At this time last year John and Maggie started out on their bucket list trip across Amercia. When they got to Missoula Montana they came to a construction zone and knocked the black pipe off their motorhome and had to return to Florence. After a year of repairs and planning they hit the road again. This is where they find themselfs now back in Missoula. ( By the way the residents of Florence would like to thank them for the large infestation of flies we had last year)
Jack Kerouac Had nothing on John & Maggie Machi
TRAVELS WITH JOHN AND MAGGIE
Hum this along to the song, "If we make it through December"
Well, we made it through Missoula,
And all those nasty cones,
And the Flies were there to greet us,
Just to welcome us back home.
And those flies, they were enormous,
Born a year ago today,
And they recognized their birthplace,
In the Blackwater Tank of our RV.
We did it! We made it through Missoula!!! Tomorrow we will be touring Glacier Park in one of those Red Buses that take visitors up to The Going to the Sun Road, the Continental Divide, and the Glaciers. Today we traveled from Spokane through beautiful Couer d' Alene and the Idaho countryside and around Flathead Lake up to Glacier. I love this country.
This is the first night that the KOA Campgrounds had good computer hookups. The other nights I couldn't get on line. They say it is because the Fire Fighters are using all the available networks fighting the fires, so that may be. Haven't been through any areas of wild fires so far. Having a great time.
John and Maggie Machi
HELLO FROM HERSHEY, PA
Well after a nice stay at the KOA Campground outside of Philadelphia, we left this morning for Hershey, PA, where they will be having the Hershey Car Show during the next four days. John said this is the Car Show to end all Car Shows -- the best. We didn't have to drive too far -- just about 50 miles -- and we started out thinking we would drive through Lancaster County and see where the Amish people live. We got directions from the campground but somehow we got lost, found our way on track again, and decided to just go straight to the KOA Campground in Elizabethtown, PA, which is about 10 miles from Hershey, PA.
We get into our camp site, hook up the RV and then John disconnected the Jeep because we were going to run errands and look around Hershey. We were sitting at the picnic table outside and John just finished telling me about how his friend Jimmy saw a guy whose car didn't have the emergency brake set, and it was parked on an incline, and the car rolled backwards and did a lot of damage.
No sooner had John said that, I noticed that our Jeep started rolling backward and I said to John, "There it goes!" So all three of us, John, myself and the dog, started running after this Runaway Jeep as it backed up about 100 feet into a grove of trees and then did a perfect left turn and backed itself into an empty RV space and finally came to a stop.
John and I were breathless chasing this Runaway Jeep and the dog thought it was great fun! We kept thinking it was going to hit something -- a tree, a bush, or a vehicle. But thankfully, it hit nothing and stopped just before it would have gone into a ditch. Needless to say, we were relieved. Once John drove it back up and set the break and made sure it was in the correct gear, we breathed a big sigh of relief -- and then I was able to laugh, although John was not in a laughing mood.
It was almost as if the Jeep heard what John had said and figured he would show us how he could back himself up too. All in all, now it seems funny to me but John is still not laughing. In fact, he doesn't know I'm telling everybody about this--but I am. I also went outside after we got back home in the Jeep from shopping and I took some white rope and I TIED THE JEEP TO THE RV so it could't run away again. John doesn't know I did this yet. He'll find out quickly tomorrow morning when he goes to get in the Jeep. I just didn't want to have to go chasing our Runaway Jeep again tonight if it decided to leave again.
Tomorrow we visit Hershey Car Show and I'm going to go on tours at the Hershey Chocolate Factory. John can pig out on a whole lot of old cars. I'm pigging out on CHOCOLATE!!!!
JOHN, MAGGIE, AND TEDDY BEAR
HERSHEY CAR SHOW
When you enter Hershey, Pennsylvania, there is a big sign that welcomes you to the "Sweetest Place on Earth". You drive through the town and they have candy kisses covering the street lights. It is quite charming. John said years ago, when you drove through Hershey you could smell the smell of chocolate all over the town, but now that the factory is closed, you can't smell that anymore.
Well, yesterday all day and today all day, we visited the Hershey Car Show and Swap Meet. It is huge. We were overwhelmed. We got near the area where the car show was being held and there were thousands of cars from every state and they were all trying to find parking like we were. They ushered us off to a green grassy area and we got to park for a $15.00 parking fee per day, right in the field where Bessy the Cow usually walks. Now I know why cows move so slowly through the tall grass. It's hard to move quickly though all that green grass.
When John was here over 30 years ago, he said they organized all the swap meet vendors by "mark" so you could go up and down the aisles and look for what you wanted to see, however, you were walking in the mud because it always rains in Hershey during the car show. So, we go to the Swap Meet area and got a program. It covers where all the Swap Meet Vendors are located and it covers 7 different areas that are paved parking lots that seem to be like 15 football fields big -- each of them. Hundreds of vendors were displaying their goods just like in the old days when swap meets were popular. Swap Meets are more interesting that Car Shows because there is all that junk to look at. But, we realized, that there was no rhyme or reason to the location of the vendors -- everything was all mixed together so you couldn't go just to a Chevy parts area or a Ford parts area to look for stuff. You had to decifer this stupid map of "Chocolate Field South" or "Green Field" or "Red Field A1 and A2" to try to locate vendors that might have what you are looking for. Then you have to find them in this row of maybe 50 different vendors by the number they assigned to the space, which was some concoction of Alpha and Numerical Numbers with an arrow pointing which way up or down. It is the craziest program I have ever seen. Actually, we really didn't figure it all out until last night when I sat down and deciphered the program book and made some sense to it.
John said when he was here 30 years ago, there were golf carts that you could rent so he figured we'd rent a golf cart and not do all the walking. But, the single golf cart dealer was sold out and people had made their reservations months ago, so we were out of luck. We found out that they were taking reservations for golf carts to be used next year, and one guy said the price to rent them was something like $1,500.00. So, all day Thursday, we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, and I was following John. So, we walked, and then looked, and then looked some more, and then walked two steps, and looked again, and on an on and on. He looks at everything. He stops everywhere. And he was in 7th Heaven. He saw cars that he had never seen before. He wanted to buy about 100 cars but I kept reminding him that we'd have to ship them all the way to the West Coast.
Since we couldn't yet decifer the program book, we really didn't know where to look for Chevy parts and Plymouth parts, but that didn't stop John from looking. We saw Woodies but John said they weren't what you wanted. We saw a Toy Model of a 1948 Woody but the guy wanted $90.00 for it. Prices are extremely high here, and the vendors know that people will pay exorbitant prices just to say they bought it at Hershey.
After about 5 hours of walking, and walking, and walking, John's sciatic nerve was killing him and my back was hurting from all that walking and standing and waiting, so we decided to call it a day. It was hot, we were tired of dodging all the crowds, and we had a long way to walk back to our Jeep, if we could find it which was parked about 1/2 mile away. We slowly walked back to the Jeep and we were so happy to get in it and sit. They have benches and picnic tables and food booths around the areas, but there were thousands of people and it was hard to find a place to sit down. When we did, we had trouble sitting down we were so stiff, and we had trouble standing again because our legs were rebelling against it.
We did, however, sit in one of the buildings and they had big tables and a cafeteria there. It was nice and cool and we sat there for awhile. When we got up to leave, I noticed Wayne Carini, the Chasing Classic Cars Guy on TV and he was sitting at a table near us. He looked even better than he does on the TV Show. So I went up to him and said that we really enjoy his TV Program. He smiled and said "Thanks". I wanted to follow him around but he wasn't moving from the comfortable place to sit and rest. So, we saw a TV celebrity!
Once we found the Jeep,and got back on the highway to "home" at the campground, we decided to stop at a cute Italian Restaurant along the highway. We ordered our food but we were so tired we couldn't eat it. I damn near fell asleep at the table. So, we packed up the food and came home to a very happy Teddy Bear.
This morning, we set out to do it again, but I had a better idea of where Chevy parts and Plymouth parts were because I studied the Program last night and I was certain we could find those vendors today. Again, we were shuffled off to park in a cow pasture and walk through the long green grass. We got into the Swap Meet and John was looking at some parts and he wanted to buy them but he realized that he had forgotten his wallet in the Jeep. Wonderful. So, back we go walking all the way back to the new green cow pasture which was about another 1/2 mile away. We were lucky that the wallet was still in the Jeep untouched and we rested at the Jeep before starting the long walk back to the Swap Meet. We walked around the areas where the program said we could find parts and we did get to one vendor who had the exact thing Sandy wanted but it was for a truck instead of a car. But at least we found something!
