Saturday, October 29, 2011

So Much for Durham and NC

The joy of being able to reunite in different parts of the country and spend time with almost life long friends is a blessing we cannot take for granted.  Still, we are both unenamored with this Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Raleigh, etc. area of North Carolina. Jerry pegged it right, the roads are such as were designed by the early bootleggers to hide from 'de Revnooers'  back in the woods when they made and ran White lightning'.  Trees and forests all over disclose one development from another or it would resemble the waste land of California.  The forests hide that from view so for a time, inhabitants can delude themselves that they live in rural areas.  Go no further than the nearest road or street intersection where all meet in their cars, traffic on the interstates is just like California.  Too much and too many. We laughed that at least in CA there seemed to be an engineered design to roads and  freeways, not so here; we find ourselves going in circular routes and  cork springs because that is the road design.  "Hey we already passed the Apex exit,"  "OMG there is another one"  as we watch the signs on our way to our friends and then back home to the RV.  "Are we going round in circles?"

I spent two days, Tuesday and Wednesday confined to quarters in the motor home, taking lots of vitamin C, sipping plenty of hot tea with honey and just resting between reading and stitching to get rid of the yucks.  My throat is still slightly sore today, Saturday but that is from the bout of coughing that stirred up last night which also  left me with sore sides.  I wonder if my theory that every so many years one has to get sick to develop immunity from colds and the like holds true.  I have not had anything since January 2009 after we returned from Steve's funeral and I wondered if I would ever be well again.  Though that I am sure was from the stress of grief that left me depleted and unable to ward off anything.  I do not like to take all these various cold and cough medicines, which have terrible aftertastes and generally make me feel worse, but I did resort to DayQuil tablets so we could get back with our friends on Thursday. 
They settled in Cary, NC because that is where their son and family fled to from CA.  While their address is Cary, they live south of Cary between Cary and Apex in an area designated something or other Hills.  I had a JCPenney's gift certificate that would expire on October 30, which was burning a hole or two in my purse, so the four of us journeyed to the local mall near them and while we women  shopped, our husbands entertained themselves at the food court, and awaited us.  I don't know why we dragged the men along, that was at her insistence.  I told her to let them stay home, after all, I never drag Jerry along shopping nor would he agree to accompany me.    But certificate successfully spent plus additional on my  credit card, we were returned to their home.
There was an incidence at JC's that reminded me of how my friend can behave when she starts to ride what my grandma would have called her "high horse."  You see Alicia is Panamanian and was raised with servants, maids, etc.  While she and Nevin were in the US Army ambassador corps in Guatemala, they also had house servants.  Evidently she became very accustomed to talking down to these servants and being what I consider downright rude and demanding.  I cannot understand this, because although I have been known to lose my temper when not treated well, I see no reason to be discourteous to someone working in a store, nor to talk down to  others.   
We were at the jewelry counter in JC's where the sales clerk had graciously agreed to ring up my purchases.  This was also strange, most JC's have central check out registers these days but not this one; registers are in the individual departments, but that assumes one can find a sales clerk working in that department to ring up purchases.   After my purchase, Alicia inquired about the class rings displayed and the cashier explained that those were special order, etc.  To which Alicia popped off from high on her horse to the sales lady.  I explained to Alicia that what she was asking for was something only a  full scale jeweler would do, replacing a stone in a ring and the sales lady echoed that.  Alicia was badgering and at first I walked away, wondering to myself, "why does she do that?"  Then something snapped in me and I turned back quickly, "Please excuse my friend, she's from Panama" as if that excuses such behavior.  Alicia looked sheepish because she realized the tone she had been using.  After all, that sales lady had been gracious and she did not deserve such a tongue lashing over nothing in her control.    As we left, my friend who was not even a paying customer, just asking for information that was not there in that place, and I talked about this behavior, , which she just slips into, especially when she sees herself above others.  I suppose at 75 years of age behavior will not change, but the first step to remedy is identification.  The episode reminded me of how perhaps one cannot overcome environment and I suppose if one is raised to talk down to others that behavior becomes natural.  Incomprehensible to me. But we are friends and that is that.

