Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tis Texas Time

Our stay in Robert, LA was at a Yogi Bear Campground.  The past weekend was full of activities for young and old alike.  In the morning they had the raising of the flag which was  
performed by Yogi Bear and friends.  These characters not only performed the flag raising but provided some entertainment with their antics - well done.

This past week has been spent in  the state of Texas. First stop was at Willis, TX which is about an hour north of Houston.  Our plan was to take a drive into Houston and see some of the sights.  That was a great plan until, when talking to others we found that the drive would likely take us over two hours each way because of the holiday traffic so we quickly nixed that plan.  Instead we drove into the town of Willis to pick up some groceries.  When crossing the interstate, the traffic was bumper to bumper for as far as we could see in either direction.  Good choice to stay home and relax.  We had a thunderstorm one night - hard to believe that we got about half inch of rain when the rain consisted of three or four short cloudbursts.  But when those clouds burst, did it ever come down.  A couple of days later when we went to leave, I pulled in the slide, and Gerry found out that yes, water does stay on top of the awnings over the slide for quite some time - he got a bath!!

It's time to move on so we went to Bandera, TX - about an hour from San Antonio (or as some locals say - San Antone).  We took smaller arterial highways in order to avoid freeway traffic and what a great drive.  Unfortunately, it was cloudy with showers, because it was very scenic.  We are now in Hill Country, and it is a very pretty area.  Today we took a drive into the city - good choice as very little traffic and we even found parking downtown for $10.00 for the day as opposed to the typical $20.00+.  We went down to the site of the Alamo which is well preserved and quite a large area.  The live demonstrations were well done and very enjoyable.  It is too bad that we are not history buffs as there is so much history in that area.  And the River Walk was terrific.  A brief description, as per Wikipedia, is  "The San Antonio River Walk is a network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River, one story beneath the streets of San Antonio".  There is great landscaping along the riverfront which is mostly lined with cafes and shops, but what fun to stroll along.  We even took a boat tour along the river where we learned some of the history of the River Walk.

We are currently camped near Medina Lake which is near the town of Bandera which is claimed to be the cowboy capital of the world.  In the next day or so we will tour the town and surrounding area as it looks very interesting.

I went in to buy a cowboy but they
were out.  Hoped to have some more
in on Monday - stay tuned!
Now this week hasn't just been one of fun and relaxation - we did do some chores.  The windows got washed, the carpet got shampooed as did the upholstery.   Then it was time to relax.

Have a great week and we'll back next weekend.  In the meantime, I am going to try to add some more pictures in some different formats.  If it works, you may see a change in this post during the week,  and if it doesn't, it will just be the same old one.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Down to Louisiana

We have just visited the three B's - Broadway Avenue in Nashville, Beale Street in Memphis, and Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  What a variety of music and people.

We left Paris Landing State Park and headed down to Memphis.  Memphis has Beale Street which is "Home of the Blues".  There weren't a lot of crowds and we didn't hear a lot of live music; however, the live music mostly didn't start until 8 or later as opposed to Nashville, where the music seemed to go all afternoon and into the night.  It is also known as the birthplace of Rock and Roll.  This explains the bars owned by Jerry Lee Lewis and B.B. King.

And one can not help but notice the influence of Elvis Presley and his music.  I don't think there is an entertainer anywhere that still has the following as he does.  And the remembrance, archives, museums, and the souvenirs is like no other.  Of course we did all the tours - his mansion and the grounds, car museum, his two airplanes, and anything else that was part of the complex.  As part of the mansion tour, it is self-guided with the use of mini ipads.  Each person is given an ipad and a set of earphones, and it guides you through the various areas, gives you some history of it as well as video clips, music, and photographs.  The only part we could not access is the second floor where the bedrooms are located as family still stays there whenever they are in town.  It was all very well done.

On to New Orleans which took us a couple of days as we travelled down the backroads.  We are about an hour out of New Orleans so when we went down to the city, we made a full day of it.  We started out by taking a drive south of New Orleans  about halfway down the Mississippi Delta where we crossed the Mississippi River on a ferry.  It was a terrific drive and very interesting.  We were surprised at the number of people that lived along there, the number of farms that had cattle, and the fact that there were quite a number of citrus groves.  We bought some locally grown satsuma oranges that were delicious.  There also were a lot of ports and ships that seemed to be loading various cargo.

