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Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Monday, February 29, 2016

Wandering the Santa Fe-Taos,New Mexico Area

After another good night's sleep we watched the sheep next door follow the leader to one little corner of a rather large pasture. Headed down to breakfast and hit the road by 8:17 am, passed through Sunday morning Albuquerque and on through Santa Fe to Los Alamos. The road out there is not as bad as I anticipated except for the last mile or so--then one travels on a twisty, turning knife edge between two chasms. Not really my cup of tea. Although it was Bill's desire to visit here, he wasn't interested in exploring at all. I'm afraid that, just like the rest of this part of the State, Los Alamos has been Boutique-ified and Galleried and Art Studioed to death. Whatever trace that may still exist of the three years the town was the Manhattan Project HQ has long ago been dwarfed by the rich bohemian vibe. There is a museum but neither of us needed a refresher course on the development of the bomb. I had not known that there was a Ranch School in town that J. Robert Oppenheimer had attended as a kid--for summer vacation. He remembered the area and decided to locate the Manhattan Project Lab there--as a matter of fact the buildings of the School became the homes for him and several other of the high ranking scientists. The Historical Society is in the process of making exhibits for the public to see. They might be interesting when ready. I had the most awful time breathing --every time I walked any distance at all, I was winded. The combination of high altitude and nasopharynx congestion just made it impossible to do much walking at all. We visited with the man, a teacher, who was covering the Visitors' Center. He is retiring and although from Oregan originally and having lived in Los Alamos for 27 years--his wife is a native--they are moving to Missouri. Said it is a seller's market in Los Alamos now so hopes to be able to bank some of the sale price even after buying in Missouri. Bill was starved and wanted something fast so we went to Sonic and then headed back to Santa Fe where we had our reservation. I think I got overtired because I had a terrible night. Went to bed at 1030 after the Oscars--one of the best I've seen in years--and at 2 I was still awake. Must have gone out around 230 but was awake by 615 and though I stayed in bed til 8, don't think I slept very much. While lying awake last night I tried to figure out why I really don't like Taos or Santa Fe. I think there are several reasons--one the privileged pseudo bohemians drive me nuts. But one can easily avoid them so what else is it? I decided that in most cases the history of the area has been totally ignored or minimized in order to provide high priced items--outrageously high priced items --in the guise of art, high fashion, etc for affluent folks. Gallery after gallery line up and are interspersed with fancy dancy restaurants and ridiculously self conscious watering holes abutting clothing and jewelry shops. I think the reason none of that appeals is because I grew up in Manhattan, surrounded by all that and much more. I had favorite shops, knew where the best book shops were, the neatest museums, fabulous stores of all kinds and restaurants and bars as good or better than these. This all seems just too precious to me and presented as something above and beyond any other place. Not what I need and it is very small in selection and very large in price. All that said, the surrounding country is magnificent and the small towns of New Mexican natives are very interesting . I love the Spanish architectural features of the buildings--the adobe homes and churches. The high road between Santa Fe and Taos goes up into the mountains and the evergreen forest covered with snow. The drop-offs are gradual though high and the vistas are magnificent. We have gone in both directions on this road but today we went North. In Santa Fe we ate in a small diner on the outskirts of the " historical" district. Then we headed back South along the Rio Grande River on the Low Road. We stopped at Black Mesa Winery where I picked up some of their delicious chocolate sauce along with some wine. Then we went into CVS and I spoke to the pharmacist who said to take Mucinex-D for this head thing. We'll see how that goes. But our day was finished and tomorrow we head to Belen where we will spend some time with our good friends, Gloria and Bud. There is going to be a blog/pix suspension until we move on to Gallup. So, enjoy the pictures and will be back in touch in a few days. Later, The Valley Vagabonds KandB

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Up at 5:30, on the Road by 6!

I took an Aleve PM last night and slept fairly well. Only woke up twice and had an abbreviated coughing spell at 4 am. Throat greatly improved but nasal congestion is a first. Nevertheless, got up at 5:30, pulled on yesterday's clothes, ate breakfast and on the road by 6 to get to the Bosque as the sun rose. This is one of my favorite things to do--but I forgot it is Saturday so we didn't have the place to ourselves as we usually do. 24 degrees and still a bunch of guys with their five foot tripods and 3 foot lenses were in clusters shooting who knows what. Still, they were basically in only one area and so the rest was ours. Don't know if it was too early or cold but the hawks were not very plentiful this morning. Bill and I call today Skunk Morning! Saw at least six in various places using their little paws to excavate grubs for breakfast. All of them at one point or another stopped what they were doing to look directly at us and then, almost noticeably, shrug their shoulders as if to say, just some of those nutty humans --out in the cold and not even digging up something to eat! At the very end of the south loop we saw three beautiful deer out together--the buck rather alert to our presence and watching his girls carefully. Lots of ducks of all sorts. A heron who just wouldn't focus the white of his chest and reflection more than my camera could take. The snow geese moved this morning off the beach and up into the farm fields for their morning meal, joined as always by the Canada geese. No javelinas anywhere today or yesterday. Lots of songbirds today, especially red-winged blackbirds. Just a beautiful misty morning with the sun turning from scarlet red to golden yellow and the moon hanging low in the sky. Returned to the motel and ate another mini breakfast. Then up to our room to shower and change clothes and work on the pictures. Snapfish has changed since yesterday--could not do a manual slideshow nor could I get the full screen picture without a miniature inset. Don't like the new arrangement. We decided this morning to stay another day and the place is full, so we had to check out of our room at noon and wait until 2 to check back in to a different room. Not sure why we couldn't keep the one we had but the poor girl on the desk is going mad with this wrestling tournament and the kids and coaches. The breakfast room girl told us it was a madhouse here by 730--glad we were off by then. BTW, don't know why the date stamp on the pix are at 9:15--we were taking pix by 615-630 and there is only a 2 hour difference and their are showing three. Just take 3 off the hour and that is when we were wandering the Bosque. Feeling tired but infinitely better than yesterday. Two hours in nature will do that for you! Now, I'm going to grab a yogurt and make lists for my visit to Perry Null. Have a lovely week-end all. The Valley Vagabonds KandB

Friday, February 26, 2016

Kicking the White Sands from Our Shoes

I love White Sands National Monument and want to drive through it whenever we are in Alamogordo. Bill isn't as enamoured of an expanse of gypsum dunes but I love the changes I see each time we come. It is so amazing to me that this stuff is being blown daily and is expanding wider and wider burying the land as it goes. Also the white against the blue sky with the green and yellowish plants, just reminds me of the white houses with blue roofs in the Greek Isles. I'd so like to see them someday. They are at an elevation of 4235 ft and cover 10 acres, something very evident from up on Cloudcroft yesterday. After a quick drive through and a few more snaps we headed over to Heart of the Desert to pick up a few more nuts and cookies for Barb and Bets and then retraced some of our steps taken on Sunday to Carrizozo. This time, instead of heading north to Vaughn and Santa Rosa we turned west toward Socorro. A year ago yesterday we'd followed these roads in the opposite direction. I think we are almost natives we know our way around this State so well. As I noted in the prior post my sleep pattern last night was notable for its lack of sleep. I was able to stay away until a few miles outside of San Antonio where I dozed for about half an hour. When a woke Bill asked if I wanted to go to the Bosque--what a question! Of course, I want to go to the Bosque. He said he was hungry so we stopped at The Owl, another tradition for a bacon cheeseburger for me, a green chile cheeseburger for him, shared onion rings and lemonades for each. Then down the road for the tour road. Lots of clearing going on in the wildlife refuge and lots of fields flooded that aren't usually, creating almost mini-lakes. Lots of ducks, some Canada geese and a pair of snow geese, where one of them has a damaged wing. Probably couldn't fly and so did not migrate north and since they pair for life the partner stayed, too. Sad, because I think the injured one will be food for a cougar and maybe the mate, too. A few hawks and deer but no javelinas or cougars. Never have seen a cat here. The cranes are gone, but expected that, since we saw them in La and Tx. Will probably head down early tomorrow morning as we usually do and then come back and decide what is next. Have to talk to Gloria tonight --not sure a visit right now is in the cards. We'll see. Bets called and we chatted a bit. Bill went out for dinner, I'll eat leftover Carino's. Nice big room on the third floor--large window on which I'll keep the curtains open so hopefully less claustrophobic and I'll sleep. Some Aleve PM too, I think. Short day, relaxed, not too demanding on lung power. So, now I'm caught up on our travels and travails. Hopefully, things will take a turn for the better. Don't think we'll make Ca this year at all--lost too much time.Our trip is half over today and we've been sick half of the half--so far a quarter of the trip. Demoralizing. Later, KandB

