Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another summer -- must be the Smoky's

Wifey shoots picture of Luke and Nate during hike last year

Tomorrow beings a week mostly away from civilization.

We will be entering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a seven-day visit staying at Elkmont Campground, a place of which we are very familiar.

We have visited this campground at least once a year for more than 30 years.

Our trek will keep us away from internet connections, except when perhaps one time during the week we will go down into Gatlinburg and visit a coffee shop for our fix of a latte and wifi.

Favorite Gatlinburg wifi spot

Our two sons and their families will be joining us for a weekend stay. One group will be camping, the other camping in the cool confines of a Gatlinburg motel.

To each his own.

Wifey and I are looking forward to the get-together. Three years ago we had a large group of the extended family variety and had around 25 gathered for the July 4 week.  


A note of a different sort:

My neighbor across the street came over the other day and told me two of my babies were hanging out in his yard.

The babies were of the raccoon variety. We gathered the two traps that I had and played hide and seek with them.

They were stationed under his outside elevated air conditioner unit. We sat the trap up at one end and prodded them with a stick. One of them managed to enter a trap. The other took off in a different direction and headed to the semi-enclosed patio.

He got under another elevated air conditioning unit. We set the other trap, attempting to cut off all avenues of escape, and routed him toward the trap.

Such luck. That's where he headed and our second one was securely in hand.

 I packed them into my van and made the trip to the local national seashore park and turned them loose.

Hopefully, that's the last of the raccoon incident. Over the course of two months we managed to capture and relocate three adult raccoons and two juveniles.

I hope upon returning from this vacation that I don't find any more surprises.

Next blog: July 12, 2011 (two weeks away). 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Changing plans and reliving memories

Venetian memory -- someday maybe a return visit

A relative and his wife took off to Seattle last Saturday to go on a cruise to Alaska.

He doesn't mind changing horses in the middle of a stream. He said he had been talking to his wife about such a trip for awhile. But the price had to be right.

Up until a couple weeks ago, their plans were to go on a roadtrip to Yellowstone National Park. That is some 1,800 miles one-way from south Mississippi. During the course of early June, his wife had made preparations for such a trip and had actually started packing their vehicle for the journey.

I understand that the day before their Yellowstone journey was to begin, she was in their vehicle packing, when our relative yelled out to her to see if she would be OK on changing plans and going on the cruise. Seems he had been on the Internet and came across a good deal.

She agreed and started unpacking the vehicle and changed into the cruise mode and planned to leave the following week.

Apparently the price was right for the cruise. When dealing with the cost of a cruise, he always tells the cruise representative there is one main criteria on whether or not he will sign up and that is price, price, price.

Another serendipitous moment came, he said, when talking to the cruise representative. There was a matter of getting a flight to Seattle. Book the cruise and not get a flight. Book the flight and find out the cruise was sold out.

Decisions, decisions.

Usually, the cruise representative said, he didn't book flights. But this time, he agreed to.

And it was at a better price than what my relative could find on the internet site he found.

They are now three days into their adventure and we hope they are having fun. We will probably relive our trip somewhat when they return and tells about all their activities.

Eleven years ago we embarked on such an outing and had great weather. There was only about two hours of rain during the course of the whole week. Temperatures were on the cold side (back home it was hot and humid) and great.

As with a lot of people upon visiting different places, there is always the feeling of making a return trip.

We thought we wanted to revisit Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Paris, Italy and even Alaska.

Somehow it doesn't work out that way.

There are our favorites -- Great Smoky Mountains and the West Coast -- that usually trump other such trips.

But maybe, one day . . . 

Next post: June 28, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Remembrances of a West Coast epiphany

Panoramic of San Francisco looking north toward Golden Gate Park

Summer days in south Mississippi, as expected, have  become rather hot.

I know the pain of heat is here when nighttime temperatures don't go below 70 degrees. And it has been that way for a while. Add in high humidity and its time to stay inside and turn the air conditioner to a comfortable temperature.

There are two exceptions when it is better to get out -- morning hours, or later night hours. 

One can get out early or late to cut the grass or buy groceries. With not having any rain here to speak of for about a month or so, there's not much grass to cut.

Its amazing that weeds continue to sprout, even without water.

None-the-less, there are times when we have to get out in the middle of the day.

And the major one now is having to take my wife for therapy following her stroke. Most of the appointments range from 9:30 a.m. until about 3 p.m. That means being out in the middle of the day -- at its hottest.

Those are the times when I can feel myself drawing on remembrances of cooler places -- either the West Coast or the Great Smoky Mountains.

The West Coast has been a favorite place since I was about 10 or 11 years old.

A family vacation took us to Rosemead, Calif., to visit relatives.

We kids were playing out in the backyard when all of a sudden I had this epiphany.

After running around and playing baseball, I realized I wasn't drenched in sweat like I usually was when playing in south Mississippi

It was at that time I fell in love with the low humidity of the West Coast (I could say I fell in love with California but a lot of people these days don't like California for one reason or another).

Our trip that year also took us up to San Jose to visit other relatives which included a one-day trip to Yosemite. We may or may not have gone to San Francisco. I don't remember.

I just know that some 25 years later my wife, first son and I made it to San Francisco on a three-week camping journey.

Our favorite mode of transport in City by the Bay
We chose to stay in a motel there. The next morning we awoke to a cool and foggy city and promptly found a cable car to ride down to Fisherman's Wharf. What a delight!

As I sit in Coffee Fusion this morning (with the temperatures rising), my mind takes me back to those two trips.

And they were really "cool" trips.

Next blog: June 21, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A journey that calls for changes

Linda with grandkids Nate (left) and Luke at Elkmont in earlier trip
Travel plans have taken an abrupt change for this summer.

Plans to go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are still on. But where we had originally planned to head up the Blue Ridge Parkway and spend another week traveling, we may be heading back after our Elkmont stay outside of Gatlinburg.

Life takes on a different aspect when one has had a stroke. There are additional doctor visits and therapy sessions which need  to be allowed for.

We are continuing to do normal things and once our routine becomes more normal, we'll plan on more road trips.

But we're looking at travel in a different perspective. And that perspective is "what is available for those in a handicapped situation?" and planning ahead to make sure we can find what is needed to handle the change in our life.

Family restrooms at rest stops and major retail stores will be appreciated since wifey needs a standby person to protect her from falls.

We will be looking more closely about what is convenient and available for the recovering handicapped.

In the Smoky Mountains, there is one wheel-chair accessible waterfall. That is the journey to Laurel Falls, about a three-mile round trip that has a paved path. We will probably be making this trek. It is uphill going out, and "coasting" on the way down. I am anticipating the "you're too close to the edge" refrain from wifey plenty times. There are numerous spots along the way where the dropoff is rather dramatic.

We will have help from others so I won't' have to expend all my energy. Our camping experiences call for a lot of sitting around and enjoying the campfire and the area in which we are visiting. That's not tough at all to do.

Next post: June 14, 2011