We had seen many houses that were built above ground but it seemed that anything new is built even higher.  There was a real variety - houses built on the ground,  some built on short posts, some on medium ones, and some on high posts.

The sights and sounds in the French Quarter are unique.  Many of the bars/restaurants had live music which was very loud.  The drinking laws are fairly liberal so many folks are walking around with a drink in hand.  Pedestrians filled the streets and the cars would dodge them as the streets were not closed.  Everyone was very loud, and there were many young females who chose to dress rather scantily.  The day was rather cool so I'm not sure what the attire would bring if it had been a warm evening.  Even young children were performing - mainly using plastic pails as drums and they were very good.

Another great week has come to an end.  I hope everyone had a good week and hope you stop by next week.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Nashville and More

Some of you may find the photos a bit small to see. Just click  (single click) on the picture and it should open up much bigger.

This week was mostly spent in and around Nashville and if you want to have non-stop entertainment, this is the place to go.

Our first plan was to take the shuttle downtown to do some touring and to visit the infamous Broadway Avenue.  Well, it is absolutely amazing - it's right downtown and it's lined with small bars that all have live entertainment.  As you walk by you can listen to the music and when you come by one that is to your liking, just go on in and listen.  There is no pressure to buy a drink, you can just listen.   Since the entertainers are not paid for their performances,  you are encouraged to tip them - either by throwing something into the bucket that is onstage, or when they bring it around.  It is, without a doubt, a terrific place to go.

And of course you can't go to Nashville without going to the Grand Ole Opry.  During the
winter months, the Grand Ole Opry is held at the Ryman Theatre three times a week.  But as luck would have it, they were filming the CMA Christmas special at the Grand Ole Opry and we were able to get tickets.  The show lasted about three hours as they had to do some re-takes for the TV show which will be aired on ABC on November 28th.  Some of the line-up included Amy Grant, Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood, Rascal Flatts, Loretta Lynn, Kelly Clarkson,  and others.  What an amazing venue and show.  They had asked not to post pictures until after the show is on TV so I won't be able to post anything until after that time.

The Opry Hotel is a hotel like none other.  It is huge (about 2400 rooms) and many of these overlook one of three garden conservatories.  One of them has a river run through it with a boat that you can take.  They each have several levels of walkways, through lush tropical plants.  This time of year it is decorated for Christmas which adds an additional touch of wonder.  Throughout the gardens are restaurants, waterfalls, and orchids as well as poinsettias right now.
We then went to a dinner show which was very close to our campground.  The show was terrific with some great singing and story-telling.  Unfortunately, the meal was nothing to write home about, but the show did make up for it.  There was a young, good-looking fellow who was studying music - had a terrific voice and certainly knew how to work the audience.

Finally we went on a tour of the city and various sites around.  We toured past several star's homes but the only ones that you could see are their former homes.  Any of the homes of current stars are in gated communities hidden by trees.  The driver did provide some great entertainment.

One thing learned - you best come with your pockets full of cash.  First you pay for your purchases (sometimes dearly), and then everyone gets a tip - the waiter, the cook, the busboy, entertainer, the dishwasher, and so on.  A bottle of water was a mere 4.25 (and we thought that it was expensive at the airport).  We bought a bottle (725 mil) of rum for the same price as two drinks.  And at the Grand Ole Opry - beer was 9.00/e and wine was 11.00/glass.  Down here that could buy three bottles of wine!!!

We then went to a Recreation Area called The Land between the Lakes.  It is a strip of land between two lakes (created by dammed rivers).  We went on a drive through some very pretty scenery. 

In all of this, there also was the American election.  Some seem to be astonished with the result, and some expected it.  At the end of the day, there is a new American President and I wish him well.

We also got some work done on the motorhome putting on our final personal touch.  You know the ones like:  add a shelf, move the garbage container (only took us two tries to get it right), hang a picture, replace a drawer slide, etc.  I think we are almost done so now it's time to just hang out and enjoy the winter.

