Saturday, December 24, 2005

Newspapers

While reading my siblings blogs the past few days, I suddenly realized that part of the world still reads newspapers. When we lived in Southern California we subscribed to the LA Times and I ritually read it every morning while drinking my coffee. Then we moved to New Mexico and we subscribed while we lived in town for the first six months, but when we moved to the East Mountains we dropped it. It was available for delivery, but we just didn't subscribe for some reason.

So for at least 20 years now we have not had regular newspaper delivery. Every once in a while we buy one if we are looking for something in the classified section, but otherwise we get all our news from the internet, radio and TV. When travelling I often get a copy of USA Today shoved under my hotel door and I look through it while trying to down that horrible coffee they put in most hotel rooms, but I find that the news is several hours old and I can find out what is really going on by checking several of the news websites or turning on the TV. I will often visit various newspaper websites as well, including the LA Times. When some story strikes a chord, I have a great research tool alread at my fingertips. (Just be sure to have your popup blocker turned on when visiting newspaper sites!)

I did a little research and learned that newspaper readership is definitely declining. I wonder how much longer the paper version will be with us?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Update

Richard saw the doctor yesterday. He wants to do a disk-o-gram next. It involves shooting dye into three disks to determine if the pain is truly from that one disk. He then goes immediately for a CT scan to determine the full extent of the injury. The results of these two procedures will determine where he goes from there. He won't do this until after the first of the year.

A possible next step would be to place a wire within the disk to cause it to create scar tissue around it which would fuse it. If this doesn't work then surgery would be the final option. He isn't opposed to surgery if it will fix and not mask his problem. We both have a lot of confidence in Dr. Powell and feel the surgeon he would recommend would be the right one. Of course, we'll investigate everything thoroughly before making any final decision.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

New Arrival

We are the proud parents of a brand new, baby, Whirlpool, front-loading washing machine. I went to use our old one yesterday and found that in seven days it had died. Richard checked it out and determined it to be headed for the dumpster. We had been looking at and talking about the new front-loaders. You can get a lot more in them, they use a lot less water, soap & electricity and this one has 11 cycles where my old one only had four. Dayna & Chris got one several months ago and they love it. I'm having to learn how to do laundry all over as this one doesn't even want you to use bleach! So far, I'm lovin' it.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

This 'n' That

Richard just got back from another week in Rochester, MN. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and was above 10º most of the time. He had purchased pants and a face mask that snowmobilers use last week, it was so cold. Hopefully he'll not have to wear them again! The water in our house froze the other week he was in MN as we had comparable weather here. I'm so glad it's not that cold all the time. I never expected the Dallas area to be cold in the winter.

I have been trying to embroider some shirts for Mom L. My machine is giving me fits so I am going to take it into the store I purchased it from next week to see if they can help figure out what's wrong. It's about 40 miles from here so I don't like going there. I had planned on doing many shirts for Christmas, even purchased them, but it's not going to happen. Very frustrating.

Richard had another LESI a week ago Friday. It hasn't helped and he's in pain all the time. He goes to the doctor again on Monday so I'm sure the discussion will be about surgery. The doctor did say there was one other procedure he could try before the surgery so we'll see.

Dayna was in GA & AL this week so Darin and Diane drove down to see her one evening. R & I will be going to TN with Deidra & Dom the week after Christmas. Dom wants to be home for his birthday so we'll be home on the 31st. He's never had a birthday party with friends so he's really excited about having one.

I found a gingerbread nativity set and will be making that with Dee & Dom this week. Dom said he doesn't want to eat baby Jesus. Guess he'll let someone else have that piece. They really enjoyed the one we did last year - traditional house - so we're looking forward to putting this one together.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

DAR

I know this will bore most of you, but it's a major accomplishment for me as it's taken me the better part of three years to get there. I just received word that I have been accepted into DAR. I sent my application in to headquarters a few months ago. It takes them quite awhile to go through your documents to ascertain their veracity and then the membership committee doesn't meet but once a quarter.

I've discovered in getting acquainted with the ladies in my chapter that most of them are history buffs or teachers. They really love that aspect of it. They know many of the authors of the proofs I sent in and can tell you where to look for that one illusive piece of information you're trying to find.

And they don't stop at being a member of just one organization. I had no idea how many there are. Here, in Texas, we have the Daughters of the Texas Republic for those who had ancestors here before a certain date, of course, the Mayflower Society, the Jamestowne Society (which I just found by someone reading my website - thank you, Daryl! - I could become a member of), and many others.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Who's bright idea was this???!!!

Just a quick update. I arrived in Rochester, MN at 8:30 this evening. It is 2 below zero and the wind is about 12 mph. The wind chill is -19. What am I doing here?????????

Friday, December 2, 2005

December Update

I know its been along time since we updated this, but I can't seem to get Dianna interested in keeping this up to date. She seems to think we need to have exciting things to talk about before we post. Well, there is nothing real exciting going on, but I am going to bring you all up to date anyway.

I had the ESI and had hopes it would help. Unfortunately, it did not seem to help at all. I have slowly improved just as I usually do after these major episodes. My back still hurts considerably and I get major stabs of pain if I move wrong or try to lift anything heavy. I went in again today for my second ESI and it is way to early to tell if this one does any more than the last.

Both injections were done under general anesthesia. I had not been "under" since oral surgery over 30 years ago. Sure is a nice way to go. The drugs they used were very mild but still very effective. I went to sleep quickly and woke up quickly with almost no after effects.

We had Thanskgiving with the Jennings. Turkey and all the trimmings.

I leave this Sunday night for Rochester, MN for two weeks. I return next Friday afternoon but go back again next Sunday. I know, I know -- this is the wrong time to go to MN. The highest temperature predicted during the new two weeks is 30 with the average closer to 18. The lows are single digits. I am going to the IBM Benchmark Center to do some work for CVS, one of Perot Systems customers and the company I spend most of my time supporting.

Speaking of Perot, there were three of my team standing at the new aquarium at the exit to the company cafeteria yesterday. We were admiring the fish and some of the strange critters in the tank when Mr. Perot (the elder) walked up behind us and began explaining what everything was and his plans for new specimens. Our campus is full of his memoribilla. It feels more like a museum than an office. If I had $2.4 billion (with a B) I don't think I would be spending much time in any office. But to each his own.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Surgery ?

We met with the Dr. who showed us the MRI. All the discs except the second one from the bottom are sharp and crisp, just as they should be. But the second disc is fuzzy mush. Even to the untrained eye it is obvious that it is not right.

The doctor says his disc has degenerated a lot from last year when Richard first went to see him. He gave him three options; to do nothing, have a series of ESIs (Epidural Steroid Injection) to reduce the inflammation and help with the pain, and/or do surgery. Dr. Powell said he can do a minimally invasive procedure to fix the disc.

Obviously, doing nothing, is not the answer. He's to go in for his first ESI this morning and wants the surgery for a permanent fix. Richard told him he doesn't want to come back every six months to a year for injections and have to baby his back in between. If there's a fix he wants it done. And he wants it done while we've still got company insurance. So, depending on how many injections, how often (once a week or every two weeks depending on the relief he gets) and when the doctor can get approval from the insurance company he's looking at surgery, probably, after the first of the year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Ain't it fun getting old? Not...

After our move this weekend Richard was still moving gingerly and had planned on going to work today. That it, he was until he took a shower to get ready. He almost couldn't get out of the shower. He is in a lot of pain, the worst he's ever been.

I made him call the doctor and he was worked in this morning. The doctor took X-rays and saw that his disk looked worse than last time (about a year ago) and wanted him get an MRI, too. Fortunately, they had an opening after lunch so we went and got a bite to eat & then came back for that. He is scheduled to go back to the doctor on Thursday to review the results.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Moving Day

After some discussion Richard & I decided we needed to move closer to Dayna's family to help out with the grandkids while she's gone each month. We are packing up this weekend and will move tomorrow. Our month is up here on Monday so it's a good time to move. Richard is still moving very slow because of his back so I have done more than I usually do outside to get ready. Chris came and helped us move some big things to our storage unit.

We were going to move today but when we went to make arrangements at the new place an overnighter has pulled into the spot we want. They will be there through tonight. So best laid plans and all that.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Comings and Goings in California

I decided I need to update the blog on my trip to California (even though there isn't much to tell) before Richard starts nagging at me. He's home today as he can hardly move. He has a degenerative place in his spine and when it flares up (Mom L. understands all too well) it takes days for him to recover. Most of the time his medication gets him through the day.

Mom asked everyone to come to their house early on the 22nd as she wanted us gals to go through her jewelry and pick out pieces we want. She will then give them to us as Christmas or birthday presents over the next few years. She and Daddy both love jewelry so she has some beautiful and expensive pieces. I picked out things to give our kids and grandkids as well as myself so really enjoyed myself. Julie and Tina did the same, with their daughters there to help choose. We then had a nice family dinner at the Odyssey, a fancy restaurant, that evening.

