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Old 11-05-2009, 12:36 PM   #295
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Post 283 had me laughing; very good, Gene.

The book you'll want is Peter Matthiessons, Shadow Country, his re-writing of the Watson saga (and National Book Award winner).

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/bo...LeClair-t.html

Henry Flagler was a more successful version of Watson (his hands were clean) -- and, as with the Panama Canal -- of laborers worked to death in the holy name of Progress and casually buried at the works. It's a dark shadow.

Fascinating stuff about the Ten Thousand Islands.



A faster read than it appears (and the original three novels are better, just more to 'em).
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Old 11-05-2009, 04:54 PM   #296
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Great pictures and narrative Gene. I look forward to the next episode in your adventure traveling around the country.

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Old 11-05-2009, 08:35 PM   #297
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Last night one of our neighbors was yelling a lot and appeared to have a limited vocabulary since his favorite word was often repeated in verb, noun, gerund and other adjectival forms. A very versatile word it is. Kept Barb awake for a while, but since the nuclear reaction had stopped, I had no power and was dead to the world. At 3 am I woke to a motorcycle being started a number of times and it seemed to finally drive off. It took a while to go back to sleep.

This morning the CG was filling with 12 steppers who came for a music festival and took over the entire CG. We drove back to the mainland and traffic was moving pretty well. We are going home after 3,000 miles to Key West via Ohio. Should be shorter coming back, but we still have about 2 weeks.

Crossed the Everglades on the Tamiami Trial and successfully avoided another toll road. There really isn't much to see unless you go into the NP. Along the highway is a canal and trees and bushes. The canals are all over South Florida and were build generations ago to drain the Everglades for farmland and stock grazing. This has been an ecological disaster and is affecting the NP as well. There are plans to start restoring the water, but they keep getting scaled back.

Eventually we met up with I-75 near Naples and continued north. Looking over CG possibilities, it seems the lower west coast is "resort" land which means everything costs more for things we don't want. We ended up at Punta Gorda (Fat Point) and an Encore CG. There are quite few of this chain in Florida and they seem to be cheaper than other "resorts". Has what we need and I fortunately found an open network since this park wants extra money for wireless.

We decided to avoid St. Pete and Clearwater and go north on I-75 to avoid the traffic jams on US 19. We'll take I-75 to Ocala and then go northwest on US 27 and then to Chiefland, then US 19, 98 and around the Gulf coast. There are actually hills around Ocala and the highest point in Florida—maybe above 200'.

Tropical Storm Ida is being watched. Various tracks take it north and the average of all of them is for Ida to go to NOLA and Mississippi just about the same time we'll be there. Nobody seems to say just how strong it could get. It may go elsewhere. How much wind does it take to turn over an Airstream? After the quietest hurricane year in a long time, how is it we are preparing to intersect a storm no one believes will turn into one, but could cause flooding? We should be looking for a panacea.

Pretty dull day and we are getting road weary, but will press on. Tomorrow we will reach somewhere from Perry to Panacea, Fla. I'd like to make it to Panacea just because of the name. If we do, I guess it doesn't solve any future flooding problems.

Gene
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Old 11-05-2009, 11:37 PM   #298
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Hi Gene,

Sorry to hear of your poor night.

Camping beside one of our own (CanoeStream) in Waterton National Park back in September, we had a night with a bunch of intoxicated yahoos whooping it up. Funnily enough they too seemed intent on restricting their vocabulary to one particular versatile four letter word (one in particular based on an acronym related to Under Consent of the King.)

I would have slept through it all but my good wife prefers that I suffer through these things with her. She insisted we call the RCMP at 0200h. I did that but they were unfortunately busy in the nearest town 50 KM away (maybe tasering some of the local populace of Pincher Creek). They suggested I go speak with the rowdy folks shining their headlights on us, but my good wife wouldn't let me. So instead, we lay there listening to their intelligent shouted conversation until they tired of the philosophical debate & drove off looking for other folks to rouse from their sleep.

