Back in Alabama-y ... Feb 24-27, 2014

A couple more yearly medical appointment's (for me), breaking bread with good friends, and a final stop with Jimmy's son and family brings to a close our Mobile-area visit.  One day the weather was fine, the next was clouds and rain, the others were just plain cold.  Not conducive to riding bikes, which we'd hoped to do, but - what the heck - we did the important things.  We can ride our bikes anywhere, any ol' time.

Friday the 28th we leave for Baton Rouge to see my sister and brother-in-law.  We'll spend a few days with them before continuing west.  It's Mardi Gras season, and maybe we'll go to a parade, tho they get crazy and crowded, or possibly a tour of Lake Martin, with its spectacular rookery -- alive with egrets, herons, cormorants and spoonbills, etc... and hopeful, hungry alligators; stately cypress trees casually draped in Spanish moss. That gets my vote!  Regardless, we'll enjoy spending time with Nannie and Bubba!  Hooray -- More family time!!

A foggy morning from our Tergel. 

Jimmy and his 12-almost-13-year-old handsome grandson, A.J.  Great kid!

I didn't get pictures of his son and daughter-in-law, nor photos of our good friends, Thomas and Carrianne and their lovely two girls, nor a lunch date picture with my treasured friend, Carolyn.  So, shoot me.  I either forgot the camera or forgot to take the pictures.  We'll just carry happy memories with us, Jimmy and me, and everybody else will have to guess on how good the pictures might have been!

One afternoon, before the rainstorm, I wandered around the grounds, camera IN HAND, taking flower pictures. The sky was (mostly) overcast, but the colorful blooms made me feel spring-like, even though spring itself seemed a far-off dream.  I also figured that pell-mell rain would knock the blossoms to pieces and I'd better collect my pictures right then and there... or not at all.  They dazzled.

 Hard to improve on a Camellia's perfection!

 Or the ornamental Magnolia liliiflora (what we refer to as the tulip tree).

 Pear blossoms can make a person feel spring-y....

 Pink Camellia and

 Red Camellia, too.

I had to do it.  Pick one of each color and variety (the white was a two-fer) to bring indoors.  Placed in a coffee mug on the dinette table, they looked so cheerful, esp on those gloomy days.  Of course, they were in the way during dinner and had to be shifted to the counter, back and forth, which meant I could continually admire them from different angles! 

And then there's these guys (girls).  The little donkey was across the fence last year.  When I approached her this year with a carrot, she initially shied away... till I sort of waved the carrot.  By the third day and several carrots later, she waited by the fence for me (or the carrot).  She let us scratch her cheeks and playfully tug her ears; we could pat her neck, and we agreed:  She's a sweet li'l donkey.

 Here she looks like she's fixin' to eat a hamburger!  But that's her mug!  Hahahaaaaa...!

The li'l donkey "guards" these goofy things.  They just stared.
As Forest Gump would say,
Stupid is as Stupid does.
The End.


On Top of Old Stoney... Georgia, Sunday, Feb 23rd, 2014

Three weeks ago today, we left our Nevada City CA home.  Our ultimate destination this trip was Atlanta: 3,033 miles away.  This was our turn-around point.  Between west and east coasts, we did what we set out to do -- basically, we wanted to visit our families and so we did.  In between we managed a few challenges to our physical selves.  Today was one of those when we climbed the steep Stone Mountain walk-up trail -- a one-mile trail ascending 786 feet in elevation to a height of 1,686 ft.  One mile up, one mile down.  Not a big deal, but we got our aerobic workouts this day!  We started out about 10 am in jackets (since it wasn't even 50 degrees yet!), but we shed those early on.  Spectacular panoramic views awaited us at the top.

 The trail started out fairly easy, hopping from slab to slab, shaded by pines.

 Jimmy (in white shirt) trudges up and up.

 This piece of the trail is so steep, it required railings.  We used them, both hiking up and skidding down.

 Those folks are almost at the summit.  This walk-up trail was clogged with people of all ages and sizes, even a few runners showing off as they bounded uphill, as well as several younger people with babies on their backs!  It was heartwarming to see so many folks out getting exercise and enjoying their park

 From the Top!  Tergel is seen below the red arrow!

