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Old 09-13-2017, 02:59 PM   #4621
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Yes, it is exciting.

I really hated that they wouldn't let me take the kids in 2014. I kind of understood, but I really didn't.

But, my experiences and perspectives were different than theirs, who were just being protective parents.

We had reservations in 2014 in the campground on Madeline Island, also in Wisconsin on the way back to take them canoeing.

I won't do the canoeing thing by myself, but there's lots else they will enjoy...and that I will enjoy sharing with them.

We will do camping cabins and mom & pop motels instead...it will be fun.


Maggie
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Old 09-13-2017, 04:07 PM   #4622
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Grandchildren are wonderful. I even have a T-shirt that says, "If I had known grandchildren could be so much fun, I'd have had them first."

Sounds like you're going to have a fun trip.
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Old 09-13-2017, 09:06 PM   #4623
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Nothing quite like the sunny smiles I get from grand #7 every time he sees me. Barely a year old, walking, eating tons. Totally happy kid.
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Old 09-15-2017, 01:27 PM   #4624
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We had our first Harvest Hosts experience last evening, and it was lovely.

http://www.brownsorchards.com

We were met by Joe coming in... at the tender age of 36, he has worked for Browns for 21 years...who helped us into our spot, gave a welcome packet including one of their cookbooks, and then a quick but informative tour of the market, fresh deli, and bakery. This sprawling place began as a fruit stand 70-some years ago.

There's also a very nice cafe at one end, and a new building that houses an area for weekend live music and barbecues...a bustling, busy place, with the cafe already filling with folks when we left about 8 this morning.

Took the winding back roads to Harpers Ferry, and did some exploring there, then drove further into West Virginia, where we are settled til the am.

The countryside is beautiful, with rolling hills, lots of gorgeous old brick and stone structures, and many apple orchards. I think I also saw tobacco drying in some of the old barns.

Tomorrow, going to retrace some 45 year old steps....

Maggie
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Old 09-16-2017, 02:23 PM   #4625
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We took 50 across the state today, as winding a road as I have ever seen short of Tail of the Dragon....with many 7%-9% grades and 15-20 mph curves, so it was slow going but a beautiful drive.

We are settled into a nice State Park site, with electricity. Since we left the Adirondacks, days have been warm and humid until nightfall...so the AC is running as I type, and it feels like a bit of heaven.

Lily had a run in a neighboring apple orchard this morning, has had another walk here and is resting comfortably on the couch...she likes the AC, and doesn't understand when we don't have electricity to run it. She gives me these pleading looks.

We spent last night in the far reaches of an enormous WalMart parking lot....with very cool nights, plenty of propane and a full tank of water, so why not.

One big semi was in the same area as we, and also two vehicles with apparently homeless people sleeping in them.

An older gentleman in one vehicle, a man and a woman perhaps in their mid-30's in the other. The older gentleman was there sitting in his car when I got there, the couple arrived soon after, hours and hours before dark.

It was very quiet in that part of the parking lot, which is why I chose it, but I'm thinking are they there every night, and do they live here?

They immediately reminded me of the stray dogs in Greece, where there are no shelters, but people are charged with their care and so the animals live wherever they are accustomed to being fed...rest stops, parking lots, plazas, etc.

I am not afraid of homeless people...their nearby presence itself didn't bother me, nor did I try to find a way to tie up my bicycle that always spends the nights outside, wherever I am. It was still there, undisturbed, when we got up this morning, as it always has been.

What bothered me is that they were sleeping in their vehicles...human beings, with apparently no place else to go, for whatever reason, and probably all their worldly possessions with them.

And, you know, it could be any of us at certain points in our lives, living one paycheck away from disaster like many young people and families do.

It's all well and good for experts to say that we should all have a savings account with 6 months worth of living expenses in it, but how many people are able to do that right out of the gate? Damn few, I would say. Most of us struggle for years in our adulthood, just to get beyond barely making ends meet, and real savings don't begin until the children are raised and on their own.

I hated seeing them there, and of course being already aware of the homeless in this country I'm sure it was their close proximity to me and my older but still by comparison luxurious accommodations.

