting out their vegetables in a few weeks. Root veggis are already in the ground.

The big river in the backyard, the Neuse (history says it somehow got morphed from the News River), is a daily fascination for us. Water level is almost entirely wind driven, sometimes it comes over the concrete buffer; other times it is so low we can see the pilings from sawmill log raft anchors that ran along here. Our house sits where a lumber yard was located.

We don’t see a lot of egrets or cranes but we have a large flotilla of coots that comes by daily. Also prevalent are the flying mullets, fish which leap so far out of the water they make a real show.

Looking forward, we are going to move to the Arlington, Texas area, we just don’t know when. No later than september. It probably won’t be our last move, but we really miss the kids, and there is nothing holding us here.

Dave’s hernia surgery went very well. Turned out he had two hernias, but he was a good patient and had no post op problems. He was back on his bike in three weeks. Davey bicycles everywhere, post office, grocery store, hardware store, Target; he knows New Bern intimately from his almost daily bike trips.

I have had a liver biopsy and hopefully am on the way to better health. I have non-alcoholic steato hepatitis, a non-viral liver condition that has five stages, from normal to cirrhosis. My blood work suggested stage three, but the biopsy staged it at level two. I’m really happy about that. Losing weight, staying off pain pills and alcohol will keep me in good stead the rest of my life. And hopefully I can get over the nausea and fatigue of hepatitis. My diabetes numbers are almost normal, and by the time I lose the weight I have no doubt I can stop the diabetes pills. The rotator cuff injury in my right shoulder is the main reason I was taking pain pills, which may have hurt my liver. It has gotten worse and if my last shot of cortisone doesn’t work, I’ll get an MRI, and probably surgery. The cortisone doesn’t fix anything, but lets me really work at the exercises, trying to strengthen shoulder muscles to ease the impingement I apparently have

So . . .  I have good days and bad days. Dave just has good days, He is extremely supportive and helpful to me. He makes the beds, keeps me in Diet Coke and cleans house while I’m at church. I’m very lucky.

We have sold the bus to a really nice guy from Florida. He will pick it up next weekend. So you can understand how we feel a big chapter of our lives has come to an end, and we’re ready for the next chapter.

We send love, and wish you warm,

Sam & Dave



7 Nov 2011

Home On The River

Posted by Sam. No Comments

November 7, 2011

Dear friends,

And the beat goes on ….

We’re settled here in the little house on the Neuse and Jason has been transferred to Texas1 Wuh. The shock has worn off, and we are thrilled to know that Jason has gotten the promotion he deserves. He is still with DPA, a division of L-3, but he is working at the corp. headquarters of LINK, the guys who make those aircraft simulators. His office is in Arlington, right down the street from Ranger Stadium, but they think they will live in Mansfield, a suburb. Jamie is up for the move and 3 out of the 4 kids are happy to leave Havelock schools. (Becca is a cheerleader and has earned a lot of money toward a trip to NYC with her Choirmates in June … bummer.)

It’s all pretty exciting. Jason has already been working in Texas, coming home on the weekends, and will go ahead of the family around December lst. Jamie and the kids will follow in early January.

They want us to come with them, and we probably will (it’s part of a migration west) but not right now. We’re in the process of hernia surgery (Dave)  and breast and liver biopsies (Sam), and need to take some time to get ourselves back together. Everything is really okay, well managed, just preventative stuff. I have a liver condition that requires a biopsy just to be sure it isn’t worse than we think. I also need to lose 45 lbs. (!) I have lost 40 lbs in the last 10 months and am plodding along. It’s a daunting thought but a tricky liver is pretty motivating.

I am joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Through going to church, reading the Book of Mormon, and study with a young missionary from Las Vegas, I have seen a way out of the spiritual desert I’ve been living in for too long. I feel like I can pray again, that my prayers are heard and that I can evolve spiritually in this church. Dave is mystified but very supportive. Jason and his family have never pressured me, not even a little; it might even have surprised them when I decided.

I have to admit that every now and then it kind of hits me: I never thought I would end up a Mormon. And I certainly never thought I’d be a Mormon living in Texas!!

We are just now climbing out from under the damage from Hurricane Irene. It took a long time for the city/county to pick up the debris. The trees were so damaged by the 24 hours of sustained high winds that they are trying to bloom now. Camellias are all budded  early, as is our ornamental pear tree and the little pomegranate in back.

