Traveling west, transmission problems, and GRATITUDE

Before I left home on July 13th I wrote a short post saying I am ready for a new adventure and expedition. Perhaps I shouldn’t have written it quite that way, although I have a few times in the past and I really meant it when I wrote it. I know that God always watches out for me and continues to do so even when I am on the trips in my camper. Every year when I am on the road in my camper van it seems something happens and a repair is needed, and so, including this time, I am in a location where it can be taken care of and I have always been in safe locations. Well, this time it happened again, and not very long into my trip.

Before I left home I had four new tires put on Molly my camper van, had everything checked by my mechanic the best they were able to check. Charlie a friend from the gym I go to helped me and he put silicone on all of the places we could find that were causing water leaks in my camper. There has been a lot of rain so far this trip, and thankfully, so far, no water leaks inside which is a HUGE BLESSING. I was always able to get it dry right away but still, it was not something I wanted to happen.

I stopped at my friend Cindy’s house near Jacksonville, Florida, for a few days, then I headed west towards my next destination Longview, Texas, to volunteer at the Great Texas Balloon Race, this would be my third year volunteering and crewing there. I was really looking forward to it.

Before leaving Cindy’s house, and the night I stopped near Pensacola, I looked at my maps trying to decide which route I wanted to take to get to Interstate 20 which would take me into Shreveport, Louisiana, then Longview, Texas. I try to take different roads each time so I see different sites and scenery. I pretty much decided to take highway 49 from near Mobile, Alabama. It seemed the shortest distance and not a route I had taken in previous years. I stopped at a rest area in the Florida panhandle and saw a truck that had a city in Florida near me and I went and asked him about the route that would be best. He was going back to Florida and said he just came down highway 49 from Texas. I also stopped at the Alabama Welcome Center and one of the volunteers there said that he takes highway 49 when he goes to Texas. That confirmed the route I should take.

So, I headed that way, I had to take a different road until I could get to highway 49. The scenery was really beautiful, rolling hills, green grass and lots of tall trees, and thankfully not much traffic. A few areas with construction which seems to be everywhere around the country.

I stopped for gas before before I left I-10, and after I had driven about 150 miles into Alabama and then into Mississippi on highway 49, I saw a gas stations with prices of $1.99 and 9/10s a gallon. I have no idea who came up with a fraction of a penny for gas. So, I decided to stop for gas even though I knew I had enough until I got to I-10.

Surprise!!! After filling the tank, I started the engine and it seemed to rev loudly, I stepped on the gas and it hesitated to go. It went a few yards until I came to a stop sign, then when I stepped on the gas to go again, the van would not move forward, I put it in reverse, and it would not go backward. Strange I thought, it was working fine this entire trip, including when I turned it off. I turned off the engine, put my flashers on, and started it again, same thing, it would not move. Finally, I was able to get to the traffic light. A truck was behind me and didn’t leave much space even though my flashers were on and he could see I was having vehicle problems. Anyway, when the light changed, I stepped on the gas and again, no movement. Finally, after another light change I was just barely able to get across the road into a parking lot and it just so happened there was an Auto Zone store there. I went in and asked if they had a machine to see if there was a code on the vehicles computer telling what the problem might be. There was not a code saying anything was wrong. I suspected the transmission. Once before in my 1972 Ford when it had a transmission problem it would not go into gear easily, not just stopping like this one did.

The Auto Zone worker called a few local mechanics to see if anyone would look at my van, and after several calls we found one that would. I had AAA tow me and the camper van a couple of miles to the mechanics shop. They agreed that it was the transmission and that it would take several days to get one. They wanted to put a transmission in that was from a salvaged van that is the same as mine. I called my friend in Texas that is a mechanic to get his input and he called me back saying not to put one in from a salvaged vehicle because there is no way to know what condition it is in and it could go out in a few hundred miles, or last years. He recommended to use a remanufactured one even though it would be a couple of thousand dollars more. I thought that sounded like a good idea, my camper has 98,888 miles and I had been thinking about trading it for a newer model that has more room in it and travel more months a year since mom died a few months ago and I don’t need to be home to help her any longer. After lots of thought and prayer, I decided to keep Molly, my camper, because I am used to her, I know what has been done mechanically and I take really good care of her. I am used to the way she drives, and she fits into a regular parking spot, and really has everything I need, other than floor space. I am used to sleeping on a bed only 25 inches wide and 6 feet long.

Walkers Inc the mechanic shop I was towed to had a level spot under a metal roof where they parked me and plugged me into electricity. I arrived on Thursday afternoon, and they were busy with other vehicles then and on Friday and said on Monday they would look at what to do with my transmission. I stayed in their lot all weekend and it was fine, I read books and relaxed. I called another one of my friends that is a mechanic in South Carolina and explained what happened and he agreed that I should only have a remanufactured transmission installed, not a salvage one. He said that he uses Jasper transmissions and has had good luck with them. Monday morning I told the manager at Walkers that I want a remanufactured one rather than a salvage one and the older man that owns the repair place refused to install anything other than a salvage one. I won’t go into all of that discussion, he was inflexible and not kind about it. Told me to get towed somewhere else in that case. His manager looked on the internet and found a mechanic that is a Jasper dealer about 40 miles south of where we were and he called him and told him my situation. To make another long story short, I got towed there and they found a spot next to their building to park me and plug me into electric. I paid extra to get the transmission there in three days rather than however long it would have taken otherwise.

Jasper transmissions has to build the transmission, then ship it to this mechanic which is B & B Automotive Services Inc, 1018 Highway 42, Sumrall, Mississippi, phone 601-758-4600. Brandy the owner of this repair shop and Ashley who works for him are both very nice and I am grateful that they let me stay here until the transmission comes. It saved me having to get somewhere and be towed again when the engine arrives. If you are in the area and need a good mechanic get in touch with B & B Auto.

Every trip something happens, sometimes mechanical and sometimes other things like the pump for water in my faucets, or the air conditioner, or the back step would not go up, etc. Always, I have been in a place where I am safe and could get the repairs made. Last October I wrote about when I got to Waco and my van was fine when I turned it off at night, and in the morning it made noise and was the engine air conditioner compressor. I was close to my friend that is a mechanic and got it fixed there. I always pray every day that we all get where we are going safely. I ask God that if something happens to let it be how He wants it to happen and I hope that when or if it does that I am on level ground not a steep incline so my refrigerator doesn’t get messed up, it needs to be level. That’s what happened this time. It didn’t break when I was on long stretches of road where there was nothing for many miles, or on the hills that I drove through, or when I was leaving a rest area in the middle of nowhere. It happened where I was able to find help and get to a repair shop fairly easily, even though it was raining the times I had to be hooked to a tow truck.

Across the street from B & B Automotive there is a grocery store, and also a beauty parlor, and a few other small stores. I am able to get food if I need any, I have plenty but I went and got a hot meal in their deli section. It’s not Publix, but it’s a nice store. I really need my hair washed, it’s been over a week since I washed it, so I am going to the beauty parlor for a wash today. Also, after three more days of rain, the sun is out today!!!

Another blessing, in 2012 when I was in Waco, my friend Shahar who is the mechanic said I should have my transmission fluid serviced and use BG fluid and conditioner, he said there is a warranty and if my transmission goes bad there would be a chance to get some money towards the repair if I get it changed according to their warranty terms. So, I had the fluids changed with approximately 68,000 miles, then last summer when I was there and there were 27,000 more miles on the transmission, I had it changed again because the warranty said it had to be changed under 30,000 miles. B&B and Shahar’s shop Homestead Maintenance worked with the BG representatives providing the necessary documents and I just found out that $1,000 will be paid by BG towards my repair. What a huge blessing, it was about $2,000 more to have a remanufactured transmission vs a salvage one. The Jasper transmission that is being installed has a 3 year 100,000 mile warranty. I doubt I will drive 100,000 miles in three years, more like 18,000 miles. I only go on a 5 month trip usually every year.

Well, due to this hiccup in my trip, where thankfully I am safe and able to get the repairs done properly, I did not get to Longview in time to help them prepare the pilot packets, or help with pilot registration, and I am going to miss the pilot party and first day of the balloon competition. I am about 400 miles away. Depending on what time the transmission comes on Thursday and when they can get it installed which should take about 5 or 6 hours, I may not be able to leave until Friday. Which means I would miss the entire event. I hope to at least be able to get there to help sometime on Saturday and Sunday morning. If not, oh well, it’s out of my control. God has a reason that I was not supposed to be there. My friend Jean used to tell me all the time, almost every day, no matter what the circumstance… “It couldn’t have happened any other way.”

At least I am safe, I have money to get the repairs made, and to have new tires put on before I left home, I have food to eat, a safe place to stay, etc. And wifi to update my website and let you know what’s been happening the past week or so since I left home.

My next stop after Longview, if I make it there, will be Fort Worth area to see a few friends and then on to Waco to see my friends there for a few weeks, then I plan to arrive in Albuquerque the end of August until the middle of October for Balloon Fiesta helping before and during the event. After that I have no plans, I will decide closer to that time.

