Click on picture to read Chaco's poems

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day Three - You Two Gypsies Must Return to Coach Class at Once!

A man and a woman, who had never met before, found themselves assigned to the same sleeping room on a transcontinental train. Although initially embarrassed and uneasy over sharing a room, the two are tired and fall asleep quickly -- he in the upper bunk and she in the lower. At 2:00 a.m., he leans over and gently wakes the woman, saying, "Ma'am, I'm sorry to bother you, but would you be willing to reach into the closet to get me a second blanket? I'm awfully cold." "I have a better idea," she replies. "Just for tonight, let's pretend that we're married." "Wow! That's a great idea!!" he exclaims. "Good," she replies. "Get your own damn blanket."

     Saturday, Jan 30- Well after three days and two nights on the train I now realize that it was a much more interesting and enlightening experience than I had anticipated. We competely enjoyed every aspect of this railway journey! One of the most memorable things was the vast spectrum of different kinds of people we both met and observed onboard. Sheila and I tried to make a game of solving "the great train mystery" every time we noticed people who caught our attention. Some of the best were these: The little old man in the full length fur coat and lots of flashy jewelry. He would only sit in the dining car with his back toward the direction it travelled and got quite upset with Amtrak personel rearranging his seating. They always seat you with other people at the table to make room in the dining car. He made it clear that he would not sit facing forward as they requested. We also noticed when other people were seated at his table he would just ignore them, not talking at all to them and just looking all around but not at them! He was a very strange little man and we wondered what his story was. One night another older gentleman was seated at his table and we thought they knew each other. Mr. Fur Coat ignored him also. It turned out that a very young blonde lady, who looked to be only 13-15 years old joined this new older guy (Mr. Cowboy Hat) and sat right beside him. We listened trying to hear if he introduced her to Mr. Fur Coat as his grand-daughter but we soon figured out she was his "traveling companion" as she went on how short life was, how people always thought she was much younger than she was, all the while chugging down glass after glass of red wine, no doubt paid for by Mr. Cowboy Hat. I wondered if he knew just  how short his life would be if he planned on climbing into a sleeping car with this young blonde bombshell.  Funny thing though...we never saw either one of them again! Mr. Fur Coat was there in the dining car everyday aterwards always ignoring whoever sat at his table. There was another guy we named Mr.Smiley because he always managed to sit alone in the dining car and always stared at people with a very strange smile but also didn't talk to anyone as far as we could tell. Somehow the dining car attendants also never seemed to seat anyone at his table either. We thought this very odd and soon I got the creepy feeling as he stared my way that he was like Hannibal Lecter wishing he could "have an old friend for dinner". There was also The Twins, a couple that were about our age and we thought that because they had been together for so long that they started looking just like one another. They both had short gray hair and features, both wore the same type wire rimmed glasses, jeans, black turtlenecks sweaters and white sneakers. We then immediately checked that we were not dressed alike! We were safe, at least for the time being. One morning we also met "Johnny Cash-The Man in Black". He came into the dining car dressed completly in black with his coat buttoned up to the neck, the collar turned up and with black fingerless gloves on, He proceeded to order a fancy breakfast with all kinds of special cooking conditions when the dining attendant told him that he had to have just what was listed on the menu. I think he took offence at that because he quickly decided what to order, gulped it down all the while wearing his black fingerless gloves and left the car. I did notice that he left a five dollar bill as a tip though. I thought for sure he wouldnn't leave a tip. The lady who occupied the sleeper across the corridor from us had been traveling alone since Canada and I guess she was was lonely because she went on and on at the slightest hint on our part that we were even remotely interested in hearing a half hour description if how the shower works onboard the train. We called her Mary Ellen after the character in Bill Bryson's book about the Appalachian Trail. She was very nice lady but would talk endlessly to you like you were her lifelong friend using all the names of people she knew just like you knew who she was talking about! When she would finally leave our doorway we would say to each other, "who the hell is Donna, or what the hell do I care what Billy said?" When we were getting off the train in Texas she made sure we had her business card in case we were ever in Canada we "were to look her up"! The last night we were on the train we slept like the dead! We were exhausted and didnt even wake as the train ran into a severe ice storm and they had to light fires to unfreeze the switchgear on the track. The train was over three hours behind schedule when we woke in the morning and didnt get into Fort Worth until about 4pm. We caught a cab from the train station in Fort Worth and went and picked up our car, got a motel room and tried to decide where the gypsies were headed next!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day Two- There's nothing like a good nights sleep….and….that was nothing like a good nights sleep!

