Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Laundry Day - A Learning Experience!!

Hi all - Dianne here.  I'll warn you before reading further that this blog is about life and lessons learned as a fulltimer, which we are just getting the hang of.  No travelogue today!

Before I get into the laundry issue, note in the "blue jeans" photo the new TV installation we had done at Bradd & Hall in Elkhart when we first began this journey.  It looks great, matches the cabinetry perfectly, and looks as though it's always been there.  I'm including a photo of our old TV to give you an idea of the change.  The old TV was fine, too, but was not digital and was extremely heavy.  After receiving the new digital signal over our batwing antenna, it is unbelievably better.  We are really glad we changed them out.  

 Well, we had our first and probably last mega laundry day.   I knew it was going to be a difficult day when I couldn't remember where I'd packed the laundry detergent I'd brought from home.  After spending WAY too much time searching for it, I decided I'd just go to the Sav-A-Lot next door to the laundromat and buy some more.  I had a small bottle of Tide that had been in the motorhome for a year or so, so I had enough to get started.  I knew I already had one roll of quarters in my purse from the day before (in case we needed it for parking), so I added two more rolls to the tote bag and set off with the thought of doing nine loads of laundry in the time it takes to do one or two.

First, I must explain why we had SO MUCH laundry.  We packed all of our old, raggedy dish cloths and old underwear, with the plan to use once and throw away, thereby postponing the need for doing laundry until we at least got our bearings and got away from the cold.   This worked so well that we never did run out of clean clothes!   Then, to compound the issue, the weather was so beautiful once we DID get south, that we kept thinking of other things we'd rather do.    

Once I lugged the bulging bags of laundry into "Dirty Harry's Laundromat" (actual name), I realized that each washer required 16 quarters!   Admittedly, it held as much as two normal loads, so I guess that's not too unreasonable.   Here's where the problems began.   The small bottle of Tide from the motorhome was NOT full as I thought, but only had enough for two loads.   I looked in my purse to walk next door to buy more and realized I had forgotten to change purses and had NO cash, NO credit cards, and only two rolls of quarters total, not the third one that was in my other purse back home.

I did manage to get all but two of my loads washed.  The dryers gave five minutes of drying time for each quarter.  What a rip off!!  When I finally ran out of quarters (after having to use precious quarters to buy single portions of detergent), I was left with the equivalent of seven regular-sized loads of clean laundry, NONE of which was fully dry.  In fact, it was all very, very damp!   

Had it been a sunny, warm, breezy day I could have discreetly hung some things outside.   Problem is, had it been a sunny, warm, breezy day we would have found something better to do than laundry.  It was gray, cool, and drizzly.  No way to hang anything out.

The dryer at the campground was already being used, with others waiting their turn.  That option was out.   Here's where a little ingenuity kicked in (thanks to Roger):

Note the dandy drying rack!   Beth, if you see this, this belonged to your dad.  I rescued it from Amanda's garage.   The fan was my idea.  That would have worked all right, but the secret ingredient was the space heater behind the fan.  This was Roger's idea.   It worked great!   The items on this drying rack dried much faster than the other items we hung ALL OVER the motor home.  As each rack load dried, we rotated other items to the rack to take their place.  In this way, we had all the laundry dried, folded, and put away before we went to bed.   

Roger here....  I have only one thing to add.  Dianne commented many times about how well the gerry-rigged clothes drier was working.   I want it to be known that I have made it perfectly clear that this is NOT something that we (or at least I) intend to experience again.  

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Christmas Walk Around Savannah

Hi all -- Dianne here.   Christmas Day was certainly different from any Christmas Day we've ever experienced.  It was sunny and warm, 80 degrees.  I made egg casserole for breakfast (to give Roger just a hint of Christmases past).  For supper we grilled some fresh Georgia shrimp and I made a "fake" key lime pie.

The day started off 
great when I logged onto the computer and found an e-mail from Robyn.   She explained they have been very busy the first couple of cruises with rehearsals and that their internet connection is slow on the ship.   She had only been on the computer twice since she'd been gone.   She said she has seen the Pyramids in Egypt and the Colosseum in Rome.   Her life at age 32 is certainly different than mine was!  We are thrilled that she has this opportunity to see the world, and get paid for doing it!   (She's on the Norwegian Jade performing improv comedy with Second City, in case there's anyone in the world we missed telling!).  

We also spoke with Amanda by phone while we were walking around Savannah.   I joked with her that she was missing the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace (she HATED girl scouts).   I feel badly leaving my baby girl alone for the first time at Christmas, but she seemed to be coping pretty well and spent the day with her boyfriend, Eric.

