Showing posts with label Widows Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Widows Life. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Rolling Clouds, Rolling Forward, Rolling Solo

 I got a bunch of firewood.  My camping neighbor, Judy was going to join me for chat by the fire this evening.  But... now the wood is covered with a blue tarp and I am sequestered inside my little camper as it rains and the day's light fades.

Mother's Day, when I wrote you last, I also spent some hours writing for book three.  It is rough, I have lots more work, but I think it might be ready for some other eyes to read, mark up, make some suggestions for changes.  

After a beta read through and re-hash, I will send to a professional editor.  It all takes time.

If you would like to volunteer to be a Beta reader and provide constructive criticisms on content and flow and mark-ups on any punctuation or grammar mistakes, let me know.  I could print it out and send you a copy somewhere along my travels.  


Later on Mother's Day I went for a drive and did some sightseeing. 

It was too windy and rainy to go for a float on my new SUP.

Only two miles from Davis Lake is the Owl Creek Historical site where about 1200 years ago people built a few mounds.  One of them is pretty tall on which the ancient people had erected a structure. 

I drove all the way to Algoma for cell service and it wasn't good.  I returned to the trail restrooms and shelter in New Houlka and I was surprised at the good service there.  I chastised myself for not checking the close location first.  It started to rain, but I was under the shelter and until it started to blow I kept working.

Back at camp the rain quieted and I decided to dry out the inflatable and put it away.  Just as I finished that it started to sprinkle again.  I looked up and there were rolling black clouds coming our way.   I had just enough cell service to check the weather app.  There was a weather alert that a storm was headed our way, there was quarter size hail and 60 mile per hour wind gusts that had hit Ponotoc (one of the towns that I rode through on the Tanglefoot bicycle trail just a day or two ago!

I took down my portable sink and anything else that might fly around and went into my little trailer waiting it out.  I posted my fears on Facebook and got lots of nice comforting messages back.

No hail, not much wind, all it did was rain and lightning and thunder.  Whew!  

Even though the park was beautiful, rain was in the forecast for the next few days.  I decided to head out to my next destination the next morning.

I struggled to wind the hose in the cooler weather.  Is there a trick to that?

I debated about taking the back roads or the highway, since the back-road route would take an hour longer.  I remembered how the interstate was stressful and the faster speed was hard on the van.  I went the back roads and got to Craighead Forest near Jonesborro, Arkansas before 2:30.

I got a spot close to the lake.  There is a little Casita across from me is occupied by Judy from Texas who has been traveling on her own for 25 years.  I am looking forward to chatting with her more.  She isn't a full-timer, she has a home in Texas.

Craighead Forest is an amazing park.  It is big, with foot paths, dirt-bike trails, paved bike trails (3 miles) and a 2-mile path around the lake.  I went for a walk around the lake.  It seemed that each bay I walked around there I came to a different themed playground. There was one brightly painted blue, yellow, and read with umbrella like structures for shade over the equipment and off to the side a splash pad.  Next I came to a huge sturdy fort type playground with big cork-screw slide.  There was also a very old fashioned one like I grew up playing on.  And then a huge castle style playground.  

There were fitness stations for adults too.  I thought of how excited and diligent Regis would have been trying out the different stations.   I didn't feel motivated.

At one point I passed a goose sitting on a next right next to the trail.  At first I thought she was artificial, she sat so still.  But then she moved her head to follow me as I passed.

Around the last bay on my walk, I saw a huge tree with a ring around the bottom where a beaver had knawed all the way around it.  I saw a pile of smaller sticks which must be the den.   When I got back to camp I asked Judy if she had seen the beaver.  She said she walks around 6:30 a.m. and the beaver is usually swimming then.

I hope I can connect with someone.  I have had plenty of alone time.  

While walking I stopped to call Cindy to let her know I was here at the park that she and Regis had recommended.  She couldn't answer so I left a message.  

I called Marie who was unable to travel with me due to surgery.

