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11.29.2009- A bike tour of Savannah

November 29th, 2009 No comments

I love it when a plan comes together. After finishing the blog and getting others stuff done, I left for downtown Savannah around 10AM. Found a parking spot at the western end of Bay Street (free on Sundays), got the bike out and rode down hill one block (had to carry the bike back up later- very steep) to River Street, on the Savannah River. I had taken the trolley tour this way on Friday and had forgotten that, for the most part, it is cobblestoned. Out of necessity, I broke what is apparently an unwritten rule and rode on the sidewalk… not so wearing on the rear-end. This must be where the night life is in Savannah- lots of eateries and drinking establishments on the water.

First, a map of Savannah…

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The trolley tour I took on Friday followed the red line, starting left center, just off the map. It followed the yellow numbers. While I did not follow the route, my bike ride today encompassed about the same area. Notice all the squares, indicated by letters. There are 22 squares in the downtown area and a larger park (Forsyth Park) at the bottom of the picture.

Getting back to today, River Street… the tunnel is under the Hyatt Hotel.

To the left…                                                       …and the right.

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         So which is my new yacht?

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         or… (Note the waterline, there’s not much freight aboard.)

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Met some more nice people on my ride around town…

John and Gail are originally from Mt. Laurel, New Jersey and now live in Tennessee-

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                                                         John took this picture of me and my trusty steed-

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I met Marian and her significant other, Jay, at my favorite place in town…

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(Doesn’t not having lunch mean that an ice cream cone is OK?)

Made my way to the (apparently) largest graveyard in Savannah, having heard about long ago vandalism… the stones were displaced, moved and, in some cases, defaced (the vandals actually changed dates of the stones- a few appear to have died before they were born.) Because records were not accurate enough to replace the stones where they belonged, they were placed along the wall at one edge of the graveyard. A real sadness are these two stones- a father and son dying in the same year. The deceased are here but no one knows where.

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More pictures of Savannah, a truly beautiful city.

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Rode the bike to Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady and Sons. Decided that I would have to check it out. So popular that you can only make reservations in person on the day you plan to be there. So, tomorrow at 9:30, I will be there to make reservations for tomorrow night. Turns out the menu is very interesting and reasonable. Lunch will be at her younger brother’s place, Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, out toward Tybee Island.

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11.28.2009- Hilton Head and a street fair in Savannah

November 29th, 2009 No comments

Opted not to go to Tybee Island, felt like going to Hilton Head instead. Very surprised by how big the island is.

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The island is probably 12 miles long and 5 or 6 miles wide and is shaped like a foot.  Again, like Kiawah and Seabrook Island, most of the island has been developed into private enclaves, with guard posts at the entrances, pretty much as indicated by the colors on the map. There are a number of condominiums outside these compounds but, for the most part, the accessible portion is commercial in nature. Spent the entire time driving around… no pictures. I will say that the island presents a very well cared for picture, particularly on the ocean side. Everything is neat and proper and I was amazed at the available shopping. Another note… I did not see a single golf course. They must all be in the enclaves.

Decided to take a different route back, knowing that there was a street fair in Savannah today. Found a parking spot near one end of it and walked the whole length, seven or eight blocks, and back. For the number of blocks, I was surprised how few tables of exhibitors and food booths there were. Could have fit the tables in two or three blocks.

There was a demonstration of Irish dancing by a local kids organization, all girls but one. But the most interesting and fun activity was ice skating. Yes, ice skating in Savannah, GA! The organizers found a supplier of a plastic material that is about as slippery as ice, put a bunch of it together on the street, somehow acquired a lot of loaner ice skates (no one owns them here) and let the crowd have at it (in timed segments so every one got a turn). Many adults came on the “ice” in their street shoes, to help their kids, and seemed to have no problem with slipping or falling.

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             The “ice”…

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After leaving the street fair, I sought out some of the spots I had seen yesterday so as to get a picture.

A home, purchased via mail-order in the 1800’s, constructed with the windows upside down.

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Beautiful iron work…

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The Paris Market…when Paula Deen shops here, she shops alone.

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And, finally, back at the street fair, Savannah’s idea of Santa’s helpers, doing dance routines!

