Because We Can - Fulltime RV'ing

Journal Archive 4/21 - 4/30 2011

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Apr 21 Thursday

Out and about


There is an interesting thing that has been happening at night with Linda gone. I've been sleeping the entire night without waking up once, which is the exception rather than the rule, if you know a man my age. I have been drinking as many fluids as when Linda was here, maybe even more, so that's not what it is. It has been a very pleasant change, but the reason why has been something I could not determine.

It was during a phone conversation with my son this morning that I learned the likely answer. "Dad, I think it is Mom that causes it," "What do you mean Rich?" "It looks to me like she probably knees you in the bladder during the night and it makes you have to go." As they say, out of the mouth of babes. The proof will be if there is a resumption of the problem that coincides with her return.


This is the artillery emplacement that is about 187 feet from where we are parked and it ties into the first photo, which was of the storm clouds that were moving in, accompanied by distant booming thunder that was moving ever closer. Once again I was in the past, hearing the April 29th artillery and gunboat battle taking place, but little did I know it would touch me once again in the afternoon.


Proof that it really did rain, and not just sprinkles like it has been most days. The problem was that it wasn't about to stop, and that was interfering with my plans to go into town. By the time it ceased, it was noon, so I ate lunch before leaving. Then I took a wrong turn and drove the long way into town. To top it off, when I finally got to town, there wasn't a single car parked in front of the Post Office where I was to pick up some mail that Linda had sent me for my signature. It was closed this afternoon and all day tomorrow which meant I couldn't get it before Saturday. Truly, when it rains, it pours.


The Civil War, the War of Southern Succession, the War of Northern Aggression, it was called many things. Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and the final surrender at Appomattox, those battles come readily to many Americans, but Port Gibson is another story, a small battle on the road to Vicksburg and U.S. Grant's ascendency to overall Union commander. Still there was a price paid by each side, with the losses of each totaling some 700 men, but certainly not the tens of thousands that were lost in the first four battles mentioned above. As I walked through one of the town's cemeteries, this row of graves offered up grim evidence of that minor battle.


They are just not granite markers, and they weren't from units that were unknown. Wades Missouri Battery was the artillery battery whose guns on that 29th day of April in 1863, were firing just below where we are currently parked. Plaques today, men 148 years ago. History, connections, sacrifice. It never seems to end.


This one is for Linda. Washed another load of clothes today which had more of her clothes in it than mine. Here I thought she had washed the dirty laundry before she left, but it looks like she wanted to make sure I had enough for a load. And there she was just before she left telling me she didn't want me doing the laundry because she enjoyed doing it. Me thinks the lady doth protesteth too much. And with a big smile at that.


Shortly after 7 o'clock the phone rang and I learned that she was most pleased with the hair trim she got today, so much so that she had emailed me two photos. I believe that is called a major hint to post one of them in today's Daily Journal. It is these little things that can cause a smile to form and also lift the heart. How lucky can I get.

Apr 22 Friday

Natchez, naturally


Off on an adventure today, heading down river to Natchez, a city we really enjoyed visiting five years ago. It was the river that gave the town its prominence, but standing on the bluffs of the town, it is hard to tell from this photo looking up river, just how big that river really is.


The view down river gives a much better idea of just how massive the Mississippi is. But I wasn't there to do things on the river, no river cruise, no going onto a casino boat, no walk along the shore. I was there to simply enjoy this town made wealthy back in the early 1800's by the river.


And yes there are all kinds of old buildings to look at, historical markers to read, and museums to visit, many of which I partook. But beyond that was the ever lurking presence of that war of a hundred fifty years ago, and a visit to the Natchez National Cemetery brought the cost of that war into focus. Row after row of unknown soldier's graves line the slopes above the town. How many mothers and fathers never knew the fate of their son? The lessons of history are studied but seemly never learned.


Another cemetery in town, but with the same result. "He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword." We sing that song, but when you walk through these cemeteries it gives you a different perspective on just exactly why those words were written. History is not just words. History is the lives of people, the events that happened, both the joy and heartache.


Back to the present, there are some things that simply defies description. This is not one of them, as the sign says it all. How could anyone drive up to this intersection and not stop and look, then wonder and marvel at what you see. "As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free." I don't think Julia Ward Howe necessarily had this in mind as far as "free' was concerned when she wrote those words, but free, as in free spirit certainly describes the owner of this house in Natchez. And it took a wrong turn for me me to stumble across it. Thanks Sara!