Going Stir Crazy

Tuesday and Wednesday I stayed in all day. While it was sunny it was cold and I felt very tired. Tuesday, in particular, I spent primarily sleeping and reading and drinking tea and cold drinks.I could feel a slight improvement though I didn't expect miracles in one day. My throat was less sore, my ears, too and though coughing it wasn't constant or forceful. Bill, being still recuperating was also glad for a day of rest and watched Fox News most of the day. When he went out to eat, again at Chili's, I watched Colin Firth in Kingsman--a light film not requiring extraordinary strength to enjoy. That night, however, was long and filled with coughing. Hardly slept at all. On Wednesday, the throat and ears were back in full force and I was exhausted. Bill said he had to get outdoors and was going to drive up to Cloudcroft--a road I've refused to ride for many years. I goes to a ski area and looks very steep and curvy on the map. That spells precipices, mostly on the passenger side in my experience, and so I opted for the equally irritating chore of paying March bills. We planned on leaving but extended to Thursday. The plan was hopefully to go to Socorro, where I know the internet is iffy so wanted to pay the bills now so I would not have to worry about making due dates if we went to Socorro and then to our friends' in Belen. The worked for us both, since Bill hates to be around when I'm shuffling bank accounts and bills--a chore I hate. He was back by 1030 but I'd not done any book-keeping, having called my sister to catch up and then receiving a call from Betsy once he returned and Barb and I signed off. But, the work was fairly simple and while he read I got it done. By the time he was going out to dinner my throat was so swollen it was difficult to swallow. I ate some chili chicken noodle soup which helped a bit and took more tea with the magic potion. I so wanted to take a couple of Aleve PM but with the throat the way it was and the fact that my sinuses started to fill by evening and I was having real trouble breathing, I didn't dare. I just hate taking meds of any kind and because of that have not a clue how they are going to interact with each other. I think I subconsciously was worried I wouldn't wake up--not terribly rational I know, but by this time I was exhausted, feeling claustrophobic by nightfall, since I couldn't open the curtains or the window, and panicy. Another night of insomnia or at least hour spurts of sleep interspersed with two hours of lying there in the dark--unable to turn on a light and read or go on the computer and not able to got outside in the 20 degree weather to get a fresh breath of air. Before the night was over I was having coughing fits from deep down in the chest and producing nothing. I sounded like a hollow drum and was totally drained by the end of the bout. Our poor neighbors--I never went to the breakfast room--didn't want to spread what I've started calling the Kill the Gringo Disease and surely did not want to make eye contact with any of m sleepless fellow travelers. So, yesterday, we made the decision to stay until today and that I would go back to Urgent Care today, if things continued to be difficult with no real improvement. I also agreed to go up to Cloudcroft because Bill said the road was fine and he knew I'd love it. We stopped at Urgent Care to see what time it opens on Friday, only to discover that it isn't open on Fri, Sat or Sun. So the nurse suggested we come back around 1, when she thought the, again, crowded waiting room might clear out. That gave us about an hour and a half. What a beautiful day and what a beautiful drive. I sat on a bench in the sun at the site of the old railroad trestle and would have been happy to sit there for hours. Unfortunately, we had to get back down to the doctor's. Got there exactly at 1, room full and got to see the Dr at 330, which is when they normally close. Told Lady Montana all that was happening. She took notes, looked at my file and said you are normally so healthy this must be driving you mad--hit the nail on the head with that one! When the Doctor came in he was not at all like he was on Monday. He very abruptly told me there was nothing he could do for me--it is viral--he gave me the best antibiotic out there. The honey had to take care of the throat. I shouldn't expect to have gotten better in four days. I said, wait a minute--I didn't come here for more meds necessarily. I don't know what to expect with this thing and since I couldn't see ANY improvement I did not want to finish my meds on Friday, find out I was worse and have to wait three days to get more meds if needed. That I did not want to go back to square one by having a break in treatment if that was what was needed. I said I came back to be evaluated and guided as to what happens next. He warmed up a bit and asked if I'd ever had a breathing treatment, I said no. So he decided to give me a nebulizer treatment. I asked if any over the counter drug would help with the decongestion. Said he didn't pay attention to them, ask the pharmacist. Said an inhaler was good, but he didn't prescribe one. Said I could take the Aleve PM to help me sleep without worry. When Miss Montana came in to set up the nebulizer she asked if he gave me more meds. I said no but that was fine, that wasn't my motive for coming. I think she had a talk with him because when he came back he was much more concerned--said that the antibiotic continues to work for ten days after I stop it and that this cough can last for six weeks. I asked if I was contagious and he said no, since I'm on antibiotics and have been. Besides, he'd been up to Alb and everyone there has the same thing. So if Bud hasn't gotten it yet from someone else, he probably won't get it from me. I think he is just exhausted--he works M-Th without lunch from 7-3:30 or when the last patient leaves. Miss Montana said they were there until 6 on Monday. On Friday they do all the lab cleaning and prep for the next week. I saw that room twice--four days of that would kill a horse. He's a good man and his staff is too. I just got him at the tail end of the tail end of his week. I'd be pissy, too! So, knowing I'm not going to die but that I'm going to feel sick for awhile and that like last night I'll be coughing hard for quite awhile and probably sleeping poorly, we went to Johnny Carino's where I had roast chicken bow tie medley, house salad, bread and garlic olive oil and three glasses of Malbec. Still, went to bed at 9, up at 10 until 11, up at 1 until 2, up at 3 until 530 and finally up at 630 for the day. It is hopeless. But I loved my meal. Happy to say, Bill finishes his meds tonight too and is pretty okay, so there is hope for me.