Early in the day, we packed up the dogs and drove into the historic district of Savannah.   There was method to our madness:  we figured on Christmas Day there would be both free parking at the meters and very little traffic to contend with.   We were right on both counts.  

The Savannah squares were beautiful - just as I'd pictured them in my mind, only even more!   Roger and I had both just re-read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  For those of you who have read and remember the book, here is a photo of the infamous Mercer House:

The squares and parks were beautifully landscaped, with flowers and fountains, monuments and statues.  We passed by a holly branch along one street that was just COVERED with berries. 

  Many of the homes had lovely holiday decorations.   One of the homes (the one with Roger and Jasper) had the best curb landscaping I've ever seen!   

There were other folks out walking around, many with their dogs.   Walking dogs always seems to "break the ice,"  and we had some nice conversations with people along the way.  Now that we have scoped out the town, we plan to go back without the dogs next week sometime, visit some places that were of course closed on Christmas Day, and eat lunch at one of the places that have been recommended to us.   

I hope our photos give you a taste of how lovely Savannah is!

Sunday evening, after our grilled shrimp supper, we took our Ipod + its speaker docking station (whatever those things are called) outside and sat and listened to the Christmas music playlist I had compiled last summer.   It seemed a little odd to be sitting outside and looking at palm trees in the woods, but somehow it made the music even better.  

Roger here.   It was without a doubt the most peaceful Christmas I can ever remember.  Savannah may well be the most beautiful American city I have ever seen.  However, it was certainly bittersweet.  As we listened to songs from my favorite Christmas album, John Denver and the Muppets, it brought back memories of past Christmases with Robyn, Amanda, Mom & Dad, my brother Dick and his family, and of course our beautiful granddaughter Kaia.  We miss them terribly, but we know that we will always have the wonderful memories of Mom and Dad, and that we will see everyone else in the near future.  

Enough of the sentimental stuff....  During our Savannah walk, while Dianne was talking to Amanda on the phone, we entered Chippewa Square.  I told Dianne to tell Amanda that I was looking at the bench that Forrest Gump sat on during the "box of chocolates" moment.  I was not really sure if I was right until this guy came running into the Square saying, "This is it!  This was my favorite movie!"  He created quite a commotion before he left as he asked the other walkers exactly which bench was THE BENCH.  He was laughing and running around.  Before he left, everyone else in the square was also smiling.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Skidaway Island, GA, outside Savannah

Hi friends - Dianne here. First of all, THANK YOU to Valerie A. for the hints on moving the photos!

We packed up Sunday and left Edisto for our second destination, Skidaway Island State Park outside Savannah, Georgia. Another great campground! We prefer state parks and a more natural setting, even though it is a royal pain to have to break camp and go to the dump station midway through our stay. So far the trade-off has been worth it. Roger re-strung our Christmas lights, and they look even better here than at Edisto.

Monday we drove around to get our bearings, locating a laundromat, grocery, etc. We even drove to downtown Savannah to the visitor's center to get some brochures, etc. to plan our stay. Wow, the historic district is even more beautiful than I imagined it. It definitely wins the prize for Christmas decorations over Charleston. We'll be going back into Savannah to walk the squares in a few days, and I'll take some photos. Our plans will also take us over to Tybee Island, not far from here.

The weather cooled off, but NOTHING like you guys back in Indiana! Wow, glad I'm missing that. It's been in the 50s, but is supposed to warm back up into the mid 70s today and Christmas Day.

Yesterday morning we took the dogs on a nature hike here at Skidaway Island State Park. The holly bushes here are full of berries, and it looked really pretty against the blue sky (see photo).

Spanish moss was dripping off the live oaks, and the dogs were both very alert and busy sniffing along the trail. Both dogs are so happy and animated. They are really happy to have Roger and I 24/7 and LOVING the long walks!

Jasper has already slimmed down a bit and both he and Chaplin have a new spring in their step. It's definitely a healthier way of life for them; at home they'd be house-bound from the cold and just sleeping all day.

One of the interesting features along this trail were some Confederate embankments, mostly built by slaves, that can still be seen. I'll include the way marker, but not sure if you'll be able to read it; it is pretty interesting.

