Saturday, October 31, 2009

There were 19 burros in this field and they came running when I walked up to the fence.

Big donkeys in another field.

View from the park out into Mobile Bay.

Park at Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Standing abandoned with docks and boathouses washed away this home has not been repaired since hurricane Ivan in 2004.

This homeowner is more than ready for a storm surge as is his boat house.

Homes on Mobile Bay renovated and raised up on stilts after hurricane Ivan who did a number on this coast in September 2004.

It is that time of year. A lush cotton field, ready to be harvested in Baldwin County, Alabama.

A full cotton picking machine pulls up beside a tractor and trailer waiting in the field.

The picker dumps the cotton into the waiting truck.

Cotton field after the picker has done its job. It is amazing how little is left and how quick it gets the job done.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Our location: Escapees Rainbow Plantation RV Park in Summerdale, AL. FHU space #49. Very friendly, very helpful in the office. The park is a ways out of town so going in to eat or shop is a good 15 mile round trip. That’s okay for stay at homes but for us, (we go a lot) the gas expense might be an issue. My review: Well … the sites are wonderful, wide and roomy with lots of grass unless you consider the abundance of ant nests in the sandy soil around the space. Phil has sprayed and hopefully they will not find us but just thinking about it gives me the heebie jeebies. The idea of ants doesn’t get Phil as riled up as it does me but with luck, we will escape an invasion. While getting set up, we were greeted by the sound of shooting that lasted well after dark. There must be some kind of practice range across the road. There has been additional shooting here and there each day we’ve been here. A bit disconcerting but over time we have been able to ignore it. Rates: We took advantage of the buy 15 (days)—get five free, which brings the price down (with tax) to about $11 a day plus electricity. Not too bad for an extended stay. So, we know we will be here for 20 days, and we can renew again for another 20 if we decide that is what we want to do or we can go daily or weekly at that point. Very flexible pricing.

The weather has been cool, rainy, hot and humid—all mixed up in the four days we’ve been here. Actually, much better than our last stop in TN. The forecast is for sunny weather for the next few days! That will be nice.

I’ve probably mentioned before that I read a lot. Many different kinds of books—my favorites are biographies, historical novels and modern mysteries but I’ll read just about anything if it piques my interest. My problem is that when I’m shopping in a bookstore, at the Goodwill or a used bookseller’s store I can’t remember what I’ve read when scrutinizing dozens of titles by a favorite author. I solved that problem by keeping a running list of books I’ve read in Excel with a copy in my purse. I counted it yesterday and found I have read 53 books since 1 April 2009 or about one book every four days. Of course, Truman by David McCullough was hardcover at about 900 pages and I just finished Beneath the Ashes by Sue Henry (an Alaska Mystery) at only 325 pages so that is an average. Now you know why my heart rate goes up when I spot a used bookstore and there is one here in a little town nearby called Foley. What fun when I find a new source and at bargain prices to boot!

This week I want to tell two very special cousins from my LITTLE family, sisters Lea and Sharon how much I love them and appreciate how much they care for me. Lea lives in WA and writes a blog called Lea and Her Mustangs and Sharon lives in TN and administers a blog written by her wonderful Labrador called The Life and Times of Penny the Neighborhood Dog These two ladies are best friends, traveling companions as well as aunties and back up grannies to their kids, grandkids and great grandkids. I just wanted to tell everyone how important both are to me and encourage my readers to check out their wonderful blogs.

Sadly, we lost a dear friend back in our former hometown of Shelton last week. Our thoughts are with his widow and her family. We love you Joan.

Thanks for stopping by,
Until next time

Miss Penny the Pace at Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, AL.

We stopped to cuddle some puppies beside the road in Foley, AL Saturday afternoon.
It was really hard to say no thank you because they are such adorable babies and the price was right but we stuck to our guns ...
No critters in the coach!

Penny the Pace parked along side I-65 in AL because her muffler came undone and started dragging. A nice man waved us down and Phil went to work putting it back together.
She will be getting a new one next week!

A gorgeous sunset on our first night at Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, AL.

Gulf State Park at Gulf Shores, AL. FHU sites on the water at a very reasonable rate.

Sign inside the state park.
Okay ... not to worry!