I have been feeling well and have minimal pain, and some days almost none. That is a HUGE BLESSING too. Especially when I think back to previous years and even earlier this year when the pain was so intense. I know taking exercise classes and yoga classes really helped me and I am trying while I am away to at least to do some stretching and yoga positions when I can even though it’s not two hours a day like when I was home and went to the gym.

Well, that’s about it for now. I just typed this post and did not reread it, so please forgive spelling, etc. I also will try to keep my travel map updated.

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Getting ready for more adventures and another expedition

It’s that time of the year for me to begin a new journey and have new experiences, and also go to some of the same places to enjoy visiting with my friends around the country, and also for volunteering at various hot air balloon events in various states.

I have been busy preparing the camper and getting my things together for the trip. I even treated myself to a massage today which was very much needed after doing my yoga and exercise classes and loading things into the camper. I ended up buying four new tires, the ones on my camper only had 25,500 miles on them but they were four years old and they were starting to have some small cracks in the rubber. I need to feel safe with my tires since I drive long distances and frequently have long stretches of road where I don’t have phone service nor see cars very often. Everything checked out okay and I am looking forward to this trip.

I will miss seeing my friends here and doing things with them, and also I will miss my exercise classes and the people in them. I need to stay motivated and do my exercises and yoga exercises while I am traveling. That’s about it for now. I will update my travel map tab as I get wifi.

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May and June 2017 Happenings, and Relay For Life Event, Poem “Smart”, and Ice Cream Maker

May 6th was the Deerfield Beach, Lighthouse Point, Hillsboro Beach Relay For Life event. This year Pompano Beach joined our event. It seems over the past several years it’s been more difficult to get people to want to organize and devote time to putting on this event which raises money for many functions of the American Cancer Society including cancer awareness, prevention, research, services provided to cancer patients and their families, etc. So having several cities join together seems to keep the event continuing and we get to meet new people and teams this way too. The weather was great this year, no rain thankfully. Bobby Rubino’s in Pompano Beach provided a delicious dinner of chicken, ribs, and other wonderful foods for the survivor dinner. We thanked them for their kindness and generosity. I walked the survivor lap and many other laps, I think I walked about three miles or so during the event. As always,, the luminaria ceremony when it gets dark is the most touching. Seeing all of these bags which only represents a fraction of the people who either are conquerors and won the battle with cancer, or lost the battle to cancer, really makes the reality of cancer touch our hearts. Like others there I have lost many people to cancer, and I have had it several times myself. So far, I have been one of the conquerors.

 I am still making my own breads, cookies, pasta, etc. and I am having lots of fun doing research looking for new recipes using ingredients I have on hand, or some that I want to try. I have some saffron and wanted to look for recipes using it and a friend of mine didn’t know I had some and she gave me a package so now I am looking for bread and other recipes using it. I made some bread the other day using fresh rosemary that someone gave me, it came out really great, it was a big hit with people I gave some to, and I made some adding garlic powder and dill to the rosemary, it was also delicious. I also made pasta for a lasagna I made and it tasted better than the store bought pasta.

I am still crocheting blankets for the NICU (Neo Intensive Care Unit) of a local hospital. I think I’ve been doing too much crocheting because my hands and wrists feel it, but I enjoy making them and it gives me something to do in my spare time. So far, I’ve donated 36 blankets. By doing this crocheting, and cooking and baking from scratch, I have not been doing other things like updating my website, adding links to older stories connecting them to the photo albums, etc. So, today on this rainy Sunday, I am working on my website and adding some more links. I already added about 40 links in stories a few weeks ago and I have about that many more to do. I plan on adding some more today and finishing this project in a week or two. Believe it or not, I am still working on 2011 links and stories. This is when I did my first and very extensive trip driving 12,000 miles from south Florida to northwest Washington State and numerous states and places between them.

 When I was at a local store the other day buying some more yarn for the blankets, I saw this plaque, I also bought a glass that says No All Who Wander Are Lost. I am planning on leaving sometime in July o another excursion. I don’t have all of the destinations planned yet and I might not until I am on the road. Most of my trip will be similar to previous years, visiting my friends in Texas and then spending about six weeks in Albuquerque both before and during the Balloon Fiesta. I am not sure if I will be attending and volunteering at the hot air balloon events in Shreveport, LA, and Longview, TX. I had fun last year at those events, but it was also 100 degrees and I had no electric hookups.

That is about all for now, I want to work on adding links in stories to the photo album for that location so my readers can see the photos I took at those places, such as Crater Lake, Mesa Verde National Park, Acoma Sky City, Vicksburg, Mississippi, and many more locations.

June 11, 2017 – I just finished adding links to all of my stories so that the albums of pictures I took are available to everyone to look at. At least as far as I know all albums are linked to a story, and hopefully the correct one. It’s been a time consuming but enjoyable task. I got to see pictures and read stories about places I got to visit and experience and people I met along the way. I forgot some of the experiences or pictures and it was really a special treat to experience them again. I have posted approximately 150 photo albums, that’s a lot of pictures. I think I have taken over 40,000 pictures since June 2011. No wonder I wore out my camera!!! And I have 290 stories posted.

What a blessed life I have, even with challenging life experiences that I have had during my lifetime. I am so grateful, all of my experiences and the people I have met and interacted with in any way have made me the person I am today and enabled me to have the life I have today. I admit that there have been times that I probably wasn’t grateful or very accepting at the time, but for almost 30 years I have continued to look for things to be grateful for… no matter what as Lois used to instill in me. You can read stories about Lois doing a search for her name on my website. She passed away in 1989 and she is still an influence in my life today, as are several other people.

I ordered a small ice cream maker the other day and it came yesterday. It makes 1.5 pints of ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato, or sorbet at a time. I made cookies and cream and butter pecan ice cream so far, next is blueberry cheesecake ice cream. I used to have an ice cream maker that had a tub that had to be frozen to make the frozen dessert and if one batch was made I had to wait until the container froze again to make another batch. This ice cream maker is different. It is Cook’s Essentials Thermo-Electric Self Freezing Ice Cream Maker by Maxi-Matic so there is no waiting time to make additional batches. It doesn’t seem like 1.5 pints is much, but it’s 2 1/2 cups, and when I went to the grocery store this morning to buy ingredients for the ice cream, I saw that famous brands sell their ice cream in 1 pint containers.

Here is a Shel Silverstein poem that I really like, it makes me chuckle.

Smart – Poem by Shel Silverstein

My dad gave me one dollar bill ’cause I’m his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters, ’cause two is more then one!
And then I took the quarters and traded them to Lou
For three dimes– I guess he didn’t know that three is more than two!
Just then, along came old blind Bates and just ’cause he can’t see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes, and four is more than three!
And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them, and five is more than four!
And I went and showed my dad, and he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head–
Too proud of me to speak!

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Altamont, Tennessee, Land for Sale in Hunter’s Ridge on Gap Road

I want to sell a lovely, peaceful, scenic, 5.9 acre wooded piece of property that I own on the Cumberland Plateau in Altamont, Tennessee, which is in Grundy County. My property is in Hunter’s Ridge, Unit 3. It is approximately 5 miles from the town of Altamont where the Grundy County Courthouse and numerous businesses are located. There are also several businesses closer to the property. Land in Hunter’s Ridge is parceled in a minimum of five acre tracts. Altamont is approximately 55 miles northwest of Chattanooga, and about a three hour drive northwest of Atlanta. It’s also about 78 miles from Nashville. Taking back roads it’s about an hour and a half driving time.

This is a beautifully wooded piece of land, and I had a gently curved gravel road put in on the northwestern side of the property going about 3/4 of the way back. Here is a link to a photo album of pictures I took a few years ago in both the summer and fall. Because of the thick brush, I wasn’t able to see all the way back into the property, that’s why I had the road put in close to the side boundary. Also, by visiting there in two different seasons, it shows what the land looks like with and without leaves on the trees. There are several nice locations on the property to place a house and still leave lots of tall trees around it for shade. This is one of the nicest pieces of property in Hunter’s Ridge, it sits high on the plateau and it’s close to owning a bluff view property.

Here is a link to the photo album which contains over 100 pictures.

There are several photos in the album which were taken in the surrounding area, but are not on my piece of property such as the pictures with waterfalls and ponds, and a few that show an overview of the tops of trees looking out over the valley. These were taken a few miles from my property. I have seen wild turkeys and deer walking around the property, and also there are wild berry vines on the property. The pictures showing cattle grazing on a hill or really it’s a mountain, are taken looking out from the back of my property, using the zoom feature on my camera.

If you or someone you know is interested in this property, please let me know if you have my personal contact information. Or, you can contact me at, or call Will or Kay at 1-888-846-8703.

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February through April Update and health update – Spent time with Author Debbie Macomber, LHP Keepers Day, and my mother died

It’s been a while since I wrote a story on my website. Life has been happening and I have been dealing with life as it has been happening. It’s been an emotional time both pleasant and sad.