A completely different kind of house, Melrose is a place that Linda and I visited in 2006 when we were last in Natchez. The former home of the McMurren family, it is part of Natchez National Park. It also holds fond memories and the only thing missing from this photo is Linda standing in front of the house.


Inside the house, and over the dining room table is a large wooden object. Called a punkah, its purpose was to create a breeze to keep flies away from the food. Note the cord coming off the bottom left corner of the punkah. By pulling on this cord the cord the punkah was kept in motion while the family dined and thus the flies were kept away. Providing the motion of the cord was a slave, however after all those graves in the proceeding photos were occupied, slaves no longer existed to do this task and a way of life changed, or did it? If that war brought freedom why did it take one hundred years for it it be realized? It's the hammer of Justice, It's the bell of Freedom, It's the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters, All over this land. Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, every one. When will they ever learn? I don't know, do you?


At the end of the day we all do the same thing, though in many different ways. We go to bed. For the McMurrans, a mosquito net was attached to the hooks on the cover over the bed by a slave, then the posts at the foot of the bed were raised by a slave and the net attached. How many of us today have served our own McMurran's, though in a different way. They felt they were entitled to what they got for for they did, and we felt the way we did for the way we were treated. It is simply which side of the looking glass you are peering through. Neither is right or wrong in and of itself, but yet each is wrong, just as each is right. To be his own worst enemy is man's way, but the way we view Life is up to us.

Apr 23 Saturday

Not much, naturally


Too many hours yesterday, so it was a rest and recover day today. When I was in Natchez enjoying the town I was thinking that I should drive back down again this coming week. After today I do not think that is going to happen. It's one hour each way, so I think that the next time we are in the area, we will have to stay down near Natchez to see Natchez. Of course I do plan to drive up to Vicksburg sometime this week so we will see how the other way goes, but it is not nearly as far.

My good Bob deed for the day was to stop by the post office and pick up the general delivery envelope from Linda, sign and date the papers, include the check for the correct amount, and then mail it off. Linda's step by step numbered instructions and enclosed pre-addressed and stamped envelope made it easy. Now if I just put it into the right mail slot it should get there in time.

When I asked for the general delivery letter, I watched as the clerk pulled mail out of one of a number of cubby holes behind his station. Looking through the envelopes in his hand, he returned them, then picked up a large stack laying on the self beside it. Sorting through them he found my letter. Something tells me that if I had checked on Thursday morning, it wouldn't have been here. That at least made me feel better.

Of course all that has nothing to do with the photo of the ferns growing on the tree limb. Saw that during my walk around town after the post office visit. Spanish moss is a fairly common ornament on the trees, but this was certainly different.


A few blocks from where I found that tree was something that I was looking for. I'd discovered an odd tidbit of information while checking out things to see and do in Port Gibson, which was what this was. This man had never lived in Port Gibson, but his sister did, so after he died she had him buried in the local catholic cemetery. Most people don't know this person, but they do know what he designed, crafted, and then gave to his brother. Made famous by his brother Jim, it was the original Bowie Knife.


Taking to my son yesterday, he had said our grandson Zachary always like to go fishing with him because they catch fish. Rich laughed and said his memory of their fishing trips was a little different. Then they went out fishing in the afternoon. Now, Rich is thinking Zachary may be right and Zachary is thinking his uncle Richie is the greatest, while I know they were just living Life.

Apr 24 Sunday



Some days things just don't go right, which was what happened today in more ways than one. This morning while I was busy writing the Daily Journal, I decided that it was a good day for oatmeal. No problem there, at least with that thought, but the rest was not so good. First off, when I was opening up the splenda container, it somehow slipped and splenda went everywhere, on me, on the counter and the floor. Fortunately the container was small and it wasn't full, but it did make a mess.

The major problem wasn't in the sweeping of the floor, it was that it had also ended up between my Teva's and the bottoms of my feet, immediately becoming sticky. So do I take them off, walk around in my bare feet making it worse while cleaning the mess up, or do I keep them on? I opted to keep them on and then almost had a foot go out from under me due to how slippery that stuff is on the tile floor.

