Sunday, April 26, 2009


As a long time genealogist, I have read hundreds of letters and postcards written by my ancestors and their friends. One thing that stands out is the time these people spent together. Rarely, did anyone drop in to visit, stay an hour and go home. Usually, even though the distance was commonly less than a days travel by wagon or car the visitor came prepared to stay a week or even longer. These trips were often and normal (and frequently documented) in my family.

When my ancestors modernized their lives, acquiring all the “time-saving” devices like refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and electric washing machines—these extended stays became fewer and farther between until in the 1960s, they nearly dropped off altogether. All that extra time in their lives quickly filled up with “things to do” and destination vacations to sensory overload places like Disneyland. While reading these historically valuable missives, I mourned the loss of those leisurely visits. Bemoaned a time when grown children, siblings with their own families, cousins, aunts and uncles spent extended time together and caught up on all the family news while happily lending their brain and brawn assisting with daily chores.

One of the greatest benefits of living full time in an RV and having the freedom to travel around the country is the opportunity to reestablish this rare and delightful practice. Since Wednesday, Phil and I have been immersing our days with getting to know our pals, Margie and Roger in Gallatin, TN. Margie and I met each other and became friends through our blogs, exchanging comments and e-mails then met for the first time, briefly in 2005. This year, we accepted their invitation to park our Penny the Pace in their driveway for an extended visit. We plotted our course to make sure we got to their town and we have been here since Wednesday. Getting to know each other has involved marathon visiting, sightseeing in the area and sharing meals. Margie and Roger are retired and in the process of selling out and going on the road fulltime themselves. Although we certainly are not experts in that regard, we have been living and learning the lifestyle for nearly five years and are happy to share our experiences.

It is going to be hard to pull up the jacks and head down the road when it is time to leave. Phil is doing some maintenance on Penny the Pace and his progress will determine when we’re ready to go. Today, Roger is taking him fishing so this morning, he was all smiles as they headed to the lake. Phil doesn’t get to go fishing as much as he would like so today is a special day for him. Margie has gone off to a friend’s garage sale and then to visit her daughter-in-law so I am home alone to share my thoughts with you, my valued and very much appreciated readers! As always, you are very good company!

Please leave your thoughts and comments for me … I love hearing from you!

Until next time …

Beale Street Festival of food and crafts in Memphis, TN.

Beale Street restaurant choice for lunch. Very good food and excellent service.

Here is a happy Phil -- fulfilling one of his life-long dreams. At long last, he is on Beale Street in Memphis, TN.

Beale Street closed off to auto traffic (except for business owners) for the weekend. Those clouds in the background opened up and poured heavy rain for about 30 minutes while we ate lunch.

The ultimate destination in Memphis, TN! What fun to be here and experience the music, street performers, food smells and people from all over the world.

Joy found a bear buddy outside a fudge shop that tells it like it is ... LOL!

On the roof of the hotel, this is where the ducks live when they are not cavorting in the lobby fountain. That is the city of Memphis rooftops and the Mississippi River in the background.

And there they are! The famous Peabody Hotel ducks have arrived at the fountain in the lobby.

Bad picture of the Welcome to Tennessee sign in the middle of the bridge across the Mississippi River.

We were in an hour long traffic jam on I-40 east on our drive from West Memphis to Gallatin, TN.

The reason for the delay.
The truck driver looked in his mirror and saw flames ... pulled over, jumped out and the tractor burned down to the axels. Looks like they saved the trailer. Other truckers on the CB kept us informed as we inched along at 2 MPH.

Our Penny the Pace happily parked alongside, Miss "B" Haven, in our friend's Margie and Roger's driveway in Gallatin, TN.

Yesterday morning we were off to the Squarefest Festival in downtown Gallatin. Although Margie said it was smaller than usual due to some construction downtown, it was fun!

Margie's Annie (in the pink dress) meets a twin to my Annie that passed before we retired (the Yorkie) with the white flower in her hair.
Cute! Cute! Cute!

Am I pretty?

Margie and Roger's Chihuahua, Annie in her lovely outfit. They have two of these darlings and Phil and I are getting a super puppy fix!

What a wonderful day! Cousins, Sharon and her husband L.E. come to visit us in Gallatin.

My cherished cousin (and fellow family genealogist), Sharon from Tullahoma, TN stopped by to visit after a trip to Nashville.

Margie's beautiful flowering plant in full bloom. None of know what it is ... can you help us?

Joy and Margie relaxing by the pool.
Joy is holding the tiny Chihuahua, "Buddy" that she has fallen in love with (and he likes her too).

