Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Visited the Cherokee Capital and found a Haven today

I headed out this morning for New Echota which was the Cherokee Capital before all of the Cherokees from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina were forced to move to what is now Oklahoma.  That removal from their homelands, which resulted in close to 4000 deaths, is known as the Trail of Tears.

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After watching the movie in the Visitor’s Center, I took some time in the small museum to learn more.  The Cherokees were the only Native Americans to develop a written form of language.  They also produced a newspaper on these grounds before they were removed.

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There are a number of restored structures on the grounds that you can view on a self guided tour.

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The Vann Tavern is typical of Cherokee buildings that served travelers as a restaurant, store, and inn.  There was a small opening under the stairs that served as a ‘take out service’ for those customers that the Innkeeper did not allow inside.  This building was moved here in 1955 from Springplace, Georgia.

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The Trail of Tears is another of those awful things that occurred in our nation’s history.  This has certainly been a spring of sobering history lessons for me.

On a brighter note, when I’m driving the rig or the car I seldom pay much attention to billboard messages.  One billboard did jump out at me today, though.  It’s where I found a true haven…

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A popcorn haven that is.  Can you believe a store with 250 flavors of popcorn?  I couldn’t, so I just had to stop since popcorn should be one of the five food groups in my opinion.  Open-mouthed smile  So, do you think I succumbed to the luscious aroma that greeted me in the parking lot as I got out of the car?

IMG_8473You betcha!  I did control myself though to only purchase four varieties:  Parmesan and Garlic, Butterscotch, English Toffee, and Bacon and Cheddar.  Popcorn is a healthy snack I’ve been told, and I’m sure the flavorings don’t add any calories at all!

I leave you tonight with the only wildlife photo I captured today:


This pretty white-tailed doe paused briefly as she went along the outskirts of our site.  Now Emma can add deer to the squirrels and chipmunks on her patrol schedule.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Just bumming around

Rain overnight, and a cloudy morning left me reluctant to venture out this morning.  This being a bum for three months can grow on a person.

Eventually, Emma and I headed out to find the Corps of Engineer Visitor’s Center a ways over on another side of Allatoona Lake.  I had a map of the lake, but no address for the VC.  I did, however, take my GPS with me just in case I needed to find my way home.  That was a good decision.

As we wandered some of the back roads, we came upon several COE day use areas and visited each one. 


                                                At one such stop we came upon an historic iron works.

IMG_8425Most of it was destroyed by Sherman during the Civil War as he made his march south.  This is what’s left.  I can’t imagine all the work it was to fit all of those large stones together just right to make the iron works.

As Emma and I decided to take a walk on a nearby nature trail, about 30 seven year old kids came bubbling off of the trail.  They all had to say “Hello doggie!”  Emma nearly wagged her tail right off of her body, but the adults wisely hurried the kids back to the parking lot.  I’m sure in her usual exuberance, Emma would have scratched them. 


We walked down the trail a ways, and enjoyed all the birds sounds we heard.  At least I did.  Emma was so interested in the smells along the way that her nose was foaming!  As we got back to the car, I asked the adults in the kids’ group if they knew how to get to the Visitor’s Center.  It turned out you could walk there about a mile and a half along the trail we had been on.  They said it was quite an uphill walk.  (We are in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains after all)  I asked about driving there and received convoluted directions that required quite a few miles of driving.  I decided to give it a try, and that’s when I ended up lost on a road that said it was the Dixie Highway. 

Eventually, I just pulled over and plugged in Jack-in-the-Box.  After about 45 minutes, we made it home and spent the rest of the afternoon just veg'ing out.  On the way back, I stopped at Red Top Mountain State Park and got some information about some excursions I’ll be making tomorrow and Saturday.  I hope they’re as interesting as the pamphlets describe.  I also found out the location of the nearest Walmart so I can get a bag of dog food tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hello Allatoona Lake, GA

After a very busy and slightly hair raising drive through and around Atlanta, Emma and I reached our destination of the COE McKinney Campground in Acworth, GA.  My goodness there were a lot of truckers on the road this morning!  It was as crowded on the road as any other good sized city, and Jack-in-the-Box did an excellent job of getting me through the melee.


