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A quick loop around the Northeast

September 30, 2019
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Wells, Maine

Lobsta, Anyone?

My brain full of vague Jack and Jackie Kennedy memories from my childhood, I headed out to the Cape. I even spent my first night in Hyannis, at a funky Elks lodge that had been built from a converted health club.

Cape Cod was beautiful and maddening. Beautiful because there is ocean hugging every side, which made it smell salty like home. A purple-blue sky expanded overhead. Pines and oaks stunted by the wind closed in around all the roads.

Maddening because these TINY twee little roads. I know the place is historic, but give a girl a lane more than 8 feet wide, people!

I can hear the residents saying “Nope. We’re from Massachusetts and you will deal with our wicked dinky roads or you can go back to Lala Land.”

Anyway, it wasn’t good for my anxiety. I felt like an elephant trying to balance on a popsicle stick going down those roads. And ducking from the branches overhead. It’s a good thing you’re cute, Cape Cod.

Country Roads, Take Me Home

It wasn’t just Cape Cod, though. It was all of New England, pretty much. Tiny winding roads, overhanging trees, me jumping out of my skin – alternating with gasping at some lovely brick building dripping with history.

After Cape Cod, I spent a lovely evening with my old blogging friend Jessica’s family in Rhode Island. I loved Rhode Island and I loved Jessica and her family. Our smallest state is a wacky puzzle, with ocean at every turn. It’s also adorable in that historic New England seaport-y kind of way. Jessica drove me around and showed me the sights, from the huge historic estates and the wareshouses crowded by the water to the funky part of town by a back bay.

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Wells, Maine

I headed north, passing a pleasant evening at the Elks in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a lodge located right at a river mouth by the ocean. They even offer kayak storage for their members to go for a paddle.

The Maine Thing

Maine was next, since New Hampshire only has about 12 miles of shoreline. The southern part of Maine was a shock to my imagination. I had thought of it being a rough and rustic coast, and instead it was rough and touristy. Crowded. Even in mid-September, packed with people storing up the last few weeks of warm weather. Hundreds of houses line the shore, cheek by jowl, interrupted by towns full of tchockhe shops and lobster shacks.

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Ogunquit Museum of American Art

I stayed in Wells, near the highway, where I could walk a mile to the beach and then stop at a brewpub on the way back to drink some IPAs and chat up my fellow travelers, since locals seemed to be huddling down and waiting for the invasion to be over.

My favorite thing in the area was the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, a small museum surrounded by colorful gardens and facing a rocky cove. Dear rich people: please endow more museums.

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Bar Harbor, Maine

Bah Haaabaaaa

I wasn’t going to go further north, but some of my brewpub pals talked me into going. “It would be a shame if you came all this way and didn’t go up there,” they said, and I couldn’t argue with that logic, so I drove the 4 hours up to Bar Harbor.

What a visually stunning place. Acadia National Park tops some tall hills over a large bay. Bar Harbor sits at the foot of the hills right on the water, with many waterfront restaurants where people can enjoy the sun and eat some lobster.

I made the terrible mistake of trying to drive Gladis in Bar Harbor. It was an even smaller and more crowded New England town than all the towns before, and they brag in their brochure “There’s nowhere to park.” I circled fruitlessly, using all my hard-won driving skills to avoid sideswiping other cars or killing people wandering out in the road with lobster rolls in their hands.

A Spot of Trouble

I finally spied a sign that said “Beach Park.” Great, I thought. I can park there, maybe. I ventured down a narrow road* that soon became even narrower. I could see cars ahead of me at the beach. Then I dropped down about a foot…onto sand.

Me and Gladis were sitting on a rocky outcropping above a beach, a spot about 30 feet wide and 12 feet deep. One one side, a rocky ridge with a 3-foot drop behind it. On the other side, a wall. In front of me, rapidly deepening sand, dotted with cars…all four-wheel drive cars.