We’re getting to know the Neuse River. The Neuse fluctuates only about six inches from the tides. Other fluctuation is from wind: Out of the east, the river rises; out of the west, or usually nw, the river drops in depth to where we can see old pilings used to steer logs down to a nearby, defunct sawmill. I don’t know how far we are from the ocean; we are close to the Hatteras Yacht Company.

At the edge of our  backyard is a 5 foot concrete ledge that runs along the water. Today the water is as smooth as glass, and about a foot below that ledge. But yesterday the water was up so high the waves were over the concrete and pushed pine debris up a foot onto the lawn.

Dave rides his bike at least every other day. Does all his errands on his bike. Yesterday he rode to Havelock to the kids’ for dinner. We still haven’t sold the bus. If our electric bill gets any higher we may have to move back in it! Davey sours at the thought of moving to Texas, but if we moved in the bus he would find it more attractive. We both miss the bus and the travel, but Dave REALLY misses it.

And we miss YOU! We watch the weather channel, to see what you’re all dealing with, west and east coast. And we think of you, lovingly.

Sam and Dave, Always

23 Sep 2011

Settling Down

Posted by Sam. No Comments

September 12, 2011

Dear friends,

A note to update you on the Swans. It seems strange to write without going anywhere, but our days are still full, albeit a little slower. We moved in to our little house on River Drive last week. Borrowed a pickup to get the few pieces of furniture from the new storage unit here, and drove the bus into the driveway. As moves go, pretty simple. (If you don’t count the cross country trip!) We are set up quite minimally, but comfortably. We had the Swan tribe for dinner on Saturday and ate ribs on the deck; it felt like home.

Xander would seriously consider moving in with us, he is so captivated by the backyard and the water. He made himself a net and brought a big jar and spent all his time catching things, dead and alive. Lots of crabs, little fish, eels (worms?) and turtles.

We have told our Southeast Publications managers we cannot work anymore. We are going to try and do a park just down the road from us, but our RV park sales job is essentially over. It is very hard to give up, but it is time. We are taking steps to sell the bus. Which is even harder to give up, but ….

I am very happy puttering around, but would like to go to New York every year or so, thus am looking (sort of) for a job. Dave would like to work in a hardware store, and we have a wonderful, old fashioned such place just down the street, but they seem to be fully staffed until someone dies. When we went on the road, before the RV park job fell into our laps, we planned to work at jobs we liked, sort of apprenticeship jobs. We don’t need a lot of money, but we would like a little bit of money. So we will see. There could be more adventure waiting.

Our little house is perfect. You can stand in the square of the hallway and see every space in the house except the front door. It has a very contemporary feel with the high ceilings and all windows on the deck side; we don’t plan to put drapes up. Windows on the front have wooden slat blinds, ditto bedrooms. Anyone coming up on us in the night would have to come via the river, and it seems pretty silly to worry about that. Plus there are motion sensors.

The birds have found my feeders, and the next door dachshund, Greta, comes in the morning for a treat. We go to the storage unit every other day or so and bring back more boxes. It’s like Christmas! I found the greatest SHOES! We are shopping today for a used bookcase or two, so we can get our books unpacked. It will be like greeting old friends!

We’ll have the spare room set up soon, so you can come and visit. Google New Bern and put us in your plans to visit the east coast.


Sam and Dave



21 Aug 2011

To The West & Return

Posted by Sam. No Comments

ugust 21, 2011

Dear Friends,

We be home. And this time it sort of feels like home. Not in the driveway, exactly, but in North Carolina.

Our trip west, which began on July 13th, was amazingly smooth. Our boys made the trip possible for us. We count Kurt, Dave’s nephew, as one of our boys. He furnished his downstairs apartment in Bothell, WA, and loaned us his car. Kevin got us to Salt Lake City and Jason reserved the perfect truck for our haul, at $l,000 less than we were able to find. He also somehow found us a room in Logan, Utah which was full with a convention in town.

Once again, we weren’t able to see everyone we wanted to see. We selfishly spent time with son Kevin, Shelly and Morgan, plus Dave’s sister Carole and kids and my brother Steve and family. To our friends in Yelm, Eugene, Bend, Ashland, North Bend, Pahrump, Polson, Cove, Salem, Lake Oswego, Roosevelt and Preston … we hope to connect on another trip.