Roger here... Just an fyi, Dianne allowed me to take the picture below only because it was a good hair day. (Margy/Vicki/Karen: if you see this, note the Stray Dog Bar & Grill sweatshirt! -- Dianne)

Our other activity of the day yesterday, since it was a cooler day and warmer days are in the forecast, was to use our Regal Cinema passes (a retirement gift) to see, The Day the Earth Stood Still. (Eric B will be pleased to know this.) This was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. When Dianne and I were dating, I insisted that she memorize the phrase, "Gort, Klatu barada nicto," so she could save the Earth in the event that she be involved in an alien invasion. (I know, pretty nerdy, but she married me anyway.) I liked the movie, especially the updated Gort, and the updated special effects. The message of the movie was the same, so I liked that, as well. Dianne tolerated the movie because she got to see Keanu Reeves, so we both had a good time.

I am doing a little experiment with my blood pressure medication. I have stopped taking it for awhile and am monitoring it several times a day. Before we made this move it was in the 160 upper range (without medication - 120 to 145 with medication). For the past three days it has been between 110 and 135 without medication - a good sign. I will talk with my doctor after a few more days to see what he says.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hiking, Edisto Beach, Southern BBQ

Hi - Dianne here. On Thursday, Roger and I took the dogs for a hike in Edisto Island State Park. It's sure different from Turkey Run! Palm trees, pine trees, and marsh grasses. It's very pretty in its own way. (Still looking forward to Turkey Run next summer). The only wildlife we saw were some gray squirrels, which got the boys' attention, and some marsh birds that I added to my birding life list.

All our hiking on beach and trails worked up an early appetite, so we traveled to check out the BBQ place Roger mentioned the other day. Wow, what a spread! I'll let him elaborate on it below.
We have been really lucky here, weather-wise. The local newscasters keep saying it's about ten degrees above the normal temp of 61. It's actually been in the mid- to upper 70s each day. It was so nice Friday, that after our morning beach exercise-walk, we packed up our beach chairs and walked back over to spend about three relaxing hours watching the waves crash on the beach, reading (Roger), and reading and Sudoku (me). The dogs even enjoyed laying on the grass mats at our feet and made no attempt to leave. We need to enjoy it now, because it's supposed to become more seasonal next week, with a
high in the 50s.

We've heard that sand fleas can be a problem here, but evidently not in December, because we've not been bothered by insects at all, even mosquitos. I can believe they'd be a big problem part of the year. This afternoon Roger plans to watch the Purdue basketball game on CBS, and while he's doing that, I think I'll take a beach chair, my bird book, and binoculars to the beach and try to add some more birds to my list.

Tomorrow we pack up and head for Skidaway Island, outside Savannah, GA for two weeks. We'll have to find a replacement for our beach walks. I was mortified to learn that in the motorhome I only manage to get a couple hundred steps a day, as opposed to about 5,000 just walking around in my three-story house in Pendleton! There will have to be some major compensating for that.

Roger here... The Barbeque place was great. (Gary Z. - worthy of driving through five states for dinner.) We had been reading about it and saw that it had been rated as one of the top ten barbeque places in the country. Because it was in a little room attached to a gas station, miles from nowhere, it was even more fun. It was definitely a mom and pop place. For $9.25 you got a barbeque buffet that not only had delicious pork barbeque, but also 29 other "southern" foods. At the table there were five different barbeque sauce choices. My favorite was the Carolina Red. All the other customers were local. Quite an experience.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC

Hi all - Dianne here again. Yesterday we zipped up the dogs in their crate, and Roger and I drove over to Magnolia Plantation, outside Charleston. Turns out, we could have taken the dogs with us (we were just touring the gardens), but it was too far to go back for them. What an interesting, beautiful place! We were there in probably its worst season for the gardens, but they were lovely anyway. The camellias were just starting to bloom. Parts of the garden date back to the late 1600s! I definitely recommend touring this plantation's grounds if you're anywhere in the area. It's $15 each per adult just to tour the gardens. We spent three hours walking around the grounds, so the admission price was well worth it. We didn't pay extra to tour the house. We didn't care much about seeing it, because the house had been burned to the ground by Sherman's Army during the civil war; this one wasn't the original plantation house.

Last night we attempted another campfire. There is such thick fog off the ocean every morning, that everything gets soaked overnight, so we've been dealing with wet firewood. As you can see from one of the photos, our normal setup is three chairs around the fire pit: One for Roger, one for me, and one for Jasper! He requires a chair, not a cushion, because after all, he's NOT a dog. (Just ask him) Chaplin prefers to lay on his dog bed next to us.

I hesitated to include the full length photo of me at Magnolia Gardens, because part of my goal this winter is to lose 10 pounds, all of which show up in the photo. We've been walking down the beach every morning for exercise. I'm wearing my pedometer, and it's about a mile and a half each way. It takes us about an hour to walk down to the tide river and back. Walking the dogs in the sand gives some good aerobic steps, according to my pedometer. If I do lose some pounds, I'll update it; if not, I won't mention it again!!!!!