We did have a delightful day seeing all the local commercial developments, hidden amongst tall pines, visiting and then their son and family, two little girls ages 6 1/2  and 8 joined us for dinner at their home while the daughter who lives in VA called long distance and we all talked on speaker phone, a grand reunion.  Our next visit to these parts will not involve motor home, we will avail ourselves of our friends' offer to stay in their guest bedroom and just drive our vehicle.  Because they live in one of those development community with home owner association fees, we could not even park our motor home in their driveway, such activity prohibited and enforced.  Anything they do to their homes must first be approved by the community association.  That does not appeal to either of us.  Why own a home and be  overseen?  It was a dark ride  back tot he motor home though.  Even the interstates are not lit down here in the moonshine country.  Traffic makes plenty of lights but even in MN and WI  where winters are dark as well as cold, the interstate and high way signs are visible with lighting. 
  Yesterday we went to the Duke Homestead and Tobacco Museum only six miles from here,  where I relearned again the huge influence the tobacco industry had on the south and the Industrial revolution era.  Jerry enjoyed close up looks at all the gears, etc. and intricacies of the machinery used in the factories.  I had never seen tobacco seeds which look like pepper, so fine that only an ounce seeds many acres.  The crop takes 13 months and can be grown in sandy poor soil.  We both enjoyed the old advertising signs and the like and even saw relics, the cigarette machines.

I am not a smoker and am forever thankful that it is a diminishing phenomena, even here in NC there is no smoking in the restaurants.  But that has affected the southern economy which thrived on tobacco a great deal.  This Duke museum is small, staffed by Duke University students and free admission, while donations are accepted.   Wikipedia shows the original homestead building and where George Duke began the American Tobacco company drying leaves in a small shack.

Very interesting especially the philanthropy of the  Duke family donating the land and building  what is now world famous Duke University, Duke Medical center and even building schools, churches, clinics, etc.  The buildings in Durham were far ahead of their time, structures reminiscent of the grand style of Europe.  This same philanthropy happened in the Winston Salem area with the Reynolds tobacco family.   Actually the Dukes were the first to get into advertising spending lots of money at a time such activity did not happen.  I learned that collectible  baseball cards are descendants of early cigarette package cards.  At first the Duke family included cards of women vaudeville acts or acrobats with the cigarettes, but after a minister wrote to complain about the "lascivious women cards" they switched to sports figures, precursors to  modern day sports football and baseball cards.  I also learned that the "bull pen" in baseball on our minds now as the World Series has been played, came from tobacco,  Bull Durham no less.  I also learned that as far back as the  1600"s  there was controversy about the affect of and the desirability of smoking tobacco. 

The temperature had dropped 30 degrees from the day before and it was feeling cold and drizzly so we did not wander outside long to explore the old homestead building. Today it is off to a big local farmer's market and Hillsboro a historic settlement,.  After coughing most of last night, I slept in very late but this is our last day here and at least I out waited the rain.  It is to clear up as now  and though it will not be the high  70 degrees we enjoyed the rain has receded, moving north east, the same storm that brought an early "onion snow" to Pittsburgh area at home in PA. This is too early for snow!  Not even Halloween.  We have not had that dusting in MN and for that I am thankful, will it be a long hard winter? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Birchwood RV Park Durham NC

So we are at our destination in Durham, Birchwood RV, the only RV park in the area other than a very expensive KOA in Raleigh.  A beautiful forest like setting as we look out this morning the sun is way up there over the tall pines which block satellite TV reception.  Getting here was a big challenge with Godfrey, the new GPS who took us alongside a shopping center.  The area has lots of development but Godfrey although newly purchased in  April this year is out of date and is just plain whacko.  Somehow we arrived intact despite my fears that we were entering a scene of Deliverance.  The neighbor next door from AZ came  right over saying, "welcome to Deliverance."  We had a laugh at that as well as his tshirt which said, "I drink to make people interesting." He was towing a Hummer 2, a smaller version which I believe I would have had to have if we had stayed in Northern CA; my  fascination with the smaller Hummers is unexplainable.

  Pham the resident manager whose brother owns the  park is quite a character, a Vietnamese boat person, survivor, conservative and the agile happy go lucky  guy in charge who runs a safe place, "no trouble here."  With the experiences of his life he has learned to enjoy one moment at a time.  By our arrival I was beside myself, wondering how and where we were and was this trip worth it.  Two minutes with Pham who encouraged us to stay the week, "more cheaper that way" I felt better.  He later said, "I see you were trouble so I make you laugh."  Perceptive person. Another of his favorite sayings, "Oh we gonna' be in deep deep trouble now."

The people in the coach behind us were also at the rally  in Winston Salem and have lived here as full time RV'ers.  She told me more about Pham,  who calls the local cops if he suspects the strangest thing from the residents of the  mobile home park on the hill.  She says Pham is one in a million and I have already seen that.  They sold their home near here and travel between Durham where one son lives  and their other son in southern CA and visit family in FL along the way. Her husband is a retired computer program mer and  says he picks up odd jobs along their travels to supplement their retirement.  She has had medical issues about which she did not elaborate and says she is bound to enjoy life while she has it and do things while she can.  Good advice.