I felt badly that CanoeStream would have been subjected to all this hoser talk as I had hoped that he would have been deluded into thinking that the Great White North had no part in this sort of disrespectful behavior. Ah well, they're everywhere I guess. The next day, CanoeStream (Bob & his wife) left & I couldn't help wondering whether the local party gang had something to with it.

Anyways, I enjoy your posts. May your unit remain firmly planted on the dry ground.

-evan


P.S. Here's a shot of us camped side by each: Twins separated at Birth:




The view from the camp sites:



More here:
http://eheffa.zenfolio.com/p10710737...cb6b#h38f02025
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Old 11-06-2009, 07:54 AM   #299
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Waterton NP is certainly a beautiful park. I liked the scenery better than Glacier (the one in Montana; there's another, separate Glacier NP in Canada).

Have you considered it was CanoeStream carousing that night Evan? Maybe that's why he left before he got caught.

I figure if you stay in CG's, sometimes you will have noise. Happens in motels too. Happens with neighbors sometimes while at home. Sometimes I get mad and then sometimes I get madder; working on acceptance of life as it is.

Here's today's breaking news—1. It was cool last night—in the lower '60's. I didn't know that could happen in Florida. It was delightful to open the fan vents and let fresh air flow. 2. The famous Seven Mile Bridge on the Overseas Highway is a fraud. It's 6.7 miles long. Maybe the original SMB was seven miles long, but the one used today is not. The Six Point Seven Mile Bridge is still long though. Driving on narrow islands and many, many bridges in the ocean is kind of strange, though having done it 4 times each way I'm getting used to it. Most of the islands don't seem to much more than several feet above sea level. I can't imagine how vulnerable I'd feel in a hurricane there.

Gene
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Old 11-06-2009, 12:17 PM   #300
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post

Have you considered it was CanoeStream carousing that night Evan? Maybe that's why he left before he got caught.
Now I hadn't thought of that but it would make sense. The noise was coming from his direction...

-evan
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Old 11-06-2009, 11:37 PM   #301
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It started out so well. We left early (early for us, before 10). Had already driven 124 miles in 2 hours and we decided to stop at the Flying J north of Tampa on I-75. And we decided to eat at the restaurant, Country Market, not very healthy, but well prepared comfort food.

We pulled into the gas area and all the pumps were occcupied, so Barb got in line behind 2 trucks at the outside plaza. We waited, and we waited. No one at either truck. Finally a guy comes out of the building and he's fueling both trucks. There's no one else. After about 100 years, he fills both, and drives the first one into a handicapped space—didn't see whether he had a placard for that, though it did appear he might be handicapped, mentally. Then he got in the 2nd truck and drove away. Barb pulls into the first pump. She gets out and swipes her credit card, goes through the prompts, and we put the nozzle in and nothing happens. She cancels the transaction and tries again. Nothing. Maybe she did it again, nothing.

I back up the truck to the rear pump. We go through the same thing and nothing. I took out another credit cards, we tried it a couple of times, and nothing. Barb went inside and talked to someone, they activated the pump, but no gas. All this took almost 30 minutes in real time, 200 years in emotional time. It's one of those times when I want to kick the pump, crushing it to a pulp of molten metal, but I know I'll just hurt my foot.

Later I got an e-mail from one credit card company about weird activity on the card. I called them and all they could tell me the card was swiped 2 or 3 times and cancelled. They couldn't tell me if there were any charges. Cancelled yes, but it was screwed up so anything can be expected. I'll have to wait for the bill to come. Last time there was an incorrect charge on one of our cards, it took me 5 months to straighten it out and an affadavit. Every vacation has memories.

I moved the rig over to an RV parking spot, we went inside to eat. Well the food was fine, though it took awhile to get utensils so we could actually eat it without putting our faces in the plates like dogs, and even later the waitress brought us place mats about halfway through our meal.

