Friday, October 14, 2022

Help Grinners and Spinners and Sisters with Hurricane Recovery

What are you up to today?

I am  enjoying blessed connected but alone time in a beautiful location in Georgia.

Hurricane Ian Left a Mess!

Before I fill you in on what's been happening and my visit with Terry F. in Tennessee, I need to tell you about the Grinners and Spinners and hope that you or someone you know can join in the fun.  Because we hope to make it fun, productive, and just a darn good thing to do.

I mentioned to Steve I was thinking of using my trailer now that I can survive without water and electric hookup for a few days to help with the recovery work from Hurricane Ian.  Steve right away said, "If you do that, let me know.  I will do it too."

Steve used to be a lineman on a crew.  Which means he is a great asset to our team with the experience of trimming and cutting downed trees and branches and working in the elements.  I am excited to have him be the first to join the team.

I went to to find organizations and projects in which I/we could volunteer.  Then I needed to find a place to put our campers that wasn't far from the action.  Bingo!  I remembered I had met Linda S. in Hayward, WI at a Sisters on the Fly event.  She invited me several times to come park my trailer this winter at her horse farm she just bought near Fort Myers, FL.

I texted her.  She has tree damage but it appears no building damage according to her neighbors.  "It looks like a war zone."   She has electric too and water (probably not drinkable).

We have a place to park and a mission to help her first and then move on to help other Sisters in the area.  I am already in touch with the Florida Sisters on the Fly effort. 

The team will also help the Lions Club as part of the recovery effort unload trucks with building and food and water supplies on a couple days.  We will be staying six days starting November 6th when we arrive. 

Do YOU have a trailer you can stay in a few days without hook up?  Do you have a saw or trimmers a rake or a good back?  Please join the Grinners and Spinners.  You don't have to be a Spinner (Bicyclist) but it would help if you grin.

Text me or contact me through the blog contact form with any questions or to join our team.  I am putting my phone number in code here to avoid the spambots. Two 6 Too - Ate for for - 8469.

I am close to Florida!

I am excited to have six days on my own to catch up, reach out to you, and have access to city amenities nearby.  I am at a really lovely Corp of Engineers site near Augusta, GA.  For those of you without good Georgraphy knowledge like me, Augusta is on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, east of Atlanta.

I have access to electric, water, showers, cell, Anytime Fitness, Aldis, parks, art, quiet, and more.  It is heaven.

I was on my own last time I was able to write to you.  In Bristol, VA where I went to Anytime Fitness, rearranged my packing, and did some hiking.  The Virginia Creeper Trail was calling to me, but I decided I can't do it all and sometimes I need to take care of business.  Maybe in the spring on my way up north?

After Bristol it was a short drive to Smokemont Campground in the Smokey Mountains.  No cell service but a lovely park and location.

I went for a few hikes.  Once I saw a momma bear followed by a cute little baby bear walk swiftly across the trail not far in front of me.   I stopped, my heart pounding wondering if I should turn around.  But after I didn't hear her coming back I realized they had probably heard me coming and were running for cover.  I began to sing to just make sure I didn't startle her and continued on.

My one full day at Smokemont I met Suzanne H. for lunch, a hike, and some Elk education.  We originally met in April and early May when I was at the Suwannee Bicycle Association event and my van broke down (remember that!).  She was a real blessing, giving me companionship and support while I was searching for a vehicle.

The dot behind the orange cones is an Elk.  They were reintroduced to the area in 2017 and now the herd is up to about 250.

She took me on a walk near the visitors center where the Elk hang out during rutting season.  There they were during the day in the woods right next to the trail!  Suzanne said to keep a tree nearby to hide behind because when the males chase each other they aren't looking to avoid you.

Suzanne is a volunteer helping to protect the Elk and the tourists from each other.  She had a hard time not instructing folks that were getting too close with their cameras.  She had put that pink T-shirt on over her official volunteer shirt because she was off duty.  But her knowledge and commitment weren't so easily disguised.  Ha ha.  

The town of Cherokee and the reservation were in the area and there were kiosks along the trail with some of their traditional stories as well as nature education.  "Mountains are the wellspring of more than 80 percent of the Earth's surface water."

