Thursday, November 15, 2007

More Family, Friends, Fabulous scenery and (of course) Football

From Tennessee we headed to Louisiana via the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Nachez Trace was absolutely beautiful! It was one of those roads you could have stayed on forever. It was a long, mostly straight road that was generally flat and had very few cars on it [Flat=Good for us bus drivers -J]. For miles upon miles it was just The Moose and the open road. The scenery was stunning and the leaves had not even begun to change yet so I can only imagine how beautiful it is when all the trees are colorful. From there we went to Baton Rough to go to the LSU/Florida football game. We stayed at a KOA Campground and took the bus they chartered with all the other fans camping there to the stadium. Of course we wore our USC garb which ended up possibly not being the best decision as LSU fans loath USC fans [Jeaousy is always ugly -J]. It was a bit scary as we walked around with people yelling at us and cussing at us. When I was not with Jimmy they left me alone but when he was there they gave it to us in full force. Then….the unthinkable happened…USC lost!!!! Jimmy had Eddie (my brother) on the phone giving him play by play for the last few minutes of the game so we knew they lost before the announcement at the stadium [This is now my least favorite part of the blog -J]. You would not believe the cheer that came out of the LSU fans when they announced the USC score at the game. Needless to say it was not a fun walk back to the bus.

From Baton Rough we headed to New Orleans to meet up with Bob (Jimmy’s Dad) and friend Sharon. We stayed in the hotel in the French quarter that they were staying in which was VERY nice. It was a dog friendly hotel so even though it was an upscale hotel Dixie could walk through the lobby with us and go up in the elevator and sleep in the bed. She liked it all except for the elevator which she hated and the restroom facilities. There was no grass for her so she had to just go on the sidewalk which she was not very happy about. Jimmy and Bob found her a little spot of grass a few blocks away which she liked. We ate at some very nice restaurants and tried some new interesting tastes like turtle soup and Gumbo [I highly reccommend trying Gumbo, its very good -J]. Mmmm mmmm good!!! It seems like all you do in New Orleans is eat. Jimmy could barely eat anything for a day after we left. After lunch we took a horse drawn carriage ride around town and saw all the sights. We saw Brad and Angelina’s house, a very beautiful old church and lots of strip joints. After our carriage ride we went back to the hotel so the boys could have their afternoon nap….Then another meal. The next morning after more food (sweet bread and coffee) we went on a swamp tour which was lots of fun. Our tour guide was a bit wacky but it was still fun. We saw some alligators, birds and lots of cool swampy scenery. At one point they pulled out a baby alligator and we got to hold it. I think it was one of their pets that will be returned to the wild when it is big enough. On our bus ride back to the hotel it began to rain and after only 20 minutes of rain the streets flooded and you could see why flooding is such a big problem in New Orleans as there is nowhere for the water to go.

After the swamp tour we said our good byes and headed out via the lower 9th ward. Now you can not imagine how bad it is there. As we headed down the main street toward the Lower 9th Ward the neighborhoods got worse and worse. We kept thinking “This must be it”…but no it kept getting worse. Again we would think “This must be it” as there were houses spray painted with a big X on the front meaning the house had been condemned. Destroyed buildings and debris lined the streets for miles. But then….we crossed over a rusted bridge and saw the lower 9th ward….I don’t think words or pictures could describe the devastation we saw. It was just heartbreaking and breathtaking at the same time. The water literally swept the houses off their foundation and all that was left in this once busy neighborhood is foundations and steps which lead to nowhere, now mostly covered by overgrown weeds. In this once densely populated town where some 10 thousand families lived are now 5 Fema trailers where families are refusing to leave their properties. As we were taking pictures we came across a trailer(actually 2 together) with a flag and a memorial. As we (ok I) was out taking pics the owner came out. I thought he was going to be mad at us but it was quite the contrary. He invited us in and told us his story. He told us of how they tried to escape during the hurricane to the Super Dome and was told to come back later. They went back home and went to bed. They were awakened in the middle of the night with water rising in their house. They cut through to the roof and rode the house down the street where it ran into a tree and broke into pieces. They were able to jump from their roof onto a truck that had lodged itself into a tree. Before she was able to get to the truch Grandaughter slipped off the roof and drowned. This man's mother also died on that roof (She was in grave condition already). In the picture on the right you can see Jimmy and holding up a T-Shirt with his Granddaughter and his mother. Very, very sad!!! An interesting thing we did not realize was many of the residences of the Lower 9th Ward had lived there 40+ years, and their mortgages were paid for years before Katrina. Now all they have is an empty plot of land that most can't afford to build on. The day we were there AT&T were installing phone lines. Crazy how over 2 years has passed and they are just now putting phone lines back in. Just heart breaking…I know it is not a very well engineered city but the families have been there most if not all of their lives in many cases for generations and now what???…Just so sad.

We left the 9th ward in silence and quite humbled as we headed to Texas for our friend Donna K’s wedding. On our way we stopped at the Alamo which was another one of our whirlwind tours. The parking fee for our bus was astronomical so we decided to do it the Tyner way. We parked on the street as there were tour busses coming and going so we were not completely obvious. Then one of us would stay with the bus while the other ran down the street and ran through the Alamo. There were lots of cool things like Davey Crockets Gun and Boone’s spoon. To tell you the truth the best part was seeing my husband come around the corner when I was in charge of the bus. I was so nervous I would be asked to move the bus I was freaking out. We also could not take any pictures inside the Alamo as it is now a shrine and there are guards everywhere. There are lots of good food/barbeques in texas. In Austin we went to Mann’s Smokehouse Barbeque where we had a killer barbeque which included fried green tomatoes. Mmmm mmmm good!!!