 Looking at Atlanta!

Jimmy way up there!

Ah so, we couldn't hang around up here.  Dinner with family called.

 Resting for a minute after our descent.  Let me finish this by saying:  It took us a lot longer to climb up than it did to "slide" down!

* * * * * * * * * *

Sunday afternoon dinner at Red Lobster.  L-R:  Jimmy's sister, Kathy, Peter, me, Jimmy, Kathy & Peter's son, Nick, and Jimmy's Mom, Betty!

 Mom and Jimmy sitting outside on a warm afternoon (our first visit).  We spent part of every day with Mom and Kathy.

 While sitting on the deck, we all noticed this bright Eastern Bluebird flit from tree to ground.

Betty will be 90 this year, and she so looked forward to our visit.

And so our Atlanta trip closes, and Monday morning we will leave Stone Mountain bound for Daphne AL (again).  We said our goodbyes to Jimmy's kinfolk late afternoon so we could get some things done at our campsite before dark.  Our time spent here was worth it's weight in gold.

We're looking at 3,000 +/- miles return trip to NorCal, not really something we're relishing, except for repeat visits to family in Daphne/Mobile and Baton Rouge.  Maybe we'll make a stop at Big Bend Nat'l Park on our interminable drive across Texas.  We shall see.  The plan is to be home by mid-March, so it looks like three wks each coming and going.  My last photo is a rosy sunset over the Mountain we climbed today.  Truly... what a grand place.  And such a great visit for all.


The Many Faces of Stone Mountain -- Feb 19 thru 22, 2014

Finding a campground isn't always simple when you want to be near family.  When we checked our various campground books for the Atlanta area, the options didn't look so good... except for Stone Mountain. We'd never been here and didn't know what to expect, but the fact that it was close to Jimmy's family cinched it for us.  We booked five nights (Wed - Sun) at a reasonable (off-season) rate.  We are really delighted with our choice -- this is a beautiful area, it's within minutes of his family, and we practically have the c/g to ourselves.

The mountain is advertised as the world's largest exposed granite monolith, but Wikipedia says it's quartz monzonite dome monadnock.  Dunno what that is.  To us it's an anomaly, and reminded us very much of Devil's Tower in Wyoming.  We are camped with a bird's eye view of it, and seeing it's various faces each day, morning and night, is fascinating.  It draws me outside with my point 'n shoot camera.

Our first morning here the mountain was shrouded in mist and fog.  I took this picture as it dissipated.

Saturday morning I watched the sunrise illuminate the mountain. 

And then the mountain turned to gold.  These are unretouched photos!

This is where we're comfortably sitting.  A noisy, fast-moving thunderstorm moved thru in the wee small hours Friday morning, the temperature dropped, and the sky remained gray most of that day. 

This small dock over Stone Mountain Lake gives us great access to feeding fishies, ducks and geese.

When the temperature skyrocketed to 50° on Saturday, we suited up for a bike ride around the mountain.  Jimmy's Mom was hoping to ride the train (that goes 'round the mountain), but it isn't in service till spring break. 

It wasn't too long ago that this area was covered in ice and snow, and look at these trees!  It's a 6-mile hilly ride around the mountain, made longer by checking out other trails and attractions.  Tomorrow we're talking about climbing to the top!

This is the largest bas relief sculpture in the world.  The Confederate Memorial Carving depicts three Confederate leaders of the Civil War, President Jeff Davis, Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson (and their horses).  The entire carved surface measures 3 acres, about the size of two and a quarter football fields. The carving of the three men towers 400 feet above the ground, measures 90 by 190 feet, and is recessed 42 feet into the mountain. The deepest point of the carving is at Lee's elbow, which is 12 feet to the mountain's surface. (thanx, Wikipedia)  It was too far away to really see, but overall it looks small compared to the entire mountain.

Cool covered bridge -- part of Stone Mountain Park.

Smartie didn't weigh enough to collapse the bridge!  Whew!

Me and some of my friends....

Stone Mountain at dusk.  There's a bit of a rainbow near its top right.
The two posts are part of the sky ride. 