As I drove the 110 miles, I made up my mind to go with site #64 that I had originally reserved.  I value privacy and quietness over the sardine packed ambiance of a lake front site I guess, and it would be hard for any of the first come first served sites to compare with the site I had at Holiday with my own private little beach.


I did, however, begin to wonder about the quietness of this site as I arrived to pull in.  Tenters on my right had the most God awful music (?) deafeningly blaring from a large boom box.  Thankfully, their time was up today, so by the time I was set up, they had packed up and left. 


Getting into this site was a bit of a challenge, but I took a deep breathe and jockeyed the rig in.  I was so proud of myself that I had to hit my EASY button! Disappointed smile  (That was Easy!!)  And I stopped just in time to miss crashing into a big pine tree at the back of the site.  Sometimes, things just go right.

I had to set up my trucker’s antenna and amplifier as the Sprint reception wasn’t the greatest.  Then I decided to give the DISH a try.  There was one little patch of blue sky to the left, and believe it or not I locked onto the signal in near record time.  What good omens for my six day stay here.


I took a little walk around the area, and only found one wildflower blooming.  With 88* and high humidity, it’s more like summer than spring in this part of Georgia.

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Since I’ll only be here six days, I debated about setting up the Hard Rock Bird Café, but I heard some tufted titmice in the woods so I put up one feeder.

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It usually takes about a week for birds to find my feeders, but in two shakes of a lambs tale a titmouse arrived!  He must have spread the word because in a very short time several Carolina chickadees stopped by.  As Emma and I sat outside after all the set up was done, we had more than two dozen birds zipping in and out for a snack.  Amazing. 

I’ll be visiting Acworth tomorrow as I need to get some Iams dog food for Emma.  I may even visit an art museum while I’m there.  That would be a first.  I have to tell you that the other reason I like this site is that whenever I step outside the rig, the wonderful smell of pine greets me.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, May 28, 2012

So-long West Point Lake

It’s been a rather nice 13 night stay I’ve had here at the Holiday COE campground on West Point Lake.  I’ve gotten to see several very historic sites, had a marvelous soak in the warm springs pool, and have basked in my own private little swimming bay each evening before coming inside. 


Most of the celebrating crowd made their exodus from the park today so things have really quieted down once again.  I’ve spent the last two days very slowly packing things up to get ready for my departure tomorrow morning.


Everything, including cleaning the inside of the rig and doing laundry, has been done.  All that’s left for tomorrow is to unhook the water, electric, and pack away the DISH.  Normally, I stow the DISH the night before leaving, but I’m DVRing several movies tonight with a military theme.  Since it’s Memorial Day, there are lots of those good old was movies like “Sergeant York” and “The Longest Day” on today.  I’m stockpiling some movies in case I don’t have satellite reception at my next stop.

The site I’ve reserved at the McKinney COE Campground on Allatoona Lake for the next six nights is located in the woods.  Some of the first come first served sites on the water may be available tomorrow when I arrive, but I just can’t make up my mind if I want to switch to one or not.  I will have that option.  The waterfront site I have in mind is a pull-through, and is located next to the swimming area, and I’d have satellite reception for TV.  Those are the pluses.  On the down side, those sites are rather cramped and the hosts told me the other day that every site down there will be filled for the upcoming weekend.  Decisions, decisions…

It will be a journey of about 110 miles tomorrow, and I’ll end up about 45 miles north of Atlanta, GA.  I must say that I’m rather enjoying the slow progress I’m making with relatively short driving days.  I’m usually on a mission to reach my next volunteer assignment.  Since I’m taking almost three months to travel a little over 1000 miles this time, I’m really having time to ‘smell the roses’.  (haven’t seen any roses yet, but you get my drift)


So tonight was one last pretty sunset on West Point Lake.  Time to be moseying down the road a bit…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A soak, a view, lunch out, and a surprise.