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11.27.2009- Savannah, a beautiful city…

November 27th, 2009 No comments

On the road fairly early to check out Savannah. I thought the best thing to do would be to take a trolley ride around town to get a feel for what Savannah is like and what I would want to check out further. I read all the brochures that I had picked up at the campground office and decided on Old Town Trolley Tours, offering a trolley every 20 minutes and any of 14 stops in the city. Each trolley has a trained guide who talks about the sites as they go by. The best part is that you can get on or off the trolleys all day long (until 4:30) and you can park free at their terminal. The negative, which I have mentioned before, is that taking decent pictures is almost impossible; between the interesting commentary, trolley movement and the windows being closed due to the chill (I heard it was in the 40s this AM), a decent shot is pure luck.

The chariot…

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Talked to several people about where to dine in Savannah. Two names came up often- Paula Deen’s Lady and Sons and Mrs. Wilkes. Paula Deen is on the Food Channel thanks to her culinary talents. I understand her restaurant is upscale and quite pricey… may not make it there. But it turned out that Mrs. Wilkes’ establishment is near Stop 3 on the tour. Only being open for lunch from 11 to 2 on weekdays and being very popular, I thought that today might be my day for some real southern cooking. It was 10:30, early for lunch but I decided that I may not get back here so… walked the few blocks, turned the corner and found… that’s the line behind and in front of me.

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While in line, I met Gina and Debbie. Gina, Debbie’s daughter, lives in Georgia and mom lives in Ohio. Both of their husbands were off playing golf. So we talked and had lunch together. Very nice ladies!

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I ended up near the front of the second seating. There are two rooms with a total of eight tables, some seating 8, some 10. I figure about 70 to 75 seats. When you are allowed in your table is ready with a wonderful display of food… at one point I counted 19 bowls or plates of different foods on our table.

Before (another table)…                        During (our table)…

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After… burp!

Believe it or not, no grits! Wonderful fried chicken, ribs, collard greens, rice, sweet potatoes, baked beans, corn, biscuits, turnips, whipped potatoes, and on and on… All very good and filling. Doggy bags not allowed! They asked each of us to take our dirty plate and glass to a counter after the meal- very smart because one dropped tray of a lot of chinaware would really mess up the orderly process of minting money! $16 for a fantastic meal. No regrets.

As evidence of Mrs. Wilkes’ popularity, check out the line when I left. Took the picture from the stairs next door. (Note: I showed this picture to people I met a couple of hours later, on the tour, and they recognized themselves as the first four in line.)

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Some interesting homes…

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A beautiful fountain in Forsyth Park. Don’t remember when it was installed but it was purchased via direct mail from New York City. There are only three of these in the world.

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Across from the park is the Mansion, built to spite the wealthy on the other side of the park. It was, at that time, about four times the size of the competition. It is now a very upscale hotel. I happened to meet up with Gina and Debbie here and they were enthralled with a beautiful collection of more than 80 women’s hats “from the ages.”

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Next stop was near a church that all said I must see.

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Of course, I read the title of the sign (I save the rest until I get home) and I assume I am going into a Baptist church. Big mistake! One of the most beautiful churches (Catholic, in this case) that I have ever seen.

Could not get far enough away to get it all in.

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Vicar General of Diocese of Philadelphia…

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Further along in the ride, I got off at The Pirate’s House, where Treasure Island was purportedly written. A little disappointed because it is now a restaurant and a quick check did not reveal anything of great historical import, but some definite building issues came to light (note the angles).

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It was getting later and I decided that there would be no more getting off the trolley. It was time to just sit back and enjoy the ride. That was when it occurred to me that I have a fold-up bicycle in the back of my car. Eureka! I will come into Savannah again, park in a central location, and attack the city by bike!! The city is very flat and the blocks short. Having not ridden a bike very seriously in many years (that’s 69+), I am glad I have a helmet with me. I also learned that riding in the many parks is a no-no- you will get a ticket if caught. Probably won’t do this tomorrow… have a sore back that I want to give a break. So tomorrow may be a trip to Tybee Beach.

A few more pictures…

City Hall                                           Atlanta Olympics, sailing was here.

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11.26.2009- Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2009 No comments

Off to Savannah. Not a great start to the day… when hooking up the car I felt a spasm in my lower back. This is a problem I have had before and, if I am not careful, it can be two to three weeks before I am OK.

So, took it easy, drove to Savannah and was very careful in undoing the car from the hitch. Decided to relax today… nothing exciting.

Only other thing of consequence is that I am out of range for AT&T mobile telephone service- I will have to get in the car and find service to have any telephone conversations during the next week. The good news is that I do have cable TV service here.

Never made it to a restaurant for turkey… made do with some of the pumpkin pie I bought yesterday.

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11.25.2009- Another clean-up day…

November 26th, 2009 No comments

Nothing exciting today. Cleaned Scooter, never got to do the Toad. Did my wash, shopped. Meant to go out for dinner but found some baked beans. Never, ever eat the whole can… I did! Delicious but fattening. Did a fair amount of stuff for the condo… worksheet for cash flow through 2015. We have some sizable expenses coming up and need to figure out how to handle them. A lot of guessing about inflation, insurance costs, future quotes for work to be done, etc…. and I thought I was on vacation!

Pictures I forgot to include yesterday… most of my day was spent in the Market Street area. Open, covered buildings, three in total, which have vendors offering a wide variety of goods. Open every day but not all vendors always show up.

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I was taking pictures and came upon a woman making baskets out of a local grass. Decided a picture would be nice. She looked up and, just as I pushed the button, she put the item she was working on in front of her face. Afterwards, she just stayed that way until I called to her that “It’s OK.” The look on her face when she lowered the item was scary… I felt that I had truly invaded her space. I am not sure but she may be one of those who have a voodoo-like issue with their picture being taken. Who knows, but I will never forget her look.

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Happy to be off to Savannah tomorrow- new town that I know will be exciting and beautiful. Also, hopefully it won’t be rainy (Charleston was) and will have TV for the lazy times (Charleston didn’t).

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11.24.2009- Back in Charleston

November 25th, 2009 No comments

Woke up and, after breakfast, finished yesterday’s blog. Not really sure what I wanted to do. After reading an email suggesting I was to come up with a plan to pay for all needed at the condo in Avalon, I let them know that I would worry about it later. I got in the car and headed east into Charleston. Have decided that I like aquariums… the South Carolina Aquarium is downtown so, why not?

Shots outside…

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Very impressive. The main tank is 385,000 gallons, over half again as large as the one in Kure Beach, NC. There were 700+  fish in attendance.

(Just tried to upload a video of the tank, repeatedly getting an error… sorry.)

Other interesting shots…

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It was about 11:30 and I still had an hour on the meter so I want next door to a National Park Service museum commemorating Fort Sumter. This was at the location from which ferries take visitors from the city to the Fort. A very nice display.

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Left the museum and it was lunch time. Asked several people where was a good restaurant. While there were a few near-by they were quite expensive. The smell of pizza, $3 for a huge piece, made up my mind. When finished, asked for the best carriage ride around town. Of course, it was right next door. Off I go. About an hour long and we covered a lot of the historic part of Charleston, the southern tip of the peninsula.

Beautiful homes and much history. A very attractive city.

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Picture on 1st row, left: Charleston used to rival New Orleans for decorative iron work. Most was scraped for the making of cannon, etc. for the Civil War. Don’t know why not in N.O.

Picture on 3rd row, left: Speculator bought this large home for $7.2 million in 2007 to convert it to a condominium. City refused… now for sale for $7.9 million (most ever in Charleston). Great due diligence, you think!

Picture on 4th row, right: Known as the “three sisters.” All very similar but with distinct differences.

Picture on 5th row, right: Known as the Dolly Parton house. Wonder why?

Picture on 6th row, left: I believe the guide said this is the longest cobblestone street in the U.S. I also did not realize that cobblestone was imported as the ballast in ships.

Picture on 6th row, right: Abraham Lincoln stood on the balcony as Charleston burned during one of it’s five major fires. 600 homes were destroyed.

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11.23.2009 What a day… ups and downs!

November 24th, 2009 No comments

Started off with the realization that (1) no football yesterday (Did the Eagles win?) and (2) no internet access this morning.

Called Rob concerning the internet problem. (early for him, late for me)  ;-). I was leaving the park when he called me back- returned to Scooter… patient as usual, he helped me right the situation.

Felling somewhat frustrated, I decided to make my favorite meal, Train Wreck, (yes, that’s right, that’s what it looks like), a carryover from my college days. I will accept a few $$ to tell you what is in it, some more $$ to tell you how I make it…. I freeze whatever is left after I finish testing the batch. In this case, I have four very nice dinners down the road.

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OK, what to do? It is now almost 11AM- the day is half gone. Looked at the map and decided that it would be nice to visit Seabrook Island and Kiawah, two very upscale residential areas to the southwest of Charleston.

It turns out that the route to Kiawah takes me right by the Angel Oak and the gates are open. The tree is so stunning I must burden you with more pictures…

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An old (as in long-time) friend, Al Gillis purchased a home on Kiawah some years ago and I wanted to see if he was still there. (Very sad… his bride Howerton passed away a few years back and I wondered if he had kept the property.) Well, this is where I want to live… Seabrook is first off the circle and no way are you getting by the guard post! I backed up to the real estate office before the guard post and intercepted a FedEx driver. “What does it take to get in here?” Answer… “You can’t.” He was right… I had tried. “How about going to Kiawah?” “You have to know someone (they call ahead), be going to a restaurant (they call ahead), or be going to a golf club ( they call ahead!).” A borrowed phone book did not have Al’s name in it so I presume he has sold that property.

So, onto Kiawah…I arrived at the gate with the simple statement that I was a tourist and wanted to see the island. “Sir, touring by the private homes is not permitted.” Should have looked up the name of the local golf club and lied. Needless to say, I turned around and headed back to Scooter. No way I am seeing Seabrook Island or Kiawah. I will say that if I ever really want to settle down, this would not be the worst choice. Nice weather, on the water and secure… I like it!

Opted to go and see Folly Beach, to the east. Not much… the standard island that is long and narrow, overcrowded with beach houses that won’t be there after the next hurricane (I am sure this was wiped out during Hugo, in 1989).

A map for your viewing pleasure…. The RV park is at the dime and it is about eight miles to downtown Charleston.

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11.22.2009- Rainy day, what to do?

November 23rd, 2009 No comments

Slept in as forecast was not good. Woke to drizzle- decided to check out the Angel Oak and then go into Charleston and do a museum. As I was leaving, Rob called to help me fix the problem I was having with uploading my blogs… as usual as brilliant as ever, problem solved! And, as I was leaving for the second time, the rain stopped. Good things happening!

The Angel Oak is reputedly the oldest tree east of the Mississippi- presumably the redwoods in California surpass it. In any case, the estimate is over 1,500 years old.

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               Me, with tree.   You ask who took the picture, the answer is…

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               Jack and Jo Tomei , nice folks from Rootstown, Ohio, near Akron.

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Off to the Charlestown Museum but first a necessary lunch. Rather than the apple sitting next to me in the car, a quiche and salad from 39 Rue de Jean (need one in Avalon) did the trick.

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The museum is an eclectic collection based on the history of Charleston and the surrounding area. I just noticed that the brochure cover states that it is “America’s First Museum.” Just googled (I think it is now considered a verb) it and find out that it was founded in 1773, but I question the web sites statement that Charleston is “America’s Most Historical City.” In any case, it is an impressive collection of artifacts.

The Confederate submarine Hunley (a copy, the original is elsewhere)…

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Horse trough carved from cypress log…

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Grave rail, rather than a stone…

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Slave badges, making them legal to trade their labor.

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Beautiful collection of guns and swords

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Charleston has a thing for this polar bear…

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There were displays of Egyptian artifacts, pre-historic animal skeletons, women’s dresses and other esoteric things. A very interesting museum.

Back to Scooter in the rain. Took long route, heading down through old Charleston, checking things out. A truly beautiful, classically southern town! They have a trolley system with four different routes which can be ridden for $5 a day. I think I will do that, maybe tomorrow if it has stopped raining.

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11.21.2009- Ft. Sumter and Patriot’s Point

November 23rd, 2009 No comments

Another great day (if you can forget the frustration of a TV that won’t work- although I think I might have figured that out,,, tell you later if I’m right).

Just realized that I have been on the road for a month (left 10/20), as long as I took for my jaunt to Canada in June. My trip is one-fifth over!

Left campground late enough to miss traffic- headed for Patriot’s Point, site of the aircraft carrier Yorktown and other naval memorials. Went over a fabulous bridge that spans the Cooper River on the northeast side of town.

      Yes, these were taken while driving…

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As I arrived at Patriots Point, I realized that there was a tour leaving “right now” for Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Looking at the schedule, there was only one more trip scheduled for the day so I decided to do it “right now.” Jumped aboard as they were pulling away… well, it was almost that close!

Long trip out to the Fort aboard a replica paddle-wheeler (big diesel or two did the work). Met a very nice family from the Boone, NC area… Buzz, Marsha, Rex and Laine Reynolds. I have to thank them… but for their advice I probably would not have heard of the Hunley (submarine memorial that I plan to visit) or the Angel Tree (a thousand+ year old oak tree that I also plan to visit). It pleased me greatly to see a son and daughter have obvious respect and love for their parents…

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                                                          … but I am not sure about Rex’s choice of shoes!  😉

Most interesting trip to Fort Sumter. We had a National Park Service guide who was very informative and gave a tour for the first half-hour on the island.

On our way there…                               The flag that flew at Fort Sumter.

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Accidental munitions explosion dislodged the wall, stood for many years.

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                                                               Battery Huger, installed after Spanish-

Gun port…                                              American War, late 1890’s.

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Cannon…

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Cannon ball in wall…                              Hole from cannon ball…

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What the fort looked like in 1861.

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After Fort Sumter, it was back to Patriot’s Point to visit the aircraft carrier Yorktown. This is the second of two with this name that served in World War II… the first was sunk. 

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Spent time in the on-board museum honoring recipients of the Medal of Honor.

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The ship is huge. It amazes me that something of such size and complexity can be put together successfully and work. Critical systems and locations are doubled or tripled in case of damage. The logistics of feeding the crew of 3,500 has to be a challenge. Amazing…

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Next door is the Clamagore, a sub that was completed to late to actually serve in WW II.

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Incredibly tight spaces…

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Captain’s cabin, maybe 7’x5’.

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More complexity…

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Long day! Back to Scooter, crackers and cheese for dinner… bad!

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11.20.2009- Charleston, here I come!

November 22nd, 2009 No comments

Up and at ‘em at 7AM… appears that Pat is still employed, working as a rental agent for beach properties. I guess she is the reason John is constantly able to be in search of a negative handicap!  😉

Two cups of leaded coffee did the trick- really woke me up. Managed to take a couple of pictures of their home… the garden and the “pecky’ cypress used in a lot of the first floor.

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It was really good to see John again. The last time was probably fifteen years ago when they were still in Pennsylvania. I am most appreciative of their kindness, especially on very short notice… my bad! So kind were they that I made off with a note pad and some packets of instant grits. Thank you.

A hundred miles to Charleston and what do I get but grief. In the two months on the road (Canada and this trip), no one has been really concerned if I show up before the stated check-in time… except this park. Very hostile to a paying customer… got a little steamed but stayed cool (oxymoron). The choice I was offered was to wait in a holding lot for more than an hour (while they supposedly prepped the site) or get my $20 deposit back and leave. I went back to Scooter and debated what to do… went back in, groveled and made amends. Got in then, no waiting (a guilt trip, maybe). Best part of the story is that there aren’t that many people here, there are many open sites and no one is prepping anything. In fact, if I weren’t expecting a packet of mail early next week, I would be gone- I can’t even get the TV reception to work and there is no one here to help (no, he is not out prepping sites; there is simply no one here other that the front-office clerk). Grrrrrrrrr!

Once established, went across the way to get help… met Don and his wife, Cheryl. He came over… the problem had him stumped as well. So the only channel I get has The 700 Club as the main attraction- is this telling me something?

Spent so much time on the TV reception that I never got to make my surveillance run into downtown Charleston. Worked on the blog (having some grief getting yesterdays to load- called my guru, Rob, to analyze the situation). Until he calls, am working on today’s blog. Then some dinner and a good book about Jamestown. Sure hope Bones or House aren’t on the tube tonight…

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