Another cool thing about Texas is that it wins the prize on our trip for the most wildlife. Our first night we stayed in San Antonio at a Wal-Mart which was overrun by grasshoppers. We had to have our windows open so some of the grasshoppers made themselves home in our bus. They made a chirping sound like a baby bird [Not annoying at all!!! -J]. I was wondering why it was so loud then realized it was in the bus. One of them got itself stuck in our windshield wiper and hitched a ride for a couple hours. Our next stop was Houston where we stayed at a KOA. The ground looked like it was moving that night and as we looked closer we noticed it was frogs. EVERYWHERE!!! Luckily not in our bus. Dixie likes to play with frogs. In Dallas we stayed at another campground where there were millions of caterpillars on the ground and in cocoons in the trees. Crazy!

Anyway Dallas is where Donna K and Preston's wedding was [Fight On guys!!]. We were invited to the rehearsal dinner which was very nice and lots of fun. Jimmy went to USC with Donna and had never met her parents. We showed up at the church to watch the rehearsal and everyone was lined up in the back. Her mom came up to introduce herself. Jimmy said “Hi, I'm Jimmy” and she screamed “The Jimmy…oh my gosh I have heard so much about you!!” Yep my husband is famous….. I don’t know what for but he is famous!!!! [Many women can't control themselves in my precense sweetheart, its ok... :-) -J] Anyway the wedding was beautiful and so was Donna. We had a few hours until the reception so guess what we did…….. If you guessed watched an SC game you would be right. The problem was no one had it on so we ran around town to all the sports bars until we found one that had the College Gameplan. I think it was the 4th sports bar we found that finally had it on. So we were a bit late to the reception but we made it for the food and the dancing and the cake cutting. Jimmy had a blast with all of his friends from SC….Oh the good old days!!! [Trojan's for LIFE!!! -J]

Before we set out for Kentucky we went by the spot where JFK was assassinated. We did not get out to see the memorial but we did drive by it. We took pictures of the book depository (Where Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK) and the grassy knoll (Where conspiracy theorists say JFK could have also been shot). The memorial is on the grass right next to where he was assassinated. We drove the route they were driving when he was shot. It was pretty darn crazy.

Next Stop: Louisiville, Kentucky. We went to Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby is held. We went in the museum which was pretty cool but what was really cool was the tour. We saw the stables where the horses stay before the race, we walked on the place where they enter from as they go out to the race track and we stood in the winners circle. It was quite interesting to hear the stories that our guide told. Back in the day when the place was much smaller they did not have room to house all the horses who were racing that day. One race was won by a horse who had to run a few miles that morning just to get to the race. Now of course they have plenty of stables for all the horses, and they are warmed up and checked out in the stable area.

Next stop: South Bend, Indiana and the USC vs. Notre Dame Game. We got to our campsite a day earlier than we were supposed to, so we parked in a church parking lot around the corner. There was a spectacular storm that night. Well spectacular makes it sound like it was in some way fun….it was not. It was quite scary as the thunder and lightning raged on and the rain poured like nothing we had ever seen. Lightning flashed every few seconds and the rain was going sideways and we are in a metal box begging to be hit by lightening! We huddled up on the sofa with out rubber soled shoes on (even Dixie wore a pair of sandals) and prayed we would make it through without being struck by lightening or taken away by a tornado. But… soon as it started it was over. The next day we checked into our campsite and found out it was a tornado. They were surprised we didn’t hear the sirens as the entire campground was evacuated into the office which is their ‘safe place’ in a tornado. WOW that was a close one!!! Sorry no good pics…I was a little freaked out, I got a couple but obviously they didn’t turn out real well.

The next day we pulled into our campground as early as we could so Jimmy could take a train to Chicago to meet up with Greg, Kylie, Michael and Mrs. Fisher. They had lots of fun…I guess…but nothing beats what I did while he was gone. >>>>>LAUNDRY>>>>> Now don’t worry I volunteered to stay back as it was easier to stay back with Dixie rather than bringing her along. It ended up they came back that night instead of the next day so it wasn’t too bad but I did get some things done around the house which was good. The Notre Dame game was lots of fun [38-0 Fun!! -J]. We saw lots of Notre Dame's beautiful campus. Even Jimmy saw things he had never seen. He has been there many times with the team but was always working so never got to see the campus and the game day activities. We saw the team get there and got some good pics as we were front and center. Then we headed to the “Golden Dome" where there were lots of fans waiting for the trumpet section of the band to play inside. They were positioned so as you looked up into the Dome they were there with their trumpets over the edge. Pretty cool!!! We also saw the Grotto which is like a little area where people can light candles and I guess pray for the game. The Grotto is right next to a lake and across the lake is the college that Rudy went to before he transferred to Notre Dame from St. Mary's. Of course we beat Notre Dame….AGAIN!!! [Have I said Fight On!! yet??? -J] and had lots of fun hanging out. I cooked eggs in a hole for breakfast the next morning and then Greg and Kylie were off and so were we.

Next Stop: The Shenandoah National Park. On our way there we watched the movie “We are Marshall”. It is about a football team who were all killed in a plane crash. Only the assistant coach survived because he stayed back to recruit and some team members who were injured who were not on the plane. The movie is about the town picking up the pieces and rebuilding the team. Since we were going through Huntington, West Virginia (the town where Marshall is located) we decided to go and check it out. It was pretty crazy to be there and see the town where it all took place. We went on the field, walked to campus and saw the memorial fountain that is in the movie. We also went to the cemetery where there were 6 team members who were unrecognizable so they buried them together at this cemetery. There is a large memorial with their names, but the 6 tombstones are blank with no names. Can you imagine?? ….so sad.

