Monday, September 5, 2011

The Heat Has Taken its Toll

This trip has been exhausting!  I think about 3/4 of it can be credited to the heat and humidity.

Here in Nashville tropical storm Lee has finally bought relief from a summer of temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s and we are relieved as well. Since our second day out night time low temps have been in the mid-to upper 70s. It has been raining all night and is currently 61 outside.

The Nashville area had not received any rain for six weeks and until yesterday the grass was dry and brittle. Trees here do not seem as stressed as further south, as those areas have had a prolonged drought. In the Chattanooga area we noticed the trees on the mountainsides appeared to be changing colors.  When we got closer the “color change” was not that at all, the trees were actually brown and very dead looking.  At the campground we stayed at in Elko, GA, the annuals they had planted around the park were dried up and withered as were many of the established ornamental shrubs in the landscape.

We are looking forward to getting home. Yes, even snow when it comes.

Friday, September 2, 2011

How Does a Week Fly By

P1030026The whole point of the trip To Florida was to see new Grandson, Jacob.  He did not disappoint.  He is adorable.  Grandmother talking.  No, really he is.

We did try to help out as best we could.  We ran Brandon to school a couple of times and picked them up from school also.  They just started school two days before we arrived.  Ally has changed schools and they now go to different schools.  They both have homework each night so we didn’t hang around in the evening so they could get that done.2011 Aug 27 B-day Parties_8225

Ally turned 11 on Thursday so the grandparents Smith and Schlueter went out to eat with Ally and family to Olive Garden.  Baby, Jacob, does really well in restaurants as far as we’ve can tell.  We went to Anna Maria’s Oyster Bar the night we left and he was fine there too. 

Both Ally and Brandon are very bright.  Ally is very musical and is taking choir in school.  She was part of an extracurricular choir for two years but since here school offers choir as an elective she is taking that.  She also can play the piano, having taken lessons in the past. They would like to start her back on piano again. 

2011 Aug 27 B-day Parties_8190Brandon is quite the artist.  He loves to draw.  Right now they are pencil sketches, but he has potential.  I asked him about art class and he said he doesn’t like painting or sculpture, just drawing.  We gave him a paper airplane kit and he just loved that.  It came with an instruction book and patterned paper.  The instructions were difficult for me to understand but in no time there were airplanes everywhere.  We bought him a ream of copy paper to use for his drawing and airplanes as a parting gift. 

Another thing about Brandon, he is no longer shy and quiet.  Man can that kid talk.  As his dad says he doesn't need anyone else to converse with, he just goes and goes and goes.  I am sure glad he overcame his shyness.

2011 Aug 27 B-day Parties_8202Ally had her kids birthday party at a roller rink on Saturday.  It was nice to see here with all her friends.  I don’t remember roller rinks being that loud.  Ally wanted birthday brownies instead of cake.

2011 Aug 27 B-day Parties_8227She had a party with all three sets of grandparents that evening.  It was fun to be there to see here open her presents.  She requested Edwards Cookies and Cream Pie for dessert.  Good choice.

P1030033It was a busy week but a great time. Our last night there we went to Anna Maria”s and we all came back to the RV to say good byes.  The kids got a chance to say goodbye to Quark and Harley, too.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Little Rain for Dessert

We called Amy shortly after we arrived on Wednesday and made arrangements for the family to come for supper. Ally and Brandon have early release on Wednesdays so they were able to make it over a little earlier.  Dave is some kind of regional manager for Hyundai and often works from home.  So we all had supper in our RV—four adults, two children, one infant and two mooches.  Tom grilled burgers on the grill and we had chips to go with it and pudding cups for dessert.  Ally and Brandon just raved over the burgers and Ally even had two.

We were all finished eating when the clouds began to build.  This is not uncommon for Florida and most of the time it is just a downpour and it’s done.  So we were sitting inside in the AC, as it was too hot to be outside. The rain began as a shower and then in sheets then the wind came up. 

We had just been talking how we had to sleep in our RV before we closed on our current house.  All our belongings were packed into the moving van and was at their storage facility as we had to get everything out the night before closing.  So no bed inside. So we slept in the RV.  That night we had one heck of a storm.  The RV swayed with the wind gusts.  Tom said he even thought he felt it lift up a little.

Well back at the campground the rain continued and the wind is blowing.  What I didn’t tell you is that we had our patio awning out.  No tie downs either.  So I said to Tom, “We’d better get out there and get the awning in.”  Tom poo pooed the idea.  And the wind was rocking the RV and lifting the awning.  “Now do you want to go out?”  He assented and out into the maelstrom we went.  In a matter of seconds we were drenched to the skin.  Neither one of us could see, our glasses were soaked and the water was pouring into our eyes.  Somehow we managed to get it rolled up and secured.

We came in dripping.  We both grabbed our beach towels and Tom headed for the back and closed the curtain.  There I stood, under the
AC in a puddle while Tom changed.  Hurry up! 

Finally I got my turn to get the wet duds off and into dry ones.

That will be something the kids can tell their friends at school. 

The next day we put the tie-downs on the awning.

Are We There Yet? Yes!

We finally made it.  No engine trouble. Whew! 

Encore Manatee RV ResortWe are staying at a nice place, the Encore Manatee RV Resort. Last time we visited the kids we stayed at Manatee State Park and it was jungle from awning to awning, there was no pool and the so-called beach had a sign—”"Beware of Alligators.”

This time we were just a few minutes from the kids and we were not in a jungle. As the crow flies we were about 3 miles from the kids house. Actual driving miles about 5. So it wasn’t bad.

Encore Manatee RV Resor 2tThe sites surround a 17-acre lake complete with resident alligator.  Only a small 4-6 ft. one.  Only saw him once and that was enough.  You have to figure if  there is a permanent body of water here in Florida, there will be at least one alligator in it.

We did find that there were other particularly nasty residents in the park. Ants. Not benign ants but nasty, out-for-blood ants. Their first victim was Quark but by the end of our stay we all had been bitten. Mine are still itching after three days .

This complex is mainly a snowbird community.  In the summer months there’s plenty of room for folks like us.  There are many permanent sites that have park model trailers with additions, porches and landscaping.  Some of the residents are year-round, but most come for the winter.  The basic sites have an asphalt pad plus a concrete patio. 

We made use of the pool as much as we could.