Neighbors on the other side are from South Dakota and have been here  six weeks but are leaving tomorrow. Showing me a picture on his phone of a big full sized pig and then two pot bellies which were in a corral up the path, he said, the woman driving her RV alone  was a retired surgeon who had rescued the pigs and brought them by trailer. Once long ago in CA I had the desire to get a pot bellied pig as a pet, a notion which Jerry vetoed without due consideration.  I thought they were cute and so on, but Jerry was vehement that no pig could live in our house.   By now you get the drift that everyone is a neighbor in these RV sites which makes for interesting conversations if you enjoy talking with people and hearing their stories as I do.  

It is only 91 miles here from Winston Salem much shorter than our directions courtesy of Good Sam travel planner indicated.  Once we were set up, I had a couple loads of clothes to wash and was happy to be all hooked up again from our semi-dry camping at the Rally.  Yesterday morning was our planned departure and at 9:00AM all electricity was shut off.  We thought that rude and so much for southern hospitality.  Fortunately we are self contained but what a surprise.  That is just one reason why we are unlikely to attend any other FMCA rallies.  Why not announce that instead of just unplugging everyone?   We have been spoiled at the Fleetwood Owners Association rallies and will stick to those.

We have been sleeping in late for us and not moving early this trip to the south.  Maybe it is dark earlier in the morning here or maybe we have a case of the retired lazies, but 8:00 or even 8:30AM is very  late for us.  Of course Jerry was recovering from his bout of   sore throat, cough, etc and I don't know what my excuse has been.  Although yesterday I started to feel a bit tired and head congestion. 

For two people who never get sick to both catch something on the trip is annoying.  Saturday  evening we skipped the entertainment at the rally because I just did not feel like trekking back and forth in the dark.  The neighbors here who also were at the rally said they did the same thing.  In my case I had not been sleeping well for a couple nights and decided it was just too much stimulation in the evenings and then the cold walk back to the coach awakened me.  I am so accustomed to my quiet reading time an hour or so before bedtime that my mind and or body were rebelling at the absence of quiet. 

Today we are off to visit with our long time friends from CA who moved here after we left CA.  They have visited us several times in MN and this is our first trip to NC, seemed each time we planned something in life switched the plan.  The four of us go back to about 1969 in Fair Oaks; for a time Nevin was in Vietnam with the army and Alicia who is Panamanian stayed there with the kids. When we are together she and I both talk  at the same time, making others ears very numb, but I learned this technique long ago with her otherwise I would not get in a word.  We both can keep up with our dual conversations to the amazement of observers.  There is something beyond the familiar or comfort in these long time connections, that is unexplainable.   Perhaps surviving life's bumps and billows leaves us with a deeper appreciation of knowing one another.

Our AZ neighbor departed this AM and another coach  has just  pulled in with "Christian Music Ministries" painted over their windshield, traveling minstrels perhaps.   Weather is once again optimal here in NC, temperatures in the high 70"s today and possibly 80. That is all good. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

October 20 44 years and a musical night

Yesterday"s cold wind here in Winston Salem found us bundled while walking to the various activities on the fairgrounds.  Our 44th anniversary ended in the evening with a concert by Sarah Getto, a 26 year old woman musician who was born blind.  This post is a bit upside down as I include  a link to YouTube so you can hear this talented young lady perform :;    While the Rally registration advertised that the 82 Airborne Chorus would be serenading last night as we all know, things change and so do planned events, so we had to quickly get over our disappointment of celebrating our 44th anniversary with the 82nd.  Sarah's concert moved up a night; she sings and plays many musical instruments and records her own background music for performances, she is an accomplished pianist,  plays drums, fiddle, etc. and harmonizes with herself in the accompaniment; I have not heard that technique since Connie Francis.  Dad is her on stage manager, which gets a  bit tiresome  while Mom is ever in the background.  We learned that Sarah chose to attend public schools and Mom read her textbooks to her through high school and college because not all were available in Braille and even then she was accomplished making all A's.  One of Dad's tidbits was that Sarah has never had a boyfriend, no kidding with Mom and Dad by her side, how could that work?  Her selections include Carpenters, country and pop; she stated that she  plays older music--50"s and 60"s because she "does not like today's music" which suited the crowd.

