Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Great Smoky Mountains

Once we were settled into our new surroundings, it was time to get out and explore.  First stop...the Great Smoky Mountains.

After getting off to a rough start and going a half an hour out of the way, Left Brain took the map away from me (always a smart choice) and turned us around to go the right way.  I think it's sweet that after thirty years together, he still believes I might actually learn to read a map someday.

It was a pretty day for our drive and our first major city to see was Pigeon Forge.  This appeared to be a case of Branson meets Wisconsin Dells.  Nice stuff, fun area for kids and the like, but too commercial for our tastes, so we continued on through.

It was a pleasant trek up the mountain, even with the construction going on.  We went through several tunnels on the way.

The colors are just starting to turn and I can imagine by mid October they will be luscious.

The view at the top was sweet, with the majesty of the mountains and the cloud formations surrounding them.

Long Live the Queen

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Death of a Mouse

It seems each animal has their favorite toy.  One that gets mauled and mangled over and over until it has been played to death.

Such is the case with Yellow Mouse.  Every morning a play session of sneaking up and attacking Yellow Mouse is required before anything else.  Once this is accomplished, the day can proceed.

But he finally just couldn't hold it together any more and had more of his insides outside than inside.

What to do?

I stitched him up the best I could, but there wasn't much fabric left to work with, so he looked pretty pathetic.

Throwing it away was NOT an option!

So I proceeded to yarn bomb him during one of our drives.

This was a combination of crocheting a long chain of yarn and then stitching it into place with some upholstery thread.

The only thing remaining to show his previous incarnation was the yellow ears poking out.

Since it's a multi-colored yarn, I did consider renaming him Multi Mouse, but just couldn't do it.  Sounds too much like Mighty Mouse.

Gracie....are you SURE this is the same mouse?
Yes George...embrace the change!
He may have altered his outward appearance, but inside he'll always be the one .....the only.....Yellow Mouse.  Or as Left Brain refers to him "The Mouse Formerly Known as Yellow"

Long Live the Queen of Cat Toys

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee

Can you tell we've been without internet for a while?  Time to catch up!

After leaving my new soul sister in Illinois we headed into Indiana for our first night's stay.  We were both quite tired from the longer than normal driving and stayed two days to rest up.

The laundry was directly across the street...oh joy!  

With visions of clean undies I traipsed over and found only one of the three washers and driers didn't have a "not working" sign on it.  

So I joyfully dumped in my clothes, plunged in my quarters and....nothing.  Bummer.  I pulled everything out and started the trek back to the RV.

This is where I met Mark, who I proceeded to sit and visit with back at my campsite.  He was an interesting guy with lots to report on his court ordered anger management course.  Soon he was joined by his girlfriend who is a National Goat Judge and flies all over the country judging goats.  Interesting people you meet our here.

Later the laundry was working again but there were wet clothes in the washer, so I did a random act of kindness and put them into the dryer.  The owner showed up when they were coming out and insisted on repaying me the money.  Since he only had one arm, I proceeded to fold the laundry for him as he told me the story of how his arm was cut off.

By the afternoon I had discovered I had not yet opened the gift bag from McGuffy, so took care of that immediately.  Lots of new cat toys for the kitties, which a certain calico took to spreading about the RV at once.

That evening I had my first football lesson while watching the Giants and the Redskins play.  I hate to admit it, but it was kind of interesting.  I sure have lots to learn about this game, there are so many rules and strategies.

Our next stop was at a soggy muddy mess in Kentucky.  The Elvis song "Kentucky Rain".  This was a matter of handing over $25 cash in the rain, no paperwork; but we had a pull through site so we could leave the car on for immediate departure in the morning.

I had a nice long cell chat with Marti, who is in Myrtle Beach SC at this time.  She was asking if I could hear the ocean waves from her balcony.  Nope, all I could hear was the rain pouring down on our roof.

My original plan was to visit Hillbilly Hotdogs in West Virginia on our way, but that deviation would have taken too much of our time and we wouldn't have been able to connect with her when she moves into North Carolina. So, she knows how much my friendship means to pass up such a delight just to be able to visit in person.

Finally we settled into the Escapee park in Tennessee and paid for a week stay.  We have a nice long site that will allow us to hook up before leaving, with a narrow strip of grass for the cat tent and tunnel.  There's a little tree for shade and we're near the office and laundry, so that's convenient.

Our hotspot is working nicely here, so internet is now available for this stay...hallelujah!  We rested up Saturday and of course Sunday means football, so I'll spend the day cooking and baking so I'll have time to explore the Smoky Mountains this week.