Hurry Up and Wait Day In Alamogordo, NM

Monday Feb 22 dawned cold and bright. We decided that it would be spent getting some medical attention for my sore throat, inflamed ears and congested chest, though no fever. But first, Bill went down to reserve the suite for two more nights. Unfortunately, a party was coming in for 11 days in the suite so we had to move. We got a very large room with two queen beds, which as time showed, was actually better than a king. By 8:30 we were sitting in the waiting room of Urgent Care on Cuba Street with a roomful of others all showing various stages of the same malady. The saddest situation was the number of very small sick children--there is something so awful about a sick child--it looks to its parent to make them better and the parent can't. Although I didn't get to see Dr McPherson until 1230 the time actually went pretty fast--so many people to watch including an ACTOR from California who held forth on the film being shot on location in the White Sands, I think. He spoke on all sorts of topics--his symptoms and those of others in the room--I'm not a doctor but I played one! He had theories and facts about the weather--I'm not a meteorologist, but I played one! You can't make these things up. Then someone asked what the movie was about--well, I've signed a non-disclosure agreement, BUT it is about a family fleeing across the desert from Saddam Hussein. Hmmm--they better do some good computer enhancement to make the White Sands look like the desert in Iraq. I was dying to ask who the star was but didn't really feel like engaginh him or embarrassing him by asking what I may have seen him in. He then told anyone who would listen how a movie is shot--so he has a beard now because they are shooting the end scenes--he is clean shaven at the beginning. Hmmmm. When the nurse called me in, he offered me $10 to give him my place. I floored the place by telling him that I'm worth more than that. So, the doctor says okay a Z pack--best antibiotic out there and that's it. But for sore throat take Buckwheat honey in my tea or by the spoonful. Best thing for it. Only available at Lowe's pharmacy, where we were going anyway. I think he was happy to have an adult to talk with since he asked about our travels, what we did for work etc. His nurse also was very chatty --sharing that she is from a small Montana town between Bozeman and Helena. Also informed me that there is quite a New England contingent in Alamogordo--especially from Rhode Island. When I came out Bill told me the actor got a call from the crew saying they were going out on location--so he thought he was losing his role. Then Bill heard him answer the phone as Lance Nixon or Lance Dickson--well, I couldn't find an actor by either name so who knows. He did have a California plate--so I'm sure he was doing something on a film in the area. Headed down the road to Lowe's--a supermarket we found last year and loved. Well, it is a flagship of the corporation now---a bar, a restaurant, a pizzeria, etc, etc, etc. One stop for sure. Turned in our prescriptions--told they'd be ready in an hour. So we shopped and then still had to sit and wait for them. Bill got Prednizone and Doxycycline-- Both of which the doctor started him on on Saturday after a nebulizer treatment and a shot of some esoteric antibiotic. Quite a series for the same thing that I have--since I got it from him. By this time I was dead, so back to the motel for me. Two tablets,hot tea with honey and into bed. Bill went out to Chili's to eat and I just picked among cheese, liverwurst and fruit. With great optimism, the day ended.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hopefully We'll Ditch This Bug Soon!!

This has been the strangest trip ever this year. First, after racing to get there--well, actually we left early enough that we didn't have to race--I fell victim to food poisoning and missed the Courir de Mardi Gras that I've wanted to see for years. We had to stay in Eunice forever, it seemed, waiting for me to recuperate. Shook the disappointment off and moved on across Louisiana and into Texas, where we wandered over Farm Roads new to us and visited the American Quarter Horse Museum in Amarillo. Bill started sniffling and coughing but we didn't think much of it, until we'd spent a night in Santa Rosa and he was very congested and tired. So, off we went to get meds and he retired to bed for pretty much two days of sleep. He never ran a fever nor did he have chills but the congested got progressively worse. The lady in the breakfast room with her eagle eye kept watching me gathering tea bags and honey to take back to our room. It seemed to help his throat and he ate soup and chili from Joseph's. After three days in which he just didn't seem to be getting any better we went to the ER and he had a shot of some antibiotic I never heard of, had one and a half nebulizer treatments and a prednisone pill and a doxycycline pill. Also given meds to carry him through yesterday and today with prescriptions to be filled tomorrow since there is only the hospital pharmacy in Santa Rosa and it is not opened on the week-end. At last, though coughing all night with some expectoration, he is feeling stronger, not achy or light headed and says he is gaining energy. So, after coughing all night myself and getting progressively more congested, we packed up and left the latest sick room and headed to Alamogordo. If I'm still as congested tomorrow we are heading to the Clinic here--I don't want to get as bad as he was. The drive was pleasant---the day starting at 57 degrees and sunny at 10 am and finishing at 76 degrees when we arrived at the hotel at 2. The railroad used to run through Vaughn and the depot was one of the Harvey Houses. It doesn't look open at all or used for anything much but in my Harvey Girls book, the dining room was one of the largest and loveliest. Although not on Rte 66 Vaughn was a main crossroads of trains and so there were many travelers who need food and lodging. As you can see the selection of cafes and motels was great and they all sit empty and sad now. Then we turned true south across wide expanses of range --horses, steer and antelope. When we finally saw the mountains on the horizon we said--they may be several days journey away, but there they are. Of course, for us it was several hours but imagine riding a horse or in a wagon across these incredible distances. It is so wide open here that it is impossible to determine how faar things are. The steer look like toys they are so far from the road. For years we've seen the sign for White Oaks and Bill read a book last year about the Tularosa Valley--I haven't gotten to it yet--in which the mining town is named. So we decided to head out--some nice old buildings but it is a repopulated Ghost Town with those who want to live far out where they can pretty much do whatever they want--this is sure it. Many are " artists"--I suppose some more talented than others--but certainly they are the 60's bohemian artsy. But it was a nice drive and it was fun to play with the camera to get shots of the yellow hill with the bands of brownish-black darkness caused by the shadows of the clouds above. On we went through Carrizozo, Tularosa and into Alamogordo, where we stopped at the Heart of the Desert Pistachio Ranch. We will go back early in the day--but picked up a few things that I knew I wanted. There was some really pretty bracelets and earrings made of enameled copper in the form of feathers but, when I saw they were made in China, I passed on them. The cards attached even had Christian homilies on them. Oh, deliver me! We did not linger, since I was getting tired--it is getting harder to breathe. Now, I'm trying to decide if I want to go out to eat. There is a Johnny Carino's here and a Buffalo Wild Wings--oh my goodness. Well, for now, going to go blow my nose, if possible and have a good cough. Will keep you posted with our doings while here. We have a lovely suite with kitchen and living room. I want to go to the Sands, back to Heart of the Desert and to McGinns. Tomorrow Bill says is hospital and pharmacy first thing--then who knows how much of the day will be left. Whatever we do, I have to take it easy but I don't want to go to bed for a full day. Until next time, The Valley Vagabonds KandB

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Traveling Backwards in Time--New Mexico on Rt 66

We've been here several times before but I like the rows of old Motel signs--so large and flamboyant at a time when hundreds of people needed a place to rest their heads going West, mostly, but also East. More and more the buildings themselves are being torn down or burn and there are probably many missing signs, too. The billboards for both Tucumcari and Santa Rosa imply that there is lots to do in them. Sadly, not so much. Even the newer places are shuttered and boarded up. While in Tucumcari we stopped at a Lowe's grocery to pick up some cold medications. Bill is sick, sick, sick and as the day progresses, he is getting more clogged up--his chest. Also got some fruit juices and while we were at it perused the Spanish foodstuffs. I also found BabyBel goudas!!! We only have the red and green wrapped ones at home and the light blue one. I saw white cheddar today, as well, but Cabot is the only way to go there. The drive between the towns, about 60 or so miles, is flat and unremarkable except for the snow covered mesa off to the North toward Colorado, though it cannot be as far away as Ruton Pass. Santa Rosa is the more healthy of the two--there was a fellow from Utah at the Blue Hole getting ready to dive. Also a car from Oklahoma with a young Choctaw couple and an RV from Colorado with a couple and their beautiful German short haired pointer. There are also several thriving restaurants serving mostly Mexican food --we ate in Joseph's but have eaten in others in the past. The food is good, not Food Channel laudable, but plentiful, filling and satisfying. I had a couple of beef tacos with a nice red chili that was just hot enough. Bill had a huge bowl of very meaty green chili and a house salad. By the time we finished looking at the Blue Hole and old downtown SR and eating at Joseph's, Bill was pretty zonked and we checked into our hotel. He has been hacking away and I'm hoping not to get it. I bought some Airborne and took one tablet. I'll take another at bedtime but really wish I could have found Zicam. I know there isn't much to be done once the cold is caught but if I can avoid it, I'll do my best. Not terribly optimistic though. Bill seems to think he can drive to Alamogordo tomorrow but if he is as stuffed I'm not sure I feel comfortable about that. He's taken Dayquil and is going to take Niquil tonight. I find that makes me very spacy and light-headed. Makes sense to stay here but he says there is more to do in Alamogordo--he is right and there is a Johnny Carino restaurant--but if he is sick he isn't going to want to go there for dinner or much of anything else. We shall see what we shall see. From the Pond sickroom, The Valley Vagabonds, KandB bid you good night.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Just Moseying Along