I did get it all cleaned up, and finished off putting the rest of my oatmeal fixings into pan. Normally I place one of those screen type flame diffusers between the pan and the flame, but this morning I didn't. Big mistake as the photo shows. It really wasn't hard to figure out something was wrong because the smell of the burning oatmeal was a major attention grabber. Of course by that time some of it was well baked onto the pan, but at least I had breakfast fixed, what of it remained in the pan.

Later when I was talking to our son, the phone went dead because I had forgotten to charge it last night, so I plugged it in and then promptly forgot about. In the afternoon I did have a fleeting thought that it was strange that I hadn't heard yet from Linda, but let it pass. Then when I checked the phone, it showed the battery was charged, so I figured she was busy with Easter things.

It was only later when I was removing the phone from the charger that I realized that since it had completely discharged the battery, it had actually been off, even though the battery was now recharged. That was when I turned it on, but because of how long it takes to come back on, I got busy with something else and promptly forgot about it.

Later it rang, and upon answering it, heard a somewhat upset Linda wanting to know if I was okay, as she had tried a number of times to call during the day and it had immediately gone to voice mail each time. She was worried that something had happened to me, and was a little upset. I couldn't blame her, and felt bad about what I had done, but could do no more than to say I was sorry, which I genuinely was. Lets just say she vented some at times during the conversation, and rightfully so.


Unfortunately my bad day was still not over, but this time at least it wasn't going to something that I had done. I'd fixed supper earlier, but had put off doing the dishes for some reason, so when I finally got around to doing them, a surprise awaited me. No water. Now the first thing that sprang to mind was that the water hose to the coach had burst and there was water everywhere outside.

But a quick check showed that not to be the case. In fact if you look at that hose you can see it was flat, and since it is not a flat hose, the problem was a failure in the park water system. It also meant that being in the highest part of the park, all the water had been sucked out of the lines up here.

Eventually the water did come back on, though it was several hours later. The problem was that the lines were now full of air and there was more sputtering and spitting going on than when a politician is asked an embarrassing question. Eventually all the air worked its way out out of the system and things calmed down, but by now it was late enough that I decided to just wait until morning to wash the dishes, not actually putting off until tomorrow what I should do today.

That's because by now I was thinking that if I did wash dishes, and with the day going as it had, I was more than likely to drop a dish on the floor, shattering it and having an even worse mess than with the splenda this morning. So off to bed I went with the sink full of dirty dishes. It was one of those days when things just don't go right, but like they say, a person can get upset about it, or they can look at it that it will make for a good story. Hope you enjoyed reading my good story.

Apr 25 Monday

A better day


After the problem with the water last night, I should have remembered there would another surprise this morning, all those dirty dishes I hadn't washed. But it was actually far worse than it looked because of a simple thing I had not done. I had not rinsed those dishes nor put any water on or in them to soften the food residue. It wasn't baked on, but as hard as it was to wash off it could have been. But just to show that I was willing to own up to my mistake, I washed all of last nights dishes before fixing breakfast this morning, an endeavor that deserves a Good Bob, I do believe, and since Linda isn't her to hand it out, I'll do it myself.


During the course of the day I did learn what was the cause of the loss of water in the campground. Down the road, beyond and outside the park, a landowner was mowing grass with a large tractor beside a vacant house. Not paying attention he ran over and broke the water line. Not the water line to the house, but the main waterline to the entire area. To fix it they had to shut off the water all along the road. Fortunately it only took about 90 minutes to get it fixed, but like the campground host said, somebody sure wasn't paying attention to what they were doing.


The fix was easy and didn't look like much, but when you're without water unexpectedly, it can be a big deal. I know more information and photos than you need to know, but if I was going to walk all the way down there to see what it looked like, and then take photos, they were sure going to be going up as part of the Daily Journal. I guess I could say that if it was that hard for your intrepid reporter to get the story, it sure wasn't going to be cut from the press run.


Am I the man or what? With the water restored to the RV park, I had washed the dishes twice this morning. First last night's after I got up, and then the breakfast dishes after I finished eating. Then carrying this case of self inflicted domesticity to the limits, I washed a small load of clothes, which meant there wasn't anything dirty in the entire coach. Well almost anything dirty, as the floor isn't the cleanest, but I do sweep it regularly and it will be scrubbed just prior to Linda's return. Do I want to make a good impression on her or what.