Yesterday morning I attended a lecture about the Museum of Early Southern  Decorative Arts (MESDA) by Daniel  Ackerman, the associate curator.  Very interesting about  the Museum's founding int he 70"s, ongoing activities and the artisans' work dating back to founding of Winston Salem by the Moravians in the 1700"s.  I was open mouthed when he showed a slide of their  card catalogue and microfiche system--it is an antiquated old card file system with the card file boxes, the like of which I have not seen since I was a teen at People's Library in New Kensington.  While it is open to the public for research, I wonder how many today even know how to use an old card file system?  Currently there is a grant for the techies from Wade Forrest to digitize and bring the system into the current times. 

After lunch of complimentary hot dogs, I had time to vist all the vendors and do some shopping.  My lip paint lady who follows the rallies and also sells all things microfiber was here, although she has  changed lines for the lip paint, I was able to get a new supply.  This is really the only product I have found to work, those sold  at Walgreens are just not the same and these really do last all day.  I also purchased a beautiful gold cuff filigree bracelet from a woman who has the jewelry made in Canada, along with another pair of gold and silver hoop earrings with 14kt gold posts.  On the way out, a vendor with pashima scarves caught my eye and although I had brought along a Burberry cashmere scarf for the return trip home, a pashima would work just great around my neck against the winds.   I acquired a gorgeous salmon colored orange one just great for the fall season.  I should have brought along the pretty tan and paisley patterened one Sandy gave me a  few years ago, but I did not expect cold winds.  Such is the live of RV travel in autumn, one canot be assurred of the weather. 

There was time in the afternoon for a trip to the immense Goodwill Store nearby, where many college students and just all sorts of people were shopping.  It is the biggest I have ever seen, but not  well organized as at homes.  The books are just on shelves, without regard to author, alphabetical, genre, etc and all the housewares are scattered among many shelves.  We deduced that with the volume of people pawing through the merchandise there would be no way to keep it straight.  I  found a cute little Boyd's like teddy bear witch on a swing with a ghost and Haloween pumpkin near,  for $1, it had to come to the RV. I also found two small ceramic bunnies that will go  with my Easter collection.  $3 for everything, was a bargain. 

We ate at Putters Patio and Grill, a local landmark restaurant, poplular with the college students and locals; had excellent prime cut steaks--a ribeye for Jerry and a filet for me.  A bit pricey but for prime beef and advertised as the Best in Winston Salem, it was worth the $$, and a fitting meal for our 44th.   Jerry had an incident with the pepper grinder on the table, while it was not  dispensing pepper and he was twisitng away, the  cap came off and pepper corns shot all over.  A student (very polite, handsome young guy) in the booth across came to the rescue and gave us his pepper grinder while the waiter scooped all the loose corns and offered to get Jerry a new salad because his was filled with errant pepper corns.  I was so impressed with the  young man across from us who was soon joined by another equally handsome clean cut student and then two lovely young gals; they were all seniors at Wake Forrest and all are obviously becoming educated, polite adults. There was none of the four letter word vocabulary used by CA students non of the grunge attire, their jeans were clean and not laden with holes; and they were actually discussing the difficulties of some  of their courses and a question on one class dialogue.   I understand Wake Forrest has high academic standards and these four were certainly proof of that.   Hate to sound snobby but they reminded me of myself and my college days, when learning was important not just getting a degree, standards were higher and good manners were expected.   We learned that the pepper rescuer is from PA near Johnstown, what a coincidence, and is on his way to becoming a pharmacist, both girls aspire to be doctors and the other boy something in the medical field.  Very reassuring to see young people like this. 

It was an early dinner so we could return to the Rally site and take in the evening entertainment with Sarah.  Today is bright sunshine and a trip downtown to Salem, the site of the early Moravians is on the agenda.  I missed this morning's  9:30 AM lecture,  having slept fitfully, I did not arise early to clean up and get myself off.   If I have any complaints about this Rally it is the early schedule. Evidently these people are advocates of early to bed and early to rise.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Winston Salem more fall colors more art

We arrived at the fairgrounds, Winston Salem, NC  yesterday after a beautiful drive, 148 miles in 2 hours and  40 minutes, along I 40 from Asheville while gazing at ever extensive fall colors.  We are set  for the duration of this FMCA RV Rally,  along with hundreds and hundreds of other coaches and big rigs.  This is the south eastern region's annual rally and promised great entertainment venues each night.  Our beautiful weather stopped last night with rain which continued off and on all day today.  

Today was a free day without seminars or activities  other than the late afternoon welcome to us "First Timer Attendees" followed by an  ice cream social.  Left to my own devices while Jerry chose to hang out in the coach and tinker with the satellite receiver box,  I chose to go to the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, where they are hosting the Modern Masters exhibit from the Smithsonian, one of only six venues across the country.  I admit to hesitancy about this exhibit because modernism is a stretch for me, but where else would I see this.  And while there I could tour the estate of the R J Reynolds family, the tobacco magnate. And Jerry while recovering and now left with only the slight cough has no interest in such museums.   