Every day on the beach is different. Yesterday on our walk, we passed by a 3-foot shark that had been washed way up on the beach by the tidal waves. It was dead, of course, but was creepy anyway.

Roger has strung some Christmas lights on the bushes at our camp site, and we have our little LED-lit tree in the front window. I'll include a photo, but not sure how well it will show up. We'll set them up again when we drive to Skidaway Island next Monday. After New Year's at Skidaway, we'll pack them away in the deep recesses of the motor home until next Christmas.

Roger here... It has taken a while to adjust to the time frame of retirement. For awhile, I continued to wake up at 5:00 a.m. every morning. I tried (usually unsuccessfully) to get up and have some coffee without waking up Dianne. As the days have passed, I have eventually gotten to the point of not waking until the sun rises. However, this morning the harsh realities of our old life surfaced when the cell phone rang at 5:15 a.m. and then again a few minutes later. When I answered the phone, I was greeted to the familiar sound of my friend Jim White, school transportation director, who had sent an automated Honeywell message to the HSE constituency announcing a two-hour delay for the start of school, due to ice in the neighborhoods. I need to figure out how to disengage from automatically receiving those messages for as much as I miss hearing Jim's voice, 5:15 a.m. is now for me very early in the morning :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Edisto Island, South Carolina

Dianne here.   Wow, we have a beautiful campsite here!   We're in site #26 at Edisto Island State Park.   We are close to the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and a salt marsh on the other, with views of both from the motorhome!   The salt marsh looks totally different at low tide from high tide.  I'll include a photo of each.   Since it is the "off season" here, it is not at all crowded.  In fact, the times we've walked the beach, we've had it all to ourselves.   Dogs are allowed on the beach during the off season, so the "boys" are really enjoying their daily walks.   It is even safe to let Jasper off the leash on the beach (not Chaplin, though, of course!).

The weather changes a lot from day to day.  It's been rainy, windy, cold, warm, etc.  It sounds like the rest of the week for our stay here, we'll have beautiful, warm, '70s weather.  I can handle that!   The waves crash onto the beach here, so we have the constant background noise of the ocean.   It's been warm enough to leave our bedroom window open enough to hear the ocean at night.

The other night, there was a beautiful full moon, the largest and closest moon of the year.  Roger had taken the dogs on their nightly walk on the beach, and came running back to the motorhome to get me so I could see it.  I'm including a couple of photos of the moon and the sunset that night.   I could not get a proper photo of the full moon after dark; the one posted here just gives a hint of how beautiful it was.   

It's a shame I hate oysters, because we could harvest all we want right on the beach if we chose to.  

I'm adding photos, but again, I still haven't figured out how to make them post in order.   Hope you can match them up!   

Also, for those of you adding comments, I have it set up to moderate them before posting, "just in case."   (Anyone can read this blog if they come across it on the internet; I want to keep it family-friendly for Kaia).   That's why they don't show up immediately after you post them.  They e-mail them to us first, and then we publish them to the blog.   Sorry for any confusion about that.  

Roger is going to add his comments today, so keep reading!

Roger here....  After the cold trip down, the weather here has been much better.  I am sitting outside in shorts and a t-shirt at the campsite - listening to the ocean.  We had a campfire last night, and probably will again tonight.  Since we have been here, I have been reading, taking long walks on the beach, and doing a daily chore (at least one a day).  Today I cleaned the dead bugs off the front of the motorhome - very fulfilling.  None of the dead bugs complained or threatened to sue me or file some kind of formal complaint, so life is good.

Yesterday we got rations from the Piggly Wigley just across the street from the state park.  For me it was like going back to the 1950's - narrow aisles, basic food, friendly down to earth people... I loved it.

I was frustrated yesterday with the NFL coverage.  Our TV reception is great, but the only way to keep track of the Colts game was to watch the ticker during the Jets game.  It looked a little too close for comfort.  Am I wrong? .  The coverage problem will be solved when we get our satellite installed when we get to Ft. Lauderdale next month.  CBS did a promo about the Purdue/Davidson game, but I did not catch when it will be on.  If anyone knows, send me an email so that I can be sure to watch it.  Before we leave this area we are planning to visit a plantation outside of Charleston and maybe eating at a dive that is supposed to have the best barbecue in the country - just a mile away.  Otherwise, I am just planning to continue walking on the beach and vegging on the hammock.

To all the HSE people who sent emails...THANKS!  It is great to hear from you.