My mathematical background paid off kind of because we were able to find the vendors that had Chevy pre-war and Plymouth stuff, but we found nothing to take home. We wandered up and down these long rows of tables with rusty old parts on them and were jostled by portly old men carrying their canvas car bags and pushing carts with parts in them. We'd walk, then stop, then walk and then stop, and walk some more. John loved it. I felt like I was walking the dog when he wants to stop and sniff at every leaf, branch, and blade of grass. But, I figured this was John's treat and I wasn't going to rush him through it like he rushes me through the trinket shops. Boy am I ready for him next time he does that!
Suddenly, there was an announcement over the PA System that was warning the vendors that a rain storm with lightning and strong winds was headed towards us and that they should take care that their tents and merchandise wouldn't blow away. Boy, THOSE WERE THE SWEETEST WORDS I COULD EVER HEAR in this Sweetest place on earth. The vendors started packing up their tables and everyone was headed for the parking lots because they warned of heavy rains and high winds. The whole place was just closing down all over.
We made our trek back to the Jeep, along with everybody else, and we just got back to the Jeep and the rains started. It was really coming down but getting out of the parking "cow pasture" was a real trick. There was a traffic jam to end all traffic jams and nobody, but nobody was moving. It took us an hour to get home when it is about a 10 mile drive. We stopped again at our favorite little Italian Restaurant but again we were so tired we wound up bringing the food home. We were just too tired to eat.
Tomorrow, we are going back (No, I'm not crazy -- just a devoted wife) to see the Car Corral, where they have a whole lot of cars for sale. After that, if we can find it, we are going to tour the Hershey Factory Museum and do more Candy type things. We didn't get the parts we were looking for, but we certainly did try. I told John that whatever he wanted or needed, I would order it online and save our feet. Thank God for the Internet.
Will write more tomorrow after I finally get to the chocolate.
LOVE, MAGGIE, JOHN, AND TEDDY BEAR
I LOVE HERSHEY CHOCOLATE!!!
Well, today was my day to explore the Chocolate World at Hershey. Wow! It was great fun. We found the Chocolate Museum easily and went in and took a tour of how they make Hershey bars. They have you ride in a little cart that moves on a conveyor belt through the old factory and they explain about the cocoa beans and how they are crushed and washed and then how they mix in the cocoa and milk and make the chocolate silky smooth before they press it into chocolate bars and then put in the goodies and label the chocolate bars. The tour was a lot of fun as they had singing cows and great music as the cart moved from one exhibit to the other. At the end they took our picture in the cart and I felt like a 5 year old. I laughed, bounced and clapped to the music, and got very anxious to taste all that chocolate.
Next we did an exhibit named "Create Your Own Chocolate Bar" where they give you a white apron and a hair net and they explain how to push the buttons on the computer to tell it if you want milk chocolate or dark chocolate, and then you can choose from a variety of goodies to go into your bar like chocolate pieces of cookie or butterscotch chips or chocolate chips or a whole bunch of other things. Then they have you choose if you want sprinkles on top of your candy bar and then you watch as the computer tells the robot what to do and out comes a chocolate bar and then you watch as the butterscotch chips are added or the pieces of cookie dough or whatever. The computer tells you which bar is yours and you watch it move down the assembly line and then it gets duncked in rich, rich chocolate and has to sit and cool for 10 minutes. By that time, you have punched the buttons on the next computer where you can choose what to put on your label for the chocolate bar. You can design it yourself which was great fun. After the bar is cooled, it comes out of the assembly line and your label is put on it and they put it in a tin box and it's your very own chocolate bar that you created at Hershey Chocolate Factory. The only problem is that if I eat it, I will destroy what I created and I don't want to do that. It was great fun. The funniest part was seeing John dressed up in his white apron with a white hair net on his head and another white hair net on his beard. Then, he is trying to make the computer work and of course he is all thumbs but it was hilarious watching him punch the computer buttons.
They had chocolate tasting exhibits and a new thing where you taste Fall Festival flavors, a Chocolate Mystery Film for the kids, and a trolley ride that goes around the big area, and, last but not least, a gigantic room with candy, candy, and more candy plus a whole lot of trinkets.
We stopped and had a sandwich for lunch and they served chocolate flavored pretzels and chips with the sandwich. I left John sitting at the table resting, and I attacked the candy store and trinket shops. The best thing is he couldn't complain because he knew I would tell him I followed him around for two days in the heat and crowds just to see rusty old pieces of junk -- so he could just be patient and sit at the table and wait for me to do my trinketing.
The place was jammed packed with people and a lot of kids from all over the world. We should have gone to the Chocolate Factory yesterday but we didn't realize it then. I'm satisfied that I saw where the Hershey Chocolate Factory used to be and how it is made. I am also in love with the street lights in Hershey, PA that are formed into chocolate kisses. The trees are just starting to turn here and I saw brilliant reds, oranges and yellows and it seems that more turn every day. All in all, touring Hershey was a lot of fun.
Tomorrow we head for Gettysburg, PA and the Gettysbury Battlefield. More history -- but at least I've got my chocolate to get me through.
JOHN, MAGGIE, AND TEDDY BEAR
GETTYSBURG, PA BATTLEGROUND
Well we left sweet Hershey, PA yesterday and drove a short distance to Gettysburg, PA, the site of the most important battle of the Civil War. Driving through the Pennsylvania countryside was quite enjoyable. They have rolling hills and meadows with green, green fields and then ridge rows of trees. A lot of the farmlands had horses, cows and sheep. The leaves are just starting to turn colors and the drive was quite nice.
We arrived at our campsite at Gettysburg and took a small Jeep tour of the little town of Gettysburg. The town still has many old houses that existed in 1863, the year of the Gettysburg Battle. They have provided a brass marker on the doors of houses that existed at that time and it is fun going around looking at those houses. If only the houses could talk, they would tell us about the fear and anguish that existed in this small town for 3 days, July 1,2, and 3, 1863.
Today we started our tour at the Visitor's Center at Gettysbury National Park and it is a very nice Visitor's Center. Although it was packed crowded because this is a holiday Monday (Columbus Day) we were lucky to get tickets to the film, The Birth of a New Nation, narrated by Morgan Freeman, and tickets to the Gettysburg "Cyclorama". I have never seen a "Cyclorama" before but it was quite common before motion pictures. An artist, or artists, would paint a picture in the round. This one, restored, was contained in a big theatre like setting and the battle scene wrapped around the whole room. Then they have a narrator talking about the battles and you feel like you are right in the middle of the battles. They have landscaped buildings and trees, rocks and ridges. They had sound effects, cannons going off and smoke billowing from targets that were hit. You see men fighting, and men wounded and killed. It just comes alive and it was very interesting. Next, we decided rather than driving through the battleground by ourselves, we would take one of the bus tours with a guide that explained a lot of things that happened during those 3 days in July. The bus took us on a tour of old Historic Gettysburg and the old houses, up to Cemetery Ridge, Devil's Den and up to Little Round Top Hill, where the Union soldiers had the advantage of being in a high place to see the Confederates trying to take over the battle field and the little town of Gettysburg. And, we had a tour of all the monuments from all the states that participated in the Gettysburg battle.
I loved looking at the old houses -- sturdy brick walls with front porches with columns out front. I imagined being a farmer in this small community of 2,400 people when all of a sudden the Confederates took over the town, and the Union soldiers followed and the battles began. I saw barns where lead cannonballs had hit the building and the hole is still there in the side of the wall. I saw where farm houses and barns were taken over by the soldiers and the townspeople and farmers had to hide in their basements. In 3 days, over 51,000 men were wounded or killed. The descriptions the townspeople gave of the carnage and smells of the rotting corpses was interesting, but also sickening.
I was lucky to have my walking history book, John, by my side and he explained a lot to me. What was really nice is we were able to sit back and ride the tour bus and not have to worry about getting lost or finding the next site to see.
