OMG, What a Birthday Party! Monday, Nov 24th, 2014

Happy Birthday, Louisiana-style!

OK!  No secrets here.  It's a party all right.  Jimmy's birthday was Nov 14th, and mine was Nov 23rd, so it's time to party on down!  I brought a bunch of fresh persimmons to my sister, Nannie, in Louisiana, and she and I made a persimmon brunch cake and persimmon-date-pecan cookies, and Nannie made brownies for people who couldn't have nuts.  All quite yummy.  Notice the napkins....

In 1994, I lived next door to Nannie and her husband, Bubba, in Louisiana (near Baton Rouge).  Now, check out the old photo below -- everyone in the picture turned 50 in 1994.  So, in November of that year, I gave a birthday party celebrating those 50th birthdays for the five folks pictured.  They all look pretty good for 50-year-old farts!

 Left to right:  Rosemary, me (love the curls), Bubba, and Jimmy.  Seated is Johnny, with a pin on his shirt that reads "Older than Dirt."  

Fast forward to 2014 -- 20 years later.  I'm not giving away anyone's current age, mind you, but the people below are the same as in the picture above ... with one exception.  We lost track of Rosemary, but our friend, Judy, qualifies to be in the same club, so she's replaced Rosemary.

 Left to right:  Judy, me, Bubba, Jimmy, with Johnny seated in front.

Of course in the ensuring years, there have been changes ... children have grown, married, and had children of their own, cross-country moves, houses bought and sold, health issues, spouse's deaths and remarriages (me and Jimmy), and finally retirements.  Ahhhh, retirements!  And, (hooray!) freedom to travel.

These people look pretty danged good for 70-year-old geezers, huh?  The turkey looks good, too.

It was a grand reunion, lots of laughter, gratitude for miracles wrought, and simply ... happy to be celebrating together again.  Nannie and Johnny's wife, Marci, and Judy's husband, Jim, tho not pictured, enjoyed the party as much as we did.  All of us are looking forward to the next birthday reunion.  10 years?  20 years?  Oh well, maybe we'll just let this 20-year party be the best and the last ... or maybe not!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


But, before we leave, here's one more ... Mobile, AL

As we're driving along I-10 toward downtown Mobile, ahead of our tiny Smartie is a huge 18-wheeler truck with a strange-looking bulky load, and that load is shedding white fluff-balls that look like cotton.  Hey!  It is cotton, wrapped like round hay bales.  This is a new sight for me.  And, it doesn't look very efficient, with cotton balls flying every-which-a-way.

We were on our way to see Jimmy's son, "Jimbo" and family on a Sunday afternoon. We had a lovely visit, and everybody looked well.  Jimmy's grandson, AJ, is 13 now -- no longer a kid, and turning into a fine young man. Handsome, too!  So good to see you guys!

Just one of these things is bigger than Smartie!

Up close, these monster bales appeared even stranger as we passed by.

 When I asked AJ and his Granddad, Jimmy, to smile, I got these ... well, half-hearted efforts, so I said, "C'mon, dudes, give me a smile."  Got 'em!  Great Big Grins! 

On our way back to Tergel in Daphne, we stopped at the Old Oyster House on the Causeway for one last mouth-watering shrimp po'boy.  I forgot to take a picture of it, but -- trust me -- it was messy and good.  Nice to have a window view of the delta waters and grasses, with touches of autumn leaves.

But it was after our lunch-dinner (linner?) that another crazy escapade took place.  As we were exiting our Oyster House parking space, a guy hailed us.  We stopped.  He was with a group of men (and a few women), saw our little Smartie with its flames, and asked if he could take a picture ... and the hilarity began!

Smartie inspires!  It's the flames!

Apparently these people had been playing (?) paint ball?  A few brewski's might have been involved, but I don't know for sure.  Anyway, cell phones and cameras came out, photos taken, laughter all around.  I said I wanted a picture, too, and got out of the car, which was surrounded by all these happy people!  Jimmy asked one big ol' boy to get in the passenger seat, and in a few seconds, Jimmy was out of the car, too!  An even bigger ol' boy (seen below, w/ beard) got in the driver's seat.  You should have heard the laughter!