Mom and I were going to go up north on Monday to visit the Esaus for a few days. Daddy had an anxiety attack on Sunday about Mom being gone (even though Marie has moved in with them and would be there except for the hours she was at work) so we didn't go. We were all (except Daddy) disappointed that we weren't able to make the trip as it's been several years since the sisters have seen each other. Uncle Linc was in the hospital a few weeks ago and we had a real scare with the first diagnosis but, praise God, it wasn't that serious and he was home within a couple of days.

I spent most of my time chauffering Mom and Dad to doctor appointments, running errands and shopping (Mom's favorite activity!).

Mom is down to less than 95 lbs. and Daddy is around 130. Their weight has us all concerned but there's not much any of us can do. Mom forgets to drink her Ensure and we can't get Daddy out walking to build up his strength and give him a bigger appetite.

Starting Wed., for 30 days, Daddy will be having radiation on a spot on his chin to kill the rest of the cancer the surgeon didn't get on Oct. 7. I went with him to the audiologist who told us he isn't a candidate for a cochlear implant. We all thought it would give him a better quality of life if he could hear but if hearing aids give any benefit to the patient they won't do the procedure. Julie will be going with him to the optometrist next week to see about his sight. He has macular degeneration and we're all concerned about him continuing to drive. He's not ready to give it up so hopefully, the optometrist can give them a better idea about that issue.

All in all they are in fair health, just getting more frail. It's so hard to watch the decline and know their end is drawing near. Daddy won't move to a retirement home as he couldn't handle the change and strangers. Mom would be fine with a great social outlet for her. So they will remain in their home until one of them is gone. Then we will have to make some hard decisions. I'm so thankful Julie and Greg and Marie are there to keep an eye on them and help out. Marie works at the hospital they both go to when hospitalized so that is a big plus!

It's always hard to come home after these visits and they never want me to leave but I tell them they would have a fight on their hands from my husband if I were to stay any longer! So until my next visit.....

Saturday, October 22, 2005

USS Salem & JFK

I'm spending the weekend in Rhode Island again and have a free Saturday so I decided to visit the USS Salem in Quincy, MA. Quincy is just south of Boston, about 40 miles from where I am. I checked out their website and thought it looked like an interesting ship to see. It was a tough place to find due to the lack of signs, winding roads and the fact that I forgot to bring my GPS receiver. As I pulled up I saw signs about a haunted ship thing going on for Halloween and when I walked up to the entry I was told the ship was closed for tours. I was really bummed, but probably not as much as another man who arrived just as I did. He came from California just to visit the ship which he had served on many years ago. Pretty poor way to run a visitor attraction if you ask me.

So, since that was out of the question I decided to visit the JFK Library and Museum located at the University of Mass. just a few miles away. I have visited several other Presidential Libraries including Reagan's, Nixon's, Truman's and Eisenhower's. This one is OK as these things go but I probably enjoyed it the least of any I have visited. Perhaps that is because we have been so bombarded with information on his life already that there was really nothing much new to learn. It's a dark, wet, dreary day in New England and not much fun to be outside so it was a good way to kill a couple hours. Unless you are a big Kennedy fan I would not waste my time.


Dianna is in California visiting her family so we are on opposite sides of the continent. Last night we played cribbage against each other on Pogo. Amazing how computers and the internet let us stay in such close touch regardless of where we are.

I'll let her tell you about her goings on.

Monday, October 10, 2005

New job!

I was just getting ready to post that we would be moving the end of the month when Dayna called to tell me that Chris was just offered a position with Peterbilt! Their headquarters and one of their three assembly plants are in Denton.

We talked with Dayna and Chris this weekend about us moving closer to them so we could have the kids overnight the two weeks a month Dayna is on the road. Neither were wanting us to make that sacrifice (the park near them is nowhere near as nice & is right on a major highway so lots of road noise) but they couldn't think of any alternative solution.

He will be working the swing shift so he'll be home in the mornings to get the kids off to school. They have good neighbors to watch them until Chris gets home. The plant is only about 15 miles from their home compared with the 40 he's currently driving. That's an added plus with the high cost of fuel right now. Benefits will be better and it sounds like a much better company to work for. Praise God for many new blessings in their lives.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Promotion!

As many of you know, Dayna works in the corporate office of Sally Beauty Supply in the accounting department. She has been working on her accounting degree through University of Phoenix for 2½ years now, planning on becoming an auditor. She applied for a position as auditor a couple of weeks ago and had her interview last week. She received word today that she was selected for the position! She is the first they've hired without a degree so she has a lot to be proud of.

The position is going to mean traveling about two weeks out of every four. Chris is still working nights (still no word from Peterbilt) and so this is going to present some challenges for home life. There is an RV park across the main highway from their house that we've told them we would move to if it would help them out. Deidra and Dominic could come to our place to spend the night the evenings Dayna is out of town. After the first of the year Chris is going to look for a day job so he would be home in the evenings.

She is really excited about her new job and the opportunity for travel. She'll go to one area for a whole week, auditing all the stores in one district. Her new supervisor, knowing how difficult the travel is on families, does his best to make it easier. If the auditor has family in a certain part of the country he will send the auditor to that place so he/she can spend some time with other family members.

Dayna and Chris know it's going to be hard but are more than anxious to see her move up in the company. By the time she has her degree (in a year and a half) she will, more than likely, go into a supervisory role there or on to another company.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Nautilus

I'm in Rhode Island again for a few days and had some free time this afternoon. I decided to drive down to Groton, CT to visit the Submarine Force Library and Museum. Electric Boat Company is based here and built many of the subs used by the US Navy over the years. This includes the Nautilus, the first nuclear sub in the world which is on display there.

The Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980, having been made obsolete many years before. She was built using the form of the WW II subs that spent most of their time on the surface, only diving when necessary. Subs now are built to operate under water and have a round front instead of a bow like a ship. The Nautilus was the first sub to visit the North Pole and to cross from the Pacific to the Atlantic through the Artic Ocean.

I have toured many WWII subs and they were all small and cramped. The Nautilus had much more space and felt less claustrophobic than earlier subs. The newest Ohio class subs are much, much larger so they would be something to see.

Only the forward areas of the Nautilus are open for visiting. Even though they have removed the reactor, there is still some residual radioactivity and they will not let you near that area of the sub. They say it is perfectly safe, but they are either being overly cautious or there are still aspects of nuclear propulsion systems they don't want the public to see.

It was a fun afternoon. Here are some pictures if you're interested: Photos

Friday, September 23, 2005

Family Hurricane Evacuees

Wednesday evening I called Cindy to find out what their plans were since they were under a mandatory evacuation. I offered our camper or Dayna's home as a refuge. She told us they were going to make a final decision yesterday morning as to their plans. We haven't heard from them since so don't know what they finally decided to do. . . Just got word from Mom Lafferty that they decided to stay put; traffic, pets, vehicles running out of fuel, etc.

I'm sure you're hearing the town of Beaumont being mentioned in the news as a place the hurricane is headed for. That's where Brian is going to college, at Lamar University. From the sounds of things it may be awhile before he is able to go back.

I hadn't heard he'd been drafted by the Houston Astros but had to turn down their offer as he'd already registered for school. They have an excellent pitching coach staff there and in three years, when he's eligible for the draft again, he'll be a much improved pitcher and will be able to garner a better contract. So look for the name Brian Needham in a few years as a rising baseball star!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hurricane Relief

I had wanted to do something to help the evacuees from Hurricane Katrina so two ladies from the park and I drove to Dallas yesterday to work in Salvation Army's warehouse sorting donated items. They also serve meals at Reunion Arena and the convention center but by the time I got ahold of someone they had the meals covered. So we went to one of their warehouses only to be told they needed us at a different one. We managed to get lost on our way to that one but, after asking for directions (I know - this is a foreign concept to you men out there!), we found it.

It is an absolutely huge building and we were in only one of many they had there. It was hot, too. No air conditioning. It was an unbelievable site to see what all has been donated for the hurricane victims---and this just in the Dallas area. They are no longer accepting clothes as that is the first thing people think of in times of disasters. But, like one of the women said yesterday, "People don't die from lack of clothes. They die from lack of food, and shelter and water."

We worked in the personal hygiene section. A lot of the donations came from businesses as the wrappings were still on many of the items. Most of the rest was new but some people just emptied their medicine cabinets and donated partially used items (which were promptly thrown out).

We didn't stay as long as I had planned as one of the ladies was not doing well with the heat. But it was an wonderful experience to see the outpouring of caring and support by so many to help others. To see what all has been given and to see so many volunteers in action.

When we got home I realized I hadn't taken my key with me! So I went to a few neighbors and asked if I could try their keys in the lock. Of course, none of them worked. So I finally called Richard to tell him of my plight. He had gone in to work late yesterday so I really didn't think he'd come home early for me. But a little over an hour later he called me on my cell to ask me how many men would drive home on a scooter in a thunderstorm to rescue their wives. I told him, "not many"! I was so grateful he had!!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Slides

I've been scanning slides again. I am just about finished with the job. I haven't counted them yet, but I think I will end up with well over 2,000. Some are in pretty bad shape, and the colors in many have not held up as well as I thought they would. Digital photography will solve this problem forever.

