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17 Mar 2011

Skidaway and Beyond

Posted by Sam. No Comments

March 13, 2011

Even though it has been cold in the Southeast this winter, we see the temperatures in Bend every morning and shudder. Our TV weather channel is set to display the weather for the  97702 zip code, so that’s what comes up first.  It keeps everything in perspective for us. We are in Georgia, where so many trees are blooming, looking a little stark in their beauty, as they are still leafless, but they are blooming. The tulip trees, bradford pears, redbud, are all shouting spring. As a kid said to me the other day, “It don’t get no realer than this!”

We finished the park at Skidaway Island and did very well. Once again we were stunned by the contrast in lives just moments apart. Justice Long John Thomas was raised in a trailer park just off the Diamond Causeway, which leads over the Moon River to Skidaway Island. It could not be farther in economic levels from the sweater sets and pearls of the Island itself. Trailer parks here are not manufactured units set into landscaped terraces and built to look permanent. They are rectangles of tin and plastic set in mud at angles which approximate rows and are identified by the flotsam out front of each of them. The rust can be identifiable, too.

At the entrance to the park is a huge United Methodist Church, which was advertising a “spiritual concert” last week. I went down to hear it and was surprised to find there was not a person of color in the church. Oh, there were two black kids in the children’s choir, but I’m sure they are adopted. I’ve never seen such a homogenized group. They were mostly old, very well tailored, thin and respectful. The choir was very good, but needless to say, there was no clapping and no amens. The children’s choir was small and sort of a musical bone thrown to the few young couples, but the bell ringers, all women, white haired and gloved, were wonderful.

Once again we have missed our chance to go to the Tick Museum. Statesboro has the largest display of ticks in the world and it’s on our (my) list of “really want to sees,” but it is only open on Wednesdays between 3:30 and 4:30. Hard to make it.

Cotton is king again in Georgia. If you are going to buy new sheets, better get them now. Because of floods in Indonesia and poor crops in China, or wherever the cotton has been grown before this year, the price of cotton has gone from $l per pound to $2 per pound. Every available acre is going into Cotton in Georgia this year. I can’t remember the numbers for certain but it seems like the paper said there would be 15,000 acres in cotton, compared to 2,000 acres in peanuts, in the area under discussion. Wish we could be here to see it planted.

I’ve written often about the southern civility that so defines this area. Very often it makes it difficult to sell, because the prospective buyer will tell me what he thinks I want to hear, when he has no intention of buying. It makes the process long and sometimes irritating. Not so much anymore, now that I understand it. Not long ago I heard civility raised to the nth degree when an elder statesman referred to the civil war as “that recent unpleasantness.”

If you ever get to Savannah you must drive out to Sandfly (on your way to Wormsloe Plantation and the Isle of Hope) and stop in at Violet Garden. I met a woman named Laurie there, a free spirit from the Chicago Art Institute who loves cowboy boots. She asked about our lifestyle, as a lot of people do, and astutely went right to the heart of the trades: a limited wardrobe in exchange for experiencing a lot of places; personal freedom at the price of the laundry from hell, and the killer: never enough room  for shoes. Especially cowboy boots. Laughing with Laurie and sharing a few kindred “I knoooowwwws,” made me realize that this lifestyle also trades off travel for close friendships. I rarely meet and enjoy someone I could share so easily with. Or maybe I meet them but don’t have the time to realize how much I would enjoy  sharing with them. Laurie is just so beautifully out there, it was easy to connect. I bought a tiny copper vase and she gave me the orchid stem that was in it. It touched me so much I was a little shaken. Somehow it reminded me of the time when I was newly married, living five miles outside town on a ranch with no car and my husband asked me what I did all day. “Oh, I’m training the chickens,” I told him. I didn’t realize how isolated I was.

We are at Jason and Jamie’s right now. Drove the car up from Savannah to see the doctor about my blood sugar numbers. We are having to start over in getting established with doctors now that our insurance change has gone through. On the way up, an 8 hour drive, we stopped at a traffic light in Wilmington and the car died. People very quickly stopped for us, directed traffic around and pushed us into an area where we could be towed. We spent the night in a motel, kindly delivered by tow truck, and got a rental car the next morning to come on up to Havelock. That was last Friday; the bad news came Monday morning. A broken timing belt. It will cost us about $4,500. It’s just devastating. And we still don’t have the car. We are going to Wilmington tomorrow, Monday, and wait for it. We need to get back and pick up the Bird; the nice folks at Metter have let us leave it in exchange for some computer work Dave did for them.