I can also report the urinal in the bathroom smelled really bad.

We then left and drove to the Pilot down the road and buying gas was easy.

I also got lost for the first time in almost 4,000 miles of travel, but corrected eventually and find ourselves in the Perry, Fla., KOA. The detour showed us there are hills, farms and cattle off the main highways and people actually live here. Went through some nice towns, mostly nice, when they're run down, they are really really run down. Seems like we end up at a lot of KOA's. It has very good wifi. It's 52˚ at midnight, a temp I can live with really well.

It started out so well…and then it got "interesting".

Gene
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Old 11-07-2009, 01:03 AM   #302
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Hi, I know the feeling when it comes to gas stations and credit cards. On our last trip I pulled into a really large gas station. I pulled to the center pump so I wouldn't block anyone trying to get by either, in front of our vehicles, or rear of them. I put my credit card in the machine three times and nothing happened. So looking closer at the pump to see what was wrong with it or me, I noticed the price of gas was $7.99 per gallon. It was race car gas. I'm sure glad it didn't work. I might have had some extra power, but I wouldn't feel good when time to pay the bill. On another vacation, I put my card in the pump and it was rejected. I tried it again and still wouldn't work. I went into the building and my card was manually run and still wouldn't work. I then payed cash for gas and left. Later that night we were stopping at a motel. [before Airstream] And my card wouldn't work there either. Just before this vacation we eliminated all but one credit card to make life easier, so I only had one card to use. In the morning I called my credit card company and asked them what was going on; We are on our last day of vacation and my credit card won't work. [this card was only used for gas and motels] The credit card company said they closed my card due to suspicious activity. After that experience we let the credit card companies know when we are going on vacations. And now I carry more than one card too.
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Old 11-07-2009, 10:00 AM   #303
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We've learned to follow that good advice too, Bob. One of my pre-departure tasks is to call the credit card company and tell them where we are going. We also have a second (no-fee) card that we don't normally use for just-in-case.

I also use my mobile broadband card to check charges on my credit card bill pretty much daily. However I would not recommend doing this when using wi-fi; it is too easy to have your traffic intercepted over unsecured wi-fi.

Pat
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:42 PM   #304
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Hurricane!

I turned on the radio early this afternoon and eventually the NPR news came on.

We were about 75 miles from NOLA and had reservations at the French Quarter RV park. Although I hadn't been interested in going to NOLA, Barb wanted to go and I was getting excited about it. Ida's track was supposed to turn east and go toward Florida and it was supposed to weaken in the colder waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico. It wasn't supposed to get to the coast until maybe Wednesday. We were going to leave Tuesday morning.

But then everything changed. Ida was heading toward NOLA, it had 100 mph winds and was getting stronger. It was coming faster. When I was much younger, I would have driven to it, but I'm not younger and certainly Barb wouldn't let me anyway (yes I did chase a hurricane when I was in college; it was fun). After hearing these short few sentences on NPR, we tried the weather radio. More detail, not good, though it sounded like winds inland wouldn't be that bad, flooding is the thing to watch for. And they were wrong hours before, so how wrong were they now? And it is NOLA. How could a hurricane be headed to NOLA for the first time since Katrina and how could it be so late in the season, a season that been so quiet, and how could we be going to meet it? Just to add to my cosmic coincidence thoughts, as I write this, a police car with his blue lights on, drove by, slowly, as if looking for someone. I closed the door and locked it. Some days are just spent in an alternate universe.

We called the RV park and cancelled our reservations and decided to keep driving west and are now in a KOA in Lafayette, La. This is the 3rd or 4th CG with the sewer about 25' away, something we've never experienced before except at the Terraport. Just started raining and humidity has gone way up today. We will go to San Antonio tomorrow or early the next day. We will watch the weather. This is the way of traveling.

On Saturday, from Perry we drove along the coast until we got to Destin. A nice, easy drive through coastal areas with nice views of the Gulf. Not much traffic most of the way.