The next morning I left Smokemont and met up with Suzanne again for breakfast.  Some of the other  Suwannee Bicycle Association women I met in April/May were there too!  It was fun to hear their histories, but the noise of the restaurant had us yelling to hear each other.  When I get back to Florida I will get my hearing checked again.  It is time.

I Meet Terry!

Now I was driving back north about 100 miles.

Cove Lake State Park a few miles north of Knoxville, TN.  There I was going to meet Terry F. for the first time.  To remind you of Terry, his cousin and my friend from the Dementia Diva days introduced us via email.  We had been emailing, texting, and calling daily at first and then later every few days.

He had lost his wife a year and a half ago and had the urge to go traveling in his truck.   He had already made major changes, selling his farm in the North East and moving to Tennessee near his daughter. 

While we were communicating he bought a condo in a resort community near his daughter.  He fixed up his truck and headed out to Sturgis for the Bike Week that goes on there.  It was a whirlwind tour where he didn't know where he was going after Sturgis but just kept going.  He slept in waysides and at Cracker Barrells and motel parking lots.  A very different kind of travel than what I do.

But he wants to do slower travel he just thinks he needs someone to do that with.  He doesn't like seeing stuff and not sharing it.  I agree, but I have YOU!  I am always thinking I can share stuff with you.  But of course I can't.  There are too many pretty views and neat happenings to share them all.  

He asked if he could accompany me to my first campsite after visiting his area.  He would bring his truck/camper and we would just hang together.  

Friends I love, cling-ons aren't welcome.

We had good times during our time together!  

We hiked to a waterfall by Cove Lake which I didn't think he could do because he had busted up his ankle a year ago and is still adjusting.  But he is up to walking six miles on a flat surface and we did two on a very big-rock trail up to the falls and back.  He tried out his new propane fire pit that he bought for his patio and for camping. 

He does scrap art.  He showed me his pumkin and his new condo, and we sat on his back deck.

My next campsite was Davidson River near Ashville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

I was nervous about meeting Terry in person and nervous about camping with him.  I didn't think we were compatible as life companions, but could we be friends that sometimes travel together?  I have become ok with being on my own much of the time.  And what if he wanted more than that? 

 We chatted about the women he was meeting that may be great companions for him.  I was still getting signals from him that I interpreted to mean that I might be one of those women.  To make my intension clear I told him to think of me as his gay cousin or his sister that he never had.

I over heard him dictating a text to one of those women that was worried about my visit He told her that we had agreed to be like brother and sister.  He told me she was relieved.  

I said if we camp together again he should bring her (or someone) along. (I would definately be more relaxed, I think.) 

I only had two nights at Davidson River.  I was lucky to get the reservations during the leaf changing season. 

Our one day at Davidson River was a lovely full day, very full of activity.

In the morning after I took a short walk we drove a loop up into the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It was cold and breezy 40 degrees on a Monday.  When we parked at the falls a bride in her sleeveless dress and her groom without a coat were getting ready to say vows in the cold mist of the water falls.  

The minister had a license plate that said ELOPEAVL.  As we departed another couple (woman in sleeveless gown) were getting ready to decend to the base of the falls for their turn.

I had made an appointment with Connie M.  who had been a full-time traveler for five years and recently bought a home in an Audubon neighborhood near Davidson River Campground.  She was going to come pick us up at noon and we would buy her lunch and then see her house and neighborhood. 

Lunch was at a really cool deli across from the entrance to her neighborhood. Connie was introduced to me by Regis and Cindy.  I kept thinking how they would love the coffee shop and the visit and the Audubon neighborhood tour. 

After a hike on one of the many many trails in and around her neat neighborhood where it is deeded to keep natural yards instead of mowed grass. She drove us to a beautiful waterfall.  We were lucky, she said, to get there late in the afternoon when the crouds had thinned.  It was a very popular place.

To get perspective on the size of the falls, the picture below shows a few people sitting near the bottom of the falls.