Anyway, I have posted a few photos that some of you all might be interested in, or not. They are just a sampling of what I have been finding. Check them out here if you like.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Doctors, Hospitals and More Doctors

Sunday we got word that Mom Widener is in the hospital. She had severe abdominal pains and headache. At first they thought it was her old diverticulitis acting up again but when the surgeon who performed her surgery last year saw her yesterday he told her she can't get it again since she had had the surgery. I guess they finally decided she has a partial bowel obstruction and, hopefully, laxatives and more fiber in her diet will resolve the situation. She was due to come home today.

I donated blood on Monday and had a mammogram (the highlight event of my year!) and blood work done yesterday. I received a call from the doctor's office this afternoon and was informed my cholesterol and triglycerides are way high. I asked if my having given blood less than 24 hours before doing the blood work would have made any difference and was told it wouldn't. Cholesterol is 233 and triglycerides are 293 where normal is 150. I eat low fat and though don't do as much exercising as I used to I can't figure out what could be causing this. So I now have an appt. with a PCP next week to, probably, start on some medication. They told me today that diet and exercise alone won't drop the cholesterol to the healthy range and won't help the triglyceride level at all. This is not what I had wanted to hear today!

Daddy found out yesterday he has to have more surgery on his face next month. He's to see his PCP today to see if he can handle the surgery. His surgery is scheduled for the 7th and I will be there on the 18th for about 10 days.

Don't we just love going to doctors when we get older?!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Grandparents' Day

Yesterday was designated Grandparents' Day at the Denton schools. Both grandkids called and invited me to join them for lunch. Unfortunately, the time constraints of getting from one school to the other wouldn't allow me to get to both. I went to Deidra's school last year so felt I should go to Dom's this year. One set of grandparents, from his class, was there for the morning school session but I was the only one, from any class, there for lunch. I was surprised as there were many at Deidra's school last year. Dom wanted me to go to recess, too, so I went and played ball with him and several other students. I'm glad I had the opportunity to go; he seemed very pleased I made the effort.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Labor Day Ride

It was a long weekend and we had no major plans so Monday afternoon we took a scooter ride to Lake Bridgeport, a lake about 50 miles west of us. We were surprised at how little traffic there was on the roads and how few boats were on the lake. Perhaps the cost of fuel changed a lot of plans.

We took the main road, highway 380, on the way out but returned on local roads. I have a GPS on the scooter so it makes finding the local roads possible. We would never be able to take such routes without it.

We were out all afternoon and traveled about 150 miles. We got 64 MPG for the trip.

Friday, September 2, 2005

Boy, did I luck out!

I had no idea that gas would be over $3 per gallon when I bought my scooter a couple months ago, but it sure has worked out. It now costs me about $3 per day to go to work, whereas it would be costing $18 per day if I was still driving the truck. That works out to over $300 a month savings.

I was in the motorcycle shop yesterday to pick up a couple screws and the place was crawling with people. Every cycle and scooter had a large hand lettered sticker on it with the estimated gas milage posted.

I am seeing a lot more motorcycles and scooters on the road this week than ever before. Last night on my way home from work, I stopped at a stop sign along side another motorcyclist. In my rearview mirror I watched two other motorcycles pull up behind us. Four of us sitting at the same stop sign!

If anyone wants to know what to get me for Christmas, think about an electrically heated jumpsuit and gloves. I fear I may be riding the scooter for quite a while. Gas may come down in price in the future, but I really think the days of cheap transportation in this country are gone forever.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Spammers

Our blog started getting hit with spam about the same time Donna's did, so I installed the same security tool she and Don are using. I had some issues getting it installed properly, but Don's second pair of eyes helped me find my typo. Thanks Don.

Most of the spam I get is related to prescription drug sales. I don't know why that seems to be so prevalent, but I get almost no pornographic spam at all. Can you imagine how productive these spammers could be if they focused their talent on something beneficial? People say they wouldn't do it if it were not profitable, but I cannot imagine who would look at this stuff seriously, never mind actually responding to these sales pitches.

I don't know what the answer is to this, but it seems something needs to be done. I know it is very difficult to police even if there were legislation in place, since much of it comes from outside the US, but why should we be surrendering so much of our bandwidth and disk space to these people without a fight?

Anyone have any thoughts about this?

Monday, August 22, 2005

We've got pictures!

We finally put pictures of our trip in the gallery so you can now see a little of what we saw. It's very hard to get the scale of many of the sights from a photo so we limited ourselves to highlights. To get there click on Gallery under Other Links to the right. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Congratulations!

to Heather and Mark! We understand we have another grand nephew on the way! We're thrilled for you and pray your pregnancy and delivery are uneventful.

"Chatted" w/Mom Lafferty (I don't know how else to differentiate between them!) this morning and we've decided life's just too expensive to continue living. One of her meds has gone up dramatically and her rent will be increasing soon. Our home phone, Richard's cell phone and PDA have all gone out. Chris and Dayna's house payment and insurance costs have gone up about $550 a month, prompting Chris to look into getting a second job. Darin and Diane's refrigerator is, literally, falling apart at the seams. What else?!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Wash Day

Got our house put back together and cleaned Sunday. It sure needed it. Richard was glad for the day to catch his breath before heading back to work Monday. Had to learn how to wash dishes the old fashioned way, by boiling water on the stove!

He ordered a new controller yesterday and it arrived today. So I've spent the evening doing many loads of wash.

He found his drive to work is 20-30 minutes longer than before we left. Part of that is because school is now in session. He'd really like to find another place to live that's closer. We checked out all the other parks in the area before we moved here so am not sure where he expects to find something. I can certainly understand him not wanting to drive 1½ hours to work. Don't know what the answer is.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

We're Home

Drove Pike's Peak Wed. morning. Another hair raising adventure. I had decided I was going to walk back down the mountain if Richard drove faster than I was comfortable with. Fortunately we were behind a road grader all the way down so it was a nice, slow trip.

We kept watching the temperature drop and it was 45º by the time we got to 14,100 feet. We all enjoyed the breathtaking views from on top.

They are in the process of paving the road; a controversial project for many years due to all the races there. It will certainly make the drive for most people more enjoyable but we can understand the concerns of others.

We didn't get to Cave of the Winds or any place else in the area. Everything in and around Colorado Springs is quite expensive so we just went back to our campground for the kids to swim, etc. in the afternoon. Just to drive across Royal Gorge was going to cost about $35! It's sad to see how much of our nation's natural beauty has become so commercialized.

Thursday we headed east having decided to drive a little out of our way to go to Abilene, KS and see Eisenhower's library. His home is there, as well as the visitor's center, museum, library, and meditation room - a small chapel where he, his wife, Mamie, and their first son are buried. It was quite a history lesson for the kids - for us all, really.

Stayed someplace in Kansas that evening and then pushed on toward TX yesterday. That day's travels turned into quite an adventure! We were listening to our weather radio and were warned about severe thunderstorms in the area we were heading toward. They weren't kidding! All of a sudden we heard and saw a very loud crack/boom and felt the hair on our necks stand up. The truck or trailer had been hit by lightning. The truck coasted to a stop, having lost its electronics. Richard turned the ignition off and, fortunately, was able to restart it. The strike was close enough to "shock" the electronics, but not destroy them. I know it took awhile for all of us to catch our breath after that.

Last night we soon discovered that wasn't the only thing affected. We had no hot water. The controller in the water heater was fried. We'll have to order a new one next week.

Stayed in Kansas, at the Oklahoma border last night, and then drove on back to Denton today, arriving around 3 p.m. We probably drove over 3,000 miles altogether as I know we had to fill up twice. Since fuel prices jumped up dramatically this past week it ended up being a pretty expensive vacation. We are all glad to be home.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Catching Up

We know we need to attach pictures. We've decided we're lucky to get the written word out with our hit and miss internet connections.

Two nights ago we spent the night at a state park on a lake in Vernal, Utah - dry camping. Definitely not my cup of tea. Our batteries aren't the strongest so we had to do with as little as possible in the way of electrical needs. Fortunately it was cool that evening and opening the windows brought in a nice breeze for us all to sleep by.

Yesterday we drove to the Dinosaur Nat'l Monument Quarry so the kids could see the dinosaur bones right in the mountainside. We all enjoyed learning more about those ancient beasts. Dom got a dinosaur model kit and has been sanding each evening on the pieces in preparation to paint it & put it together. He lacks much in the way of patience and this has been a good project for him.

Last night we stayed in Steamboat Springs, CO in preparation for our drive across Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park today. We paid the most we've ever paid for camping and with fewer amenities. Hate those daily rates.

Rocky Mountain is absolutely gorgeous - even above the tree line. We saw elk and mountain sheep along the roadside.

I'm still getting used to our rig and I have to tell you I "white knuckled" pretty much the whole trip today. My back really ached when we got to our site this evening from the stress. Having driven the pickup and tow vehicles I know how much it takes for them to stop. I have no clue how this truck works and why the engine brake works. So when Richard doesn't step on the brakes I'm doing it for him! And then we hit the 5:00 Denver traffic which caused Richard as much stress as I had experienced earlier.

