Morning in Albuquerque, Evening in Santa Fe

We stopped in at Valero just outside our camprgound at 8:27 a.m. MST, heading to Albuquerque for a quick peak into life there. We had friends who lived there and loved the place, I’ve always wanted to see it. Ron needed to get windshield wiper fluid, our windshield, needless to stay has quite a collection of bugs on it at this point. The drive is only 48 minutes, we’ll spend the morning there before heading back to Santa Fe.

Pictures of Albuquerque as we rolled into town. I loved the blue on the side of the overpasses, a nice accent. The highway signs are unique compared to ours back home. There are more trees here than we’ve seen elsewhere

Our first visit was to the Grove Cafe and Market, recommended by our friends. I had the Avocado toast, Ron had the breakfast burrito, both were delicious. If I lived here, this would be a regular place for me. I could visualize myself sitting at one of the tables outside, writing and studying. One of the store clerks told me this is unusually hot for this time of year. The winters here don’t sound horrible, she said the lowest it gets is around 40, they don’t get snow. I had to leave some kindness in Albuquerque, this is where I left a Scatter card.

We were sitting at a traffic light when I noticed this wall. Thankfully the light was long enough for me to get a panoramic of it. Our GPS took us through some neighborhoods, it was interesting seeing the different styles of homes compared to back East. We happened across the University of New Mexico in our travels.

While we were at Grove Cafe and Market, we decided to check out Old Town Albuquerque. The stores were all touristy oriented, what I found fascinating were the street peddlers. They laid all of their wares out on blankets, just finishing setting up as we arrived. I almost bought a sterling silver barrette there, but just a little too pricey for my blood. I loved the gentleman we found guarding the door at one of the shops.

The San Felipe de Neri Parish sits on the corner of Old Town Square in Albuquerque. The church was founded in 1706 and has operated ever since. The school kids were praying as they walked along, I think they were reciting the rosary, but I’m not completely sure. As we walked inside the church, I was taken back with it’s beauty. The sacredness of the sanctuary was evident. How many people have worshiped in these pews in the past centuries, only God knows. I brought home the first Hot Air Balloon Chimes in the picture as a souvenir, hopefully one day we’ll make it back here for the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival that takes place in October.

We visited Historic Nob Hill, just a driving tour on our way to Bosque Brewing Co. Unfortunately, the brewery was closed due to power outages from last night’s storm. Listening to the locals talk, they were in desperate need of the rain here.

We came back from Albuquerque, a little touristed out, and headed to the camper. Ron was very excited to find Happy Camper beer at the convenience store, of course we had to do a photo shoot. After I finished my notes on this morning, I called home to PA and talked to my cousin Karen. Her and and Jim are installing a new floor, she was happy for the break. My cousin Karen is exactly 20 years younger than my Mom. They always loved to tell you their age difference:-). Of all the people on Earth, she reminds me most of Mom. I can’t share this trip with Mom, but it was nice to be able to share it with her. We got new neighbors while we were chatting, they’ve already taken off for adventures of their own, but I wanted to commemorate this moment while I was talking to Karen.

Danny and Chris came over to tell us there was a storm on the way. We decided if we wanted to see Historic Santa Fe, we needed to get a move on. We quickly put the pups inside and headed downtown. The view below was seen on our drive there, the other photos were taken as we were entering the city.

We had a late lunch at the Shed, another recommend from our Mt. Pleasant friend’s. I had to include the one of Ron irritated at all of my pictures. I told him, if you don’t want your picture taken, don’t go on vacation. Obviously, he doesn’t feel picture taking is a priority as there are very few from him of me:-). I had the Italian Green Been Salad with chicken, Ron had the mixed green salad with salmon.

Our after lunch stroll.

Danny and Chris came over and helped us navigate through a marital argument. Thirty five years of marital wisdom came in helpful.

We met friends from Virginia for dinner at Rowley Farmhouse Ales . Joe and Leslie are such special friends to us, having dinner with them on this trip was never planned. Each morning when I get up, I ask God to take us where He wants us to go, have us meet who He wants us to meet. To make a long story short, because we didn’t go to Branson, MO, our entire trip changed which led us here tonight, to have dinner with our good friends Joe and Leslie. When we were dating, we spent a lot of time with Joe and Leslie. When we got married, the trips tapered off a bit, but never stopped. Leslie has been battling breast cancer this past year, it hasn’t been easy. We’ve not been able to do any trips together this year. Yet God planned one for us, we had dinner in New Mexico because of how He directed our steps. Not one of us could have made this happen if we tried. And all four of us are grateful. We’re grateful Leslie’s battle has been successful. We’re grateful she has the strength to travel. We’re grateful the four of us got to take a trip together this year, even if we didn’t plan it. We’re grateful.

The food was great. They bring out candied nuts that were sinfully delicious as an appetizer. Les and I both had the Impossible Burger. Ron had shrimp and grits, I thought it was odd to be on the menu in New Mexico, but he said it was good. The sunset was amazing.

Full moon over Santa Fe. Great way to end a good day!

Santa Fe Fun

We pulled out at 8:52 a.m. CST. I hadn’t left a Scatter Kindness card in Amarillo at this point, so I found a unique way. I left one with a little gift tucked up in the electrical box for whoever pulled in after us. I wonder what they will think:-). We passed a truck carrying an arm for a windmill. As we were passing him, it was amazing how long they really are, 120 feet. From the tip to the ground is 380 feet on an actual windmill.

We passed into the Mountain Time zone and New Mexico at 9:11 a.m. MST. Our phones updated automatically this time. Not nearly as many windmills now that we’re out of Texas.

We are definitely not in Virginia anymore. Ron said the lonesome little windmills that are found every now and then are used to fuel the water pumps, they’re able to run with no electricity needed.

I’m taking a Public Relations course right now. The class is 8 weeks long, 70% of the grade is based on a group project. I’m on a team with three other people, we are to create a campaign for our fictional client. This team is all done virtually, which is a new learning experience for me. I was chosen as team leader which means I have to organize our meetings. We have our first meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time. We use go-to meeting which has an app you can use. As we’ve been passing through time zones, it automatically makes the time adjustment for me, which is awesome. The time for me went from 7:00 p.m. Eastern to 6:00 p.m. Central and has now changed to 5:00 p.m. Mountain. I love the technological advances our world has made in the last two decades

We are somewhere on I-40 in New Mexico. We can see three different rain storms in the distance around us. At 12:13 p.m. MST we hit 5283 ft above sea level. That is the same as saying we’re a mile above sea level. I love life on the road.