Here we are in Amarillo, staying for a second night. I'm not sure if it is our ages or the fact that we've taken this trip so many years now but for some reason we are taking it much easier than usual. I suspect it is a combination of both--we tire more easily but also having been here before we have a better idea of how close or far, which is more like it out here, things are and so we are better able to determine where we'll be by evening and also how long it will take to go somewhere we plan on visiting. Though I always felt the trip to be relaxing, this is even more so. And we are more willing to stop to see something before we actually hit the Southwest. Yesterday was one of those perfect days--blue skies, clear as a bell, mild upper 60 temps, a light breeze and open empty roads. Since there is a good distance between Abilene and Amarillo, I asked Bill if he thought it was a good idea to combine secondary roads until about 50 miles outside Amarillo, at which time I'd switch to Farm Roads. I have to repeat what I said the first time we used FRs --they are better than many so called primary roads in the North East and they beat the hell out of Louisiana roads of all kinds! Since 83 was right outside the motel we began by heading north on it til we shook the dust of Abilene off Doug's tires. After the two beautiful buildings in Anson we left fancy behind for many miles. Hamlin had a cotton gin, Spur, a big arrow and big spur set in a park. We had stopped at a little picnic area right near one of the forks of the Brazos and looking up into the dying tree it was interesting to see that a prickly pear cactus or two and lots of balls of mistletoe were making use of it. I stood right beneath that beautiful perfect cluster but my beau didn't kiss me--but then, I didn't grab him either nor did I point it out to Mr Oblivious--he never sees anything as we drive. Oh, well, I always have pix--lol--should he want to know what he missed! Both Jayson and Spur have beautiful wrought iron welcome signs, however, you have to come into town from the north--there aren't any welcomes coming from the south as we were. North of Spur, just south of Glenn we turned onto FR 193 which runs east-west, sort of--it makes turns of almost 190 degrees, I swear--it is a true snake of a road. It was amazing to see that much of it runs through a huge wind farm. The pinwheels dwarf the power lines, even the high power lines, as well as the ranch buildings scattered across the huge cotton fields. The ranchers are out in force--one huge machine was headed toward us and more than straddled the two lanes. He had to pull over to let us and the guy going the other way pass him and each other. As we continued west, the land was scattered with pieces of wind turbines waiting to be assembled--they looked like erector sets for giants and the nose cones looked like the little huts we use for calves back home. I suspect the next time we return this entire back roads area will be abloom with the graceful pinwheels. I wonder what the financial arrangement is made with the cotton farmer? Shortly, past Cone we turned onto FR 378 which runs north/south. I love the fact that the towns are basically a crossroad and that the reduced speed signs approaching it go from 75mph to 65 mph and at the last minute to 50 mph. There is nothing to be seen for miles and miles and roads as straight as a die for the most part. Bill, of course, had no problem whizzing along at 75--don't need to worry about lost time on back roads for sure. Shortly after passing through Lockney the field of horses was covered with a huge flock of whooping cranes. They must have started north from NM already. They were quite a raucous bunch but the horses seemed totally indifferent. Passing out of Floyd County into Briscoe County there were THREE beer/wine stores with rather large signs. I figure Floyd must be dry--Bill says not necessarily. I can't imagine why else these would be declarative about their wares. At the intersection of 378 and Tx 207 there was a Café that went out of business and moved to Silverton--big huge sign about drinks but little about the food it must have offered. We decided to take 207 to Amarillo and almost instantly the topography of open fields with huge rolls of hay changed into mesas and red rocks and mini-canyons with green vegetation creating a Christmasy effect. What an abrupt change topped by a quick left turn into Lk Mackenzie which I only saw fleetingly over my left shoulder. It looked like a turquoise pool amid the red canyon walls--stunning. That, however, was just a prelude to the even more magnificent expanse of Palo Dura Canyon which was soon laid before us. It is called the Grand Canyon of Texas and while smaller it is every bit as beautiful. Unexpected, it was even more stunning. With that we arrived at Conway and I 40. Crazy navigation system kept wanting us to get off and follow the frontage road for almost 15 miles to our motel. Just crazy. The exit ramp almost runs into the motel entrance ! Since all the restaurants that aren't fast food are on I40 West we ordered in pizza. Although not very late, it had been a long day so no blog. Decided we would go to The American Quarter Horse Museum today and head into New Mexico. But, Bill is feeling a cold coming on and we both were moving slowly this morning. Then my sister called to thank me for her earrings and tell us about the weather. Betsy also called. Seems it snowed and then freezing rain covered everything with about an inch of ice. Betsy said Attila slid down the hill off the porch chasing bird seed she'd sent bounding off the ice cap. He wound up in a heap, but she said he got up and acted as though it were all part of his master plan. LOL I must tell you about Barb's earrings. I'd bought them the Feb 7 and asked that they mail them on Monday the 10th. Barb told me around the 15 that she still didn't have her gift. Contacted Grandmother's Buttons to ask if they'd been delayed or if there was a tracking number. They were so apologetic, the earrings had been misplaced. They said they'd airmail next day delivery and include a small gift for Barb. Well, Barb told me they did just what they said--airmailed UPS and sent her a lovely pair of topaz earrings as a gift. I just cannot believe the number of ways this company is one of my favorites. The attention and service and quality and reasonable prices and wearability. Why can't more businesses be like this? Anyway, getting back to this morning, we didn't get on our way til 1030 so we decided to stay another night. Went down to the museum , which is really doors away. It is a beautiful place with beautiful sculptures but it is also a Hall of Fame and just overwhelming with history, trophies, buckles ect, etc. Too much. There was a nice exhibit on women involved through the years with Qhorses. But one thing came out loud and clear--this is another one of those enterprises of the rich. A daughter of the Tabasco McIlhenny family bought her college grad son a new polo pony, fell in love with it, so started collecting the horses on Avery Island, breeding them etc, etc. Uh,huh. BUT, the horse itself is a wonder--just gorgeous--used for racing, roping, cutting, barrel racing, and cowboy movies. The stop on a dime, turn on a dime and almost come to their knees when turning--a joy to watch. The museum was overwhelming as so many are but it was worth the visit. Tomorrow, we head leisurely into New Mexico with the night spent in Santa Rosa. Not sure which direction from there. Will fill you in, tomorrow night. Until then, time to reorganize my map bag and read some more James Lee Burke. Later, the Valley Vagabonds KandB

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Finally Feeling 100 % Again!