When we returned from the battlefield tour, we went through the Museum and that is also very well done. We also saw the train station where Abraham Lincoln rode the train in and then gave the famous "Gettysburg Address" while at the battlefield.
Tomorrow we leave for Millersville, Maryland, which is a suburb of Washington, D.C. and we start our extended tour of DC. Another new adventure awaits us in D.C.
JOHN, MAGGIE, AND TEDDY BEAR
WHITE HOUSE TOUR
The Campground's computer network was overloaded on Friday night and Saturday night so I couldn't get on the Internet because the park was crowded and everybody else wanted to get on the Internet. Thankfully, a lot of campers left today, so I'm able to get on today.
We visited the White House on Friday, October 16, 2015 and the US Capitol Building on Saturday, October 17, 2015.
Here are my notes:
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2015 - WHITE HOUSE TOUR
Well, today, we toured the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and it was grand.
Our tour was scheduled for 11:00 a.m., and we were cautioned, get there no earlier than 10:45 a.m. So, we got to the White House Visitor’s Center and waited until 10:45, and then hurried across Pennsylvania Avenue to stand in a long line and wait. The line wound down from the gates of the White House and around and stretched to the end of the street. Slowly, the line moved up toward the White House Security entrance gate, where two good looking Secret Service Agents checked everyone’s Driver’s License and the Tour Confirmation Letter and let us through. Then, this same long line curved around some more sidewalk and we again were checked for Driver’s License and Tour Confirmation Letter. Everyone is checked. The line moves slowly and everyone waits until they get up to the Secret Service Agents and then they are allowed to go through another gate. This time, we waited to get into a building where you empty your pockets and walk through the security screener. I made it through alright, but the machine buzzed for John, so they swiped the wand over him and then let him pass through. Meanwhile, there are signs all around that said that K9 Dogs would be sniffing us to see if we had any contraband. We didn’t see any dogs, but you knew you were being watched. The place is crawling with Secret Service Agents. You can only bring a wallet with you, no purses or bags and of course, no knives or guns or lotions or liquids or food.
Finally, we were in the White House and it is grand. Michelle keeps a clean house!! Barack still takes out the garbage. The girls must have been off at school, and we didn’t get to see BO or the other dog that lives there. But we got to see The Library Room, The Vermeil Room, The China Room, the Diplomatic Reception Room, the East Room, The Green Room, The Blue Room, The Red Room, The State Dining Room and the Press Conference Room. Plus, out the windows we could see the Washington Monument and the White House Lawn.
We were about halfway through our tour when a Secret Service Agent said that they were going to have a Presidential Press Conference and that the visitor tours would have to hurry up and move along because they were shutting down the visitor tours early because of the Press Conference. When we got to the Press Conference Room, we saw the flag of South Korea, so we assumed that the President was having a Press Conference with the leader of South Korea. When we saw the State Dining Room, we wondered if they were going to invite us to dinner later – but the menu they were serving was KIM CHE, so we declined!!!
The White House is in beautiful shape – much better cared for than it was back in the early 1980’s when we saw it the last time. The furniture is beautiful and most impressive are the chandeliers and the different colors of draperies. My favorite rooms were the Blue Room, the Green Room and the Red Room. All of them have very beautiful draperies with gold tassels hanging down. And they show a collection of the different types of china that has been used in the White House. My favorite of the china was Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s choice, although I liked Hillary and Bill’s choice of china also.
It is surprising how small the White House really is. On TV, it looks like the rooms are really big but they are small. We were not allowed to walk into the room but we could see through the doors and see the beautiful carpets and the colors, and the furniture and the decorations.
I told John as we were walking out through the door that he could buy me that house, with all the furnishings. A Secret Service Agent started laughing!!! I made him chuckle.
We found our way back to the White House Visitor’s Center which has a very nice collection of photos and items from all of the White House residents. It was very interesting, for example, to read that when Andrew Jackson was President, he received as a gift a 400 pound round of cheese. So, he said to feed all the people the cheese. The people went into the White House, ate all the cheese, but bits of the cheese fell to the floor and got ground into the carpets and the room had a terrible odor of old cheese for months.
We noticed that right next door to the White House is the U. S. Treasury Building (The IRS) and across the street is The Bank of America Building. Now we know where our Income Taxes go to.
You go through a security check when entering every building we have visited -- the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the White House, and tomorrow the U.S. Capitol Building, The White House, obviously, has a more detailed security check. Even the White House Visitor’s Center has a security check before you can enter that building.
The streets are loaded with uniformed Police and every building has high tech video cameras watching everybody. Even the Union Train Station has a great presence of many Security Officers, Cops, and K9 dogs – along with a whole lot of people.
I was thinking today as we were driving to the train station that these people, the “worker bees” are on a racetrack each and every day. You race down the freeway trying to get to the train station. Getting on the freeway is similar to jumping into the whitewater rapids of a rushing, roaring river. You get to the train station; drive around in circles trying to get a parking spot for your car. Then they literally run to the train station to stand and wait for the next train to arrive. After waiting at the gate, once he train arrives they jump on to the train and hurry to get a seat. The train starts moving and by the time everyone is relaxed and half falling asleep with the gentle ride of the train, the train stops, pulls into Union Station, and the Race Horse is on. People pour out of the train and move quickly down the gate way towards the train station. I felt like we were running in a horse race and we were the horses all in lanes trying to get past everyone else. And once they get to the Station, many of them go and stand in line at the Starbucks and wait in a line of about 50 people to get their coffee. Then, they go outside and stand and wait again for a taxi to drive up and jostle everyone else to try to get into the cab first. What a Horse Race!!!! What a Human Horse Race. And they do the same thing five days a week. I’m sure glad that we don’t live here and that we don’t have to do this every day.
Tomorrow, our tour is of the US Capitol Building. The Senate and House are in recess so we probably won’t see any of them working, but again, they don’t do much work when they are in session either.
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
TOUR OF US CAPITOL BLDG
Today, we rode the trains and taxi to the US Capitol Building for our scheduled tour. After going through extensive security with a lot of security people watching us, we were invited in to watch an Orientation Film about the US Capitol Building and what go on there.
After that, we were given a set of earphones and the tour guide ushered us through the various hallways and halls of the Capitol Building. It looks just like it does on TV when a Senator is talking to the Media. The building is huge and noisy. Sounds echo and noise carries from all floors to the top.
Of particular interest was the Hall of Statues, where every State has two statues of persons that were important to the people of that State. The State can decide to remove a statue and put in another one. Oregon just did that recently. Of other importance is the statue of Father Junipero Sierra, the Catholic Missionary Priest that was just recently canonized by the Pope. Many historians think that Junipero Sierra was a flat out murderer of Indian and Mexican people.
The rooms and halls and hallways in this building are huge and in one room the guide showed us where early on the senators and representatives had their desks, but they could not hear what was being said across the room, which led to the “Eavesdropping Scandal”.
We also walked right past The Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Office but we could not go in. Actually, John was going to apply for his job since no one else wants it.
We did not see anybody, except for hundreds of tourists, because the Senate and the House are in recess this week. We are hoping that next week, once they start the session again, we will go to the Galleries which are rooms situated above the floor of the Senate and the House where you can watch them in action. I don’t know how much work we will see them do as they haven’t done a whole lot in the last few years, but it is interesting to see the different personalities. When we were here in the early 1980’s, we actually saw the Senate take a big vote on an issue and that was really interesting.
We left the Capitol Building and went to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, where we toured the 3rd floor all about past presidents. I told my dog, Teddy Bear, that I actually saw the first Teddy Bear that Theodore Roosevelt had and how the name Teddy Bear grew from his administration.
Tomorrow is Sunday. We found out that the trains don’t work very well on Sunday so we decided to take a car trip through Annapolis, Maryland and on into Dover, Delaware.
Bye for now,
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
SUNDAY DRIVE TO DELAWARE
We found out that the trains don’t run regularly on Sunday and we were tired from following all the “worker bees” rushing to the “hives” so we decided to give ourselves a break today and take a car trip over to Delaware. It is about 70 miles from where we are camping and basically a short, easy trip from Annapolis, Maryland, which is nearby our camp site.
We drove through Annapolis, Maryland where they have the US Naval Academy and then we drove over the Bay Bridge, which crosses the Chesapeake Bay. It is a beautiful bay, bigger than San Francisco Bay, and it has many tiny inlets and fingers which make it very interesting to look at on a map.