Vegas is that way:-). There is actually a Las Vegas, NM I now know. We did get a little rain just after passing this exit, first time on the trip. We’ve gone 2,232 miles at this point. In 35 miles we’ll start heading north towards Santa Fe. By the time we reached 7000 feet, at exit 218 on I-40, where we stopped our trek west and for the first time headed north on U.S. 285, I finished my discussion post for this week’s assignment.

We started seeing the mountains in the skyline the closer we got to Santa Fe. As we were driving by the rock formation on the side of the road, I realized, “You don’t see that every day back home.’ You definitely do see them everywhere here. We came across this lonely bike rider, on a very desolate stretch of highway. I’m praying protection for our cyclist friend as he goes on his journey.

We pulled into Santa Fe Skies RV Park at 2:07 p.m. MST. For the first time, as we pulled in and I looked around at the mountains, I had the “kid in the candy” store feeling,” excitement rushed over me. I feel like I’m out west now!

Kevin checked us in at the campground. I loved him! In his 30’s, black hair with ponytail and beard. BIG, boisterous voice! What a welcome to New Mexico, perfect Gave me lots of recommendations for things to do while here. Fun!

As we settled into Aster-4 I had to take a moment to thank God. I’m grateful for the life choices Ron and I have made that allowed us to take this trip. I’m grateful for God’s leading. And I am very grateful for my husband. I truly am not worthy of such a man. Do you know I haven’t driven one bit. He has allowed me to write and study the entire way? He works in the evenings after we come in from our days activities. In this moment on the mountain top, praise Jesus. In those moments in the valley, praise Jesus. I hope and pray we honor the opportunity God has given us with lives well lived.

I realize I have a new time zone developing, Truck time. Truck time was supposed to be always Eastern Standard Time, so we could keep in touch with back home. However, Ron changed it and didn’t tell me. My phone, the Fitbit and the truck are all telling me different times. I literally have no idea what time it is.

We’re heading to Historic Cerrillos Mining Town, which is a ghost town! I will not be getting any steps on this visit, my Fitbit died. I’m thinking I might use this opportunity to break it’s hold on me, we’ll see. I’m pretty addicted to getting my steps in my normal life. When we got to the town, I was reminded of the movie City Slickers, I definitely felt like one. The world I was experiencing is so different from anything I’ve experienced before this. Kid in the candy store is the best description. All of this is part of the Turquoise Trail.

I talked to the lady in the gift shop. New Mexico’s entire population is just over 2 million. She moved here in 1971 from Fairfax county, VA. She came out exploring and has stayed ever since. I would have loved to talk more with her, but there were other people who needed her attention. I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to her any further. The glass electric conductors are a shout out to our friend Dan Sims, who collects them, he would love these. Old and dusty, completely out of a movie scene is how I would describe the museum.

I thought it was funny to see these two together. I never thought I would see John Wayne and Kiefer Sutherland standing side by side. The movie “Young Guns” was filmed here, as well as John Wayne’s “Cowboys”.

My Dad was a coal miner. He died over 30 years ago, when I saw this in the museum, it reminded me of him. He had a great smile, he loved to laugh and he enjoyed people. I saw all of that when I looked at this figurine. This gem made me think of my Dad and smile.

We spent $43 in souvenirs here plus $4 for our tour through the museum, $2 per person. I bought cross necklaces and a homemade corn bead necklace. The corn bead necklace reminded me of my Mom, she always loved to put up Indian Corn in the fall, I bought it for her. I bought an arrowhead for Cody, I just felt like it was something he would like. When I look at both of these items they’ll remind me of them and make me smile.

We visited the Mine Shaft Saloon, supposedly one of the oldest saloons in New Mexico. The Cantina Tavern was an extension of the Mine Shaft Saloon, connected by the hallway in the middle of the entrances. The place wasn’t very busy but had some interesting sights. The back wall had a great mural. These are located in the town of Madrid, an art colony and fun way to spend the afternoon.

The wall at the end of the bar is covered in dollar bills, which then extended down the entire length of the very long bar.

I left a $20 tip with a Scatter card for the waitress and didn’t tell Ron. He’ll find out when he reads this post. As I’m slipping the money into the bill folder he’s telling me how he refused to tip more than 20% on over priced drinks in a tourist trap. I didn’t say a word, although I was thinking, “You’re leaving her way more than 20% today. ” I worked my way through college waiting tables in a tourist trap, it’s not the glamorous lifestyle he apparently thinks it is:-). We didn’t buy a t-shirt, but I did take a picture. They had an authentic cigarette machine which I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

Today was the first time I haven’t been able to take notes directly on the blog because we didn’t have service. I wasn’t able to send a text, which made me realize how dependent I am on being connected. I couldn’t use google docs. I ended up making a task everywhere we went and then adding details in the notes. Then, as soon as we got back to the campground, I copied/pasted them into the blog and started adding pictures. If I don’t, I’ll forget. We have done and seen so much in the last two weeks there is no way I can remember it all if I don’t write it down. I love sending postcards, the one below we sent to Ron’s Dad, it has lots of good information on it for future reference.

Ron caught sight of a baseball field out of the side of his eye, we had to stop and see it. The baseball field looked much different from what we’re used to back east. This picture is for my brother Matt, a lifelong baseball player and fan, we knew he would love it.

Ron and I talked about how easy it would be to take all of this beauty for granted. We also talked about how depressing it would look day after day. because there isn’t a lot of variety. But I guess it’s the same for us back home, how vibrant our world can look to someone who is seeing it for the first time versus someone who sees it everyday and takes it for granted. The air is a lot dryer out here. The temperature is 84 but humidity is 24%, at home the humidity is 67%. Ron says that is a dry day for home and probably really good weather. Beautiful sights on the way home from our day of touring.

People always takes pictures of their toes in the sand at the beach. I thought it would be fun to take a picture of my toes on the rocks in New Mexico. I took this at the spot where the baseball field was I talked about earlier. I stood on these rocks to take the picture.

We met our neighbors next door, Danny and Chris. Danny came up while I was talking on the phone with one of my classmates. I loved it! He was so funny, just came up and sat down, waiting for me to get off of the phone. Him and Chris are full time RV’ers from Florida, they sold everything 6 years ago and have been on the road ever since. Everything they own is in their Class A motor home. They tow a jeep as their get around vehicle.