I called my sister.  She said it was in the 50's and cloudy by her, I said it was the same where I was.  Cool and cloudy. 

I had my first fire of the trip.  The wood here is wet, Judy says they get rain almost every day.  I had invited her to join me, but she said her son was coming to dinner.  

Later she called over and pointed out the sunset.  And we watched the beaver swim across the lake.

In the morning I decided to walk the paved bike trail.

But at one point I decided to head toward the nature center and gardens.

My campground neighbor Judy had said she doesn't walk the foot paths because they don't end at the end of the park and she found herself in a neighborhood with chickens one time.

I ended up outside of the park too, but it was a nature center just beyond the park boundary.

The nature center wasn't open, but there were kiosks on the paths near the center.  I learned something!  I knew the American Coot's foot wasn't webbed and it walks on the floating vegetation in ponds.  What I didn't know was they have flaps on their toes to help them swim and support them on mud and lilly-pads.

The master gardeners were weeding in the native plant garden.  They said there was going to be a virtual event with drones taking pictures.  There was a lot of grass and weeds they still needed to pull, I was tempted to ask if I could help.  But I figured they wouldn't let me because I wasn't a master.  I like pulling weeds, so maybe I will sneak over there later this week.

This below is one of the milkweeds that the monarchs visit north of Florida.  It was a cool day,  I didn't see any butterflies or caterpillars.

Fortunately the cell service is pretty good here and I was able to map my walk back to the campground.  

When I got close to it I found an interesting track for dirt biking.  What else do they have in this park?

Since I left home most the parks do not have recycling.  I found one container on my walk this morning.  Now, hopefully I will be able to find it again when I need it.

I drove into Jonesboro to the tractor store to see if I could find some jacks for my trailer.  They only had big ones for three and eight tons.  They didn't have water proofing, but the clerk directed me to Academy Sports.  I was surprised when I pulled up, it is quite big!

I browsed around, looking at things that I need to buy for the bike tour I am doing on the Allegheny Gap and C&O Canal Trails in September.  I decided not to buy that equipment just yet, I need to do more research on the best and lightest.

Across from the Academy was Tacos 4 Life.  It sounded interesting.  I got tacos with seasoned tofu.  They were yummy.  With each meal sold they buy a meal for a hungry child.

After lunch I drove to the Post Office, but none of my mail had arrived yet.  There are two post offices in Jonesborro that take General Delivery.  I went to them both.  I will have to look at my notes to see which one I need to check on next time.

Then I drove downtown.

 Judy had recommended I go to the Chefs In for lunch some day for southern home cooking.  I walked by there and it is a buffet!  I will have to go check it out on a day I am really hungry.

Downtown Jonesborro has two Gearhead Stores right across the street from each other.  When I enter a store and find high-quality clothing and no price tags I know I am in the wrong store.  The clerk directed me upstairs where things were half price.  Half of $169 is still more than I want to spend on a light jacket or shirt.

Fortunately, a couple blocks away was an "award winning" thrift store.  I was hunting for more warm clothes because I think I may have under-estimated my need for warmth.

I started getting a headache and was tired by 3:30.   I returned to camp in time to put water proofing on the screen tent and a tarp over the firewood before it started to rain.

I am listening to a book on audio.  Sister of Mine is a historical novel by Sabra Waldfogel and narrated by Bahni Turpin, one of my favorite voice actresses.  I am amazed at the variety of voices she can do.  Slave woman, plantation lady, German Jew, children, and many more.  

With my headache I laid down in my cave and listened until I felt well enough to write this.

Tomorrow... hmmm.  What will we do tomorrow?

There is no Anytime fitness in Jonesborro!  I am surprised because it is a town of 67,000.  But I can't find one on Googlemaps.  I did find a PlanetFitness.  My back is bothering me and I think it because I am missing core exercises and yoga stretches.  I could set out a mat and do that work right here with YouTube.  But that is more alone time, and I need to be around people to get motivated.  I am vain I suppose.  I need to be seen working out, ha ha.  