We're camped at Garden of the Gods campground - another expensive place but this one has more amenities. Tomorrow we will drive up Pike's Peak and maybe get to Cave of the Winds. It depends on how early we get up in the morning. We'd also like to see Royal Gorge but don't know if it will fit in our schedule before we head back toward Texas on Thursday.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Canyonlands Nat'l Park

We got a late start this morning as it was raining. It wasn't coming down hard but it would have been uncomfortable hiking in the rain and mud.

Our first stop was at Dead Horse State Park. A lady at the campground we are staying at told us last evening that she thought it was prettier than the Grand Canyon. So, of course, we had to go and see for ourselves. It is at least as gorgeous and, in some cases, more awe inspiring than the Grand Canyon. We were amazed we hadn't heard of it before.

In Canyonlands we first hiked to Aztec Butte. It was a 3/8 mile walk to the butte and then a 3/8 mile hike up the side of it to the caves and granaries at the top. I knew I was going to have a hard time coming back down and did - coming close to having an anxiety attack. It was steeper than I was comfortable with. But we were all glad we went.

Next was a short hike up Whale Rock. You could see it from the parking lot so only the kids and I went as Richard was in great need of a nap. They have found they really love climbing rocks!

On to Green River Overlook for gorgeous views of the mesas and Green River surrounding Island in the Sky mesa. We then drove to Grand View Overlook to see the White Rim, Colorado River and Needles area of the park. Our last stop was a hike to see Mesa Arch. We only walked half as much today but had had our fill by the end of the day. PoppaNana just aren't in shape for this!

The Colorado and Green Rivers divide the park into three areas - Island in the Sky, The Maze and Needles. They are lazy rivers until they come together south of the park. The Maze and Needles are mostly accessible only via four-wheel drive vehicles, backpacking or mountain bikes. We have all learned a lot about ancient oceans, sandstone, mesas, cairns and crytobiotic soil and the kids have a much better appreciation for the world they live in.

Friday, August 5, 2005

Exploring Arches

Today we continued our exploration of Arches National Park. We drove to the trail head of Delicate Arch and took a strenous 3 mile hike to see it. It was a very tough climb and we were all glad to get there. The formation is one of the most photographed in Arches. On the hike down we took a side trail to see some petroglyphs that are very well preserved.

On the way in we stopped and looked over a cabin that was built by a family in 1880 and lived in until about 1905. It was sure a tough place to live!

Then we drove to the end of the road and took the trail to Landscape Arch. It is amazing that it is still standing. The formation is over 300 feet long and a 60 ton piece broke loose from it in 1991 while some visitors were standing under it. They heard what sounded like thunder, soon realized what was happening and scattered before they were buried. Someone even managed to get an awesome picture of it! Due to the obvious danger visitors are no longer allowed to walk beneath it.

It was only 80º - almost 20º cooler than the average, for which we were all extremely grateful. I don't think we would have hiked five miles today in 100º temperatures. We were all worn out from our hikes so a grocery buying trip into Moab included an ice cream stop.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

On to Arches

We left Mesa Verde and drove north into Utah to Moab where we set up camp. Since we arrived by noon we were able to start exploring Arches National Park in the afternoon. We drove to several overlooks and took a nice hike to The Windows formation which is two arches next to each other. The kids really enjoyed climbing on the rocks and seeing the beautiful arches. We were amazed that that was allowed. We figured we would be required to stay on the trails and view them from a distance.

Then we hiked into Double Arch. It is two arches that are joined at one end but are at 45 degrees to each other. It is neat to stand below and between them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Mesa Verde

We made arrangements for a campground right at the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park and got a good early start. It was only about 50 miles driving which everyone likes. We set up the trailer in the campground and drove into the park.

We visited Spruce Tree House and Cliff Palace. Everyone enjoyed looking at the cliff dwellings of native Americans who lived there 600 to 1000 years ago. I think the kids really had their eyes opened as to how primitive things used to be in spite of having read about it in history books.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

White Water Rafting

This morning we drove into Durango for our white water rafting trip. We were loaded on busses and taken north of town where we launched. The four of us and another Grandmother with three kids were the only ones in our boat. Our guide was Shane and he took good care of us, although we all got soaked with the water fights we had with the other boats.

We stopped for lunch along the river and then continued on our trip. We hauled out about 1:30 and were bussed back north to the center of town. The trip took about 4 hours and we traveled about 10 miles. The kids really had a great time.

Then we loaded into the truck and took a drive up to Silverton just to see the beautiful San Juan mountains. Such gorgeous country.

Then back to our campground east of Durango and four very tired people went to bed early.

Monday, August 1, 2005

On to Durango

Jeneane fixed pancakes this morning and we were soon on our way. (It would have been an hour and a half sooner if we could have awakened someone inside before we did!)

Whitney cried when we left and I have a feeling she and Deidra will be corresponding more in the future. It was hard for us all as our friends at Valley View were truly "family" to us.

We drove through Albuquerque and turned north on I25 to Bernalillo where we took the road toward Farmington. It is now a 4-lane highway all the way to Bloomfield. From there we went up through Aztec and into Colorado. We had reservations at an RV park in Bayfield which is about 10 miles east of Durango, and about $15 less than any of the parks there. It was a fine place to spend a couple of days.

We drove into Durango this evening to do some shopping, get ice cream and find out where the rafting company is located so we'd know where to go in the morning.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Edgewood, NM

We arrived in Edgewood about 1 PM and pulled into Jason and Jeneane Weaver's yard. They have set up an RV parking spot for Jeneane's parents who are full timers and it worked out great for us. They have 50 amp electric service which allowed us to run our air conditioner.

It was like old times. Many of our Valley View friends were there for a pot luck lunch and card games afterward. We did our best to catch up on what everyone has been doing and what has changed. The biggest surprises were how much the younger generation has changed. Several of the kids we remember as young teenagers are now married and some even expecting!

Noel and Donna Jennings (Deidra and Dominic's grandpa and step-grandma) drove up from Albuquerque to see them. He needed a grandkid fix. Boy do we know what he means!

Crystal Schmidlapp ("Aunt Bistol") came over to see the kids and they had a nice, but short, reunion after almost five years. She was at Deidra's birth and has been a special friend ever since.

We took a drive around the area to see what had changed, including a drive by our old house. The new owners have made some nice improvements, and there are tons of new houses sprouting everywhere. Edgewood looks little like the small rural community we moved into 20 years ago.

Deidra and Dom slept with Whitney and Ashley - all in one room. The bedroom door couldn't even be opened until a kid moved out of the way.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Amarillo,TX

When we have been in one place for a while, it is always a challenge to get stuff put away and get on the road. We finally left Destiny Dallas at about 11:15, after saying good bye to our good friends and neighbors Wayne and Judy Crump. Wayne retired on Friday after 42 years at General Motors and Judy's last day at American Airlines was also Friday. They will hit the road before we get back from vacation so we won't see them till late fall.

It was a rather uneventful trip to Amarillo. The kids as well as PoppaNana think the truck is a great way to travel. We have a refrigerator and microwave, TV, table and bench seats, as well as an upper bunk. Everyone has room to move around as they wish and the truck rides very well, especially with the trailer in tow.

About the only downer for the whole day was the fueling stop at Flying J. I can't get used to spending $400 for a fillup! Of course, that should take us about 1,600 miles so at least we are not stopping a couple times a day like we used to with the smaller truck.

Tomorrow we will stay at Jason and Jeneane Weavers in Edgewood. Looking forward to seeing lots of old friends.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Leaving on Vacation

We picked up the truck with the new bed and storage. It is beautiful. I would be hard pressed to find anything I would have done differently. Pictures will be posted later.

This is a short post to let everyone know we will be on the road for the next two weeks. Our plans are to get to Amarillo tomorrow, Edgewood on Sunday afternoon, then up to Durango on Monday and probably Tuesday. From then on our plans are very fluid and we will just poke along as we see fit. Possible stops are Mesa Verde, Canyonlands, Arches, Dinosaur, Rocky Mountain and Pikes Peak. Basically a swing around Colorado.

I'm beat from packing so that's it for now. We will post as we have access.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Zoom, zoom, zoom

I think most people would agree that I have a lot of driving under my belt. I have driven in 49 of the 50 states over the past 42 years, most of Canada, Europe and some of Mexico. I've spent extended periods of time in many areas. I think I am qualified to make the following observation: People in Massachusets and Rhode Island drive faster than drivers anywhere else in the country!

Now, I am not talking about a few drivers. Every area has some people who are going to blow by everyone else. And some areas have very high average speeds which means some are going very fast and some are driving near the speed limit. What I am talking about just about every driver of every vehicle. Posted speed limits here are interpreted as "minimum" speed and almost no one drives the minimum.