That fellow on the left is our host, Roger at his part-time job working in the pro shop at Long Hollow Golf Course in Gallatin, TN.
Did I tell you Roger loves golf? Is this a dream job or what? He bought our lunch of delicious hot dogs and a cold drink! Yummy!

Margie and Roger's pool in their back yard!

Almost warm enough to swim in ... but not quite yet.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


It seems to me …a person should never say never and here is one reason why:

When we checked in at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park, the much-anticipated park bordering the Mississippi River in West Memphis, AR we were told that even though we had specifically reserved a “riverfront” site, there were none available. It seemed we would have to take a site in the second row, also called a “riverfront” site but one row back with gravel pull-thrus. The front row sites all have a cement pull-thru. The gravel sites are a bit extravagant for us but the cement sites are even more, about another $30 a week. When we called for reservations, the woman on the phone assured us we would have a “riverfront” site without the cement pull-thru and since we didn’t know they call all three rows of sites, “riverfront” sites, and it was not explained to us (we have never been here before) in our ignorance, we believed we had reserved a site right on the river.

Needless to say, I was livid when the woman behind the desk seemed indifferent to our displeasure, shrugged her shoulders and made no attempt to find a way rectify the situation. I had to leave the office because had I stayed I might have said something I would regret. Also, I might have told her where to put our reservation and left if we hadn’t been on the road all day and needed to stop and rest. There were lots of things we could have done but we swallowed our anger, considered the free laundry facilities as a consolation and settled in to the second row site. It wasn’t too bad after we got a look down inside the park and decided we could live with the mix up but would make sure we aired our complaints on the web. Phil wrote his account of what happened on the website and I planned to share my less than gracious thoughts in the blog.

Two days ago, a car pulled up and the driver knocked on our door. He introduced himself as the owner of the park. He informed Phil he had heard we were very unhappy and he also understood how it had happened and took total responsibility. He told Phil he had torn up our check. He agreed the park website needed to be more clear and he also offered a front row site beginning today. We declined as we are leaving on Wednesday so he told Phil if we ever came back to this park, he would personally guarantee we had a front row site. Now, that variety of admirable business practice is so rare and uncommon, we had to tell our readers about what happened. Phil promptly put a reversal of our opinion on the website and since we had vowed to never return to this park, it seems to me … a person should never say never!

A few thoughts about Arkansas: It is in fact a very beautiful state. We were surprised to see the proliferation of planted Pine forests (thousands of acres) and enjoyed seeing the multitude of turtles sunning themselves in the bayous as we drove the back roads. All the beef we have eaten in Arkansas has been lean, flavorful and notably tender. I have no idea why that is but the cattle we have seen are being raised on green, grassy pastures with not a stockyard in evidence anywhere we have traveled. Could there be a correlation? Obviously, because it is springtime, wild flowers abound but the wild Wysteria is spectacular. Climbing trees up to 50 feet in the air and in full bloom, it makes for many ooohs and aaaahs as we drive along off the beaten path (sorry we didn’t get any pictures). West Memphis, where our RV Park is located is accessed through some dangerously decaying neighborhoods. It is sad to see how some people in the richest country in the world, so full of opportunity choose to live. My mother always told me that being clean doesn’t cost a nickel but that concept seems foreign to many living near where we are located this week.

Lots of photos this week. Sorry I am so late but our Internet was unavailable due to heavy rain and thick, low clouds for several hours this morning.

Until next time,

Our "riverfront" site (well not exactly) at Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis, TN.
They are all lovely, wide and long pull thrus!

Here is our view out the picture window (aka windshield) of Penny the Pace.

Tugboats and heavily loaded barges move up and down stream on the Mississippi River all day and night. The throb of the tugs mighty engines announces their arrival before you actually can see them. We have really enjoyed the show!

Dozens of barges being pushed upstream against the strong current by one very strong tugboat.

Tugs of all sizes and shapes. This one is very big.

Grafted, two-colored dogwood tree at the entrance to Tom Sawyer RV Park.

So pretty!

Yup! We have arrived.

Official postcard of the famous gates. We had our picture taken in front of a life-size photo of these gates but it turned out so bad, I wouldn't buy it!

Postcard distributed by: Taylor Specialties-Bethpage, TN.

The official postcard. Actually the rooms of this house (mansion) are very small. As expected, they are frozen in time and it is like stepping back to the 1970s. I remember it well LOL!
postcard distributed by: Taylor Specialties-Bethpage, TN.

From the ticket complex across the street, we got off the shuttle right in front of the mansion. One bus load at a time is allowed inside.

To the right inside the front door is the white living room. The peacocks in the leaded glass partitions are gorgeous.