Schenectady, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Erie, Cleveland, Elyria, Sandusky, Toledo, Bryan, Waterloo, Elkhart, South Bend, Chicago

         Friday, Jan 29 - We are in Chicago! Arrived about 1130AM and the train to Fort Worth will leave in about 2 hours. Union Station! What can I say, busy, crowded, confusing, HUGE! Homeless panhandlers, Amish families and everything in between pushing and shoving their way in a mass of humanity, dragging anything from designer bags to Hefty trash can liners as luggage, looking like refugees in a apocalyptic Hollywood movie. First thing we did was go see the Grand Hall. I think this was the place they filmed the baby carriage scene in The Untouchables. After that we found one of the many food courts upstairs and in McDonald’s tried to get on the free WiFi. No luck! After eating its time to just sit and wait for our train to Texas, another sleeper car for the now stuck-up gypsies!! Well behaved Amish girls playing a game of cards on the station floor, fat obnoxious black lady arguing loudly into a cell phone with and an equally loud husband/boyfriend on the other end. A worn out looking blue collar worker comparing a grotesque knot on his bald head caused by a falling AC unit, (he never explains why he tried to break it’s fall with his noggin) with the Amish man’s even more enormous growth protruding from his Dutch boy hair cut and looking much like an old fashioned red Christmas tree bulb right on top of his head! Next up, another fat black lady who wants to plop right down next to me and asks ME if she will fit into “that tiny little chair”. Luckily she goes and sits with the loud cell phone lady before I have a chance to tell her that the “tiny little chair” would hold the entire Amish family, INCLUDING their Dad’s inflated hat stretcher!! Then a middle eastern looking man with three giant suitcases on a hand cart asks me if he can check these bags right here at the gate. I tell him I have no idea, that he better go ask an AmTrak person and he leaves the bags while he goes off looking for help. Now I am wondering just how many pounds of high explosives could be packed into those unattended suitcases and if I should be alarmed that he has gone off and left them right beside me. I will certainly feel like an ass if I report this and it turns out to be all his college dorm room stuff in them! I finally decide that if they detonate at least I will never hear or feel anything at this range. He does eventually come back and hauls them off to parts unknown! They announce the boarding of our train right on time and the mad rush to the gate by everyone seated begins like someone has just yelled, FIRE! Then and only then they announce to let seniors and handicapped load first and those people have to push through the crowd. Next they say people with small kids under ten can board and THEY have to fight through the long line. I notice now that the loud cell phone lady has become part of a family she obviously does not even know so that she can waddle onboard with their kids early! Maybe they meant anyone MENTALLY under ten? Finally the mass of regular travelers can board and again rush to the gate! Nope…not so fast…now a young guy shows up pushing his young buddy in a wheelchair and carrying their guitar cases apologizes for making everyone again step aside so they can board! I half heartedly wanted an air conditioner to drop on their heads! To quote Sean Connery in The Untouchables…,”they put one of us in the hospital, we send one of their’s to the morgue, that’s how we do things in Chicago!” I felt like now I knew what he was talking about!

Day One- “Your not going to Montana on this train with all that Stuff!”