Although the calendar says I'm old, I never feel my age. Once in awhile when I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in the full length mirror as I walk in or out of the house, I wonder who that misshapen woman with the big butt and huge belly who looks about three feet tall can possibly be. Other times, when I put in my contact lenses and can see better than when I wear the glasses I hate, I'm amazed at the unruliness of brows that were once black, smooth and well-shaped, the jowls and someone sunken cheeks of a face that was always toned and had no blemishes, I shake my head and just let it go. The physical changes momentarily sadden me, but then I move blithely away from the mirrors and go about my business with energy and joy. The thing that really stops me in my tracks is the slowness with which my health returns after a bout of illness or injury. That really frustrates me--I've always had excellent health, am still totally drug-free, and have no patience, nor have I ever had any patience with being sick. The fact that it is impossible to have a regular doctor since they come and go isn't a problem for me--have never had a regular doctor. But, oh, it is more than I can handle when a week after a flu or food poisoning event has me still exhausted almost a week after the event. I have not been a joy to live with these past few days. When I was ill, I wasn't a problem. I hate imposing on anyone when ill--or anytime. I usually make the motel room neater and cleaner than when I arrived and this time was no different--I clean it so it is clean for the maid! LOL I'd never make a good rich bitch with servants, I'm afraid. We remained an extra day in Eunice so that I was rested enough to travel and we went only a short distance to Leesville and stopped by 1 in the afternoon. I changed into a nice robe and read in the sunshine after lunch. We got up late and traveled into Texas on Friday but even so I was still horribly tired. Nothing satisfied me--there were two museums in Leesville that looked interesting but I had no interest or energy. I was dissatisfied with the routes available to us in Texas because we have covered so much of this State that there isn't much of anything left to explore. I wanted to go to San Padre Island but Bill didn't want to go to Brownsville and I didn't want to go to Corpus and Port Aransas! Pissy--just pissy. So we headed to either Temple or Wacko Waco. The room there was beautiful but being right near Baylor the room was outrageously expensive and though we used points we weren't willing to stay there two nights. I ate my first real meal at Texas Roadhouse and it was fine but not great. For a beef cattle State it was sadly lacking a good Steakhouse--at least that we could find. Though I didn't complain and actually felt better that evening than I had been. The next morning continued my aggravation with Texas. The day before we were on a major road, though not an interstate, all day. No Farm Roads and no back roads so no new interesting discoveries. We did stop at Sam Houston's grave in Huntsville which I've wanted to visit many times as we've gone through the city. Unfortunately, though the cemetery looked lovely and I think would have been enjoyable to stroll through, there is no parking spot anywhere nearby to leave the car. Calvert was an interesting town that I don't remember traveling through before. But, I have just had the sense of racing at 60-75 miles per hour through the miles as though we have a destination in mind, which we don't, and just covering territory mindlessly. I hate traveling that way. So, now, we had to decide what direction to take. Bill suggested Wichita Falls--been there done that--and the route from Waco up is one we've been on. Don't want to go to Lubbock and Clovis again. So, we decided to head to Abilene. The big problem is that the large cities are far apart in this area and it is there that the motels are located. One can travel Farm Roads here and there are plenty BUT after covering 300-350 miles or less, if exploring, at the end of the day you are in some small burg without a place to stay--or worse, not in any burg at all! It is big country here, with lots of range land, cotton fields and little in the way of settlement for travelers. But the trip to Abilene did provide a smaller road, Tx 6 and at least one nice Farm Road that took us in the right direction--that also is a problem at times, so off we headed. As we passed through Clifton I saw Sulak's Czech bakery and meat market! What a combo! Could not drive by without a look see---omg, much to choose from--all kinds of pickles and syrups and jams and jellies, jerky and sausage, breads, rolls, stuffed sausage and cheese rolls, phyllo pastry and cookies. We were good, though. A bit of jalapeno beef jerky, a cherry pastry, two small oatmeal cookies, some sausage sticks and the girl agreed to sell me just two rolls. I've traveled all this way with Jones liverwurst but didn't want to buy bread to make a sandwich because I knew it would just mold and I'd have to throw it away. The packages of rolls were six packs but the owner said they use them in the diner for sandwiches so they'd sell me two. Had to buy a coffee to go with my cookies. We resumed the road, with me in a better mood, already--LOL With cookie in hand we arrived at a fork in the road where a large historical site was set up--Bosque County. But down the road I could see a beautiful building peeking over the trees. We headed across the Bosque River into Meridian, established in 1854.The magnificent courthouse was built in 1886. It is surrounded by a square in which sit several buildings built in 1911ish--right out of a John Ford movie. Wonder if any famous bandits robbed that tiny bank? The First National, no less! Made the circuit round the square--interesting geometric description. Maybe drove the perimeter of the square is more accurate? Anyway, backtracked to the intersection and continued along Tx 6 to Hico (???, what's with these names?) where we noticed something in fleeting about Billy the Kid--he probably holed up here after robbing the bank in Meridian--who knows? Only interesting thing was the huge stirrup on the outskirts of town. And on into Dublin, where Bill noticed a sign about a Ben Hogan museum. Never saw the museum, which I would have liked to visit, but the Dublin Museum on the Main drag looked closed. Between the reference to Ben Hogan and an old billboard--actually ad painted on the side of a building--which seemed to imply that Dr Pepper originated in Dublin, we moved away with several questions to be researched. But, before leaving, we stopped to view Dublin's War Memorial and its tribute to a pretty patriotic family with at least one hero in its ranks. My evening research did establish that Ben Hogan was born in Stephenville and lived in Dublin until about age 10 when the family moved to Fort Worth where he returned, died and is buried. Dr Pepper originated in a drugstore in Waco--or as it was then known " six-shooter junction"--but the pharmacist who concocted the syrup made a deal with the Dublin Bottling Plant to mass produce it. If you are a Dr Pepper aficionado you may enjoy the following history of the company and its product: http://www.dublinbottlingworks.com/dublin-bottling-history.asp We apparently missed the boat there and I've earmarked the town as a repeat visit site. Next we entered Deleon with lots of hype but other than being a railroad hub and the site of a peach and melon festival in August doesn't seem too interesting. It was here we picked up the short Farm Road that would take us to Rising Star--a town with lovely name but, as is often the case out here, one filled with empty store fronts. The rural road led through an area highly planted with cotton. Having read a bit about the area and its early residents that isn't too surprising, considering many were from the southeast. As a matter of fact, one such resident was a lady with a pretty long name--beginning with Frances and ending in Brown. She was a midwife in Deleon, the mother of 12 and a widow who also managed to run a farm. They called her Aunt Fanny--I think she should have been called SAINT Fanny! We have a tendency to stop for the historical signs Texas posts along its roads with nice signs a mile before telling you it is coming up and on which side of the road. Well, this one pointed down a dirt road and we decided to follow down a bit to see what it had to say. Often, but not always, these signs are at old cemeteries and sometimes we skip them but I really liked the black sign almost hidden in the weeds that grew tall about it. We were not disappointed. With nothing for miles around that we could see, here were very old graves, some with Confederate flags, others with American. A family was visiting a site in the far corner and we did not encroach on their privacy. The amazing thing about this lonely place is that there was once a thriving town here--oil boom town--with an opera house and churches, I'd assume a school and houses and there is nothing here to show that was ever the case. How can every trace of these people be gone, but for the ones they left behind?? Not a foundation or decaying wall--nothing. Unless somewhere down some other dirt road there are the empty shells. But you sure can't tell from here. So haunting. Soon we were at the crossroads in Rising Star and as I gazed across the road at the empty store front windows covered over with posters for the snake handler Jackie Bibby I started to laugh. I've been here before--maybe even twice before--most recently with Barb. At that time we were traveling south, this time it is west! Funny how often that happens to us here in Texas. Soon, we drove by the Zoo, and the airport and around and through residential neighborhoods to our motel--only to find, we've stayed in the same hotel in the past and knew our way around to restaurants. After we got checked in and Bill went off to dinner, I settled in with the account books and brought them up to date, got rid of accumulated weight in my pocket book from receipts and keys etc, etc, read the paper, did the pictures and made my liverwurst sandwich on a nice fresh Czech roll with a cold coke. Then had a bit of cherry tart. By the time, Bill came back I was relaxed but too tired to shower or blog. I'd tried to order flowers for my Aunt for Valentine's Day, unsuccessfully and decided that another day here to do those things more slowly would do me a world of good. Bill agreed. So, we read and then broke out the Valentine's chocolates and turned on the Comedy Hour--oops, I mean the Republican debate. The only one who truly has a brain and who is not so wrapped up in ego is Kasich and he has actually accomplished something in Ohio. I like him--but I guess he doesn't have a shot--that's too bad. Bill went to sleep, I watched the fictionalized next installment on the OJ saga and followed him. So far today, had a leisurely breakfast with the Sunday paper in the breakfast room, successfully sent Aunt Shirley flowers, did some research of various things, spoke to Betsy on the phone, answered emails and am about to do several crossword puzzles with another liverwurst sandwich. At last, my body seems to be fully recovered and I feel rested and energetic. So, I can skip the old mirrors and no more frustration til the next bodily revolt. So from Abilene Texas Happy Valentine's Day from the Valley Vagabonds KandB