Long Live the Queen

Friday, September 25, 2015

Magical Moments with New Friends

I met my blogger friends, Annie and Andrea, two years ago for the first time and since we were passing through their area again, I set up a meeting.  Unfortunately I never heard back from Andrea, but Annie was available and we had a blast!

The plan was to meet up at a Mexican restaurant for lunch at 11:00.  I arrived early, as I'm prone to do and pulled in next to a car with this license plate.  Apparently there are angels in my midst....little did I know how true this was to be.

We both had the same fear of not being sure we'd recognize each other.  She figured when the car with Texas plates parked next to her, it must be me....and she was right.  Since the cafe wasn't open yet, we sat outside and started to talk....and talk....and talk.

At 11:00 we went in and took a table, where we met our young server named Tyler.  Poor guy was saddled with us for his shift.  He floated back to our table several times trying to take an order, but we had not yet cracked open a menu to even give it some thought.

We finally called for a time out and chose our entrees and then harassed him for how long it took to get our order in.  He looked unsure but was smiling at these two goofy ladies at his table.

When he brought our silverware I cackled "Oooooh!  A knife! They don't usually give me the knife!"   He pretended to take it away from me and I clutched it to my chest and whispered in my creepiest voice "my precious".  I wish I could do it like my granddaughter, Kiersten....she gives me shivers.  

Our discussions jumped from one topic to another - here's a run down of the topics covered:

  • The challenges of raising cats
  • Wolves and coyotes are not from the same genus  (I never knew this and had no idea where or why Annie brought it up)
  • Psychic powers and empath abilities and how to know if you have them
  • Dealing with family members, mothers and children
  • Cats
  • Friendships and relationships, the blessing and the curses
  • Cat behavior
  • Poetry and writing
  • Why George sticks his tongue out when he's happy - Annie figures he was bottle fed as she's seen this before
  • Our spouses - the blessings and curses of living with a man
  • Cat safety measures
  • Difficulties we've overcome in our lives 
  • Cats
  • The joys and miracles we witness every day
  • Cats
  • World peace
  • Pickleball ( had to come up)
  • Cats
  • Existing health issues and how aging has impacted this
  • Cats health issues and how their aging has affected this
  • Annie's remodeling projects
  • Cats ....okay, a great deal of our chattering was about our furkids.
Our waiter, Tyler, drifted over several times to check on us and I realized how long we'd been sitting there.  He explained that he had pulled a double shift.  I questioned him about what evil deeds he had in his past to warrant such rotten karma, getting us for the six hours we spent at the table.

Yup, six hours and we still had so much to talk about.  It was like being with my friends "back home" to have found such a kindred spirit.

If it weren't for the fact I don't like to drive in the dark and the path into the state park was so convoluted and confusing, we probably would have ordered supper and just kept rolling.

I have truly found my Soul Sister.  It was a magical day and I'm so glad we were able to stop and meet up again.  I can't hardly wait for the next time we have occasion to meet.

She gave me some assignments.  I'm not sure why I have homework, but I'm a good rule follower, so I took note.

I am to write a journal in long hand.  Get busy writing my life stories.  Seek therapy for some of the missing pieces of my life that may help me deal with my compulsive eating.  Learn to understand football and watch it with my husband. 

Such a stern taskmaster!  She even pulled me away from the knife Tyler was trying to keep from me.  I can't wait to see her again!

Long Live the Queen of Bliss

Monday, September 21, 2015

Driftless Art Festival

On last stop in Wisconsin was to camp at Soldiers Grove, population 526.  Why you might ask?  To visit one of my favorite art shows and all my artist friends!

We set up Friday night so I could go over and surprise my friend Beth on Saturday morning.  And surprised she was! 

Joining her this year is her 11 year old granddaughter, Angel. She's probably the best assistant Beth has ever had since I was never much help in watching her booth.  I was always the one running around and visiting with everybody else.  Must be that ADD thing.

Our friends Suzanne and Rick came down to visit and take in the show as well.  Suzanne had knee surgery and wasn't able to do the show this year, so she shared in the strangeness of actually being able to walk about and see what all the other vendors have for sale.

It was while taking in the show with Suzanne and Rick that I ran into my cousin, Jean.

Saturday night meant supper at the little bar we all frequent for some of the best food around these parts.  My date for the night was Andy, another glass artist.  This is his booth.