About 60 onlookers gaped and laughed. How was this crazy California bitch going to get out of this?

With grim determination and a 72-point turn, six inches at a time, I decided. I just had to DO IT. The last thing I wanted was to have Gladis towed out of there.

Back and forth I began inching around, a spirograph pattern in action. Forward. Reverse. Tiny progress.

Then my savior showed up in the form of a friendly man from Texas. “Oh hun, I got a 35-footer. I’ll help ya out.”

And he did. He directed me back and forth, back and forth, yelling “Come on, come on” and “STOP” and “You got this” and “Just be patient, you’ll be fine.” And with help, I was. It took about 10 minutes and some sweaty moments, but Gladis and I finally emerged safely to the rutted path back to civilization.

I told this story to my friend Robin and she said “And at that moment, you said ‘Fuck Bar Harbor,’ and I started laughing because she knows me too well.

I went out to the mosquito-riddled KOA and took the shuttle back into Bar Harbor, but there was no love there from me. I took off in the morning, glad to be gone.

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Franconia NH

I drove Route 2 across Maine and New Hampshire for almost 7 hours. It’s a little two-lane highway that slows to 30 mph for every little burg that dots its length, but it was such a scenic and pleasant drive that I didn’t mind a bit. Finally, a road wide enough to drive on.

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*I thought I must have been mistaken and that the road was some kind of hiking path. But nope, it is clearly marked as a road in Google maps.

Six Months and Another Ocean

September 9, 2019
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Gladis on Cape Cod

As of today, I have been on the road six months continuously. My first trip was October 11 last year, but I went home for a few weeks twice with trips in between. Since I began the journey, I have put 12,000 miles on Gladis and have been through 18 states. I have slept somewhere other than Gladis eight nights.

When I got to Cape Cod National Seashore today and saw the sign that said it was 3625 miles from the West Coast, I shed a little tear. I felt like I should buy Gladis some cake.

Any Regrets?

Not seeing more friends on the first half of the journey. Not buying linen sheets sooner (so COOL!).

What do you miss most?

Church (and I’m not just saying that because I think God will love me more if I say that).

What was your favorite person you visited?

HA! You think I’m going to answer that?

What’s your gas mileage?

Right around 10 mpg

What’s your new favorite state?

New York

How much time have you spent at Elks Lodges?

54 days, I think

What’s next?

Up or down the east coast. Maybe Vermont. Oh, I don’t know!

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Warmer water, coarser sand, no waves

Trip Since Last Check-In Distance
Elkhart IN to Crest Hill IL 123
Crest Hill IL to Springfield IL 169
Springfield IL to Indianapolis IN 213
Indianapolis IN to Columbus OH 175
Columbus OH to Lafayette OH 82
Lafayette OH to Buckeye Lake OH 118
Buckeye Lake OH to Cleveland OH 169
Cleveland OH to Franklin PA 127
Franklin PA to Corning NY 204
Corning NY to Owego NY 53
Owego NY to Tillson NY 144
Tillson NY to Easthampton MA 128
Easthampton MA to Hyannis MA 159
Total 1864
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Where Marconi sent the first wireless message from in 1905.

The Finger Lakes

September 7, 2019
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The Finger Lakes Region

One of the craziest things about this trip is that I haven’t had to have any travel plans. It feels rather odd. I don’t need to be anywhere at any particular time, so if I am going right and decide to turn left instead, no one needs to know but me. I just…go. Sometimes I have one plan and then someone I meet will tell me I have to see something, and my plans change on the spot.

After seeing Mike and his friends at the Rock in River Stoneskipping Festival in Franklin, Pennsylvania, I wanted to see my friend in upstate New York. I examined the map and found a perfect halfway point…Corning, New York, home to the Corning Museum of Glass. I was aware of the museum because they collected some of my old friend Frank Zika’s works.