As always, it has been great being here with the kids. We have the big bedroom upstairs and can nap when we (I) want. A special treat was the birthday dessert Becca made for Grandpa. It is a gourmet cupcake built to resemble a sandwich. The bottom layer is cupcake, then comes a layer of swiss cheese (rolled out lemon starburst), ham (pink starburst), lettuce (corn flakes rolled in green icing), onion rings (another starburst), and topped with a doughnut bar. It was served with french fries (crinkle cut angel food cake strips). Give that girl an A!!

Love to all,


14 Feb 2011

Georgia on our Minds

Posted by Sam. No Comments

February 14, 2011

We left Jason and Jamie’s almost a month ago, and are hopefully finishing up winter in Georgia. There has been a lot of rain, and more cold than you can imagine when you think of the Carolinas and Georgia. We spent two weeks in Statesboro, GA, home of the Georgia Southern Screaming Eagles, and now we are about 20 miles southwest of Statesboro outside the little town of Metter. “Everything’s Better in Metter.”

Statesboro is a lively college town, with a lot more tattoo parlors and biker bars than would seem likely in a southern, upscale college locale. The freebie newspaper not only lists arrests of the week, but runs the mug shots! And they aren’t all black!

This whole area of mid eastern Georgia is still suffering economically. Selling ads is tough. This is an area where snowbirds come to spend October through April, and it appears a lot of them didn’t come this year.

For some reason, my blood sugar numbers spiked while in Statesboro, and I was turned away by five internal medicine clinics. Five! The urgent care center couldn’t treat me for diabetes, but really went the extra mile to find a doctor who would. They also challenged a couple of clinics who maintained they didn’t take our insurance; turns out they don’t want to treat a patient they can’t follow up on. The clinic I finally saw ran all the appropriate tests and gave me a prescription for a bigger dose of the insulin resistance med I take and my numbers are almost back to normal. Life on the road is a lot more fun if you don’t have any health issues.

Here in Metter, we are surrounded by cotton fields. Hope we are still in the area when they plant. There are three cotton gins in the area. Seems like I read somewhere that the cotton producers offshore have been impacted by floods or some other natural disaster and the price of cotton is going to go up. Maybe there will be more cotton planted in the south.

Georgia has initiated legislation to stop illegal immigrants working in the state. I don’t know why this came up, but it has riled a lot of farmers who are dependent on migrant workers. Peaches, pecans and onions (Vidalia is one county over) are labor intensive crops.

We are back in the land of geechees and hoochees, catfish and sweet tea and biscuits. Hoooooeeeee. Today we had lunch at a very typical southern buffet. The chicken is cut so you can’t get too much white meat no matter which piece you choose. Dave had to ask what the “potato” dish was, even after he ate it. It was mashed red potatoes, alright, but it had so much bacon grease in it the potato taste was gone. We passed on the gizzards and grits. On the other hand, down the street at a lunch counter, Dave had the best chicken salad sandwich of his life! It’s made with cranberries!

One more week here and we move to Skidaway Island State Park on the edge of Savannah. We hope to meet our Bluebird friends, Suska and Lou there and as always, look for the painted bunting.       Love to all,     Sam

20 Jan 2011

On The Road Again

Posted by Sam. No Comments

January 17, 2011

Dear Friends,

We be pulling out of the driveway tomorrow or the next day for sure. A big rainstorm blew in and delayed our start today. The older we get the more we restrict ourselves to fair weather travel. Driving in the rain is not pleasant but hooking up and unhooking the car is really miserable in the wet.

We are just going 500 miles down the road to Statesboro, Georgia. It is a nice little college town about 60 miles NW of Savannah. After that we go to Savannah, or possibly to a State Park in extreme southwest South Carolina. We would rather do that Park in May when it is warmer, but they might be out of maps – don’t know yet.

We have loved our time here, as always, with Jason and Jamie and the kids. We stayed here while we did a park 15 miles toward the coast. Actually, I’m still following up and selling on that park, even tho we sent the job in a month ago. North Carolina is a very interesting state, kind of independent compared to other southern states. Reminds us of Oregon, in that there are mountains and the seashore on opposite sides of the state. We are still talking about parking the bus and living in downtown Raleigh for a year or two. Culturally, it is very rich. And I could probably get a few new parts there; it’s a real medical hub.