Kingston, Providence, Boston, Framingham, Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield, Albany

       Thursday, Jan 28 - Sister Imp drove us to the Kingston, RI Amtrak Station and we began our journey back to Texas. We had never been on a long train trip so this was a new experience for us. The train left right on time and headed north to Providence. The Kingston, RI station is a historic train depot that has been restored back to fantastic turn of the century condition. It was not crowded, and was clean and quiet until a group of not so young ladies showed up on their way to Boston for some type of convention and they talked loud and excitedly about all manner of inane subjects, like the color of their shoes and how much stuff they had packed without regard for anyone around them. I think if they had all pooled their collective intelligence they may have been able to fill the average quohog! The ride was nice up to Provindence, though we did make sure the “girls” were well to the back of the car before Sheila and I selected seats up at the front. After Providence the train headed to Boston and I was expecting to see another nice station. I could not have been more wrong! Instead of going into South Station, the train went into the Back Bay Station. To call this a station is exaggerating to say the least. Although it was large and very busy, it was dirty and not heated and to wait on the track for your next connection meant to wait outside, underground with the trash, graffiti and pigeons! I would not want anyone I cared about to pull into this place after dark and have to guess if they made it onto the next train! We quickly grabbed a tea and coffee from the Dunkin Donuts and walked downstairs to shiver until our train to Albany arrived. It was here that we first noticed a young couple already waiting there with what looked like enough luggage for to send a small expedition overseas! They had suitcases, backpacks, folding camp chairs, guitar cases, duct tapped boxes and oversized duffle bags piled into a small mountain at the bottom of the stairs! I said to them, “I’ll say one thing for you guys… travel light!” They both laughed and said they were moving to Montana and had carried all this stuff back to the train station today because they had missed their train yesterday. They had been taking each other’s picture in front of all this gear and as Sheila ran to the ladies room I offered to take their picture together with their camera. The train to Albany finally arrived and Sheila and I hopped aboard. When the conductors stepped out they immediately told the Montana couple that there was no way they were getting on the train with all that stuff! We heard the couple protesting that they thought they could just take it as checked baggage as we took our seats but I could see that they were getting nowhere. As the train pulled away from the station the last we saw of the young Montana couple was her breaking into tears as it sunk in that they were going to be hauling that mountain of belongings away for the second day in a row. I still wonder if they ever got started on their way to Montana. On the way to Albany it started to snow and it kept snowing and snowing! It could not have been in more scenic country as we passed through western Massachusetts’s mountains and river lined valleys the whole country was flocked with white and looked like something you would see on the Orient Express. At times it was pure white out conditions and we could not even see the trees just fifty feet beside the train. What a wonderful way to start a train trip! In Albany we got onto the train that had our first sleeper car that would take us overnight to Chicago. It was nice having our own place to stay on the train and a break from all the chatter of people in coach. It was difficult not to feel a little snobbish as we headed to our own “cabin” toward the front of the train! That evening when we went to the dining car we were seated with another couple. They were amazingly enough were from Jamestown, RI! They told us about their planned train trip and also about their home on the North Shore in Jamestown. He was a retired plumber and when I told them I have a sister in Jamestown, they said if she sees a red Suzuki running around the island it would be them! I then told them about Imp buying Sheila’s red Miata and told them they WILL see it all over the island with a blonde and a pit-bull in it! (So make sure you wave to any passing red Suzuki Imp!) It snowed all through the night and when we woke and tried to guess what town we were passing through everything was covered in new snow and the streets were all deserted. Late that night I went looking for a bathroom not wanting to used the toilet right beside the bed, I passed from one darkened car to another and another the snow was drifted a foot deep in the outside section coupling the cars together. The train was dark with no one around and I passed through deserted dining and lounge cars, through empty coach class cars wondering where everybody was, it reminded me of the movie Runaway Train! Needless to say we did not get much sleep, both due to the colds we now have and the fact that we didn’t want to miss any of the train trip.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Night at The Museum

Last night we spent the night on Rose Island, an uninhabitated island in Narragansett Bay with a lighthouse built in the 1800's. It has been restored back to what it would have looked liked while housing a Keeper and his family in the late 1800's. The first floor is still a museum open to the public during the day but at night guests are allowed to spend the night in one of the two rooms  the Keeper's family would have used. what an amazing place to spend the night. We had a lobster boat bring us to the island as the ferry only runs there in the summer months. During WWII the military stored toepedoes and ammo on the island and had a garrison of Marines stationed there to provide security. You can see remnents of old Fort Hamilton and go in the restored barracks building. The island is still a mine field of sorts, since now the geese and gulls have invaded and deposited their "personel mines" on just about every square inch of the island! You cannot take more than two steps with out being a casualty! We walked completely around the island as soon as we landed and climbed up into the lantern room (lighthouse tower) for a birds eye veiw of the island. At night the Newport Bridge was all lit up and looked like it was just outside our window. Both the sunset and sunrise were unbelievable and I got several great shots! There was just one other couple on the island while we were there and they stayed upstairs in the weekly Keepers Quarters. We did not even meet them until the boat came to get us this morning. 

