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Friday, February 28, 2014

VACATION - Lost in Walmart and Getting Computerized!

Gosh.. you take two sisters to Walmart, and sure enough, you are bound to lose one of them!   We looked and looked for her... then Mom took a guard post out in the doorway, making sure her sister don't leave the store!

I went back inside and looked around, scanning each checkout line.. nope... no Auntie Lois yet.  I wondered which department she would be lost in, all caught up in seeing something???  Hmmmm photos? lingerie? cat food? car tires?   We may never know.....

and here she comes, 
smiley and happy to have a shopping day at Walmart! 

We went to 
Michaels Crafts, 
The Card Store, 
Joanns Fabrics, 
and also 

It was my first time ever there....  friends have told us over the years to try their Two Buck Chuck wines (now $2.99 due to the economy) so I bought a case of wine.  Then I got two containers of olive tapenade for making muffaletta sandwiches.  And then.. then... I bought a jar of the highly acclaimed "cookie butter" that was touted to be so divine by Al from http://thebayfieldbunch.com/    

Yes, Al... you are correct.  It is SINFULLY delicious and to die for! 

What is "cookie butter" ???
By 2007, several Belgian companies began marketing a paste variant of speculoos, now available worldwide under various brands and names: asSpecullaCookie Butter (e.g., by Trader Joe's),SpeculoosBiscoff Spread or Speculoospasta (e.g., by Lotus Bakeries).
As a form of "spreadable Speculoos cookies,"[4] the flavor is caramelized and gingerbread-like with a color similar to peanut butter[4] and a consistency ranging from creamy to granular or crunchy.
The spread consists of 60% crushed speculoos cookies along with vegetable oils.[4][5]

So that is all I can tell you about this wonderful stuff!   
Here is more information: Trader Joes Cookie Butter

Now about some vehicles...  I got to do the driving while Mom held my GPS .... errrr "XYZ Thingie" as she calls it.   I was driving my parent's big new Dodge truck.  I have never driven a truck before that doesn't have a gear shift. Instead, it has a dial knob on the dash with P, R, N, and D!   Very hard to get used to, I must admit.

(I took this pic while we were setting at a stop light, not while I was driving) 

While we women were gone, the guys finished up our Tracker paint job and pin striping.  They had replaced all of the metal along the rear wheels, the rocker panels, and bottom edges of the doors on both sides.  Whew!  What a great job!!!!  We are gonna be the flashiest Tracker on the road now!

The weather has been treating us just fine!  We have had a few days of rain, but we didn't care.  We had some sunshine, some thunder, some clouds and a bit of frost.  But anything is better than what the folks are going through back home in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.  Speaking of folks.... every vacation we go on, I send a photo like this to my littlest brother, Umpee, and I tell him: "SUCKS TO BE YOU" !!!  (he deserves it)

The folks have been very gracious in letting us stay in their yard, connected to their power and using their water while we hang out and absorb the sunshine.  In return, our dogs are absorbing their treats and bits of their table scraps!!!!

We have two terrible beggars to re-train once we get home again! 

Yesterday Mom and I took Auntie Lois down to Ocala to pick up her router/modem unit at the CenturyLink store there... wish we had known that was possible for mom when she ordered hers from the phone company. They made her pay $15 shipping and wait 5 days to get it!   We could have picked it up the same day from 25 miles away.  Geeesh!   But we did get to pick up Auntie Lois's that way, and they twisted my arm to stop at that Walmart for another shopping trip! TWO Walmart runs in TWO days???  This time we made Auntie Lois stay right by us, and I herded them two around just ONE loop of the main aisles, and then we checked out and headed back home.

We got home late to two complaining men who had to eat leftover pizza instead of a home-cooked meal. Awwww  So we cooked up a nice supper anyhow, and they ate TWICE!

Today I went over and unpacked the router/modem and got it all arranged and set up for Auntie Lois on her new laptop. In no time at all, she was typing away and making friends on Facebook!  I think she is up to 20 friends already.  Mom has 39 after just two days!   LOL

Well, my job is now done... and I can go home now satisfied that I have computerized both my Mom and Auntie Lois!   They are both now hooked up to CenturyLink high speed DSL and both are set up with email clients, internet access, and now both are on FaceBook!   Look at this smile: 

While we were busy computerizing, sweet Uncle Sam was cooking supper so we could do our lessons and taking notes and looking at pictures.  What a guy!