You can always recognize a North Carolina accent: they say “impordant,” instead of “important.” I’ve spotted it in everyone from John Edwards  (p-tooey!), to the girl at Wal-Mart. They also seem to drop letters, for example the number 5555 is fitty five, fitty five. But maybe not everyone does that.

It appears to us that North Carolina has always had an interesting mix of people and ideas. From the time of the civil war, when there was a great division of thought. Originally populated by Scots and the English, I guess it was to be expected. Today we find a great array of religious expression, compared to say, the preponderance of Baptists in Georgia. (The Mormons say Methodists are just Baptists who can read.) We recently read a book that just staggered us: Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B. Tyson. It is a true story set in a small town north of Raleigh in 1970. The author is a white guy, professor of Afro-American studies, son of a small town preacher, and he tells the story in first person. It starts out with a 10-year-old rushing up to announce “Daddy and Roger and ‘em shot ‘em a nigger.” Anyone who is interested in race relations has to read this book; the story itself is riveting, and to have the story assessed by someone who knows both sides as well as anyone can, is just epic.

We send love to all. Hope you escaped the flu and that bad weather is on the wane. May 2011 be a good year for us all!
Sam and Dave

14 Dec 2010

At Home at the Swans

Posted by Sam. No Comments

December 13, 2010

Dear Friends,

Two months since our last update – you must think we’re dead, or, as we like to think, having too much fun, no time to write. The latter is more true than not. I hesitate to bore you with my perceptions when we aren’t traveling – they tend to involve my clever and doting husband, brilliant sons, perfect daughters-in-law and one-of-a-kind grandchildren. Add in my personal aches and pains and it’s the How-We-Be from hell!

We spent a week in St. Petersburg, Florida in early November. We were busy for five days with the Company Meeting (and a good one it was this year!) We enjoyed the lazy trip down and back. Everything was still green and warm most of November. The winter uglies hit us about ten days ago and it is now brown and scraggly and freezing every night. Jason put in a power box with 50 amps for the bus so we’re toasty but Dave is still talking about researching the Florida Keys.

Who knew oranges fresh from the tree are dirty brown and green, and are “gassed” to turn them “orange?” What a comment on our society that we have to have a product cosmetically attractive before we’ll buy it.

We just finished a job 15 miles down the road by the ocean that has given us a chance to explore the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Little towns like Swansboro, Cedar Point and Bogue  are full of small frame houses showing the crippling angles of age. Fishing is a livelihood as well as a major sport. Huge RV parks are full of park models, which people buy or rent for a portion of the year, or permanently. A park model is approximately the same size as a single-wide trailer except it has a peak roof, lot of windows and usually a cute little porch. The aren’t meant to be moved once in place.

We have enjoyed trips to Fort Macon, built around 1826 to guard Beaufort Harbor. Confederate troops seized the Fort at the outbreak of the Civil War. Higgins Island, out of Swansboro, is the site of the only unspoiled Confederate earthen fortification on the NC Coast. Our Civil War study is alive and well here.

We are scheduled to work a park in the Northwest part of the state, in the Blue Ridge Mts. in June. I’m especially looking forward to the folk art in that area.

Wishing you all the best in the New Year, and a Very Merry Christmas to start if off! We, as usual as of late, be enjoying our time with the family here.


30 Sep 2010

August and September 2010

Posted by Jamie. No Comments

After a extremely busy July it was nice to have a relaxing August. Then School started up again and we are super busy again! It’s all good though!!!

The highlight of August was Susie coming home from her summer in Utah!!! She had a wonderful time with family and friends out there but we missed her terribly! I think it was the toughest for Katie, ok well maybe she was the most vocal about it. Susie made her a doll before she left so she could sleep with it and whenever she was sad and missing Susie she could hold her doll. It was very sweet of Susie. Well Katie literally packed that doll everywhere for the 6 weeks Susie was gone! Couldn’t find it a couple of times at bedtime and it was trauma! Katie really really missed Susie. Becca missed her too. Alot. Becca had been counting down the days to “graduate” from primary when she turned 12. Well then Susie left soon after and Becca decided that Young Women’s isn’t nearly as fun with Susie gone…poor kid was counting down the days until YW then had to start counting down the days until her friend Brooke turned 12 and could join YW too. It was a long month for Becca. And Xander… every night as he said his prayer he would pray that Susie’s plane wouldn’t crash on the way home!!!