Red flags warn everyone to stay out of the water. Security told us that the undertow would sweep you out to sea in a heartbeat.
The white sandy beach was beautiful but empty at Gulf Shores.

Surfs up ... storm coming in at Gulf Shore, AL.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I’m sorry to say that nothing very exciting is going on around here. Phil and I have been hunkered down and bundled up trying to stay warm since the bottom dropped out of the eastern Tennessee weather. It has been raining and cold for days now. We are doing a lot of reading, mostly cooking at home and of course, keeping ourselves amused at our computers. Our speedy trip to my cousin, Sissy’s home near Jamestown, TN last Sunday was quick but very enjoyable and we returned home before dark. We didn’t expect it but as usual, she whipped up a delicious late lunch and fed us before we left. We delivered a CD of the photos taken at the family reunion and I have promised to give her a legend of names to match the faces just as soon as I can get to it.

One day last week, we were so frustrated by all the mud in our front yard (see picture below) getting tracked inside we stripped all the throw rugs front to back, took everything to the Laundromat and Phil scrubbed and waxed every bit of vinyl and vacuumed every inch of carpet. We are trying hard to keep the mud outside until tomorrow when we will move south to cleaner/dryer (hopefully) pastures!

We did get a break in the water-works on Saturday and made a run about 12 miles north up I-75 to the Museum of Appalachia near Clinton, TN. It was so-o-o-o-o-o cold but what a neat place. I have genealogy roots in TN and the Appalachians so I was particularly interested in the surnames mentioned in some of the displays. I have no idea if the COX family display is related in any way to my COX family but it has certainly given me some new information to research.

Because of the weather, it wasn’t very busy at the museum and of course, as is par for the course with us, the BIG Homecoming Celebration was LAST weekend so we missed all the special exhibits. We did see lots of poultry strutting around with lots of goats and sheep on the acreage and there was a volunteer entertainer in the Appalachian Hall of Fame on the complex that was very talented. We bought one of Liza Jane Alexander’s CDs called “Good Old Music.” It should be fun entertainment.

Without further adieu … we are outta here tomorrow!

Thanks for stopping by!
Until next time …

Our parking area in front of Penny the Pace!
Not pretty ...

The entrance to Museum of Appalachia
It opened in the late 1960s with one log building on a two acre plot. Now, there are dozens of authentic log structures, two large display buildings, an extensive craft and gift (and antique) shop, a restaurant and over a quarter million items on display.

Beautiful split rail fence along the driveway. Lots more of the same scattered around the 80 acres.

Turkeys and Guinea hens abound ...

Just two of a dozen strolling the grounds of the museum.
Do peacocks mate for life?
Just wondering ...

Oh oh! I'm all eyes ... where are they?

I just love goats.
When I grow up I want to be a goat farmer :)

One of our nations first flags ...

Man size basket. Made just for fun on a bet. It took two people one summer.

19th century pharmacy.
Eye of newt-toe of frog anyone?

A clay jug in every size for every purpose.

Can you guess what they used this for?
It is a honey extractor! Who knew?

750 gallon clay pot made for Eastman Kodak Company to store chemicals.

Liza Jane Alexander, a second grade teacher in her day job, playing her banjo and singing for the museum visitors.
Per Wikipedia: Appalachian musicians were a key influence on the early development of old time music, country music and bluegrass and were an important part of the American folk music revival of the 1960s. Instruments typically used to perform Appalachian music include the banjo, fiddle, fretted dulcimer and guitar.

A sampler embroidered in 1857 by a 19 year old Sarah C. Cox in Knox County, TN.
Could she be an ancestor? Time will tell ...

Saturday, October 10, 2009


We all know the old saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Our full timing life in Penny the Pace is no exception. When I posted my blog last week I failed to mention that October 3rd was the fifth anniversary of the day we sold our house and moved into Penny full time. Neither Phil nor I have looked back and have had no regrets. So, to our readers who wonder how long we can keep up this lifestyle, our response continues to be, “as long as we can.” We have barely scratched the surface of places to go and things to see in our wonderful country so we encourage you to … stay tuned!