Connie dropped us off back at camp and already it was time to get ready to meet up for dinner with someone Terry had met in Deleware who had invited him to get in touch if he was in the area.  I think he sold the guy a sawmill when he was selling stuff off before his move. We left camp early so we could use the better cell service in town to touch base with our friends and families.

The couple was very nice and had their two lovely children with them.  They must have thought that Terry and I were a couple because they bought my dinner!  I didn't explain.  That is the trouble when two people of the opposite sex hang out, people assume things.

Terry hopes to continue creating scrap art for people in his retirement.  If you want to order something, here's his info.  And he has pictures of stuff on his Facebook page.

Coming Up

Near Augusta, GA, I am loving where I am at right now.  

Next stop will be Hunting Island, I think it is on the coast north of Savannah.  There I will have a few days to explore and then some very busy days enjoying Sisters on the Fly and volunteering for Pledge the Pink, a huge, multi-day fundraiser for Breast Cancer education and research.

Oh!  I heard from Jann that said she and her husband might come ride Jekyll Island with me.  They can't make it.  But the good news is that Steve has decided to depart NY earlier and join me for a few days of camping and riding.  No, we are not a couple.  But we do like to do a lot of the same things and share the same political views.  So I expect and hope we will be doing mucho together.  

Steve has inspired me to do 10 pushups and 10 dips a day.  (He is doing 100 pushups a day for 100 days as a challenge)

I forgot to tell you, the rechargable handwarmers I bought to help keep warm when I don't have electric work great for warming up the bed before I get in.  I like them!

They are good to keep in my pockets when I am hooking up the trailer on a cold morning. Instead of taking gloves on and off as I try to do stuff, I just stick my hands in my pockets and warm them up briefly every few minutes.

Your Invitations Still Stand

And the invitation still stands if you want to join in for the Jekyll Island rides.  

After that it will be Florida!  Inverness for a week and then Grinners and Spinners will be in Fort Myers trimming trees and shoveling sand.  

Please consider joining us as we do a little to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian.  If November 6th doesn't work for you, maybe you could do it in January or February or March?  Let me know and I will keep you posted on future dates.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Trikers, Sisters on the Fly, and a Hurricane


Wow, September was a full month.  Much of it without good cell service.  That is my excuse for not writing to you earlier, that and as my sister Mary says, I have been having fun.

Yesterday I was driving 300 miles from a Sisters on the Fly event I hosted at Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, Ohio.  I was heading toward the highest mountain in Virginia to camp at a place that was recommended to me.  Grayson Highland State Park where there are wild horses and lots of hiking trails.

As I was driving, Googlemaps announced that I may be encountering Hurricane Ian on my route!  

When I stopped several times I tried to see what was happening and where, but the cell connection was weak everywhere I stopped so I got pretty frustrated trying to find out how bad it was going to be.  Was the rain going to pour and pour so I wouldn't beable to see?  Would the wind blow so that I would worry about flipping my trailer?   

I took a picture of Lilac and Big Blue parked by the trucks at a service center along the toll road in West Virginia.  They look pretty small when next to those big rigs.

Speaking of big rigs, my son Jeremy has started driving big rigs across country.  At almost 50 he was having to search for employment again.  Finding nothing in his chosen field he began training to become a trucker.  Life sure sends us on unexpected paths sometimes.  We are hoping he loves it and it serves him well.

Anyway, back to my journey to the Virginia mountains.

I didn't think the part of the Hurricane in Virginia would be bad, because the Hurricane that hit Southern Florida would have probably lost a lot of it's power and water on its over-land journey.  Still, I was wondering.

For those of you reading this in the distant future, there was a category four Hurricane that hit the coast down by Fort Myer, Florida.  The experts couldn't really tell where it was going to hit, so even up north of Tampa the homes were being evacuated.  A lot of damage was done, but I have yet to learn how much since... as I said, not much access to the internet... and googlemaps, my Spanish lessons and human connections take priority over watching the news when I do get a bit of internet access at a wayside or truck stop.

I climbed up a long winding road to get to the Grayson Highlands campground.  I set up in the cold rain and wind.  I turned my heater on to warm up and dry off.  I reached out to some friends with texts, but with only one line of cell service that often would fade into "No Service", some of my texts were not getting through.