Yesterday we stayed at Henderson Beach SP in Destin, Fla., as recommended by Chief (Ron). Very nice park with the whitest beaches you'll ever see. I was surprised to see cactus growing there along with other local vegetation. It's right next to US 98, a busy beach town highway, but quiet and the pull thru sites are quite private.

Last evening we went to Ron and Jennifer's house in Ft. Walton Beach where they treated us to an excellent dinner. Jennifer is a hell of a cook. It was an international dinner with Korean, Japanese, Mexican, American and German (maybe more, I can't remember it all) dishes (the beer was Mexican) We spent a pleasant evening trading stories and talking Airstream and met some of their neighbors too. They have the identical trailer, showing their good taste. Like us, they have personalized it; the big change was taking out the dinette table and, replacing with a folding table and taking out the curbside dinette seat and replacing it with a nice lounging chair. I didn't want to get out of it. It opens up the trailer and looks good, but I'm attached to my dinette table. Ron and Jennifer are very attached to their iphones; I can barely operate a cell phone. Any more buttons on a phone and I start screaming, but I love my computer.

Tomorrow or the next day there are supposed to be 16-22' waves around there, so the CG we were at may be different later this week, but Ron and Jennifer's house is quite far inland. We were going to take some photos when we were there, but completely forgot. We did take some photos of the beach and I'll have to download them later.

Our new tires seem to be fine and don't lose air like the Marathons would. We must have around 3,000 miles on them. I think they run a bit cooler as the pressure doesn't build up while driving all that much, and the pressure seems to be about the same driving whether it's 90˚ or 70˚.

Gene
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Old 11-08-2009, 08:04 PM   #305
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Gene,

Really enjoyed visiting with you and Barb. Jenn and I finished off the Brushetta today for lunch......but, I don't know what I'm going to do with that leftover Mexican beer.

Hurricane Ida is projected to pass directly over us around noon on Tuesday....suppose I better start tying things down tomorrow. Winds should be under 73 mph by then.....just a good blow compared to past events. If things change, we may have to hook up the evacuation module and go camping for a couple of days.....but, I don't expect that to happen. We did go out this evening to fill up Jenn's car, and there were a lot of folks scurrying around for a Sunday evening. Hope the cooler water knocks the wind outta this thing.

Ron
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Old 11-08-2009, 09:26 PM   #306
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Ron,

I hope things go well there and the Safari won't be blown over. I couldn't tell if traffic on I-10 was heavier since I don't know what is normal. People in La. and the coast to the east must be nervous after the hurricanes this last decade. Usually when I see disasters happen it's just very interesting, but when you know people there, that changes. We'll be thinking of you. When my cousin's area had a hurricane the year Fla. got 4 of them, they had little damage or high winds, but electricity was out for a month. We are an electricity based society, even more important than oil. The power companies must have cut back on repair crews. It doesn't seem outages used to last so long. I hope the lights stay on.

Gene
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:12 PM   #307
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Avoid Houston—they don't want us

We left Lafayette yesterday. Ida was to the southeast and there was no rain or wind. An uneventful trip until we decided to give the Flying J (east of Houston) another chance. The number 1 on the keypad didn't work, so we couldn't enter our zip code. Barb believes they have changed their keypad system and therein lies the problem—they work badly. We eventually got gas and then decided to eat at the Country Market. The last one was good and had lots of variety. Not true here.

The spinach was just like my mother used to make. Mother's recipe: buy can of boiled green spinach mush, open can and dump blob into pot, boil to death, dump slimy green slop onto son's plate, listen to son complain. They replicated it perfectly. I had to try to check. Yuck! Barb tried it too and agreed.