Yes, this morning was my appointment to soak in the mineral warm springs pools that FDR established when he was hoping to cure the effects of polio.  So I left the campground this morning clad in my swimsuit covered by a shirt and shorts.

_MG_8347 _MG_8346All three pools are connected, and you can walk in the water from one to the other without having to get out.

The two lady rangers remembered me from last week and were thrilled to see that I actually showed up for the 90 minute soak.  Hey, I paid $20 in advance for this unique experience, so it would take something really dramatic for me not to show up!  Considering that these pools were established to help people with polio, there is a ramp as well as stairs for entrance to the waters.  I chose the ramp since stairs aren’t really my friend at the moment. 

The first thing I noticed upon getting wet is that there is a reason this town is called Warm Springs and not Hot Springs.  The water bubbling out of the the underground pipe is 88*, and the further you are from the bubbling, the lower the water temperature is.  While I was sure to walk or float to all of the three pools, I spent most of my time near the source.  I really wanted to feel the force of the water and bubbles entering the pools, but an elderly woman staked her claim to that spot, and refused to budge for the whole time.  She must have been here before.  These pools are only filled and open on two weekends every year.  I’m thinking very few people have ever experienced using these historic mineral pools.  I was thrilled to be able to do so, and think back to what it must have been like 70 some years ago when people traveled here with such high hopes for a miraculous cure.  As for my aches and pains, I’ve still got them, but it certainly was a mentally therapeutic morning.

I had a couple of other things on my agenda for today, so I left the pools and headed for the top of Pine Mountain.


Dowdell’s Knob was a favorite spot that FDR enjoyed for picnicking and contemplation.  During his years as President dealing with the Great Depression and World War II must have taken a great deal of contemplation.

_MG_8353He tried to keep his disability private from the public, but felt comfortable enough here to wear his leg braces on the outside of his pants.


The view of the valley below Pine Mountain.  FDR had the BBQ pit on the right built so he could enjoy rather formal picnics on the mountain top.  It has since been filled in with cement to preserve it.

IMG_8359It was here on April 10, 1945, that he came to think about the war in Germany and the Pacific.  As he arrived in his car, he sent the secret service men back down the road on foot, and told them not to return until he honked the horn.  He sat in the car thinking for two hours.  This was just a mere two days before his death at the Little White House.  I can understand why he so loved this location.

Back down the mountain I went to have what turned out to be a less than memorable lunch out.  I found only one thing at the buffet at The Bullock House worth mentioning.  I couldn’t seem to find the advertised fried apples, but did find what I thought was applesauce, so I put a nice scoop on my plate.  As I dished a spoonful into my mouth, it was immediately apparent that it was not applesauce.  I had to ask the waitress what it was… rutabagas!  Ack!  I’ve never had them before, and hope to never have them again. Smile with tongue out

When I drove to Warm Springs last week, I let Jack-in-the-Box figure out the way and he took me down some less often traveled roads.  On the way home last week, I flew by a Union Cemetery that I was determined to stop at today on the way home.  I figured since it was Memorial Day Weekend, I’d pay my respects to those Civil War Yankees that gave their lives so far from home.


Surprise!  This ‘Union Cemetery’ had nothing to do with the Civil War.  I hope if you click on the pic you’ll be able to read this interesting story.


Sometimes Jack leads me to places I would never have known about.  I guess I’ll keep him around for a bit longer.  Tonight’s post has kind of dragged on and on, but I sure enjoyed my day, and it was much better than listening to all the pounding music from my neighbors out enjoying the first long weekend of the season.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, May 25, 2012

History lessons are not always pleasant

If you’re looking for a fun and games time, don’t go to Andersonville, GA. 