After the Bridge, we drove through rural Eastern Maryland, which is actually farmlands and it was quite nice to be away from the big cities and traffic and all the people. We entered into the State of Delaware and it too was very rural where we were driving. We stopped at a small Country Store that served hot sandwiches and we ate ham sandwiches and read the Dover newspaper. Then we turned around and drove back to our Campground. We didn’t really want to see anything in Delaware, but we just wanted to put our feet on the ground in the State of Delaware to so we could say that we have been in Delaware. It sounds crazy, but actually, the drive made for a nice Sunday drive and gave us a nice break from the hubbub of the city.
When we got home, our computer was working and John was able to watch the 49'er game on the computer. Fortunately, they won! All in all, it was a great Sunday.
Tomorrow we again ride the trains and taxis to the Smithsonian Museums. We will become like the “Worker Bees” again tomorrow, but it still is fun.
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
John and I are getting just like all the other "Worker Bees".
Today we got up early, raced down the freeway to the train station, stood and waited for the train, jumped on the train, started to fall asleep with the gentle motion of the train until we got to Union Station in Washington D.C. We jumped off the train, walked for about a half mile just in the train station, went out and caught the first taxi we could flag down, and rode to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
This is like our third visit to the American History Museum since we have been here in DC. There are three floors jammed packed with exhibits and we have only seen about 2 of the floors. There is so much to see, and we both stand and read every word on the display and then look at the exhibit and follow through with the story they are portraying about Presidents, First Ladies, Gun Boats, the Military, Steam Trains, the Electric Lightbulb, magnets, motors, generators, old cars, old trains, old trucks, old appliances, everything that makes up life in these United States.
It is really hard work to visit a Museum and see everything. But once you are in the Museum and see all the displays, we can't help but keep moving through the exhibits wondering what we are going to see next. We spend 5 hours in the Museum, then leave to catch a taxi back to Union Station to wait for the train, that we then race to get on to get a seat and ride to our stop, look for the Jeep and et back to the Campground. It's like having a job!!!!
I enjoy looking at everything, even if I don't understand a lot of the motors and stuff. What I really enjoyed today was going through the section on the First Ladies and their Inaugural Dresses. The Museum has dresses that the First Ladies wore on their Husband's Inaugural Day and they are just beautiful. And these dresses, or pictures of them, go way back to Martha Washington. They also have pictures of all the First Ladies and we were comparing them for who was a good looking woman and who was not so good looking. I was surprised to find out that many of the former First Ladies were not the wives of the President elect but some were daughters, daughter-in-laws, sisters, nieces. A couple were in their early 20's. Some were second wives of the President-elect. And one was a Newlywed in the White House.
Michelle Obama's white dress is beautiful, as well as Nancy Reagan's dress and Laura Bush's Red Inaugural Dress. Michelle Obama is a tall big woman, while Nancy Reagan was tiny and petite. Interestingly, they talked about Jackie Kennedy and showed a picture of her dress, but I didn't see the actual dress. They also showed the shoes the women wore with their dresses and the evening bags they carried. Michelle Obama has big feet! Some of the early First Ladies had very, very small feet. Also, they showed different pieces of china dishes that were ordered for the White House and there really is a difference in designs these women ordered for the plates and silverware for the White House. The ugliest china portrayed animals and flowers. I would have to say that Mary Todd Lincoln and Nancy Reagan had beautiful taste in china. They also gave information about what projects the First Ladies were involved in and how they were expected to entertain and make conversation with all the visitors to the President. The role of First Lady is not an easy role, and many of the women said they hated bein in the White House, while others loved the place.
John was looking at motor parts and cars and trucks and trains and I just followed him through that, but I really enjoyed looking at the First Ladies and their dresses. So many jewels and rhinestones and glitter. It is amazing how they can even move in those dresses. John said I had the look on my face like when I used to watch "Queen for a Day" when I was a kid. He said I looked like I wanted to try on every dress and prance around in it playing First Lady. He is not too far wrong about that.
But John came up with a good question when we were in there. If Hillary Clinton becomes President of the United States, will her husband Bill have to wear a dress to the Inaugural Ball?
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
Natural History Museum and US Congress
John came down with a cold on Monday night so we "called in sick" on Tuesday and stayed home.
This mad rush to compete with the "Worker Bees" for freeway space, train space, and taxi rides is hard work and it finally got to John. He is much better today. Yesterday we went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. John loves archeology and was just enamored looking at all the information in the Human Origins Section. I followed him around reading all the information signs on the displays, but quite frankly, I get bored looking at dead bones and bald scalps. But I know he enjoyed himself in that huge area of exhibits so I just followed him through it.
Next, we went to the Mammals Section, and that was a little more interesting for me. They have every different kind of mammal from all over the world. I especially like the displays of animals from Australia. I love Koala Bears. So after following John around for five hours, it was time to go home.
Today, we went to the US Capitol Building. We had Gallery Passes to both the Senate and the House of Representatives. So, after going through the extensive security checks, we first visited the House of Representatives Gallery. You sit in the Gallery above the floor of the House and you can look down and see the speakers and the aides busy working on paperwork. There was not too much going on there. I think most of the House members were at the Special Committee investigating Bengazi because Hillary Clinton was there in front of that Committee. We didn't see her; she was somewhere in a Committee Room in the bowels of the huge building. But in the House, some Representatives were speaking for causes they were trying to push. We did see Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the strong leader of the Democratic Party Caucus. She really does have tight curly hair, but she is an excellent speaker. Afterward, we went and had lunch in the Capitol Cafeteria and waited awhile before we headed for the Senate Gallery.
The Senate Gallery started out to be kind of boring also as one woman Senator from Nebraska was barking out her speech about something. When you enter the Galleries, you are let into the Gallery by a Door Man, and they tell you where to sit and what rules you have to follow, such as, no reading, no heckling, no pictures, etc. Well, I got warm and cozy and listening to that woman speaking made my eyes close and I dozed off. John was busy listening to her, but he heard a small snort come from my mouth. So did the Door Man hear me -- and he came up to me and said, "No sleeping in the Gallery". I was so embarassed.
I read the instructions later and I could have been removed from the Gallery for sleeping, or I could have been arrested! He let me stay there but I definitely kept my eyes opened. About this time, the action on the floor of the Senate started heating up. Ted Cruz stood up and gave a speech. He was talking about a bill that Dianne Feinstein wrote about negotiating a release for a Chinese man and woman, the man being a Nobel Laureate, and China imprisoned him and his wife. Ted Cruz wants to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy to the name of this Chinese Man. Dianne Feinstein then stood up and rebutted Ted Cruz and his idea because she said it would seriously impact negotiations with China for his release. Both sides got a little testy -- in Parliamentary terms.
Next, they took a Roll Call and slowly all the Senators wandered into the Senate Chambers. We saw of course Ted Cruz, Dianne Feinstein, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, Barbara Boxer, Ron Wyden, Merkley, Al Franken, Dick Durbin, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, and a lot of people that I recognized from seeing them on TV but I couldn't remember their names. Actually, when the Senators came into the room, it reminded me of when we go into the Elks Lodge. Each one walked up to another Senator and stood and talked to them and then moved around and talked to other people. It is all very sociable. Nobody was sitting down at their desks working. Everybody was moving about on the Senate Floor. It made it really fun to watch for faces that we recognized even if we couldn't name them.
But then, I was holding the blue card that they gave us when we entered the Senate and you hold it until you turn it back in at the end of your Gallery watching. Well, I dropped it and I couldn't find it so I was bending over the seats in front of me trying to find it -- and of course, the Door Man came up and wanted to know what I was doing. This was a different Door Man, thankfully, and he found the blue card about two seats over on the floor. But, again, I was so embarassed. Thankfully, I didn't get kicked out of the Senate Gallery. It made for a nice day to sit and watch these supposed lawmakers pretending to be working.