After our wonderful family reunion last weekend, I needed a day to recover. I LOVE nothing more than spending time with my family but my stamina for that sort of excitement lessens with each passing year. In the middle of the afternoon the next day we finally went looking for a place to have “linner” and taking the advice of our “Carmen” Garmin GPS, we wandered for miles in the vicinity of the Raccoon Valley Escapees RV Park near Heiskell, TN without success. Three of the local restaurants near by listed under “food” were no longer in business so we ended up at our old standby, Cracker Barrel for a delicious meal.

Yes, the place was busy and noisy (it was Sunday and late in the day because we had spent a couple hours trying to find a smaller, local eatery) but we were seated promptly and our waitperson was efficient and the food was excellent (as usual). It seems to get more difficult all the time to find a good place to eat off the beaten path and that is frustrating. We often wonder if an update or a newer GPS would help (ours was purchased going on three years ago) then talk ourselves out of it each time. Then happily destiny intervened the next day on Monday. Before we went to Wal*Mart to do some shopping we stumbled across a tiny little place in a strip mall called “Sami’s CafĂ© on the outskirts of Knoxville where Phil had the best restaurant created Rueben sandwich he had tasted in years! My home cooked bowl of chili was better than most and since it is pretty hard to screw up a grilled cheese sandwich my “linner” was also pretty good. They serve breakfast and lunch only and there were people waiting to be seated the whole time we were there.

Movie Review: Tuesday afternoon we went to see “The Informant” starring a pudgy Matt Damon. He must have had a munching good time gaining all that weight for this role and it was not the sort of movie we expected. Loosely based on a true story, the offbeat comedy also had some serious moments and kept us guessing about the main character’s good sense and objectives. However, there was a dark side as well, dealing with habitual lying and ulterior motives but the ending was a bit of a surprise and somewhat disappointing. It started out as a white knight, whistleblower, and cheer on the good guy type story and ended with an unexpected turn of events. Our advice: wait for the DVD.

On Wednesday we drove back to visit with my cousins Dick and Doris and took them out to dinner. It was our small way of saying “thank you” for their hospitality and hard work putting together and making the family reunion happen. We had a wonderful meal at lakeside on the deck of a charming restaurant near their home and spent many delightful hours getting to know each other. The next morning, Dick had an appointment to go into the hospital for hip replacement surgery. We haven’t heard how he is doing but I am going on the premise that “no news is good news.”

Now, I have an admission to make. Somehow, someway, all of our photos taken at the famous Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC this past Thursday were accidentally deleted from our camera. All our pictures were taken outside and we didn’t have a lot of them because no photography was allowed indoors so even though we were there for several hours … we can’t prove it! :) Click on the link and take a look at this magnificent “castle”—the largest private home (250 rooms) in America. Being there and touring this gloriously restored home from the basement to the fourth floor is awe inspiring in every direction and I can happily mark off another item from my “bucket list.”

Tomorrow, we are driving north to pay another visit to my cousin, Lee aka “Sissy” and her husband, Warner who live near Jamestown, TN. You might remember we were there a few months ago and since she couldn’t make it to the family reunion, we are taking her a CD copy of the photos taken that day and say goodbye before we turn our trusty Penny the Pace south for the winter early next week.

Pictures are few this week … hopefully, we will have better luck next week!

Thanks for stopping by,
Until next time …

Phil found an old barn as we wandered out in the country to add to his barn photo file.

Fat and happy horses in a green pasture near Heiskell, TN.

We were surprised by this one way railway underpass on a back road and were thankful we were in The Lone Ranger and not Penny :)

We had a great "linner" here ... in Knoxville.

Per Wikipedia: "The Sunsphere, a 266-foot (81 m) steel tower topped with a five-story gold globe, was built for the 1982 World's Fair. It still stands and remains a symbol for the city of Knoxville."

Left: My cousin, Lee (aka Sissy) and me on the right in 1944.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Wow what a week! We arrived in Celina, Ohio a week ago yesterday and settled in for six days, three of which included dozens of seminars, lively entertainment and dancing by the talented singing duo, "One More Time", hundreds of door prizes, great food and Rving community camaraderie. I never heard the official count but I believe there were about 125 rigs from every corner of the USA that attended. Just the best of times with family the only thing missing. That was remedied when we drove south nearly 400 miles (whew … a very long day) through the awe inspiring autumnal colors of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee on October 2nd and attended the Denney/(Criswell)-Alger-Larsen-Cox Family Reunion on October 3rd at the palatial yet warm and comfortable lakeside home of my cousins.