That is about the extent of our last few days here... working on computers, crafts and the guys finishing up the Tracker.

Oh, and of course the parents are still spoiling our dogs rotten..... 
 I just looked over and saw him giving cheese puffs to our ever-willing pup! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

VACATION - Hanging out with the parents in Florida

I know I haven't written since Friday, but it's not because there isn't any thing to write about.. it's because we have been so busy by the time I get to bed at night, I am pooped!   Tonight we are staying up because Steve's favorite show is on tv (Person of Interest)  and in the Eastern Time Zone, it plays at 10 p.m.

The folks have been keeping us hopping, how they do it, we don't know!  They have been starting out every morning with a good dose of coffee, I think that might be it.  Then Steve and Lowell zoom out into the back garage and work on the Tracker.  They have been cutting out old metal, riveting in new metal, fiberglassing in the areas, and then grinding, sanding and smoothing it down.

They are taking out all the rusted areas around the wheel wells and bottom rocker panels. 

This afternoon they started priming and painting it!  

We ordered up the modem equipment from CenturyLink and it should be here tomorrow, then we can get mom set up on her hi-speed internet connection!   After hers is set up, then we will do Auntie Lois's computer at her house too.  In the meantime, I got mom set up on Facebook!   She is having fun checking in now and getting "friends" ... she is now up to THIRTY SEVEN FRIENDS!  Her "office" is also her craft supply room--- she thinks it looks messy, but I think she is very organized with all her bins and labels and shelves!

In between, they have managed to find a whole bunch of things to keep us busy!  Mom and I have been working on some crafts....

Mom always is working on craft projects, and recently she has been making some tiny pipe cleaner doggies, just for fun.  Here is a little corgi she made for our daughter Heather. She got the book from my sister, Linda, for Christmas and has been totally enjoying herself! It's addicting she said!

This morning Mom, Auntie Lois and I were going to spend the day craft shopping in Gainesville, but instead the guys got involved with selling a truck to someone and turns out the fuel filters needed to be changed... so they used the big truck to run for parts and supplies.  So that was the end of our shopping trip for the day.  It's okay, we will go tomorrow!

So we spent the day doing our fun stuff at Mom's house instead. Mom was working on her creative little stuffed animals she sews by hand from fur, and I was working on my quilted hot pads.

The dogs are adapting well to the Florida weather, and have been enjoying walks and sniffs and exploring the sandy terrain around the folks house.  They want to dig into the mole hills, and ant mounded up hills of tunnels.. but no no nooooo  digging allowed!  I don't want the pup to learn to dig holes, so they are pulled back, told NO! and given something else to take their attention away from those things.

Most evenings, we are found to be out relaxing on the side deck, in the shade, with fun conversation, and good feelings of a day well spent on fun tasks.  The daytime temps are in the mid-70's to low 80's.  Most of the nights have been in the 50's or so.

Tomorrow will be full of shopping, and hopefully finding some bargains between Walmart, Joann's, Michaels, and Target....  Mom has a WHOLE list of things to get and stuff to look at.  Shopping with her and Auntie Lois can take ALL DAY!!!

P.S. update on the motorhome fridge... yes, it's working fine.  Steve cleaned out the propane burner portion and it cooled right down and working fine on the propane mode.

Friday, February 21, 2014

VACATION - A Bit of Rain & Getting Computerized

We are enjoying our RV moochdocking spot in my folks yard... they live in a rural country community, so we aren't bothering anyone by being parked in their yard. We have 20 amp power plugged in, so the fridge is working fine on electric.  Steve will get around to cleaning the propane burner and orifice when and if he ever takes a break from all of his other tasks!

He and my Dad, Lowell, hit the ground running the first morning...  they got out the brushes and water and soap and washed all that Wisconsin Road Salt off our rig!   What a great job and now we are sparkly clean!

Mom made up some breakfast and we enjoyed a sunny morning around the kitchen table....  it was such a nice morning but the weather was going to get hot hot hot later in the day.