Toesocks stirring the rainwater
cistern in the lighthouse cellar.
Also empting a wine bottle to make
sea glass!

Lighthouse at sundown

Self propelled portrait

Sunset at the dock

Making clam-chowder

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Brunch with Rascal

The woods were made for the hunters of dreams,

The brooks for the fishers of song;

To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game

The streams and the woods belong.

~Sam Walter Foss

Today we all went to Scott and Carol's for a fantastic breakfast. After eating we all went for a hike at the Aquidneck Island Land Trust and brought Emily's dog Rascal and three of her boyfriends dogs. The trail had some deep snow left in some areas and there were plenty of geese in the surrounding fields. The trail follows beside a golf course until going into some woods and across boardwalks and wooden bridges and ending at a dairy farm close to Carol's apartment at Sandy Point Stables. It really is a great place to walk off a big breakfast!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Be On the Lookout for a Speeding Miata Last Seen Driven by a Goggled Mystery Woman in Jamestown Rhode Island

Local red light camera caught what may be this best glimpse yet of an unknown women recently terrorizing the quiet farm island community of Jametown Rhode Island.  Last seen driving at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour sending flocks of wild geese thundering into the air and area cattle hightailing it into the nearby hills. Sometimes spotted with an equaly goggled canine companion the pair has made quite an uproar in this quiet little island community. Using many aliases (Sherb, Impy, Toesox and Sadie) they have absconded with several unpaid tanks of gas as they speed through the quiet coutryside and city streets here in Jamestown, Rhode Island. Trailing silken white scarfs in the wind behind them, squintting through their goggles they just laughed and sped on to parts unknown as a local city councilwomen vowed, "I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too!!!"

The above picture is the other wanted suspect, seen in this mug shot from a previous arrest for harrasing local squirrells. The case eventually had to be dropped, but she remains wanted for suspicion of speeding in the red Miata case and driving without an valid license.

From Waterpenny to Whisper Hill to Morning Mist Farm


Take off your flannels before the first of May, and you'll have a doctor's bill to pay."   New England Saying

Well we are now finally in Jamestown, Rhode Island at sister Imp's place called Morning Mist Farm. It is on the next Island over from where we grew up on Aquidneck Island and is still very undeveloped with salt marshes and Canadian Geese everywhere on all the surrounding farms. Very beautiful! We just got back from and outstanding breakfast in town and Sheila and Imp are out in the Miata for a drive around the Island. We got the car washed yesterday after the 2000 mile drive up here and Imp is gonna love this car. It is perfect for cruising around the islands in and will be fanntastic in the summer. She also is keeping her 14 year old 4 wheel drive Tahoe to drive when the roads are bad after a snow storm and to be able to haul her dogs and other stuff around in. The weather today looks to be sunny and warmer. We were both beat after arriving at sister Sue's the other day. It had been a tedious 9 hour drive from Virginia in a constant drizzle all on the freeway, not the best drive for a Miata to make. We had a great visit with Sue and Mike and their kids and they let us spend the night before continuing on to Rhode Island. Thanks Sue and Mike for putting up with us and for putting us up! We have no agenda now, just want to see all my  sisters before we figure out how we are going to get back to Texas. we could just fly but where is the adventure in that? We are going to look at taking the train (Amtrak) and get a sleeper compartment. We have never travelled like that and it  should be interesting!

Pic today is of Sunny and Share at their new farm house in Virginia. Can' wait to go back and see Whisper Hill Farm when they get it all up and running!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Taking Woodstock!


"Hide your gold, your faith and the reason you journey".