Following are the high spots of the 7 day trip from our storage unit in Utah to New Bern, NC in a Penske truck mainly full of Sam’s art supplies, books, fabric, photos and memorabilia, plus a few household furnishings and one box of Dave’s stuff.

Day 1. Logan to Rawlins, WY, the arm pit of the western world. We’ve been there before and vowed never to go back. We were just so tired. We ate at a dinner house that featured a full bar and chicken, but they had neither. “Sorry, the chikin is prolly on the same truck as the wahn and it din git har.”

Day 2. Nebraska. Flat. Green. Corn. We crossed the Platte River, the North Platte, a couple of Platte channels and the South Central North Platte (!)

Day 3. Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri. Went through the corner of Kansas because U.S. 29 is still flooded by the Missouri River.

Day 4. Missouri, Illinois. Good weather continues. Fertilizer signs advertise “MorCorn.” No kidding. Went through St. Louis at 2 PM Sunday but it was still a 9 on the Larry & Rachel Baker scale of Trailer Terror. Crossed the Big Muddy and neither of us saw it!

Day 5. Kentucky, Tennessee. Finally ran out of corn in the Daniel Boone National Forest. We braced ourselves to haul a heavy load over the Cumberland Gap but it was less than 4,000 ft. Kudzu, a voracious green vine, blankets the roadside. Like ivy on steroids, it covers everything in its path, hated but beautiful this time of year. Tennessee has us meandering through miles of knobs and hollers, with the faint sound of banjoes on the breeze….

Day 6. North Carolina. Soy beans and tobacco. The corn is planted, two feet high and burned brown. Too hot. No rain.

Dave’s ears have been sore and plugged for 5 weeks (he’s had treatment twice). It hurts his ears to talk loudly. I’m deaf in one ear (the ear on the side of his good eye, so we haven’t been able to hear one another this entire trip. It has been especially trying in the truck which has great, but noisy, A/C. I think we’ve handled it with patience that comes with caring, if not grace.

I lost two fillings on the trip and Dave’s belly hernia announced itself with the first box he picked up. We found a weightlifter’s belt that worked really well but next week we’ll get it checked and taken care of.

Jason helped us unload the truck into a storage unit in New Bern. When we finished we went to look at a house that was advertised in the paper that morning. It is just perfectly “us.” We still can’t believe it. The house is one huge open room with a couple of supporting posts and a galley kitchen, and cathedral ceiling. One wall is all window looking out over a nice deck and lawn running down to the Neuse River. Two bedrooms with white wood floors are attached to the big room; a beach house feel. The big room has light gray carpet, white walls, one half mirrored. The owners live next door, are very nice and will let their two Dachies visit. The back yard has 12 foot high hedges on both sides. The owner has a pad where he parks his boats and will let us park the bus and plug it in. No garage, but Dave is willing to trade the garage for the openness to the outdoors and the deck. 1702 River Drive, New Bern, NC 28560. We will move in after they clean and paint, within a couple of weeks, I think. You can google the address and see the front of the house. Very unimposing, but planter boxes all the way around; I can hardly wait!

We are very glad to be able to continue painting our own picture. The picture is changing but we are still able to handle the brushes. Some day we will probably just be color in the background of someone else’s picture, but not yet. And so the beat goes on.



21 Aug 2011

In The Driveway

Posted by Sam. No Comments

June 24, 2011

Bright new greetings from the bus in the driveway in Havelock, North Carolina. This week I had my second cataract operation and not only can I read the road signs, I can put away the magnifying glass I’ve been using for the past year. The good news is that I can read the ball scores on TV; the bad news is I’m shocked at how old I look!

We have thoroughly enjoyed being close to the kids these past six weeks, The Grands have kept us busy with a flurry of T-ball, softball and LaCrosse as the school year ended. We have dinner together two or three times a week and help out where we can. Grampa especially likes a little list of chores, now that he has all our stuff polished.

We are looking forward to flying out to Seattle/Tacoma on July 13th. We originally planned to fly to Utah after our visit and rent a U-haul to drive our stuff back here. (It’s still in a storage unit in Logan.) We have calculated the cost at $3,500 though, so may just leave it there. We expect to be back in the Northwest in three – four  years, and while there is stuff I’d like to have (my art) there’s nothing I need.

We are planning to rent a place in New Bern, NC when we get back. We aren’t sure about continuing our job. If we do, it will involve a smaller geographic area than we worked before.