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And the low of August was our neighbors and good friends moving away. Our kids have spent the last 3 years playing with the Andrews on a almost daily basis! So we had lots of sad tears as we sent them off on their new adventures in Louisiana…we wish them well and miss them lots! We have many many fun memories with them…This is the hardest part of living in a military town. The longest these families stay in one area is usually 3 years so friends come and go and it’s hard to see them go…

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Becca actually started school (7th grade) on July 14, the day our Freston family flew home from their visit here! She had mixed feelings about starting already but she did good being the only one in school…we are doing the year round schedule for Becca and the traditional calendar for Susie, Katie and Xander this school year. So Becca started early, Susie went to Utah with our family, Katie and Xander hung out together for the month of August! School for them started on the 25th of August. It was an exciting day for Susie, her first day in High School and an exciting day for Xander, his first day of Kindergarten…I had rather mixed feelings of having my oldest start HS and my youngest start K. We are officially in the next “phase” of life! Katie (now in 4th grade) had a first too, her first day at the new Elementary school we switched her to. She was very nervous and not very happy about the switch but she came home very happy and loving it! This new school has a fun tradition that the kids are met on the first day of school by teachers in tuxes and the principal in a fancy dress and they roll out the “red carpet” for the kids to walk into the school. It was very fun!!! We of course had to do our traditional cookies and milk when they all got home! We invited our friends the Escobar’s to join us!

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Susie made the color guard team for Havelock High School. They started practicing at the end of last school year and they had lots of practice time and activities all summer long. Well since Susie was in Utah for 6 weeks she missed alot. When she got back she worked really hard to get caught up and is almost there. She was able to perform part of the routine at their first football game, she snuck in on the last movement. She was super nervous when I dropped her off but afterwards she said it was awesome, she wasn’t scared at all! Way to go Susie…it was fun watching her but seriously they need some major help with their outfits!!!! They are awful, not even school colors and what is up with the socks! I can’t believe we actually paid money for it!!! They should pay HER to wear it!!! (btw I wouldn’t be saying this here if Susie didn’t agree with me 100%!) High School has been quite an adjustment for Susie. She is absolutely exhausted! Her day starts at 5:15 and she is off to early morning seminary at 6:15, school is out at 3 and then MTH she has Color Guard practice, W she has YW, then Friday night a performance at a football game and then a competition that takes up most of Saturday. Each night she is averaging 5 hours of homework so she doesn’t get to bed until midnight or sometimes later. It’s CRAZY!

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Becca continues to do great in school, gets her work done quickly and rarely has homework. She decided to try out for the volleyball team, thanks to her cousin Jaicee who plays and while visiting us in July got Becca interested in it. (Of course I have suggested it several times but NOOOO mom’s are clueless don’t you know!!!) She LOVED it! They have a strange program here though, really stinks actually. They cut the season in half and doubled up the games so they play each school twice but it’s all in one night. So their season was a total of 5 weeks! Seriously…it’s all about money, or lack of. She got to play quite a bit and did really great. Becca has really matured physically, she is almost as tall as me and has a beautiful girly figure now. A few months back she had to get glasses and they are so adorable, she wasn’t too happy about it but she only has to wear them to see the board at school or watching TV.  After the Dr. told her she would need them she said “Great… glasses now and next braces, I am going to be such a nerd!” She is scheduled to have her braces on in December. Becca is on her 3 week break right now, we’ve had fun hanging out together, she is such a fun kid. She has LOVED rubbing it in her siblings faces that she gets to stay up late and sleep in while they have to go to school. When I picked her up on her last day before break she was absolutely giddy…I told her this is the most excited she has ever been to start break. She told me “Of course I am excited…I get to sleep in, have the computer to myself, the TV to myself and no bratty kids around to irritate me!” Does she sound like a teenager or what!