The Shenandoah National Park was beautiful but not a road for a bus. Before we got there Jimmy stopped the bus to clean the windows so we could get the best view and pictures. Well we had a great view until the fog rolled in and then not so much. We were quite unlucky in our timing as there was a storm passing through and visibility was almost zero. Plus we were informed by the rangers at the gate that there was a bridge about half way to our campground that we would not fit under, so we would have to take another route out and come back in. Since we could not see much anyway we ended up exiting the park and sleeping in someone’s empty lot, and we decided not to go back in the next day. But that does not mean we were getting away from the storm. We (ok my husband) decided to go the Virginia Tech game where the storm was passing through [Makes perfect sense to me -J]. I actually thought it would be a bit exciting to go to a game in the rain as long as we were prepared to stay warm and dry. Warm and dry is not exactly what happened. Luckily we were able to see the campus and the memorial (for those slain in the shooting a few years ago) before we were miserable. Evidently when you have a poncho on you are supposed to keep your arms on the inside. I thought my jacket was H2O proof so I didn’t even think about it until my arms were soaked and I was freezing. We (I am at least) are so San Deagoinized that weather like that is just WRONG!!!! I thought for sure the stadium would be empty with weather like that but not a chance… These fans were CRAZY!!!!! The craziest fans we have ever seen and the weather did not effect them one bit. Most fans stood for the entire game. Some did not have ponchos on, rain jackets or even a long sleeve shirt. These people are crazy. I sat there for most of the game praying it would be over as the rain poured directly into my face. When it would rain harder the fans would just cheer louder. It was (for me) not so much fun.. I think my husband didn’t mind as it was a completely manly sporting event for him [It was awesome! -J]. The big problem when we got back to the bus was that we were staying on the side of the road and we had no electricity so no heater ….we got home freezing and stayed freezing. We had no hot water so I boiled some on the stove to thaw out my feet. Even though we both had our UGGs on, out feet were soaked and frozen. I thought I had frost bite. Needless to say we made it out alive with all of our fingers and toes.

Next we headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway which was ABSOULTLY BEAUTIFUL!!!! Jimmy described the trees as “a box of crayons”. They were so colorful and beautiful it was breathtaking. The Appalachian Mountains are definitely somewhere you want to visit someday in the fall. We stayed at a campground in Boone, North Carolina which was the most beautiful campground to date. As we walked around we found some mobile homes that people had as vacation homes. These homes had the most spectacular view especially when we were there in the fall. Absolutely beautiful!!!!! Some of the houses were for sale but not the one with the best view…we did look into it but didn’t buy anything yet. Ok so we probably won't …since we are broke…but it is nice to dream!!!

We continued on the Blue Ridge Parkway where the scenery continued to impress. Definitely one of the most beautiful places our country has to offer. The road was a bit curvy and Jimmy took one turn too tight. Everything flew everywhere including Dixie. She ended up on the other sofa and in the picture it looks line she is screaming. Sooooo funny!!! In South Carolina we went to see the ‘other USC’ (The University of South Carolina). We have actually stopped along the way and seen many universities and their football/baseball stadiums (of course). I haven’t added everyone because there would not be enough room and I don’t want to bore all those who are not sports fans [Hater -J]. I did think the “other USC” was kinda interesting so it made the blog.

Next Stop: Charleston, South Carolina. We decided to stay at campground near the city. Less than a mile away from the campground our bus started acting funny so we pulled into a driveway to check it out and the bus proceeded to shut down. We didn’t think it was the gas because the gauge read ¼ of a tank, but we hoped that was it and not a bigger, more expensive problem [Amen sister]. We found ourselves in the parking lot of the Bizzie Bee Bar. Luckily it was an ok part of town and the owner was very nice and said we could stay the night if we needed to. We waited a few hours for Good Sam (like AAA) to show up with some gas ….and sure enough we had run out. Evidently our gas gauge does not work quite how it should. We now fill up before it gets to ¼ of a tank or at least that is the plan. We went to Charleston because our friends from church (Worth and Sandra) are from South Carolina and said it is a pretty cool place to see. They were right as it is a very cool town with lots of old houses and lots of history (some good and some not so good history). We couldn't park our Moose anywhere so we just drove around the historical downtown. We found the Citadel and drove around it which was pretty cool. After Charleston we were on our way to Florida.

Next Stop: Dunnellon, Florida. We visited my family friends Ken and Janine, who live in Dunnellon which is south of Gainesville. They have a beautiful house that is decorated in mostly a Florida theme and a really nice property with a huge beautiful tree in the front yard. Janine and I took the dogs on a walk while the guys talked business/sports… whatever guys talk about. She showed us (Dixie and me) the river which was very clear and beautiful and at some point ends up at the Gulf of Mexico. We had an awesome home cooked steak meal and then chatted in the spa. The next day Jimmy and I went to the Florida football game. Now talk about honoring your hosts…..They wanted us to wear Florida Gator gear …and we did. I couldn’t believe Jimmy wore something other than USC…now that is a first. I had a USC sweatshirt around my was just too weird not having something USC. We got great seats and had fun in the sun. It was quite a hot day and the game was a blow out so we left at half time, walked around the campus and then headed back to Ken and Janine’s. We had another great meal that the boys ate in front of the TV (watching football) and us girls ate in front of the computer (looking at pictures). Sunday we went to church with them and then had lunch at a local spot. After lunch they took us sightseeing around Florida. We saw their lot which is on another river that also ends up at the Gulf of Mexico, then we saw the Gulf Of Mexico which was very cool. On the way back I got a great picture with a guy swimming right next to an BEWARE OF ALLIGATOR'S sign. He said he doesn’t worry and has never had any problems but that would be pretty freaky swimming with alligators (I guess lots of snakes too). When we got back to their house we packed up, prayed, said our good byes and we were on our way.

Next stop: Alabama!!! We stopped at some football stadiums which I will not go into too much but one was pretty cool, The University to Troy. For those of you who don’t know, USC is the Trojans [If you don't know that we need to talk -J]. The University of Troy are also called the Trojans, which was cool. Ok moving on.