The guys were outside talking for a bit.. and then I heard our Tracker start up.  At first I thought they were going to town, but nooooo it didn't back out of the driveway.  Instead it went further into the yard and right up the ramps into the workshop!  it seems that they are going to remove all the bad rusty spots on the Tracker and replace them with all new metal and paint it.  He did it for us 2 years ago in a few spots, but now the rust spread further.

While the guys were busy, mom and I ran to town and got a few more things on our list, and I mailed out some shipments at the post office too.  By the time we got back, the sun was at it's height and the heat soared up into the mid 80's and humid!  ICK!   But we managed and didn't complain, we are soooo remembering not too long ago we were frozen at 20 below!  

Mom turned on the AC in the house and we enjoyed some cooler inside temps and did our visiting, craft-sharing, computerizing and figuring out stuff.   We ended up with a nice cool evening out on the deck and sat till it was dark out.  I cooked up some dinner and we sat around visiting into the night.

The next morning, those guys hit the ground running again... they headed out to the workshop to get going on the Tracker.   Mom and I were busy with more computer stuff, doing this and that, and trying to get something for the guys to eat.  They had rushed out of the house to work on that Tracker, with just a gulp of coffee!  They are very, very into this project thing on the Tracker, I guess.

We came to the conclusion that mom's dial up service is just waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too slow!  Her neighbors down the road have recently hooked up their phone service from Centurylink to include hi-speed internet too.  So we packed up mom's laptop computer and took it over to the neighbor's and tried out logging onto her service to see how fast it was.  It works great!

After calling Centurylink, we set up mom's home phone system to include the hi speed internet too.  It's only $14 more a month than she was paying for the slow dialup.  Lowell said it was well worth it to make her happy!   haha   So the new modem and router will be here by Tuesday and we will have mom up and running-----  also my Auntie Lois who lives down the road is going to get hooked up with her computer too.  Her kids bought her one for Xmas and she has been patiently waiting for me to get down here and hook hers up too.  So once Mom's is going, we will go set up hers too.

On top of it all, today I got Mom set up on Facebook!   Her best friend has been on for years, as well as her cousins from up in Duluth, her kids and grandkids, and we are all waiting for Mom to get on.  So she chose her profile pic, and her home page Cover photo... and she already has NINETEEN FRIENDS!  LOL

By mid afternoon the rains started... and boy oh boy did it pour! 
We knew it was coming, and it sure did! 

But we didn't care... into every vacation a little rain must fall.  This was out the front door while it was letting up a bit.  See that VW bug?  My dad just redid that and painted it up... I asked him how much it was for sale, but he don't want to sell it.    Ahhhh boyz n their toyz.

The dogs are getting comfortable with Mom and have learned which cabinet the doggie treats are kept in... and she is spoiling them ROTTEN!  All of my doggie training is going out the window as she keeps letting them get away with murder!

After a nice meal tonight of tenderloins on the grill, and big baked taters, salads and veggies, we are now sitting and watching some old westerns with the folks on tv.  I think tonight is "The Rounders".  Mom made Banana Pudding Torte (with the Nilla wafers and whip cream too) .  The guys took showers to remove about ten tons of rust and dirt.  The dogs are doing zoomies around the house and I am trying to type this blog.  

Another night of vacation at the folks..... 

Thursday, February 20, 2014


We finally found it... WARMTH!  

We got up in Georgia yesterday (Wednesday) about 7 a.m. at the quiet Walmart lot we slept in at Madison, GA.  We perked some coffee and headed out early.  The roads were nice, for smaller state highway roads and we cruised along enjoying the countryside.   When we got closer to Macon, we stopped and fueled up.  75 gallons at $3.87 a gallon diesel.   We are averaging 8.4 mpg which is pretty good for us.  No winds and towing a Tracker, that is good mileage for our size of rig.

At Macon we hopped on the interstate to head down into Florida.... crossed the state line and managed to grab a quick pic.

Started to see a few palmetto shrubs here and there... and spanish moss hanging down.  The temps were up in the 80's and soon our motorhome was getting TOO hot inside. We actually turned on the dash AC as we drove!

Whew....  the heat felt good, but the cooler air as we were driving felt even better.   The dogs moved up closer to the dash to be near the vents too.  LOL The termometer in the middle of the rig was reading 86, no wonder they moved up close!

