Monday, November 12, 2007

Pensacola

Making it into Pensacola we found Larry and Polly Don at Drifters RV Park. (Also friends from Big Bend)
For those of you who do not know it, Pensacola is the home of the Blue Angels. And as luck would have it, Friday would start their Home Coming Air Show.
Wanting to see the show, Larry and Polly took us into the Naval Air Station, on Thursday, to an RV park where their friends, Dave and Sybil were staying. Larry and Polly secured us a pass to get into the park and permission from Dave and Sybil to park at their RV lot. (The RV Park is across the street from where the Air Show takes place)
Friday morning we were off, not too early, making it through security and to Dave and Sybil’s. Actually we were surprised to find the main gate wide open, with no one on duty ?? The only security was two cleaning women on golf carts with mops blocking the entrance to the RV Park. (must be some kind of undercover operation) Once they saw our pass on the dash they let us right in the park. I don’t think I’ll ever understand that one.
Anyway we got parked and took our chairs to a shade tree and staked out our turf for watching the show. Then we walked across the street and into the show to see the static displays and what else might be going on. There was a lot of the usual, big transports, helicopters, food vendors, and souvenirs. Things were getting started in the air with biplanes flying in formation doing different stunts. We watched skydivers coming down trailing smoke. Then the announcer said, “Next up is the Black Water Sky Diving Team”. Now I’m thinking it can’t be the same Black Water that’s shooting things up in Iraq. I mean that group is civilian, x-military and x-cops. But low and behold when the chutes opened there it was, the Black Water Bear Claw emblem on the chutes. Guess they need all the P.R. they can get. Actually they were quite good.
Not paying attention to everything the announcer was saying we missed something. But through the crowd I could see and hear something shooting fire on the runway.
It was Shock Wave. You ask, what’s that? It’s a Peterbuilt truck with not one, but THREE jet engines on the back. This thing is fast. Setting a speed record for a truck of 376 MPH. In order to keep the centrifugal force from tearing the tires apart they have to remove most of the tread, getting rid of a lot of tire weight. OK, being a truck driver I had to get a better look so we went over to where it was parked and talked to the crew. Seems that it was scheduled to run again at 1:10, cool, I could be on the fence and get a close look. There was one snag, they needed more fuel, 200 gallons and security wouldn’t let the fuel truck in for Shock Wave. (Hmm, the front gate is wide open with no one on duty, they must be trying to sneak it through the RV gate and those women with the golf carts and mops stopped them. I knew there was something special about them!) Anyway it looked like they were going to get the needed fuel at some point so we (I) decided to stay and see it. (Larry and Polly have been to this air show a number of times and like watching it from the lawn chairs and I don’t blame them. But I’m like a kid with a new toy and want to be right up front.) Polly and June walked back to the park a little while later, Larry, hearing the sound of a cold beer, walked back too. NOT me, I had to be right up front for the grand finally, The Blue Angels. I paid $5 for a bleacher seat and sat in the front row, yep along the fence. What a show!
Now that the show was over I had to find my way back to the RV Park and there they were, Larry, Polly, and June sitting in the lawn chairs, just making sure that I could find my way back.
We all packed up our chairs and moved in to the RV Park’s gazebo, joining Dave, Sybil, and the rest of their friends. Food had been put out and a couple of the parks residents were setting up to sing for us.

Lets review:
Air show, Free
Parking, Free
Dinner, Free
Entertainment, Free

Being retired is GREAT !

A BIG thank you to Larry and Polly!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Habitat for Fluharty

Yes, we survived Habitat for Fluharty.
The Fluhartys have been full timing in their RV for a number of years and its time for them to build a house for when they settle down. Not yet, just getting prepared a bit.
We arrived at Ray and Marilyn Fluharty’s (June and I met Ray and Marilyn in Big Bend) in Blairsville, Georgia on Friday.
They had the basement in and decked.
We pulled in the gravel driveway, down a hill and managed to get backed in next to Ray and Marilyn’s trailer. Ray hooked us up with 30 amps of power and water. Noticing that, due to the hill, our steps were quite a way off the ground, Ray made us a deck to make stepping in easier.
I was ready to work but Ray wasn’t having any part of it telling us Friday was a day of rest.
Saturday all 4 of us were up and got to work, building walls. Now we were anxious to get the walls up and didn’t notice that we had 12 foot 2 X 6’s and 9 foot 2X6’s. You’re supposed to use the 12 footers for the base and top of the walls and the 9 footers for the upright portion of the wall, NOT the 12 footers. Once we got that figured out the walls began to go up, framing in windows and doors.
Come Sunday, seems that the girls had other things to do and left the Guys to do the work. Between the two days we got about 2/3’s of the outer walls up.
Monday we had reinforcements, with Ray & Marilyn’s son, Craig, brother Marv and brother in law Ken.
By Tuesday we had all the outside walls up and about half of the inside walls up.
The only injury was Ray. Seems that he thought it would be a good idea to stumble on the ladder with a board in his hand. After a nice little tuck and roll he found the floor, cutting his finger. Marilyn patched him up and he was good to go.
We had a great time helping out but, Wednesday was time for us to move on. Things got a little tricky getting out. Once we were hooked up I had to move back down the hill so I could back around some trees to get back out to the road. Nope, the truck was not going to push the trailer up that hill. I put a strap around the spring shackle on the trailer and the other end on the hitch of Ray’s truck, between the two of us we got the rig up the hill far enough so I could wiggle around enough to get backed out to the narrow road, facing the wrong way. I didn’t want to go down that road to get out the back way (Yes June was nervous, but more was to come) the road is very narrow (9-10 feet) with a ditch on one side. The best way out was to back out (150-200 yards), but this was up hill, too. You got it, the truck would only go so far then the tires began to spin. (CRAP!) OK, I’ll make a second try, just a little faster. This is a little rough and we don’t want to bounce the trailer too, much. Nope, not fast enough. (DOUBLE CRAP!) Time to go for it, I pulled back down to get a good run at it and hit the gas. Going about 10-15 MPH in reverse, pushing our 36-foot, 16,000 lb house up a hill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . up . . . . . . . . . .. Up . . . . . . .. . over the crest of the hill and out onto the paved road, SAFE!