We'll see.

Did I ever tell you I saw a lynx on this trip?  When I saw it I was driving on the Natchez Trace and it ran across the road maybe 100 to 60 feet in front of me.  It seemed rust colored in that light and sleek and powerful. I just looked up the lynx and it is actually a bobcat.  I thought, no, can't be!  The cat I saw was so much bigger than the bobcats I have seen before.  I just went up on YouTube and sure enough, they can get pretty big!


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Pensacola and Tammany - Continued


 The day after meeting with Camille in Pensacola, I decide to take a day away from touristy go-go stuff.  I decide to write, and cook, and do yoga and exercises in my campsite.

It felt good to get some writing done on book three.  The writing helps me feel grounded in some purpose.

I enjoy preparing meals outside.

At 3:00 or 4:00 I was ready to break out.  I decided to ride right from the park and take sidewalks and streets that were just outside the State Park.  All the neighborhoods were self-contained and full of dead-ends.  None of them led anywhere.  So I just decided to always turn right. 

Eventually I would find myself back on the main road again.  

There were waterfront properties that must have been destroyed during Hurricane Sally.  Only the driveway and foundation remained.  Other properties still had tarp over the roofs and siding missing.

One neighborhood had the requirement that all homes have a standard white fence.  It gave the neighborhood a Disneyland fantasy feel.
I rode into a children's park.  The playground was quite elaborate.  There were children climbing and running, it was good to see.

On May 2nd it was time to leave the Big Lagoon and head over toward New Orleans.  It is under 300 miles.  I drove on back roads and it took me all day.  At one stop I noticed that my passenger seat was beginning to look like I was a hoarder.

I arrived at Fontainbleau State Park.  It is located north of Lake Ponchartrain, which is on the northern edge of New Orleans, LA.  My picnic table and fire ring were sitting in water.   They must have gotten a lot of rain.
While I was setting up camp I got excited when I saw a woman and her dog in a truck moving into the site next to mine.  Maybe I would have a someone to have happy hour with!

After she was parked she got out of the truck and waved excitedly and said "Hello!".  I waved and responded with a greeting.  While I watched her and her dog walk quickly to the road to meet up with a friend, another woman with a dog who was walking over to her site. Dang!  She wasn't saying "hi" to me!  The dogs greeted each other with barks and tail wags and butt sniffs.

After the two women chatted a while and the second woman started heading back to her camper I asked if they were sisters.  She explained that they both are full-time RVers and they met in Washington state.  They were meeting up again for the first time and were going to travel together a couple weeks.

I talked with her a while and mentioned how I thought the big "Hello" was for me.  I was excited because I thought there would be someone I could join for happy hour.  She invited me to join them for happy hour the next evening.

She had just gotten free of a clinging tag-along camper and I think she was wary of me, but I tried to assure her I am independent.  I don't think I was pushy, but maybe a little needy.  Ha ha.

Fontainbleau is known for its ancient oak trees.  They are scattered around the park, twisted trunks and branches that reach high and some branches that reach out low along the ground.  Many of them covered in swaying Spanish moss.   These trees would have stories to tell if they could talk.  

There is a yard of these trees and a plaque says that under them were the shacks of slaves, 157 slaves at one time, many of them skilled in a variety of trades.  Children under 10 were used to push sugar cane into the mill, a dangerous job.

The park is quite impressive and on the day I arrived, a warm, sunny Sunday, it was very busy.

There is a beach and people were enjoying the water and the beaches.

I was admiring a water park where young children and their parents were playing.  A woman came up and we chatted a bit.  She said in her German accent that the water park was new.  They had built it during the COVID shut-down.

 The Tammany Trail crosses the entrance to the state park.  After I explored the beach and picnic area I took a ride a few miles down the trail.  

Tomorrow, I told myself, I would ride the trail.

And I did!  I rode my trike from the park to Sidell.  