We have our commute down pat now -- leave the RV at 8 a.m., rush down the freeway with all the other "Worker Bees" and get to the train station to catch the 8:52 a.m. train. Just trying to find a parking space takes about 5 to 10 minutes driving up all the floors of the parking garage. We wait for the Train and jump on and find a seat, start to fall asleep on the train because of the gentle ride until the train stops at Washington DC Union Station, and then its a horse race to get into the Station and get to the taxis waiting outside. Get in the taxi, tell the driver where we want to go, and get to the Museum or Building and start looking at everything. Then on the way home, get the taxi, get to the train station, wait for the train, horse race into the train to get a seat, get off the train, try to find the Jeep parked on the 6th floor of the parking garage, and rush down the freeway with all the other "Worker Bees" who are returning home. What a grind!!!
Tomorrow we visit the Supreme Court and on Saturday, we are leaving DC and going to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. We are both ready to leave DC. It is a very interesting place, but the crowds, the traffic and the hustle bustle of the big city is tiring and we are ready to go.
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
We finished up the North Carolina side of the Blue Ridge Parkway on Friday. It is just as beautiful as the Virginia section, but it is a bit different than the Virginia side. There are more meadows and then greater elevations with a lot of craggy rocks. There are beautiful leaves on trees along with more evergreen trees (conifers) so it makes for a different kind of beauty. We had planned to drive the whole 469 miles of the Parkway, but when we got to Asheville, North Carolina, we needed to get off the Parkway for gas. It was about 4 p.m. and John had already driven 200 miles and the drive from Asheville to Cherokee, North Carolina, about 70 miles, had the highest of elevations around Mt. Pisgah at about 5,700 feet. I didn't want him to drive at that elevation being so tired, so we stayed in an Asheville KOA campground instead of going all the way down the Parkway.
The next day we traveled from Asheville to Charlotte, Nouth Carolina, which was a very nice area. We actually stayed across the border from Charlotte, North Carolina at a small town called Fort Mill, South Carolina. My KOA Book said it was Charlotte/Fort Dill (evidently a typo) so when we were headed there, I thought something is missing. So, we renamed it to Fort Dill Pickle, South Carolina.
We left this morning from Charlotte to drive to Charleston, South Carolina. We are staying at a KOA campground in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, which is about 10 miles from Charleston. This campground land was actually the old Portland Plantation and a house on this land is the oldest house in Charlotte. There are a lot of Palmetto Trees on the land and John said that the Palmetto is the state's official tree. It looks a lot like a small palm tree.
On the drive down here, before we got to Columbia, we were driving on I-77 when all of a sudden there was a huge traffic jam and traffic stopped for about 10 miles. Evidently, some body drove over a guard rail and the car went down, so traffic was bumper to bumper for 10 miles. But we saw something so cute. A guy driving in the left hand lane suddenly swerved over to the concrete barrier and stopped the car. He and a small boy, about 5 years old, got out of the car. The man hung a blanket over the little boy's shoulders and he proceeded to pee, right there in front of a whole traffic jam of people. John and I both laughed at the look on the Father's face because he was so embarassed, yet he did what he had to do and let the kid pee. And it was a good decision because traffic was tied up for about 45 minutes. It was so cute.
Tomorrow we take a tour of Downtown Charleston and also of Fort Sumter. Meanwhile tonight, I'm pretending I'm Scarlett O'Hara and I'm on Tara Plantation and I'm waiting for Rhett Butler. I got my dress from the curtains in the old house just like Scarlett did, and just like Carol Burnett did so wonderfully on her show that time.
The weather here is in the 70's and it is hot and muggy. John got attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes that breed in a small creek alongside the campground. This is a very nice campground.
Will tell you all about Charleston and Fort Sumter tomorrow.
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
Charleston and Fort Sumter
As the song goes, "Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning." And we toured the City of Charleston, South Carolina today with a tour group bus. Charleston is a very old city and it has very old buildings and houses but they are stately and beautiful. There is a mixture of Colonial and Victorian and you can see that at one time, Charleston was a very wealthy city. We also drove past the Emanuel AME Church where 9 people were killed last June by the young guy who walked in and starting shooting his guns. It is a very small church and the people of Charleston are very concerned about the trial upcoming of the boy who killed so many Churchgoers.
I couldn't help but imagine in my mind how Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind went to the fancy houses in Charleston for parties and dances before war started out. I picked out my favorite house where I would go dancing. It has what they call "embrace stairsteps". There is a stairway on the left and a stairway on the right. Back then, the women would walk up the left side staircase and the men would walk up the right side staircase because women's ankles were not to be seen by the men. It is a Southern thing. The house I picked is a big Victorian with columns and a big porch. The houses are a combination of brick and wood. This house sits in the area they call the Battery, and overlooks Charleston Harbor. I could imagine myself dancing around the huge parlor in my green velvet dress and flirting with all the Confederate Officers. But it is no wonder that the well dressed women in those days fainted a lot because the heat and the humidity are atrocious. Today it was 86 degrees with humidity to match. Can you imagine the women having to wear those sinched up corsets and yards of petticoats in this type of heat. No wonder they fainted alot.
After a tour of the City of Charleston, we went on a Ferry Boat Ride out to Fort Sumter, where the first battle of the Civil War took place. John was fascinated by the guns and cannons on display. The walls of the Fort still have round black shells that hit the Fort during the battles. South Carolina had succeeded from the Union, but Abraham Lincoln wanted to keep soldiers and control of Fort Sumter. The Confederate General Beauregard told the Union Officer at the Fort to leave because it now belonged to the Confederacy but the General Anderson refused to leave, so the Confederates fired upon the Fort and overtook it and held it for much of the war. It really is in a strategic place in Charleston Harbor and both sides wanted to keep it for their own. So theUnion Army blockaded the Charleston Harbor, but gun runners were able to sneak in supplying Charleston and the South with needed supplies.
I enjoyed the Ferry Boat ride both out to the Fort and back from the Fort. We have found that the best way to sightsee in a big and strange city is to take the local tour buses that pick you up, bring you to the points of interest, and then bring you back to your RV. It is not worth trying to drive through busy City streets trying to find where you want to go and getting lost and frustrated. So, we both enjoyed today because we just sat back and relaxed and enjoyed both tours.
Tomorrow we leave for Savannah, Georgia. We are watching the weather closely because a big storm is supposed to be coming in and we don't want to get caught in a viscious rainstorm and foggy conditions. So, well just keep watching and decide in the morning if we make the short trip (138 miles) to Savannah, Georgia. I an already taste those Georgia Peaches.
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
Savannah, Georgia is a charming, lovely place. We took a tour bus that picked us up at the Campground and drove us into Downtown Savannah, and then we boarded an Olde Town Trolley Tour Bus that takes you around all the important places to see in Savannah. You can get on and off this Trolley at any stop, so if you want to see something more than just driving by and listening to the Tour Guide, you can get off, see the site, and then another Trolley comes by in 15 minutes and you get on that one. It makes for a great way to see a City and the important places and yet we didn't have to drive or worry about parking.
Savannah has charming old houses, both Colonial, Victorian, and Southern style houses and each one is different but oh so stately and architecturally beautiful. These houses were built by wealthy businessmen both during the Revolutionary War years and the Civil War years and many of them were used by the military during the Civil War as hospitals and headquarters. And in these special districts, there is not just one or two houses, but several of them and they are well kept -- not like other cities. Savannah puts Charleston to shame. Despite its being a large City with older buildings, it is clean and well organized and it was well thought out by the guy who designed it, Edward Oglethorpe, in 1733. He was granted a charter to establish the Colony of Georgia from King George II. So, Savannah has an extensive Colonial history, a Revolutionary War history and a Civil War History. Oglethorpe was met by a group of Indians, led by Tomochichi, who were friendly and open to the colonists. Oglethorpe designed the town and it is a beautiful layout of parks and districts. During the Revolutionary War, Savannah's economy blossomed because they grew rice and cotton. And when Eli Whitney designed the Cotton Gin, Savannah grew very wealthy. This is when many of the mansions, public buildings and churches were built. During the Civil War, Savannah was held by Union Forces and a blockade that crippled the city and its economy. General William Tecumseh Sherman took Savannah with little effort on December 21, 1864 on his March to the Sea, and Sherman was awed by Savannah's beauty and chose not to destroy it. Instead, he sent President Lincoln a note that he was giving him Savannah, Georgia as his Christmas present.