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Katie had kind of a rough summer. She really struggled with Susie being gone, with her best friend Sophie moving, fighting a lot with Xander, anxiety about starting a new school again. But once Susie got home and school started up she cheered right up. She loves school and does really well. We always get great comments from her teachers about how they really enjoy her. Her new teacher Ms. McNay is perfect for Katie. She does these “brain breaks” during the day and has taught the kids some dances and songs, some are line dances. Anyway Katie loves it of course, this is Katie who sings ALL the time!!! I was volunteering one day when they had a brain break and it was so cute all the kids singing and dancing together. She came home a week or so ago just bustin’ at the seams! She had made the Singing Gators group at school, it’s like honor choir. She was beyond excited!!! Katie also had a fun Activity Days night. They had a modesty fashion show. All the girls were silly about it, a bit embarrassed walking the runway to model their clothes. Not Katie, she was swinging her hips and striking a pose at each stop like she had been modeling for years! Then her 2nd time through we all just cracked up, she came waltzing out in her nice dress bouncing a basketball! Only Katie could pull something like that off! What a character!  There are a few random pics of Katie being a Karate Kid and another of her playing Daddy dress up, and of her just being silly Katie!

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Xander has been so excited for Kindergarten to start. It was a long month of August waiting for the 25th to roll around. He marked off the days on the calendar for both school and Susie coming home. School has been so good for him. The last few months he has really struggled with his attention span, or lack of it. He just can’t stay focused, school is helping. He has loved meeting new friends and his favorite part of the day is centers time. I love volunteering in his classroom and having him run and give me hugs. I miss him at home. They talked about and read chicka chicka boom boom and made their own CCBB tree out of food. For family home evening that night he gave us a detailed description of how to make our own CCBB treat and helped us each make one. He REALLY likes to be in charge! He was also super excited to go to the book fair because he could dress up as a super hero! He is too cute! He has also discovered that he likes to color. It has been very surprising, he has never shown much interest in coloring or art, only if someone is doing it with him and even that was iffy. But suddenly he is a pro. telling us how to do it, what colors to choose, making sure we stay in the lines, describing what color his friends were wearing at school, who was the model for the day. Each day they all draw one friend, who gets to take home a book that day of all the portraits of them. He is doing much better writing too. But even with all this school stuff his favorite thing to do is still using his imagination! I did have to take a picture of him one day because he had actually gotten out all of his cars and lined them up and was playing with them. It was literally the first time ever that he has done that. He has played with cars here and there if it is with a friend but never by himself, it’s just never interested him much. I was shocked and had to take a picture of it! Xander and his Daddy have really bonded lately. They have so much fun together…being guys! They went fishing and they love to joke about ‘bro’s before doe’s’ and all the bodily functions that boys and men seem to think are hilarious!!! He sure loves his Daddy!

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Jason has been super busy. He is doing great at work, he’s on several projects. He has traveled a bit over the last few months… Texas, Virginia, San Diego and Arizona. In Arizona he had the great luck of being there the same time his brother Kevin was there on vacation so he got to meet up with Kevin and Shelly and have dinner with them! He was thrilled to see them again. With us on one coast and them on the other we don’t get to see each other very often. Being the Bishop has been good for him also, at least most of the time. I guess I should ask him but from my perspective it has been neat watching him through this process of stepping into such a huge calling and responsibility. It hasn’t been easy, he has had tough stuff happen and I have found myself on several occasions crying as I am on my morning run because I feel so overwhelmed for him. He is handling everything so well though and has helped so many people it is just amazing to me. I still can’t call him Bishop yet, it’s too weird…

I have been busy trying to build my photography business. I am enjoying it so much. Probably too much 🙂 I’ve been able to do so many different sessions (newborn, maternity, engagement, families, kiddos, military…)and with each one I am learning more and more. Check out my website for all my latest work…www.familyphotosbyjamie.com. I am also enjoying a quiet house during the day. Enjoying my solitude before they all come home and it’s rush rush from one thing to the next.

We ended the month very WET!!! It started raining last Sunday and rained nearly nonstop until Friday. They released school early on Wed. and canceled school on both Thurs. and Fri. due to flooding. We had our usual ‘Swan Lake’ in our front yard that we always get when it rains but the ‘river’ rushing into the back forest behind our house was pretty impressive. So add on Conference this weekend and we have had a 5 day weekend!!!

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29 Sep 2010

New Bern celebrates 300 years

Posted by Jamie. No Comments

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It is pretty cool to live near a town that dates back 300 years! It is a neat town, lot’s and lot’s of history. They had a big celebration day with a parade and activities. We brought Xander’s best friend Jake with us so they could play together. They have missed each other tons since Preschool ended!

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The parade was I have to admit a bit disappointing. There has been so much talk all year long about 300 year celebration stuff going on I guess we just imagined the parade being bigger and better than it was. There were several great floats but several lame ones too. Susie got to perform in it for Color Guard. They were the best of the many marching bands in the parade.

