Friday, July 11, 2008

Florida Trip 2003

We left Carlsbad at 5:15 AM and arrived at the Elks Lodge in Tucson at 4:00 PM. We had lost one hour. Arizona is one hour ahead of California. Our friend Susanne picked us up at 6:00 PM and we had a nice meal and good conversation at a neighborhood restaurant.
Doreen drove the new motorhome today for the first time. I drove it on the three short try out trips and got used to the loose steering. It took Doreen a while to get to speed. I have to get the power steering fixed.

The day almost started with an accident. We left when it was still dark and I almost hit a van while backing out of the camp site. Doreen was sitting in the car waiting for me to come out so we could attach the car to the motorhome. She saw it but could not do anything. I stopped and went forward a bit. Before I could go back any further, Doreen came running waving her hands in the air. I was lucky that I did not hit the van at the first backup.
We had a good drive. It was cloudy and we got in the tail end of a rainstorm near Las Cruces.
The cool weather made the driving easier. Thirty miles before Van Horn it started to rain heavy. When we arrived at the El Campo RV Park the lady showed me on a little map how to get to our campsite.
I goofed and ended up in front of a large refuse container. There was no way going forward and no way backing up with the car in tow.
I put on a poncho and disconnected the car and moved it out of the way. Doreen backed up the motorhome and drove it to the site. I hooked up the electric, water and sewer and had freezing hands.
After a while it really came down. Doreen checked her bed and found her down quilt and sheet wet from all the rain,so she brought it to the heater and it dried fast. Its coming from the side window and we took care of that quickly.
The TV is dead and the water heater does not work on propane. First it did not work on electricity either. Doreen gave me a night light to put in the outlet and check the outlet. I had not gotten that far. It was a blown fuse and Doreen is proud of her accomplishment. This ends our two driving days. Tomorrow starts our vacation.

I had to sleep on the couch last night, my bed was wet too. I noticed it too late for getting the sheets and down quilt dried.
Today we went by car to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Doreen wanted to see the caverns one more time. We left under dark clouds and when we came out of the caverns we had blue sky with large white clouds. It looked just like Montana.
Since the weather was cooperating we also visited the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Visitor Center on the way home. When we got back to the motorhome we fixed our wet sheets problem. The main problem was condensation on the windows. The drain holes were blocked up and the water could not drain to the outside.
The water heater also ignited again. Everything is up and running. I deposited the TV in the large refuse container, this is no problem anymore. I will buy a new TV at the next Walmart or K Mart.

We arrived at Fredericksburg at 3:00 PM and after setting up camp we went to Main Street and visited the German church and went by the Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Museum. We were advised to come back tomorrow since we would not have enough time to enjoy the museum in such a short time.
Doreen did some store hopping while I enjoyed the goings on outside.
Many signs are in German and also some street names. We had dinner at the brewery. I had Zigeuner Schnitzel with Sauerkraut and German potato salad.
If we would have stayed a bit longer we could have enjoyed the Sauerkrauts Show in the Biergarden.

Today we enjoyed the Texas Hill Country. In the morning we went to the Lyndon B. Johnson State Historic Park and the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. We toured the house where L.B.J. was born and saw the Texas White House. We took a bus tour of the ranch.
In the afternoon we went to the Admiral Nimitz National Museum of the Pacific War. It is a large museum and it is very interesting.
After a short nap we went to Walmart and bought a new television. Now we are back to normal again.

We did not watch much television last night, instead we played scrabble. Today we drove 120 miles to Sequin which is 35 miles east of San Antonio. The weather changed last night. It is cloudy again and windy. We are camping at the Pro-Tech RV Service Center. While we are going to New Braunfels I hope they can do something about the steering.

We are lucky; we are camping east of San Antonio. The city is a mess with the largest ice storm in years.
I-10 is closed. In Fredericksburg it is very cold, 14 degrees F. It was 72 degrees when we were there Saturday and Sunday.
We are still here at Pro Tech RV Service, keeping warm and reading, and checking the weather on the TV.
There is no regular programming, only weather related reports. Schools are closed.
We had planned to go to the Alamo and to the Riverwalk today and tomorrow. We have to come back to San Antonio another time. We will be heading east as soon as I-10 opens up. The next storm is coming in two days.
Pro Tech could find nothing wrong with the steering, they said this is typical Ford, very loose. A friend sent us E mail and told us the same.
We each have electric blankets to sleep on. We usually use them a few minutes before we go to bed. Last night I was not macho, at 4:00 AM I turned mine on.
If it is that cold in New Orleans Doreen will not be able to get any beads, she will not part with any clothing when it is cold.
I left San Diego with a bad back and it does not get any better. Getting old is not for sissies. I can not understand why some people want to work into an old age. The average person can not do much past 70.
Some of my friends from past jobs are not alive anymore. One of them died a few months ago, he was 63 years old.

We left Seguin while it was raining and arrived in Beaumont with rain. Fortunately the rain stopped when I started to hook up the utilities.
A highway patrol car with flashing lights kept the traffic at 35 miles per hour for the first 30 miles. We past a few overturned cars and semi trucks. Most of those accidents happened on bridges, there was still ice
on them. Our motorhome was covered with ice and icicles were hanging on the part over the cab.
The trees and bushes and the grass were white. It looked like the pictures on Christmas cards.
Going through Houston was an experience. We listened to truckers when we slowed down because of accidents. One of them thought it should not be that cold so far South. Another one chimed in and was convinced the terrorists control the weather.