They made it!  The guy behind the steering wheel told us he weighed 300 lbs and was almost 6' tall (and he looked it!).  The passenger was a puny 275 lbs and a six-footer.  I do believe we made their day ... all of them.  They hooted and howled and thanked us very much.  After those two big fellers got out, we returned our seats to their normal positions (!!).  We drove off, still laughing, with the group bidding us a good day!  Jimmy and I laughed about this absurdity till bedtime.

We stopped at 5 Rivers Delta Complex on our way "home," which offers many outdoor play opportunities, but we just wanted to walk around a bit.  Walk off some of that po'boy.

This cute li'l fella was new, meaning we hadn't seen it here before.  It's name is Chewie!

As the fiery setting sun illuminated the Mobile/Tensaw delta, we climbed back in Smartie and called it a day, a fairly long day.  We're on the turn-around part of our trip now, and our next stop, as we head west, is my sister, Nannie's, in Baton Rouge (11/22).  We've had a great time since leaving home on Oct 14th.  With more to come!


A walk in the park ... Daphne, AL

While in Daphne, AL, it's good to be Out and About on nice days.  A hidden gem is Village Point Park Preserve on Mobile Bay.  And that's what we did one fine afternoon ... walk in the park  This park has a nature trail, boardwalk, a "beach" on the bay, pier, historic trees, a cemetery and other sites we didn't get to today, tho we've stomped the entire area at one time or another.  Lots of history here. 

Love to walk around this big ol' giant, and always glad to see it still standing. 

 A walk in the woods is good for heart and soul (and the rest of the ol' body)!

The pilings (and doings) in the picture below were new to us -- we'd not seen this before, but luckily a sign was posted telling us what was going on out in the water.  Dunno if you can read this, but if enlarged, it might be doable.  Interesting stuff.

As always, don't feed the critters!

 Everywhere we went along the coast, little bits of fluffy stuff floated in the air:  
Eastern Baccharis (Baccharis halimifolia), aka saltbush or goundsel.

Jimmy and this Cypress are "wearing" autumn orange!

You know the saying, "Have a nice day?"  We did.


Food, Fun and Friends: The three "F's" -- 11/12 - 11/18

Add Florida to food, fun and friends, and you have 4-F's.  Throw in a birthday, and the week becomes a celebration!  Jimmy's birthday to be exact, and it was a big one ... a major one, the kind with a "0" at the back (and a seven in the front -- yeow!), but who's counting years?  Neither of us, and that's a fact.  We're too busy enjoying life to worry about numbers.

One of the small semi-hidden ponds teeming with waterfowl near Tom and Diane's house.  Egrets, Herons, Buffleheads, Grebes, etc., etc., and none of them wanted me and Jimmy getting too close.  We liked the Cypress trees cloaked in colorful autumn rusty-reds.

 Friday dinner at Ted's Montana Grill in Tallahassee on Jimmy's birthday, with Tom and Diane.

Hugs for the birthday boy! 

Complimentary ice cream with chocolate sauce and a chocolate cookie.  He shared! 

Our full dance card included a delicious lunch with our RV'ing friends, Mickey and Nancy, at Buca de Beppo.  They are making plans for hittin' the road, too.  (The restaurant staff gave Jimmy a birthday card.)

We didn't need a "Welcome to our state" sign on I-10 to know we were back in Alabama!  This cotton field (southern snow!) heralded our return to Daphne AL.

Our Florida week seemed to fly by, as fun-filled weeks usually do.  The cold weather didn't slow us down, either. We spent time with the people we care about and that's what counts.  Dunno how many Mexican Train Domino games the four of us played, but when all was said and done, the ladies reigned supreme!  Oh, and since there's another MILESTONE birthday looming (which I really don't wanna talk about ), Jimmy and I bought ourselves a birthday present. I'll take a picture of it later for show 'n tell.