After going through two months of rehab from a broken hip my mother passed away on March 14th. That is exactly two weeks and ten years since my father passed away. They were married 59 years when he died. We had to empty my mother’s condo and get it ready to sell, that has now been accomplished.

I am still baking all of my bread, cookies, cake, and meals from scratch. It’s been a bit more work, but the results are more than worth the effort. I am also having fun experimenting with recipes and getting creative with ingredients I have at home. Here are a few loaves of bread that I baked.


A few weeks ago Author Debbie Macomber was in south Florida for a book signing and the event was booked full with no openings. I sent an email to Debbie and being the very kind person she is and Debbie offered to meet earlier in the day at her hotel with me and my friend Laura, who also wanted to go to Debbie’s talk and book signing. I had the privilege to meet Debbie at her office in Port Orchard, Washington, in 2011 when I was in Washington state. Debbie and I have kept in touch several times a year, every year, and I saw her at a Delray Beach library program early last year. I have some pictures I took with Debbie and Laura.

I have some pictures taken in February during Lighthouse Point Keepers Day with my friend Nona. At the Keepers Day event on Saturday we watched the parade and walked around the park. There was a car show which included lots of old cars and one couple encouraged us to sit in their car and honk the horn, and they told us to put on hats that they kept for people sitting in their cars. Most people that have these old cars do not want anyone touching or sitting in their cars, this couple encourages and invites people to sit in the car and take pictures. They even had cards made that said Honker’s Club for those of us who honked the horn on the old cars. I remember when I was young that our cars had white walled tires and how hard it was to keep the white ring clean. Imagine having only a rumble seat to store items in, or to ride in it, that would be very cool. Nona and I were amazed at the height of some of the bounce houses and we got a kick out of watching the children go up and down them. Here is an album with more Keepers Day photos.

Between going back and forth to hospitals and rehab centers for over two months with my mother, and cleaning out her apartment both while she was in rehab and after she died, life has been busy.

In addition, the end of February I began working out at a gym two hours a day, five days a week. I go to an early class of cardio or yoga for an hour and then a couple of hours later I go back for a cardio, balance, strength class. It’s been great working out!!! I feel so much better and it’s lessened my pain significantly. Also, my muscles are getting toned up and my blood pressure is in the normal range.

I’m starting to plan another trip to begin sometime in the next month or so, I don’t know the exact date yet. My mom had lots of yarn that was not used so it got divided up between me, my sister, and a few of mom’s friends. Mom’s friends and I are going to make baby blankets and hats to donate to hospitals for newborns. Also, lap robes and chemo caps are going to be made for cancer patients, veterans in wheelchairs, and others who are in need of these types of items. I know my mom would have liked what we are doing with the yarn. While she was alive she knitted hats for preemies at hospitals and knitted for cancer patients.

Also, since I will be traveling soon, I found my parakeet Katie a new home with a lady who has other birds and she loves special needs birds of which Katie is one. During my mom’s hospitalization and rehab I had her canary Bingo and since he and Katie were together for three months they bonded and my brother took Bingo but didn’t want Katie. This way Katie will have other birds to keep her company. It feels strange to come home and not have any birds singing or chirping. It’s very quiet now.

I’m still baking all of my own bread, cakes, and cookies, and cooking my meals from scratch, not using very many processed foods. Between cooking and eating more healthy foods, and working out about five days a week, it has made a big difference in how I feel and my weight.

When I went to my doctor in early January for my checkup we did blood work to see how my organs are doing. We know I have stage three chronic kidney disease, and my tumor is still in my abdomen. Other than my glucose being a little high from eating too much sugar lately the results of the blood work were okay.

I went back to the doctor in early April for a follow-up checkup and the doctor felt my insides and doesn’t feel the tumor is any larger but it’s too early to do another CAT scan. I asked her to redo my blood work to see if my glucose is lower because I reduced my sugar consumption. When I got a copy of my blood test results, I was really surprised to see that my liver function and the related items to my liver were in the high number ranges. I have never had any blood tests that showed a problem with my liver function. We knew as time goes on that my organs will be affected by my tumors, scar tissue, and adhesions. I guess my new liver function values are part of this process. The blood work for my liver function went from the low normal range to higher than the highest number in the normal range in three months.

For the past two months I have been doing yoga and fitness classes at a local gym. It has significantly reduced my pain and toned up my muscles. I have known for years that my organs are compressed from numerous operations, etc. I feel like my insides are bruised from being pressed into each other and my ribcage. The liver is under the right side of the ribcage so I’m guessing my liver has been pressed against it for a long time and it’s starting to show signs of distress, which is a result of my health issues. Maybe since I’m moving more doing exercise it gets pressed into my ribcage more, I just guessing. I don’t know the reason for changes in numbers related to my liver. I called the doctor’s office to ask about the results and they said the doctor told them to tell me not to worry about the results they are not bad enough to be concerned about. However, to be honest I am a bit concerned. The numbers changed what I feel is significantly, by over 40 in one area and 30 in another within three months.

In 2013 through 2015 I was prepared to die. That was the time frame my doctor gave me. If you have been reading my posts for a few years you know I still live life to the fullest I can, most days. I still travel in my camper van a few months a year. I write about how short life is and we never know when our time is up. I changed my thinking from living like I’m dying to living like I’m going to be here a while. I bought myself some new shoes, cookware, etc. I hadn’t bought myself things because it would be more for my friends to get rid of when I die. I live very simply but there are things needed every now and then. Especially since I gave almost everything away in 2012 when I found the tumor and sold my condo.

So, once again my life is taking a new direction. I trust God has a plan for my life and I will continue living one day at a time and see where this new life journey takes me. I am planning on taking another trip in my camper van. I was going to leave in May but I decided to wait until June. I have things to finalize after my mom’s passing in March, and I want to be sure my health will allow another trip. Like I did in previous years, if I get worse on the road I can come back. I have learned to wait a few days or a week before coming back because things can change. In 2013, I came home early from a trip because I had symptoms the doctor said to watch for and after a while they got better. So on future trips I waited and when a situation arose I waited it out saying I don’t want it to win, and I was able to overcome it and continue. It wasn’t always easy. I do what I can, and rest when needed, and have no travel and relax days when needed.

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January – March 2017 Happenings, and ID on Me

Happy 2017!!! I hope this year has been a interesting adventure of life. I want to say mine has been wonderful, but I would not exactly be truthful if I did. Parts of it have been good, and some have been challenging, and events happened that have had me pray lots more than usual, and to let go of outcomes, and also to live One Day at a Time and to stay in today and not look far down the road.

I have been taking action to reach some goals for myself, and taking care of things I have wanted to do for quite some time. One of the major things I have been wanting is a medic alert bracelet so I can have information regarding my health condition and contact information. Often when I go walking I don’t carry identification on me. If something were to happen I would be a Jane Doe. I didn’t want an engraved ID bracelet. Besides not liking the way they look, they don’t hold my information and I don’t want anything visible. I kept searching and then a few weeks ago, I came across an ID bracelet I liked and it comes in several colors, and I can write my information and it’s enclosed in a case on the bracelet. I was able to put my name, what state my drivers license is issued from, my doctors name and phone number, my medicines, and also that there is an emergency contact card in my wallet. Check out to see the selection of identification options ID ON ME offers. They also have ID bracelets, key chain charms, etc. that are not medical alert bracelets, and also various options for children, pets, and other areas of notification that may be of interest to you.

In the middle of January my mom called me early one morning saying she is having chest pains and wants to go to the emergency room. I suggested that she call 911 but she didn’t want to because they would take her to the county hospital and she wants to go to one in Fort Lauderdale where her doctor is. So, I hurried and dressed and drove to get her and take her to the ER. My mom has given me permission to write about her and what has been happening. We got to the ER and they hooked her up to monitors and her heart rate was 147 which is really high and her blood pressure was high too. So they gave her medicine to bring both of these down and after an hour or two they started to get high again.

More tests were done and the doctors decided to admit her and do a procedure called an Ablation where they go into a vein in her groin and isolate a nerve or part of the heart that is looping to cause the fast heartbeat. A day or so after she was admitted and it was safe to operate and do the procedure they did it and it was successful. So on Saturday afternoon I brought her home, Sunday night her groin hurt, and early Monday morning she called me to take her back to the ER. She had a Hematoma and she was admitted overnight. The next day, Tuesday, mom was dressed and discharged and we were waiting for a wheelchair to take her out to the car. We were waiting over an hour and my pain was increasing and we couldn’t get the staff to get the wheelchair. I told her that I was okay, but she decided to walk to the nurses station and she fell in the hallway and broke the top of her femur bone in her hip area. So, she was readmitted and when her bloodcount was okay they operated and put a pin in her bone.

