Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer Trip 2009 – It's a Wrap!

We are home. Actually we arrived home on August 7. And thanks to those of you who have written and inquired – I have finally finished up the remaining blogs.

It is great to be home, the dogs are very happy, most of the yard work has been caught up, got my Dad a new computer up and running, and have in general just settled back in to the old home life.

This was a kind of different trip for us because we spent way more time with family and friends than we normally do – and it was great. We were away from home for 63 days but of those 63 days we were only in campgrounds for half that time, the rest was spent in the driveways and yards of friends and family – which is way more fun than campgrounds. We drove 5.489 miles in the motorhome and a bunch more in the car. We averaged $2.42 per gallon of gas. Compared with our average of last year of $3.91 – this trip was a total bargain.

I want to thank those of you have been faithful blog readers. However, many of you were slackers this year in the reading the blog category. Last year when we traveled for 3 months you visited the blog site 1,198 times. This year in 2 months – 331 visits. So yes, some of you (and you know who you are) have disappointed me but – I'll take the blame and try to be more entertaining in the future.

Seriously, we hope that each of you had as great a summer as we did.

See you down the road.

Monte's Childhood Home

After Oklahoma we made a beeline for Pennsylvania and a visit with Monte's family.

As always we parked in Monte's Mom's driveway. Monte's mom has lived in the same house for 67 of her 94 years - moved here when Monte was 2 years old - not that I'm trying to tell his age. Just how many 94 year olds do any of us know that live in their own home by themselves? Sara is pretty darn amazing. Several years ago she had a 30 amp RV electric hookup installed to ensure that we would always use her driveway as our campground. We would camp here anyway but the hookup is nice to have.

We spent from Thursday, July 23 until Wednesday August 5 here. Monte's sister Nancy was visiting from South Carolina at the same time so that was an added bonus. We spent time just hanging out and going to the casino with brother Gary and his wife Linda, and with brother Jim to the horse track to watch the ponies run. Uncle Norm brought us some delicious grilled chicken one day and Gary and Linda hosted a cookout for all of us and the food was, as always, outstanding. Thank you!! And Sara – your peanut butter pie is totally scrumptious – thanks for sending one home with us (although it did not make it that far).

It was a relaxing, non-stressful visit and hopefully was enjoyed by the rest of the family as much as we enjoyed it.

Unbelievably, we took NO pictures. I have no idea how that happened but it did.

Tahlequah, Oklahoma - A Visit With The Jolliffs

We had a wonderful week in Oklahoma City, a week in which the United States Women's Softball Team easily won the World Cup by beating Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Italy and top rival Japan.
Before I get off of the subject of Oklahoma City I must mention the weather. When it was not hotter than Hades it was storming. And I do mean STORMING. Horizontal rain, lots of lightening and lets not forget the hail. During one storm lots of tree limbs came down in the campground, thankfully none on top of RVs, and the hail got to golf ball size. We had a leak around the skylight above the shower and while Monte was in trying to stop the leak a quarter sized hail stone broke through the skylight and hit him in the head. No damage was done - at least not to Monte - but he did have to do a voyage repair with duct tape and we will have to order a new skylight.

We headed east from Oklahoma City all the way to Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation and although that is interesting, the primary reason for our visit was to reunite with old friends and shipmates Jimmy and Connie Jolliff. Shelley and Jimmy were stationed together in Panama when he was the Naval Station Security Officer and Shelley was his assistant.

We had not seen the Jolliffs since 1994. I just do not understand where the years go.
Anyway, Jimmy and Connie have not changed and we had a wonderful visit.

Jimmy met us at the campground and off we went. Our first stop was at a local cafe for Indian Taco Salads served on Indian Fry Bread – YUMMY!! One salad was just about enough for a family of 4 and none of us could finish ours but it was great.

Then it was off to The Cherokee Heritage Center. This center includes the Cherokee National Museum and The Ancient Village. The museum although small is very well done. The highlight of the museum is the Trail of Tears Exhibit - unfortunately absolutely no photography is allowed in the museum so we cannot share that exhibit with you. The Ancient Village guides give visitors a glimpse of what life was like in a Cherokee village before European contact. We were given a guided tour of the village and told about history and practices including demonstrations of flint knapping, basketry, pottery and bow making. There was not too much going on in the village while we were there but I ascribe that to the fact that it was during the week rather than a weekend.
Now it was time to go find Connie and locating her was pretty easy – just look for the local liquor store. J&J Liquors to be exact which is owned and operated by the Jolliffs. Well – owned by both and operated solely by Connie. As liquor stores go – this one is top shelf. If Connie spends her days minding the store, you must wonder what Jimmy is doing with his time... Jimmy has turned into a part-time professional poker player and apparently does quite well at it – just don't tell the IRS or he might have to work for the Obama Administration.

The rest of the evening was spent at the Jolliff's home where Jimmy grilled some outstanding steaks and Connie conjured up all the sides and we stuffed our faces (I don't know how after that lunch) and spent time just catching up with each other.

To paraphrase one of our great military leaders “We shall return!”