I felt guilty, and a bit embarrassed, being of course in that parking lot by choice...and like I needed to do..something.

I thought about it and thought about it....scramble the eggs in my frig for their breakfast, give them some Belvita with pb breakfast cookies, with some orange juice and fruit?...I had to do something before I left them there this morning, driving off in my comparatively luxurious rig, with the comfort of knowing I have adequate means to not be in their shoes.

I have very strong feelings about not giving cash to the homeless, or to people who beg, and met a woman last year who carries McDonald's gift cards for this very reason....so I went into WalMart, bought three of their gift cards, and gave them each one.

They can buy fuel, food, soap, underwear, socks...whatever they choose...Something.

Homelessness, especially chronic homelessness, we all know is a very complicated social issue, and I won't get on a soapbox about it, but spending the night near people sleeping in their cars out of necessity was a sobering, and a bit emotional, experience.

I don't quite know how to describe it, except that it came from the "there but for the grace of god" place.

Maybe a good thing to be reminded of.

Sigh. That has been my day.

Maggie
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Old 09-16-2017, 06:01 PM   #4626
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Quite a profound post. I always say most of us are only several paychecks (savings, credit cards, health insurance) away from the same situation.

Made me smile a little bit to wonder if they thought "wow that homeless lady has a very nice van".

I'm sure the gift cards will be well spent and it was a nice way to help out.
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Old 09-16-2017, 06:27 PM   #4627
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There are enough RV's overnighting in WalMart lots that I doubt they thought I was homeless, but I guess that's possible.

It's like so many other things out there....you're aware, but when it's right in front of you there is a stronger emotional impact.

A parallel universe, people struggling in ways most of us cannot even imagine.

I simply could not leave without doing something to help them.

Maggie
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Old 09-16-2017, 09:27 PM   #4628
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Maggie - gift cards - what a wonderful idea. Embarassed I didn't think of it myself.

Tomorrow I will stock up.

I too don't like to give cash to someone who may have alcobol or drug problems, but it is also painful to see someone who does not have access to adequate food or a place take a shower.

There are a lot of professional beggers who pretend to be homeless... look at shoes and a general lack of ground-in dirt around pockets and the neck area... the pros generally have worn but clean clothes.
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Old 09-17-2017, 02:14 PM   #4629
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Hi Maggie!

Giving those individuals in the Wal-Mart parking lot gift cards was such a good thing! I look for the "professionals" too, and can pass them by, but when it involves children or the elderly, it's an entirely different ballgame for me.

Some years ago we pulled into a rest area next to a van with the door open and windows down. It was very hot and there were several children in the back and you could tell they were having difficulty with the heat. The mother walked up to my door to ask if we could help them get some gasoline -- they were on their way to a friend's wedding and their vehicle had run out of gas after having used the last of their cash to make a repair to the engine of the van. I thought about it, gave her $50 and handed cold water bottles from our cooler to each person. Yes, it could have been a scam -- if it was, shame on her; but if it wasn't a scam and I turned my head and didn't help them out -- shame on me.

More recently a week or so ago, I pulled in to Kohl's parking lot and a rather elderly man was in a mobility scooter with a sign saying he was a veteran and needed help. I went on into the store, kept thinking about it, and decided to help him out. I had noticed he had marks on him that occur from blood thinners (blood under the skin). I walked over to him, he met me about halfway, and thanked him for his service when handing him the money. He thanked me a couple of times. That $40 won't make or break us, but it could mean a warm meal for him for 2-3 days. As I've said before, my Dad was a Vet, and he would be proud I helped one out. (I know in reality he may not be a Vet, but also he could be.)

Deb
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Old 09-18-2017, 07:07 AM   #4630
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Hi Paula, Hi Deb!

I know....you just never know, so to help or not to help.

Doing something to help those less fortunate is important, I believe, however our own inner selves determine best.

I am loathe to give cash to individuals, tho would provide food and might put some fuel in a tank...I am also leery of handlettered signs pleading for donations for that individual or for a greater cause....but, that's me, and my rather suspicious nature, which has been sharply defined by life experience with human behavior in its most base and deviant form.