I am feeling much better. My shoulder has improved, though I hope to get a cortisone shot before we take our trip. My foot has healed up nicely. I still can’t quite get the diabetes and liver function under control. I’ve had an ultrasound which ruled out a liver tumor but my liver enzymes are alarmingly high. I don’t drink anymore (although I remember those days fondly) and I quit taking all arthritis and pain meds in February. I had a screen for hepatitis last week but don’t have the results yet. The next step is to change the diabetes meds since it appears something I’m taking is irritating my liver. Dave figures it’s Diet Coke. I hope not.

Anyway, it would appear that life on the road as we’ve enjoyed it is coming to a close. We’re having kind of a hard time with the transition, but are talking it out, and fortunately have given ourselves enough time that we are coming to fairly comfortable conclusions.

We  find a lot of similarity between Oregon and North Carolina; the ocean, the rolling Piedmont, piney woods and a mountain area blue and cool six hours away. New Bern was established in 1710 and was the states first capital. The Tryon Palace, home to early Governors, is still the main tourist attraction. It is an artist friendly town of around 30,000, has two community theatres and a beautiful waterfront. (Also the birthplace of Pepsi, originally known as “Brad’s Drink,” developed in a local drug store soda fountain.)

We are following, in addition to the Mariners, the Kinston Indians, a farm team for Cleveland. Kinston is the smallest city in the nation with a minor league team, and baseball in Kinston (an hour away) goes back to 1908. They are in the Carolina league and are moving next year, so we are glad we’re getting see them now.

The family made a trek last week to Beaufort, NC to see the new Blackbeard exhibit. They have found the wreckage of his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, that ran aground in 1718 in Beaufort Inlet. They have built an exhibit around the artifacts recently brought  up. We loved it. Xander got pretty excited yesterday when he caught me in my black eye patch. ( only wear it at night for a few days); he’s got dibs on it when I’m through.,

This afternoon we are going to explore Bath, NC, where Blackbeard “settled” after a pardon from the King. He evidently didn’t stay “settled” long, but there are probably still some pretty good T-shirts for sale. Legend has it that there is buried booty somewhere around Bath.

Tonight we are going to see “The Promised Land,” an annual pageant the Mormon Community presents near Bath. It’s the story of one family’s journey and travails to go west. Susie has a lead role, and Katie is proudly playing “a townspeople.”

Winter, spring and fall in North Carolina are wonderful “weather-wise.” Summer, not so much, and summer arrived instead of spring this year. It’s been the hottest, driest spring in Eastern NC since 1957. Temps have been running in the mid nineties. It gets down to the seventies at night. (Fran Greenlee, in Bend was rejoicing the other day because it has finally gotten into the seventies during the day!) Dave is tanned and happy in the heat.

We do get some breezes. Had some in the 50 mph range the other night! By the time we got out to put up the awning the rainwater in the driveway was over the tops of our feet. These storms are very dramatic, constant lightning and sometimes, hail as big as a quarter. Fortunately the hail has missed us.

We always like to share culinary adventures in the South, and we often think of Jim Gozdowski when we make these stops. Jim always counted on Dave to visit the, shall we say, “not so mainstream” spots and try the “unknown special.”  At Ghent’s Sandwich Shop in New Bern (est. 1949) the perky little waitress said “We’re famous for the hot hamburger plate, y’all should try it.”  So we did; Dave also ordered an Arnold Palmer, which he had to explain, was half ice tea and half lemonade. “Cool,” she says. “Who’s Arnold Palmer?” We described Arnie as best we could and she said: “Oh! Like Tiger Woods only a rilly nice person!” Yep. And the hot hamburger plate turned out to be a slice of wonder bread topped with a burger patty and cheese, and the whole plate covered with french fries and gravy!! And it really wasn’t nearly as tasty as the fries and gravy we enjoyed in Quebec. But it ate okay, even if we didn’t cover the mess with ketchup the way Miss Perky recommended.

Well, that’s the latest Word from the Bird. Hope you all have some sunshine and cool breezes. We’ll be in touch.


