Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Time to beat the heat and get Smoky

Overview at Clingman's Dome parking area

The Smoky's fever is taking over. Its just about 10 days before we head back to the mountains.

It seems like we were just there about two months or so ago, and we were. But this July trip is going to be our annual summer camping pilgrimage. 

Why go so often? The views! The animals! The vegetation! And a place to just get away and enjoy life - cool streams, mild days (unlike the hot and humid times in South Mississippi), a campfire and s'mores for the kids.

Elk just north of Oconaluftee Visitors Center near Cherokee
We'll have one of our sons and daughter-in-law and family (four grandkids) to enjoy and pick on. The kids love to tube the river and explore and see if they can spot a bear.

Elkmont campground will be our main stay with potential for camping also at Balsam Mountain and Mt. Pisgah farther to the north.

We look forward to more boiled peanuts and the Tribal Grounds coffee shop in Cherokee and probably another journey over to Waynesville to look at more art (wifey already made the request).

So, its time to get out in the southern heat and start fixing up the van and camper for our next great adventure.

Next post: July 3, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Time takes it toll on everything

Time marches on.

And there are a lot of signs about what happens as the days turn into months, into years, into decades and then a half-century.

We were once young and healthy, going to and fro, accomplishing the unexpected and facing and surviving the unanticipated. We were living life to its fullest, or thought so, giving no thought to what lies ahead.

And like other things, such as the pictures on the post, time caught up to us.

As the Eagles song intones "it takes twice as long to go half as far."

Its harder to get up from the couch, to walk around the block or to ride a bicycle, things that once upon a time we never gave a second though to.

This compendium of photos, which were taken on weekend jaunts around South Mississippi indicates what happens to us as time goes by.

The once-strong and operational truck found it couldn't go any farther. It may have wanted to.  And therefore its cargo was also done in after having to sit on the side of a highway for years.

Wifey told me that she once, as a pre-teen living in Hattiesburg, visited this old store in its heyday, just south of Runnelstown, MS. She recalls it as a retreat where there was ice cream, cold drinks and other goodies!

But then, over time, traffic in the area dwindled and like a lot of businesses, there wasn't any business and it closed.

Such was the case of "Success." Once in a while we would stop there to get gas on our way to Hattiesburg.  It was located on a sort of well-traveled highway, but out of the way a bit.

Then the highway department, over a decade or so, put into operation plans to construct a four-laner that by-passed the location.

With probably more than 90 percent of the traffic taking the nicer, better-built highway that allowed 65 mph, Success faded.

Try to have more "success," before fading, because we are all going to fade, some not quite as fast as others.

Next post: June 26, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Revisiting and reminiscing about an island

We often find ourselves traveling to far away places and skipping the sights locally.

We tried to rectify that situation concerning one place we use to visit often.

And that is Dauphin Island, Alabama, south of Mobile and sitting at the mouth of Mobile Bay where its waters spill into the Gulf.

Dauphin Island once was on our yearly itinerary.

It's not that far away. Just about a 50-mile drive.

We'd go over, have a picnic, swim in the water and manage to get back home before the sun set. It was a good outing.

But one gets caught up in life and things change.

And it doesn't help that over the course of the past 20 or so years, the bridge to the island, on occasion, has been disable because of hurricanes.

We went in other directions, as one often does.

But this past weekend, we decided to give it a try.

Wifey and I had an enjoyable time. There's way more houses and development on the island than we remember.

We wondered about those living on the island full-time and how they manage to mentally deal with the potential threat of hurricanes each year.

I guess they would say "it's the price one has to pay to live in paradise."

We only spent a couple hours on the island, riding around in residential areas we never knew existed before.

Driving to the west end of the island we went past hundreds of rental houses, just waiting to be occupied by those looking for a good beach experience.

On the east end of the island is the Dauphin Island Sea Lab  with its Estuarium, the remains of historic Fort Gaines and a campground.

Fort Gaines was named for Edmund Pendleton Gaines, who during the Battle of Mobile Bay, shouted, "Damn the torpedoes - full speed ahead. Or could it be he shouted, "Damn, the torpedoes, full speed ahead." We'll never know.

Vehicles were lining up to catch the ferry that crosses the mouth of the bay to the site of Fort Morgan on the east.

The thought of living on the island crossed our minds, but only momentary, and then we were off to Mobile for a late lunch at the Olive Garden.

Next post: June 19, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

West Coast jaunt on the agenda

Bridge celebrated 75th anniversary this year

It has been four years since the wifey and I have traveled to the West Coast. But that will change this year.

We have already made plans for a nine-day excursion that will take us as far north as Coos Bay, OR.

We'll fly from our local airport in Gulfport, make a stop in Houston and then its on to the City by the Bay.

Upon landing and getting our rental car, we will immediately head north up I-80 and then to I-5. Our first long day will end  with a stop in Yreka, CA.

Then its up and over to Coos Bay and then down the Pacific Coast mainly on highways 1 and 101.

We'll make stops in Eureka, Shelter Cove, Willits and Sausalito ending up with two nights in San Francisco before heading home.

The spark for the trip came from looking at airfares (and also the fact its been four years). I just happened to come across round-tripers for $254 each and felt that this was a good price and we had to take advantage of it.

Years ago (something like 20 or so) we took a weekender to San Francisco and the price then was $200 each.

We've never been farther north on the Calfornia coast than Mendocino. We're hoping to see some good wave action from the Pacific waters off the rocks and outcroppings along the coast.

Powell Street in the downtown

We've always wanted to see the redwoods in that area and find unique spots to take in the scenery or local food.

The West Coast odyssey will not take the place of any other trips this year. We're still booked into the Smoky Mountains in mid-July and look to take a few other smaller jaunts during the summer.

Next post: June 12, 2012