As we were driving south on I-75, we saw a large motorhome that had blown a front driver's side tire, entered the median strip of soft grass that dipped down in the middle, and managed to stay upright and end up on the other side, in the northbound lane, with it's Jeep toad still attached!   All in one piece and upright and never flipped or tipped on it's side!!! Oh my !!!  The RVing Gods were smiling down on them for sure, as well as all the travelers in the northbound lane who were able to avoid the motorhome as it came into their lanes of traffic.

That sure shook us up as well.....   we need to replace some of our tire pressure sensors that are not emitting a signal, so we made sure at least our toad in back is sensored up, and the two front tires on the rig.  I think I have to order three more sensors this week to finish all four of the dualie wheels on the motorhome so we have complete coverage again.

We have another little glitch, the RV fridge is only working on electric, not propane.  It was fine at the RV park in Tennessee, but started to warm up while we were boondocking in Georgia.  Steve went out and cleared up some debris and blew out a bit of rusty gunk.. but the orifice might be clogged preventing the propane burner from working.  We kept it closed as much as possible to keep the cold in.  We knew once we would reach Florida later that day, we would be plugged into power at my parent's house so our food would be okay.  But that is another task to take care of.

We stopped at a wayside for a potty break for the dogs, and they got out into GREEN GRASS!  Oh my they were so happy.... old Duke laid down and rolled over and scritched scratched back and forth with his back on the soft green grass.... it was an "AHHHHH" moment for him.  So we got Finney to roll over too, and he was just perplexed at what that green soft stuff was???    I suppose his baby puppy mind don't remember the grass so much, since we had him in Dec it's been all snow snow snow for most of his puppy life.

We got off the interstate at Gainesville, FL and took back roads over to my folks .. thru Archer and then down to where they live just outside of Williston.  With a big blast of the air horns as we passed my Aunt Lois and Uncle Sam's place, we drove around the corner and up in front of my parent's home.

They were out the door toot sweet, hugs all around and doggies barking and happy oh joy oh joy!  Soon the guys had the motorhome backed in and plugged in.... (the fridge worked on electric just fine)  and we ladies sat on the side deck.  Auntie Lois came down the road, to come for hugs and visits and her Sheboygan Summer Sausage!  (a favorite from our Grandma Kafehl anytime anyone visited)   Also I brought both mom and Lois a clump of coleus to root into plants.... sharing the wealth ya know.

Ya think we are related? 
Auntie Lois                      Me                              Mom

We sat out for hours gabbing.... and then mom had a nice roast beef dinner waiting for us.  How nice was that after a long day of travel?

While the guys discussed motorhomes, cars, trucks, campers and what not, Mom and I went into her office room to see about her laptop.  Six months ago, Mom's beloved WEBTV unit was discontinued support or access by MSN.  She has had that as her source of internet for the last 15 years!   In September, I mailed mom a laptop from Wisconsin all set up to get her on the internet.  All she had to do was plug it into her dialup service and turn it on.  She did pretty well, but soon her email would not load up.  She has been able to access Skype and the Internet, but not her Outlook for email.   

I took a look, and in a bit we figured out her problem, and got her email open again.   While I am here, I am going to set up a larger desktop computer she bought.  For now she has very slow dialup, but we are going to look at her phone company Centurylink about getting her on a bundle deal to get better connections for her.  They have some special offers and we will see what is best for her. 

Also my Auntie Lois got a computer from her kids for Christmas, so I am going to get over there and set it up and she will see about the same deal from Centurylink for her access.  

And THEN I will get both of them on Facebook!   Their cousin Nancy in Duluth is on it, and we know they will enjoy catching up and sending recipes and silly sayings and seeing what all of us kids and grandkids are up to.  

Steve and I were tired and headed to bed last night about 9ish, so the folks could go to sleep.  It was down in the 60s as we went out to our motorhome.  A nice shower and fresh air and taking the wool blanket off the bed!  Yes, it's Florida!!!   Then crawling between crisp cotton sheets, with the window cracked open a bit for fresh air.  AHHHHHHHHHH

Woke up about 4 am to ROOSTERS CROWING!   My folks live in a rural area out of town, and the danged roosters down the road would NOT shut up!   So much for open windows, eh?  