It is warmer now and it does not rain anymore. We drove 65 miles today, to Lake Charles, Louisiana.
We will not forget this day so soon. The day started wrong. The entrance sign for interstate 10 was missing and we went over the bridge and ended up in a golf course community. We tried to find a way to turn around but there were only cul-de-sacs. We took a chance in one and Doreen got out and watched me.
I thought I could do it but I left a two foot tire track on the front lawn of an expensive house .
Things got worse when we were near Lake Charles. A tanker truck and a car had collided on the bridge over the lake. We listened to the truckers and followed their advice and left I-10 to turn around and take the I-210 bypass. Since we were near an exit it was easy. It was not easy though to get out of the parking lot of the hotel/casino parking lot where we had to go to turn around. There was a lot of traffic and I was occupied and I forgot about the height of our vehicle. Suddenly I hear noise on top of the motorhome. In my mind I saw the air conditioner sliding off the back of the motorhome. The next bang was the storage box.
I went on the side and stopped. I had hit the top of the front entrance porch of the casino.
I climbed on top of the motorhome and found only scratches on the airconditioner cover. Dumb people are sometimes lucky. I had hit the four inch high swinging sign warning that vehicles over 10feet 8inches have a problem.
The sign was hinged and moved out of the way. I hit it twice, once with the air conditioner and once with the storage box.
The day had a good ending though. We had a leisurely walk on the lakefront in the afternoon and in the evening we visited Bob Dabelow and his family, a friend from Convair and later McDonnel Douglas/Boeing. We had a good conversation, talking about the past and the future.

We arrived in Pearl River at about 2:00 PM. Cliff Taylor's property is next to the river. From the motorhome we have a wonderful view. We met Cliff's house companions, two dogs , a bird and a ferret. Doreen loves the ferret. It is a very clever animal and very friendly. We had dinner together and Cliff and I caught up on Convair stories.

Wow, what a day we had today.
The three of us left the house at 9:00 AM. Cliff took a little detour to show us the NASA facility were he works. Lockheed Martin runs the plant.
They build the large tanks the shuttle is attached to. We arrived at 10:00 AM at the street where Cliff's sister and her husband rent a house for the Mardi Gras weekend. They live in Houston and shared the house with eight of their friends. The house is one block from St. Charles Boulevard where the parade is held. The house was handy for breaks during the parade.
I never could see me attending a parade for ten hours. But here we were leaving at ten PM and the last parade was not finished.

We saw three parades, one after the other. We collected more than 25 pounds of beads. Our chairs were right at the curb. The local people have six foot stepladders with wooden boxes attached to the top. The boxes have one side open for the legs. Two Children were sitting up there.
In the center of the boulevard, the grass portion, people had grills and prepared food.
The floats were very large and some were two stories high. On one float I counted about 50 people throwing beads. With Cliff,s help we had a wonderful day.

Doreen and I went to the French Quarter today. We went to Bourbon Street and then to Jackson Square where ladies can have their breasts painted. And some do. The service is performed in the middle of the plaza while people are watching and taking pictures.
The sky had some blue spots and there was no rain in sight. On Canal Street people were sitting already for tonight's parade.
Doreen did some shopping at the French Market and at the Flea Market. I had a bowel of a rice and crayfish, it was spicy but good.
The French Quarter changed a lot. Thirty years ago there where not so many junk stores. I remember Jazz bands coming down the street. From all that walking we were tired and took a long nap when we came home. Cliff came home from helping to set up the stage for tomorrow’s Mardi Gras Ball. He was tired too. We still had time for a nice conversation.

In the morning Cliff and I went for a boat ride on the river next to his house. He has his own boat dock and keeps a boat and a canoe there. We went upstream in the flooded area beside the river. We actually could have gone through backyards of some of his neighbors. We went around bushes and trees. On the way back we were on the river.

It started to rain in the afternoon. Cliff took us into town and showed us where the auditorium was. He had to leave early because he was in a skit. We left at 7:00 PM and Doreen wore regular pants over the pants of her pants suit and we both wore sneakers. We also wore regular jackets over our dress jackets.
It never stopped raining. I dropped Doreen off at the door and went looking for a parking spot. We had a bag with our dress shoes and changed when we were in the building.
The Mardi Gras Ball started with the introduction of the king and queen and their court. Then the entertainment started. Cliff hat a hit with his Michael Jackson impersonation. He wore a black wig and had the clothing and the glove. He moved like Michael. Four young women accompanied him.
Later they announced that Michael Jackson was on the balcony. He sure was, with a baby dangling over the railing.
When the band started to play most people danced. I tried it a couple of times and got my two left feet going. The line dance numbers were the most popular. Southern people really go for it.
There was plenty of food on the table and when our table neighbors found out that we were from San Diego, they gave us their beads. I did not want to offend them and took them Now we have over 30 pounds of beads in the trunk of the car. This is three shopping bags of beads. Nobody could tell me though why they throw beads at Mardi Gras.
We had a good time and left at midnight. The ball ended at 2:00 AM.

Today are more parades, but we decided to leave. We were very lucky with the weather and did everything we came for; Cliff made it possible.

It is cloudy again today. We went along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and stopped at Biloxi to see Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library.
In Biloxi US 90, a four lane highway, was also a parade route. The two lanes on one side were made a two way highway while the parade was on the other two lanes. We could see all the floats. A women came over and gave us some beads.
We are in a RV Park east of Mobile, Alabama. Since we did not drive much today we vacuumed the motorhome, defrosted the freezer and Doreen cleaned her shoes and put some cream on them.

We drove along the Gulf of Mexico, along sugar white beaches. In Santa Rosa Beach, Florida we got a camp site and went into town. Santa Rosa Beach is a fancy beach community.
My daughter's friend, Kathy, lives there with her family. I called her and found out that she had come home from work with a fever. We could not see her but I talked to her for a while.
Today was the first day we did not use a heater in the morning, we wore summer pajamas and wore shorts during the day. We are in Florida now.

Today was a driving day. We followed the panhandle coastline on highway 98, past Panama City and Port St. Joe. We are staying in the town of Old Town, still on highway 98/19.