We stopped in Montgomery, Alabama where we saw lots of history including the First White House of the Confederacy and the church where Martin Luther King preached at. That was the same church where they organized the bus boycott after Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus. It was pretty cool to see where all of that took place. The next morning we had ribs for breakfast. Jimmy had heard of some famous barbeque places that we had to try out. One for breakfast and one for lunch. The first was Dreamland Barbeque Ribs which was a pretty interesting place. It was in the middle of an old neighborhood and was pretty much a local bar that served ribs. ..and that was all they served. There was no menu, when we walked in they said ‘take a seat, ya gonna share a slab?’ ahhhh yep were gonna share a slab. We had water instead of sweet tea, I don’t know if it was that or just the way we looked but it was obvious we were out-of-towners as they asked us where we were from. The ribs were good with a very strong vinegar sauce served with white bread and more sauce. We only ate about ½ of the slab as we knew we would be eating again soon. In between our barbeques we went to the University of Alabama. Ok one more mention about Universities. Alabama had huge mansions as their fraternity and sorority houses, which was cool. Next barbeque was the Little Dooey Barbeque and catfish which was near Mississippi State University. This Barbeque I think won the prize as it was not as strong of a sauce and they served sides. After eating we headed on our way to Graceland.

Although we had been in Tennessee 3 times already we had not been to Graceland. We only really visited Tennessee once; the other times we were just passing through on our way somewhere else. This time was supposed to beanotherpass-through but I was able to find a campground right next to Graceland where Elvis lived. It was pretty cool as you take a shuttle up to the house ad have head phones on to take the tour. You see his house (everything but the upstairs master bedroom) I guess not many people saw it as he entertained down stairs and everyone waited for him to come down when he was good and ready. We saw the room where he played the piano and sang songs the morning of his death. It was pretty cool to see the memorabilia, hear the stories and watch videos of his life. The last stop on the tour was his grave site where people leave flowers, notes and other things to pay their respects. They leave flowers until they wilt and everything else stays until the weather warps it. There were some museums of Elvis stuff that were pretty cool especially all his cars and his air plane, The Lisa Marie.

Next stop is where the wind comes sweeping down the plane….OKLAHOMA!!! I know I’m a geek its ok [Whatever you say sweetheart -J]. Anyway we visited some good friends (Josh and Kelly) which was lots of fun. Dixie had fun with their dogs once they stopped barking and nipping at her. We took them out to dinner and then they took us to Freddy’s Frozen Custard which is like a blizzard dessert. You pick the Custard (ice cream) and what to mix in it. YUM!!! The next day we went to the OKLAHOMA football game. Before the game Jimmy got to play with some farming equiptment. They have a lot of property so they had to get a John Deer sit-down lawn mower which Jimmy was pretty stoked about. Josh had already mowed but dont worry my husband found some grass that needed a little cutting...Well mostly he just drove around like it was a race car. Those things can really get up and move. After that excitement it was game time!!!!Josh was gonna go with him but once we described what a day of football with Jimmy is like he politely declined and I, the faithful wife, went along [WHAT A WOMAN!! -J]. Ya know after so many games I kinda enjoy it. Once I know what to expect then I’m ok. We left the game at half time and had the SC game recording in our bus. When we went back I had to go in and rewind it to the beginning so he could see it from the start. Have you ever seen the movie Fever Pitch? That is my husband. If you haven’t seen it, its about a crazy fan…not just a crazy fan.. A CRAZY FAN!!!! That’s my man. He doesn’t want to hear the score or how they are doing, he wants to see it from the beginning. While we were still at the Oklahoma game I had to watch the score board where they showed other game scores and make sure they weren’t showing the SC score so he didn’t accidentally look up and see it. It is like the scene in Fever Pitch when she has to hold his ears when someone is talking about the game [OK... I think they get the idea...]. Totally something my husband would do. Anyway SC won and everything is A OK. We went to church with them the next morning and then to lunch. After lunch the boys took a nap and then Jimmy and Josh went to help with the youth group at their church. Us girls stayed home and watched movies. The next morning we were on on our way.

Usually when we are driving I find where we will be staying that night (a Wal-Mart or a campground). That day I had a really bad headache and was out of commission, so it was up to Jimmy to find us a spot for the night. He found a nice Flying J (which is a gas station for truckers with showers, restaurant and a market). This one was nice and had more motor homes than trucks so we decided to stay. It was still warm so we had the windows open. We were about to get romantical when there was a loud crunch and glass went flying everywhere. A motor home had pulled in and took out our side window. There was glass everywhere and our broken window out on the ground. The guy was really nice. He worked for the company that makes the motor homes and was towing it to the new owner. He had a perfect driving record for 10 years…until today. BUMMER!! It was a cold night with that window open and no heater. We all (even Dixie when it is cold) snuggled in bed and stayed as warm as possible. The next day we found a lumber yard and bought some ply wood. The guys there were really nice and helped us take the broken fame of and tape the plywood up. We were there for a couple hours and then were on our way. Kinda freaky with the plywood shaking in the wind…hopefully we make it home ok…

Only a week left and we will be home. I can't believe how quick it went. God really has blessed us with a wonderful time as a family. He has kept us and everyone on the road safe and sound. Our next blog entry will be the home stretch. See y’all in a week.

Lots of love,
Jimmy, Roilyn and Dixie

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

We're Back!!

So it has been quite a while since we wrote…I wasn’t kidding when I said it would take a while to get back in the swing of things after Chiefers got sick. Well now I waited so long I don’t know if I can remember all the things we did. Luckily I took lots of pictures as I can look back…see Jimmy there is a good reason for all the pictures [right…-J].