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Wonderful New Iberia Day 9

Well, Mardi Gras is in full swing in Acadiana. Beads everywhere you look and the green, gold and purple! Bakery signs urge us to order our King Cakes now. Almost when down to the market in Jeanerette to get the little individual ones but will wait and pop into a bakery somewhere along the road. After breakfast we headed into town--first stop- KonRico rice mill company store. I picked up some pecan oil and yellow rice mix for Barb and Bill picked up some things for Betsy and a shot glass for Jeff. I also picked up two MG scarves to wear in Eunice for the celebration. As usual we spent over an hour chatting with the ladies who work there. Madame LaBiche was not there today, but she was yesterday. This is the second year we've missed her. One of the ladies gave us our tour of the mill over six years ago and we remembered her and she us, for it was on that visit that a cat scared us out of one of our nine lives when, in the midst of the lady's talk, it jumped suddenly out of a paper bag and stunned us all! We shared a laugh about it once more. One of the other ladies visits her daughter in Massachusetts ever Fall and has gone to NYS, Maine, NH and all around Mass but she has not gone to Vt. She plans on going this year. She found the website for Morse's sugar shack in Montpelier--Bill knows the Morses--and receives the monthly newsletter that Burr puts out. She is dying to go there. We told her to come up 7 to Rutland and cut up or up to Burlington and cut over but return on Rt 100. She is interested in antique places and Warren and Waitsfield and that whole valley is perfect and then she winds up on Killington. We had an extra Vt and its attractions map in the car so we gave it to her. She circled Post Mills on the map and took our names. Told her to drop a line and let us know where she explored. Having finished our Vt ambassador duties there we continued to Books on the Teche. I always buy my next installment of David Robicheaux novels from the store in the town where James Lee Burke grew up. We usually visit with the owners of the store but they were not there today-instead a teacher who has worked Saturdays there for 23 years was working and her Dad was sitting off to the side. He comes and spends Sat with her. He is 83 years young and grew up in New Iberia. He and I huddled in a corner talking about the town and its history, people who live or lived there, the buildings and their history. Of course, we also spoke of JLB and Victor's Cafeteria which is where his hero often has his morning coffee. This gentleman goes there every Wed morning from 9-10 where a table is set aside for veterans to visit and drink coffee. He looks forward to it each week and says he has met people he never would have known otherwise--they drink coffee and tell lies, he says. He also spoke of Blue Dog artist, George Rodrigue. I always think of him as being from New Orleans but he is also from New Iberia and went to school with my new friend. One time when several of them were together a fellow said to Rodrigue do you remember those sketches you used to whip off and hand to us. So many got crumbled up and thrown away! My friend has one of the earliest Rodrigue that he bought for $29 !! Imagine. Our conversation just flowed from so many topics and it was wonderful. I have finally found out what happened to Hadrian. There is a building on a side street called The Hadrian and built into its façade is a half moon glass dome 180 degrees round off the building and at least 12 ft high. It is glassed roofed and has segmented curved glass panes. When we first came to New Iberia there was a beautiful statue of the Emperor Hadrian in this display case. I loved that this little town had this unique sculpture and looked at it each time we came. Several years ago, I wss distressed to see that the statue was gone and the case stood empty. No one I asked about it seemed to know what I was talking about or, if they knew the statue, they had no idea what happened to it. Well, the property was purchased by a bank and the stockholders decided they didn't want the statue so they sold it to New Orleans. My friend is so distressed by it. He says they should have donated it to the Museum or to New Iberia but they wanted the money, so off it went. The lovely domed niche looks so sad and empty now. Well, while he and I had been chatting, his daughter and Bill were talking as well. They tired of their interaction sooner than we did but when we looked at the time it was 12:15 and he was going to be home for lunch at noon. So, our gathering broke up and we hoped to meet again another time. He said he is there every Saturday so who knows? I picked up three books--the Robicheaux and the first installment of JLB's newer series set in Texas. I also picked up a book written by a local author--another thing I do each year. This one is laugh out loud funny--written by a woman who grew up in New Iberia and from the story is of the same vintage as I, which makes it even more enjoyable. We returned to our room and read before heading over to Abbeville and Shucks. Bill had a BOWL of etouffe and a dozen raw oysters with sweet tea. I, having learned through experience that my eyes are bigger than my belly, opted for a CUP--which is the size of the bowls I use for cereal!--and a dozen oysters and sweet tea. Totally stuffed we are back in the room, about to watch TV. I also have to do my nails in MG colors for tomorrow. Just a quick note on the jewelry from GB: The blue set has Czech glass buttons as well as antique metal buttons. The necklace is very long. The ring is sterling silver set with an antique silver button. These buttons come from the mid to late 19th C. The other bracelet is made of a 1900 French steel shoe buckle, adorned with an antique button and there is another antique button dangling from the lobster claw clasp. I think the blue set has become my favorite piece from them though I love my entire collection which I've acquired through the years. Well, off to do my nails and see if there is anything worth watching on TV--if not, having finished The Paris Winter this afternoon, I have three new books from which to choose. Signing off for now--looking forward to Eunice and the country Mardi Gras over the next few days. Take care The Valley Vagabonds KandB

A Lackluster Winter in Paris

The Paris WinterThe Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Received this book from BookBrowse, an online book club, to read and then discuss starting on Feb 18. I found the story interesting sometimes but at other times long and drawn out. The first part of the book, especially, was slow moving and I really didn't understand the ending at all.

While the situations of the three girls who form the central characters of the " good " people were fairly well defined, the girls themselves were not well developed. The second part of the book then took off and the plot was moving smoothly and much of the confusion of the first part was cleared up. Yet, eventually, the plot began to drag again and my interest waned. The " evil " plotting characters were even less defined, especially Sophie.

There was much background information missing--such as, how was it possible Tanya fell in love with and became engaged to the handsome American? We never saw very much of him. How did Sophie and Morel meet? Were Maud and Yvette romantically involved? And why did Robertson make the two American characters so brusque and somewhat less refined than the Russian, British and even the street urchin, Yvette?