I wasn't able to get photos of everybody showing at this event, but here is Deloras Vind and her fabulous felted art.

Linda Mast is a very creative jewelry artist.  He has her husband and step daughter assisting her this year.

There were so many other artists here, but the photos I tried to take of their booth just didn't turn out well.

On Sunday Karen and Irving came to take in some music so I joined them for lunch and some of the entertainment before they headed off again.  Karen and I dined on French crepes with spinach, feta cheese and nuts - yum!

It's a great festival, with music and lots of great food.  And as much as I was happy to see everybody, I'm looking forward to hitting the road.

Long Live the Queen of Festivals and Friends

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Zeke's new wardrobe

I've had a blast creating a wardrobe for my granddog, Zeke.  My goal is to have a neck scarf for each season or special occasion.  Before leaving the area we had a photo session to show off his new duds.

This project started with grabbing up some Patriotic fabric on sale after the Fourth of July.

Since they live in Minnesota, the Viking fabric was required.

Kiersten plays soccer, so this is so he can show his support at her games.  Sorry Emily, he's not allowed indoors for your volleyball games, thus no scarf was created for volleyball.

Fall is coming and that required a Halloween theme.

Then there's the winter one.

And, finally....the Christmas one.

I'll have to wait until the Valentine's Day and St Patrick's Day fabrics become available and mail them to him.

He'll be the best dressed dog on the block!

But sometimes a guy just wants to get naked and watch a little TV.  Especially when the show involves Left Brain flying his quad copter.

Long Live the Queen of Grand Dogs

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Gracie reminiscing about Ham Lake

Gracie here....the Queen is off doing who knows what.

The air is getting cooler and it made me think of those warm summer days back at the Ham Lake Campground.

I'm not prone to having such fond memories, mainly I focus on attacking my Yellow Mouse, napping and eating.

But it was special there.  One of my favorite things was the little garden that my personal assistant (the Queen) created with her plantings.

The afternoons were the best! That was Harness Hour, kind of like a Happy Hour for us cats.We were free of the restrictions of the tent and could pretend we were running free.  Sometimes I escape and do run free for about an hour or so.  The Queen and Left Brain get so upset and I don't know why.  I know right where I am and always come back...what's the big deal?

It felt so good to roll in the bark, even though the Queen grumbled about having to brush me again when I was done.  What's wrong with that?  I LOVE being brushed.

Working on my tan here - my belly is so white!

George and Lucky had kind of a long distance bromance going on.  Lucky would come over to visit, but never quite get into George's reach.  I think that's why they called him Lucky, cause George probably would have scratched his eyes out.

It's really hard to look like a rough and tough cat wearing that bandanna. was a magical time being outside in the sun and wind.

All that fresh air really tires a girl out.  I usually had to take a nap in my box when I was back inside the RV to recover.  It's a rough life but somebody's gotta do it.

Long Live the Queen of Cats

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Visit to Northern Wisconsin

We try to visit our friends up north at the end of the summer before we start our southward migration.  In previous years we've stayed at my cousin Shayna's cabin, but that's been sold and is no longer an option.  Wouldn't the new people be surprised if we pulled into their driveway and started hooking up for our stay!

The air up here is so fresh and clean.  With each inhalation your senses are awakened by the smell of pine trees.  The night sky is dark and everything is so quiet.  Very refreshing.

Our first day they took us for lunch at the Kounty Quarthouse and I was tickled pink.  I'd seen this on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and had been wanting to visit it for some time.

Lorraine and I always learn something new from each other during our stay.  I usually come away with a new recipe or cooking tip and try to repay with a sewing lesson and sharing of a new pattern I've discovered.

Their house is located on the lake and here's a view from the end of their dock, where the pontoon is parked.

They have a warped sense of humor and it shows as you head down the driveway.  The road ends at their house, so yes indeed....the road is closed ahead.

Hmmm.  I wonder if this weight limit sign was a warning for me as I've been packing on some pounds lately.

The inside has a great view of the lake and if you're thirsty you head for the libation station.  The cats have their water on the left and the keg is to the right.  That's on tap.  I'm assuming the cats have water on tap, but never tasted it so I can't be certain.

We may have been off to the side of their property, but still had all the comforts of home, including this fabulous outhouse.  

Fortunately we have our own plumbing, thank you very much, and never had to open the door.

I enjoyed a nice walk down the peaceful road to stretch my legs and these are some of the sights along the way.

It was a nice way to wrap up our summer starting our annual migration to warmer climates.

Long Live the Queen of the Northwoods