What a lovely place to spend some time....  I'll post family photos next time.


Some Tallahassee, Lassie? Feb 14-19, 2014

Jimmy and I always have such a good time visiting these ol' stomping grounds of ours... Tallahassee, where we lived from 2002 to 2007, and then for several months each in '08 and '09, thanks to Jimmy being employed there. The capital of Florida, located in the Big Bend area where the panhandle and peninsula meet, is a great little city, especially this time of year (read: not hot and humid).  Opportunities abound for all sorts of cool and exciting things to do.  Plus we get to visit the wonderful friends we made.  Whenever we're in the southeast, we make it a point to spend at least several days in Tallahassee.

One thing we've always enjoyed is walking around the South Wood Central Park Lakes.  Jimmy and I have walked, run, and biked around this particular 2+ mile paved trail many times.  We've spotted all sorts of wildlife, inc the beautiful Sherman's Fox Squirrel, and lots of special Florida birds -- from the big guys: Wood Storks, Bald Eagles, a Great Horned Owl, Herons and Egrets, to the little tappers:  Bluebirds and Phoebes and Yellow-rumped Warblers. All manner of ducks and waterfowl.  And the list could go on and on....

 Diane, me, Jimmy and Tom posing happily on our walk around the lakes on a breezy Sunday.

Eastern Phoebe perched on resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polyodioides - an epiphyte - a species of creeping, coarse-textured fern) attached to an oak limb.


 Says the Betta named Harriet, "Dude, what's up?"

All righty then, do I fit in well with this Hobby Lobby furniture?  (Camouflaged!)

 Back on the bike trail -- another favorite of ours.

After all the bad weather the southeast endured this winter, Monday was picture perfect, and ideal for a bike ride.  St Marks Bike Trail is 20+ miles one way.  Tom, Jimmy and I only did half that distance, 20+ miles R/T.  Sorry Diane missed out; she had to work....

 Tuesday was a meeting up with more friends, coffee with my friend Gale, and a yummy lunch at Marge's Cafe, owned by our friend, Rebecca...

...followed by an afternoon and dinner visit with our former neighbors and fellow campers, Mickey and Nancy.  They drive a  27' Itasca Sunova, the mirror image of our 27' Winnebago Vista.  We've met them in various campgrounds around the US and enjoy their company.  They like to hike as much as we do!  What a grand day!

Thanx, everyone.  We had a great time.
Next up:  Atlanta!


While away a few days, Louisiana-style. Feb 7/8/9, 2014

Baton Rouge, Saturday/Sunday:  It isn't hot.  It isn't cold.  Nor windy or rainy or foggy.  It IS really fine to be out of Tergel and visiting my sister and her husband.  The grass is a dun-colored mat after being repeatedly frozen and sleeted on in the past few weeks, but you know spring-green is lurking just beneath that dry thatch.  Tergel is resting in the driveway, probably glad to be off her pins for a few days.  She needs a bath to clean off the road grime, slush, and brine that we drove thru in Texas, but I think she'll have to wait till the next rain!  

 My sister is dog sitting "Bear," a lively and daffy pup.  He keeps us entertained.  Right now he's barking at Jimmy!

 Nannie and I put many a mile on our feet training for road races and half marathons.  This road, close to her house, gave us a three-mile +/- distance.  Today we're simply walkers.  Look Ma -- no jackets!

Jimmy and Nannie enjoying walking on this gorgeous warm Sunday.

The caption?  What else could it be?  Jack Sparrow! (tho technically this is a marsh rabbit)

We all try to get together for dinner whenever Jimmy and I are in town, and we always have a good time.  
R:  Nannie, me and Jimmy.  L: Bubba, Judy, and Jim
Olympic ice dancing was showing on a huge screen on the wall we're facing, so we got to critique each performance while we ate.

Tomorrow morning we'll hook up Smartie and point our noses east to the Mobile, Alabama area, a few hours away.  We'll spend a few days here, too, visiting family and taking care of medical appointments. It even looks like Tergel might get her bath, as showers are forecast tomorrow and the ensuring days.