We noticed how fast everyone drove during the 2 months we lived there this past winter, and I have made several trips to the area since then. Each time I am again overwhelmed with the speed of the drivers. I-95 between Providence and Boston is three lanes most of the way. It is posted at 65 mph, but in my experience (including this morning on the way to the airport) if you are not driving at least 75 you will pass no one and be passed by almost everyone. This is regardless of changes in the speed limit such as when it drops to 55 for construction. The closest experience I can relate driving in this area to is my experience 34 years ago driving on the autobahns of Germany.

The high speed is not limited to the interstates. People drive the narrow streets and roads of the area at whatever speed they wish. Speed limit signs serve no purpose whatsoever and you almost never see anyone stopped by the cops.

Of course, there are some places where even someone who wants to obey speed limits is inclined to ignore them. Every area has some speed limits that make no sense, but Rhode Island is at the top of my list. When we lived there last winter I took a back roads route to work. It was scenic and fun. The road through MA wound through some small towns, up and down hills and in and out of built up areas. Just before you cross into Rhode Island, the speed limit is 45 as you wind your way up and down a heavily wooded hill and around some blind corners. 45 to 50 is about all you could drive on this section without skidding off the road.

Just as you cross the RI state line the road widens considerably, straightens out and moves into a much more open area. Here you would expect the speed limit to stay 45 or maybe even go up to 50. But no. It drops to 30 for about 2 miles! There is no way anyone is going to drive 30 in that area, and no one does. After the road makes a sweeping turn to the right the speed limit goes up to 40. Same good road, same open country, and people average 55.

Makes me wonder if it isn't time for national standards for speed limit guidelines in places other than interstates. I think it is way past time for national drivers licenses and for vehicle licenses. All the different rules and charges are merely a throwback to the old days when we were far flung colonies and are now being used to fund programs that have nothing to do with driving. I realize this is less important to those of you who have never moved out of the state you were first licensed in, but for those of us who have moved a few times it is a big hassle and expense.

Just wanted to get that off my chest. If Don can use his blog as a bully pulpit, so can I.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Battleship Cove

I know it's been a while since this was updated, but I can't seem to get Dianna interested in maintaining it. And me -- well, I have to work. Most of the time anyway. Today is
Saturday and I am in Rhode Island again. I came up on Wed and worked in the office Thursday and Friday. I have to go in tonight at 6:30 for a few hours, but I had the day to explore. The weather is warm and beautiful for a change so I drove down to Battleship Cove in Falls River, MA for the day.

Battleship Cove has several ships to explore. You can visit their web site at Battleship Cove to see what they are all about. I have toured many ships but this museum has to be one of the the best. Most ships I have toured in other places are only partially restored and you are guided along a fairly limited path through just some parts of the ships. These were almost completely open.

The destroyer Joseph Kennedy was quite interesting since I don't remember being on a destroyer before. Somewhat cramped quarters, but an interesting ship none the less. You sure have to learn to climb small steep stairways, and it is very easy to hit your head.

They had two PT boats restored that you could look into through openings in their hulls. You could not actually get on these boats. Pretty impressive wooden boats that could hit 50 MPH.

The Lionfish submarine is similar to others I have toured, but this one is in good condition.

The Hiddensee is a Russian missle frigate and it was interesting to see all the Russian writing on the equipment. It looked very much like the American ships except it seemed to me to be much more roomy for the sailors. Their rooms were larger and the whole ship felt uncrowded. That surprised me.

Then I toured the Battleship Massachusetts. That is one big ship! They give you a guide for a suggested way to tour the ship, and even with that I got lost several times. I toured the Texas several years ago and it was not nearly as good as this ship. I was able to go almost anywere I wanted. They were really small floating cities.

They offer a camp aboard program and during the summer they have hundreds of kids who spend the night. Most are boy scout or some other kind of group, but even families can make the arrangements if they wish. It's a pretty neat program, but it did result in hundreds of the little buggers running all over the place. Fortunately, it is a big ship and they all spent more time sitting on the guns than crawling through the engine rooms. It was really fine.

If I had one complaint it would be that there is so much to see and they do not really do a good job of posting directions. It would have been much easier to tour all the ships if they had painted some lines on the deck, or even had directional markers to guide you on prescribed routes so you could be sure to see everything and not spend so much time just trying to figure out where you were!

Anyway, it was a fun day for me. I'm sure Dianna would not have enjoyed it nearly as much so it worked out well. I return to Dallas tomorrow and we spend the week getting ready for vacation starting next Sat. Actually I will take Thursday and Friday off to go get the truck and make preparations to leave. Our plan is to tour Colorado this year. More on that later.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Truckless & Eagles

With my truck in Kilgore to have its bed made, I have been forced to ride the scooter to work every day. Not that this is a hardship. I really enjoy two wheels again, but the weather has made it less than completely enjoyable. Three of the four days it was cloudy in the early morning and then a line of thunderstorms moved through. Every afternoon the storms had cleared in time for me to ride home dry. I thought for sure that Dianna would have to come get me a couple times, but I lucked out. One day it never got above 80 which was really nice. The rest of the week was about 95 and it is not a lot of fun riding in that weather. I even had to buy a new hemet. The ones we purchased when we bought the scooter are not ventilated and my head felt like it was in a steam cooker by the time I got home. I purchased a ventilated helmet and it is much improved. I don't know why all helmets are not made that way.

Dianna has spent most of the week working on a shirt for Darin. He is a big fan of eagles and she made him a shirt with the biggest pattern she has ever attempted. She even had to split the design in two because her machine can only do 64,000 stitches per pattern. This was something new to learn. She had several snags that drove her to frustration, but she kept at it till it was finally done. On the top is the pattern and on the bottom is a photo of her version. Darin should be pleased.


Monday, July 4, 2005

A New Bed

Saturday we took the truck to Herrin Truck Bodies in Kilgore Texas to have a custom bed built. The work will include a new air hitch to replace the commercial hitch and a motorcycle loader so we can carry the scooter. The bed will have stairs up from both sides and a very large storage compartment across the back of the cab. When you live in an RV there is never enough storage.

It will take Herrin all month to finish the bed, and we are hopeful it will be ready in time for a planned vacation trip the first two weeks of August. If not, we may have to take the pickup with the camper, but that is just too small for the two of us and the grandkids as well. We'll see what happens.

We went nowhere else all weekend and pretty much tried to stay cool and out of the traffic. Dianna worked on embroidery again and finished beautiful patriotic shirts for the Jennings family who went to the big fireworks show in Addison. They really looked nice.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Scooter Trip

This morning Dom and I rode the scooter up to Lake Texoma. We even crossed the bridge just so we could say we were in Oklahoma!

I don't know if he slept last night or not since he was so excited about going. I got to their house about 9:15 and we suited up. I borrowed a blue ice from Chris to put in the little soft sided cooler I purchased at Wal-Mart last night. Figured we would want something cool to drink.

We made our first stop after about 20 miles so we could buy our drinks. I got my usual Diet Dr. Pepper and Dom got some blue stuff. We drank some and put the bottles in our cooler. The next stop was about 20 miles further up the road at McDonalds. Dom told me he had not eaten breakfast so we he had a breakfast Happy Meal. I had some more coffee.

Then on up the road another 15 miles to the lake. We skipped rocks for a while and then rode around to some of the marinas, one of which has a grass landing strip with several planes tied down. We also stopped by the Thousand Trails to see if a guy who works with me was there. He spends most weekends at his trailer there. He wasn't.

On the way back we stopped for gas and lunch. Dom was not really hungry so he just ate a candy snack while I had roasted chicken. We did not stop again on the way home, but did wander off the main route to drive through the old downtown part of Pilot Point. Neat old Texas town.

Dom was getting pretty tired by the time we got back at about 2 PM. In fact, I think he would have been sleeping if he hadn't had to hang on. He really enjoyed the trip and it gave Papa and Dom some good time for bonding.

The total trip was about 150 miles and was the first long trip I have taken. Scooter ran great, was comfortable (considering the heat) and used less than $5 in fuel. Great fun.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Jet Setters

Richard left for Boston today and I'm off to Arizona to help Mom untangle her genealogy files - again - tomorrow! He'll be back Thursday evening and I fly home on the 28th.

Chris has applied at the Peterbilt plant here. He passed the aptitude test and then was called back for an interview about a month ago. He thought he did well at it but didn't know for sure. Richard received a phone call from them today regarding a reference for him so he must have done fine on the interview. When he took the aptitude test he talked to someone else taking it who has a friend who just got hired on. It was nine months from the time he took the test so he thought it might be awhile.

Dayna told me that they are gearing up for greater output so they might be hiring sooner than nine months from now - hopefully. He's talked to others who work there and they all have nothing but good to say about it. The only reason people leave is to retire and advancement is unlimited. They will pay for college if he wants to get into management someday. He's already maxed out on salary at Meade so he's anxious for a change.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

Richard didn't have much of a Father's Day weekend. He spent it outside in the hot, humid weather doing chores around the house. We got the boat out yesterday anticipating a day at the lake today and had to do some maintenance on it as well.

Dom had been complaining of an earache all week and Dayna got him in to see a doctor yesterday who diagnosed a middle ear infection, moving to the outer ear. Another day and it would probably have burst his ear drum. He had been about the same all week but overnight it got unbearable. So he's on antibiotics, a decongestant and ear drops.

