Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Best Laid Plans

Traveling by RV has its challenges. It requires a bit of planning if you want to assure that you have a place to park each night. I spent a fair bit of time a month and more ago creating an itinerary for our trip to Rochester, NY. We are heading there for my High School reunion... it's one of the "milestone" reunions!

We don't like driving hour after hour. My guy likes to follow the "Three Thirty" rule: travel 330 miles or be parked by 3:30 in the afternoon, whichever comes first! OK, so places to stop or schedules, and sometimes even the weather, dictates that we bend the rules a bit, but I try to stick close to it. when I make our plans.

So, we were going to leave RiverBend yesterday and travel 362 miles to Ft. Clinch State Park on Amelia Island. We wanted to stay there several days to visit with family. Then, we were going to stop near Bluffton, SC to visit friends, then head to Lake Norman in NC to spend a few nights with friends from RiverBend. From there, a stop in Virginia, a three-day Airstream Rally in PA, and eventually we would land at South Shore RV Park, a campground owned by folks who winter in RiverBend. We had a site overlooking Lake Ontario... with spectacular sunsets. And finally, we were going to move closer to Rochester for the reunion.

Notice, much of this was written in the "we were gonna" tense, because now it looks like we are NOT gonna follow this itinerary. Picture a very sad face! Our new truck has a crack going just over half of the windshield. Right now it only impacts the passenger side... but the crack is traveling, even though we are not! The Mister has been trying to get a new windshield for over a month. Our insurance said to contact Safelight. They could not get the windshield. He contacted the dealer. They could not get the windshield. He contacted Chrysler. They can't get the windshield. The windshield is on national backorder!

So... we wait.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Quiero Aprender Español

Last year, while driving from Florida to California, the Mister and I talked about the value of learning Spanish. We live in a rural, agricultural area in Florida with a huge Hispanic population. In California, we are surrounded by another large Hispanic population. It would be nice to be able to understand them and possibly to hablo con ellos. While we drove (and I had a lot of time to do this, as it is a long, long way from southwest Florida to Northern California) I researched different language learning platforms. Then, I recalled that the Mister had something on his phone, and it was a free app. So, I checked it out. The program is called Duolingo. You can access it from a computer or you can use an app on your iPad or iPhone. I began using the program. I listen to Duolingo podcasts, I read Duolingo stories and almost daily I do at least two DL lessons.

I also checked books out of the library, and bought one that I liked to provide extra practice.  Additionally, I try to write a few sentences daily in an online journal I've created. I have come a long way... and have longer to go! However, I celebrate every word I understand when I hear people talking around me, and when I run into someone who is Hispanic, I at least try to comment, "Buenas días, cómo está?" 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

La Tortuga

 Today, May 23, is World Turtle Day. How appropriate that the pups and I came across a turtle (tortuga) on our morning walk! After sniffing a bit, and a low growl from Gypsy (I have never heard her growl before!) the turtle was given a lift back to the pond from whence he had come. (Judging from the scum on his back.)

A little research tells me our turtle was a Pseudemys Nelson or a Florida Red Bellied Turtle. He appreciated his lift back to the pond, and within moments of my putting him down about a foot from the water, he scooted in and disappeared under the pond scum. He may have been thinking, "Damn, I really wanted to go to the reserve on the other side of the street, not back to the pond! Now I'll have to start all over!"

Coincidently, I have been working on a quilt with turtles on it! Here are four of the 17 turtles I have made for the quilt. It's a pattern I purchased in Hawaii almost three years ago. I've carted fabric for it from here to there and back again, and then when I decided to make the quilt for a color challenge, I discovered the colors were not quite right... and I had to go out and buy more fabric! 

It's time to get back to sewing! 

Post Script: I completed three blocks for the "waves" of the quilt. I'm enjoying the process. The center of the waves are made through traditional piecing. The rest of the block is made using a paper piecing technique. You can see the three color chips on the center block on the bottom. 