We moved 60 miles south ,to Homosassa Springs. In the afternoon we went to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. There they have all the animals and vegetation of Florida, including the Manatees. One can see the Manatees from above water and below water.
Doreen had a once in a lifetime experience. During one of the shows in the park she touched a large black snake. She always told me how scared she is of snakes. When the show was over I went and touched the snake and prodded Doreen to do the same and she did.
Since we were not able to sent or get E mail for a week, we went to the library and checked our E mail.
As soon as we get a RV Park where I have a local number for Juno I will send mail.
Doreen felt like eating out so we ate Chinese. While sitting in the restaurant the sky opened up and it would not stop raining. We made it home and were happy that we had good weather when we needed it.

We went by car to Tarpon Springs, the Greek village. Tarpon Springs calls itself the sponge capital of the world. Sponge divers from Greece arrived in 1905. Doreen did some shopping while I was watching the goings on.
Boats took tourists out to the sponge beds. We had gyros for lunch. Some of the locals still speak Greek.
On the way home we stopped at Weeki Wachee Springs to see the Mermaid show.
The weather was perfect for sightseeing. It was cloudy and warm.

At 8:00 AM we took off for Indian Rocks Beach, a town on the island across from Clearwater. Friends of ours from Elmhurst, Illinois spend part of the winter there.
Their apartment is on the beach and Wolfgang and I enjoyed the warm water of the Gulf while the women watched us from the balcony. When we moved to the swimming pool Doreen and Ilse joined us, not in the water though.

Ilse had a cold and Doreen is not crazy about water. We had lunch at a fish restaurant across from the hotel and then went back to the hotel. First we kept the owner from doing his job for a while. We teased him. In Germany he was a chimney sweep and now he owns a four story hotel and a motel next door. Then we went to the apartment and talked.
It was sunny all day with a few clouds, a super day. We left at 4:30 PM and it started to rain. It rained until we arrived at the RV Park.

Today was a lazy day. We had a large breakfast and then went to the library to check our E mail. From there we went to a small bayou where people let their boat in the water. A petite young woman backed up a boat trailer with a boat with a large propeller in the back.
When she went to park the truck with the trailer I checked out the boat and noticed it had a Wisconsin registration. When I see people from Wisconsin and Illinois I always ask them what town they come from.
She came from Green Bay. We talked for a while about Door County, the peninsula near Green Bay.
Door County is one of my favorite places, we had many good times there.
The young woman is a biologist. She went to check on the whooping cranes they had guided by small plane to Florida. They had raised them in Wisconsin and the birds followed the small plane. We saw that on television.
Then we went to the sugar mill a Union army raiding party had destroyed during the civil war
When we got back I went to the swimming pool and Doreen washed the sheets for the beds. We had raised my mattress and directed an electric heater towards it. We are still fighting a water leak.
I knew there was a leak before we left home and had removed the sealing material from around the window and replaced it with silicone. During the next rain storm we will find out the source of the problem. Today is the first cloudless day since we are in Florida.
People play golf on the roads in the RV Park. I noticed holes on the side of the road with a little red flag beside every hole. Two couples came by hitting balls with a putting iron. They went from street to street

We arrived in Kissimmee, near Orlando, about 12:00 PM. Doreen almost fell into our friends house. literally She started at the driveway. While guiding me when I was backing up the motorhome in Pat's and Ken's driveway she stepped on the edge of the concrete and fell on the concrete instead of the grass. Green spots would have been easier to take care of than lost skin and pride.
Pat told Doreen" Drop in any time Doreen" .
I enjoyed the swimming pool very much in this warm weather. Most houses have screened patios and large screens over and around the pool. Doreen has been bitten many times now by no-see-ums. I had bought her a mosquito suit in Alaska last year. If the she gets more bites she has to wear it.
She will look like the beekeeper from outer space, no mosquito or no-see-ums will come near her.
Pat and Ken have a nice home on a large lot with a super large driveway, ideal for parking a motorhome, and about six cars comfortably.

Today, Doreen and I drove to the Kennedy Space Center. It is located about 60 miles from Kissimmee.
It has changed a lot since I was there the last time. Security is tight. Also 30 years ago there was no shuttle only rockets.
They have a complete Saturn V Rocket in a special display hall. All the stages are separated.

I was interested in the shuttle of course, since I walked past the cargo bay of all the orbiters many times at work. We built the cargo bays at Convair. They have a complete full scale orbiter on display. At the outdoor display area were all the rockets used at NASA. The Convair Atlas rocket was there too.
We saw the IMAX film : The Dream is still alive. In the bus they also showed movies while driving from one area to another. The weather was good and Doreen held up even with some pain from yesterdays fall.

We experienced Disney's magic today. Pat and Ken's daughter is an executive at Disney. She greeted us at the Animal Kingdom cast member entrance and gave Doreen and me a one day hopper re admission ticket.
Pat and Ken have a one year pass which includes parking and has no black out dates.
The park opened at 9:00 AM and since we used the employee entrance there was no waiting in line.
Disney's Animal Kingdom is no zoo. It consists mostly of shows. We started with: "It is tough to be a bug".
This is a 3D animated show. One has to wear goggles. There are many special effects, like the stink bug turns toward the audience and one can feel a spray on the face and hands, and the air smells like the bug really did his business.
The second show we saw was:"Festival of the Lion King". This was a show with humans in animal costumes.
At noon we went to Epcot and had lunch at the Chinese pavilion. Epcot is a must see park. We are very lucky to have friends like Pat and Ken. On our own we would have wasted a lot of time to find our way around. They knew the best exhibits and how to get there. We estimated we walked 12 miles.
This was an accomplishment since all of us had pains. Doreen with her shoulder, I still have back pain, Ken fell on his A** recently and still has pain and Pat is limping because she had an operation on her foot.
The only long line ,we encountered at the General Motors Test Track. The sign said 30 minutes waiting time but is was almost an hour. This gave us a chance to talk.
It is difficult to explain Epcot. It is a park for learning. To get the full benefit one has to come for several days.
Mexico has a fantastic pavilion. I talked to visitors from Austria and they liked the Chinese pavilion. The Chinese have a 360 degrees movie theater and show a film about China. Major countries have pavilions.
It will take me a few days to digest what I saw today.
At 9:00 PM was the fire works/ laser/ light show. It is called: IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
It is staged on three islands in the lake and is produced by Epcot and General Electric. I never saw anything like it before.
For me the day almost ended in disaster. On the way to the car I stepped on the edge of the sidewalk and tripped. I was lucky that I was holding hands with Doreen; she helped me to get my balance back.
It would have been no fun to kiss the concrete.
We came home tired but happy. Doreen usually does not go in the Jacuzzi but today she went in the hot water. I swam a couple of laps and then joined her and Pat and Ken.
We sat in the motorhome for a while to reflect on the days activities. It was a long and wonderful day.. Disney is not only for children.