Danny was born in Burlington, NC and lived his first 7 years there. He grew up in Miami, then moved to Ft. Meyers, where he met Chris. According to Danny, full-time RVing isn’t for everyone. If you want to be on the road full time, you have to give up all your stuff, not store it. If you’re going to to store it you might as well keep your house, it’s cheaper than paying for a storage unit. He doesn’t know where they will go next, they are here for 2 nights, like us. Danny is 68, Chris is 82, in Chris’s words, he’s her boy toy:-). They have been married 35 years, second marriages for both of them. Chis ran away from her home in Chicago when she was 16 years old, with her boyfriend. They ran off to Tallahassee where they had 2 daughters before separating ways. She met Danny working for the school district in Ft. Myers.

We learned random bits of information from Danny and Chris. We’re higher here than Denver, Denver has already had snow according to Danny and Chris. Danny’s Mom is 91 years old, lives in Tallahassee with his sister, and still drives to visit his brother in George, by herself. Most of the rented RV’s you see on the road are Europeans. There is a great RV Park in St. Petersburg, FL called Ft. DeSoto, that is privately owned and right on the water. The park is hard to get into at Christmas. We also learned, since they are Florida residents they get half off at the state parks for camping. And we can only book a Florida state park 11 months out, residents get to do 12 months out, which is why we can never book Key West at Christmas.

Below is a picture of Danny and Chris’s home. The Gnomes ride in the Jeep when they are in between spots. The bar that is used to tow the jeep is a Push Bar, what that means is you cannot back up with the car still attached to it, if you do, it bends the bar. Push bars are expensive. Apparently, people have learned the hard way, you can’t back up with them still attached.

The sky this morning when I woke up took my breath away with it’s beauty. Change of Pace + Change of Place really does equal Change of Perspective. Grateful is the only word that comes to mind. We had thunder storms through the night last night, none of which were on the radar. If it’s going to storm, I’m glad it’s at night!

The time difference had me up earlier than normal. I chatted with Chris as she went on her morning walk. My favorite times are sitting in front of the camper in the morning during the quietness of the early day. The morning was cold, remnants of last night’s storm seen in the puddles scattered around the patio. As the sun started to rise, so did the temperature. I started out snuggled up in a blanket, by the time I went in I had to change into shorts. I snagged this picture when I was walking around this morning, so beautiful here, so different from what we’re used too.

Amarillo Awaits

At 8:17 a.m. CST Ron shifted the truck into drive to start the slow roll out of site 44, we didn’t move. He looks at me and says, “Did you pull the wheel chocks?” I shake my head no. Realization dawns on both of us and we smile. Ron jumped out and pulled the chocks, by 8:19 we were heading to the next stop: Amarillo, TX. Our home for the night will be Big Texan RV Ranch where, if you eat a 72 oz steak in an hour, it’s free! We started seeing the billboards halfway through Arkansas. Ron has decided he wants to try and eat the steak, I said no. Besides the fact, if he doesn’t finish it the meal costs $72, I’m sure there are much better things we can do with an hour (and the money) than that.

Wide open spaces, sprawling ranches and silent wind mills fill the land. I took a break from studying, watching the landscape slide by. The blue sky spotted with fluffy clouds is beautiful. Every now and then there is an oil drill, some working, most not. Every time I try to get a picture of one, I’m too late.

We passed this sign just before Exit 20 on I-40, still in Oklahoma. North Fork Correctional Center is the reason for the sign. The prison is medium to maximum security, privately owned. The facility is home to 2,400 male inmates who are in rehabilitation programs.

We crossed into Texas at 10:41 a.m. CST. We are in the “square” part of Texas, the panhandle. The wind is blowing strong, the wind mills have gotten even more plentiful. I did not know they were called wind mill farms. Texas, if it was a country, would be fifth in the world for the amount of electricity it produces from wind mills. No other state produces as much energy from wind mills as Texas does. We can feel the wind blowing the trailer, it is coming from the southwest to the north. Interesting rest area we passed by as well. We only saw one operating rest area in Oklahoma, all of the others we passed were closed. Although I feel like I can see for a 100 miles, in reality, it’s 12 miles one can see before the curve of the earth interferes with your sight line.

And then we passed the “Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ” which resides in Groom, TX. The cross is 19 stories high and weighs 2.5 million pounds of steel. We didn’t stop, but there is also a reproduction of the empty tomb. When you look at the website, you’ll see the statues depicting Jesus’ journey to the cross.

We decided at 12:53 p.m. CST we would keep site 115. Unbeknownst to us, it is a buddy site, which means our door opens out to our neighbors door. A little awkward, but even more, we don’t want our pups bothering them. They love to yap at anything. We’re only here for one night, I’m sure it will be fine. Weather a little cooler, and the breeze isn’t warm like it was in Oklahoma City.

Interesting nicknames for Amarillo, TX. “Bomb City”, only place in America that assembles/disassembles nuclear bombs. “The Big Flat Brown;” which comes from the saying “It’s so flat you can see your dog run for three days as long as it’s not brown.” A picture of the flat brown is below. And let’s not forget the truckers who refer to Amarillo as “Slamarillo,” apparently company of the opposite sex is easily found here, not going to investigate it for accuracy:-).

Cadillac Ranch, built in 1974, is a rebel art display financed by Stan Marsh the Third. He wanted a piece of art that would “baffle” the locals. A group of artists calling themselves the Ant Farm, came up with the idea to pay tribute to the Cadillac tail fin by half burying them in one of Marsh’s fields. Apparently they are at the angle of the Great Pyramid of Giza. And so we went!

We arrived just 20 hours after someone set the oldest of the Cadillacs on fire. Police are still looking for suspects.

Cadillac Ranch RV park sits just outside of the exhibit. The park seemed primarily permanent residents, not for the recreational RVer. The Second Amendment Cowboy calls the park home. He was originally the “Muffler Man.” Prior to being purchased in 2004 for the Cadillac Ranch RV Park, the cowboy had been used as target practice and was riddled with bullet holes, which were repaired before he was sold. From the bullet holes is where his new name, Second Amendment Cowboy came. The second amendment reads: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. To you, I introduce the Second Amendment Cowboy!

We saw the Hoof Prints of American Quarter Horses, or at least 2 of them. There are over a 100 of the fiberglass horses spread out across Amarillo. Each horse is prepared by a local artist. I was able to snag a photo of one of them as we drove past.

Palo Duro Canyon was an unexpected surprise. We knew we wanted to get to Amarillo early today to do a bit of exploring, we had no idea what we would find. Ron wanted to do the Cadillac Ranch, that took literally minutes. We didn’t know what to do next and this was top of the list for things to do in Amarillo. The canyon is breathtakingly beautiful and you can drive to the bottom of it, great for non-hiking people like us. The drive down was treacherous, the sides steep, but well worth it. Ron was amazed when I walked to the edge of the canyon without fear, I told him this was my month for overcoming fears. I guess God is doing more work in me than I realized. The stream that carved this canyon has been diverted and no longer flows through it, yet the canyon floods quickly in heavy rains. Well worth the trip.