Just inside the door to the left is my favorite room, the formal dining room. Elvis loved blue and all the opulent window treatments are in that color.

The pool room. All the walls and the ceiling are covered with hundreds of yards of gathered fabric.

The "jungle room". that brick wall is a fountain.

Just one hall of gold and platinum records. There were several! Even though we knew he had them, to see them in the flesh is extraordinary.

Every young female in America envied Priscilla on their wedding day. I know I did!

What a view from the side of the mansion. Why they keep the horses, who rides or cares about them is not on the audio tour but they sure are lovely to look at.

Elvis had his own raquetball court which is now the "Trophy Room" to house even more accolades. Mind boggling! It is no wonder he believed he was invincible.

These costumes brought back some wonderful memories!

Here lies the King of Rock and Roll! His parents and his paternal grandmother are also buried here along with a memorial to his twin who is actually buried in Tupelo, MS.

A surprisingly modest and low-key swimming pool for such an opulant estate. I expected at the very least a guitar shape. LOL!

We didn't see a history of this convertable but it sure is purty ... don't you think?

Elvis bought this 1955 Pink Cadillac for his mother. Actually, she didn't drive but it was her favorite car to ride in around town.

Elvis used this plane to travel between scheduled performances. He also took a young Lisa Marie on a quick flight to Colorado when he realized she had never seen snow. She played for an hour then they returned to TN.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Do you remember this poem?

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was HORRID!

In spite of the weather conditions, (that I liken to the poem above) we are really trying to enjoy Arkansas. When the forecast is sunny and fair, it is a beautiful part of our country. The miles we have driven on the back roads are full of surprises like the exotic animals we found on a local farm, as you will see below. We are curious about the large number of “ponds” … it seems every farm has at least one and some are huge. We are not sure if they are natural springs (which would make them lakes I guess) or if they are man made but, whichever, these land-locked houses have their own waterfront view—how nice is that? Although we have misgivings about mosquito breeding when the warmer days arrive.

It seems to me

People who live in this part of the United States are very brave souls. They go about their daily lives as if nothing, (not even the stormy weather) will affect their world. As if, the next weather forecast might not contain the ominous, “scattered thunder and lightning, some storms may be severe.” warning. As if, they won’t be awake into the wee hours of the morning waiting for the thunderous hail to stop pounding their RVs and cars sitting outside and the storm to pass. As if, a tornado won’t touch down and cut a mile long-quarter mile wide swath of death and destruction through their neighborhood. We have been through one of those storms already this week and another one is due in today. Yes, it seems to me, these fulltime residents are some of the bravest Americans!

The newer palatial homes in the country are definitely on the upper end of the financial ladder with many acres of lush green fields and large herds of happy cattle blissfully grazing away. Apparently, raising beef has been lucrative in the past but we can’t help but wonder how things are going in this recessive environment. The long, paved driveways behind intricate iron gates complete the picture. Yes, there are some awful, junky looking places, complete with rusty old cars and garbage scattered around a falling down mobile home or trailer, but they are few and far between.

One thing we have noticed is a lot of empty houses. A bit overgrown but obviously middle class homes that look as if the owners just walked away. Few “for sale” or “for rent” signs are obvious and that is a mystery. We have also noted that for the most part, the remaining residents have a mowing obsession. They mow everywhere including the sides of the road, which are carpeted with wild flowers. A feast for the eye as you travel the red, blue and even gray (called “local” on the map) roads, which are all (for the most part) in good condition. Lovely drives on clear sunlit afternoons, which since we’ve been here have been too few and far between and apparently, the bad weather is not going away any time soon. I’ve just looked up the chances of dying in a tornado, which is 1 in 60,000, and the likelihood of dying from a lightning strike are 1 in 83,930. Pretty good odds considering dying from heart disease is 1 in 438 or cancer, which is 1 in 600. It may be “famous last words” but we refuse to let the FEAR of bad weather stop our travels. In the tourist brochures, I have read that one of the reasons people choose Arkansas for their home is the beautiful weather. Hmmmmm, we’re ready! We will just keep moving and hope to stay safe.
Sunday evening:
At last, we are back on line. This storm was not nearly as bad as the last one. I think when they happen during the day, rather than during the night it takes away some of the trauma. The rain was so heavy and the cloud cover so thick, it knocked out our TV satellite and there was some lightning so we lowered the satellite Internet dish and just put it back up a half hour or so ago. I apologize for the lack of dialogue with the pictures. I apologize but I'm exhausted and not feeling very creative. Hopefully, next week will be better!
Until next time,

The Mountain Tower 216' high at the observation deck. Thankfully, there is an elevator.

Joy at the top where we have a 360' view.