Doris and Dick (elders of the Cox, Criswell/Denney branch—I am an elder of the Cox/Alger limb) built an impressive three level home a few years ago on a sizeable lake (800 miles of Shoreline) complete with a large boathouse where they moor a beautiful big pontoon boat and a shiny, sassy speedboat. Dick took a more than willing group out for a ride and Phil LOVED it. He has been coveting pontoon boats since we camped on the shore of Roosevelt Lake in AZ in 2006 with our friends, Don and Ardella where he went fishing with Don every day. Cousin Dick’s boat is a beauty.

Our friends and fellow “Escapees” and also brand new fulltime Rvers, Margie and Roger pulled in later Saturday night and then our friends Diane and Bill arrived early the next day. Long time fulltimers, also Escapees, Bill and Diane generously volunteer their time at these rallies doing whatever needs to be done to make the rally run smoothly so we didn’t get to spend much time with them although we managed to join them for some pretty good meals in a couple local eateries in between seminars and our well-attended evening get-togethers for announcements, entertainment and door prize drawings. We won two coupons for $5.00 at Taco Bell (we had a pretty good lunch there later) and a $10 gift certificate for a local diner/ice cream shop called The Fountain that was just okay. It was a neat old place right on the town square across the street from the courthouse so the atmosphere (almost) made up for the food. The last night, Phil’s ticket was drawn and he won a wonderful handmade multicolored paisley tote bag that he promptly decided I should have. I was pleased to take possession. Overall, we had a great time!

The road trip south was going perfectly until we stopped for lunch at a rest stop. We heard a loud bang and when Phil went outside to investigate, he found the drain plug in our hot water tank had failed, cracked in half and hot water was spraying out inside the compartment because our pump was on. He turned off the pump and so we have not had any water (cold or hot) since then except for the gallon jugs we were using at the rally as there was no water or sewer hookups at our sites; only electric. Anyway, we have been really roughing it (tent campers will laugh at that statement) but Phil ran to Lowe’s for parts this morning and has repaired the problem so we are now back in business.

My family reunion was wonderful. We were invited back for brunch this morning but I was just too pooped and knew the blog was waiting for me to write my Sunday entry so we begged off. I think there was about a total of 37 attendees. Doris and Dick along with the assistance of their very capable grown up children prepared and presented a delicious beef brisket buffet which included several salads, baked beans, fruit compote, cheeses, olives, etc. along with rolls at 1 PM then after the official pictures (and hundreds of amateur photos) were taken, we went back inside for the spectacular array of deserts from razzleberry pie to chocolate bundt cake and ice cream. The beverage bar included a wide array of self-service teas, ice water and coffee. There was one table full of family history photo albums for our perusal and I was happy to see I had copies of most of the pictures and even helped identify a few. Dick has written a book he calls, “Molding Memories 1” about his early years and is working on “Molding Memories II” that I have requested copies of but for the most part, I discovered nothing new which was very encouraging and gratifying in regard to my 40 plus years of genealogy work.

It was wonderful to at long last be able to hug people I have been corresponding with for so many years but never met and reconnecting with the ones I have known for years. This reunion was the culmination of the past five years, traveling all over the USA in our dependable Penny the Pace stopping to get together with so many family members—both mine and Phil’s. For me, the fabulous sightseeing, visits to so many state capitals, experiencing our National Parks, and rubbing elbows with the locals all over our great country has been fantastic but meeting and greeting with so many widespread family members in one place has been the high point of this genealogists dream! Thank you Dick and Doris for putting the icing on my cake and making this reunion possible!

Thanks for stopping by!
Until next time ...

Dinner is served ... hot and tasty!
Thank you Domino's Pizza!

Pretty good crowd for the pizza party.

Our man in charge, Nick, and his exceptional wife, Miss Terry leading the cheers for all the volunteers at the rally.

Margie, Joy, Phil and Roger ... happily full of pizza!

Here we are in front of the house ... waiting for directions from the photographer.

The back of the house from the lakeside.