The gift cards provide "in kind assistance", in social work speak, and can do something to provide for necessities while not violating my core belief on the matter.

The folks in their cars the other night asked for nothing, not from me directly nor via any kind of sign, and they had plenty of opportunity as we spent 15 hours or so in fairly close proximity.

It would be easy to presume I had more than they did, but they didn't ask and that meant something to me. Maybe they didn't need the help, but I doubt that.

It is somewhat labor intensive driving, thru the winding, mostly two-lane, hilly West Virginia roads, and I am tired at day's end from hyper-attentiveness and manning the steering wheel.

We happened upon beautiful Watoga State Park yesterday, and are going to stay another night....to be still, as Doug and I referred to it.

Lily will be happy not to be driving, and to have more walks, I will cook today and not scavenge meals from what I find in my frig and pantry.

Two pictures of our site on the Greenbriar River....yesterday, late sunny afternoon, and this morning.
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Old 09-18-2017, 11:13 AM   #4631
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I am also leery of handlettered signs pleading for donations for that individual or for a greater cause....but, that's me, and my rather suspicious nature, which has been sharply defined by life experience with human behavior in its most base and deviant form.
Many years ago when I was in my twenties, I moonlighted at a bar in the Jax Brewery building near Jackson Square in the French Quarter. On the opposite end of the Moonwalk near Café du Monde, there was a scruffy gentleman who was a daily fixture. He had a hand-lettered cardboard sign, "Homeless and Hungry, Please Help," taped to a shopping cart with what appeared to be all of his scruffy worldly possessions in it, and an equally scruffy little mutt with a red bandanna for a collar and a piece of twine for a leash, tied to the cart.

One Friday night, as I was getting off work from the bar, I happened to see this embodiment of scruffiness calling it a night. He was wheeling his cart to a paid parking lot, that I also happened to be parked in. I watched him load his shopping cart of scruffy clothes and his scruffy little mutt into a pristine and very new Chevy Suburban, then get in and drive away. Out of curiosity, I followed him home. He lived in a very nice two-story home in Old Metairie.

His whole "homeless and hungry" routine was a scam. The next day, I had nothing special to do, so I went back to the French Quarter to watch the scruffy man in action. In the space of 12 hours of sitting on a street corner with his dog, he managed to collect almost $200 (or more, if some of the bills were larger than singles). Averaging a $1 donation every five minutes for 12 hours straight let him collect more (unreported) income in a day than I earned in those days as take-home pay from working for a living!

Ever since then, I have been very distrustful of anyone that I see panhandling! I'm sure there are plenty of panhandlers who really need the money, but how can you tell the legitimately needy from the merely greedy?
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Old 09-18-2017, 01:06 PM   #4632
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I understand, Protag....there are also entities that feed the hungry in any community of a size where homeless congregate, certainly in New Orleans.

It's a dilemma, but I feel I did the right thing in this circumstance.

Have decided to cancel the last leg of this trip, and head toward home in the morning.

Been gone almost 3 months....

Maggie
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Old 09-18-2017, 02:10 PM   #4633
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"We took 50 across the state today, as winding a road as I have ever seen short of Tail of the Dragon....with many 7%-9% grades and 15-20 mph curves, so it was slow going but a beautiful drive. "

I'll wager I have over 5,000 miles riding various Harleys I've owned thru the years on WV 50. A number of us would run down from PA on Saturday and run east to west, then on Sunday drop down again and run it west to east of vice versa. Love that "motorcycle" road. Never driven and RV of any kind on it and most likely will not.

Congratulations on making it safe and sound.

Bud
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Old 09-20-2017, 02:36 PM   #4634
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We are home, where it is currently 92 degrees with a heat index of 98.

I have not missed the heat one bit.

My son has told me there's been a lot of rain this summer, and the weeds in the beds around the house are shouting that out...worse than we have ever returned home to in the past 10 years, and will be a job to clear out.

Gone just short of 3 months and, while it has been a good trip, I believe this will be the last one of this length for me.

Lots of unpacking to do, piles of mostly junk mail to go thru, ridding and sorting of the kind that the end-of-long-trip brings...and, the weeds.

Maggie
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