All in all it was an okay read, but not a book I'd find myself recommending to friends or rereading. For that matter, it will probably not be one I'll even remember in the next few months

View all my reviews

Friday, February 5, 2016

By-Ways and Villages of French Louisiana--Day 8 Cannot Believe We've Been Gone a Week!

27 degrees this morning with frost on the car in Vidalia, Louisiana! Out came the sweaters once more! We debated staying one more night here but decided to move on to New Iberia. I saw that Grandmother's Buttons was giving a 20% discount on online purchases--they posted the coupon code on FB--I like their page. So I emailed and said, Hi, remember me--I stop by every year and here I am in La but not going to order online and pay S and H. They emailed me and said, come on in. We are doing the in store sale next week but will give you the discount before hand. So, needed no more incentive, we left the elegant hotel on the River, crossed back into Mississippi and headed directly to St Francisville, La. Bought some lovely things--will post pix tomorrow. Sent a gift to my sister for a belated birthday gift--watch for it Barb--coming through PO. Also picked up a birthday gift for Betsy which they will send out on Mar 1--it is a tradition. Hope I did well again this year--she isn't easy to buy for but she says I've been batting a 1000. I like the things she picks out, all the time, but she doesn't like pink, or flowers, or hearts so there are things I would buy that wouldn't work. After my splurge we once more crossed the Mississippi on a bridge that I hated when they first put it in. It isn't scary or high but it replaced the little ferry that I loved. Locals who travel across the river to and from work have told me the bridge was a Godsend since the ferry only handled about ten cars at a time and then there was the wait for loading and unloading and if you missed it there was the wait for the return since there was exactly one little ferry going back and forth. I've finally gotten over it and now love this bridge because I think it is just beautiful. There are so many angles that produce such neat images. We continued on the old familiar route through New Roads and past the mounds in Livonia to Krotz Springs and headed toward Opelousas but before reaching it we swung out onto the prarie and headed along Bayou Teche to New Iberia. We went through Arnaudville, where we have visited Teche 31 brewery in the past, into Breaux Bridge the home of the swamp tour we take each year on Lake Martin, down through Parks, which if you blink you'll miss it and into St Martinsville, one of my very favorite Cajun towns and the home of the Evangeline Oak. As we went down the main street and, as I was admiring St Martin of Tours Church, Bill noticed an oyster bar. So we made a U-ee and parked in front of the Church and headed in. The barmaid was really sweet--we ate our fill of oysters and I had some Bayou Teche 31 while Bill drank Budweiser! She showed us how to bust open a crawfish and how to eat the head. We boil the crayfish in the stream on our land but they are so much smaller. Maybe I'll try a crawfish boil on this trip. Then it was back on rt 31 down St Peter Street in New Iberia to route 14 and our night's rest in the Quality Inn, where we will remain for two nights. Will eat at Shucks in Abbeville and I need to visit Books on the Teche for my next James Lee Burke--maybe I'll get the first book in his newish series as well as the next in the Robicheaux series. I also like to look over the local La authors to see what they've come up with since last year. So, now, after a productive and fun day, it is time for the evening routine. So until tomorrow--Bon Soir mes Amis et mes Amies. The Valley Vagabonds KandB

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Hanging out in Louisiana Day 7

After enjoying the views from the room window, it was time to turn to TV. The Mysteries of Laura and Code Black and then I found Three Cousins at War about Tsar Nicholas,Kaiser Wilhelm and King George and WWI. Pretty familiar with the story and the change of the British Monarchy's name from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor etc etc but still it was interesting to review the events. Today we continued the exploration of cousin relationships. We'd stopped in Ferriday, La last year on a Sunday and the Delta Museum was closed. Everything is very shuttered in the South on a Sunday. Since Ferriday is only ten miles from Vidalia we decided to return. In the years when laws were enacted requiring all public buildings to have access for the handicapped the Ferriday Post Office wasn't equipped. So the building was sold and then donated by the purchaser to a group of locals who had been attempting to develop a Museum commemorating the town's famous sons, Jimmy Swaggert, Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley. They are also cousins. Today, though the museum was open, it was necessary to knock on the door for admission. Through the years, by the time the PO building was acquired, the museum applied for and received a State Charter making it a State of Louisiana Museum. As such they have become a sort of quasi Delta Music Hall of Fame and they induct people to it. Nevertheless, it has as its focus the three boys. There is a wall dedicated to Howard K. Smith who was born there and moved by the time he was 3 and another dedicated to one of the Jews----her words, I'll get to that in a minute--who was born here and moved to California by the age of 12--a young woman who wound up married to Jack Warner. The docent attributed her abilities as a good hostess in Hollywood to her first 12 years in Ferriday! But, I'm getting ahead of myself. We were admitted after knocking by a thin very Southern woman--I'm sure Junior League or some Southern equivalent. She reminded me in mannerisms and facial expressions of Bill's sister Kate, though she spoke more matter of factly with just a trace of Southern syrup. She started by telling us of the story I already mentioned. She then went on to describe the early history of the town--the main businesses being cotton and lumber but then the railroads came--three of them--so the town was called Ferriday Junction after a wealthy landowner. The railroads were "followed by the Jews." I wasn't sure I heard correctly--it was said without rancor--just a statement of fact, as she said the railroads had come. She went on to say they were the merchants of the town. As the oral history of the town continued, she spoke of the town's decline as first the railroads and then the Jews departed. It was then that the group decided they had to do something to contribute to the town's health and so the idea of a museum about the trio, who were at the time pretty popular and well known, became a dream. As she spoke about the men, she talked of Swaggert's father becoming a preacher and Jimmy's mission which followed. But here, with humor, she said she goes to Church every Sunday but her husband does not. When she'd return home she'd say he's played truant again and he assured her that wasn't the case, he'd gone to TV Church with Jimmy. She then assured us that she was Presbyterian NOT Pentacostal. I think she mentioned that at least three times during our visit. At another point, oh, yes, when Mickey Gilley's birthday was mentioned--March 9--she said on Mardi Gras. But then said we Protestants don't bother with that much. Catholics are the ones who go crazy celebrating and then giving everything up for Lent, which is a big thing to them. BUT, she thought we'd enjoy Mardi Gras in Eunice. I don't know how I kept from laughing at times--she was just so oblivious --we could have been Jewish, Pentacostal, Catholic even Presbyterian--didn't phase her at all. My goodness! Well, it took 2 hours to see a museum that, if left alone, we would have finished within 45 minutes, at most. She gave us a town map to see some of historic buildings: the only remaining Jewish merchant's house--Pasternak House, in which one of her friends now lives. A beautiful place with a pool that is covered now. I felt like I'd just met Hyacinthe. Also the small Church in which the boys played piano and sang--she didn't mention it but Jerry was thrown out of that congregation because of his jazz--rock black tinged music. The reproduction of Haney's--actually it is one of the old cotton warehouses redone to look like Haneys and used for outdoor concerts in the nice weather. Today's 45 degrees warming to the low 60's doesn't work. Included, too, a small but pretty gray stone cottage with a small arch over the entry walk which belongs to Mickey, whose name was Jilly until he got famous and it became Gilley. I think she meant the pronunciation rather than the spelling. Apparently, the Lewis House is somewhere behind a grocery store that we passed. Jerry had it built for his mother and his youngest sister lives there now and has her own family museum. Neither of us were particularly interested in seeing it. So by noon, we were back to our room in front of the River. The sun brightened room with the wide screen view of Mark Twain's Big Muddy was inviting and we both pulled up our chairs to the window, books in hand. Picnic lunch, which we'd have eaten at one of the wrought iron tables on the shore were it warmer, was quietly devoured as we relaxed. Now The Five and the evening's TV begins. Tomorrow St Francisville and Grandmother's Buttons. They are having an online sale and I asked if the discount applies in the store. They sent me a message saying the sale in the store starts next week but if I'm coming tomorrow they will honor it for me in the store. It pays to be a regular. Until tomorrow--enjoy your evenings, folks! The Valley Vagabonds KandB