I knew it was going to be a good ride when I pulled out early and saw five deer before I even got to the trail.

I went by a pond with waterlily were blooming.  I remembered that George and I had done this trail at the start of our "last hurrah" road trip after his dementia diagnosis.  We were here about the same time, because the lilies were blooming then too.
The Tammany is a lovely trail with tall towering pine trees that are close to the sides of the trail in places.  I loved zooming through the shaded tunnel.  I rode back to Mandeville where I wound my way to an Anytime Fitness.  This is only my second or third time at the gym since I have gotten my COVID vaccines.  I have lost some strength and I look forward to building it up again.

I side affect of those trees close to the trail is that the roots can cause bumps.  Most of the trail was smooth, and some places had brand new smooth pavement.  That is always a delight, smooth new pavement.

After working out, I was mighty hungry.  I rode down to an area of restaurants down by the waterfront.  I picked the pizza place, but as I waited alone on the deck for my pizza and salad, I regretted passing up the bustling coffee shop.  There was no people to watch here.

Back at camp, around 4:00 there was a knock on my door.  It was Lynn, one of the women with the dogs.  She said they were gathering inside Susan's trailer because of the heat.  Was I ok with that?  

"Yes!  I am fully vaccinated," I told her.  She and Susan had been too.

Susan's dog was a loving leaner.  One of those dogs that just sit and lean on your leg and let you pet them forever.  Lynn's dog was a player.  Her dog had a whole big bag of toys to pull from.  The whole hour and a half that we were together, Lynn was tossing for her dog or hanging onto something while the dog pulled at the other end of it.  You never know what you are going to get when you get a dog.

Susan has been full-time in her trailer for two years.  It felt so roomy!  Even with three of us in the trailer we were all close to six feet apart.   I asked them where they have been that was the most fun or most interesting.  Lynn said Big Bend National Park in Texas on the Rio Grande.  

That is interesting.  This must have been the fifth time someone has mentioned it as a great place, a "you must go there" kind of place.  

We exchanged contact information.  I wrote down the address of this blog, but I doubt if they will come here, their lives are full with making plans for where they will be going next.


I had thought I might ride the trail to the other end on my last day in Fontainbleau, but instead I hung out and wrote and hiked.

On the hike I took some pictures of more amazingly huge old Live Oaks. 

I went for a little trike ride around the park.  I left a copy of my second book, The Journey Continues, among  a shelf of books in the laundry room.

My legs are covered in bites.  I learned that the name of the bayou here came from the native word for the area... "riddled with fleas".  Though my bites are probably mosquitos, my anti-itch cream is getting used a lot!

It is hard to get an idea of how huge a tree is from a photograph.  I put my coffee thermos in this picture to give you perspective.

In the afternoon the clouds gathered and the thunder rumbled, but no rain fell until the evening.  Then it came and came and came and the thunder boomed and rolled and rolled off into the far far distance.  I began to worry that I might have to vacate, and I didn't like the idea of packing up in the pouring rain.

I posted on Facebook asking people how they check on local weather alerts when they are traveling.  I knew there were flash flood warnings for this area, but I had no idea if I was supposed to move to higher ground.

Before this trip I bought a weather radio, but it doesn't help if I have no clue how to tune into the local alerts.  I guess I need some instructions or to play with it.

But in the morning, the rain would quit for a bit and start up again.  I managed to pack up between the drops.

While I was at Fontainbleau I decided I didn't need to stay at the next campground, instead I could go see my friend, Jean, sooner.  I could move up my reservation in Tombigbee National Forest.  And then spend an extra day at Craighead Forest in Arkansas.  Which is where I will be picking up my mail.

So leaving Fontainbleau I went off to meet up with a friend.  YAY!!!!  She lives near Jackson, Mississippi.  I am so looking forward to connecting with her.

Topping It Off In Wisconsin

 Hello, A special shout out to the three guys that advised me through the purchase of my Ford Truck in May, Jim, Bill and Regis. On July 26t...