Because Savannah is such a beautiful city with a lot of picturesque places, many movies have been filmed here. We saw the bench and the Chippewa Park area where Forrest Gump sat on the bench and said, "Life is like a box of chocolates". We saw Clary's Restaurant, a local favorite restaurant that was in the movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". And there was another English Pub that was in a movie with a famous actress but I can't remember her name (the one that was in Pretty Woman). And, of course, there is Paula Deen's Restaurant called Lady and Sons Restaurant. We could have had a tour of that place which included dinner, but I'm not a big fan of Paula Deen.
There are expensive shops, trinket stores, a lot of restaurants, a River Wharf where we watched these huge ocean-going cargo ships carrying tons of cargo in big cargo boxes. Those ships are huge and we watched them as we walked along the Riverwalk. John found a Museum where they had miniature ships built to perfection and he just raved about them. There are Riverboat Cruises and Paddleboats and Ferries. There are so many things to see and do, you would have to spend a month here to do them. But it is a friendly, Southern Hospitality City. The people are very friendly and make you feel like you are really important to them.
So all day long, we rode around Savannah looking at the beautiful houses and mansions, the stately buildings, and the Riverfront. We got on and off the Trolley when we wanted to see more of what we were seeing. It is a great way to see a City.
It definitely is a city that we both would want to come back to and a city that we won't easily forget. Johnny Mercer, the guy who wrote "Moon River" and "Lucky Old Sun", and "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" was born and raised here. Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court Judge was born here. And, the lady who started the Girl Scouts of America lived here and started the Girl Scouts here and we saw the building where they first met.
Savannah is a wonderful, wonderful City and for a long time I'll be singing, "Georgia, Georgia, Always on my Mind".
Tomorrow we head for St. Augustine, Florida and then on to the Kennedy Space Center.
JOHN, MAGGIE, AND TEDDY BEAR
A RAINY NIGHT IN GEORGIA!
That's the name of one of my favortie songs, and now I can experience a rainy night in Georgia. We left Charleston, South Carolina this morning because we heard that there was going to be heavy rains in that area. We were hoping that we could drive away from the rains, but we got caught by a band of heavy showers between Charleston and Savannah, Georgia. Even though it was only a drive of 134 miles, it was pretty tough driving in those conditions, but we made it safe and sound. When it rains here, it rains. It's not like Oregon where it rains, and then stops, and then rains again. Here it is torrential and it doesn't stop for hours. This area was hit pretty hard a few weeks ago when the Hurricane was coming this way and now they are being hit again for the second time. The ground is saturated. A lot of it is swampy anyway, so you see a lot of puddles forming where the rain cannot soak into the ground.
It rained a little bit while we were here in Richmond Hill, Georgia, a suburb of Savannah. So far, the people here are very nice. It is that Southern Hospitality thing. The people were nice in Charleston too. Everybody said, "Good Morning". Tomorrow we signed up to take a bus tour of Savannah and see what it is all about. John said that there are probably going to be some old houses because Savannah was never damaged during the Civil War. He read a book about William Tecumseh Sherman who came to Savannah and pretty much ended the Civil War by taking this area from the Confederates.
I'm going shopping tomorrow for a genuine Georgia Peach. Maybe they will have Peach Cobbler. I'm hungry already.
The park here is lovely but it is crowded so I had to wait to get online. Will write again when I get online.
BYE FOR NOW
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
I forgot to tell you the best part of today, even better than going to Savannah. John noticed when he was walking the dog that there is a 35 acre lake on this campground property and on the lake are about 15 beautiful white swans and about 10 Canada Geese, all swimming around waiting for people like me to feed them. So, this morning, before we left for Savannah, John and I walked over to the lake and we fed them Dog Kibble ( a sign nearby said that they like Dog Kibble). The white swans swam ever so gracefully over to us and the geese followed them. The swans are absolutely beautiful, graceful, and statuesque. The geese are handsome in their own right but next to the swans they were ugly.
I have never stayed at an RV Campground where I could feed the swans and watch them swim. They hold their shoulder feathers up while they are gliding through the water, and their orange beeks dip into the water and find the dog kibble that is thrown. They swim over to where you are standing, but they don't come nearby like the geese did.
All in all, it made for a wonderful stay in Savannah South -- one we will cherish for a long time.
Also, today I tasted what Hush Puppies are like. They are like corn dogs without the weiner. They are tasty but a few go a long way. Tonight I am going to put some Peach Preserves on them and see if I like them better.
JOHN, MAGGIE, AND TEDDY BEAR
FLORIDA IS BUGGY
We left beautiful Savannah yesterday and drove a short way to St. Augustine, Florida. It was overcast and cloudy when we were driving through Georgia, but the minute we hit the Florida border, we had bright sunshine and beautiful blue skies with white puffy clouds. We stopped at an Area Rest Spot, and the first thing I see is a sign that says, "Beware. Poisonous Snakes" near a pond at the Rest Stop. I hate snakes -- and I told John not to let Teddy Bear go anywhere near that pond. St. Augustine is the oldest City in the country -- it was established in the 1500's by the Spanish and now I understand why Georgia and North and South Carolina were so afraid of a Spanish Invasion into their territory -- it is not far away at all. We stopped in St. Augustine because I didn't want John to have to drive 300 miles down to the Cape Canaveral, so it was just a stopping point.
We got lost in Jacksonville, Fl because we couldn't understand the directions but we found our way back to the Interstate and arrived at the Campground. This area, St. Augustine, is one of the places where all the Snow Birds from New England come to spend the winters. You see a lot of cars from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts -- and they all drive as aggressively as they do back home. It is very hot and humid and we stay inside the RV where we have the air conditioner going full blast. Neither one of us like hot weather and this is hot, hot hot. I guess the temperatures are like 20 degrees above normal for this time of year but if this is what it is like during the summer, who wants it?
We did go to the Beach Area called St. Augustine Beach and we had a really good dinner last night. I had ribs and John had calamari and we pigged out. Teddy likes the ribs too! Then we came back to the campground and we needed to do laundry, so we hauled our dirty clothes down to the campground laundry. Normally, John helps me carry the clothes to the laundry and then he goes back to the RV to watch TV or pet the dog while I do the wash. But last night, just as I had loaded and started the washers, I saw this huge black hairy spider crawling right toward me. I hate spiders too. So I got brave and stepped on it about five times to make sure I killed it!!! Then I thought, I can't sit here and wait for more spiders and bugs to crawl on me so I ran - yes ran - back to the RV to get John. By the time I got here, I was all hot and sweaty and crying because I was so scared to go back to that laundry room. So John, ever the hero, went and finished doing the laundry for me. He is so good to me. So between poisonous snakes, huge hairy spiders, and lots of mosquitoes, I had trouble sleeping last night. I dreamed that Teddy found a poisonous snake and wanted to eat it and it was crawling all over him and I was afraid to kill it. What a nightmare! Besides, it does not cool down at night here so it is hot and humid and stuffy ALL NIGHT LONG and it makes for very poor sleep. We kept the air conditioner on all night even though it is loud because without it we would suffocate and get heat stroke it is so hot here.
Today we had a nice short drive down to Titusville/Mims, Florida and we are just a short distance from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. We plan to spend all day tomorrow touring that and from the brochures, it looks pretty interesting. I'm hoping I don't have to see any black hairy spiders here and I don't see any ponds with poisonous snakes, so maybe this will be a relaxing stay. I hope so. Yesterday was too much!!
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
FLY ME TO THE MOON!!!!
Yes, after touring the Kennedy Space Center today near Cape Canaveral, Florida, I decided that I want to go to the Moon, or Mars, or anywhere else one of those huge rocket ships can take me.
John and I got to the Kennedy Space Center today early and we saw what they call the "Rocket Garden" because many replicas of the rocket ships are standing tall and they are huge. We were both surprised at how big they are. And John marveled at the technology putting together one of these behemouth space capsules takes just to get it up and into space, and how much more it takes to get it to the Moon. We took a guided bus tour of the grounds and buildings at Kennedy Space Center and the area is huge, 140,000 acres of land, but NASA only uses about 10% of the land. The rest of the area is a huge game refuge area and we were treated to the sites of three aligators, two swimming in the water and one sitting at the edge of a culvert with his mouth wide opened. Ugh!!! John also saw a baby gopher turtle that was coming out of his nest and we saw another kind of turtle that was much bigger. They also have several nests where the Bald Eagles come back year after year to the same nests and spend the winter months. They are really "Snow Birders".