      -E. Heine

     We are now in Woodstock, Virginia. It is only 4PM but since we hope to see Sunny and Share tomorrow we did not have to drive very far today. We killed a couple hours in Charlottesville, VA today and went down to the historic district and walked around in the drizzle through all the deserted shops  and restaurants. I guess due to the weather and being Sunday it was almost empty down there except for the odd homeless guy with the pitbull trying to run his "I just ran outta gas up on the highway and am going home to visit my sick mother, could you give me a few wouldn't want my dog here to spend a night out in this weather would you?" scam on the few tourists he could latch on to! We only walked as far as the Information Center and the CVS to get our Public Parking pass validated then headed right back to the parking garage where the "lady" attendant tried to run her own brand of scam on the out-of towners! When I handed her our validated parking ticket she said, "that will be 4 bucks". I told her the ticket had been validated for one hour at the CVS. She then proceeded to tell me, " but you spent just over 2 hours out shopping!" I said, "the hell we did, dont you remember me asking you where the Information Center was no longer than 20 minutes ago!"  After some more hemming and hawwing she recalled I was there just 20 minutes earlier and that it would be no charge......then as I drove up to the toll gate, she would not lift the gate...she said our little car could just go under it!! As I rolled the window down to let the explatives fly she relented and lifted the gate!! Where in the hell do they find these morons for these city jobs!!!???  I try not to pre judge them  but they do fool you by walking upright!!
   So now we are in the Budget Host Motel in Woodstock, VA and we go down to the guest laundry to do a load of wash. On our way down the walkway the little man who runs the place comes running after us and asks us if we intend to do laundry. I tell him that was the general idea since Sheila was carrying a load of dirty clothes, but I know he has other plans for us. "Washer work, dryer no work!" Well thats just great I think as we follow him into the guest laundry. Here he has a truck full of tools spread all over the room....and the overhead room light......"also no work!" Well hell...we'll just do the wash and then hang it up in our room I tell him thinking he may come up with a means to dry our laudry not wanting us to hang wet clothes all over his motel room. Thats seems just fine with him though, as he proceeds to tell us there is no change machine and no laundry detergent dispenser! I give his kid a couple of bucks and he disappears down the road to get us some quarters and some soap! Anyways now the laundry is going, we are looking for a flashlight so we can retrieve it when done, and we are back in our room trying to decide if we have the guts to try the motel restaurant!! Ahhh life on the road...what the hell were we thinking!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bristol, Virginia


On August 28, 1823, Reverend Butrick made an entry in his diary describing “a citadel of rocks,” atop the mountain, noting the immense size of the boulders and stating that they were arranged in such a way “as to afford streets and lanes.”

Today we left Kelly and Nancy in Birmingham and headed toward Virginia. We stopped for a few hours to check out Rock City at Lookout Mountain, Georgia. It really is just a tourist trap but it started out as a fantastic mountain peak with unique rock formations and gigantic boulders, some of which were 1000 tons and seemed to balance on end. A missionary in the 1800's came to convert the Indians and was struck by this area which seemed to be a citadel made of rocks with narrow passageways that resembled city streets. After hiking all over the rocks and seeing the great overlook where you can see into 7 states we headed for Virgina. We finally made it across the state line about 9:30PM and got a cheap..VERY cheap motel room for 30 bucks INCLUDING tax! It was very old but surprisingly clean and unlike many better motels the WiFi actually had a good connection. Tomorrow the plan is to head further north to the Sperryville/Front Royal area and we plan to visit with Sunny and Share and hear all about their new farm they will soon be moving to.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Leaving Birmingham in the Morning


When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body. I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today we went to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful sunny day in the 60's and we had a great time checking out the 67 acres of trees and gardens and greenhouses. After walking miles through the park we stopped and had a nice lunch at the Garden Cafe. I was really surprised that the Garden and parking right in downtown Birmingham was free! Sheila has had a good visit with her sister Nancy and tomorrrow the rains are supposed to move into the area. We have decided to sleep in tomorrow, again camping out on Kelly's living room floor, then hit the road and continue north up 59 toward Knoxville and beyond.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Birmingham, Alabama