Sam & Dave

18 Apr 2011

Spring in Georgia

Posted by Sam. No Comments

April 15, 2011

We watch the TV weather channel daily and always feel so bad when we see the rain and cold hitting Oregon and Washington. It seems like everywhere has a drawback sometime, whether it is sleet in Washington DC or wild fires in El Paso, snow in Montana. But this time of the year, in the southeast, with no hurricanes in sight (knock, knock), it is just “Lhuveiluh.” All winter the wisteria has climbed the pines without notice. Now it has burst into trembling clumps of flower, purpling the trees. White iris fills the ditches and pink dogwood takes a dainty stand in many a half acre yard. We watched the Master’s Golf Tournament just 45 miles from Augusta and with the windows open, couldn’t tell if the bird sounds were outside or on the TV. This is the place to be in the winter and spring.

Since we left Savannah we have done a commercial park in Statesboro and a State Park in Jackson, Georgia. We just finished a State Park in Elberton, Georgia, up on the Savannah River, bordering South Carolina. Working in these small towns is very hard. Unemployment has just improved to 15%, and there are many empty store fronts.

The State Park at High Falls, or Jackson, GA has been one of our most profitable parks for four years, even though we have not had the support of park management for the past couple of years. This year was even worse. We make the park 10,000 maps, which is a high print price and we have a hard time getting anyone to “go upstairs” and see how many boxes of last year’s maps are left. This year we felt like we had to insist, something just didn’t feel right, and sure enough, ALL of last year’s maps were upstairs. Wuh! It was a very uncomfortable time. our interpretation of southern manners looked like a thin veneer of civility spread over a fairly big slab of mean.

This description actually comes from our friend Ron who got stopped by a sheriff when he was a young man in southern Georgia. I’m sure the sheriff was Butt Cut Cates, who detained Ron and scared him pretty good. When Ron asked how he could get un-detained, the sheriff took him down to the local Conoco Station and told the proprieter, “Bubba, mah fren heyar wonts to bah four tars, but he doan wona to takem wiffum.”

Our 10 days here in Elberton has been interesting. The park is beautiful, but has no cell service, no computer service and no sewer hookups. Town is nearly 10 miles away. Elberton is the “Granite Capital of the World,” hosting 45 granite quarries and 89 processing plants. A granite quarry is surreal in that it looks like it’s made of leggo pieces, all straight lines and up and down slabs. Granite isn’t dug out of the ground, it is lasered and sliced. And according to the signs they will shoot you if you go in without permission. The factory outlet for granite markers is at the edge of town; remnants are readily available.

We had to smile every day, passing the emu farm, advertising emu oil. “How do you get emu oil?” I ruminate.  Dave says you squeeze ‘em. We should have stopped. Elberton offered us many examples of how important the human contact is. Sometimes in sales, I don’t get the “touch” I would like, no doubt owing to my own issues, but I miss them nevertheless. When I called on a towing operation, I couldn’t help but notice a monster rottwieler they use to guard the parts and cars inside the fence. The next day when I came back, I brought a couple of steak bones from our dinner and since everyone was out to lunch, I left the plastic bag of bones on the door mat. The dog saw me but I didn’t approach him. Later that afternoon I dropped by to show the owner the ad we had made for him, and before I could say “Did Chub like the bones?” this dog leapt up across the counter and licked and wiggled like a pup. I just couldn’t believe this dog associated the sight of me with those bones. What a smart dog! Chub got real playful for his picture (attached).

We had to get tires for the car, and decided to get them from a tire dealer who had bought an ad in the state park map. I know it was a difficult choice for the owner and I worked him pretty hard. We got four good tires, and the owner was pleased, but the tires were almost like a gift. They rotated the tires on the bus for a really good price and a LOT of grunt work, and let us stay overnight on their lot in downtown Elberton. By the time we left we felt like we had friends here

We are now in a park outside of  Lincolnton, Georgia, about 45 miles down the road. It’s another State Park, closer to Augusta, and a little better off than where we are now. That’s our last job until fall, unless we can round up a good one. I have my eye on a park in Ava Gardner’s home town; been trying to get it for three years.

We are trying to find a place to stay in New Bern, NC, while we get established with doctors. I need to get my shoulder treated, probably need to have cataract surgery, and get some follow up for the blood sugar, which has come down nicely. When my blood sugar went up, my triglycerides went up, and my liver enzymes went sky high. I haven’t taken any pain meds since the first of February, and the liver enzymes look much better. I am, however, somewhat cranky.

About my opening remarks on weather: Okay, the southeast does have about 250 tornadoes a year. We were really braced Friday night, but it passed right around us and got very close to where the kids are. We’re all okay, though.

Hoping you are the same, or better!


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