This was recuperation day from yesterdays fun. We did house cleaning, swimming and laying around the swimming pool. At 5:00 PM Pat, Ken, their daughter Trish and grand children Tanner and Elisabeth, and Doreen and I went to Downtown Disney. Disney has four parks in Orlando and Downtown which is blocks and blocks of shops, restaurants, nightclubs and theaters. Entrance fees are only charged for the nightclub area. We were lucky, there was one hour free admission when we came by and we went in one of the night clubs.
We went to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner. Jackie, Pat and Ken’s other daughter joined us at the restaurant. She asked us whether we would like to come back tomorrow for another visit to one of the parks. We have been at Magic Kingdom before and MGM Studios would have been interesting but we have to keep on rolling. Since is was Friday night there were many people and it was fun to walk on the street with all those happy tourists and locals.

We left Kissimmee at 8:30 AM and arrived at West Palm Beach at 1:30 PM.
The Elks Lodge at West Palm Beach has one site for a motorhome and we got it. After hooking up the electricity we ate lunch and left for Lion Country Safari.
When we came back we blew the breaker. We had the air conditioner on and Doreen had the kettle on for tea. I went to the kitchen where the cooks were preparing a meal for a private party. One of the cooks knew where the electrical panel was and flipped the switch. After the party we were alone on this big parking lot, with our own light post with a 20 Amp outlet. Actually we were not alone. There were four cats around the refuse container and we have house guests, many of them. We have ants, the little ants like we have at the motorhome storage where we live. I think those are Carlsbad ants. We have a battle with them and we have to win.

Today we are in Tavernier, nine mile south of Key Largo. We arrived at noon, but had to drive back nine miles to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to empty our holding tanks.
The Elks camping book said: dump near by. The guy who put that in the book should have to walk there before breakfast to see his mistake.
We wanted to stay only one night but when we saw the view we have from our camp site we signed up for three nights. There are nine spaces with 30 amp electricity and water,we got the last space. We met most of our neighbors at the gazebo at the waters edge.
I went swimming and enjoyed the warm water. When we went to Key Largo in the afternoon I bought a pair of water shoes since my tender feet are no match for the coral.
The vegetation on the keys is similar to Southern California, but more tropical. There are bougainvilleas everywhere and in every color.
It is warm, the breeze from the Gulf makes it bearable though. We ran the air conditioner during the day. At night we opened the windows and ran the two ceiling fans, first to take the hot air out and then to bring the cool air in. I am glad I installed those fans.

What a night we had. At 1:30 AM the thunder and lightning started.
The people at Cape Kennedy told us that Florida is the number two place in the world for lightning fatalities. West Africa is number one. This gives us something to think about while we are here.
I always take in the awning in the evening . Yesterday I did not do it because all my neighbors left their awning out.
The wind played with the awning; I was afraid it would get torn apart. I took off my pajamas and put on jockey shorts and went in the rain and took in the awning. I did not want to get my shorts wet.
After I dried myself and went to bed again I could hear the people two motorhomes from us trying to take their awning in. I opened the window and told the man to push the lever up. The woman asked me to come out to help them. I put on my shorts and went over to their motorhome. By that time there were two men and three woman. The women all wore their long night shirts. All of them were large.
It was a sight. Omar the tent maker must have made those garments.
In a few minutes the awning was rolled up and I was able to go to bed. I checked the window for leaks, and checked the wall below the window. Everything was dry.
A few hours later I woke up and my bed was wet. I took the mattress off the bed and checked the wall with a flashlight. The water came out of the wall four inches below the window where two wall panels are joined.
The joint is covered with wood grained tape and the tape has a one inch tear.
This means the wall is full of water and when the water rises to the tear it comes out. I have to wait till we get home and take the window out and check what is inside the wall and where the water enters the wall.
Doreen thought her side was O.K. but when she felt under the mattress it was wet too.
I slept on the couch the rest of the night and in the morning I stood both mattresses in the hallway for drying.
In the morning the rain was gone and we went to Key West. We got on the Old Town Trolley and went all over the city. One can get off and on at nine different places. The weather was nice, too nice. It was 87 degrees F in the shade and humid. Poor Doreen, she can not live in this weather.
When we came back to Tavernier there was a breeze and it was a few degrees cooler. After dinner we joined our neighbors at the gazebo for some conversation. It was a full moon and dark clouds in the west, no visible sunset.

We have a record heat wave in Southern Florida. Today the temperature was 90 degrees F.
Since we both are sick we took it easy. We went to the library to check our E mail and went to K Mart to buy some Nyquil. The rest of the day I spent in bed. I have a head cold and Doreen a chest cold.