He was still feeling very poorly today so we didn't go out on the boat. Deidra did go swimming in our pool and Dom got in just to cool off. We had a Bar-B-Que with them and had a good visit.

Dayna had to leave by early evening to get back to her studies. I think she only has a little over a year to finish up. It's been a long haul but she's done great and is finally getting into some classes that relate directly to her major.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

It's White!

I took the grandkids to the water park yesterday after swimming lessons. It's the neatest center which has a natatorium that has indoor pools for swimming lessons and meets, a slide at the end of the children's pool and three diving boards in the big pool for lessons, playing and meets. Then outside they have four slides, a lazy river and a children's section. It was a BOGOF day sponsored by Sonic Drive In and they had lots of games and prizes for the kids.

Deidra and Dominic finished up swimming lessons today. She finally got her dive figured out on her last day and Dom was able to do the freestyle w/breathing. Hurray! The last day is a play day so Dom had a good time going down the slide and jumping off the diving board. Couldn't get him to try diving though.

We picked up our truck this afternoon. It is really pretty - looks so much better than that red! We're going to get some decals put on later on to tie it in with our 5th wheel. Next is getting the bed for it, sometime next month.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Motorcycle Safety Class & More Embroidery

Yesterday and today I took the Motorcycle Safety Course. It was 2 very hot and tiring days!

They have a two courses; a beginners and an experienced riders course. You need to take the beginners if you want the certificate that exempts you from taking the riding part of the TX test and I figured the class might teach me something I did not know, even though I have been riding for over 40 years. It was worth the experience. The classwork emphasized things I already know, but it was good to have them refreshed anyway. The riding part was done at a high school parking lot where they have the course marked out. The school provides 250 cc Honda motorcycles to use, but since I had my scooter there they allowed me to use it instead. This was really what I wanted to do. The controls on the scooter are very different from a motorcycle (no clutch, rear brakes where the clutch should be, and a very different size and shape) and I wanted to really get experience handling it in emergencies. Taking the class on a motorcycle would not help reinforce that.

The beginners class was just that. There were six of us in the class. Two had never been on a motorcycle before, one had ridden one a couple times, and three of us were in our 50's who had just gotten back into riding again. There was a written test after the 4 hours of lecture and videos, which of course I got the only 100 on. Interestingly, one of the girls (17) who had never ridden before got the only other perfect score on the riding test (you know who got the other perfect score) and one of the over 50 guys was absolutely the worst. I am really afraid he might hurt himself if he goes through with his plans to get a bike and ride it on the road.

I think a lot of people, including the instructor, were pretty impressed with what you can do with these Suzuki Burgman scooters. The low center of gravity makes them more stable in slow speed manuevers than motorcycles and high speed manuevers are about the same as a regular motorcycle. The only thing I discovered was that I cannot lay it down as far as a motorcycle in a turn. I actually hit a couple of 2 inch high cones with the fairing as I went around them on some of the cornering manuevers.

It was fun to do, but the high heat (93+) and no shade made it rather miserable.

While I was playing all weekend, Dianna was busy with Mom's blouses. Here is a look.





Mom, you will get to see them in person in just a week or so.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Swimmin' and Scootin'

Yep, that's all it took. Dom was swimming like a fish by the of the second session. He just doesn't think parents (and, obviously, grandparents) are teachers!

There are only two girls in the diving class so Deidra is getting good individualized attention. She's finding it difficult to get the steps, bounces and arm motions all coordinated. I never learned how to dive properly either so can imagine her frustration. She gets to go off the high dive which scared her to death the first few times!

Dom's jealous that she gets to do that so I told him if he continues to do well in this class and really learn all his strokes I'll let him take diving lessons later. He's really motivated now!

Richard drove the scooter to work today for the first time. He had to go on I-35 for just a few miles to get over Lewisville Lake on the bridge. Then he got off and went side streets the rest of the way, getting to work about the same time as he does going on the interstate and turnpike.

The windshield he ordered came while he was in RI. It comes up higher, blocking his face and hands from the wind, which made a huge difference. Our helmets, which had to be ordered, came in yesterday so he had that for more wind protection as well.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Swim lessons

Deidra and Dominic started swimming lessons today. Well, actually, just Dom. Deidra's taking diving lessons. I can't get him to swim properly with breathing so figured he'd learn better from a "real" teacher.

While we were at lessons Richard picked up the trailer to take to OK to get our dining room set. As soon as the kids were finished we took off and were up there before 3:30. Got it all loaded by 4:30 and went out for frozen custard with Robin, Ken, Megan and Steven before we left.

It was good to see them as who knows when the next time will be. We've been able to visit them several times since we moved to TX as they are only about 2½ hrs. from here. It was our first visit with Steven - such a cutie! And Megan has really sprouted!! She's two years younger than Dom and just a tad shorter. She's definitedly taking after her mommy.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Home from RI

The temperature actually got up to over 70 degrees for the first time in RI! It was about 85 when he left but was predicted to be back in the 60's by late afternoon due to a wind change.

I picked Richard up at the airport this afternoon about two hours later than sheduled. They left an hour late due to weather in Dallas. The whole airport was about two hours behind schedule today so there was no gate for them to go to when they landed. They sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting for a gate to open up. He had planned on getting home early to get some jobs done around the house but that two hour delay really put him behind.

He just loves flying anymore - NOT! He had to sit in the plane for 45 minutes at the gate last Thursday on his way to RI while a strap was repaired in the cargo hold.

We're going up to Robin and Ken's tomorrow to pick up our dining room set. They have been "storing" it for us for the past four years I guess it is. Can't believe it's been that long! Dayna didn't have space for it and R&K said they'd be glad to keep it until we could bring it here. Dayna and Chris have reorganized their house so will have room for it now. The timing worked out fantastic as Robin and Ken will be leaving in a couple of weeks for their new home in Alaska.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Embroidery Time

I've been embroidering like mad the last two days trying to get three shirts done for Mom. I got two finished, one has a basket of sunflowers and the other is a barn with windmill. I can't finish the last one until I get more bobbin thread. It's going to be a covered bridge. Then I'm going to do t-shirts for the 4th of July. I won't have as hard a time figuring out colors with those - mostly red, white and blue!

Friday, June 3, 2005

The Royals lost

We took the Volvo to be painted today. It will be white when we see it next, in about 10 days. That means Richard will have to ride the scooter to work for a few days. I know he'll enjoy it but I'm not anxious to have him out there on the freeways in it.

Well, they lost last night in as close a game as they won Tuesday. It made for a very exciting tournament. Dom was in tears - hasn't learned how to be a good sport about it yet.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

They won!

Dom got an honor roll report card! I'm sure Christine did, too, but we haven't heard from them. She's usually a straight A student. Deidra didn't do quite as well but did improve from the first of the year which is good.

Dom's team, the Royals, won last night in a real nail biter! It was down to the last out in the last inning and they pulled it out!! So they play again on Thurs. By then Richard will be in RI so he'll miss the game.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

School's Almost Out

Deidra had sold enough cookie dough mix to be in a "grab the cash" contest at school and to go to lunch in a limo (her second time this year)! She grabbed $80 and the only other person who was eligible to play only got $20. She felt bad for the other girl. Needless to say she will have a fun time spending it (probably all in one place)!

Tomorrow's their last day and they are looking forward to summer vacation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Burgers

That's what owners of Suzuki Burgman scooters are called. Dumb name but the best of the high end scooters on the market. We picked ours up yesterday at Plano Suzuki and I drove it home. Here is a picture.



This is sure a lot different than the Cushman scooter I had in 1962! This scooter will hit 95 MPH and cruise at 70 all day long. People who have them say they average 60-75 MPG. That will be a big improvement over the 10-11 I get with the Volvo.

We purchased 2 helmets in the same silver color as the bike, and they will be in on Thursday. In the meantime I am not going to ride it much as I had to use an old helmet I have had for over 20 years. It is coming apart inside and is a real mess. I used it to ride home, but I sure don't intend to put that thing on my head again!

I still have my New Mexico license. Things like licenses are a real problem for people like us who don't really have a home. We belong to the Escapees Full Time service that is located in Livingston, TX. They provide several services, including mail service, which is how we get all our mail. This means that we have also chosen Texas as our legal residence as well. Now we have to license all our vehicles and obtain drivers licenses in Texas. We have already begun the process of licensing vehicles here, and it is probably time we got Texas drivers licenses as well. I just hate having to get a new license when I still have several years to go on my existing one, but having a vehicle licensed in a different state than your drivers license might raise too many questions if I was ever stopped. What this country needs is a national drivers license and a national vehicle license! Why should the laws, rules and costs be different everywhere. After all, this is not 1800 any more.

New Mexico does not require a separate motorcycle license as long as you have a regular drivers license, but Texas does. In addition, they require a driving test unless you take a motorcycle safety course. I think it is a good idea to take a refresher course anyway, so I am going to take it in a couple weeks. Then I will go get my Texas license -- except-- I also need to obtain a Class A, non-comercial license with air brake endorsement to legally pull our trailer. I can drive the Volvo by itself or with a trailer as long as the trailer does not weigh more than 10,000 pounds with a regular license, but our trailer weighs much more than that. So I need to take that test as well. To take the driving part of that test you must have a trailer in tow. I really don't want to have to uproot our house just to go take a driving test. Maybe we will figure something out.