So when we last left you we were on Prince Edward Island in Canada heading towards the good ol’ USA. As much as we loved Canada it was really nice to get back to the States. Customs took our meat at the border crossing and questioned us a bit since we still didn’t (and still don’t) have our license plates or registration. Actually all we have is a copy of the bill of sale (unsigned). We got lucky and they let us back in. [Never a doubt! –J]

It took a while for our cell phones and internet to stop roaming since Maine is so close to Canada, but finally we were home free. Maine was beautiful. Of course we had to eat lobster and clam chowder in Maine so we stopped at a lobster pound. It was kinda sad, all those lobsters and clams swimming around in tanks awaiting the inevitable. Luckily they don’t know what the inevitable is but it was still sad. I didn’t watch when they picked ours out and threw it in the pot. They said they die really fast and we heard no screaming so that is good [wimps!]. We ate out on the back deck and had some beautiful scenery as the clouds moved in for a big storm. We sat there as it started sprinkling and by the time we were done eating it was pouring. We also explored Acadia national Park. At first we tried taking the road in our bus but it as so tight and the trees were so low we had to turn back. Luckily there was a free shuttle that took the whole loop around so we hopped on. Speaking of rain….it poured the entire trip so we only got out at one destination to se the white sand beaches of Maine. Well it was beautiful and….wet!! Of course we had to put our feet in the cold Atlantic ocean and yet we weren’t the craziest people there (surprise I know) - there were actually two ladies swimming there. I guess when you come that far to swim in the ocean you swim no matter what the weather.

Next destination…..Big sis Leslie and Catherine’s in Vermont. We couldn’t wait to see a familiar face as it had been over a month since we had seen anyone we knew. Vermont has definitely been one of my favorite stops so far. Not only was it BEAUTIFUL it was so much fun hanging out with Leslie and Catherine. Jimmy voted Catherine top 5 cool ‘chicks’ (his mom and I are at the top 2 so she is in good ‘chick’ company). What is a ‘chick’ anyway???? Vermont was absolutely beautiful. The lot size was huge and so overgrown you would never know you had neighbors if you didn’t go out of your driveway. Their house is really cool. Each room is themed- their sun room reminded us of cape cod, one room was somewhat Spanish and their kitchen was like a country farm. We felt right at home and they were so good with our aging/ailing dogs. Chief even had a little accident and it was like nothing to them. We swam in their pond where Catherine lost her glasses and ring. Well we didn’t know she had lost her glasses till we were looking for the ring and Jimmy found the glasses. They are going to find some treasures when they dredge that pond. We were the first guests to swim in the pond…so whose next?????? Papa ???? Now he will have to since I called him out…hope he does not go to visit in the winter…Brrrrrrrr!!!!! We also hung out with her sheep which was pretty cool. Well Jimmy and I hung out with them Leslie and Catherine worked cleaning and feeding the sheep. Dixie even went in and said hi. Everything was fine until one of the sheep went to butt her and I screamed then all the animals were a little on edge. I’m just a little paranoid when it comes to Dixie. Chief was happy to stay in the house and rest [That’s my boy! –J] . We went to dinner and got a scenic tour around the area. Catherine is the best in understanding how important pictures are to me. Not only did she stop at many ‘perfect shots’ she actually turned around for me to get a picture of the sunset [She is WAY too kind. –J] . Jimmy does not even stop [That’s right!!]; I have to take the shots on the run [That’s right!]. Thanks Catherine, Jimmy can learn from you!!! [Let it be known Catherine was getting tired of the pics after 3 days…no one can endure this torture for too long! –J] I went with them to Pilates which we wont talk much about as I am not very flexible. There was a pretty cool thunder storm while we were there (the loudest thunder CRACK!!! to date.) Jimmy and I stood there in awe wondering what the sound was while they went on like it was nothing. We Californians are so na├»ve when it comes to storms. Us girls had some much needed catching up ‘chick’ talk on the way to and from the dump [the dump brings out the talking, I know-J]. I didn’t care where we went I was just having fun hanging out and didn’t want it to end. We extended our trip to the dump to a couple hours by checking out some cool shops (shhhhh don’t tell Jimmy). One shop was like an all in all shop from farm equipment to nice clothes. Another shop was serving muffins and coffee out front for free. It was a really nice small town feel.

It was quite exciting getting the Moose in and out of their driveway, definitely our tightest turn to date. We actually had to move their mailbox and trim one of their trees a bit to get out. In all I think it took about 30 minutes to get out of their driveway. We followed them to the freeway and then they drove out of sight. I can’t wait to go back…Maybe we will move in next door…Na don’t worry I don’t think I would be able to talk my husband into the Vermont winters….You guys are safe for now. [Thanks again ladies, you’re the best!! –J]

Next stop: Boston. After tucking the dogs in we took a shuttle to a train which took us into downtown Boston. Then we took a different shuttle touring the Freedom Trail. We then got off to take a boat tour of the harbor. This was pretty cool as we were able to see where the Boston tea party took place as well as some other cool sites. The skyline from the water was spectacular. We would have had a really cool picture of us with the skyline in the background but my grumpy [cough*smart*cough] husband wouldn’t go for it. Stick in the mud at times. We tried Clam Chowder at a couple of places to see which had the best. The Black Rose Irish pub took the honor. We hopped back on the shuttle to check out the USS Constitution which was very cool [BORING!! –J] even though we only got to see the top deck as we did not have time for the full tour. Next we stopped at a famous grave yard where Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, the people killed in the Boston Massacre and my favorite - Mother Goose. [American patriots and the best micro-brewer are buried there and Mother Goose is her favorite…OK Fine… –J] At this grave yard there were some tours going on with people dressed like they would if they lived way back then talking like they were part of society. [Nerds!! –J]. Jimmy thought it was pretty lame but we followed for a while…well until one of them said we could follow as long as we pay [HA!!!]. After that comment all of us who hadn’t paid dispersed quickly. As we walked down the street from the grave yard we came to Park Street Church where in 1829 William Lloyd Garrison gave his first anti-slavery speech which launched the abolitionist movement. The door was open and by George it was Sunday (I never know what day it is) and there was going to be a service soon. We went in and enjoyed a service in the same building where the anti-slavery movement started, pretty cool [Yes, it was very cool –J]. We had to leave early so we would make our train to get back to our camp site. We made it in time to watch the train slowly leaving. Jimmy begged the conductor to let us on as the train was slowly moving but he said “Are you kidding!” and told him to get away from the train. [Jerk!] Since we missed the train and the next one was not coming for another 4 hours we hopped on a subway to check out Harvard. I was starving so we ate at a Harvard Pub and listened to what looked to be professors get drunk and talk about global warming and stuff like that. After we ate we walked around Harvard for a while and then headed back to the subway and got on our train. We finally got home safe and sound around 11pm and the dogs were very happy to see us.