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Keuka Lake

Cold in the Bones

Corning is in the Finger Lakes region, which is exactly what it sounds like – 11 long, skinny lakes in deep glacial valleys. I stayed at a KOA in Hammondsport/Bath, which was in the middle of a corn field outside of Bath, quite lovely and quiet, with only a hint of manure smell from the nearby dairy farms.

In the Midwest, summer is so hot and sweaty that it feels like it will always be summer. You can’t even imagine it being cool. But the Finger Lakes, even in August, have the feeling that winter is just waiting an inch under the surface to reemerge and rule the land. Even when it is hot, you know the cold is there.

When I was there, the weather was perfect, with just a hint of fall in the air. I got to swim each afternoon looking out into the cornfield and watching the cloud-shadows play across the trees.

The Corning Museum of Glass

The Corning Glass Museum is ok. And by ok, I mean jaw-dropping. Stunning. Crazy. Lots of my photos of the artwork here and here. People do things with glass that leave you shaking your head and walking around in circles muttering “How do they DO that?’

In addition to a large collection of the newest modern art glass, they have a historic collecting stretching back 35 centuries, a contemporary gallery, an area focusing on industry and science, and a hot shop where artists demonstrate creating a work from start to finish in under an hour.

YOU MUST GO THERE. That is all. It’s worth the trip.

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The Corning Museum Hot Shop

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If you saw the Netflix Show “Blown Away,” you’ll recognize this whimsical sausage-fest by winner Deborah Czeresko.

 

 

Tour du Friends

August 23, 2019
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On and on and on and on

Live in Person
In 2006, I went to the second BlogHer conference in San Jose. 300 women and a couple men, all bloggers. When we got there, many of us felt like we knew one another. When we left, lifetime friendships had been formed.

When I left Joliet, I headed for Springfield, Illinois, to see one of those people, Kelly Wickham Hurst, whose blog Mocha Momma features education, race, and her cute family in equal measure. Our afternoon was about the same – we talked about education and race and our lives, then bobbed around in her granddaughter’s other grandmother’s backyard pool for a few hours. There’s nothing more relaxing than propping yourself across a buoyant pool toy and chatting with a cute baby on a sunny summer afternon.

In addition to being a friend, Kelly has been my go-to resource for asking Stupid White People questions, for which she seems to have endless patience. I thank her over and over, because I want to be a better person, and her clear-eyed, sharp-witted honesty has taken me down mental paths I would have never thought to travel on my own.

Indianapolis
After a long journey through some very big cornfields, I arrived on the second stop of my friend tour to see Casey Coombs. I didn’t meet her until BlogHer 2007, but the moment I bumped into this tiny packet of glowing energy in a Chicago bar, I knew she was someone special. She was bouncy and cheerful and cute, but she had a depth that was revealed when she read a devastating piece about her pregnancy and hyperemesis gravis (morning sickness times 100) at the first BlogHer Voices of the Year event (where I also read, and Kelly did too, and Jenny the Bloggess and…you shoulda been there).

After she made me dinner, I went with her and her family to a safety fair, where small-town Hoosiers got to talk to policemen and firefighters and mental health workers and child safety folks while munching on hot dogs and bumping into one another. Her husband is running for judge, so did some very subtle campaigning (more like “Hi Bob!” than “I hope I have your vote”).

Columbus
Next stop, Ohio, to see Christina McEnemy, one of the OG bloggers from San Jose. She took me out for good pizza (FINALLY) and great ice cream (Jeni’s! Columbus is their home). She showed me a bit of Columbus, which was way more happening than I had anticipated. It’sa regular Portland on the Plains.

Christina is a powerful intellect and a warrior mom, as well as one of my secret band of Pokemon Go players.

Casey and Christina are both raising two girls and I’m so happy to see badass women rearing badass women.

Cleveland

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We also visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park

I stayed outside of Cleveland in Streetsboro because there’s pretty much nowhere to park an RV within 25 miles of Cleveland. My very kind friend Kevin Charnas, who used to be local in Carpinteria until he decided to move back closer to his folks, drove all the way out to get me. Twice. That is a friend.