Anyway, its nice to have 2 wheels again.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Ho Hum

Dianna returned from a visit with her family on Saturday and we went to the Jennings for a birthday dinner on Sunday. We cooked steak and had a nice time.

The week passed without much excitement other than Dom's game on Tuesday. His team won.

Seems like not much is happening right now. I am in Rhode Island again for the weekend. I flew up on Thursday and will fly back tomorrow, Sunday. Sure looks different here now that all the trees are fully leafed out and everything is green.

We are making plans for a trip to Norman to pick up the table and hutch that Robin and Ken have been storing for us. Now that they are moving to Alaska we won't have a reason to make the trip "up north" any more. In the future we will have to go way north. I am actually looking forward to that trip very much. It will probably be our first summer after retirement and will realize a lifelong goal of visiting all 50 states.

Dianna is going to Dom's game again today, while I toil away in the CVS data center here in Rhode Island. Oh the injustice!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Week with my folks

(I had this all written and somehow managed to exit the site without saving it. Bummer!!)

Mom and Dad picked me up at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank about noon on Saturday, May 7th. I drove us home and we almost ended up in a major accident. I don't remember the drivers being as aggressive as they were. I'm sure glad we don't live there anymore!

I was in a merge lane from I-5 to I-118 when a driver completely cut us off. I don't know how he managed to miss us. I did a knee jerk reaction and headed for the lane next to me. Thankfully there was no one there. I had blared my horn at him and when we passed I gave him a dirty look. He didn't act like he had a clue he had almost caused a bad accident.

We were supposed to go down to Greg and Tina's for Mother's Day dinner. Marie had called and asked us to pick her up at her mom's on the way down. She was driving down from Santa Barbara where she lives and wouldn't be there until around five. We waited and waited and she finally arrived around 6 pm. That would mean we wouldn't get down to Greg's until after 7 pm so we decided not to go. We went to dinner at Marie Callenders with Marie and then everyone came up to Mom and Dad's the next afternoon. We had a wonderful prime rib and all the other sides that were planned for the night before! The only camera to be found had a dead battery so we didn't get any family pictures.

Patricia and Michele had never seen an electric typewriter. Mom still has one and they entertained themselves all afternoon learning how to type on it! I keep forgetting how fast this world is changing and how much our kids and grandkids haven't a clue about.

Mom didn't feel well most of the time I was there. She still suffers from diverticulitis and was getting over a spell of it. We had thought her surgery in Oct. was going to alleviate that but it just entailed removal of the diseased portion of her colon. She will have this the rest of her life.

She had a migraine Tuesday so I took her to the doctor. The last time she had one she didn't eat or drink, her electrolytes plummeted and we almost lost her. I didn't want to take any chances so made sure she got some medication to ease the headache and would continue to eat and drink.

That afternoon my cousin, Carrie, came down on the train/bus. We're only 12 days apart in age and have been best friends since the day I was born. (She's the eldest but you sure wouldn't know it with all the snow on my roof!) We spent that day and the next running errands and shopping for Mom and Dad.

Mom had made reservations for us to go to Huntington Library Thursday for High Tea. Carrie & I vacillated about going since Mom wouldn't be able to join us. She finally told us to go ahead and go as it was her gift to us. I'm so glad we did. So much was in bloom that we lost track of time going from one outstanding garden to the next. We didn't see half of what we wanted to. We did manage to get to see Gainsborough's "Pinky" and "Blue Boy" in the gallery. We missed a light show that was somehow related to Isaac Newton. But we didn't miss High Tea. We had wonderful food in a gorgeous setting. We did miss Mom being with us.

Friday my Uncle Art (Mom's brother) and Aunt Mary flew Carrie and I up to Big Bear for breakfast. He is an original Flying Tiger and has his own plane. We thoroughly enjoyed the flight with clear, blue skies and gorgeous snow on the mountains. We don't see them very often so we had a wonderful morning of catching up on family news.

By the end of the week Mom was feeling much better and even managed to get out in her garden and work some. That's her solace. Carrie helped her Saturday afternoon replanting some of her plants in the backyard to around the tree in the front yard. That's a project she had wanted to get accomplished for a long time so I'm very grateful Carrie was there to help. She has a definite flair for it. Just ask the folks at the elementary school next door to her where she does their landscaping!

Saturday it was back to Burbank and my flight home. Julie took me this time.

Each time I visit, Mom and Dad seem more frail. But at 82 and 88 I guess I should expect it. I just hope when we're their ages we will be able to care for ourselves as well as they do!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Bachelor Doings

I returned from Rhode Island/Boston Sunday and took Monday and Tuesday off to catch up on my chores. Monday I ran the generator, serviced all the batteries and made plans for my trip Tuesday to Kilgore. I also made arrangements with a gentleman who lives here in the park to wash the trailer on Wed.

Tuesday I drove out to Kilgore, TX which is about 2 hours east toward Shreveport. On the way I stopped for fuel at the Flying J south of Dallas. Fuel there was 2.03 which is .20 less than anyplace in our area. I met with Larry Herrin of Herrin Welding who makes truck beds. I am planning to have a custom bed made and a new air hitch installed. Larry has a very good reputation among those who use these converted OTR tractors. I am planning on having a very large storage locker made in addition to the bed. This will stand behind the cab and provide tons of storage space. He quoted me a fair price so we now have an appointment in late June to have it built. It will take about 3 to 4 weeks after they start.

I also discussed the possibility of having him install a motorcycle loader as well. We really need some alternate transportation when we are travelling and mounting a motorcycle on the bed will give us that. I have enjoyed riding since I was 13 years old, and have missed not having anything to ride for the last several years. I still have an old Honda Trail 90, but it is still in pieces and I doubt I will ever be able to make it run properly. Besides, the more I have thought about it the more I think having something large enough to ride on the highway would be much more usefull. I have done some research and am surprised at what has developed in the "scooter" world. I always thought of a scooter as a Vespa or the old Cushmans I had as a kid, but they have come a long way. Much of what I have read seems to point to the Suzuki Bergman, either the 400 or the 650, as the best of breed. Here is a link-- Suzuki Bergman 400 Sure a lot cheaper than a Honda Goldwing or a Harley, and still very capable of maintaining highway speeds.

Today it was back to work. I stopped at Chili's for dinner and then went shopping for a few groceries. When I got home the trailer was washed. He did a good job and my back sure does not hurt as much as it would have if I had done the work.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Catching Up

Wow. It has been a long time since we updated this. I guess that happens when you are at "home" and there is not a lot going on that is noteworthy.

We are pretty much back into our routine here in Texas. Work for me and Dianna is catching up on e-mail and genealogy. Let me see if I can remember what we have been doing for the past couple weeks.

Dom is in Little League and we have been to a couple of his games. It is a lot of fun watching these little guys play for the first time. This year the coach does the pitching and there is a lot of work on the basics. He is doing very well.

Deidra still has the cast on her foot. Bummer.

Dayna expressed a desire for a laptop to do her school work on. She gets frustrated having to use the home machine and wanted to be able to take it to work with her so she could work on assignments during her lunch hour. I had an old IBM Thinkpad that has not been used for quite some time so I ordered and installed additional memory and a new battery. I then installed Windows 2000 and Office on it for her, along with a wireless card I had laying around. It is a Pentium 2-233 with 2 gig of disk. It is working well for her.

I am in Rhode Island right now, where it is rainy, windy and cold. I flew up on Thursday and will be returning to Dallas tomorrow, Sunday. Dianna left this morning for a week in California visiting her family. I have some things to do this week and will try to remember to record them when they happen.

That's about it for now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Home from the hospital

Mom was released this evening. She was feeling a lot better and anxious to go home.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Mom in the hospital

As Mom and Dad were getting ready for Kim's service this morning Mom began to feel weak and at one point couldn't speak - just make noises. Julie and Marie were there to take them to the funeral and decided Mom needed to go to the hospital. Julie stayed with Mom and Marie left with Daddy. Mom was dehydrated and they weren't sure if she'd had a TIA so they admitted her. Greg's family and Marie and Daddy came to the hospital after Kim's service. It was a stressful day for all and I wish I had been there.

Tonight was Little League. Dom is playing this year and he really wanted his Poppa and Nana to come watch him play. He is doing very well. Watching those little guys play ball is a fun evening.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

It's good to be home

We finished setting up our home, spent not enough time cleaning the outside, picked up some parts to replace (thank heaven there are far less things to repair in this) and went up to see Dayna's family. Had a nice time catching up.