So, mom has been in the hospital for about a month, doing rehab in the hospital, and on Valentine’s Day she was transferred to a rehab facility. Mom is doing pretty good, and getting along using a walker. It’s going to be a while before she is back to normal and able to manage without a walker. My sister and I have been cleaning mom’s apartment and getting rid of stacks of magazines, and putting things away, and taking care of her finances, etc. Cleaning her apartment has been a major project. There was no way she could come home and move around her apartment with a walker if we didn’t do major cleaning there. I spent many hours and days there, and on her days off my sister has been doing a lot there too. Mom needed chairs she could sit in that don’t have wheels, all her chairs have wheels, so I went looking for sturdy chairs and found some at an office supply store.

In mid February I decided that I need to get motivated to start working out. I have had many days of intense pain and in general not feeling well. So, I decided to take actions in hopes of feeling better. I called my health insurance carrier and signed up for Silver Sneakers which allows me membership to a gym. There are two within 3/4 mile of where I live. I also signed up for a health coach to help me set goals and to follow up to see what my progress is. I felt that if I had someone to report to that it would motivate me more than without one.

There have been quite a few days when I didn’t want to get off the sofa or out of bed in the morning. I have been meaning to write a story on my website for almost two months and you see that this is the first time I have actually made the time to write a story. I have been walking up and down the stairs where I live, and going to the gym 5 days a week. Some days I take one class and other days two or three classes. All classes are about an hour long. I have been doing yoga, chair yoga, and the Silver Sneakers classes which work on balance, strength, movement, etc. I even bought a yoga mat and have 2 pound hand weights. I have been doing this for two weeks and yesterday I thought I would try 3 pound weights, after a few minutes I decided to stick with 2 pound weights for a while longer.

I decided to do the lower impact workout for a while before getting a trainer and using the machines. I felt it wise to get my muscles and body used to working out gradually and I’m glad I did. My neck and back have been sore and I am rubbing muscle rub on them at night, which seems to be helping. I have also been taking Vitamin D tablets and Zyflamend tablets. I took Zyflamend a few years ago and it got rid of tendonitis. It’s good for relieving inflammation in the body. I have been on this regiment for two weeks and now with working out and taking these supplements it seems to be helping to lessen my pain and also to make me more tired and I’m going to sleep earlier than normal. Normal was about midnight or one a.m. Now, I’m ready for bed about 8 to 10 p.m. I try to stay up to at least 10 or 11.

Since I got home from my trip in November I have been baking all of my own bread, cakes, cookies, desserts, etc. and cooking all of my meals from scratch. I’ve been finding recipes on the Internet and I try not to duplicate what make. I have found great recipes like sour cream banana pancakes, bread recipes some that need kneading and others that don’t. I even made chicken pot pie cooking chicken soup so I could use the chicken and broth in the pot pie, and I made a cream cheese pie crust for it. The recipe made a lot so I froze several portions to eat at a later date. I also freeze bread or make bread crumbs from some of it.

Since I gave all of my things away in 2012 when I sold my condo after the doctor told me I didn’t have much more time to be alive, I didn’t really have a good set of pots and pans. So, the end of January I ordered a good set of Curtis Stone dura pan cookware and I love using it. I had a large skillet with that finish and nothing sticks to it, so I decided that is the set of pots and pans I wanted to buy. I’ve been having lots of fun using the new cookware and experimenting with recipes.

So, with all of the events happening, I just didn’t make it a priority to update my website even though I really wanted to. I was just in a funk and couldn’t get off center to do it. I have about 80 stories from June 2011 through sometime in 2013 where I have to go to each story, and the album for that story and create a link for the album and update the story to include the link to the album related to that story. When I began this website I didn’t know how to add links to an album so I had a tab with a link to all photo albums, now that Google doesn’t use Picasa any longer, I need to create links. I hope to get myself motivated to spend the hours, gradually, to complete this task. I have gotten as far as writing a long list of all the names of the albums so I can check them off as I include the link in the story.

It looks like mom may not be able to stay by herself when she comes home this Monday. She told me she is apprehensive about living alone because she is not strong. She uses a walker and she can’t get her antembolism stockings on her legs by herself. I may have to stay with her for a little while which I am not looking forward to. My brother flew in for a day and a half when mom first went into the hospital, and now he is coming for another day and a half to bring her home. It’s nice that he feels he can spare a day and a half… if you don’t know it, I am being sarcastic. My sister has been spending her days off working on moms apartment and visiting her. I am glad my sister moved back to Florida in late October or all of this would fall to me. My family feels that since I am not working that I should be the one to stay and take care of mom. I let them know about my health condition, they weren’t aware of it since I don’t say anything to them. In addition, I just had some skin cancer cut out of my chest. The doctors office said it isn’t the bad kind of cancer thankfully. It still hurt and needs to be taken care of.

The other day I noticed that my parakeet Katie was acting strange. She was losing her balance and falling off of her perches, and having trouble climbing up the cage to her perches. She was a rescue bird that I got in December, I wrote a story about her when I brought her home. I didn’t really want to spend a lot on a vet visit, but I also don’t like to see animals suffer. I took her to the vet and $150 later took her home with some vitamins I have to give her once a day along with drops of water several times a day. I don’t see her drinking water and she was dehydrated and underweight. I went to the pet store and bought some more rope perches so she can grip them better than wood perches. She has two rope perches already and she likes them, but I needed to get a spiral one that is vertical from the top to bottom of the cage. The vet doesn’t know what is wrong with Katie and seeing that whoever brought her in to the wildlife center didn’t give any info it could be that Katie is old, or has arthritis or something more serious. Hopefully, the antibiotic she was given and these vitamins and trimming her beak will get her strong. She is about a third less weight than she should be. I weighed her today and she gained 2 grams in two days which is a good sign. She still seems to be unsteady and have trouble climbing and she seems to sleep alot.

I’m glad I was able to motivate myself to write a story, I know some of my friends check this website to see what I have been up to. If I am at my moms for a while, I won’t have Internet to update my website or create links in my stories, I will have access to my email using my phone. I was planning on leaving on a new trip in early April, now it looks like it will be sometime in May. I told my mom this morning that I plan on leaving in May and she said she can’t believe I am abandoning her. I am hoping she gets motivated to get better and stronger and is able to take care of herself like she used to  before May. Medicare is sending someone to do physical therapy with her a few times a week for a while which is good because when she hurts she doesn’t want to move, and doesn’t. When I don’t want to because of pain, I do it anyway. Well, that’s about it for now. I can’t promise, but I will try to write at least a short update more frequently than two months.


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Staying busy at home, trying new recipes, Alexander Hamilton, Book Series The Walk, and Parakeet Katie

Since I have been back home I am trying to stay busy. Gradually I have been unpacking and putting things away and doing laundry, organizing my apartment, stocking up on groceries, adjusting to being back at home, etc.

While I was in Waco, and mostly because I was enjoying the time I spent helping in the bakery, that I decided once I got home I would bake my own breads and not buy them at the grocery store any longer. Home baked breads not only smell delicious, but they taste much better and using the fresh ground flour from the gristmill makes the bread more flavorful and healthy. It’s not processed and enriched. The flour still has the bran and nutrients in it. I brought home different flours for breads, cakes, cookies, etc. I learned that whole wheat pastry flour is great for cooking and baking items that don’t use yeast because that flour doesn’t have much gluten which is needed to make bread rise. So I brought home whole wheat flours for baking bread and also gluten to add if it’s needed. I have been having fun looking for different recipes on the Internet for breads, cakes, cookies, and appetizers to take to parties. I am mostly looking for recipes to use things I have at home without buying lots of new groceries. I tend to overstock my cabinets and refrigerator.

I went to a holiday party and brought some cakes and cookies which turned out really good, they were new recipes. I wanted to bring some appetizers too so I spent hours looking for some using cheese, carrots, and celery. I decided to make pimento cheese spread from scratch to use up some cream cheese and cheddar cheese, and I was able to fill my celery with it. I also found a recipe using grated carrots, cheddar cheese, garlic, and a little mayonnaise. It gets mixed together and spread on crackers or french bread, it can also be toasted. Both of these recipes turned out well and were a hit at the party. I gave the leftovers to people to take home. I had a little pimento cheese spread left at home and I added some flour to it and backed it into crackers which tasted pretty good too.

It’s been interesting making new recipes and baking different breads. I found a few really great cookie and cupcake recipes, a few are made with cocoa and are chocolate with cheesecake filling, even chocolate cookies had a cheesecake filling. I’ve been experimenting and adding different things to the baked goods such as pieces of butterfinger and snicker candy bars, mini chocolate chips, cranberries, etc.  Each cookie tastes a little different depending on what it has the most of in that spoonful of dough. I also freeze some of the things I bake and cook so I have them for dinner or dessert or a late night snack without having to make something.

A family I had dinner with one night in Waco made a really delicious chicken dish with rice the night I was invited for dinner. I liked it so much that I have made it twice since being home. I don’t know the proportions of the ingredients so I add some and keep adding different proportions until I like the taste. Ingredients are butter, honey, mustard, and curry powder. Cook in pan until you like the desired taste, add skinless chicken pieces and bake until chicken is cooked, serve over rice or noodles. It’s sort of like a sweet and sour dish. The curry powder gives it a really nice flavor. I bake extra and freeze some in portions.