Lest you think that I have made a typo about the estate above, Reynolda is the feminine of Reynolds, conceived by Kathryn.  I know when I saw the directions on the GPS I thought Godfrey had slipped a page.     After the Vanderbilts, this was much smaller scale, but of great interest none the less.  Richard Joshua (RJ) Reynolds, was a very wealthy man the founder of the JRReynolds tobacco company and a very eligible  bachelor most of his life; when he was about 60 years old he married Kathryn Smith who was his personal secretary and they were also distant cousins.  They had four children and the estate fulfilled her dream of having a house with hills, cattle and flowers all around.  It was known as a bungalow estate, but  other than the dormers, certain design features, I certainly would not call it a bungalow.  However in the day and time 1917 and on through the  30's  a bungalow was a popular style.  JR however became ill and did not live in the estate very long, dying there; this is becoming a familiar theme about the wealthy men of the era, I think of my Uncle John's grandfather, JR, who also died after building a mansion/estate.  It was a self sustaining community with its own dairy, gardens, cattle, school and church.  Kathryn  administered the estate after JR passed on and kept quite busy on all the details of the estate and the design of the Presbyterian Church and the school.  She was no shrinking southern belle; while the estate was being built she oversaw every architectural design and detail. The Reynolda Gardens and Village Shops offer more to see and enjoy.

 The permanent art collection through out the home with masterpieces by the Hudson River School, Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Church,  was more to my liking than the Modern Artists on exhibit in one of the halls.    Bierstadt is a favorite for me and I was reminded how his work fell out of favor for a long time.

Seeing the Modernists  stretched my imagination, as I would stand back, look, then squint and finally  coming up close to scrutinize and attempt to digest the explanations.  The  fully black canvas by one to me was an absolute questionable piece of art, the explanation was it is the absence of color, no kidding and that upon close up view one can discern  blue and plum squares.  There were three themes:  Significant Gestures,  Optics and Order and New Images of Man.  Well it was different.  Can't say I would spend a dime on anything I saw in that exhibit, other than perhaps the iron sculptures and all are beyond any consideration in my budget. 

   The RV Rally site at the fairgrounds is across from Wake Forest University which is a gorgeous setting and well known university, a huge sports complex advertising free admission to many events.  From their website, "Wake Forest claims the distinction of being the nation's premier collegiate university...Offers the personal attention of a small liberal arts college coupled with the breadth and depth of a large research institution. This duality extends to our faculty ideal of professors who are both teachers and scholars, resulting in meaningful research opportunities for students and classroom experiences with professors who are relevant in their fields.  With fewer than 12 students per professor, our students benefit from engagement with outstanding teachers every day, inside and outside the classroom."  Another lovely place in walking distance where I saw many students out running their miles up the hills and through the woods, in the rain.  

Tomorrow after absorbing all this art,  history and culture, I intend to balance with a trip to  the massive Goodwill store down the hill from the Rally; when we first saw it we thought it might be Goodwill Headquarters as it is massive and many corporations have home offices here in Winston Salem.  In fact it is a Goodwill center with donations accepted and items for sale.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Yesterday we arrived in Asheville, North Carolina after losing an hour to the Eastern Time Zone, 309 miles from Nashville, TN, our previous stop and a 5 hour+50 minute drive with an hour+10 minutes of stops along the route.   If this is not the most beautiful place in the country it is certainly one of the top; we have autumn colors at home but nothing  like these Great Smoky Mountains which go on forever.  A photo absolutely does not do justice; this  beauty resembles walking into a magnificent painting.  I have only ever said that before about Yosemite.  There is nowhere to look which does not envelop eyes in color. 

Another disappointment is this TAPS RV park, which I checked on Good Sam and online. The website shows a better spot than the actuality.  These spaces are tight, the park is old and it is really a test to maneuver on the  access paths; we do have full hook ups for  2 nights then we have to move to a 30 amp sight  into which I hope Jerry will be able to back  because reportedly there is a reservation for the 50 amp site.  Now I know why my friend Loren recommended RV resorts when they were full timing.  Driving a 40 ft. diesel pusher with tow vehicle is not like driving a smaller pickup truck with trailer or 5th wheel.  So many of these places are set up for camping; I wish they would use that description and we would know to avoid them.  Just because they have hook ups and poured cement pad does not make them a suitable  RV spot for coaches like ours, more driving room is needed.  Well fortunately Jerry did it and here we are.  Thankfully we arrived in the daytime, this would be an insurmountable challenge at night.    I will be leaving a comment on the site for others to avoid if they are in a big rig.