Dayna won two tickets to the NASCAR race for last Sunday (she is one of the luckiest people I know when it comes to drawings!) which included a pit pass, breakfast & lunch and all their drinks at the Stanley section, lots more drawing there (which they didn't win), and parking - a several hundred dollar prize. Darin was quite jealous as he's the big NASCAR fan. He was hoping for an autograph of his favorite driver.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Back to Denton

It was only about 250 miles to Denton. We decided to have the truck and trailer washed before we parked it so we went to the truck wash just north of Denton. We arrived about 3:15 and waited until 5:00 before we gave up. By then they had only finished washing 2 trucks and there was one more ahead of us. We would not have gotten out of there before 7 PM so we drove to our permanent space at Destiny RV Resort.

Backing this rig into the space we have is a good trick. It is the largest space in the park, but we have to back in around a large tree and do not have a lot of room to maneuver. Everyone in the area has to come out to watch the show. I have disappointed a lot of people who are expecting to see yelling, screaming, crashing and cussing. Maybe I missed my calling as a truck driver!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Ruston, LA

Today was a driving day. We left early and gained an hour as we entered the Central time zone. We drove over 500 miles and found the nicest campground of the entire trip. It is the Lincoln Parish Park, just a couple miles off I30 in Ruston, LA. Being a parish (county) park, it was also about the least expensive. It is located on a man made lake with a paved walking trail all the way around as well as bike and horse trails. They had picnic areas and a sandy beach for swimming. We were able to back into a spot overlooking the lake and did not even have to unhook. They had full hookups, beautiful scenery and it was only $16 plus tax. We would not mind spending more time there.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Visiting Darin & Diane

We drove to Chattanooga today and checked into Raccoon Mountain Campground. Darin, Diane and Katie came over from Cleveland in the afternoon. We went to dinner at Cracker Barrel and had a good visit. Christine had to work so we did not get to see her.

Difficult Day

We received the sad news that Tina's sister Kim passed away recently. Tina is the Executrix and there are legal problems to sort out so it has been a double whammy for her. You are in our thoughts and prayers, Tina.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Biltmore Estate

Today we toured the Biltmore Estate, another of the Vanderbilt homes. This is still owned by the Vanderbilts and is a working estate, although most of the work is with tourism. The do have a winery and some farming still in existence, but they only have about 40,000 acres left of the original 120,000 acre estate. The Biltmore is the largest privately owned house in the country, with about 250 rooms. We toured the house and the gardens which were beautiful. The tulips were in bloom. We ate at the lunch room which used to be the stable. Nicest stable we ever saw!



We spent the night at Taps RV park in Ashville. It was listed as a place with Big Rig sites in the campground guide, and the manager who checked us in said it would be no problem to get in. "Bigger rigs than yours have been in here." Right. These people have no concept of a rig that is 65 feet long! We had to unhook the truck from the trailer and if the people in front of us had not left when they did, we would have had to back out. I hope I have learned my lesson. Don't trust anyone who stands to make a buck if I stay in their campground. Check it yourself!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Salisbury, NC

Dianna spent the day exploring the county records and library in Salisbury, NC and found several documents in her genealogy research. We spent about four hours there and then drove west about 10 miles to Mill Bridge where some of her ancestors are buried. The grave of her Revolutionary War ancestor, William Knox, was beside his parents' grave.

She didn't know his was there so it was a great find for her! The church was established in 1747 - years before this country was a country. Fascinating history. Spent the night at a lake resort near Conover, NC.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Genealogy in North Carolina

We made it to the Raleigh, NC area so Dianna could do some genealogy research. We spent the night at an RV park very near Duke University where Lauren was initially treated. Dianna did not find much at the State Library, but it was an interesting place to visit. She has high hopes for her visit to Salisbury, NC tomorrow.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Four States in One Day

Yesterday we left MA and got as far as Mountain Top, PA, between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The owner once lived in Cuba, NY (where Richard was born and lived until he was 11), once owned the hotel on Main St. and loves Cuba Cheese! The world continues to shrink!!

Today we drove from Pennsylvania, through Maryland and West Virginia and are spending the night in Petersburg, VA. We've enjoyed absolutely gorgeous weather, finally seeing some green lawns and green leaves on the trees. We're sooo glad to be on our way home and back to warmer country!

Friday, April 15, 2005

On the Road, Again

The trailer is packed and we are ready to leave Rhode Island/Massachusetts first thing in the morning. After 70 degrees last Sunday we have had temperatures no higher than 50 this week, but the trees are just starting to push buds so leaves can't be far behind. Today we saw some daffodils growing along the highway. That's the first color we have seen!

We are on our way to Raleigh, NC so Dianna can do some genealogy stuff, then to Salisbury, NC for the same reason. Then we plan to go to Ashville, NC and tour the Biltmore mansion after which we head for Chattanooga to see Darin's family overnight. Then it's on to Denton and home. Our route from here to Raleigh will be anything but a straight line. We plan to head west through CT, missing Hartford this time, and then across the Newburg Bridge above New York City and over to near Scranton, PA. Then south on I81 until we are into Virginia. The route through PA is pretty mountainous but we will miss all the Atlantic seaboard population centers like New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC. Those areas are bad enough in a car, let alone 65 feet of truck and trailer.

Postings may be sporadic the next few days as I don't usually bother to set up the satellite when we are just stopping overnight. More and more parks have wireless connectivity, and many of them offer it for free, so we will try to update our progress as we go.

Even with the bad weather the past two months, we have enjoyed seeing the new places here. But we are also excited about seeing our kids and grandkids again so leaving is not hard at all. In fact, we long for the day when we can spend a few weeks in some place and then move to the next whenever it suits our fancy. We really are vagabonds who love to be "on the road again".

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Embroidery Days

Here is what Dianna spent the past several days working on. She finished these for Donna today.












Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Genealogy Hunt

I've been doing some genealogy research for my mother-in-love since we've been back here. The Briggs' are from Rhode Island so there is a lot of information about them in various places. It's too bad it hasn't helped unravel the mystery of all the John and Job Briggs'! She had high hopes for me to try to resolve what the professionals haven't been able to. I went to the Newport Historical Society today as that is the area many of them are from.

Now that we're leaving I'm finally beginning to have a better feel for where I am and how to get to where I'm going! It's confusing countryside with no roads running NS or EW.

I was hoping to find something different from what I found at the Providence H.S. Other than a listing for the birth of John Briggs of South Kingstown in the Friends (Quaker) records and a few pages on the Coggeshalls - a line that married into the Briggs - I was unsuccessful. So, unless I make a trip to D.C. to check the National Archives there I don't think I'm going to find anything else locally. Sorry, Mom.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Ouch!

Remember those 294 steps up the Bunker Hill Monument? Well, my aching legs sure do! I am so sore today I can hardly walk. Dianna was up and down all day and is doing pretty good, but I worked at my desk for a couple hours at a time. Every time I got up I almost fell back down.

I climbed the monument about 10 years ago when I was in Boston for a conference, and I don't remember being anywhere near this sore. I guess I really need to get back in shape. We went up to the hot tub tonight, and it helped some but I still hurt.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Boston

As we had another gorgeous, warm day today we decided to tour the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides). The last time Richard was in Boston it was closed for rehab so we were glad to find it open. They've added another level for touring so it was better than he would have seen had he been able to do so. It was awe inspiring to find ourselves on the decks of a ship that has been used to fight for our country's freedom for so many years. It's the oldest commissioned naval vessel, built in 1793-96. The still take her out and sail her 4 or 5 times a year.




The tour guides are Navy personnel, some in regular uniform, some in period costume. Our guide has had a tour in the Mediterranean, carrying on the tradition of fighting for our freedom.

At Bunker Hill we decided to climb all 294 steps. Boy are we out of shape!

It's been so wonderful to see so many historical places while back here. The east is truly a fantastic place to visit and steep ourselves in our country's early history.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Road trip across Massachusetts

Since this is our last weekend in the area we decided to see as much as possible in the next couple of days. It was a gorgeous, warm, clear day so we enjoyed our time, some of it outdoors.

Today we went to Concord, MA to see the Minute Man memorial where "the shot heard round the world" started the Revolutionary War. Normally you can walk from the Visitor's Center across the North Bridge to the memorial. But as you can tell from the picture that was an impossibility. With the tremendous snow melt off and rain we've had the river is way over it's banks. Fortunately there's a road that will take you to it.









In the area is Walden Pond where Henry David Thoreau lived and wrote his book by the same name and Louisa May Alcott's home. It was also the home of Henry W Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne at one time or another.

Then we drove by Clara Barton's home, the founder of the American Red Cross and on to Old Sturbridge Village, a village much like Williamsburg, set in colonial times with all the shops and homes set in period. It was closing in an hour so we decided not to spend the $40 to see it.

On to the Blackstone Valley where the American Industrial Revolution began. Mills were built along the Blackstone River and they used the water to run them. There's not much left now except for a lot of stores to tempt the tourist. Along the route we visited Purgatory Chasm, a chasm full of rocks to make your way over and around, at times with much difficulty. It reminded Richard of Chochise Stronghold near Wilcox, AZ.



We ate dinner at the Lafayette House, a former tavern built in 1784. The room we ate in is part of the original carriage house. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Lafayette all ate there and some spent the night. Great food and wonderful history.