"The journey is my home." — Muriel Rukeyser

This afternoon we arrived in Birmingham and are at Sheila's niece's house where her sister Nancy is staying right now. We brought all the fixings for our world famous chicken pasta and salad and put together a pretty good quick meal for us all. Not sure what tomorrow will bring but it is supposed to be in the 60's and sunny here and we may have to take in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. After driving for so many miles it will be good to get out and do some semi-serious walking! We have our trusty WM sleeping bags and Thermarest inflatable sleep pads, so tonight we are camping out in Kelly's living room. It was a good day, we only had to driive about 350 miles to get here from Jackson, Mississippi. It is nice again to see Nancy and Kelly and the kids but, I REALLY have missed Rosie!!!

Pic today is of our trusty camp stove ready to make tea in the vestibule of our 4 season tent. Note the tropical "jungle" of the Everglades right outside.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jackson, Mississippi


The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases” 
      -William Hazlitt

Quick update, we are in Jackson, Mississippi after driving 431 miles today. We left Dallas about noon after cleaning up the WE CARE room we rented for two days. Tomorrow we head for Birmingham, Alabama to spend a few days with Sheila's sister Nancy. Then the plan is to head north and hopefully stopping in to see Sunny & Share on their new farm in Virginia. We are travelling light, we have no choice...her Miata holds less than a good backpack!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

30 Days Off for Good Behavior!


Why do you stay here and live this mean toiling life when a glorious existence is possible for you? These same stars twinkle over other fields than these.    
 --Henry David Thoreau

Today the doctor gave us good news after Sheila's blood work.....everything looks good....leukemia still in remission...."see me again in a month, now get out if here!"  So..the plan is to run some errands and Sheila goes to the dentist tomorrow, then we gas up the Miata (thanks John for installing a brand new battery) and head toward Jamestown Rhode Island to deliver sister Imp her new car! We plan on stops in Birmingham, Alabama to see Sheila's sister Nancy and also hopefully in Culpeper,Virginia to see Sunny & Share on their own new farm! We had planned on taking a bus or even the train back to Texas just because we have never done that but I was shocked to learn they each cost far more than a flight back, so we are flying.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Made it to Texas, but not "home" yet...


"Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything."   -Charles Kuralt

We (Sheila) drove from New Orleans to Shreveport but went and got a motel room due to my back killing me. Sheila had to do all the driving, I don't know what I did to my back but certain movements causes sharp shooting pain across my lower back. A long very hot shower has helped but the pain is still there. I am hoping a good nights rest will fix me right up. Tomorrow we will make it "home" to the WE CARE house and on the 12th see Sheila's doctor...after that, depending on the results of her blood work.....we may see about driving the Miata up to Rhode Island to sister Imp. We will have to wait and see how it goes.

Cover picture is of the Chickees on the Seminole Indian Reservation in the Everglades.

TEXAS Today!


“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

Right now we are in McDonald's having breakfast and warming up from last nights 20 degree weather. The tent stayed a toasty 30 degrees all night and the water for our tea was frozen solid when we started the camp stove inside the tent this morning. It was a clear cold night though and there were a million stars in the sky and a beautiful sunset last night  across Lake Pontchartrain. Today we will be in Texas again and we don't know yet if we will tent out or motel it. When breaking down camp today I had awful back spasms and the shooting pain brought me to my knees at one point. I guess I am getting too soft and old to sleep on frozen ground! I am already starting to feel better though and I hope we can camp out one more night before going back to the WE CARE house for Sheila's doctor appointment on the 12th. Only an 8 hour drive to Dallas now.....driving on!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Update Right From the Tent of Chaco and Toesocks (ChocSocks)

Quick update: We are in Foutianebluea State Park right on Lake Ponchartrain north of New Orleans. We got here and set up our camp then went out walking the park. We noticed on a park board that they had WiFi here and after we watched the great sunset we cooked a quick dinner of left over migas from this morning's IHOP and hopped into our sleeping bags. They are calling for 16 degrees for a low tonight, right now it is 29! I cannot believe it but we do have WiFi right here in our tent! Tomorrow we will be in Texas and are going to look for a park we have never camped in before. We do not have to be back to Dallas until the 11th so we are gonna keep camping until then! Hope the sun warms things up for us is cold!!! Later.....