After the bus tour, we went into the Atlantis Space Shuttle building and in there they have an exhibit where you can experience a space shuttle launch and feel all the vibrations and noise and shaking and rattling that you would hear if you were in a spaceship taking off for the Space Shuttle. I was a little bit leary, but we did it and it was fantastic.
They put you in chairs and you fasten your seat belts and then, after they have explained everything, the seats and the chairs and the room starts shaking and vibrating and the noise is loud and swift. It is based on what the Astronauts experience when the get into the space simulators and is a large part of their training. It was fun. I love the feeling of being pushed back in my chair, and the sense of movement underneath me and the sense of rolling over and going at a 90 degree turn. I wasn't afraid at all. So, I told John, I'm ready for the next Space Shuttle.
It would have been nice to see an actual rocket go up but the next scheduled rocket launch will be in December.
We also saw the building that housed the Apollo and Saturn Rocket ships and they are huge. John was amazed at the fact that over 2 million parts had to be assembled and all of them worked, or the Astronauts would never have landed on the Moon.
It was kind of fitting for us, our last day of "touring" before we head home, that we were able to see the past and remember it, see the present, what they are doing today, and hear what they plan to do in the future. It is amazing all of the things that were developed by the space industry that we now take for granted in our everyday life. The small computer chips, the cell phone technology, replacement parts for the human body and so much more. Society would not have those advances had they not been discovered as a part of the space exploration. It is very fitting that the Space Center is named the Kennedy Space Center, because it was John Kennedy who urged NASA to go to moon, and they did. What brilliant people they must have been.
Tomorrow, we head west towards home. We travel to Tallahassee, Florida tomorrow, so I can be a "Tallahassee Lassie down in FLA!"
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
Yes, we are on our way home. We left Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center on Sunday morning hoping to outrun the big storm that was forecasted to hit the east coast. We got as far north as Jacksonville, Florida, and the rains started and it rained heavy all the way to Talahassee, Florida. It doesn't rain here -- it is a monsoon deluge. It never stops. Fortunately we got out of Jacksonville before all the streets flooded, but it is no wonder that there is flash flooding here as the land is so flat and the dirt cannot absorb the heavy amounts of rain that come down.
It finally quit raining in Talahassee the morning we left to drive to Alabama and the Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast is beautiful and both the ocean and the weather reminded me of Oregon. By this time, the blistering heat of Florida had cooled down and the temperatures in the Panhandle of Florida were in the 60's and 70's -- quite a change from what we experienced in Cape Canaveral.
Where we stayed is nearby the Naval Bases at Pensacola, so a lot of the housing looks like military housing. Alabama doesn't look too swift -- it is one of the poorest states and you sure can tell how people take care of their houses.
Today we left Alabama, crossed over into Mississippi, and then on into Louisiana and we are staying outside of Baton Rouge. We didn't want to go anywhere near New Orleans because that can be a very dangerous place so we chose to stay the other side of Baton Rouge. It is not so bad here, except for the mosquitoes. I took Teddy Bear for his walk and the mosquitoes mauled me. They evidently like this white Oregon skin. I'm just itching like crazy, even though I put itch cream on.
Tomorrow we head for Houston, Texas on our way to San Antonio, Texas. We are able to make good driving distances by going down Interstate 10, but it sure gets boring. We crossed over the time zone line so now we are only two hours ahead of Oregon instead of 3 hours ahead. I've taken to keeping a list of states we see on the license plates of each car that passes. I wish I had started this earlier because we have seen cars from all over the country but it is something to occupy this kid's mind while she is driving down a boring Interstate.
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
We left Houston, Texas and drove to San Antonio, Texas on Thursday. On Friday, we took a tour bus to see the sites in San Antonio. It makes it really convenient because the tour bus picks us up at the Campground and drives us Downtown, and then the Tour Bus takes us to several different spots.
We sent to see the famous Alamo. It was kind of disappointing really. We really thought it was bigger than it actually is now, but it used to be bigger but time and progress has left just the Chapel left. There is a small museum attached to the Alamo but it was not what we thought we were going to see. First of all, the Alamo is right in the middle of Downtown San Antonio. We thought it would be out in a grassy area and larger than it is now. Oh well.
Next we toured two more Missions in the area. The Alamo was actually a Mission also. Mission Concepcion is the oldest unrestored rock church in the country and it was beautiful. You could see frescos still on the walls and it was very much what you pictured an old Mission would look like. The other Mission, Mission San Jose, has been restored and although they had a nice museum, it wasn't as nice as Mission Concepcion.
Next, we stopped at the Alamo Plaza and had a wonderful Tex-Mex lunch. The Mexican Restaurant was fun to look at just by itself. It is decorated in all different colors and it was quite busy. They also had a Mariachi Band warbling Spanish songs and the food was really good.
After lunch, we went to the Riverwalk area and took a boat trip down the River. It runs in between many different buildings, mostly fancy hotels, and they have outdoor cafes and boutique shops all along the River Walk. It was charming.
After that we went to the Japanese Sunken Gardens, which was an old quarry that they made into a garden area and it was really beautiful.
Last of all, we went to the Buckhorn Saloon and Texas Ranger Museum. Walking into this saloon -- it is still in operation since 1881 - you get a taste of what the Old West was all about. The man who owned the Saloon loved the longhorns of Texas cattle and he promised that if you brought in horns to the Saloon, you would get free drinks. He had thousands of horns in there, and his hobby was to make furniture out of the horns, so we saw many different chairs and couches and decorations all made from the horns of animals. He also had many stuffed buffalo heads, deer heads, Texas Longhorn heads, stuffed cows and bulls, and many different types of creatures that live in this part of Texas. The second floor of this Museum has the Texas Ranger Museum and John was in his glory looking at all the beautiful pistols and rifles that the Texas lawmen carried. Their firearms meant a lot to those Texas Lawmen and many of them had beautiful engravings and decorations on them. He also saw the knife that Jim Bowie' carried as well as many other knives that are called Bowie knives. And, because it was the Texas Rangers that shot and killed Bonnie and Clyde, they have on display the actual 1934 Ford Sedan car that Bonnie and Clyde were shot and killed in. It is full of bullet holes.
Santa Fe probably is the nicest town in Texas and I think it would be a fun place to fly into for a holiday and see the sites again.
Today we traveled down the boring Highway I-10 to Fort Stockton, Texas, which is 311 miles west of San Antonio. Tomorrow, we drive toward El Paso, Texas, and John is not looking forward to driving through El Paso at all. Everyone says it is a nighmare. We will be staying in Las Cruces, New Mexico, which is much nicer than El Paso.
Slowly but surely, we are making our way back to Oregon. We both sure will be happy to get out of Texas.
MAGGIE, JOHN AND TEDDY BEAR
GOOD BYE TEXAS -- HELLO NEW MEXICO
We made it through boring west Texas. Oh, what a long, boring, ugly drive. We left San Antonio behind, drove to Fort Stockton, Texas and stayed there for a night, and today we drove to Las Cruces, New Mexico. We were so happy to get out of Texas. There is nothing but weeds and desert for miles -- with nothing else to look at.
When we crossed over into New Mexico, the sign said, "Welcome to New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment" and we thought oh good, we are finally out of Texas. But a few miles into New Mexico we drove by a huge Cattle Feeding Stock Yard Area and boy did it stink!!! I asked John if he was enchanted yet?
Our dog, Teddy Bear, has become a "Connosewer" of Rest Stops. We stop, he gets out, takes a few sniffs around, does his thing, and then jumps back into the RV, as much to say, "Don't forget me here." He really hated West Texas because there is no green grass, just weeds.
At least here, the weather is decent, if not a bit on the cool side. There is a strong wind and we have had some shower activities but nothing heavy. We are on our way to Tucson, Arizona tomorrow and then on to Phoenix, Arizona the next day.
Anyway, we are enjoying our "enchanted" stay in New Mexico.
JOHN, MAGGIE, AND TEDDY BEAR
After almost three months on the road, we are on our way home. "Home Sweet Home". "There is no place like Home".