I was able to reach Steve who said if my trailer was damaged during the storm he would come get me.  He was camping less than six hours away.  Thanks Steve!  I am sure I would have figured it out between the ranger and AAA, but it was nice to have a friend watching out for me.

Then we realized he could look up the weather for my area and let me know what to expect. 

He reported rain for three days, most of it overnight.  Wind gusts up to 40 mph.   Not too bad.  Thanks again, Steve.  The trailer shook, there were huge bangs on the roof that made me jump.  But in the morning the limbs that had fallen were really just twigs, kindling size.

It was too wet and windy and cold to hike any of the trails.  I saw no horses, but did see a couple of deer.

My next stop planned was a non-electric site in the mountains.  Cold and rainy, I cancelled and headed to Sugar Hollow Campground in Bristol, VA.  I had stopped there on my way north and enjoyed it.  So that is where I am right now as I write this.  

There is an Anytime Fitness in town, a library, and the Virginia Creeper Trail is less than 20 miles away.  And I have electric and cell service!  What is not to love.

Triking in Ohio

When I last wrote you I was near Copper Harbor, MI.  I had just finished meeting up with several folks that have Weeroll Campers.  It was a beautiful area with vistas and hiking trails and waterfalls.  I would like to return with a friend sometime.

I left there and headed to Lake Michigan State Park on the North end of Lake Michigan near the Mackinaw Bridge.  On the way I stopped at a wayside and it was connected to a hiking trail that goes all the way to South Dakota and this part went to a waterfall.  So I got a nice little walk in.  Michigan does a good job with their waysides. 

Lake Michigan was a nice non-electric campground on a strip of land between Highway two and the lake.  I was booked for two nights.  Yet when I got there I didn't know what to do with myself.  It was cold and breezy, and other than a quick walk on the sandy shore, I didn't have plans.  And now that I knew that my friends Regis and Cindy had arrived in Xenia, Ohio, I was anxious to get there and be with them.  After dealing with one night of cold, I packed up in the morning and headed further south.

It only took me two days to get to Xenia, Ohio.  Regis and Cindy were camped at the Fairgrounds in Xenia.  It was great to see them and get hugs from them and licks and wags from their two dogs.

I had missed being around my Florida friends!  People who knew me back when there was a "George and Sue".

Our first day of riding we went to Yellow Springs of course.  Larry Varney drove up from Kentucky to join us for the ride.  It was fun to see him.  He didn't recognize me at first until he saw my trike.  Then it all came back to him.  "I have a few more wrinkles now," I told him.

Yellow Springs is a progressive town.  Downtown they have artsy shops and even their garbage cans are dressed up with art.  In much of my travels I have to haul my recycling with me in my truck until I can find a recycle bin, they usually don't have them at many of the campgrounds.  But they have them right on the street in Yellow Springs.

While riding around we encountered a man riding with a sandhill crane.  He did a loop so I could take more pictures of him and his friend.  

The next day of riding we rode to Dayton, Ohio.  We didn't go far into the city.  Regis and Cindy and I had all not been riding a lot and 30 plus miles was enough.

We got to see some people practicing their white water kayaking in short little kayaks.

In Dayton on a Sunday we found a Coffee, Chocolate and Wine shop open.  Happy!

I tried to write to you at the Fairgrounds.  You would think, being close to town that I would have good cell service.  But not so much.  AND we were too busy riding and taking care of ourselves and our houses on wheels that there wasn't much time for writing.

On one trip to Yellow Springs I read this plaque and learned that Yellow Springs had a reputation for being progressive way back before and during the Civil War.  A guy named Conway walked his father's slaves to Yellow Springs in the hope that they would find a safe place to be free from slavery.

My plans to stay closer to Cincinnati were canned in exchange for being closer to friends and all the bike activity.  The Xenia area is criss-crossed with rail trails, most of them paved.  

This map shows the many different trails going out of Xenia, Ohio.