 

Kevin is one of the funniest people I know, which is saying a lot. He’s also handsome and really cares about people, running a program for people facing heart surgery at medical center. He gets them to write poetry and go on retreats and walk labyrinths.

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I got to go to his great nephew’s first birthday party. Adorable. He and I also spent an evening at the delicious Cleveland Museum of Art, which has everything from an armor room to Tiffany glass to Mark Rothkos. God bless the rich folk who endowed it (admission is free!).

Franklin PA
I caught up with Michael again in Franklin for a stone-skipping competition. Like bloggers, it is another small tight-knit community, and they have taken me in as one of their own.

Somewhere in NY
And now I’m no to somewhere in eastern NY to see my old housemate and friend, Robina Bobina. It has been over a decade since I saw her, but I’m sure it will be like old times. And she has dogs and cats, and you KNOW how I feel about that.

So to summarize: driving around is fun. Driving around and seeing people you like is like eating Jeni’s ice cream on a hot summer night – perfect.

PS I always forget to take pics of my friends! I’m having so much fun I forget. My apologies.

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The Rock in River Festival, Franklin, PA, founded by Michael’s friend Russ Byars

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The winning number of skips was 44, on the other side of the board. Mike is 5th from bottom. “Airtight Alibi” is his nickname. 

Is this thing even on?

August 7, 2019
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Lake Huron Sunrise

Yeesh, three weeks since my last post. What happened?

I spent five weeks parked in my brother-in-law’s driveway. I didn’t mean to, but apparently I was tired and being around someone you love dearly is a great balm for that.

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Off to Mackinac

Our first order of business was to travel about 54 hours (well, ok, 7 hours) north to the incredibly charming Mackinac Island out in Lake Huron. If you want a good look at the island, go see the move “Somewhere In Time” with Jane Alexander and Christopher Reeve.

The Island is all Victorian homes and lush gardens. There are no cars allowed, so horse-drawn carriages and carts ferry people, luggage and merchandise around the narrow streets. People rent and ride colorful bicycles up and down. The ferries leave back to the mainland every half hour, spraying giant rooster tails of water behind them.

The highlight for me was a butterfly greenhouse full of bright, gem-like butterflies gently drifting about and feeding on fruit slices. It was quiet and peaceful, a perfect little meditation spot.

Get Skipping

Michael (my BIL) went to compete in the 51st Annual Mackinac Island International Stoneskipping and Gerplunking Contest, of which he is a former winner in the Professional Division and an always-beloved competitor.

He tied for third this year with 25 skips. It was kind of a bad year for everyone. The water was choppy and the winner only managed a puny 29, but a good time was had by all. ESPN 3 showed up and televised it, so I imagine next year’s crowd will be bigger than the usual 200 or so who have watched in the past.

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Judging stoneskipping is serious business

Summer Swim Passes

When we returned home, we mostly hung out. We bought passes to Cheney Pool, a public swimming pool, and spent many happy afternoons bobbing and getting splashed by overenthusiastic children. The cannonball will never go out of style, apparently, and boys will never stop trying to impress girls by annoying them.

The Simple Pleasures

We also sat on the patio under the light of a dozen strings of Christmas lights with Michael’s semi-feral cat, George, and watched a lot of Press Your Luck and Jeopardy.

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Himself

We made excursions to his town’s growing number of really decent (thank you GOD) Mexican restaurants and ate a lot of guacamole.

As Usual, Church

I found a nearby church, Unity of Naperville, and went every Sunday to sing and listen and be among my people. I’d like to thank them for welcoming me, even the lesbian lady who butted in a little abruptly because she assumed I was coming on to her wife (we were just TALKING, honest, I’m not trying to pick anyone up).

We drove around in the summer evening and made blender drinks featuring large amounts of ripe watermelon. All in good fun.