On our way to New York we checked out Plymouth Rock which was short but sweet as my husband parked illegally so I could see the rock.[Luckily I was pretty incognito double parking with a 40 foot bus –J] We also saw the Orange County Choppers shop where they make motorcycles and have the TV show American Chopper. We were hoping one of the guys would come out but they never did. We talked to some people while we were there who were a bit more die hard and stayed all afternoon until someone finally came out. We took a bunch of pictures including one of Senior’s Hummer. Evidently for the guys that is pretty cool. [Finally some cool pictures!! –J]

New York was lots of fun. We took a day tour from our campsite with tour guide and all. First stop was the Empire State Building so we could look out and see all of Manhattan. There was zero visibility. Everyone kept telling us to turn around and come back later but we couldn’t since we were on a tour and the tour was not coming back. So we went to the top and saw lots of fog. Every once in a while the fog would move and you could see the ground but then the fog would move again and it would fade away. I did get a picture of the inside of the elevator for my papa because he always makes fun of me for taking the same pictures when I was there in Jr. High. So I figured he needed a new one with me in it too. [Yes, she is serious…-J] We then headed to the Statue of Liberty where we only spent about 20 minutes on the island. You cannot go up to the crown since 9/11 so we walked around took some pictures [No way!!] and got some ice cream. I almost missed the boat because I wanted to get the ice cream. We were dropped off for lunch by ground zero so after eating some pizza we walked up the hill and saw what is left of ground zero, which is now a make-shift memorial and lots of construction. There was a church with more memorials but we had to head back. We saw a piece of art that had been in between the twin towers and remains intact. It was incredible (and so sad) how perfectly the towers fell on top of each other and not on the surrounding structures. It was crazy being there and remembering pictures and video of that day and standing in that spot where people where running and where people were crushed. Very very very sad and heartbreaking. We then saw Rockefeller Square where the big Christmas tree and ice skating rink is at Christmas time. Now it was a business place with tables for a restaurant. We then went to Times Square which was cool. After some quick pics of time square we went to Juniors for some famous New York Cheese Cake for the ride home. Now I am not a big cheese Cake fan but this was absolutely delicious. Jimmy got a piece of Plain cheese cake with strawberry topping and you can guess what mine was. You got it CHOCOLATE with a little cheese cake. It took me 3 days to finish one piece. It was soooooo good.

From NYC we went to Pennsylvania where I got to line dance at the campsite barn dance. Jimmy conveniently took a shower at that time [hygiene is incredibly important- J]. So I danced with old men, old ladies, little kids and myself. It was lots of fun. Jimmy came at the end and danced one dance and got attacked by a beetle…better him than me…sorry sweetheart. The next day was not so fun. Chief’s walking was progressively getting worse to almost non existent. We then realized he was getting very bloated and we began to really worry. Our neighbors came over and said they had been watching Chief and they were worried about him. The man was a doctor and his wife a nurse. He brought over his stethoscope and listened to Chief’s heart and lungs. He said it looked like air in his stomach and not congestive heart failure. I went to the office and they called the emergency vet and let us use their pick up truck. Jimmy drove and I laid in the bed of the truck with Chief. I knew he was not feeling well because he was not growling at me. He would even put his head on me when we went around corners. He seemed to like the ride as any male would although I was pretty freaked out. We got to the vet and heard the bad news - the bloating was easily fixable, but the cancer in his spine was not. I was so sad I even wanted to hear Chief growl just one more time. The doctor put a morphine patch on chief so we could send the x-rays to our vet for a second opinion. Chief liked the patch and was in much better spirits while the pain meds were at work, he even growled at me again. YEAH!!! We were taking some family pictures since we knew the end was near. You can’t even tell he is sick. I took a bunch of him and Jimmy and a bunch with all of us and I wanted one with Chief and me. Well he wanted nothing to do with me, he not only growled at me but our dog who was almost completely crippled got up to move away from me [That’s my boy!!!]. So I felt better knowing the Morphine was working. From then on we made sure he was up in the bus with us at all times even if we had to carry all 120 pounds of him up the stairs, which is what we did.

We then headed to Washington DC where we stayed with our friends the Oxendines in Virginia. They are the nicest people to not only let us stay there but they also let us put Chief down in their dining room. We were also moping around the whole time so I’m sure they will take some time to recover from the Tyner visit. It was a really hard time for us and they made us so comfortable and were so good to us. We took over their down stairs as Chief could not go up stairs and we needed to help him out at night. We got the call from our vet confirming that Chief had cancer in his spinal cord. It was such a hard decision, something that neither of us has had to make but we knew it was the right decision and as you read in a previous blog entry he went completely peacefully after a meal fit for a king.