Thank you, Ray and Marilyn for a great time!

Now it was on to Pensacola to meet Larry and Polly.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Smokey Mountains

Well, we thought we would bring you up to date on our travels.

June and I pulled anchor, err, I mean hooked up the trailer and headed down to Waldron, Michigan to visit June’s parents, Dick and Marge. Seems that Dick and Marge bought a motor home that needed a little tender loving care. June and I gave them a little help so they can head south this winter. Oh, yes we played cards almost every day. A game called Pepper. (Ask Marge and June who the winning team was.)

Leaving Waldron behind we made our way south, down I-75, heading for Cherokee, North Carolina and the Smoky Mountains. Cherokee is on the south side of the Smoky Mountains Park. Not wanting to drag the trailer through the middle of the park, with those winding up and down mountain roads, we detoured around the park, following I-40 to the east. Following this, so called, freeway was an adventure in itself. Yep, a curvy, winding, up and down, mountain road, with a 50 MPH speed limit. On the up side, it was a beautiful drive, with all the fall colors in full bloom.

We found our way to Fort Wilderness Camp Ground, driving down a narrow road. Making our way up their driveway was another adventure. Lets just say it was a narrow, curvy driveway with a whole lotta UP. Two rigs could not pass on this driveway. Somebody would be backing up. Once you get into the park, it is a very nice wooded park, with tight turns and small lots. June and I got checked in and settled into our site.
Our first day out was spent driving, getting the feel of the area, with some of it on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The scenery is spectacular, with all the fall colors and clear skies. These mountains are very impressive, for the most part, completely wooded, and very steep, at least in this area. Elevations are in the 5-6000 foot range. The amazing part is how these trees manage to hang on and grow on these steep grades. Pictures that we took do not do this place justice.

With a name like Cherokee do you think this might be a Cherokee Indian area? You bet ya. We saw Indians dancing in the street, in front of tourist traps with bright pink and bright green feathers, begging for tips. Clearly not authentic, just making a buck.

With that in mind June and I found an authentic reproduction of a Cherokee Village, complete with Indians. We had a guided tour, given by a Cherokee. She took us around to the various exhibits and explained each one while Cherokees were performing the various skills. Some of the things we saw were, basket weaving, arrow head making, beading, making and shooting a blow gun, making a dugout canoe, and making masks. The dugout canoe was very interesting. Before the white man brought metal to the Indians they used fire. A suitable tree was very carefully burned down, by digging out the roots and protecting the tree with clay. Once the tree was down it was cleaned up and a fire built along its length. Again protecting the wood that was to be left behind with clay. As the fire burned down into the log the ash was dug out with stone tools.
One of the last exhibits was a talk, given to the crowd, explaining some of their history. Seems that the Cherokee rarely wore feathers and never lived in Tepees.

Wanting to see more of the Mountains June and I headed out for a cross-country tour. After checking with Ranger Bob, we found a 14 mile dirt & rock two track (that would be 2 bicycle lanes) through the mountains. The road is one way. This became obvious when we started out. This road is carved into the side of the mountain its about 8 to 10 feet wide (that would be, rock face to drop off) and no guard rails. As we moved down the road there are places where if you go off the road you will have time to eat lunch before you stop if you don’t land in a treetop. But what a trip, a passenger car can make the trip, if you have the nerve.

Wanting to see some waterfalls we ventured off to Rainbow falls. It was only 2.6 miles down(?) the trail, to the falls. Nothing to it, a short walk, even for us being out of shape……….. Up we went. This trail goes up and up for 2.6 MILES! Two hours later, we made it. A little trickle of water coming over the falls. NO, we didn’t climb to the top of the falls. It looked just fine from the bottom!

Checking the map we found Juney Falls. With a name like that, we had to go. It was off to Bryson, NC, near Deep Creek Campground, to find the falls. We walked the park, along Deep Creek, finding Indian Creek Falls, Tom Branch Falls, then Juney Falls. We were saving the best for last, only .3 miles to Juney Falls from the main trail. Yes, once again we were climbing, twice as steep as Rainbow Falls, only t-h-r-e-e t-e-n-t-h-s o-f a m-i-l-e………………. We made it, and had a nice rest on a bench at the falls.

Friday is moving day, we are headed for Blairsville, Ga. to participate in, “Habitat for Fluharty”.