This morning was a trip to the doc in the box, Asheville Urgent Care where a doctor saw Jerry and prescribed antibiotics for his sore throat, by tomorrow he should fell better and in two days be at 90% the doctor said.  This meant another day where I left him in the coach and went off on my own along  part of the Blue Ridge Parkway and stopping at the Folk Art Guild.  What a venue of quilts, weaving, wood craft, glass, pottery, jewelry, etc on display.  They absolutely forbid photos and enforced the no photos by the many staff on patrol through out the two floors.  Well I had forgotten my camera anyway so then I did not feel so bad; I did have my cell phone but did not risk sneaking a photo and being banned, arrested, or who knows what.  I cannot say enough about Asheville, so I post this link which says and shows the gamut. 

I talked to many locals today on my ventures who all said they could not imagine living anyplace else in the country.  Tomorrow is the Biltmore mansion visit which I am  anxious to see and determine how it compares to Hearst Castle in CA.  I suspect there will be no comparison, different. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Travel Thru Day 2 and 771 miles from home

We have driven south into showers which cleared out by midday today as we entered Kentucky. Stayed at WalMart RV last night in Mattoon, IL, what I call roughing it,  which means we were unplugged, not in an RV Park with hook ups.  Still this is a big step up from long ago when we  had tents and sleeping bags. We covered 437 miles in 7 hrs 39 minutes driving time, 9 hrs total time with stops yesterday, from home. Today, Day 2 we covered 334 miles in 5 hrs  53 minutes drive time, 6 hrs. 53 minutes total time with stops.  So far this trip 771 miles on the motor home, tomorrow we unhook the HHR and tour locally.   

We usually stop at Camping World near Madison,WI  on trips because it is convenient, off I 94. Their normally empty parking lot was over full yesterday with trailers, motor homes. We parked right at the front door behind a coach being serviced. Well the good I perceived  in this situation  was that Jerry would not spend too much time  strolling & browsing. The cashier told us that 2 local  RV service centers had closed so all those customers were now at Camping World. They will need a bigger lot. She gave us a free 4 pack of TP for our  inconvenience & also told us that the employees have been advised that Good Sam is buying out Camping World. We know there is an affiliation because we receive ads & discounts for CW from Good Sam. The customer behind whose rig we parked came in ready to go but was not that concerned when he saw us checking out. Said he'd has his coach there 3 days waiting for service but fortunately he lives nearby. . He admired our rig & he & Jerry talked awhile. Said he'd traded their 40 footer down to a smaller 32 foot but after the 40 footer neither he nor his wife could adjust to the downsized so they upgraded again this summer to their almost 39 ft Winnebago. He said it was a big mistake to go smaller. I can now relate to that because although I thought our Southwind was fine I do prefer this one.

Last night " roughing" it at Wally RV we had Progresso minestrone soup & grilled cheese sandwiches and later ice cream. Jerry felt a sore throat coming on so he hit the hay ahead of me. I started to read a  book that I bought at the booksale last weekend, "The Quilter's Apprentice". It's OK, along the lines of what I call brainless reading but the  quilt references and the fabrics & designs described  are of interest.

The way  Jerry parked last night the pole parking lot  light shined into the bedroom window on my side of the bed. I was not able to pull down the black out shade so instead I stuffed one of the decorative shammed pillows there, problem solved.

I went into Wally World this AM to buy all sorts of cough drops, thera flu, cough medicinals for Jerry whose voice is bass range today though he claims he does not feel bad otherwise, but he would say that. While inside I noticed many white/blue hairs shopping & visiting. There is an independent coffee counter inside where they were congregating. I have seen McDonald's & Subways in Wal marts but this was different.  As I entered the store  I noticed  a man who appeared  blind with a cane, delivered in a taxi. The greeter knew him, called him by name & said "just a minute and your assistant will be here.". I went on my way because Jerry waited back at the rig & I was advised to "not spend the day." I have not been to our local Wal Mart since early this year because they changed everything around thoroughly confusing me & I have stayed away. Well I have not needed anything there either. I did find a good buy on the Paul Newman's Bold Keurig coffee that I enjoy.  When I got to the check out right behind me came the blind  man accompanied by a WalMart employee. Evidently he's not fully blind because he knew and recognized the cashier. I heard him thank the other employee who returned his list to him, saying "are you sure there is nothing else?" No he was set to which she said, "we'll see you next week.  We are here to help. After you have your coffee we will call the taxi for you." Evidently she had shopped with him. He grinned & said that he might hitch a ride from one of the ladies waiting for him at the coffee counter.  I did not know WalMart provided that shopping assistance service but I do know they are extremely customer oriented. That was the Supercenter in Mattoon,IL & I take my hat off to them. Good neighbors!