We are still sick. Doreen coughs her head off and I blow my nose constantly. Kleenex is making money.
We drove about 150 miles today, but it took us a long time. US 1 from Tavernier to South Miami was busy and when we got on I-95 we encountered construction sites.
We found a RV Park in Port Saint Lucie. We took showers and enjoyed the air condition in the motorhome. Doreen did not feel like cooking so we went to Red Lobster and had dinner.
There are good days and there are bad days, today was not a good day.
This RV Park has telephone outlets at every site. I can send this report tomorrow morning.
We are heading for cooler weather. South Florida broke the temperature record this week. It has not been that hot since 1942 and they can thank us for that
We left Port St. Lucie at about 10:00 AM. Doreen had gone to the clinic at 8:00 AM; she saw a Doctor and came home with a sore cheek. She had a difficult time sitting after the nurse gave her a shot.
The 150 miles to Daytona Beach felt like a thousand miles.
We had lunch at a rest area and actually took a rest. When we arrived at Daytona Beach Doreen took a nap and I went to the swimming pool to cool off and to gather information about the city. It was in 1975 that I was the last time in Daytona Beach.
Our Campground is located on the International Speedway Blvd. In the afternoon we went looking for a Pharmacy for Doreen,s medication. We stopped at a Walgreen Drugstore and were informed that they do not have a pharmacy anymore. A K-Mart down the street took Doreen,s prescription and we went for a drive on the beach. There were thousands of college kids. There were vendors for food, beach chairs, and motorized vehicles.
The oncoming traffic was stopped for a while. A group of girls in a mustang were digging the back wheels of their car in the sand by using a heavy foot on the accelerator to get out of the hole. The hole got deeper and deeper.
It was wonderful to see all those happy people. We forgot for a while our problems. My breathing is a little bit better but I am weak. Doreen still has a bad cough, and her body hurts.
According to the weatherman it should cool off a bit and get back to normal.
On the way back we picked up Doreen,s $128.00 medication. The Doctor bill was $213.00this included the shot.
At the speedway they have old Harley Davidson motorbikes on display. Since I am not fond of those noisy machines we passed on.

Doreen woke up coughing very heavy and worried about having pneumonia. I offered to bring her to the hospital but she did not want to go to a hospital in Daytona Beach. So I told her we will go to the hospital in St. Augustine.
I went outside to disconnect the utilities and it started to rain. I waited until the rain came down not so heavy and it was not so dark anymore. I put on a poncho and got everything ready. I put the car in the right direction so Doreen only had to get in it and drive behind the motorhome for hook up.
We arrived at the Elks Lodge in St. Augustine at 8:00 AM, a time when most people leave the campground or have breakfast. We set up the motorhome and then went out for breakfast. When we were finished it
started to rain. We went back to the motorhome and went to bed for a short nap,Doreen is more cheerful today and feels a bit more optimistic.
She will give the medication a few days to kick in.
At 1:00 PM it cleared up and we went to the Castillo De San Marcos, a Spanish Fort built in 1672. Then we went to St. George Street, the original Old Town. Doreen had a red face but she held up and did a little shopping. National Guard troops in full gear were patrolling the intersections around the tourist area.
In the evening we had dinner at the lodge and enjoyed the food very much. Unfortunately the atmosphere is not like in Encinitas where there are no table cloths and they use paper napkins. Here it is like in a restaurant, they also have waitresses. So we were not able to talk to people.
Doreen did not want to go to the hospital here in San Augustine. I think she wants to wait until we get to Atlanta where Kaiser Permanente has a facility. Two days ago Kaiser gave her permission to go to any hospital in Florida. Now it is up to her. She is lucky and has no fever though.

We went to bed early last night. At 10:30 PM Doreen woke me up and we went to the emergency room.
There they took X rays and performed a CAT Scan and EKG and blood work.
They found the beginning of pneumonia. First they thought it was a blood clot. Doreen has to get more tests when we get to a Kaiser facility.
We also have to go to a pharmacy for different medication. At 3:45 AM we left the hospital and came home freezing. I wore only shorts and a T shirt which was too much to wear in the last two weeks, but it had cooled off and sitting in the hospital for hours, and being tired did not help either.
We used a blanket to sleep and we did not have to use the air conditioner which made us happy. Weather- wise I think we are back to normal.
I feel better; I am still stuffed up but not weak anymore. Doreen is waiting for all the medication to kick in so she can feel better too. I tried to send E mail from the lodge but could not get a line out. At the library I got into Juno and it was so slow that I could not get or send any mail.
It was a good day. We slept until 7:30 AM, sat around until 10:00 AM and then went to get Doreen's prescription filled. We went home and slept some more and then went to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is 165 feet high and it takes 219 steps to get to the top. We slowly climbed up.
Doreen was very proud when she arrived on top. The panoramic view is something one will not forget soon.
After that climb we went home and Doreen slept for another hour. The medicine makes her drowsy.
We cooked dinner and watched some television.

Georgia gave us a pretty good welcome. The Welcome Center had a dump station so we could empty our tanks and the gas station across the state line advertised gasoline for $ 1.47 a gallon. This is my kind of state.
We arrived at the Savannah KOA at 11:00 AM and since I knew the layout of those parks I went first to the recreation room to check whether Juno has a local number for getting my E mail. I was able to get my E mail in a few minutes and then I went to the office and got a camp site. KOA always has full hook ups and cable hook up.
After lunch we drove down town and took a guided city tour. Savannah is a beautiful city. Since general Sherman spent a lot of energy burning Atlanta he spared Savannah.
The squares with those magnificent old buildings are a wonderful sight. We walked on River Street where I had an ice cream and around City Market a pedestrian zone, no cars in the street, only chairs and tables and colorful umbrellas.
The weather is perfect. For the tour we needed a light jacket and for walking ,shorts and a T shirt.
When we came back to the motorhome Doreen laid on the couch and was gone. The medication makes her tired.
Because of our health problems and the heat in Florida we are seven days early. Unfortunately we were not able to see Freke and Bob, friends of ours from the Chicago area, who live now in Florida.
After Doreen sees physicians at Kaiser in Atlanta we will slow down.