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hattiesburg to Vidalia, La Day 6

Although I did not write a report for day 5 in actuality we spent it in Hattiesburg. On the one hand you might think it was a leisure day of rest taken from the road and so it was. On the other hand, however, it was a day of apprehension wondering if we would have to endure the unfamiliar experience of a tornado. Hattiesburg was on a tornado warning until 7 pm and the reports called for thunderstorms sometimes severe with heavy winds starting around 1 in the afternoon. We felt fairly secure being in what we considered to be a sturdy building on the ground floor with a large inside bathroom—that is, all inside walls, no windows and a long counter with a deep open area beneath it. Basically, we hung out in the room eating leftover pizza from pizza hut and some of the food I’d packed. Both of us read most of the time and watched some TV. The day was unbelieveably warm and humid but there was no wind, no rain and no indication of storms. The local newscaster on the 6 pm news verbalized what I’m sure all of us were feeling, Where is the weather? Why the warning—nothing is happening. BUT just northeast of us—right where we’d been on Monday –particularly in Jasper etc the tornadoes were hitting and hard. Only 20 miles away. In addition, the area around Tupelo, where we usually stay when we travel the Trace was experiencing very high velocity winds. At 7pm the warning was off but a watch was issued in its place until 3 am. Bill as usual went to sleep at 8 pm and I watched TV until midnight. No wind, no rain, but I went to sleep. I woke at 130 and Bill was awake—seems I’d just missed a really heavy thunderstorm with lots of fireworks. Never heard it. Went back to sleep and woke up at 8. Missed the heavy winds and rain that hit during the night but thank goodness, no tornadoes. Gathered up scattered belongings etc and had some coffee and was on the road by 930. Did not need to leave too early since we were only going as far as Vidalia, La about 150 miles away. Took back roads we’ve traveled before to Gloster and looked for a favorite restaurant, the Gloster Cafe. Closed and moved away to another nearby town. All that was left for dining was the Wagon Wheel Grocery and Cafe. It is nothing fancy and definitely the local place. Workmen came in for their lunch. We opted for the plate of the day—stewed chicken, cabbage and sausage, fried okra, deviled eggs, berry pie, corn bread muffins and a drink from a machine. As you can see we opted for different parts of the meal and though it wasn’t fancy looking at all, it was delicious and filling. The owner said each time you come through there is less and less in town. Indeed, that is the case. Continued through a National Forest to Liberty Road that takes one right into Natchez. Took a spin downtown and toward Natchez under the hill before crossing the bridge into Vidalia. I’ve wanted to stay at this Comfort Inn since it was built on the shores of the Mississippi and this year we decided we would.. The room is so lovely, the view so beautiful we are staying for two nights. It is now sunset and a barge and tug are moving North under the bridge which is backlit by the flame red sky. Time for me to go and sit before the picture window and watch night fall. Good night from Louisiana. The Valley Vagabonds KandB

Monday, February 1, 2016

Pulaski to Hattiesburg --Day 4

Awoke to the first really “ weathery” day, which is to say rainy and gray but warm 58. Our motel last night was pricey—used points—but really nice and I slept like a log. The room wasn’t any more elegant or roomy but somehow just restful. The breakfast room WAS roomy and bright and the fellow manning the kitchen was so jovial and fun. No one could be glum or unhappy after spending time with him! Having studied the Tn,Al and Ms maps last night and thinking about the weather news we decided to head Southwest to Hattiesburg. I wanted to stay more Southeast but Bill felt closer to the Gulf and still going in our designated direction would be fine. Well, it is 5:50 pm and the local Hattiesburg station is just talking about thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow, some of which may be severe. The Weather Channel, on the other hand has us right in the middle of the red area where the probability of tornadoes is 6/10. I’m not happy since if we’d gone where I wanted to go our odds would be 4/10. In either case it isn’t really nice but I’m banking on The Weather Channel being their usual act of spouting hyperbole. If we’d listened to them at Barb’s we would not have headed for Buffalo last Friday and we had no snow in areas they said was going to be blizzard conditions. I like the fact they always say IF—yeah! At any rate, we are going to stay here again tomorrow night—who wants to drive in heavy rain with winds if not necessary? As for today, the sun came out pretty quickly as we moved southward into Alabama. We went through the Huntsville area where I’ve wanted to go to the Space Center for three years now and crossed the Tennessee River in the vicinity of the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. It is here I wanted to go last year to stay in a cabin for a three day weekend and spend the mornings observing Bald Eagles and taking courses on raptors. I didn’t bother with the information for this year since I didn’t know we would be here and also we needed to make a reservation. Considering the weather pattern and the need to get to Eunice by next Sunday, this year would not be the right time. Coming home is too late for the weekends. It is still in the folder for another year. Wanting to avoid driving through the middle of Birmingham we left I 65 on which we’ve been traveling for a day and a half and cut across on 69 to Jasper, where Bill made his first nickel run of the trip. From there we continued toward Tuscalousa where there was a cutoff or circle route to I59/20. We paid our $1.50 toll for the bridge-----what bridge? I didn’t see any water on the map! Well, there are several meanings for the word bridge—and it doesn’t always involve a span—when a space is covered between two points and that’s what this was—the road that bridged the area between 69 and the Interstate. HMMMMMM But, now we headed into Mississippi and magnolias in bloom! The air was redolent with their scent. I’ve always wanted to use that word! As we continued to our night’s rest, it was impossible to believe that this beautiful blue sky with its congested clouds and air that was 78 degrees would give way to severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes by nightfall. By 3:30 we pulled into Hburg, as the signs are now saying it is being called—ah, the age of abbreviations—how it saves on spelling lessons. Unfortunately, the only restaurants in the area are fast food so we ordered a Pizza Hut pizza for room delivery and called it a day. As we checked in the desk clerk was on speaker phone with some woman who apparently had a reservation and whose credit card was used fraudulently ( that just happened to me four days before we left on the trip!!!). Her account ( which she used for the reservation ) was closed and she hadn’t received her new card yet. She was asking what to do—she didn’t want to lose the reservation but the card the hotel had was not going to be available. Could she change the reservation to her husband’s name and change the card to his. Yes,says the clerk and THEN she proceed to ask for the new card number and the woman, I’m sure totally unaware she was on speaker, started to give it. I YELPED STOP,STOP you can’t do that—turn off the speaker. The clerk was very put out—and I said—we three can hear her—the number, the security code—everything!!!! She wasn’t at all happy but my God—I said to Bill and the other guy—geez, I’ll take the info and charge my next room to her! What an idiot. When it was out turn to check in, she was a bit cold but I was courteous, though I DID NOT ask for an upgrade and figured we might get the coal room as it was. No acknowledgement of our Elite status, either, which the company requires. But, since I was courteous she warmed up, commented on my rings and I clued her in to Grandmother’s Buttons. As we left for our room, she was on the computer perusing jewelry in St Francisville. Ah, here’s our pizza, so friends I shall pour the last of my bottle of wine that has lasted for three nights—imagine that, Jane and Joyce, LOL—and dig in. If there is power and all has gone well, we shall be in touch tomorrow. Until then, Bon Appetit and Bon Soir The Two Vagabonds KandB