Eleven more to go. 
I've already decided that I will call this quilt something like,
"There's always one!"
I plan to have one turtle swimming against the stream, and another turtle climbing onto the quilt. 

Happy World Turtle Day to you!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Seafood Lunch

Things are slowing down at RiverBend Motorcoach Resort as more and more folks crank up their engines and head to cooler climates. We will be here until the end of May, then will head to Rochester, NY for my high school reunion.

I mentioned the seafood lunches in my last post, and said I'd write more about them. The lunches are amazing because of the quality of the food, and the fact that it all happens because of volunteers. The chef and his wife used to own a seafood restaurant in Rhode Island. They began offering lunch every other Friday as a service to our community. He runs the kitchen and she manages the "front of the house" and the orders.

Early in the season I contacted Chef's wife. "I'd like to help," I said. She indicted she had more than enough volunteers already. I was heartbroken. Then, at the last minute, one of her "beverage" gals had sciatica (it's tough getting old), and I was "IN"!! I wandered from table to table, offering glasses of tea or water or more ice. I did this a few times and then they needed help in the kitchen, at double the pay! Both "jobs" are great fun, but in some ways I think I prefer the "behind the scenes" tasks.

For the last seafood lunch of the season I had the opportunity to work in the kitchen, again. My job was to place the uncooked seafood in small plastic bins for the chef. The orders were brought in by the "waitresses" (more volunteers), a post-it note was created listing the dishes needed for each order and I'd take the note and place fish in one bin, scallops in another, shrimp in a third and so forth for each ticket, and stack the bins. Then, I'd stack the bins for each order and place them on a platform above the chef. He'd take the orders and soak the food in batter, then drop it into the large pan of breading.

Chef would stir the food in the crumbs, then turn around and put the items in a fryer basket. (Some of the seafood is also baked in a small oven.) Chef also fries 150 pounds of French fries!

While orders are coming in, and food is being prepared, orders also come in for "Chowdah".  On average, 20 gallons of chowder is served for lunch, or in take-out containers for dinner. My friend who dishes out the chowder also prepares pieces of key lime pie for dessert.

Once fries and seafood are done, they are emptied into stainless pans (on the left in the picture below) and the guy in blue "plates" the food. The gal next to him places paper plates out for him, puts on a small cup of coleslaw and a lemon. Do you see the mountain of stacked paper plates behind her? Usually 275-300 plates are served at each lunch!

Food for each ticket is plated, and handed off to be placed on a server's tray. 
The bus"boys" scramble for each French fry that drops on the tray!
We don't get fed until everyone is served, and the smell of all of that food is almost maddening!

The food is then whisked out the door to the appropriate table. 

I had such a great time working the seafood lunches this season. The guests from the resort love the food. Each year we hope that "chef" and his wife are willing to cook lunches for the resort again!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Coming to Camp

I'm going to step back in time a bit... back to this winter.

I tell people that living at RiverBend Motorcoach Resort is like being at camp... without the enforced rest hour! They are quick to add that we also have access to alcohol!

Here is part of an "end of season" poem that I wrote last year:

This year we had Bunco and Bingo and of course, pickleball too
Zumba, line dancing, and karate, which did you do?
We had Croquet, and Crafting and Chicks with sticks
And yoga, and water volley ball, how does one pick?
People went fishing and boating and floated in the pool
Some folks read books, while others helped at the school.

The days are filled with all kinds of activities, and often there are several things happening at one time. It's hard to choose!

This year I was president of the Creations Guild, so much of my time was spent organizing classes, revising schedules and doing other Guild stuff. I didn't play as much Pickleball as I'd like... maybe next year! I didn't get to bocce ball at all, and I didn't do corn hole. I stopped by a few times to watch on my way from one thing to another and the group seemed like they were having a great time. I played Mahjongg two or three times a week, and I did do morning yoga a few times, but I missed out on water aerobics. Everyone said that was great. I did get some sewing projects completed, but there are still a bunch to be done. I brought my hammered dulcimer with us from California and I attended a 3-day workshop in Mt. Dora. That was awesome. I try to practice a bit just about every day. 