Many of you are still having great weather - may it continue.  Until next week, enjoy!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pigeon Forge and Chattanooga, TN

Training at the track
Bathing the horse
Tobacco hanging to dry
Sunday morning we got up bright and early and went to have breakfast at the racetrack, Keeneland, where we were able to watch some race horses training on the track.  We then did some touring of the countryside.  Some crops were harvested - such as the tobacco as it was hanging to dry in the buildings, and some crops were still growing such as the horse radish.  After spending a couple more days touring around Lexington, Kentucky, it is time to move on.  It is very beautiful in this area.  However, the drive south is equally as beautiful.  We took the interstate (something we
seldom do) and again, the scenery was incredible - ups and downs - across rivers and valleys. 

The opening scene of the show
We arrived in Pigeon Forge, TN and plan to spend several days.  We went down to the Island which is a variety of shops, some live music, and water fountains in tune to music.  Everywhere there are rocking chairs so one can relax and enjoy the scenery or sights - entertainment for seniors I'm guessing.  Actually, many places have rocking chairs - they want you to relax all the time.

Since Dollywood is a theme/amusement park we decided to forgo going there.  We did, however, go to the Dixie Stampede which is part of Dolly Parton's entertainment group.  It was the new Christmas show and involved various kinds of acts but lots  of great music.  There was a segment of trick riding which was amazing.  How some of those riders stay on their horse is beyond me.  One of the segments had a large platform drop down and it was a nativity scene.  Then came a shepherd with a herd of goats, followed by the three wise men on camels.  When you looked up at one end of the arena there was an angel with huge wings, in mid-air.  As this segment came to a close, the platform rose up, the angels wings folded and up she rose.  Unfortunately, I was able to take very few pictures as the lighting was always too low.  Most that pictures I did take was just a blur. 

After moonshine  tasting
There is an enormous factory outlet mall which we decided to walk around.  I say walk as that was all we did - bought nothing.  The funny part was that we went into a Corelle store to buy a couple of plates.  When I saw the price I changed my mind.  On our way home, we decided to stop at Walmart - bought the plates I wanted for less than half the price of the outlet mall - makes a person wonder.  While at the mall we went into a moonshine store to do some sampling (yes, even I tried some).  The rule is that while you are sampling you have to leave your ID on the counter.  The fellow picked up ID and said  "Sask At Chew Wan" and the folks across from us said "Hey, we're from Saskatoon".  How interesting since there were only about eight of us in the place.  I must admit that the taste of the moonshine is certainly different from what I remember!

Lovers Leap
Next stop - Chattanooga, Tennessee.  We drove up Lookout Mountain for some fantastic views.  Then off to downtown to see the Chattanooga Choo Choo. The old train station is a huge hotel and many of the train cars have been converted to other uses - restaurant, gift store, but many have become guest rooms.  Lookout Mountain was our next stop which was quite significant during the American Civil War.  I am quite surprised as how many people live at the top and daily traverse the narrow winding roads.  We took the Incline Railroad which has a 72.7% grade and it goes one mile up the mountain.  On the way up (and down) you can actually view the city below through the skylights on the top of the car.  It really is a neat ride.

Then we toured Rock City which is a combination of trails and caves and massive ancient rock formations.  The cave portion was Fairyland caverns with many displays which the kids seemed to thoroughly enjoyed.  And there was Lovers Leap which provides some amazing views.  There was also Fat Man Squeeze which I went around - it looked too narrow and too dark and too far.  While Gerry went and said it was nothing, I found another way!!

Last week someone mentioned that once Halloween was over, it was time to get ready for Christmas.  Well, on Nov. 1 as we were driving down the highway, we turned on the radio and sure enough, Christmas carols.  As much as I love hearing the carols, this is still a little too early for me.  But all the decorations are out and many are already up - the lighting is very soon in many areas. 

Tomorrow it's time for us to move - hope you have a great week!! For some reason my published blog looks nothing like my draft - I have no idea why my pictures are scattered and the text is broken.  I will work on it this week and perhaps by next weekend, the look will be completely different.   On occasion we will see some interesting signs so thought I would add a couple.