When I met people, they would ask me “Why the heck did you come to Illinois?” but being with someone you love is better than a room at the Ritz Carlton, in my humble opinion (and I know from a Ritz Carlton).

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Unity of Naperville is a groovy church.

 

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The kid’s contest is Gerplunking – who can make the biggest splash. This is one of the winners, who is very happy with his “medal” (a rock on a lanyard}.

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The boat to Mackinac and the Mighty Mac bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Cool Things I Did

July 14, 2019
Sue at Opry

Pickin ‘and a grinnin’.

…and forgot to tell you about.

Grand Ole Opry

I was just going to stop by the Grand Ole Opry early in the morning to take a few photos, but when I heard an announcement coming over the loudspeaker “The backstage tour begins in 12 minutes,” I changed my mind, threw down some cash and got in line with eight other early birds.

I felt like a bit of a fraud because the other people were real country music fans, and I know about six Johnny Cash songs and can hum along with “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

But the Grand Ole Opry knows what they’re doing. The first thing you do is sit on couches in a comfy lounge for a 20-minute movie on the Opry’s history (projected on a cool fringe screen), and by the end, I had a lump in my throat, tears of appreciation in my eyes AND knew who Brad Paisley was. These people know showbusiness and how to work a crowd.

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Peeping out from backstage.

The tour takes you through the hall of Opry members (I didn’t even know what Opry members were) and through the delightfully decorated green rooms, each of which has a unique story and use. Porter Wagoner’s is fanciest, of course, because he was famous for his elaborate costumes. Still, when they said “The next green room is decorated in purple and you can guess who that is for,” I thought “Prince?” Miss Dolly Parton always uses that dressing room when she plays the Opry so she can feel close to her old partner.

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Porter Wagoner’s fancy green room.

The tour’s culmination is a moment on stage in the circle, where a mike is set up and you can sing if you want to (no one did on my tour. Everyone should have thanked me personally for not doing so). They shoot a photo (which is available in a variety of sizes and digitally for $25 in the gift shop, already printed and packaged for convenience. No, I did not. I’m cheap and I want LESS stuff, not more) and you get a chance, for a moment, to imagine the crowd cheering your debut.

If you’re going to the Opry to see the show, you should definitely do this tour.

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

Across Nashville in Mount Juliet, a pretty yellow building houses a place I have seen 100 times before, even though this was my first visit to Tennessee – the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary. The reason I’m so familiar is that this home for dogs 10 years old and above has a famous live video stream. I find it relaxing to watch the dogs stand around and sleep, which is mostly what old dogs do, so I will visit the stream on one computer while I work on another.

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They keep bonded dogs together for life.

They offer tours on weekends, just one tour per day for 10 people, at $10 each. This supports the shelter and is low-key enough that it doesn’t wear out the dogs, and also gives them a way to politely decline the hordes who want to stop by and visit every day.

The dogs who live there are old, grey, slow-moving, one-eyed, blind, three-legged, scruffy – but the most important part is they are happy. They snooze on couches and old recliners, walk around in the big yard outside, and hang out with each other. The shelter also has 250 foster dogs out in people’s homes and a full-time vet to go do home visits and to care for the shelter dogs.

The place smells like pee and you’ll get covered with fur, but also gives you plenty of chances to interact with dear old doggies and perhaps even to take a couple home, as one man on our tour did. I left with a t-shirt and some stickers from the irresistible gift shop. They take donations here. Places like this give me hope for humanity.

Mammoth Cave National Park

How are sandstone caves formed? Acidic water collects in depressions in the earth and begins to flow downward over centuries. The acidic water carries away limestone and leaves sandstone behind. Channels form and grow bigger.Mammothcave

350 million years later, you are left with the Mammoth cave. At 420 miles of KNOWN passageways, it is the longest cave in the world.