Beware! Critters galore .... Florida 11/12 thru 11/18

Or, critters and more!  What's a trip to the Southeast without a stop in the Big Bend region of Florida?  This year we didn't make it further south (as in, Orlando), but we spent five enjoyable days in the Tallahassee area.  Since we'd be staying with friends, Tom and Diane, we left Tergel parked in her Daphne AL site and drove the 230 +/- miles in Smartie.  It was a bit of a squeeze, but doable.  Cost a lot less in gas money!

Diane's Indian Ring-necked parrot is great entertainment.  He's not much of a talker yet, but she's working on that.  He likes taking a shower under the kitchen sink faucet and manages to get soaking wet ... and he sure can wrap himself into strange positions to rinse all those feathers!  It's nice that he seems to remember me and Jimmy from one visit to the next.  Perks right up, as if to say, "Hey, dudes, whereya been?"

* * * * *

Thursday, 11/13, looked like the one good weather day we'd have to ride our bikes in St Marks NWR, our favorite place, flat and always full of things to see.  An arctic blast was expected soon (the dreaded "polar vortex"), and our dance card was otherwise filled.  Off we went on a 22+ mile R/T ride, under a cloudy sky. 

 Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia) -- Florida's state butterfly.

 American Avocets feeding in Stony Bayou shallows.  Nice beaks!

 You know what this is.  "Smiley?"

Why do snakes cross the road?  Most of them get flattened.
We shooed this 3-4 ft Common Kingsnake (a good guy) off the asphalt. 

 St Marks Lighthouse.  Built in 1842 and still in use today.

A long shot of another (big!) alligator and St Marks Lighthouse.

Tagged Monarch butterfly.  Too bad we missed the annual St Marks Monarch Festival held two wks ago.

 Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico on an overcast day.

Yet another (duckweed encrusted) alligator at Headquarters Pond.  They were out today!

Lesser Scaups in Mounds Pool.

Established in 1931 to provide wintering habitat for migrating birds, St Marks NWR is one of the oldest refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, offering coastal marshes, islands, tidal creeks and estuaries of seven north Florida rivers.  It encompasses 70,000 acres in three counties, including about 43 miles along the Gulf Coast of northwest Florida, with quite a diverse community of plant and animal life.  We have seen every kind of critter in this refuge, from teeny-tiny insects to big ol' black bears, and each time we return we're awed again.  And we've biked, hiked, walked, ran (training for a half-marathon), volunteered to pick up trash, and plain ol cruised along in Smartie, and next time we're in Florida, we'll be back!


A Very, Very Special Holiday! Tuesday, Nov 11, 2014

Oh my gosh  -- today is so special.  Jimmy's Mom, Betty, is 90 today (Veteran's Day), born in 1924.  We didn't go to a parade, we went to a party!

When plans were made for a birthday "shindig" five months ago (or so), Jimmy and I debated about flying in to Mobile vs driving Tergel.  We knew we wanted to be in town for her birthday, but we'd about decided that we didn't want to drive big ol' Tergel to the southeast again (we did it in February).  Until, that is, we began thinking about logistics.  We like having all the comforts of home with us when we're Out and About, especially that comfy Sleep Number bed, so that made the decision.  We piled into Tergel and left NorCal on Oct 14th, touring lots of great country before arriving in the Mobile area Nov 3rd.  Having our home on wheels allows us to stick around longer to visit family and friends.  (Loved the lower gas prices this trip!)

As the birthday grew closer, it was decided to limit the party to close family and three good friends -- Ronnie and Edna, and Jean ... people who care about Betty very much.

Celebrate good times, c'mon! 

Betty (Mom) and her two kids:  Kathy and Jimmy!

Very pretty jacket matches the cake rosettes!

A pose with the lovely birthday lady!

 She's tiny, maybe 5' tall, and she doesn't weigh anything.  She'll tell you in a heartbeat, "I've always been cold-natured," so she's usually wrapped in a shawl or blanket while the rest of us are in shirtsleeves!  (Me and Edna in the mirror.)  Sweet picture of Mom and Jimmy.

 Cake time!

And time to eat a bit of cake, too!
Life is Good!
Happy birthday to the best mom and mom-in-law ever!
Let's do it again next year!