Having sworn off FJ forever we proceeded to Houston on I-10. Passing through downtown, these signs suddenly appeared:

1. I-10 tollroad. This was not on the map.

2. No cash, EZ Pass only. We have no EZ Pass.

3. No trailers. There was no store selling cloaking devices to make the trailer invisible and issue an EZ Pass, so I turned off on I-610 going south. Barb looked at the map and couldn't figure out where we could go, how long the tollroad lasted, or how to prevent us from going around this beltway forever.

We finally stopped and I figured out a route and eventually we got back to I-10 and probably wasted an hour. I don't understand how a major interstate can be closed to entire groups of vehicles and people who have no EZ Pass without any alternate route. This is crazy. Avoid Houston if you are going east or west.

We stayed in Columbus, Tex., at a former KOA. Quite an older one, quite mellow and well shaded. Mike, a fulltimer with an Excella, seems to welcome people. His Excella and truck both have a couple of hundred thousand miles on them and look great.

On TV last night we saw Ida was heading for the area we stayed at the night before—Destin. I imagine Chief has had a lot of rain and some wind by now.

This morning we had a short drive to San Antonio and pulled into the KOA here around 1. I had read reviews on the internet and they said the people at the desk were not friendly or unfriendly, just matter of fact. That was true. There is an old and little cowboy who greets you when you pull in. He's close to 90 and his directions leave something to be desired. Ignoring the emotionless welcome in the office, the old cowboy, guided us to our site. Well wooded sites and no one on either side, so it feels roomy, but wouldn't if the CG was full. There a bus stop right outside, but we decided to drive in town late in the afternoon.

We went to Market Square first and planned to eat dinner at Mi Tierra. It was recommended (I think) by Rednax on another thread, but that post disappeared last night. The restaurant has been open 24/7 since 1941 except for 2 1/2 days. We found a parking space right away ($1.25/hour for the meters there) First we looked at the shops. They all seem to have the same stuff, basically Mexican tourist stuff and T shirts that say San Antonio 25 different ways. Then to Mi Tierra.

It is pretty gaudy. Mariachis go from table to table asking if you want a song—at $6 per. A table next to us wanted about 10 songs, so we got serenaded for free. The food was excellent. Eat at a really good Mexican restaurant and you realize how most of them use cheap cheese, lousy beans and overcooked dried out rice. It was the best Mexican restaurant we've eaten at for a long long time. They call it Tex-Mex, but most Mexican restaurants offer both styles. In some towns a small Mexican joint will give you genuine Mexican food—and that's different from most of what is served in the US and sometimes quite good. After Mi Tiera (My Land), we won't be able to go to a Mexican restaurant for a while because we'll probably be disappointed—and we love Mexican food.

We drove over to the Alamo-Riverwalk area and found some free street parking. Going in the evening is the right time. We walked along the Riverwalk for a while. The last time I was here was in the early '50's. It was a lot smaller then. It's really quite impressive and a lot longer now. On the street level are many hotels and office buildings, but down on the walkways—one on each side, many bridges—are a lot of restaurants and other stores, some of them with tourist stuff, ice cream and such. After walking around for a while we went to the Alamo. When I saw it 55 years ago, it was pretty barren there—the bulldings were not in good condition and in front was just dirt. Now it's attractively landscaped and there are paving blocks. The street right in front is closed. It was good to see it without tourists everywhere. Tomorrow we'll go to do the tour and take a boat on the river—that seems to be a quite popular option as the boats were full even past 8 pm.

Next to the Alamo is the Menger Hotel. In business for 150 years, the original part is much smaller than today. Now it's a large and elegant hotel. The bar is known for Teddy Roosevelt's stay there while he recruited volunteers for the Rough Riders. Myth is he put a few rounds in the ceiling. Improbable.

I'll have to download photos another time as I'm getting bleary eyed.

Gene
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:00 AM   #308
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You might like to go up to the top of 750 foot tall Tower of The Americas near the river walk in Hemisfair Plaza where there is a great view of the entire city. There is a bar and restaurant at the top which are a little pricey, but not as bad as one might expect. You can do a search and check it out online.

Dennis
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