And yet somehow I managed to choose a tour that took us only about 1/4 mile back into a cave. It was cool (both literally and figuratively) and the Frozen Niagara structure was impressive (though a good deal smaller than the actual Niagara), but it wasn’t what I expected. The bus ride to and from the site was almost as long as the tour.

I was chickenly trying to avoid the tours that have 500 or more stairsteps, and a good thing, too, because my knees were feeling it when I went up the 50 steep steps on this tour (which are an optional section). I have to work out and go back when I’m feeling stronger.

The area around Mammoth Cave is filled with small private roadside-attraction-type caves and rock shops. There are fascinating stories of “cave wars”- different cave owners battling it out for attention when tourists began showing up after automobiles became common.

The best part of my tour was the time I spent chatting with a fellow traveler, a Canadian man who had lost his wife of 22 years to cancer the year before. He was on a US-wide tour of places they had been and had wanted to go. His grief was raw and real, but his determination to walk without her while at the same time carrying her memory by his side was pure and strong, and I’m glad I struck up the conversation.

 

Horse and Buggy Days

July 6, 2019

My RV Gladis and I are partners on this trip. Sometimes we travel for me; others we travel for her.

A trip for Gladis is what led me to Middlebury, Indiana. Gladis needed her leveling system repaired and the manufacturer was nearby in White Pigeon, Michigan. We didn’t have to go there – we could have gone to an authorized dealer’s shop – but why not go to the source? I had to be in Illinois, right next door, on June 21, so north we went.

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You know you’re not in the South anymore when you sight your first cheese curds

Indiana/Michigan

I didn’t know anything about Northern Indiana. I certainly did not know it was Amish country, which I had always thought of as Pennsylvania. I was surprised to see women in traditional clothing and horses and buggies clopping along the roads.

I had also thought of the Amish as being a small population, but when I went to Target, about half the people inside were Amish.

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I HAD to try some Amish food, didn’t I? Peach filling.

Their ways are so foreign to me, and I was suspicious of their dedication to their dress and limited use of technology – what does that have to do with religion, and why do the rules change?

I learned that the rules are made in consideration of what benefits the community as a whole, not necessarily as a religious stricture. They change as the community discusses and modifies to account for their needs. For instance, when it became practically impossible to do business without telephones, they allowed them for limited use, but not for just chatting, because they felt communication should be face-to-face in the community.

Rurality

Being from a coast, I’m always surprised at the giant chunks of completely rural land out there. In that part of northern Indiana, towns were small and far apart. Near me, there was only a gas station and an ice cream stand, where on summer evenings, the line was often 30 people or more long.

It was lovely to stand in the setting sun with teams of Little Leaguers around me, eating their Blizzards and turtle sundaes. It felt like a kind of Americana I rarely get to experience in California.

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Yup’s Dairyland is the place to be on a summer evening. 

 

 

On the Run

July 1, 2019

Sunday 5:46 a.m. Shepherdsville, KY

“BWAA BWAA BWAA The National Weather Service has issued a severe weather alert.”

My eyes popped open and I scrabbled for my phone. Torrential rains. 60 mph winds. Flooding. Lightning. Right where I was, due in about 20 minutes.

I threw on some shoes and sweat pants and flew into action. The wind was already howling, the skies black.

I was in an RV park under heavy tree cover, prime for broken limbs. The entry to the park crossed through a gulley over a low bridge, barely above creek level.

Running around outside as rain began to hammer down, I turned off the gas, unscrewed the water hose and unplugged Gladis. Put the heavy things in the sink and tub, started her up, and fled, heart pounding.

I checked the storm path and headed in the opposite direction. Pedal to the metal.

There were some pretty good winds and the dark clouds stayed right on our tail, but Gladis and I skeedaddled to safety.

That’s too much excitement for before 6 a.m.

Every Day I’m Waffling

At about 6:30, we got to a Waffle House and I put on street clothes – I was still in my PJs – and got me a mound of fluffy hash browns and a fairly bad waffle while I listened to an 80ish man tell me about his college golf tournament days when he got to play in California.