In the past couple of weeks I have had some good news, one of my friends has been going through treatments for breast and lung cancer, she was a nurse and not a smoker. Her most recent PET scan shows no sign of cancer… YEAH!!! Prayers have been answered. Another long time friend was visiting his sister and he had a heart attack, while at the hospital they found out that he has stage 4 lung cancer, yes… he was a smoker. He lost his battle with cancer about six weeks after being diagnosed. He told me before he died that he hopes he walks his final days like I have been doing for the past several years. He told me that I have been an inspiration to him for how I live my life. He is now at peace and he will be missed.

Before I left on my trip in early July, I had seen excepts of the play Alexander Hamilton and I heard several of the sound tracks. I also liked the story that the play tells. So, I bought the soundtrack CDs and played them often on my trip. I drove for several hours a day so I got to listen to it alot. I also made time or even days in a row that I didn’t play the CDs and I had my private time with God. The more I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack, the more I understood the story and heard things I missed the last time I listened. When I got home and had television service again, I saw that PBS had a 2 hour special called Hamilton’s America about the writing and creating the play. I watched it 3 or 4 times and each time I saw and heard things I missed the other times I watched it. I got more interested in the story and by watching the documentary I got to see scenes from the play so I could visualize the scenes as I listened to the CD. They also explained history of the characters, and some of the scenes in the play that would not have come across in listening to the music. Such as a song that was telling Hamilton’s thoughts from the time Burr shot him until the bullet hit him. That’s just one example. I didn’t get the opportunity to see the play, I would love to but it’s a long way to New York City and tickets are hard to come by, not to mention very expensive from what I hear. So, for now, I am content to listen to the music, watch the special, and watch and listen to some YouTube videos.

Perhaps when I plan my trip for this spring and summer I will include stops at some of the founding fathers homesteads. In Hamilton’s America documentary they refer to several documents that Hamilton, Burr, and others wrote. I went online and found some of the articles by Hamilton and Burr. Several are in the National Archives, including the article Hamilton wrote in the late 1770’s after a hurricane destroyed the Caribbean island where he lived. I had no idea that Alexander Hamilton had such a huge impact on the creation of so many things that are a part of our life today, such as banking, where the Capitol of the United States is located, etc. Ron Chernow’s book Hamilton is what the play is based on. I went to the local library and they have a copy of this 700 page book. I want to borrow it sometime in the next few weeks and read at least a good part of it. PBS has a book that was created for their fundraiser telling the behind the scenes parts of Hamilton’s story, the PBS special, interviews, etc. I am not sure I will get that, but it does look interesting from what I could see of it.

A book series I recently read it really good. I got a book by this author on my trip. As I read this book I realized it’s the second book in a series of five books. The author is Richard Paul Evans and the book is a Journal on The Walk Series. The first book is entitled The Walk, second book is called Miles to Go. There are lots of great spiritual and life experience messages throughout all five books. I have told friends about this book series and the ones that have read it told me how much they enjoyed reading it. When I went to the library to get the four books in this series I saw a book by this author that I had read last year. I didn’t connect it was the same person until I saw the book on the shelf. It was called the Christmas List and it’s about a man who everyone thought had died, someone with his same name died and they saw the obituary. He read what people had written about him, none of it was favorable. He decided to change his life, made amends to people, and how by living differently he became a different person and how his life turned around. It’s a great book. I want to read other books by this author.

I have so many books and jigsaw puzzles on my bookshelf that it will take a long time, maybe years to get through all of them. I usually take a big tote bag of books on my trips, and also my Nook with lots of books on it. I tend to prefer reading a book because it’s easier to go back to reread a page or so, or skip ahead. But the Nook does take up less space and I bought a book light to clip on to the Nook to read it when it’s dark.

Katie my parakeet and I have been together almost a month now, it doesn’t seem that long. We are bonding better and she is getting used to her new environment and being held and handled, and is getting used to eating different foods like fruits and vegetables. I have been putting some treats in toys so that she has to work at getting them. I have been putting some millet seed which is her favorite treat on the fruits and veggies so that she will at least try to eat them. It seems to be working a little. After I hold her for a while and get her to do a task such as step on on my fingers from hand to hand, I give her millet as a treat. She just has to get used to being handled and have good foods to eat. I have no idea how old she is or how she was treated. From the looks of her beak and size I don’t think whoever had her took very good care of her. She was even turned in to the wildlife center in a small cage that was partly rusty and it had no perches, toys, etc. I think she will adjust and do just fine. I named her Katie and she seems okay with it. I go online and sometimes play parakeets chirping or talking for her, sometimes she listens to the radio, CDs, or the television. I have her cage where she can look out of the window. She is chirping sometimes, so maybe there is hope that she will talk one day. Katie likes to get her entire body into one of her food dishes to eat rather than reaching in for her food. She doesn’t like baths, but maybe one day she will. One of the tiny patches of black feathers on the underside of her neck is shaped like a heart. I have some pieces of an opened coconut husk with the soft fibers surrounding the hard coconut inside of it. I put some seed in the fibers so she can hunt through them for her seeds. I want her to learn to forage for food too so it will be more interesting hopefully than just taking the easy way and eating out of a dish.

I wish everyone a peaceful, healthy, joyful, blessed, and safe 2017 and many more days after that, one day at a time. I frequently write about cherishing every day, we never know how many more we have. This past month has been a reminder of living this way. Several actors and musicians have died unexpectedly. One playing ice hockey, another having a heart attack on an airplane, another from the grief of losing a daughter. We never know when it will be our last day. I only have this minute. I try to live it to the fullest. I don’t always jam things in. But doing things like taking a nap, talking and cuddling my parakeet Katie who was a rescue bird, baking cookies, watching tv, reading, walking, etc. are all okay things to be doing too.

Best wishes and love always, Carol

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Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Okeechobee, Florida

A friend of mine was on vacation in Florida the end of November into early December and we went to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for a visit. It was his first time there, but he had seen the pictures and read the stories I wrote about my previous visits there. We stopped at the store and bought fruit and other food and supplies for Sue Arnold to feel the animals.

I didn’t take many photos this trip, if I did many would be the same as in previous albums. I did make a photo album with a few pictures and there is a fundraiser on February 4, 2017  in case you are in the area and want to attend or send a donation. If you want to see pictures from my previous trips here you can use the search feature on my website.


As we were walking around the animal cages Sue Arnold pointed out an iguana up in a tree near the lemur cage. It took me a while to see the iguana, it was the same exact green and gold brown color as the tree. It blended in so well.

After talking with Sue for a while, we decided to walk around and see the animals and give them some orange pieces and cheese slices as treats. Sue said they have to be careful and not give too many treats or sugared ones to the animals any more because of their health. Many of the animals she has had for a number of years and they are getting older.

We went to visit Zeke the capuchin monkey first since he is my favorite there. He loved the cheese and so did the other capuchins. They seemed to like the cheese much better than the oranges. It was funny to watch. When they finished their piece of cheese and I went to give them a slice of orange, they wouldn’t take the orange, they wanted more cheese. I saw that Zeke was alone in his cage, when I asked Sue about it she said that Cricket had died. So had a few other animals. Foxy Brown the rare and endangered fox squirrel had died earlier in the year. There used to be five fennet foxes and now there is only one. A few bobcats and panthers and llamas also died. Like people, they age or get sick and die too.

I got to see Annie the 5 month old pinto camel. She’s pretty cute. The otters were sleeping so we didn’t get to see them swim. When we were in the hospital area we saw two baby bobcat babies that were about a month or so old, there was a hawk with a broken wing, some baby chicks, and a squirrel. There was also a yellow and green parakeet in a cage by itself. After we walked around and had sandwiches for lunch as we were talking with Sue about the animals there and some other things we talked about the parakeet. She said I should take it home with me. She said it was turned in the day before and no one knows anything about it. I felt bad for the bird, she was in a small cage with rust, no perches, and her beak looked like it was too long and needed trimming. I told Sue that when I traveled I could not take the bird with me. We agreed that if I can’t find it a home when I leave that she would take it back. So, I now have a cute little rescue parakeet whom I have named Katie.

It seems she had scaly mites on her legs so I bought some mineral oil and treated her for a few days. She didn’t really like being held and twice she got away from me and flew around my apartment. It wasn’t easy to catch her but I finally did. The next weekend she had her wings trimmed and her beak trimmed so she could eat better. I took her to a friend who grooms birds. I got Katie a cage with room for several perches and toys, and she now has healthy food to eat. I don’t think she was talked to or handled much and I think she had minimum care from looking at her. I don’t think she is very young, but she is very petite and thin. I’m hoping as she eats the better food and is in a good environment that she will fill out and maybe even talk.  As I am writing this story and other stories on my website I have sound from YouTube of parakeets chirping and talking so she will hear the other birds sounds.