I contacted Bernie and Roger who live close to Cincinnatti.  I had chatted with them on my way north when I rode with their group.  I told them about my change in camping location but that I still would love to have them show me around Cincinnatti by trike.  They figured out a place to meet and posted a ride on the Impromptu Trike Riders of Ohio Facebook page.  Thank you Roger and Bernie!  It was scheduled for Thursday the day before the Trike Rally started.  

I had timed my return to coincide with a Trike Rally.  One of the members of the Impromptu Trike Riders was hosting a Trike Rally over the weekend where all the rides were starting from the Xenia Station at 9:30 each day.  How cool is that!

Here are some pictures of our ride into Cincinnatti.  The guy in yellow below is Regis.

Cindy is in the purple below and that is Roger next to her.

Amy posts a lot of the rides on the Impromptu Facebook Page.  I will add pictures of her later.

At one of our stops was this kind of seasonal sun dial.  The slots in the wood allow the sun to shine perfectly into the center during the equinox.

The bridge below was designed by the same person than designed the Brooklyn Bridge.

I was looking forward to riding the Purple Pavement Eater across the Purple People Bridge.   The bridge itself looked more grey than purple, but the decorations leading into the bridge were a perfect match!

On the bridge is drawn the state line between Ohio and Kentucky.  Amy took my picture crossing the line.

On the Kentucky side, Roger lead us to a great place to have lunch.  We were all in good spirits, and a beer and good food lifted us even higher.  Many of us commenting on the beauty of the sky after lunch.

Larry and Roger below.

Cindy, Amy, and Regis shared a table with me at lunch.

Larry Varney crossing the Purple People Bridge, heading back to Ohio.

Regis and Cindy on the line, below.  And locks of love have a designated area on this bridge, pictured above.

This piece of artwork reminded me of the Bean in Chicago.  Reflecting at so many angles.  It was fun to walk into and around it.

I took a picture of the thing below.  I think it was art.

Larry played around and sent me this picture.  Yep!  I was high on life and loving the sky.

On Friday I got to meet Jann M.  She and her husband Bryan drove all the way from Western Illinois to ride in the rally.  They had learned about it by reading this blog!  

I was honored when she told me she had read both my books!  It was great meeting you and spending time with you, Jann and Bryan!

They also hope to join me at Jekyll Island down in... someone told me it was Georgia.  Ha ha, I didn't know what state I was going to be in when.  In fact, I was going to go to Elkmont today.  I know it is in the Great Smokie Mountains, but didn't know which state until I learned today the address is in Tennesee.   (The invitation is still open for October 25, 26, 27th to ride Jekyll Island in Georgia.)

Right now I am in Virginia.

Writing to you about my time in Ohio.

And worrying about getting reservations for next July in Vermont.  (Last I checked the campgrounds were all booked up for the end of June, early July 2023.)  People say to me, "Remember when we used to just decide after work on Friday to go camping for the weekend?  Back when there were always campsites available."

The first day of the Rally we rode from Xenia to Yellow Springs and beyond.  I got to lunch with Jann and Bryan which was great.  Here are some pictures of some of the smiling faces on the rides I attended during the Rally.

Below middle is Peggy T. from Illinois.   She lives only about five miles from Jann (on the left) and Bryan (on the right).   I met Peggy and her husband, Dennis, on a trike rally in Florida.  Then I visited and rode with them in Illinois in 2020.  It was great seeing them again.  She gave me a wonderful warm hug.  Thanks!

Whose from Ohio?  Raise your hand.  There were people from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and me from Florida.

Did I miss anybody?

Pictured below is Steve our non-Facebook host and Amy, who announced the event on the Facebook group site.  Amy not only bikes four or five times a week, but she also does Pickleball six days a week.  She loves staying active and she is great about making me feel welcome and likable.  Thanks Amy!  And tell Steve I said thanks to him too for some fun rides with fun folks.

Amy said she is reading one of my books and will be passing it on to another Impromptu triker when she is finished.  Pretty cool!

Paul with the tie-die flag is from Tennessee. He had this cool orange and purple trike.  It reminded me of me and George together...  purple and orange.