The ride from Savannah to Atlanta was a very pleasant one. The blue sky and the different colors of the trees in bloom made up a palette any painter would have been proud of.
On the side and the middle of Interstate 75 were peach trees and cheery trees in bloom. From the high fir trees were purple wisteria hanging down.
We went to Stone Mountain Park and set up camp. Stone Mountain is a massive dome of granite rising 825 feet above the surrounding plain.
Three giant figures on horses are carved on the north side of the mountain. The figures are Jefferson Davis, Robert E.Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Because of the size of the mountain the figures look small but are nine stories high.
After lunch we went to Kaiser Permanente and Doreen saw a physician assistant. After checking the records from our previous hospital and doctor visits she came to the conclusion that Doreen has a bad case of bronchitis. She suggested that Doreen goes home and takes it from there.
Now we have to speed up the schedule instead of slowing down. We plan on being near St. Louis on April 7, so Doreen can fly home from there if she would like to. It is still open. Flying home from Atlanta would not help much since another CAT Scan can only be taken two weeks after the first.

This morning we went to see the carvings and the park. It is a park in the park and reminded me of Silver Dollar City. We were there at 8:00 AM and walked around all alone. Opening time is 10:00 AM but the gate was open. We enjoyed more trees in bloom.
From Stone Mountain we went again to Kaiser. It took us twice as long to get there as yesterday since we got lost and ended up on the other side of the city.
While Doreen was trying to get her blood checked I talked to a lady and had her give me instructions how to get to the Carter Presidential Library. She wrote it down and we had no problem finding it. Only Doreen had a problem with her blood work; they would not do it since she had forgotten her papers.
The Carter Center is located on a hill overlooking Atlanta. There were hundreds of cherry trees in bloom and when we came near the trees it looked like pink snow was falling from the sky. The wind carried the pedals through the air.
We really enjoyed that sight. The Carter Center was very interesting and I always learn something. While I was in the Army Reserves in the 60's I spent summer camp in Fort Riley and went to the Eisenhower Library from there. We also went to the Nixon Library and enjoyed that even though I was no friend of Nixon.
When we came home to the motorhome Doreen looked for the papers but they were in Carlsbad. After a few telephone calls copies were faxed to Atlanta and we took of for Kaiser.
While driving on the park road a squirrel ran into the side of the car. We heard the noise but saw no squirrel on the road. There is one squirrel with a big headache.

We left for Chattanooga, Tennessee and arrived there at 10:00 AM. The plan was to camp North of the city and then drive back by car to Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls.
I got lost when I-24 forked off and I ended up in the city. Then I followed the signs to Lookout Mountain.
Doreen woke up at that time and helped me look for signs.
We stopped for a few minutes at Ruby Falls and then continued up the mountain. When we reached the top we realized that it was not to smart to do this with a motorhome with a car in tow. The streets were very narrow and no chance to turn around.
We stopped on the street and talked to a motorist from the oncoming direction. He told us to go to Rock City. With about six signs on a post and all pointing in different directions we took the wrong turn again. We finally found a church with a parking lot big enough to turn around. First we had lunch there.
When we came down the mountain we got on I-24 and headed North.
We arrived in Nashville at about 2:00 PM and I got our E mail and then we took it easy. Later we went to Kroger to buy groceries and K Mart to buy some paper products. I got a Kroger card ,that makes it six cards we have so far. We saved 76 cents on our purchase. Sometimes we save several dollars.

Another beautiful day in Nashville. We drove to the Grand Ole Opry to pick up the tickets I had ordered this morning for the Friday evening show.
Then we went to the Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson's mansion. Since only the Jackson family lived in it all the furnishings are original, so is the French wall paper in all the rooms. It was very interesting and educational. Guides in period dress explain things and answer questions.
From American history we went to Greek history by visiting the Parthenon in Centennial Park. It is the only full scale replica of the Greek Parthenon.
By using molds from the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum in London, the builders were able to recreate what the temple looked like before the explosion in 1687.

Inside the Parthenon is the 42 foot high statue of Athena. She is the largest piece of indoor sculpture in the western world. The Parthenon is a very impressive structure and reflects the city’s reputation as the "Athens of the South"
We also wanted to take the tour of the Saturn car manufacturing plant but because of the war no tours are given.
We are feeling better now. Doreen stills coughs and I still blow my nose a lot but things are improving.

Another glorious day in Nashville. In the morning and early afternoon we took it easy. Doreen did the laundry and I checked the engine oil and other things under the hood on both vehicles.
We left for Opryland at 3:00 PM and spent 1- 1/2 hours at Opry Mills, a big fancy shopping mall. Doreen went to the left and I to the right and we met again at 5:00 PM. We sat in a coffee shop for 30 minutes and then went to the Opry Museum. Here they have memorabilia from the big Opry stars. One large room is dedicated to Minnie Pearl. There are cars, living rooms, and a lot of pictures.
At 7:00 PM we walked to the Grand Ole Opry. It is a large building and has wonderful soft seats.
The Opry is a radio show and is the longest running show, more than 76 years.
The announcer introduces the entertainers and does the commercials. Each segment is 30 minutes long and there are five segments, each with a headliner and two or three other entertainers. Since there is no intermission people get up and disappear for a while.
The best segment was with Porter Wagoner. We thought Jimmy Dickens is a bit to old, but fans of his cheered when he was on.
I suppose real fans support their favorite artist no matter what. It was an experience.
On the way home we got lost because of road construction but were lucky to find our way back.
At 3:00 AM I woke up. It was raining and very heavy and my bed was getting wet again. I took the mattress and put it in the hallway and moved to the couch.