My end of season poem for this year included:

If it’s Monday it’s pizza and some Fridays it’s fish,
Bar food on Wednesdays is always delish.
And on Tuesdays and Thursdays we can buy a great lunch, 
And on Saturdays we eat with the Breakfast bunch.
Some Fridays the food trucks are parked out in the yard
Philly cheesesteak, wings or seafood, the choice is so hard.
Cattlemen’s dinner was another special treat
Piling our plates with far more than one person could eat.
We’ve enjoyed some catered meals, and some pot lucks as well
I’ve gained a few pounds and my diet’s gone to Hell.

The amazing thing about RiverBend is how people volunteer to do just about everything. I think the "culture of volunteerism" is what makes this place special. I was lucky enough to be able to help out with the seafood lunches on Fridays. (More about that on the next post... maybe!)

As I write, "camp" has come to a close. In March and April more and more coaches went out the gates. Fewer activities were held each week, and by now almost nothing is going on. However, I am finding the slower pace is actually pretty darn nice... it is almost like having that enforced rest hour!

Here are a few pictures of us having fun this year!

I can't wait for everyone to come back in the fall!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Submerged in Savannah

Submerged in Savannah - 2019

On April 21 we pulled in the slides on the motorhome and began our trek to Savannah for the "Submerged in Savannah" RiVoli Rally. We heard about the rally from Jennifer, who lives a few sites away from us at RiverBend. Although we lived in Bluffton, SC, a mere 20 miles from Savannah, and we shopped and at times worked in Savannah, we had never participated in many of the tourist attractions. So... why not?! 

Tucker and Gypsy fighting over the "front" seat!
As we neared our destination our trip up to Savannah concluded with a "bang!". A truck ahead of us hit an orange barrel. We watched helplessly as it rolled one way, then another, and turned to come back into our lane just in front of us. The barrel left some orange and white plastic on our bumper, but did no other damage. However,  to extract the barrel Scott had to bring out the saws-all. Shortly we were on our way to Skidaway Island State Park.

Pulled over on I-95 to cut out the barrel that was wedged under our bumper.

We registered for the rally and thus began 14 days of amazing food, fun and friendship! 

On one of our first days we toured the Georgia State Railroad Museum. We saw some of the huge tools that were used to maintain the trains back in the era of steam. We had an opportunity to operate the hand car.

Jim and Scott powering the hand car with two other RiVoli rallies
The tour included an open-air train ride on the turntable and back to one of the workshops. 

My watercolor sketch of the round house and turntable.
On our return while gazing out the train window I noticed a woman and man waiting for the next ride who looked just like Donna and Carlos, friends from San Antonio. They looked like them for good reason! What are the odds of our being at that place, at that time, coming from two different regions of the country?! Because we were both on tours we had only a few minutes for hugs and how-do-you-do's before we had to go on.

Carlos, Donna, Dreaming and her Mr.
 The RiVoli team promised an all-inclusive first class experience and they delivered. We had many docent-led tours, trolley tours, guided experiences, boat rides and 41 top notch meals, either catered or at fine restaurants in and around Savannah. I wrote the following poem and presented it on the last night fo the rally:

For two weeks in Savannah we have been submerged.
We’ve seen lots of things and on fine food we have splurged.
I have to say that this RiVoli Rally has been quite the trip,
As they say in the south, it’s all that and a bag of chips!
Kay fulfilled her promise that this would be ridiculously fun,
Also that the trip would include spirits, smiles and sun.
On Monday we didn’t know each other, by Tuesday we were friends,
We told jokes, listened to stories, and shared thoughts ’til the end.