Today...Tent Site at Fountainebleau State Park on Lake Pontchartrain..its gonna be C-O-L-D!

"Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God."

-Kurt Vonnegut

Today after drying our gear out we are going to force ourselves to leave this nice warm Motel 6 and head 4-5 hours west toward New Orleans to camp out again. This Artic Blast just keeps following us around the country. From just missing big snow in New England to dodging the snow headed to Rockport Texas and now this cold front all the way down the Florida Keys we just cannot get a break with warm weather! At least today it is sunny though 22 degrees here in Pensacola. We are back on the road today!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Out of the Cold, Wet Tent Tonight!

"Why think about that when all the golden land's ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?"

- Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Tonight we are in a Motel 6 in Pensacola Florida. We have been camping out in the Everglade and the Florida Keys for almost a week and it has been record setting cold temps that have finally driven us to the warmth, hot showers and comfort of a motel room. We have done and seen so much all week that I don't even know where to begin here. We have travelled over 2600 miles and still have a 12 hour drive back to Texas! We have pitched our tent and slept in the Everglades with alligators just 50 feet from our tent! We stayed overnight on the Seminole Indian Reservation and slept in a chickee (chic-KEE -a traditional Indian hut type shelter). It has no windows just screened openings all around and no heat and only a kerosene lantern for light. The temp that night was 34 degrees, but they gave us 3 thick wool blankets for our bed and it was actually pretty warm until you had to get up in the middle of the night to go the privy. Oh.....the privvy.....just one thing.....there isn't one....just pee off the boardwalk into the swamp and watch out for gators! We also went on a swamp tour on the reservation in gigantic swamp buggys with tires about 4 feet tall and saw all kinds of wild life. We went on a ranger tour with the Park Service in the Everglades and saw more alligators than we could count and when we tried to go for a hike the gators were even blocking the trail and we had to turn back! When the weather is this cold they all crawl out onto the roads and trails trying to  get some sun to warm themselves. We also spotted many more birds that we have never seen before in giant flocks. I have never seen that many ergrets, herons, storks and anhingas all together in fantastic numbers. I have put all our pictures we have taken so far up on Facebook if anyone wants to see them. I have not had time to label any, I just threw them up there and will sort through them later. Tomorrow we will slowly head back to Dallas and face the real world again, Sheila has to see her doctor on the 12th.  I will post some more pictures and comments on our trip in the next few days. If the doctors give us the all clear it looks like our next trip may be to drive Sheila's car up to Jamestown, Rhode Island. My sister Imp says she wants to buy it and we sure would like her to have it since Sheila is going to sell it anyways.                                            See ya later........

The cover picture at the top of the page is the sun setting behind the palms across the swamp from our chickee on the Seminole Indian Reservation in Big Cypress Wilderness Preserve near the Everglades

Saturday, January 2, 2010

1100 Miles of......Car Dealerships, Fast Food Joints, Adult Video Arcades, Hotel Chains and Gawdy on the American Highway!

Well we drove 700 miles yesterday into  Pensacola Florida way after dark and saw only the same things we see in Dallas along the highways.....URBAN BLIGHT! Today we had another 400 miles to Sarasota Florida of these same fun filled sights! Funny how you travel across the entire country just to see the same old crap littering the roadsides, and I am not talking about the ususal rubbage. I am talking about the same gas station, food, hotel, car dealer chains and all the billboards trying to sell you something from, lawyer services to XXX videos, from vasectomys to belly band procedures!!! All the while passing cars and trucks with overstuffed people hauling behind them even more vehicles in trailers- four wheelers and jet skis, motorcycles and golf carts to propel them on their way to some other kind of vehicular entertainment. Does anyone ever get out of their damn cars anymore?  If they do it seems only to climb into or onto something else that will haul them around for a few giggle and grins! You dont even have to get out of the car to feed your face these days! Guess I am just burnt out from two days of non stop interstate abuse!!! Tomorrow we head for Everglades National Park and then the Florida Keys! I need some unpopulated open space and a long walk and mountain bike ride!!!