We had a nice visit with Sue and the animals at Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. It’s always nice to go there and see what different animals are there or what they were able to release back to the natural habitat. If you want a good place to make a donation, this is one of the best I know of. All of the donated funds go to the care and feeding of the animals.

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Back home in Florida

I arrived back home on Friday, November 18th. I left Waco, Texas, Monday and it took me five days to drive the approximately 1,450 miles home. As always, I had a nice visit with my friends in Waco at Homestead Heritage. I helped in the cheese shop, the bakery, and the gristmill. I shared my story about how once again God let me know I was in the right place. My van engine just happened to need repairs when I got to Waco… and the friends I stay with there just happen to be mechanics… coincidence… I think not!!!

I now have WiFi so I will try to write the stories and post pictures for the time I have been gone and didn’t have WiFi. It might take a while, but I will eventually get to it.

This week is Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for, I am so very blessed. My friends I am extremely grateful for the love and friendship we share, even if we don’t talk often I know we think about each other and keep one another in our thoughts and prayers.

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Visiting friends at Homestead Heritage, Waco, Texas

I have been so busy enjoying life and helping with various projects here at Homestead Heritage that I realized I have not updated my stories in quite a while. Once again, God showed me clearly how He is taking care of me and keeping me safe. Here are photos of a spectacular sunrise I got to see as I was walking to the bakery early one morning, I am so glad I was awake and walking and saw this sunrise. The bright sun glowing behind the tree made it look like the tree was on fire. I don’t remember ever seeing a sunrise with the colors in layers and as distinct as these were and also I have seen bright sunrises but non having the sun rising where I see it behind a tree like this. All of us watching this extraordinary sunrise were in awe of what God can create. If God can create a different sunrise and sunset every day, I need to remember that God can take care of and handle whatever I am going through. I just need to turn it over to God and let God work in the situation and to be patient for an answer. Sometimes I know that God does respond quickly, other times it takes a while.

During the month I have been at Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas, like my other many visits here I have been helping at the Cheese Shop, Gristmill, Bakery, and helping Rachel make soap and lotions. Working at all of these shops has not only been great fun, but I have been working with lots of wonderful people and getting to know them better, and also making new friends. Working at the bakery has been very inspirational and motivational for me. I love to bake, mostly I bake cakes and cookies. I decided to bring home lots of flour from the gristmill and when I get back home to bake all of my own bread and desserts.

When I left Albuquerque a few days after the Balloon Fiesta I thought about going to visit friends in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia on my way back home to Florida. I checked the weather and saw how cold it was in Tennessee and decided I didn’t feel up to being in the cold and also to have to drive mountain roads on the route back home through those states. So, I made a decision to take my usual route home through Texas and stop in Waco to visit my friends at Homestead Heritage. I usually park in the front yard of my friends the Yarden family. Kim told me they were having company for a few days and asked that I not arrive until Monday morning which is when all of their company would be gone. I agreed to that.

I took my time driving the 700 or so miles to Waco, stopping at various places each night. I always pray that we all get where we are going safely. As it turns out I arrived in Waco on Sunday afternoon and I checked with the owner of the campground a few miles from the Homestead Heritage community and he had a space for me to stay in that night with electricity. I was very grateful for that. Monday morning I get up and put everything away and start the engine on my camper van to drive the few miles to the Yarden’s house. There was a loud squealing sound so I turned the engine off and started it again, and I heard the same noise. At first I thought perhaps a squirrel or small animal got up in the engine. I turned the engine off again, opened the hood and didn’t see anything that looked odd. I started the engine and it made the same noise again. I was afraid to drive it with that sound. I noticed that the belt and pulley were not moving properly and I decided that must be the problem. I didn’t want to do any damage to the engine, so I turned it off and walked next door to a mechanic and asked if they could come look at my engine and see if it’s safe to drive for a few miles. One of the mechanics came over and when he turned the air conditioner off the noise stopped. He said I should be able to drive it to where I was going.

When I got to Kim and Shahar’s house I parked in their front yard and I told Shahar about the noise in my engine. He said he would look at it either this week or next week. Guess what… Shahar is a mechanic, his mechanic shop is next to their house. Is it a coincidence that the engine problem happened when I got to Waco??? I think not!!!  Once again, this is God showing me that I am in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. Shahar checked my engine and found that the entire air conditioner assembly and belt needed to be replaced. If it doesn’t get fixed the belt and pulley could freeze up and then I wouldn’t be able to drive the van at all. While he was replacing the entire air conditioner assemble and related components, he noticed that a self adjusting part wasn’t self adjusting and he replaced that too. I also had an oil and filter change. I am so glad this happened when I got to Waco and not when I was in a rest area or in an area not close to a mechanic. It happened when I was in an area where I had a reputable mechanic that could make the repair.. I have found this to be the case the entire time I have had my camper. Whenever I needed something fixed, or something happened that I needed to get worked on I was where it could be done and I would be safe.

Anyway, while I have been in Waco, I go to the choir and orchestra practices, spend time with friends, and continue to help out at the various places. It warms my heart how accepting everyone is of me and allowing me to help them. I feel like everyone here is my family and I think they feel the same about me. I stayed here about a month and knew that although I want to stay longer I need to get home to help my mom with something the first weekend in December. So, I stocked up on some bread and pastry, flour to bake with, and of course cheese. I took wedges of cheese, and also some jars of marinated feta cheese which is great to add to sandwiches, pasta, any type of food, or put on crackers for a snack.

It was sad saying goodbye to all my friends here and hopefully I will be back for a visit in 2017. I didn’t take any pictures this trip, but there are photos in other stories I have written about Homestead Heritage. You can also check the Homestead Heritage website and if you are in the area, stop by and visit, especially during Thanksgiving Friday and Saturday or on Labor Day.

Posted in 2016 Trip | 1 Comment

Waylon Jennings Museum, Littlefield, Texas

I stopped in Littlefield, Texas, which is between Muleshoe, Texas and Lubbock, Texas. This is where country singer Waylon Jennings was born. His brother James D and his wife Helen have a drive through package goods store in Littlefield and the back room is a museum, along with a store room, as you can tell by looking at the album of pictures.

There are lots of pictures, and other sorts of items, of Waylon, his family, and friends. It was really interesting listening to James and Helen telling stories they remember when showing me pictures, and also background on some of the stories and memories they shared with me. I didn’t realize that Waylon was good friends with Buddy Holly, and that he also went to Graceland to visit Elvis a few times.

James and Helen pointed out various items like the gold record that Waylon presented to his mother, Waylon’s first guitar, a record he and Buddy Holly recorded together, and many more stories were shared.

There were several family photos. In one of them Jessi was wearing a wedding dress. James told me the story about this picture. On Waylon’s and Jessi’s 25th wedding anniversary he wanted to surprise her with something special. He picked out a wedding dress, had all of the arrangements made himself, no one helped him it seems, and he surprised her with a wedding ceremony to renew their vows. She was totally surprised!!!

It was not easy to get pictures due to the glare of the overhead lights, and the cases of soda, etc sitting all around the room.

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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

It’s been an exciting and busy 10 days during which the Balloon Fiesta took place. I was busy every one of the 10 days. I got up about 4:15 a.m., yes that is correct, 4:15 a.m. That gave me enough time to get dressed, get down to the balloon field, eat breakfast, and meet my pilot Scott at the far northwest corner of the field. The field is the size of 84 football fields. I walked a lot of miles the past 10 days.

Here is a link to Album 1 of my Fiesta photos   Here is a link to Album 2 of my Fiesta photos.  I am only allowed to have 2,000 photos in a Google Photo Album, so there are two different albums.  When I get wifi and time permits, I will add photos to this story. It may be when I get back home. Until then, you can look at the pictures in these two albums.

I took about 2,200 pictures during the Fiesta. This year there were lots of balloons I didn’t see in previous years, and there were many new and different special shape balloons. There were a few days of questionable weather and the morning flights were either delayed or cancelled. A few of the afternoon glows were also cancelled due to the weather and high winds. Even if the balloon glow was cancelled, the fireworks still went off. They were really awesome. There were five nights of fireworks. Three nights I watched them from the top of the hill where my camper was parked. One night I was on the field and watched them from near the grid we just had the balloon glow in, and the other night I was on the field I watched them next to where the speakers were for the music and not very far from where the fireworks were set off. There was also a laser light show each night of the fireworks. Watching them close up and listening to the music was the best way to experience the firework show!!!

This is the fifth year that I have been at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and the first year that I really have taken time to experience the entire event. In the past years, I crewed on a balloon and then if I was needed I went on chase crew to retrieve the balloon and if I was not needed I worked shifts at the Balloon Discovery Center. The row just south of the row we launch from are all of the large ride balloons with larger than usual balloon envelopes. Once they go up it’s very difficult to see anything past them. Right after they launch, our balloon launches. So in past years I rarely got to see the other balloons, including the special shape ones. Unless I saw them flying.