When I woke up it had stopped raining but it was still looking like the next storm was coming. I went outside and connected the car to the motorhome and disconnected the utilities.
We tried to leave at seven but two of the hydraulic levelers would not come up to the traveling position. After ten minutes playing with the controls I took a 2x6 and pushed them up. It appears that the ground was so soft because of the rain that the tires sank in the ground and the levelers had no room to swing up.
We arrived in Memphis at Noon and tried to camp at the Elks. I had not checked the map and was not aware that I-40 stops in Memphis and continues west of the city. When we saw the sign: "Freeway Ends" we knew we were in trouble. At a red light we talked to two young man in a pickup truck. They tried to explain how we can get back on I-40 but the light changed and we had to keep on going.
We made a left hand turn at the next light and went in a neighborhood to turn around. This was no place to stop. We knew we had to get out of there. When we got to the next corner the two young man were beside us and wanted to know were we were going. I showed them the Elks book with the little map and address of the lodge. They gave us good direction and told us not to stop until we were out of this neighborhood.
They had turned around and looked for us so they could help us. We meet a lot of wonderful people when we are on the road.
We found the Elks Lodge but did not like the surroundings and went back on I-40 and drove to Graceland.
We missed the entrance to the RV Park next to Graceland and ended up in a parking lot. The guard told us to park in the back and it was free. At Graceland they charge for everything.
We walked next door where Elvis’s airplanes are displayed and bought tickets. I was interested in the Convair 880. It was build in 1958 for Delta. I flew on a Delta 880 in 1961 to Miami for a vacation. At the time I paid no attention of what plane it was but I took the postcard they had in the seat pocket. When I was looking through my Florida folder a few months ago I found the post card and it describes the airplane on the back. The Convair 880 had 96 seats. Elvis converted it. It has a dining/conference room, living room, bed room and fancy toilets. The queen size bed has a giant seat belt across the bed: FAA regulation.
His other jet was a four engine Lockheed JetStar. It seats ten people.
Since it was still early when we finished the tour we took off and got out of the city.
We went I-55 North to US-64 west and went through the country side. We stopped at Village Creek State Park near Parkin, Arkansas and have a nice site with water and electricity.

Since it was cold last night we got up late this morning and left at 8:30 AM. We drove only on small roads to Heber Springs, Arkansas. Our friends live in Ida, a few miles North, on highway 25.
We parked the motorhome on Noel’s sisters property and Noel picked us up with his pickup truck.
Later we went to a fish restaurant for cat fish. All four of us on the front bench of the truck. I offered to drive with our car but we had to get into that Arkansas Cadillac.
The cat fish and hush puppies were very good. We stayed only a few hours since both had operations in the last few days.
Noel and I were stationed in Frankfurt, Germany in 1962 and 1963 and kept in touch over the years.
In Clinton, about 100 miles south of Branson, we found a RV Park and settled for the night.

I had called Jim Faulkner last night and told Karen that we would be in Harrison today at about 10:00 AM and that I would call them from the Walmart.
When we arrived at the Walmart store at 9:45 AM, Doreen went in the store and I went to the telephone to call Jim. A SUV stopped near the telephone and people called me; it was Karen and Jim. I ran into the store and told Doreen.
They took us to their home and we had a good many laughs. As you Ex Convair people know, Jim can be very funny.
In the early afternoon Karen and Jim took us back to the motorhome and we drove the 60 miles to Branson.
We had four RV Parks to choose from to get half price camping fees. We drove into the first park and set up camp.
After some rest we drove into Branson to buy tickets for some shows. We were late and have to go back tomorrow morning.
This was another good day, excellent weather, and meeting good friends. And on television they had André Rieu with a program: ''100 years Johann Strauss" This program was a perfect ending for a super day.
The day almost started with an accident. On the way to Harrison a wild turkey dive bombed us. We saw it try to get across the highway and heard the bump on the roof.
I asked Doreen whether she would like turkey dinner for tonight. Of course she felt sorry for the bird. I was worried about what I would find up there, a dead or wounded turkey, a smashed air conditioner cowling or
a broken solar panel.
When I climbed on the roof I found only a bent CB antenna. It will be bent forever. The coiled portion of the antenna is stretched and will not go back to its original shape. It will be a reminder of seeing an ugly bird trying to fly like an eagle.

This morning we went to buy tickets for three shows and then went to a small mall to look around and to the Branson Belle Showboat..
At 3:00 PM we went to the Pierce Arrow Theater for our first show. Pierce Arrow is a combination of Statler Brothers and Oakridge Boys with a very good comedian to provide the laughs.
We liked the show very much.
We had front row seats and sat beside a couple who spent three months every year in Escondido. After talking to them for a while we found out that they were square dancing with a couple who live in our park and we know them.
We both feel fine now and the weather here agrees with us. Because of our previous health problems we are 14 days ahead of schedule.
We did not visit our friends Freke and Bob Fehlberg in Florida and David
Wydish in Carolina.

Spring is coming to the Ozark Mountains. The fruit and dogwood trees are in bloom and some of the big trees have tiny leaves. In a few days all the trees will be totally covered with leaves. Monday, when we came to Branson the trees were still bare. The heat wave is speeding up the process.
It is a beautiful sight and quite different from winter 1961 when I spent four months in Fort Leonard Wood for basic and advanced training. 25 degrees below zero was the temperature when we marched to the rifle range. I was taken out of formation and driven to the hospital. I had white ears and red spots on my face.
The German measles kept me in the hospital for five days. The frost bites on my ears were no problem.
This morning we slept until 8:00 AM and after breakfast did some reading and house cleaning. We took it easy.
At 2:00 PM we went to the "Lost in the 50,s" show. It was very good. The music ranged from the Everly Brothers to Elvis. The Elvis impersonator was excellent and looked like him.
After the show we went to the clock shop were our friend Jim Faulkner spends two days a week. We talked to him for a while and then went home.
On the way home the sun was setting ,and going along Table Rock Lake with the red sun above the mountains was a spectacular sight.