We headed out the next day with sad hearts without our big ol’ hairy lug The Chief. We prayed for a diversion unfortunately we had no idea how big a diversion God would give us. As we headed for a Penn State football game someone flagged us down saying we were leaking oil. We pulled over to check thinking it just the air conditioning water, but as we pulled over the bus died. The entire back of the bus was covered in oil like something had exploded. We called Good Sam (like AAA for RV’s) who sent someone out who looked in the oil tank and told us there was gas in the oil tank. Jimmy went back with the mechanic to the shop to decide what to do and get a rental car. Finally a huge tow truck came at took the bus to Detroit Diesel. It would take 5 days and $2,100 to fix the fuel injector and to get our bus back. The 5 days we spent waiting for the bus to be fixed were quite interesting. We were over an hour away from where the game was and I didn’t want to leave Dixie alone too long so I wanted to get as close as we could to the game. Well….the hotel we stayed in was……um…. pretty bad. Welcome to the Port Matilda Hotel and Tavern. Yes there is such a place. Jimmy actually had to go into the bar to check in with the bar tender to get the key. I was hoping he would not choose this place but he did [Nice and cheap! –J]…pictures will do fine telling the story of this “hotel”. When we got inside the room and unpacked it looked like Jimmy was sweating really bad. He said he thought someone had spilt beer on him in the bar because it was sticky. When he took his shirt off we couldn’t believe what we saw. He was covered in blood. AAAAAAHHHHH!!! Enough distractions…What is going on????? When we finally got him cleaned off we found it was a tiny hole in his armpit from a skin tag that ripped off. The problem was it would not stop bleeding! After a while I called my papa who told me to use a hot tea bag. So I went down to the bar [I prefer to call it the concierge desk -J] where they had no tea bags so I went across the street to the gas station where I found some tea bags. I grabbed some dinner in the bar [Concierge!] on my way back to the room, then after almost 30 more minutes of firm pressure on the wound we finally had the bleeding stopped. We then put the twin beds (of different heights) together and went to bed. We got up the next day and went to the Penn State game which was lots of fun. The parking lot is more like a cow pasture but the whole area was just beautiful. We got some heckling for wearing USC garb by a few hundred people. The stadium was cool and the game was lots of fun. I’m sure Jimmy will have more to say about that. After the game we went the Penn State creamery for some yummy ice cream. After that we went back to our good old hotel and tavern to watch the rest of the days football where USC beat Idaho. FIGHT ON! The next day we went to the town where our bus was being fixed and stayed in another fine hotel. It was actually luxury compared to the hotel and tavern but still a one star I’m sure. We hung out there for a few days until the bus was ready and finally we were back on the road.

Next stop: Cleveland Ohio for a quick visit with my grandma’s sister Moni and her husband Marcel. We were only there over night but we made our mark. We had a bit of a parking mishap and their neighbors were not so nice to us. Luckily the police realized it was all a big misunderstanding and we made it out unscathed (even though we still didn’t have our license plates or registration). We are two very lucky people. Moni and Marcel were lots of fun to hang out with. We got a tour of the house which is more like a museum, walked down the road to see Lake Erie and had a wonderful breakfast before we got back on the road.

Next stop: Detroit, Michigan and the koprowicz family. Before we got to their house we went to pick up Kathy (Jimmy’s mom) at the Detroit Metro airport. It sure was perfect timing because we needed some joy as the last few weeks had been really difficult. Even on our way more things continued to go wrong. My favorite was the bathroom door getting locked shut. I had to go to the bathroom so bad I finally had to take the door off its hinges to get it opened. Needless to say Kathy was a breath of fresh air. We stayed in a hotel by the airport since she had already paid for it which was nice. We ate at Bob’s Big Boy which was fun since there are not many left in California and then headed to Aida’s house.

Michigan was fun. It was really nice to get out of the bus for a few days and hang out with the koprowicz’s. The first day there was pretty exciting as there was a tornado warning and we almost had to go into the basement. Luckily it turned out to be a false alarm but it was exciting for a few minutes there. The kids loved The Moose especially the secret door where Chief used to sleep. Jimmy played football in the street with all the neighborhood kids while Aida and I went to get pizza. The next day we went to the Cider Mill where we pet animals, went on a hay ride, watched a magic show went through a corn maze and ate donuts and of course cider. For us kids (myself included) it was lots of fun…I’m 100% sure my husband would have rather been at the Michigan game [No way…-J]. The next day we went to church with Aida and the kids as Chris was still out of town and then to the Ford Museum. This was a pretty cool museum with old cars and planes. My favorite one was the Kennedy car. It was the actual car he was in when he was assassinated. They had to make some changes to it after he died like bullet proof glass and a roof. Very interesting!!! That night we had dinner Famous Dave’s with the family including Chris as he got back into town that night. The next day we packed up and headed to Chicago.

Chicago was fun not only because Chicago was cool but we also had Kathy traveling with us. While we were there Kathy and I fixed the wind shield wiper and got the oven working. The generator was not so lucky. The guy got it running then proceeded to find out the wires inside were fried. So no generator until we get back to California. Oh well we are used to not having it. We stayed in a Wal-Mart parking lot the first night then went to our Campground. While in Chicago we stopped over in Evanston and visited Northwestern University where Jimmy’s Grandpa Wayne went to school to get his PHD in Chemical Engineering. Jimmy’s Grandpa is actually famous for inventing Tang and the toothpaste pump along with some Top Secret work for the military. At the time he was going to Northwester he and Grandma Shirley had just got married. She worked as a secretary in the Newberry library which we went to see. It was very cool to see where they were long ago. We also went to see Wrigley field…Home of the Chicago Cubs which was way cool. It is in the middle of the town with no parking. You are literally driving down the street and then there it is. The buildings around the field (mostly apartment buildings) have seats on the top of their roof and they charge people to watch the game from there. We went up in one but the door at the top was locked and Jimmy tried to get into the stadium but they would not allow it. While in Chicago we also tried 2 different pizza joints - Giordanos and Gino’s East - both very different and both very good. Our favorite was Girodanos as it was stuffed pizza, everything on the inside except the sauce...mmmmm good. We also went up in the Sears Tower. You would not believe how fast the elevator is. Finally our time in Chicago was over and sadly we had to take Kathy back to the airport and say good bye.