Oh well, I perked the coffee and typed this blog, let the dogs out for a potty break.  (Duke and Finney didn't like that rooster noise either) .... and now I am waiting for Steve and the folks to get up.  Auntie Lois baked banana bread to go with our coffee this morning.  I will bring in my carafe of coffee and join them as soon as I see movement from the house......

344 miles today
1307 miles traveled total

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

VACATION- Tuesday Weavers, Great Smokey Mountains and on to Georgia

(too tired to do a blog last night, so this is about Tuesday posted on Wednesday) 

Brrr our morning started with ice on the steps (look out when letting out the doggers!) and frost on the ground.  Although the day was supposed to get warmer, this was quite the chilly start.

I took the dogs out for a bit of ball playing in the fenced in doggie park at the campground.  They sure loved fetching with their new ball throwing device I bought them last month.  It was our first time to use it, and they thought it was delightful!  A spare ball stows in the handle in case you lose one.

The wand helps you throw the ball, and also the C clamping shape on the end lets you pick it up to throw it again, without having to touch the wet-dog-slimey surface of the ball!  These are some pretty happy doggers, being able to play on grass instead of snow..... and find places to SNIFF!

We had a bit of breakfast and then I ran Steveio's computer over to the clubhouse at Escapees Raccoon Valley RV Park to use their DSL line.   I put chrome on Steve's laptop so it made it easier for him to browse his Craigslist and Ebay stuff.  Last week we had his computer set up with a new system, but it didn't include Chrome, just Internet Explorer.  We are both used to Chrome, so we downloaded it on his very fast on the DSL line. (instead of using up our meager 5GB plan on our tablet.)

Steve was busy getting the rig "road worthy" while I hopped in the Tracker  and headed up the highway one exit to go to the Appalachian Art Center  where Linda meets every Tuesday for her weaving guild (a guild is a club of artists or craftsmen).  I got to meet many of the weavers that I had read about in their weekly blog posts:  Loomy Tunes - Tuesday Weavers  LouAnn wrote the newest blog about my visit!  They have a room full of looms to work on as a group, and also nearby are potters, quilters and various artisans.

I knew a few people in her guild, and met one of the other members in person, Carol, in the past on her journey north a few years ago.... but now I got to meet others and see their guild in action.  It was a pleasure to meet so many of the familiar faces, and wished I could have stayed for the whole session.  Especially I got to meet Marie, who was also a full time RVer for a number of years.  We shared ideas and places and fun stuff.  Wish we could have talked longer too. 

I also had the chance to see my old Newcomb Studio Loom!   It has been taken to the art center via Linda to be used there for the guild to weave on now.   Hello Loom!!!!

Gosh I loved that loom so much, once we bought our house last winter, I went out and bought another one just like it!  LOL  They are pretty common around the Great Lakes area, as they were made in Iowa and very well loved by the Swedish, Norwegians and Finlanders that immigrated to those areas of the country.  I knew when I sold both of mine when we sold the house, that I would be able to find one again just like it (and I did!)

It was fun to see some of the other projects people brought in, and also the pretty brown textured warp that Carl is putting on the big barn loom.  What a great loom that is!  I have a soft spot in my heart for big old rugged barn looms.

I can't wait to see the future blog posts about the rugs Carl is going to weave on this warp.... 

I really liked looking at the projects and seeing what people were doing.  It's such a creative guild, and they sell their items in the store upstairs.  They are located right across the road from the famous Appalachian Museum north of Knoxville, TN on I75.  Stop in and see what they have to offer!

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to Linda--- Steve was fueling up at the truckstop near the RV park, and I was to meet him at 10:30.   Linda and I said our goodbyes and we went up to the parking lot where I gave her a container of chocolate chip cookies that I baked the night before.  She had given me 2 jars of homemade grape juice to enjoy.

For the longest time, we were "best-friends-who-never-met-yet", first finding each other on Rugtalk, a yahoo rug weaving group.  We began corresponding on emails and sending pics and helping each other with weaving projects.  Finally we got together and now have visited each other multiple times both in Tennessee and Wisconsin, and also joined by our 3rd "best-friend-we-never-met-yet" but finally did, Rosie in Bethel, Missouri.   We are quite the trio when we get together, and barely stop to take a breath.  Even when they visit, after a whole week, we haven't even talked ourselves out!  Still finding something that needs to be asked, said, helped with or laughed at. 