This year since I had about 200 volunteer hours before Fiesta began, I didn’t need to work much if at all during Fiesta. Most of the days there was enough chase crew so I didn’t have to go out in the truck to retrieve the balloon and pilot. So, I stayed on the field and walked around the balloons that were inflated on the field, or taking off, and of course also the ones flying overhead. I got to walk close to the balloons and take lots of pictures of the special shape balloons that I have loved to see over the years, and also the new ones.

On Thursday morning I was walking around taking pictures and I stopped at the balloon called Norman who is a serpent on a balloon. My friends Mary and Denny crew for Debbie who owns this balloon and also one called No Worries. One of Debbie’s friends stopped by and wanted a picture with her, so I put my camera in my pocket, so I thought, and I went far back to get a picture of them with the balloon showing Norman, and then a closer picture. After I gave their camera back, I reached into my pocket to get my camera and it wasn’t there. I searched all of the pockets on my cargo pants, and the pockets on my sweatshirt jacket, my other jacket, and my vest. I couldn’t find my camera. I looked all around the area I was just in and no camera. I was not happy, this is a new Canon camera I bought, it’s just a point and shoot but still a good camera. If I had to lose something, it was better to lose a camera than my phone.

I was going to go to lost and found and report my missing camera. One of my new friends here is the deputy security person, and also a Fiesta Board Member. He happened to stop by where I was walking as I walked to lost and found. I got into his golf cart and as we were driving something fell to the floor of the golf cart. I looked down, and there was my camera. I have no idea where it fell out of, but I was very grateful and relieved that I had not lost my camera. I thanked God and the angels and Universe and was very grateful that I still had my camera. It must have been in the lining which I thought was a pocket? I have no idea. I couldn’t feel it when I searched for it and emptied my pockets looking for it.

Other than that it was a pretty uneventful Fiesta. Before it began, I had a leak in a fuel line between the gas tank on my camper van and the generator mounted underneath the chassis. I was parked in the officials lot and I saw a puddle under my camper near the rear tires. I bent down to see what is was and when I touched it I knew it was gasoline. I called a RV friend and told him what it was and that I found a hole in the hose. He came over to get me and we went to an auto parts store and bought what was necessary for him to splice the line and make the repair. I was very thankful that I noticed it before Fiesta and that it was a fairly easy repair.

I took lots of pictures once again for Scott, the pilot I crew for, so that he and his crew and their families could have these pictures of them together. Since everyone is busy inflating or packing the balloon they aren’t able to take many pictures. When we have enough crew I seem to be the official crew photographer and I give them a flash drive with all of the pictures I take every year so they can have them. This year we had a few days that were pretty windy, so some days we tried to inflate but didn’t stay up long. Or we just stood up for a while so the public could see a show of the balloons and a glow. Some of the balloons caught the wind and had to come down quickly.

Overall, it was a great event, even with the not always cooperative weather conditions. Some mornings the temperatures were in the low 40’s which the pilots like. They can fly their balloons at a cooler temperature which is better for the fabric of the balloon envelopes and they can fly longer. This year it seems due to the winds that most flights were short ones.

I got to go up one day and we flew about 10 or 15 minutes. We landed in a parking lot not far from the balloon field. Due to the winds, and the fact that our chase crew was not at our location when we landed, which was not their fault, we landed soon after we took off and they had to try to determine where we were going to land and then navigate the traffic to get there, we had a pretty hard landing. Thankfully, none of the three of us in the basket nor the balloon was damaged. When we hit the ground my knees hit the inside front of the wicker basket. Then I crouched down and turned so when we bounced again I would hit the padded propane tank. Paul the other passenger held on to the basket and tried not to fall on me, Scott the pilot was holding on and trying to keep me from falling out of the basket and not to fall on me.

We finally stopped and got out of the basket while it was still dragging a little bit from the wind blowing the envelope. Thankfully, none of us was hurt and I’m glad all of us were experienced and it wasn’t our first ride or rough landing. I took a picture of the track we made when the basket touched down and dragged. Paul said it was about 100 yards. Shortly after we landed another balloon came down near us and we caught their basket so they had a pretty smooth touchdown. It turns out it was the first time flight for the passengers in that balloon. A little while after we were down our chase crew arrived and helped us pack up the balloon. Then we drove back to the field.

Being at Fiesta is a wonderful experience. Every year I get to see friends from previous year and meet new people that I become friendly with. This year one of the tasks I worked on before Fiesta was calling people on a waiting list to tell them Gondola Club tickets opened up if they wanted to purchase them. During Fiesta I went to the Gondola Club for dinner and I sat at a table and talked with a man named Tex that was sitting there. He told me he was from California and that he won the trip to Fiesta, a balloon ride, tour of the balloon museum with Troy who flew a balloon over the Pacific Ocean last year with a man from Russia. Tex told me how excited he was to be at Fiesta and how he won the trip by donating to a charity. He said he really wanted to attend a Gondola Club session but they were sold out and he was on a waiting list for three months and a few weeks ago someone called him to say there were tickets available. I told him I was the person that called him and it was really great that I could see how much it meant to him that he could have this experience.

I will get a photo album posted sometime, hopefully soon, but I’m not sure when. I am using a computer in the Fiesta office to write this post, I don’t know if I can create an album from this computer and I don’t have wifi where I am parked in the RV lot. I will leave here in a couple of days and head back east. I think I will take my usual route through Texas and Waco and across I-10 back to Florida. I was going to take I-40 across and go through Tennessee, South Carolina, etc., but the weather is colder that way and I want to avoid cold weather if possible. It’s about 2,400 miles back home and I think it will be a challenge. My pain is getting more intense, especially in the morning which may impact my driving times. I will see how it goes as I travel back. When I need to stop I will.

I most probably will stop in Waco to visit my friends there for a week or so, then stop near Jacksonville, Florida, to see my friends there as I travel back home. I will add photos to this story as soon as I can. Since I can no longer use Picasa to create an album and I have to figure out Google Photos it may take a while to get it figured out. I think I was able to properly create two different photo albums of pictures I took during Fiesta.

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Busy in Albuquerque

I have been extremely busy helping at the Balloon Fiesta office. Mostly I am doing office work and getting packets ready for the volunteers. This year instead of getting a jacket and t-shirt we are also getting a vest and a hat. We also get passes to several parties and a gate pass. Getting all these items and many more irems for about 1,100 people is a lot of work. Sometimes it’s good when others help and sometimes it’s not, depending on how good and accurate the people are.

I’m so grateful I have electricity and dont have to run my generator to operate my lights and fridge. In a day or so I will be moving to a different parking area, I will still have electric but water will have to be brought in on a truck to fill my water tank. I like having a water hookup at my camper, I’ve been able to wash my clothes and my hair easily. It will be okay when I move, I did just fine last year getting my tank filled once or twice a week. I don’t use much water and it will only be for two weeks. It’s hard to believe next Saturday the Balloon Fiesta begins. So far I have about 150 volunteer hours.

Purple is one of my favorite colors and our jackets and shirts are purple this year. Also, it’s the 45th Balloon Fiesta which makes it extra special. There isn’t really anything to take pictures of yet. A few balloons have been flying in the morning but they are too far away to get a good picture. It’s rained the past two nights and it’s been really windy. My camper rocks and sways a bit in the wind. Both nights before dark the sun shines through the clouds and there has been a full arc rainbow over the Sandia mountain. It’s a beautiful sight. When I get wifi on my computer I will upload some sunset pictures. I a m using my tablet to write this post and I can’t upload photos from the tablet.

That’s about it for now. When I get wifi after the Balloon Fiesta begins and I get time, I will try to upload some pictures. I can no longer use Picasa because Google changed to Google Photos which is not as user friendly as Picasa do I will have to see how to create photo albums for the pictures I take.


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Still in Waco, Texas, at Homestead Heritage

What was only going to be about a week stay at Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas, with my friends here has turned out to be about a 24 day stay. I am grateful to have the extra time here with my friends. It has been a huge blessing for me. Not only have I been able to have time with people I already knew, but I have been able to see them more often and we have gotten to know each other better. I have also made some new friends this visit. One lady and her daughter live in Florida about a half mile from where I live, only they are going back soon and packing up to move here to this community.

Some of the families I visit during my time here over the years on previous visits are away on vacation. I am staying here a few weeks longer so I can see them when they get back the end of August. Also, part of the delay of my travels to Albuquerque is that where they park the campers who arrive early, to help and volunteer for Balloon Fiesta, is under construction. I don’t want to arrive in Albuquerque until there is a place I can park and have electricity. It’s too hot to dry camp.

So, during the time I have been here, like I have written in a previous post a few stories before this one, I have been helping at the Cheese Shop, the Bakery, the Gristmill, and also helping make soap, lotion, lip balm, and other tasks related to each of these areas. It has been fun, and also educational for me. I have learned to do things I haven’t done on previous visits. When we work there are several people doing the tasks so not only are we working, but we are visiting and getting to know each other as we work.