You can camp at the bottom of the canyon. We would definitely take advantage of this if we were back this way again. Can you imagine how beautiful it would be at sunest? Or in the early morning? Breathtaking!

Jack Sizemore’s Traveland RV Museum was our next stop. We actually met Jack Sizemore and shook his hand. Great guy! I had no idea who he was when we were talking to him, looking back, I’m glad I didn’t, the conversation was more authentic as a result. Jack tells the story of how he was sitting at home one night when the CEO of Camping World called and told him he wanted to buy him out. Jack, being 78 years old, thought it was a good idea, but he negotiated the contract to his benefit. He still gets to run the original RV store and the museum. Truly, walking through the museum was like taking a step back in time. All of the RV’s have been restored because of Jack’s love for the lifestyle. One RV was a 1955 that was in pristine shape, Jack found it in a barn, completely original, no restoration needed. Each sign outside of every RV tell’s of Jack’s investment in the project. He has a passion for RV’ing more than most, and it shows in his life’s investment. We saw the first Airstream ever made. Another unexpected surprise on our trip.

Jack started his dream from this gas station, one of which he made a replica of in the museum.

We stopped by Bubba’s 33 for an afternoon drink. We needed to kill time before dinner, believe it or not, we did the Cadillac Ranch, Palo Duro Canyon and the RV Museum with time to spare. We’re getting good at this tourist thing. When we came out of Bubba’s we had a slight problem, the car next to us had parked extremely close. Needless to say, I waited for Ron to pull out before I got in the truck.

The Big Texan, where if you eat a 72 oz steak with fixings in 60 minutes it’s free, was Ron’s choice of dinner. We learned from our hostess, on average 1 person a day attempts the feat. Only one out of 10 actually accomplish it. And, last Saturday, a woman weighing approximately 135 pounds ate TWO! What do you get if you do devour 72 oz’s of steak in 60 minutes? A t-shirt, another big meal and your name on the list. Table side entertainment was offered in the way of the two gents pictured below, a little uncomfortable, but when in Amarillo, you go with the flow.

He didn’t get a shot at the 72 ouncer, but he did get a t-shirt and this picture.

Time to head back to the camper. We packed the tourism in today. Well worth it, but we’re tired. We met our neighbor when we arrived back at our home for tonight. He and his wife are traveling in an Airstream. They are from Houston, TX and are on their way home from a 14,000 mile trip to Alaska. They left home June 15th. He said there were days when all they did was cross the U.S./Canada border. They were staying in Canada but wanted to eat in the U.S. so they made multiple trips back and forth. They’ll be home by the end of the week, stopping in Arlington, TX tomorrow to visit friends before they make the last leg home. God speed to our new friends. I snapped a shot of them pulling out on their way to Arlington.

A beautiful ending to a beautiful day.

Heading to Oklahoma

Pulled out of the campground at 10:06 a.m. CST. We were barely 10 miles down the road when the side door popped open on the camper. The door I had just closed after putting away the last chock and turned off the auto leveler. The highway is very narrow, there was not much room to pull over. Ron wouldn’t let me close it, so I was praying fervently for protection as he got out and closed the door, before getting us on the road again. I told him I thought I had shut the compartment, to which he replied, “Apparently you did not.” We are back on the road safely, may the rest of this leg be uneventful. We crossed into Oklahoma at 10:26 a.m. CST.

We’re in Indian Country. The Grand Casino and Hotel is the last photo. Ratt is playing there soon. Lots of casinos in OK.

We’re passing through America’s Corner, Oklahoma City.

Arrived at 2:02 p.m. CST. at Mustang Run RV Park. This park is perfect for a quick overnight. Easy on/off I-40. Sites are all paved, the majority are pull thru. Doesn’t have a camp store, but has a wonderful recreation room area with outdoor pool. The front row is right beside I-40, so it’s noisy, definitely want to get a site behind the building.

While picking up supplies we saw Storm Tracker Bobby Payne, unfortunately I wasnt quick on the draw with the camera, didn’t get a pic. He’s been following tornadoes around the country for over 20 years.

The heat is stifling, it is accompanied by a mild breeze that blows continuously. I’m reminded of our visit to Harlingen, TX last year, it has the same warm breeze.

Lazy afternoon watching Rafa win his 19th Grand slam. Sophia took the couch. Rocco stayed close, he didn’t want to miss a point.

Paul Harvey is well known for saying, “And now you know…the rest of the story.” The rest of today’s story is that I typed the above paragraph hours ago when Rafa was 2 games from winning the match. Right after I saved the above draft, Medvedev broke back, won the set and changed the entire match. Lesson learned, don’t jump to conclusions. Now, the match is in the fifth set, Rafa was up two breaks and just got broken back. I’m hoping and praying I don’t have to change the above paragraph. Time will tell.

On a side note, as I’m waiting anxiously for this match to end, my go to Scatter card drop this trip is leaving money for a load of laundry with a card everywhere we stop. Today, when Ron and I went to do laundry, the machine literally wouldn’t accept our money and just started running. Draw your own conclusions on that one.

And Rafa won! Today is a good day in Oklahoma City!

Dinner with the King’s

We climbed in the truck at 10:32 a.m. CST to head towards Ft. Smith Alma RV Park. Friends are coming for dinner tonight at the camper. I met Alicia Danielson the week after my Mom passed away, to the day. Mom died on Sunday, the 16th of February 2014, I met Alicia on Sunday the 23rd. She was working for the church we attended at the time, recruiting volunteers. They had a volunteer tent set up for sign ups. She was standing at the corner of the tent when I walked up. She greeted me with a smile, I’ll never forget the hug she gave me when I told her I had just lost Mom. I’m grateful to say, I’ve received many hugs from her since. If you know Alicia, and you’ve been hugged by Alicia, you know she has a hug sent straight from heaven.

The next year, when I left Nautica, I started volunteering for her on a weekly basis. Through that time together our friendship deepened. One particular conversation we had sitting in the old auditorium at WEC (Waters Edge Church), is particularly special. She was single at the time, I was encouraging her in her singleness. Within weeks, she connected with her now husband, Daniel. Their first date was Feb. 12, 2015. He brought her a teddy bear. They married Jan. 21, 2017 and lived in Chesapeake, VA until this past January, when they moved to Rogers, AR. I was afraid I might never get another hug from Alicia, but God willing, I’ll get one today. And one from Daniel, and their precious son Nathaniel. God is good.