In the morning we went to the "50,s mall". There is a Happy Days Diner and other stores from the fifties.
While walking around we saw the advertisement for " A tribute to Red Skelton ". Since both of us were fans of Red Skelton we bought tickets.
We went to the show at 2:00 PM. It is a one man show. Tom Mullica has the facial expressions and the voice of Red Skelton. Freddy the Freeloader, Clem Kadiddlehopper and the other characters made me laugh. At one point he stopped and pointed to me and said:" You people laugh at him more than at my act".
At 7:30 PM we went to the Shoji Tabuchi Show. This is the top show in Branson.
Not only is the show tops; the toilets are also without equal. The Madonna Inn and the Finistera Hotel in Cabo St. Lucas can not come close. People were talking about the restrooms before the show.

Today was a driving day. We left Branson at 6:00 AM and headed south on US 65 to Little Rock. From there we went on I-30 to Texarcana. Then we went on US 59 to Nacogdoches. This is the oldest town in Texas. We stayed there for the night.
We were running short of Propane and I was looking for a place to fill up the tank. I finally found a gas station which had propane. The attendant put on the fitting and hose but nothing happened. After a while he gave up.
When I found another place I told the person there what happened before. He had the same problem but had enough experience to fill the tank. He used a screw driver to push the safety piston up. I have to check out the safety valve.

Today we received some Chinese history lessons. We visited the "Forbidden Gardens" in Katy, Texas.
Katy is located about ten miles west of Houston.
It is a replica of the Forbidden City in China. Some of the buildings are full size and the rest are scaled down.
There is also a scaled down City of Sozhou, which is the Venice of China. Most interesting was the First Emperor's Terra Cotta Army. Some of the soldiers are full size and hundreds of them are 1/3 scale. It is an impressive sight.
Qin Shihuang was the founder and first ruler of unified China. He ordered the construction of the Great Wall.
Because of the weather we had on our way east we had to skip this visit. Today was a perfect day to make up for it.
It was a pleasure to drive west on I-10 from Katy. Along the interstate were flowers of many colors. Sometimes it looked like carpets were put on the banks along the road.
In my mind I could see Lady Bird Johnson walk along the road with a basket full of wild flower seeds and throwing the seeds everywhere.
We stopped again in Sequin at the RV repair facility. Eight of the twelve sites were taken. Some of the people have appointments for Monday. Since there is no work performed on Saturday and Sunday nobody is there to collect money. We took a site and will pay Monday morning when we leave.
This is the least expensive place on our trip. When repairs are performed there is no charge, otherwise the charge is $13.00 per night. We pay half price which is $6.50.

It looked like the weather god did not want us to go to San Antonio. When we woke up it was going to rain any minute. We drove into the city anyway. At least it was no ice storm like seven weeks ago.
We parked at the Rivercenter Shopping Mall which is adjacent to the Riverwalk.
We walked the Riverwalk one side up and the other side back. There are restaurants and shops on either side of the river and river taxis bring people up and down the river.
It is a very colorful sight. Flowers and trees are in bloom right now. We enjoyed this walk and wish the San Diego people in power would have gone through with the plan to cut a canal from Mission Bay to San Diego Bay and create a river walk.
When it started to rain we went to a restaurant and had lunch. The rain did not last very long.
After lunch we walked to the Alamo and spent some time there. There is a lot of history and a good chance to separate the truth from the hype. People need heroes even if it takes to bent the truth a bit to create
We enjoyed San Antonio very much and hope to stay longer next time when Doreen feels better.

All the sites at the Pro-Tech RV Service Center were filled up last night. When I went at 7:30 AM this morning to pay the fees and get my E mail, five man were standing at the door, including both my neighbors.
One neighbor was there already at 7:00 AM. The doors open at 8:00 AM and who is first in line gets worked on his motorhome first. Since we had 30 minutes to kill we tried to solve some of the world problems.
This was another driving day. After we left the Texas Hill Country behind there was not much to see. The countryside looks like the California High Desert, little bushes everywhere and not much grass. The poor cattle loose weight looking for something to eat. We stayed the night at Balmorhea, Texas.
Doreen was still talking about the Riverwalk in San Antonio, she really liked it.
While driving I noticed the signs:" Cross Winds". I never see any signs:" Back Winds", I rather would have that. I would not mind a little push on the back of that big box.
This motorhome is a pleasure to drive though, other than the steering. The big engine takes the hills very good, even with the car in tow.
Driving the other motorhome made me tired when we were going up a hill. I was helping the engine.
Today was the last day for cheap gasoline, $1.38 for a gallon.

Another driving day. The weather is perfect for driving, blue skies and cool temperatures. Sometimes the wind came up and that was no fun. We set up camp in Bowie, Arizona.

We arrived at Kartchner Caverns at 8:00 AM. The Caverns are near Benson, Arizona.
The first tour of the caverns we could have gotten was at 12:30 PM. We chose the 4:20 PM tour, set up the motorhome at the campground, and left for Tombstone.
Our first stop was at the Boot Hill Cemetery, where the people killed at the OK Corral are buried.
Actually most of the people which are buried there were shot. 1882 was not a good year for living in Tombstone.
We spent a few hours in Tombstone and then drove back to Kartchner State Park. We took a nap and then went to the cavern visitor center. We saw a movie and then went on the cavern tour. The cavern is still alive. The stalactites and stalagmites are still growing.
Only 500 people are taken each day into the cavern. This is the last day of this vacation. The rest of the time is only driving.
We started this vacation with a visit to Carlsbad Caverns and ended it with the Kartchner Caverns.

We drove to El Centro today. This is familiar territory. We needed the dash air conditioner; it was warm in the desert. As soon as we came to the RV Park I jumped in the swimming pool.

We have arrived at home safely. Now we have to go grocery shopping and go through the mail.
We want to thank everybody who stayed in touch with us per E mail. We will get back to you as soon as we get straightened out.
Doreen and Richard.

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