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Thursday, October 9, 2008

End of Journey

Yesterday we arrived in Hanahan,SC at about 1430. There was a welcome sign on the door courtesy of the McCants'. The shot of the bus was taken before unhooking and maneuvering it into the driveway for unloading. It was only a 230 mile day, but it seemed longer. With major help from Cindy, we proceeded to unpack. Only the initiated will properly appreciate the task of unloading after five months. Imagine the days when you moved from one apartment to another. We ordered pizza and quit early.
We'll be too busy for a few days catching up on various appointments (to include jury duty) to fully absorb the scope of the trip. I'll have to find out how to turn this blog into a hard copy remembrance. I'm sure that process will refresh a lot of memories. We hit thirty states plus Quebec and Ontario. We went from 11,000 feet on the Bear Tooth Highway to minus two feet in the French Quarter. We covered 10,670.3 miles on the bus plus another 3,000 or so in Jeep. We spent $4,887.41 for diesel fuel or 45.8 cents per mile. Trip mileage was 8.676 mpg. Camping fees were $4,573.41 or $33.63 per day. We didn't stay in any Walmart parking lots. Eating out was $2,307.26 or $19.88 per day and groceries were $1,890.30 at $13.90 per day. The trip cost us a grand total of $130 per day. Considering the extent of what we did, saw and ate, I think that's a totally acceptable number.
We made a lot of new friends (Belle made even more) and, more importantly, we visited with many, many old dear friends from as far back as sixty years ago. Those visits are irreplaceable. We couldn't have had finer weather. We can count the rainy days on one hand. The pictures showed nothing but blue skies. The bus performed admirably, climbing the steepest grades with little effort. We had a safety recall to replace the steering gearbox, and we had to replace a rocker switch in the toilet. I once failed to adequately tighten a radiator cap and I got a low coolant light, but otherwise the summer was completely trouble-free. I didn't even have to add air to the tires, ever.
Would we do it all again? Not tomorrow! We are already looking forward to being seasonal campers next summer at the Moorings RV Resort in Belfast Maine. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful adventure and worth every mile, every dollar, and every sunset watched from lawn chairs, martinis in hand. We're glad to have had you along for the trip.
Frank and Durelle

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back in South Carolina

We are in Anderson, SC, up in the hill country. At one point today, when we were west of Atlanta, Durelle said, "If we go straight through Atlanta, we can be home in seven and a half hours!"). Cooler heads prevailed. We are at a KOA with about 250 miles to go. We thought, initially, that we would spend some time here in the hills. But, guess what, sightseeing is not currently high on our priorities. Unless tomorrow has a lot of heavy rain, we'll head home tomorrow. So we'll stop for the night, relax, watch the presidential debate and have a martini...not necessarily in that order. At this point I should probably make some profound proclamation about our adventurous summer. Unfortunately I don't feel very profound. Perhaps, after we get back to Hanahan, SC, I'll put together a summary of the trip.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Shorter, AL

Today we left New Orleans on I-10. When we got north of the Mississippi coast, we dropped south to travel old route 90 from Gulfport to Biloxi where we lived in 60-61 and 62-63 and where both kids were born. They are busily rebuilding the coastal road and the surrounding establishments. We were able to find some familiar landmarks, but much has changed in nearly a half-century. 340 miles today was more than our usual quota. We are just east of Montgomery in a pull-through site just off I-85. We stopped with the satellite signal strength indicator talking to us. We found a spot with a good signal so that we could watch the Red Sox move on to the ALCS.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Morning in New Orleans

Ahhh, the "Big Easy"... It is now Sunday morning. We had a great time at the Army-Tulane game. Army had a ten game losing streak going in. Tulane was a 20 point favorite, and it was their homecoming. We won 44-13 (beating the spread by 51 points! Is that a record?). The skydiver picture is not a cadet, it was done by the 82nd ABN division and was arranged by Tulane. It should be noted that he made a standing landing right on the fifty. Note the US and Tulane flags. There is a shot of one of Army's touchdowns and a shot of the scoreboard with an inept timekeeper. Fortunately the clock was not a factor. Our H-2 mini-reunion got severely downsized because Ike removed the Mark Lowrey roof in Houston, and there were several medical circumstance that reduced the attendees to just five. The picture, courtesy of Mark's brother, Freed, shows the newlyweds, Al and Molly Johnson , in front with Durelle and I and Toni MacAulay in the rear. The final picture is taken within the campground showing the Marriot in the rear where the others stayed.
Friday night the five of us dined at the Bourbon House, one of the Brennan restaurants, that was chosen, in large part, because it was a walkable three blocks from the Marriott. It was typical New Orleans cuisine...pricey, but very enjoyable. We walked back to the Marriott through the street scenes and street characters that can only be found in New Orleans. After Saturday's game Durelle and I returned to the bus where some comfort food (Durelle's impossible cheeseburger pie) was a pleasant antidote to the hectic nature of the previous few days. I later took advantage of the RV park's Jacuzzi to sooth my gimpy ankle which is anxiously awaiting some care when we get back.
Speaking of getting back, that event is scheduled for Friday of THIS week. It has been a long haul. As I have indicated on previous posting, the continual touring and sightseeing eventually takes its toll. Next year we'll plant ourselves on the midcoast of Maine and take life a lot easier than we did this summer. We have no regrets, however. We have seen a lot of this great country and are very fortunate to be able to enjoy it as we have.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Orleans

Today was an adventure! It started out calmly enough. We made a stop in Laurel, MS to have a very nice lunch at the Laurel Country Club with Carolyn Mulloy. Durelle has known her for sixty years or so; I have known her for over fifty. It was a fun visit. From Laurel we drove to New Orleans. When we exited I-10, I told Durelle I wanted the "westbound directions (from Woodalls). In Woodalls it said, "from the west...). At any rate, she gave me the eastbound directions and we turned the wrong way off the exit ramp and quickly got introduced to a section of town that the chamber of commerce does not point out to visiting dignitaries. It was bad before Katrina, and it is worse now. I made some U-turns that rivaled the U-turn on highway 101 in CA. We finally found the RV park. It is astounding. It is an elegant spot, populated by high end rigs, but it is surrounded by a ten foot cinder block wall with electric, wrought iron gates. The guy at the counter that checked us in was wearing a dark blue baseball cap with "police" in white letters on the front. More ominously, he was carrying. I guess if we go into the French Quarter, we can say we went "outside the wire". We are set up. They have all the amenities, and we'll see what the weekend brings. Army almost pulled off a major upset at Texas A&M last weekend, so maybe we can get back on the plus side of the ledger against Tulane.
By the way, I should have mentioned a sign I saw in Gould, AR yesterday. It was in front of a local commercial business and it said, "Pre-Depression Sale".

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Clinton, MS

Today we drove 290 miles from Hot Springs, AR (the boyhood home of Bill Clinton) to Clinton, MS. Tomorrow we'll drive to New Orleans by way of Laurel, MS where we will have lunch with a friend of some sixty years, Carolyn Mulloy. Pardon the briefness of this note. Perhaps we can do better in "Nawlins".