The book we’re listening to on this part of our journey is below. Definitely keeps our attention and helps the miles fade away.

We pulled into our next stop at 2:13 p.m. CST. A quaint campground, I feel like we’ve stepped back in time. The King’s are on their way, trekking from Rogers, to see us. I can’t wait to hand deliver Scatter cards to Alicia.

I got my hug! The King’s arrived shortly after 3:00 p.m. A surreal feeling washed over me as I watched them pull into the campground. Yet at the same time, I felt like a little piece of home had just met me on the road. Everyone needs an Alicia in their life.

As soon as we saw each other we picked up right where we left off. The last time I saw Alicia was in January. We picked up lunch at a fast food place, and drove to Regent University, Alicia was the chauffeur. We sat in the parking lot and ate our lunch. Both of our lives were about to change in two very different directions. She was moving to Arkansas, and I was going back to school for my Masters degree after a 25 year hiatus. We sat there and ate lunch like none of that was about to happen, not knowing when or if we would ever see each other again. Who knew it would only be nine months. May we never go more than a year my friend, may we never go more than a year.

Pictures from our great day below.

Sweet Nathaniel, be still my beating heart!

A wonderful visit with wonderful friends.

Stumbled across a parade on the way back from dinner for S.A.D.A

WiFi wasn’t great here, this is the first campground we’ve had this problem. We would try a different campground in the area next time. Beautiful morning in Arkansas.

Rocco loved the rock! King of the world.

We crossed the Arkansas River on the way to church.

Loved attending Life Church Ft. Smith. Friendly greeting would be a huge understatement, I don’t think there was one person we walked past who didn’t greet us. We were barely out of the car before the golf cart was there asking us if we wanted a lift to the door, which we declined.

During the tithes and offerings, the Campus Pastor, Steve Reed told the congregation if anyone is in need, feel free to take any loose cash that is in the plate. The first time in my entire life of attending church have I heard those words come out of a pastor’s mouth. Bravo Life Church, bravo!

The Open Door program they have to help people connect is great. A stack of easy invite cards is on every seat.

Worship was amazing. Sang two of my favorites, “Stand in Your Love,” and “Surrounded.”. The band was playing “Free Falling” when we arrived which was amazing.

Sam Marin, Campus Pastor from Midwest City, OK, gave the message. Last message in the series, “Never Stand Alone.”

Great visit. Campus Pastor shook our hands on the way in and made sure to shake them again on the way out. The last thing we heard from a volunteer as we walked out the door, “Have a great week! We love you!”

God willing, we will. On to the next leg of our journey.

Memphis Moments

We pulled out of Two Rivers Campground at 8:43 a.m. CST headed to Memphis. Our itinerary has changed because we can’t get on to Ft. Leonard Wood Army base. Ron lived there during 3rd through 5th grades and really wanted to show it to me. When he called yesterday to see if we would be able to get on base, he was told no. Since 9/11 you are no longer allowed on the base unless you have a purpose for being there. Visiting your old childhood home is not considered a purpose. Ron was extremely disappointed. After overcoming his disappointment, we decided to change our trip. We’re no longer going to Branson, the Four Corners or the Ghost Ranch. Instead, we are traveling to Arkansas to visit friends, then Oklahoma City, OK. We’re stopping in Amarillo, TX for me to conquer my fear of horses (we shall see), before landing in Santa Fe, NM for a couple of nights. Less driving for Ron, more exploring for us.

We crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas just after 1:30 p.m. CST on our way to the Memphis KOA in Marion, AR.

The Bass Pro shop that sits on the right before the Memphis-Arkansas Memorial bridge in Memphis, TN, definitely a sight to behold. We were going to check it out, there’s a restaurant at the top of the pyramid. But you have to pay $10 to ride the elevator up and we thought that was ridiculous. One thing Ron and I are finally starting to learn in our old age, the myriad of ways people take advantage of tourists. In Nashville at the campground, when I checked in she offered me their shuttle to downtown, just $10/person per ride. Our Uber was $11…for two.

We learned about one the oldest Civil Rights cold cases in the country when we passed the billboard below. Isadore Banks was brutally murdered in June 1954. Journalists put up the billboard, hoping to solve this unthinkable crime. More details on the case can be found here. I definitely will be researching this more when we get home.

We were escorted to site 42 at 12:57 p.m. CST. Treats were waiting for our pups at check-in. The area we’re camping in reminds me of the Delaware I know, flat and country. The land isn’t as flat as Delaware, but close.

We headed straight to Graceland once we set up camp, it was our purpose for adding Memphis to the trip. When we arrived we decided to go for the full Elvis experience which was $61 per person. John Stamos narrated our tour. The tour included earphones and an Ipad. mini. I think Elvis would like that, putting the latest technology to use, he was all about keeping up with the times. Of course, if you’re truly going to keep up, these days you need wireless earphones and an Android. I’m only saying that because I switched to the Google Pix 3 because of the camera. I haven’t had the problems with this phone I had with my Iphone. I was never a huge Elvis fan, but you have to give respect where respect is due. Already the impact he had on rock and roll, movies, life is evident and we haven’t even got on the shuttle to the house yet.

Honestly, Graceland was a blur. The house looked like what now would be considered an average home from the outside. For the time period, he had all of the latest toys. The tour was very well done, the racquetball court and viewing room were our favorite. I did not know he was a twin, I did not know his parents out lived them (meaning Elvis and his twin brother Jesse who was stillborn). How sad for Elvis’s parents to lose both of their sons. I can only imagine how painful Elvis’s death was for them, especially with all of the press. They had to have a deep faith, which Elvis inherited.

The books beside the bed in the airplane were spiritual books. He won 3 Inspirational/Spiritual Grammy Awards, one of which was just a few years before his death. He really was a wonderful person, it is sad so many people only think of him because of how he died. Elvis’s death shouldn’t define him, he had a bad moment in life, who hasn’t? I just pray my bad moments don’t kill me, like they did him. But he did a lot of good too, more than people even know. You could see it in the remnants of his life. I understand why he had that gorgeous smile, the boy knew how to play. He knew how to live. Obviously, moderation wasn’t his strong suit, if it was maybe he wouldn’t have died as young as he did. My favorite shots are below.

When I was researching something for this post, I came across this quote from Elvis; it really struck home with me:

“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”

By the way, I’m sitting in the Walmart parking lot, literally in Arkansas, typing. Ron and I just left Graceland, we’re picking up groceries for the next few days. I don’t have to grocery shop. I truly am on vacation! In all transparency, Ron is the cook in our household, today isn’t the only day I don’t shop. Also, it’s 94 degrees and feels like a 104. I thought the temps would be cooler out west.