We have had a wonderful journey. We started out September 1, 2015 and we really did wonder how far we would get in our travels. We made it through Missoula, Montana! After that, we knew we were on the right track. We saw wonderful, beautiful scenery and places like Glacier National Park, Lake Superior, Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, and Niagara Falls. We visited beautiful towns and parks like Mackinac Island, all of Vermont, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine, the coast of Maine, Cape Cod, Mystic, Connecticut, all of Pennsylvania and Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas.
We saw wonderful museums and places of interest such as in Pipestone, Minnesota, The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan, the Bennington, Vermont town where John's Old Cars Magazine is published, Plymouth Rock and the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Point, Massachusetts. We loved Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut and Gettysburg, Virginia. We even took a short drive into Delaware just to say we had been there.
Washington D.C. was so interesting but so tiring. We felt like "Worker Bees" rushing for the trains. To go through all the security and go into the U. S. Capitol Building, watch the Senators and Congressmen in action, see where they print the money at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, tour the Library of Congress, and visit the White House and the Supreme Court and to see all the buildings we have read about and heard about all of our lives was a real joy. The Smithsonian Museum, even though we have several days, we did not see all of it. It would take a month just to see it all, but we saw a lot of it. The same is true of our visit to Philadelphia and see the buildings and rooms where the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and where Ben Franklin lived was very interesting. Also, the Philly Cheese Steak was delicious!
Probably the area that we most enjoyed was our ride down through the Shenandoah National Park and into the Blue Ridge Parkway. Mother Nature displayed her many talents and we totally enjoyed seeing the lovely fall colors and looking at the beautiful terrain.
Probably the most exciting was visiting the Kennedy Space Center and taking the space rocket simulator so we could feel what it feels like to be sitting up in that tiny little capsule attached to such powerful rockets and feel the gravity pull, hear the engine noise, and shake like we were really taking off in a space rocket. That was fun! Also, riding underneath Niagara Falls and getting soaking wet was tons of fun.
We also enjoyed seeing why so many people turn into Snow Birds and head for Arizona each winter. Those people are having great fun and living and doing what they want to do without the misery of winter weather. Now we know why so many people are Snow Birders.
We ended our trip by visiting our old hunting grounds where John and I lived for 20 years -- Santa Cruz, California. John grew up there, I lived there with him for 20 years. At first, it was a good feeling to "be back home" again. That lasted for about 10 minutes until we saw and felt why we left Santa Cruz 9 years ago! The traffic, the bums, the pace of life, the crime, the houses that are jammed together with no yards or living space between them, and the overwhelming dominance of the young people who scorn older gray hairs as being in their way. It was fun to visit with old friends and neighbors and find out what has happened in the years we have been gone. We found out that our beautiful house that we sold has now been turned into a marijuana growing area and our old neighbors are not happy about it. One guy who lived there was arrested in Chicago for transporting drugs. So now, instead of my old address being known by the Police Department as an "Employee Residence" it is now known by local PD as a "Drug House". That is sad.
I realized how many years have gone by when I was walking in the parking lot on the Wharf coming from Breakfast on Sunday morning, and a Patrol Car drove by and stopped. The Officer recognized me and said hello and I said hello back. But I couldn't remember the Officer's name. I remembered him by sight but I couldn't remember his name. It's been 9 years and I have forgotten a lot about my old job but it was really embarassing when he was so friendly and glad to see me, and I couldn't remember what his name was. I told him Retirement is a blast and to hurry up and retire from the force! I didn't tell him that part of getting older is you forget a lot of things.
We enjoyed our stay in Santa Cruz. Watched the beautiful sun set each evening and had great laughs with our friends. This morning, we left Santa Cruz, drove through the Bay Area and arrived at Corning, California. Tomorrow we leave here for Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville, Oregon and then on to Florence on Wednesday. We are watching the weather channel and pulling up details about the snow storm that is coming in and we will be sure that we won't get stuck in a snow storm on the way home.
And it will truly be great to arrive home to Florence, Oregon. Traveling is great, our journey was fantastic, but its time to go home. HOME SWEET HOME!
JOHN, MAGGIE AND TEDDY BEAR
I was just thinking on this Thanksgiving Day that John and I have so much to be thankful for. We have great friends and neighbors and we were able to fulfill a lifelong dream of going around this big beautiful country to see places we have only read about or have seen on TV. Now, they are vivid in our minds.
We want to thank Jep and Brenda Norwood for their help on getting my computer ready to go on this long vacation. Thanks to them I was able to communicate where we were and what we were seeing. And best of all, Jep did a beautiful job making up "The Bucket List" summary of my e-mails and notes. I love the added icons that you added. They were so cute. You have to teach me how to do those kinds of things. Both John and I read the pages and got to re-live our trip once more. Thank you so much Jep and Brenda.
We want to thank our neighbors and friends, Ruth Ann and Denny who collected the tremendous amount of mail that we received over the three months and Patty and Sandy who collected the mail for them when they were away. It is amazing how much junk mail and how many catalogs we received while we were gone.
We want to thank our neighbors Bonnie and Jim, and Shirley and Les, and Ruth Ann and Denny, and Sandy and Patty for watching out for our house and sending return e-mail comments about our travels. Being so far away from home, it felt good to get replies and know that you guys were thinking about us and enjoying the e-mails.
We want to thank Pete and Bea for good information we received from them about the Blue Ridge Parkway and other places that we didn't know anything about but went there on the advice of Pete and Bea. We are so thankful that Pete is recovering from his back surgery and Bea will have surgery on her arm in January. We are home now to help you get through all that mess.
We are thankful that we were born and raised in this country where despite its flaws, we were able to travel through every state and see and do everything that we wanted to without any problems. This is a big, beautiful, diverse nation and too often we take our freedom for granted. After seeing Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, and seeing the replica of The Mayflower ship that the pilgrims traveled in to get to this country, we really have a better understanding of the hardships and suffering they endured so that we can live in this wonderful country. After seeing the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and the old buildings where the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution were signed, we are grateful to the Founding Fathers whose wisdom and forethought formed the basis of what we know as Liberty and Justice for All.
We are thankful for the Indian Chief, Chief Tomochihi, who welcomed Olgethorpe to Savannah and allowed the white men to build such a beautiful city as Savannah, Georgia. We are thankful for the inspiration and dignity that we felt when touring Washington, D.C. To actually see Senators and Congressmen at work on the floors of the Senate and House made us proud to be Americans, despite all the political discourse that occurs. This is our nation and we are proud of it.
And, we had a great sense of pride and accomplishment when we toured the Kennedy Space Center and saw the rocket ships that took men to the Moon, and the rocket ships that go to the Space Shuttle. What brilliant people they must be to be able to put together these huge rockets and all the electronics and wiring and details that it must entail. We also learned that the space industry has contributed so much to what we know as life today in 2015. We wouldn't have cell phones, and computers and plastic body parts if it were not for what the scientists in the Space Program developed.
We are thankful for Mother Nature, who provided so much beauty in so many places on our trip. We saw big, beautiful lakes and rivers, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico. We went through high mountains and beautiful prairies, and the desert! We definitely saw Mother Nature's handiwork in the beautiful trees and leaves along the Blue Ridge Parkway. And, we thank God that we don't live in Texas!!!!
Lastly, we are so thankful that we have a comfortable home to come back to in Oregon and good friends and neighbors that surround us. We are so lucky to live in Oregon where the mosquitoes don't bite and the flies haven't come from the local stockyard. We don't have poisonous snakes and big hairy spiders to threaten us. We are so lucky to live in a town that is clean and where the houses are well kept. We have seen beautiful trees all over this nation, but none are more beautiful than the evergreen trees of Oregon and the clean blue lakes that we have surrounding us. We have fresh, clean air to breathe and the people are friendly and polite and traffic jams don't exist. The roads are very, very good in Oregon and the road signage is also very good. Believe me, we saw some roads that were rough as a cob, and road signs that you could barely read.
We are so thankful that we had a safe trip and made it back home, tired but full of memories. I am thankful for my husband, John, who did a marvelous job of driving and caring for the RV and the Jeep. I am also thankful for my dog, Teddy Bear, who adapted so well to being in the small RV and having to pee in different places every stop.
We are so happy to be home. Oregon is home and I can't say we won't leave it again for another trip, but Oregon will always be our home base and we are so thankful and so proud of it.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!