Camp Sumpter, as it was officially known, was the location of the Andersonville prisoner of war camp for Union soldiers during the Civil War. 

Since 1998, it has also been the location of the National Prisoner of War Museum which is dedicated to the men and women of this country who suffered captivity.  It is not a happy place to visit, but one that tells the story of sacrifice and courage.

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There were many first person video accounts of what POWs experienced, and the effects on them and their family members.  As I walked through the various rooms of the museum, I found myself with a lump in my throat, and near tears at times.  It was certainly a sobering experience.

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Outside, I was able to participate in a ranger lead program on the Andersonville prison camp.  The stockade originally enclosed a little over 26 acres.  In that relatively small area up to 32,000 Union soldiers had been interred at one time on the bare earth.  They had to devise their own form of housing as none was supplied.  Their only water was from a small stream that ran through the impoundment.  It was hardly drinkable water as the stream was also used for bathing and as the latrine for all of those men.

This ranger gave a group of us a tour.  I must say that while he imparted non-stop information and statistics for 45 minutes straight, he was about as interesting as reading an old history book.  He lost the young folks in the group in about two minutes.  It also didn’t help that the temps were nearing 90, and the gnats fairly coated my arms and legs while trying to gain entry to my eyes and ears. Smile with tongue out

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After having lunch in the picnic area, I did the drive through the Andersonville National Cemetery.  Nearly 13,000 of the prisoners of war at Andersonville died from malnutrition, dysentery, and gangrene infections.  Considering the polluted water supply, even a small cut could result in death.  I don’t know how so many survived.

After Andersonville, I decided to stop by and visit a couple of my friends in Plains, GA.  While Jimmy and Rosalynn aren’t fulltimers or bloggers, they were happy to see me.  They even gave me a little bag of peanuts.   Yah, right!

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But I did visit the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains.  I had to pass up brother Billy’s Gas Station Museum as I knew by the time I drove the two hours+ back to the rig, Emma would have been in the rig for over nine hours.  Time to head home.  I did add several new stamps today to my National Parks Passport though.

I would certainly recommend a trip to Andersonville if you are up to that sort of emotionally historic experience.  As for Plains, GA, as the ranger said, “It’s a work in progress.”  You might as well stop if you are in the area.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, May 24, 2012

♫♪ Some times you feel like a nut; Sometimes you don’t ♪♫

Last night as Emma and I were taking a walk around the campground loop, a women called out to me, “Hey Judy, is that you?”  “You don’t know me from Adam, but I read your blog.”   It turned out to be Claudia and Tom Litton, fellow fulltimers.  We had a nice chat.  They are originally from this area, and suggested I might not want to take my planned route to my next destination.  Well, this morning I wasn’t feeling like a nut, so I changed my itinerary for the day.  I decided Emma and I would once again scope out both routes to the next COE park I’ll be staying at instead of me going to Andersonville today.  I figured any COE campground is going to be busy as a hornet’s nest on Friday, and maybe people would be so busy getting somewhere that fewer folks would visit Andersonville.


I also wanted to see what the site I had reserved on line looked like, and see if there were any first come first served sites that might be available after the holiday weekend.  While the roads I took to get there were well maintained with light traffic, it took an awful long time to get there with lots of road changes involved.  I took interstates back around Atlanta here to the Holiday Campground, and I do believe I’ll go with my original route.  Atlanta wasn’t as bad as I had expected, but of course I learned to drive in Chicago and have driven the rig through many large cities before.  There were lots of Canada geese around this park.

As we got back to Holiday, the gate folks told me I had a package.  I had checked with them on Monday to see if I might be able to get my mail delivered here, and they agreed.  It was a good sized package as I haven’t gotten my mail since the beginning of April.  Kind of gave me a Christmas in May feeling.  Smile


Uncle Sam’s been keeping tract of me and sent me a welcome to Medicare booklet.  I’m sure that will give me some interesting reading over the next week or so.  I’ve already received my card which goes into effect on July 1, and I’ve been working on the supplemental coverage part and drug coverage.  It’s kind of a surprise to me that I’ve just about reached this milestone.  It always seemed so far off.