I was debating what to have for dinner, finally deciding on chicken with field peas and snaps on the side. Got the chicken out of the freezer in the late morning, defrosted it, and decided to have it plain with no sauces, and not in a tortilla for a change. Cooked it in a skillet on the stove top over low heat, then turned it up to put a nice brown crusty finish on it. The reason for that was because the breast was so thick that if I cooked it at too high a temperature, it would have been overdone on the outside while still raw in the center. Been there, done that.


Since that high heat was going to cause the juices, fat and oil to pop out of the pan and onto my, now freshly cleaned stove top from the oatmeal incident, I put the top on the pan and then promptly forgot about it. Forgot about it at least until the ear splitting screech of the smoke alarm going of caused me to jump out of my chair. So it is going off, and my first thought is to take it down and remove the battery, which I tried to do but couldn't get it off the wall.

With the noise causing my ears to ring, and my removal efforts proving fruitless, I began to wildly wave my hands at it, finally shutting it up for a few seconds. However as soon as I stopped waving, the noise started right back up, so more waving took place. The problem was that I had fastened it up with velcro, but not just any velcro. This stuff was so strong that if they would have used it on the casing of an atomic bomb, there would have been no explosion. What to do?

I finally let the thing screech, grabbed a kitchen knife from the drawer, and after a number of tries, finally forced the two sides apart. That was when I discovered I'd been trying to twist the wrong section of the case to remove it, and when I did it correctly, the back came right off, with the battery literally falling out and into my hand.

It sure had me going for a minute or so. I guess that's what my doing the cooking for these past years has resulted in, a loss in the ability to quickly turn off the smoke alarm. Back when Linda was doing the cooking it was such a common occurrence that it only took a second or so to quiet it down. Looks like I miss her in more ways every day, but it is a week from today that she flies back. Living Life, and remembering Life, sometimes in unexpected ways.

Apr 26 Tuesday

A "red" letter day


I will let that letter that was handed to me today say it all for now, mostly because that is all I know. The weather advisory that has been showing on the homepage forecast for several weeks is becoming more real with each passing day. I have read that the floods are forecast to be the worst since the 1930's and will be all up and down the eastern part of the state, especially up north towards the delta region. Apparently the Yazoo River is particularly nasty in this respect.

Linda doesn't fly back until next Monday night, but I should have a good idea tomorrow night on what will be happening by then. I can see the water slowly coming up among the trees across the road from the park, and a few years ago it even crossed the road into the museum area according to the photos they have posted. No problem now, and more information tomorrow. Whatever happens it will make for a good story. As I have learned since arriving here, the River does what the River wants when it wants to, and man's efforts are akin to a gnat on an elephant's back in this part of Mississippi. More tomorrow.

Apr 27 Wednesday

River rising


That is a photo of the clock immediately after I got up this morning. Yes it was almost four hours after the time I normally get up, but the interesting thing is that I still got almost the same number of hours of sleep that I normally do. The difference was which hours I was awake and which I was asleep.

It was shortly after 2 o'clock that I woke up hearing a beeping sound. It took a bit to figure out what it was, which was the battery backup alarm for Linda's computer. The power was out. Turning on the inverter, I shut her computer down, made sure everything else was as it should be, turned off all the other electrical appliances and the inverter, then headed back to bed.

The next thing I know the room is filled with flashing lights, the blinking getting brighter and brighter. It was lightening, sheet lightening and lightening bolts in continuous profusion. Then the thunder began, rumbling at first, then crashing through the background rumbling. Then the rain started, lashing the window to the point of rattling it. For once I simply couldn't sleep, and without the clock, the electric being out, I don't know how long it continued, but I finally fell asleep, not waking up till almost eight o'clock. Interesting night to say the least.


The rain had stopped during the night, but it was only temporary and there were several storms during the day. We actually have it very mild here, as further north in Mississippi there seems to be daily tornado's and inches of rain. We did have a tornado warning the entire day, but we only had rain, and not even high winds. The River is rising, and as you can see, it is beginning to appear at the edge of the field across the road from the park.


Across from the entrance to the park is another road which leads down towards the River. I took a walk down it to see if I could find a marker I could use to gauge how far the River was rising. I think this sign will work just fine.


It was just after noon when the power came back on, but there was still one important thing to take place, the 5:30 flood meeting. The park is going to be closed. They don't know when, but within the next week or so. The last big flood was over 38 feet, this one may reach over 60 feet. It is already 60 feet at Cairo, and that water takes eight days to get to here.

It will be interesting to see what the next few days bring, partly because I don't know where I will be going. There have been so many tornadoes in the Jackson area the past few weeks that I hesitate to go there. The Vicksburg area looks promising, but to head further north is go into flood and tornado country. Makes for an interesting Life. Of course we could still be in Texas with all the wild fires, so maybe I should be glad to be here. More tomorrow.

Apr 28 Thursday

Out and about



To try and give an idea of how high the river is riding each day, I'll try to post a photo of this sign everyday, or for at least as long as I can get down there. The water is creeping out over the hay field and is much more apparent than it was a couple of days ago.


The marks on the trees show the height of the water during earlier times of high water. This flood will be feet higher.


I spent the afternoon doing some sightseeing in the area, but before that, I had to do something for Linda. The fuzzy background is the River as scene from the top of the observation tower, and yes, I managed to climb all the way to the top without wearing all the paint off the hand rails.


Only here would the grits section be bigger than the oatmeal section. Some days the desire to write has got up and gone. This was one of them.

Apr 29 Friday

Wedding watching




Another day, another picture of the sign. At the rate the water is rising, it will be necessary to soon walk quite a distance on the embankment along side the road in order to take a photo of that sign. The ditch between the road and the embankment is filling with water as already about five feet wide where I take the photo. Also the open field across from the park is slowly flooding and it will be interesting to see what it looks like tomorrow morning. My guess is that it will be Sunday or Monday before it is covered. The water doesn't come fast, but it comes surely.


Nothing special here but it gives an idea of what it looks like. Flood water is not clear like in the movies and on TV shows. As always what you see in movies and on TV has connection with truth. I always feel for people who think that reality on TV is really reality.


Speaking of reality, I did watch some reality programming on TV today. Okay, I spent the entire day watching and rewatching the wedding and all pageantry that accompanied it.


Two things before I end the day. BBC TV. It blows the US networks out of the water anytime something happens in the world, and this case they had it covered and more. I watched a few minutes of CNN, MSNBC and FNC, deciding that they don't have a clue as to how the rest of the world views things. The word putrid doesn't even begin to describe their coverage. One could figure they were aiming their coverage at the American market, meaning that is was dumbed down to the level of a six year old. It's no wonder that we are rapidly losing our place in the world.

The second point was what they were showing, not the people, the places. Linda and I were there, we walked through St. James Park, stood in front of Bucking ham Palace, saw the pomp and pageantry of tradition up close. That made it all the more special. I'll let those that set in front of Fox News or MSNBC throw their tantrums and yell at each other. Our RV has wheels, so we see all of North America. We fly across the pond and see the rest of the world. We have chosen live Life.

Apr 30 Saturday

Nothing doing





Just as I thought, this morning I could no longer see the sign from the end of the road this morning. That meant walking back along the road, crossing the ditch where the water ended, then walking all the way back out to where the edge of the water. At least I ended up with a photo of the sign, or at least the part that is still above water.


One of the bad ideas I had during the day was to rearrange the wires for what could, by a very long stretch of the imagination, be called our home entertainment system. The plan was to move the wires that go into the front back to the back, meaning we wouldn't have to disconnect them whenever we would be moving.

I even went so far as to check out the manual to make sure there were connections I could use, before I began. Didn't matter, because after spending at least nine minutes, if not more, struggling to get the offending piece of electronic hardware turned around to where I could see its back panel, all the connections were filled. Oh well, at least I tried.


But what really happened today was that for some reason it hit me just how much I was missing Linda. Good grief. Married for almost 45 years. Jobs years ago when I would be gone all week, week after week. I talk to her every day on the phone. I miss her, her smile, her voice, her thank you when I set breakfast down in front of her every morning. I even miss the occasional mild correction she issues when I don't do things, or say things the way she thinks that I should.

That is probably why I ate the last of that bag of chocolate chips, then fried some zucchini, to be followed with the last of beans she had made for me to eat. I never did get around to the brownies, but the sausage patty with lettuce, mayo and catsup left me feeling like I'd had enough to eat for the day. Then, can you believe it, I couldn't go to sleep to save myself, though the serious disagreement between the different substances in my stomach probably had something to do with that problem.

Some days just aren't very memorable, then there are the ones you'd rather forget. But never forget, every day is an opportunity to live Life.

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