Two shout outs to Elvis’s hallways. The mirrored hallway was fun for taking pictures while descending to the media room. The carpeted green hallway, couldn’t help but get a selfie on our way to the Jungle Room.

We lucked out and got to see two extra exhibits. One of Muhammad Ali; one on the First Century of Motorcycles. I loved the Doodlebug from the motorcycle exhibit. I thought if we used all of Ali’s exercise equipment, it wouldn’t hurt either one of us.

We had a drink at the Jungle Room bar at Graceland, where I got to send one of the coolest text’s I think I’ve ever sent. I left a Scatter card with some cash under the pineapple. I love wondering about who finds it? What will they think? How will it affect their day? If I found some cash with a card asking me to be kind, it would make me smile. Hopefully I am making someone smile at the exact time they need one. We also learned during the tour, Elvis didn’t like the taste of alcohol.

Here is the inside joke of the day for Ron and I:

On the way here, Ron and I spent about 2 hours re-planning our entire trip, as I said earlier. At one point I was making a reservation at a campground, talking to a new friend on the phone. She asked me what kind of truck we were driving. This is not a common question when making a reservation. My response, “Chevy!” The truth is I have no idea what kind of truck we have. The truck is completely Ron’s thing, I stay so far out of it I don’t even know it exists. Ron, however does know and is listening. He immediately yells, “We’re in a Dodge Ram!’ We have driven thousands of miles in this truck and that is how dumb I am. Ron was happy I didn’t say Ford;-). I will never be able to live this one down, I can guarantee you that.

Spending the evening at the campground watching Rafa hopefully make it to the final of the U.S. Open. Pretty sunset here in Marion, AR.

Nashville Nights

We passed into Central Time zone at exactly 2:00 p.m. Ron’s phone updated within a minute to the time change, mine, of course wasn’t set to auto change, so I had to update it myself. Not quite as fun. We’re leaving the truck clock on East Coast time so we don’t get confused.

Willie Nelson greeted me when I checked us in to the campground. We started backing into site 212 at Two Rivers Campground at 3:41 p.m. CST. Unfortunately, no grass for the puppies on ours, although many do have grass.

Left around 4:30 to head downtown to Music City. We took an Uber, John was our driver. I asked him the question he’d obviously heard before, “If you were only here for one day, what would you do?” His answer was quick and detailed. His first suggestion was where we were already going. Broadway St., home to live music in Nashville. In his words “The worst country band you hear here will be better than the best country band you will ever hear in Newport News”. Broadway and 1st-5th Avenues is where live music lives in Nashville. The city is built on a grid, avenues run north and south, streets run east to west. Bars several stories high line the streets, the roofs offer spectacular views from all vantage points. Live music can be heard from all levels, the hustle and bustle is energizing.

Other touristy suggestions John gave us were the Grand Opry House of course. The American Pickers store is here, as well as, The Hermitage, the ancestral home of President Andrew Jackson. Centennial Park is home to the Parthenon, a full size replication from ancient Greece that houses the statue of Athena. The gem John gave us that I was unaware of was the Gulch, An entertainment area in Nashville that has Angel Wings painted on it’s walls, the latest addition, butterfly wings. Thanks to John, a visit to the Gulch was added to our agenda.

According to John, the best BBQ in town is Martin’s BBQ, with various locations around Nashville. Hattie-B’s is the restaurant that serves the best Nashville hot chicken, different heat levels are used to prepare it. Biscuit Love is a great breakfast place, there is one in the Gulch close to the Angel Wings. The Bluebird cafe is located in Green Hills, a suburb of Nashville. Unfortunately, you have to get tickets in advance, which are done by lottery so we’ll have to save it for another trip. The Listening Room is another venue similar to the Bluebird that John suggested, but we didn’t have time to check it out.

John’s most famous passenger was Darius Rucker, who he picked up about a year ago in downtown Nashville. I happened to be sitting in the seat Darius sat in that day. He was with another guy. Their conversation, how Darius wished he’d invested in real estate in Nashville years ago.

John dropped us off at Acme Feed and Seed where we started our tour of Music City. The bar and grill sits across from the Tennessee Titans Stadium, the Cumberland River separating them. This picture was taken from the rooftop of Acme, best place to get pictures in my opinion.

The Redneck Lomein was delicious, full of all kinds of unexpected goodness. Ron had pulled pork tacos. Great view from the roof. At first I just thought the phone booth was an antique, there for display. I realized, it is actually a place you can charge your phones. Directly behind it is the picture of Johnny Cash and Billy Graham. Ron saw it as we were walking down from the rooftop. Two great men who lived out their life’s passion.

Stopped in Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk Bar. Ron said she wasn’t very good, I thought she was great, but I’m not the music major in the family. I trust his opinion.

Had a drink at Luke Bryan’s 32 Bridge Bar. Listened to a couple of guys but couldn’t hear what their names were. Left my first Scatter card here with the tip for the band.

Stopped in Tootsies Orchid Lounge , where Willie Nelson claims to have gotten his start. The Jake Maurer Band was playing. They played Jake’s favorite George Strait song, “If It Wasn’t for Texas.” Jake toasted the crowd after they finished the song. He had everyone lift their drinks and then toasted, “Here’s to always being sincere (pause), unless you don’t mean it!’ Another Scatter card was left here.

Next stop, Dierks Bentley Whiskey Row. The band was just finishing so we moved on. Not enough time to even get a picture.

Huge homeless population in Nashville. When we checked into the campground, I received a bunch of $1 bills in change from mailing post cards. The ones were all the clerk had to give me for change. God always knows what He is doing. Needless to say, they were gone and then some by the time we came home from Broadway. I ran out of Scatter cards too!

We listened to Benny James at Cerveza Jack’s. Ron was watching tennis, Andreescu vs. Mertens at U.S. Open, first set. Connor is the bouncer talking to Benny in the last picture. He wins the award for “Friendliest Guy in Nashville,” welcomed us with love! I enjoyed watching him work the door. He loves what he does, there is no doubt about that. He talked to everyone, welcoming them all in genuinely, every person who passed by.

We ended our evening back at the Acme Feed and Seed so Ron could get a t-shirt. I gave the last cash I had to a young homeless girl on our way out of town. I’m working on my fear of people. First tip I begged Ron to give it for me, he wouldn’t. I worked up the courage, walked up to the stage, didn’t make eye contact, and dropped the bills. By the end of the night I was giving money out left and right, making eye contact, and blessing them with words, felt really good to overcome my fear. I’m currently writing a series on conquering fear, someone has to go first, might as well be me.

We left Broadway at 7:31 p.m. CST. We Ubered back with Vince who is from Nigeria. He moved to Nashville 6 years ago because he had family here. He had a deep, gravelly voice. He’s been driving Uber for three years. He says it’s OK, but it’s a hard job. He said driving is better than a lot of other jobs he could do. He used the Uber app for his maps, first time I ever heard it. The app literally said, “Drop off Ron on the left.” Overall, great evening in Nashville.

Day two we took John’s advice and went to the angel wings first. I was disappointed to learn the Butterfly Wings were a temporary exhibit promoting Taylor Swift’s latest album. We didn’t get to see those, but we did get our wings.

We came across the Musica Statue at Buddy Killen Circle on the way to the Parthenon in Centennial Park. The statue is currently the largest sculpture group in the United States. Nine naked men and women, each 14-15 ft. tall (more than twice life sized), dancing together in a circle.

Parthenon was closed for construction, so all we were able to see was the outside. However, when the construction in this area is finished in late 2020 it would be worth visiting again.

On the way to the Grand Old Opry House scored a picture of the Nashville Skyline.

We arrived 15 minutes early for the backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry. Tickets were $33 per person. I had time to do a little shopping in the gift shop prior to our tour where I met J.P. He is from Lynchburg, VA, he moved here with his girlfriend. She’s going to school and he’s enjoying living in Nashville immensely. He is planning a trip home to see his parents soon.

The tour of the Grand Ole Opry was worth the money. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood were there to greet us via a well done video collage. They gave us the history of the Opry, from the Ryman Theater to today.

My favorite part was learning about the Circle. I did not realize it existed until today. The Ryman Theater served as the original Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1973. When they moved to their new location, they cut a circle out of the stage at the Ryman. The circle is now center stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Every young, aspiring musician wants to get in the Circle. We made it to the Circle, but not nearly the same as it is for an artist.

1979 Rolls Royce owned by Tammy Wynnette sits outside the doors of the Opry.

Corey, our tour guide is pictured here at the artist’s entrance.

The Grand Ole Opry post office is how you can write a letter to your favorite members of the Grand Ole Opry. Just put the artist name and send it addressed to Grand Ole Opry. The music house is one of only three places you don’t need a complete address to send your letter, the others are Santa Clause and the President.

And of course there is the Member wall. Members can play any night they want. Keith Urban showed up a couple of months ago and played a song. If not a member you have to be invited to play here. There is no limit to how many members can be invited to join any given year, although in 2015 and 2016 there were no new members.

The Grand Ole Opry has 18 dressing rooms, numbered 1-19, no 13 because no one wants bad luck before going on stage. Roy Acuff’s dressing room is now Vince Gill’s whenever he is in town. We saw the one Rayna James (Nashville T.V. show) used for tapings of the show. There is a couple’s dressing room for those who need it, Johnny and June Cash’s picture hangs in the center of it.

They have a family room backstage for friends and family to hang out while waiting on the stars to do their thing. The painting below was painted by Archie Campbell from Hee Haw. He said this is what the Grand Ole Opry looks like on a Saturday night. There is a line in middle of the painting from the 2010 flood. 4 ft of water flooded the family room, and entire back stage. The flood didn’t stop the music, shows continued at other venues that didn’t have flood damage. After 5 months, the Opry was fully operational again. The radio show that can be found on 650 a.m., or at Grand Ole Opry has not missed a Saturday night since 1925, making it the longest running radio show in the world. Every show is broadcast over these channels. All tickets are the same price no matter who is playing, tickets start at $45 and go to $110 for front row seats.

Ron enjoyed being on stage at the Opry. You could imagine what it would be like waiting to get called out to the Circle. There’s a special bench, if you know the right people you can sit on stage for the show (second picture). The seats are old church pews that cushions have been added too. The Ryman Theater was originally a church, they carried that with them to the Grand Ole Opry House. God is everywhere, especially in country music.

And then there is the front of the house, the place where many a people have enjoyed the show.

Came upon Cooter’s Museum, all things Dukes of Hazard, when we left the Grand Ole Opry. Of course we had to stop. Once, when I was spending the night in Roanoke, VA while I was Flight Attendant I had a memorable encounter. I had walked down to the farmer’s market they happened to be having that day. I had on bib overall shorts and t-shirt. An elderly black man sat down next to me. He felt he needed to share his opinion with me. His opinion was, I was cute, but I sure wasn’t any Daisy Duke. Over 20 years later, I still remember him. I thanked him for his thoughts at the time. What I should have said was, “Thanks for your opinion, but I didn’t ask for it, nor do I care.” Today, when I gazed at Daisy’s jeep, that is the memory that came to mind.

The sales associate at Cooter’s recommended Scoreboard for lunch. He wasn’t wrong. Excellent pulled pork nachos with baked beans. Ron had the smoked chicken. All I can say is, I didn’t eat dinner and was fully satisfied!

Played 9 holes at Two Rivers Golf Course, a difficult municipal course that was in great shape. Had a great view of the Nashville Skyline from hole 8, except for the power lines. We were paired up with Brian and Donnie. Gorgeous day for golf, despite the score.

And that is a wrap on Nashville. Loved it, glad we came, lots of other places to see before we head back here again.

Neighbors at Two Rivers

We’re spending the night at the campground, resting for the next leg of the trip. We met our neighbors around us. Jim and Linda are directly behind us, we learned their story first. Linda is turning 67 on Sept. 24th and they are on a birthday trip for her, leaving from Dallas, TX, heading to Norfolk, VA. They’re taking a month, we are taking three weeks. We are going to Memphis tomorrow, they just came from Memphis. Their trip will be 3000 miles, ours 4000 miles. We’re doing the same thing in opposite directions. They are traveling in a tear drop camper, for their adventure. Jim walks with a limp and a cane. Linda had quite the story to tell.

Linda married her high school sweetheart. They were married almost 40 years. He was a pastor who, at 48 years old was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He was told he had 6 months to live. He lived another 2 years. After his death, two daughters, Cindy and Vicky had difficult questions. Her Dad had served and prayed for so many other people, why didn’t God heal him? I wish we had dug into that a little bit more, but we got side tracked in our conversation. Linda felt alone, and had no one to talk too. A friend suggested she try PenPal. Linda met Jim through PenPal. Jim is divorced and lived in Sacramento, CA when they first connected. They started writing back and forth. Jim fell in love with her and the feeling was mutual. Eventually she moved to California and they were married, celebrating 15 years this year.