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They had a Pirate Ship the Elizabeth II out in the harbor so we could tour it, ok… it actually represented a merchant ship but Katie and Xander and Jake were much more impressed if we called it a pirate ship! They really liked wandering around on it, poking their heads out the portholes and checking everything out. There were even fake rats on it, of course that was Katie’s favorite part!

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22 Sep 2010

Visiting Friends

Posted by Sam. No Comments

September 22, 2010

Our stay in Boston was brief but sweet. We met Susan Vachon L’Itlien, my “cousin.” (My Mother and her Father were cousins.) Sue graciously had us out to her home for home-made blueberry muffins and coffee, and we pored over genealogical records and pictures of the Vachons. A very special lady.

With Sue’s help we found the Bureau of Vital Statistics and located the cemetery where my Mother’s aunt Grace MacLellan is buried, but no one was in the cemetery office so we left Aunt Grace at peace with the other 20,000 souls in that place.

Downtown Boston is like Gotham City. The streets are so narrow, the buildings so tall and so close together, one’s perspective is always a little skewed. Beacon Hill is so beautiful; the ultimate in urban living.

We be tickled and agog at Provincetown, Cape Cod. The real world of sandy beaches and home-made ice cream looks a little pale after you’ve been to P-Town. This old fishing village, with its narrow, narrow roads (one lady coming our way yelling, “It’s two-way, you’re okay!”), and hundred-year-old, tall shingled houses, with lots of outdoor stairs these days, has become a destination resort for gays and lesbians. The local population appears to be artist and old people, so when you throw in the tourists and the gays, it was colorful, to say the least.

Crawling down the street next to the harbor in the car we saw two guys – they could have been suntanned twins, wearing only Ray-Bans and matching briefs. The briefs were an alligator pattern and must have been custom, because they both had this little carrying pouch in front. There are a lot of clubs in town, including Purgatory (“Halfway to Heaven”) and lots of dances, tea dances, theme dances, underwear dances.

The P-Town entertainment guide lists the action for the month. We just missed “Six Naked Guys Singing;” half the club acts are in drag; the photo page was a pinup of a guy with well placed autumn leaves.

We found it incredible that a community with such a history of conservative values & traditions could co-exist with such alternative lifestyles. Part of it is money, of course. These are not street boys, the shops and galleries owned by gays are high end, very posh, a cultural addition. The people themselves are educated, talented and probably bring a little looseness to a town that might be a little tight without them. This is a very health conscious community – Tofurkey & Tosausages?!

We spent an evening with our Bluebird friends Suska and Lou and, as always, enjoyed ourselves immensely. We met at Suska’s house down the  down the cape from where we were parked.

Suska is an artist, currently working in mosaics and mostly on commission, and it was wonderful to see her studio and share a great meal at their favorite pub.

Dave road his bike down to Suska’s on a great rails-to-trails bike path, but ended up on the main drag where a guy in a pickup yelled “Get off the road, Lance!”

From Cape Cod we hit the road for Connecticut to see dear friends Angelo and Teresa. (Dave met Angelo on the bike ride across America 15 years ago.) We stayed at a Super 8 motel in Stamford, CT – no RV parks around – and had a wonderful, bountiful meal with our friends, homemade eggplant parmesan, everything right out of the garden. (Well – not the ribs.)

A day in Noo Yawk will stay in our memory tapes a long time. The four of us took the ferry to Ellis Island; it was a very interesting tour, very well done. Then we had a genuine NY pizza at Waldy’s, a surprising and MOST delicious treat! Doesn’t seem like we would like real healthy stuff on a toasted cracker (fresh basil, hunks of mozzarella) but we sure did. Angelo drove us to and around the city with such skill we were awed and grateful, as we got to look at stuff. Ground Zero is all under construction now, so nothing to see, no place to stop.

Still heading south, we were amazed at how wide the Hudson River is. Signs on the bridge say “Life is Worth Living.” We’re in New Jersey now, getting ready to do a job at the Yogi Bear RV Park in Elmer, NJ. We got here on the New Jersey Turnpike, which is good traveling, but kind of expensive. You take a ticket when you get on and pay by the mile. Before the turnpike we took a loop road around to the west and avoided all the New York area traffic. Quite a pleasant trip. It was Sunday, so that may have made for less traffic.