Now for the feeling like a nut (or dork) part.  One of the blogs I follow is Crystal Creations by Kathy, and in April I inquired about one of her bracelet creations.  I’m not one for much jewelry, but I do like certain rings and bracelets.

IMG_8296In the mail today was the turquoise and copper bracelet that Kathy had offered to make for me.  I really like it, and I think it goes well with my Zuni ring that I got years ago in Arizona. 


And she made it with a latch that a solo person can operate on their own!  How cool is that?  Another blog that I follow is BirdingRVers.  When I got the package today, it had a return address of Grant and Kathy Webb, the authors of BirdingRVers.  Had I ever made the connection with Kathy Webb and Grant and Kathy Webb?  Nope!  Duh!!  My only consolation is to consider how many bloggers or bloggers’ wives are named Donna.   That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

It was really hot while Emma and I were sitting outside this evening, and as I looked at that little bay behind my rig it was sure beckoning to me.  I went inside, put on my swimming suit and walked right in for a swim.  Oh my, it was refreshing!  Emma was whining a little as she watched me, so I came back for her.  Now she is definitely not a water dog, but with me sitting in the water, she actually walked in up to her belly with a little coaxing.  The green heron even flew in to work the shoreline.  A pleasant ending to another day.  As I floated in my own little private bay, “when I am old, I will wear purple” popped into my head.  Sometimes it’s good to feel like a nut…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Callaway Gardens (part 2)

There were two more major stops along the way on our auto tour of the gardens.


Since the major azalea bloom happened earlier in the year, the John A. Sibley Horticultural Center was the best place to see blooming flowers at this time in May.

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                               We had a pleasant walk among all the garden settings. 


                                  The insects were certainly busy gathering pollen from the blooms.


I got a real kick out of what looked like giant Chia pets!  One of the elephants was covered in what looked like a creeping vine that we used to call creeping Charlie when I lived in New York.  It was the bane of my vegetable garden.


                                    There was also a lion that appeared to be having a bad hair day!


The colors along the walking paths were like eye candy.  What a gorgeous place.  I can just imagine how beautiful it was when the over 4000 azaleas were blooming last month.

Gerri told me that this whole area used to be cotton plantations.  “The land at Callaway Gardens has been nourished for more than half a century.  What once was barren eroded agricultural fields has been transformed into the diverse, beautiful combination of gardens, resort, preserve and community lands guests and residents enjoy today.”


Last but not least, we visited Mr. Carson’s Vegetable Garden.  This was a place I wanted to visit. 


It is a 7.5 acre demonstration garden that is the Southern set for PBS’s “The Victory Garden.”  After investigating, I believe that show started in 1975.  I remember many happy times watching it in New York in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Being up north in the cold, I often wondered where the heck that pleasant gentleman was doing his gardening in what for me was a frigid winter.  Now I know.  Smile


My garden wasn’t 7.5 acres, but it was close to a half an acre including the strawberry patch.  I canned and froze a year’s supply of vegetables each late summer and fall, and truly enjoyed watching The Victory Garden for hints and tips.  I must say, though, that it seems like the kids and I picked a lot more rocks and weeds than they ever depicted on the show!


After a great morning and early afternoon at the Gardens, we headed for a local joint in Pine Mountain for lunch.  I can attest that the hamburgers at the Whistling Pig Café are delicious.  Thanks again, Gerri and Mike for a wonderful tour of the Callaway Gardens.  If I had tried to do it on my own, I know I wouldn’t have seen half of what you showed me.

My plans are to be off early tomorrow morning for a long road trip to Andersonville, GA.  Since I don’t know if I’ll ever be in this area again, I don’t want to miss the chance to visit this National Historic Site.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy