Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Day One in Chattanooga

It was with great excitement that we left early in the morning in pursuit of our favorite pastimes.  I found a pickleball group that showed advanced play at 10:00 and had scouted out a bike trail for Left Brain to explore while I was on the court.  I put on my favorite Queen of the Pickleball Court t-shirt and off we went with high hopes.

The rec center was just a tiny building with a small office, two bathrooms and a gym with three courts.  I'm not much of one to be fussy about the aesthetics of the place as long as the play is good.

It didn't take long before I realized I was way out of my league here.  I consider myself a decent player, but these people were unbelievable!  I've never seen such a skilled group in all my visits to courts all over the country.  If it weren't for a couple of misses here and there I would have accused them of being robots and not flesh and blood humans.

This was the first time I've ever felt so frustrated and stupid.  It was a relief when Left Brain was back at noon from his bike ride and I couldn't wait to get out of there.  He was all set with his kindle to read until 1:30 when I was done and looked a bit surprised to see me back so early.  Everybody was very nice and took turns playing with me, but it was guaranteed they were going to lose with me as a partner.

On our way to the restaurant he filled me in on his biking experience, which was less than stellar.  What sounded like a nice dedicated bike trail turned out to be in and out of traffic, lots of debris and very hilly.  So neither of us had a great outing.

Our next stop was at Aretha Frankensteins for lunch.  I liked it just for the name alone and the Yelp reviews were very promising.  My new friend (that I will meet tomorrow) warned me not to go on the weekends as they get very busy.

They had a mix of rap and funk playing in the background.
Finally we had some success in our day!  This place was absolutely charming.  It's a hole in the wall kind of place, tiny and cramped but with so much uniqueness and quirkiness I couldn't help but fall in love.

I had the scrambled Polish potatoes and ended up taking half of it home as the portions were huge.  Left Brain had the Italian omelet that was stuff with ricotta cheese and sausage.  Why have I never thought to use ricotta cheese in an omelet?

The scrambled Polish potatoes

the Italian omelet
As soon as we got home I finished up my chores and set about licking my wounds with some chocolate while I prepared to write the blog.  This was when Left Brain came in to tell me our sewer hose has a leak.  Uh oh.  Thankfully it was just the gray water he'd released, so it wasn't too bad, and we have extra sections of hose.  He had it repaired in no time at all.

We won't let this get us down, tomorrow is another day and this is where I will meet our new friends Sherry and Dave.  Sherry commented on my blog and is also a quilter and servant to cats, so this should be fun.  After our lunch I'm going to visit the quilt shop that she does long arm quilting for and see what treasures I can find.

Long Live the Queen of Optimism

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chattanooga TN

We left Georgia in our polka dot car and headed north.  The polka dots were from the petals blowing off the flowering crab trees everywhere in the Sweetwater Creek RV Reserve that we stayed at.

They sure were lovely to see, but make a huge mess.

I'm going to miss the serenading sounds of the spring peepers and the mournful sound of the trains in the distance.  There were no activities or amenities (other than a nice laundry and shower room), but for $150 a week for the full hook ups and a safe, quiet place to stay while we explored Atlanta and the surrounding area it couldn't be beat.

We checked in and immediately got our propane tanks filled up and then proceeded to set up camp for the week.  I spent most of the afternoon scheduling out our week in Chattanooga to make the best use of our week here.

I think it's going to be a fun week, and I'd like to stay even longer, but time is running short and I want to have a full week in Nashville as well.

Long Live the Queen

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Purim is over - Easter is here

Greetings to everyone who is celebrating this season in whatever way works for them.

We're laying low and enjoying another fine rainy day in Georgia.  Since the laundry is next door, I carried over some clothes, quilts, bedding and rugs that badly needed to see the inside of a washer

Since we're sequestered, I'm using the time to marinate some cat toys in catnip.  This should make them much more interesting to the kids when they come out of the bag again.

Yes, those are arms and hands you see.  You must remember I used to be a dollmaker, so the cats get to play with left over body parts.

I've been communicating with a woman who commented on my blog about Chattanooga TN, our next stop.  I'm making arrangements to meet up with her and her husband when in town to have lunch.  It's all about the people in this lifestyle, meeting them and making new friends as you go.

She's a long arm quilter and told me of a great little quilt shop I'll have to visit as well.  I think I'm going to like our stay in Tennessee.  This will probably spur another burst of sewing in my life.

Long Live Queen Easter  (a little joke for my Jewish friends)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mexican Lunch

We were taking a day off touring to explore our new area, find the grocery store, etc when I had the idea to find the cinema for our movie tomorrow, figuring there'd be some kind of lunch place nearby. 

We came upon the Casa Grande Bar & Grill and it was just too adorable to pass up.

I stopped to chat with my new amigo for a minute before going in.

Then I stopped to listen to the mariachi band without realizing that Left Brain had joined them.

This sweet little donkey was there to greet us as we entered the building.  I love this place and I haven't even set foot inside yet.

The decor was adorable, with lots of bright lights providing just the right ambiance.

Add to the fact that the food was incredible and how could you go wrong.  Needless to say, I did my Yelp review that afternoon with a five star rating.

Long Live the Queen of Mexican Food

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The World of Coca Cola

Being an avid fan of Coke (yes, I's bad for you) I just had to go see the World of Coca Cola.  It's kind of a pilgrimage for coke addicts like myself.  I started this addiction young in life as my mother told me she used to put it in my bottle at about 8 months of age.  Yes, I still have all my own teeth.

We learned that John S Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta GA, concocted the secret formula in a brass kettle in his backyard in May of 1886.  His original goal was to create a wonder drug to fight fatigue and depression. The name for his product was given to him by his bookkeeper, Frank Robinson.  And Coke was born.

It was Frank Robinson's excellent penmanship that scripted the word Coca Cola into the flowing letters of the famous logo that you still see today.  The first soft drink was sold to the public at the soda fountain in Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta on May 8, 1886. 

About nine servings of the soft drink were sold each day. Sales for that first year added up to a total of about $50. The funny thing was that it cost John Pemberton over $70 in expenses, so the first year of sales were a loss.

Until 1905, the soft drink was marketed as a tonic and  contained extracts of cocaine as well as the caffeine-rich kola nut. After the Spanish American war the government imposed taxes on medicines and after a long court battle in 1898 it was no longer considered a drug and became a soft drink. 

In 1887, another Atlanta pharmacist and businessman, Asa Candler bought the formula for Coca Cola for $2,300. 

John Pemberton died in August 1888 before realizing how successful he would be. If he only knew how this secret formula would change the world!

By the late 1890s, Coca Cola was one of America's most popular fountain drinks, largely due to Candler's aggressive marketing of the product. With Asa Candler, now at the helm, the Coca Cola Company increased syrup sales by over 4000% between 1890 and 1900.

Advertising was an important factor in Asa Candler's success and by the turn of the century, the drink was sold across the United States and Canada.  

n 1899, Ben Franklin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead approached Candler about perhaps bottling the drink so it was available beyond the soda fountain. Asa believed there was no time or need to start bottling. However, he did say that the two men could attempt to bottle the drink as long as they didn't sacrifice quality.

Candler drew up a contract, but didn't set a term on it. Thomas and Whitehead could essentially have the rights to bottle Coke for as long as they wanted, and the could also sell the rights to any bottling plants they created. In addition, he gave the rights away for $1.00.

Why did Candler do this? He seriously believed that there would be no way for the two to be successful. So he figured it was a winning situation because he didn't have to invest anything into the bottling process. At the time, the only way to bottle a drink was with a Hutchinson stopper. It was a rubber stopper that was put in place by a wire, and to open the drink you push the wire in, or "pop" it. Candler believed this method would seriously compromise the quality of the drink.  This must be where the term "pop" came from in lieu of the word soda, at least back in my small town.

But this was not the kind of bottling Thomas and Whitehead had in mind. By 1900, however, bottle caps were beginning to surface. This was the perfect solution for the bottling problem. In the early 1900's bottled Coca-Cola was available at grocers and saloons.

Coke bottling was a highly successful venture. Thomas sold the bottling rights to independent businessmen, and by 1909, 379 bottling plants were in American cities and towns. With the bottle caps keeping the drink fresh, mules and carts were about to deliver the drinks to towns in all parts of the country. These bottles were the standard kind found in the day.

In the early days there was not the refrigeration that we enjoy today and beverages were kept in ice boxes.  Often the paper labels would fall off from getting wet and thus a design was needed to make the product identifiable in the dark purely by its matter what country you might be in.

In 1916 a bottling company in Terre Haute Indiana came up with the design that is still recognizable today.  They designed in in the shape of a cocoa bean, misunderstanding the term of Coca cola.  This unique shape continues into the plastic bottles that we see today. In 1923 the world's first six pack was created.

Advertising for Coca-Cola definitely stands out in the minds of many Americans, and that is most evident in the Coca-Cola Santa Clause ads.

Before artist Hadoon Sundbloom's ads appeared in the 1931, Santa Clause had been illustrated as wearing blue, green, yellow, or red. He was also of average size.  I never knew this!

But new Coca-Cola advertisements showed Santa as a plump, round man with rosy cheeks and a long, white beard. He is also wearing bright red. He was essentially the perfect image of Coca-Cola. Not only did the ads become popular, but they have helped to shape the way all Americans look at Santa Clause. After the Coke ads, all Santa illustrations became more similar. Now, most of them depict a fat, jolly, red-suit donning man.

Until the 1960s, both small town and big city dwellers enjoyed carbonated beverages at the local soda fountain or ice cream saloon. I remember this very clearly as a child watching the man behind the counter preparing our beverages.  This was the most popular meeting place in our small town.

It's a beverage we all grew up with.  It's universal throughout the world.  You can order a coke in any language.  At the World of Coca Cola we went through the tasting center and could sample selections from around the world.  I have to say I prefer those that I'm familiar with right here in the good old US of A.

It was a fun filled day with movies and a 4D presentation and more information than one can possibly digest.

Long Live the Queen of Coca Cola

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Georgia on my mind

We said goodbye to Florida and hello to Georgia.

Our first overnight stop was in Tifton GA at the I-75 RV Park, located right guessed it....I-75.  For $27 we got full hookups with good internet and easy off and on.  There was cable as well, but we always just use our tailgater.  

It's the first time I've ever been asked to step into the "office" that was just a shed with a washer and a dryer in it. Here's the owner conducting business with the next customer.

We want to stay in the Atlanta area for about a week and take in some of the sights, but there's not really anything IN Atlanta for RV parking.  This is where the RV Park Reviews comes in really handy.  A couple of the parks we'd considered had horrible ratings but still got $50 a night.

Then I stumbled on a place called Sweetwater Creek RV Reserve in Austell GA (about 16 miles north of Atlanta) for $150 a week.  What a steal!  Their nightly rate is $45, but the weekly rate was great.  We like to sight see one day and then take a day off to cook at home or just sit around.

It was a little confusing when I called because I had a hard time understanding the man on the phone, but they had a spot for us.  It's not a very big park, so I was happy to find out we could stay.

When we got closer we called the other phone number he provided to speak to the lady who would be checking us in when we arrived.

We were lucky to be parked right next to the laundry and bathhouse since that's where the best signal is.  There's nobody behind us and it's a ways off the highway, so should be much quieter than the previous night.

The trees are blossoming and it's very pretty looking out the window at this first offering of spring.  We'll linger here for a week and next stop will be Chattanooga TN.

Long Live the Queen Off the Road

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday Monday

What is wrong with this picture?

I had wanted to try the Thai food in North Fort Myers before we left but forgot many places are closed on Mondays.  Since we left on a Tuesday it was my last opportunity....bummer.

So not only was it a disappointment to be denied this culinary feast, but the sign prominently shows it's open on Monday, but then the smaller wording on the left shows it's closed on Monday.  Who can you believe?

I tried the door, being an optimist to the bitter end, but it was locked.  

Long Live the Dejected Queen

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Cool enough to snuggle now

It's been very hot and humid here in Florida and wouldn't you know that's exactly when our AC would decide to quit? Not much snuggling of furry creatures in this environment.

Thankfully we were able to find a mobile repairman who came out to the RV, found the problem, had the part, fixed it quickly and now we are comfortable once again.

Let the snuggling commence!

George is starting to go to Left Brain for more snuggling lately. He continues to make strides month by month.

Who knows?  Maybe someday total strangers will be able to come up and pet him. Well, I don't think that will happen anytime soon...but he continues to venture outside of his shell more and more.

He's generally a mama's boy...but as you can see he also loves his Daddy.

Especially when he sniff his armpits.

George has a strange predilection for armpits and smelly shoes.  Must be a guy thing.

Long Live the Queen

Friday, March 18, 2016

New clothes for Princess Grace

I sometimes have envy over the little dogs that are dressed up and figured cats would never tolerate this.  Or would they?

Perhaps if they had the proper motivation.  It was this thought I had in mind when I spotted this little pink number.  It looks like a dress, but is actually a harness.

You have to understand that whenever Gracie sees the harness and leash she gets very excited because that means she gets to go for a walk.

I don't normally go for frilly pink girly stuff and to be honest the little hoodie with skull and crossbones fit her personality better, but I liked the fit of this.

I figure I can use it as a pattern and design some quilted harnesses for future use.

Long Live the Queen

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

On the Move Again

We spent three nights across the street from our Wisconsin friends and then it was time to move to our new digs....complete with pickleball courts.  This is officially our shortest move at under 17 miles.