When we work at the Cheese Shop, sometimes we get to snack on the pieces of cheese that are extra or when we want a snack. One of the best selling items is marinated Feta cheese. We seem to make between 25 and 30 dozen jars a week. When there are two or three of us the process goes quicker, however, it’s still a task that takes many hours. One of the men, whoever is available, cuts the Feta cheese with a french fry cutter. This picture is what a 5 gallon bucket of Feta cheese looks like after the whey has been drained from the container. After the cheese is cut, we mix ground up basil, garlic, and sun dried tomato into the cheese, fill the jar, and fill it with extra virgin olive oil. It’s really good on crackers or pasta, or even chicken.

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At the Bakery, there are always cookies and other items that are baked and come out that are not perfect to sell, or a loaf of bread may be a new recipe we get to sample. One day there was scraps of croissant dough, we made chocolate croissants and almond croissants, and I took some pieces of extra dough and made a few small croissants for me to take back to the camper to eat later. They were so good. It’s been fun to see how some of the baked items are made. All of the dough and batter is weighed before it’s shaped and baked so they come out to the same size. I have learned to make stuffed croissants, pita bread, sour dough bread, and of course cookie dough which I have made many times at home. Everything is measured either by ounces and pounds, or grams.

When the bread is sliced, the slicing machine automatically lets the next loaf in line go down to the cutter when the previous loaf is cut and removed. One day we even defrosted the large chest freezer. It just so happens that I had a hair dryer with me the day they did that. I was going to take a shower at a friends house after I finished working that day. I didn’t know we would defrost a freezer. When I was younger we had a chest freezer and used a hair dryer to melt ice. Having the hair dryer with me this particular day shortened the time to defrost the freezer and we were able to get food put back into it quickly after we cleaned the freezer and got the water from the melted ice out of it. It was amazing how much more room the freezer had after it was cleaned and organized. We were able to put more bakery items in the freezer for them to use when needed.

The Bakery makes their own vanilla extract. They take a 2 liter bottle of vodka and add about 40 split vanilla beans and let it sit for about 6 months. It smells really strong and adds a nice flavor to the baked goods. I love the boxes and packaging from the company Nuts. Several friends have invited me to dinner at their house. One of them has a very interesting clock in their kitchen. The hands of the clock have a knife and fork as the hour and minute hand. I learned how to make different shaped pastry to be filled and glazed. The big machine with the white dome is a dough rounder. A large circle of dough is placed on a red tray with circles and in less then a minute the dough becomes round balls and all of the dough is used, no scraps. It’s really cool to see. The mixers are next to the ball rounder and they make about 50 pounds or more of dough at a time. All of the baked goods including the croissants on a rack to rise and more baked items and breads that were stacked in bins was made in one day. The white bins under the large tables are filled with different types of flour, and one with sugar.

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As for making soap and lotion, it was really cool to see the soap we made after it set up for a few days and we were able to cut it into bars. Each brick mold of soap was different for the soaps where we used a few colors in it. Each bar of soap was also different. Since there were some skinny ends to the soap that cannot be sold and are scraps, I got to take them with me. I can give them to a few friends and say that I helped to make this soap!!!. How cool is that. A few times we made lip balm, three different flavors. We took the empty tubes for the lip balm and put them in holders and poured the melted mixture into the tubes. In about an hour they were solid and we could remove them from the holder, put caps on and then label and shrink wrap them. I learned how to finish the edges of soap, polish the soap with a damp cloth and let it dry, then shrink wrap and label them. They look like they are store bought even though we made each one by hand. I love smelling the different soaps too. Some of the soaps are the same scents, but they smell different depending on the ratio of the oils to each other.

IMG_0959In a previous story a week or so ago I added pictures and more stories about the soap and lotion making, including when the oil container overflowed because we didn’t watch it closely. Here are a few more pictures taken when we made another batch of soap. Because the soap contains lye which is very caustic, we wear goggles and gloves when making and pouring the soap. Sadly, I didn’t think to take pictures of the blue soap bars after we cut them. Each bar looked different due to the swirling we did in each soap brick when it was poured. After the soap hardens and comes out of the mold, it is cut into bars which have to cure for about six weeks before they can be used. I like to cure mine longer. The longer they age and the harder they get, the longer the bar of soap will last. I also put a hole in a bar of soap and make soap on a rope that I use in the shower. It works great to not have the soap sit in a soap dish and melt. I especially like soap on a rope in campgrounds because many of them don’t have a shelf in the shower to put soap, shampoo, etc. In addition to being a creative and wonderful soap, lip balm, and lotion maker, Rachel is a fantastic artist. I love this watercolor painting she did for a mutual friend of ours.

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I’m glad this campground has wifi. It allows me to update my website. I found out about a children’s book series called Amelia Bedelia. I had not heard of this character and I found several video’s on You Tube of the book being read and showing the pages of the book. If you get a chance check it out. You will laugh and enjoy the various books. Amelia Bedelia is a child and she takes things people tell her to do literally. If she is told to dust the furniture, she dusts the furniture. She actually takes dust and puts it on the furniture. If she is told to draw the curtains, she takes a pad and pencil and makes a drawing of the curtains. In one book she went camping. She was told to pitch the tent, so she threw it into the bushes. Or she was told to catch a fish, she waded into the water and caught a fish, then let it go. I found out about this character because I was telling someone about Oh, The Places You’ll Go, and the real story of the Big Bad Wolf. I’m so glad I found out about Amelia Bedelia.

On Friday, August 26th, the day before I left I worked at the bakery for about 7 hours. The people that work in the bakery have become my new friends. We spent many days and hours working together and getting to know each other. We had lots of fun in addition to working. It helped that I like to bake and I do it at home very often, I was able to be given a task and able to do it without instruction often. When we made croissants I asked if I could make some with the extra pieces of dough to take on my trip and they said yes. My creations were filled with either chocolate, almond paste, or plain. They tasted delicious and will be enjoyed as I travel. I also was given an apricot almond bread, cinnamon raisin bread, and pumpernickel bread for my trip.

I cooked some pasta to eat as I travel, I can hear it easily and put marinated feta cheese on it for a fast meal. I usually eat cold cut sandwiches with potato salad as I travel so this will be a nice change.

I will leave Waco on Saturday, August 27th and head towards Albuquerque. I will stop along the way and I think it will take me several days to get there. I have a few campgrounds scouted out to stay along the way. I will miss my friends here in Waco, but I am also looking forward to all of the projects I will get to do helping before the Balloon Fiesta like I did in previous years. We have had a lot of rain this past week in Waco. It was really needed, but I’m not sure 5 or 6 days in a row was best. It did cool the temperatures from 100 and a little above that to the low 80s and even a few nights in the high 70s which has been very pleasant.

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Picasa Photo Albums now Google Photos…. Help!!!

Since 2011 I have been using Picasa to create the photo albums for my website. Now Google decided to retire Picasa and use Google Photos. They said they transferred all photos from Picasa to Google Photos and it seems they have, but Picasa is not as easy to use and it had more features it seems then Google Photos.

So, this means that under my Photo Gallery Tab where there was a link to all approximately 150 of my photo albums, this is no longer possible. In Picasa, I was able to select an option to make an album public for anyone, for only me, or only for someone I gave a link to. Google Photos doesn’t have the option to make it public unless a link is provided. In my posts from this point forward, I will include a link to a photo album for the story if I created an album because I had enough photos for an album, like for the Balloon Fiesta or a wildlife care center, etc. If the only pictures are the ones in my story, there will not be an album.

I clicked on links in some of my recent stories and some of them go directly to the album referenced in the post, and others go to a page where all albums are shown, then we have to scroll through the albums to find the one referenced in the post. I guess that has to do with whatever link I used for the story. I think there are a few stories I wrote that perhaps related to an event like Balloon Fiesta, or Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center where I had several photo albums, so I used the link to the entire set of albums vs. a specific album. I really don’t know why it does that, it was just a guess. So, you may click on a link and get either of those two options, either a single album, or all of them.

When I began writing stories on this website, I didn’t know how to create a link from a story I wrote to a photo album until I think it was 2013, so in my posts from 2011 through mid-2013 there are not links to albums, which I wish I realized back then that it was possible. So now, as time permits and as I have wifi access, I will go back to those early stories and put in a link to the album. This is going to be very time consuming because in 2011 and 2012 is when I took my longest trips and saw the most places and I traveled the most distances from south Florida to northern Washington and many states and National Parks along the way. I hope to someday complete that task. I will miss being able to go to the Photo Gallery Tab and click on it to look at all of the albums, every now and then I liked to look at the pictures and it was easy for me when I met people that were traveling to a part of the country that I had been in to go to my albums and look at the pictures of that area or place. Now, I can’t do that.

If anyone reading this post knows anything about Picasa and Google Photos, please contact me if you have any information or suggestions on what I can do to make this transition smoother. I think there are many other Picasa users who are not happy with this change that Google has made.

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