Amy visited my campsite one day after a ride.  Both nights I rode with the group she had dinner with me.  It was great spending time with her and she promises to come down to Florida for the Big Honkin' Trike Rally on the Withlacoochee Trail.  I think it starts on February 19th, 2023.

Traveling takes time.  All this socializing takes time.  Driving from place to place takes time.  Taking care of life stuff takes time.  Studying Spanish takes time.

So I have not spent any time researching Hurricane Ian.  Hurricanes approach slowly and the experts really try to predict where it will make landfall, but they have not perfected it.  

I reached out to Debra and learned she was heading to North Carolina to visit her daughter and hopefully escape the storm.  I heard from the Citrus County Sheriff emergency warning system that those by the Gulf in our County should evacuate.  I saw on Facebook that my friends Beth and Jim had put up the storm shutters over her windows and set out all the emergency supplies she will need if it hits the Inverness area hard.

I left the Xenia Fairgrounds and headed to Hocking Hills State Park where I would quickly set up and get ready to share a Happy Hour Campfire with other campers from Sisters on the Fly.  

This was my first time hosting a event.  I wanted someone with whom to share the beauty of this park.  So I decided to invite Sisters.  I am very glad I did it.  Many of the Sisters events are big and very organized.  I promoted this event as "Sisters Hiking at Hocking or Not".  It was loose and allowed for the women to do their own thing or join in some activities.  We had eight of us show up, I think.  There must have been... four dogs?  It was all good.

And the hikes were interesting and lovely.

I met Dee last year at a Sisters event.  And she met me on my way north this year and we did the Virginia Creeper together.  I was so glad to have her join me again for this hiking event.  Another Sister took our picture together on this artsy bridge on our first hike at Hocking Hills.

The area was formed from the runoff of the Apalacian Mountains.

Pam is in the pink above.  She is from Wisconsin!  She shared with me this Forager's Guide when I expressed an interest in learning more.  And then she showed me her vintage 1969 trailer.  OMG!  It was a real mess when she got it.  Even the undercarriage had to be re-done.

How she ever started without feeling overwhelmed!  This is the third trailer she has restored.

I took a picture of her gas buddy.  It runs on propane and will take the chill off when camping without electricity.  But you can't leave it run for hours.  

On our last day in camp, Theresa who lives in Dayton and loves to bike, guided me over to the Hock Hocking Rail Trail that starts about 20 minutes away from the park in Nelsonville.  We rode about 35 miles.

And when I got back to the park, on of the sisters asked if she could have the fire at her site and show the Rocky Horror Picture Show (which I had never seen).  

So that is what we did.

The night was clear and in the 40's.  I left after dark and drove to the John Glen Observatory.  No one else was interested in joining me. It is about 1/2 mile from the park entrance.  I didn't want to shine my flashlight and mess up the view of the sky when I got there.  It was scary walking in the very dark toward shadows of a building.  

The observatory isn't open during the week, but there is a platform with a wall protecting it from the lights of the approaching cars as they came into the parking lot.  And there must have been five folks with the gear for observing the heavens.  

I vaguely saw a lump of black on the pavement and heard voices coming up from the lump.  A man and three children were laying on the pavement.  So I too, laid down and looked up.  Clear enough to see the swirl of the milkyway.   And watch satellights move across the sky.  And then, one of the folks setting up his scope pointed out the space station!  For a few seconds it was bright in the sky and then faded as he explained it moved into the shadow of the earth.  

Wow!  Later when I share the experience with Steve who is a star gazer himself said that seeing the space station is special and I was lucky to have caught it in the light for a few moments.

One night he sent me a picture of Ian as it hit the Florida coast.  A blue dot indicated a location about six miles north of my town, Inverness.

Below is Theresa the biker on one of our hikes.  She and all the women were fun and I hope to meet up with them again on an adventure.  Theresa said we should make the Hiking at Hocking an annual event.  That the time of year we chose was best because the parking lots and trails were not packed.

We'll see what the future brings.

A Miracle and a Good Laugh

 Greetings from Inverness, Florida. I have sooo many stories to tell.  So much fun to share.  But I will save you from yawns by telling you ...