The trees are in full autumn color  glory through southern IL, Kentucky and Tennessee, it looks just like the colors we left at home--red, orange, yellow, rust, brown, green.  Diesel gas was "only" $3.61 today with the Flying J discount in southern IL, who'd have ever dreamed we would consider that a deal?

We arrived at the Nashville Country RV Park in Goodlettsville, TN which is north of Nashville at 4:20PM today.  I had found this place online and although it is a Good Sam, I am not impressed.  Tight spaces, the pool is drained already for the winter, and it it almost full.  It appears there are many living  here full time and some of the same phenomena we see in PA at Mt. Top where construction workers have their trailers pitched.  On the plus side, it is quiet, has all sorts of brochures about local events and sites, a small post office  and we are only here for two nights.

We stayed put dining in  on meatloaf and potatoes, the  left overs I'd brought from home, green  beans and canned peaches finished our dinner tonight.  I thought it best to give Jerry more rest and I am  rather achy myself after our driving for two days and maybe twisting a hip oddly last night.  I miss my workouts, and my body does too although  I have had several good walks each day.  

Tomorrow is a big day--we will have breakfast at the Loveless Cafe, a place I've heard of for years that is noted for it's red eye ham gravy, ham and biscuits, and a place that is on my bucket list!  Then we will go to the Hermitage, the  restored maintained home of President Andrew Jackson, on to the refurbished  new Grand Old Opry, and possibly on to Franklin an historic Civil war area of interest south east of Nashville.  Years back we toured all the local spots, the Reiman auditorium where at the time I jumped on stage and sang something so I could say I'd been on stage to sing  at the Reiman!  Somewhere I have a photo of that experience. After we return home,   A new urge came upon me today when I realized despite many winery tours and several breweries,  I have never been to a distillery.  To this Jerry reminded me of the still he and Bob Kelly built under our oaks in Newcastle years back following some obscure directions in an antique country living book to see if they could do it.   But we are in Tennessee, home of Jack Daniels, 70 miles from Nashville.  I am not a fan of bourbon at all, but it would be interesting to visit.  Maybe this trip, maybe next trip.   It seems the more  we travel the more places I want to see. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Road trip imminent pondering religion

Well with preparations to depart for North Carolina and the Family Motor Coach Association RV Rally in Winston Salem then onward to Raleigh area and visits with more friends, I did not get my Sepia posted last weekend and will not be posting any Sepias while we are on the road.  It's  a funny thing because I had the best one to contribute, on my Aunt Jinx and her forklift but I have shared that before on this blog, so I didn't feel too much guilt. 

Guilt, that "g" word is something I have battled out of my mind over the years; long ago I learned to move on, to say and recognize "that is over" and to let myself off the guilt hook by saying "I did the best I could at the time without the foresight of the wisdom of hind sight.  I did nothing intentionally harmful, though it may have been stupid,  and that is all I can say."  My cousin,  Rollie who died a year ago this month, this very week, yesterday and I discussed this a lot.  Maybe  because we were both raised Catholic and along with  that old time religion of the 50's and 60's came a heavy dose of guilt, to be absolved only by the confessional and penances doled out by the priest.     Much has changed today in the Catholic church over the years and I doubt that practicing Catholics make  weekly pilgrimages to toll up and atone for their mistakes, aka sins of the week.  Vatican whatever number it was changed much.  

Lately my soul has been restless stirring around and questioning the business of the Methodist church I have tried attending here in MN.  It just seems to be a big waste of my time as the local congregation has its way with being a community center of those who have been there and in this community forever. They have their weekly  Wednesday dinners and seem  happy with each other though they never grow, some people join and others leave.  Our current minister is someone I do enjoy  but his sermons are shortened to make room for the  activities of the congregations.  This past Sunday he talked about severe declines in the Methodist membership, using the Biblical Ezekiel and the dry bones analogy.  Yes, I think he can see it but for now until retirement he's gainfully employed.  He is also a Chaplain with the Air Force and so has a broader ecumenical view. 

For the other activities, I sit bored, my mind wandering wherever it likes and looking at my watch while wondering why in the world I am wasting my time.  Sometimes I exit early, having all I can stand of the various "church family" discussing their concerns.  The church now  has  people run around with microphones to each person who must speak so that others can hear, this drags the process on longer at times than the sermon and finds me ever amazed that these people seem to relish this activity.  I am not that  concerned to be truthful and find I barely listen so I arise out of the pew and exit the nearest door.