My waitress, Kelly, was just a delight – loud and funny and exceptionally competent. I also heard her whisper to a co-worker about how her husband wanted something specific for Father’s Day that she didn’t have the money for. I left her $40 on a $10.87 bill and watched her mouth open and close in shock for a couple minutes, then break into a grin.

Getting the Spirit

She didn’t know I had just come through Louisville and had made a quick stop at Fourth and Walnut (now Fourth and Muhammad Ali), site of Thomas Merton’s spiritual revelation:

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . .

“This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

I just wanted to share the spirit of that in a small way, in the dark, on a Sunday morning rain in Kentucky.

 

 

My Old Kentucky Home

June 21, 2019

I struggled with how much to say about visiting my brother’s family in Kentucky, because it was a great part of my trip, but they are also private people who don’t necessarily want to have their lives on the internets.

So I’ll say this: after 3 months on the road among strangers, there’s a deep sweet satisfaction to seeing people you love. It’s like water in the wilderness.

My brother and his wife moved to Kentucky to be close to the kids and grandkids, and they have put together a life that is so full of love and fun that anyone would be envious, and I’m lucky to get to share a slice of it whenever I visit.

I had such a great time that I forgot to take pictures for 4 days, except, of course, of the dog.

So here’s the dog, Pockets. Thanks, family, for the wonderful visit.

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Going to Jackson

June 19, 2019

Going to Graceland

I got to Graceland late and left early, so no tour for me. It was a pity, because I was staying at the Graceland RV park, which is right across the parking lot from all the museums and shops, and about 1/4 mile to Graceland. I got to walk around the Graceland GigantoMegaplex™ and take photos, but skedaddled in the morning because it was supposed to rain all week and the Mississippi river was ready to flood.

I wasn’t down to experience Memphis in a flood, because the infrastructure there is already on the shaky side. The people, though, were so beautiful and the city is built on a foundation of pure soul, so I want to return some day soon.

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Gladys was Elvis’s mom’s name. Gladis is my RV’s name. 

Going to Jackson

Heading down the road, I ended up in Jackson, Tennessee, a place I had never heard of and had never anticipated going. I always had assumed the Johnny and June Carter Cash song was about Jackson, Mississippi, but now I think it is probably about Jackson, TN.

Wanna Talk?

Jackson is home to the friendliest people on earth. People there will talk to you for an hour with little prompting. They just stop down and converse.

I was staying in a very odd, very pretty park. It was a mobile home park that converted empty mobile home spaces to RV spaces, so the two were intermingled. The only disadvantage was that you had to back up onto two long strips of concrete – the former mobile home foundation – very carefully to avoid being all catywampus and unlevel. This only took me about 10 attempts. It was a good learning experience.

The park was pretty, though, full of trees and flowers, and I got to know the residents and their dogs and cats through my walks around the place because, like I said, Tennesseans will talk to anyone. A group of the ladies had a feral cat spaying and feeding operation going and they gave me the lowdown about the cats and their personalities.

I had super-friendly neighbors, Dixie Lee and her son Marcus, who both loved the Lord and lived to tell about it. I had to watch out on my trips back from the pool, because I would be caught listening out there as the sun set and would end up getting absolutely eaten by mosquitoes. They were great, friendly people; the mosquitoes were jerks.

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Abundant Life Temple

Downtown

Jackson is home to a pretty little, somewhat decaying downtown that will probably gentrify in the next 10 years. I could see little spots of it beginning already – the organic grocery with the 74 brands of CBD oil, some fancy brewpub type places.

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Rockabilly Hall of Fame Mural

It’s also home to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, to which my old high-school friend Benton Owsley is due to be inducted for his longtime internet radio station, Rockit Radio.

This is the best part of this trip – finding people I never thought I would meet and places that I had never even thought I was going to.

 

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Rockabilly Hall of Fame Stage

 

 

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