Goodbye, buddy Linda
Hope to see you on the return trip! 

I met up with Steveio (just a little behind schedule)  and little Finney had an absolute conniption fit without me in the motorhome when Steve had driven it over to the truck stop!   He paced up and down the motorhome length, frantically, knowing that his world was WRONG---- that I was not in my co-pilot seat.  Oh me Oh my....  Steve said he finally hid himself behind the loveseat and refused to come out.    When I got there half an hour later with the Tracker... it was "OH JOY OH RAPTURE OH WONDERFUL MY MASTER CAME BACK!!!!"   I swear he almost wriggled out of his skin to be so happy to see me.

Fueled up at $3.93 a gallon diesel and headed on our way after hooking up the Tracker.

We drove east of Knoxville and then headed south through Pigeon Forge and into the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.  Whew.... the commercialism of the areas on the north and south ends just before the park was staggering!   I can not imagine it wall to wall people in the peak season!  As it was, just driving through the areas were chock full of tourist traps, souvenir shops and hotels abound.

We did see the upsidedown house as we drove by.... 
no, they didn't get any admission fees out of us two tourists to see that.  LOL 

Oh, we did see the Titanic, well... kinda sorta? 

Now it was time to enter the lovely Great Smokey Mountain National Park... oh my the scenery was so beautiful, and I snapped as many pics as I could (ummm 107 to be exact)   There was some road construction going on, so very little space to stop and take pics anywhere... the pull-outs were mostly full of construction trucks and piles of staged equipment to use to make road repairs.  I suppose this time of year is the only time to get things done, before the throngs of tourists descend on the park in peak season.  Not really our kind of place.   The scenery though is gorgeous!

We cruised through a few small tunnels, around switch backs and loops as we ascended and descended the terrain through the park... mostly going south, sometimes north to get south again!

The happy motorhome man was so alert and concentrating on his driving the big rig down the narrow roads, I don't know how much he got to really see of the scenery.

Yes. there is snow yet in the park.. some of the highest points are above 5,000 ft elevation, and we were up at the top a few times as we drove through the major portion of the park.

We drove on down into N. Carolina and then into Georgia.  The weather was SO NICE!  We had temps in the 70's, sunshine and blue skies.  It was an easy ride down into eastern Georgia, avoiding Atlanta all together.  We holed up overnight at a Walmart in Madison, GA for the evening.

Our RV friends Linda and Howard of http://www.rv-dreams.com/ fondly call the rotisserie chickens from Walmart their quick meal of "Pickin Chicken"  .... so that is what we did---- bought a Pickin Chicken to pick all the meat off and eat an easy supper tonight! Add in some tater salad, a few wedges, and some glasses of wine.  Ahhhhhhhh.

It rained a bit overnight, but we didn't care.  We were cozy inside our motorhome, and resting well.  The overnight temps were in the 60's so we didn't even need a heater on.  Compare that to the frosted steps and ground this morning in Tennessee.   What a difference~ 

The dogs are having a good time, and Duke is sure looking happy now that he is in HIS motorhome.  I have not seen him this "perky" in quite some time.  I think he is very happy to show Finney "the ropes" about our motorhome traveling and all the good things they get to sniff.  

Finnegan is getting better about going up the steps into the motorhome.  At first he didn't like them because they extend and retract as the door opens and closes.  They make a noise that I think scares him.  We are training him with setting treats on each step, he goes up them hesitantly, but on his own!  When we park for more than an overnight or wayside, we lock the steps into a down position, so they don't make the noise when extending or retracting. 

Got fueled up before leaving the area, as Georgia is one of the cheapest places for fuel right now.  We paid 3.87 a gallon for diesel in a smaller town... along the interstate we have seen as high as $4.07.  At 8.4 mpg average, every little bit helps.  heh heh

As I type this, we are now past Macon, GA and taking that last sprint into Florida... We will be by my folks house tonight in Williston (between Ocala and Gainesville, FL)   Poor Mom has been waiting and waiting for us to get there....  my Dad drives like the retired truck driver that he is, and to them going from Michigan to Florida takes 17 hours, not 6 days like we do....