In the late 70"s in California  I drifted around  in and out of churches and settled for a time on Unity, a Christian church with heavy doses of New Age and other thoughts.  It was interesting and I felt each time  I attended worship I learned something.  But then later, for many reasons and not one in particular, I drifted back to the local Methodist church.  How I got to Methodism from Catholicism reaches back to my college days at Allegheny.  I was matched up with another Catholic girl in the dorm as roommate, my friend Janet who is a friend still today though we communicate maybe twice a year.  Allegheny is a small liberal arts and pre-med  school in Meadville, a college town in  northwestern Pennsylvania near  enough to Lake Erie to get the winter effect snows.  Well winters were the pits and I announced to Janet one evening that I would not be accompanying her down the hill to mass the next morning that I would go to the chapel like the others on campus, or maybe I wouldn't do anything.  She was horrified and questioned how I could even think that, but I did and she went on down the hill with the other Catholics at Allegheny.  There were not many of us.  Well the earth did not cave in and nothing awful happened so I learned that it likely didn't matter if I went to mass, church worship or nowhere at all.  When I found myself a divorced  young mom in CA and the Catholic church would not allow me sacraments, I went along my way and recalled, "well the protestants don't have such demands.  That works for me."

In the 60's I had developed  a litany of dislikes about many things in organized religion from the common, "all they want is money" to "it's for those who have nothing else to do, no place else to go and who are just dependent."  I could go on about all my litanies  and some resolutions but that would be a very  lengthy post.  Despite my dissatisfaction with organized protestant religions, I do retain a deep faith, the faith initiated in me by  my grandma Rose (Baba in Polish) before I could run around loose; I remember Baba teaching me my prayers, that I can still recite  today in Polish which was the first course.  My faith has sustained me through trials, triumphs and tragedies.  I am not convinced religion does that.

But nowMinnesota., to where I uprooted from California when we retired, I have just not found a church that suits me; I've drifted from the Methodist to the Evangelical Free and the Lutherans and back to the Methodists.  I will admit the Lutherans have been the most comfortable to me and I have many friends who attend the Lutheran churches in town.  Well most of this area is either Catholic or Lutheran. 

When I am in Pennsylvania the Catholic churches, including my hometown original church leave me with a feeling of peace.  I don't get that here. When Uncle Carl died, his Catholic church could not have been better, kinder, more caring, more helpful.  Just what I'd want locally.   I am wondering if this is  not some mystical stirring from the clouds and my Grandma Rose's partnering with my departed best friend Roberta, who tried her darnedest to get me back into the Catholic Church while she was on this planet.  I have been to  many other Catholic masses around the country and though there are some things Catholic with which I quibble, I can say I feel like I have been to church and worshipped when I attend mass.   Maybe it is time at last for me to  return home.  There is a saying, "once a Catholic always a Catholic."  I think I might just believe that today; I know it has been true in some things for  me like midnight masses on Christmas eve, and Good Friday services, All Souls and Saints Days, just around the corner. 

I was quite an active Methodist in CA for a long time, likely because I had ministers like Clarence the cowboy preacher  who corralled me back and talked with me.  We  will see what happens.  Maybe this is time to move on, maybe this is a stirring of the soul calling me home.  Maybe I'm just going through a strange period.  My friend Bonnie who moved here  from Arizona is also searching for a church, she still blames me for talking her into joining the local Methodists  years back but she no longer attends there either.  Maybe we are just grown enough to know that it is not essential to be amongst them all on a Sunday if there is something else to do.  I recall once giving a talk as a Methodist lay speaker in CA  about how church attendance has become the haven for the aged who have  a sense of obligation about Sundays.  Is church a way to fulfill a social need for those who otherwise would have no such contacts?  Is church for the "needy"  the lonely, the recovering what alls? Is there really any reason to go sit with groups of people who appear to be there to see and be seen?   Is all the activity much ado about nothing?  Does church have to be one's primary social outlet?  Is church for those who have not spent their lifetimes  there, but who lived and now with age attend like flocks?   I have more questions than answers and what's it all about anyway?  The ritual of the mass has been simplified, but the liturgy is there  and the essentials of worship.

I used to think one reason for remaining a Methodist was that was how Jerry was raised, but he has less  than no desire to go to church and makes a few obligatory appearances each year.  So it matters not to him where I go or if I do, although he  might ask "Aren't you going to church today?" when I skip.  Oh, well meantime we are packing up and heading out in a day.  The next other posts to the blog may be just what it was set up for, to record our travels.