My face is nearly back to normal from the Bell’s Palsy. Unfortunately, the fall I had in Digby, Nova Scotia (stepped into a hole at the bottom of the bakery steps) is still bothersome. The sprained ankle is okay, the elbow almost healed but the shoulder has gotten worse. Went to the ER yesterday and got X-rays; the doc said he thought it was a torn rotator cuff, and referred me to an orthopedist here in Woodbury. I might not even mention this whole thing but I’m so irritated: the doctor’s office refused to see me! Even after my insurance company approved the visit! They say they aren’t familiar with Clear One Health Plans and “don’t want to start anything,” plus “the injury was a month ago, so you probably can . . . . ..” Can What?!? I called the ER coordinator and suggested she not refer travelers to Dr. Bundens. In the meantime I’ll find an ortho guy, hopefully get a cortisone injection and find its just bursitis. As long as Dave can keep hooking and unhooking my bra I’m okay.

The weather is still sunny with cool nights. The song sparrows are fighting over my feeder, and this morning a huge turkey showed up and ate all the squirrel food!

Life is real.



11 Sep 2010

Move to Boston

Posted by Sam. No Comments

Dear friends,

We be have had a great time in Gloustah. This little fishing village on the coast of Massachusetts is one of the few places we’ve visited where history has not been captured in theme parks and boutiques. At one time Gloucester was the largest port in North America.

It is still a blue collar working community. Labor Day was festive; we walked the promenade along the bay to watch the parade of ships going out to sea to race during the annual Schooner Days. There were about 20 schooners, 60 to 100+ feet.

We sat on a bench with a retired fuller brush salesman from Gloustah who gave us the town’s history; Birdseye Frozen Foods started here, Gorton’s is still a big employer, supplying all the fish filets to McDonalds. There are a lot of wealthy people here, but no Wal-Mart, and McDonalds is VERY hard to find. Mickey D’s is not only without its golden arches, it doesn’t have a fish filet on the menu!?!

Hurricane Earl was just something to talk about for a few days. It was good for the grocery business. Best line was heard by Dave in the liquor store; lady in line next to him with a big purchase: “Hurricane Supplies!”

We visited Rockport and the whole area around Cape Ann. Museums were good. Great ship models. We stayed at Cape Ann Campground, with good views of the Jones River Salt Marsh. I’ve had lots of birds at my feeder: Cardinal, Blue Jay, Purple Finch (or House Finch), Song Sparrows, Eastern Towhee, Tufted Titmouse, Cedar Waxwing, Red Breasted Nuthatch, Black Capped Chickadee, Downy Woodpecker. It’s been fun.

We got a surprise souvenir from our Canada tour. The phone bill was $185 and Verizon computer service was $432! Wuh! Who knew?

The weather is still great, occasionally an overcast morning. In spite of the warmth, we’re seeing some maples turning red.

This country is one big rock. We’ve seen lots of big rocks before (Texas, Utah, etc.), but these people build on it! Must have been tough plowing for early settlers. Huge boulders are often worked around to great effect in landscape and architecture.

There are no RV parks close to Boston so we are now in Minute Man RV Park in Littleton, NW of the big city. Thanks to my cousin Andre I have connected with another Vachon, Susan, who is the granddaughter of my grandfather’s brother Robert. She has been a big help in directing me to find the graves of my grandmother’s people in Newton, close to Boston.



11 Sep 2010

Earl & Gloucester

Posted by Dave. No Comments

Hi Everybody:

Earl passed by in the night and we barely noticed. A little rain storm. We’ve seen much bigger storms in N.C. in an afternoon. Awning breakers, for instance. Anticipation caused more schedule problems then the actual hurricane. Most of the weekend Schooner Festival was cancelled, except the big ship parade tomorrow, which is what we wanted to see anyway. We so seldom hit an area during an actual event; we are usually out of season or “just missed it.” Lot of campers came in today; now that Earl is gone they will have a nice weekend here after all .We took a car tour around today . . . . it is really and interesting place.

Gloucester, of course, is where the ship from The Perfect Storm was based. They shot the movie here, too, as well as many others. Home to Gorton’s Seafood, which is right downtown, sandwiched into the dock area. Still considered a working man’s town, others nearby, like Rockport are more upscale.


30 Aug 2010

Back in the US!