We learned about the Mighty Eighth that fought overseas.
It was founded in Savannah but fought the Axis countries.
We met Betty, who enlisted and worked to break codes.
I hope I have that much energy when I’m 94 years old!

Yes, those are live bees crawling around inches from my fingers.

We know about bees and honey and tasted some mead,
I bought a bottle and probably more honey than I need.

We learned of the Siege of Savannah and marched behind a drum
Regiment flags and banners were carried into battle by some.

Pencil sketch of our docent in period clothing
Barri drove our bus from here to there, and back and forth,
While Ron told us jokes, some brought groans, others mirth. 
We took trolleys whose drivers managed to talk and drive,
Dodging tourists, swinging around squares, and we all stayed alive.
One trolley told us everything about Paula Deen;
Another gave us insights about ghosts to be seen.

Hanging with Paul Dean at Creekside Restaurant
Sketch of the Mercer-Williams House
A third showed us places from John Berendt’s book,
And even took us to Bonaventure so we could have a look
At gravestones and crypts, some for those long dead.
The whirlwind of activity just boggled my head!

Bird Girl, now standing at the Telfair Museum. She gained notoriety after being on the cover of  John Berendt's book,  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
This is one of the famous headstones at Bonaventure. This is Gracie Watson who died when she was only six. Many stories abound about her spirit in the cemetery.
We toured a few historic houses and the ruins at Wormsloe,
And drove around squares Oglethorpe designed years ago.
The famous "Gingerbread" house - while not on our tour, this beautiful home is sought after for events.
Of slavery, and architecture, and history we learned a bit
Of the impact of prohibition and how yellow fever took a hit.
At Fort Jackson we learned some more about the wars,
Our guide was enthusiastic, but became a bit of a bore. 
Then on to the Savannah Scottish games where it was hot,
But Ron, in his kilt (no disrespect intended) perhaps was not. 

From one boat we saw dolphins and viewed the sun going down; 

Tybee Light House at sunset
Cockspur Lighthouse taken while on a sunset Dolphin tour

View after climbing 158 steps up to the top of the Tybee Lighthouse.
On another we enjoyed dinner and an awesome view of town.

Hutchinson Island and Talmadge Bridge
Oh, did I mention food? We had so much to eat,
Every meal was taken care of, oh what a treat!
It was wonderful to be a tourist and not have to cook,
We ate so many things we could write our own A to Z book!
A is for apple fritters, while B is for baked beans,
C is for chicken, do you see what I mean?

Ron, Jennifer, Rick and Linda... ready to serve yet another fabulous meal
One night we had pork chops so big they fell off of the plate,
Amazing oysters, tender filets, and grits we all ate.

And shrimp, and muffins, and southern pecan pie,
And ice cream, and biscuits, and meatloaf three inches high,
And pizza, and salmon, and a sandwich or two,
Clam linguine, She-Crab soup and pulled pork barbecue.

Cracking open Bluffton oysters at the campground. Mary (2nd from right) was the last person at the table!
From L to R: Scott, Pete, Karen, Rick, Guy, Jennifer. On other side of table: Ron, Kay, Virginia, Pat, Mary and Mo.
If I wrote about it all you’d be here all night, 
Suffice it to say, we ate a lot, and saw lots of sights. 

I want to thank the Rivoli team for all that you do.
Thank you Linda and Ted, and Jennifer too,
And Dottie and Rick, and Ron and Kay,
You all worked hard each and every day
In an effort to anticipate and take care of our needs.
It’s through your hard work that this trip truly exceeds
Our expectations for what a rally should be,
You thought of everything, including soft TP!

Our time at this rally has come to an end. 
We came as strangers and leave as friends.
Tomorrow we will all leave this Skidaway park
From whence we’ve ventured forth, from morning to dark. 
I won’t say good-bye, for I know this to be true,

Somewhere… sometime… I’ll bump into you!

What is Four?

Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....