Next stop: Burlington, Iowa where we saw some old Bethany Church friends. Marshall Jackman is the pastor at a church in Iowa which we went to see as it is right behind their house. We had dinner with the Tim and Nina King and Cindy Jackman as Marshall was working, then sat on their porch and chatted all evening. Dixie kept everyone entertained with her sever gas [This dog has such bad gas it literally waters your eyes!! –J]. Better there in an open room than on the bus!!! We only saw Marshall for a short time as he was off visiting someone in the hospital by the time we got up the next morning. Burlington was a beautiful and quaint little town. Tim King got to drive the bus a bit as they showed us the way to the freeway while Nina followed in the car. It is funny how guys really like driving this beast...I am nervous every time!!!

Next stop: Good old Nebraska. We picked Michael (AKA Fish) up at the airport and it was FOOTBALL from then on [God Belss America!!! –J]. They hung the USC flag on the front of the bus (which flew off on the freeway before we got there) and set up our speakers and opened the windows so when we got into Lincoln everyone on the streets could hear our USC fight song and know who was going to win. We dropped Michael off at his hotel and headed to our campsite, which was absolutely beautiful. It was on a lake with rolling hills and lots of exciting weather. Jimmy had to take a cab into town as Enterprise rental car would not pick us up. Even though we were only 15 minutes from town we were in the middle of NOWHERE. Jimmy had fun with the guys and borrowed one of their cars to pick me up for the game. It was a good game as we kicked some…well you know. FIGHT ON!!!!! Jimmy took Michael to the airport the next day and we ended up staying in Nebraska a few extra days as we were so tired. We missed going to Mt. Rushmore but we got some much needed rest and got to see some more very cool stormy nights.

Next we went through Minneapolis where we got to see Siggy Hayter. She and I went to get our hair cut one day which was lots of fun. The lady did a good job but then coated our hair with way too much hairspray. Siggy was lots of fun as she likes ice cream as much as I do so after our hair cut we went to Cold Stone and had some much needed…ok probably not needed….more like wanted ice cream. On Sunday on our way out we met her at church and then got lunch and another fly zapper from Camping World. I left my last one at my sister’s house and have been lost without it.

After leaving Minneapolis we headed back to Chicago as we realized Adam & Ryan Hinsen’s mom and her boyfriend and Jimmy's good friend Ramey were living there. We took them all in the Moose to dinner at our favorite pizza place Giordanos. Ramey is doing really well and it was lots of fun hanging out with him again. We left that night as to not hit Chicago traffic (which we hit anyway). We decided to get out of the traffic and head down another freeway to St. Louis. We went through St. Louis pretty quickly as there was really no place to stop the bus. We were going to go up in the arches but our bus would not fit under the bridge on the way to the parking lot. So we had to turn around on a major street and I ended up having to direct traffic in the middle of the road. Again...good thing Jimmy is such a good driver.

Next stop: Tennessee where I finally get to see my family. YEAHHHHHH!!! Our first stop was at a church for a family reunion. We met some of my grandma’s cousins and their families. Jimmy even found some kids to watch a football game in the bus with. All the southern cookin’ was delicious. We then went to Jean (my grandma’s cousin) and Claude’s house where we stayed in the bus on their property. Dad and Eddie arrived late that night. Ohhh we also got 3 packages of mail and such including our registration and license plates. YEAH!!!! The property we stayed on was huge as they share property with some of Claude’s family as well as with some of the neighbors so all of the livestock have room to roam. They have cows/bulls, horses, a donkey, chickens/roosters, ducks (one with a limp and the other with a mohawk) and about 20 cats. The only animal that didn’t run from Dixie was the baby chick….soooo cute. We also tried to save some 3 day old kittens but were unsuccessful. The mama cat was not able to care for the kittens and before we got there one of the 3 had already died. We tried feeding them and keeping them warm in the Moose at night. One died over night and Tenny Aquafina (we named him that because he was born in Tennessee in an Aquafina container) died at church( yes we actually took it to church with us). It was very sad, but we did our best. We buried then in the yard that night.

It was lots of fun seeing where Grandma was from. We went to the church grandma went to when she was a kid. She and her family had to walk 4 miles to church every Sunday which we drove after church to see the distance. We then went back to Claude and Jean’s for a home cooked southern meal - Mmmmm good. We also got a chance to ride an ATV on their property. It was lots of fun as the edge of the property is a forest with a river we were able to ride through. Eddie drove me first then mom, uncle Jerry and even grandma. Eddie feared for his life when he went with Jimmy. We went on a tour of Murfreesboro which was cool. There were things Grandma’s knew that the tour guide didn’t and she told stories along the way. We saw where Grandma got her first prom dress and the house they lived in which her dad built and the post office he worked in. We also saw where the movie theater(Princess Theater) was where grandma saw her first movie wich was Midsummer Night's Dream on a 5th grade field trip( it cost a dime). She told us about the line down the street when Gone with the Wind opened there. We also had dinner where she used to eat where coffee used to be 5 cents. She told us a story when her dad took her for something to drink and asked the waitress for some “H2O”. The waitress told them “we don’t serve alcohol here”. There was a piece of furniture in the entry way that was in the original diner. It was a dream come true for my mom for Grandma to show us our roots. It was very cool!!!

After leaving Claude and Jean’s we went to Nashville and took a tour of the city. We also went through the Country Hall of Fame where we saw lots of cool stuff including Elvis’ car [Dude was a PIMP!! –J]. We stayed at a KOA in Nashville where we had the most guests sleeping in the Moose at one time (My parents-on the sofas, Grandma Clara-fit just right on the table bed, Eddie-slept in Chief’s room and us in our room). It was tight but worked out great. We got up at the crack of dawn to take them to the airport, fed them some breakfast and they were on their way. It was so sad to see them go as we won’t see them for another 2 months. We drove off and headed to Louisiana.

Ok so next stop Louisiana. Hopefully it won’t take us so long to update this time.
Lots of love, [Fight On!!]
Jimmy, Roilyn and Dixie