Our neighbors beside us are from Johnson City, TN. They design and maintain pipe organs. Ron asked them if there was still a market for it, apparently there is and it’s very lucrative. From my research, they average between $500,000 to a million dollars a year in revenue. We saw the pipe organ at the Biltmore, that according to them is a very small one. They maintain the pipe organ at the Naval Academy. Their company is R.A. Colby Organ Builders. They travel all over the country in their RV for designing, building and maintaining pipe organs. I didn’t get their names, but they look like Roger and Ellen, so we’ll call them that. Roger is flying out tomorrow for Pennsylvania for a job while Ellen stays here for doctors appointments. Their home away from home is much different than Jim and Linda’s, an A Class RV. Roger and Ellen haven’t been home since June. In fact, Ellen told me the realtor called her today, he has a buyer for their house if they can be out in 30 days. The problem is, the house wasn’t even on the market and they have other problems to worry about.

Roger is a cancer survivor, jaw and mouth cancer that started from a sore tooth. He has spent months at Vanderbilt being treated with radiation and chemo. He’s cancer free now, but unfortunately the treatment has caused him other issues. He now needs his carotid artery operated on, which means they will have to cancel the family trip to China next year. Their dog realized they were out here talking and not paying attention to them, so he blew the horn. Literally, the dog crawled up on the steering wheel and blew the horn to get their attention and tell them it was time to come in.

In the meantime, while I was having those conversations, Ron met our neighbor who is diagonal from us. Again, I didn’t get his name. He worked 35 years at the Newport News Shipyard, living in Chesapeake. He now lives in West Virginia. Ron doesn’t ask questions like I do, so that is all I have for him. And, of course, a picture of his home away from home.

Those are the people I met, sitting outside our camper, not moving an inch. Lives I would have never intersected with if we weren’t on this trip. Lives who, for a moment in time intersected with ours.

Nashville Bound

What a peaceful morning on the mountaintop. I loved spending quiet time with God, reading my Bible, journaling, I have a lot to thank Him for today and always. He inspired my writing, as only He can. Wonderful to sit at the picnic table with the view of the mountains all around me, writing devotionals on fear. Ron pittered around the camper, cooking his breakfast on the grill, watching the morning news and checking out the camp store.

I felt sad as we pulled out of our campsite and headed down the mountain. We left Mama Gerti’s at 10:33 a.m. heading to Nashville. Driving through the Appalachian mountains was breathtaking.

We stopped at a rest area just across the Tennessee border for lunch a few minutes past noon. One of my favorite things about RVing is the ability to pull over, open the fridge and make a sandwich. The same applies to the bathroom, whenever we need a potty break we pull over and use the one in the trailer. As one of the first people we ever met when we started our camping life told us, “The older you get, the nicer it is to have your own stuff with you.” He was right, in so many ways.

Asheville Adventures

View from where I’m writing.

Today has been amazing. I don’t even know where to start, so I’m just going to start at the beginning. Rolled out of bed a little after 7:00 and texted with my Tribe. Tribe is a new term I’m getting used too, but friends who are determined to have my back no matter how difficult I am to love. I like to put them to the test, and I have to say, they are amazing women. Knowing they have my back is making me enjoy this trip in immeasurable unspoken ways. I think they’d like to see me chill, but that’s just my opinion. I’m trying is my best defense.

Left Greensboro shortly after 8:39 a.m. I worked the entire way here, studying for my class while Ron listened to a book on tape. Frederick Beuchner “A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory.” Our trip here did have some excitement in this car who apparently is all in with Jesus.

We arrived at 11:27 a.m. to one of the most breathtaking surprises, Mama Gerti’s Campground. The campground sits nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, we were blessed enough to get a “top level” site. Currently, as I write I am 26,265 feet above sea level and the air quality is good! We were supposed to have site 23, we ended up in site 33. Sites 34-37 have decks that overlook the mountains, you have to reserve those a year in advance. God blessed us, someone left early this morning and we got here just in time to snag it.

From there we headed to the Biltmore, what Asheville is best known for from our standpoint. At $69 a ticket, we toured the house, the gardens and the Antler Village and Winery. We haven’t quite reached 10,000 steps but we’re close.

Stepping into the Biltmore is like stepping into another life. Extravagant dining and lounging rooms on every level. A romantic history of the largest residence home in the United States can be found here. The opulence something I have never known in my life, and quite frankly, don’t want to know, is overwhelming. It’s just not my thing, but for today, we supported their efforts to maintain it. I think my favorite part was touring the basement where the servants quarters and dining room were. That’s where I would have lived, probably not as a cook, but as a house keeper, my husband would snicker at that choice. There I felt the lives of the people who had gone before me as they worked effortlessly to fulfill the needs of their Masters. As my husband said as we walked in, “Let’s see how the 1% of the 1% lived.” The architecture is phenomenal, the lifestyle not one in which I identified. But that doesn’t mean I crave it, it just means it’s one I don’t know. The underground swimming pool was empty, which made me wonder who had swam there in days gone by. They had elaborate “dressing rooms” for their guests that have long since been used. The library was my favorite, wall to wall books, big chairs and a massive fireplace. That is where you would find me back in the day.

We walked a lot of steps at the Biltmore. We’re in between planting seasons, so we skipped the spring and azalea gardens. We did visit the winter gardens and conservatism where I snagged a couple of good pics.

From there we went to Antler Village, a must see if you’ve never been, although once is enough in my humble opinion. Visited the winery, bought a new bag for the trip and ended up at Cedric’s Tavern, thus named after the Vanderbilt’s Dog. Best deviled eggs I have ever had! Our waitress was a beautiful young lady named Danielle. She was from St. Petersburg, FL originally. Gorgeous smile, with long black hair and a kind heart.

Next we visited downtown Asheville where we came across the Minick Law firm. I wondered if they were relatives.

This trip is about me, my birthday wish as I turn 50, but there is one who has made provision for it, and that’s my husband. His one desire was to visit a brewery. I told him only one because of time and he chose Highland Brewery, the first one ever established in this town known for its beer. I over tipped the bartender and left a Scatter card (Random Acts of Kindness Card encouraging them to pay it forward) behind when we left.

God gave him to me, I love him with all my heart. Every day we are together I just thank the Lord. I have a friend who lost the love her life to senseless gun violence, unbeknownst to her, she reminds me everyday to be thankful for what I have. I am. His smile speaks volumes.

The sun is starting to set, the breeze is starting to blow. Tonight, we will enjoy a fire on this mountaintop. Tomorrow morning, in the crispness of dawn, I pray the good Lord above will give me inspiration like never before for my writing. One can hope.