It's a great park and I've been making new friends on the court, but this Florida sun and humidity really sap my strength and I don't feel I'm playing to my full potential.

We went out to lunch with the Charbonneau's and decided to visit O'Keefe's to celebrate St Paddy's Day a little early. We don't like crowds and figured it would be swamped on the actual day.

I got to indulge in Irish potato soup and Left Brain went for the corned beef and cabbage.

On Wednesday we'll have them over to our place for lunch and I'm going to try the Reuben casserole recipe I found on Facebook. 

This afternoon we went to see "Lady in the Van" at the Rialto 8 theater in The Villages.  It's odd to be here and think that my friend Marti might be living here in the near future.  This place has everything you could ever want.

But, the laundry is approaching the critical stage so I think that's in my future for tomorrow.

Long Live the Queen

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lazy Days around the Campground

One of our favorite downtime activities is to sit outside in the warm air and read our books.

 Gracie enjoys these times as well and is trusted to sit in Left Brain's lap while he reads.

But, he is always ready to grab her if she appears to be ready to leap.

It's something they enjoy together.

Long Live the Queen

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Detour to the South

The rally was completed on Tuesday, so Wednesday morning we joined the wagon train of RV's heading out the gate.  We decided to skip the line for the dump station (and the long wait that goes with it) and instead dumped a bunch of Dawn dish soap down the toilet to let it slosh around to clean the sensors.  Disgusting, but it works every time.

It seems wrong to be backtracking for three hours, but this is where our friends are staying so onward we go.  This is the plus of living on can go visit and still have your own bed to sleep in at night.

Shortly before our stop we found a Cracker Barrel for lunch where good parking is easy to be found for over-sized vehicles.  Then it was on to the campground.

Oh oh.  We were told by the manager when we scouted this place out a week earlier that we would not need reservations since people start to leave in March.  Yup, we arrived shortly after the lady on the desk sold the last site.

She buzzed around the grounds in her golf cart and did some creative juggling and was able to find us a spot, but only for three nights.  I paid up and we figured either something would open up here or we could find a different place to move to for a longer stay.

I located a five star RV resort about 16 miles north of here that would only cost us about $40 more for a week than staying here where there is absolutely nothing.  Drive time is estimated at 27 minutes...very easy commute to connect with our friends.

The Recreation Plantation has eight dedicated pickleball courts with open plan daily and divided into four courts for friendly play and four courts for serious play.  Game on!  They also have a pool, volleyball and lots of activities to enjoy.  

Everything always seems to work out and as my friend Beth would say "it's all good".

Long Live the Queen

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Rally Wrap Up

On Sunday we found the Challenger Learning Center and watched the IMAX presentation of the National Parks.  We've been to so many of these treasures and it inspired us to want to return to some of our favorites again next year.

That night we had our supper at the rally and were then entertained by a very good comedian.  All clean humor and very interesting.  Left Brain left early to go catch Madam Secretary and I stayed to finish out his show.

On Monday I went to the community center just three minutes down the road to play pickleball from 10:00 - 1:30.  Finally!  I got to smash the ball around for a while and meet some more pickle folk.

That evening we walked over for our supper and watch the Malt Shop Memories perform songs from the Fifties.  Most of them were the early Fifties and I wasn't familiar with them, being so much younger than Left Brain.  But the best part was that he won the 100' collapsible hose he had admired in that night's drawings.  He's a happy man now.

On Tuesday we went to see the Wakulla Springs Lodge and State Park.  

They have a swimming area with a concrete deck you can go up and jump off into the water.

This is one of the world's largest and deepest freshwater springs.  We signed up to do the boat tour as soon as we got there and were able to see lots of birds and gators.

On the boat tour we learned that The Creature From the Black Lagoon was filmed here as well as many of the scenes from Tarzan.  Portions of Airplane 77 were also filmed in this location.  Okay, only my more "seasoned" readers will remember these film hits.

After the tour we went into the 1937 Wakulla Springs Lodge for some lunch and sat at one of the worlds longest marble counters.

The lodge lobby has intricately painted 10 foot ceilings, a massive fireplace and a grand piano.

After returning home we packed up the chairs and Left Brain hooked on the car for an early get away in the morning.  As you can see, our lot filled up and it may be a bit of a traffic nightmare exiting tomorrow.

Tonight we'll walk up for the Papa John's pizza supper and see if we win any of the grand prizes.

There is no internet at our next stay, so unless our friends have some, I'm not sure how much posting I'll be capable of doing.  So if you don't hear from me for a while, that would be why.

Long Live the Queen