Posted by Sam. No Comments

August 30, 2010

Dear friends,

We be in Maine now, still having the time of our lives, but I have to go back and fill in some Digby gaps. It took us longer than we realized to get from Petit Cap, New Brunswick, to the coast of Nova Scotia, along the Bay of Fundy. There are not a lot of roads, and even the good ones aren’t very good, so you have to go to Halifax, way down at the south edge of NS and then turn due north and go all the way back up to the north edge and turn left. I don’t know why we chose to stay in Digby; almost all we have to go on is the RV Directory, Woodall’s. But once again, we intuitively made a great choice.

By this time our travels were hampered by a bad sprain on my right ankle. Same ankle I have introduced to a hole in the ground at least three times in the last 30 years. This time I took a header off the bakery porch in Petit Cap. I went home and iced it off and on for about six hours and then, because it seemed not TOO bad, I proceeded to walk on it for a couple of days. Mistake. I hurt my elbow and jammed my shoulder during the same fall, so have been very sore.

Anyway, Digby is the scallop capitol of the world. And Nova Scotia is the blueberry capital. Who knew? Continuing my study of the Acadians, I learned that when the eight years of deportation and exile were over, many Acadians came back to Nova Scotia. Their land, however, had been sold to others and all that was allowed them was property along the Bay of Fundy, a rocky, hostile area of huge tides. They made it work, of course, and the red, white and blue flag with a gold star is evident everywhere.

Nova Scotia towns have a gaiety about them that we didn’t see in New Brunswick. The whole area is alive with goldenrod, and flowers abound. I couldn’t quite figure how this cold country could host such an array of flowers that grow so well in the Willamette Valley, but Dave looked it up, and we found that we are right on the 45th parallel here, so it is more temperate than we thought. Little town such as Annapolis Royal have window boxes and hanging baskets on every building. The day we visited they were having a town picnic and everyone was out and about. A bowl of fresh dog water sat in front of every business downtown, and the local artist’s group was painting. There were painters everywhere, and folks watching them. At 6 PM that night the paintings were auctioned off. What fun!

The area maintains a close relationship with the Mi’kmaq Indians. This was a tribe which helped the Acadians hide from the British and fought with the French. Mi’kmaq legends are woven into local lore and their art is evident.

We tried the local cuisine; Dave enjoyed the old Acadian Rappie Pie, a potato dish in which all the starch and water are squeezed out of the shredded potatoes, and it is baked with chicken. I tried the Dulse, a seaweed collected from the beaches, washed (one hopes) and dried. It resembles very thin shoe leather and tastes exactly like what you would expect beach flotsam to taste like! We found packages of french cigarettes with not just a warning, but a color photo of diseased gums and rotting teeth on the outside of the package! wuh! The one attorney we spotted on Digby’s main street is James L Outhouse (or maybe it’s Ooot-hooose). As my mother would say, “it’s the children who suffer.”

We have had fantastic weather this whole trip. It rained the day we took the Acadian Princess Ferry from Digby to St. John, New Brunswick. Heading for Damariscotta, Maine, we finally laid over just outside Bangor and made it to Damariscotta the next day. The rains quit then, and we have had an idyllic few days here on the Maine seacoast. Idyllic probably doesn’t do our time justice, sounds too tame. Idyllic is sitting around on the deck in a cool breeze. We did that too, but overall, we ate (lobster, ribs, haddock to die for), drank, talked, laughed, almost constantly for two and a half days, courtesy of our dear friends, Dan and Carol Perry. The Perrys live in McLean, VA, but have this 15 room “cabin” on Round Pond. In between the eating and drinking events, they showed us the local sights. It is such a truly beautiful area and these people are such wonderfully generous and smart and funny hosts. Dan worked at the Bend Bulletin years ago and Carol taught at Bear Creek Elementary; we are so lucky to be able to maintain their friendship.

We are staying at the Lake Pemaquid RV Camp, I’m trying to stay off my foot for a couple of days. It is getting better. I bought a cheap cane; by the time it breaks I won’t need it.

We leave in a couple of days for Gloucester, Massachusetts. We’ll be there for almost a week, through the Labor Day weekend. I thought we might have to reserve a spot in northern Maine or stay in the Wal-Mart parking lot, Labor Day is so huge on the east coast. We are keeping our fingers crossed that Hurricane Earl doesn’t hit the New England coast. Or the North Carolina Coast!

Love to all,
Sam and Dave

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